Walking My Talk

I’m striving to walk my talk: to live my values, to live a more simple life, to say what I do and do what I say.

In other words, I’m embarking on an intentional journey to live a completely intentional life.

Right now, I have a “regular” job, I’m working on my spirituality, I have a house, and I do the daily grind.

But I’m constantly asking myself, “What if I can improve all this?”

Anyone who knows me probably knows that I march to my own drumbeat and I don’t even know what the rhythm is until it actually happens. Which is cool. I wasn’t always comfortable with that, but the older I get, the more I love it.

 

The LIFE Project

For awhile now, I’ve wanted to be more intentional.

I don’t quite know when it happened.

When I was younger, I was mostly okay with working 40-50 hours a week, having bills and paying off loans, and generally not having much time to travel or really enjoy family and friends – I thought that was what I was supposed to do.

But somewhere along the line, I started questioning all this. When I went into teaching, I knew I’d “want to teach for five years” and then leave it behind.

Well, that didn’t happen.

Part of it is because I never used intention to create the next phase of my life that I wanted.

And well, I still quit my job. That was back in 2012.

It was no easy road: I didn’t have a solid plan; I just knew I wanted to “write and be creative.” But there was no concrete method to what I was doing.

I was flying by the seat of my pants, staring at my computer for 16 hours a day, had no real human interaction (except for family), I was isolated, and off balance.

It’s funny how you (well, me) can plow right into a harsh life lesson like that. I learned a lot. I learned about myself and what I would tolerate and what I would not.

Six months after I quit teaching, I was back in the educational seat, feeling rather resentful my unintentional creative experiment didn’t work.

But what if it did?

What if it sent me on a trajectory to lead me to right now?

Ever since, I’ve been on an intense inner spiritual journey trying to find my footing in the world. I aim to make a difference through helping and inspiring others. But I also want to be the best version of myself.

I no longer worry about how.

I do know one thing, though: so that I can be of service to others, I need to lead a very intentional life.

This is because without intention, I’ll just float through, participating in the status quo, watching life pass me by while I toil away borrowed hours to fulfill someone else’s dream as their employee.

Now, most of us do that.

But the question remains: what if there’s another way?

What if by changing little things in my life incrementally, they all add up to bigger things?

The LIFE Project: Living an Intentional and Fulfilling Existence - to the the highest version of ourselves. Click To Tweet

Enter the LIFE Project.

LIFE stands for “Living an Intentional and Fulfilled Existence.”

I’ve got a lot planned for myself. So much so that initial feedback from others is, “Whoa! That’s a lot.”

living intentionally and fulfilling existence

Researching for the LIFE Project

I’ve known for awhile that I’ve wanted to do this.

For the past couple of months, I’ve been collecting links, ideas and books to inspire, give me ideas, and help me plan out the next year.

I’m starting on April 1. That’s no April Fool’s joke.

Each month’s plans won’t be set in stone until I actually get to that month. But, I have a pretty good idea of what I’ll be doing.

Each month will have a theme and specific tasks that I would like to carry out, all in an effort to clear out the old and make room for specific intentions.

In this post, I’ll include the month, the theme, and what activities I plan on doing.

I also wanted to include a set of guidelines. Since this is a pretty intense list, I wanted to have a sort of “failsafe” so I don’t overwhelm myself.

As the months go on, I’ll come back here and turn each monthly headline into a link for easy reference to the project.

And, if you’re interested, you can do your own intention project. You can tweak it as you need, or you can follow along with the themes I’ve researched.

The LIFE Project Guidelines

  • each month has specific themes (or two)
  • each theme supports intentional living (with the reasons stated in each month below)
  • I will give valiant effort to each activity, but if it gets to be “too much,” then I can let an activity go after 14 days (to be sure I give it an honest effort)
  • the followers of Intuitive and Spiritual are the folks holding me accountable: I am motivated to do this to not only help myself, but to help others, and not let anyone down
  • I will do monthly summaries of my thoughts of the month via a blog post
  • I will do personal, daily journal entries to hopefully compile into a LIFE Intention book at the end of the project
  • the intentions all need to involve some sort of self-sacrifice to help hone my intentions
  • I am allowed to tweak the monthly activities to fit in with the demands of my life

And now for the months and themes of what I will be doing:

LIFE Project, Month by Month

April, 2017 – Focus Inward

I chose this first month to focus inward. I would like to work on myself so I can have a solid routine in place before focusing on other people and other things.

Activities:

  • Increase meditation once again to 60 minutes, but in 20-20-20 increments (See May, 2017 post)
  • Finish Tree of Life coloring book
  • Write one page in daily journal
  • Incorporate daily mantras
  • Increase physical activity to 10,000 steps per day

Book to Read:

The Power of Silence by Don Juan Castaneda

Explanation:

This means I will meditate 20 minutes in the morning, 20 minutes during the day and 20 minutes in early evening. I understand that there will be some days where it will be nearly impossible to fit in 20 minutes during the day (sometimes I’ll be at an event, or in meetings, etc.).

Also, after the binaural beats experiment, I have gone down to only 20 minutes per day to recover a bit. Immediately I began to crave more meditation time but I have not scheduled it in – I’m doing so, now.

Meditating later in the evening when I am incredibly tired, to me, seems counterproductive, as I often fall asleep.

The coloring book is integral to my website and I want to finish for meditative purposes.

The journal will serve as daily documentation of my journey.

I will choose and say a mantra and use my 108 beaded bracelet to keep track.

I currently walk about 9,000 steps per day, but need to increase to 10,000 steps per day.

Don Juan’s book will give me insights about the power of silence as I work on my meditation.

I also want to intentionally cultivate a vibrant, spiritual existence.

 

May, 2017 – Simplifying, Decluttering and No Unnecessary Spending

This month will be about clearing out clutter to make room (both physically and mentally) for more space to spread out, “invite the new” into my life and reduce “baggage.”

According to my research, this is a powerful psychological activity to help reduce attachment to objects and stuff, in general. There’s less to take care of, and you win karma points by passing things on to those who could use them.

Activities:

  • Declutter my basement, closet, and papers
  • Simplify activities
  • Begin visionary fiction book (See June, 2017 post)
  • Launch Tree of Life coloring book
  • Continue 10K steps, journaling, 20-20-20 60-minute meditation and mantras
  • Start preparing for walking marathon (See June, 2017  post)

Book to read:

Living Well, Spending Less by Ruth Soukup

Explanation:

Since moving into my house a year and a half ago, I have boxes that are still unpacked in the basement. This tells me that I obviously don’t need these things.

In my closet, over the past couple of years, I have pared down my clothing. People often give me clothing that I hold onto, and I’m not even sure why.

My challenge is to get my wardrobe down to 33 items (including pants, shirts, skirts, sweaters, socks, scarves, jackets). This requirement won’t include specialized items such as for skiing, biking, walking, etc. However, all items will need to have a specific place where they can be stored without cluttering up space.

Why 33? It’s a powerful number, and it will force me to expunge everything that doesn’t fit well, that doesn’t make me feel good, that is too old, or that I haven’t worn in ages.

I will also tame the paper tiger that ubiquitously lurks all around the house, erupting in convenient piles that multiply once they touch a horizontal surface.

Because of all this purging, I will not buy any items that are not a necessity so I can focus solely on decluttering.

The book I will read will serve as inspiration for decluttering and reducing spending.

I will attempt to also write a visionary fiction book. I will not plan, outline or otherwise plot the book out beforehand. I’m not sure how that will work as I like to plan, but I have been hesitant to do this because of the fear of “not doing well.”

Writing books is a cornerstone of the life I intend to create, however. In order to drop out of the status-quo-race, books are an intentional part of my repertoire of income-producing tools.

I want to intentionally cultivate organization and simplicity to free up my mind and resources to engage in activities conducive to my intentions.

 

June, 2017 – Detox, Diet and Design

June will be about taking advantage of the farmer’s market, flushing out toxins, and incorporating new vegetarian recipes.

Activities:

  • Drink 1 gallons of water, daily
  • Drink 1 cup of detox tea, daily
  • Make smoothies several times per week
  • Eat probiotics
  • Give up all alcohol
  • Get at least 8 hours of sleep, daily
  • Eliminate news
  • Edit visionary fiction book Edit coloring book
  • Continue preparing for walking marathon
  • Continue 10K steps, journaling, 20-20-20 60-minute meditation and mantras

Book to Read:

The Four-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris  7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey

Explanation:

Though I’ve recently become full-on vegetarian (it’s so that my food habits align with my values), I also want to intend myself into tip-top health.

I am a product of the processed American food diet (though I only eat fast food a handful of times per year and even then it’s vegetarian burritos at Taco Bell or a veggie sub at Subway) – I have bought the processed cheeses at the grocery store, the boxes of macaroni and cheese, the ramen noodles, the tortilla chips, the potato chips, the milk chocolate and all that other crap at the store in recent months.

No, I don’t eat that stuff every day by any means, but it still makes its way into my diet. Thinking about all those preservatives makes me cringe.

The idea of the detox is to “reset” myself as I train for my first walking marathon. This includes eliminating any alcohol from my diet, as well.

I’ll alter my diet enough to include smoothies (to get more liquid and nutrients) and lots of water.

I’ve read reports that drinking a lot of water flushes and really hydrates the body’s systems for optimal functioning, but also that higher levels of water in the system help the immune system, problems associated with aging, boost energy levels, aid digestion, and more.

The idea to get a full eight hours of sleep means that I will help my body to recover fully from the stresses of the day, and with adequate rest, the body has an easier time doing everything else.

Exercise also helps with detox in that you sweat out toxins and other minerals.

I also want to detox mentally. Since the news can be considered a mental toxin, I’ll eliminate that for 30 days (I will give myself permission to ask others about what’s going on in the world to be sure there’s not a meteorite plummeting toward earth…but then again, what would that matter?).

I’ll also spend time editing my visionary fiction book. Hopefully good things going in (mindful consumption of mental and physical things) will provide a much-needed detox – including good thoughts coming from my new book.

 

July, 2017 – Sacred Travel

This is a month I naturally have off from regular work.sacred travel, focus, meditation

It’s also the month if I find out if my job will remain funded (or if I will have to find something else) – and part of why I’m striving toward something else – at least on the side, for now.

I’m at peace whether we’re funded or not, but it will be nice to finally know.

Activities

  • sacred travel to New England states
  • weekend camping to sacred sites near me
  • day trips and plenty of mountain biking
  • possible mini personal retreat
  • either continue editing or begin new visionary fiction book
  • Continue training for walking marathon Continue walking 10K steps per day
  • Journaling, 20-20-20 60-minute meditation, mantras, affirmations

Book to Read:

108 Sacred Places in North America, “You’re a Badass” by Jen Sincero

Explanation:

Seeing that I have July off already and we naturally do a lot of travel during this month, I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to make it the month of sacred travel.

When we (husby and I) travel north, we hope to end our journey in Maine with seeing Mt. Katahdin. Along the way, we will plan stops in Vermont, Rhode Island, New York, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and more.

Last year we traveled west and since I’ve never been to the northeast, I thought it would be a good opportunity to travel there during the warmer summer months.

Our journey will consist of seeing sacred places in the northeast, possibly some haunted places, and possibly meeting fellow bloggers along the way.

When we’re back in North Carolina, there are several nearby sacred places we will intend to visit: Pilot Mountain toward the foothills of NC, Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, and possibly do a mini vision quest in the Shining Rock Wilderness near the South Carolina border (in which we’ll camp by ourselves but be near each other in case of emergency – or do a silent “no speaking” camp experience).

Sacred travel slows down time, makes you appreciate life at home, but instills gratitude and wonder at seeing new places.

I intend to travel more, in general, and this month will be designed to propel that intention into existence.

 

August, 2017 – Fitness and Finance

This is the month where I would like to finally participate in a walking marathon – either via an organized event, or a route on my own.

Once I know the status of my day job, I will then be able to make more decisions regarding my immediate future. This month may entail a job search (which will intentionally be something fulfilling while being flexible to allow me to increase the time in which I can build my online spiritual business).

Either way, it will be a good month to look at our finances and pare down anything unnecessary – all in an effort to make room for doing more of what really matters.

Activities:

  • participate in walking marathon
  • revise (or begin another) visionary fiction book
  • analyze finances – increase income, pare down expenses
  • invest monies somewhere we haven’t, yet
  • create aggressive plan for tackling remaining debt
  • Continue 10K steps, journaling, 20-20-20 meditation and mantras

Book to read:

The Soul of Money by Lynne Twist

Explanation:

As mentioned above, this month is about evaluating direction. I may be looking for a job or continuing with my old one. Though I’m okay with either outcome, eventually I want to intend myself into operating my own spiritual business and having time to travel, write, and live my values – all the time.

Part of doing that is looking at our debts. I have mortgage debt and student loan debt. I would like to come up with a plan for paying these things off as quickly as possible so that we can truly be free.

I once heard a saying that the “debtor is servant to the lender” – and, really, you’re a “slave” until you have no more debts.

Hopefully the walking marathon will be a culmination of getting into the best shape of my life, combined with a revitalized mind and spirit. Along with “body,” the trifecta of a balanced body-mind-spirit can pave the way toward a powerful, intentional and spiritual life.

 

September, 2017 – Eating Well + Poetry

This is the month where I will not support the animal agriculture industry – at all. This is part of my intention to live out my values.

Though I’m not sure if I will ultimately sustain “being vegan,” I want to give it a try to see how difficult (or easy) it is, find opportunities to try new recipes and possibly make new friends because of it.

Activities:

  • Adopt a month-long vegan diet
  • participate in a vegan pot-luck
  • Write daily poems (haikus, tantras, free-verse, and other types of poetry) reflecting my sentiments and values
  • Revise visionary fiction book and/or start new coloring book
  • Continue 10K steps, journaling, 20-20-20 meditation and mantras

Book to Read:

Vegan recipe books (various)

Explanation:

I aim to look at the expense and ease of being vegan.

I cannot tolerate cruelty to animals, but part of what has inhibited me from adopting a vegan lifestyle altogether includes: concerns about cost, lack of knowledge of what to cook, difficulties in going to gatherings where there will be non-vegan food, ability to get enough protein and nutrients.

Thus, I intend to use the month of September to investigate this way of eating and determine if it is a sustainable one for me.

From there, I have a friend who is vegan who has said she will include me on a vegan pot-luck as a way to stay motivated to do this and to meet other people.

haikus and tantras

October, 2017 – Family and Friends

In this month, I want to intentionally build better relationships with family, meet new people and cultivate friendships. I’m an introvert, so it’s not always easy to make myself “go out, do new things and meet new people.”

It’s an effort to get myself out of my comfort zone.

I know that spending too much time in one’s comfort zone means stagnation and no growth.

Since this project is about growth, I aim to incorporate intentional meetings of different people.

Activities:

  • visit family near and far
  • visit friends near and far
  • send out artwork to I & S selected followers
  • strengthen relationships with family via letters
  • do something social I don’t want to do
  • give something to everyone I meet
  • volunteer somewhere
  • Continue 10K steps, journaling, 20-20-20 meditation and mantras

Book to Read:

The End of Money: Counterfeiters, Preachers, Techies, Dreamers and the Coming Cashless Society by David Wolman  Conversations with God – Book 2.

Explanation:

It’s well-documented that folks who have connections and relationships such that in a time of need, they can call on each other and support each other, tend to live longer and are happier overall.

But more than that, having connections with like-minded folks provides opportunities to built lasting friendships and relationships, particularly as an adult, when it’s harder to make friends – especially those who don’t have children.

Since moving to my new town a couple years ago, I’ve been so tied up with work that I haven’t had much of a chance to meet a lot of people.

I would like to change that by making myself do activities that I wouldn’t normally do. This might entail participating in a Meet Up, creating a group to practice Spanish, or something else.

Furthermore, I would like to increase my time in service to others via volunteering. I will use this month to investigate where I would enjoy volunteering and go through the process to become a volunteer.

In addition, there are some family members I am not that close to, or have not otherwise engaged with in much conversation lately. I would like to use this opportunity to write a nice, handwritten letter to them to express my appreciation and love.

In other words, I want to intentionally cultivate harmonious relationships.

 

November, 2017 – Contemplating Death and Gratitude

November is naturally a month to express gratitude. I thought it would be good to coincide this project with that.

However, the beginning of the month starts with All Souls’ Day and All Saints’ Day. In Mexican tradition, Oct. 31 – Nov. 2 are known as the Days of the Dead – a Catholic Christian tradition that evolved from the days of mourning from the Aztec tradition.

Activities:

  • release a Day of the Dead coloring book  Work on new project
  • practice radical gratitude
  • contemplate death
  • celebrate deceased loved ones
  • continue 10K steps, journaling, 20-20-20 meditation and mantras

Book to Read:

The Magic by Rhonda Byrne and A Year to Live by Steven Levine

Explanation:

I’ve read that all fears ultimately come from a fear of death.

When I first heard that, I didn’t agree. I mean if I was afraid of a spider, I was afraid of a spider and not of dying, right?

But if a spider could cause death (as in the case of a black widow or brown recluse), and being afraid that I might get bitten by a black widow, I could logically conclude that I really have a fear of death.

I have other fears: a fear of heights (I surely don’t want to fall…to my death), and fear of not having enough money (ultimately what I need to survive). I know I even have a fear of failure (this is probably why I haven’t released more than one fiction book out of all the ones I’ve written).

(Thinking on that point about money, I have to wonder if that’s what drives many of us to consume more than we should…of not having enough to the point where we can’t survive.)

I can see where having a fear really does ultimately come back to the need to survive and use self-preservation tactics (avoiding spiders, rock climbing, saving money) to stay in the land of the living.

The more I meditate, however, the more I seem to get in touch with existence beyond the physical plane.

Buddhists view “death meditation” as a way to actually live a more joyful life. It teaches them to appreciate life, moment by moment.

It would also help you come to terms with your own mortality.

I grew up in a nursing home. I’ve had people die in my arms and others pass away in my presence. My oldest brother passed away in a car accident in 2011. My great-grandparents passed away when I was in high school. I thought, for a long time, that I’d come to terms with death.

I think I came to terms with others’ deaths, but not my own.

The Mexican tradition I mentioned above mocks death and makes light of it. The Aztecs were one of the only cultures of the world to do that. But they didn’t fear death: it was considered a great honor to sacrifice oneself for the greater good (not that I’m advocating that at all).

Basically I’m saying that it’s good to work at not fearing death and embracing our mortality. Because it happens to all of us.

Spending some time thinking about and meditating upon death, I think, will add to my intentional life.

By confronting my own fear of death, I think, can help me not take life so seriously. It might help me in ways I cannot even comprehend right now.

 

To balance that out, I think that embracing death gives us such gratitude for what is – for all the little miracles that happen each day.

In death comes appreciation of life.

I intend to honor my ancestors and relations through creating an altar for them, by making some of what I know were their favorite foods, and incorporating a new family tradition to do this each November.

I also intend to practice the exercises set forth in the book The Magic – there are 30 days of gratitude exercises.

practicing gratitude

December, 2017 – Limit Technology and Give Like Crazy

December has to be one of the most frenetic months: the holidays, spending time with family, and doing holiday-related activities can be stressful.

Limiting and setting boundaries on technology is one way to reduce stress. Giving and being of service to others is another way to invite bliss.

Activities:

  • 31 days of no Facebook
  • Work no more than 4 hours (other than for regular work) on any given day
  • Sundays are screen-free days altogether
  • create a painting for charity
  • donate to a charity (either with the painting, time or money)
  • Continue 10K steps, journaling, 20-20-20 meditation and mantras

Book to Read:

Emissary of Light by James Twyman

Explanation:

Unplugging is always a good exercise. I want to use this time to determine if time away from Facebook lets me feel less stressed and happier overall.

Furthermore, I’m sure my eyes will appreciate less screen time.

Having less screen time will allow me to re-center without the need for a screen. Furthermore, I’ll have more time to work on a painting that I would like to auction off and use the proceeds to go to charity.

If I have extra time, I’d like to try to donate my time to a second charity (because I still intend to be volunteering in some capacity to the one I chose in October).

 

January, 2018 – Intentional Business, Intentional Rest

For this month, I want to focus on being a responsible consumer. I also want to schedule intentional down time.

Activities:

  • change banks to a local credit union
  • celebrate 16th wedding anniversary by traveling somewhere warm
  • begin to create a labyrinth in my yard
  • research sustainable and responsible companies from which to buy goods
  • schedule blocks of down time – no reading for work, no learning for work, just “chilling”
  • Continue 10K steps, journaling, 20-20-20 meditation and mantras

Book to read:

Exploring the Labyrinth by Nevill Drury Read: The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr

Explanation:

I read in Eat, Pray, Love once that the Italians have no problem spending an entire afternoon just sitting at a park – with no agenda and no place they had to be.

What a concept!

I thought that since it’ll be so cold outside, I can use that as an excuse to naturally curl up in a chair and do something fun – like watch a movie, read a fun book, play a board game or start a puzzle.

But, I have wanted to change banks from a big box bank to a local credit union for a long time and this will be the month that I commit to doing it.

Furthermore, I like the idea of trying to trace (or rake) a labyrinth in my yard for meditative purposes. It’s such a symbolic journey.

 

February, 2018 – Spreading Love

It’s already the month of love. I’ll embrace it by spreading my own love to everyone.

Activities:

  • perform intentional acts of love
  • send out cards
  • create artwork on love
  • organize a “love” drive in which we get donated goods or cards to give to those who might need it
  • love on significant other

Book to Read:

The Art and Practice of Loving by Frank Andrews, PhD.

Explanation:

After being married awhile (and this would go for anyone who’s been with a significant other for a long while), it’s all to easy to overlook a partner’s loving contributions to a relationship.

I want to focus on bringing that love and appreciation to the forefront by engaging in activities that show love and appreciation: taking husby to his favorite picnic spot, or going on a mountain bike ride, or leaving notes of awesomeness where he wouldn’t expect them.

I would also like to auction off another piece of artwork that I create and donate to charity – all in the name of love.

The “love” card drive could be all about sending a “thinking of you” card to a senior, or taking them some chocolates.

By intending to focus on love, I feel like it’ll grow in others around me and within my own heart, as well.

 

March, 2018 – A Month of Reflection

After a year of intentional living, I want to reflect on where I started and how far I’ve come.

I will compile another epic blog post, the journal entries and more intentions moving forward.

If you will have stayed with me on this journey, I’ll be excited to reveal what’s next.

Book to Read:

The Tao te ching by Lao Tzu

Explanation:

As the project concludes, I will determine what activities have served me well, that which I would like to carry on with, and those with which I will no longer engage. I hope to then generate a book of reflections about my year.

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