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Managing a mindset is not on my to-do list. It isn’t on my calendar, and it certainly isn’t what I’m scrolling through in the bathroom. It doesn’t have the heaviness of adulting like paying bills, going to work, or doing dishes, but it should.

My mindset can change a day from bitter to better or dark and damp to light and bright. It deserves time and effort, just like a muscle that needs strengthening.

You don’t run into a gym and immediately lift 200lbs. Not even the pros do that. You warm-up. You start small, and then work up to the big numbers.

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What is a mindset?

The word nerds at Meriam-Webster say a mindset is a mental attitude.

The mental space that no one gets privy to. There have been films that unleash the privacy part, like in Chaos Walking where men broadcast their thoughts for all to see. A scary thought indeed.

The bright side is that no one gets to see my dips and spins. It’s a private show for a party of one. But, mental space influences what is said, done, and felt in the outside space, for better or worse.

I’m working on the better part. I control a sliver of the outside world and a larger sliver of the inside world. But still, I have no control over what thoughts or feelings gurgle up from the depths, but I do have control over what I express.

The Piercing Power of Words

A chickadees name comes from the sounds they make. To some wise and knowing birder, their warbled song sounded like chick-a-dee-dee-dee. I struggle to find those words in their song, but I understand the desire to make sense out of the nonsensical.

Wonders never cease that a bird called by what it says. Image if we were named by what we said. What would our names be? Hope? Despair? Bad hair day?

In some ways, perhaps we are. Not to our face, that would be rude but certainly when someone looks at us. I have felt words when I see people, whether I know them or not. Even strangers express body language, which is a universal language. Even babies are capable of expressing body language.

My name would be bubbly enthusiasm, though I prefer optimistically buoyant or classically comical. My human is showing as I hope for what’s in the right hand versus what I have in the left.

Vocal or otherwise, words carve reality. I learned recently that internal words, with their unfiltered thoughts and feelings, don’t have to be released like an uncomfortable blech. It’s a choice, my choice. When I remember, I have endless opportunities of practicing which feelings and thoughts to express and which to let drift like a wisp of fog. I try to choose wisely. When I lack sleep, yoga, or meditation, not to be confused with medication, that barrier between the inside voice and the outside voice is smaller than the width of a hair. When cushioned with self-care, its thickness would rival an ancient redwood.

I’m trying to seed an old-growth forest capable of withstanding angry wildfires, a despairing disease, and the drought of doubt.

One word, one seed, at a time.

Self-Care or Beware

Since the 7-day silent meditation retreat, I have struggled to incorporate meditation into my daily routine.

I have managed to find more time for sleep; my alarm is delayed to 6 instead of 5 am. Sometimes later, to the annoyance of Mr. BuLL. I take a nap during my lunch break at work, to the surprise of my coworkers, who find a body sprawled on the floor. Sleep has been overriding everything else, including morning yoga and afternoon meditation. Rest does make everything better, from the cranky coworker to the cranky woman in my head.

I survived another bright and busy holiday season and there is more space for other things with no more dogs to sit, gifts to get, or people to fret.

These minutes can welcome evening yoga or meditation. Either way, folding self-care into my daily ramblings is managing a mindset because it gives my brain time and energy to choose which thought or feeling to express. Not all thoughts are worthy of action.

Managing a Mindset

Twenty years ago, along with being excited about a fancy new driver’s license, I didn’t give a fig about a managing a mindset. Perhaps that is why I was emotionally broken two years later in the military. I didn’t have the tools to lessen the impact of military rigors.

Like having a healthy body that resists disease and decay, a healthy mind can resist the emotional crests and crashes.

If I keep feeding it junk, resisting rest, and side-eyeing self-care, it’s going to crash like a kid after Christmas. Indeed, it has.

If I want to cautiously sidestep a mindset that Lord Voldemort would value, I have to start with the only thing I can control: the air that I force through my lungs which lands ready to tango with my tongue.

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