I am a wife, a mother, a friend, a teacher, and a business owner. I am also a fiercely independent woman, that is known for taking on more than I should, while never asking for help. Just writing all that out is exhausting, and it has led me to search for ways to be more present in my own life. I found an answer in mindfulness. This answer was not easy to find or start, but it has led to some positive changes in my life, and I am glad that I stuck with it.

I first stumbled across the idea of mindfulness, while looking into a magazine called Flow (Joe still giggles every time I mention the magazine and its name). Flow is a magazine that focuses on a love of paper, and has become one of my favorite reads. One of the main themes of the articles is mindfulness. Since that first encounter with the idea, I have been seeing it pop up more and more. It was a focus at my school where we had a few days of mindfulness training this winter. Another one of my favorite magazines, The Magnolia Journal, featured mindfulness last spring.

Now that I had a word, an idea, a possible solution, I needed to learn what it meant. When I first googled mindfulness, meditation is what came up most often. So, being a modern and eager student of mindfulness, I downloaded a meditation app and set my alarm for fifteen minutes earlier each morning. This was going to start my day right, fifteen minutes of quiet meditation and then I will be able to focus on the priorities of the day. What this actually led to was my daughter waking up earlier. How she knew I was waking up earlier still baffles me. Her waking early took away my quiet peaceful time to meditate and left me feeling a sense of failure. I was left doubting my dedication to improving myself and my relationships. I mean, didn’t I know how important this was? Why couldn’t I just make the time? Guilt was not the desired feeling, so again I went to Google. This led to hiking, enjoying the peace that nature can bring. I thought, “This sounds great. It’s something  my daughter and I can do together.” Gain a new sense of peace in nature and stuff. What really happened? I listened to the mini version of me complain about how she was tired, or hungry, or thirsty or all three. Next was morning pages, which seemed liked my sort of jam. The objective is to write three pages of anything everyday. The writing would ideally in the morning (hence the name), but I was willing to be accept anytime of the day, as I already learned that waking up early was not always the solution. This is where I found the most success, since I enjoyed writing down my thoughts. Getting whatever was trapped in my head down on paper. Still the habit was inconsistent, and I was left unsatisfied.

Feeling frustrated and concerned for my mental wellbeing, I decided to find compromises. First I started a bullet journal, which led to many wonderful changes. My bullet journal has become an external dialogue of all that happens in my head. It has a running list of to dos, lists of worries and fears, long explanations of complex emotions. Once I was able to write all that was on my mind I was able to free up so much of it for the things that matter. Now, instead of fretting over the anxiety of the moment, I write a piece a gratitude daily, plus letters and notes to loved ones get written more regularly. I am able to truly be with the people I am physically with, instead of frantically texting reminders to myself, or half listening to stories while I mentally create my to do list.

Mindfulness is definitely trending lately, and I think it is an important one. I hope that I will continue to grow more mindful of all that is around me. I also hope the changes I have made will become a permanent part of my life. Life should not be something that happened while I was working, or that is on hold while I work on this or that. I want to be an active player in my life, and I think that being more mindful is an important part of making that happen.

Andrea haapanenAndy haapanenBlogBullet journalIn defense of paper

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