The mind is the most capricious of insects – flitting, fluttering.

Have you ever wondered about the human mind?

Mine is so distracted all the time; it’s a wonder I get anything done at all.  

For example, just today I saw my son asleep and decided to blog.  I raced over to the couch with my laptop, settled in by nestling myself between fluffy pillows and warm blankets, and pulled up my internet browser.  I even made it as far as my blog dashboard before my plans were thwarted by my meddlesome fingers.  In deciding to blog about The Hobbit which I viewed yesterday I remembered that I had planned on pinning the music site to my pinterest board “Listening To” and traversed to the Howard Shore website.  Long story short, a few pins and many websites later I ended up playing MASH on P!NK’S page until I heard the lusty, hungry cry of my baby, all thoughts of blogging behind me.

How does that happen?  Is everyone like that or just me?  During my behavioral psychology class in college we did an experiment like this to examine how associations are formed in our mind and how it is exhibited in our internet use.  Called the “Wikipedia Project,” our instructions were to look up a topic on Wikipedia, the first thing that came to mind, and scan the article, not necessarily reading too deeply.  When a link on that page piqued our interest we were to click on that link and read the following article in the same fashion.  This was to be done as many times as it took to conduct a 10 minute presentation to the class.

How awesome was this project and how fascinating!

Everyone ended up miles away from the topic in which they started.  You could start with something as mundane as an article on the pencil and end up on an article on skydiving off the coast of Fiji depending on what links you followed.  (I highly recommend you try this project as it was quite a bit of fun.)  During the presentations we heard facts about England, horses, aspirin, furries, medieval torture devices, rock n’ roll etc…  It was amazing being able to catalog the chain of events as we flitted from one subject to another.  The sharper edge to this double edged sword is that the internet makes it incredible simple for the easily distracted to continue in a downward trajectory of unfocused chaos.

Is it right to blame the internet for our short attention spans?  I’ve heard some make that claim.  Many in former generations comment that our generation cannot wait patiently for things anymore, that we are so accustomed to instant gratification and micro bites of information that we are creating new attention deficit problems for ourselves.

I don’t believe that is true on an individual level.  Sure, I may get distracted by facebook page or a new project or my baby’s winning smile or a shiny object and put off bills or cleaning or blogs… what was I saying??  *only kidding*

The point is, I don’t blame the internet for my short attention span. I can still wait patiently for things that interest me.  I can wait patiently for the next two Hobbit movies by stalking all fan related websites to talk about how wonderful and thrilling I found it and watching my extended edition Lord of the Ring Trilogy over and over.  I can play peek a boo hundreds of times in a row.  I can stand out in the freezing cold and throw the ball to my dog until I’m numb.  My mind may get distracted sometimes, however it is also perfectly capable of extraordinary feats.

That is, when I put my mind to it.

Quotation by Virginia Woolf

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A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step

Why is it that because the new year is almost upon us I feel compelled to make a New Year’s Resolution?

I make them- and break them- every year.

  I do think resolutions are important because they force us to hold a mirror up to our faces (sometimes a metaphorical one and sometimes a literal one) and reevaluate ourselves.  We see all the potential we are capable of and, if we are honest with ourselves, who we are at this moment in time.  Trying not to measure myself to the standards of society or the media or my seemingly perfect friends, (c’mon, everyone has at least one of those friends who seems to do everything you want to do and do it better), I make my resolutions each year to the measure of who I picture myself as being.  The hip traveler.  The flexible yoga instructor. The gourmet chef.  The scrapbooking quezed hostess.  The laid-back, fun mom.

The resolution I kept the longest was cutting out all fast food from my diet a few years ago;   That July I was traveling and *had* to stop at a fast food restaurant since that was the only thing at the exit and the only exit for miles.  Of course, once I had broken the resolution, I binged on fast food and my hips still regret it.

Losing weight, quitting smoking, saving money, lowering alcohol intake, exercising more, volunteering, managing debt, reducing stress, finding quality family time, learning something new… this is the top 10 list of new year’s resolutions according to The Baltimore Sun.  I’ve tried almost all of them (I don’t smoke) and though my intentions were good and goals were manageable and achievable, I fizzled out.  Wanting to be a better person is a good thing, trying to change is even better, but to actually become one takes effort.   Is there something I’m missing to turn these noble goals into routines? Maybe I don’t really want to make that effort year after year?  Do I really want the responsibility of  becoming a better person?

As I’ve written this, I have been continually distracted by the adorable face of my 3 month old.  I mean, who wouldn’t be distracted by this precious little person?

Jason playing with Leslie Rabbit
Jason playing with Leslie Rabbit

As I think on the adjustments I have made these past 13 weeks to make him a priority in my life  I realize that I can do anything I set my mind to as long as it is important to me.  I can live on 3 hours of sleep in order to breastfeed my son.  I can keep a room clean so he doesn’t get hurt on breakables.  I can put down a book in mid-sentence to answer my baby’s cries or see his smile.  I can move the whole world out of love for my little man.  Perhaps for him I can make resolutions and keep them.  Going beyond my own selfishness I can make the small changes so that one day Jason will be able to have a mother he is proud to call “Mom.” That is a noble goal.  One important enough to begin to make the lifestyle changes that have been thwarted by complacency.  And television.

So what will my resolution be for this year?

My resolution this year will be a foundation resolution for all future endeavors.

I resolve to actually do what I say I’m going to do.

That means when I tell my husband I’m going to take out the trash today I will actually take it out. Today. Not tomorrow.

When I tell my friend that I will call her later I won’t forget.

I will pay my bills by the due date.

I won’t make a grand statement of action that fizzles out because it was too big to accomplish.

I will think about what I promise so that I know it is something I can achieve before I promise it.

That way when I say I’m going to lose 10 pounds I will actually lose and keep it off.  When I say I’m going to do a project I’ll actually finish.  If I say that I’m going to become a yoga instructor you’ll see that certificate in no time.  When it’s time to discipline my child I will follow through with punishments quickly and consistently.

Doing what I say I’m going to do.  It sounds so easy but is really hard.  Hopefully by taking time to think critically about what I want and what I can do will help me to keep this year’s resolution.  Maybe this blog can help.  I’ll do it for you, for Jason, and most importantly, so I can be proud of myself.

Quotation by Lao Tzu