Happy New Year!
Big exhale. [Rest in that space after the period.]
And now inhale, filling your lungs with energizing oxygen.
We have another year to start out fresh! Yahoo!!
This time a year ago I was immersed in trying to make my self-imposed January 2016 deadline to publish Blooming into Mindfulness: How the Universe Used a Garden, Cancer, and Carpools to Teach Me that Calm Is the New Happy. Though I reached my goal for the print version, the eBook came out a few days into February. I’m still calling that a win.
What followed was a crazy ride of events—some featuring the book, some featuring my photography, and some combining both stories. Intrigued readers asked how they could learn more about mindfulness and deepen their own present moment awareness.
In response, I’m thrilled to announce the birth of my new company, Damselwings, LLC!
For those of you who have been following for a while, please bear with me as I briefly retell the story behind how I named my indie publishing company Damselwings Press.
The word “Damselwings” is my own creation, inspired by my favorite insect, the damselfly. What does it symbolize?
A lot of people think that damselflies are simply the female version of dragonflies. It’s true that both are in the same insect order (Odonata), but dragonflies are in the suborder Anisoptera, while damselflies belong to the suborder Zygoptera. Dragonflies get most of the attention, though, with damselflies usually flying under the radar.
Damselflies and dragonflies do have some things in common. They hang out in common habitats, have the same silhouette when flying, and have both been around since the time of the dinosaurs.
But dragonflies and damselflies are different in some important ways:
Space Efficiency: Damselflies perch with their wings tucked together along their backs (see the photo above, captured by my dear friend Rick Gillihan), whereas dragonflies perch with their wings open wide. In other words, damselflies don’t hog more room than they need, appealing to my economist and Feng Shui-friendly sensibilities.
Smarter-looking eyes: Along with perched wing placement, the eyes are the second biggest distinguisher between dragonflies and damselflies. Damselflies’ eyes are set on either side of their head, not touching, sort of like a hammerhead shark’s eyes. Dragonflies’ eyes are bigger and meet in the middle of the forehead, giving them a Neanderthalish look. Both have spectacular eyesight, however, with almost 360-degree vision. Here’s one of Rick’s amazing damselfly headshots:
Nicer to each other: Dragonflies are cannibals, indiscriminately eating their own species even if other food sources are available. Damselflies are carnivorous predators too, but they don’t eat each other nearly as often as do dragonflies. (Both provide the community service of eating lots of mosquitoes.)
Speed (or lack thereof): Dragonflies zip about at breakneck speed, with some species able to fly 40 miles an hour. That’s impressive, but since one of my mottos is “Slow is the New Fast,” I prefer the damselfly’s more relaxed pace. Rather than flying fast and straight, damselflies flutter and float, rarely in a straight line. But they still reach their target. And they’ve survived for 250 million years.
Lifting Damselwings to the LLC level and broadening its mindfulness-inspired mission gives me room to spread my wings and fly where the wind takes me (with some intentional steering on my part). I still need to learn what rebranding entails, so you won’t see any visual changes for a while.
My 2017 Goals
I already announced my intention to show up early this year in my last blog post. What are my other goals for 2017? Here are a few, in no particular order (but make sure to read the last bullet!):
- Show up early through better preparation, organization, and intention-setting.
- Work in alignment with my purpose.
- Think bigger, braver, and inspire others to do the same.
- Work smarter, not harder.
- Maintain a healthy balance between work and family life.
- Deepen my training and personal mindfulness practice, including meditation and mindful life skills.
- Deepen my photography training and practice.
- Reduce suffering (starting with keeping my own in check).
- Live authentically.
- Expand my photography line to continue to inspire people to slow down and notice the beauty in their midst.
- Write a new book (words AND photographs!).
- Remember that the universe has my back.
- Take naps and baths (I recently learned that Picasso would research an idea then take a bath to process it. Yay!).
- Take care of myself physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually.
- Grow my garden (thereby allowing my garden to grow me).
- Publish a blog post every Thursday (yikes! HUGE and scary commitment for me!).
- Support the breast cancer community.
- Let go of fear-based thinking and embrace my value.
- Help more people develop their own mindfulness practice through new offerings (stay tuned for next week’s post for a couple of fun opportunities in the near future!).
How have I gotten over my fear of putting myself out into the world (which I discussed in my very first blog post of 2015)? It’s simple, really.
My personal experience has convinced me to the depths of my soul that mindfulness provides us with practical tools to:
- reduce stress and anxiety,
- enhance productivity and creativity,
- instill a greater sense of purpose,
- connect with people,
- cultivate compassion and empathy, and
- strengthen our physical health on many fronts.
A mountain of neuroscience backs me up on this, by the way. The importance of mindfulness skills—which anyone, yes ANYONE, can learn—can’t be overstated given current political and societal conditions, not only in the United States but worldwide.
Letting go of my fear is mindfulness in action: adding to the net supply of positive energy in the world through mindful decision-making (based on the reality of the present moment rather than the past or imagined future scenarios), stepping back from the drama, saying no to unproductive thoughts and impulsive reactions.
In other words, mindfulness helps us turn up the volume of our own light, which the world needs so desperately right now.
I hope you’ll join me on the journey in 2017 and beyond!
How do you plan to live more mindfully this year? Share your intentions in the comments! (Hint: writing them down boosts your chances of success.) And don’t forget to come back next week for more about my new offerings!
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