leap day epiphany!

it's late and i'm tired so let's see if we can make this quick!  probably not going to happen...

today's post is completely off topic for this month (and no, i didn't get to the art making on Monday... or try again for another date with myself on Tuesday, but i did do everything else--even iron.  and i'm okay with it), but today's post is about music and music is a form of art, so i'm going go ahead and pretend it is on topic.

i've had a strained relationship with music for most of my life.  i remember being teased on the bus in 4th grade for not knowing who Michael Jackson was...  hey, if it wasn't the Beatles or Simon and Garfunkel... i hadn't heard it.  and my preferences haven't changed much since then.  i like newer music (sometimes), but even then i just don't really pay attention to the music world and i am always last on the bandwagon and am still obsessed with an album while everyone else has moved on to something new.  also, until recently, i haven't used music as background noise for my life.  i am okay with silence... i even like it... and when i don't i usually use the television as background noise.  i don't turn to music when i need comfort or distraction, because it doesn't comfort or distract me... if i'm feeling down, music usually makes it worse.

until recently!  in the last couple of weeks i've noticed that i've really enjoyed having it as background noise... so i've had a lot of it on.  in particular i've been listening to a lot of Adele (late on the bandwagon again!).  even more specifically i have had this song stuck in my head for at least a week, if not longer:

go ahead and take the 5 minutes and 26 seconds to listen to it.  listen to the words.  i'll be here when you are done.


okay, so you may recall i cryptically wrote about the possibility of a new romantic relationship with someone that didn't turn out the way i wanted it to.  and i've been kind of wrapped up in that in my head ever since... not constantly, but enough for it to matter.  so, i've assumed for all of the last week or so that this song is all about that.  go ahead now and go back and listen to the words if you didn't the first time.  it's important stuff, people.  go on now.

i mean, this is how i feel about the person in the dark moments when i'm not willing to just let go and trust that whatever happens is what is supposed to happen... it's like Adele went into my head and plucked this song out  and is actively pleading on my behalf for this to work out the way i want it to...  thanks, by the way, Adele, that's sweet of you.

then this morning (leap day! which is clearly magical... an extra day... the 366th of what is usually only 365 available days in a year) in my cold shower (water heater's busted) i had a epiphany.  i had woken with the song in my head as i have every other day for days and i was singing it to myself when i realized that was it...  i was singing it TO MYSELF.  to me... not to anyone else.  to me.  daring myself to trust, daring myself to forget my past, daring myself to let go of perfection, daring myself to see myself as worthy... daring myself to be my one and only.

and that was it!  the song was gone from my head just like that--poof!  it's a leap day miracle!

of course, now this song is stuck in my head

and i don't think this is about me, but i could be wrong.  we shall see... maybe i'm just obsessed with Adele.  worse things could happen.

happy leap day!


blog as procrastination

i have several things i want to accomplish this evening.  i have an art project to start, a presentation to plan for, a blog post to write, laundry and dishes to do, a shirt to iron, eggless egg salad to make (i already drained the tofu), an episode of the walking dead to watch, and i need to get back on the working out wagon with the momentum from yesterday's hike.  all of these things are possible to do if i'm strategic.  i could be starting to the laundry now so it's running while the kiddo is still awake and i don't end up staying up too late doing it.  i usually blog from bed when i'm lying down with spiderman waiting for him to go to sleep... and if i worked on my presentation now i could use all of my alone time painting cardboard circles, working out while i watch walking dead (while the paint dries), and whipping up the egg salad before bed.  the dishes... well, the dishes may wait for a visit from the imaginary and unreliable dish fairy.  and i don't iron.

but i'm not going to be strategic.  i'm going to blog now which makes the lying down time fairly useless (i'll just read or something--aka pinterest) and pushes everything else back a solid hour or so.  by the time i emerge from the bedroom later it will be dark and cold and my motivation won't be at its highest.  i should be writing this down in the "conscious choice log" to see how it pans out.  i'll do that in a minute (ha!).

all this because i just don't feel like doing it any other way.  i want to blog now, and until i do, i'm not going to be able to focus much on anything else.  i tend to create in spontaneous bursts.  they can't be planned for or otherwise anticipated.  luckily it happens frequently enough that i appear to be very productive... but yeah, some day this is probably going to catch up with me.

today's post was going to be short (oops!) and to the point.  i didn't think i had that much to say (yeah right).  i'm still doing the morning pages religiously... and i tried to have my first artist's date on Saturday.  it didn't go too well.

first, i tried to do too much.  just like i would with anything else... i planned to do two hours worth of stuff in a one hour window.  you're not supposed to invite anyone else to participate on your artist's date, but when Trixie asked if I wanted to go for a mani/pedi (and I really did) I thought I would just cut my date with myself to fit that into the window of time my mom had spiderman.  it took half of my available hour to drive to the place i wanted to go (and discover it was closed).  i thought i had hit the gold mine when i realized i had a gift card for the awesome coffee shop on the corner (that is across the street from a very shi shi art supply store)... but then...

second, i didn't try hard enough.  for a date with anyone else i would have planned something fun, dressed up, put on makeup, done my hair, and if they wanted the vegan cupcake at the coffee shop i would have encouraged them to have it.  for myself, i went out unsure of what to do, dressed like someone's mom, without any makeup, and with frizzy hair pulled back in a ponytail.  i bought myself a small cup of green tea, skipped the vegan cupcake (and i had a gift card for goodness sake!), and wandered around at the art supply store across the street (and then didn't buy anything because it was all too expensive and i have a giant pile of trash at home waiting for me to make art out of it).

the tree branch
i noticed it was hard not to do things that i would classify as errands.  i also felt nervous most of the time... which seems ridiculous but was so true.

it was a crappy date.  if it was another person i probably wouldn't want to see them again (who are we kidding...  i would go out with them again if they wanted to go out with me...).  the best part of it was finding a giant tree branch and bringing it home.  sometimes i feel like this blog is a public letter to potential life partners (warning: i don't do dishes or iron, and sometimes i bring home large pieces of nature and leave them in the living room while i daydream about how to make art out of them).

i'm going to try again soon... maybe even tomorrow.  i really need to ask my inner artist what she would like to do on a date and then give her what she wants.  

if you were going to take yourself on a date what would you do?


a confession, and a rant

I mentioned on Wednesday that I have been "pinning" creative project ideas for a while now.  For those that don't know about it... Pinterest is an evil, time-sucking, glorious machine of completely self serving joy and delusion (if you need an invitation, let me know).  Or... it's an online bulletin board of sorts.  It's an electronic method of taking everything you've ever wanted to tear out a magazine to save for later and tacking it up on the wall (minus the magazine and the walls).

beautiful, isn't it?
When I started using Pinterest and seeing all of the amazing things (read: entirely useless clutter) that could be made from everyday objects (read: trash) I thought to myself, "self, who has 6 cereal boxes, 4 egg cartons, and an old dish soap bottle just laying around?"  To which my self responded "no one!  we must prepare!"  So myself and I went to Target and bought a storage tub.  This was post Christmas and there were some great storage tubs on sale...  seriously, it was kismet.  So myself and I made a deal that if we could contain what angrywombat would lovingly refer to as "the hoard" within the storage tub, we could keep collecting until it was time to focus on making stuff.  A few weeks in this is what "the hoard" looked like.

Fast forward to today and... um... oops.  I guess that deal I made with myself was pretty flexible.  This isn't too terribly surprising, many of the deals I make with myself are.  They seem to follow this sort of formula: 

I will/will not do BLANK for X number of days/or until X happens 
(unless I feel like it or otherwise change my mind)

Anyway, I have a lot of work ahead of me to rifle through the hoard (and I guess evaluate my level of commitment) and I really should be using this precious child-free time to do so, but before I do I have something I've been wanting to do for a while and in the presence of my own beloved hoard this seems like as good a time as any.

Anyone here watch Hoarders?  Don't be shy... it's nothing to be ashamed of (well, I haven't told you why it is yet so you have a reasonable excuse for now).  Hoarders is a show on A&E, likely inspired by their tremendous success with the show Intervention (which for all of its exploitative dramatizing does seem to offer people in desperate situations some treatment that really works), that features a story or stories about people who have put their health, homes, and often lives in danger because of a hoarding behavior.  

Each show starts out showing the featured "hoarder" living in squalor with weird deliverance style fiddle and whistling music playing in the background to make sure you understand exactly how terrible the situation is.  Then a few family members are interviewed and they all weigh in with their valuable expertise before you discover they haven't been to the home or had a relationship with the "hoarder" in at least a decade.  Soon, the licensed mental health professional shows up to meet the "hoarder" and assess the case as hopeless.  The action really gets going when a crew headed by a professional organizer who "specializes in compulsive hoarding" (thanks to their new career as a celebrity on A&E) attempts to clean up the home.  Everyone is in on it this time: the "hoarder," their family and friends, the shrink, the professional organizer, and the manual labor crew.  Anyway, more often than not the home doesn't get cleaned up, the "hoarder" is forced to move, the crew's time has been wasted, and the situation is now confirmed as eternally hopeless.  It's terrible, and in the form of a letter to A&E I am going to tell you why.

Dear A&E,

Boy-howdy do you folks know how to make good reality television!  As a viewer of "Intervention" and "Beyond Scared Straight" I am a fan of your network's intent to pair good entertainment with helping people repair their lives.  I think on both of the aforementioned programs you have been able to balance the frightening and sometimes dreary reality of real life with hopeful and inspirational stories of growth and self-responsibility.

I was even a "Hoarders" viewer for a while... but I've taken the program off my DVR and I'd like to tell you a little bit about why (and what you could do to get it back on).  I'm going to do this in list form because that works well for me, I hope it works for you too: 
  1. Let's start with the name:  Your program features people who are hoarding, but that doesn't make them hoarders, and it certainly isn't okay to take away their humanity by labeling them as such.  I think you know that labeling people by their experiences is in poor taste... if you didn't know that wouldn't you have called "Intervention"---"Drunks & Drug Addicts"? or "Beyond Scared Straight"---"Dumbass kids who are likely to end up in prison"?  Because I'm a strong believer that feedback should be constructive and contain suggestions whenever possible... how about a name that describes what happens in the show (again, just like "Intervention")?  You could even do "Intervention: Hoarding Edition" (it worked for Extreme Makeover!).  I'd like to see the word "hoarder" removed from the vocabulary of any and all people involved with the show.
  2. Speaking of vocabulary: Let's get another thing straight.  Hoarding isn't a disease or a condition.  Hoarding is a behavior, and the presence of that behavior can be related to a symptom that someone is experiencing, and that symptom can be an indication of a mental illness or lack of optimum mental health, but you don't diagnose someone with "Hoarding" and again, you certainly don't diagnose them as a "Hoarder."  So, from now on, let's describe hoarding as a behavior which is part of a much bigger reality, not the reality itself.
  3. Now, how about those psychologists:  Wow.  I've met a lot of bad therapists in my life and it's true that I have some judgements against any who would choose to practice their work on television... but all that being said, I think it is possible to have mental health professionals involved in the program in a responsible, constructive way.  The role of the psychologist here should be to provide support to the person who is engaging in the behavior.  One of the primary ways we can support someone is to hold on to hope for them and their family when they can't hold onto it for themselves.  It is not productive or constructive for the psychologist on the program to label, judge, or evaluate the situation as hopeless.  It's also pretty craptacular to see them sit by as the professional organizer attempts to administer "tough love."  Finally, from a very catty place... why don't we bring in professionals to do their makeup for them.  Thanks.
  4. The professional organizer: I love professional organizers... I used to want to be one.  Let's examine the name they've chosen for themselves.  "Professional organizer" doesn't suggest that the person in question has any expertise, experience, or ability to help someone who is experiencing some pretty significant life harm from a behavior that may be a result of a mental illness.  The professional organizer should be responsible for the cleaning and organizing the home, not trying to organize the thoughts of the person who did the hoarding.  If you insist that the professional organizer interacts with the person who did the hoarding maybe they could read a little Rosenberg first?
  5. Oh, and those trucks: I can appreciate that you are a business and you have to make money... but maybe the advertising deal for the 1-800-GOTJUNK trucks weren't the most sensitive choice for this population.  You describe the people doing the hoarding as very attached to their belongings (no matter how invaluable they may be to you and me) so maybe it's ineffective to throw those belongings into trucks that clearly broadcast to anyone who can read that the contents of said trucks are, in fact, "junk."
  6. Speaking of setting people up for success: Many of the "hoards" in question have taken decades to build up... who decided they could be cleaned up in two days?  Even without the pesky interference from the person who has a strong emotional attachment to the possessions that make up the hoard or the act of hoarding itself... can you REALLY expect to clean up an entire home that is packed from floor to ceiling in two days?  Judging from the dismal success rate, I'd say no.  If you are really in this to help people, how about providing the time and resources to address both the mental, emotional, and physical issues in an effective way.
Well, A&E, that's all I have for now.  I know you are a well intentioned group, and you truly want to help the people who participate in this program.  

Unfortunately the logistics of your program and the continued marginalization of a misunderstood population the professionals and language choices in the program promote aren't going to do that...  

It's certainly not hopeless, however.  People do recover from mental health problems.  With the supportive, loving assistance of family, friends, and care providers who can accept the person for who they are while encouraging growth and change through hopeful, and empowering services people can start to become responsible for their own lives and make their way back/or find their way to a community that is meaningful for them.

All the best, 
The Human Race

Anyone have any additions or changes before I send it off?


creative force (2.21.2012-3.21.2012)

Hi, how are all of you?

Anyone have anything they'd like to talk about tonight?


Damn. Well, I guess we'll see what I can come up with on the fly because I don't have anything prepared.

To be honest, I'm feeling a bit lost in this new month already. I chose to add this theme to the project because I know the act of making things (art?) is a therapeutic process for me. It's something I regularly neglect, save the last 4 years of birthday cakes for spiderman, and something I hypothesize will contribute to my feelings of fulfillment if I do it regularly. But as often happens when the possibilities are endless, I find myself a bit overwhelmed.

Figuring out what to do last month was easy. I have been thinking about how to enhance my physical health for most of the last 5-6 years... In contrast, I have only been thinking about how to improve my creative health for the last two days.

So, I'm going back to the source. You may have noticed (or remembered) that the format of the FP is inspired by Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project. And although it is my goal for this to take on a life and identity of its own I did ask myself WWGD (that G is for Gretchen, not God) today. And going back into her book I found that she gave herself some tasks or issue to tackle each month.

If I were to do the same mine would be:
  • Make something new (rinse, and repeat).
  • Morning Pages.
  • Artist's Date.
  • Finish an old project.
  • Recognize CREATEivity.
  • Art party

The first one is pretty basic. I will make things. I have been pinning away inspirations for a few months now and last night I committed to those I want to tackle first. My artwork isn't usually rich in meaning... I don't express my feelings through art... It is the act of making it that is helpful to me. I'm a pretty literal person and I prefer the use of words and common symbols over imagery, but I'm also a sucker for what's beautiful.

Morning Pages and the Artist's Date both come from Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way.  I have been holding onto this book for a few years, with every intention of taking the journey within... but yeah... didn't happen.  Picking it up again to do a little research excited me about doing it.  Anyone want to go for the ride with me?  I'll be available to start on January 13, 2013 (actually... maybe I'll want to take a month to rest... how about February 13, 2013?)

"Morning Pages" are three full pages of long hand, stream of consciousness writing first thing in the morning.  Now the idea is that you do them before you do anything.  Two out of two times I have been interrupted by spiderman, but I think I'm going to call that a success anyway.  So far I've found them to be enormously helpful in clearing out my head.  I tend to wake up feeling panicked lately, so a quick brain dump onto the page seems to work well.  I seem to have gotten myself worked back up a few hours into the day though... I think morning, noon, and night pages would be helpful!

"Artist's Date" is the habit of taking yourself (ALONE) on a weekly outing that your inner artist will enjoy.  My first one will be this Saturday... I think I may be taking myself to breakfast and then to a junk shop to browse around... not sure yet.  Of course I will report back.

I have a few things in my home that are almost art. I have pieces that I've never framed and hung and others that just never got finished. This month I will do at least one of those projects through until the end (even if the end is the trash can)

I will choose to be aware of my power to create. This seems to be happening already. I've enjoyed cooking a lot the last couple of days and the things I'm making seem to taste better too. Creating a dish is more fulfilling than cooking food so far.

The Art Party (which was 38's brilliant idea.  thank you!) is going to be a gathering of all of my peeps.  Hopefully people will come to make stuff, or at least drink beer while being around other people making stuff.

That's all I have for now. I have a fair bit of work ahead and I expect a lot of learning to come along with it... I'm going in pretty blind and am interested to see what develops!


i heart charts

today is the last day of the first installment of the FULLfillment project!  HOO-fucking-RAY!

I don't know about y'all, but I am sooooooooooooooooooooooooo tired of thinking about this month's topic, and I am sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo ready to move on to the next month's topic (which is all about making art, by the way.)

Before we can do that, however, you may recall that I promised you some outcomes.  At the close of each installment I will report on the data I've collected and then skew that data to make it reflect my agenda (because that's what research is all about right?).

If you've spent any time in the sidebar you may have noticed a few things and I'm going to touch on a few of them now in the order they appear.

1. Under "Important Stuff": the conscious choice log.  So, the idea behind this is that I'm carrying around this little bound journal with me and my intent was that every time I needed to make a choice about something related to this month's theme (my body:  so in this case, food, sleep, activity, rest, etc.) I would CHOOSE my action by committing to it in writing and then come back to report on the benefits or consequences of the choice.  The point of this was to remain aware of my choices and not just let things happen to me...  Of the 29 days in this first installment of the FP I used the conscious choice log exactly once.  Yep, once.  The choice I logged was to eat potato chips... and the results were that I had a grumbly stomach, felt tired, and had a headache later...

Here's a very impressive graph highlighting this amazing feat:
i know.  just take it in.
we're going to go ahead and try this concept again...

2. a little further down under "my best self is" you'll find a list of the things I feel when I feel well.  This list was compiled over the course of a few days when I was feeling great.  I'm not sure the words I've chosen for these feelings will make sense out of the context of my head, so I've included my personal definitions.

  • airy-fairy--in touch with my spiritual self and ideas that are bigger than myself.
  • amused--by nearly anything.
  • appreciative--of simple things.
  • articulate--the words come easily.
  • aware--of my feelings, my body, sensations, energies, surroundings, and others.
  • conscious--of my needs and values and my actions directly relate to those values.
  • decisive--i know what i want and what i don't.
  • inspired--ideas flow endlessly.
  • interested--in the world, the way things look, feel, smell, taste, and sound.
  • light--a little floaty feeling. yeah, really.
  • organized--my thoughts, spaces, and plans come together beautifully in my head and/or on paper.

I've tracked the occurrences of these feelings daily, and if I experience one of them at least once I chart it.  Feel free to give me feedback about the psychometrics about my data collection and reporting methods, I don't really know what I'm doing here I'm just pretending to.

So, I added up how many of these 12 feelings I experienced on a daily basis between 1/23 and 2/20 and here's what I came up with: 

holy shit

And when I saw this I thought to myself...  Um... wow.  Well, this explains why it feels so overwhelming to be me.  I thought adding a trendline would make it feel better, but even the slightly upward trend of the month is tremendously unimpressive.

In an attempt to make myself feel better I also created this (an accounting of how many times I felt each of the "best self" qualifiers):
it's colorful.  that must mean it's good.
and really, if I was feeling appreciative 19 out of 29 days in a month, it was a good month.

3. Finally... what you've all been waiting for... what my ass looks like now!  You'll notice way down at the bottom of the sidebar (just below where I beg you to "like" me on Facebook, which you should really do if you haven't already) you'll see my "obligatory before picture."  I picked the ugliest sweatpants I owned and the most unflattering angle I could think of and immortalized the moment digitally... and one month later, and 20 pounds lighter, I donned the same pants and took the same picture (except it involved a mirror and self portraiture this time because the only other person who lives here is four) and here are the grand results:

sorry it's blurry.
For comparison, go ahead and check out the pictures in the sidebar... but if you're too lazy to do so I'll just go ahead and tell you.  This is a MAJOR improvement.  I still don't think this look is public-worthy (except maybe at Wal-Mart, but I don't go to Wal-Mart), but if I've given myself a year to look hot in sweats and this is where we are 1/12th of the way in... I'm happy with our progress.

Now, of course... and I hope everyone knows this by now: this really has nothing to do with sweatpants or my ass.  I mean, it does in that a hot ass is a measurable outcome and my hypothesis is that my ass-hotness will be a reflection of my self love because my ass-not-hotness was a reflection of my self destruction... and that's what this is about.  A year to learn to love myself.  A year to learn how to stop hurting myself.  A year to focus on me, and not only what I want, but also what I need, and what is best for me.

Thank you for joining me.


thank you for the presence

When BFO and I first broke up this fall I had tremendous numbers of people rallying around me offering support. Many asked what they could do to help, to which I answered "presents. you can give me presents." My primary love languages are "Acts of Service" and "Receiving Gifts" and at that time in my life I was able to meet most of my own needs, but what I couldn't do was afford to buy myself presents. And then they did (buy me presents) and It was wonderful. I felt loved.

I'm starting to see that I am offered gifts every single day. Every time I wake up and start a new day I am receiving a gift (wow, that's pretty hoky--even for me, but I'm feeling it so I'm going to continue), and an opportunity to feel love. This FULLfillment project is a gift to myself and with the first installment coming to a close I am already feeling the love.

Some of the gifts I've given my physical self include:

  • Eliminating the self destructive behaviors of eating foods that hurt my body
  • Improved vision in the form of new (and really cute) glasses

yep, that's me... and those are my new glasses.  no, i don't always look that adorable, but i don't usually take my own photo if i'm not.  and i don't know if i would call that creepy other eyeball all that adorable...

  • A reminder of my body's ability to quickly transform into an active, capable being
  • A visit to my naturopath and some new minerals that are already helping me to feel less panicked
  • A whole lot of nutrient-dense food
  • I'm sure there's more...

Today, I spent time with someone I've known for years now, but just recently reconnected with and am really enjoying bonding with. We're going to call her GT, for the name of her soon to be smashingly successful new business. While at her dining room table huddled over the laptop on two separate occasion she jumped up in excitement and returned a moment later with a little gift related to something we were talking about. And of course I felt the love.

So when I was leaving and said "thank you for the presents" and GT responded with "thank you for your presence" it all came together. This whole hellish week of hormone surges and failed attempts to feel love from food and fears and doubts and learning so damn much about myself that my heart truly hurt... it just came together right there.  Earlier today I read this, and I felt sad... knowing that I wasn't ready to give up on the idea of having that kind of love that exists within a "relationship," but just a few hours later I think I'm starting to get it.

Gifts are one of the primary ways I give and receive love, and the greatest gift I can ever give or receive is presence. And if I can remember that, and offer to be present for myself, I will never not have love.


your love is like (a roller coaster baby, baby)

...I wanna ride!

Actually. I don't. I hate roller coasters. And yes, I know we aren't supposed to say (or even feel) "hate," but I'm grumpy so that's what you're going to get.

I should mention before I continue that I am experiencing a "major hormonal event" (which is how my naturopath describes menstruation) and while it's never okay to ask a woman if her mood is related to her period it is certainly okay for me to blame my wacky behavior on it if I want to. So there. I have lost my keys and my glasses twice (each) since Monday and BOTH times with each (that's 4 individual losses of important items...) they were in my purse. Seriously. I'm a little off my rocker lately.

I will also tell you that there is nothing more draining than listening to your child cry for 40 minutes about wanting to watch tv after a long day of feeling sorry for yourself... all of this sunshine and lollipops I just served up: that's where I'm coming from right this moment.

I've been learning so much lately at such a rapid pace that it's starting to hurt a bit. You know I've started being more physically active and oddly enough I haven't experienced much muscle soreness... but my heart and soul are pretty achy from all the work they've been doing and I'm tired.

I can feel that I'm a roller coaster right now (and I don't like roller coasters remember?) and I have no one to blame but myself. I suppose this shouldn't come as a surprise, but I realized earlier that I had blamed BFO for a lot of my roller coaster experience and now that he's gone and I'm off of his coaster I have done a fine job of getting on my own. Damn.

It was pretty validating when I learned from a mentor and friend in a training last week that there are two methods of building resilience:
1. physical activity
2. meaning making

I've been hiking and waking and turning my TV time into workout time AND when I come here to blog I am absolutely making meaning for myself (taking all the bits and pieces of my life experiences and translating them into something that makes sense to me). I should be the most resilient mother-f-er on the planet right now!

I guess I am still standing...

The other night I bought a pizza. I brought it home and stood in the kitchen staring at it for a moment before I realized that I didn't want it. I mean, I wanted it... I bought it with the intention of eating it--all of it, but when faced with the task of actually putting it in my mouth... I couldn't. I felt sick at the thought. Food has always been a quick and easy way to get high (get high=stop feeling whatever uncomfortable feeling I'm having)... Want connection? Eat. Feel lonely? Eat. Tired? Eat. Need some love? Eat. I wanted the pizza to love me, and I knew it wouldn't... and I didn't really want to love it either...

I went to Costco today after work for spinach, bananas, and vinegar and I wandered around the bakery section looking for something to take home and feel loved by...

And again I didn't. And it's not because of any profound display of grace or self worth... It's just that nothing looked good! Since January 1 my relationship with food has changed so much that it doesn't even work anymore! The thought of indulging in some of the old standbys makes me physically ill and indulging in the allowable substitutes (a potato chip is a vegetable after all) does nothing other than usually upset my stomach.

Anyway... with only 5 days left in the month dedicated to nurturing my body I find myself having taken a couple inches off my thighs, looking and feeling younger and more energetic, sleeping well, and living without the comfort of my most reliable vice... I am not feeling the love from the foodstuff anymore, and it's pretty dang lonely.

I don't like roller coasters because I don't get a thrill from feeling scared. And now I'm on one of my own making and with each step toward being a healthier me I am stepping further outside of my comfort zone... and it's really fucking scary out here.  but, I found this the other day, and it feels pretty true.

so, I guess this is where I'm going to stay.


secrets and the sacred

I don't have a lot of secrets... Usually the only things I keep to myself are other people's secrets and the things I don't really know or understand about myself yet.  I don't have a high need for privacy (you never would have guessed it right?) and once I learn something about myself I am pretty eager to shout it from the rooftops.

Many of my friends have had an intimate level of knowledge about many of my relationships... talking about things is how I process and cope.  Still, something is happening in my life right now that I don't feel as compelled to share.  I still talk about it with people, even in some detail with a select few, but I've kept a lot more of it to myself this time than I ever have before.  AngryWombat was actually the first to notice my desire for privacy this time.  I usually tell her EVERYTHING--even the embarrassing stuff... and I was willing to talk about my feelings about this situation but I wasn't willing to give a play by play.  It became quickly evident to both of us that there was something sacred about this.  I wasn't hiding embarrassment or fear, concern or insecurity, I was protecting something very important to me and giving it the time and space to grow and thrive within the safety of my heart.

You may have noticed that nowhere in the 12 monthly installments of this project am I focusing on romantic love, ...and that is by design.  While I am not specifically avoiding it, I was aware in the process of deciding what to work on that I had a lot of things that had previously taken a backseat to my romantic relationships and I was going to intentionally reverse that for now.  I still want romantic love in my life...  damn do i... but I wasn't going to seek it out.  In fact, my expectation about this whole project is that the product of devoting so much time and energy to being my best self will be that I will have the things in my life that meet my needs--including romantic love if that's what's in the cards.

So, imagine my surprise (actually I wasn't really surprised at all, this is way life ALWAYS works) when an opportunity for romantic love presented itself...  and imagine no one's surprise that I was all sorts of eager to jump all over that!  ...and imagine how big of a fit I threw when it started not to go exactly the way I wanted it to (by changing pace).  ...and finally imagine how effectively I'm taking advantage of this opportunity for growth by looking at it in a positive, hopeful, healthy way (ha ha).

At the very least this last week has been amusing... and "amused" is one of those items in the list of "how I feel when I am doing well" in the sidebar.  I've been able to laugh at myself a lot.  One thing that has helped me do that is my horoscope.

I read a daily horoscope, just for the heck of it.  I am intriuged by astrology, and while I know enough about it to know that a blanket horoscope for the sun sign doesn't really mean much these are the gems of the last few days:
  • Friday (a couple days after a great date)-Your life is blossoming like an early spring, and you may find yourself branching out in strange, lovely new directions today.  (my reaction: woot!)
  • Saturday (the day I find out things aren't going exactly as I want them to)-Your desires are making life take a few twists and turns today -- but that doesn't mean you should rein them in! Make sure that you're pushing your needs as much as you can, actually.  (my reaction: you WANT me to be needy and demanding...?  ok then...)
  • Sunday- (the day after, when I'm dealing with my disappointment) Why bother? You don't feel like getting out of bed today, but the odds are good that you're feeling fine. In fact, your natural inclination to chill may be exactly what is needed right now.  (my reaction: is the universe really giving me permission to stay in bed and feel sorry for myself today?  I think I'll go for a hike instead)
I also got a little help from the universe in another message this morning:
With the vista of a new year still dawning, is it my imagination, or is someone out there forgetting that the "hows" are my domain? (my reaction: oops, yeah, that's me doing that...) That when it comes to manifesting change, their real job is to focus upon the end result. And that simply doing what they can, with what they've got, from where they are, will always be enough to move heaven and earth?

I didn't think so.

    The Universe

So, even though there is a small (and very noisy) part of me on the inside who was feeling like this:
your e cards | Tumblr
your e cards | Tumblr (clipped to polyvore.com)

In reality (the wiser, bigger, part of me who sees no need for shouting) is pretty thrilled to be on the receiving end of the gift of meaningful connection from a really fucking amazing person, no matter the context.

And I've been able to get here without cheese or shopping, so I must be on the right track.  Sigh--sometimes being healthy is hard...


my closet runneth over...

I was separated from BFO once before this (current and final separation that is almost a divorce)... about two years ago. And at the time I put a lot of effort into my physical health by eating clean and getting a lot of physical activity. At my lightest I had lost 60lbs and was looking and feeling good. So good, in fact, that I gave all of my old (and now too big) clothes away. I gave a lot away on Freecycle (get info about how to sign up for your local group on Freecycle.org) and even more to a friend at work.

It was hard, at this weight and size again... to accept the clothes back from the same friend who went out and got herself some very successful weight loss surgery. But, it was only hard for a moment because when I got home with the 6 jumbo trash bags full of clothes I:

1. Found a few great pieces that I had loved and missed
2. Discovered that much of it was way too big
3. And got the satisfaction of stuffing my closet to the brim without spending a cent!

All in all... it was great. And the further I get into this journey the more likely I am to see it all as great.

For exampke, I met my new primary care doc at Kaiser on Tuesday and her comment to me about my weight was "You look great, but your weight is higher than we want it to be to avoid things like diabetes and heart disease."

It was hard not to laugh. Yes. 100lbs or so... not really a "little" But the more I thought about it and remembered hearing a radio story about how doctors don't talk to their patients about weight I realized that this woman was brilliant! She paid me a compliment, and it felt genuine (I did look quite well put together that day), and that perfectly masked the sting of any weight related commentary. When I was a teen (and still at a healthy weight) my mom mentioned to me that I was eventually going to have to watch my eating and activity habits or I'd end up overweight like many of the people in our family. She didn't say I was fat, and I wasn't... She was just trying to warn me. Still, I'm sure I cried for weeks and then revenge ate myself into this overweight version of me as soon as I moved out of the house.

It's becoming so much easier to talk about it (being overweight) and own it (becoming overweight) as something that happened and doesn't have any real power over me... and then watch it fade slowly away.

We'll talk a little bit more about what is or is not happening in my closet another time. Soon, I hope.

Until then, a completely unrelated but oh so appropriate quote for where I am right now:

"Uncertainty is the only certainty there is, and knowing how to live with insecurity is the only security." John Allen Paulos

I don't know who this man is, but he sure did nail it didn't he? I wonder if he's written an instruction manual.

Now, I'm going to watch Project Runway All Stars while I work out. Because this is what I do people. This is the life.



I have a little secret to tell you.  It's not really Wednesday right now.  I mean, it might be when you're reading this... but it's not when I'm writing it.  In fact, it's Tuesday... and I am using the magic of television to post this on Wednesday.

After only a week of the regular posting schedule I'm already starting to look for excuses not to do it.  It's hard to blog when I don't feel like it, or haven't thought about it, and just don't want to.  I find that I put a lot of pressure on myself to have an epiphany for each post and there simply aren't enough epiphanies to go around!  Really, I think I'm just looking for ways to get out of doing the work, and since that's not going to happen I'm going to keep it up...  BUT... sometimes my life is going to get in the way of the schedule and this Wednesday I am so glad that it is.

So now, for your previously-recorded yet still live reading pleasure... All about brainspotting:

First off, you can decide to read what I will write about it, or you can go to the website of the guy who developed it, David Grand.  Or you can watch some youtube videos he made about it that are low in production value but high in information: video part 1, part 2, part 3.  If you want my version of all of this (minus the video--you're just going to have to imagine that in your head) read on!

Brainspotting is a therapeutic technique that uses the fact that our eye movements have relationships to places in our brains where memories, feelings, and traumas exist.  The combination of activating those brain centers with taking advantage of the brain's extremely literal interpretation of the world (it doesn't know the difference between real and pretend, past and present...) allows for focused healing of past traumas.  I have had two brainspotting experiences with my new therapist so far and both have been completely different.

Like a Brainspotting Virgin...
My sessions with the therapist begin with a little bit of talking about how I am (doing/feeling/whatevering) and the first time we did brainspotting she mentioned to me that she was noticing me looking down and to the left often.  She asked if I had noticed it too.  I hadn't.  

She brought out an iPod with attached headphones and I put them on.  She had me pick a place to stare that was in the downward, left direction I had been looking at before.  The music and sounds on the iPod began and the sound experience was completely bilateral (meaning it moved from ear to ear in a rhythmic pattern).  Apparently the bilateral sounds activate both sides of the brain...

Then the Brainspotting began when she started to ask me what was present.  In general I got mental images that were very much related to the sounds on the headset.  When the ocean sounds were present I saw an ocean scene, when the rain... I saw rain...  Nothing terribly exciting here yet.  As the sounds became less simply to identify as anything in particular I started to see images from my own life in the scenes.  I was able to describe the scenes and characters in excruciating detail including how they felt.  By the way, I'm still staring at the same spot (which was a clock on the floor) this whole time.  

All of the scenes and images were from my own life, mostly childhood.  Interestingly enough I couldn't see my dad in any of them... even though they were from times when he was still alive--the therapist mentioned it was like I had completely wiped him from my subconscious.  We'll be working on that, I suppose.  Eventually the mental images seemed to actually be superimposed over my field of vision.  It was like I could actually see the scene projected in a grainy image on the wall and floor ahead of my vision.

And that was really it... we were just practicing.  I was told that after we get more practice we will start to interact with the characters in the images and begin the process of healing past traumas by meeting the previously unmet needs of the versions of me within the scenes.

Brainspotting Take Two!
The second time we used the headset again, but this time I had my eyes closed the entire time.  She guided me through some breath focused relaxation and this time her questions were about sensations, and the colors and sizes of those sensations.  The more we talked about them the more they took shape... I think we jumped past just practicing when I found myself face to face with a younger version of myself telling me that she needed some of the things that I find myself craving so often now (to feel loved, to feel important, to excite and inspire people around me), and then I found myself in the unique position of knowing how to help her.  In the same way I would comfort spiderman and help him feel loved, important, and dynamic... I was able to do that for her.

I also came face to face with some of my less attractive tendencies: like self-doubt...  It tried to talk me into letting it stay... and I had to just send it love.  That was not easy... or fun.

Finally I found myself at a place of complete relaxation.  I don't know where it came from or how, but it was amazing that as soon as I saw it and described to the therapist she was able to describe exactly what was in my mind.  We both saw an old, white house on a sandy beach.  I was sitting on the porch, paint peeling on the boards that had grayed from the battering of salty wind.  Reedy grasses grew out of the sand right around the house and gentle waves lapped at the wet sand at the bottom of the porch steps.  Inside the house the walls were lined with bookshelves...  My body was completely free of any tension or activation and when our session ended she reminded me that this is a place that I can go to whenever I need to reach this fully
 relaxed state again.

The further I get from the experience the harder it is to get back to the house on the sand, but I'm not letting go of it and we'll see what else Brainspotting brings into my awareness...


oh shit!

It's Monday and I'm supposed to post tonight and I have NOTHING prepared.  Honestly.  I was going to hike to the Hollywood sign yesterday and post all about that but I didn't make it, and then I was going to post about not making it, but it really doesn't feel like a big deal... I'm pretty pleased with the way the day turned out despite the goal revision... so I've got nothing for you.

There is a lot of good happening in my life right now, but most of it isn't quite ready to share in this forum yet.  Me, actually being sort of private?  I know, it's shocking to me too.  Soon enough... really.

So, instead of my musings I'm going to provide you with a list of links to things that have amused, inspired, or interested me in the last week or so.  Enjoy!

There you have it.  Now, at least, you know what I've been thinking about...

I'm off to spend an hour on the mini elliptical while I watch RuPaul's Drag Race.

Happy Monday!


I don't care if Monday's blue...

This has been a hell of a week and while I'm not quite in love like in The Cure song, it is Friday and a damn good day it's been. It seems the ever practical theory that letting go of what you want will bring you what you need has struck again. So many things came together for me today in an ending I can only think to describe as peaceful. I wish we had more words in English, because that isn't quite specific enough but I have more to write about so I'm going to move on.

First. About cutting out white flour and sugar.

DAMN! That's hard! I made it about 3 days until I made an exception thinking it would be no big deal and I found myself in the complete experience of weaning off a chemical I was addicted to. The cravings were so powerful. The relief from them was short lived and I quickly found myself in a familiar cycle.

Forgive me if I am repeating myself here, but I realized I was addicted to food when I started to recognize my experiences of trying to stop eating certain things as being identical to how people describe what it's like to stop drinking alcohol. The first several days are fairly easy with some solid resolve. Days four through six are filled with insistent cravings promising euphoria in exchange for a grilled cheese sandwich. Then if I have even the tiniest bit of what I'm craving I start the whole cycle over again. I know from these experiences cutting out cheese (specifically) that exceptions cannot be made.

To take a harm reduction to approach to cheese withdrawal this last time I had lots of fake cheese on hand for the first week or so that and relied on it heavily. I was not expecting to need to do the same with white flour and sugar... And I was, um, not prepared. So, I haven't been successful. In fact I've been downright unsuccessful and I'm starting again once I can stock up on some whole grain bread and agave sweetened treats to get me through the early days of torture.

All that being said I am about 20lbs down from the horrid ass photo in the sidebar... and like I said, today was a great day.

I know I've said this before, but I've been wanting a good therapist for so long and now I have her and it's greater than I could have imagined! Hooray! I promise to tell you about brainspotting soon (next week okay?), but here's something new I learned from her today.

We have five levels of consciousness:
1. Physical: our bodies and how our bodies interact with the world
2. Mental: our thinking
3. Emotional: our feelings
4. Spiritual: our connection to spirit (whatever that means to us)
5. Unconscious: the parts of our experience that are constantly existing but we aren't aware of

When we have a problem it can usually be described as existing on one of these levels. My problem: I am not happy with my weight or my relationships to food. That's a physical problem. We often try to solve the problem on the same level it exists on. So for weight/physical problems we change our eating habits and may start to exercise and we may even be effective at losing weight but it isn't a lasting change and we continue to cycle through weight changes. It isn't until we look to the other levels that we are able to make lasting changes. My physical problem will not be solved on the physical level, it will be solved on a mental, emotional, spiritual, or unconscious level.

Awesome, right? Here are some examples from the world:

1. Oprah, bless her. She has all the money and resources in the world but a focus on trying to solve her weight problem on a physical level led to nothing but a very public battle with a constantly changing figure

2. 12-Step programs. The 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and other groups following a 12-step model do not go like this: step 1. Don't drink, steps 2-12. Repeat step 1. No! The 12 steps that millions (I'm just guessing here, correct me if I'm) of people around the world (again... Is this true?) credit with their sobriety couldn't be further from focusing on the same level the problem exists on. The focus is very clearly on doing the work on the spiritual, emotional, and mental levels... In fact, physical level sobriety isn't even required in order to get support.

Good stuff.

I'm not going to abandon the changes I have made to my diet or activity routines. They work for me. I feel better. I am going to pursue more ways to figure out how I can feel good as it relates to food and movement. But it won't stop there (it was never going to... I just wasn't so clear about where to start before).

My homework, both tasks to reprogram my brain (do you know that your brain doesn't know the different between past and present, real and pretend? It is at your command to believe whatever you tell it) both to do some work on an emotional or mental level...

1. A new belief to bring into my life: My body is perfect for what I'm here to do-what I'm here to learn.

2. A new daily practice: in the shower each day as I clean each part I am to say aloud that I love it. "I love my body. I love my shoulders, my hips, my thighs, my breasts" until it becomes true.

Anyone up for trying either or both of these assignments? I'll be doing them too so you'll know you're not alone.


Getting Divorced Gracefully

I might be a little off topic today (is there really "on-topic" around here?), but this idea is knocking really loudly on the door inside my head that is between the inside and outside so I'm opening the door so it will STOP and get out!

When I first realized that my marriage was ending I googled "getting divorced gracefully"  Well, actually... first I googled "what to do if your husband says he doesn't love you anymore."  The answer to that question, by the way is: There is nothing you can do; be your best self and that will either draw him to you or, if it doesn't, at least you will be your best self.  So, that's what I've been doing... from the very first day and while I stopped hoping it would draw him to me long, long ago I've been clinging pretty tightly to what it means to be my best self.

Something I do that helps me be my best self is write... and the second part of that something is sharing those writings (hence the blog).  I have been itching to blog about how to get divorced gracefully.  Early on I was pretty confident that I could (get divorced gracefully) and that I would blog about it along the way and have some kind of helpful guide by the end.  I was particularly driven to this goal by finding another woman's blog on the same topic that was full of posts with songs that helped her make it through the day and giving thanks to God (I assume the Judeo Christian one...) and I couldn't relate to any of that (I'm not saying she isn't a lovely woman...  She has 401 more Facebook "Likers" than this blog does, so she's doing something right!).  Assuming there were other people who couldn't relate I thought I might be able to fill a gap.

So, it's been on my mind for a while and I've done some writing (but not sharing) and even more thinking and at one point I got here:

"How to get Divorced Gracefully"

You can't.  Stop trying.  Go do something else.

and then I got past that lovely space and did more thinking and then this morning I got here:

"How to get Divorced Gracefully"

Don't blog about it.

Yep, simple as that.  I still aim to get divorced gracefully.  I still intend to act with dignity and grace.  I still intend to be honest, straightforward, and clear intentioned... and even though I would blog with all of those same values in mind I don't think it would go over well.  So, I'm not going to.

But I am writing it all down, and maybe someday I will have a very entertaining book to share with you.