4.30.2012

the paradox of desire

Look at that!  I'm following through on something I said I'd do (write about desire).  Yay me!

I'm feeling better about life today.  I noticed it this morning when AngryWombat was text griping (no judgement there... that is what we do for each other) and out of my thumbs came something to the effect of "life is beautiful and so are you."  Yep, full blown cheese mode... and it felt good.  I guess there is one kind of cheese I can tolerate after all!  (still apparently in cheese mode).

I don't recall if I shared but I was going to give myself 10 days to wallow in self pity over the absence of 38 (if you're reading this: i miss you... still think about you every day... and will continue to...--i just don't feel bad about it anymore).  Today is day 8 and I can say with confidence that I don't need the extra 2 days.  I'm going to put them back in the emotional energy bank to withdraw on next time I need some comfort.  It's a relief to be here, not because I have any of the answers I seek... but just because I grow weary of feeling crappy very quickly... I used to be able to stay in crap for weeks, months, and maybe even years, but now that I've seen the good life I just can't do it for very long anymore.

(for some reason the browser keeps giving me a little pop-op telling me I've been logged out from another location and asking me if I want to log in again.  ignoring it isn't working, but I'm going to keep trying to anyway!)

On with the show!  Oh wait, first... if you didn't see the extra post on Friday night please go check it out, and then go check out "The Girl Most Likely To."  Do it.  For me.  Please?

Now, on with the show!

What do you think/see/hear when you read the word desire?

I'll give you a minute to stop picturing "showtime after dark" imagery in your head... go on, it's fine.  This is a safe place.

Okay, now that those images have passed, what comes next?  What is desire?

(this is where I pretend that we're having an actual conversation)

Right.

Absolutely.

Desire is wanting.  What are some other words we could use to describe desire?

Longing?  Good.  Craving?  Sure.  Let's look at all three of those words: wanting, longing, and craving.  Are those things that we're "supposed" to do?  (really, this would work SO much better if we were in the room together right now.  let me try and switch gears...)

I don't know if the same is true for you, but I get the sense that wanting, longing, and craving aren't very attractive behaviors or states of being... I don't get the feeling that I am supposed to want.  I mean, I am supposed to be patient and supposed to be grateful and gracious, and supposed to be satisfied right?

WRONG.

I mean, yes... right.  There is some truth to all of that, but what makes it just as mind boggling as anything else when you really stop to think about it is that desire is both a requirement for and the source of all resistance to growth.  argh!  (am i right?  argh! with me.)

I'd like to try and reframe desire so that it is no longer a dirty word (in the second context, you can still make it as dirty as you want when talking about sex) but I'm not sure I have enough time to do that before I have to go pick up spiderman from my mom's.

So, here's where we are...  I can tell you in exactly three steps (only three?  yes.  only three) how to get anything:

  1. desire it
  2. know you deserve it
  3. stop caring if you ever get it
Simple right?  (ha!  no.  so, so complex).

We've (I've) got to stop thinking that desire is bad... desire is required for any kind of growth.  And of course I should want... of course I should have my heart's desire (and so should you)... (there's step two already).  I get along fairly comfortably through steps one and two and then at three I am hung up more often than not.

I am supposed to desire something, know that I deserve it, and then stop caring if I ever get it?  

Um... how? (not rhetorical.  For the record, I don't know that there is an answer to that question, but if you have one please offer it here in the comments section).

Brief digression to tell you a bit more about my last several days:  Like I mentioned on Friday I planned a full weekend of distraction for myself and it turned out perfectly.  I was occupied when I needed to be, had plenty of time for rest, and even had enough time to decoupage the hell out of my new desk--what more could a girl want?
my new "creative" space

The weekend essentially closed with a visit to a local meditation group.  I sat with the group in a 45 minute meditation (just silence...  woah--I'll tell you more about that on Wednesday), through an hour long discussion about resistance--not a coincidence!, and a final 15 minutes of meditation again) and it was lovely...

So, here's what I think I am learning... here's what I think might be the "non-answer" to the impossible, but still not rhetorical question.  How do we effectively accomplish step 3?  How can we exist in the tension between desire and surrender?  How can we want something with all of our heart and soul and be willing to live without it?

I'm sorry to say my friends, but the answer is the same as all the rest: self love.

Before you get all flustered... 'self love, wtf? does that mean anyway?!  she's always talking about it and then she goes and eats quesadillas and grumble grumble grumble'  

Yes, I say it all the time... and I don't know for sure that I know what it means, and I definitely do some self harmful things and I pay for them... but here's what I learned this weekend.  Self love is going to be different for you, and the only way to find out what it is is to try some things out.  Here's what I think it might be for me: 
  • going to plays
  • telling people about things I think are beautiful
  • reading books
  • going to the movies
  • eating a cupcake for lunch
  • falling asleep on the couch watching tv
  • meditating (sneak peek of wednesday's post--meditating may be radiating the light back inward...  think about it)
  • talking to friends
  • art projects
  • ...
Okay, so that's what self love might "mean" to me... and why/how is it the answer?  I can answer this part with more confidence: because when you're (I'm) immersed in self love I am getting all my needs met.  I can see still outside of myself and identify things I want, but I stop "needing" them to complete me... I am already complete.  I can make room in my heart and my life for anything that will agree to peacefully coexist, but there are no pre-existing voids.

Thanks for sticking around while I try and figure this out.  I'm grateful for your presence.

Now, leave me a comment or two (please).

Questions for today: 
  1. What are some of the things you do (or stop doing) to "let go"?
  2. What does self love look like to you?

4.27.2012

you MUST go see this play

I am not a play reviewer (critic?  see... I don't even know what they're called!), I am not a fellow artisan of the stage (not a director, playwright, or even actor although my riveting portrayal of Mrs. Peterson in the Orange High School drama production of Bye Bye Birdie is still making waves in my hometown), I am just a (newly divorced) girl with a broken heart (unrelated to the divorce) looking for something to do on a  Friday night (when her son is at his father's for the weekend)... and what happens?  I find this while I'm poking around on goldstar trying to make life meaningful.  I buy a ticket, happen to recruit TheAngryWombat, and the plan is in motion.



I spent most of intermission brainstorming how I was going to tell the world about this brilliant play and by the time I got home I realized I had much more to say than a mere status update would allow.  And with that... I am writing my first play review and probably talking about myself as much as I normally do in any of these posts.

"The Girl Most Likely To" opens with vintage, Filipino drag queen Mama Cid explaining the ancient tradition of cross dressing as a means to cross into different spiritual worlds--I am instantly sold of course.  If you haven't noticed: some of my most recent discoveries about myself have triggered an obsession with anything gender queer.  The story unfolds to describe the journey of a teenage boy who longs to be a girl and...

You know what, I don't really want to write a review.  Somehow it seems like a review should include a synopsis and I don't want to tell you what I saw, I want to tell what I felt.   If you want more details about what the play is "about" and/or want a professional's opinion check out any of these reviews:

Steven Stanley at StageSceneLA

Travis Michael Holder at Backstage

Dale Reynolds at Latin Heat

where are all the female theater critics?  (that's what they're called, by the way... "theater critics."  and I am still not one)

oh, here's one Amy Tofte at LA Stage Times.  Thank you for coming through for me, Amy.

The story in "The Girl Most Likely To" is pretty specific.  It is inspired by the life and unfortunate death of a transgender teenager... and while it's true that the queer storyline is what made it stand out from the crowd of other random theater offerings this (and every) weekend on goldstar, I am not--nor have I ever been--a transgender teenager.  What I am left with, however, is that this play was about the human experience.  In the two hour (plus a smidge more) story I experienced every emotion on the spectrum.

I was thrilled and delighted by the drag queen lip synching and whole cast choreographed dance numbers, I laughed out loud at the patronizing "Twilight" jokes, I whimpered at the unintentionally harsh words of the fearful mother, I sobbed and screamed and cried at what I can only describe as a brilliant use of space, time, light, emotion...  wow.

The play wasn't about a transgender teen.  The play was about human beings.  Thanks to the phenomenal writing, directing, and acting I fell in love with every lovable character and hated each hateable one in the purest way possible.  From start to finish I was completely immersed in the lives of the characters, their stories, and my story as I reflected on the fact that everything they experienced was so human... even, and especially the ugly bits, and I was experiencing it right along with them.  Even better, I was ripped from my story.  I am so far from outside my head now... I am back in the collective mind... the human experience.  Deeply connected to each and every one of you.

Something else happened in the therapist's office this morning that I forgot to tell you about.  She encouraged me to look for a way to give my time and energy in service.  She explained that the emotional blocks I was enduring were all ego based.  Concern about being left or forgotten or dismissed or made suddenly unimportant are all concerns of the ego and the BEST way to get past the ego and back into your true self is to give of yourself.  I knew I would be compliant instantly (I am a good girl), but I didn't have any immediately inspired ideas.  Sure, I could serve food at the Rescue Mission, but so could anyone else... there had to be something that I could do because of what I have to offer.

I know where I'm headed now.  It's the most self loving place I can think of to start...  A place where giving of myself is the exact same kind of love that I need to give to myself.  Thank you to the creators, performers, and hosts of "The Girl Most Likely To" for getting me there.

Everyone else... go see this play, and then tell everyone you know to go see it.  It needs to be seen.



i heart my therapist

I have a really good therapist.  She's so good in fact that I don't even mind that she doesn't really know my name...  Apparently being able to support someone emotionally does not require some of the basic social nonsense we are sometimes focused on to a fault.

That was a long way of telling you I went to therapy today and it was great.  It felt like a brain massage which to me is exactly what therapy should be.  It loosened up some emotional material and at the end I felt quite comforted and taken care of.  Often I can't cry in therapy (because I am INSANELY detached from my emotions at very innopportune times) but that wasn't the case today (by the way, I am down to 50% of the dosage of Lexapro I was taking for anxiety before... I am not experiencing much--if any--generalized anxiety.  I am just experiencing feelings, and being able to process them through tears and stuff... and that is what I was going for so... yay!).

I thought I was going to write about "desire" today, it's been coming up a lot in my world this week... but it's going to have to wait for next week because something else has come up instead.  

Again, I haven't meditated or done my intuitive journaling since Monday but I'm sure this weekend will be a good opportunity to get that routine better established.  Spiderman is with BFO and it's just me and all of the millions of things I have planned for myself to avoid quiet time with my thoughts (tonight: a play and gluten free/vegan bakery with theangrywombat, tomorrow: sleeping in buying a cool desk on craigslist and going to see bully by myself, sunday: hiking and a meditation group).  I have a feeling I am still going to have PLENTY of time to think.  

That's where the good therapy comes in... pretty good timing to get some guidance from a trusted caretaker at this moment.

So I totally get that stuff happens on the journey that is life, and that we don't get to choose what stuff happens, but that we can choose to look at everything that happens as an opportunity to learn more about ourselves and love.  Totally get it, and usually even exist there pretty comfortably... just not there this week.  I get it so much that I find myself craving the moment that I am married to the lesson I'm supposed to be learning right now.  Instead I know what the lesson is and I am just completely resistant to it.  It's like it and all of its peace and glory is just about a block ahead and I could totally catch up if I just picked up my pace to a light jog but I am wearing cement shoes and dragging my feet is the best I can do right now.

Good news from the therapist office: resistance is a sign that you are super close to a giant leap forward.  Resistance is that part of you that is trying to lovingly protect you from what's scary and potentially painful.  Resistance needs a loving pat on the head and then to be ignored and pushed past.  So, that's what I am going to be working on this weekend... pushing past the resistance and taking the leap.

What's the leap?  Well, like I've told you I already know that what I can be learning from this is that if I give myself the love I am so willing and able to give others that I'll be set for life.  It's a pretty big one and I don't think that's any coincidence.  I think it makes a lot of sense that when you cross paths with someone whose heart you can speak to directly through your heart it is bound to bring up all of your stuff--and this is clearly my stuff.

What's the fear?  I feel nervous about saying it here because I am not sure how it will make me sound (like an ass maybe?)... but I'm going to do it anyway: I am afraid that if I push past the resistance and REALLY love myself as willingly as I love her that when we do reconnect I may be in a different place than she is.  We're both working on the same thing in this time apart and although there is no way to do this I want to find some way to keep pace with her while we're apart so that we'll be perfectly matched when it's time to come back together.

So, I tell the therapist this and she asks me if it is "possible that loving yourself more authentically will make you even more capable loving her?"

Um, yes.  Totally possible.  Yes, let's go with that.  It's already on the blog here under "things I know to be true": if we're going to make up stories in our head (which I am going to do) let's make up good ones.

Obviously this is bigger than my heartbreak over 38...  I cling to relationships because I want to be connected.  I put loving myself last because it seems more important to love others enough to keep them close.  Turns out, what's probably true (I'm going to try and let you know): if I love myself first I have more love to give and more ways to be connected.  Wowza.

4.25.2012

just kidding... I'm only on 93

I guess blogger counts drafts as posts and when I realized how many I had and deleted the drafts I found that I only had 92 posts under my belt, not 99.  It's allright.  Now I'll be watching for it and will plan something special for us.  I'm better when I have time to prepare, spontaneity isn't my greatest strength.

Hi, how are you?  (then you say, "good, how are you?")

Oh, how am I?  I'm... um... well... I'm okay I guess.  

I'm learning a lot that's for sure.  Four days into missing someone you love doesn't hurt as much as it does the first or second day.  Today was more like a dull, persistent ache than anything.  Now that I think about it I almost prefer the intense shooting pains, because they go away and when they're gone I find myself pleasantly surprised to be on the other side of them.  The dull ache is an old nemesis, and I responded to it today in the same way I used to...  yep: cheese.

I knew I was going to do it, it wasn't impulsive... it was planned, and up to an hour before it actually happened I could already feel the pain in my stomach.  It would have made sense to leave it at that.  Eat an apple, feel the pain in the stomach, be distracted from the pain in my heart, and thank my body for giving me what I needed without me having to harm it into that state.  Instead I ate the cheese anyway, and it didn't hurt (which is a MAJOR problem... without consequences I have no motivation to avoid the self destructive behavior.  I can only hope I have a shitty day tomorrow to turn myself back around--kidding, sort of).  It just numbed the ache. I feel full, not fulfilled, but full.

On to more inspiring topics!

In terms of my commitments for this month so far I have done the following: 
1. Meditated 0 times
2. Had intuitive conversations 0 times

wait... didn't I say MORE inspiring?  I haven't done much for myself since Monday... I'm in a bit of a emotional survival mode, just trying to get by: be a mom, do my job, make it through rush hour traffic without crying (optional).  

It's interesting because I know that doing both of those things (meditation and the intuitive conversations) would greatly increase my capacity for healing... maybe I want to feel bad for a little while.  Oh well, tomorrow is another day (which is the painful truth I wake up to every damn morning when the sun reminds me that I have to figure out to how to exist again).  Sorry for the darkness here, but I'm getting the message that you all welcome the vulnerability, and this is where I am.

Despite being entrenched in my own drama I am filling the calendar up with opportunities to stick to my commitments.  It's going to happen.

Okay... NOW on to more inspiring topics.

To be sure I'm perfectly clear about something that I have been intentionally vague about more than once: 1. I met someone last fall who I felt instantly connected to, 2. that connection became more than a friendship (emotionally) for both of us, 3. we decided not to be in a romantic relationship (we both have a lot of self-love work to do) and tried to make a friendship work so we could continue to be in each other's lives while we worked on the stuff that was keeping us apart, 4. it didn't work...  the connection is too deep.  i fell in love., 5. we decided to take some time apart to do the needed self-work independently of one another, 6. we will come back together later this year to see how we can be in each others' lives.

The person is 38.  Saturday was the last time I saw her.  

That's the story as clearly as I can tell it. 

As you heard on Monday I already know that I can be using this opportunity where I'm not getting what I want exactly when I want it to learn patience (<--screw that)... to learn self love.  And oh what a rich opportunity it has been so far.  I have been so patient with myself and so kind to myself.  I am just letting myself feel all of the dark, yucky, mucky feelings and letting myself engage in all sorts of self destructive behaviors (oh shit, that's NOT self loving... I'll keep working on that one).

...and beyond those simple gestures of compassion, GT helped me see another way that this is exactly what I need right now.  I have always been afraid of being left.  I am certain that the people I love and people who love me will eventually leave me... and so I cling to them in desperation, willing to do anything and everything to keep them close and make them happy to be there until the point that our relationship dies and there isn't so much as a smoldering ember left to try and revive.

Last week the word abandonment came up in my head a lot.  I knew that Saturday was going to be the last time we saw each other for a while, and I knew that I was going to miss her, and I knew that it was going to be hard... and when I thought about all of those things I had normal reactions like fear, relief, confusion...  And when I wasn't thinking about it and just going about my day I would hear little whispers in my ear like "why is she abandoning you?" or "you have to do something!  don't let her abandon you!" and "it's happening again.  you're being left."

ouch.  

but I fought back...  NO!  I am not being abandoned.  That is NOT what is happening here.  It may feel similar, but that's just an old program... an old expectation my brain used to operate one.  We're choosing this for our relationship while the fire is still burning.  Rather than waiting until the point that one or both of us has smothered it to death, we're each going to take a torch, we're each going to stoke our individual fires until they're strong enough to light our way, and then we're each going to bring what we have back together to see how bright a light we can create.

That's what is happening here.  

Now if only it didn't have to hurt.

4.23.2012

My 100th Post!

Wow, 100 posts, that's cool.  That's not what I came here to write about but it's what I was confronted with when I arrived.  That seems to be what this blog is all about... honoring what we're confronted with when it isn't what we planned for or expected, eh?

Before I do that and to make sure that I don't fall short of my promises to keep you informed I want to get two things out of the way...

  1. Dalai Lama: despite an initially overwhelming start that involved many winding lines of people in the parking lot of the Long Beach Arena and an underwhelming warm up before I could really understand what HH was talking about... it was fun.  I was with a great group of ladies, and the knowledge being shared (while not new--and yes I feel a little self important for saying that, but yeah... I didn't hear anything new.  I suppose that could mean that I wasn't open to hearing something new, but I'm just going to go with: I'm really fucking enlightened.  Like Dalai Lama-esque enlightened) was on point.
  2. Heartbreak: I'm sorry to back peddle here, but it's gone back into sacred space so there's not much I'm willing to share...  What I can say: The person I have been having a non-relationship with since the beginning of this year isn't in my life right now (as of 5:00 a.m. Sunday morning).  It was a mutually, self-loving choice on both of our parts and this isn't the end of our story, but despite that and despite the beautiful day we shared Saturday and into the early light of Sunday... I am indeed heartbroken. Or perhaps more accurately terrified of future heartbreak. Lucky (ha, like it's "luck."  Luck is just what people who don't know about magic call magic) for me, this month's theme is right on par with quieting the mind and soothing a broken heart.

This month is called "ish."  To me, that's about living in the unknown, living with uncertainty, living without the answers... and the only way I know how to do that is through my spiritual self.

Here's what I am committed to this month:

  • Daily meditation (2-3 times a day.  I'd like to do it upon waking and before bed and maybe midday too)
  • Daily intuitive conversations (these are conversations I have with my intuition by sitting down with a notebook that was once my "morning pages" and just start writing--usually questions, and get the most loving answers... it's pretty much the most amazing thing I've ever experienced within myself)
  • Spiritual Journeys (literally... I am going to go places that are known for their spiritual energy and just be there and soak it in.  Probably only two because I have a limited amount of child free weekends, but I'll do as much as I can)
  • Tapping into resources (I'm going to look everywhere and anywhere for information about my authentic self--astrology, tarot, talks, books, podcasts, a labyrinth, you all, all sorts of places)
  • Group spirituality (I am going to "church." Anyplace I can find where people gather to build their spiritual energy)


So far, here's what I know. I have been more loving to myself since this project started than I ever have been in my life. This self love has increased my already enormous (sometimes generous to a fault) capacity for loving others. I was told today in my intuitive conversation that if I can give myself the love I am always trying to give others I will have everything I need. Of course this is kind of vague, cryptic, and overwhelming but to give it more context...

Someone I love very much (you can go ahead and guess who that is) heard me tell them something in response to some fearfulness they were having this weekend. When I repeated it back to myself I realized that I can very literally take the love I have been giving her and give it directly back to myself. Here's what it was:

Nothing bad is happening. Something good is happening. Anticipating and preparing future disappointment does not delay or prevent it nor does it lessen the pain when disappointment comes. All that it does is rob us of the opportunity to experience the joy of the present moment.

Hear that self? If it was good enough for her it is good enough for you.

Seems like a good place to start.



4.20.2012

thank god that's over (oh wait, it's not...)

Today is the last day of the "parenting" month and I can't be more relieved.  I don't care if it makes me a social outcast to say so, I am way too self absorbed to focus any more time on my relationship with a tiny soul-sucking person within the context of this fulfillment project.  

Yes, I am being intentionally crass.  Fun right?

By the way, I'm still not really up for this (I'd rather be wallowing in self-pity and cleaning my house), but this blog is the first time I've ever been accountable to myself so I figure I should keep it up and make this part of who I am...  Moving on!

This month has been difficult.  Again, the graphs show that I exist on a roller coaster.  I describe the qualities I track and chart as being part of "being my best self," but really what that means is "am I having a good day or a bad day?"  As you can see, I have some days that exist in the middle, but I have a lot of great days and then some really shitty days.  I'm still looking for that essential (is it?) balance.
this month's trend... moving down... this week has been a doozy




The good news: if these charts mean anything (which they probably don't), the whole FP to date is still showing an upward trend.
annual forecast... still moving up!

I didn't experience any consistent best self qualifiers this month, I was kind of all over the place seeing a much wider spread across all of them.
not feeling so light this month!

For anyone who is wondering, I used the "conscious choice log" four times this month (but am not bothering with a chart).  Four out of four times I did it for something food related and I think writing down the painful consequences of my choice helped kick me back into gear with food and exercise.  I have strictly adhered to the foods that are best for my body and I have been working out for about an hour a day since early last week!

which brings me to my final update for the evening: my ass!

An ass only picture is included in the sidebar with all of the others for comparison as usual, but an expanded view is here (honestly, I cannot believe I am taking pictures of my ass and posting them on the internet... this is very surreal.  why isn't anyone telling me how ridiculous this is?) because I am pretty excited to see that this is what I look like from the back end.  I'm pretty sure I still weigh the same (I forgot to weigh myself this morning and I'm not going to do it now) and my ass is still lumpy, but the shape is much better than last month, there's an absence of back flab, AND my waist shrunk considerably (that and in any of the previous pictures my arm flab was way too heinous not to crop out).  I am starting to remember that my ass never really gets smaller, just the things around it do.  I'm okay with that.  That can still look good in sweatpants.


anyway, enjoy.

Finally, back to the point of this whole damn project.  I'm experimenting with things in all areas of my life and being to see where I find the most fulfillment, to see where I should be spending my time and emotional energy, to see (more clearly) the path to being my best self and staying on it...

This month I learned that I love my son more than I even knew I did.
This month I learned that being his mom is probably the most important thing I do each day.
This month I learned there are TONS of resources out there to help me do that job the best that I can.
This month I learned that my relationship with him is going to teach me more about myself than I will likely ever give to him.
This month I learned that I can have fun just being with him and gratefully soak up these moments while they are here.

...and this month I learned that it (being a parent) doesn't fulfill me on its own.  I still need to do things (like make art, and seek spirituality, eat well and move my body, and we'll find out what else in the coming months) to feel fulfilled so I CAN BE a great mom.  Totally worth it.  Totally.

Dalai Lama and heartbreak are on the agenda for tomorrow.  I'll let you know how both go.

4.18.2012

copping out

Tonight's cop out blog post is brought to you by a hurricane of intense emotion, a full plate of self care (and regular old to do list) agenda items, and a complete unwillingness to be vulnerable.

In lieu of my vulnerability please enjoy these pieces I enjoyed this week:
honoring the emotional child
six words you should say today
my children are people
mommy is a person

I'll see you on Friday to wrap up the "month" and answer the question you're dying to hear about: is parenting fulfilling? (sneak peek: nope)

until then... xoxo

4.16.2012

haircuts aren't supposed to hurt

the inspiration photo
I have never felt nervous about a haircut before.  my hair has been every color, length, and style imaginable and I've always been able to pull it off.  i have a very talented stylist and she has a great canvas to work with (if I do say so myself).

today, driving into the salon, my heart was racing (which could be related to the fact that I'm weaning off my anti-anxiety medication, and/or the fight BFO and I got into yesterday, and/or the fact that I ate corn chips yesterday but either way... it raced).  I was nervous and that was new for me.


I sat there wondering what my nerves were all about while the peroxide lifted the color from my hair and burned the living snot out of my scalp... When meditative breathing wasn't working to dull the pain anymore I attempted to distract myself by checking my email and found an email from 38 that ended with: "I hope your external transformation will be as full, happy, enlightened, satisfying and heart opening to you as was your internal transformation." (I know, she's great right?)

what i came in with...
...and then the nervousness was a bit clearer.  Oh!  That's what I'm doing here...  this dramatic change I'm making to my outward appearance is another attempt to make the inside and the outside match.  I don't look the way I feel lately and that hasn't been sitting well with me.  I don't know that I necessarily feel like a blonde pixie but it's a starting point.  And it's funny that the external transformation felt A LOT like the internal one: there was fear, doubt, anxiety, pain, hopefulness, excitement, drama (can't live without that), etc. etc. etc, the main difference isn't that I didn't love myself through it as effectively as I have been the internal transformation.

Despite the fact that I adore my stylist and we have the most divine conversations about self love and feelings, The nervousness didn't subside... it intensified as the next seven hours brought all sorts of yellow/orange/brassy colored hair surprises, really coarse fluffy mushroom headed surprises, and finally a (not surprise) great haircut, but by then all of my liquid eyeliner had melted off and I was too emotionally exhausted from staring at my own flabby, white calves for so long to appreciate it.

I left the salon feeling completely vulnerable. I mean, the 25% reduction in pharmaceutical anxiety support, baby daddy squabbles, and corn chips aside, I spent the whole day in a chair, feeling afraid, and telling myself nasty things about the reflection staring back at me. It was not the best care I've ever taken of myself.

And you know what? I'm still in it... I redid my makeup at home, styled the hair in a way that maximized my cuteness, posted pictures on facebook, got tons of positive feedback, and am now loving my hair, but my scalp and my heart are still quite raw. I don't have a nice neat little way to wrap this up with a profound conclusion. I learned not to do that again (permit active self loathing), but that's it!

now that is what i think i look like on the inside.

I guess that's enough for now.

4.13.2012

life is terrifying

I had to take an online Child Abuse Prevention Training course this week at work.  I took it on Monday, which as you may recall was a pretty emotional day (pretty as in "very" because it certainly wasn't "pretty"), and it was a disaster.  I'm glad that I sit with my back to the rest of the people in my office because I am not sure I am ready for all of these new work people to see me in such a destroyed state.

Couple things:
1. My greatest (irrational?) fear in this lifetime (yes, more than tsunamis and sharks to those who know my previous fears) is that my child will be molested.  I don't know where this fear comes from... no, I wasn't molested... but it SCARES the shit out of me.  I mean, I know it's a scary thing for everyone, but I actively think about how to prevent it from happening more way time than I am willing to admit.  I am close to be convinced that nearly everyone I encounter is a potential predator.  It's a little much... I know it is.
2. This training started with "Sam" an actual man who molested children (not an actor--shudder) talking about how he got away with it.

It nearly killed me.

(ugh.  it is awful to even remember it!)

and right now... my son is off with his father for the weekend.  his father certainly loves him.  his father would certainly protect him from harm.  his father is aware that he is responsible for his care.  but his father has a completely different view of how that love should be expressed, how to protect and what/where the potential harm really is, and what it means to be responsible for his care than I do (and my way is clearly right, right?).

and... I have to let it go.  (boo!)  Because being an ass isn't illegal (that's a universal truth to get acquainted with if you are now or ever do go through a divorce, by the way...), I have no power in this situation... I cannot prevent damage, I can only repair what is done.  It sucks.

When I start to think this way I wonder at the marvel that I manage to get out of bed every day.  Seriously, life is so terrifying!

Speaking of terrifying...  I've noticed a shift in one of my core fears lately.  I think it's fair to assume that our experiences/traumas shape our world view and part of our world view (unfortunately) is a reaction to what we fear.  I lost a parent at 11, and (because I'm a pretty literal person) I have lived much of the last 20 years afraid that people close to me will die.  Literally.  When I think about the worst case scenario in any of my relationships... when I get into my "story" it always includes death of someone who I am deeply connected to.

Until recently...  I have noticed in the last couple of weeks that when I get into my "story" it isn't ending with death, instead I am simply convinced that the people I love will suddenly stop loving me (for no apparent reason--without warning).  It doesn't take too much investigating to figure out where that comes from right?

As terrible as our relationship was, I believed that BFO would love me until the end of time.  I have always known I was loved... as a child I knew I was loved, and I know I am loved as an adult.  And I was so preoccupied with the fear that love would go away because of death it never occurred to me that love would go away because of a person's choice.  Now that I've experienced the earth shattering reality that people who promised to love you forever break their promises I am all too aware that it could happen again and again.  It's even more interesting to me to realize that even though I am completely grateful for the outcome of the lapse in love it still damaged me enough to essentially replace the core fear I've been working with since I was 11 years old.

Crazy stuff this terrifying life is.

And can you believe that the answer to the question (how do I get out of bed every morning and face this terrifying life?) is to surrender?  Wowza.

4.12.2012

addendum to: doing right by our rights

I was thinking about blogging today (I told you I was committing to thinking about it at least three times a week, and I'm doing it.  I'm sometimes good at doing what I say I'm going to do) and realized that I left something important out of last night's post.

Because I am already daydreaming about writing something very snotty about effective co-parenting in divorced parent relationships for tomorrow's blog I figured I'd throw in a little bonus tonight.

I forgot to mention about the Personal Bill of Rights that the most important thing to know about it is that you and everyone else on earth shares the same rights.  Obviously I emphasized that you (I) do, and that our children do, but I forgot the "everyone else" part.  I think that's because historically I have been all too aware of other people's right to their rights.  In fact, I've given away many of mine to ensure they can have theirs honored.  So when I think about the Personal Bill of Rights it is most useful for me as a tool to remember that those are my rights and a tool to remember that they are also my son's.  For any who might need it... here's another way of looking at them:


1. Every human being on earth (including myself and my child) has the right to ask for what we want
2. Every human being on earth (including myself and my child) has the right to say no to requests or demands we can't meet.
3. Every human being on earth (including myself and my child) has the right to express all of our feelings, positive or negative.
4. Every human being on earth (including myself and my child) has the right to change our minds.
5. Every human being on earth (including myself and my child) has the right to make mistakes and not have to be perfect.
6. Every human being on earth (including myself and my child) has the right to follow our own values and standards.
7. Every human being on earth (including myself and my child) has the right to say no to anything when we feel we are not ready, it is unsafe or it violates our values.
8. Every human being on earth (including myself and my child) has the right to determine our own priorities.
9. Every human being on earth (including myself and my child) has the right not to be responsible for others' behavior, actions, feelings or problems
10. Every human being on earth (including myself and my child) has the right to expect honesty from others.
11. Every human being on earth (including myself and my child) has the right to be angry at someone we love.
12. Every human being on earth (including myself and my child) has the right to be uniquely ourselves.
13. Every human being on earth (including myself and my child) has the right to feel scared and say '1'm afraid."
14. Every human being on earth (including myself and my child) has the right to say '1 don't know.
15. Every human being on earth (including myself and my child) has the right not to give excuses or reasons for our behavior.
16. Every human being on earth (including myself and my child) has the right to make decisions based on our feelings.
17. Every human being on earth (including myself and my child) has the right to our own needs for personal space and time.
18. Every human being on earth (including myself and my child) has the right to be playful and frivolous.
19. Every human being on earth (including myself and my child) has the right to be healthier than those around us.
20. Every human being on earth (including myself and my child) has the right to be in a nonabusive environment.
21. Every human being on earth (including myself and my child) has the right to make friends and be comfortable around people.
22. Every human being on earth (including myself and my child) has the right to change and grow.
23. Every human being on earth (including myself and my child) has the right to have our needs and wants respected by others
24. Every human being on earth (including myself and my child) has the right to be treated with dignity and respect
25. Every human being on earth (including myself and my child) has the right to be happy.

Just a thought.  There are probably a million different variations we could come up with.  Can you think of any?

4.11.2012

doing right by our rights

I haven't talked much about my parenting style this month (probably because I haven't talked much about parenting at all!) and I want to, but it's hard for a couple of reasons:
  1. I don't follow any one method, philosophy, modality, and it's hard to explain anything that is all over the place
  2. Talking about parenting is a ripe opportunity for conflict and I'm a rampant conflict-avoider.
(deep breath.  here we go.)  So, I'm going to tell you a bit about my parenting style and how I arrived at it.  I may end up sounding judgmental (because I am) or self-important (because I am), but it is important for me to let you know that I know that this is right for me because it is right for me.  Period.  Nothing I do is right universally, and it's rightness doesn't make anyone else wrong (but if you think what I do might be right for you too and want help getting there I am available to help).

Shortly after deciding to actively try and get knocked up (September 2005) I hit the world wide web and never looked back.  I grew attached to parenting choices and principles that I was still nearly two years away from attempting, but still I was committed to them.  Some of those things included: 

  • cloth diapering (did it for 7 months until it was a choice between that and my sanity and my sanity won)
  • gratuitous baby picture number one!
  • natural childbirth (I wanted a 100% med free homebirth, I got an epidural free hospital birth and I'm still bound to redo that at some point even though I want no more children.  Can you say surrogacy?)
    shortly after that epidural free birth
  • on-demand breastfeeding (did it for 23 months until he self weaned--and I was broken hearted.  I was really looking forward to nursing to the point where it made other people uncomfortable) 
    yes, that's my boob.  you're welcome
    • babywearing (the child was attached to my body via some kind of sling, wrap, or carrier for 90% of our waking hours, and even more of our sleeping ones) 
    • moby wrap--world's greatest invention.
    • alternative vaccination schedule (our "alternative schedule" has included zero innoculations to date, and I don't expect that it ever will... but I remain open)
      this kid doesn't know there is a reason (needles) to be afraid of doctors.
      • co-sleeping (we still do this, and I don't have any pictures of it, because I am sleeping while it's happening)
      In June 2007 I gave birth to a baby spiderman and lived in a world consumed by these ideas for the next two years or so... and it was all consuming.  Each and every one of the items above were some portion of my self-definition and the success or failure of any of them were huge contributors to my self worth.  I was militant at best, and I'm sure very annoying.  I knew what was "right" and was ready to fight to make sure that I would be free to live as such (and also convince others of the errors of their ways in an act of loving service to the world--sarcasm).  I would have described myself as an attachment parent at the time and would blindly defer to anything that moniker told me to be.

      Then my baby became a kid... and as he grew, I did too (only because I had to).  You know that joke where people say something about how baby's don't come with owner's manuals?  Yeah... it's not funny because it's not true!  There are millions of baby owner's manuals... MILLIONS (and I have read half of them).  What there aren't... are kid's owner's manuals (or maybe there are and I just haven't read them because I don't want to follow a manual anymore).

      Over the last several years I have been exposed to the work of: 
      And the best part about what I learn from them is that it merely inspires me... instead of defining me.

      I remember when I first met Naomi Aldort (and then read her book) and started trying to "be her." Um, that was a disaster. She is a brilliant woman who says things like "a child is like the wind... Would you be angry with the wind for knocking something down or would you just accept that it is the wind?" and lives this philosophy of complete acceptance with her own children. She basically teaches that a child doesn't need to be actively taught how to behave, they will learn all they need from observing you, but she also keeps her own kids in a 100% pure environment where they are NEVER exposed to any undesirable behavior (like they cut out all of their relatives and friends who won't comply with their guidelines and will leave a park if other kids show up) . Once I realized that I couldn't and wouldn't do that I was able to forgive myself for not being her.

      Fast forward to today. I screw up all the time and have moments where I am not even the best me never mind being aldort-esque, but in general I maintain a pretty high level of compassion and empathy for my kidlet and that makes me the mom I want to be.


      like this picture is really cute, but is not about accepting my child for who he is (because he is not a pumpkin)

      One tool I use to do that is derived from a self-help tool that I wish I knew who to credit for but I don't (I got it from a friend who got it from a therapist... it's all over the internet.  and what I find hilarious about it is that there are always typos.  I've attempted to correct them all here, but even if I didn't catch them there is always right #5 to back me up)... 

      Read these, they are your personal bill of rights:
      1. I have the right to ask for what I want
      2. I have the right to. say no to requests or demands I can't meet.
      3. I have the right to express all of my feelings, positive or negative.
      4. I have the right to change my mind.
      5. I have the right to make mistakes and not have to be perfect.
      6. I have the right to follow my own values and standards.
      7. I have the right to say no to anything when I feel I am not ready, it is unsafe or it violates my values.
      8. I have the right to determine my own priorities.
      9. I have the right not to be responsible for others' behavior, actions, feelings or problems
      10. I have the right to expect honesty from others.
      11. I have the right to be angry at someone I love.
      12. I have the right to be uniquely myself.
      13. I have the right to feel scared and say '1'm afraid."
      14. I have the right to say '1 don't know.
      15. I have the right not to give excuses or reasons for my behavior.
      16. I have the right to make decisions based on my feelings.
      17. I have the right to my own needs for personal space and time.
      18. I have the right to be playful and frivolous.
      19. I have the right to be healthier than those around me.
      20. I have the right to be in a nonabusive environment.
      21. I have the right to make friends and be comfortable around people.
      22. I have the right to change and grow.
      23. I have the right to have my needs and wants respected by others
      24. I have the right to be treated with dignity and respect
      25. I have the right to be happy.

      And to see how I use it as a parent replace "I" with "my child."
      1. My child has the right to ask for what he wants
      2. My child has the right to say no to requests or demands he can't meet.
      3. My child has the right to express all of his feelings, positive or negative.
      4. My child has the right to change his mind.
      5. My child has the right to make mistakes and not have to be perfect.
      6. My child has the right to follow his own values and standards. (I know this one may be hard to digest... but your child really does have values and standards.  If they are young they are likely very similar to yours and it's your responsibility to teach him/her about them.  If they are older they may have started to develop their own. That's their right)
      7. My child has the right to say no to anything when he feels he is not ready, it is unsafe or it violates his values.
      8. My child has the right to determine his own priorities.
      9. My child has the right not to be responsible for others' behavior, actions, feelings or problems (even ESPECIALLY his own parents!)
      10. My child has the right to expect honesty from others.
      11. My child has the right to be angry at someone he loves. (I didn't know this until I was at least 30... it's one of the first things I taught spiderman.  so important!)
      12. My child has the right to be uniquely himself.
      13. My child has the right to feel scared and say '1'm afraid."
      14. My child has the right to say '1 don't know.
      15. My child has the right not to give excuses or reasons for his behavior.
      16. My child has the right to make decisions based on his feelings.
      17. My child has the right to his own needs for personal space and time.
      18. My child has the right to be playful and frivolous.
      19. My child has the right to be healthier than those around me.
      20. My child has the right to be in a nonabusive environment.
      21. My child has the right to make friends and be comfortable around people.
      22. My child has the right to change and grow.
      23. My child has the right to have his needs and wants respected by others
      24. My child has the right to be treated with dignity and respect
      25. My child has the right to be happy.


      ...and then to take it one step further to make sure no one is forgotten... Try reading it like this:
      1. My child and I both have the right to ask for what we want
      2. My child and I both have the right to. say no to requests or demands we can't meet.
      3. My child and I both have the right to express all of our feelings, positive or negative.
      4. My child and I both have the right to change our minds.
      5. My child and I both have the right to make mistakes and not have to be perfect.
      6. My child and I both have the right to follow our own values and standards.
      7. My child and I both have the right to say no to anything when we feel we are not ready, it is unsafe or it violates our values.
      8. My child and I both have the right to determine our own priorities.
      9. My child and I both have the right not to be responsible for others' behavior, actions, feelings or problems
      10. My child and I both have the right to expect honesty from others.
      11. My child and I both have the right to be angry at someone we love.
      12. My child and I both have the right to be uniquely ourselves.
      13. My child and I both have the right to feel scared and say '1'm afraid."
      14. My child and I both have the right to say '1 don't know.
      15. My child and I both have the right not to give excuses or reasons for our behavior.
      16. My child and I both have the right to make decisions based on our feelings.
      17. My child and I both have the right to our own needs for personal space and time.
      18. My child and I both have the right to be playful and frivolous.
      19. My child and I both have the right to be healthier than those around us.
      20. My child and I both have the right to be in a nonabusive environment.
      21. My child and I both have the right to make friends and be comfortable around people.
      22. My child and I both have the right to change and grow.
      23. My child and I both have the right to have our needs and wants respected by others
      24. My child and I both have the right to be treated with dignity and respect
      25. My child and I both have the right to be happy.

      Voila. A manual not only for parenting, but for life too. Simple as that (I kid, of course).

      Because it's never that simple here are some instructions for how to use this tool:
      1. Print the list out and post it somewhere you will see it daily
      2. Read it (to yourself is fine, out loud is even better) at least once daily
      3. Pick two or three that stand out to you first and take note (over the course of a few days or a week) of the ways they play out in your life (these are probably the rights that you exercise most freely now)
      4. Pick the two or three that seem least interesting to you and start looking for the places where they show up in your life (I'd be willing to bet that these are the ones you need the most work on
      5. Take them one at a time (start wherever you want--the strongest, the weakest, top to bottom, whatever) and commit to learning how to practice (decide what it means to exercise each right... and then do it) them.
      There, now it is simple. (ha ha)

      The thing about parenting (um, life?) is that we don't get to nor do we have to take credit or blame for the outcome.  We can do our best, but our children (our lives?) will turn out to be whatever they turn out to be... and if we can love them completely for that (so they can love themselves) then we've done our jobs (ahem-in my opinion).
      this is an example of a person who knows he is loved.
      p.s. For anyone who's worried about me and my recent bout with vulnerability...  First, thank you.  Second, I'm doing great.  I choose to remain vulnerable, because as we learned... vulnerability+effective self care=willingness to be more vulnerable and I've been self-caring the hell out of my days.  One of the perks of my new job is (free!) access to all sorts of physical health resources and I've worked out two days in a row now.  There is NOTHING more effective for a state of mind/mood (or my ass) than an hour of elevated heart rate.  Mmmmm, delicious endorphins...

      I've added an addendum to this post.  read it here!

      4.09.2012

      i don't have time to not be connected to the internet

      my internet connection has been spotty this evening.  it's been very frustrating.  it started acting up while i was attempting to watch a TED video about how our use of technology for connection is resulting in a phenomena of loneliness.  Pretty poetic right?  It's hard not to appreciate life for it's humor much of the time...  I often take pictures of everyday things that I think are hilarious.  I'll post them here someday and share them with you out of context where they are bound to be less funny.

      I have so many things to write about tonight.  I hope I can tie them all together into one cohesive post.  This is going to be a long one.  I'd say sorry... but hey, you get to choose whether you read it or not.    Consider yourself warned.

      I feel like it's been ages since I posted and I think that is mostly because of the headspace I'm coming from tonight.  It's not a brand new headspace, but it is one that I had been drifting away from recently until 38 called me on it on Friday night.

      side note: I can't even begin to explain how grateful I am to have people in my life who can (gently so I can hear them) call me on this stuff... without them I think I would just drift away into the mist never to be heard from again.  The woman in the TED video tonight talked about the truth that we need our relationships with one another to teach us how to have relationships with ourselves.  She nailed it didn't she?

      The new head space is a vulnerable one.  I think you might be asking yourself... "wait, what?  Isn't she always vulnerable?  She sure seems like it."  Yeah, I'm really good at that (seeming like I'm vulnerable), but sometimes I'm not really... I'd say that I'm "open" about 95% of the time.  I am aware of my feelings and willing and able to express them in articulate ways.  Even the uncomfortable ones.  I know that's fairly unique and I can see how that could be perceived as vulnerability... and I don't mean to deceive anyone by pretending to be vulnerable when I'm not... and I'm definitely not ever pretending.  In this most recent case I didn't even realize that I wasn't willing to be vulnerable until someone else pointed it out.  I'm actually quite good at being vulnerable (I know that sounds weird).  Once I get there I am willing to be there, but yeah, I'm not always willing to get there (not even with myself) and now I'll tell you why.

      So I told you that my week last week was full of big feelings but that was okay because I just felt them and they didn't change my reality (the feelings didn't devolve into self loathing or shame or beliefs about my life and my person that were untrue.  from now on I will refer to that phenomena as "story") and I was pretty proud of that.

      When I woke up on Saturday morning I was heavy with emotion.  I still wasn't in any story, I was just in feelings but they weren't just big... they were huge... and I wasn't able to be who I wanted to be with them present (and who I wanted to be, by the way, was an involved mother because it was just me and spiderman this weekend).

      At one moment on Saturday morning after he had already watched an hour of television of his alloted two of weekend screen time spiderman asked if he could play on the iPad and I said yes and set a timer for 10 minutes explaining (as he's used to) that when the timer goes off it will be time to put the iPad away and do something else (like dye easter eggs).  He was in the bedroom on the iPad and I was in the living room on the computer and my feelings were getting bigger and bigger and bigger and I was feeling heavier and heavier and heavier.  I knew it had been close to 10 minutes and I figured I would eventually pick up the sound of the timer going off through the din of the household noise.

      We had a great week together as mother and son.  We had limited time together each day (maybe two waking hours in total) but we used it in the best ways I can think of (by eating together, talking, playing, and making art)...  I didn't want to lose that momentum.

      Then two hours passed.  And he was still using the iPad and I was still on the computer and the only thing I changed about that situation was to get off the computer.  I went into the bedroom with him to start talking to him about changing to something else.  Then I fell asleep.  So, he sat there (I think it may have been 5 hours in total) playing with the iPad all morning while I got more and more engulfed in my big feelings and completely checked out from the situation.  I mean, I'm always a mom... I fed him and wiped his ass when he pooped and even when sleeping I always had one ear open and I woke out of my light sleep when I heard him click on a youtube video that I didn't want him watching and I redirected him back to the kidsafe stuff before I fell back to sleep again... but I don't think that deserves any praise.

      And then the tears came.  Wombat called me when she heard that I had fallen asleep because she knew that meant I wasn't doing well and as soon as I answered the tears flowed.  I know I have mentioned crying several times on the blog in the last several months, but what I haven't done is go into detail into what I mean each time.

      I have several different levels of crying:
      1. watery eyed: I'm emotional (could be a good or bad emotion) and my eyes fill up with tears
      2. movie star crying: it's when level one progresses to the point where the tears start to spill out of my eyes and roll one at a time in perfect lines down my cheeks. it's quite pretty.
      3. cry talking: it's where there are active tears falling and some sniffling, but I can still carry on a conversation (this is as far as it has gotten lately) and the tears dry up fairly quickly.
      4. sobbing: i can probably still talk some, but there's a lot of catching breath and snot involved 
      5. wailing: talking is out of the question.  i am choking and gagging and there is snot pouring out of my nose.  my nose has turned bright red and tripled in size.  my top lip is so swollen that it now touches my nose.  it takes hours to fully recovery from the physical changes to my face.
      Saturday I finally got to level four.  And it happened twice (maybe three times?) in one day.  Still, it wasn't until that night that I started to get into my story and started to have conversations with myself that included a lot of shame and blame...  it was just a lot of time with a lot of big feelings present.  It was also a day where I felt like I couldn't get ahead... I bought myself flowers and then my sunglasses broke.  No matter what I did to try and climb out of the self-pity pit, I would get shoved right back down into the pit where the big feelings festered.

      Let me tell you, in case you don't already know... that feeling sorry for yourself is a very efficient way of using up all of your capacity for empathy in a day.  Parenting without a capacity for empathy--not pleasant--not effective--nope, not good.

      Sunday, I woke up and I knew I was in my story.  This is still an improvement from the old days because at least I was aware of it, but I was in it and there was no escaping it.  I explained to my mom that I was having a rough time emotionally, I didn't think I was going to be able to hide it, I really didn't want an audience and I asked if it would be okay if I just dropped spiderman off at her place for the easter festivities and went back home.  She said yes (thank you).  Apparently my family is worried that I wasn't there because my hard time had to do with BFO.  It doesn't.  I promise you.  That man did not break my heart.  That man didn't have my heart and he hasn't had it for a long, long time.  It's a shitty situation and it sometimes gets me down, but he doesn't have the power to hurt me like that anymore... not to worry.

      I came home from dropping off spiderman and immediately called 38 because suddenly I was willing to be vulnerable and I wanted to take advantage of that opportunity.  After a brief hiccup where I involuntarily responded that I was "good" to the "how are you?" question I went straight into blubbering and crying and it was great.  I mean, it sucked.  A lot of it was painful and it was definitely scary and I talked about a lot of things I had been afraid to talk about and I asked a lot of questions that I was afraid to ask... and then the conversation was over and I was still alive.  Even better, I felt good about doing it.  

      I think vulnerability is really important.  In the times where I choose not to be vulnerable I am doing so because I'm afraid.  In the past, even though I would talk about my feelings (openness), I wouldn't share my feelings (vulnerability) because I was told that they were too big and/or because I was afraid that by showing them it would drive people away.  Well, neither happened.  I didn't just talk about the feelings... I felt them, out in the open in front of another person, and they were first validated (not judged, labeled, or put down), and then the other person stuck around.

      Would you look at that?  I should do this more often.

      The high of the successful vulnerability experiment lasted about an hour... and then faded into complete terror.  I had been vulnerable and now I was afraid.  I can't even tell you of what... of everything I think.  More than anything else I was afraid that being vulnerable meant I was going to have to get used to living in fear.  Not appealing.  True, to an extent, although I imagine it gets easier... but not appealing.  Not an opportunity people line up for.  My response to the fear was to try and figure life out and find a way to control the chaos, but my mind was racing and I couldn't even do so much as put pen to paper and form words.  Finally through the noise of my ego my intuition spoke up and reminded me that if I was going to be of any use to myself I was going to need to quiet my mind.

      And there was the answer suddenly (although I didn't realize it until later).  Vulnerability was perfectly safe (certainly as safe, if not safer, than being emotionally unavailable in terms of long term quality of life stuff) as long as it came along with effective self care.  I say I didn't realize it until later because the only self care I practiced was to do a guided meditation (I made up my mind to do one, decided I didn't want to, did it anyway, but picked a shitty one with a really abrupt ending that wasn't mind quieting or satisfying in the least) and then watch tv until I fell asleep; and then I wondered why I woke up this morning feeling off.

      I figured out the vulnerability+effective self care=willingness to be vulnerable again formula this morning in the car when I reached crying level five.  Yep... I was about 20 minutes away from the office (my new job... start of my third week... only my third day in the office because I've been out at trainings and such... my first time working in person with my new boss because she telecommutes from texas most of the time... and the day i'm going to be introduced and have to talk about myself in the all staff meeting) when the face explosion began.  I'd say I started at level three and expected it to pretty much stay there but all of a sudden I was in full blown level five crying.  I was just so raw... I had opened myself up completely and sat with sheer terror afterward and I didn't do anything to effectively nurture myself afterward.  So there I was on the 5 fwy in the middle of Los Angeles looking like I had been assaulted by killer bees and wailing in my car.  I cried the rest of the way there and for another 10 minutes in the parking lot.  Then I pulled it together and came up with a convincing story about allergies and hoped the 90 minutes I had before the meeting would be enough for the swelling to go down.

      It was, and the meeting went well and my introduction was charming and funny and everyone laughed at my opening joke, and all the while inside I felt like I might die.  It hurt so badly just to exist for most of the morning.  I was still completely raw and exposed and had none of my self love tools within reach.  It was awful.

      Then things started to happen... I had interactions with friends... I had memories of feelings and experiences... and gratitude just started to arrive.  I choose gratitude often, but this time it just showed up which was really nice of it don't you think?  and I realized instantly how much better I felt with it hanging around.  Shortly after gratitude arrived so did amusement, then consciousness, inspiration, and organization and a few more of my best self qualifiers.  It wasn't instant, it wasn't all of a sudden, and it certainly wasn't linear but over the course of the day I went from feeling like I might die from emotional pain to feeling back to my centered self again.  

      At one point I sent myself a text message that said "i love you."  It was the first time I texted myself with something that wasn't a grocery list... and it was really effective.  Particularly because the way the messages on an iPhone work, it looks like I sent it and got a response.

      38 deserves all the credit for this idea, by the way.
      if you try it (which I think you should), send her a little heart light when you do,

      Anyway, I'm starting to run out of steam and I imagine that if you've gotten this far that you're tired of reading.  I'll try to wrap it up.

      I learned a lot this weekend.

      • My body, mind, and spirit feel like this emotional experience was equivalent to climbing Everest and I am aware of how much self care I need on a daily (hourly?) basis to be able do this work and be my, not only, best self... but my best vulnerable self.  
      • I learned that being a single parent is completely unnatural and expecting yourself to be able to perform at the same level you do for a two hour window in a twelve hour window is unreasonable (which explains why i gave up before i even tried) and in order to make these future weekends work I need to gather the hilary-clinton-village around me to help me raise this child.  
      • I learned that allowing other people to see me in weak moments doesn't necessarily drive them away and can even bring them closer.  
      • I learned (was reminded that) I really don't like going to bars/clubs.  
      • I learned that I have a lot of old habits that I need to remain aware of consciously work on reprogramming every damn day.  
      • I learned that "feeling the fear and doing it anyway" is still the way to go
      • I learned that if this is ever the question: should i let go?  the answer is always yes. (well, not if we're talking about dangling from a cliff...)
      • I learned...  a lot.


      4.07.2012

      well, it finally happened...

      I missed my self-imposed deadline.  Friday came and went and I didn't blog.  Now, to me... it's still Friday night because I haven't been to bed yet, but technically it's Saturday and hopefully all of you are sleeping peacefully.

      hmmm... what to write about...

      You see, that's the real issue here.  I thought it would be hard to stick to my thrice-weekly writing commitment and it has been surprisingly simple to integrate into my life, except on the days that I don't think about what to write and am not struck with divine inspiration (you would think that on Good Friday of all days inspiration would be in abundance...  perhaps if I were a good Christian instead of the godless heathen I am).  So, now that I've managed to successfully commit to writing three days a week I think now I need to commit to thinking about writing three days a week.

      So I missed my deadline.  I didn't blog.  And now I have a choice. I can feel bad about it. Or not.  I don't think I'm going to feel bad about it.

      Nah.  I'm not going to feel bad about it.

      I didn't blog but I did go to a great event, hung out with some cool peeps (shout out to my LLC/BB!), and then spent some quality phone time with a favorite.  If the goal of this whole thing is to get full on life instead of food (which it is), I'd say that I had a full plate (of life, not food) today and I'm going with it.

      This week went by at a rapid pace and I think that is largely due to my current relationship with myself.  I had a lot of big feelings this week (anger and sadness included which aren't my favorites.  question for you: what are your favorite feelings?!) but I didn't experience any pain, torture, or distress.  This is a new experience for me. I think it comes from a place where I attempt to apply the same principles I apply to my relationship with spiderman to my relationship with myself:

      Every thought or feeling I have is a normal, expected reaction to my life experience and abilities... no need to judge them or label them or punish or reward them.  Just accept them.  Let them be.  Observe them.  Then they pass and life goes on.

      magic.  (by the way, sometimes when spiderman asks me how i do something i spontaneously answer "magic" before i think about the fact that it's my job to explain to him the way the world works.  my kid totally thinks i am magic.  which i am.  but that's a different story.)

      4.03.2012

      meditative parenting

      We're going to stick to the parenting theme this month and here's why: 
      1. I am suddenly spending a lot less time with my sweet son (because of my new job/and the resulting commute and our new parenting plan/weekend-share-schedule-nightmare) and I want the time we have together to be of the highest quality possible... starting now, not next month, now.

      2. Even though I am not supposed to be trying to do it all... I can certainly do more than one thing at once!  I can still write my morning pages, practice daily meditation, have conversations with my inner teacher, etc. etc. etc. all while focusing on parenting.  I can, in fact, meditate on and talk to my inner teacher about parenting... so that's what I will do.

      3. I am going to see the Dalai Lama on Saturday, April 21... which is the first scheduled day of the spiritually focused month.  Um... yeah... that couldn't be any more perfect if I had planned it (which my subconscious did, I suppose).

      Isn't life amazing when I stop and think about my inklings/decisions before taking action on them?  

      Yes.  The answer is yes.

      I recently read another blog post/article about children and change... that I won't share here because it wasn't good enough for me to endorse it, but it was so timely considering my post from Monday and some of what has been brought to the forefront of my awareness about change and my child.  Here's what I've been thinking.

      My child (yes, spiderman, and yes... he really goes by that outside of the blog world) is a change machine!  He is quite possibly the single most resilient being on earth.  How couldn't he be?!  six of the moves I mentioned on Monday have been during the course of his life (he'll be five in two months... you do the math), he's gone to five different child care center/preschools since the age of four months (and changed classrooms at several of them more than once), and in the last three years he went from living in a home with both of his parents, to living in two homes with separate parents, to living with both parents again, and finally to living exclusively with me outside of regular visits with his dad.

      I lived in the same house for the first 18 years of my life.  I went to one preschool, two elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school.  The kid already has me beat.  And to be completely honest, I feel so much guilt and shame for this.  I used to think I craved the changes I have since associated with escapism fantasy because my life was relatively static as a child... I have certainly prevented my child from feeling like his life is standing still... and I can only hope that doesn't result in the same distracted numbing that the changes have provided me over the years.

      This divorce, although obviously having an impact on his little nervous system, is something he's approached as if it were normal.  If I am in any way responsible for creating his "normal" (which I think I can, but you can tell me I'm not and I'll believe you) then I may not have done the best job.

      The biggest parenting truth I know right now is that no matter what I say, he will only learn from what I do.  That's a hard one folks... so I'll repeat it again.  No matter what I say (no matter how many times I explain the merits of healthy eating), he will only learn from what I do (which historically has been to make very poor food choices).  And it applies far beyond anything food related... 

      Things spiderman probably thinks are normal (and I'll include things here that I am completely comfortable with and totally ashamed of and not identify which are which... you can guess in the comments section, we'll make it a game!) either because he's experienced them or observes me doing them: 
      • moving to a new home annually

      • sleeping with your mom/parents

      • living with both parents, and then not... intermittently

      • eating pizza five days a week (okay, i'm going to come out of the shame closet here to clarify that when this has happened it has been because of poor communication between all care providers, it's not because i ever knowingly feed him pizza five days a week)

      • being surgically attached to an iPhone

      • picking your nose in the car

      • having a dirty house

      • hoarding trash in the guise of collecting things for art projects

      • having your butt wiped (or clothing be taken on/off, or really anything you can actually do by yourself but you don't want to and your mother is an enabler) by another person

      • eating "meals" in every room/on every surface of the house except for the dining room/table

      • making very dramatic noises when injured by clumsiness

      • eating food that comes to you through the car window (some of these are from the past)

      I'm sure I could go on...  I guess, the bottom line is that I know that he's watching, and sometimes it scares me to think about what he learns from that.  And then when I stop to ask myself if it should scare me to think about what I am doing to myself that makes it possible for him to learn it, sometimes the answer is yes.  Ouch.  So, if I want my son to learn to love himself I have to teach him by loving myself?  Wowza.

      ...and then I stomp my feet and curse and whine and act like a total baby because life is hard, and why can't it just be easy, and why can't I just get away with doing whatever I want and still get everything I want... and and and and... and then I remember he's watching and the cycle continues...