"Teaching What We Need to Learn"

I'm kind of kicking ass at this "learning" month.  I finished the book on emotional intelligence, I am following the Chopra Center's 8-week path to happiness, I am listening to a series on Sounds True, I signed up for several courses via coursera, and in general... I am treating life like a course.  I am taking copious notes and marveling at the things I learn every moment.

(little celebratory dance would go here, if i were willing to do that sort of thing...)

So, there's that (yay!)

...and there's also some darkness.  I noticed it starting to creep in this past weekend.  At a high point in the weekend I had written an intention on my arm (because in the Chopra center happiness thing I mentioned above it suggested that you write your intention somewhere you'll see it often... and as I looked up from scrawling it on my arm in sharpie I saw they provided a template for me to print, write on, cut up and paste around the house.  oh well!  arm it is!)
my intention: be happy for no reason at all.  still working on it.

... and when I saw it a morning or two later my exact thoughts were "fuck you!  be happy for no reason at all?  how about be happy when there are lots of reasons to be unhappy!"

and then I laughed at how clearly I wasn't "getting" it and went on with my day...

Besides that outburst, here's how the darkness manifested: I found myself becoming (nearly) enraged at a (near) stranger's request.  What the person wanted was something I thought she should have been able to do (aka: figure out) herself and I was beyond irritated that she wouldn't at least try (and then report back her efforts therefore justifying her request for assistance-eesh, I am demanding).  The theme continued and I noticed myself becoming (thankfully slightly less) annoyed at people who couldn't  or wouldn't just do things themselves that I knew I was perfectly capable of figuring out myself with minimal effort.

I had to look within and ask myself what this annoyance was reflecting.  What is it about people who appear helpless that triggers me into such rage?  Well, if I were to imagine how I would feel about my helpless self I would be pretty disgusted.  I wouldn't be perfect if I couldn't do everything myself and if I weren't perfect then I couldn't be loved by others... and since that's the worst possible thing I could think of I avoid it at all costs (and clearly others should too).

Woah.  I thought I was past that perfectionism thing.  Seriously, I did.  Okay, you can stop laughing now... I thought because I no longer stayed up all night on projects or skipped on sleep to do as much as I could for other people or beat myself up for a stutter or missed word that I had cured my perfectionism!  I guess not so much... on the surface maybe yeah.  I don't act on it as obviously, but apparently I haven't forgiven myself for not being perfect yet AND I haven't forgiven myself for even expecting that I would be.

Lots of work ahead.

In addition to my irritation at the helpless of the world I also find myself irritated at the seemingly perfect people... I am spending A LOT of time reading, watching, listening to the people of this world who have chosen to give their life to the spiritual and self-love communities.  And a lot of those people are VERY positive ALL of the time...  (apparently I don't forgive myself for that part of me either, but that's for another post).

So imagine my relief when I start listening to the "Teaching What We Need to Learn" series on Sounds True and hear that not only are the teachers speaking about what we (me) need to learn, but what we (they) need to learn.  Hallelujah!  (and duh!)

I can't describe how ecstatic I felt when I heard Daphne Rose Kingma, author of The Future of Love (a book about non-traditional love relationships) admit that after her book on the contrasting topic became a best seller she found herself thinking 'now maybe I have earned the lifelong love relationship I yearn for...' (paraphrasing).  If I wasn't buckled in (to the car), I would have leapt from my chair in joy.

Thank you Daphne, and to all of the speakers in the Teaching What We Need to Learn series... for being open, honest, and vulnerable enough to share that even the most revered and heralded teachers in this industry are teaching on the work they are needing for themselves.

38 once asked me if I thought people could teach something they haven't mastered yet.  I answered yes then, and I am even more sure of it now... not only can they, but the should, and it's probably the best teaching they'll do.

I'm loving "teaching" you about self-love while what I'm really doing is "learning" it.  Thank you for the opportunity!



le-et's, let's stay together...

So, if you've been following along you know that when reminded of the reality that we attract people into our lives who are a direct reflection of what is going on inside of us (and I tend to attract people who can't or won't be involved in my life in the way I want them to... aka they "leave" me) I recently figured out that I "leave" myself (or you can call it abandon if you're into those kinds of dramatics like I am).

This left me with a big question... how do I stop leaving myself?

I was intent on learning the answer to that question as soon as I asked it.  Turns out, I had more to learn about how exactly I do the leaving before an answer (or answers) could be revealed.

Last weekend I had an eye opening experience involving Del Taco and the season finale of Grey's Anatomy.  Around noon one day I was suddenly ravenous... and Del Taco was the only thing that could satiate my hunger (clue number one that I'm dealing with "hunger" and not hunger: there's a specific target in mind).  I ordered enough food for at least three adults, sat on my bed with the iPad and the ABC app tuned to the Grey's Anatomy season finale, and ate... and ate... and ate...  And when the show prompted my own emotions to bubble up I felt tears coming.  And I also noticed that the tears would instantly retreat every time I took a bite.  And I knew that a solid cry would be VERY therapeutic... but the quesadilla was right there, and so instead I ate.  There was no crying, and there was no pain.  I was comfortably full and comfortably distant from my feelings.

Then I fell asleep, and when I woke up I was lost.  I was no longer comfortably distant from my feelings... I had smothered my feelings so thoroughly with cheese that I couldn't find them anywhere... I couldn't find myself anywhere.  I felt completely alone.  I couldn't get to that still, small voice inside.  And it was all very clear.  I had "left" myself.  I had eaten myself numb to the point where I couldn't even access myself.

and then I forgave myself for it.  (it's amazing what a little forgiveness will do).

This weekend, when I sat down to watch So You Think You Can Dance with a Wheat Free Waffle slathered in peanut butter I started to notice tears coming up again... and this time I put the waffle down.  And I sobbed.  And it was awesome.

(here's what did it, maybe you could use a good cry too?)

and then I finished the waffle.  And there I was.  The tears, the snot, the relief of the discharge of a healthy cry, the full (but not overly) stomach, the body, the feelings, the thoughts...

Since first discovering the "how do I stop leaving myself?" question I have learned more than I ever thought I would about how many ways I do the leaving.  There's the food, the anxiety, the worry, the fear, the perseverating, the obsessing...  so many ways.  But if the question is "how do I stop leaving myself?" the answer is to stop doing these things.  And I know enough about human behavior to know that it's much easier for us to add things to our lives rather than remove them (we add what sounds appealing to add and then the things that need to be "removed" can fade gracefully away)...

I also know that the brain doesn't understand negatives.  Just like a child, the brain doesn't hear the "no" or the "stop."  The brain only hears and only processes the action word in the sentence.  It hears leave and it will continue to leave.  It can only follow instructions in which we tell it WHAT to do, not WHAT NOT to do.

So now the question has changed: "how can I stay with myself?"

And you know what I think the answer might be?  I think it might be silliness...  or play... or silliness and play.  Maybe it sounds simple to you, but it's something I've avoided for a long time.  It's something that makes me cringe to think about and I have a lot of resistance to.  It's something that sets off all my alarms and pushes all of my buttons.  It's something I didn't even consider involving in this FULLfillment Project (to be reevaluated).  And all of those reactions are exactly what tell me that it's likely the answer.

More on this to come...

so, here's a closing question that occurred to me today: if the people we attract are a direct reflection of what's going on inside us, what am I reflecting about the inner workings of the people whose lives I enter...

that they are fucking amazing?

Must be.  I can't really think of an alternative.


my amygdala detects a threat--attack!

Ack!  It's happened again!

Today at lunch I was so excited to write tonight's blog--I had it all composed in my head... and then I sat in traffic for two hours, had an emotional experience involving So You Think You Can Dance and waffles, came up with at least 4 new ideas... and I'm home, and I have the material, and I'm finding myself going to do other things instead of blogging again.  WTF is that about?

You know what I think it's about?  I think it's about the ideas... yeah the traffic was exhausting, but it's over, and the SYTYCD moment with the waffle was emotional, but it was cleansing... I think it's really the ideas.  I was excited about my idea at lunch when that was my present idea, but now I've had several more and I've slowed to a stop from my own momentum.  eek!

So, I write all of my ideas down... and I have for years.  But then I go back to look at them and I can't remember what the notes mean.  It's not the greatest system, but apparently it is one I have had since I was old enough for my handwriting to look like it does on the inside cover of this journal..  
my idea journal... circa 1992 (?)
I did something yesterday that renewed my energy for this and reminded me about how fulfilling this path is... I was having a crappy day and feeling worn down and after making this video and telling someone else about how I got here and where I want to go next I was completely reinvigorated...  and that just gave me more ideas.  Argh!

Okay, enough whining.  I don't have a solution right now, so I'm just going to dive into this "month" and see where it takes me.

I started reading a new book last night, The Brain and Emotional Intelligence: New Insights by Daniel Goleman, and I'm so glad I did!  It's exactly what I've been craving...  I really need to make friends with more scientists... particularly neuroscientists.  Know any?

Here's what I'm learning so far:

Not only are there parts of our brain, that when scanned, can predict what kind of mood we are likely to be in more often than not... there are brain styles that determine how quickly we become upset, how quickly recovery from distress, and even depth of feeling (yep, some people FEEL their feelings more than others... I knew it!)

Neuroscience lesson of the week!
There's this part of the brain called the amygdala that I think is significant enough to warrant all sorts of attention on clever t-shirt designs (see, more ideas...).

Why?  The amygdala is the place where our emotions come from.

The interesting (read: ridiculous) part about this is that this emotion factory is a part of our primitive brain; the part that is responsible for our survival, and reacts as such.
hi, amygdala... it's nice to finally meet you.  i can't tell you how much i've been impacted by your work.

"If the amygdala detects a threat, in an instant it can take over the rest of the brain... and we have what's called an amygdala hijack."

Okay, well that explains a lot.

"During a hijack, we can't learn, and we rely on over-learned habits, ways we've behaved time and time again.  We can't innovate or be flexible during a hijack"


"There's one big problem with all this: the amygdala often makes mistakes."

Okay wait... so the place in my brain from which my emotions originate has the power to take over all of the rest of my brain and it does so on a whim... and is frequently misinformed?!  It sounds like we all have a teenage girl in our brain who is basically running the show... Terrifying.

The good news: we can minimize hijacks.  We can sedate the teenage girl with frappucinos and mall shopping and keep her quiet.  Only in this case, the drinks and trips are cognitive approaches (basically, talking yourself out of it and/or employing empathy) and mindfulness.  The key: early intervention (see, it really is like dealing with teenagers--or so I suspect, I try to avoid them).

Remember though, when we're in the midst of an amygdala hijack our ability to try new things or be flexible or creative is limited... which means we better be practicing these things consistently while our teenage girl is at school or listening to her iPod so we're ready when she comes out of her room.

The cool part about all of this... I can totally teach you how to get out of an amygdala hijack.  yay me! (and you, because you know me!  ...and you're great for other reasons too!)

On that note, I'm going to go meditate.


self love by the pound

Apart from a few days here and there where I really wasn't feeling it I used to be so eager to sit down and write this blog three days a week.  If there was any chance I had to get to it before spiderman went to bed I did it.  The idea I had for each post was near bursting out of my brain and the only relief was to write--and NOW!

Today is the second or third time in a  row that I've done a lot of other things on the way to writing...  I've poked around on Facebook and Twitter, read articles, watched videos (and I don't watch videos... my two minute attention span doesn't permit it most of the time), even done housework (gasp!). It's a strange experience.  I'm not 100% sure what this procrastination is about (maybe you know and you want to give me your feedback?).  It's not for a shortage of ideas.  I have at least 20 posts near bursting right now--if anything I have too many ideas and it makes it hard to process them.

I suppose things are just getting more challenging exciting (as my bio-reprogrammer would encourage me to say).  I realized shortly after telling you that I was going to need to turn inward and do some work that this blog IS my work.  I mean really.  I have an idea or feeling and this is where I process it.  There have been several days since last Friday when sitting down here to write probably would have provided me with the ideal comfort for the situation.  Big big stuff happening in my head and heart... lots of stuff being shaken loose... lots of opportunities to try different ways of dealing... lots of opportunities to be able to see clearly what ISN'T working.

I ran over my bathroom scale with my car today.

(Actually, I didn't.  I put it on the front porch for a freecycler to pick up.  If you aren't freecycling yet it is time to start.  Go to freecycle.org, find your local group, start passing things you no longer want or need to your community instead of sending them to your landfill.)

Anyway, I know that's very late 80s-early 90s fat acceptance movement of me, but I did it... and I think it was the right thing to do.

I'm engaged in this 100 Acts of Self Love challenge with all of you.  I do at least 5 intentionally self loving things a day and post about them on Facebook and Twitter.  I am making a new habit of make conscious choices to care for myself... and yet I cannot seem to stop stuffing my face.  I was seriously considering eating McDonalds today.  Seriously.  Like I told AngryWombat I was going to do it and she tried to talk me out of it and I said I was doing it anyway and... then I didn't... because McDonald's is disgusting and I haven't eaten it in at least 9 months and really there's no ruining a streak like that on a whim...

and then this happened (yeah, happened.  as in happened to me...
"you do it to yourself" -Radiohead)

So, the food issues are back, with a vengeance.  Speaking of vengeance.  It's not something I believe in so much... or at least not in enacting.  But today I went to BFO's new home for the first time and used his toilet, and it wouldn't flush all the way, and he didn't have a plunger, and... well, yeah.  I'm not into revenge, but it seems like sometimes the universe has other plans!  Oh, silly universe you... 

Anyway (again), I'm eating because I don't know what else to do with myself.  I'm tired from spending 3 hours a day in the car commuting to work.  I'm overwhelmed with all of the potential directions to take this work.  I'm hormonal because it's day 22 of my "cycle."  I'm adjusting to the new brain chemistry that comes with a 75% reduction in psychopharmacology.  I'm worn down because I have two jobs, and I'm a mom, and... that's it really.  And I tend to be pretty "fixed."  All or nothing is a recurring theme in my life... and because I can't find the time or motivation to be the "all" (which in this case is preparing homemade, organic, vegan, whole food meals for myself everyday) I'm doing "nothing" instead (which in this case means spending too much money eating out, and eating junk).

But none of that is the point... I can work on that.  The point is that I am doing all of this self-love and there is still a part of me who is so obsessed with despising her weight that I'm not getting anywhere!  I have been having this battle with my hair (and face and body) for weeks now... trying to look the way I "feel" and it just isn't working.  

I feel so beautiful.  I feel happy and healthy and smart and vibrant and talented and creative and loving and generous and... all sorts of things.  And then I look at myself and I see a gorgeous face with sparkling hazel eyes-the sweetest button nose-rosy apple cheeks-luscious pink lips, a long lovely neck and pretty collarbones, pert and perky milky white tits, and then mostly just disaster after that...  

I feel compelled to admit (to myself and all of you) that in the time 38 and I are taking apart I was going to get my ass into gear and be super diligent about diet and exercise and be a svelte version of myself by the time we reconnected...  seriously... that was my plan.  Wow. Not super healthy and...  

Yeah, not going to happen.

So in another attempt to get clear in my intentions with myself I am ditching the scale.  I don't care about how much I weigh.  I don't care about my hairstyle.  I wish I could say that I love them both, but right now "I don't care" is the best I can muster.

I am forgiving myself for having an expectation that I needed to live up to some weight loss plan, I am forgiving myself for any judgement about the plan, I am forgiving myself for any judgement about NOT being able to live up to the plan... and I'm turning back to self-love.  

And just in time, today I saw this: 

"Love is not a state of happiness all the time. Love is a dedication to see and Love the light and the dark. Not just be on a chemical high in the early stages of romance. Love is a verb and we get to choose TO Love." - Mastin Kipp

I know this to be true of all the kinds of love I experience for others.  Hey guess what?  It's going to be the same for self-love too!  I see and love the light and the dark.  I choose it.

Happy almost 1/2 way through with 100 Acts of Self Love!


"get smart" 5/20-6/18/2012 (hi mom!)

My mom is worried about me.  I would probably be worried about my kid too.  It's a mom thing.

Sometimes I forget that people are reading this... and then other times I am all too aware of it (like tonight maybe, because I have been doing some MAJOR procrastinating self loving on the way to this seat).  Even though I've already settled into being my authentic self here and letting whatever results be, there have been times where I have wondered if the stories I told or the perspective I told them from was true enough (as if there were such a thing as "true enough").   I mean, do I ever give the impression that this is easy?  I hope not.  Do I ever give the impression that this is hard?  I hope not that either.  It's both and it's neither.  All that it is for me is necessary.  Some moments are joyous and some are painful... some feel easy (I think I would be more likely to describe them as natural) and some feel hard (and in those moments I would probably describe them as excruciating).

The 24 hours between late afternoon Sunday and late afternoon today felt hard in the moment, but the moment has passed and like anything else I learned a whole lot from it.  I have way too much to write for tonight, but I promise you'll hear the story eventually.

and they seem so far away now!

Not that I need to control anyone's experience (although I'd like to!!, she says in her best sing-song voice), but what if we do this?  I'll keep writing whatever comes out and if you are curious about any part of it... ask me.  What do I mean by blankity blank? or what is it that is overwhelming me (because by the way, lately it's been collecting inspiring articles to read and videos to watch... I've collected so many I am paralyzed at where to start!)?  or whatever you want to know--if you want to know.  Because the thing is, I know the whole story in my head and even though I am a phenomenal communicator (smirk) I get here and just type and sometimes don't even re-read before posting and I never really see what's left out until later if at all.


Two days ago... on Saturday the "ish" month came to a close, and this is the part where I report back about the outcomes of the month with charts and a new picture of my ass.  Here's the thing(s): 
  1. I bought myself a divorce present--an iMac, and it doesn't have excel (or "Numbers") yet, so even though I've been tracking my best self qualifiers in google docs the chart settings aren't saved and I just don't have the motivation to recreate them right now.  I will get back to you on that.
  2. I'm not doing the "progressive ass pictures" anymore.  If you don't know or remember why, read this.
  3. I'm not sure this "month" will EVER end.  I felt like my "best self" more this month than either of the two prior despite (or maybe because of) the reduction in anti-anxiety meds, the heartbreak, the return of the comfort food relationship, etc.  This is where I want to be.  I want to learn NEW things, not learn the same damn lessons over and over again... I want to learn the lessons and integrate them into my being so I can move on to the drama that's next.  Staying here, in this kind of headspace, with this kind of focus, works for me...
A few outcomes of note/aka owning up to my intentions: 
  • Daily meditation: I started meditating daily one week ago... for 5-10 minutes a day.  Prior to that I did it a total of 7 times for the month.  I think I said I was going to do it 2-3x a day... oops.  :)
  • Daily intuitive conversations: Yeah, I did this once or twice.
  • Spiritual Journeys: The plan was to trek to Ojai, this labyrinth in LA, and try and find the mystic portal in Griffith Park.  I didn't make it to ANY, but I still will...
  • Tapping into resources: Went to a psychic, tuned in to my inner psychic, read a TON, went to a talk about spiritual psychology, listened to oodles of podcasts on my excruciating commute.
  • Group spirituality: Didn't make it to the "church" of my intention, but did go to Meditation Group!
Not the finest list of accomplishments of my life, but the finest list of self honoring choices I've ever made. :)

All that said, yesterday, Sunday the 20th was the beginning of a new "month."  This month's intention is to "get smart (from books and other sources)."  I suppose it is apropos that I went to an appointment with an admission's counselor at my future (just have to figure out how to pay for it--investments in my future are accepted!) grad school.

The intentions (or maybe I should call them... "things I'm thinking about trying and will completely forgive myself for if I don't manage to do it all because who can do it all really?") for this month are: 
  1. Take a class (audio, online, video, whatever... just take a class)
  2. Read a non-fiction book (all of it.  from start to finish.  about learn something new.)
  3. Seek out an academic experience (like maybe grad school?)
  4. Ask questions--lots of them.  And do so from a perspective of genuine curiosity.
by the way, I'm going back to my hairdresser tomorrow... more on that saga when I return!

p.s. I DID NOT use the conscious choice log... not once.  I still think it's an amazing idea... and someday I'll mock up some worksheets and market the hell out of them and make it sound very convincing even though I never actually did it myself (I'm sure I'll own up to it, especially since I just did)


drowning in dumpsters

I have this idea in my head that when a person is drowning there is this eventual moment of peace.  They are underwater and the fight for the surface is over.  The lungs are filled with water and the pain from that adjustment is dulled.  There is complete and calm stillness around and inside them.   They are surrendered and there is a comfort that comes from that.

I don't know where I get this idea... maybe I drowned in a past life (I have always been afraid of large bodies of water) or maybe it's from watching the Abyss in high school.  Anyway, I kind of feel like I'm experiencing that moment of peace.

A past therapist used to describe people as having different capacities for emotional experiences:  Some people have a thimble, some a trash can, others... a dumpster.  And each emotional experience is equivalent to about a tablespoon of liquid so depending on the size of a person's container they can do a lot with their feelings before they are spilling over the sides.

I have a dumpster.

this is the dumpster behind my office.  i heart it.  i'd like to imagine this is what my dumpster looks like.

My dumpster sits in the sun and as it is filled with these tablespoons of liquid the liquid evaporates creating capacity again.  You can imagine what it might be like to be the person with the thimble... or a thimble in the shade no less!

 I have been taking on and taking in so much lately that my dumpster is full to overflowing.  I have been filling the dumpster much faster than the liquid can evaporate and not emptying it through other means.

If you're still with me here what I'm getting at is that my dumpster is full of liquid, and the last days or weeks have been the initial struggles of drowning and today I reached the moment of peace.  I am completely overwhelmed but I am done struggling with it... I am just floating in it.  I am in it and it is in me and I'm surrendered to it.  I'm experiencing the comfort of the calm stillness inside.

In response I am feeling the urge to retreat.  I have a lot to work on and process and I'm not sure I can do that out loud here on the blog.  I'm sure I'll still share an awful lot (especially when I "figure something out") but a lot of this material is new and I need to feel it out in private first.

For example, and like I alluded to on Wednesday, I heard something in the talk that day that really got me thinking.  I have known, since my high school drama teacher told me, that everything we experience is a reflection of ourselves.  Everything we like about someone else is something we see in ourselves and everything we don't like about someone else is something we haven't forgiven ourselves for being yet.  So when this idea came up on Wednesday I was willing to listen and agree with enthusiastic head nodding.

Then Ron and Mary talked about how actual experiences are just as reflective.  In particular they guided a young man to consider that whatever someone in his life was DOING that bothered him was something that he was DOING to himself.  Not just the qualities of the person, but the action itself...

I went inside and asked: what I am bothered by?  I am bothered that I've been left--again.  I don't care that the circumstances are different when I'm busy being bothered by it, I'm just bothered by it.  I feel abandoned.  I feel unloved.  Then...  wait.  what?!  I leave myself?!  I abandon myself?!  I stop loving myself?!

Holy shit.  Yes, yes I do.

If all of my experiences exist in the spectrum of love or tension (light or dark, peace or anxiety, etc or etc.), which I think they do, and love and tension cannot exist at the same time in the same place then every damn time I go into tension and stay there I lose touch with the love.  Even though my dad dying, a friend not returning a text message, or 38 taking time off from me doesn't mean that I wasn't loved... that's how it felt, and that's the experience I repeat over and over and over when I stopped loving myself by living in tension.


okay now what?  That's the final tablespoon that pushed my dumpster to overflowing.  I called my therapist right away to make an appointment so I can ask her "how do I stop leaving myself?", but we're both very busy... so that will be a few weeks.  I thrashed and struggled and gasped... and then I sunk, and took on the liquid, and it was in me and I was in it and now I'm just floating in it.  And it's oddly calm, serene, and comforting...

I'm just going to stay here for a while and see what happens.  I'll report back when it feels right to do so (and in the interim--tomorrow is the last day of this "month" so my next post on Monday will be a recap/data reporting post and a "what's next" post)

Today's Self Love: 
16. I was super gentle with myself...  I took everything slowly... like I was underwater
17. I left work early to beat the traffic and do my final tasks for the day at home
18. I smiled when I felt like it would help, and it did
19. I did "38" on my list of 100 ideas
20. I celebrated and sought the comfort of good friends


get clear in your intention with yourself...

I mentioned Monday that I'd been working myself into a slump via food and beverage, and I didn't say much more about it but in case it wasn't clear... it's been a bit of a "processing" (which is my new way of describing "emotional" or "hard" or "crappy") week and some lack of physical self care (through those food and beverage choices) certainly helped me get there/here (by the way, I think the reason for the excessive use of food this week is because now that I am no longer numb from Lexapro, I am looking for other ways to numb... we can talk about that later if it turns out to be important, but it's not right now.  there is something important in there though... about how willing i am to be emotionally available to myself--let's address that on Friday).

Before I forget...

Today's Acts of Self Love: 
6. wore something impractical because it was pretty
7. splurged for the froofy drink (decaf mocha with almond milk if you're wondering)
8. asked for what I wanted (which was to ride with a friend to an event tonight)... and then got it! (woot!)
9. reached out to my tribe (talked to four friends on the phone and saw two in person)
10. went to a special event about spiritual psychology (love that stuff...)

What were yours?

back to blogging... :)

Body stuff has been coming up A LOT lately (in my head and self judgments), and I don't think it's a coincidence.  Prior to this last week of letting go of the "rules" I had been on a pretty strict regimen of expectations for physical self care.  I was logging my food, intentionally exercising 5-7x a week, focusing on greens... All sorts of super healthy habits, right?  But I wasn't seeing any results.  My body wasn't changing and (more importantly) I wasn't feeling any better about my body.  This is not too surprising...  Remember the 5 Stages of Consciousness?  Remember how trying to solve a problem within the same level of consciousness as where it originates isn't going to be effective (I'm not making this shit up people... Einstein said it, not me.)?  

So I know it feels awkward to embrace the idea that eating fewer calories than you burn in a day won't alone result in long term weight loss, but I know you know from your own personal experiences and maybe from what you've witnessed in others that it just ain't that easy.  And this whole level of consciousness thing is why.

A little story from inside my head (do you guys like these?  let me know): So, the psychic--remember the psychic from a week or so ago?--told me that I am going to get a wish.  I've done some good Karmic deed, the gods/goddesses owe me one, and I'm going to get to cash in on it by the end of the year.  She encouraged me to use the wish for myself (good reminder) and I've been trying to think about what I really want.  Again, body stuff has been coming up a lot.  My wish brainstorming has been wrapped up in it.  I want to weigh 175 pounds... but if I wish for that I could get there by losing my legs.  I want to be a size 10... but if I wish for that I could get there through a painful and serious illness.  "Be careful what you wish for," she left me with... eek!  scary!

So far I've come up with: I wish that by the end of this year I will love myself authentically enough that I naturally make healthy choices for my mind, body, and spirit.  But there's still some part of me that wants to tack "and therefore I end up at a healthy weight" at the end of that statement.  Because god-forbid I love myself authentically enough that I actually become satisfied with who I am right here and now in this very moment.

I don't know if I've been open with all of you about this, but this is what I want to do with my life (this=the blog, writing, talking about feelings, learning and teaching love).  And that reality makes my investment in this FULLfillment Project and this blog more important to me every day.  So last week I decided to take a leap... and I reached out to a few people I admire, introduced myself, invited them to be a part of the 100 Acts of Self Love challenge, and/or share it with their audiences.  One of the responses was lovingly candid: the person didn't have space in her life to participate right now, and she could see the truth in the work I was doing, but she was hesitant to share about in social media because she wasn't sure how others would perceive it.  She knows that weight loss is a potential and welcomed side effect of the work I'm doing but she's a staunch advocate of the body acceptance movement and she would hate for any of her readers to misunderstand my or her intentions and believe that she was promoting weight loss as an end game.

After the initial shock of "holy shit, someone I admire just wrote me an email!  hallelujah!" and then the "holy shit, someone I admire just told me 'no.'" I got to "holy shit, someone I admire just gave me feedback--i LOVE feedback."

and I started thinking... and thinking... and thinking...  and doubt* sat right next to me while I thought.  She attempted to interject with "oh no, that's a stupid idea" or "you may be onto something there, but let's not forget how stupid that means you were before you figured that out...  and I started to wonder if I even knew what I was doing here.

Do I subscribe to the body acceptance movement?  I follow "The Body is Not an Apology" on Facebook... does that count?

a photo from A Body is Not an Apology that is supposed to make me want to embrace my fatness...  it doesn't (yet).

Am I satisfied with weight loss as a potential side effect of my self love work... or is weight loss the work?

Truth be told this blog started last summer because I wanted to lose weight.  I mean, I wanted to get healthy (physically) but losing weight was going to be a sure thing so... I wanted to lose weight.  When I met 38 at the end of last year and started to realize that I didn't need food to feel fulfilled if I could fill up on life instead the focus started to shift more to the emotional and spiritual nature of the work (and I lost weight, go figure).  It's slowly started to creep back (the weight and the intention), however, to being about my ass... in sweatpants... which although I photograph and post on the internet--I do so only on my own terms and I wouldn't be caught dead in public in those pants.

Shit.  That's not going to work.

Tonight I went to an event at the University of Santa Monica called "Loyalty to Your Soul.  If my soul has it all, why don't i?"  I took pages and pages of notes and have months worth of blog material already started to brew and one thing in particular came up that is just perfect for where I am right now.  One of the speakers, Dr. Mary Hulnick kept repeating a phrase over and over all night.  

"I want you to consider getting clear in your intention with yourself."

And I would write down everything else she and her husband Ron would say, but I wouldn't write that.  Until the 800th time she said it I wrote it down thinking, "well, if I learned anything in college it's that when the teacher repeats something it's going to be on the test..." and as it wrote it down it was suddenly clear.

I need to get clear in my intention with myself.

Okay, I can do that.  

Now, there's more to this than I'm going to make it out to be, but it's late... this is already a really long post, and... well, those are enough reasons to cut it short for now.  Just keep in mind that this has been stewing for weeks--it just came to a head tonight.

Here I am getting clear in my intention with myself (and with you, because you're here reading it): This blog is about radical self love.  That's it.  

That's the intent of the FULLfillment Project.  To spend a year experimenting with different ways of experiencing self-love.  It's not a weight loss blog.  It's not a blog about wearing sweatpants in public (much to the dismay of the people who arrive here after looking for resources about that topic on google).  It's a blog about self-love.  That's what I am here to do.  And it's pretty clear to me, that there can't be any conditions on that.  I have to be willing to love myself completely, in the present moment, with no attachment to the outcome of that experience.  

If that means that I won't lose weight... so be it.  If that means that this is the body I will experience the rest of this lifetime in... so be it.  If that means that I don't attract as many potential mates as I might want the luxury of picking from... so be it.  If that means that I don't end with 38 (there, that was a little glimpse into the sudden desperation to lose weight...)... so be it (ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch).  I will love every part of me exactly as I am.  Starting now.

To make it clearer to myself, and to you... I've made a couple changes.
  1. I've changed the language in the blog name and tag lines.  It used to say "some people can wear sweats to the market and look hot.  i am not one of them.  i will be.  i will wear sweatpants in public (and look good doing it!).  Now it says "some people can wear sweats to the market and feel good about it.  i am not one of them. i will be.  i will wear sweatpants in public (and feel good doing it!)--yes, I realize there's still a predicted outcome in that statement, but it's one I can feel safe about attaching too free of self-judgment.
  2. The ass pictures are gone... but they're coming back.  They'll be on a page soon and the context of the pictures will change from month to month.  The pictures will be of me, in sweats, in public...  living it.  NOW.

I heard a quote this week on a recording of a talk from the meditation group I went to a couple weeks ago: 

"here you are the most important person you're ever likely to meet in your lifetime 
and you're on bad terms with that person"

Yeah, I'm not willing to do that anymore.

(by the way, in less than 30 minutes it will be 38's birthday...  Happy Birthday, 38!  You are so loved (and lovable and loving too!).  Thank for existing!  xxxooo)

*I told you on Monday that I would tell you on Wednesday "what if" I love the doubt instead of engaging in staring contests with her.  Um... well, it takes a lot less emotional energy.  she's still around (pops up, isn't persistently present) and I just love her and she smiles and I smile and that's about it... I am no worse for the wear.  In fact, I think I'm better for it.


the whole (self love) story

Today was the first day of 100 Acts of Self Love!  Thank you to all who are playing!  ...and thank you to all who are thinking about playing... and all who are reading about others playing... and all who decided not to play... and anyone involved in any way really.  We're all a part of this somehow. :)

I already posted about my first 5 of 100 Acts of Self Love on the Facebook page and Twitter, but I have a pretty self-loving day it being my birthday and all... and I think I ended up with at least one act of self love for each year of my new age.  Let's see...
  1. Woke up naturally with the sun/son (they get up at the same time those two...), no alarms!
  2. Dropped Spiderman off at school in my sweats.  Pre-shower.  I know it sounds gross, but it's radically self-loving.
  3. Stopped to smell the blooming jasmine on the porch
  4. Took a long, luxurious shower ...by candlelight  ...and with music 
  5. Shaved my legs (I'm not sure if this was really for me or the massage therapist, but it ended up feeling good so we'll say it was for me)
  6. Took my time primping and prettying up
  7. Left the dishes for another day                      
  8. Got a bigger bag out of the closet instead of trying to cram everything I wanted to take into my purse
  9. Started the day with a green smoothie--extra pineapple, delish!
  10. Wore appropriate shoes for walking around all day 
  11. Wore super comfy clothes (all stretchy, all the time)
  12. Gave my favorite shirt/dress/tunic a final wear (its now covered with flecks of mod podge and the hem is completely unravelled... time to retire)
  13. Took myself on the free birthday ride to Avalon on the Catalina Express!  
  14. Remembered to wear my sea-bands so I didn't puke all over the boat 
  15. Had cake and coffee for "breakfast" when I arrived on the island 
  16. Took a long walk/hike (Over 17,000 steps and the equivalent of 80 flights of stairs today!) 
  17. Let myself play-pretend-nature-photographer    
  18. Sat on top of a mountain (that I got to the top of via my "chevro-legs" and...
  19. ...meditated
  20. ...stared at the ocean
  21. ...sent loving thoughts to people I missed
  22. ...sent loving thoughts to myself
  23. ...took pictures of myself looking pensive for dramatic effect 
  24. ...admired pictures of myself (look at my lips in this one.  woah.) 
  25. Found a labyrinth and walked it (and then forgave myself for not getting much out of it besides this cool picture)                                                  
  26. Ate lunch in a cool little cafe with a checkered table cloth
  27. Ordered an arnold palmer, and it was refreshing! 
  28. Read trashy-vampire book over lunch          
  29. Had a massage
  30. Left big tips at the cafe and the spa and stuck around to see the smile/surprise/relief
  31. Bought myself a little present                        
  32. Reminisced about childhood and bought some salt-water taffy to prove it
Honestly, I think there was more, but if I'm going to keep this self-loving up tomorrow I'm going to need to do some things tonight to get ready!

It's never too late to join 100 Acts of Self Love!  Try it for a day... or even just one intentional act.  I'm still willing to bet you're loving yourself regularly and just aren't thinking about it.  Let's see what making it intentional can do!



old frenemies

I've been working myself into a slump for about a week now.  I am "back on track" today which means I am currently eating (vegan) chocolate chip cookies and drinking a Stevia based all natural cola for dinner and letting Spiderman play on the iPad (Happy Anniversary iPad!  I love you!) so I can write this.

It started with caffeine... or maybe alcohol. I can't remember, I just know it was liquid and it felt good.  It also started with love and acceptance.  I had the caffeine, I felt the usually terrifying rush that feels so much like anxiety that I instantly become terrified of my sure demise... and instead of going there I enjoyed the ride and stayed up late catching up on my neglected DVR.  I continued to do (mostly food and drink related) things to my body that I "know" aren't best, but felt good in the moment and I could easily forgive myself for... and I loved myself through every minute of it.  

This weekend I had a full calendar of "self-love" events to attend.  Brunch with a friend, a workshop, a labyrinth walk, a morning sit by the sea, my usual hike, "church," and another group meditation.
I went to brunch with the friend (had coffee, meat, and cheese) and didn't do a single one of the others.  And I felt okay about it.  Really!  I used the time to catch up on my second job, cleaned up around the house, lounged around, daydreamed, loved myself, yadda yadda yadda... and I remember more than once thinking to myself "damn, I'm doing a fine job of loving myself right now.  I am able to let my guard down and just BE and still be okay with me."
Things are so different now.  I see my world through such a different lens than I did just months ago.  I am having these experiences where I feel emotions coming on and I 1. let them, 2. feel them, 3. sit with/in them until they go away, and 4. let them go and let myself feel okay about the whole experience.  I have other moments where I'm starting to find myself slipping into the old story (about loss, loneliness, etc.) and I smoothly but quickly turn my heart light on, point it at myself, and love myself right back into the beautiful reality that is life through this new lens.  I'm going to go so far as to say that I am discovering that the love I have for others (whether it be romantic, friend, family, stranger...) is made up of the same exact sensations, thoughts, and feelings as the love I have for myself.  Yep, I said it.  Loving spiderman, my mom, angry wombat, and GT... even falling in new romantic love with 38 feels the same as falling in love with me.  I am finally giving myself the same quality of love I give to others to myself!  It's new, so let's talk about that more later... but yeah, pretty cool right?

Still there's been someone lurking in the shadows.  Someone old and familiar.  Someone that I've spent enough time with and given enough emotional energy to that she probably perceives us as friends (we're not).  Someone that I am so comfortable with that even though she hurts me I'd often rather be with her than take the risk of going it alone.  Maybe you've met her... my frenemy, Doubt.  (I just got a big, bright mental image of Mrs. Doubtfire.  Which is not what I want you to see when you're reading this, but now you're going to... ha!)

Doubt hangs out and waits around for her chance to get some of my attention.  She is VERY patient.  And I have been impressed with my patience lately too.  Really... the number of times I've "been present with my feelings" or "loved myself out the story" or any of those magical powers I'm developing... I'm super impressed with myself for being able to do those things.  I am also SO. UNBELIEVABLY.  TIRED.  The more I resist these old patterns and practice the new habits the more tired I become and the harder it gets.  The closer doubt is able to sidle up, she's sitting right next to me now... she has her arm around my shoulder... and I'm still ignoring her. 

She's been whispering in my ear all day... asking me what this is all about (this=the blog, the FULLfillment Project, these choices I'm making for my life).  What ARE you doing exactly?  What are you expecting to happen?  I have an aversion to questions.  In my real life I have to remind myself that people have lots of reasons to ask questions (like the ever popular: curiosity!) in order to exist with them... but when it's just me and Doubt I perceive them as attacking daggers.

When she was sitting across the room I would engage in staring contests with her.  "I see you," I would say.  She'd just smile.  "I see you, and I know why you're here, and I'm not letting you any closer.  I am not listening to anything you have to say," and again she'd smile that infuriating smile and wait.  Just wait.

I'm too tired for staring contests.

And I realized today why: I'm too tired FROM staring contests.  Sure I've been present with my feelings and loved myself out of my story.  Sure I've stayed in the beauty of every day using this tremendous practice we call self love.  But I've practiced it as a weapon.  I've seen the feelings and the story as my opposition and I've fought back (no matter how passively... 'cause I ain't one for battling in the traditional sense) with all the fury I have.

No wonder I'm so tired.  

So here's an idea... what if instead of trying to stare the feelings or the story into retreat or wait them out, what if I loved them too?  What if I loved them the same as I love every other part of me?  What if I loved my old friend Doubt?  What if loved ass in sweatpants as it is right this moment?   

I'm participating in a 21-Day Meditation "Throwdown" today with a group on Facebook, starting today.  My five minutes of meditation today will be about not only seeing, accepting, and thanking every thought that enters my mind this evening, but LOVING them too.

I guess I'll let you know what if on Wednesday.


and... lest you think I forgot... Tomorrow is the first day of...

100 Acts of Self Love!

Starting Tuesday, May 15th (which is my birthday by the way, feel free to let that motivate you) I, and any of the benevolent spirits who choose to participate, will practice 5 intentional acts of self love daily over the course of 20 days equalling 100 Acts of Self Love!

There are 3 simple steps to participating:
  1. Take the next week to think about what you need to do to prepare for this (maybe you'll want to make a list of ideas, or print out my list, or use the magic google machine for inspiration)
  2. Beginning Tuesday, May 15th (again, my birthday.  ahem.  thank you.) intentionally practice ANY 5 acts of self love (I'm willing to bet that most of the things you'll do are things you do ANYWAY and framing them in the context of self love is what's going to make this different)
  3. Report back about your self loving acts daily to the Self Love Tribe (that's what I'm calling all y'all) via Facebook or Twitter:
    1. Facebookers: Post to the "i will wear sweatpants in public (and look good doing it!)" wall about your self loving acts and/or post on your wall and tag "i will wear sweatpants in public (and look good doing it!)
    2. Tweeters: tweet about your self loving acts and be sure to include the phrases @legalizeswtpnts and #100actsofselflove so we can all see what you're up to
Are you ready?  Make sure you "like"the blog on Facebook or "follow" me on Twitter and then let me know you're in by posting about your first 5 acts of self love by the end of the day on Tuesday, May 15th! 


100 Acts of Self Love!

not sure what this is about?  --read me--

(the first) 100 Acts of Self Love** (i could come up with.  what else can you come up with?)
  1. draw a heart on a part of your body
  2. smile at yourself in the mirror
  3. take a deep breath
  4. say "I love you" to yourself
  5. place your hands over your heart and say "I am lovable, I am loving, I am loved"
  6. sing your favorite love song, at the top of your lungs, to yourself...
  7. write a loving message about yourself on the bathroom mirror
  8. drink something warm and comforting
  9. drink something cold and refreshing
  10. take a walk
  11. find some sunlight, turn your face to it, close your eyes, and breathe it in
  12. pay yourself a compliment
  13. give yourself a hug/ask a really good hugger for a hug
  14. send yourself a loving text message
  15. leave yourself a loving voicemail
  16. go to the bathroom when you first feel the urge instead of waiting until you might explode
  17. think about someone you love (maybe even let them know you are)
  18. buy yourself a present
  19. stop and smell a flower
  20. savor a piece of fruit
  21. go to bed early
  22. stay up late
  23. write down exactly what you're thinking 
  24. when something feels like a mistake, reframe it into a lesson learned
  25. call a friend
  26. write yourself a love note
  27. wear something that makes you feel good
  28. eat something you want to eat instead of what you SHOULD eat
  29. see yourself happy
  30. say "i love my (insert body part here)" for every part of your body you clean in the shower
  31. spend 10 minutes straightening up
  32. let the mess stay the way it is for another day
  33. light a candle
  34. laugh
  35. wear something comfortable
  36. sit in silence with yourself
  37. think about what you're grateful for
  38. remember what it felt like to kiss someone for the first time and let that memory vibrate through your body and tingle in all the best places
  39. drive the speed limit the whole day (and forgive yourself if you're late)
  40. close your eyes for a moment
  41. take a break
  42. splurge for the froofy drink
  43. daydream a dream vacation
  44. thank your body for something it does (walk, climb, breathe, etc.)
  45. read something just because
  46. have an orgasm
  47. say no to something you don't want to do
  48. say yes to something you do want to do
  49. cook for yourself
  50. take yourself out to eat
  51. eat outside
  52. doodle
  53. have a silly photo shoot with yourself
  54. admire your surroundings
  55. turn the cell phone off for a set period of time
  56. go somewhere by yourself
  57. spend time with someone you love
  58. notice when things go right
  59. make a list of things you're good at
  60. ask people who love you what they love about you (and believe them)
  61. sit or lie on the floor and admire a different perspective
  62. get things ready the night before
  63. get your heart rate up for 20-30 minutes
  64. drive with all the windows down
  65. look at photos
  66. watch a ridiculous video on youtube
  67. quench your thirst or feed your hunger when it first becomes present
  68. do what you feel like doing when you feel like doing it
  69. do something you've been meaning to do
  70. take a moment to use all 5 of your senses (touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound)
  71. trust your intuition
  72. say how you're feeling
  73. snuggle/cuddle with someone/thing (see here for instructions on how to "spoon" yourself)
  74. take your shoes off
  75. watch a favorite show or movie
  76. play background music
  77. play a game
  78. think about the last compliment someone gave you (and then repeat it to yourself)
  79. re-read old love notes, letters, cards
  80. stare off into space
  81. go outside at night and look at the sky
  82. take a snack with you
  83. eat something green
  84. go putz around on Facebook or Twitter
  85. Stay off of Facebook or Twitter for a day
  86. give yourself a gift (buy a new one, or wrap and unwrap something you already own!)
  87. ask yourself "what do I need?" and then get that need met
  88. spend some time with an animal
  89. spend some time with a child
  90. turn the music up all the way
  91. dance (like no one is watching... seriously.  if you need that to be alone like i would, go for it.)
  92. take a different route to work/school/etc
  93. take the stairs
  94. mix up the routine/do something differently than you normally would
  95. floss your teeth
  96. wash your hands 
  97. take a bath/shower
  98. make a list
  99. hold your own hand
  100. take a break
*important addition to every one of these: and FEEL GOOD about it
**and goodness please don't do any of these things if they would result in death or dismemberment

100 Acts of Self Love!  begins on Tuesday, May 15th.  
Join me!


the REAL 100th blog post! Let's celebrate with a challenge!

Remember how I said that I was posting the 100th post a week or so ago and then backtracked on that when I realized it was false and then said something about having time to prepare and coming up with something awesome?  Well, it's a good thing I know myself well enough to know that I needed a reminder because I didn't think about it again until my calendar reminder ding!ed this afternoon.  Lucky for all of us I was sitting in a software demonstration that required very little brain power and I was able to brainstorm about this instead.

It went something like this:
How should I celebrate the 100th post on the blog... get drunk and blog from that place apologizing for the drunkedness?  don't prepare anything special and admit to being unprepared and see what happens?  hmmmm... make a list of 100 somethings.  what 100 somethings?  100 things I love about me?  100 things I am grateful for?

and then the skies parted and the radiance of the sun filled the room and reflected off my person when I got the IDEA!

Self love has started coming up around here a bit, right?  Maybe once or twice... I think I've seen it around.  So, how about a list of 100 acts of self love?  That seems like a good resource to have around!

And let's take it a little further...

(interruption to explain process as per usual: many times on this journey I have been tempted to embark on different projects and challenges.  I'll do the artist's way.  I'll start the 30 days to a better whatever... yadda yadda.  I love that kind of stuff--obviously--and I have to actively resist trying to do too much.  I am already completely involved in this FULLfillment project--that's where I deserve to give my attention and energy... so when I first came up with this idea I was concerned about whether it would honor the FULLfillment Project and my intention to remain faithful to it.  And instead of wracking my brain for hours to come to a conclusion I just decided it would be fine.  So, I'm doing it.)

In honor of the 100th post on this blog, I'd like to invite you to participate in a challenge (let's call it a) journey (shall we?) with me... here are the details:

100 Acts of Self Love!

Starting Tuesday, May 15th (which is my birthday by the way, feel free to let that motivate you) I, and any of the benevolent spirits who choose to participate, will practice 5 intentional acts of self love daily over the course of 20 days equalling 100 Acts of Self Love!

There are 3 simple steps to participating:
  1. Take the next week to think about what you need to do to prepare for this (maybe you'll want to make a list of ideas, or print out my list, or use the magic google machine for inspiration)
  2. Beginning Tuesday, May 15th (again, my birthday.  ahem.  thank you.) intentionally practice ANY 5 acts of self love (I'm willing to bet that most of the things you'll do are things you do ANYWAY and framing them in the context of self love is what's going to make this different)
  3. Report back about your self loving acts daily to the Self Love Tribe (that's what I'm calling all y'all) via Facebook or Twitter:
    1. Facebookers: Post to the "i will wear sweatpants in public (and look good doing it!)" wall about your self loving acts and/or post on your wall and tag "i will wear sweatpants in public (and look good doing it!)
    2. Tweeters: tweet about your self loving acts and be sure to include the phrases @legalizeswtpnts and #100actsofselflove so we can all see what you're up to
For everyone who completes the challenge (5 acts of intentional self love recorded daily on Facebook or Twitter)  you will:
    1. feel really good
    2. be only 1 day away from the point where you have effectively started a new habit (so go ahead and do it one more day too to make it stick!)
    3. not have to buy me a birthday present (unless you're my mom, then you still do)
    4. receive a "Self Love Tribe" badge/token from me celebrating your achievements
Are you ready?  Make sure you "like"the blog on Facebook or "follow" me on Twitter and then let me know you're in by posting about your first 5 acts of self love by the end of the day on Tuesday, May 15th! 

I'll see you on Friday with a list of 100 Acts of Self Love!