reading myself

Over the last two days I reread everything I've ever written in this blog... and you know what came up?
this is my "proof" of working smart.
emailing about schedules.  totally hot, i know.

(well, besides a whole lot of attempts to make excuses about why not to do it even though I said I was going to do it and need to hold myself accountable?)

In reading myself I was alarmed to see how quickly things moved over the last year.  Not really for my own sake, though... I tend to go fast and it works for me...  more out of fear of being found out.  As in: if anyone realizes how little experience I have doing any of these things I currently practice as my life they are going to know I'm a huge fraud and instantly <pick one: fire, dump, reject, shame, ignore> me.

Ay yay yay.

Even though it only took a year to get here, one of the benefits of the new me is that I know when my own head is spewing bullshit that needn't have my attention anymore.

Thank you, head.  Thank you, as always, for trying to protect me.  I've got this.


champagne wishes and nyquil dreams

A couple weeks ago Spiderman started coughing.  Two Friday mornings ago I found him curled up on the couch under a blanket when I got out of the shower.  He never ran a fever, but was a little slowed down for a day or so.  He bounced back quickly.

Last Monday some sniffles I attributed to crying a lot (just hormones, nothing to fret about) turned into the cold Spiderman was incubating.  Then the next day I conducted a training... then the next three days I spent in bed, only waking and sitting up when I needed to facilitate some webinars for work (still in bed, mind you).  An entire week later, my snot is still green... (although yesterday it was a very neon yellow perhaps this was my body's christmas present to itself?) and abundant.

Per Devon's prompting I've been giving myself massive indigestion by downing a shot of Apple Cider Vinegar every morning.  I've even resorted to cold medicine.  I took Dayquil twice with no remarkable results, and Nyquil a few times which resulted in being able to sleep but not much else.

My head is pounding.

I have procrastinating to stop but my body seems to be getting in the way.  I did exactly what I was supposed to do as soon as I realized I was sick.  I stayed in bed.  I didn't push it.  I rested.  I drank fluids.  I allowed myself to be cared for by my sweet.  Still-this shit has been going on for 10 days with little to no progress towards wellness.  I'm sick (and whiney apparently).

Today I went back to work in the office.  Somehow, even though I sniffled and hacked through the day, I thought that meant I was back in action.  I had a to-do list a mile long developing in my head for tonight... and now I'm pretty sure all I'm going to do is make it through the making of the list.


That's why I haven't been here.  That's why I might not be here for the rest of this week.  Because even if I manage to get well I gots shits to do!  I promise to take pictures of myself doing stuff to post in lieu of writing if I manage to get out of bed.

For now, there are 30mL of liquid relief (poison) calling my name.

Why on earth do they make it that awful color?


work smart (December 13ish-January 10 (2013) or for life!)

This is it, folks... the first official post of last "month" of the FULLfillment Project.  This isn't going to happen again.

I know.  Soak it in.

Before the panic starts up, the answer to your next question is: I will keep blogging.  About what, I don't know...  I have an idea or two or five hundred... but talking about that would just be procrastinating which is what I've been doing for the last week anyway and is time to stop.  If there's one thing I know it's that procrastinating is not "working smart."  Nope-nope-nope.

I'm not going to give you a recap of last month because like we learned before it started... I didn't need to get sexy.  I am sexy.  Always have been.  Always will be.  (so there).  And, no, I didn't take the burlesque class--I have mixed feelings.  Let's talk about them after January 10th...  yes, let's get on track here!

This final month is called "work smart (love what i do and do it with love)" and it seems to have come at the perfect time (it's almost as if someone designed this project to work perfectly!  hmmmmm....)  This project is coming to an end, along with the most challenging and rewarding year of my life to date, and it's time to figure out what's next.  At the end of 2011 and the start of this project I allowed myself most of January to figure out how to do all of this... to plan for it... this time, there will be no planning gap.  Planning will be embedded in the project.  That's what this month will be about.

the post-it that says it all.

  • to feel good about what I'm doing with my time
  • to let myself create when/where/and what I want
  • to move toward autonomy and independence
How I'm going to do it:
  • Lots of lists, likely.  and calendars... tasks... reminders...  all that jazz
  • Vision Board--woot!
  • Asking for help
That's it really... I'm swimming in ideas right now.  I have a lot to juggle.  I want to help people who are having trouble reaching their goals because of issues with communication... I want to make cruciferous vegetables into snacks that taste like junk food... I want to keep writing (and I want you to keep reading)...  I want to learn from every little opportunity I can at my current work...  and I want to do it all at once.  Which seems like a lot.  Too much, maybe?

Until I look at what I did in 2012: 
  • took up hiking (more) by joining a group of (used to be) strangers
  • left a job of 10 years
  • started a new job
  • saw the dalai lama
  • moved to los angeles
  • filed for divorce
  • survived to see the day the divorce was final
  • practiced oodles and oodles of self love and brought others along for the ride
  • discovered my queerness
  • parented a 5 year old (and myself) through starting kindergarten
  • fell in love
  • started a formal meditation practice
  • and... well...  this.  i did this (blog).  i did this (project).  i found me.  i liked her.  we stayed together.
Seems like I can do a lot in one year.


you know how when...

A new "month" started 4 days ago... and I seem to be avoiding it.  I didn't forget, but I let myself pretend that I had.  It's the last one in this project and that seems like kind of a big deal.  So, I'll get there... but not tonight.  Tonight, let's just stick with what I already wrote.

You know how when you have an idea to make (draw, paint, build, cook, etc) something and you start to and it doesn't look (smell, taste, feel, etc) like it did in your head?  That phenomena used to stop me, and I've learned in my adulthood to push through that and get whatever I'm making either to the picture in my head or if that doesn't happen find a way to love it for what it turns out to be.  I've actually gotten quite adept at recognizing and appreciating the happy accident... almost enough to have mostly stopped forming ideas in my head of the way things will turn out to be before they get there.  Except...
...with dancing.  I don't dance.  It's not that I don't want to do it.  I have all sorts of dreamy, cinematic pictures in my head of dance numbers that I (and the folks around me) break into on cue at the most emotionally intense moments in my life...  but whether it's a chorus line to make a point or just bumping up against my love at a party the moving images in my head of what my body would be able to do with music aren't what actually comes out of my limbs.

And I don't push through it.  I don't keep trying to get to the picture.  Nor do I end up loving it for what it ends up being.  What's up with that?
random, unrelated picture of miracle leaf hovering in mid air...
One of the things we practice in MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) is walking meditation.  Which is essentially paying attention, on purpose, to walking.  Which can mean a whole lot of different things (thank goodness, if it was only one thing I don't think I would be able to tolerate doing it as often as we have) because there's a lot about walking to pay attention to.  Last week when I was paying attention to walking I was trying to pay attention to each individual movement and separate it from the one that came before and the one that came next (which is essentially impossible because they are completely interconnected, but still super interesting).  And besides eventually being able to recognize some very key steps in the process of walking that I had previously taken for granted...  I also witnessed tremendous gratitude for my body and what it does for me and how well it works...

and in the next moment, I noticed...  I am graceful.  I felt the way the movements of one foot, ankle, calf, knee, thigh, and hip pushed up and transferred my weight from one side to another in one long sweeping movement up the leg and the way the weight came down on the other side and settled into the other hip, thigh, knee, calf, ankle, and foot.  And that it repeated in a beautiful arc that didn't have a beginning or an end... and it was graceful.  I was graceful.  I always have been.

(I tell Devon about this and she says, in a very loving way using many different and varied words, I told you so)

So now... with all my body does for me I feel compelled to do right by it.  To do something that honors the grace and persistence and the unending service.  Guess what that thing probably is?  Dancing.  *sigh*


Let's Talk About Love

I had something else written tonight.  But in that awkward moment where I went to post a photo of myself in a black dress with lace shoulders and a red bra underneath with a caption reading "sexy or skanky?" on Facebook to ask for opinions before I wore it a party this evening I remembered that something awful happened today, and most of the folks I see online this evening are mourning.

sexy or skan-k...  oh.
When I heard about the shooting at the Elementary School in Newtown, CT I was in a meeting at work.  Angry Wombat texted me the news... she's usually the person I hear from first... she's as plugged into what's going on in the world as I am disconnected from it; we all cope in different ways, eh?  Then during some group work in that same meeting my colleagues, all having now checked their phones, started discussing the matter.  Two of the three don't have children--I'm not sure how important that is to the story but it is something I noticed at the time.  Although they spoke about it as a tragedy their comments were so matter of fact... I didn't sense any emotion in their words.  I sat across from them at the table noticing that my body was filling with tension like a bottle being filled with liquid; tingling turned to tensing from my toes to my gut and as it moved upward still I noticed myself starting to gag and wretch in small movements.  I closed my eyes and plugged my ears trying to move away from the conversation without getting up... it didn't help.  They didn't notice me or my reaction...

I sat with my visceral emotional reaction to the news and watched as it faded and eventually left my body.  I chose not to check the news on my way back to the office or talk to anyone else about it but did end up on Facebook and witnessed reactions all across the spectrum.  I read a lot about gun control.  A lot less about mental health.  I read about a lot of sadness, heartache, prayers, and light.  I read a lot of anger.

At first the anger bothered me.  Don't people know that this kind of reactive hatred is why we exist in a world where this kind of things happened? ...I thought to myself

But I know that denying and suppressing anger doesn't make anything any better either so I stepped back from that and waited for what came next.  Eventually I realized I wasn't bothered by the anger, I was still a little bothered by the hate, but what really concerned me was the fear.

In fear we are reactive.  We are quick to judge and act on those judgments. There are calls to arms, which is fine... whatever gets people moving in a direction toward change, but can we stop for a moment and take a breath first?  Do you usually make your best decisions when you're in the midst of an intense and painful emotional response?  I don't.  And beyond that, do you find that your energy for the pursuit of this action wanes as your body and brain settles down again?  I do.

While I am more for gun control than against... and more for mental health services than against... and more for peace than against... what I'm for most of all is love.  I don't believe that any fear based reaction to tragedy is going to move any of us in a sustainable effort towards growth or positive change.

So sure, let's evaluate gun control...  yes, let's talk about the stigma of mental health services as a way to diminish it... definitely, let's talk about how to love one another.  But let's not just do it today and for the next several weeks because we're afraid of what happens when we don't... let's keep talking about it.  every day.


it doesn't have to be good to be not bad

okay folks... i've got some groundbreaking shit to share tonight.  i'll go ahead and start with: my mother was right.  there is indeed grey area in life... apparently some of you already know this (and tell me so while smugly smirking behind your glasses after we've just met at a mutual friend's party after i've helped you figure out how to take the battery out of a smoke detector you insist can't be disarmed... but that's allright.  we all have things to work on), but it's news to me.

theme of the week: neutral.

i drew us a diagram.  this makes it true.
all my life my mother has been trying to convince me that there's something between black and white... she calls it grey.  it's actually one of my favorite colors.  I prefer it in charcoal...  but as an experience I don't have much.  i've known she was right ever since i realized she was right about most things in my 20s (actually, I realized she was right about everything in my 20s, it wasn't until my 30s that I backed that down to most things--sorry, ma) but I hadn't experienced enough of it to make it stick.

Somehow, however, (and I'm going to blame mindfulness--yay, mindfulness!) I seem to be living in it.

All week the answer to the "how are you?" or "how is it?" or "how was it?" question starts to come out as "good" but then backs down to a more authentic feeling... "it just was."  Which seems to require clarification, because whether all y'all have known about this mysterious grey area longer than I have or not--for the most part, we (yes, we) don't live in it.  A lot of things I experience aren't good...  but that doesn't make them bad.  Something doesn't have to be good to be not bad.

I know, it's deep... take it in.  I'll repeat:  something doesn't have to be good to be not bad.

if bad is over here on the left (see diagram) and good is over here on the right... there's a whole fucking arc of otherness in between!  and it's always been there!  ack!  mindblowing!

Just because I experience something doesn't mean that I need to make a decision about it... it can just exist and I can exist too and we can just exist.



shut up and feel better

Part of the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction class is a day-long retreat and in class last week another participant asked (with terror in her voice and eyes) if it was true (she had "read ahead" in the text and learned) that we were going to be completely silent the whole time and couldn't make eye contact with other people.

The instructor laughed and somehow managed to evade the question... he's really good at that: evading questions.  In an attempt to create space for possibility and allow for every experience to exist without judgment he tends to evade.  After a lengthy discussion about how the person felt about it an answer came: it was true.

Add caption
I sort of knew this going in or hadn't thought about it at all but either way wasn't surprised or alarmed about the silence until the day of when I found myself wondering what that was going to be like and how/if I was going to be able to do it.  What happened that day, however, was much different than what I might have imagined.  I believe that I truly went in without expectation but the absence of expectation seemed to come from authentic ambivalence about the whole thing (note to self: someday try being without expectation without being ambivalent... it might work) so I can't say what I expected, but I wouldn't have known to expect this.

The day consisted of regularly cycling through different mindfulness practices: walking meditation, "sitting," body scan meditation, guided meditation, yadda yadda yadda... and it wasn't a particularly pleasant for me.  I experienced a lot of physical restlessness which manifested in physical discomfort (ouch, that hurts.  oh, my butt is asleep.  ack, my jaw is tight.  ooh, my shoulders are achy) but I experienced it mindfully in that I just noticed it... and didn't react except for the times when I did react and then I just noticed the reactions.  "oh, hello backache.  i'm going to adjust my posture.  i adjusted my posture."  really deep shit here, people.

When it came time to break the silence at the end of the day I noticed I didn't want to, but I didn't really know why.  I hadn't had the time of my life or anything.  I wasn't thrilled and delighted to have experienced all of the things I had experienced, but I still didn't want to let go of the silence.  There was something  (ahem, forgive me) quieting about it.

The instructions for breaking the silence were to partner up with someone and at the sound of the bell whisper to them for a minute about how the day was for you, then at the next bell sit in silence with each other again for a minute until the next bell when the other person would share through whisper for a minute.  At the last bell we could (still whispering) have more of a conversational share.  My partner and I decided that neither of us wanted to break the silence yet so we chose not to... which was awesome... and as the bells rang we started to open up to the silence and remarked to one another about how it felt and how the fact that we had never actually spoken before added an extra dimension to the "breaking of the silence."  It seems that in our interactions with one another as people our social masks are created and donned and in silence, just in our own experiences, we don't have to "think of what to say" or "do" or how to "be."  We just are.

The whole group got to participate in sharing about how their day went and many people, who seemed to have profoundly positive experiences and were very grateful for them, shared.  In reflecting back on my experience (instead of listening fully... oops) I wasn't getting a lot.  It was an experience, I had it, it wasn't overwhelmingly pleasant, but it wasn't painful either... it just was.  And then the judgment came.  Little (and sometimes big) voices started up "you didn't do a very good job today." Or "you sure did move around a lot.  you were so restless and you gave into it... it didn't even help and you knew it wouldn't"  ..."you really need to learn to sit still."  ..."you're not grateful enough."  "you didn't get anything out of today... what a waste.  shame on you."

Geez!  So, in silence... mindfulness came with ease.  The experience was what it was... and when the soft shroud of silence was lifted it allowed the critics and judges back in the room.  Wow.  Who knew?!

I shared my experience and the teacher helped me see that the judgments I was hearing now were no different from the twinges of restlessness I experienced during the silence, the only difference was my response to them... and if I just noticed the judgments they would be as neutral and pass as freely as the wiggles did (or they won't.  and that's okay too).

In silence, I found a peacefulness without perfection...  now it seems the goal is to find that peace with my voice too.


Too. Much. Information.

Lately... when I need to have a bowel movement, if I don't go right away I end up not being able to go for days.  There's this short window of time when the urge is present and it's as if when that window closes the BM retreats and needs lots of reassurance to be coaxed out again.  This is way too much information, even for this blog... but it has me wondering how else this shows up in my life.

I found this post it note on a window in a bathroom... 
I mentioned on Wednesday that I was suffering from the post-crisis crisis... You know, that thing where there is no crisis so one (or more) is manufactured for context and comfort?  I had insight today that besides crisis being a place where I can shine for the simple act of rising above I also realized that crisis is so fulfilling because I believe that crisis is where there is opportunity for growth (hmmm... I should have designed a "crisis" month to be part of the FULLfillment project!  I could have been the clear winner!)

Which leaves me with a question: In regular, neutral, (dare I say...) happy, (or...) peaceful day to day life where is the growth?  Where are the lessons?

At first I don't believe there are any but...  Well, here's one: Learn that you can grow in regular, neutral, (yes) happy, (and yes) peaceful life... crisis is not required for growth and learning.  (<--that's a lesson.  next comes finding the other ones... I'm sure they'll start filing in now that the door has been opened to them).

Here's another (circling back to the BM reference now...), and it's definitely one that is too quiet to have come up and been heard in the midst of crisis... if I don't act when inspiration strikes, I don't act at all.  And inspiration is fleeting.  Actually, I'm not sure this is a lesson yet because I still have a lot of questions... will inspiration have a longer half-life (meaning, will it stick around in my blood stream longer) if I'm acting on it or will it fade just as quickly as it does when I ignore it (let's just guess that it will probably last longer... geez... what a question!)?  Actually, I think that was my only question... but it leads to another.  So, why don't I act on inspiration?  Time (lack of)?  Energy (lack of)?  Laziness (abundance of)?  Fear?  Yup.

I've noticed lately that I'm not getting as inspired.  I'm not being struck by things and feeling tingly all over... and in the rare moments that I am I am finding that it dissipates before I even have a chance to get home and act on it.  I could inquire about why that is but really it's obvious. I've been rejecting inspiration... for YEARS!  and it's tired... it's not going to keep coming back forever.  It's still here and it chimes in occasionally, but it's small and weak and tired and is going to need some attention or else it's either going to leave or wither and die (which is another way of leaving...)

I wrote "be open to inspiration" on my bathroom mirror (in dry erase marker... you should try it, it's fun) several weeks ago, and that was a nice start.  I think it's time to add "and then act on it"  yep... it is.  be right back...



it's called a "shag" rug because that's what you do on it

Sorry about the teaser headline, this one isn't actually going to be about "shagging" although yes... I do have a shag rug, and I have shagged on it.  It's a great place for the act known by the same name.

It's 8:30 and I am just sitting down to write (although strangely enough I was convinced that it was after 9 already just a few minutes ago.  I guess I need to learn to read a clock) which means I have been avoiding it...  which is part of a super fulfilling (<--sarcasm) cycle of avoiding what works and dwelling in what doesn't.

I was in a nasty-ass mood today.  I was sitting at my desk strategically avoiding the project with the closest deadline by doing anything and everything else I could to do to feel productive all under the guise that the little things were distracting me and once I had finished them all I would be able to "focus."  And I was getting no where (you could have guessed).  Actually, scratch that... I was getting somewhere.  I was getting to sad sack head space.  You know, that place where I've convinced myself that no one loves me and my life is meaningless and everything I want is out of reach and everything I need to do to feel differently is too hard.

So I took a walk.  About a block away from the office with the tears welling in my eyes I realized I was wearing my glasses-glasses, and not my sun-glasses.  (Note to self: when taking a walk to cry... wear sunglasses... keep the mystery alive.)  Crying didn't feel like a safe option so I opted to phone a friend instead.  I called Trixie who answered (hallelujah) and pretended to be fine for most of the call (mostly because I knew what I wanted to cry about-thinking no one loved me-wasn't really the problem and I hoped that if I took a step back from it and eased in slowly that I would find myself where I needed to be).

It mostly worked.  I started bitching about work.  I have a great job, for the record.  I get to do something that I love to do, with a great team, in a flexible and accommodating environment...  I have nothing to complain about (but that doesn't stop me from making something up to complain about).  I have been struggling lately with what I'll describe as my ability to "stay connected/engaged with my work and the mission of the organization I work for."  I am inspired and excited often, but it wanes and wears off way to quickly and even though no one is asking me to do anything I dislike or is against my personal values I am not thinking about work 100% of the time and it's such a sharp contrast from what I'm used to that find it very difficult to feel what I'll describe dramatically as disconnected...

I was TOO connected to my last job.  After being there for 10 years I had made it my life... and it hadn't made me its... I did not have a healthy work/life balance.  I got a lot of personal fulfillment from being the person who knew everyone and (almost) everything.  I knew I wanted it to be different at this new job, and it is... and I find myself struggling.

After whining about it for a while Trixie insisted that she couldn't hear a problem (which pissed me off... and I told her so... yay for saying how I feel in the moment!  yay!  are you cheering?  yay!) and then apologizing for sounding dismissive of my feelings she suggested that I might just not be used to a healthy work-life balance and just doing a job well and then going home and not thinking about it might be creating a lot of discomfort for me.  Yeah yeah... true... but it still feels shitty!

anticlimactic punchline for the win
Then... she asks me if maybe I'm coming down from being in crisis-mode for the last year.  Maybe my poor brain and body are so used to being flooded with adrenaline and cortisol that this neutral existence I'm in is challenging?  Without all the crisis of the past year (divorce, single parenting, moving, new job, dating, new relationship...) maybe there was all this space and my brain was doing what it thought it should--trying to fill it up.  And, of course, trying to fill it up with crises.


Yep, that was it.  That one clicked.  Damnit... Yes.  Shit.  Ugh.  Yeah...  I don't have much more to say about it than that.  Things are so neutral right now...  hell, a lot of things are good (great even!) and without a bunch of bullshit to contend with, I've taken it upon myself to create bullshit.  Because I am really good at dealing with bullshit!  I get to rise above.  I get to choose empathy and compassion.  I get to be strong... vulnerable... grow and transform at a rapid pace...

Which... as I hung out with that idea for the rest of the day, told me something else.  This need to be in crisis to feel competent... it's just an excuse to play small.  It's a way to fill up all the time and energy with things and ideas that prevent me from taking REAL risk.

The year is almost over.  This seems like a good thing to have figured out right about now don't ya think?


Why being a lesbian is awesome...

Maybe this will be a top 10 list... maybe not, we'll see

(and by the way, this list really has little to do with what "being a lesbian" means to anyone else and has way more to do with my relationship and it's awesomeness.  I'm sure there are plenty of folks having these delightful things with a partner of any gender.  disclaimer over):

10. Totally okay to have big feelings
9. The other person cries as much and/or more than you do (see number 10)
8. Lots of snuggling
7. Saying what you feel when you feel it is not only tolerated, but encouraged
6. Many statements follow a similar formula "I feel (blank) when (blank happens).  I need (blank).  Can you/we/i (blank in the future)?
5. Having the same anatomy as someone else makes interpreting it a more mutually fulfilling experience
4. Your real life sex life is something straight folks fantasize about and/or only see in movies
3. Lots of tea drinking
2. Your girlfriend may even find your emotions attractive (back to number 10 again. This is a big one for me)
1. You get to (if you want) have a penis & a vagina