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Saturday, June 4, 2022

Happy Days... reading Gabby Berstein's new book

 I know it has been awhile since I have written on this platform. I felt as if my desire for growth was being pushed down. I was just hanging on for long while. 

I have started reading Gabby Berstein's new book, Happy Days. My first thought when I read about the book was, "Oh, I don't need that book. That's for people with real trauma." Reading it, though, I am aware that trauma isn't always a big one time event. It can be a series of things that make us feel unsafe or not in control of our bodies. And when put that way, there has been a lot of trauma. 

So I am reading through that and doing the writings. I am not expecting a huge light bulb moment, Like, "Aha! This event is why I am the way I am." But I have been thinking a lot of and a lot of "I wonder why" moments are coming up.

Now Gabby herself discusses a lot of therapy that sounds a bit woowoo to me. If she has the money and inclination for it, good for her, but I want something a little earthier and preferably one I can do myself. However, I was thinking maybe there is healing in saying things out loud, so next time I have some time alone at home, I will do that.


Saturday, March 12, 2022

Goal Setting: Why it Doesn't Work for Me

 



Becoming a Person of Goals

For the past several years, I have been pushing myself towards becoming a person of goals. A person with a to-do list done, checked boxes and self-horn tooting included. I have been reading books on being more successful and more corporate (as a woman somehow you have to magically balance warmth with seriousness-good luck), how to check progress and get ever closer to being a successful person. However, I always find myself slipping up, falling back, gaining and losing the same 15 pounds. I get bored behaving at work, and just want to let my silly side show. I have personal issues which continue to interfere with my relationships with others (Queen of throwing people off track by not letting them know what I really think? Check!). And I just find myself wondering-am I trying to fit myself into the Western mode of being a workaholic drone without really considering what it is I want out of life?

Long ago--perhaps in my late teens or early 20s, I decided it was just enough to BE. I just wanted to exist, enjoy my kids, revel in the early dawn hours, and live the simple life. Circumstances however, later dictated that I must GO OUT AND EARN A LIVING, and that has really thrown off all that I ever tried to be. Somehow I had to balance being a mature grown up with my desire to go lie on my bed and fantasize about a favorite fictional character. I had to try and convince people I was worthy and intelligent, when my way of relating to people outside the home is through silliness and trying to make them laugh. Perhaps we all want that. I have no desire to tell others what do or control them. However, I sure as heck don't want them telling me what to do. Isn't shared space enough? Anyway, I have come to the realization that maybe I am dumb. Not school dumb. I am an underachiever in school, but I have taken enough college courses to at least know how  stack up with other people at the distinguished "elite" Missouri State University.;oP. I have learned to accept that my ideas are as good as others, it just takes a whole long time for me to dig through the muck of feelings and impressions and half-formed thoughts, and by then, everyone has moved on. Whatever. I am slow. There is a surety in slow-thinking (not to be confused with decision-making-which requires a certain unwillingness to reconsider discarded options-something I am still working on). Actually I think the healthier I become, the less I think overall, and the more I just exist. And the truth is, it doesn't really matter. 

Ticket to nowhere?

My career is going nowhere. In fact, it can't really be called a career. It is a job. There is nowhere to move up and on. I have no desire to make decisions for other able-bodied adults, nor do I wish to labor intensely enough to perfect my paperwork to the point of moving "up." Is sitting at a desk correcting IEP paperwork really moving "up?" Nope. And that's fine. I enjoy connecting with kids most days. I want to help them do better and try harder. But let's not call it a career. 

In an ideal world, my words would be amazing enough that people would desire to read them-would wade through ads to read them and I could make a living that way. Or if I must, I would have braved the counseling degree so I could become a career counselor. I used to memorize the college course books and all the paths and the classwork and internships which would take people "somewhere." That would have been a good path. But it required a 2 year degree in counseling, I just felt the counseling admissions would look in my eyes, see my brokenness, and stamp a big red NOPE with a red box (for emphasis, of course) around it on top. 

Of course, there is always becoming an astronaut. Why do we allow kids to think they actually have such options. Why aren't we honest and say, "Hey, that's for the 140+ IQ elites, who probably have connections, and can handle military training (I just can't do push ups)." Why do we pretend kids can have amazing lives, when most of us are just going to have jobs. No, I said that wrong. We can have amazing LIVES. We just can't all have amazing careers. And the truth is, I don't have a burning desire for answers. I just want to experience space. I am much less deep than I like to pretend.

Let's Focus, Please

So I am getting off track. Goals. I have been thinking about how setting goals doesn't work for me. I mean, I used to set goals with the praxis tests. I will get X teaching certification. I'd pay the fee, take the test, add on the certification until one day I realized--I was just reliving the test prep anxiety the years and years of schooling had engrained into my skin. I had just become accustomed to that anxious feeling of proving myself, proving myself, feeling good, and then ... nothing. Nothing comes of it. I was just stuck in the pattern of schoolthink. I guess I am doing the same things with those Wordle games. Just proving to myself I have a brain cell or two banging around in there. What do you get when two brain cells bang? A synapse. Ahahahaha.

And now I am thinking, what if I just want to come home wrap in a blanket, sip a cup of hot tea (LOLOL, y'all know it's coffee), and stare at the everchanging cloud formations in the western sky. Does that make me less than? 

What's Happening Now? Why?

Am I finally getting over the middle-aged hump and returning to my Zen roots? Is this just some excerpt from a near-death-experience book rearing its head inside my head (I love that stuff). I read an interesting article on the Forbes website, by Jennifer Cohen, The Most Successful People Don't Set Goals. In this article, it was suggested that rather than setting goals, it might be more prudent and effective to set intentions. And I love that thought. I can't lose a pound today, but I can set the intention of eating healthily. I can't change the world or turn a student's life around, or suddenly start liking someone I am secretly hoping will be swallowed by a hole in the ground (sorry, it's the devil inside that makes me think such things), but I can set the intention of being more present, or making someone feel valued, or looking for the good in the person who really needs to be swallowed (come on, Mother Earth, do your thing!).

And the amazing thing about intentions is they can easily change. Today I intend to eat healthy, tomorrow I intend to live life fully. They can be short-term or long term. They are easy ways to become your better self without a checklist and time limit. And I love that. 

So Anyway

I had much more to say, but I feel a cold trying to get under my skin and my body at the breaking point. I am tired. The kids are staying with their big sister in an hour and as much as I desire to get out (Barnes and Noble and Renaissance books), I also strongly desire to take my two little single serving Cabernets and curl up with a comfort movie ( I have been craving rewatching Sherlock-I JohnLock SO HARD, but I would have to pay now that it is off Netflix-gross), and just going to sleep early.

We shall see. My intention was to say something with depth and clarity-well, there is always tomorrow.




Monday, February 21, 2022

Started my journal


 I only have a minute. I was just excited as I started my slam journal today and wanted to share. U am using the mass book, which was given to me on my trip to Ireland.

This is all I have time for!



Friday, February 4, 2022

Developing Vision-Why is it so hard?

 


As I work towards my yearly goal word: Vision, I find myself stuck in a world of ...sit and imagine-go blank and want to move on to something else. 

Whatever area of my life I try to apply it to, I find myself trapped in a little box. I try to imagine my career: box. I try to imagine my home: box. Romance: box.

I think there are several factors at play here. First, a lifetime of criticism both from the outside and mostly from the inside come into play. I don't want to dream bigger than I can deliver. My inner critic comes bursting out like Neil Kellerman in this frustrating scene from Dirty Dancing:

 (pretend there is a block indent here, I can't figure it out on here)

"The scene I'm talking about comes where Johnny is 'tutoring' his blossoming love interest, 'Baby', in the dance studio, when up rocks slimeball grandson-of-the-boss, Neil Kellerman:

        Neil Kellerman: "My grandfather put me in charge of the final show. I want to talk
         to you about the last dance. I'd like to shake things up a bit. You know, move with 
        the times."
        Johnny Castle: [enthusiastically] "I've got a lot of ideas. I've been working with
         the staff kids on a cross between a Cuban rhythm and soul dancing."
        Neil Kellerman: [slimeball-ey] "Whoa, boy. Way over your head here. You always
         do 'the Mambo'. Why not dance this year's final dance to...[pause for tension]...'the 
        Pachanga'?”
        Johnny Castle: [Flatly] "Right."
        Neil Kellerman: "Well, you're free to do the same, tired number as last year if you 
        want, but next year we'll find another dance person who'll be only too happy..."
        Johnny Castle: [defeatedly] "Sure, Neil. No problem. We'll end the season with the 
        Pachanga. Great idea."
        Neil Kellerman: [to Baby] "Sometimes he's hard to talk to, but the ladies seem to 
        like him. See that he gives you the full half-hour you're paying him for, kid.""
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/pachanga-si-ellis

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

On Improvement



 I feel as if I am constantly on a quest to be better. From being a child pouring over my aunt's teen magazine and my mother's women's magazines to ordering fun little books like "14 Days to a Whole New You," from the book form in junior high, I have always wanted to do better.

As a child, conquering my temper was my main area of focus. Oh, I could get mad. It still flares from time to time, particularly when one of the kids are making gigantic messes on a day when my body is already just done. Or when the person I am trying to have a discussion/argument with is refusing to be logical-or bringing up past arguments. Then I will find myself on the edge (you know, the place where the F word abounds). 

One thing that amuses me is how in my 20s and 30s and early 40s I always saw myself as the good guy. Yes, I was too prideful and could get bitchy when my pride was attacked, but my expectations for others were rather high, perhaps impossible. My fear of rejection was so great, I couldn't just relax. I was ever vigilant, ever worried.  And there is some reason behind that-people do exclude and people do talk about other people-even friends, and that sucks. But somehow, you just have to suck it up, and keep moving on. The problem is I don't know how to be open and vulnerable to people and still be detached and self-protective. And I guess you can't. If you want to be open to people, you have to just accept you are going to be disappointed and hurt. You are going to have to pick yourself up, talk about it, and forgive. I can understand that intellectually. But emotionally, there is always this wall that barricades me from the pain faster than I can see it happening. I don't want to detach so easily, but I do understand and accept that this wall once served an important purpose in my life. 

We won't drag all that out here. Let's just say, I don't feel I have reached the previous year's goal word of "connection." 

To me, connection would be having someone to call when I needed to talk (besides my poor daughter), someone to walk with, someone to see movies with. Or several someones. And I am not there. Of course, I have real, pressing daily responsibilities which preclude just being able to go do things, and I am weirdly perfectionistic about my home (which means, I won't let people in, unless it is just so), so...it just may not be my season for that, but it doesn't stop the yearning. 

Anyway, improvement. I feel I have shown growth over the past few years. I feel angry that lessons which should have been learned early were not-but what can you do with that? I mean, it is what it is, right? I need to talk and identify feelings more with my kids, so they don't have to figure so much out on their own-not to make my life easier-but to make theirs easier.

But you want to know a secret? Nature is there. She is coiled up in the pit of your stomach, and no matter how much you learn to tame your pride, and how much you struggle to keep your eyes open and be honest with yourself, she is always ready to strike. Maybe the real truth isn't that I don't trust others. Maybe it is that I don't trust myself. 

There is an argument that people don't change-not really. And whenever I feel the flare begin to flame in my belly, I understand this. Our nature is always with us, always awaiting its chance to strike, tear apart, and build itself up. Our higher self must remain ever-vigilant, ever aware of this impending destruction. Our higher self must calmly hold the reins, guiding us ever-onward and upward. It isn't an easy fight, and it is one I have poured my soul into through my prayer journals (but wait, there's more!)

And so, we keep moving forward. I have my journals begging for growth, peace, clarity, wisdom. God DOES answer prayers-but the path he leads you on is not the path of least resistance. To the external eye, it may seem as nothing is happening. To the seeker however, the path is present and difficult and real. 

Let's finish up with up with a little Oceans, shall we?

I long to be in the mountains.


 

Saturday, January 29, 2022

On Vanity

 

Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash

 Off Topic

I had a draft of a time management post started, but then I realized-I am not a step-by-step advice giver. I could write a post about how to manage time, but first of all, I wouldn't follow it and second, it would be dull and dry. I just have to write what I am FEELING in the moment instead of what I think would be most logical. 

Guys, I am getting old

 Sometimes I don't see it. I put on my makeup, feel okay about myself, shudder at how old my classmates on Facebook are looking, thank God I am aging better, and then later in the day, glimpse this old woman in the mirror and actually am confused. Like...it is a SHOCK that I look as old as my classmates. Sometimes the grey and the fading eyes and the wrinkles and crepey cheeks are just blasting out through the reflection, and I can't reconcile this with how I feel inside. 

I don't FEEL old

I am young. I am a stumbling toddler, making big mistakes, just figuring out this world, and the confusion that is other people, and you are telling me I am over halfway through this life? How is that even possible?

Always the supporting role, never the main star


I love this clip from this movie. BUT,  he calls her beautiful...which deep inside, does that mean those of us average people should NOT expect to be the leading lady? Does that mean we should accept our role as "best friend" or "supporting actress?" 
Iris, by the way, is an ISFJ in the movie. She makes me think being an ISFJ might be okay, even though MBTI communities usually detest S's.


I was never a show stopper. Catcalls were rare and nonexistent after 35. I never had people buy me drinks like they do on TV (course I was always married and at home making babies-and when I wasn't I was at home watching a movie and sipping chardonnay (until I discovered red wine-which is so much better-or champagne/spumante (Heaven in a crystal glass)). But...maybe that is because noone asked me to do anything. I always went to college and work functions WHEN ASKED. Unpopularity, hurts people, but I digress. Anyway.  But slowly, over time, I have found that you just sort of cease to exist on the physical realm. Like men will talk to you about serious things and work issues, but they'd prefer to talk to the 30 year old with the waistline and flirty lashes. Anything you have to say would be better respected coming from someone who doesn't have spreading agey freckles climbing up their arms. 

And eventually you become okay with that. Whatever. I prefer attractive men myself. I am not interested in your paunchy beer belly and thinning hair. Gross. But I am willing to see past it to the person within, if you can make me laugh and have a soapy-clean smell. 

Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda

But there are things I WISH I HAD done when I was younger. I wish I had gotten a nose job. Taking a few millimeters off my schnoz probably doesn't matter at this point in my life, but in my 20s, I could have enjoyed it. I should have gotten a boob job. Not for MEN exactly, but just so I could have known what it felt like to have pretty feminine breasts when I was young. Why not? None of these would have CHANGED my life-but it would have been nice to experience. 

What's the point now? I could improve upon these flaws and still be the most invisible person in the room (and since I will probably never have intimate relations again, I can just wear a padded bra-I mean, there is no one to worry about disappointing at this point

And here I stand

So I get the celebrated creams (I like Estee Lauder, but when I am broke I use CeraVe or Olay) and smear them on my face and you know what I get? Soft, smooth wrinkly, crepey skin. You just can't erase 48 years of living and sun. 

And this is the point where we reach way down deep and Oprah our way into acceptance and joy and self-love. We remind ourselves that each age spot is really just a brilliant, fun day we spent soaking up the sunshine being alive. Our wrinkles are signs of the laughter we have had. Our grey roots represent the wisdom we have acquired.  We are supposed to believe in our own beauty and imagine ourselves the leading lady even if society is turning away.

And that is all true. Hopefully we are also working on smoothing out our kinks, taming our negative impulses, growing our soul, and understanding God and the world better over time. 

But damn. It'd be nice to have all those memories, laughter, and wisdom wrapped up in a perpetually 28-year-old body.

Monday, January 17, 2022

On Vision-Why Developing it Matters to Me

 

Photo by Matt Noble on Unsplash

Vision. 

My focus word for the year

Vision is the word I have chosen as my focus word of the year. It is something most of us probably like to think we have, but many of us truly do not utilize vision to the fullest extent possible. If you had asked five years ago if I had vision, I would have said, "Yes, of course."  However, aging has a way of making you look at yourself differently and embrace your faults and shortcomings in a kinder, more whole-hearted way. And I don't operate from a place which utilizes vision. 

Now is this TRULY a shortcoming or just a manner of being? That, my friend, is wholly dependent upon your values and how you wish to live your life. For me, it is an area I just feel the need to expand upon. 

What is vision exactly? 

To me, vision is the ability to use your imagination to see how things might be different or better in the future. Vision is looking beyond maintaining the status quo and picturing a way to make things better. Vision may or may not be about bending things more to your will, but ideally, it is based on constructing an enhanced future with greater depth and meaning. 

I often feel as if I going through life partially asleep. Physically it feels like there is a lulling, foggy weight sleeping on the frontal lobe of my brain and behind my eyes. I feel as if I am truly NOT completely awake. While it is possible to operate in a fairly complex manner and maintain a challenging life half-asleep, it can also lead a sense of complacency with what is and sleeping through life watching Netflix reruns and living for the next donut opportunity. It's a smaller way to live. 

And again-it's okay. If you work hard and are relatively good (most of us are neither as good nor as bad as we think ourselves to be, I imagine), you will live a fairly fulfilled life in the half-asleep state. You will enjoy your animal comforts, love your children, laugh at jokes, and enjoy the sensation of a soft pillow and a conscience-free heart. And for many that is enough.

But if, like me, a persistent, nagging feeling is tugging from within-pressing on your eyes, rousing your forehead (it's truly a physical sensation for me) shaking the cloud hovering just over the front of your head, it may be time to search for more. 

I cannot imagine this is a one and done affair. I can't spend 30 minutes imagining a future, write it out and be on my merry way. First of all, I am out of practice when it comes to imagination. As a child, I would lie in bed at night envisioning ways of making my mark on the world. I was to be a martyr, universally loved and cherished at the  moment of my death. People would KNOW. Now though, martyr dreams are out-I have  a family to raise, and frankly, it just doesn't sound appealing.  I have to sit and DO the hard work of planning. And I am out of practice. As much love as I have for self-help books, I always skip over the workbooky aspects of them which require putting onto paper your thoughts and plans. I thought it was because doing so was a waste of time and slowed down my intake of ideas from the text. I know now, however, that it was sheer mental laziness, impatience, and a way to consume ideas without truly digesting and fully incorporating them into my life. I thought it was mental freedom, but it was actually mental neglect. 

There are different ways I can handle this. One is to get a book which organizes a life path-where I just need to fill in the blanks. Another might be to determine which paths to focus on before I spend time envisioning the future. Yet another is to just sit quietly and let the dreams and visions unfold to determine what I want. Even now, I just want to think about thinking about it. I don't want to DO it. It's hard. Thinking and imagination, for those out of practice, is HARD.

Always have to make the plan...

Since this is a yearlong focus, I will be blogging at least monthly on my progress in this area. 

  1. First, I need to determine which life areas I wish to focus on applying vision. 
  2. Next, I will need to spend time allowing my imagination to soar as I envision ways to improve, alternate possibilities, and how to go beyond "drink more water and get more exercise," to creating a truly unique life experience which awakens and challenges me. 
  3. Finally, I need to put it into practice. 

For me, this is the satisfying part. Writing out what I plan to do is usually enough to make my brain hit that little checkmark tab on and I think, "Done." I need to move beyond a simple plan, into true thought and imagination, and finally application. 

I need to keep shaking myself, keep waking myself, and keep demanding I stay awake and aware.

When I return I plan to have an outline of the areas in which I want to focus my vision. 

See you soon.

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