fun · habits · renewal

Spinning Yarn.

1.23.19.jpgThe Deepak/Oprah meditation I was listening to this morning, from their “Manifesting Grace Through Gratitude” series, spoke of the idea of being the author of your own story.

Now, as a good “Once Upon a Time” TV show nerd, the idea of being The Author appeals to me!  But, so does it appeal to me the idea of renewing my story every day.

The meditation spoke about how repetition makes life stale, and that’s not only in the “same breakfast, same job” kind of way, but also in the “same attitudes, same thoughts” kind of way.  What kind of thought habits do I have?  And moreover, what kind of thought habits do I want?

Many of my thought patterns center around the idea of my being stagnant, procrastinating, far from my goals even when I know what they are.  (The irony is that thought itself is stagnant!)  So this morning during the quiet meditation portion of the recording, I tried something called “Mental Dress Rehearsal,” as it’s called in my Executive Functioning training at school.

To really run through a scene how I want it to play out.  To feel the skin sensations, the emotions, the engagement and presence I want to feel.  Whether that’s inhabiting the idea of playing the piano or trying something new in the boudoir, seeing it happen and living it in my imagination feels much better than haranguing myself for not doing or getting or having the experiences that I want.

There’s a tongue-in-cheek line J likes to throw out occasionally: “The beatings will continue until morale improves.”  I’m pretty sure we all know this one from our internal dialogues, harassing ourselves to do, be, or think something different.  And, clearly, it not only doesn’t seem to work well for me, but it saps my energy so that it’s difficult to rise above those thoughts.

If, by the opposite tack, I can begin to use my mental power to envision what it is I do want, spinning those positive stories, crafting the exact and enlivening nature of those experiences, and creating a narrative that lifts me up, inspires me, and sparks my spirit, then those are the kinds of mental habits to strengthen.

Imagine on, reader.

 

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abundance · level up · partnership

Maximizing.

1.22.19.jpg
Not the actual bathroom we saw, but not that different either!

This weekend, J and I checked out a place for rent in the East Bay.  We’ve been considering the option of moving out of the homogeneous, one-horse town we live in back to a place where the average age isn’t 25 years above ours and the options for adventure are more varied (though outdoor options here are plentiful).

Afterward, J commented that he was proud of me.  “Why??”  Because in the past, I would have jumped on the place that we saw.  It barely eeked past the necessities, in that it had a roof and four walls!  But the truly atrocious absence of upkeep and update of the place were obvious to me—for perhaps the first time, he said.

I’m a Satisfiser.  Meet the lowest, most basic requirements?  Done.  He’s a Maximizer.  Suuuure, this may indeed meet those, but what else is there?

Each approach has its benefits and deficits.  I can tend to be okay with some pretty low standards (see my blog about being “shmutzy”!); he can tend to research at the expense of taking action.  My way means there’s movement (mostly forward!); his way means he’s aware of a greater field of possibilities available for the taking.

There’s a concept of couples becoming more similar to one another over years, and while this has some pieces within me screaming, “AGENCY!!”, there is a benefit to being positively influenced by someone you’re so close to.  I’m becoming more discerning; he’s becoming more content.

While we still have vast gulfs of difference in some areas, the ability to appreciate one another’s style for its benefits means we’re more effective and efficient.  Being able to make decisions that raise my acceptable standard of living at a speedier pace means I get to spend more time living in and with those better things.  And as Maybelline told me years ago: I’m worth it.

 

compromise · partnership · time

Time Wars

I’m slowly making my way through Minimalist Parenting, written by two women who, according to their bio blurbs on the back of the book, founded blogs named to the “Top 100 Mommy Blogs” (which both makes me want to puke that there is such a thing and inspires me!).  What I’m noticing, though, is that there is SO MUCH useful information in the book for any person who lives with someone else, be that a roommate or partner or child.

One of the questions asked by them early in the book is, “What is your ideal time style?”  If given an ideal day, would you plan it by the hour to ensure everything that you want gets accomplished, or would you seat-of-the-pants it and see how the day unfolds?

I am the former “Plan it down!” and J is the latter “Let’s see how it goes.”  Asking this of myself and of him illuminates how differently we approach our days, and also lends perspective to why we fall into tensions around shared time.

It’s important for me to see that it’s impinging for him when I ask, “When?” and it’s unmooring for me when his response is, “Whenever.”

As our lives overlap further, it becomes more necessary that we have consideration for the other’s ideal.  I need to take a deep breath when he says whenever and he needs to give me some boundaries of time within which to place that “whenever.”

I recognize that we’re pretty lucky that we’re well aligned on one of the major sources of couple tension—money—, but Money and Time can be part of one gestalt:  is there enough of it, how does one “make” more, can you “save” it?

J and I approach Time differently.  To embrace cohabitation bliss, we must each give a little latitude to the other’s approach.

Because however we view the sacred gift of Time, we’ve chosen to share it with one another.

 

habits · self-care · self-esteem

Sabotage.

1.11.19.pngI can be a little schmutzedecke (the state of being schmutzy).  I used to notice it in a different way several years ago, when I’d knock into doorways as I’d pass through and ricochet off (No, I wasn’t drunk!).  Or I’d whack my hand on something as I went by.  Or notice a bruise I don’t remember getting.  None of these things were that painful–in fact, they mostly didn’t register to me.  It was just how I walked through the world, and I didn’t much notice it.  Until I did.

Having been dubbed “The Ice-Pack Queen” in 6th grade for the frequency of times I ended up in the nurse’s office for one, I’d long lived in a state of semi-unawareness of my physical body and state.  There was a physical feedback loop that could happen for my body as I bumped and bruised myself through life: I existed, I took up space, I bump therefore I am.  At the same time, there was an opposite expression: I don’t have physical boundaries in the world, it doesn’t matter what happens to my body, I don’t exist.

Over time, this habit of walking into walls (graceful, I know!) subsided, and I’m pleased to report that’s no longer a regular part of my experience—aside from a sporadic stubbed toe.

However, where this type of behavior shows up today seems to be in the schmutzy realm.  The yiddish/German term implies having a little grime on oneself.  Not splattered with mud or trailing a Pig-Pen-like cloud of filth, my schmutzedecke nature is not (only) the physical spot of dirt realm, but the how I put myself together realm.  Sure, I may have a stain of coffee here or a deodorant mark there, but moreso what I’m realizing is that I almost on purpose mess myself up.  Like “accidentally” walking into doorways.

There’s a laissez-faire aura about putting myself together that I don’t really enjoy.  A feeling of, “It doesn’t matter how I present,” when I know inside that it does matter to me.  It’s the small stain or rip, the dowdy sweatshirt when I get home, the splatter left on the stovetop.

I’ve allowed myself to be in a space that reflects that I don’t value how I’m put together, that I “can’t” put myself together, or that, somehow, this put-together thing “passed me by in life and it’s too late” despair whirlpool.

While there are, of course, times that I “pull it together” and look fierce, those are the exceptions.  More often, I’m walking out the door a product of (feigned) indifference about my presentation.  It’s not a “I want to be label conscious” thing; it’s a “I want to embody my self-esteem” thing.

At some point in my past, I began to notice that I didn’t like “beating” my body up as I slammed and banged through the world.  And that habit faded.  Today, I feel I’m beginning to notice I don’t like slapping on or mushing up my physical envelope.

Perhaps with this awareness will also come change.

 

codependence · grace · habits

Wandering Eye.

It feels like a physical exertion, a CrossFit-style grunting effort, to bring my attention back to myself.  Recently, when at home for a few minutes, or in the morning just sitting in meditation, or writing my Morning Pages, I’ve been asking myself, “What would I be thinking/doing/writing if I were single?”

While this doesn’t feel like the “best” thought to have (“Gee, aren’t you ungrateful,” or “You’re going to attract that experience if you keep thinking about it!”), it does become effective when I truly allow myself to sink into that wondering.

There’s work for me to do on my co-dependency front.  My tendency to abandon what I want for myself is so great sometimes that days can pass without really thinking about what I want for me.  My thoughts swirl with “us” or “him,” and I become crankier, more controlling, less amiable, because that’s not where my real energy or power comes from.

This is not new information for me.  But it feels even more relevant to “come back to center” as we talk about inviting tiny humans into our existence.  I “know” (as in, read books and blogs and heard from others) that having children is an experience that can overtake your life.  In some iterations, this isn’t altogether negative—the rotation of your internal planet has shifted, and you just learn to plant your crops at different seasons.  In some iterations, you become so distant from your internal compass that you have no home within yourself anymore, so focused are you on the needs, desires, passions, and cravings of others.

And yet.  Presently, the effort of will it feels like to bring my thought habits back to myself is Herculean — as in DEMIGOD.  But this thought precipitates the notion of “god,” which then brings me back to the solution.

I am wholly unqualified of myself to stay in my own lane of my own volition.  I need divine intervention of the highest order, and sometimes that is asking what would I be thinking about if I were single, because it brings my focus to what God/Fate/Love/Nature wants for me.

I’m at the place of inviting whatever powers that be into my mind and consciousness (as it is merely a habit of mind, not of heart or spirit) so that I can perform whatever duties in this life are being asked of me.  I can’t know what I want for myself—from career moves to which socks to wear—if I can’t hear my heart over my head.

 

family · gratitude · holidays

Blended.

12.18.18My mom and her boyfriend have been together for a decade or so, she having gotten divorced from my dad about 15 years ago, he having been divorced for longer.  He is a mensch and we’re all very lucky to have him in the family, despite the absence of any government certificate saying he is so.

They’re coming out for a few days right before Christmas, and J and I are getting to plan for their visit.  It’s exciting (to be able to host a pair of full-on grownups, meaning not ones satisfied with a futon mattress on the floor… although at the moment we don’t have much better!).  It’s stressful (to have a week of work and then family drop in right at the end of the work day on Friday).  And it’s heart-warming (to feel that the integration of our families together has begun).

J’s met them both on two trips back East, so there’s none of the trepidation of, “Will they like each other?”  (They do).  It’s more the nerves of, “Oh crap, what are we going to do with them for 4 days?!”

So, the researching of Oakland’s mural and gallery walking tours, a Point Reyes lighthouse visit, our favorite pizza place (Zachary’s—and I don’t care if it’s an “abomination” of pizza!).  My dash this week to the two purported “good” bagel places in the area to taste test, to ensure the New Yorkers are amply satisfied with our West Coast fare!  A friend’s low-budget Christmas-special show, a trip to the zoo that is SF’s Union Square on Christmas eve.

Wearing as it is to feel “on” for 4 days, I gotta say all that sounds pretty rad to me.  And I’m grateful that our “families” have the marvelous fortune to get along as well as we do.

Happy holiday season, folks.

 

family · finances · goals

Family Meeting

12.17.18I asked J if we could schedule a “family meeting” for this weekend to set down our goals for 2019… and he agreed(!).  So, yesterday afternoon, all cozy as the wild wind blew rain and leaves around the house, we took out our calendars and J began to take notes.

I wrote in his back-country ski trip; he wrote in my Spring and Summer breaks.  I added in his birthday; he told me he still had mine on his calendar, that he hadn’t erased it from when we split up earlier this year.

Then we turned to our travel priorities for the year: the local weekend trips, maybe back East for Thanksgiving, the Paris trip for his mom’s 70th birthday… and how that would work best for us—since “Paris with your mom” doesn’t quite ring like “vacation” in our ears!  So, what would we need to do to help us all have the kind of trip we’d want?  (Hint: 3 days all together, then go off with your own person, is what we’re thinking!)

After that, we talked about our vehicles: are they in a good state for the upcoming year?  Mine is, his isn’t.  What does he really need?  If it’s to tow motorcycles to the track, as he’s planning to do, can he use the one he’s got which needs significant repairs or should he buy a new one?  So, we put an action item in the notes to research motorcycle trailers with brakes.

We talked about the house, if it’s meeting our needs or not.  If yes, how to improve upon the situation, if no, what steps to take to change it.  This precipitated talking out his career plans and that if, as he’d like, he’ll be moving into his own venture soon, we’d need to keep cash out-lay pretty low.  He’s got a call with someone to talk about home options in the area that would improve our financial circumstances, and if there aren’t any, then we stay, but don’t do any major home improvements.

Then, we came to another piece of business: whether or not to attempt to have children this year.  (And his leg immediately began to jiggle!)

While we’ve spoken of it before and, as a teacher, I laid out the timeline that would make the most sense before, it was time to really ask: Will you do this with me?  Will we do this together?

Because of my financial situation right now, I’m able to save quite a chunk of money (even after setting aside a large portion for retirement).  I could be apportioning this savings toward the first year or two of child expenditures.

So, do I?

It’s a huge question and even though he’s been the one more “deer in headlights” about it, I began to feel my own adrenaline rush.  Because it would mean trying in the summer, this summer.  *rush of adrenaline as I type!*

There wasn’t a resounding, “YES! I totally want to and can’t wait to have children with you,” but his answer was: “I’m in it to win it, babe.”

We’d spoken yesterday about the difference between “a default” and “a choice” when we were talking about the house, and the same applies to kids.  I can’t allow bringing humans into the world be a default for him, just because it’s “part of the package.”  It’s unempowering for him, and it’s distancing for me.  (This isn’t, “Guess what, I bought tickets to the opera,” here!)

As our business meeting came to a close last night, he on the couch next to me, darker now outside, we snuggled and agreed that we have a pretty good plan for next year…

and you know what they say about plans*;)

 

*If you want to hear G-d laugh, make a plan.