awareness · balance · overwhelm

A Hole in the Sidewalk

9.7.18.jpgThere’s a parable I’ve heard (which appears to be a longer poem) that goes something like this:

Life in 4 Chapters:

1. I walk down a street and fall into a hole.

2. I walk down the street, see the hole, and fall into it anyway.

3. I walk down the street, see the hole, and walk around it.

4. I take a different street.

The message remains clear: even if you see a pitfall, that doesn’t always mean you’re able to avoid it.

I have fallen down a hole.

When I worked at a non-profit several years ago, I would often sit in staff meetings, taking notes as was my job, and listen as the folks with higher roles discussed what was upcoming and what needed doing.  In these meetings, I observed one person repeatedly taking on multiple roles.  This person was already in charge of a whole host of things, but what would happen would be a task would come up for someone to take ownership of, and there would be crickets.

In those crickets, it was a two-fold happening: this person was now expected to jump in to take that task on and they would jump in to take that task on!

It became a bit of chicken and egg: Were people stepping back because they knew this person would step forward, or was this person stepping forward and then everyone would step back?

In either case, the result was that at the end of each meeting, the list of tasks for this person was egregiously longer than the list of tasks for everyone else.

And this person was harried, stressed, and a bit manic all the time!

Yesterday at my weekly meeting with my supervisor I realized… I have become that person.

She reflected back to me that, considering my Type A personality wanting things just so, I have begun to take them on.  Further, people in discussions of who can do what now throw my name in the hat because … I take them on!

UGH!  I have become the harried, stressed, manic woman!!!

It’s a bit ironic to me, as someone who is a recovering wallflower.  When I was growing up, I had people snide at me, “Don’t you ever talk?” or like the first high school party I ever went to where I kissed a boy and later overheard him say: “She’s cute, but she’s too quiet.”

So you can imagine my own SMH (shakes my head) realization that the wallflower has become a tornado.

During our meeting yesterday, there was more irony — this of the, “You spot it you got it” variety:  there’s a student who has a lot of trouble working together in groups and wants to be the one to present to the class instead of learning as a part of it.  This student raises my hackles.  Sit down, yo, and learn like the rest of them; you’re not better.  Learn some humility.

As I listened to my boss reflect some of what she was seeing back to me, all I could see was this student: chiming in, making “suggestions” which were really orders!

Dude. No wonder I’m not sleeping well … again.

I used to view my old coworker as a glutton for punishment.  If that person would just step back instead of step up, they would have a little more breathing room, a little more time to not be a whirling dervish.

Oh god, that I am a dervish now.  And apparently, I’m not the only one who sees it.

Before it becomes too ingrained, my boss suggested that I practice, basically, letting things go — and saying, No.

Just after that meeting, someone asked me to lead something, someone else wanted to have a “standing meeting” while I was running to class, and someone else asked me to share a resource with them that was accessible to them without my having to do anything.

So: I said no to leading the thing (though I suspect that it actually really is something that belongs to me — still learning); I told the standing meeting person that I wasn’t available right then (though they told me the synopsis anyway as my hand was on the doorknob out of the room, and I repeated I couldn’t hear that right then, and they gave me a grimace/smile, because hearing No can be hard when all you’ve heard is Yes from me); and the person who asked me for the resource, I told them how to find it themselves, instead of what I had started to say which was that I would find it and share it with them.

Va voy.  3 people in 30 minutes asking me to take things on.  If it were 3 hours before, would I have said yes?  Probably.

My attempts at stepping back are bound to be awkward and graceless.  I will probably push back at places where I need to say yes and say yes where I need to say no.

But I am pretty sure (hopeful?) that one day, I will find the balance and presence of mind and humility and stability to take another darn street.

 

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balance · progress · time

Even Elizabeth Gilbert took a Break.

4.23.18

The epilogue to Eat, Pray, Love, if I recall (maybe it was an interview) included author Elizabeth Gilbert admitting that in coming back to her regular daily life, she did loosen her adherence to her hours’ long daily meditation.  The demands of everyday life, I believe she wrote, necessitated that she create a new balance that allowed for her present needs and reality.

I take comfort in this idea—not as justification for my own procrastination or avoidance of eaten frogs, but that even “great spiritual masters” (though I’m sure she would never consider herself such!) have to consistently reapportion in and out, effort and rest, play and focus.  I take comfort because it means that I can, too.

As you read in Saturday’s blog, the concept of “Time” is foremost in my mind and plans and creation of my days lately.  In that blog, I shared Dr. Dan Siegel’s 7 types of time one should account for in one’s day, and that did include play time.

I remember when I was healing from cancer treatment, I questioned (rather unceasingly) whether I was still allowed to watch Ben Stiller movies.  (You know, like Zoolander.)  Meaning, with everything that had changed and happened, was it “wasting my life” to take 2 hours to watch something that was funny but shallow?  What was the value of humor?  Of frivolity?

Indeed, that question of allotting time for mental candy plagued me and can still rear its snarky head.  But, I’ve come to the other side of it.

My own answer, at least, is YES.  Yes, frivolity.  Yes, silliness.  Yes, “stupidity.”  Because it’s FUN.

And truly, what is the purpose, ultimately, of life if we’re not having any fun?

Now.  I can go too far, as you’ve seen me lament here, too, spending copious hours clicking next episode or reading the next chapter.  And therefore, balance is required among the rest of those 7 time allotments so that I can feel at ease engaging in play because I’ve engaged in work or connection or physicality.

The more I grow, the more I realize that balance in all things (though not necessarily equality) is the essence of contentment, self-esteem, and joy.

 

balance · finance · money

Libre/Libra.

libra 8 17 17At the start of the year, I participated in a weekend-long “intention setting” meditation retreat with a few friends.  One of the major themes of the work was about sussing out our own optimal balance between our masculine and feminine aspects (according the “traditional” meanings of such, as in yin/yang, active/receptive, etc.).  Through some of this work, I got to see that my “masculine” or active-in-the-world self was much less developed than it needed to be if I were going to step into fuller power in my life.

In fact, both aspects of myself were going to have to grow precipitously to reflect who I really intend to be in the world, but as you might imagine from knowing me, my “feminine” side—my soft, emotional, reflective side—tends to take the reigns, so my masculine, active, forging side would have to be just a bit larger to keep things in the proper balance for me.  At least, at this time.

When I was talking with my mentor on Friday, regaling her with my pure and epic delight over all my new financial discoveries and activities, she said that the first “hit” she got on this change was that I was engaging my masculine side.  The “finance” side of things has historically, traditionally, stereotypically been the man’s world, and, indeed, there’s a voice within me (faint though it is) that says all this writing about finance is not what people (my readers) want to read.

That’s Class-A bullshit, but it’s there.

Whatever it is that “my readers” (all 12 of them!) want to read, they’ll vote with their clicks—toward or away from my blog, but it’s my job here, as always, to relate the truth of what’s happening in my spiritual and physical realm.

And presently, that’s the burgeoning, riveting, catalyzing world of personal finance.

J. joked that my bookshelf walls will be one self-help and the other personal finance.  Because, yes, much of the non-fiction I’ve read in the last few years is women-authored “get bigger” books.  Well, isn’t part of that bigger world one that includes shares and percentages?  It is.  And it feels perfectly aligned with the trajectory of my books, thoughts, progress to be stepping into this new realm of money.

No, it doesn’t feel “feminine” — but maybe part of my growth is to show that a lady can play, too.

balance · contentment · order

In the Interest of Time…

Calendar

“Babe, do you think it’s too prescribed to write a Habit Plan for the whole year?”

Ermmm, yeah, maybe.  Why would you?

“Well, my month-long habit tracker is working so well and I already want to extend it to a 2-month plan — because some things happen every 6 or 8 weeks — so, I figure there are some things that happen every 6 months or once a year, so why not put them in…?”

Pause.

“Yeah, I guess that’s a little much, huh.”

When I trace the origins of my newly-minted habit of habits, I can see this all started with extending my second set of house keys in November, at which point I gained the Lord’s most eagle-eyed observer: the live-in lover.

As is bound to happen in a relationship,  I’d already begun to adopt some habits from my boyfriend (and he from me).  For example, the daily making of fresh coffee, clearing the bathroom sink of my hair (instead of washing strands down the inevitably-clogging drain), clearing my car of accumulated detritus on the regular.

Most of these boyfriend-influenced habits have been in the realm of cleaning and clearing, maintaining order in a shared environment … where, let’s be honest, I’ve always been … relatively lax.

Examines fork from yesterday’s breakfast:  No crusty bits!  Okay to reuse!

Spills a few parsley flakes on the floor: No problem, sweep ’em under stove with sock!

And J’s most exemplary tidbit from me:  “Hey babe, how do you clean a toilet, anyway?”

Because of our new living situation, I’ve begun to be more fastidious in my habits but the supercharge shift happened about a month ago after listening to a podcast of Oprah’s SuperSoul Sunday (as I washed dishes!).  She was interviewing one of my favorite authors, Gretchen Rubin, whose books The Happiness Project and, my more favored, Happier at Home, have been on my physical and audio bookshelves for a while.

Gretchen was talking about her new book, of which I’d not heard, Better Than Before; about the idea of not being perfect, but of working in our lives to be, simply, better than before.  I love this idea, and ordered the audiobook immediately.

Enter the Habit Tracker.  Although this is not specifically one of her suggested habit-creating tools, I’d been saying around then that I wanted to put all my daily and weekly tasks into a calendar.  This aligned perfectly with her theory that removing as many decisions from our day as possible is a delight.  I cannot tell you how much I cherish this idea:

Fewer decisions = More Freedom.

Should I clean my dishes today?  Clean the toilet today?  Wash my hair today?  Do I have the time?  Do I feel like it?  Do I want to?

ALL THESE DECISIONS VANISH!:

On alternating Mondays, I do my brows or paint my nails.  Alternating Fridays, I ice skate or clothing shop.

It’s Wednesday.  I wash my hair.  (Sundays, too.)  😉

It’s Friday.  EAT SWEETS DAY!

I’ve absolutely loved this new plan for myself.  No questions.  No doubt.  No fiddling, cajoling, coercing, convincing, denying, depriving.  No whining.  No wasted energy.

I am thrilled at this new process for myself (vitamins every day in January!), but as I look to plotting into the tracker, “haircut (3x a year), oil change (2x a year), tire rotation (1x a year),” … I begin to wonder if too much tracking is tiresome and spontaneity-sucking.

I’m not convinced yet that it is, but I’ll schedule questioning for Friday.

 

 

balance · money · relationships · writing

Early Bird and the Gimme Gimmes

libra 8 17 17

Today, I write you from the lounge in the building at my new school.  I wanted to see what traffic would be like if I tried to arrive on time for teaching, rather than on time for our faculty work day.

I wasn’t on time.

Even leaving before blogging, an hour in advance, I wasn’t on time for what will need to be my settling in and minor morning prep, particularly as Monday mornings will find me teaching from 8:02am to 12:20pm, with one 15-minute break.

… Oy.

In a continuation of the Efficiency and Effectiveness in the World theme, it is likely that I will change this from a daily blog to a weekly blog starting Sunday.  I don’t want to do this. I like the process of writing you everyday, but to touch on the relationship theme I’ve also been jamming on, it’s also got to work for me.

Part of the reason I want to continue writing daily is a grasping one: I want to make money.

What??

Stick with me here:  There are several people in the world who have established a name and a voice for themselves via their blog, and then published a successful (even moderately so) book in the world.  I’d like to be one of them.

I want to publish a book because, a) I feel like a book is supposed to happen (likely several, of different genres), and b) I want to make money.

Ha!  Oh, Molly, your grand schemes and designs.

There’s nothing at all wrong with wanting to make more money, but if I think that my creativity is obliged to bring that to me, I’m sorely mistaken.  If as a natural, ancillary byproduct of Reason A (to write because I need and want to write), I arrive at Reason B, grand.  But I cannot make them the other way around.

Which is sort of what my attachment to writing this daily would be (to court, sustain, and curry your devotion), particularly if that was to mean waking up at 4:30am, instead of the current 5:30am.  (Did I mention I already have sleep problems??!)

I want your eyes; I hunger for your revelations and communion.  And because of that desperation, I will lose myself and you, not necessarily in that order.

So, lovely readers, our relationship will have to morph and evolve as both our needs evolve. We’ll have to support each other as best as we can as we work to support our selves. Sounds healthy, no?

balance · fun · health · joy · love · responsibility · self-care · theater

In Training

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Dear Blogosphere,
Apologies for the sporadic posts these few weeks. First
there was sickness, then my mom in town, and then, of course, the Monday 5 a.m.
shift at my gym.
And in thinking about the structure of the next few weeks, I
don’t know that I can promise you anything more than a few pixels.
This Sunday began the first full week of rehearsals. 4 hours
Sunday, 3 each night this week. And assumedly, each weeknight until opening
night on September 19. It really is like a part-time job!
And so, I’ve come to think of my approach to this time as
though I’m training for a marathon. To the best of my ability, I am going to
aim to be completely conscious of the food I eat, the breaks I force myself to
take from my desk at work, the sleep I manage to slip in between rehearsals and a
day job.
I have this phrase I wrote down a hundred years ago that is
taped to my closet wall and has taken me as long to come to understand and
believe: Treating myself like a precious object will make me strong.
And I believe this is the perfect time to begin to implement
“acting as if” that’s true (because, I somewhere believe it is). The body is a cautious and delicate scale. In these few weeks and months, I’ve gotten to see that my own scale is
particularly sensitive (liver trouble, K.O.’d by a virus, my acupuncturist saying my body was ripe with signs of stress).
So, balance, intentionality. Vigilance. Yes, it’s the
absolute busiest season of my work year – like a retailer between Black Friday
and Christmas. But, as we’ve seen, I can’t show up to work if I’m not healthy,
and I’m not healthy if I’m not intentional. So, I have to be my own trainer,
stopping the clock to take a walk outside. Deciding, No, I won’t have 4 cups of
coffee to power through my day. Yes, guy at the store who watched me put the apple
back and reach for the organic one that’s a dollar more expensive, yes, I do
need to eat this instead.
I’ve set up a “crash-pad” at my friend’s house who lives
between work and the rehearsal theater so that I can go and chill out a few
hours after work without having to either rush home and back or sit at a café
and spend money or be interactive with anyone.
I’m going to begin going back to my gym a few mornings a week,
instead of the once I’ve been doing. I’ve been meditating almost every morning
for 10 – 20 minutes. And, we’ll see where the blog falls on the self-care
scale, considering the few moments of sleep it ticks away.
Finally, I’d like to make sure that I get time in with my
“brain drain” crew, spending an hour with people who normalize my experience
and help my thinking to turn down in decibels.
“Meetings, Movement, and Meditation” has arisen as my
prescription for health, and I am hoping to treat myself as the worthy
patient and doctor of such self-care, which will enable me to show up fully,
mind, body, spirit.
Because… I gotta tell ya, This shit is So.Much.Fun. !

authenticity · balance · dating · honesty · relationships

Why Nice Guys Finish Last.

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(Note: The following is one human’s opinion and not
intended for relationship diagnostic purposes. See a doctor if symptoms
worsen.)
You can add your variation of this sentiment to a long list
of complaints we’ve heard over the years:
“I don’t get it; I’m a nice guy. Why do women only go for
assholes?”
In my meditation on kindness today, I was brought to
thinking about “nice-ness.”
In dating, what does “being nice” look like? Most times, we
translate “being nice” as allowing the other person to make the decision:
“Wherever you want to go.” “Whatever food you want to eat.”
“Whichever movie looks good to you.”
In the beginning, this seems like a great tack. Allowing the
other person to choose, we figure, means that we’re being “nice” by saying that
we respect and trust their opinion. We’re also saying (perhaps) that we don’t want
to impose our will or assert our own interests or preferences, because we’re
afraid that if we do, we’re going to proffer the “wrong” choice. 
I’ve had Mexican all week, and want to have Thai, but what
if she hates Thai? I have absolutely no interest in seeing a chick flick, but
if it means I get to spend time with her, then fine, I’ll sit through it.
We believe that we’re letting the other person make the choice
in this situation, but actually, we’ve already made one: I am choosing not to
disclose my desires for fear that my idea — and therefore I — will be rejected. Period. So, by contrast, if I let you choose, then I know whatever it is is something you’ll like, and therefore you’ll have a good time and you’ll like me.
So, the “nice” guy says, “Whatever you want.” Look how nice I am. 
This is a choice. But it’s also a manipulation of the truth. And, in my experience, if you add enough
of those up, what you wind up with is not knowing at all what the other person
likes, what their preferences are — who they are.
We wind up dating someone who is just trying to stay in our good graces, and in doing so, the “nice guy” begins to lose us, because there isn’t
enough of “them” to keep us engaged.
I want to date you.
Or at least, I want to
find out
if I want to date you.
I will add here, that of course, in the start of any dating situation, we’re all
angling somehow – of course we want this to work! Who doesn’t want to find someone they enjoy and can be themselves with?
But there’s the rub. If we begin to date on a basis of
people-pleasing, we’re not being ourselves at all. We’re being who you want us
to be – Or more accurately, who we think
you want us to be.
There is always room for negotiation, for compromise,
obviously. (And sometimes, yes, you really don’t care.)
But I think the (mis)understanding of “nice guys vs assholes” is that we set up a dichotomy that states: “Being nice” doesn’t work, therefore women want an asshole. And, asshole becomes defined by the opposite: Someone who asserts themselves regardless of the
other person’s needs or wants. Someone who treats the other like crap.
And that is NOT what I’m saying is the successful tactic.
Certainly, someone who takes only their interest and
desire into account is an asshole. And is not someone who I (or
most people I know) want to date.
But there is a middle-ground for each of us between being a
doormat, and being the one who makes the other a doormat.
Equality, self-esteem, honesty, fluidity. Uncertainty.
Yes, perhaps you see the chick flick on your second date.
But maybe you have Thai beforehand.
Because, I want to get to know you, whoever that is, and whatever the outcome.