growth · vision · worthiness

I turn the radio on, I turn the radio up…

halloween bear.jpgAs I complete the 21-day meditation, “Desire and Destiny,” we’re called today to “share our vision.”  To try to move from dreading the word networking to see that the more we talk about and share with others what it is we want in the world, the more able it is to manifest.  Deepak said, maybe it’s following the thought to go to the park where an idea is sparked or to go to a party (we don’t really want to go to) where perhaps we meet someone who can help our dreams come to fruition.

The scary thing about owning our dreams is that it puts them out there for the dreaded derision.  This fear of derision from others seems to be the motivation for hiding them that most plays out within me.  Next on the list of negative voices is the derisive voice from within myself that says, You’ll never follow through anyway, so why bother telling anyone or trying in the first place.

Both of these voices are tools … well, were originally tools for safety, actually, but they’re long outdated, and I don’t need to hide anymore who or what it is I want or am in the world.  But those voices haven’t yet received their invitation to leave in strong enough terms… and perhaps those voices don’t actually vacate the vicinity, maybe they just get turned down like a dial on a radio, becoming less distracting and thereby less convincing.

It’s easy, simple, and habitual to listen to the voices that say, You’re not good enough, your dreams are dumb, you won’t attain them anyway, you’re a queen of self-abandonment so why try.

But, it is also soul-crushing and life-limiting to listen to them.

So by the opposite tack, it is harder, more “effort-ful,” and not at all ingrained to upvote the voices that say, I am good enough, my dreams are worthy, I will attain them in whatever time, order, and manner I’m supposed to, and I can become a queen of self-support so I’m excited to go out and try!

Yeah… that feels silly and saccharine to tell myself.

But frankly, I, Molly, am nothing if not silly and optimism-sweet, so I better pump up the volume.

 

Happy Halloween, Everybody!:)

 

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growth · love · work

Good Enough.

10-20-18.jpgI cried at work the other day.

I was in my weekly one-on-one meeting with my boss.  We were outside, as we’ve taken to meeting outdoors when it makes sense since we rarely see the sky on busy school days.

We were talking about a hard parent meeting that had happened this week, and I was also expressing my concern about not getting materials to a co-worker at the moment they’d wanted it.  Places, basically, where I felt afraid that I wasn’t doing enough, or that I wasn’t good enough.

And she said to me:  “I see what you’re doing.”

I see how hard you’re working; I, and we all, see you as confident and competent.  I see what you’ve taken on; I see great things for you, a bright future here.  I see you as the superstar you are.

And, at some point during this monologue of positivity, I started leaking from my eyeballs.

“What’s going on right now?” she asked as she noticed I was crying.

“It’s just been really hard,” I said, “it’s been stressful, this time.”  And she began again to say those positive, glowing things: We don’t want you to leave (not that I’d expressed to her that I was considering it), I see such great things, you’re doing awesome.

I had to put my hand on hers, as my tears were coming harder now, and say, laughingly, soddenly, “You have to stop”!

It was so hard to hear, to listen, as she was telling me these things.  What was it that made the waterworks turn on?  What was it that made it so vulnerable to hear words of praise and affirmation?  What was so hard about being truly seen for the work I was doing… for work of mine to be acknowledged that, perhaps, I didn’t see as clearly as others apparently were?

What is it about praise for my work that was so painful, and so ecstatic, to hear?

I have been sitting with this question for the last two days, and haven’t yet had the time to dig deeply into it, but I do know that praise for my effort was not a tape I heard often growing up — or if I did, I’m sure I didn’t have the capacity or receptors to hear it.

My own myopia on performance and achievement precludes my awareness from the whole of my being.

Will this awareness broaden for me?  Will I begin to consider that what I’m doing is not only “enough,” but more than f*cking enough?

I don’t know yet.  It circles back upon the “Judgment Loosening” I’m attempting lately, because as harshly as we judge others, we do ourselves tenfold.

I am grateful for the openness of my boss to reflect these affirmations to me; it’s not every boss who would see or say such things.  I’m grateful that she simply held the space as I processed trying to hear her praise, instead of shutting down or dismissing it (her or me).

And, I’m grateful for the chance to discover another ripe and rich place for me to grow.

 

growth · recovery · surrender

Friend Breakups

When I limped into recovery over 12 years ago in San Francisco and raised my hand as new to the group, I cried.

I cried with mourning and grief; I also cried with relief.

The mourning was multilayered: I was grieving for having realized how much time I’d spent battling a demon in single-handed combat—a battle I could (and would) never win but continued to launch attack after attack to get under control, to get my life, my heart, my sanity under control.  And I could not.

My efforts were meaningless, but I railed against that monster for a decade.  The opposite of “chasing the dragon,” I quickly learned the consequences of waking the beast and fought tooth and nail to put it back to sleep.  Like an overtired toddler, the beast of addiction could not be soothed with my mortal tools.

So, I cried in that meeting because of all the wounds I’d suffered in that hopeless fight.

I cried, also, because that dragon and the fight I’d waged with it had become the most constant companion I’d ever had (or at least realized I had — it would be a little longer before I came to realize the benevolent forces abundant in my life during all that hellacious time, too).

I cried in grief over the pal I knew I was coming here to say goodbye to with a finality.  Oh Palsy, the times we had!  Together, we travelled from small-town suburbia, to college-town alleyways, to South Korean karaoke bars, and all over the South Pacific.

All the way, like a boulder tumulting down a cliff face, onto a couch in San Francisco.

And here we were, you and I, palsy, having the same ol’ fight again.  The scenery changed, but nothing else had.  And I knew, ultimately, that I had to leave you to find other folks to talk with, to give me new and different ideas and new tools for walking through this marvelous miasma of existence.

And so, I cried for the loss of this dragon-friend with whom I’d traversed continents and decades.

I also cried with relief.

The clatter of swords, I call it.  That moment when you see the brave knight tete-a-tete with the gilded beast, the hero all sweaty and injured and launching her assault again and again.  And you can see, anyone watching can see, that she cannot win.  That what is happening here is a travesty of power — this is twisted and sick to make her continue to fight that monster.  What kind of sick bastard are you continuing to encourage this harm to our hero??

And the hero finally understands.  She realizes the hopelessness of winning and she lets her longsword fall.

It’s slow motion, an end-over-end descent of metal, til it clatters to the floor of the dark cave and echoes against the stone, bouncing and oscillating just a little in its death throes before it comes to a deep stop on the ground.

There is silence.

The hero stands there now, empty-handed, the dragon overhead watching this change.  This isn’t some battle tactic, this isn’t some sly made-ya-look.  Our hero has dropped all of her fight and knows that, if absolutely nothing else, her fight is over.

Relief tumults upon her in waves.  Cleansing, heaving, sobbing waves that I cried in that new room of people who understood.

I am intimately reminded of that moment today as I continue to do my work around Judgment and Control, these friends who have been with me since before the above dragon was awoken.

These two friends have been so close to me, I have thought of them as myself.  I have not seen the molecule of air there is between me and them; I have thought we were the same.

But something has begun to shift, G-d’s Infinite Crowbar prying these stranger, more insidious demons apart from me, and showing me that they are, in fact, not really me.

I have worn them as closely as my skin, and it is a painful process to pull them off, or have them pried from me.

You remember being in ballet when you were little, and you had those thick opaque tights for recitals?  And dancing in your ballet shoes, all the friction created from that movement rubbed your ankles raw?  You sucked in your breath as you danced because a smile was required, and you let those shoes and tights meld into your skin, wearing away parts of yourself, and replacing them with the fabric of this alien material.

You remember after each performance, sitting in the changing room with tightly top-bunned heads, unwrapping those gorgeous silk ribbons from around the white opaqueness, and impatiently yanking or tenderly pulling off those shoes and beginning to unfurl your tights back off down your legs?

You remember that moment when the tights are down to your feet and they have caught?  They are attached to the skin of your heel with blood and a little ooze?  It’s a moist but hard affixing, and the fabric of the tights pulls thin as you tug on it to see how deeply attached it is to your body.

You tug, you make bargains with god, you tell yourself “1,2,3” but start back at 1 when you’ve chickened out.

Sometimes in that moment, you take a deep breath, steel yourself, and rip it off.  You watch the raw patch of skin saturate with new blood and maybe begin to pool into real droplets.  Sometimes in that moment, you know you’re too scared to handle it on your own, and you ask a friend to come and just do it and, like how you do with a phlebotomist, you look the other way while they do for you what you cannot do for yourself.

I am right now both the puller and the asker for help in the pulling.

Judgment and Control are so enmeshed in my person that this individuation is painful, raw, grief-laden, and … a relief.

 

fear · growth · humor

Playing Possum with God.

9.28.18.jpgNope nope nope, not going, leave me here.  Out there is scary, unknown, this is fine.  I’m fine.  Nope, being impaled on my own self-doubt is fine.  I’m cool with the middling life that affords me just enough to feel nipped at by lack and struggle.  It’s fiiine, God.  Jesus, lay off.  I built this whole small life myself, man!  I have small passions I follow briefly then abandon, that’s good because I don’t get too good at anything and won’t make anyone feel uncomfortable, and I won’t be judged, and I can continue to call myself a Master of None (you know, if Aziz Ansari is okay with it).

Wait?  What’s that noise?  No, you heard it… it’s faint, listen hard, you have divine hearing for chrissake.  There!  It’s someone else!  I think they need me!  Yep, uh huh, they totally need me.  Omigod, Phew.  See, I’m just going attend to them first, it’s cool — HA!  See, I’m totally doing something.  Can’t fault me now!  Well, they may not have actually said that they need me, but I’m sure that they do.  I’m just going to psychicly mine them for any point of lack or fault so I can go charge in with my spackle.  Nah, it’s cool, wearing cargo pants is totally how I want to go out into the world, a utilitarian life that plods inexorably toward death.  It’s fine!

Yes, I heard you.  Yes, I see these open doors, these other options, but whatever, this is easier.  Yes, I said easier.  No, it’s not hard to shrink back and pretend to be something otherwise.  I’ve been doing it for most of my life, so why wouldn’t it be okay?  No, I already told you this is comfortable, my legs and arms twisted into a grotesquery of hiding and smallness — I’m good here.

What do you want from me??  Let go!

You and your choir of angels and highfalutin’ abundance talk and shiny opportunities can go fart in your soup.  This is the level at which I’ve been raised, it’s the level at which I’ve built a life, why would I give it up?  I’ve staked so much on this smallness of being.  My whole identity is wrapped up in believing and projecting that I am less, have less, do less, feel less than I actually am.  What are you asking of me??  I feel really exposed, here, you know.  Pulling my covers like this is not very courteous.

Yes, I seeeee what you’re showing me.  I see that you’re offering a different way, but what about this one?  It’s like Tom Hanks leaving his island in Castaway — do you know what kind of mourning there is when you’re leaving the inappropriate but familiar place you’ve build with your BARE HANDS!?  And now you want me to just leave it?  Crazytalk.

Alright God, Okay.  Okay!, Whatever.  I’m looking.  I don’t know exactly what you want me to do yet — and I’m making NO promises — but I’m looking.  I’m not completely listening yet, but I’m looking.  Go fart yourself.

 

growth · self-flagellation · self-love

“How will I reward achievement?”

9.16.18.jpgSeemingly apropos of nothing, J would periodically say to me: I’m proud of you.

It was a strange thing to hear, like hearing someone say my eyelash hurts.  I didn’t really have a response for that, a place to settle it within me.

“Um, thanks? … Why?

Each time, I had to ask why, because it didn’t make sense to me.  It’s an odd phrase to hear from a grown-up about another grown-up—or at least it was to me.

For it to make sense to me, I needed to understand what about me was there to be proud of?  Why state that sentiment right then?  What on earth was going on??

As I reflect on it today, it reminds me of my previous experience of hearing compliments.  When folks would compliment me about pretty much anything, I would reject what they were saying in one form or another.  If it were about a piece of clothing I was wearing, well, I got it on sale.  If it were about a piece of music I performed, well, I could have done it better.  A poem I recited, well, it’s really old.

There were a thousand ways I could reject what you told me about myself — because I didn’t have a corresponding place within me that believed it.  Therefore, whatever you said was false and untrue, and immediately rejected as utter tosh.

Luckily, there came a point at which I decided very consciously to simply say thank you.  Whether I believed that person or not, whether I agreed with them or not, I was from then on to just accept their compliment.

Now that it is several years hence, I find it easier to accept positive feedback from others, though I am by no means adept at it.  I have, slowly, found corresponding places within me that agree with them, places that support and mirror what they’re telling me, and so those compliments can find a home within me.  They can land.

The same cannot be said right now for being proud of myself.  It’s clear that when J would express his pride in me, my hunting for reasons WHY was because I didn’t feel proud of myself.

When, honestly, was the last time any of us said to our own selves, “I’m proud of you”?

If you’re like me, perhaps you’ve never said it, or so seldomly it’s like Halley’s comet — rare, fleeting…and forgotten.

As I listen to the latest Deepak and Oprah meditation (“Manifesting Grace Through Gratitude”), I’m reminded of the concept that what we focus on expands.  If I am grateful for what is in my life, I will be given more to be grateful for (or, if that concept irks you, we simply become more aware of what is already here for which we can be grateful).

If what I focus on expands (positive or negative), what would it be like if I were to focus on points of pride about myself, my life, my work, my creativity…?

What if, instead of downplaying and badmouthing that I write a blog (because somehow that word feels so awful in my mouth), I celebrate that I have a commitment to and a passion for the written word?  What if instead of hating that I’m not taking voice lessons or singing regularly or practicing anything whatsoever, what if I celebrated those moments that I sing in the car or my hour on the piano this week?

My Goals Group question we’re to answer for this Tuesday is, “How will I reward achievement?”  When that was announced on the call last week, I made a vomiting noise into the phone!

BLECH, UGH, GROSS!

Reward my own achievement?? That’s dumb.

So and therefore, dear reader, accepting that I may be even a little deserving, just a teeny tiny bit, of my own praise, my own acknowledgement, and my own love… well, that sounds like a battle worth fighting.

 

growth · reckoning · shortcomings

What’s Your Superpower?

9.11.18As I head into a discussion today with a trusted advisor, reckoning up my past, diving into where my misperceptions, fears, and self-abandonment have created unbalanced relationships in my life (just a lite chat!!), she’s had me question how these habits could be used for good.

What is the gift in my porous empathy for others that, when misused, creates stress and insomnia in me?  What is the gift in my desire for order and structure that, when misused, creates perfectionism and alienates me from others?  What is the gift in my insta-judgment of all I survey??!

In sum:  How are these superpowers?

How can I turn this water to wine, this lead to gold?  What alchemy can I invite in?

If, in my own perception, I can feel what others feel and detect imbalance, how is this skill useful?  I have thus far used this skill to detect your “errors” and thereby attempt to change you or me to “fix” those errors — but what other options are there for this skill?

Before I switched to English Lit, I was a Psychology major.  But I knew I’d become impatient when seeing what (I thought) was wrong with someone else and then having to guide them in their own time to their own (aka my) conclusions!  Furthermore, a career of attending to the needs of someone else—how I considered it then—felt anathema to a woman who consistently side-lined her own needs and feelings.

I didn’t think I’d be a good therapist.

As an office/project manager, I used my ability to see things from a 30k-foot view to orchestrate projects and usher assignments from start to finish.  (I also got to choose the office coffee maker!)  While being the puppet master of an office was satisfying to my Order Gremlin, it wasn’t satisfying to my Worthiness Gremlin.

Office manager out.

So, here I am, a Teacher which in many ways is an ideal balance for my OverEmpathetic sponginess, my Order (and Pace-I-Determine) Gremlin, and my Worthiness need.

But I get the feeling that there’s a “next” place, another rung (or several) on my life’s ladder.

“What I know for sure” (to quote Oprah) is that what I’m learning here at this intersection of my gifts/curses is imperative.  I know learning how to create healthy emotional distance between myself and my students will improve my own health, efficacy, and energy.  I know learning how to ratchet back my Order demon is imperative to balancing my voice with others’ and allowing softer manners take the helm.  I know, too, that settling in to feelings of competence and worthiness are imperative learnings before I move up that ladder.

So while I know that there is a ‘next place,’ I know, too, that this place—where I’m acutely aware of my faults—is critical to my development and burgeoning.

This uncomfortable place is my Fortress of Solitude where I learn who I really am, come face-to-face with my shortcomings, and stem the energetic hemorrhages before I move forward.

What are my mortal flaws?  How can I turn them into superpowers?  And how can I use those powers to best serve myself and the world?

 

growth · humility · TEACHING

#learning

9.6.18.jpgWhen my students say sorry, I respond: Don’t be sorry, be learning.

As a phrase, “sorry” is thrown around a lot, but doesn’t seem to do very much to prevent that same behavior from happening in the future.  It’s my intention to show my students that it’s okay to make mistakes — it is okay to “be sorry” — but if that’s where you stop, then that’s not far enough.

We’re heading into the season of the Jewish calendar that emphasizes a return to self, to “goodness” perhaps, and to the start of a new year.  A fresh slate, a new page, a beginning.  Who do we want to be as we head into that year?  Are we being the person we want to be?

As I asked them recently, where have I allowed fear of not being “good enough” prevent me from accomplishing something I wanted to do?  Where have I not been as courageous, kind, or thoughtful as I wanted to be?  Where I have stood aside because it was the “easier” thing?  …  Where have I thrown something in the black garbage bin because a compost wasn’t easily accessible?;)

I don’t only want to be sorry.  I do need to apologize where it is warranted — and I have this year!  (See recent rant.)  But I also need to be learning.   What is there for me to learn from this?  Am I growing from this mistake / misstep?

If all experiences and people in our lives — from the schmo who cuts me off on the highway without looking to the coworker whose shoulder I sobbed on yesterday when I found out my best friend is cancer-free (thank you, god, universe, everything!) — are here to teach us something, can we pause long enough to discover what it is?  Can I allow it to change me?  To inform my actions, to tell me something about my knee-jerk reactions or long-time habits?

Don’t be sorry; be learning.  (Though I suppose the more clunky, “Don’t just be sorry, be learning” is most accurate!)

Shanah tovah, all.