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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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.

 

habits · organization · self-care

A List, not a Litany.

11.8.18“You’d tell me if I had B.O., right?” I called across the house.  

“Why?  When was the last time you took a shower?”

“Errrm, I can’t remember.”

*Chuckling* “Yeah, babe, if you can’t remember, then it’s a sign to take one.”

As these mornings have unfolded in the new house, even though it’s closer to work, I’ve still been barely managing to make it to work on time.  Partly this is because J and I take some time in the morning to talk and be cute, partly it’s because I’m living out of a handful of shopping bags that I’ve moved over from Oakland so nothing feels routine, and partly because I have that drowsing in my head that says, “You live closer to work now, you have more time, go slow!” so maybe I’m not quite as rushed as I felt in Oakland…which was and is part of the luxury of living here in the first place!!

So, this morning, I began to write down a list, not a litany.  (The other day, J intoned to me, as I rattled off all the things I needed to do, “A list, not a litany,” as I’ve chanted to him!  Damnit that he listens to me!)

On the list is (yes) shower, talk to boss, exercise, call a mover, look up a Roomba, holiday cards, call my Dad (for his birthday which was on Tuesday and I didn’t call)… and, frankly, the list does go on.

But at least it’s there.  When it is a litany, it is unmanageable and unactionable.  There’s no toe-hold to make movement from when I’m rattling and lamenting.  But, with a list, there are concrete steps, even if they feel overwhelming as a whole.

One checkbox at a time and many of the items will be ticked off.  The move is temporary, the 7th grade trip will be confirmed, my dad only has a birthday once a year.

Sure, several of the items are daily (or should be!), like showering, blogging and meditating, but it reminds me only that I need to re-print and re-start my Habit Calendar, which had helped me to keep track of all the daily, weekly, and monthly items I needed.

A list trumps a litany any day.  A list connotes order.  A list infers completion.

So, first, dear reader: A shower.

 

habits · relationships · self-love

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain—No, really.

10.22.18.gifI learned the very hard way during my European trip with my mom that I still have a tremendously strenuous time staying focused on myself.  Because of the dynamic early formed with her, she puts off a beacon call that I am constantly attuned to, like a bat.  She sends out her sonic waves, attuning to and calling me in.

This interplay between us plays out in my other relationships by habit.  I’ll send out sonic waves to others, since I’m near-programmed to see what’s up with them — where are they, what do they need, is there anything in their path I need to remove so they don’t stub a toe?

And while this may be a useful skill in some situations (e.g. watching a toddler), it is less beneficial in mutual adult relationships.  I am currently noticing this pull to attune to the radio frequency of others because I’m noticing more and more my need to attune to my own frequency, to find out what’s going on with me, what do I want, what do I need?

It’s not my habit to return to these questions yet.  It’s more like playing a piece of music you’d known by heart, but when reading the sheet music, you discover you’ve been playing these few notes wrong the whole time and now need to re-train yourself to play it that way, the properly intended way.

As I pursue the relationships in my life, I find that I’m becoming acutely aware that my radio dish is pointed outward.  This is draining for me, cumbersome for them, and not a constructive balance for grownups (not that it was a constructive balance for a child and parent either).

Misdirection, like a magician.  My attention is pulled away, and I am tricked.  I am fooled into not paying attention to the important things to me, from my real source of magic.

I would like to better build the strength of my ocular muscles, focusing them back to attending to my own visions and goals, better to craft my day’s intentions toward what it is that will bring me closer to the fulfillment of my goals.  Toward what actions I need to take to move an iota forward.

It’s easy sometimes to ignore or neglect those iota-movements, because they can seem so inconsequential and miniscule.  Oh, no, it’s fine, I don’t have to [blog, work out, write on my personal growth process]; those things are so small in comparison to whatever I’m picking up on my radar.

I notice I need re-training, re-habiting, and a large swath of self-compassion (and compassion from others, which I have) as I attempt to learn how to put myself first.

 

habits · stress · time

Straining the Seams of Sanity

9-27-18.jpgWhen J and I were together he would bristle when I would try to get us to schedule something for the weekend.  My time is scheduled down to the minute every day at work, he’d practically beg, I just need my weekends to be open and unscheduled.  UGH!  But how will we ever DO anything if we don’t plan it?  What I want to spend time doing will be different than yours so if we don’t coordinate, they’ll never align — MUST PLAN THINGS!

So, sometimes we did.  And generally what happened was he was grateful that we had, though at the cost of cohabitation bliss.

AND, OH THE IRONY!  I am now experiencing what I think he must have been, and I feel kinda badly for my insistence…

My relationship with the clock has somehow shifted with the start of this school year.  Much of it has to do with the increase in my teaching and meeting hours.  My planning and grading hours are diminished, which means more work at home, on weekends, in my own “free time.”  Last year, there were entire stretches of school hours when I could sit and read a book for exploration of what we may do next.  Now, I’m feeling like I’m lucky if I have time to pee.

This isn’t altogether accurate, but that is how it feels.  And so, with my Action Partner, among the actions for the day that I text her each morning is, “GO OUTSIDE ALONE.”

Sometimes this helps, but strangely, even THIS feels like too much scheduling!

There are several people and events to coordinate in the upcoming weeks, and all I feel like doing is screaming.  They’re important, necessary events, but I could absolutely say verbatim what J had said to me: My work days are scheduled to the minute, I just want time to do whatever the hell I want!

But, I know myself better.  I really do.  I know that given time to “do whatever I want” generally looks like doing very little, and not in the good, “release achieving” sense of it; more in the binge-watching, pajama-wearing, did I brush my teeth today sense of it!

All things in moderation.

What I do know needs more expansion is this rush in the mornings.  Journal faster, meditate faster, blog faster, get on the road faster!  From the moment I set my mug on my breakfast table it feels like a stop-watch has begun, constricting and awful.

I have talked and delved enough recently to know that I do want to keep this whole morning practice thing the way it is.  I really do love it.  But there are essential adjustments to be made, whether they’re entirely an internal shift in framing or an external shift in doing, and likely both.

I don’t like feeling like a balloon about to pop.  Even if I am filled with candy.

 

habits · learning · renewal

Mindbending Mobius.

9.21.18.jpgAfter close to a decade of listening to a friend reference wisdom from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, I purchased a hard copy of the book last year.  Whereupon it has sat on my bookshelf for as long.

Recently, having finished most of the books of appeal on my shelf, I pulled out the volume to see what the hype was about and have finally begun to read it (intermittently at best, but still!).

I’m struck by the minor hilarity of competing ideas I’m learning:

From Covey’s book last night: A proactive person is not affected by the weather; all is able to be done despite external circumstances.

From Deepak & Oprah this morning: Our mood entirely creates our reality.  What is internal is external.

Hmmm….

What is created inside me is my mood, perspective, attitude.  How I bring that out into the world is my effectiveness.  For example, I can change how I experience the world, as the Chopra meditations espouse, by painting it with a gouache of gratitude.  This doesn’t change others’ reality, but it changes how I engage with a reality that includes other people.

Erk.  My mind crumples like a mobius strip in a rock grinder.

What I think Covey is trying to convey is we ought not internalize external happenings, and Deepak is saying we can improve our experience of external happenings by modifying ourselves from the inside out.

Somehow, I think these two ideas are compatible!  But frankly, it’s too early for me to meddle with metaphysics.

Thanks for reading anyway…and good luck!;)