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.

 

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accomplishment · self-love · work

“You’re Fired.”

6.24.18At one of the groups I frequent, we state affirmations for the week (you do know I live in California, right?).  Among the list of suggested affirmations are: “There is enough time,” “I trust that I’m right where I’m supposed to be,” and “G-d is my employer.”

It’s this last one that’s been echoing for me this week.  Because if G-d is my employer, and my life is my job, I am totally fired.

When I began to frame my life as my job, I began to notice the following trends:

  • I don’t show up on time, take breaks whenever I damn well please, and text-bail at the last minute.
  • I promise things I don’t deliver, get lost on the internet, and hang out in the break room eating free cake.
  • I commit to tasks I don’t complete, or procrastinate, or simply drop and justify why I don’t really need to do them anyway.
  • I submit said work eventually and still want full benefits from having completed the shambling work.
  • I want the raise, the rewards, the ladder climbing, and I want it all despite the fact that I don’t listen to my boss, do things my own way, and don’t integrate the feedback that is clearly being given me.

So, yeah, I’m hella fired.

Or I would be, if I took my life as seriously as I take my job.

I don’t enjoy the above characteristics of mine.  I recently found a 2017 goals list that included “Learn Christmas songs on the piano by Christmas” … it’s also on my goals list for THIS year!  (Though I modified it to ONE song.)  And as I reflect that it’s nearly July — when do I think I’m gonna learn this stuff?  The year is half-way done, and I haven’t even brought out the sheet music.

“Go easy on yourself, yadda yadda…”  Yes, I know.  Easy does it… BUT DO IT!

It IS easy to accomplish something if you do a little bit at a time.  It IS easy to learn a song in one year, or even 6 months, but how terrible will it feel to come to December and still have this song filed as “Incomplete”?

I’ll tell you: As badly as it feels this year.

I’m a crappy employee of my life.  It’s avoidance, it’s fear, it’s self-abandonment.  AND, yes, I’m working on it.  But sometimes, the truth is you just have to show the F up, put in the work, and then you don’t even have to worry about it!

I have a hard time just showing up.  For myself.

So, I wonder/hope/intone if thinking about showing up “for G-d,” for my “job,” I can begin to shift my mentality?

Because the truth is, I will not be fired.  The consequences of my actions only impact me, my life, and my work.  I don’t want to be Lousiest Employee of the Month.

I really do deserve better.  I want to earn the coveted parking spot close to the entrance.  I want to feel effective and useful and developing.  I want G-d to come by my desk, look over my shoulder, and nod with that half-satisfied, half-impressed up-turn of his mouth, and say:

Keep Up the Good Work.

 

goals · pride · self-love

“And reward achievements.”

3.15.18

This is the latter part of a sentence that begins, “We set goals for ourselves…”

Like most, I’ve never been great at acknowledging, let alone rewarding, achievement.  My mother has the famous story about bringing home her “99” test score to her father and him replying, “Where’s the other point?”  And while I’ve never been that exacting with myself over tests, I’ve certainly been exacting over other efforts of mine.

Theater, singing, writing, artwork.  (Strangely, though, not musical instruments… perhaps to the dismay of my bandmates!);)

And, of course, I’ve been exacting with myself over my time and my goals.  I have not at all been able to stick to the 30-minutes-of-reading-per-day limit that I set for myself about a month ago.  In fact, I have swung the pendulum crazy far in the other direction reading the Game of Thrones series, as the set was gifted to me by a colleague for my classroom, but deemed too violent for middle schoolers!

That all said…

As part of the structure of my weekly Goals Group call on Sundays, we’re each required to share about our achievements from the past week.  And while I can’t yet point to a balanced relationship with couch+sunlight+novel, I can boast about many other achievements.

I come to reflect on this today as our Goals Group will be coming to a close this Sunday, at nearly the exact 6-month mark.  Together, myself and two other ladies have spoken about our vision and goals for our lives in all areas, fears and illusions that impede our efforts, and tiny little markers of movement that we set out for ourselves that week to report upon the next.

In this way, I have been able to write a weekly list of accomplishments in my pocket calendar (yes, paper), and I gotta tell ya, I love it!  I love writing in the notebook, “Accomplishments,” and following that luscious word with a dozen actions I’ve taken.

Many have been related to this blog redux, some with flying an airplane, writing my Allegory, or using my time well at work by taking breaks.  Ice skating, vitamin-taking, meditating…

I get to write a list each week of things I feel proud of!  So if, honestly, nothing at all came from the larger goals I’ve been setting before myself, if I didn’t scrape the surface of a single dream, the mere habit of writing, sharing, and honoring all that I’ve done in one week will have been success enough.  (Dayenu!)

But… my dirty little secret is… I do have to keep reminding myself of that each and every week.

 

growth · self-flagellation · self-love

Back! Back, I say!

3.8.18

During my weekly Goals Group call this past Sunday, we arrived at the portion of the call when we report on our accomplishments from the past week, including how we did on our “Weekly Action Items” that we stated from the previous Sunday.

This Sunday, I looked at the 5 items listed and reported:

1) go to a gallery or museum — well, no, I didn’t do that.

2) research vlog best practices — well, sort of; I looked at one lady’s “how to”

3) post a vlog — YES! I did it!!

4) grade all my students’ essays while at work — nope. I did maybe 3.

5) 10-minutes a day on my weekly goals writing — nope.  I wrote for a half-hour-ish right before this call.

After I reported out, one of my goals buddies asked, “Can I give you some feedback?” Yes, please, I replied breathlessly. “With my daily action buddy, when I don’t do something I’ve said I’d do, I just move it onto the next day’s list.  I don’t have to judge or excuse or feel badly about it.  I just move it forward, and eventually it gets done.”

Hmmm.  So I don’t have to beat myself into submission in order to achieve the results I want to achieve?  While not a novel thought, it feels novel every time someone suggests it!

There is a dictum I’ve heard: Growth can come as much from Joy as from Pain.

And wouldn’t we all rather grow from joy?! Or at least, need a little less pain to move us forward?

I don’t want to keep putting “grade papers” or “write in advance of the call” or “raise heartrate 20 minutes” every single week.  I don’t.  But I’m also at a place in which I cannot do it much differently.  And I certainly won’t do it better or differently if it’s wrought from repeated self-flagellation — at least, not sustainably or abundantly or lovingly.

It’s an alien prospect sometimes to love ourselves into the future, yet alien though it may be, it is the only true path forward.

demons · fortitude · self-love

Don’t Sleep in the Poppies.

2 26 18 wizard_of_oz3

What is it the voices say to you?  How do they impede your path, and trip at your ankles?

What mistruths do you hear when you’ve tried something new, or have desired to?

How much do you believe them?

 

In the whispering of these voices, what else can you hear?  Like now, the rain on the windowsill.  What realities attempt to counterbalance the hatred that sparks up when you move into new areas?

What real truths can you find?

 

In the work I continue to do to expand my life (and love and prosperity and connection and forgiveness), I have come upon a trove of voices —grizzled witches and scribbled orbs— that sometimes whisper, sometimes holler ideas that I know intellectually are untruths, but which can cut so deeply so as to sound true or at least make me question — which is indeed their purpose.

To encourage me to question my power, my desires, my strengths, and my vision.  These voices may have been born of a long-outdated need to stay small so as to stay safe, but have calcified into demons that belabor my efforts, like driving with the e-brake on.

To know of them, to meet them on my path, to look them in their maleficent, fiery eyes, and feel the wrathlike fire of their untruths, is to become able to undo them.  “Know thine enemy.”

Uncovering what it is that makes me question and doubt and falter and hide, feels uncomfortable, mournful, desultory.  But if I should only stop there, in the quagmire of falsehoods and demons, I cannot be where G-d, Fate, Truth demand I stand.

Despite the poppy field of self-hatred, I am called to find the energy to root out each bulb –perhaps discovering they are rot, perhaps discovering they are the dark side of a necessary coin I am to carry with me.  And in this work, I am most especially called to expand my self-love with elemental and primal force.

 

allies · self-love · thoughts

The Enemy.

2.9.18 thoughts

I once had a date wherein the tall, handsome man across from me repeated the following phrase: “I am not my thoughts.”

Being perhaps naive or simply visually dazzled, I went on another several dates with this man, and again heard versions of this tagline: “We are not our thoughts.  Divorce yourself from your mind.  It is not you; it is not of you; defeat it.”

Soon enough–as in, the first time I heard it–I began to tire of his (and many others’) message.

Yes, I get it; I am the observer of my thoughts; the thoughts aren’t the me yadda yadda…

I’d heard this before, I got it, I get it.  And frankly, I don’t care.  Please, do go ahead and disagree and think I’m completely misinterpreting and if I only understood, I’d feel so much more enlightened and at peace (Do remember, that’s only your thoughts!), but here’s how that framework feels to me:

“There is a part of you inside of you that is the enemy, that you must fight and destroy and override at every interval!  Your mind is out to harm you and you must master it, judge it, and excise it at all times.”

For the love of Christ.

This reminds me of when a doctor will say that you need medication to attend to a malfunction with your body.  Somehow your body has become your enemy and you need to tame it and subdue it or excite it.  For reasons unknown to them, you have developed some strange rejection of your own body and they know how to treat it: Override it.

While I am not wholly anti-Western medicine (chemo survivor, after all), I do feel great suspicion of tending to a problem with a nuclear weapon rather than with some subtler, perhaps more inconvenient method.  And this is how I feel when people talk of subduing their mind by divorcing themselves from it.

Luckily, at the moment, I’m listening to two tapes that are countering that way of thinking: Deepak in the 21-day meditation Manifesting True Success and Canfield in The Success Principles.  Today’s meditation on “The Successful Mind” and yesterday’s chapter on renewing thought patterns both echo the same sentiment:

Your mind is a tool, an ally, a friend, and, hello!, a constant companion until your death.  So why on earth would you want or ever need to get rid of it?

I submit that some thoughts are not useful; I recognize that there is larger consciousness disconnected from repetitive, self-defeating thoughts.  I know from experience that habits of mind cause habits of action, and not all those actions are self-supporting.

That said, use what we’re given!  Why would we be given a mind, or a spleen, or a tonsil, or an appendix if we’re not supposed to have them??  Why would it be incumbent upon us to remove or silence all the vibrant and functioning parts of us, including our mind??

YES, some thoughts are negative and cause painful patterns.  But the wisdom I’ve been listening to lately — and which resonates best with me — is that our mind can be trained, our mind can become an ally, our mind is a fantastic and abundant asset!

Don’t remove what evolution and Fate have bestowed upon you: harness it, heal it, use it — and love it.

 

 

deprivation · fear · joy · recovery · self-love · truth

Getting the F*ck off my Knees.

On Friday night at 10 minutes to midnight sitting in my parked car outside my apartment building, I was scrolling through Facebook on my phone.  I usually do this as a ‘before getting out of my car at the end of the night’ ritual.  I don’t know why.  Like I’m getting a few minutes’ alone time before I go into the house… but I live alone… with a cat. … so…  In any case, I came across a post about that evening’s blue moon, looked quickly at the clock and exclaimed, “Shit!”

I shut off my phone, dashed out of the car up to my apartment.  I took off my heels, slipped on flats, grabbed my loaner tambourine and climbed excitedly and nervously up the stairs to the rooftop of my building.

Pushing open the door, I saw before me a whitewashed roof with long pipes and what look like abandoned solar panels.  Dropping my keys by the door, I carried my tambourine to the center of the rooftop, shielding myself slightly from the view of neighboring buildings, and turned around to see the full, audacious moon before me. Then, I began to jangle the tambourine, and finally I began to sing.

…uh, what?

As I’ve come to the part of my recovery/internal work where we are instructed to “Humbly ask God to remove our shortcomings,” my mentor asked me how I’d done this step in the past. I told her I usually get on my knees and say some kind of prayer.

“Get the fuck off your knees!” she replied emphatically.

You see, I have a habit of being small.  Of minimizing myself, diminishing myself, down playing and ignoring my own needs out of fear and, mostly now, out of long-grooved practice.  This habit of deprivation and hiding causes many problems in my life, mostly because I am surely aware that I am not “meant” to be a mouse.

Being a mouse, though, often looks like me withholding my truths, not admitting what I really want from others and from myself and from life.  Things like. … I want to get married.  *gasp!*  It was near torture to say this aloud to her when we were discussing truths I never tell anyone.  It feels embarrassing to say it.  To feel it.  To want it. “I’m a modern woman, proud brave able! What a simpering, waif-like desire to have!,” goes my internal monologue.  And I wither to admit it to anyone else.

My mentor and I spoke at length that day, and she finally suggest-/insist-ed that I get a tambourine, dress up in something exciting and shout this truth, and all my others, to the heavens.

*Gulp*

So on Friday morning, two weeks after this suggestion, I finally obtained a borrowed tambourine (you’d be surprised how few there are around!).  I texted my mentor that tonight was the night!  And then I read online that it was also going to be a full moon, a blue moon in fact. This seemed most auspicious.  (For a woo-woo hippie shit chick like myself!)

The evening found me on the roof of my apartment building, fresh from a salsa lesson/live music dance in the city, in a hot dress and pulsing with feminine wiles, furtively tapping this noisemaker in my hand, trying not to feel embarrassed.

And then I began to sing.

I started softly and whirled myself into a crescendo, abandoning decorum, delighting in the jangle and thrill of the truth.  Gyrating, gesticulating, twirling around the rooftop, I sang loudly all the secret desires of my soul and my heart, echoing a refrain of, “I let go of being small!” and hammering wildly on the tambourine, an elegant, alight grin streaked across my face as I hopped lightly over the pipes, spinning around the roof until all my heart’s desires, all my tiny wishes I’m too ashamed to speak, had poured out of my throat and into the moonlit darkness.

Laughing, giddy, adrenalized, I headed back to the entrance door, calling brazenly to the bulbous moon: “Peace out, Blue Moon.”