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.

 

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humility · self-love · TEACHING

“Isn’t it unmodest?”

9-25-18.jpg

One of my 7th graders asked me the above question this week.

Their daily journal prompt was to list 5-10 positive traits about themselves.  This wasn’t necessarily things they were “good at,” I told them, but it could include those.  I continued that the turn of the Jewish New Year necessitates that we look at the places we’ve done harm in the last year and the ways that we want to improve, but sometimes we can get stuck there in “what’s wrong with us,” so the prompt was intended to balance out those scales of self-appraisal.

When my student approached my desk during the 5-minute writing time and asked the above question, firstly I taught him the word ‘immodest,’ and then said, “That is a great question, and let’s talk about it as a class.”  So we did.

We had a great discussion.  The writing on the board, as seen in the above photo, was generated from their own comments and from my own opinions/perspective:

  • Is doing this activity being immodest?
  • Am I being “bad” by considering my positive traits?
  • Do I only improve by marking mistakes?
  • Can I improve by honoring my achievements?

We answered these questions with a few notations:

  • It’s not saying, “I’m better”; it’s saying, “I am.”
  • Humility = Being right-sized; an honest fair look includes the positive!

I am so proud of my students for this discussion and for bringing to light the darkness within which we shroud achievement.

As I wrote about last week, my Goals Group’s question of the week was, “How will I reward achievement?” and, frankly, we group of 4 bad-ass women had a complex time attaining an answer!

What we generally and individually came to was that we would reward our achievements with self-acknowledgement.  None of us truly needed or wanted an extra bauble or scoop; that’s not really what makes us feel acknowledged or seen.  What we really wanted was, simply, to feel acknowledged and seen!

And one way to accomplish this is to feel proud of ourselves.

I wrote previously that I was going to start allowing myself to say, “I’m proud of you,” without dampening it with self-doubt, derision, or some twisted notion of humility that breeds self-flagellation.  And, strangely, I have begun to say it to myself.

I did laundry and put my sheets back on the bed (instead of sleeping on the mattress pad next to the clean sheets, as I have been known to do):  Molly, I’m proud of you.

I ordered a replacement toiletry item (instead of waiting for it to run out and scrambling): Nice, Mol, proud of you.

I sent two blog posts/essays to magazine and newspaper publishers: Jesus bloody Christ, Mol!! I’m proud of you!

Eek.  This feeling of pride in my achievements — of self-love, really — is a newfound one.  As I texted my friend about it yesterday: “Frankly, it makes my heart feel denser—uncomf but also fuller.”

And that is how it’s feeling, this neophytic acknowledgement of myself and my achievements.

I do NOT think that it is immodest to honor our efforts.  I do NOT think that we only grow through suffering.  And while the quip “the beatings will continue until morale improves” is a wry and ironic one, it is NOT supportive of the kind of light I want to have, bring, expand, and grow from.

I’m excited for this new chapter I feel I’m entering.  One where I am more attracted by my assets than hiding and immolating over my perceived failings.  Either direction I go, I will not run out of items to list — so why not go with the side that makes me feel kinda giddy?

 

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.

 

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.