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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Whoooo are you? Who-oo Oo-oo!

"I can't go back to yesterday - because I was a different person then. " 
                                                                                      -Lewis Carroll 

I've been thinking a lot lately about "figuring out who I am" and, frankly, finding the whole question rather frustrating at times.  

So, I went to an expert...my therapist...and asked her:  How does one find oneself?  How do you decide who you are, separate from all those definers--partner, parent, teacher--or all the adjectives that have been used by others or yourself to define you--perky, emotional, strong?  

And you know what she said? 

Well...to be honest, it was a little hard to understand completely, (involving a graph with three axis, one of which was in perpetual motion), but I'll do my best to rephrase it. 

The idea that she gave back to me was an eye-opening concept.  She asked me to think about if there really is ever one "I" or one "self" that we are, or that we become.  Instead, she offered the possibility that who we are is dependent on each moment, and how present we are in that moment.  That our self is more how we respond to the present and how aware we are of ourselves in that time and space.  Our self is never stagnant or solid, but rather a fluid entity that moves along with and within our experiences and our reactions.  So...to "find oneself" is a somewhat impossible task.  Instead, maybe we should consider it more a process of learning about oneself, observing oneself, and becoming more comfortable and aware of the constant ebb and flow of who and what we are.  

Whew! 

So, instead of continuing along the path (the goal) of figuring out who I am, I think I'll try just stepping back and taking a look at who I am right now.  For that person will not be the same "me" that I was yesterday, nor will it be same person I become tomorrow.  Instead, I will be the best of who I am--in the most honest, open, and thoughtful way I can be at any given time--and know that, at that moment, it will be exactly who I am.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

I tried.

Tried to write something deep and meaningful (after a thought-provoking therapy session).  

Sadly, however, I've had a beer, making it impossible to think completely clearly or to speak at all eloquently.

So, instead, I say to you...ice cream!  

When in doubt, eat chocolate...it certainly won't make any situation worse, and will most likely make it better. 

On to Wednesday!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday, Monday (ba da, ba da da)...

Another Monday has come and gone.  

Busy, loud, full of activity...and now over.  

Although I am loathe to hope for time to go more quickly (that whole "living in the present" thing, ya know), I can't say that I'm sad to have another day done.  Mostly, I just love to be home...quiet, calm, and lots of laughter. 

Can't shake a stick at that.   

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Another Sunday Night

They come so quickly, these sad ends to my weekends. 

The past two days have been so lovely--filled with family, and fun activities--and they are over far too soon. 

*sigh*

But...I have many things to be thankful for in the week ahead of me, so I choose to focus on those the best I can.  


I will start with a good night's sleep.

 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Make Art

Play music
Paint
Write a story
Draw
Dance
Sing

And do it, not for the piece it produces. Do it instead, for the joy it fills your heart with. Do it because to not do it would leave you lacking.

And never, never apologize for the time, the energy, or the space it takes. For, in the end, it is simply a piece of who you are, and it adds to the beauty of the world in a way that nothing, and no one else, ever could.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Cockroaches

I am terrified of cockroaches.  

Although they don't bite or sting, they are truly the most disgusting creatures on the planet.  (No, this is not an opinion, just a statement of fact.)  They creep and crawl and scuttle in the dark.  They are dirty, disgusting creatures who, if given the chance, will even drop on you from above when you least expect it.  (Believe me, it's true...I've seen it happen.)  It's even been said that they are the one thing that would survive a nuclear holocaust.  I hate them to the center of my being.

But...they're afraid of the light. 

If you hear them skittering in the darkness, just flip the light switch and watch them scatter.  

Which is why I have chosen them to represent my own true fears.  The ones that make my stomach clench and my breath shorten.  The ones that make my heart race and the tears burst from my heart. 

Because I am learning.  I am learning that we hide our fears--our shame--because we are absolutely sure that if we show them to others, they will reject us.  If we acknowledge these fears--face them head on--they will, in fact, destroy us.  We are sure that they are stronger and more powerful than all the good in us combined, and that we are simply too weak to bear what they may bring...the dirtiness, the germs, the vileness that they represent.  We have convinced ourselves that their hideousness will be more than we can stand.

But they...just like the cockroaches...are afraid of the light. 

The truth is that when we are brave enough to force our fears out of their hiding spots and into the light, they scuttle, and skitter, and run away as fast as their disgusting little legs can carry them.  And, the next time they arrive, we have a new strategy for fighting the battle: just shine the light in their beady little eyes, and watch their panicked retreat.  Even better, sometimes they never return at all. 

So, there they are...my cockroach fears (some of which are those hissing fuckers!).  And now I am ready for battle--flashlight in hand.  

Please, god, don't let one drop on me from above.  

*p.s.  When it gets really bad, just remember that a good therapist is worth a thousand cases of Raid.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

That awkward moment when...

...you notice your therapist's ass as she walks down the hall in front of you.

Seriously.

I think I might actually be going to hell.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Over the Hill

I hate the term "hump day".  I mean, really...it sounds like something a teen age boy would say with a smirk, then laugh hysterically about it with his friends.  

BUT...I do love me a Wednesday! 

A short day of school, planning time with the peeps (this week, filled with naughty laughter), and home early with the family.  Today, a little sunshine even decided to add to the fun.  

It's all downhill from here.  The weekend is in sight!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

What makes me happy

My family
My friends
Cute animal pictures
Reading aloud
Hearing my daughter laugh
A good night's sleep
Deep kisses
Walks in the fresh air
Finding the "perfect" thing unexpectedly when I go shopping
My pug's silliness
Many of the blogess' posts
Laughing
Having a "teacher nirvana" moment
Sleeping in
Meditating
Warm snuggles
Tres leches cake
A really good movie
Dancing
A rich cup of coffee in the morning
Stillness

To be continued...

Monday, February 20, 2012

Whoa, Whoa, Whoa...

Feelings. 

I have been very frustrated with my feelings, of late. 

At times, they seem to come in uncontrollable waves, often with little or no warning.  One day--or even one hour--I'm fine, while the next I am a whirlwind of emotion...and most often not the good kind.

As one of my heroes, Jenny Lawson (otherwise known as the bloggess), says: "Depression is a lying bastard."  And, it's a damned good liar, at that.  My mind conjures ideas and stories--often not even fully formed, but definitely strong enough to batter and beat at me.  They can take me down to my smallest, most pitiful form and, in those moments, I can barely see myself.  

And then the wave passes.  And I can feel myself again.  And then I wonder...

Why?  Why do I feel at such a loss within my own skin?

Is it just that this is a time of great change for me?  A time in which I am questioning and examining so many things that I have ignored for so long? Growth and change are uncomfortable--often even painful...is this what I am feeling?

Is it hormones?  Am I just in the grips of perimenopausal hell?  It is definitely worse during certain times of the month.

Has my family's predilection for bi-polar disorder come to roost? 

Does everyone feel this way at some point in their lives (a point other than their angst-ridden teen-age years), and now is just my time?

Whatever the reason...it frightens me.  I feel a lack of control over my own feelings and responses.  I fight to find my stillness when the waves come crashing, and sometimes I am successful.  I work to allow them to flow through me, over me, around me, rather than overtake me and, again, it works far more often than it used to.  

But there are still those days...those days when the gremlins find their way in, and rip and tear at my psyche and my heart, leaving me spent and frightened. 


So, I've decided to chart my emotional waves.  Maybe with care and attention I can identify a pattern or, to be more honest, a reason.  Maybe they're not as bad as I sometimes think (she says, with hope in her voice).  

Ultimately, time will tell.  And then I will find my way through to the other side. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Birthday

Today is my birthday.  I turned 47 years old. 

No big party, no big fanfare, just a quiet day of futzing and reading and being with my girls.  And that's just what I wanted.  My extended family and friends sent voice mails and text messages, all telling me they loved me and wishing me a happy day. It made me feel repeatedly loved.  

Today was also a day that I was fighting hormone overload.  

Doesn't seem fair on one's birthday, now does it?  


But, with patience (from the partner far more than from myself) and the appropriate pharmaceuticals, I found a precarious balance.  Although I am not yet fully here within myself, I know that I will be soon, and I can see glimpses of myself through the somewhat hazy lens.  I will ride yet another wave, and I have confidence that I will eventually land safely on the beach.  

And then I will take my first steps into my 48th year.  

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Empty thoughts

It is one of those evenings where I feel I have nothing intelligent, profound, or even remotely interesting to say. But, I have committed to my daily blog, so here it sits.

Please forgive the lack of content, knowing that--for today--it is the best I have to offer.

Friday, February 17, 2012

How to start a three day weekend


Hot water bottle filled--check!
Whole family home, safe and sound--check!
Junk food dinner--check! (Mmmm...chicken wings and spinach salad)
Movies and trash magazines at the ready--check!

Time to hunker down!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A day is a day

I haven't much to say today.  

It was a day. 

It had good things in it (sushi and beer....mmmmm!).
It went fairly quickly.
I'm now home...Hallelujah!  

Not bad for a Thursday. 
 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Choose your company wisely.

I am so blessed with the family and friends I have chosen to be a part of my life.  

My partner
My daughter
My brother and his family
My BFF
My in-laws
My far away friend
My work "family"
My walking friend


When I examine what is truly important in my life...these are at the top of my list.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Finding Stillness

"In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you."

When I first read these words, without thinking I smiled...and then I took a breath into my soul.  

My life, for so long, had been almost nothing but movement and chaos.  Surrounded constantly by sound...by distraction.  Lost in the fog of my own mind, thinking about the many more things that had to be done.  Worrying, processing, internalizing all the things that made me sad...pushing them down so far as to not even consciously know--or at least not acknowledge-- their existence. It was necessary to fill my life with movement and chaos in order to be able to overlook those difficult things that were demanding my attention.  It was easier to simply drown them out.  

But the Universe, although patient, is also perseverant.  If you ignore the gentle tap on the shoulder, it soon gives you a gentle shake.  And if that doesn't work...a smack up along side the head with a two-by-four may be necessary.  So, ultimately, it all came crashing down, and I was made to face my own demons, my own fears, and my own vulnerabilities.  And through the crashing of these waves...came stillness.  

The stillness is not easily accomplished.  It takes time to learn to stop, to listen, to accept without judgement,  to hear my own self calling out from within the chaos.  All of these things I am still learning, and I often still miss the mark.  But the difference is that I now know that this is the thing I must do.  I must become--I want to become--the center of that stillness, because that is nothing more nor less than the core of my being.  

In the moments that I can see it clearly, the stillness is complete.  For in that moment, there is no movement...no chaos.  There is only the here, the now, and the true, unvarnished, imperfect me.  And, for the first time in my life, that's pretty damned okay. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Bridge Building

"The best bridge between despair and hope is a good night's sleep."

Truer words have never been spoken.  

After a bit of an emotional meltdown, followed by eight hours of shut-eye, I awoke this morning feeling much saner.  Even when facing some rather challenging situations today, I am still feeling strong and settled.  

Anyone know how to bottle this? I'd love to keep some on hand.  

 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Nah...it's not really worth reading tonight.

I've been feeling blue today.  

Gloomy and gray...just like the weather.  

I can't put my finger on the problem, other than exhaustion and the thought of facing another Monday.  Nothing's really wrong, but it's hard nonetheless.  

I feel alone and lost when this happens...unable to center myself, or to identify or ask for what I need to find my way back.  Just a melancholy that I can't seem to shake.  I have moments of clarity, but they slip away and then I'm back in the dumps. 

My hope is that a good night's sleep will significantly improve the view.  

Cross your fingers. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

To Parent: a verb

Sometimes being a parent is hard.

But other times--most times--it is an amazing experience.

I am so blessed

I am blessed with an incredible daughter. Tonight was a night where the family stars aligned. Important conversation was had, great amounts of laughter were shared, and snuggles were given all around. And, yes...she is a teenager.

Every day I tell her: "Just keep talking to us. No matter what happens, we'll work it out together." So far it's working, and I will continue to do everything in my power to keep those lines of communication open.

In the meantime I'll just repeat the obvious: I am blessed.

Friday, February 10, 2012

3rd Annual Pugentine

The pugs took it out of me tonight (pictures to follow). All I've got left in me are these few words. May the blessings of sleep--and rest--be upon me.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Perspective

Nietzsche theorized that there is no "reality," only our perspective of the world.  


The truth is that we see each experience--each moment--through our own lens.  We bring to it our own past, our beliefs about ourselves and the world, and our expectations for all those involved.  This, of course, makes clear communication a challenge at times.  

Which leads us to compassion.  To have compassion, we must first be able to see ourselves as a connected piece of another person. We must see ourselves as a part of the greater whole...no more, no less, than any other part.  The person living on the streets and I are connected at our deepest level...both human, both with needs and desires, both wanting to be understood and appreciated.  When we can see the world from their perspective (at least in part), we are then also able to feel true compassion for them.  We understand that we are each faced with challenges and suffering and are, therefore, connected in this Universe.  

Although it may sound backwards, sometimes finding compassion and having perspective for those closest to us can be more challenging.  They should understand us.  They should see our side.  They should know what we mean, what we want, what we need.  And...after all...we know them so well that, of course, we understand them.   

We want desperately to connect to those we love, yet so often we miss an imperative piece to the puzzle--seeing and understanding their perspective.  It truly is everything.  To be able to see the world from another's eyes, our first step must be to use our own ears.  To listen with openness, and with the honest goal of understanding, appreciation, and acceptance.  We may not agree, but we have heard.  And upon hearing, we are unable to fully return to our own previous perspective, because we arrive with new information and new knowledge.  This, in turn, helps reform our own ideas of the world...ideas that now incorporate pieces of another.  

The more we are able to do this, the wider our view becomes, the more able we are to see others as both the unique individuals they are, and as a crucial piece of our own giant Universe.  We find true and honest compassion and empathy for others, and are ourselves enriched with a greater, clearer, vision of "truth." 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Stay tuned...

Tomorrow, on Buddish Thoughts, I will be discussing "Perspective."  

But tonight...not so much.  

Tonight is for resting and relaxing.  

Happy Wednesday, all.  Enjoy the full moon!



Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Happiness is...

"The problem is not that there are problems.  The problem is thinking that having problems is a problem."
-Theodore Rubin

We all have them. 
Little ones.
Big ones.  
Little ones that feel like big ones.  
Big ones that seem insurmountable.  

But here's the truth...we get through them.  The vast majority of the time, we struggle and push, persist and persevere, and ultimately we win.  And "the win" is when we are on the other side, stronger and wiser than we were when we started. 

I recently read an article entitled "Happiness Annoys Me."  The gist of the article was that, as a culture we have trained ourselves to believe that we should be "happy" all the time.  To be unhappy is a failure of some sort...an obstacle to overcome at all costs, and to banish from our lives forever.  Our ultimate goal is to be constantly "happy," never feeling sorrow or discomfort.  So, we do everything in our power to ensure that this is the case.  But, if we take even one moment to consider this idea, we quickly come to realize that it is a ridiculous notion.  

Buddha taught that everyone has suffering (dukka) in their lives, and that there is nothing wrong with this...it just is.  Life is made up of times of great pleasure and times of great sorrow...and many more times that are on the continuum between the two states.  No judgement of either is necessary--or useful.  Our job is to find our balance.  To learn to accept that suffering is part of the human existence, just as joy is, and learn to face the challenges that are put before us with compassion, patience, and caring--for both others and ourselves.  Once we can find the equanimity to do this, we will truly have found our happiness. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Ack!

Almost forgot to post tonight...and it's only the 6th of the month.

Back to a Monday, on to a Tuesday. A little Portland sunshine goes a long way towards making the day a bit better. I am so very grateful to be moving past both the cold and the progress reports.

Onward and upward...or at least onward.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

A few weeks ago our basement flooded.

It turned our beautiful family room into a smelly cesspool of evil (as the partner lovingly referred to it).  The carpet padding was soaked and had to be ripped out, and the smell was horrendous.  After calling in the folks to find and repair the leak, I was told that a bookshelf had to be removed...but it was easy.  I only had to pull the edging off, then slide out the bookshelf.  This would give the workers access to the space they needed to repair.  

And it was easy to remove the bookshelf. 

Only it didn't give them access. 

And so the other bookshelf had to be removed.  The bigger one.  The one filled with games and books and numerous other odds and ends.  And it was the end of a very long weekend.  

I felt the specter of overwhelmed tears approaching quickly.  

And then the partner had another idea...an idea that let us rest tonight and face the task another day, but was still workable and sensible.  And I was amazed.  I was amazed at how simple it was, yet how ingenious.  

It made me realize that it is so easy to get stuck in a thought...so stuck that you don't see the other options that are literally right in front of you.  It made me once again face a pattern that I am challenging in my life...the one where I put my head down and push forward, never bothering to look up to see where I am, where I've been, what I've accomplish, or even if I want to keep going in the same direction.  

But I'm learning.  

Because this time, when given a new idea--a new option--I took it.  I let go.  I realized that I could make another choice...one that would actually fulfill my values so much better.  

Yep...I'm learning.   And that feels pretty damn good from where I'm sitting...which is, by the way, on my sofa.  : )

Saturday, February 4, 2012

I seem to have lost my mind. Have you seen it?

"I put my heart and my soul into my work, and have lost my mind in the process." 
- Vincent Van Gogh

It has been a very long two days, filled with congestion and progress reports.  I'm not sure which was most the cause for my swimmy head.  

Over the past 10 years (Oh my god...has it really been that long?!), I have spent so much of my time, my energy, my life, focused on my work.  It's good work...meaningful, life-changing work, at times...but is still defined by the word it is: work.  It is not (or it should not be) my life.  Most of the people I share my days with, though they mean a great deal to me, are not my family.  The children I spend my time with are not my offspring.  And, although I love many parts of what I do, most importantly, it is not me.  


This is a hard realization for me to come to terms with.  

For so long I have defined myself by what I do.  No hobbies, no extra-curricular activities, no other serious interests.  And the parts of my life that really are the most important things--my true values--have suffered.  I have suffered...without even knowing.     


It is the hour of reckoning, (she says, rather ominously).

With my 47th birthday looming, I find myself trying to discover--or maybe redefine--who I am and what I want.  It is not an easy task, and it is frequently an uncomfortable position to be in.  But I'm catching glimpses.  I am trying to honestly listen to and trust my own instincts.  I'm trying to let go of assumptions and decisions that were made so very long ago and to face, instead, the reality of myself that is here at this moment.  


I feel hopeful for the future, though I'm not entirely sure what it will look like.  I do know, however, that I'd like my mind back...my soul back...my "me" back.  And the only way to accomplish this is to move forward one step at a time. 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Is it the beer or the head cold?

So many wise words I have to offer.  So many pithy statements I could write about the state of the world...the state of my sanity...

But I have a head cold...

And then I drank a beer...

And now I'm not sure which one of them is making it so very difficult to hold my head up. 

So, until tomorrow...

Which is, of course, national Eat Ice Cream for Breakfast Day.

Enjoy!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Can you hear me?

It is not the words that truly matter...it is the intent.

When we are able to hear what the one speaking is meaning, the message they are trying desperately to convey...regardless of the actual words, separate from our own emotional baggage, or even theirs...it is then that we can see inside both of ourselves. This is communication of the truest form.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

February 1st Weather Report

It's hard to believe that another month has come and gone.  I've noticed that the sun is up a bit earlier in the morning, and hanging out a bit later in the afternoon.  In a weird way it feels like my own growth.  Each day is just a little more full of clarity and light.  Some of them are cloudier than others, some of them colder...but each a bit brighter.

I lived in Arizona for many years...the land of the single season.  I missed the changing leaves, the first flakes of snow, the bite in the winter air, and the peeking of the first flowers.  At the time, I didn't realize that this change of seasons is what we should also expect in our own lives.  Although we all claim to want things to be easy all the time, the truth is that, without the cold and dark of the winter, you simply cannot appreciate the sunshine and warmth that the spring and summer months bring. Trite as it is...it's also true.

And, although I know we are still in the heart of winter, I also know that it is only a passing phase. Ultimately, it will be warm...there will be sun.  And, when I'm feeling those cloudy days more in my heart and in my soul, I will try to remind myself that this is simply a part of what makes life interesting.   


weather
Image by born1945 via Flickr