Allowing Myself

…to feel, to love, to be.

Month: September, 2012

Nugget On A Cloud

I wish I had a rainy day, a book, a latte and a naptime set up to enjoy with this little guy. Sadly, it’s till 90 degrees and we’ve got things to do this weekend. At least one of us gets to live the life.

(Taken with my iPhone, using the Fish-eye on the OlloClip, processed with Instagram)

Own Your Dog

“This is where you own your dog” ~Kim, trainer at PetSmart talking about asking your dog to sit and stay before being greeted by another person. “The outside world”

The idea that we all need to “own our dog” whether it’s our art, our opinions, our family, our self-worth… to feel comfortable saying to someone else “I’m sorry. You’re crossing a boundary. Here is what I’d like you to do instead…”

This is where I could go into details about how much my dog is teaching me in the 8 weeks we’ve had him… getting up out of bed to walk in the morning, the calmness you need to control your dog and the company the little booger provides.

I’m learning to own my own dog.

The above was written May 29th 2010 – over two years ago. To this day I think about how much owning a dog has taught me to be a better person in the world. And I don’t mean one of those sappy lists of learning to appreciate a scratch on the back or the joy of napping in the sunlight. All good things, but I actually mean what I’ve learned by being his person.

It is so important to think about the entirety of what I’d like him to do. In my head, I go over what actions and words he already knows. I string those together in learnable steps. I am clear with my commands. I use only positive reinforcement. We stop before he gets tired. I am highly aware of how my own attitude affects his reactions. I wait until he’s ready. I am gentle. I come from a place of love.

Now doesn’t that sound like expert advice on communicating with other humans?

But more so, because of training my dog, I now understand how much responsibility I have to take for my presence in a situation. Note that I didn’t say “control”. Carter Cash is very much in control of himself, I am not making him do anything. I am asking him directly and providing a treat when he gets it right. A lot of the time he doesn’t get what I’m asking and then he’s frustrated. So then we take a break and come back to it later.

He’s taught me how important positive feedback is when trying to get the results I want. One morning we were out for a run and he was dragging. He didn’t seem fatigued or in pain but he just wouldn’t keep up. It was making me so aggravated I was talking to myself out loud: “I’d be happy to run alone, but you need the exercise” and “I knew 3 miles would be too far” (I didn’t say I was sane)

Then a thought popped into my head. “What if I encouraged him to keep up with me?”

So I switched my tone to one you’d use for a kid. “Woo! You’re doing great. Yay! Let’s run!”

Immediately he started to gallop next to me, his slumping steps revving up to a trot. He seemed to finally be interested in running with me, instead of dragging behind. I felt much better too.

And I realized that he was probably feeding off my body language and tone of voice the entire time. When I was forceful, cranky and unhappy-sounding, he probably didn’t want to run with me, so he was dragging behind to do just that. I mean, who would want to keep up with someone who’s giving out back vibes??

Turns out, he’s a smarty pants.

Once my demeanor changed, he was all for running right along with me, a happy little pack-of-two.

You could say it’s luck, but this is my go-to method for getting his little butt moving right along side me on most of our morning runs. And it works. Every time.

I could go more into the metaphor of the whole thing – how I’ve learned to own my place in my world – to hold myself in higher esteem – to not be bat-shit crazy in my own head – but I think you catch my drift. We adopted Carter 2 weeks before I started therapy with my first therapist, the beginning of this journey where I’ve learned to be nicer to myself, more confident and happier.

And I don’t think that’s a coincidence at all.

Room – A Novel

I love having time alone, especially time to read.

I just finished Room by Emma Donoghue. It was awesome. Finished it in about 5 days. (Spoilers below)

It’s Jack’s story. He’s five. He’s five, like five fingers, and he lives in Room. There’s Table and Bed and Wardrobe (where he sleeps at night when Old Nick comes) and his Ma. Jack doesn’t understand yet but he and his mom are being held captive by Old Nick. Jack is getting curious and his mom is worried. They need to escape.

The narration is perfect as you experience the story from Jack’s point of view. Even his speech reflects his age. I loved the amazing little life his mom created for then, her own ability to cope and create, and their reintegration into society. I was completely enthralled with helping them escape – my mind was turning over options and details of the Room as I knew it. I think I even dreamt about it.

I loved how smart and observant Jack was as a narrator and I especially appreciated the author being able to tell the story through him while knowing readers could deduce more from his observations than he could.

I don’t remember what it was like to be that young. I have trouble remembering what it was like to feel like complete shit as a 21 year old. It made me try and see the world from a kid’s perspective. It feels impossible.

The child therapist points out that Jack might like counting things over and over because it makes him feel safe. I thought about that for me – did I count things or line things up when I was small to control my little world?

And then I thought reading…

I’ve always read things – it feels like an obsession when I’m out and about. Signs (especially at parks), rules, bulletin boards, magazine covers in waiting rooms. It’s distracting but comforting. When I read it’s like my brain gets lulled to sleep and all the anxious thoughts quiet down and all I hear in my head is my quiet, friendly voice reading. Like turning the volume on the TV down or how good it feels to slip under clean sheets in the dark.

My friend says I talk about reading differently than other people – that I describe it as an experience when y’know, I’m not really experiencing anything except sitting in a chair in my house. But he’s right – I remember where I was, what I ate, what crap was going on during most of the books I’ve read. Almost like a history map, my own personal photo album.

So here I’ll note what jumps out at me during this experience of reading Room:

  • Not sleeping well – dreams of escaping and problem solving
  • Wanting to read so badly, but I can’t because my sister was in town (took 3 days off)
  • Reading more than 20% of the book in one sitting, when I finished it
  • Being home alone and cruising through the pages
  • Emailing two friends about it because I want to recommend it to everyone
  • Talking to H about it because it’s taking up so much space in my head
  • Using it as a reward for getting work done

Now the question is – what to read next? xo


Trusting Equals Serendipity

From Danielle Laporte’s The Fire Starter Sessions

I am loving Danielle Laporte’s Fire Starter Sessions, mostly because she took the words right out of my mouth. DL is way more badass than me, but part of me wishes I had this book 2 years ago when I started my journey. The other part of me knows these truths wouldn’t have rang true for me, no matter how close to the skin they feel now.

This is the tricky thing about trying to explain to people how I’m where I am compared to where I used to be. Which is no where, because where I used to be was tough – anxious, upset, guilty about feeling upset, disliking people as a whole and exhausted. One could sum it up as “depressed” even, but I never went that far. My friend Steve did though, and recommended I see a therapist. Not only because it would help, but because, he said, “You’ll love it”.

Boy, was he right.

It’s a pain in the butt to distill the past few years into stories that may help people. I’m not there yet – it’s still an abstract puzzle. I sounded it out this weekend while my sister bounced ideas off of me (ever the older sister, testing my theories on her) and then with friends, including one who is balancing planning a wedding with a strenuous mom-daughter relationship. So much of my own experience seems to be of value to people, and yet, it’s not coming across as cohesive or structured.

Not yet anyways.

Of course, serendipity loves me, and I ran into another friend who is further along in her career and fabulous to bounce ideas off of (I need more of these women in my life – or at least I need to spend more time with them). We spent a solid half hour at Starbucks chatting about my career, possible next moves, frustrations, projects and the below:

  • I am able to talk with people and hear their stories; giving them space to ruminate, brainstorm, and recognize that they already know what they want to do or have the “next step” they can take to move towards what they want.
  • I am able to pull these stories together into possible actions / events / offerings for the group, in turn creating and building a community.
  • I am able to empathize with people my own age and younger who are under the GenY label – I feel the pressures, panic, brightness and drive that this group experiences isn’t acknowledged in productive ways
  • I want to be able to communicate the stories, ideas, concerns, wishes, and goals of the above GenY people with other people in their lives – parents, bosses, each other etc.

Not sure what to do next, but I love that this morning’s chance meeting validates my continuing practice – show up in the world, trust that things will work out, and enjoy. And, as DL says above, “make ease a metric of your success”. Amazing things can happen.




Labor Day Hiking

Today we did a quick hike in Wilacre Park. It was hot. The weekend flew by and my sister leaves for Long Island tomorrow, but not before she interviews for a job here. Fingers crossed she gets the gig and all (3) of us kids are here on the west coast.

Good thing I started that trend.

Sundays Are For (Week 6)

Today we drove down to Newport Beach to visit my brother. My sister is in town for the weekend, and it’s always a good time to get us all together.

Sundays are for…

  • Drinking champagne and beer
  • Family dinner of tacos and rice
  • Coffee brewed at home
  • Eggies in a basket (rickies in a hammock)
  • Carter Cash going to his friend’s house for a play date
  • Yogurtland
  • Early morning cuddling (the air is crisp in the AM now, despite the heat)
  • Foster the People Pandora radio station
  • Driving south on the 405
  • Sunburn
  • Crazy ocean waves
  • Sibling love

The festivities (or Rick-tivities as we call them over here, long story) continue tomorrow with a hike and homemade chinese food dinner. 3-day weekends

How was your Sunday?

**Want to see more Sundays Are For..? This link will take you there.