Allowing Myself

…to feel, to love, to be.

Tag: dreamlab

All Signs Point To – Create Now!

Inspiration finds you, really, whether you’re looking for it or not. I mean, you can be looking for it, but you may find it somewhere you least expect it. “Just think really really really hard about it and then forget it,” Don Draper tells Peggy in “The Wheel”, season one finale of MadMen, describing his creative process.

My DreamLab class is going through the guideposts of Brene Brown‘s The Gifts of Imperfection. I was cruising along, loving everything that is coming together in my head about my life, all those tidbits in the mixing pot, and then last week – BAM – derailed.

Last week covered cultivating creativity, faith and intuition – all important markers that I’ve lost track of in the past 5-10 yrs. (Dang Saturn cycle.) I recognized the faith and intuition pieces immediately, turning them over in my mind to reintegrate. Creativity, though, talk about a shame trigger.

My experiences of the past 9 years have included so many art wounds that I can’t untangle them. Scratching the surface of those history-lines sent me into an emotional panic. Too much weight. The issue isn’t whether I think of myself as creative, it’s that I starve myself of creativity.

This week my therapist asked me about drug/alcohol addictions. My extended family has a history of alcohol abuse, but my immediate family has been addiction-free. She pointed out how my self-control has probably kept me from having any issues – since feeling even mildly out-of-control is terribly uncomfortable for me. Add to that the understanding that I’m predisposed to these pitfalls – I obsessively monitor my indulgences.

But not with art. Not with writing, blogging, photography, journaling, and especially, music. I hold back. I do everything else first. I have some warped belief that if I allow myself to do creative things, the rest of my life will be swept away in a tidal wave of irresponsibility.

So not only did I have DreamLab bringing me “art wounds”, therapy bringing me “addiction & control”, I tuned into this podcast from Karen Walrond. Honestly, previous times I’ve found her stuff on the web, I didn’t fall in love. This time, though, her voice warmed my earbuds and I was smitten. And now I find this post

“All you need to do to be a writer is write.  You don’t need to wait until you’re grown up, or go to university or anything.  You just need to write, and write, and write.  You need to make a point to keep on writing.  Actually practice writing…

Later on, I was thinking about this exchange, and I realized that the same is likely true for just living life: I mean, it doesn’t take a diploma or a formal education to live, and there’s no reason to do anything proactively in life, really, if you think about it.  You could just let it wash over you, and just reactively deal with circumstances as they come.  However, it seems to me that the way to learn to live life best is to actually practice living — challenging yourself to do more, or learn more, and to be more, you know?  Purposeful living.” ~Karen Walrond

None of that’s new to me – writer’s write, runner’s run – but again that theme of practice vs. perfection – that life is in the doing and the being and not the end results. That I’m drawn to creative blogs, photography, and journaling repeatedly, even though I’m not practicing it myself.

My perfectionism, my people-pleasing, my dissatisfaction seem to be ways that I muffle that creative urge.

Creating is the best way I can see to skirt around myself and make my way through on this journey. ~Glad for Art

Here I am 3.5 months later, still not really doing any of that, but it’s there. The urge to create, to express myself, to heal.

“If you decide to trade in your authenticity for safety, there are a few things to keep in mind. Your unexpressed ideas, opinions, and contributions will not just go away. They are likely to fester and eat away at your worthiness. You may experience the following: anxiety, depression, overeating, eating disorders, addiction, rage, blame, resentment and inexplicable grief.” ~Brene Brown

Experiences in the past 9 yrs had me trading in my authenticity and controlling myself by withholding creativity. It’s a damaging cycle. I know the antidote is as follows, and I know it’s going to be an uncomfortable ride: as Jamie wrote here, I don’t need huge swatches of creative time, I just need creative time NOW.

Tuning In and Floating

Things started to change in regards to my job. This is a good thing, but it’s scary as hell. It opens up a black hole of uncertainty that I realize I need to ride out. Uncertainty equals serious lack of control,  meaning not a happy camper over here, no matter how positive the changes will be.

A few weeks ago, my therapist said, “I can tell you’re upset and that you’re really frustrated with yourself because of it.” Oh, was I frustrated with myself? Immediately, I had an out-of-body experience: I could see myself, legs crossed, foot twitching, wringing my hands, my chest tight and I thought, “Holy shit, she’s right! Not only am I upset but I’m beating myself up for feeling this way!”

How can it be that I’m so self-aware and yet, ignorant of how I really feel?

I’ve subverted my emotions for so long in an effort to not rock the boat, not pick the fight, not feel too high or too low, that I’ve lost my ability to understand my own internal language. Head + heart don’t do not share the same slang. What is a “should” in my head is “panic” in my heart. What is “freakin’ awesome” in my heart is heard as “insane” in my head.

Add to this, my recent awareness of numbing and we’ve got a whole can of worms. With my job in limbo, I am trying to give myself the care I need, to feel through this, but I know I’m only allowing myself to go half-way. Uncertainty brings anxiety, anxiety brings tunnel-vision, which brings on panic, which leads to numbing. Going all the way feels too painful right now, as if I’ll be swept away or lose my grip on reality.

So I’m trying my best to stay tuned in to how I feel, knowing that right now I’m meant to just keep swimming. Tuning in can mean: running 3miles, getting extra sleep (including naps), lessening my To Dos, saying ‘no’ to invites, reading (a lot), taking baths, going for long walks and general hunkering down hibernation techniques. It also means drinking sugary tea, eating buttery toast and enjoying lattes. I’m watching the line between self-care and over-indulgence. I don’t want to add more negativity to my life in the form of a weight gain and sugar crashes. I have been avoiding alcohol.

I like to think there’s a small, steady spot between Uncertainty and Panic, maybe a tide pool where I can just swirl around for now. Where, in the stillness, my own story can bubble up. So that’s where I aim to be, at least for now. Waiting for the next thing that comes and taking care of the basics until then. It’s not about going all the way. Right now, it’s about tuning in and floating.

Numbing: It’s Not A Small Thing

Long story short – I was unable to go 48hrs without my #1 numbing fix (super sugared tea), not to mention the “need” for other vices snowballed. So #erfect.

I thought I was going crazy. I’ve read this somewhere before, but I really did feel like Linus without his blanket. And I thought, “This week is impossible for this non-numb challenge, b/c work feels insane, I’m PMSing, blah blah…” but it’s the flip. Things feel insane because I’m not giving myself the space to deal. I’m not setting my boundaries, choosing proactive things like long walks and naps, and I’m certainly beating myself up for feeling so tired.

The opposite of being present is busy. ~Brene Brown

I’ve spent a lot of the past 3 years with not much to do, but there is still chaos in my head. I still say “yes” to too many things and I keep myself from doing the soul-supporting activities that feed me. Even though my schedule is not full, I am still busy. My head is full of running ramblings that keep me from being present. That inner turmoil – the worry that I’m not doing enough, being enough or helping enough – is what leads to numbing.

Numbing: This is not a small thing. To take on the behaviors and things we do to keep from feeling, is one of the biggest endeavors ever. We have to create space for this. ~Brene Brown

I’m giving myself permission to create space, to do the things that fill me up and say “no” to the things that don’t. This is very scary to me, because what if I say “no” to something important? That’s a whole other post, I guess. Right now I’m going to focus on taking care of myself.

It’s a process. I’m learning to decipher between indulging and numbing (it’s a hard one). And we’re not perfect, we’re human… so it makes sense that this brings up so much rawness. To strip away the habits that we’ve used to protect ourselves obviously leaves us feeling exposed… but there is a tiny bit of clarity in there that I’m willing to work towards.



Call Someone You Love

On the drive home tonight, I realized that the podcast I was listening to was b-o-r-i-n-g. I was stuck in traffic with at least 20min to go. My first urge was to check my phone for email, texts and other mindless connections that could impair my ability to drive. Then I thought, “I could call Grandma”.

So, I did.

And instead of numbing out with (dangerous) phone clicking while driving and instead of feeling crappy because I felt crappy, I reached out. I called someone I love. We didn’t talk about anything specific, but it was fabulous. I heard all about her daily life right now. She’s in the senior citizen stage of caring for her siblings and friends who are aging faster than she is. It sound depressing, but she sounds good. We covered the drama surrounding planning a wedding and how we love a good bargain. And of course, we always chat about food – how much we love fresh fruit, like strawberries, and snacking on delicious things like avocados and almonds.

I miss her. We don’t see each other enough. Even though she spends weeks at a time at my parents house, my trips home don’t overlap her’s. She said she’ll be at not one, but both (long story) engagement parties this summer. I can’t wait to see her.

Family is so important. These people that watched you grow up, that took care of you when you were sick, that praised and loved you from the very start, they hold a key that other people can’t. And sometimes that makes it very difficult to become the person you truly are, but I’m blessed with wonderful grandmothers who have always made me feel cherished.

I didn’t realize this until I was typing, but my horoscope mentioned reconnecting with a special someone – too funny!

Have you been playing a marathon game of phone tag with a friend? It’s time to stop the madness — do whatever you can to get in touch today. Put as much energy into this task as possible, because reconnecting with this person is more important than you think.

It’s so wonderful. I’m glad I made the call 🙂


Replace Numbing with Relaxing

I think of personal developments, especially the kind of self-awareness that comes via therapy, as an upward spiral staircase. You continually pass over the same places but you’re a few rungs higher each time. As one place in your life constricts, others may open. My black and white thinking can pull me out of this ebb and flow. If one thing is going poorly, it seems everything is. I’m sucked into the drama and I can’t detach.

This weekend I felt so stressed, unable to explain it or shake it off. I was faced with a conversation that I dreaded, worries that it would escalate into a fight, knowing I had to somehow stand my ground. Even though I found myself shaking, shivering and being extremely uncomfortable during the whole thing, it all worked out. Relief.

And just as life hands you one challenge after another, I found myself faced with another conflict today, one in which I couldn’t do much to resolve (so frustrating). With the help of my man, I was able to get some sleep. With the help of the mantra, “Just listen. Be present” I was able to stay with the conversation and give what I could.

I know I’m being vague (still trying to figure out how to navigate my life online and, really, how to tell my story). The point is that in the past 3 days I’ve tried new approaches to confrontation and how I treat myself within these situations. Which brings me to today’s DreamLab focus: Numbing.

List of default habits that I use to numb my emotions:

  • Eating, especially sugar
  • Caffeine consumption, especially in the form of sugared tea or flavored lattes
  • Sleeping. The more stressed I am, the more sleep I need, but I also use it to avoid thinking and therefore feeling
  • Continuously doing the next “productive” thing on my To Do list, instead of giving myself a relaxing break
  • Talking too much on the phone with certain people
  • Dicking around on the internet, especially checking email (especially on my phone) when I don’t have to (this boarders on self-abusive)

It feels extremely difficult to give up even one of these items, especially as PMS starts to creep in. It’s only for a few days though. My hope is to avoid the sugared tea. We’ll start there. More importantly, I continue to replace numbing actions with positive ones:

  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Working out, especially getting outside for a run
  • (Relaxing) conversations with people
  • Reading
  • Snapping photos
  • Blogging
  • Snacking on fruit and drinking herbal tea
  • Taking a bath

There’s more to say, but not right now. The important thing is that I am proud of myself for the work I’ve done the past few days. I’m learning… and really, that’s all we can do.

Mondo Beyondo Dream Lab: play, practice, learn

Just a list of thoughts for now…

Tonight we’re eating spaghetti for the second night in a row. Mind you, it’s with homemade sauce, but this may be the first time since I moved out of my parents’ house and certainly since moving in with my fiance. Food, cooking, what I eat, when I eat it – I’ve never had an eating disorder but this is just another way I flex my “perfectionism” in a normal days work.

The past 6 weeks were a chaotic ride. All that Mercury Retrograde and space to recover. It’s only in the last 7 days that all has gone quiet again. With that quietness on the outside comes a rush of thinking on the inside. I tried writing a post a few nights ago, but it just didn’t come. So much in my head, even if my days are empty. In another effort to not let perfection be the enemy of the good, here is a list of what I’ve been turning over:

  • Dr. Brene Brown’s videos, blog and book, and subsequently
  • DreamLab – my need to devour every morsel of info from Brene Brown (who is creating the course) overode any lack of funds
  • Needing a lot of sleep and finding my dream symbolism shouting “Anxiety!”
  • Thinking “I have plenty of money” instead of focusing on said lack of funds
  • Triangulation
  • Self-compassion / parenting yourself
  • Perfectionism / shame
  • Running again – a shift in weather, some major stress and I found myself running 3milers again.
  • Wedding planning
  • People pleasing
  • Shift in employment
  • These amazing bloggers for inspiring me My Topography, Susannah Conway, and Jen Lee (thank u)

I’ll bring you more when I’m able.

Mondo Beyondo Dream Lab: play, practice, learn

Somewhere, Out There

Today’s horoscope suggested that, when having trouble expressing myself, I turn to art. I have yet to do that exactly, but I did take myself out for coffee and start my new journal. This came my way while journaling: If I appreciated my life and myself, wouldn’t I treat it / me better?

Um… what?

There is a tension in me that says something like that all.the.time (again, bit of trouble expressing myself today). It says, “You are not doing enough with your life, what a terrible waste of potential you are!” and the other says, “You need to appreciate what you have and be happy with the life you’ve been given”. Guilt for not doing enough or guilt for not being happy that I already have enough.

Where does this shit come from?

And talk about mixed signals. Those churning thoughts above were mixed with the lovely sentiment from DreamLab today – that my life is this amazing thing just waiting for my loving hands.

“…your one precious life. If you dare to love it, to hold it with kind regard even, you will do it no harm.”

And I asked myself: How can I loving hold my life in my hands? A flood of feeling came back of being a passionate and emotional 16 yr old, someone who knew what she wanted and yet felt such chaos. Someone who knew that living her life would do it no harm. The person I was before everything felt too difficult to feel anymore.


No I feel like I just don’t get it. I’m here. My life is wonderful. But I’m upset every day for my lack of contribution. Depressed because I have no community. Upset because I want a fuller, more meaningful life.

There must be a place somewhere for me. Some type of deep involvement to be created or found via writing, creating, and connecting with other people and their stories. Something that isn’t so shallow or boring. Some way that I can make a difference.

There’s gotta be a way.


(I began this yesterday but wasn’t able to finish till today…)

I am so bendable, so flexible in my ways. Just want to please.

Today could be deemed perfect. It’s an autonomous day with a little work and time for writing. I’m running a major event this evening, but it’s something I’ve done before. Rain still falls, as does the temperature. It’s a sweater and boots day, a tea and scarf day, a lounge in bed isn’t-it-perfect (?!) day.

I am alone, but not lonely. That alone is a huge improvement.

Today is DreamLab they ask us to share where we’re being asked to be brave right now. (The distinction between the asking to be brave and actually being it is the difference between being yourself and perfection – love it).

I am a Pisces represented by the fish. Two fish, actually, swimming in opposite directions. So not only do I have the fluidity to go with the flow and the strength to swim upstream, there is a tension to keep these two in balance.

“Spineless” comes to mind when thinking about sea creatures. “Spineless” can also mean “weak willed” or “cowardly”. Me as a little fish. Two opposing fish. Feel the connections?

So when you ask me – What am I being asked to be brave about right now? – I’m unsure. As I tried to tune into that little voice, I worried that I confuse “courage” with “acceptance”. But the Serenity Prayer contains both (see below for the full version). I’m always amazed how small ideas become intertwined to form ropes of support. I am bendable and that is so much better than breakable or inflexible. What I want to focus on is being 100% OK when I bend. I don’t want to feel uncertain about my intentions. The reasons to yield should be love and support and not people pleasing and fear (as they sometimes are).

And so, my list. I am being asked to be brave about:

  • Not knowing if I’m in the right place with my career or where I live or anything really. AKA to be courageous in that unknowing.
  • Having absolutely no control, and yet all of the passion, for something that no one else gives a crap about
  • The argument between wanting the homelife and being a nomad
  • That I can put my needs first and still be loved
  • To move into a new stage in my relationship and be ever-present
  • To be brave enough to establish and uphold boundaries. To stay when things feel right and not stick it out when they feel wrong. It’s OK to quit.
God, grant us the…
Serenity to accept things we cannot change,
Courage to change the things we can, and the
Wisdom to know the difference
Patience for the things that take time
Appreciation for all that we have, and
Tolerance for those with different struggles
Freedom to live beyond the limitations of our past ways, the
Ability to feel your love for us and our love for each other and the
Strength to get up and try again even when we feel it is hopeless.

DreamLab, Round 2

Back in June, I signed up for Mondo Beyond’s DreamLab. While the emails were beautiful and inspiring, I ended up archiving most of them. Thinking I didn’t have time for this silliness, I felt guilty I wasted the money and copped out on myself.

So here goes Round 2. The themes are courage, gratitude and tribe – wholly applicable to this time of year. Well, this time of year back East. Last week’s weather here in SoCal almost killed my spirit. 100+ degrees near the ocean, so hot we turned our AC on for the first time ever. Even as October slid into view this weekend, I made it a point to enjoy the beach in a bathing suit.

But today – ah today – I was startled when my morning walk with the dog involved a light mist. I didn’t get excited though. I assumed it would end and the sun would shine, but no such thing happened. Instead, my day was full of overcast, light rain and a chilly 60 degrees. Perfect Autumn weather.

I’m not sure what the next 6 weeks entail, but I’m hopeful that they’ll lead me to a deepening, a sort of turning inward that the slowness of Fall brings.

I don’t know why I’m here, but it felt like something that may ground me during the season change and all the life musings I’m working through. DreamLab means experimenting and learning about my own thoughts and sensations. The courage to be myself, the ability to accept myself as I am and be grateful for it, and the ability to build, engaged and find a tribe of my own. Excited but also anxious.

The past 6 months have contained major events, all of which I’m grateful for, but I feel disconnected. I am not present in my own life enough. Even reading the comments above, I was rushing. I reminded myself to just take the time to give each person my attention. It probably starts with me – DreamLab is a way to give MYSELF attention.

Also, I LOVE *Consume Hope* – thank you for that.

As I wrote below – DreamLab is a way to give myself the attention I need. Here goes nothing!

Mondo Beyondo Dream Lab: Play Practice Learn


Intentions are important. They’re sort of like intimate, internal versions of goals. Like the idea that you can’t be “efficient” with people but you can be “effective”. Intentions are the support beams, the values, behind our goals and actions. But I’m just writing about this b/c I’m not sure what I really mean…

How can I know what I think till I see what I say?

E.M. Forster

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