Allowing Myself

…to feel, to love, to be.

Tag: jamie ridler

An $8 juice, and being walked home

January is never fun for me. No matter if the holidays are crazy or restful, I feel launched, unprepared, back into a month where work is demanding and stressful. This year, this month, it’s 5 events in 19 days, four of which come in a row at the end of the month.

Tuesday night was the first event of the month, and technically also the easiest, but I spent the day ragged with anxiety. I could feel the adrenaline pumping through my veins, this cold and tight feeling in my chest, and my heart racing like it was experiencing a caffeine overload. For the life of me, I could not shake it.

I tried rationalizing: Nothing is wrong. I am fine. I am not in danger.  I tried deep breathing, closing my eyes and waiting, a 3m run with the dog, a hot shower and even a fancy, delicious and pricey juice.

Nothing worked.

And while that feeling didn’t leave my body until I slept it off… I wanted to leave a marker here for myself for three reasons:

1. I trusted that this was some combo of panic and pms, and that I could lay low, do what work needed to be done, and know that I would mostly likely feel better after a night of sleep (which I did).

2. That there was no rationalizing or doing to be done. No fixing. I just had to go through my self-care practices and wait it out.

3. That connection is what actually helped.

It’s the third point that makes this so awesome for me now, a few days later. I shared my anxiety on Facebook and a friend commented “Look at the sky and remember you’re a blonde monkey floating in space and none of this stuff actually matters. Works for me every time.” A phone call with a former colleague & current friend let me vent. She said, “You’re a rockstar. Your event will be amazing. The end.” Lindsey sent me a lovely comment about my one little word post on Twitter and Jamie said that my word (~flow~) sounded like the perfect approach to the day we were both having. A friend was photographing the event, and she is such a quiet presence, it’s nice to have her there when I’m talking my head off to 100+ people I don’t know. And lastly, the woman who managed the bar is snazzy, sends plates of food over to my check-in table, hands me giant bottles of water and says things like, “don’t worry mama, we got this”.

As the day went on, I could feel the love I was being sent, and I did my best to soak it in, and say yes to each offering… because striving the way we do sometimes, sets us up to feel intense panic about if we’re doing the right things and if we’re working hard enough.

This day reminded me that not only was I for sure going to rock my job, but that people like working with me. I am loved regardless if the event is a success or not.

And it reminded me of this quote… which I’m pretty sure is becoming a guiding principle for how I live my life: “We’re all just walking each other home.” ~Ram Dass.

On this day, I had a lot of people walking with me, and for that, I am grateful.

 

 

A New Hobby

Maybe it’s because I’ve been listening to the Paperclipping Round Table show for a while. I have no recollection of how I found it, but I’ve listened to over 100 episodes. It gets me through my commute and running mileage.

Maybe it’s because I found Elise Blaha Cripe’s blog.

Maybe it’s because I want to capture and tell stories, and to use my free time to be creative.

Regardless, here I am at the start of week 3 of 2013 and I’ve completed 2 weeks of Project Life. (You can go here for more info). It’s awesome it’s finally here, that I’m taking photos daily and trying to work in bigger picture journaling here on the blog, with my very acute writing of morning pages in the AM, with the short stories & pictures of the PL spreads.

I’m aiming to find a balance, some type of niche for each that serves its purpose. I’m running my weeks Sunday to Saturday, and working on it on Monday evenings.

It’s all helping me focus on what matters. It’s allowing me to find a rhythm. And it’s giving me a sense of ease.

I don’t know if I’m obsessed or “so in love” with it, but I feel it in my gut as a year long project that I want to complete, even if it evolves. Last week I thought I didn’t have anything to tell, but I had more photos than I knew what to do with. It’s awesome.

In an effort to not go product crazy, I haven’t bought anything and am using only what my husband bought me for Christmas. I do want some stickers and tags, but saving money and capturing the stories is most important. I plan on printing my photos once a month and probably won’t share actual spreads as I can’t imagine doing anything crazy with mine.

If you’d like to see a few people who I’m digging check out: Elise Blaha Cripe, Ali Edwards, and Marcy Penner. Somehow this is all feeding into my One Little Word, which I haven’t written about here much yet, and my need to love what I love. Structure, classy, sparkly, clean and story. Yes.

In the Interim

I know I’ve kept up my “Sundays Are For…” posts for what would be Week 12 today… but I’ve been blissfully off the grid for the weekend road-tripping it to the Sequoias. Above is a little taste of the beauty I experienced. It was my first time visiting and I would love to go back. We’re thinking of making it annual Autumn trip.

Tomorrow begins my two weeks of insanity. Working to approach it all with more ease – know that while I tried to listen to this podcast, I honked my horn at some idiot stopping on the freeway… Still learning. So, no idea when I’ll blog about the trip / post photos, but that’s my plan.

In the interim enjoy the photo above. It was taken from atop Moro Rock, before the fog rolled out.

Hunger

Today is a day off, which is most excellent, because I’ve been craving a day off. I am relishing it.

It began with my morning pages. Almost every morning does, though a day or two is missed per month. Next, a nice, long walk with the dog at 7AM. The air was chilly and the sun just breaking the roof lines. Love. I listened to Jamie Ridler interview Rachel W. Cole while we walked.

Rachel spoke of her Well-Fed Woman interview series and her voice started knitting together feelings I’ve tried to express over the past few weeks. Some actual arousal in my body, the changing of the seasons, and a need that I’m not sure how to name, let alone fill. A hunger.

What I’ve been craving lately, in order from big to small:

  • The huge craving is to attend a creative retreat like Squam or Be Present. Right now time / cost prohibitive.
  • Launching a whole new blog with a professional bent. No idea where to begin.
  • Launching a video interview series of alumni. Serendipity is pushing this one forward. Scary shit.
  • Expanding this blog with more consistent posts and photography. Again, no idea.
  • Run a 10K which also means consistently training for one. Time, energy, etc.
  • Creating a presentation for a work trip at the end of the month. Perfection gremlins.
  • And lastly, to read more and watch TV less.

Rachel and Jamie spoke of projects and how creatives can feel unfocused because they have so many ideas.

Jamie: Creative people are project-oriented. We think we’re not focused… but projects create diversity.

Rachel: Projects and ideas come through me, they have their own timing, their own incubation period, their own birthing. I just tend to them and hold on to them and in time they come out.

But I see that just by listing out all the projects I’m hankering for, I can see they’re big, bold and yet it shouldn’t be too difficult to get moving on them.

Yesterday, I wrote in my journal…

What if I did a cleanse? What if, for 30 days, I worked out, slept enough, took deep care of myself, created space, removed sugar, drank enough water, watched less TV, didn’t drink alcohol? Would I attain some stability of clarity that I miss out on now? I don’t know. Interesting experiment though.

All of that is important and probably a bit more than I can chew, too restricting and black & white. But after the podcast this morning, I can see that my need to reorient my physical health, to control all of it in the name of deep self-care, is actually a superficial fix for the real issue.

Rachel: Hunger – are you connecting or disconnecting? Are you moving closer to yourself or further away from yourself?… It’s not so much what you’re hungry for, it’s what’s going on deeper than that.

Yes, sleep, water, exercise, good food are all great things to integrate into my life, but they’re kind of already there. And this “solution” is an echo of my pre-therapy days where I would think, “I’m so cranky today because I had Yogurtland last night” and not because I wasn’t allowing myself to feel something heavy or wouldn’t acknowledge something was bothering me.

But now I know.

Jamie: I was just really struck by the idea, the whole concept of ‘the well-fed woman’, you really struck on something and there’s something so sensitive in that hunger. It’s so vulnerable to be hungry.

Rachel: Yeah, and yet, it is the norm for many people, just to be in that state. I was actually thinking before this call, about how much more life I have, just space, to be creative or to have relationships, or to do meaningful work, space so much energy, mental energy, emotional energy, creative energy, time that used to be spent maintaining a level of hunger… It’s very transformative to live a life where no matter what the hunger is, that comes up for me, I meet it with “Alright” – my belief is that you should be fed whatever it is you are.

As I walked, I started to ask myself what time and energy I’m wasting “maintaining a level of hunger”. The question goes right to the gut. The fear of beginning, of not doing it perfectly, of how much time and energy the project may take, and especially of my not being “ready” are all ways I’m running myself around in circles instead of just doing the work.

I am hungry and it is vulnerable. There is something I need and now have to go about the process of asking for it and / or creating it. Requires putting myself out there, making time, working through the quick-fix cravings for something deeper. And it’s not to say that I need to back-hand myself into this place. This is not about being superior and better… it’s about allowing myself to just be and do and feel. To just create now. To stop withholding the nurturing food that my being craves. To feed myself and be well-fed.

Rachel: Creative ideas and bringing them to life is what made me come alive. I really believe that’s what we’re here to do.

A Flow of Feelings

Why do my broken pieces always float to the top of exhaustion, when I feel least able to process…?

That came out in my MPs last Saturday, after a week of busyness and not enough rest.

On my morning walk with the dog that day, my mind suddenly began playing out a scene from when I was 17. The thought “I was so loved” turned over and over in my head. Loved by my then-boyfriend, by my parents… I felt uneasy as everything started flooding back. I realized that the thought would make a good song and came in and wrote down a few sparse lyrics. It’s been almost 5 yrs since I’ve written a song, so this was encouraging, but also scary.

After, as I wrote my MPs, I tap-danced around the emotional elephant in the room. I worried that exhaustion + PMS + emotional thinking would send me into a downward spiral. I didn’t want to think about these things from the past because I didn’t want to feel these feelings.

And then I remembered Jamie Ridler’s podcast where she talks about almost passing out while giving Reiki from an overload of energy. To deal with this, she learned to visualize her feelings as a rooted tree with the energy gentle blowing through her branches. Or as a stream that she is wading in, firmly standing, with the water (energy) rushing by her.

So I sat there cuddled in the corner of the couch, with bright light streaming in through the blinds, in the quiet Saturday morning, visualizing myself as a tree and all of those heavy emotions, all of that guilt and longing rushing through my body like wind rustling leaves. Just sat there and let it happen. I didn’t just allow myself to feel, I allowed myself to feel without trying to manage, contain or box up what I was feeling. I just let it rush through me.

And, kid you not, it worked.

Sark, in Glad No Matter What, talks about there being a flow to feelings and following your feelings as a child does, allowing one to flow into the other.

If you closely follow a child or the child parts in yourself and observe them feeling their feelings, you will notice a flow of feelings one to another – like movements of water.

Feelings are in motion this way, not stuck and obsessed over like adults’ feelings sometimes are. I like it to call it “the raccoon feature” when we go over and over a feeling, holding it in our little paws like a raccoon, and we don’t or can’t put it down.

And then there’s no room there for a new feeling to arise…”

And don’t we do that raccoon thing? That’s what I call “downward spiral” when you have one obsessive thought that leads to another and then you find yourself angry for no reason, which just makes you feel ashamed and more upset…

There is a scene in Little Women where Meg confesses to her mother all of her wrongdoings at a party. She is able to name a whole range of feelings: embarrassed, angry, ashamed, enjoyed, flattered, and liked. Reading this young girl express her conflicting feelings to her mother, asking for guidance and forgiveness, picked at my heart. Here I am 27yrs old and a century ahead of this character, and I don’t know how to do the same.

“Most of us were not taught how to hold or navigate multiple feelings…(but) I’ve learned that feelings don’t ever leave us. We keep having them and this is good!” (Sark)

Yesterday I woke up from a night of bad dreams. During my MPs, I wrote out some plot points from that terrible scene in my life that haunted me last week. I was able to do brave writing and let it all come without identifying with it. I was detached, but in a loving and present way. An observer to the story unfolding. To be able to write these painful things without “the raccoon feature” is a small breakthrough for me.

“When we experience and express multiple feelings, we are expanding our emotional capacities.

If you don’t feel ready to share your feelings out loud, you can write them down and experiment with nuances or little bits of feelings and name them as soon as you can identity them. This will give you an expanded feelings language to work with” (Sark)

I am just beginning to learn this skill. I know it will help me in the future with times like these. Each day I move closer to an awareness and self-love I didn’t even know I was missing until it started coming into my life. My broken pieces, all of our messes, will always surface when we slow down and quiet our lives. The trick is to listen, to name and to feel. Running, numbing, blaming doesn’t work.

“…we think that if we identify or name a feeling, it could or will grow and crush some part of us to death. Actually, the opposite occurs – if we can acknowledge our feelings, they can then transform” (Sark)

Here’s to you and your transformational work. I’m going to keep plugging away at mine.

Finding a Rhythm

This about sums up how I’m feeling…

Today a possible job offer came through. I’m excited for the opportunity, but with mercury retrograding I’m leery of how it will pan out. Can’t let myself be whole-heartedly into it until things are agreed upon and papers signed.

Until then, I wait, but waiting involves this whole tension, this feeling in your gut that sends your mind racing, “But what if…?” and you either can’t sleep a full night or you find yourself in bed at weird hours. Like, 3pm.

I took Carter for a longish morning walk in the rain. I listened to a podcast interview of Jamie Ridler with Ali Edwards. Ali talks about disliking the term “finding balance”, since what seems “balanced” today may feel like chaos tomorrow. Instead, she focuses on rhythm. I found this ridiculously interesting – it resonated in my core.

Months ago, when I was still trying to find my own “balance”, I would fantasize about going for long runs, reading lots of books, having time to write, etc. The weird thing was, I had more than enough time. What I didn’t have was permission from myself to live my life. I knew I was dissatisfied with my job, guilty that gratitude was hard to come by, and the rage-filled crying fits were kind of a red flag too, but some layer of thinking kept me caught up in the doing instead of being.

What was wrong was that I was numbingly unfulfilled. I was deeply angry and silently, sleeplessly anxious. I thought I was working harder than anyone and yet I was missing what everyone else seemed so easily to grasp. A life. ~Hand Wash Cold (pg 8 )

Through a weekly meeting with my therapist I began to learn just how mean I am towards myself. How I was struggling with either “permission” or “pressure”. And that I’m so petrified of breaking the rules that I don’t make a move.

The past few months I’ve found a rhythm. Each morning is some combination of feeding & walking the dog, writing my morning pages, feeding myself, exercising and showering. I answer emails, do work, make phone calls and accomplish tasks. I cook food, wash my plates, drink tea, run the vacuum. My mom will call or I’ll meet someone for lunch. Today I even did a spontaneous 20 min of yoga, alone in the office with huge 10ft windows facing east towards the clouded sun.

And the other night I played guitar. I strummed a simple progression and H played a little lick over it and we jammed for less than an hour, but it felt good.

I can’t tell you what world this re-opens for me. It’s been years since I’ve played guitar without anxiety and the other night my head was clear, my hands felt good. I wanted to be playing and I wanted to keep playing.

Whatever iceberg that’s been frozen around my heart is starting to break up.

It’s not easy to be done with your own sob story. We might set it down for a time, but we hardly ever get rid of it. Provoked, we haul out the old emotional wadrobe and put it on again. We’re so accustomed to familiar, wounded feelings and self-serving narratives…that we mistakenly think they’re who we are. We think we are our thoughts; we think we are our feelings; we think we are nothing more than our buldging basket of past experiences.

Can we really find happiness by letting go of what we know of ourselves? It is the only way.   ~Hand Wash Cold (pg 18)

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.