Allowing Myself

…to feel, to love, to be.

Tag: #reverb10

To Gain Value

Staying in line with my theme of emerging / presence, “appreciation” could be the binding element. As my life has expanded and my true self has begun to emerge here in 2010, I’ve found that my ability to notice and appreciate the details has expanded as well.

The Happiness Project had this quote the other day and it sums it up perfectly:

“Happiness does not consist in things themselves but in the relish we have of them; and a man has attained it when he enjoys what he loves and desires himself, and not what other people think lovely and desirable.”  ~ La Rochefoucauld

It’s silly to write, “this year I’ve learned to appreciate appreciation” but it’s true. I am learning to appreciate my life, to be truthful about my own desires and recognize that, in the long run, I’m here to make myself happy. Not in some selfish way but in a self-serving way. If I focus on my happiness, my wholeness, my reality then I will be healthy enough to serve others.

This definition suits my point: sensitive awareness. Being sensitive and hyper-aware then, my emergence this year has allowed me to notice the details of my life. To relax into a Saturday nap or notice the sunlight trees on early morning walks with the dog. To just be present and whole in the moment. To know that everything is good and as it should be, even if it feels upsetting or scary. To give myself all the approval for my life that I’ve been aching for from other people.

I love these posts, and not because I’m super prepared to respond. Unfortunately, each post feels like some hurtful, critical feedback – too difficult and too much to contemplate. I’m realizing, though, that it’s partially the perfectionist in me (will my post be right?)  and partially that I’ve just never thought about these things. In fact, I was having a terrible time of “gratitude” a month or two ago. I just didn’t get it. Somehow something changed because I feel more grateful for my days now. I think that shift happened with being more present. The less time my mind is on the past or the future the more I am available to experience the fullness of life in the moment.

Appreciate – to gain value. As my I’ve focused on myself this year, as I’ve allowed myself to just be, with less criticism and pressure, I’ve found that my life is richer and more perfect than it ever has before. But my life hasn’t changed that much.

I did. I am relishing in what I have.

Mind Body Integration

This prompt is beyond me. While I’ve been working a lot of my mind this year  (how I see the world, how I react to the world, what my projections are) and I’m aware of my body (I work out, I eat well, I notice my hormone fluctuations) combining the two hasn’t been a priority. This prompt brings to light this disconnect.

I’m aware that my thoughts affect my mood and how I feel within my body. I’m aware that my mood is elevated by exercise. Anything deeper than that – an actual integration – is not a place I’ve reached yet.

Lately I’ve had a problem with eating a lot at each sitting. It’s not that I eat beyond feeling full but that I want to keep eating all the time. I crave sugar and salt. I do not view food as fuel for my high-energy body. I can eat meat or processed foods without any awareness of where it came from.

There’s a disconnect.

So, while I’m not able to respond to this prompt directly, I can say that it’s raising an important red flag for me. Something to focus on and think about for 2011. More yoga, more water, more fruits and vegetables, and more sleep. More relaxation, more walks, more hugs, more beach, and more meditation. And to respect my body and pay it as much attention as I’ve been paying my mind.

I may feel that disconnect or I may be unaware of it, but it’s tied to self-abusive, feelings of unworthiness. Awareness is the first step.

Wisdom Therapy

Honestly, the wisest decision I made this year was therapy. Not “start”, not “try” but just full out get a therapist and do it. It was an instant shift, like other smart, intuitive decisions I’ve made, but a friend had floated the idea for a long while. He mentioned “resistance” and that I’d do it when I was “ready”. This April, I took the leap.

I’ve learned so much. It’s so funny how just talking to someone for an hour once a week can change your whole outlook, but I feel I’ve moved up a wrung on the ladder of life. I am not better or worse than anyone, I just know myself better. I make connections that I don’t make when writing or talking with other people.

If you need to love yourself first before loving others, then therapy is as selfish as anything and I am thriving under my own attention. I’ve been everyone else’s faux therapist for so long that I couldn’t hear a word I was saying in my own head.

(No joke – a month or two into therapy, I was napping on the couch one afternoon. I wasn’t dreaming really, I was in that half-asleep mode where the noises of my house could enter my conscience and I wasn’t dreaming in pictures yet. My whole head was flooded with the noise of the busiest crowd, like you’d hear in a rush hour subway station or the commotion before a theater show. I woke up abruptly, knowing full well that all that noise was from everyone else in my life, in my head. I couldn’t hear my own voice and I certainly didn’t have a quiet mind. But, awareness is the first step, right?)

Therapy has given me: This blog – a major theme we work with is “allowing myself”. Perspective. More energy for others. Gratitude. The chance to connect the dots. Space. The ability to let go a bit. Understanding, about myself, my needs, my habits. Rage disappeared, anger is infrequent. Support. The feeling that someone cares.

I don’t go to therapy to find out if I’m a freak
I go and I find the one and only answer every week
And it’s just me and all the memories to follow
Down any course that fits within a fifty minute hour
And we fathom all the mysteries, explicit and inherent
When I hit a rut, she says to try the other parent
And she’s so kind, I think she wants to tell me something,
But she knows that its much better if I get it for myself… ~Dar Williams

Byron Katie writes that the world is our projection. It’s not that the image is fuzzy, but that our lens is. When you see a spot on a movie screen, your first instinct is to clean the screen, the surface that the movie is being projected on to. But if you look closely, the spot is really on the lens and it’s the lens that needs cleaning.

Therapy has given me a way to clean my own lens. It’s a weekly hour where I can be the center of attention, where I can work on focusing on my own problems without the input or judgement of anything else.

And it’s made me so much happier. Best.decision.ever.


Party Like It’s 2010

One of my random ah-ha moments that occurred this year was “Do the easy thing”. Being that I can’t choose just one party for 2010 and because I want to revel in the awesomness that was my year, here is a list of wonderful party moments.

Disclaimer – After writing this, I realized that a lot of my “partying” involves alcohol. ::shrugs::

January (well technically, New Years Eve)
New Years Eve party with family. Once we realized were the youngest in attendance by 30 years we hit the open bar hard. Don’t underestimate how fun it is to be tipsy and dance. Or your future mother-in-law – she’ll pressure you to do shots harder than any of your college friends ever did.

MA Convention party – Sweaty dancing in the Miami heat.

March
I am so not a club girl, but we hit the town for a friend’s birthday. VIP table service, loud music and a sweet pole dancer (very tasteful). Best part? Someone else picked up the tab.

March also held a trip to Vegas for my Mom’s 50th. The whole week was a party, but I loved the dinner at the Wynn Encore the best. And watching my brother scream “Don’t touch his hand, it’s too hot!” at the craps table. Oh, and the yardstick drinks with my sister.

May
The Pink-slip party was a huge backyard kegger held for all the teachers in our group of friends that had been laid off (Yay CA!). Can’t remember who won the “best drinking vessel” contest but it was hilarious.

(We traveled a bunch in June & July)

August
Another MA Convention – another sweet dance party.

Later in the month we had a friend’s birthday and the genius idea to mix vodka with lemonade. Maybe the best party, definitely the worst hangover of the year.

October
Attended a sexy salsa birthday party for a friend. Spent way too much $. Had a fabulous time.

November
Thanksgiving is an all-day event for us LA misfits. “Dinner” is served at 1pm, naps by 3pm. Round 2 = wine + board games rounding out the evening. My jaw hurt from laughing so much.

December
This post comes at an interesting time, because I currently have (3) holiday parties in the next 2 weeks plus Christmas before the year comes to a close. Looking forward to all of it.

Community

I skipped Monday’s #reverb10 to take a mental break. I skipped Tuesday because the world was going crazy, but I’m feeling the urge to pick up yesterday’s prompt and write.

Two years ago I discovered the magnificence of blogs. Real blogs, with updates and RSS feeds and relevant information for my life. I devoured the accidental yogist and then things like 43Folders, ZenHabits and the Simple Dollar. From there I moved on to KathEats (which I’ve read almost daily for over a year now) and Dooce. I was all into life hacks and productivity and food.

And then, this year, there was a shift.

I began reading Susannah Conway, Kelly Rae Roberts, Tracy Clark and Gwen Bell. I was amazed by their creativity, their honesty and the community drawn into their circles.

I’ve known for a while now that I am one lonely fish. I’m not sure why this is. I have a large network, but not a ton of close friends. I don’t have a uniting activity in my life. I have lots of acquaintances – people who I see a few times per year or know me via my job – but I don’t have a lot of stronger, deeper relationships. I certainly don’t have a tribe. Not yet anyway.

So today I thought, “I’m avoiding this community prompt b/c I feel I don’t have one. OK, so, I don’t have a community, but what is it that I’m so drawn to this year within these blogs?” And I thought, “It’s the STORIES”.

That’s probably why I started my own blog. Not to express myself, though that’s part of the deal, but to feel more included when reading other’s blogs, posts, tirades. To participate. I am standing with my toe in the water, but I haven’t jumped in yet. I’m open to suggestions on HOW TO. It’s something I hope to build on in 2011.

Letting Go – Work As Worth

As I was frantically vacuuming the entire apartment, my response to today’s #reverb10 post came streaming into my head. This year I’ve let go of the idea that my worth comes from my work.

This may not seem revolutionary, however, having grown up in a family of entrepreneurs, this notion was ingrained in me from a young age. To this day, words like “the office”, “paperwork” and “schedule” pour out of my parents’ mouths as reasons why we can or can’t do something as a family.

Of course, their work, their office, is important to them, but I don’t own my own business right now. It doesn’t matter how hard I work or how much I get done in any given day – my salary stays the same, my responsibilities are level and to make matters worse for my ego, I can’t seem to take on more tasks even as I ask for them.

I was stuck. It was as if life said, “Nope – you’re done. This is all we’ll allow you to work on right now.” I admit I still feel stuck, but what’s changed is my outlook on it all. I’ve let go of my work being my worth. This has allowed me to find more time for writing, reading, and a mental freedom I haven’t experienced before IN MY LIFE.

Work as worth leads back to other panic thoughts, aka “I’m not doing what I should be doing” (which brings in confusion and guilt) and becomes “I am worried I’m not justifying my existence” which really means “I am not enough”.

So what I’m really working on is accepting that I am enough. Working on loving myself as a precious being. To bring new things in, you have to clean up, make room, let go. My work in this area isn’t complete (not sure it ever will be) but I know it’ll continue into 2011 and beyond. I’m grateful I made such a leap this year.

Spatter-Painted Sky

The sky stretched out like a Jackson Pollack canvas
Spatter-painted with sparkling stars
Darkness came down to meet us
Dizzying space, so vast, so far

Pulsing with heat, we sunk our sheets in the river
Letting them swell out with the tide
We twisted our wrists to ring out the water
And balled them back up at our sides

We laid on our cots, wrapped in damp cotton
You reached your hand across to hold mine
The moon was a darkened figure
Satellites spiraling lines

And then, I was swept up by the sound of the river
Up into that diamond encrusted sky
My body weightlessly floating towards Heaven
As I contemplated my own death, the tiny Earth, our fragile lives

{This summer, I slept at the bottom of the Grand Canyon for an overnight river rafting trip. I’ve never seen so many stars in my life.}


Moment Alive

It was quiet. He caught me as I walked in the door and blocked my view. He seemed excited, nervous. My head was dizzy from the bright light of the foyer, the dim light behind him. The hour-long massage had loosened my muscles – I felt pliable and chilly. I wanted a warm blanket and sleep, but we had the whole night ahead of us.

Right beyond the foyer, the living room was set with a small table and chairs, candles running along the bookcases, pizza and wine set on the side. My emotions hummed. He had spent the time I was at my massage recreating one of our dearest memories.

It had been my 19th birthday. We were two college kids with no money, living out of each other’s dorm rooms in the middle of a freezing Boston winter. February is the bleakest month, but the wind off the Charles River makes it feel ceaseless. Any comfort, any sign of life is a tiny sparkle that will carry you through May.

That night he gathered his money and bought me pizza and wine. He asked my roommates for privacy. It was the sweetest thing. We ate and then napped. Later on we ventured out into the brisk, icy city to walk to Starbucks. We bought chai teas and walked to the middle of the Mass Ave bridge. The wind whipped over the bridge, the city lights reflected back off the river. I felt electric.

But here we were in LA now, 8 years later, with break-ups and reconciliations, cross-country telephone calls and long distance behind us. We have an apartment we decorated, merged our things into joint closets, and adopted a dog. It felt like a home life, so for him to pull that Boston birthday back into existence here and now was magical.

We ate gourmet pizza and drank red wine, just like back then. And we talked for hours. It meant so much to me that he shared his memories and feelings about all we had done together, recapping the foundation of our relationship. I’ve witnessed this man emerge from a sweet boy, a boy I knew in my heart of hearts was there to support and care for me, to create a nurturing love.

As the pizza disappeared and the wine made my face flush, I hoped this would be it, but I still didn’t know. I found myself sitting on his lap, ready to kiss him goodnight and turn in, but he held me there. He said, “You know I love you and there’s no one else I want to be with.”

My heart raced. He started to stand up and my hands began to shake. I think I started crying. I don’t remember what else he said, but he was on one knee and I was kissing him saying “yes”.

Yes.


Counter-Productive

{This post is for #reverb10’s 12/2/10 prompt, but our internet locked up all last night, so it’s going up now}

The emerging I wrote about is true. I’ve gained some footing in the past year. I’m starting to pull myself out of the huge ditch that I thought my life was and seeing it as the gift it is.

I am a miracle, fine. I survived childhood cancer, yes, but we’re all miracles. And how the hell did my upbringing convince me otherwise? And what’s worst is – regardless if I’m perfect (which no one is) I still believe I’m not enough.

I take in panic, anxiety and worries about how I’m not living up to some unnamed and ridiculous expectation and absorb it into my own head as if it’s how I really feel. The truth is, I don’t even know how I feel because I’m too busy absorbing other people’s bullshit.

What gets in the way of my writing? The belief that I am not enough. That doing something that is expressive and satisfying and FEELS GOOD isn’t a good use of my time and makes me a waste of a human life.

Why fill up pages of a journal if you’re not going to DO anything with it? Why put down 750 words a day if you’re not editing it? Why do ANYTHING, really, if there isn’t some sort of productive outcome? (Even though I never take the time to define “productive” or “successful” before I begin, so I have no idea where I’m going and when I want to stop, I can’t because the bar is raised higher. And with a bar that lofty, I don’t even start.)

What gets in the way of any creative work that I deem rewarding? Calling it “stupid”. That there is a huge part of me that thinks writing /music / photography is such a bullshit waste of time. “I have better things to do,” my head says, but I don’t. I really don’t.

It’s Resistance.

Read the rest of this entry »

Emergence / Presence

My word for 2010 is emergence.

Grand Canyon

Jupiter was in Pisces, Saturn moved out of Virgo. I felt myself expanding, gaining confidence and beginning to learn who I really am.

A few weeks ago, I was worried that I had wasted this year, but then I started listing events.

Travel, which was a goal for 2010: We took trips to Utah, the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, San Diego, and multiple trips to the East Coast (MA, PA, NY, FL and NC).

Lots of firsts: I flew in a helicopter, drove an ATV, started therapy, hiked Angels Landing, slept under the stars, shot a shotgun, rode a horse, launched another event, and established this blog.

Huge life events: We adopted a dog AND got engaged.

And my favorite accomplishment of 2010? Finally liking peanut butter! (haha)

I didn’t participate in Bestof09 but I followed along as Gwen Bell reviewed her year. It inspired me to make some general goals (?) for the coming year. Now I’m excited to be fully in #reverb10.

And that brings me to my word for 2011 – Presence.

Honestly, it just came to me, but it feels right. With all of the emerging, thinking, feeling and living I’ve been doing, if there’s anything I want it’s to live my life more fully. To not be concerned with the past or the future, but to be fully present now.

To exist in the now. Companionship. Self-assurance. Calmness. Enough. To be fully in my body, my life and for that to be enough.

Pups

Grand Canyon Morning