Allowing Myself

…to feel, to love, to be.

Tag: thoughts

I Am Not the Voice

I’ve come to understand that all the chatter inside my head is not useful.

A few years ago, when I first started therapy, I had a breakthrough. I was panicking about my to-do list, about how I’d power through the beginning of a week, running on the reserve of energy I gathered over the weekend, and experience this intense despair by Wednesday evening.

My therapist suggested that I was setting this unreachable bar for myself. No one else was asking these things of me. That it was completely unfair because even though I would reach my mark, completing my to-do list, it would never be enough. My mind would turn right around and find the next thing to obsess about accomplishing.

If I sound dramatic, it’s because I am was.

My therapist said that instead of becoming more efficient / effective / productive, I needed to learn to deal with the anxiety of not accomplishing things. Because that is the actual state of our days – things need doing, things get done, and we start again. There will never be a day that everything is Done.

When I read Hand Wash Cold it reiterated this idea. That I am here to do (and not freak out about) things like laundry, paying bills, and kissing my husband. That these daily tasks were a path into self-awareness and a type of enlightenment. Very much the basis of the human experience. To love, to be.

That was a light-bulb moment.

Then I found Byron Katie and her ideas of questioning our thoughts. That when we attach to, and believe, our thoughts, we bring ourselves into chaos. That negative feelings are a reflection of our mind believing thoughts that do not line-up with reality. She’s created something called The Work, which allows people to question and reconcile their thoughts with the world.

That was a light-bulb moment.

And now I’m reading The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer. From the start, Singer focuses on the idea that you not only don’t have to believe your thoughts, you don’t even have to listen to them at all.

Our inner dialogue can be like living with a manic-depressive, a crazy roommate who continually grabs our attention. Singer suggests:

“The best way to free yourself from this incessant chatter is to step back and view it objectively…the only way to get your distance from this voice is to stop differentiating what it’s saying. Stop feeling that one thing it says is you and the other thing it says is not you… You are the one who hears the voice”

I am not the voice. I am the one who hears it.

An holy wow, doesn’t that create some distance between the craziness in my head and the gorgeous view of life I have when I’m not feeling insane?

It never occurred to me to disregard the internal chatter completely. To just separate from it, in my mind. To stop arguing with it, or trying to soothe it. To just, be.

As I’m reading, I understand.

“True personal growth is about transcending the part of you that is not okay and needs protection”

WIth each lesson learned, with each experience, each light-bulb moment, I am moving away from controlling an protecting myself, to living my life.

And it feels really good.

A Creative Signal

Currently, I have an obsession with Jad Abumrad, radio host and producer, founder and co-host of Radiolab (also here).

This creative person, his thoughts about what he does, and his execution of these ideas are all coming to me this month as I feel a swarm of creative ideas myself, ones that I’ve been pushing aside, even blatantly ignoring because lack of head space. Most attempts I made back in the spring fizzled. Conversations took place, but nothing was shipped.

The wedding and subsequent honeymoon needed to launch first. One thing at a time.

Now that I’m back (a month tomorrow), my mind is abuzz. There’s a definite video project to hash out via my job, blog ideas for here, video and photo recap of honeymoon and wedding, article ideas for another contact, blog ideas for work, a personal minibook, a presentation to be produced, and maybe the video project could also be a podcast…?

And I’ve realized two things about this swirling vortex of creativity bubbling under my being:

  1. It’s all about telling stories: mine, yours, theirs
  2. I need larger swatches of time to create than I’ve ever needed before

My approach is to map things out on paper, breaking things down into steps. Allowing myself to draft 300 words and let it sit. Organize photos for an hour, then stop. Work on something else then revisit. Take on one thing at a time, even one major task per day. This afternoon I transferred 8gigs of video to a fresh hard-drive.

Like all energies, I am riding this wave as far as I can take it. This doesn’t feel manic or anxious. It feels focused and productive. My goal: to complete at least one of these creative ideas before the momentum breaks.

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If you’re interested, here’s a few of my Jad Abumrad resources – I actually have yet to read the Transom article, but I plan to give myself another large swatch of time to do so soon.

Experiencing It

Today, after writing my trusty morning pages, I rolled out my mat and did this week’s free class at YogaToday. This is not typical. My relationship with yoga is one of mostly avoidance on my part. I mean, why would I make time for something that makes me happy?

Last week, a thought hit me – how much my days are truly full of normal yet “perfect day” activities – writing, conversations, exercise, walks with the dog, podcasts, husband, cooking, photo snapping and reading. I don’t force myself to read, I just pick up a book and spend some time. Whenever I remember to snap a few photos, I feel lighter. Once I get going, exercise and cooking are both awesome, relaxing pursuits. And every morning I write 3-pages of long hand no matter what my mood, my sleep cycle, the weather or my issues. No questions.

So today while I’m smack in the middle of this yoga class, sweat beading on my forehead, my legs and arms stretched in side-angle pose, I feel this tense thought, “When is this class going to start?”

What?” another part of my mind demanded. “START?!” As if the sweat and shaky muscles weren’t enough of an indication, the sun had moved up past the window and time had obviously lapsed.

But what did this mean? How could I be half-way through a yoga class, connecting to my breathe and moving my body, and be that disconnected? Or more so, that outside of this string of present moments that my brain wasn’t on-board with the experience my body was having.

It was so odd. It was like I was expecting something, a more utopian version of what “doing yoga” should be / feel like. And it brought me back to last week’s thought about my beautifully full days and how all of these things are practices that I’ve slowly incorporated into my life. I didn’t used to write, take photos, blog, walk the dog, read and cook every day (sometimes I still don’t, but I make sure to get a few in before work). And that yoga was another practice I could add in, something I do no matter my mood, because it’s good for me and I’m always better for it after it’s done.

And how, by building in these practices of showing up, these daily rituals, I’m less inclined to be swayed by Resistance to avoid these good-for-my-soul actions. That’s where I think my thought came from today during yoga – my brain (ego) was still trying to talk me out of doing yoga by complaining that the class was so boring or low-level that it felt like it hadn’t even started yet. How silly. It comes up when I think about writing instead of moving my hand across the page or when I fantasize about baking instead of pulling the bags of flour and sugar out of the cabinet.

It’s really a matter of doing, of acknowledging the thoughts that try to deter us, thanking them for their care, and then continuing on with our practices anyways. Because the love I have for my life is not made up of the thoughts I had about doing or not doing something, but about the memories I have of actually experiencing it.

 

Sparkles Align

A friend invited me to Yogaworks South Bay. It was the first time since Thanksgiving that I attended a yoga class.

With overcast skies and light drizzle we drove on quiet LA streets. We told stories of huge snowstorms. My friend spoke about her little third grade shoes being stuck in the mud during a fire drill. Her fiance immediately recalled a scene when he has accidentally blew the fire alarm. I felt immersed in life, as cheesy as it sounds. I was present.

Sparkles

As a friend says, the good thing about having a bad day is that you know the next day will be better. Today was – yoga, coffee with a friend, and cooking not one, but two soups. These are all things that comfort me, specifically the types of things I avoid when I need comforting.

Yesterday, I dreaded yoga. I thought I had made a mistake committing to the outing. My thoughts ping-ponged between “You don’t really want to go” and “Did you just say ‘yes’ out of obligation?”

I honestly had no idea. It seems the reason I have trouble deciding what I want is that I’ve lost parts of myself to enmeshed relationships and people-pleasing. Why listen to myself when I receive so much validation from caring for others?

Well, to start – I’m the only one who really matters (to me). And I don’t think it’s something we’re taught when we’re young, but being able to soothe ourselves and be self-compassionate is paramount to our well-being.

As I was chopping onions for my soups, I thought about their aggressive defense mechanism of producing a toxin that makes our eyes tear and burn. It made me think about people and their actions / reactions. “I can say ‘she’s controlling’, but don’t I also play a part? Aren’t I the one being controlled?”

It made me pause. What has been my role, what have I gained, from believing I’m being controlled?

Honestly, it displaced my responsibility of caring for myself. I’ve been so focused on others that all I see is myself in relation to them. The outside, the external. As soon as a tense situation resolved itself last night, I felt free – free to do yoga, to smile, to get less sleep and have more energy. But that power is already in me, somehow, I just don’t know how to access it yet.

It’s a tiny shift, but it matters. Like the sparkly water running through the Santa Monica Library cafe in the picture. A moment caught in the sun. An adjustment I’m making to align myself, feeling where the tension is and breathing through it.

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

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.


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.

Moon Void of Course (of course!)

I woke up feeling fine and going about my routine – drink vitamins, feed dog, take him for a walk – but I could feel a heavy feeling gathering. It’s a familiar feeling. It starts with “What should I do today?” slides into “I am so lost” and becomes “I just want to sleep – I hate everything“.

 

Up until now, I’ve been able to avoid it by staying busy. See, I work alone and my job doesn’t require a lot from me. Most people would find this to be most excellent, but for me, it’s like I do not matter in the whole entire world. Staying busy – scheduled, productive, and enjoying my time alone – is key. Recently it’s been even better because I’ve taken on petsitting a friend’s dog 3x per week. This gives me just enough mental stimulation to feel productive but not so much I want to cry. Plus, it’s extra income. Win.

 

Wednesday this feeling started (no pet sitting, no work to focus on and rain too!). I wallowed a bit but eventually got my butt to the gym and then hosted an event. Yesterday, after a late night drinking wine and not a lot of sleep, I expected to feel crappy. Still, I hit the gym and did what I could to figure out what the heck to do with all of this time. I just couldn’t get motivated. And then, my dog sniffed another dog the wrong way at the park and ended up with a bite mark and swollen snout. Nothing horrendous, but scary and stressful enough that I felt myself slipping.

 

I Just Want To Care

Today was difficult.

This morning as I walked the dog, I could feel the weight of panic press down, all those competing thoughts arguing in my head. After morning pages and some email, I felt better. Then, I caught a mistake. Kind of a huge mistake – one that involved coordinating two other people and a delivery to fix. (Damn you Mercury Retrograde!!) Amazingly, I didn’t panic. I even joked that I should screw up my job more often because putting out this fire took up most of my day. Like, I should create problems just to solve them.

Because I want something that will make me feel important that badly.

I continued on, doing what I could and waiting to address the big blunder. Boyfriend and I skated with the dog over to Jamba Juice for a mid-day snack – perfect break. Later on, I ate lunch and chatted with my sister. All the pieces fell into place and magically crises were averted (so far at least)…and I still felt good.

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One Blog Post Away

I started posting hours ago and then my draft disappeared. Gone. (Stupid Mercury retrograde) It had something to do with the mental struggles of my day – how on paper my job looks like a precious gift that I keep trying to return. How I have co-dependent tendencies. How today I tried to disconnect from the pressure I put on myself to do something when there is nothing to be done. And I feel a whole lot better.

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