Thursday, October 20, 2011

Happy birthday to me!

"This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."  Psalm 118:24

Some days are easier to rejoice in than others; today is an easy one for me.  I have always enjoyed my birthday.  I love having a day that's about celebrating my very existence.  I don't think it's selfish.  In order to celebrate myself, I have to appreciate life.  To feel truly celebratory for my incarnation, I need a keen awareness of all of reality, and to choose the good despite the bad.  I am overflowing with gratitude, and it is spilling out as joy.

Today I am in a fabulous mood.   I feel loved.  I am enjoying Facebook and email greetings.  My spouse and kids have the day off, and I woke earlier and got out of the house without having to shoo anyone else along.  I am giving myself a mini-retreat at Starbucks before breakfast.  I am cozy in a purple cable-knit sweater for GLAAD spirit day.  I am thinking about but not worrying about 99% and 53% and all that jazz.  I am loving my friends and counting my blessings.  

I haven't been writing in this blog, and I think I know why.  I blog when I feel secure-- and when I have time.  If I am too busy to blog, I might be cramming too much in.  If all of my writing is happening in my journals or emails, then I must not be ready to share it with the world.  When I am feeling good enough to be authentic AND public, I can blog.  Of course, that means only certain things are shared.  I will experiment for the next month by checking in with myself about Giving what I Crave.  If I am up to posting, I will.  If not, I will consider that a gauge of my self-care and see what I can do differently.

Here's another thing: I keep wanting to control the direction of my blog when it's not meant to be a polished product.  I imagine each post as a collage element about myself and my journey, building up slowly, positioning, rearranging, gluing, and then at some point you will start to see the picture and I will be ready to disclose what Give What You Crave is all about.  The deal is, it's the other way around.  There is already a picture, I am just focusing on different bits at a time, and adding to it.  I don't need to structure it because it will structure itself.  Trying to order things has prevented me from showing you the artwork of my life.  Today I am committing to trusting in the infinite organizing power of the universe, and I am sharing today's corner of the collage with you.

A dear person in my life who is also a reader of my blog, told me my blog is different from most kinds she reads.  I like that.  I have seen all kinds of blogs so I feel like there is nothing new.  But I am increasingly aware that everyone has stories and everyone needs to tell their story.  It pleases me to tell my stories, to my family, friends, and anonymous others.  I don't need to do it in order to fabricate a sense of identity or importance, just as I don't need birthday greetings to celebrate life.  But it helps. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

I am totally in love with...

...myself.  My Self.  Life.  Love.  People.  Air.  Crickets.  Joy.  Distant shouts.  My new laptop.  Time.  Space.  Sleep.  My husband.  God (as I understand God).  Bliss.  Transcendental Meditation.  Friends.  My kids.  Words.  Ideas.  Excited gasps.  Possibilities.  Feeling.  Books.  Music.  Tutoring.  Being busy.  Green beans.  Purple beans that turn olive green when I saute them.  Turmeric.  Deep breaths.  Radio.  Spring in my step.  Letting go.  Fingers.  Song.  Now.  Tomorrow.  Again.  School.  Snuggling.  My therapist.  My Surrendered Circle.  My high school memories.  Water.  Rain.  Curls.  Paper.  Denim.  Purple.  Cell phones.  Imperfection.  Cheesecake.  Bibliotherapy.  Release.  Highlighter pens.  Tear-by-hand Scotch tape.  Tabs.  Movies.  Surprises.  My middle schooler.  Drama.  Clocks.  Skype.  Copper.  Elbows.  Sun hats.  Ballpoint pens.  Scrapbooks.  My dogs. 

I told myself if it took me more than 10 seconds between things I love to think of the next thing, I would stop.  I got lost in the happy feeling in my core for at least that long. 

Of course, it took me longer to tag than to write.  Some words that have never been tagged anywhere were getting their 15 minutes of fame.  Until I found out that I was limited to 200 characters and deleted most of them.  Another post someday, I promise.  (I'm making a promise to the words, not to you, dear Reader)

And I thought of enough more things that I am in love with that I could do it all over again, but I love self-care, so...

I am pleased that I broke my blog-silence and can contentedly put myself to bed.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The ESC Key

I'm building up to the meaning of the title of my blog.  If life is one big problem, than that phrase is my answer.  But it's not that simple, of course, so I want to share bits and pieces of who I am, and when it starts to come into focus, I will have a ta-da post explaining it.  I'm not ready yet.  If you follow along, you can be part of the process.

Today I want to write about hitting the escape key.  I am not going to tell you my whole sob story and bring it to a dramatic conclusion.  I am so many stories, mosaic bits that you (and I) see at odd intervals and angles.  There is nothing horrible going on for me to complain about, but my life tends to be chaotic.  I am so used to spinning around in it that it can be hard for me to see what I do to keep things in chaos instead of inviting order.  Chaos is to be expected when you live with other people, when both adults in the household work full-time, when there are two kids, and now two dogs in the house! 

The dogs were just added last week, and some may judge our adding them to our terribly messy, disorganized, in many places dirty, house (CHAOS by FlyLady's definition) and busy lives.  They are choices, though, like everything.  They are bringing joy to our lives and I do know that it was a decision I did not make lightly, and I did not bring them into my life in order to distract myself from important work.  I pack my life too full and it is frequently a way to avoid some ugliness or fear or sadness.  But that is not the purpose of the dogs, so I feel good about it.

I have an eating disorder.  I have been making strides in recovery and feeling really, really good.  Very happy.  Many of the chaotic bits of life have been becoming orderly and I have been HAPPY and not using food as a substitute for love, to ease anxiety, or... any number of ways I have made food dysfunctionally useful beyond its actual value as fuel for the body.  I have dealt with many changes and worries in the past through week, in a variety of adaptive ways, and have been grateful to people in my life, especially my spouse, and proud of myself, and hopeful. 

In the past couple of days, however, I hit some road blocks.  I'm not saying what they were, but I wasn't taking good enough care of myself to access the sense that obstacles can be overcome.  Part of the stress was grief over letting go of the eating disorder itself, which I let propel me right back into it, bingeing and inviting old [unhelpful] messages from one part of me to the others to repeat themselves.  I left my fine spouse thinking I faulted him for my foul mood.  I thought again of needing to escape.  I hadn't needed the idea of "escape" in a long time.

The word "escape" reminded me of a message I intended to give myself.  The escape key on a keyboard has these 3 letters:  ESC.  I've discovered that I like to ply language into positive self-talk (to combat the negative messages that I seem to give myself too readily), and one of my favorite methods is using acronyms.  ESC to me needs to represent Exquisite Self Care.  The phrase came to me from SARK, and I have found it all over the Internet, now.  The word exquisite is essential because self-care has to be so much more than the basics.  Here is parenting blog that shows someone else's experience with ESC, and her resource (one I haven't tried yet).

I created a chain in my mind that is helping bring me back into balance.  When I thought, "I just want to escape," it triggered the phrase "hit the ESC key," which reminded me of Exquisite Self-Care.  So I looked back and saw that despite all the fantastic things happening in my life, my self-care has not been exquisite.  I will post more about what "exquisite" means to me, but for now, I just want to share the book that I got the phrase from. I'm tempted to try to say it all at once, but I am sticking to the mosaic approach.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Theme and Variations, Permutations, Combinations

Did you  ever feel like you were working equally hard to belong and to be unique?  To blend in and stand out?  To be normal and special?  To be understood and enigmatic?

I think that some of my friends would be surprised to know that I struggle with these aspects of defining myself.  Some may think I wholeheartedly embraced my quirks; maybe others think I'm not that different, what's the worry?  I have been writing and rewriting my own story for a long time.  About a year ago, my most desperate need was to be authentic, and felt like life wasn't letting me.  As I became braver about sharing, surrounded by many very kind people struggling to be true to themselves, too, I discovered that I can tell my stories over and over in different ways.  Changing the delivery does not makes the story (me) less true.  Withholding certain details from certain people does not erase my reality.  Choosing to perform in certain situations does not make me a fraud. 

Some of that anxiety is still there.  Sometimes, when I want to connect with my friends on Facebook, I stare at that faint question: "What's on your mind?"  I try to catch the thoughts as them go by.  I try to pick one that is clever or amusing, or Important.  The perfectionist editor kicks in again, and won't let me post unless I find the best status.  I get to thinking that if I pick one thought to share all the other thoughts will be jealous.  Did you bring enough candy for everybody?  Then, sometimes, I say, forget it, I won't update my status, I'll just pick a friend to catch up with.  And the same thing happens.  I read some of this and some of that, I consider chatting but can't decide which of the people I love can have my attention at the moment.  Next thing I know, it's bedtime, and I haven't shared a smidgeon of myself.  The lessons here are:
  1. The indecision, perfectionism, and identity questions come from the same place:  FEAR
  2. I can choose, and choose again, and choose once again, who I am and what I share, and how I make myself matter.  I choose LOVE, not FEAR.
  3. A vital choice, time and time again, is to LET GO.  There are so many things I've wanted to do, but thought I couldn't do, because it had already been done.  When I let go of the need to make things happen a certain way, I get to emerge as a creative variation of the universe.
  4. If you happen to be one of my Facebook friends, chat me up when you see I'm online because I really need someone to snap me out of it!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Letting it out

I have composed many blog posts in my head since my first one.  I'm sure any number of them would have been better than this one will turn out.  However, I am practicing a skill of DOING IT ANYWAY.  Potential is abundant; when I fail to act because reality doesn't match the potential I imagine, I am not coming from a place of abundance.  Even though my dreams and hopes and plans are exciting, inspiring, and even POSSIBLE, my "scarcity mentality" keeps me from getting much closer, holds me back from Abundance.  Hold me back from my own power and the richness of life.

A few years ago, after coloring Easter eggs with my kids at my mother's house, I got all worked up when it was time to throw out the pretty water.  This happens every year; I don't want the fun to stop, I feel like I want to go on coloring forever.  That year the water was in clear glass tumblers, and I stacked them up in a rainbow and looked at the light streaming through them from an outside window, and I took some photographs.  I whined a little about having to stop (remember, I'm the adult here-- my kids were off doing something else by now) and was agitated, and my mom, an artist, said, "Emily!  You need a creative outlet!"  I laughed and said, I do, I really do.

Every year I get kind of the same way about Easter eggs.  One year, I splashed the color into the snow.  Another year, I dyed the sidewalk.  This year, I rinsed my hair with the egg dye.  No one remarked that the color was different (I couldn't tell) or that I smelled like vinegar, but my hair rinsed magenta for the next three days.  So, it's a little quirky. 

I keep stopping and starting.  I have hundreds of ideas of "outlets" and I keep telling myself no.  I have ideas for going into business, by myself, or with my mother or a friend, and I keep dragging my feet when others do not embrace my crazy ideas.  This blog is my new outlet.  It is the beginning of a network of outlets.  I have spend years reading, absorbing, processing in therapy, twiddling my thumbs, and now I need to let it out!  Express myself!  I have many ways of expressing myself, but this is one that I need now.  Even if I go weeks between posts, even if I ramble, even if I write masterful prose that never moves from the space between my ears to cyberspace, I am letting it out.  I'll call it starting and starting.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

First Step

I have stayed up way too late messing with this, and I'm finally doing the best thing and writing a quick post to get started, and then putting myself to bed. It is an apt introduction to me, I suppose, for me to share that I spent nearly 2 hours fiddling with the design and haven't had anything to say yet. My perfectionism can be powerfully crippling. I live in a world of potential, and my inner editor did not want me to start my blog until I knew how everything would turn out. Until it was perfect.

So, I do have to laugh at myself, for being myself, I guess. I intend for this blog to be about redefining perfection, or at least the way I stumble along through reality, now that I am letting go of fears. The time it took to get to the first word of my first post (on the day I said, that's it! I've been waiting for years to write this blog! I'm starting tonight!) was a prime example of exactly why I'm challenging myself to do this. I am chipping away at my shell, poking my beak out, and embracing reality. I am filled with love and enthusiasm, and I can't wait any longer to share it with you, and with this vaguely vulnerable, public version of myself. And at this moment, I am loving myself enough gently tell myself to turn off the computer and to tuck myself into bed.