July 9th – Loving What Arises

Dear me,

It’s funny that I’ve been pondering how people going through changes in their lives and investigating different spiritual theories and methods of self help will refer to “doing the work”. That’s always it – “I’ve been doing the work on myself and…blah blah blah..” Of course I hear “the work” and think it all sounds like such drudgery! I picture someone hunched over a desk furiously reading or writing or crunching numbers with the tip of their tongue sticking out and a deep furrow on their brow. “Gotta do The Work!”

But, I do get it – The Work is practicing new thought habits. Listening to spiritual teachers, writing in a journal, meditating – all part of The Work. Affirmations, mantras, mirror work, writing confessional letters, being mindful of your physical reactions to things = The Work.

Today I totally got it. There’s been a video going around on facebook with a snarky version of a guided meditation. Clearly made in response to the exploding trend of mindfulness guided meditations like I use – this one is called “Fuck that!” It’s just a few minutes long and it is awesome. There’s the soothing music, the typical intro telling you to close your eyes and breathe and slow down your thoughts, but then it takes a twist to “Fuck that!”

Meanwhile after listening to a Matt Kahn audio earlier in the week I had his line “Love what arises.” floating through my head. It had stuck in there for some reason and as we know that usually means it was because I needed to hear it and REALLY absorb it.

So today I did a little ping pong rally between “Fuck that!” and “Love what arises”. I started off the day not realizing I was a tad on edge for no particular reason at all. But as each truly minor irritant popped up, I could feel my jaw clenching and there was a lot of “Fuck that!” going on in my head. Which sounds cathartic, but it’s really not helpful nor does it make me a pleasant person. So I would turn towards the irritant and remind myself to “love what arises” and just dealt with them one by one and did my best job faking a smile either on my face or in my head/heart as I wiped each one away. Naturally the universe (which has an amazing sense of humor) kept on throwing more at me. Nothing big mind you – certainly nothing emotionally devastating or in any way disastrous for anyone. Just utter bullshit (as the Fuck that meditation would say!)

By lunchtime it was getting easier to just go straight to loving what arose without having to clench my teeth and then later still I was able to watch another Matt Kahn video that was posted in the GGID group. It was one I had not yet listened to and it had so so many truly funny sections that I was laughing out loud (and relaxing) in no time. At the end of the work day I went to the gym since it was my planned stationary bike night. I was totally changed into my workout clothes when I realized – no workout shoes! Took me a minute to ponder – just go back to the car and go home since I was already changed and just run at home? Nah – I knew I would bail out after sitting in traffic. No, I needed to stay. But now there were people in the women’s room in there changing and there I was standing in my sock feet. Hmmmm…

“Fuck that! I’m loving what has arisen and cycling in my sock feet!”

And I marched right into the gym and plopped myself onto the recumbent bike and pedaled for 45 minutes at level 5 covering 10.5 miles! Then I marched right back out and got my clothes from the locker and continued walking in my socks past the office buildings and into the garage to my car and drove him. Shoes? I don’t need no fucking shoes?!

LOL – what a day. On the ride home in traffic I played the Fuck That meditation again because it seemed like the perfect punctuation mark to end the day. And it was.

And that is called Doing The Work which keeps me sane and heart centered and feeling joy. Because yes, my heart sometimes needs to let out a Fuck That! before it can love what arises :)

Be kind, be loving, just be.

July 3

Dear me, 

Well, speaking of triggers (weren’t we talking about those recently?) – I sure was hit by a couple this past week. One that I let completely take over me and one that I didn’t, but felt it just as intensely. 

I also had a few times when I caught myself anticipating a negative conversation and I was wrong each time. 

In other words, my Inner Bitch was alive and well in my head. I shouldn’t be surprised given how I’ve been juggling so many people and their need for my support. Plus, I haven’t been as diligent about meditating or writing in here and new habits need constant nurturing.

Why am I so defensive when someone asks me certain questions? I felt challenged by them instantly despite the intent not being there at all. It was tough though – this wasn’t an email that I could read and let sit for a bit to work through any issues before responding. It was what felt like a barrage of text messages that I felt I should answer instantly. Ugh. I realize that I feel doubts about myself more than I like to admit and if I feel any hint that somone else can see through that facade of capability, then I react with anger. 

I have to remember the note to myself on my desk at work and apply it always “face value” which is a reminder to me not to put my own thoughts behind other people’s words to me. Take them at face value. Without attachment or ego. If anything, apply love to the meaning behing the questions in all cases. Even if you are wrong, you will never really know because you will have answered them with love and even IF the conversation didn’t start out that way, your response will bring it there.

Anther trigger was me imagining that what I took as a chastising post was a) aimed at me and was b) a chastising post. Again, I need to stop assuming negtive motives. Mostly though, I need to stop jumping to the conclusion that they are aimed at ME when they are addressed to a group. And then, even IF I am “guilty” well then, so what? My fear of disappointing people raises its head, that’s what. I don’t want to be “talked to” or “corrected” or really have anyone telling me what to do. I immediately feel mortified as it reinforces (again), my own self doubts. Then I get defensive thinking maybe my way IS the better way and who are you to boss me around?! Then finally I remembered to look at the post through a lens of love and ahhh..ok….”like” and move on. Lordy!

I might also want to remind myself to “breathe” along with the “face value” mantra.

Mostly though, I need to remember one word always: LOVE.

Be kind, be loving, just be.

July 1st – Focus, focus, focus.

Dear me,

Pillars for the GGID group for July.

Overall theme as a result of analyzing June = FOCUS

Finances – place my focus on taking time to analyze the best option for refinancing the high interest 2nd. Stay connected to the daily needs of family and plan out the best use of this month without any 1st mortgage payment. Create the detailed plan as follows 1) Project Aug-Dec budget with new mortgage payment amounts, 2) Calculate tax impacts for 2015 and address them either with retirement withholding or increasing savings depending on size of impact 3) Ensure all small debt (sears, macys, care credit, AT&T phones) are paid off in 2015. 4) map out payoff of TIAA loans 5) Setup monthly transfers to parents according to all other budget needs.

Intimacy – Cement the newly developed habit of listening, reducing the urge to interrupt and just generally relaxing and connecting with anyone and everyone around me. Continue reaching out when I feel any anxiety or frustration for help and support. Support remote friends, attend neighborhood yoga class and events, one lunch date planned, make at least one more in July. Support Chelsea and her mom with regular communication, invitations for dinner/hanging out. Listen to and support Nick when he calls and with visits. Be present and focused on friends old and new in Phoenix during Netroots nation. Soak up remaining time with Alex.

Mindset – I am bringing this back because it IS the main pillar to use to center on focus and maintaining the progress made towards my Big Scary of loving ME and being the best friend I can be. I had that nice moment when I saw/felt the change in my internal dialogue in June and I want to build on that. I will EITHER meditate OR write in my journal every day. I know it is not realistic to commit to both since I do anticipate lots of interactive time with people between the family/friend needs and the travel.

June 30th – An Assessment

Dear me,

I an noticing now that June has come to a close that by giving myself a break on *daily* writing and meditating, I have lost some ability to focus completely on tasks that I had re-developed the last few months. I’ve done quite well staying connected when I am in a conversation with someone, but on daily tasks either at work or at home I have taken some steps backwards.

It’s tough though – I stepped back from prioritizing those things because Alex is home and the time I might normally have spent doing those (after dinner) is time when we hang out. By the time I do shut down for bed, I have no mental energy left.

OTOH, I really need to stay connected to ME so some different juggling needs to happen in July. I’m probably going to have to commit to an either/or scenario.

That aside though, my goals in regards to finances, fitness and intimacy were met very nicely. And that’s DESPITE some continuing external challenges such as…as soon as my mom went home from the rehab center….my oldest ended up in jail due to a probation violation. That situation will continue all through July – his next court date and likely release is Aug 4.

Even though I feel a maternal pull to fund his commissary account there at a certain level, I need to balance that with my own needs and, of course, my parent’s who were in line first! Then there is the emotional need to support him when he calls and ensure he maintains his own mental strength and focus and the time taken to go visit him once a week.

So yes, focus…mindfulness…keeping the connection to my heart and inner voice strong. I will need that to be uppermost in my daily life in July.

I am very happy with the whole body fitness focus and will continue that though perhaps with more running if possible. Regular yoga and boot camp showed results – I have been making progress in my ability to do the exercises with..not EASE so much as not as much agony :) I’m less sore the next day and the biggest test – packing and moving Nick’s bedroom – was completed with NO injury and also NO aches or pains in the days after.

Intimacy was a great success! If anything that’s WHERE all my focus went, especially in support of Chelsea and her mom and then developing the friendship with K that resulted in arrangements for her to move into the newly vacant room. I kept my commitment to call my widowed friend in Fla and had a get together with one local friend and have arrangements for another this weekend. I even noticed an example of the quieting of my Inner Critic who would typically have unleashed some jealousy/envy and self loathing in past months, but didn’t raise a peep this month. I was able to default view something through a lens of love and support instead and THAT felt really good.

I know that what I need for the coming weeks is to continue to be kind, loving and gentle towards myself first and then I can be the same towards those around me.

Be kind, be loving, just be.

June 26th – #LoveWins

Dear me,

It seems odd to say this in a journal, but since I am marking the essence of ME in here, it is critical to talk of my deep interest in politics and the specific social movements that are important to me.

I am a left leaning progressive. As such, the democratic party most closely matches the things I believe in. So today was HUGE. HUGE. I’ve been a vocal supporter of Marriage Equality since I was aware of what that meant. I’ve had debates and outright fights over this. But I watched with growing hope as people came around. So today’s sweeping Supreme Court ruling granting equal marriage rights in every state in the nation was just stunning to me.

That I am writing this with a rainbow striped banner showing at the top of the WordPress home page makes me smile.

That the White House tonight is bathed in rainbow colored lights makes me proud.

Now, I am an unabashed fan of this President. After all, I labeled him one of the people who I most admire. Today, he somehow grew that admiration even more. Of course he had SO MUCH to do with everything that’s unfolded. But beyond the Health Care Law that was pretty much validated – again – by SCOTUS yesterday. Beyond the Marriage Equality ruling and the beautiful speech he gave in the Rose Garden in marking it. Beyond all of that, today he again became the most amazing Consoler in Chief. We look to our President to lead us when times are rocky. Sadly, during his two terms there have been ENTIRELY TOO MANY damn mass shootings. He did his best to heal us after each one. He spoke at the funerals of those lost in Arizona. The beautiful children in Connecticut. And then, today, he eulogized Rev. Pickeny who was killed by a white supremacist racist domestic terrorist. And in that eulogy, he was everything that the community needed. He was the Reverend Barack Obama today. I was never so proud of, or moved by a President.

And the reason that it was so wonderful is because you could feel it. You could feel the love. His day had started by marking the sanctioning of love in all forms. And it ended with him speaking of the love…and grace…displayed by the people who lost their lives and by their families and by the city of Charleston afterwards.

I have been spending these recent months learning how to love me. It’s been a fascinating journey. There are still times when my Inner Mean Girl tries to regain control. But in the end…love wins. Love ALWAYS wins. It is the only way to be.

Love yourself. Love your family. Love your friends. Love your neighbors. Love your co-workers. Love the strangers that you see. Love, and let love.

Be kind, be loving, just be.

June 23rd – Girl On Fire

Dear me,

It’s funny to me looking back on when I started writing to you and how I was going to try to mark the days in certain categories.

It’s also funny to me how my phone background is still the same Girl on Fire image that our GGID coach first sent to me in January. I rarely do that. My phone background usually changes with the seasons and my mood. But whenever I have paid attention to it and maybe thought I should switch it out, I think “No! This is a symbol of my commitment to ME” and I let it ride.

Yesterday I had a true GoF day. The way I describe it is a feeling of being totally operating on the most heart centered ME that I can be. I went with my mom to what will likely be her final follow up doctor visit so that she could get her wrist cast off and get it x-rayed. Everything has healed perfectly. However, she needs me there to be her advocate because she comes from a generation that doesn’t question or demand much from doctors. So I have to totally alert and listening to both what she REALLY needs and what the doctor says. Then I had to handle talking to the public defender assigned to my son. I needed to totally focus on my conversation with him and ask the questions needed on behalf of everyone involved. Then I met my son’s girlfriend back at my house and filled her in on everything and we started packing up his room. Just then, he called so we both talked to him and again – I really had to pay attention to his tone of voice and how he was mentally to determine what to tell him to help him get through another day.

This kind of interpersonal effort would have been just that – EFFORT – and I would have felt tired/cranky/drained after any one of those things in the past. But yesterday I felt *energized* and engaged. In the evening we had a group coaching call and I would typically have stayed in the background or just maybe given surface level only responses, but I just jumped in with both feet and shared everything I was feeling about the events of the past few weeks.

There were not inner critic voices, no hesitations or resistance to anyone and what was needed.

Going through an entire day like that without once questioning my decisions or criticizing myself for something I said or didn’t say? Feeling like I was true to my own heart and also was heart centered in the support I gave to others? For an entire day?!

THAT is Girl of Fire! And it was my Big Scary being accomplished – for one day at least. If I can consistently believe in myself to that extent. Love and trust myself like that EVERY day, then my Big Scary will be totally achieved.

And now that I have seen it in operation, well, I got this!

June 19th – No Choice

Dear me,

So last night I talked with Marcus more seriously about the prospect of letting K come stay at my house. He expressed his typical objections which I do appreciate. He’s just looking out for me. But he’s much more money focused so it takes a bit for him to comprehend doing something that doesn’t bring a monetary reward (and he knows that I am working on my abundance). Plus, he is wary of people in general. That’s fine. Thankfully though, he is not an immovable force and he respects that I will do what I know I need to do and he trusts me. He will eventually come around to it. This is, after all, the guy who was trying to convince me to let a very well known deadbeat guy (former friend of my older son) crash in my house in return for labor. He has a heart and does try to help people. I’ve just upgraded that potential situation to allow a very reputable person crash at my house in exchange for labor.

Anyhow, short journal as I am off tonight to visit with my son.

Listened to a recording on the way home from work yesterday – the gist of which was “When you immerse yourself into your heart – then there are no more choices. Your heart decides. Just follow it. Life is so much simpler that way!”

So true :)

Be kind, be loving, just be.