Snap Out Of It!

Snap out of it.

Ronny: I love you.
Loretta[slaps him twice] Snap out of it!

Moonstruck (1987)

Ah, if only it were that easy.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could be awoken from our lifelong reveries with a couple of quick slaps to the face and a command to wake up? I wonder how many of us would willingly stand in front of someone to experience this. I imagine stories  written and movies made about the lengths human beings would go to in order to avoid it. Some would be comic, but many tragic. I write this in the hope that someone reading might find it helpful and avoid their own tragicomedy, comedy, or tragedy.

My therapy session on Friday was one of the more effective hours I have spent talking to someone about my feelings. I stayed on topic talking about a variety of experiences, relationships, and feelings. Neither did I go off on tangents, need to get reeled in, nor leave feeling in as much emotional pain as when I went in. Even with good therapy, that happens sometimes.

Returning home, I continued reading and writing from chapters in the book by Charlotte Kasl called If The Buddha Got Stuck. In the Step III – Pay Attention exercises, I wrote about my core limiting beliefs, behaviors that reflect those beliefs, and the personal costs of these behaviors.  What I wrote about is not new to me. However, the process of writing them down again helped move me from an intensely painful internal realm into an analytical and objective realm. I saw more objectively how I get in my own way and, more importantly, how I could get out.

Just like that, I was out of my head. I was present in a way that I had not felt for some time, at minimum during the last couple of weeks. My mind was clear, thinking was easier, and I was more in touch with my feelings.

I was finally able to tell my husband that I’d been needing a getaway for some time, but had felt unable to share it with him. Guilt over wanting to spend money crushed me. I couldn’t speak it. But now, out from under the shame and guilt, I spoke. I also requested that we spend Saturday exploring in New York together. We journeyed to Governor’s Island via Brooklyn, and had dinner on Atlantic Avenue. On Sunday, I restrung a bracelet, started on a new necklace, unwound a too-short Kumihimo bracelet, and ordered a few needed supplies.

Today, I kept time wasting down, made the bed, fixed lunch and washed the dishes, washed a litter box, and then prepped to come outside to read more from the Buddha book, to write in my journal, and to write my blog post.

Whew! Talk about a productive three days.

This level of productivity occurred because the energy I had been using to ignore how badly I felt was released. Immediately, the things I had been wanting to do came up, and I did them, without any further thinking.

My therapist said that, when I catch my thinking going down a familiar, negative path, I can try to be aware of it happening in order that I may choose another path. I’ve done this acknowledging and choosing before, so I know that it will happen again. Unfortunately, I can’t always keep the best lessons I have learned in mind. I forget them, and, in doing so, have to learn them all over again. One of these days, I hope that they stick.

Namaste.

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Struggling

Lately, I have been struggling to maintain a positive disposition. I have gone into a deep funk. Today, I felt sad for no reason. I think the fear of getting two fillings redone tomorrow overwhelms me.

Since it was Sunday, I decided to clean my desk and pile the crap into my inbox in order to make the rest of my week more productive. That helped for a while. Editing my short story brought me hours of peace. This evening, I shared the story with my writing critique group for my 6/14 workshop. So I’m not exactly holing up in bed and pulling up the covers.

Morning writing is still on hold. Maybe I will try again on Tuesday. This makes the second post in a few days, also a positive sign.

I wish I knew how depressed artists manage to be productive. Maybe they aren’t. Maybe they drink and drug their way through it because it’s unbearable any other way.

I feel like an engine stuttering to come to life after a deep freeze. Writing here kind of keeps me accountable. I no longer feel the need to write every day here. I justified it by saying I was doing morning writing daily, but now that’s not happening, either.

On Friday, I went to see a new therapist trained in EMDR (eye movement densensitization and reprocessing). I am hoping that we can work towards excavating the remaining negative experiences and traumas that are embedded in my psyche. I want to move forward and meet my dreams as they arise, hand in hand on the road ahead.

I’m Still Here

Hello, readers! I am back to assure you that I have not abandoned my blog. Yes, it’s been a week. A really really really really really rough week. I’m at an ebb in my journey through writing and creativity, and I have been at a peak of disorganization and illness.

I decided to halt my meanderings through The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. Frankly, I started falter after week 3. By week 8, I began to repeat weeks. When I “redid” week 10, I did not look at the book. I said I would read through the remaining chapters, but I haven’t.

Is that a failure? In some ways, yes. Part of the issue is that I find it time consuming and difficult to think of an artist date every week. Julia recommends that you push your creative boundaries, but I’m not sure I’m at that level. I’ve even lost the motivation to write morning pages.

On the plus side, I have an appointment with a social worker who uses EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) as part of her treatment work. I worked with a social worker for 2.5 years in the Boston area who used EMDR, and I found it effective. I only stopped after moving to the NYC area in September.

I am in the place where I have always gotten stuck, although I managed to stay motivated for an amazing three months. That may not sound like much. When you are the type of person who’s enthusiasm almost never lasts a week, this is amazing.

Either way, I want to dig in the earth of my primal system and memories and excavate all the terrors and monsters that continue to haunt my life.

I seek nothing less than to open my core up to the world. I seek fearlessness.

From May 31 to June 9, I am participating in the Hay House World Summit 2014 where I will have access to 100 audio lessons, worksheets, movies, and videos, as well as making a donation, all for $7.

As a huge fan of The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer, I bought and downloaded two mp3s of the author’s insights on the book, approximately 2 hours in length altogether.

I seek radical, life-changing transformation in a positive direction where I am able to consistently work towards my goals.

Universe, gimme all ya got. I stand ready to receive your guidance.

Namaste.

I Heart Letter Writing

Earlier today, I assisted a friend in writing a letter to a tenant who has been having some difficulty with cleanliness. I offered to start writing it, which I did. About 30 minutes later, I received a letter they wrote but did not send. Since it contained much good information, I offered to assist in paring it down.

I remembered how much I love letter writing. I especially love writing clear, concisely worded letters to tenants have an issue following some term of their lease. I think I missed my calling as a letter writer in a legal office. I am not sure I would run to do that now. I have to pick one damn path and follow that. Since I have already decided my path for this year, I will stay put instead of letting my ENFP/ADD/OOhshiny! disorder lead me astray once again. 

One aspect of this letter writing that I enjoyed so much was the ability to succinctly point to their lease terms and then, in a professional and non-accusatory manner, put them in their place. When I owned a three family, I was trained by a pseudo-legal real estate agent whose entire family, including extended famiily, had been in real estate, went to law school and/or were lawyers, and owned extensive property in the Greater Boston area.

My real estate/legal friend helped me pen many a “Let me break it down for you” letter and gave me extensive schooling on how to handle crazy, erratic tenants. I would have been worse off than the anxious mess I was at that time. The satisfaction and peace of mind I obtained from writing concise, well-documented letters that not even a lawyer could fault were essentially tools for me at the time. The last time I wrote such a letter was at least 13 years ago. 

Good talents never get old, especially if you continue using them in similar ways. There’s something about needing to document extensive, complicated computer problems to a user that gave me a similar experience when I worked in IT. Unfortunately, dealing with computers and the negative people I found that seemed to flock to IT departments sadly outweighed benefits I received from work well done.

Although I do love letter writing such as this, I have a hunch that working in a legal department might very well be worse for me than working in either Information Technology or Real Estate. I continue to be puzzled at the way I am drawn to some things which, in their best contexts, are actually the worst contexts for me to work in. I think it is a remnant from when I made decisions on what was logical and not what I desired to do. 

I am glad those days are over, but I still love letter writing. I wonder if I can work letter writing into my life in a creative way. Writing letter campaigns for causes I am interested in does not fill this bill. Now that I think further about it, I realize that my love with real estate/legal letter writing might be because it lets me take ample time to craft what I want to say in the most positive and/or professional way. 

Does that mean I love to craft an image of myself to the outside world? Does it allow me to impose a kind of order and control over a particular situation? I think it allows me to keep refining what I want to say until I have an impenetrable argument. Does that mean I am looking to be right? Am I looking for a method to prop my confidence up as a defense against another’s argumentative blow? 

As I wrote the above questions, I am getting a kind of inside look at my preferences. This is kind of like open blog therapy. I think that it allows me to do all those things, which is why I felt such a strong pull to edit my friends letter when I saw it. If I can’t do all those things for myself, then the least I can do is help my friend. At least, that’s the excuse my brain came up with. 

Unfortunately, I did it at the expense of my writing. I am writing way too late in the day for my preferences. That is because I failed to make room for writing my morning pages. Instead, they became my “writing at 10:09PM” pages and this became my 11:09PM blog post. I am trying to live and learn. What I cannot do is allow myself to get totally blown off my path, which is what almost happened when one tiny decision to put off my morning pages happened. 

Writing daily has been such a boon to my personal sense of happiness and peace. Not writing every day would have the same affect on me as having “just one hit” would have on a drug addict; it would throw me back into a negative hell-space of life wherein I have lost my way and my peace of mind. It’s simply not worth it. 

Morning Pages as Therapy

As I enter my fourth week in following The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, writing for 30 minutes every day (morning pages) has helped me grow tremendously. I have been inspired to try new things, revived dormant interests, and explored what I am thinking, doing, feeling, and why. The wonderful thing about morning pages is that lessons you learn elsewhere get further explored and/or stimulated in the morning pages.

Recently, I borrowed Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers, PhD., from my local library. I read the first chapter, and wanted to immediately reread it again. Last night, I put the book by my bedside and reread chapter 1. Its essential message is that all our fears boil down to the fear that we can’t handle it. The solution is to use the tools in the book to help us retrain our thoughts into realizing that, yes, we can handle it, whatever it may be.

I noted several times yesterday that I seemed to be having a concentrated feeling of anxiety in my chest. The feelings were not as strong as a panic attack, but there they were. Whereas I used to have chronic anxiety, I have been feeling relatively confident and peaceful since I began following the The Artist’s Way and building a new routine around building my writing career.

During my morning meditation, my thoughts kept going towards thoughts and movie scenes that produced anxiety and anger in me. In the movie The Blindside, the adoptive mother goes to look for Michael in his old, gang-ridden neighborhood. In a confrontation with gang members, she tells the gang that she carries a Saturday Night Special and that it works every other day of the week, too.

That scene evokes an I’m-ready-to-fight and Go get ’em! feelings in my chest and stomach. I kept releasing the thoughts, but realized that the thoughts invading my meditation needed to be explored. Since Susan Jeffers book was on my mind, I decided to explore how the basis of my fears might be related to the I can’t handle it lesson that Jeffers says we all learned.

By asking Where have I felt this anxiety before?, I realized that the anxiety is one I have had all my life: that I won’t be good enough (at something) fast enough. Even when I worked harder, the anxiety kept me pushing me forward saying, That’s still not good enough. I remembered how the child Me used to look up to adults, especially my mother and father, to handle things. When they couldn’t or didn’t, I felt helpless. When I faced my own challenges, I was terrified and felt like I couldn’t handle it. Subconsciously, I think that I kept expecting adults to show me how. This is just the nature of being a child who is dependent upon others.

I woke up to the fact that I have been keeping to this pattern ever since. Whatever I observed that my family didn’t, wouldn’t, couldn’t, shouldn’t do, I didn’t, couldn’t, wouldn’t, and shouldn’t do, either. I asked myself, “What other areas in my life have I modeled on my family instead of doing what I honestly should have been doing all along?” Relationships? Sex? Money? I will have to examine each area of my life to recover my own sense of what it is that I want and need to get done.

Every time I ask myself what I should be doing, I get the same answer: Look and listen for the answers inside myself. As Jeffers points out, the truth is that I can handle it. I can only accept what happens to me and what I choose to do because it is the way I want to live. Life is lovely because it is all I will ever really have as I experience my life in this body until my end. So many wonderful things are here, and I am ready to experience them all.