Back in the Saddle Again

Hello, friends!

I sure have fallen off of the blogging wagon. This introvert has been introverting and extroverting in so many ways that writing, well, took a lesser priority. A beloved word prompt site closed their virtual doors, and that also factored into my having drifted onto a different course.

But I miss this. So here I am. Back in the saddle again. Which reminds me…

When I was 15, my friends and I would use our fake id’s and go to this club called Cowboy in Houston, Texas. We went to happy hour, which was $2 frozen margaritas from 4- 5 PM.

I look back at us, and I marvel. The gall. I mean, we were breaking the law. Lying to our parents. Putting ourselves into adult company when we were (obviously) not mature enough to be there.

But boy, did we think we were all that and a bag of chips! We would style our big 80’s hair, dress like what we thought was grownup, and then drink as much as we could. The goal was to talk to guys, of course. We had little routines we followed – conversations we would fall into when we thought someone was overhearing or had come over to talk to us. Things we said in hopes of coming across as college-aged young women.

I wonder now – did we fool anybody? I actually ended up dating a few different men that I met when out and about. Cowboy wasn’t the only bar we frequented. Yikes. What was up with that?

We had a ball at the time. (I think.) It was fun being together. Breaking the rules. High school was such a maelstrom of social pressure. It was great to seek another environment in which to “rule.” Especially since we so totally did not rule in our high school peer group.

At the end of every happy hour, they played “Back in the Saddle Again” by Gene Audry.

Back in the Saddle Again

To this day, when I hear it I am transported back to “the day” when life was happy hours and foolish fun. The time before the happy hours became a problem.

And while I know that even then, I was trying to fill a hole inside with something outside of me that would never do the job, I do remember those days with fondness. We had a naivety that I miss. A foolish gumption. A blissful ignorance.

I could use a bit of that gumption now. That naive action-taking without a care for consequences that I did not believe really applied to me. Of course, it all did eventually catch up to me, as all such things do.

But I do feel a fondness for the me that I was then. And that song always makes me smile.

#Cowboy #youthfulescapades #reminiscing

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The Pleasure Principle

As can happen, a second word has found it’s way to me for the year.

I have been happily living through my deeply-felt word for 2019, which is CORE. (You can read about my Word for the Year practice here and my word for the year here.) Didn’t think or know anything was missing. I was perfectly content with CORE. CORE is a big ask! A truly great word for the year. I was content.

Until I was given an exercise by someone I am working with (a Desire Catalyst!) and I realized that yet another word had found it’s way into my life and demanded my attention. And that word is PLEASURE.

I was given a very simple task: make a list of ten things that create a experience of pleasure for me.

Let’s look at the definition of PLEASURE, according to the Oxford Dictionary:

definition: a feeling of happy satisfaction and enjoyment:
“she smiled with pleasure at being praised”
synonyms:
happiness, delight, joy, gladness, rapture, glee, satisfaction, gratification, fulfillment, contentment, contentedness, enjoyment, amusement, delectation
adjective 1. used or intended for entertainment rather than business:
“pleasure boats”
verb 1. give sexual enjoyment or satisfaction to:
“tell me what will pleasure you”

I totally get the definition. Yes, I know what that means. Sounds great!

Then I get to the synonyms. Whoa. Rapture? Glee? Gratification? Delectation?

Other than a few amazing culinary experiences and some lovely sexual activity that I have known on occasion, where I am finding that kind of PLEASURE in my life? In my day, even? And by finding I mean, where I am taking the time out of my day to seek experiences that are truly pleasurable? Uh oh.

Then I get to its use as an adjective. There’s a bit of a hint. How much do I allow myself to do out of a day that is not in some way associated with business. The business of acting. The business of the business of acting. The business of living. Of being. A lot of business and busi-ness in my life. 

Then I get to PLEASURE as a verb. Now, that is a whole other post for another day. Let’s just say, I am usually “too busy.” Or it becomes the business of being intimate. I mean, you can approach anything in a business-like way. Even sex. “Gotta fit it in.”  Not, I am going to take this hour and just play for pleasure. Nope, just another thing on my list of things to get done.

So what is up with that, I asked myself.

The good news is that I had no trouble creating a list.

That came pretty easy. Great! I have no trouble identifying things that give me pleasure.

The problem is that I have trouble giving myself the time and permission to actually let myself have or do them.

I had my list, and I looked at it, and realized that I rarely allowed myself the time to enjoy or do any of the things on my list. (And some of them were as simple as enjoying a glass of water!)

It turns out that I am fairly anorexic in the pleasure arena. I staunchly deprive myself of things that bring me pleasure. What does this mean exactly?

This Pleasure Practice idea seemed so simple.

Now I am realizing that I have a lot of unraveling to do. And simple does not always mean easy.

What comes up when I begin to give myself the time and space to choose one or two and commit to doing them for two weeks?

I was so overwhelmed at the thought of it! My Protestant forebears reeled back in rebuke. My Puritan roots bristled with disgust. A lifetime (and beyond) of judgement and condemnation rushed through my psyche, channelling all those familial, cultural, historical and societal influences that my ancestors lived through and that I was born into and surrounded by throughout childhood. Words flew across my mind like dark bats hitting the sides of a cave: glutton, whore, lazy, lowlife, no-gooder, disgusting, perverted.

You see, I come from people who believe that self-discipline and suffering are badges of moral merit. To live for pleasure — well, that would mean to be wasteful. My heart craved pleasure, but my cellular memory feared it.

So my Desire Catalyst suggested to just start with one thing on my list: I was to let myself enjoy one glass of water at 1 PM each day.

At the mere suggestion, something in me breaks, some dam inside that I had no idea was there, the dam holding back a thirst for pleasurable things. I cry a deep little cry as the realization follows that I have been living decades denying myself small simple pleasures in my quest for great things.

And then something else breaks through…and I know.

I have found my second word for the year. Or it has found me.

So here I go. 2019, the year of CORE and of PLEASURE. Just typing that makes butterflies in my belly. Who am I to want to have more PLEASURE in my life? I speak gently, but firmly to whomever asked that question within me: I am the person who is going to break this pattern of belief. I am the one who is going to blaze a new trail for all that came behind me. I am the one who is going to seek PLEASURE from my CORE.

I cannot wait to see where these two lead me.

#core #pleasure #wordfor20019

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Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown(-through?)

Fifteen months ago, I began a deep letting go process.

I was very sick, suffering from an unexplained exhaustion that kept me housebound for much of the summer.

Coincidentally, for a year my husband and I had been waiting for a larger apartment in our building to become available. We were happy where we were. We just wanted another bedroom and a larger kitchen.

In the beginning of this “sick summer,” one of these larger apartments became available. It was being sold unlisted, by the owner, who would not price it. “What will you pay for it?” he asked.

And so I began to look around, to see what was in the neighborhood that was comparable, to get an educated idea of the value of the apartment.

And along the way, I began to see possibilities that I had never even let myself imagine for us.

I saw apartments, alright. And some not with just an additional room and larger kitchen.

I saw some with balconies and a gorgeous view of the river! With a seasonal pool!

What?!

For us?

Could we?

Who were we to have such niceness?

It was a real stretch for my husband and I to imagine buying such an apartment.

The move we had been considering before this exploration of what was out there in our ‘hood would have been almost lateral. If we’d gotten that apartment in our building, we’d have basically recreated the apartment we have had these 8 years since marrying. I am pretty sure we’d literally have just brought over everything, just changed the kitchen and added a room.

We’ve both loved the home we made together. Somehow, his furniture and the furniture we brought up from my parents’ houses in Texas after my Dad died three months before our marriage all blended into an eclectic, beautiful style.

We have loved our home.

But I now realize that even before the summer, I had been working towards this letting go, this deep clean, this moving on, this full-on “now” presence in my own adult life.

In January I did a sweep of all my things and let go of a great deal. Yes, I applied as much of the Konmari technique as I could, and it was amazing, and freeing. I even finally went into stuff in storage and let it all go…stuff from my parents’ house I had not been able to deal with or use that had sat there since 2010.

I thought, great! I did it! My therapist and I applauded my actions.

And yet. I was still surrounded by furniture and other things that were my parents’, my mother’s, my grandmother’s. And I could feel the heaviness of it.

And so somehow, unconsciously, this drive to move took over. We daringly made an offer on the apartment with the view. It was accepted.

Uh oh.

This was not a lateral move. It was a stretch up. Way up.

We hired an interior designer to help. What?! Who am I?

(I call him the wedding coordinator I did not let myself have. Brilliant call.)

And I made a Big Decision: We. Would. Get. All. New. Furniture.

All my parents’ stuff? Letting it go! But how?! Some stuff can go to the Salvation Army, but my parents’ stuff?? Most of our furniture I couldn’t bear to give to strangers.

In December, impulsively, my cousin, who loved my parents and has a wonderful wife and two little kids, happened to take a trip up here from Texas for a weekend. I asked if they’d mind looking at our stuff to see if they might want anything down the road.

Miraculously, they agreed to take most of it. They were thrilled! (I was elated!)

Other friends who just happened to be buying new, larger homes who were in need and interested are taking the rest.

It makes me so happy for it to go to people who will use and love it. To not have it sit in storage, unused.

I have kept just one item. An upholstered chair that had been my great grandmother’s, that I had climbed up into as a toddler in my grandma’s house. A chair that my mother had kept. A chair that I have always loved.

We have had it reupholstered and the wood frame repainted. It had to be basically remade. (My husband still thinks it a bit crazy of me.)

I cannot wait to see it with the beautiful new pieces that we chosen for our new home. It gives me a deep joy, and I feel love around it.

We are on the precipice of actually moving in now. We closed on the apartment one year ago. Began renovating it in January.

Most of the process has been relatively smooth: the getting financing, board approval in the new building. The renovation. The decisions. The shopping. The decorating.

Putting our current apartment on the market. Going into contract.

Our current apartment closes next week.

And so here I am, packing and sorting. The move is actualizing now. What has been theory up until now is happening.

I have let go of most things. The rugs/furniture are all spoken for. Most doodads have been given away.

But some I just could not part with yet. Things of my mothers that were in a china cabinet that will now go to my cousin’s.

I have these things in a few small boxes in storage. They won’t be in the new place. I really want to let them go. I just find it so hard to give them to a thrift store. But I am working towards it.

My mother’s china, my cousin wants. Yay! But these other things…

I now realize some part of me is afraid I will wish for them someday. When I am old and alone, won’t I want to be surrounded by proof I lived and was loved?

And deeper yet: if I let these things go, does it make me a bad daughter? Does it mean I loved my parents less?

Am I a bad person if I do not keep the little blue bird figurines my mother collected?

Will she feel forgotten or unappreciated if I just let them go?

Who am afraid it will hurt?

These are difficult questions. There is reconciling to do, which doesn’t happen overnight.

Maybe Konmari can do it swiftly, the way she does.

I am doing the Curry Technique for this final bit. I am in a life/shifting, deep dive excavation of my very soul. I have been living this process that has been 18 months in the making to get here now, on the verge of really letting go of all this physical evidence of my parents and brother, now dead some years.

Of really moving on from these years of grieving. These years of finding a new paradigm. Of finding a new footing in this world without three very key people in it.

It has gotten quite challenging here at the end. We’ve had some new apartment issues. The new wood floor has buckled in places. The central AC’s leaked.

What does it mean? What is it reflecting about our process? The floor is literally the very foundation of our home. The leak? Is it literal tears?

These issues at this point have felt overwhelming. Like the last 6 miles of a marathon.

(I have had fantasies of selling the apartment and all the new stuff in it as is and living out of one suitcase somewhere. Yesterday I had to force myself to drive home. Everything in me wanted to drive away and never return. Seriously.)

Yet here I am. Putting one foot in front of the other. Showing up. Letting go daily.

I am continuing to walk to the edge of this precipice.

Here I am. On the verge.

And soon, in just days, I will leap.

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The Move

It looked great on the surface of it.

A new apartment, with a gorgeous view. I mean, who wouldn’t say yes to that?

I did. I was the instigator of this move. I did the apartment searching. The financing work.

And so here we are. A year after purchasing, and months of renovations. Renovations that we planned to take at most 6 months that are now at 8.

And our current apartment is in contract. Our buyers were just approved to move in by the board of the co-op.

We will be getting dates for closing any day now, and then we will move into our beautiful new apartment with its dream view.

All good, right?

And yet.

I. AM. NOT. PACKING. YET.

(Much to my husband’s consternation and confusion.)

I mean, I have been the instigator of all this upheaval.

I decided to totally redecorate and choose new furniture for the new apartment. To find new homes for the furniture that we have loved the past 8 years together in this first home we are now in and about to leave.

This was major, because most of the furniture came from my deceased parents’ home. It was oddly perfect timing, my father passing away after my mother and 3 months before our wedding. I have been surrounded these 8 years in our home by furniture that comforted me, held me…gave me a nest, truly.

And yet, here I am, ready to let it all go. My cousins are taking the pieces I would never be able to just give away to anybody. Close friends with kids are taking other pieces, which feels so right and good. Other people my husband knows are inheriting some things, which they need, want and are thrilled about, and that makes me happy.

The new furniture has been bought, and I love it.

I visit our new home and am stunned at how lovely it is going to be.

And yet.

We are literally half out of our current place. My husband is packing most of what is left. Things are in boxes or are already gone. We are half in and half out. Limbo.

What. Is. Going. On. With. Me. And. This. Resistance.

I find myself wanting to stay in this limbo land. I feel as if I could hover here with one foot in and one foot out forever.

I am terrified. So scared. To move on. To enter fully into my truly adult life, beyond the losses that have so colored the last eleven years. To let the past fall away and let the present fully emerge.

I get panicked. If I let go of the bronzed tiny cowboy boots of my father’s that I brought up from Texas with the furniture, does it mean I loved him any less? Does it mean I am a better daughter and I really loved him if I hold on to them?

If I throw out or give away the plates my brother and I made in our childhood, will I forget him and our youth? Am I a bad person?

If I let go of the plastic container I handprinted with hearts that holds some of my mom’s cookie cutters that I gave her and brought up from her kitchen after she dies, does it mean I am not a loyal daughter? Will it hurt her feelings?

Will I lose who I am if I let go of these things? Will I lose their love somehow?

Who will I be if I am not carrying around these objects that are connected to my past?

Will I float into nothingness? Will I no longer know myself? Will I forget the people and the memories associated with these things?

I have to somehow resolve this. Find a way to keep moving through this change that on some level I called in for my own soul.

I have to find a way to actually make this move. It is a movement, after all.

I have to breathe. And trust. And move forward, into my life.

Inspired by a Daily Word Prompt at Guest Daily Prompts: surface

Shallow Depths*

Deep within

There is a certain part of me

Who stills believes

Life would be so much better

If I’d been born beautiful:

A super model, a movie star

Shallow, I know,

But that part of me’s convinced

Nothing sways her

She doesn’t care that you

Can’t cherrypick and you’d get

All their shit too (and that we all have shit)

She is absolutely sure

To be adored for your looks

Would beat the rest

That being loved for a face or body

Is more than enough for her

And she won’t hear otherwise

This part of me

Would make a deal with a thousand devils

It would sell my soul

For the chance to find out

If life really is better for the super stars and models

I’ve given up trying

To win her over to Self-Love Land

She cannot comprehend adult logic

So I hold her hand

And I say “I hear you,” then lead her into the deeper waters to play

Repost Inspired by The Daily Post Word Prompt: famous

* I am visiting my hometown, and of course, all my “old stuff” is stirred up as if I was right back in high school, feeling so lacking. Back to a time when I based my whole self worth on my appearance. To a time I prayed to become famous so that one day everyone would regret rejecting me. It is amazing how quickly it all comes flooding back.

A Face in the Crowd

For as long as I can recall, I moved through the world certain that I was unmemorable.

As in, never believing, upon meeting people, that I was making any kind of impression whatsoever. Never being able to trust that upon meeting them again, they would recognize me.

I developed the habit of saying my name to whomever I was meeting again, a preemptive coping strategy designed to avoid any potential embarrassment or humiliation in not being remembered by the person.

I do not recall how this underlying belief system was created. I do not know its source.

There must have been an instance or two where I felt embarrassed or humiliated in some way in some situation where I assumed that I would be remembered, and I was not.

Or, is it something genetic in the seeds of my personality that made me incapable of recognizing my own recognizability?

To see oneself as faceless, as lacking any qualities that would make another take mental note in any way of your presence…that is pretty intense thing to discover that you are living from.

When I noticed this, I slowly began to experiment around it to see what was going on. It is complex, but suffice it to say that today I look for social cues that let me in on whether or not someone is putting together that they have seen me before, and then and only then do I offer to help them. (No preemptive helping.) I have had to develop tolerance for the discomfort that that sometimes brings.

I have also had to learn how to give myself inner support around other people in the first place. To not need so much from whether or not they felt anything about me – good, bad or seemingly nothing at all – and let my own opinion count the most. To be my own fan.

I think when you grow up a very sensitive child who learned early on to read other people in order to survive you have to learn some different coping skills. You have to learn how to live from the inside out, instead of the outside in.

I have learned how to “be” in my core. Living from my core, others, and what they think or feel, does not hold any power over my survival. I am in charge, and can take full care of myself.

It has been a freeing process. I am much more comfortable around people and enjoy life so much more.

Do I feel all that memorable today? Not really. Maybe on good day for a half hour.

But I do know I am here. I do not feel faceless. And I love who I am. I have lots of people who love me, plenty of people who care about me, many people who want to work with me, and that’s pretty wonderful.

And hey, if someone doesn’t recall having met me, I do not sweat it. I happily re-introduce myself, and I comfort the small part of me that feels a bit hurt in it.

I am always OK as long as I recognize me.

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: faceless

Done is Better Than Perfect

Well, it happened.

I thought I published yesterday’s post, but I just saw that I did not.

There is a part of me devastated by this error.

I call this part of me “Perfectionista.”

If I am not vigilant, she drives me. She wants to get things right. She wants to be the best at whatever she does, all the time. To be seen as the best. Perfect.

She hates making mistakes.

So breaking my daily posting streak of many months? Not going over well with her.

I try to reason with her. Technically, I did write it yesterday, and though clearly I messed up and only thought I published it, I created it yesterday. And after all, the point of me doing it daily is so that I do at least one creative act daily to stay connected to my creativity. That’s it.

So cool. I did that. Yay me!

But that part of me, Perfectionista, she wants more. And what she wants has to do with what she thinks others think of her.

And she is loud.

She creates suffering for me. She is going to incessantly remind me of this flaw, trying to create a very unsettled feeling that will saturate my system.

“You blew it,” she says.

Hers is a world of extremes, of black and white thinking, of a self-generated pressure to meet somewhat randomly selected standards and performance deadlines and levels or else…

She lives in world with an almost life and death internal pressure to seem perfect to others.

I cannot live from her world view. It’s too exhausting, too exacting. And empty.

I. Just. Can’t.

My world? I try to simplify these days. What a waste of precious time, worrying what others will think about me missing a randomly-decided goal.

More and more, it’s about doing my best on any given day and letting that be more than enough.

Don’t get me wrong: I still strive to be “the best.”

The best I can be on any given day.

As for what others think of that? No longer my business, thank you very much.

Inspired by The Daily Word Prompt: simplify