Thursday, February 28, 2013

Funny Girl

February is nearly through, and for the year's shortest month it has been packed. Calligraphy, job rejections, culture-club projects at work, a debilitating cold, super-needed vacation days, phone dates with far-flung loves, a baby shower, and lots of cooking in the new space. As for the last item in that list, I feel lucky beyond belief to have my beautiful, renovated kitchen. It changes the feeling of my entire home, and I love that I have spent numerous minutes in it just reflecting on the beauty of the space, feeling grateful.

While driving to an appointment last night I began to think about how difficult it is to not be hardened by the world. The world can feel so harsh and complicated, cruel at its worst. To remain hopeful and light - as we grow older, in the lowest moments, these things can feel naive and shortsighted. But, oh, how exhausting that perspective is as well. Yes, at times, it may feel like a huge challenge to not let the disappointments of the world make us bitter, but I am so seeking that middle ground that can accept the difficulties while finding the beauty. (Of course, immediately I think about how the art of calligraphy is a perfect analogy for this whole dialogue, but stating that is point enough. No need to wax poeties about calligraphy...yet.)

What I really began to think about as I acknowledged my own difficulty - lately - to not harden and close off because of disappointments, failures, and rejections, is that I used to laugh a lot more. I used to be more playful and light and glee-filled even. Where the hell did my sense of humor go? When did things get so serious, and why?

Work has been difficult. Love has been difficult/nonexistent. Family has been difficult.

But I used to be able to move through some of these realities with a damn good sense of humor. This blog is obviously no evidence to that, as someone reading it would doubt I had one funny bone in my entire body. And yes, my inclination to reflect often comes from a darker impulse, but I suppose one of the skins I'm in the process of shedding (sorry, was that a gross analogy?) is this humorless, cynical worst-case-scenario gal. There's a place for that person, and it's fine to be reflective or heartbroken or processing (or all at once), but sometimes I just need to lighten the load by LAUGHING.

Hilariously my shrink told me -during a paid therapy session mind you - that I should have a sitcom. And then she cracked up just imagining it.  Which feels like the strangest feedback I could ever get from my therapist. Like, you have been enjoying this? This isn't torture to you? You find this - and me - funny?!

She said I should think about creating a pilot wherein single girl explores the world/my world through cooking, gardening, and other misadventures. If anyone knows someone looking to fund this sort of project, leave a comment with their contact information.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

tidbits and pieces

Today at 3:15 I noticed a text on my phone that said: "I think you should skip work and come to [local theater] to see some short films with me at 4:30."

So I did.

I left on the 3:45 express bus and was only 15 minutes late.

I needed a little spontaneity. As I've been advised by someone wiser than me, I need to occasionally give less of myself to work and more of myself to everything else.

Other notables:

After 2 (of 6) calligraphy classes, I am starting to see (gradual) improvement:

Mom sent me a hilarious photo of my Dad (or his backside rather) tackling the snowstorm in Missouri, with Bea looking away (unimpressed).

My Mom loves getting unflattering photos of the members of our family...and then sharing them totally innocently as if the photo was truly candid and she wasn't cackling with glee as she took it. Fooling nobody, Mom.

Monday, February 18, 2013

love thy self

I realized yesterday that it has been a lot easier to be angry at the woman who "wasn't ready" to date - me or anyone - than to ask myself the question, "Am I even ready to date someone?"

It's amazing how the desire for something to work can blind us to our most basic self truths - that perhaps, as much as on some levels we'd like to be in a place where something can work, we really just aren't there yet.

I have been trying to transition from briefly - but intensely - dating AW to being her friend, and in the process have discovered some rather ugly sides of myself. There is a desperation, a longing, a forceful "be with me! be with me! be with me!" that is utterly unsexy.

And I think it's present in me because I haven't honestly given myself a shot at cultivating the one relationship I need to cultivate before any of that can work out: the one with myself. AW said to me that as cliche as it sounds, we can't attract love in our life until we have it for ourself.

It's funny, of course I've heard that sentiment expressed numerous times over the course of my life, but something about hearing it at that moment, from this person, really nailed me to the spot. Maybe it's that other truth of: no matter how many times others give wise or good advice to you, until you have the capacity to find that wisdom inside yourself, the good advice of others will fall on deaf ears. So, simply put, I finally heard that statement for what it is, and how true it is.

Like, what specifically is it I think I need or am going to get from a romantic partnership that I can't get from myself? When I came home last night after dropping AW off at her place, I sat with that question for a very long time. Much of what I think I want from a partnership comes down to very basic companionship and affirmation of self. Yikes. I think this blog project is deeply connected to this idea of self-love and befriending myself, but it's super easy to go through the day and forget the many subtle ways we are acting in a way that is not self-loving.

I think I am at this crossroads point in my life - I've been feeling it for many months now but have been avoiding facing it - and what the crossroads is begging of me is to be extremely intentional about self-care and self-love.

So why not list that out (as I so love to do)?

The things I think I want from a relationship AND how I will get them from myself:

An activity partner....................I can create more enjoyment from doing fun activities by myself. Not just errands, but movies, walks in the park, a special visit to a museum, etc.

Someone to cook dinner for.............I will cook a delicious dinner for myself as often as possible and eat it sitting down at my table.

Someone to do small, kind gestures for...............I will buy myself flowers, create silly collages just for me, and find other tangible ways to be caring towards myself.

Backrubs...............thank goodness I recently discovered the best massage therapist ever.

Someone to try new things with...........I can continue taking classes and having experiences that are new to me, either by myself or with a friend.

A spiritual partner.............I can continue to explore my spirituality through going to church, practicing meditation, and reading books. Sitting with myself on this part of the journey is key.

Someone who is very protective of my feelings, my journey, my process & vice versa......well obviously, the whole point is it's time to do this for myself.

There is more, but that's a reasonable start.....time to travel alone, but with some true loving kindess towards myself. I don't want to be "okay" at being alone, I want to enjoy my own company. I don't know how I've gotten so far from that part of myself. Yesterday was a bit of a wake-up call. Annoying. Necessary.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

hello: the things I like

I was so inspired by that adorable video I posted about earlier this week, that I have found myself thinking - in the midst of some very annoying debbie-downer-esque moping - what are the things I like? What are the small to grand things that I use to shake off my fear and march boldly into my life?

Before I get into this project, here are a few things:

1) This morning I listened to the New Year's Eve This American Life episode (better late than never) about self-improvement. The story about Daryl Watson really captured me. He tells the story of a time in his life when he felt very lost and without direction (feels familiar) and how he went about trying to find it. This story resonated with me for a few reasons:
  • He said he just wanted to figure out his "Mission Statement." Hmmm, that seems like what I am trying to do every day of my life these days. (Dramatic much?)
  • What ended up bringing him peace was not 'figuring it out,' but rather not focusing so much on the ultimate answer or destination. Again, this sounds pretty familiar and a message I have been receiving in various forms for the majority of my twenties.
2) I think this blog has become way too serious. I got to my 100th entry and it was a moping mess about hurt and loss and pain. While I definitely am in the midst of some serious questions (see above), I also aim to reclaim this space as a bit more positive and hopeful. I feel so far away from that part of myself, but I know it's not lost and gone forever.

On that note:

Things I Like (in no particular order but specific to this particular moment in time):

-A fresh onion bagel, smeared with cold cream cheese, topped with lox, red onions, and capers, accompanied by a glass of orange juice. (Tonight's breakfast AND post-shoveling snack.)

-On-going inside jokes between close friends that may involve sending goofy things in the mail to each other.

-Having an entire drawer dedicated to crafting.

-Going a bit overboard on a work-related craft project using said craft drawer, an entire roll of gold duct tape, jewels, and many, many pom-poms.

-Prematurely dreaming of spring and my garden.

-Making a path through freshly fallen snow.

-Also: not being so scared of cold snow going down my pants -- making a snow angel in the middle of my backyard.

-Discovering that the snowblower is broken and being forced to shovel, which takes thirty extra minutes but also invites a peace and quiet not present in doing it quickly (and loudly) with the snowblower.

-Any physical task such as shoveling that reminds me of the hard, satisfying work of farming.

-NPR Music's Tiny Desk Concert Series, and right now especially this one. 

-Ending the evening with a list of things I like and a handwritten letter to one of my BFFs.

Off to do the latter now...

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The lure of what was

I came online with the intention to write. To put it all out there, bare it all, make some major grammatical errors, and continue nonetheless. Instead I've spent the last 15 minutes listening to voice messages I've saved from a friend who has recently disappeared - notoriously unreliable yet I believe in him always, as he always reappears eventually - and perusing the insights and musings of other bloggers. So essentially: missing, longing, envying.

My roomie is at her childhood home tonight, as she has been for many nights these last few weeks, caring for her mom whose health deteroiates by the day. I am constantly wishing I had the right words to say or the magic cure to make it better. Tonight she expressed some stress over how her recent absence from our shared space might be hurting me. And I realized what I do have is the ability to not be another thing burdening her. I told her I am here for her when she needs me but her worry does not need to extend to me or my well being. She seemed relieved to have one less person to carry through.

Truthfully though, my house is quiet and empty without her here. I laugh to myself thinking about the slightly neurotic things she does do when she is here that have the tendency to make me wish for the peace and quiet I am now slightly bored by. This includes: humming and singing the most strange songs to herself, walking around the house with her toothbrush dangling from her mouth, blowing her nose at a sonic level, slamming cabinet doors below my bedroom at godawful times of the day. Living with another person is a complicated business, but I've learned a number of times over now that the small irritations feel like gifts when they are suddenly removed. The absence of someone makes you long for their weirdest quirks.

I didn't intend to come on here and mumble on about the experience of sharing a space. I didn't intend to start thinking about the various people I have lived with in my small, blue house, and the ghosts that linger still. But I came to bed, laptop in hand, with thoughts of people I miss so I guess this tangent is not so surprising. I came to bed with questions about how life evolves and how we know when changes are "right" or "wrong." Often times when I am burdened by questions like these, I begin to dream of the past in which I felt most "me." It's a safe and comforting place to retreat to: it can feel more known, more clear than the murky present.

I think about my year of traveling & farming. I look at photos from the 18 months my nephew has been alive, starting at the beginning. I listen to old voice messages from people I love. I wish, for a moment, I still had a bridge to certain people. And then I read poetry that seems to say something and everything about what I am feeling, including this one by Bruce Willard. This seems about right: I like a destination which pulls true, deliberate, but at a great distance. 

And then I return to reading, where someone a lot wiser than me proclaims: "The story of human intimacy is one of constantly allowing ourselves to see those we love most deeply in a new, more fractured light. Look hard. Risk that."

These past few weeks as I have been considering who I am versus who I could be, especially in the context of work/vocation, I have been grasping for the times in life that have felt really authentic and like my best self was at the surface. I am seeking similarities and patterns, perhaps to try to understand if new opportunities in my life could be "right" or "true." I think remembering that I myself am fractured is actually more of what I needed than some perfect solution or ultimate answer.

Maybe I can rest with believing no choice is the right or wrong choice, and the self and our life is made up of many pieces, some of which, at times, can contradict each other. Right now I am feeling a lot of contradictions, such as being pulled back and pushed forward, craving certainty but also enjoying the mystery. What do ya know? Like I am constantly discovering: sitting with the questions might be more meaningful than desperately fighting against them.

There is no right or wrong. There is only now. The past is a false protection from being present and bravely living my life as it is, and is becoming, right now.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Pep Talk

Thanks to Molly and many others for sharing this wonderful video with me.

There is so much about it I love: the lisp, the facial expressions, the dancing, and obviously the overall message.