Month: August 2016

Is It Possible To Control Our Time Online When Life Is All Online?

It wasn’t the incoming rainstorm, or too much coffee, or a blood sugar low that made me sit at my computer and shake. I’m beginning to see a pattern now when I start to jitter. It comes on daily after I spend way too much time doing what we un-fondly refer to as “administration.”

wits endIt’s getting out of control. Incorrect billing issues, website technicalities, errors, glitches, wrong numbers, emails, documentation, scores of forms for whatever we need, Hippa this, privacy that, layers of security blips, spam, address corrections, changes, updates, by the time I come up for air, I’m fairly short of breath, not to mention half the day is shot.

documenting lifeBesides all the endless online time, there are just way too many “jobs” to take care of our basic needs. So I’m calling a moratorium. I simply can’t keep up. And I have some serious streamlining to do – well beyond the concepts of balance and simplicity – goals for which I continually strive.

There has to be a way to get it all done without it taking so long. But how? I’m ridiculously organized, process fast, am also efficient and quite thorough. The issue can’t all be me.

out to liveI started thinking about people I know who seem to “do it all.” You know who they are – successful at their jobs, look amazing, seem happy and healthy and fit – even if they have aches and pains. They’re graceful and kind and funny and fun whenever you connect. What is their secret? Because they must have administration too.

Do they end up at their wits end after hours on the phone with technical support, or billing issues, or redoing online forms that freeze and don’t submit? Do they delegate these tasks or just let them go regardless of any requirements for completion, compensation, registration or activation? There is so much administration required now to simply manage our lives.

unplugThe only answer I came up with after shedding a tear and some deep breathing, was to try to live more and technology less. Less texting, less emailing, less social media scrolling – just pay the bill and get off the device. Fill out the form and step away. Post the blog and go. It’s not that I don’t want to be social, I just need to lessen screen time.

I wonder if that’s even possible. Administration will always be there and it’s easy to get distracted by so much at our fingertips. But it’s more than a reconstruction of time, it’s also a mental shift. Less dwelling, less worrying, less ruminating – just striving for peace of mind. gritting teeth emojiRelax, read, get fresh air…breathe and of course also eat. Maybe then I’ll stop gritting my teeth when I sit down to administer my life.

offlineSo we’ll see how it goes to live more and tech less. I’m not the type to ignore emails or texts, mail or my friends, not to mention what news might I miss?

As good as it sounds to dial it all down – that may itself take time. winky face

 

turn off

 

 

 

Feeling Yet Another Change, But Actually Change Is Nothing New

IMG_6110Today many lives in the Northeast changed. It’s back to school time. Dreaded by kids and loved by parents, the alarm clocks rang for an early rise and we’re starting a new daily routine. But this year is different in my house, as it frequently is. We are no strangers to big change – both with routine and in life.

tyler kindergartenMy teenage son is stressed out because he has to forge a new path as an incoming junior in a new high school in the town where we just moved. The thought of it even stresses me out  – the kid has endured a lot. But he’s not the only nervous wreck, Sir Husband actually is too.

For the first time in maybe 20-some years, Sir Husband is going back to school. And even he is surprised himself, that he’s about to attend — yes — Harvard. This a pretty huge deal for the man, he struggled way back in the day when his college years didn’t include a particularly noteworthy academic performance.

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But there’s something to be said for time and all the change it brings.

Change is in the air. I’m struggling with it myself. Not just the uncomfortable midlife change, or our recent hectic move, or my deep empathy for my son. It’s happening everywhere. My shaman-therapist retired, so that’s been very hard. I have to find a new source of income, and that’s another big deal. But what’s intriguing is that so many people are speaking out about their own changes.

A good friend just put a question on his Facebook page asking what people think about change, and how they see it. He said he tries to respect it and roll with it without fearing it. When I read that post what caught my eye were the words “think” and “see.” To me change is about how we feel it and how we experience it.

trustMy former shaman-therapist said as she felt her way through her own changes she ran toward calm – focusing on whatever felt calm to her. If we’re lucky we can move through change without feeling a lot of chaos and experience it as a normal, functional, even useful aspect of life. Because just fighting change itself can add its own layer of chaos.

For a long time, maybe most of my life, I have not experienced change feeling calm. Change for me always came with a lot of stress and dysfunction, so it was uncomfortable.

But if we think about it, new stuff happens every day. Change happens on some level every, single day. So if we cling to what happened yesterday, we don’t really have room to let new stuff in, and that’s when we get emotionally tripped up, or mentally clogged up and stuck, even physically and energetically. That’s not to say it’s easy, feeling change can take time.

Sir Husband would never be able to sit in a classroom with students at Harvard University if he did not let go of the past, welcome change and feel calm. I hope my son in a short time will do the same. And me – I have some work to do. Although time always shows that change itself, is really nothing new.

you got this

Did Mercury Retrograde Come Early?

Fairy People!

Sorry for the recent mis-post and oops… page cannot be displayed. I’m having a hard time and apparently so is my site. Why oh why do the technical problems keep happening with my blog? I thought moving to self-hosted was a good idea… now I’m not so sure.

Please stick with me during this apparently very L O N G transition… and tomorrow (the official start of Mercury Retrograde,) I am working with a tech guru to try to straighten it out. Let’s hope the cosmos conspire in our favor.
Thank you for reading!

 

no dim light

The First Day Of The Rest Of Your Life Takes Guts

This past weekend Sir Husband and I found ourselves in a coffee shop in a little village at a high-top table in the center window, where we sipped iced coffee and watched the world stroll by. We also had great seats to watch a wedding at the big antique church across the street.

IMG_3069Guests for this event were dressed quite formally for a Saturday afternoon. We watched the bridal party of eight bridesmaids in their mint-green long dresses laughing and swinging their bouquets around while lining up to parade in, alongside eight groomsmen sporting their mint-green silk ties. We saw the bride get out of her limo and try to get up the old, tall wooden steps in her lacy white gown behind her hefty crew, a couple of gals in long dresses carrying her train.

This was a fun thing to see, but for me with some irony. This was the same church where I married Mr. Ex. I too, hauled myself and my lacy dress up those old wooden steps behind my bridesmaids and their groomsmen many years ago. But somehow it all seemed the same.

Sir Husband and I looked at each other and laughed – we’ve both been down this road before. And unfortunately when we did it, we weren’t marrying each other. We were each the 20-something bride and groom in big, formal church weddings marrying the completely wrong people. We both even semi-subconsciously knew it at the time, but we went through with it just the same. Yea, we were kind-of dumb.

So as we watched the pre-ceremony hoopla in the front of this beautiful church, with all the beautiful people, underneath a gorgeous blue sky on a perfect, sunny, late-summer day, we couldn’t help but be cynical.

This is the first day of the end of their marriage were the words that slipped out of our mouths. It’s all over after this. Sure the honeymoon will be fun, but then life will happen, and eventually it will all fall apart…… said hindsight. We laughed, although we weren’t trying for any bad karma, it just seemed reasonable to say.

IMG_3063When I got married at that very church, if I had only stopped it all right then.

Why do we make decisions when we know deep down they’re wrong? Marrying Mr. Ex wasn’t the first huge mistake, there was a long line of many more. Like staying married to him for years in spite of all the colossal problems.

We can’t really know what lies ahead when we make decisions in life. But we can tune in to our instinctual inner guidance system and let it help show us the way. There’s such a huge amount to navigate, why do we take it all on? If I only knew at the time that I was well-equipped to choose a new path…but I didn’t believe I was, and also refused to pay attention to the signs. I am certain that’s a huge part of the cause of divorce overall, we don’t listen to our guts.

It only took 30 years to finally marry the right man. Better late than never I say – and this time I knew it was right. Nobody can truly predict the future but we may have more control over our destiny than we realize. It all just depends on our view.

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Today’s Short Message Is About Believing In Ourselves Regardless Of What We Think

Life sure has its mysteries. Like when Sir Husband was offered a job at Harvard University’s most revered Memorial Church and he is the most un-church-like person I know. Or when a person who can make or break my writing career told me that my name appeared at the top of her computer today when she was working on creating a potential writing team. Never mind that minutes later I actually appeared at her door just to say hello when I was passing by – and it took her by surprise – in a good way.

believeDo you believe in fate? she asked, because sometimes it’s plain as day.

My latest curiosity was why I was called back for three interviews to a job I never dreamed I could take. That is where I landed yesterday, and I caught myself off guard. I went in nonchalantly thinking that I wasn’t able or ready to take any job that would be what this one is. I guess I have more experience and background than I ever realized I had.

So today’s short message is about believing in ourselves regardless of what we think.

As I began the trek from my near-city home to the subway station and onto the train, where I rode peacefully several stops until I reached my destination, then walked the almost one mile to the building where the interview occurred, all I could think was, why am I doing this, I’m not really that great.

I haven’t been in the working world for a whole lot of years, although I’ve done a lot of work. My life’s path has been wrought with so much intensity as a stay at home mother advocating for a son on the autism spectrum whose life periodically hung in the balance, navigating complex systems with a fair amount of success, juggling and balancing my former husband’s addiction and all that entails, abuse and chronic illness, along with a whole lot more – like trying to raise three children and keep a family alive, I didn’t realize how much I learned over a couple of decades. I was so busy managing our lives that I never realized I had done so much.

sitting downWe all do that comparison thing especially when we’re buried in what doesn’t seem like the norm. I always look at the world around me and wonder how everyone manages their life. I didn’t follow a traditional path so I thought I was doing it wrong. But I didn’t realize until now that not only was I doing “it” right, there really is no wrong.

Going to an interview today was really a piece of cake compared to my strained past. I didn’t sweat much of anything because I just am who I am. I didn’t make myself out to be someone I’m not, or study up on what to say, how to dress or proper protocol. Instead I was just me – because who else could I really be.

Regardless of whether I get the job the experience was so clear. No matter where we’ve been, or what we’ve done, we can never doubt who we are. We can’t define ourselves by our perceived contribution, or where we’re trying to go. We just need to honor the mysteries and fate will tell us so.

self acceptance

Blaming Is Easy – But What Good Does It Do?

your faultThere was a whole lot of blame going on at our local registry of motor vehicles yesterday where I took my youngest to convert his driver’s permit. We had put it off since our out-of-state move a few weeks ago, and it finally moved up on the list.

He’s not particularly interested in driving, although he’s now 16. I am secretly glad he’s not ready, insurance rates are sky high. So we went through the motion of converting his permit because someday he will want to drive.

RMB

now servingfixI fear the RMV. It’s intimidating. Besides the fact you need piles of documentation and paperwork for a license or registration, the wait is always too long. You go in hoping you have all the right stuff, get a numbered ticket then sit. Maybe an hour or more goes by and when you get to the desk you pray that what you brought with you will pass.

After only 30 minutes on this slower RMV day, we finally were called. At first I thought we were all set but then our processing stopped. Turns out our former state did not give us the right paperwork. This did not surprise me, our former state is behind the times when it comes to the national status quo.

rmv supervisorI got shuffled to the supervisor, and that’s when the blaming began. I had just called our former state a day before to ensure I had the right documentation – they swore I did. They were wrong. Blame.

That began a long list of required paperwork that did not match up from state-to-state. More blame.

She informed me that the regulations are not typical there, they are much less than the rest of our country. Even more blame.

This went on for two hours. Phone calls and faxes and waiting and forms, blame bippety blame boppety blame.

While I was enduring there, I had a loud ah-ha thought.

Blame is in the air around me a whole heck of a lot. People love to blame. It somehow lets them off the hook from their own internal chaos – whatever it may be. They may come right out and directly blame, or they find ways to passive-aggressively blame, using whatever forum they can to announce to the world that they are right and and others are wrong. It’s not just on a personal level, look at this election year. Blame is a prominent theme.

blame o-meter

But as I was thinking about all the blame going on – not just between state-to-state registry of motor vehicle offices – but with other blame that’s been thrown my way lately, I decided to eliminate blame.

I am not to blame, I brought all the stuff I had. The poor girl at the registry in our other state who didn’t send the right documentation isn’t to blame – she was not trained properly in her job. The supervisor at our RMV wasn’t to blame – she was just doing her job. If we really stop to think about it, blame is kind of useless. What purpose does it serve? It doesn’t fix anything.

Blaming is the easy way out. It’s feels better when it’s someone else’s fault. We are off the hook,  absolved of any responsibility regardless of our role. It’s a mechanism that’s backed in anger that allows us to feel like we are justified. But in fact it seems quite selfish.

no more blameSo I’m quitting the blame game. Whether it’s about feeling helpless or out of control, or we are projecting our own inner upset on someone else because we can’t face it ourselves, or we simply have an inability to accept a situation as it is, when blame is in the air, own up or let it go. It really only hurts us.

Within minutes of saying bye bye to blame, the permit conversion was resolved. Amazing how life’s lessons are learned. I love the RMV.

blame

 

Menopause and Mind Chatter Can Wear A Gal Out

Ladies, don’t let anyone tell you that the midlife change is a piece of cake. It’s more like a mountain of misery. The list is long – headaches, mind-fog, eyesight issues, hot flashes, a physical form that shape-shifts in whatever direction it chooses. Bloating, nausea, aches, thinning hair, greying hair, crazy hairs – where did those come from? And a biggy for so many of us – it’s impossible to sleep.

hormonesI’m here to tell you I’m hanging on by a thread. It started out with subtle shifts, barely noticeable…well, manageable. I could stay on top of the mounting woes that come from a hormonal craze. It was a bit like being pregnant at first, but at least then I knew there was a reward. Not just a baby, but the ability to swing the body back to its nearly-original form.

Not anymore. Climbing the mountain of menopause is starting to wear me down. Yea, this big change is supposed to bring us into some kind off full-circle feminine awareness, boost our empowerment, shed our inhibition, so we live from a new kind of wise. I have glimpses of that, but the trade off so far doesn’t seem too great. I’m waiting for that miracle moment when I’ve reached the cherry-capped top.

oceanFor some, the woes of this female long-process isn’t really that hard. I don’t know how to get in that line, although every day I try. I take herbs and supplements and vitamins and creams that are supposed to make it all fine. I do yoga and meditate, deep breathe and work out, but really none of it helps. My body has a mind of its own and I just realized my mind does too.

I can’t get myself to be quiet. My mind goes a mile a minute pretty much around the clock. It’s not that I’m manic, although my mind must be, because it never really stops. Of course I don’t want it to stop or I wouldn’t be alive. But I’d love it to stop its incessant chatting, working on, dealing with, fighting against, advocating for, fixing, crossing off, catching up and figuring out. Do we blame this on hormones too?

life would be tragic if it weren't funnyI’m exhausted. Not just tired, but that deep down to the bones and to the edge of my psyche wiped out. I need a really long sabbatical, but I don’t even have a real job. My life has been nothing but hard, hard work, but not the kind that pays. Since a sabbatical is out of the question, the question is how do I survive? Life isn’t going to slow down, in fact it’s about to ramp up. And just the thought of that is more crippling. Ding-ding the key word is “thought.”

That of course is my mind – and it needs to change.

We hear all the time that our thoughts become things – we know scientifically now that we can actually manifest entirely different physical and emotional states just by choosing our thoughts. But how do we learn to quiet them when we spend so much time trying to choose?

I recently had a thought about that… Actually…. never mind.

awake

Don’t Take Everything Personally, It’s Not Always Ours To Take

I try with all my heart to be the best human I can be, but every time I turn around somebody’s nose is out of joint about something.

rise above itFor a while I thought it was me – a kindergartner in human interaction so beat up by my extended family’s personal issues, addictions, perceptions, entitlements, needs and self-gratifications – that basically I never moved myself out of a wounded child frame of mind, and therefore could never be me. The now grown up, knowledgeable, adept and internally powerful me.

A big part of the problem is that for years, maybe forever, I tried to meet other people’s needs, not hurt their psyches or try to fix whatever calamity was at my feet because of their own actions and subsequent reactions. That was a skill learned in childhood. But along the way I somehow also learned to take other people’s personal issues personally.

Why? Because for whatever reason, I inadvertently said or did something that caused people to feel triggered about whatever was going on inside of them – conscious or even unconscious, and they got bent out of shape. It took me a while to realize this, but it’s starting to finally make sense.

difficult people

For example, my ex-husband’s nose seems frequently out of joint when we don’t agree about money or support related to our kids. His former gambling addiction really gets in the way. This is about our personal inner landscapes – he only sees from his frame of reference. So whenever things come up around money, he gets quite upset. He denies it but the kids and I see it – from our frame of reference.

There are several in my orbit who make me feel like something is my fault when it’s totally not. Key words: make me feel. I internalize other people’s problems, and oftentimes just by default because we are personally connected.

A mentor and one of my greatest teachers recently pointed this out to me. It was after a social media post she wrote about her own latest life lessons. Besides the fact it’s helpful to watch someone who is exceptionally wise successfully navigate through her own personal challenges, I somehow felt partially responsible for her struggle.

She assured me I’m not, and explained that internalizing means we take things on that aren’t even about us, and apply them to ourselves as if we participated, or are somehow part of that story. We inadvertently make it about us, even when it’s not. I must have learned to internalize somewhere along the way.

I’ll note that in some instances, it’s hard to not do that when we live surrounded by people who blame. That’s a whole other issue. Some people simply refuse – and I’ll go a step farther even to say don’t recognize – their own role and responsibility in relationships. So when they incessantly blame us it becomes easy to internalize unless we have developed the skill of discerning what’s their part and and what’s ours. I’m still learning.

But it doesn’t feel good to internalize or take responsibility for other people’s stuff, really they can have it. When their nose gets out of joint, I’m sorry, but my internal door is now closed. I’m finally taking care of me…that’s the best that I can be.

dysfunction bridge

 

Liking the Decor Of Our Home Is Just A Fact Of Life

property brothersI know there’s a lot of upsetting stuff going on in the outside world, but inside I’m in a decorating dilemma. I have this thing about making my home look and feel the way I want it to, within reason and budget. I’m not talking about creating an HGTV or Property Brothers show home. Don’t get me wrong, I like the Property Brothers, I just prefer more traditional verses their trendy new style.

Decorating is in the eyes of the beholder, and this isn’t a critique on people’s taste. The survey question today is, what do you do when the home you live in isn’t one you own, but the style of the place isn’t either?

homeFor the last couple of decades we have owned almost all of our homes – except for a couple here or there that were temporary in-between landings. We never rented for long so most of our stuff was in storage, decorating was a piece of cake. But now we plan to settle down and not move for a long while.

I love the structure of our new digs – the set-up, the bones, the nooks and crannies, the small cottage-style feel of condos made inside this old antique estate home. High ceilings, hardwood floors, a great big working fireplace, real wood doors and windows, classic tile, horsehair plaster, not a spec of vinyl here. But it hasn’t been cosmetically updated in a very long time. The paint is 20 years old and tired, the light fixtures need to be time-capsuled, even the cabinetry is fairly worn. And there are a few structural issues like the huge old heavy windows need thick sticks to keep them up. I love the place but it needs help.

wake up wallsIt may sound like easy fixes, but it’s not my place to fix. Yet I live in it. So what do I do? Our landlord hasn’t set foot in here in years, beyond showing the place in between tenants. He lives far away and he is very hands-off, so I’m not sure he really cares.

It comes down to something internal – the ability to let things go. I’m not good at that, especially when it comes to my home. I have a wee talent of decorating skill, so it taps at me all the time. I want it to look and feel comforting – I want to like the paint colors, the walls to be clean and fresh, the light fixtures not dated and the windows to safely work. It’s a personal thing.

We don’t have the budget to do updates on a home we don’t own, but I need it to be more mine. And that’s the funny matter – why do I have the need? Can’t I just pay my rent and enjoy it the way it is – tired, worn, and in need of TLC not to mention someone else’s style? The short answer is no, but I’m trying to let it go.

Seems silly now that I mention it, it’s important to learn to just live. Enjoy my home environment simply for what it is – which I really do – except for the incessant knocking at my psyche to run to Benjamin Moore.

paint the stars

We All Work To Be Happy, But Are We Happier Being Content?

happy and know itIf you’re happy and you know it clap your hands.

Great. 52 percent of us just clapped.

But how many of us are telling the truth?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot since finally moving back a few weeks ago to my favorite place on earth – home. After leaving a nightmare here several years ago and moving far away into a fairy tale that ended up being wrought with its own melodrama, I went from happy to horrible, to happy to miserable, to happy one minute, unhappy the next, up and down, around and round for years. It was exhausting. I can truly use the cliche that the last decade was both the best of times and the worst of times.

tiredSomewhere along the way I lost the understanding of the concept of happy. It’s a weird thing when you are entangled in abusive in relationships. Sir Husband and I share the most deeply heartfelt love, but we were surrounded by nasty, hurtful, vicious people who were so unhappy inside themselves, they could not stand to see us happy. So they worked hard to burst our bubble. (And some still do to this day.)

So when we recently moved back home – which makes us both  exceedingly happy – I wondered why I wasn’t oozing joy 24 hours a day. Happiness was in there, but it was elusive, and I didn’t understand. Were my emotions trapped in a habitual web of only feeling bad? It was a valid theory.

ocean feetBut in spite of all the hurdles that came with our house sale and move, and even in spite of the past’s big stressors that take time to heal, I felt a quiet sense of stable peace hovering in the background.

It dawned on me that how I am feeling is content. Contentment is a state of being that comes from being ok with life in spite of external circumstances. It’s an acceptance of where we are, knowing we’re doing the best we can, and not worrying about what we can’t control. It’s internal satisfaction regardless of… fill in the blank. Through the years I’ve had a whole heck of a lot of words that filled in the blanks.

There’s a huge emphasis placed on being happy everywhere we turn. Society’s modern psychology pushes the happiness quotient on us like it’s a prerequisite for living a good life. That’s a lot of pressure. And it’s not realistic. Because happiness, according to experts, is actually a fleeting feeling. It’s a momentary emotion that by some definition is based on attaining things we want. Gallup polls even reveal that higher income bracket people say they are happier than lower income bracket people. But does it validate the truth?

This brings me back to the verbiage. Contentment is a word that makes a lot of sense regardless of where we fall on any measurable scale. And if this all sounds disappointing – that being content is the booby prize – stop for a minute and think about how happy it might make us to feel peaceful with our life. The pressure comes off just with the word itself. Content. It means in a state of peaceful happiness and satisfaction.  

I don’t know about you, but I’m clapping my hands.

things falling together

 

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