Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Skirts

Friday, January 4, 2013

This year I will....  

This came from a resolution generator. (Note: I am not responsible for the punctuation.) It's the first one that came up for me. No, I'm still not writing resolutions for 2013, but I know some of you made a promise to yourselves to start a blog this year.

Anybody hit publish yet? Feel free to post a link in the comments section.

If you want to blog and you haven't, what's holding you back?


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Year's 2013: Moving On

I’m writing my New Year’s post before I write my Christmas post this year. Sometimes I'm just really fucking lazy and I party way too much the gifts of the season come only in hindsight. That’s the case for me this year. I swear it’s not that I’m just lazy.

I didn’t make any resolutions this year. I know all the things I need to fix about myself. Those fucking resolutions are like a herd of hamsters running on squeaky, rusted wheels year after year after year. I’ll lose 20 pounds, work out every day, earn more money, finally get that mid-life endoscopy, squeeze my breasts every month, write more often on my blog (hey, sometimes that hamster gets a rest), go out more, stay home more, drink more wine, drink less wine, go on a cruise, swear off chocolate, change my oil every 5000 miles, eat fewer cookies, get more cookies ….. 

OK, that last one can be my nod to resolutions. More cookies. That one I can do. A little help here, please?

What works better than resolutions for me is to take a nap sit in meditation and ask for a word or phrase to come to me that will guide my actions in the coming year.

Three years ago my phrase was “say yes,” and I ended up making some big, live-changing moves. Like selling my big tri-level in the suburbs and moving into the city. Other things I said yes to didn’t work out so well, but I learned from every experience.

The past two years I’ve gotten the same phrase: “stay open.” That one, believe it or not, has been harder to put into action. Staying open isn’t necessarily a behavior. It can be a state of mind or even an emotion. Much harder to control with intention, and much harder to evaluate. Maybe that’s why I needed two years with it.

Of course, as I move into a new year, armed with a new phrase, I don’t leave those other two behind. I still need to say yes sometimes when my inclination is to be lazy or stay in my comfort zone. I still need to stay open, because vulnerability is really fucking scary, and sometimes people don’t care that they’re stomping on my sensitive bits. So I take those phrases with me into 2013 too, hoping they have merged, incorporated into my life and become automatic.

This year, my new phrase came to me loud and clear. I’ll tell you what it is in a minute, but first a story.

A couple of months ago I was talking to a friend about something that had happened. I felt devastated. I was trying not to cry, even though we were talking on the phone and he couldn’t have seen my mascara run down my splotchy, red face. I said to him, “I feel …. I feel …. I’m just …. hurt. Damn it! I don’t have the right word for how I feel.” Because I’m articulate like that.

He said, “It doesn’t matter if you have the word for how you feel. You’ve been betrayed. That’s what you need to say.”

I’ve never figured out how to write stunned silence, so just observe 5 seconds of nothing before you read on.

That word – betrayed – sounded like a gong. It reverberated in my head. The monkeys stopped throwing poo and listened. (Yeah, my head is a fucking zoo.) This friend uses words with the precision of a Marine sniper. He wouldn't use a loaded word like that unless he meant it.

“Yes,” I said. “You’re right. I've been betrayed. This isn’t my fault?”

“No,” he agreed. “This definitely isn't your fault. You were betrayed.” There. He said it again.

Those of you with perfectly healthy boundaries can fuck off skip to the end for the secret phrase. You probably won’t get why this was an epiphany for me. I suspect some of you will though.

That word – betrayed – stayed beside me and held my hand for weeks. Normally I’d be trying to figure out what I’d done wrong to cause the situation … how I could have prevented what happened if only I’d said the right thing or done something different or just not been me, a soulless red-head. If only I'd learned the secret handshake that everybody else seems to know.

Eventually I would have come up with some skewed scenario that made it all my fault.

Not this time. That word, especially coming from the particular friend who uttered it, kept blocking my normal desire to blame myself. And by blocking the blamer (funny how similar that word is to hammer) in my head, I was able to revisit a couple of other conflicted situations – situations that had helped make me ready to hear that word: betrayed.

And just like that an internal boundary slammed into place like a steel vault door. And the blamer was stuck on the outside of it.

This was not my fault. This was not something I should have prevented. This was …. oh, the hardest thing to swallow …. this was out of my control.

If that’s a simple concept for you to grasp, brav-fucking-o for you. You’re one of the lucky ones. Or maybe I’m just unlucky. Don't worry. I’m not going to lie here on the couch while you smoke a pipe and take notes, but believe me when I say I know why I think everything is my fault and thus my responsibility to fix. It starts with being the red-headed bastard stepchild, the oldest of five kids, and builds from there. I have been told my entire life that I’m supposed to be in control, and I’m supposed to keep people happy, and shit can get seriously painful if I don't. It’s what people expect.

Sorry. I’m off the couch now.

Anyway, that word, betrayal, applied to several heart-wrenching confusing situations where I got sucker punched suddenly removed that responsibility from my shoulders, where it hadn’t belonged in the first place.

I live so much in the gray areas of life. I always see all sides, and how this affects that, and how my actions cause shit to happen --  good or bad – and how people are doing the best they can, and of course he's sensitive to that and she's reactive to this, and how if I’d just said this differently or written that better, and we’re all butterflies sneezing and …. OMG, my mother was right all along: I fucking think too much.

There are times I’ve been betrayed. And there’s nothing I can or want to do about it. I don't want to. Because that word betrayed is a strong word to stand beside, but once it was given to me, I had to accept it.

This doesn’t make me a hater. I’m not.

But people repeat patterns of behavior. They treat other people – different people -- the same way over and over. It doesn’t matter where they learned it or whom they learned it from – whether from their mothers or the girls who turned them down or the guys who gave them wedgies or the cheerleaders or the nuns or the first boss. It doesn’t matter that it worked well enough to become ingrained. It doesn’t matter if it stopped working years ago. We all get stuck in ruts that determine how we react to, and how we treat, other people.

Nothing new here. I’m sure there are a million self-help books written about the patterns people get stuck in.

What was new for me … what broke me out of my pattern …. was that for once I stopped analyzing how my behavior might have triggered their patterns. And then I stopped obsessing about how I could go back and fix things (because that’s one of my patterns). How I could try a new tactic, say it a different way, apologize and start over, make it all better so nobody is mad …. So nobody gets punched again.

With the word betrayal beside me I just said, “Fuck that, you monkeys. I’ve been betrayed. It happened to me, and for once this is not my shit to fix. You can stop flinging poo at me because it won't stick this time.” And I meant it.

Which doesn’t mean I like it. I don’t. But I accepted the truth of it. I accepted that it’s not my business what other people whisper in their own ears while they shampoo their hair in the shower, or in other people’s ears to justify their bad behavior or to lock in their security, or even what they shout in my ear to try to make me their scapegoat. If I’m the only one who’s worried about trying to fix it, then it’s time for me to step out of my pattern.

And that’s how I was led to my marching orders from the Universe for 2013. As I napped meditated on my charge for the year, two words came to me: MOVE ON

Like a traffic sign in the middle of nowhere: move on

Oh, I will still say yes. I will still stay open and vulnerable, even to betrayal. But this year I will also, when I need to, move on.

To be clear, I’m not saying every time I’m in conflict I’ll walk away. I’m not like that, and I don’t want to change that pattern. If the past year taught me anything else, it’s that there are people in my life who can face conflict, disappointment, even anger with me and work through those issues by listening and sharing authentically. I've had some amazing, healing experiences to balance the betrayals.

I can tell several stories about people who amazed me with their compassion and maturity. I learned from them. Maybe that’s why I could see the contrast when the betrayals came.

Those are the people I will move on with, not away from. And there are plenty of them on my end of the teeter totter. Enough to keep the end firmly on the ground.

I also won’t only be moving on from betrayals and other conflict-laden situations. (Fingers crossed I won’t be challenged by so many of those this year.)

There are other, more positive, areas I’ll be moving on in too. Like dating and my 10 Dates, 10 Men project. And my writing career. And cookies. I definitely need to try more recipes for cookies.

Do you have a word or a phrase you intend to focus on this year? Would you care to share it in the comments below? We can always revisit this post next year to see how it’s gone.

The other thing I do at the beginning of a new year is to pull one tarot card to be my companion for the year. Last night I sat on my bed, spread out the cards from my favorite deck, ran my hands over them until I felt the urge to pull one out, and drew the 6 of wands.

That’s a happy card for me. It could mean some kind of reward or kudos in an area of creativity and passion. I've also heard some people get cookies from riding a horse. It’s a hot moving-on kind of card. I’ll take it. And I’ll meditate on the deeper meanings as the year goes on.

I put my cards back in the box and set it on my dresser, but when I turned around I saw I’d left a card on the bed. That’s funny, I thought. How did I miss that?

I picked it up. The queen of cups. Oh, boy. Anybody who knows me knows I have a special affection for the queens. Cups are the suite of emotions. And this watery queen is loving, motherly, deeply emotional …. and also sometimes fickle and overly emotional. She might blow shit up as she moves on.

It all goes together. I need to focus on the creative areas I’m passionate about and be careful not to wallow in the emotional realm, while still staying attached to those I love. Good advice for any year.

If you’d like me to draw a card for you, leave a comment and I’ll randomly choose one and post the result under your comment. You won't be asked to join a cult.

Moving on. With me?