Saturday, November 24, 2012

This Will Take 40 Minutes. Sit Your Ass Down, It's Worth It

This morning my new boyfriend Deepak Chopra introduced me to the idea of Synchrodestiny. It sounds like a dance from Xanadu, but is really the idea that coincidences are not random, but guideposts or signs from the universe for us to follow to achieve our life's purpose.

Rocky Mountain Mama, I remember when you lost this movie and
had to buy it from Blockbuster
when we were in our 20's! Hahahahaha, makes me want to rent it tonight. 

This afternoon, after an amazingly fun, and gratitude filled 3 days with my family, I banished my beasts to their rooms and sat down to catch up on my favorite blogs. I "stumbled" by a post on Momastary about a book she had read called Daring Greatly. The post was so enthusiastic I googled the author Brene Brown and ended up watching two of her TED Talks:
The Power of Vulnerability 

Listening to Shame

Now I'm molting. My lizard skin is half hanging off, and, oh yeh, I have a new girlfriend named Bene Brown (Deepak is too spiritual to be jealous). I feel like my soul just got French kissed by the universe. Yum.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Whatever Doesn't Kill You....Doesn't Kill You

A few weeks ago the beasts and I were riding in the car listening to the radio and one of the D.J.'s said, "Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

"What does that mean, mommy?" my 9 year old big beast asked.

Sigh...I better get this right. I immediately thought of an article I had read a few months before (I wish I could find it now) about whether Nietzsche would have stood by that statement in the end of his tortured life. The man who wrote the article was suffering from cancer and he asked the question, Does what doesn't kill you really make you stronger? Or does it make you weaker and just not kill you?

I grew up living a charmed life. That doesn't mean I wasn't a miserable teen, but really I had this perfect life and because of that, I subconsciously thought my family was special. Almost magical. I had friends whose parents divorced, or even worse, died. I had friends who experienced abuse, who didn't have enough money, who were neglected, but me, my family life it was pretty even keel. So when my dad got cancer, I assumed he would get better, how could he not? I was shocked, horrified really, when he died. Not only did it mean that my family had to experience life just like everyone else's, but my dad was dead too. I took that universal insult very personally.

In the past decade my dad died, I had an early miscarriage, my 19 month old niece died in her sleep, my husband left, and I was fired from my job of 10 years. My charmed life became just a life, like everyone else's. Real life. Did it make me stronger? Yes, it did, but part of that strength and hardship made me harder. It closed my heart, and so in some ways it made me weaker. I do believe that I am a strong woman. I am fierce, but I also have this tough hide that makes it hard for people get to know me (says the woman with a blog). My heart is hidden deep underneath layers of tough lizard skin. Each scale created by sadness, betrayal, and disappointments.

Going through hardship has made it easier for me to cut people out of my life and harder for me to trust genuine love and kindess. It has made me less afraid to speak my mind, but shortened my fuse and made me a little explosive. Experiencing betrayal has made it so that when I perceive any threat to my heart, real or imagined, I shut my lizard walls tight and walk away. I am so much more compassionate with people outside my circle, and much more standoffish with those within. I have built a lizard skin fortress.

What is ironic to me is that I know that my life is still pretty charmed, yet the small amounts of pain I have felt have hardened me this much. I imagine what I would be like if something worse happened in my life and I shudder to think of the lizard woman I would become.

Buddha said life is suffering. My old therapist says Life is hard and's hard. I know that my job is to be compassionate, to live in the moment, and to LOVE, LOVE, LOVE like my life depends on it, but many days I think, I'll do that tomorrow I'm too tired today. Instead of trying to live a charmed life I have lowered my expectations and I'm shooting for charmed moments instead. Charmed, isn't the right word. Savory. Savory moments are what I'm going for. Those moments when I am truly in the moment savoring life, letting it melt in my mouth and soak into my bones. Letting the taste of it nurture my soul. I only need moments, because right now my life feels arduous many days and I am tired as hell.

However, there is a part of me that knows that if I don't consciously work on opening my heart, if I don't shed my lizardly scales, I will not be able to savor life to it's fullest. It's like wearing a condom on my tongue while eating filet mignon. I've got the texture, but not the taste. A few weeks ago, my beautiful cousin, Hummingbird Queen, invited me to do a Deepak Chopra 21 day meditation. YES! I signed up, because there is such a deep desire in me to open my heart. I know that I am giving my beasts the shaft by trying to parent them with a lizard skinned heart. I know I will never find a partner if I only love through scales of fear.

So everyday Deepak and I have a moment or 20 and meditate. I've been telling everyone he is my new boyfriend, as in, "Yeah, Deepak and I have to spend sometime together this morning. I'm going to be running late." or "My new boyfriend Deepak says...." Through my new love affair I feel my heart opening up, softening up, and my scales are becoming wings. S-L-O-W-L-Y.

So my answer to my little beasts about being made stronger by not being killed was, "You know, life can be hard and you have a choice about what you make of it. You can try to make the best of it, by changing your perception of the situation, trying to laugh, finding the beauty..."

My big beast broke in and said, "Yeah, but not everyone does that."

"I know baby, sometimes things are so hard it beats you down, and you just can't make it better, and that's when people make bad decisions, but I hope I teach you guys to laugh and make the best of it you can." And then there were no more questions. The beasts and I continued on out way to our old house where we would be loading even more stuff to carry up the 15 steps to the new house. They were prepared to complain every step of the way. I was prepared to firmly state that they better get their asses in gear. I said a silent prayer to The Committee, "Please let me have gotten that right."

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish

I attended a boarding school for one year in high school. A fancy, smaschy boarding school with a real live princess in the student body. It was a nice joint. Of course I hated it. I was 16, tortured, hormonal, and the hottest mess you had ever seen. I imagine that my insides looked a lot like a flaming, jiggly, red hot pile of jello at that time. Adolescence was an interesting time for me.

A few months before I left the school my drama teacher pulled me aside and said, "I think you're making a mistake leaving. You could be a big fish in a small pond here." I looked at her with my hard little 16 year old heart and said, "I don't care. I'm leaving." I just didn't give a shit. I was arrogant and I was used to being a big fish. I was used to being a top dog. I thought I would always have that.

I used to be a big fish who jumped from small pond to pond. I was smart, I seemed older than my years, and I was talented. I thought that those things would be with me forever so I took them for granted and I didn't feed them. I let them waste away.

Four years ago I started acupuncture school. Four years ago I learned that if you don't feed your brain it withers. Four years ago it dawned on me that, holy shit, I was going to have to work hard to make it through school. I looked around my classroom at the geniuses and I thought, "I am a small fish. I am a small fish in a big ocean of big ole' fish." And then I started repeating Dory's mantra from Finding Nemo, "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming." and I got through the first 3 years of school.

My school is 3 hours away from where I live, so I pack my ass up and head down there for 5 days once a month. While I'm there I stay in a boarding house with other students. I am immersed in school while I'm there. No distractions, no breaks. There have been so many classes, not to mention just dinner conversations, that I sit around and listen to like this:

Physics, biology, and philosophy of life swirl in the air around me as my classmates dissect the meaning of it all and I sit with my atrophied brain, amazed that I am even allowed to eat pancakes with these folks let alone work side by side with them. I'm always worried that someone will find out that I am an impostor, that truly, I should not be sitting around listening to any of this. I am Oz behind the curtain. A flick of the wrist will expose that my intelligence is less than average, my brain a mere pea rattling loosely in my skull. My classmates will find out that while they are using all those big words, and fancy theories I am thinking about how much I like cake, and the fact that my underwear is riding up my ass.
Add caption

This August I headed down to school for my first week of internship in my school's acupuncture clinic. On the way I said to myself, "This year my challenge is going to be self-confidence. I have got to have faith in myself." I have heard that humility is accepting who you really are. No better, no worse, just a balanced idea of your true self. That's hard for a woman who internally swings from goddess to gargoyle in a millisecond multiple times throughout a day.

My first day in the clinic I realized that, yes, I actually did retain some of that information from my three years in school. I understand what I am doing when I treat a patient. Kind of. I heard the other interns discussing treatments and mapping out acupuncture points and I thought, holy shit, I do not follow that vein of reasoning. Actually, that vein of reasoning seems like an ocean of knowledge that I only have my toe in. My fellow interns were having these amazing discussions about points and strategies while I was picking my few points and quickly presenting them to the supervisor for approval. I felt like my classmates were painting Monet and I was throwing down the finger paint.  Their treatments were poetic, mine merely points strung together out of a rudimentary understanding of the language of acupuncture. 
My treatment strategy

Over the past four months though, that view of myself has changed, and I have started to find the balance and self-confidence that I was seeking. What is different? My need to compare myself to others and weigh my worth by their standards.

I love the geniuses I practice with. I love the way they practice acupuncture, but I love the way I practice it too. And so do they. Last week while I was at school my friend Pokemama said, "You know, I really like your intuition. You have good intuition when it comes to treatments." And I do. I may not be able to explain the etymology of a spirochete without consulting Wikipedia, but when a woman came to me sobbing because her in vitro fertilization did not work, I knew I needed to give her uterus a break and treat her for a broken heart. I have worked on a woman's low back pain and after the treatment she danced out of the room because her pain was so much better.

But then here's the balance, I gave another student a big ole' bruise on her chin. I treated an intern and he was sick for an hour and 1/2 after. Oops. I'm learning, but my foundation is firm and my intuition is strong.

About 15 years ago I got a call from my roommate from boarding school, "Did you hear that Miss Shannon is on the roof?", she asked.

"Uhhh, what? What in the hell does that mean?" I pictured my teacher from long ago, beautiful, Texas born drama queen literally sitting on her roof. Did she lose her mind?

"She died. She had a heart attack."

"What? She was young! In her forties." Then my former roommate explained that Ms. Shannon had had a heart condition, and while she explained it to me, I felt like I might have a heart condition too, because it hurt so much to hear that someone who had believed in me and cheered for me at my worst had died before I could tell her what a big fish she had been for me. Ms. Shannon had been eaten by a sperm whale in grim reapers clothing. She wasn't on the roof, she was in the belly of the whale and I would never be able to thank her for seeing the potential in me.

When I sit with a patient I am neither goddess or gargoyle, I am just a woman trying to come up with plan to help someone feel better. Neither big fish or small fish. I'm just a fish, just like all the other fish in this great big sea, swimming along, trying to avoid that damn sperm whale who eats us all in the end. Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming.....
One fish, two fish, 
be my own fish, 
with these other delish fish, 
We make a gourmet 
sperm whale dish.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

My Gut is a Genius

My gut knew what my head didn't want to believe. Fredo, was just that, a Fredo, someone who could've become a weak link in the Queenpin's organization. I'm so glad I cut him loose.

After my last post Fredo and I began to talk again. A few nights later I had plans to spend a night with myself, someone I like to hang out with regularly, but Fredo encouraged me to stop by. He was making dinner when I got there, and he offered me some. Then he told me where to sit, and I sat, and then I looked down upon a pair of women's shoes, placed ever so carefully right at my feet. They were not my shoes.
The last straw

I stopped eating, I drew the line, I left. I told Fredo I had him wrong, he was not a nice guy.

Because here's the thing. I don't have time for bullshit. The whole time Fredo and I are going through this DRAMA he said he wasn't angry with me, but his actions told me different, and the shoes were just the icing on the cake.

To me, passive aggressiveness is the cruelest form of communication. I'm not saying I don't do it, I think I did it a lot with my Sweet Escape, but man, it is such a soul killer.

Once, when the wusband and I were married, I thought I would do something sweet for him. Things had been rough lately, I wanted to try to reach out, so I did his laundry. We each always washed our own clothes, but I thought, "Hey, let me show this man that I love him even though times are tough." So I did his laundry and I folded it putting a little love in each crease. The wusband-to-be was standing in our kitchen as I brought the basket up the stairs. I stopped in front of him holding the full basket like a wrapped gift and said, "Hey, I did your laundry for you." That man looked at me with disgust and contempt dripping from every pore and then said, "Just don't. Don't do my laundry."

I broke into tears. What I had I done? I had no idea. I had no idea what I had done that was so shitty to deserve such contempt. For the wusband to not even want me to do his friggin' laundry. I'm sure I had done something. I was not a perfect wife. But tell me. JUST TELL ME, so I can change it. TELL ME, so we can work it out. TELL ME, so I we can yell and scream and then get to the make up sex.

I can take it. That's what I know about me, but maybe you don't Mr. Passive Aggressive. I can take it. I'm a woman with big ovaries, I can take the truth. But more than that, I crave the truth. I mean, I don't want you to lay out every damn thing I do wrong, but if I piss you off, let her rip. I want to know. I want to make the choice about whether I can change my behavior or not. I want to know because you are my partner and that's how you make things work, by laying it on the table.

So this post is a thank you to my gut. My squishy, soul knowing, food baby. Thank you for for speaking up, Sweet Mama. After I let go of the fantasy, I heard every word that you said.