28 December 2010

Giving Up - NOT a New Year's Resolution

So, I arrived home from several days with family and friends, from Christmasing with the ones I love, and noticed that my usual "glad to be home, to have time to and for myself, grateful for the peace, and especially the quiet of my solitary home" feeling didn't greet me at the door! What the . . . ?

In truth I stumbled over a want, a desire, for someone to welcome me. It was lying there just inside the door to the kitchen - and, I swear, that damn desire grabbed my ankle as I walked by.

Oh yes, I tried telling myself that this was just the decompression from nearly a week around others - but self wasn't having any of it. In Arkansas they used to say (probably still do) "that dog won't hunt." Trying to explain my way out of this wanting just wasn't working.

A couple of days of trying to fight the feeling, denying that it was about what I knew it was about, telling myself that it would pass - all that jazz involved in trying - once more - to push myself - and today I just quit!

I give up pretending that this is a natural reaction to being around others.
I give up trying to convince self that this will go away.
I give up all attempts to convince self that this longing can be filled by other activities.
Mostly I give up beating self up for wanting something I can't get through my own efforts.

T'would be nice to tell you - and the self sitting here shaking because I've actually written about this - that I know what I'm gonna do about this - and even nicer to be able to have faith that what I want might actually manifest. But all I can say, in truth, is that I'm giving up trying not to want what I want. I guess that's a start.

21 December 2010

Not Proud

I interviewed for a position today that really intrigues me. Part of the intrigue (but only part) has to do with a question the interviewer asked.

"Tell me about a time you aren't proud of, and what you did with or about it."

I don't think I've ever had a question worded just that way before. Sure, I've had an interviewer ask me to relate a mistake I've made - but never was it phrased in the way this was. Admitting a mistake is one thing - but a time when you weren't proud of yourself reeks of something personal - something shameful. What you choose to talk about can't help but tell a WHOLE lot about you - how you see yourself, what your fears are, what you want that other person to think of you.

How would you respond? Would you actually answer the question that was asked, or talk about a mistake made or problem solved instead?

I did - at least - reply honestly rather than deflecting the question into one I was more comfortable with. There's a time to be proud of. But the question itself seems to be taking me on a journey through all the times I didn't tell her about. The times I've actually treated people coldly - out of fear I couldn't let myself feel, even the times I've slunk away rather than let out my anger at someone's mistreatment.

I am often amazed by the way each day offers lessons in self-knowledge. I guess that really is the work of, and for, a lifetime. I do hope I get the job I was interviewing for. But then I also hope not to have to become too busy to continue contemplating, meeting, and accepting myself.

This becoming a grown up, perfectly imperfect human can really drain one.


15 December 2010

Wednesday Morning - So Far

Coming in from the cold I'm wearing three layers, top and bottom. When you enter the coffee shop through the back door you walk first by the roastery/office. Cain is roasting today. The smell of baked earth greets me.
Behind the counter three barristas stand around in a semi-circle. They are bent slightly at the waist, looking down. Aaron says "Oh Yeah! Nothin's gettin' through this baby." Jesse laughs in agreement.
That wakes me up, as the cold hasn't.
Later, the remains of donuts at my right hand, I'm feeling overheated beneath my layers. Unfamiliar music over the speakers includes a rather operatic woman's voice - two of the patrons laugh, begin to howl like dogs til Jesse manipulates the iPod to the next song.
Each small task online is complete. Other errands require re-emergence into the frigid day - entering traffic I anticipate with dread. Tonight we are forecast all manner of winter precipitation, and already grocery shelves will be stripped of milk and bread. Sitting here pleases me - like stretching long and lazy in bed, taking my time to enter the waking world.

08 December 2010

Where You Stumble

I'm good at pushing - really, really good at it. What do I mean by pushing - attempting to MAKE something happen, to change how things are, to FORCE, direct or otherwise manipulate to get what I want, or what I think I want.

What I'm best at pushing is myself. Lots of practice. Lots of opportunity. The curse of perfectionism, probably a lot of other isms as well

I've given up pushing myself to stop pushing - accepted that there's a Gatekeeper (who will identify itself only as The Critical One) of long residence who will probably always - automatically - give the first shove just about the time I start feeling comfortable with how things are - with how I see myself and my life. I've figured that fighting this G. - trying to get rid of it - is REALLY a waste of energy - sort of like the pushing.

But I've also figured out how to catch the pushing before it gets me deep in the poo that I used to live in all the time. And somehow it seems as if the Gatekeeper doesn't fight back so hard at being caught as it does if I try to stop its energy in the first place. Makes sense really - at least to me. Kind of like a little kid who will throw the tantrum of the year at being told "no" but who will behave more civilly if just given some time or space to do what they want for a while.

What brought all of this up is the understanding I came to only yesterday that I'd been pushing myself to submit poems and other pieces for any number of wrong reasons.

I'd been noticing for a while that I really seemed to have little to say, in writing, to 'the world' - example #1 being that I just couldn't think of things I wanted to blog about. Oh sure, something would show up in my day that I'd connect to and write about - but I didn't feel any juice for getting it in shape to share.

Then there were my dreams. Night after night I'd show up in a scenario where my words and actions took me to the front of a group, into a leadership position with everyone expecting me to produce, to get results - but without the tools necessary to the job and, most notably, by acting as an automaton. Then, when things fell apart, predictably, everyone and everything that was important TO ME about what I was doing was derided and scorned.

Clearly my energy for what I wanted and needed was being subverted into the "shoulds" I was following instead.

Even my Morning Pages - Julia Cameron's term for the journalling we need to do whether we are doing our 'real' writing or not - were telling me what I wanted to be writing, and to whom. There I noticed that each day's pages read like letters to some aspect of myself - even to the Critical One Gatekeeper - asking questions so common to letters.

I'd been submitting pieces to 'others' - to journals and contests - when I needed to be writing to, and for, myself. And I'd been doing it because of the 'shoulds' and because pushing myself to accomplish, to justify the time I spent writing, to 'act like' a 'real' writer (whatever that means) is what the Gatekeeper does so that I won't spend the time and energy going down into the abyss of myself. The G. will do anything to keep me out of there.

Yes, I only saw most of this yesterday. But then, nearly immediately, and inexplicably, as usually happens, I got some assistance from an unexpected source which helped the lesson deepen. In the daily quotes that show up in my e-mail I found the following - and it all fell together.

It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure.

- Joseph Campbell