Going Crazy?

So yesterday I posted the quote by Julia Cameron.  The last time I started reading “The Artist’s Way” I had underlined it.  That quote spoke to me in a big way.  For those of you who read it and perhaps weren’t quite sure about it…here is the paragraph it came from.  This might clear it up a little.

“Trusting our creativity is new behavior for many of us.  It may feel quite threatening initially, not only to us but also to our intimates.  We may feel-and look-erratic.  This erraticism is a normal part of getting unstuck, pulling free from the muck that has blocked us.  It is important to remember that at first flush, going sane feels just like going crazy.

So I’d say my life has been filled with “craziness” over the past two and a half years.  Everyday I am a new person.  There was a spark, a light bulb moment where I realized what creativity really is.  I always related creativity to art and production.  If you could produce some thing unique and beautiful then you were creative.  But all of us are our own greatest works of art.  My life is a result of what I am willing to create and imagine.  If I believe it, whether it is good or bad, I can see it.

But as I have traveled along, learning to trust my creative powers, there have been moments where it appears that I’m out of my mind.  (Which technically I am and that’s a good thing.) Things that are an everyday part of my life now, I couldn’t have fathomed three years ago.  One of my oldest friends said in response to reading some of my blog posts “I don’t even feel like I know you anymore.”  It was bittersweet to hear.  Bitter because I want her to know me, sweet because I am moving ever closer to who I am meant to be.  If I appear to be crazy then I must be pulling free, getting unstuck, climbing over the roadblocks, and sloshing my way through the muck.

Book Give-Away #2

When I first started attending Unity Eastside, I asked the minister to recommend a good book for me to read.  She recommended “Discover the Power Within You” by Eric Butterworth.  She described it as “The Secret but with Jesus.”  It is one of my favorites, I’ve read it about 6 times.  This book was the one I would always go back to when I was short on new reading material.  Butterworth is a Unity minister and author.  His insight into Jesus’ teachings is really very fascinating and helpful.  It’s been over a year since I picked it up, so I thought it was time to pass it on.  I also have noticed a few people have found my blog by searching “Eric Butterworth.”

Please comment on this post to be entered.  I will put all the names in a hat and pull one out at 9pm (eastern time) on Saturday, September 5th.  I will announce the winner on Sunday the 6th.

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Finding Inspiration

I’ve always been most inspired to write poetry when I was feeling down or lost.  I’ve been a bit “off” the past couple of days, but it makes for good poetry…or at least new poetry.

Today (Thurs. Aug. 27)

I breathe

thick air

heavy air

the fog  envelops me

blinding

I reach

for you, you

tangled, twisted, tattered

lost

I crawl inside

safe, warm

alive, whole

needing this place, this moment

broken without it

reaching back through the fog

waiting

wanting

to see, breathe

familiar air

to know

who, where

I am

My Shopping Problem

Those of you who don’t know me well are probably going to read the title of this post and assume that the problem is too much shopping.  That does seem to be a common problem, I know plenty of people that suffer from it, but I am not one of them.  I can’t stand to shop or spend more money than I have to.  And despite the economic crisis going on in the world, I am actually trying to encourage myself to let go of that attitude a little.  It’s not as easy as it sounds since I am married to a “saver” and we tend to enable each other, all the while talking ourselves out of experiences that would surely benefit us.

Once again, while reading Martha Beck’s book, I realized this “problem” of mine goes way back.  You see my father was always “tight” with his money and my mother loves nice things.  Obviously, that didn’t make a great combination.  When we did go shopping and get nice things, there was definitely a black cloud of “daddy won’t approve” hanging over us.  It haunted me to the degree that even as a child I remember feeling sick with guilt when my mother bought me clothes.  I loved them and gratefully accepted them, but always felt at least a little bit wrong about it.  As I got older and had my own money to spend, I always found ways to get the most out of it.  I’d ride around town scoping out the cheapest gas station, even if the difference was just 1 or 2 cents.  I ended up quitting my job at The Gap because I just refused to buy new clothes and the ones I wore weren’t current enough for my employer. (The only time my dad ever encouraged me to quit a job was when The Gap sent me home for wearing an out of season outfit.) It was in college when I discovered the art of finding new clothes on sale for $10 or less.  With inflation it’s gone up to $15 or less, but I swear I only buy clothes that cost more than that if I have a gift card or Mark talks me into it because it’s something very flattering.  In fact if you click on my “about” page and notice the dress I am wearing…got it on sale for $14.99 marked down from $36.

This summer my cheapness has been brought to my attention more than usual.  I’m sure part of it is that everyone’s worried about money these days and we are all feeding off of each other’s fears about it, but I am just getting very tired of overanalyzing how I should spend it.  I keep reading things that encourage you to pamper yourself from time to time.  But I just can’t seem to do this.  It is difficult enough for me to pamper myself with time to do activities I enjoy and to be with friends, when you add money into the equation I just am overwhelmed.  I think that what you are willing to give and do for yourself says a lot about what you think you’re worth is.  Maybe this is why I’d really like to be able to indulge myself without the guilt…to prove to myself that I’m really worth it.

Gratitude Fix

So today I’m in a mood, feeling a little down without good reason.  Like I’ve said before the closest fix I’ve got for a mood like this is to simply count my blessings.  So this will be another one of those gratitude posts!

I am grateful for Mark and how much he loves the girls and me.  It meant so much that he went with me to take them to their first day of school.  I love that he said to me while in Bella’s kindergarten classroom “Let’s just stay until the teacher starts kicking the parents out.”  I reminded him that I was a teacher and I know from experience that the teacher does not want to have to kick us out.  But it felt good that he said it and that leaving his little ones at school on their first days touched his heart in that way.  (I was also the one to pull him away from Callee’s school’s playground.)

I am grateful for spending a few hours with the ladies in my women’s group last weekend.  I am so lucky to know all of them and am just in awe of their talents.  I had been thinking a lot recently about taking a dance class and sure enough we talked a great deal about Jenny’s tremendous dancing skills and the various classes available in town.  I even discovered there is a studio here that offers pole dancing classes (which I totally want to do after reading Lissa Rankin’s post…the one I linked to yesterday).  I am also looking forward to Kamala’s upcoming workshop on healing.  I can’t wait to get a dose of all that she has been learning through her travels and studies this past year.

I am grateful that this first week of school has gone smoothly.  I am so pleased that we live in walking distance to Bella’s school.  I might have had a completely different reaction to the first day if I had had to wait in a car line or put her on a school bus.  It is very comforting to be this close and the exercise I’m getting walking an extra 2 miles a day certainly is appreciated.

Finally, I am grateful for the way my world is expanding.  It is quite amazing how blogging and tweeting has opened up so many doors and invited new people into my life.  I chatted today with a fellow writer in India and bought a book on Tuesday to send to my new friend in Texas.  I connected with someone else in Virginia and may have just gotten my first official writing gig.

Like always, I could go on and on, but I won’t.  It seems this was just enough to get me feeling better.  Life truly is good.  Someone replied to a blog post I wrote today and said “Ain’t it fun to be on this trip?”  When I first read the question I hesitated for a second, but then realized it was just the reminder I needed.  Yes it is fun!

For the sake of fun, laughter, and needing to be cheered up…here’s a pretty funny video but probably NSFW since a thong wearing woman makes an appearance (if you’re at work and can’t watch it, come back later for the laugh.)

Essential Self

This would be post number 2 in the “Finding Your Own North Star” series.  In the book Martha Beck describes two sides of ourselves: the essential self and the social self.  Your essential self is your guidance system (I would also refer to it as your higher self), the part of you that directs you to your path and just seems to know where you are meant to go.  The social self is the side of you that conforms to the “rules” that are put upon you by your family, school, church, peer group, and society in general.  The social self can definitely work in your favor, but it can also hold you back and keep you in fear.  It tends to enjoy the path of least resistance.

For the most part I agreed with Beck’s description of essential self.  She did however lose me for just a bit by listing off a few not so nice things the essential self might want to do.  I can’t remember her exact examples but she included things equal to slapping the tyrannical boss when they criticize you or rear-ending the guy in traffic who cuts you off.  I interpreted those type situations as very negative and I believe that our essential selves are essentially good.  So to give the author the benefit of the doubt I will imagine for a minute that your essential self does scream at you to slap your boss.  (Now remember it is highly unlikely that your social self will let you do this.)  If you follow through on this action maybe it will have positive results for both of you, maybe you discover an amount of courage you never knew you had and maybe your boss learns that he/she cannot push people around.  In the end you are both better people because of it.

Last night I woke up at 2am thinking of more examples of the way our essential selves work.  Here are my two favorites.

Mark and I watched a PBS program about the TV show “60 Minutes” last night.  They interviewed a guy who now works for the program.  He was 12-years-old when he fell in love with “60 Minutes” and knew he wanted to work on the show one day.  He was probably in 7th grade when he had this revelation.  I’m sure his social self went on a rampage telling him he was not supposed to be crazy over a news show…he was supposed to be interested in girls (other than Leslie Stahl), sports, music, and action movies.  Obviously his essential self won in that argument and he is on the path that was meant for him.  He’s making his dreams come true and making news on the best show for interesting news stories.

Your essential self’s role in relationships is another interesting example.  Your essential self falls in love and wants to go dancing, stay up all night talking religion and politics, and spend days having wild sex.  Your social self says wait just a minute here…you don’t know how to dance, talking religion and politics is a no-no, and wild sex: NEVER!  Instead it decides you should take things slooowww, date, and get to know each other.  Your social self sees the other person as a means to living happily ever after, while your essential self realizes they’re purpose might be to simply show you how to happily live in that moment.  Your social self clings to relationships out of fear, while your essential self knows that if one foundation crumbles it is simply clearing the way for a new and stronger one to be built.

So I invite you to search your heart and figure out what your essential self wants you to do.  If it is something little like say taking a pole dancing class, go for it!  If it is something huge and life changing, ask for guidance on the right steps to get you there (I guarantee if you are open it will happen when the time is right).

Wounds…

While on vacation I read the book “Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live” by Martha Beck.  I randomly picked this book off the $5 shelf at my church bookstore and took it with me on the trip because I knew it would be easy to tote to and from the beach and wasn’t worried if it got sandy or wet.   This book turned out to be a gem!  It has made me think so much and has given me a lot of ideas for blog posts (that I may or may not remember to write).

There was a chapter in the book about emotional wounds.  In the chapter, there was a quiz with about 8 questions with 1 point and 2 point answers.  At the end of the quiz you were supposed to add up your 2 point answers and if you had more than 3 of them, you probably have some emotional wounds that you have buried deep down.  I almost didn’t take the quiz, thinking about people I know who’ve got real wounds…wounds that run deep and hurt in a way I can’t understand, but I decided to take it and surprisingly ended up with about 5 of those 2 point answers.  I started thinking about what it is I could possibly be sitting on.  I came up with 2 situations immediately, both of which happened during junior high school.  One I will definitely blog about another day and the other will probably go unmentioned.  I was also able to associate one of my “issues” with some childhood stuff.  But beyond those, I was unable to think of a real emotional wound….until today.

Today was Bella’s first day of school.  My friend and I walked to the elementary school with our little ones in strollers to pick up the big girls.  When we got back to our homes, my friend’s daughter and the little girl who lives behind us came inside to play.  I checked my email and started cleaning the kitchen and all the while I felt this amazing peace wash over me.  I can’t even really describe how good I felt, it was close to being wrapped up in a warm towel just out of the dryer.  All I could think was how grateful I was to be home with my girls and how I always want to be here for them when they come home from school.  I signed on to Facebook and wrote that I was feeling “wonderfully nostalgic.”  And that’s when it hit me…this had nothing to do with my work status and everything to do with one of my emotional wounds.

You see my mother stayed home with me until I was in 2nd grade.  I was completely addicted to having her around.  She was my world…everything!  But when I was 7 years old she went back to work.  During her first year of work I got off the school bus and stayed at the neighbor’s house.  They were and still are lovely people, but they didn’t fill my mommy’s shoes and what I was allowed to do while in their care wasn’t nearly as much fun as having my friends come over and play or biking through the neighborhood.  During my 3rd grade year, I became a latchkey kid (things are definitely different now-a-days) and I turned into a cookie-eating-couch-potato every afternoon as I waited for my sister to arrive home from junior high school.

So I realized today that the nostalgia I felt was for the days before 2nd grade, when I got off the school bus and found my mother home waiting for me.  I was reliving those moments from the other side and watching my daughters play with their friends in the same way I had so long ago.  At dinner I told Mark that I’d discovered one of my wounds.  I explained everything to him and he replied that I’d felt abandoned.  He was exactly right…

So who knows, maybe today is the day I start letting go of my abandonment issues.  And I also want to say for the record that I would not have wanted it to be any different!!  My mother was able to do so much for me (like pay for my college education) because she went back to work!!! There are all kinds of things that cause people’s emotional wounds.  It could be something huge like abuse or neglect, or a little something like losing your favorite teddy bear.  Just because this stuck with me doesn’t mean it would stick with someone else.  This is an issue that I was meant to work through in my life! (So if I haven’t made it clear enough, please don’t misinterpret this as a stay-at-home-mom versus working mom post.  I am totally supportive of both, I promise!!)

The Journey Begins

As I am writing this it is Sunday evening, August 23, 2009.  I just began packing my first school lunch as a mom.  Sure, on occasion the girls stayed for “lunch bunch” at their preschools but this is the real deal.  Bella starts kindergarten tomorrow.  The journey begins.  As we were sitting in the cafeteria during the pizza lunch at orientation Friday afternoon, Mark brought it to my attention that now we are starting school all over again.  I didn’t much care for school as a student (or a teacher for that matter).  The first day of school always terrified me.  I was a quiet, day-dreamer, which added pressure for me.  There was always the fear that I wouldn’t be outgoing enough to make friends or that I’d get called on in class in one of those  moments when I was off in another world.  I was the happiest in school when I was given an assignment I could get lost in.  I recall that happening in Geometry, Art, Yearbook, and English.  So now I start the whole process over again, standing on a side I’ve never stood before.  I’ve been the student and the teacher, now I’m the mom.  I’m not sure at this moment what my wishes are for Bella.  I’m hoping that at least kindergarten will be blissful for her.

Bella, on the other hand, is relaxed right now.  She is easy-going in these type situations, so we haven’t done a lot of talking and preparing.  I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but right now the only person feeling any anxiety is me.  I was the one disappointed to find that none of her friends from preschool were in her class.  She didn’t even ask or seem to notice.  She’s open to and up for this new adventure.  And I am hanging in here, doing my best not to project my fears on to her.

So tomorrow (or today as you read this) on August 24, 2009, I embark on another journey through school that will last for at least the next 15 years.  Can you say YIKES?!?!?!

Clarissa Pinkola Estes, PhD

Some comments on the blog this week made me decide to post this quote from the book “Women Who Run With The Wolves.”  It seems everybody has their own set of arbitrary rules that they think others should comply with.  I like what Dr. Estes says about compliance….

“Compliance causes a shocking realization that must be registered by all women.  That is, to be ourselves causes us to be exiled by many others, and yet to comply with what others want causes us to be exiled from ourselves.”

Doing what you know is right for you and your family (whether others like it or not) is never selfish!!  It’s LOVE!