Thursday, June 2, 2011

It's OK to be annoyed

I have come to the realization that much if not all of the outside circumstances in my life are actually mirrors to myself.  I mean this in the sense that people, situations and circumstances throw back at me whatever it is I am feeling, whether I am conscious of it or not.

This morning I was a bit cranky but put it off and tried to bypass the feeling and remember all that is good in life.  There is a TON of awesomeness in my life right now, but I just couldn't get into the mood of gratitude.  Still, I decided not to mope or feel frustrated, and chugged along anyway.

Throughout the day, several mildly annoying things came up.  I had a tick crawl on my book toward me.  I had a wasp land on my bag.  Clients showed up that were somewhat annoyed or annoying, I dropped my phone and the case fell off it.  I doodled at my drawing but was upset with it even though it was going well.  People I didn't want to deal with called, people I wanted to come didn't show up.  All of these things were annoying, but not really bad.  The tick didn't bite me.  The wasp didn't sting me.  The annoying clients were satisfied, and a few even turned into fun people I liked.   My phone is fine and all I had to do was put the case back on it.  The person who didn't show up is coming tomorrow.  I don't even have to reply to the phone people.  My drawing looks fine.  Really, it was just the slightest edge of annoyingness to everything.

On my drive home, slightly annoying things happened, like people blocking me from passing, or causing a jam by being slow.  Nothing awful.  And then it dawned on me.  I have been annoyed all day!  And to point this out, all of these slightly annoying things were happening around me and to me.  And if I would just feel annoyed already, for real, instead of ignoring it or pretending it wasn't worth being annoyed over, it could get better.

So I got annoyed with the car people.  I relived my day's annoyances and felt kind of pissed off about them.  I got annoyed that work was slow and then fast and then annoying.  I got annoyed that drivers were being doofuses, and that wasps wanted to land near my things, and a tick had made a beeline for my hand while I was reading my book on the lawn.  I got annoyed that I had to do stuff I didn't really feel like doing at all.  It felt, well, annoying!  And then it felt funny.  And then I felt better.

I am still mildly annoyed, but it is a little bit funny to me too.  I can see it for what it is.  I am not telling myself how right I am to be annoyed, or how awful it is to be annoyed.  Actually, it's kind of great to allow myself to feel it.  Usually I try to be a "good" person and in my mind "good" people never get annoyed or mad.  Especially for no reason.  But you know what?  I don't really care anymore, and that's a great place to be at.  Being annoyed is better than being artificially numb.  And letting myself be annoyed is actually letting it break up into a much lighter feeling, a combo of boredom and silly joy at the same time.  And I like that a lot.  It feels authentic.  And that's great!

I feel like stomping around a little, and the thought of that makes me want to laugh.  Sounds like a good way to end the evening.  STOMP CLOMP ARGH!  hehehehe.

Friday, May 13, 2011

List for the Universe to Accomplish

I'd like to share an awesome idea that I learned from Lola Jones, which is to make a list of things that you want or need, but that feel impossible for you to accomplish, and then let the universe provide it for you.  Essentially, you make the list, intend that a solution is found or the result you want arrives, and let go of trying to force it to happen.  You don't work on the items, you don't stress about them, you just put them on the list, and wonder in an innocent way, "I wonder how this will happen for me?"

Then, you just go about your life, and notice when something lines up in a way that matches what you want.  In those moments, you follow up, rejoice, and simply enjoy that you have gotten what you needed and the universe took care of you.

I have had remarkable success with this list already and have only really had one for about a month or two.  At first all I had on there was thank you for all the money coming in.  And lo, money started coming in!  Then I added, more clients, and artists to take them.  Improved relationships between my loved ones.  There was more but I already forgot it because I got it all already and have since made a new list.

Yesterday a tattoo artist from a shop in a neighboring state came by and wanted to work here.  His work is excellent, he has a load of clients, and will start with us next week.  This is a perfect solution, just what I wanted and didn't know how to get!  All of my relationships are getting a lot smoother and happier.  I am getting more relaxed.

I threw out my old list after raving about how awesome it is that I have gotten everything I asked for.  Now I have one that lists paying off my business credit card, flowing more money for myself and my workers, getting our house cleaned up and ready to sell for a great price, and even better health.  I can't wait to see how that all comes to pass.  Whoo -hoo!

The greatest part of it all is that I really have started to get out of my own way.  When I try to plot and force things along a specific path, it all gets difficult and messy.  I do things I think I should do instead of things I want to do or that feel good.  This way I can just do things that feel good and stop doing things that feel bad to get what I think I want.  I am learning that I can get what I want with a lot less work.  I can get it just because it wants to happen anyway, and I can just enjoy it and have even more energy to do even more fun things.

Yesterday I even did a drawing for the show that hangs tonight and opens tomorrow.  I never would have had the energy to do something like that even a month ago.  Lightening up is pretty awesome.  I am not worrying about my schedule as much.  I am not worrying that I need to force efforts to get clients to come in.  Instead I think, "thanks for all my awesome clients," and when they are sparse, I think, "thanks for the time to relax and get inspired."  Ideas are flowing, art is flowing, and clients are actually requesting more and more of what I actually want to do now. 

Life is good, people!  Make a list and enjoy.  :)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Sick for a week

I had the most impressive cold last week.  Actually, I still have it - it's been eight days today.  It started with just a tickle in the back of the throat and quickly blossomed into a full-blown lung-crushing wracking cough, replete with gross mucous and stuffed head and nose.  Today the cough is a lot less, most of the grossness having been expelled over the last several days.  But I am still marveling at how clinging this bug has been.  It's exhausting!

 I am reminded of the illnesses of my youth, when I was constantly on medication from about November until April every year with bronchitis, asthma and horrible colds and flus.  This sickness felt like that, causing the extreme difficulty in breathing that I remember as a kid.  I was prepared to have Derek take me to the clinic on Saturday to see if I had pneumonia.   But by the end of that day I was starting to clear up, and today I am remarkably better, if not completely well yet. 

It's my hope that this is all old energy and habits moving out of me.  I would be thrilled if this is the last illness of its ilk that I ever experience.  I'd be thankful to never wheeze again, have wet and heavy lungs, or the kind of stuffed nose that takes weeks to clear out.  So, thank you illness for clearing all this junk out of me, and may I never experience a lengthy and painful illness again!


Friday, April 29, 2011

Ask and Ye Shall Receieve

Today I am marveling at how easy life can flow when I get out of my own way.  I basically announced to the universe and myself this morning (and every day for a few months now), "Thank you for all of the money flowing to me and to those around me."  And lo and behold, I am getting lots of relaxed and happy walk-ins at the studio, filling up my time around cleaning and general web-maintenance.  It's awesome!

I spent the morning cleaning the house and listening to music.  I played with Sherazade and brushed her out.  I enjoyed the open windows and the warm breeze.  I am totally happy today!  Work has been very productive, with our sign coming down and Frank completing over half of the new paint job on the new sign over the entrance.  I have done two tattoos, ran the autoclave, drained the air compressor, and swept and mopped all the stations.  I also hooked up the printer so we can print posters for work, too.  All that and a marvelous sandwich for lunch, and having met Noon, the tattoo artist friend of Loic's from France.

I'm looking forward to all of the ways life eases up for me.  I've grown tired of trying to direct it all.  Now I am going to just enjoy asking for what I am want and curiously waiting and watching to see what opportunities unfold before me to sweep me along the way.  So far it's been pretty incredible.  Having only focused on money concerns over the last five months, I can only really track that aspect's progress for me.  But in deciding that money should be flowing, it certainly has been!  My debt is reducing, and I have even been able to talk about starting an actual IRA for myself.  Holy crap, that's amazing!  Five months ago I feared financial ruin and having to close my business or do it all myself.  Now, I am continually happy to have the help and support of my staff, we're raking in new and old clients by the handful, and I'm really enjoying everything that we are working on here.  Classes are showing up and people are interested in meeting here and renting our space.  The shows are getting better and selling art.  Wow!

In short, I can't believe I haven't gotten this concept sooner.  It's remarkably simple.  I suppose it's easy to just get caught up in what everyone else stresses about and believe I have to as well.  Also, I have tended to create problems everywhere by waiting for a shoe to drop whenever anything went right.  Now I am retraining myself to just notice when things go well and sing life's praises.  It is working out better for me.

I think we just got another walk-in.  Time to set up!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Consumption vs. Acceptance

Following a much older post about how the past probably wasn't worse than the present, I was thinking about the imbalances in our culture that could result in such a judgment.  American culture as I experience it is full of materialism and over-working.  Is this the result of capitalism?  Or is capitalism the result of our imbalances?

Our entertainment is full of advertisements, more so than other countries I have visited.  In part, this may be because the production values of our programming are much higher, so the government isn't subsidizing the cost of the shows.  But it also is a result of a desire for gaining as much profit as possible for one's efforts.  Sure you could pay off your costs and make a little bit of money with just one advertiser, but if you have ten, then you make a lot more money!

The culture promotes consumption to excess, even as it tells us to be considerate of the environment if possible.  I think part of the key here is the "if possible" part.  How is that even negotiable?  It gets a lot of us angry and fired up about this lack of propriety, but ultimately, consuming and producing takes precedence over conservation and cultivation.

In order to consume as much as you "should," it's a matter of course that you should work a lot for it.  Americans work more hours than anyone else in the world except for those in countries attempting to become like us, who work even more.  Simultaneously, we feel that the culture owes us something - that we deserve the best possible gain from our expenditures.  If we feel we are working hard, we deserve the best we can afford, full stop.  Work hard, play harder.

It seems to me that many of us are working very hard for rewards we think are coming later on in life.  But what good are those rewards then?  Why would we actively choose to delay contentment?  How did we get convinced that things are going to be great later, and settle for misery and mediocrity now?  How did we forget that now is all we have?

Also, if we are so concerned about how great everything will be later, why would we be so wasteful and destructive as we are, going about accumulating wealth and status?  Wouldn't we want to live in a clean and pristine world instead of a depleted and littered one?

I don't have anything profound to say about this right now, but the thoughts are bungling about in my head.  I personally want to make decisions now that are filled with contentment and joy.  I don't want to work incredibly hard to the point of misery, because why be miserable?  It won't make things better later on to be sad now.  It just accumulates more misery.  I also want to enjoy an environment that is living and happy and uncluttered with man-made stuff.  Or, on the other hand, to surround myself only with man-made stuff that is quite lovely and that I appreciate and use.  I don't want to own things just to own them.

In short, I reject the idea that I need to work constantly to earn enough to have things I don't really even want or need.  I need very little.  I want lots of things, but when it comes down to it, most of the things I want are experiences and not objects.  It would be well if more people knew that, too.  Right now, I want to go home and paint.  And so I am - ha!

On Children

In my life, I am often swept along by whatever is going on around me.  The desires of others, the circumstances that simply appear, opportunities that pop up and I can't resist.  It has been perhaps a little rare that I truly sit down and make a conscious decision about choices that make my life shift dramatically.  When I do, I often find myself in paralysis, unable to move forward because I like to keep options open as long as possible just to see what turns up.

Over the last several months, I have been deeply considering my life.  What is it right now?  How I am contributing to the world?  Where do I seem to be going, and do I like it?  Who do I surround myself with, and how do I fit best with all of these beings?  It has been a time of profound insight, and hasn't always been very pretty to look at.

One of the decisions that has been particularly hard to come by has been the one surrounding children.  Do I have them or not?  When should that happen?  What would it mean to me and my life?  How about Derek?  And, perhaps most importantly, do I even want kids?

This life-altering and life-creating decision has been fraught with anxiety for me.  I feel the longing of my husband for children, and I have felt scared because I have not been ready to have them.  I hear my grandparents asking about great grandchildren, and Derek's mother telling us that a psychic told her we'd have two kids some day.  All around me my friends are having babies, babies are showing up at work even though they shouldn't be, and I have felt completely confused in my reactions to all of these events.

I was starting to get annoyed with people making the comment that there is never a good time to have a kid.  I took it as a suggestion that I am procrastinating too much and making excuses to not have children that hold no weight with anybody else.  Even Derek has used this phrase with me while we discussed children, when I was expressing how I didn't feel I could be a mom and run my studio at the same time right now.

A large river seemed to spring up in my head between my business and artistic pursuits on the one bank, and a family with kids running around on the other.  I could see how it would be nice to be old and have children and grandchildren to share life with, and in some ways really would like that.  I also in no way could imagine having children as I am right now and still be able to put my energies into my work, which is really important to me and enjoyable.

I fear in many respects that I would resent a child for taking me away from tattooing, from the studio I worked so hard with others to create.  I fear choosing a child's well being over my own (and I know I would choose that), and watching as my involvement in the business I have created slips away, and I become irrelevant.   I fear wanting to travel or go anyplace and hearing shrieking children instead of peace and quiet.  And I simultaneously fear becoming old without laughing at a dinner table with kids of my own, or sharing the outdoors with them, instead only having my paintings and tattoos on other people to share or be a legacy of my instant on the planet.

This is tough stuff!  I have been on the fence about children from the beginning.  And as I grow older, I know that I only have another decade or so in which I could have my own kid.  Derek already worries about being too old to keep up with a child as they grow up, too.  My being digs in and says NO, don't have kids, you don't really want them right now.  And I argue with it and say, but what about Derek, who would be such a great dad?  What about if I get too old and can't have them anymore and I miss this opportunity?

If I listen to my deepest self, I come to the conclusion that I really do not want to be a parent.  At this time, which is the only time I have control over or access to, I do not want to get pregnant or raise a kid.  And so, it's OK to make that choice, to not have a child instead of continually acting as though maybe someday I will change my mind, probably next year, because it is always next year that I will change my mind. . . and then I never do.  I feel badly that I have been saying "maybe" and "probably yes next year" for eight years or so now.  Even as I say no, I say yes for later, and it is causing more pain than simply accepting that I don't actually want children.  I can see how the yes is my way of delaying the choice until I can't make it anymore and will sigh in relief and blame my withered body for not being able to have children instead of my own spirit consciously choosing not to.  In my fear, I figure if my body fails I am blameless, but if I choose actively to remain a non-parent then I may be judged unworthy, or foolish, or selfish.  But really, choosing to not choose is cowardly.  It means really I choose no, but am tricking everyone including myself into believing that very soon I could say yes.  It's exhausting and awful.

So I had the discussion with Derek to let him know that my initial response of not wanting children is still primary.  I really love my life.  I like what I am doing.  I love the people I spend time with.  I love him.  I am enjoying filling my life with my work, with art, with reading and philosophy.  I am enjoying spending time out in nature, going to the zoo, seeing art at auctions with him or at galleries and museums.  I don't have a void where children would live.  My life feels full already.  I don't feel a need to have children, and I don't want them.  I apologized for always telling him this with the caveat of, but in a couple of years, that might all change, and actually, we could flip everything upside down with my work and once it takes off properly it can function without me and then I could have kids. . .  I can see how this is creating false hope in him that I actually do want kids and simply don't have the means to have them now because work isn't really solid.  The truth is, it isn't work that is the limiting factor.  That's an excuse.  It is me.

And he is quite sad accepting my words.  And I am, too.  Even having chosen not to have children, I feel a loss.  I feel that I have crossed that river and am clearly on one side of it now.  My time of swimming in it, and keeping both options open is ending.  I feel sad for the life story I am losing of having descendants and going to music recitals and graduations and teaching someone how to drive.  Part of me wants to jump back in the river and stay in the middle, where those things are still possible on one shore.  But most of me is just sad, but happy to finally get out of the damn water and move on with my life.  The sadness will pass.  It's not the end of the world.  In fact, it might even be the beginning of one.

As with all major decisions that forever impact the rest of one's life, I am scared of choosing wrong.  Scared because once the decision is made, I'll never know what my life would have been like if I chose the other way.  But, the only way to really make a great life for oneself, I believe, is to really throw one's spirit in wholeheartedly into the life they actually have.  I need to stop swimming around and get out of the river, and start to build my life knowing that the longer I wait to get started on living, the less time I will have to enjoy it.

Another great point that was made to me is that decisions can be changed.  It is just important to make them in the first place.  Otherwise nothing can happen.  So here I am, with a decision.  I feel a little bit empty.  I am not sure what to do now.  But it is a lot less anxious than the indecision.  I'm sure plenty of opportunities will arrive to fill in the emptiness.  Something must fill up the space where all those unchosen opportunities resided.  I'm looking forward to seeing what turns up.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Spring Cleaning and Decluttering take one

It's Spring Cleaning day at my home today.  At least, it is the start of it.  I feel excellent cleaning up all the dust bunnies and crumbs of the winter and getting them out of the place.  Even better, I am feeling glad to throw out useless items and consider what to do with the things that we don't use but could be useful to someone else.

It puts me in mind of moving, which I do think I really want to do.  A half-hour commute is fairly standard for most people around here, but it sucks the life out of me.  It's easier to just come home and stay put then to hang around work for a time and then go out, or leave an outing only to linger at work before we open for a few hours.  Our location limits my sociability, and I'm looking forward to remedying that.  Cleaning up in mind of moving is fun.

It's continually astounding the amount of stuff that humans accumulate, and I'm astonished that even though I believe that I don't really want a lot of things, I have so very many things anyway.  I really don't need even a fraction of it, and most of it doesn't bring joy.  So why do I hold on to it all still?

Today, I will decide to part with a significant amount of stuff that I have been hanging on to.  Trinkets that are unneeded I can either pass on, sell or throw out.  Clearing it out will leave room for better things, or even better, just space to breathe in.  We use that phrase as a metaphor, but I think it might be more important literally.  How fresh is our air when we clutter it with dusty junk?

I'm off to the donation bin right now with a large pile of clothes to give to others.  It makes me really happy, not just to provide for others, but also to get this stuff off of my floor, out of my closet and back into the world to circulate where it needs to go.  Stuff does me no good in a closet or being tripped on.  Off I go!