Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Difficulty of Accepting Snow-Fear

What is the dream I have for myself?  I have been trying to figure this out for years, but still am not sure that I can narrow down the theme, or if I even have one.  Some days it feels so simple to just wake up and be happy and ask questions like, "what would be fun to do today?" and follow that.  But many other days, I am caught in obligations that I have made for myself, or believe that I have, even if they don't exist outside my head.

If I open up and allow for anything, I want to live somewhere warmer, with a lot less snow.  I'd like to be outside more for eating breakfast, reading books, and enjoying the fresh air.  I'd like to paint a bit, tattoo a bit, read and hike a bit.  These activities could fill my days and I would be content.

I suppose the good news is that I already read, paint, tattoo and even hike a bit, so I am not far off my mark.  I think I must just be bitter about the weather being so full of ice and snow lately.  I am not good at accepting limitations, and I need to come to terms with how I am.  I hate driving in snow, on snowy roads, or on ice.  It stresses me so much to do it that I am in tears or on the verge of them all day, and I fear my heart might explode, but at the same time kind of hope that happens just to put me out of my misery.  If I am able to stop feeling like my staying home is the end of the world, then life could go on quite peacefully and happily.  But I build up this idea that by staying home I am weak, disappointing and foolish.  I fear that I am damaging my friendships by being unreliable.  But actually, if I always stayed home in snow, that's pretty reliable.  Time to accept this and let it go.  Ugh.

It is moments like these that I realize how much I get caught in patterns of belief and thought, and that it feels very had to change it at all.  There is a stubbornness to my feelings that precludes reason.  Telling myself to feel better about a situation does not make it automatically happen, even though I want it to.  I suppose the next thing to do is to accept that I feel bad about my inability to drive without unreasonable fear, and just allow myself to feel bad about it without doing anything. 

What usually happens is I feel bad about it, force myself to drive anyway, then feel bad about my "overreaction" to driving, spend the day upset, crying, easily angered and scared, and terrified of my inevitable drive back home.  The people who spend time with me get to hear about my horror, which I am sure is annoying and not fun for them.  I am resentful of them for "making" me come out, even though they ultimately had nothing to do with that decision, it was all in my head that they "needed" me to come out.  I spend the entire day a bundle of nerves, unable to really focus or get anything done because I am preoccupied with visions of spinning cars and crunching metal.  So not worth it, even if it is all in my head!

My options at this point are to either "get over it", which I honestly feel I have been trying to do but unsuccessfully; move to an area that doesn't have snow and ice, which is complicated by the fact that I share my life with a man who likes this area and has a job here, and I have a job here too; or get comfortable with the knowledge that I am just not leaving my home in a snowstorm anymore and stop forcing myself to be like everyone else who is able to drive in snow without feeling like they might die the entire way.  This is the viable option.  Just stay home, and stop torturing myself about that decision, since it won't change my fear of snow death to pretend I don't have it.

Life, please be simple and help me not feel bad about staying home in snow and ice anymore.  Help me learn to love this part of myself that I hate right now, so I can come up with other things to do on snow days than berate myself for being stupid and fearful and disappointing.  It would be so much nicer to spend the day honestly having fun doing something.  Let's do that today, ok?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Snow and How it Paralyzes Me

Phobias are no joke.  I have had several bad incidents with driving on snowy and icy winter roads.  Today it was snowing, but I was told that the roads weren't bad, so off I went thinking I would make it to my acupuncture appointment and then to work with no trouble at all.

About a half hour into my drive, and only halfway to the coast, I pulled off the highway to a gas station in tears and called Lari while I sobbed and wondered what to do.  The roads seemed horrible to me, full of slush and barely plowed.  Too many cars, I hated the occasional shimmy that my car would make on some snow or slush, and I just wasn't sure if I would make it to work.  I canceled my acupuncture appointment since I was already late, canceled my dentist appointment for Thursday since it is supposed to snow then, too, and then shook and cried while watching the monsterous snow flakes fall onto my car in the parking lot.

Eventually, I decided since I was already halfway to work, and had two appointments to do, I would just breathe and drive and get there.  The rest of the drive was stressful and to me, horrible.  Once in New London, it was fine, as apparently they have enough traffic on their roads to melt the snow.  Our parking lot was bad, lots of soft snow on top of ice.  I hated it.  But I got there.

I hate feeling an honest fear for my life in situations that require me to be in vehicles in the snow.  I feel weak and foolish and know that I am in some instances overreacting, but I know from experience that the illusion of control over one's vehicle in snowy conditions is just that, an illusion.  Tap your brakes once and shimmy the wrong way, and you can end up upsidedown in a ditch, flung off a highway, or with your car completely accordioned around another car.  It's scary, and unpredictable, and I don't want to feel that kind of helplessness just because I somehow think I "need" to be somewhere that day.  I really think I should stop pushing myself to get over this, as every time I try I end up in a heap of tears and nerves, or else with a broken car in the shop, and with tears and nerves.

Blaaaaahhhhhh!  I spend a lot of time hating the snow and weather, but maybe what I am really hating is that I really don't want to leave in that weather and drive or be driven anywhere, and I am upset because I feel like I should do it anyway, or be able to.  Perhaps one of my limitations in life, as annoying as it is to me and others, is that I just can't and won't drive in the snow.  Is that really that horrible?  Winter is only 1/4 of the year.  And it only snows about 1/4 of the time in the winter.  So for 1/8 of the year, I just won't go out or work because it's too damned scary for me.  And you know what?  If I don't die, I can work and go out the rest of the year.  Which is a lot of time, if I don't die.

It's going to snow another 10 inches tomorrow.  It did at least three today.  We have gotten at least 3 feet of snow already this winter and it isn't even February yet, which I think of as the snowiest time of year.  Fuck you winter roads and all your stupid lack of plowing or being safe.  ARGHHHHH!!!!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Conflicting Desires

The weeks are flying by this January!  Much as I know that as we get older time seems to pass more quickly, it never stops surprising me.  Already we are over halfway through the first month of the year.  A good aspect to this year is that the Three Things mantra really seems to be working out well.  I have gotten a lot done in three weeks, including a painting, lots of planing for the business with events and contacts, and have even set up for my class at Earthfire Institute in the summer.

Doing tasks one at a time with only three major goals per day, however small they are, is giving my life a steady pace without a huge amount of stress.  I've also been finding that I am more willing to open up and say what I mean more often, which is a blessing.  I have found it very difficult to feel vulnerable and if I get hurt once, I tend to close off that entire aspect of my life from the one who hurt me.  I am learning to be more honest with myself about doing that, and seeing more clearly when and why it happens.

In return for this hard look at myself and seeing some of the crud that I have left there, my relationships across the board are on a huge upswing.  As it turns out, even though I fear it, nobody is actually out to hurt me.  It's even embarrassing to admit that I felt that way, so I think I even kept it from myself.  Somewhere in my heart I was very scared that people find me funny and hold onto ways that I am stupid or ridiculous and make fun of me.  I worried that they wanted to take control of everything from me because they think I can't do it well myself.  I'm tired of being that insecure, and am hoping that I can find ways to love and accept even these parts of myself that are fearful children.

It has been a snowy January this year, and we've had the studio closed several days already.  This will be the fourth day closed for snow this month, maybe the fifth.  I am really glad we worked the last week of December into January!  Even with the weather being uncooperative, we have been getting steadily busier.  I am excited about the flow of people and picturing an even larger flow of clients into the business.  I am also looking forward to the transition to a more tattoo oriented space this year.

At home, we've been eating down our freezer downstairs.  We had lots of meat from my dad's hunting, and from gathering "deals" over the last two or three years.  I am glad to be clearing it out, it feels like one step closer to actually being present or being ready to move to another space.  We are starting to clear out this one - yay!  It's a nice parallel to the way I have been clearing out my soul a bit.  It feels at times uncomfortable, but overall a lot lighter and easier to work with.  And often, even delightful and happy, which is always nice.  Tonight we are having ribs and potatoes and maybe some green beans.  Yum!

This process of unfolding the more hidden aspects of myself and noticing them is making me fairly untalkative.  I have a lot of, "Oh wow!  I totally didn't realize I felt this way," moments, and "Ah, that's what I have been doing, interesting," realizations.  Once I see why I am doing something, I am able to decide whether it's an effective way to deal with the world or not.  Most of the time it hasn't been, but I have been able to be kind to myself in at least understanding why I did things, or the motivation behind them.  So much of what I do hasn't been conscious, even though I had believed that I was pretty aware of what I do and how I feel.  I actually have buried so much of my honest feelings from the surface in order to feel safe and protected that my actions are pretty fragmented versions of what I think I want.  I have been out of touch with my basic feelings and motivations, and only aware of the feelings that overly them.  No wonder life got so confusing and painful!  The things I was trying to do were not in accord with what I thought were my motivations, so I got confused and spent a lot of time combating symptoms rather than causes of my situations.  This is probably what medicine is like, too - combating symptoms all the time because the causes are so unclear due to people protecting themselves from their real issues.  Humans are so tricky!

Right now I am just practicing noticing reality (harder than one would think), and accepting my strange responses to life.  I am seeing how much I like to have immediate gratification to every whim, and how often I pursue that.  Also, I am seeing how often my every whim isn't actually in line with what I really want deep down, but is a way to avoid being patient, working at something, or trusting that everything is coming to me that I want already.  I think I get in my own way a lot by trying to deliver results to myself when if I could just trust that the universe is working properly and I will get what I want pretty quickly with less interference on my part.  Trust is going to be a keynote this year for me.

It seems time to eat breakfast and go shovel the driveway so Derek can get in OK.  Ahh, snow.  Please end sometime soon.  We have enough right now.  Thanks.  :)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Conscious Creators

I have been thinking a lot about how we as humans are creators, and how we create our realities.  I am still wrapping my head around the idea that not only does this effect our interpretation of what goes on around us, but it actually creates the circumstances in our lives in each moment, too.  Incredibly powerful!  So, how do we decide what we actually want, then?  I see that so much of my life in its current state has been unconsciously created, and the few threads that I have thrown energy towards consciously are surprising to me and I don't know what to do with that.  Some of the honest thoughts of what I want have been foreign to me, I am unable to understand where the thought comes from, but the feelings behind them are so strong.  They extend beyond just work, or where we live, but even to who is around us, and the spirit in which they approach us.  Holy crap, if we have that much control over our lives why do we allow ourselves to suffer, and what are the ways I am causing my own suffering through being unclear in what I want?

I have a fear of being reckless, though I delight in it as well.  I mean, I really truly love recklessness, and find it so taboo as well that I basically halt myself from enjoying experiences even as I set them into motion.  My whole life it seems is full of this pitch - work, relationships, friendships, money, hobbies.  I apparently like riding the edge more than I gave myself credit for.  What happens if I embrace it?  Can this be a great strength?  I suspect that embracing our true nature has a great deal of power and joy in it, if we let go of the fear and really allow ourselves to be as we are.  I am surprised at how others percieve me sometimes.   Are they picking up on my true intents below the surface of my awareness?  I would love to come to know my own intentions better, accept and love them, and welcome others responses to me in that aware and loving state.  It could be such an easy existence, trusting that everything is flowing to me exactly as I set it forth, and therefore I would never need to be fearful, since I would be clear on what I was bringing my way instead of always in the dark about it.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Daruma Doll Intention

Kagami Biraki was on Saturday, and Derek came with me to the dojo for four hours of meditation, ceremony and physical training.  Over half was actual workout, and today and yesterday we both have been walking around the house feeling very sore.  Nothing like jumping into an intense workout to remind you that your body has been pretty neglected for a while.  Whew!  My triceps and stomach muscles are so tired!

During the ceremony we dedicated our daruma dolls toward whatever goal we set for ourselves for training over this year.  It was great to see so many people all gathered together with intention to grow.  My goal is one of learning to relax, interestingly enough.  I want to truly become OK with doing just three things each day.  Not twenty, not zero, but three things.  The real intent is to find a more manageable pace for myself.  I'd rather have endurance throughout the years of my life by continually accomplishing things at a slower pace than to always rush and stop, haphazardly doing things and not quite completing them to their best advantage.

Already, I am finding it easier.  Three things per day quickly reduces my lists.  It also allows for fun time, time with friends, time with Derek, time to read.  I can do three things thoughtfully, completing them well instead of just getting through it and on to the next thing.  I'm feeling happier about it.  I'm opening up to the idea that life can be and is a lot more fun than I believed before.  Work doesn't have to be hard or boring or annoying or scary or intimidating.  It can be fun, rewarding, easy, creative and joyful.

Tomorrow I am going in earlier than usual since we'll be snowed out on Wednesday.  I'm looking forward to it, actually.  I want to get my autoclave cleaned, the air compressor drained, and do some tattooing.  I also want to get references printed out for painting on Wed from home, since I will be snowed in.  I have the Tattooed Goddesses show at Off the Map soon, and have yet to get a painting started.  Well, tomorrow is as good as any to start.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Life Can Be Easy

It is joyful to come to a place of rest and acceptance of life.  Rather than railing at the past, or lamenting about the present, or even worrying or pushing towards the future, today and yesterday evening I have found a place of comfort and ease with what is.  The Three Things idea is great for me right now.

What is interesting to notice is that outside circumstances have not actually changed all that much.  It is merely my attitude that has brightened up, and in this lifting of spirit, what were once grave problems now seem small and manageable, or even non-issues.  I could live like this, in ease and playfulness, forever.

I have come to realize that I have had some very limiting beliefs about money, about friendships, about love and about success.  Knowing that my ideas have been throwing lots of adversity into my face, I am starting to let them go.  Actually, I don't know anything about how money works.  I don't know about how friends or lovers or success work.  I'd rather allow myself to be surprised by how awesome and easy all of this can be than to continue to believe that it all has to be some kind of triumphant struggle.  My romanticization of struggles and tragedies has been landing a lot of those into my life.

I seriously had some idea that success has to be hard-won.  My belief has been that it is hard to get ahead, and that I am special because I will always somehow succeed, even against adversity.  Actually, I am special because I can conquer adversity and prove to the world that I am better than the challenges that turn up.  And I think life gives me these challenges because I kind of requested them.  Without all of this difficult struggle, I wasn't able to have success as I defined it, which was managing to "do all this stuff" even though it is hard.  I push and strive, and make small headway, always just barely staying ahead of my problems, because to me it has been this staying ahead of problems which was success.  I have given myself all that I asked for, and it turns out what I asked for kind of sucked.

Well, now that I see I have been doing this, it all appears laughable.  Why would I want to struggle all the time, barely getting ahead and calling that success?  For sympathy, I think.  But now I don't really care for sympathy.  I would much rather have congratulations and joy.  I am telling the universe that I am letting go of my attachments to specific outcomes and will start to ask for what I really want.  I don't want struggles.  I want joy.  I want money.  I want love and laughter.  I want health.  I don't want it at a high cost, I don't want it after hardship and only by the skin of my teeth.  I just want to enjoy my life and do fun things like tattoo, paint, cook and spend time with my loved ones playing.  I am tired of buying into the consciousness that life is hard and we all are undeserving of pleasure and so we have to earn it all and feel guilty about it.  What if it is as simple as believing that life can be easy?

In the past, every time I tried to pick up that belief, I quickly was told that it was unrealistic, even if it was already bringing results into my life.  And I agreed and felt guilty and stupid for thinking it could be that easy.  But somewhere deep in my soul I do believe it is true that whatever we believe comes true, and so why would I keep choosing to hurt myself and others around me by creating difficult situations with my limiting beliefs?  It's hard to talk about this concept, because the words sound overly simple and foolish - but the idea that what we focus on becomes our reality feels pretty irrefutable to me.  As I understand life, from a personal perspective, it pretty much reflects to us whatever we expect to find.  We see it in others all the time but often fail to notice it in ourselves.

This week, I am going to try expecting money, laughter, good food, snuggling and joy.  When I notice myself expecting struggle, pain and disagreements, I will admit to myself that I have no idea how the world works, actually, and ask for what I really want instead of what I expect.  Chances are any dissonance comes up mostly because I believe it will be there, and not because it has to be there. 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Three Things

So I noticed this morning and last night that my usual mode of operation is either to spiral all over the place doing things - getting stuff done, adding more stuff to do, thinking about stuff, talking about stuff, generally throwing stuff all over the place in a fit of action and industriousness - and staying very still, doing nothing, procrastinating about stuff, or ignoring stuff, stopping to the point of actually feeling upset about not doing anything, while simultaneously forcing myself not to do anything, because I have decided that I need to relax and slow down.

Ha!  What if I just slowed down while doing things so that I didn't have to be crazy, nor feel bad for stopping completely?  What a novel idea.  I wonder if I can do it? I guess my approach so far has not been to slow down, but rather to force myself to stop for longer periods in order to make up for the mad pace that I keep the rest of the time.  Turns out I dislike stopping completely and I feel bad, so why do that?  I also dislike having too much happening, so I could try not tackling 5000 things at once and maybe just pick one to three per day for a while.

Today, I need to do tax things.  I need to tattoo Jackie.  I need to talk with Earthfire and pick a date.  Those three things are good enough.  The rest can wait til tomorrow.  Maybe I will start making this kind of list of three things each day to try and keep me in line. 

What will life be like if I allow myself to just do three things each day, and no additional "obligations"?  Wake up, enjoy the morning, go to work, tackle two things there, then go to Kosho class.  That sounds nice.  Or, work on a painting, do a tattoo, then finish a book?  Also awesome.  Finish taxes,  follow up with a gallery show, take a yoga class?  It feels easy when taken in these small chunks, with enough space to breathe and actually enjoy the activities instead of struggling against each one as it butts into the next project.  Such a nicer pace than trying to do it all as fast as possible, which never works out for me anyway.  I always feel behind when I approach life that way, which is silly because I get so much done.

Three things.  For now, just aim for three each day.  Ahhh.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

No More Struggle

It's the time of year we make resolutions for.  How will we spend the next 365 days?  Will we stop doing something?  Will we start doing something?  This year, I am going to just start accepting who I already am and not bother with trying to be different.  Judging myself as unworthy or unfit is a waste of energy, and I don't want to start off by telling myself I need to do something new to change who I am.

I had an interesting conversation yesterday about this tendency we have as humans to listen to our mind chatter as if it is true all the time.  We constantly seek for something new to do or be that will "fix" whatever we think is broken about us.  Usually it starts because we feel bad about something, or just in general.  Immediately our minds chime in with all sorts of solutions to the problem.  Feeling sad?  Quit your job!  Feeling angry?  Start a new relationship, this person never really got you anyway.  Feeling depressed?  It's the world being full of jerks, and it must be time to start a campaign to feed starving children in Africa - that will set it all right!  We are coming to realize that our minds are full of ideas and problems and solutions, because that's what they do.  But their ideas don't have to be taken so seriously, and often have nothing to do with what is really going on.

Sometimes, we are just sad.  We don't need five stories about why we are sad, who made us that way, how to take revenge and find a whole new way of being that is never sad at all.  We just need to feel sad, and then it will pass.  But it will never pass when we start to take action on our stories about sadness.  It just perpetuates.  We get caught in a loop of drama and create more of it as we try to escape the feeling.  We pretend we are above it all now, but actually we are just standing in the center of a whirlwind of feelings and drama, keeping it all in motion and at arms length.  Eventually it all catches up to us and then we are even more sad.  Someday we have to stop or we end up creating even bigger stories to mask the failure of our original stories.  The worst part, I think, is that everyone around us is so familiar with this routine that they support us in our craziness and tell us they agree with our stories, too.  Personally, I'd like the madness to stop.

Nobody is out to get me.  People aren't going to laugh at me if I make mistakes.  Money isn't hard to come by.  I don't have to earn every smile, dollar, laugh and smidgen of happiness that comes my way.  I am tired of life lessons, tired of earning, tired of struggling so hard to barely go anywhere.  I think I have really been valuing my struggles up until now.  They have made me feel powerful, like I was overcoming such adversity it must mean I am powerful and strong, even though I felt weary and exhausted and frustrated and sad.  You know what?  Fuck struggle.  I don't want anymore.  If there is a resolution to be made this year, it is to let go of valuing struggle and start valuing joy and ease. 

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year Wish

May the new year be peaceful, flow with ease, and be filled with friends, love, joy and prosperity.  I'd like to leave all of the worry, stress, repressed emotions and unconscious bad attitudes behind from here on out.  No more baggage for me!  When I get caught up in it, please remind me that it can be as easy as just resetting my attitude and remembering that today is a new day, and ever will be.  The past can remain the past, and the future is not meant to be worried about.  Better to be here, now, and enjoy every second of it.

Happy New Year, everyone!