Monday, July 21, 2014

The Virtual Blog Tour (a post in which I don't whine or cry or overthink)

Here's a change of pace, friends. My friend, sage and yoga guru, Molly Field invited me to participate in a blog tour. You know Molly, from Grass Oil, as I'm always inviting you to read her amazing pieces that I promise will change your life as they have mine every. single. time. She's writing a yoga series right now that is so right on, and one of my faves was 30 days of Carl Jung (my favorite late psychotherapist). Anyway, she is a super-talented writer, great mom, way-zen and bendy yoga instructor--like the total self-actualized package, and I'm so humbled to share a bit of virtual space with her.

So this blog tour: Basically, I'm going to answer a few questions and invite you to visit a few other blogs and experience a whole lot of awesome writing and meet some super-cool women. Ready? Here we go...

1. What am I working on?

This is a difficult question. Since my recent work doesn't generate an income, I've been struggling through bouts of worthlessness of late. I recently confessed to my husband about a shopping spree that in the the past wouldn't have been worth mentioning since I was earning my keep around here, but that's a post in itself. So...I am working on getting angry less, being kind, loving, and patient more, and applying the Four Agreements. I am writing this blog, a book, doing a bit of bi-weekly editing, and occasionally writing some ad copy and press releases. The book actually has some stuff I haven't written about here, shockingly, and is also why I haven't been writing as much here.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

My book is a memoir, as are most of the books I read lately. I would say that my work differs from others in the way every face is unique. In the way every fingerprint is distinct, so also is each story. Even if each of my siblings wrote a memoir, none would be the same because we experienced and processed our childhoods in vastly different ways. I love people's stories and think they're all important and valuable. Whether you tell your story to the cashier at Wal-Mart or type it out in a 50,000 word document that may or may not ever be read by anyone other than the people you trust enough to say, "Hey, would you..." it's important to tell your story. So my work differs because it's my work. Your work is special and important and remarkable because it's your work.

3. Why do I write/create what I do?

I write to process things. I write in a notebook in my purse, in the notes app on my phone, on post-it's or even sometimes my hand. Whatever I can find. Writing is how I communicate. If I fight with my husband, I write to him. We have been writing daily letters back and forth for about 2 years now...hundreds of thousands of words worth of feelings, experiences, love, anger, and indifference. (Someday, when we're gone, and our children read those documents...oh my. We'll leave you money for therapy.) I write because it helps me get out of my head, and also because it allows me to invite people in. When people comment on my blog or email me or text me that something I wrote about helped them or made them feel better or whatever, it helps me. I have a hard time letting people know me in my day-to-day life, so feeling known and understood through my writing is extremely comforting.

4. How does your writing/creating process work?

Sometimes like I'm "moved by the spirit" and have to stop whatever I'm doing and write something down. It could be a line, it might be a paragraph, or it has even been known to end up as a 1000-word diatribe. It is a strong feeling of: Stop whatever you're doing and write this down. Now. When my dad died, I woke up at 3 a.m. and wrote his eulogy while sobbing at the kitchen table. Other times, I've had to run dripping wet from the shower to write something or yell from the bathroom, "CAN SOMEBODY PLEASE BRING ME MY COMPUTER!" It's always bedlam in the Bell house, kids.

That's when it's good. When it's bad, I avoid my computer and read and beat myself up about how I should be writing and read some more and compare myself to all these fabulous writers and criticize  myself for how much I suck...and then I read this amazing piece my daughter wrote and cry and start again. I don't write because I want to; I write because I need to.

This has been really fun for me, not sure how it was for you, but I promise the best is yet to come. I get to share two of my favorite bloggers' work with you. 
You all probably know Chloe Christina, my globe-trotting, Coca-Cola drinking, running, yogi princess daughter. If you haven't read this tiny bundle of wisdom's blog, To the Moon and Back, then take a moment and head there. You'll be glad you did! I've always said she had an old soul, but her writing is light years beyond her 20 physical years on this planet. If I wasn't fortunate enough to be her mom, I would stalk her on social media. I mean I all ready do, but it's okay because I'm her mom.

And finally, please meet Sara. She blogs at Magical Musings and Typewritten Pursuits where she regularly shares beyond-her-years sentiments that will make you smile, think, evaluate and expand your Goodreads to-read list. She's a super-talented writer and an all-around wonderful girl that I've had the pleasure of knowing since she was just a wee lass.

Thanks, Molly, for inviting me on your blog tour, and thanks, my friends, for reading :)

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Why Do You Let that S%#T Bother You?

"When someone shows you who they are, believe them; the first time," Maya Angelou

A friend of mine recently posted that quote, and it reminded me how important that sentiment is in my life. I mean how important trying to remember that sentiment should be in my life. See, I have this bad habit. This really bad habit. Sometimes instead of loving people for who they are, I love an idealized version of who I think they could become. I love their higher self, and I pour my hope and faith into believing they will achieve that.

Here's the issue with that: Sometimes people don't want to achieve my idealized version of themselves. Sometimes individuals don't even share my vision that they can be better people. Sometimes...people are perfectly happy being oblivious and unaware of the dreams and potential I am believing for them. Coming to this realization (that people don't care to reach the awareness and enlightenment I want for them) is always more painful for me than for them.

My daughter does this too, and several of my closest (and like-minded) friends do as well. It makes me feel better to know that I'm not the only only one. It makes me feel better to say, "These smart, beautiful, amazing women do the same stupid stuff I do."

My husband does not. He is actually outstanding at accepting people for exactly who they are. (Unless that person is arrogant or a bad driver, then you're gonna see the west side in that boy.) For years, when I would share my feelings with him he would say in the most helpful way, "I don't know why you let that shit bother you." Well, I don't either. It isn't conscious, or I would most assuredly choose NOT to let said shit bother me.

A few years ago, he stopped doing that--PRAISE THE LORD--and started encouraging me at least to see, if not accept, people as they are. As I tried harder to do this, I realized: When people disappoint me, it is rarely because their behavior isn't congruent with who they are; it is nearly always because their behavior isn't congruent with who I want them to be. Applying this premise in your life may not save you years of therapy, but it will probably spare you some hurt feelings.

Except ... I don't always remember to apply it. That's the problem. Sometimes my heart is already hurt before I analyze the situation, recognize my expectations and let people own their behavior. In the not too distant past, I would ruminate for wayyyy toooo lonnggggg harboring resentment and bitterness, nursing hurt feelings and disappointment, but now I realize that any amount of time spent on that is too much.

I recently re-read The Four Agreements, and I'm seriously considering getting them tattooed somewhere where I can see them every moment of every day. Have you read it? You should read it.

1. Be impeccable with your word.
2. Don't take anything personally.
3. Don't make assumptions.
4. Always do your best.

Logically, the one I struggle with the most is, "Don't take anything personally." Ugghhhhh. It goes right along with my constant prayer, "Less of me; more of you." I always get in God's way.

So, today, I am going to be me, and I'm going to let you be you. Whoever that is. Even if I think you aren't living up to your potential. Even if I think you could be a better you if only you would stop being so insecure, or quit gossiping, or show a little humility (that was for you Brad Bell). Today (well, for the next few minutes until I get derailed) I am going to focus more on the log in my own eye and less on the speck in yours.