Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Pussycat Dolls are My Spiritual Masters

I'm right in the middle of a 31-day yoga challenge. You know, I love challenges. 21 days of meditation. 21 days of clean eating. 30 days of planks. 30 days of squats. The Daniel Fast. I mean you can do anything when the expiration date looms within reach, right? Well, I can anyway.

It might be related to my personality type, or I might think that because I'm a personality quiz junkie. Additionally, I'm obsessed with podcasts, so when Gretchen Rubin recently did a podcast about personality quizzes it was A M A Z I N G. You can listen to it here. If you're into that kind of thing: I'm an INFJ, an obliger, a 4 on the enneagram--very cool because my favorite number is 4 and in a week, I'm going to be 44, so 2017 is going to be a phenomenal year. I also love other quizzes. My spirit animal is a hawk, my patronus is a manx cat, my celebrity crush is Johnny Depp, The Princess and the Pea is my life in a fairy tale, and Say Anything is my life in an 80's movie. I am going to stop because I hear one particular friend saying, "I can't with you right now."

Might have gotten a bit off course, shockingly. My original point was that sometimes I have trouble sticking with things. Except my husband. Imma stickwitu forever, baby. A few years ago, during the whole pick-a-word-to-describe-your-year/life/goal/focus, I chose "persevere." I should have tattooed it somewhere on my body like I do with important words because by Valentine's day, I'd forgotten both the word and what it represented. Oh, right. This year I was supposed to ... Oh hi, pretty kitty. Work. In. Progress.

But during the yoga challenge, one phrase loops: Stay on Your Mat. Stay on your mat. stay on your mat. stayonyourmat. In Love Warrior, Glennon Doyle Melton describes wrestling with personal issues and a yoga teacher advising her to stay on her mat. I always try to hold space for my own and others' feelings, but it's often the opposite of what I really want to do.

Usually, I want the feelings go away. Make them go away. I want to eat or drink or read or write or otherwise distract myself from unpleasantness. I fight the urge to joke or laugh or hug or comfort or shield the people I love from their pain even when I know I should just BE with them. My mom always tried to make me laugh when I was sad. She would tell my children jokes to stop their tears. She was trying to help. No one wants people they love--especially their children--to feel sad. But avoiding our feelings is more harmful than helpful.

The truth is, if we ignore them, the feelings will return demanding our attention. Consider how shit from childhood crops up with your own kids. Insert whatever your kid does that causes a disproportionately crazy reaction. When my kids' normal kid behavior brings me to the verge of a mental breakdown, there are deeper things at work in my psyche.

Since this is really important for me and I felt like it might help someone else too, I started a website dedicated simply to "staying on the mat" with people as they struggle with hard feelings. I would love it if you would check it out and share if you're so inclined.

While writing this I got really cold and discovered that my furnace stopped working at some point. So today, I'm grateful the mat I'm trying to stay on is in front the fireplace. Thanks for sticking it out with me.


P.S. That's Ruby in puppy pose. She brings kisses, comedy, and an occasional bone to the mat. Here's to yoga with puppies!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Parades, Fireworks, Stella, and Blue Water

So Gretchen Rubin is one of my favorite guru/writer/life coach/spiritual master/mentors. You know her from The Happiness Project, Better Than Before and the podcast Happier that I'm always talking about--or sending you ;)

She's always talking about her "Secrets of Adulthood," and encouraging readers and listeners to write their own manifestos and personal commandments. Here's a link to her instructions.

I decided in 2017 instead of more resolutions, I'd consider my own Personal Commandments:

  1. Do what makes you happy. Everyone benefits when I take time to do things that me happy: Yoga, meditating, going for a walk, listening to podcasts, writing. These things fill me up and make me feel alive. And then I don't feel anxious or hesitant about giving. I don't withdraw from contact--physical or emotional. Be mindful of this. If I pull away from hugs, touches, and requests for my time or attention, then I need to spend a few minutes taking better care of myself.
  2. Step outside your comfort zone. Just because I've never been a "hat person" doesn't mean I can't decide to start wearing hats. Although I have never enjoyed large groups of people, that doesn't mean I can't enjoy spending time with groups of people. Just because I never wrote a book, did a podcast, started a website...
  3. I'm good. At this point in my life, I know what works and a few things that are never going to work for me: running, hard core workouts, most crafts, building things, to name a few. I'm not going to become a runner. Ever. I will come watch you run a 5k, but I don't want to be part of it. Believe me, I admire you for doing it, and I am equally comfortable with my decision not to do it.
  4. Be an expert but let others be experts too. I wrote about this before. I know what I'm good at. I know what I aspire to and think I can become good. I also recognize areas that will never be my forte. Fortunately, I know other people who excel in areas where I do not. Bottom line: I am perfectly comfortable buying things on Etsy even if they would be "so easy to make."
  5. Fill your own love tank. It's far too much pressure to put on another person to make you feel loved and valued. Side note: When you don't love and accept yourself, no one else's adoration will ever make you feel whole. Experiences fill me up. Not tropical vacations necessarily--although those definitely work--but spending two hours laughing on the phone with my friend while she travels across the country. Doing yoga in front of the fire with lovely oils diffusing into my space. Cooking a fabulous meal, drinking a Stella, and listening to the music of Hamilton
  6. Love without strings attached. This is hard, but I'm still working on it. I have really high expectations for myself and that often spills over onto everyone around me. I love fireworks and parades. I get really excited about little things. I might want that in return. Example: Brad says, "Baby, you want a  coffee?" And I am: 
    Other people don't react that way. That is OKAY. Love for the act of loving. Give for the blessing of giving. And don't let expectations suck the joy out of the experience. 
  7. Invest in experiences not stuff. Pretty self-explanatory. Stuff gets old, dusty, breaks, goes out of style...experiences stay with you forever. Every year or so we get to visit our friend's house in Key Largo. We get in a boat and cruise through the mangroves out into the ocean. In just a few minutes--maybe two beers--the water changes from deep turquoise to the most amazing shade of aqua. Every single time I see that water, my breath catches at the beauty. I feel overwhelmingly grateful and completely humbled to be wrapped in the love of amazing people. You can't buy that shit.
  8. Never hesitate to say something kind. Even if it feels awkward or you're not sure how someone will respond. See 6. In the past, I've hesitated to say things for fear they would sound stupid. Sometimes they do. Here's the thing: If you're saying something kind, it's never stupid. When my dad died, people were so amazing. The texts, facebook messages, cards, emails...I will never forget how those words made me feel. I wrote about it here.
  9. You'll never regret exercise. In the time it takes to talk myself out of exercising or make 50 excuses not to, I can get a pretty good workout in. Not one time have I wished I hadn't exercised. Ssssshhhhhhh ... just do it. 
  10. Spend time outside. That's it. Nature soothes my soul.
  11. Smile. You are loved, loving and lovely. Just the way you are. With everyone's or with no one's approval.
Do you have Personal Commandments or a Manifesto?
That's awesome!!! Please share! I want to see them!!! **Parades and Fireworks**

This post brought to you by Christina Perri's Arms which I listened to 37 times while writing this morning.