Self-love: Cleaning & Organizing

Kind of a weird title, I know, but I just read Dominee’s post about beginning to love herself and one of the things she talks about is how messy her home was before.

My apartment looked like something out of Hoarders.
Maybe not as bad but it was pretty close. Dirty dishes in the sink that had been there for months and months. Used paper plates thrown haphazardly on the floor. Stains on the carpet and furniture because when something spilled I didn’t care enough to clean it up. Clothes everywhere, piles of empty pizza boxes, and bags of trash that I didn’t care enough to take out to the dumpster. Anyone looking at that scene would just think how lazy and sloppy I was.

I can completely relate.

At some times, my home was that bad.

It’s not now, but it’s not an organized, serene haven, either.

There’s too much stuff in not enough space, and things shoved into open boxes and shelves with little organization.

It’s not for lack of trying.

C and I are both good at organizing small bits at a time.

But we are also both bad at maintaining the organization.

Last week, we went through one day where we pulled stuff out of the bathroom cabinets and linen closet to organize the bathroom.

We finally purged a lot of stuff we’ve been meaning to go through for ages. We ended up getting rid of more than 2 large garbage bags of stuff, plus have a pile to go to storage.

After that, for the last three days, I’ve been starting at my living room, hating the arrangement.

I’ve always hated the arrangement here.

But there’s so much stuff on the shelves that it’s really a pain to move anything.

Tonight, the frustration peaked and I’ve started moving stuff.

I think it’s going to take a few days to go through the whole thing.

I mentioned before that I have been able to keep a clean, organized home at times in the past:

When I look back on my past, the times my home has been cleanest and I’ve done better at routine things are the times I’ve lived completely alone, or for a brief period when C was tiny after I kicked Deadbeat Roommate out.

Considering that C is rarely home now and will be off to college soon enough, I should be able to do this again, now. Right now, things are clean. There’s only today’s dishes in the sink, and C just emptied the dishwasher of clean stuff so I’ll be getting them done tonight. The garbage is taken out regularly. There’s no food laying around.

But it is messy/cluttered.

Part of my frustration is that when I live alone, all the mess is mine, and things remain where I leave them. And now, while C is rarely home, her messes still are.

She’s capable of cleaning and organizing. In fact, she does a fabulous job when she does it. But getting her to do it is difficult.

I WANT a more serene home.

But I also want my things close at hand all the time.

Those two things seem to be at odds with each other.

A larger place, once I can afford it, will help.

But there’s still a lot of stuff that needs to be gotten rid of completely.

And that is overwhelming.

My storage unit is 10x10x10 and filled to the rafters.

I know a lot of the stuff that’s in there, but I can never find it when I go looking.

So, for the next few days, I’ll be seriously looking at stuff and hopefully purging as I move things around, because dammit, I deserve a comfortable place to live in.

I thought about taking some “before” pictures, but I’m just not that brave.

Patterns: Withdrawing

Whenever I start something, I have a pattern of going full throttle for a short period of  time and then dropping it.

Last week I was so excited about a lot of things. I had a lot of plans for what I was going to do. I wrote outlines and lists with time tables and due dates. I was excited about the upcoming stuff for Invincible Summer. I started several things.

And then, I stopped.

I didn’t blog, I only wrote a small bit in my journal. I stopped doing affirmations for a few days. I didn’t visit the Wild Sisterhood. I didn’t read ZenHabits. I put off working on everything.

I also stopped talking, responding to emails, getting out of the house. I started napping during the day, instead of writing and planning.

I caught myself withdrawing from almost everything (except, curiously, talking with M. Hmmm).

It’s ok to take a break from things at times.

But my personal pattern includes stretching that break out for days, weeks, months. . .

Luckily, I have a small mastermind group, and one of the ladies nudged me with, “When are we meeting again?”

So, I set up a meeting. I had ideas, but had not fleshed anything out yet, still not entirely sure what direction I was going to go in.

By the end of the teleconference call, I not only had an idea, but several questions to put in the product. By the end of the day, I’d hand-written an introduction and sketched out an outline, listed questions I want to use.

I felt great again.

And the next day, I stopped again.

WTF?

This is like last year, when I only had a couple of small things to do to finish my teaching credential, and I kept putting it off, saying, “Oh, I can just do this tomorrow.”

And then I let it go too long and have to repeat something I should not have needed to repeat.

I’m starting to do this now with what I’m trying to do this here.

I have things working well for me.

I just have to keep showing up and not let this break I took last for months.

I suppose my path will never be a straight line.

And that’s ok.

So, today, I’m pulling out the notebooks, and the planner, and listen to today’s SSBR call at noon. And I’m writing. It’s not my best post ever, but I’m doing something, which is good.

Eff "Some Day"!

I’m going through some pretty significant internal changes lately. And over the next year, the website will start to reflect that.

Years ago, in the depths of my depression, my friend N and I would discuss that SOME DAY parts of my life might make a good story as a foundation for “motivational speaking” [you know, like Tony Robbins] before they started calling it “life coaching”.

I mean, when you look at a broad-strokes description of the last 15 years or so, you get a disabled-vet-single-mother with bipolar disorder, crippled with depression, homeless at one point, fighting through and getting a degree and (soon!) a teaching credential, starting a new career and getting on her feet, and raising a talented kid that is graduating in the top 10% of her class.

Wow.

I need to take a moment to own that. Breathe into it.

Because when you put it like that, it sounds pretty freaking awesome. And that doesn’t feel like me.

Ok, so it took more than 10 years for all that to happen.

But it still happened.

And I always thought that maybe SOME DAY I could talk to people about that, and tell them to keep going when it’s hard, because even though it seems like it takes forever, it does get better. Or maybe write about it instead. Or use a book as a platform to start speaking. Something like that.

I thought that SOME DAY I could do that.

SOME DAY, when I’m successful enough.

SOME DAY, when I’m wise enough.

SOME DAY, when I’m strong enough.

SOME DAY, when I have a zillion credentials after my name.

SOME DAY, when I have the respect of my spiritual teachers.

SOME DAY. . . .

Out there, in the future.  . . SOME DAY.

And right now, there’s so much crashing in my head, screaming at me,

“Fuck SOME DAY. Do it NOW.”

Part of it is that I’ve been reading and listening to things like Leela Somaya at the Succulent, Savvy, & Soul-Full Business Revolution, and I joined the Wild Sisterhood, and of course, Leonie Dawson’s stuff.

But there’s more too it, too.

After all, I’ve been on Leonie’s email list since 2010. I’ve read Naomi Dunford a longer than that.

I’ve wanted to do something for a long time, but I didn’t know what.

Through the SSSBR, I’ve been (virtually) introduced to a ton of women that are doing this kind of thing. Helping people. Guiding people. And making a great living doing it.

And most of them started off simply.

There’s fear here, a lot of fear.

What if no one wants to listen to me? What if I can’t come up with the million dollar idea right away? What if I look/sound stupid? Other people are already doing this. I’m not unique. I can’t.

But in the interviews I’ve listened to or watched, every.last.one, they’ve felt these same fears. They still feel these same fears, even when they’re successful.

And none of them knew exactly what their key, signature message was going to be when they started.

Jeneth Blackert started by writing a small book about Seven Dragons. This tiny book talks about all those fears and gives them names, similar to Havi Brooks “Monsters”. I read it.

There’s nothing in that book I didn’t know already. I mean, maybe a slight new take on a technique or the names she gave the dragons, but the core info? I know already.

That’s coming up over and over for me. I’m looking at the ebooks and worksheets people are selling, and thinking, “I could totally do that!”

I remember all the times N and I went to the bookstore. She’ll go over to the Pagan/Magick/Witch shelf and pick up a few books, and say, “None of these are THE book I’m looking for.”

I started telling her, “You’re not going to find it until you write it.”

The closing lines of the Charge of the Goddess ring in my head:

know that your seeking and yearning shall avail you not, unless you know the mystery: if that which you seek, you find not within yourself, then you shall never find it without.

That’s where I’m at.

I can’t keep looking to others to tell me what to do. I can’t keep asking “experts” what I should do.

I have to look within.

I’m jumping into something new, and building my wings on the way down.

I’m going to start asking you to share with your friends if I say something you think they can relate to or to sign up for the newsletter.

I promise that I’m still going to write the way I write, about what I’m going through, good and bad. Every post won’t turn into a sales pitch for something.

But other things will be changing.

I’ve started already.

I’m writing something. It’s not completely fleshed out yet, but I’m working on something (and mentioning it to get some accountability)

And next month, I start writing 3-4 posts per month for Invincible Summer to start reaching out to more people.

I’m terrified.

But I’m going to start anyway.

Self-Love: Valentine’s Day

I have to admit, I kind of hate V-Day.

Most years I simply ignore that it exists, especially since C is past the age of handing out random cards to everyone in her class.

Most of my life, I’ve been alone in February. I had a boyfriend in HS for 2 years. I was with someone in 99 and got flowers delivered, which was nice.

I was with my ex-husband in 94, but I was half way across the world and my gifts/card came late – I don’t think he even mailed them until after the day. Things were pretty strained between us at the time. And he left me 4 months later, so, you know, not a great memory.

I’ve spent a good deal of time this month reading and journaling about loving yourself. (And this month’s Wild Sister Magazine is all about self-love. If you haven’t seen it, go check it out.)

And for some reason, I’ve still been starting to get a little down. It could be that my mood state is shifting downward, because I don’t see much externally that should be causing it, other than the usual money stress (but that’s been constant for so long now, it’s normal).

I’m accomplishing more.

I’m establishing routines that are helping me.

I’m actually making lists of things that need to be done and taking steps to accomplish goals. And most days making progress on those lists (which is a HUGE thing for me).

I’m having great conversations every night with someone I care about.

I have fantastic friends.

My daughter is wonderfully amazing.

Dominee at Blessing Manifesting has a little (free) ebook called Be Your Own Valentine.

One of the things I found most powerful in it was an exercise that was surprisingly difficult to do. (She got this from Louise L. Hay’s book You Can Heal Your Life).

Go, look yourself in the eye in a mirror, and say, “I love and accept you just the way you are.”

A lot of anxiety and some unidentifiable but powerful emotions came up for me when I did this. It was a little overwhelming.

Have you ever done that?

I mean, I’ve said those words or similar, and I’ve said them to other people, but not trying to hold my own gaze.

If you haven’t done it, try it. And yes, it feels a bit silly at first, but try to take it seriously.

And please share what happens for you.

Self-love: Who are you?

Silly question right?

I’m me, of course. But who am I really?

How can you love yourself, if you don’t know who you are?

When I look back at the years of depression, I discover that I’m not who I thought I was, or at least, I didn’t act like I was that person.

I thought I was a person who was open, loving, kind, contemplative, hippy-granola, vibrant, generous, a little bit wild. I thought I cared about people and animals and the environment. I thought I was politically active.

I thought I was going to raise my kid with a spiritual, social and ecological consciousness.

I thought I was someone with strong faith in things you cannot see, in the goodness of people.

But when push came to shove, when life got hard, I turned into someone I didn’t recognize.

I lost my faith, in anything spiritual and most of all in myself.

I lost my spark, my hope.

I began to hate people. I was full of anger. (And of course, there’s that whole “depression is anger turned inward” thing.)

I intellectually knew things I *should* be doing to make things better, but I was incapable of doing them, which fed the cycle more, leading to beating myself up.

I allowed my kid to grow up thinking McDonald’s was the best meal ever, instead of giving her mostly healthy homemade meals. In the beginning, it was because I was working and tired. Later, it was because I was depressed and would “forget” to cook something (really, I just couldn’t get out of my chair). I allowed her to grow up thinking sitting at a dining table was only for special occasions. I allowed her to grow up with a TV always on in the house. That is so not who I thought I was.

I was “into” yoga when yoga wasn’t cool. But for the last 15 years, I’ve barely had any yoga practice at all, much less a daily practice that I once had. Ditto for my spiritual practices.

So, now, here I am.

I’m not currently depressed, but I’m also not the person I used to think I was. And I don’t know if I can ever be that person.

So, who are you?

Are you who you think you are?

Look at the things you believe about yourself.

And then look at your actions.

Do your actions reflect your stated values?

If not, then you need to look at both those things, and you have two choices.

1. Start working on making your actions match your values.
2. Adjust your image of who you are.

I’m working on both.

For example, for the first time in my life, I’m making lists of things that need to get done, and I’m making a concerted effort to get them done.

There’s a couplefew of reasons for me doing this.

  1. It’s part of my journey to be more disciplined.
  2. In the past, I often sit in my home, thinking about the housework or paperwork or other stuff that needs to be done and get overwhelmed. Then nothing ever gets done, because I’ve spent all my energy THINKING about it, instead of doing it. Making lists is helping me capture the stuff that needs to be and frees up my head for other things. So far, I’m not always getting it all done, but I am getting more done than I have in a long time.
  3. This is also the first time I’ve made clearly defined goals, and if I just continue to sit on my ass not take any action, then I won’t make those goals.
In the past, this would have made me feel . . . restricted, confined. But right now, I’m seeing it as key to the changes I want to make.
So, do your actions match your values? Are you who you think you are? Can you become who you want to be?
You have to know who you are, before you can move forward, before you can love yourself. You have to accept yourself, warts and all.

Mental Health: Bipolar Disorder

I realized that I occasionally throw out a comment about being bipolar or dealing with depression, but I haven’t really talked about how it has affected me or the diagnosis. I’ve lived with it so long and been fairly open about it, that I feel like everyone knows everything. There are now more people reading and I think I should explain some of where I’ve been.

I’m now 43, and I was diagnosed Bipolar II within a month or so of turning 30, even though I knew something was wrong by the time I was 21 or so.

from Unprofound.com

Bipolar II is characterized with long, deep depressions and brief times of hypomania (little mania). In 2004 Jane Pauley was diagnosed with this form of the disease.

It’s much harder to diagnose Bipolar II than Bipolar I, although both can be difficult. In general, people with all forms of bipolar tend to seek help when depressed, but don’t recognize the hypomanic or manic phases as a problem. Why should we? We feel GREAT during that time. 😛

In fact, I used to think of my hypomanic phases as my “normal” times. It isn’t until I look back at them that I can now see how destructive they could be.

I started to write this up, and it was becoming a long autobiography, which is not what I want. I do want to express some of the ways in which it has affected my life. Sometimes, I’ll say something about being mentally ill or “crazy” or something and people will say things like, “Don’t say that! You’re not crazy!”

It seems that because I’m intelligent and articulate, I’m not allowed to also be mentally ill.

But for me, saying those things are a kind of. . .  acceptance. It took me a long time to get there. It took several years to get somewhat stabilized on medications and accept that I needed them. So, I see saying things as an acknowledgment of where I am.

One of the primary areas it has affected is relationships. I would get into moods where I would need to be surrounded by people, feeding off of the energy of those around me, off of a party and music and everything. Considering how introverted I really am, this was new and different, strange even. But I was young, and at first just thought it was fantastic that I finally had an active social life.

The problem was that when I was in that mood, I would get into bed with almost anyone who paid attention to me. This led me to insist on a type of sexual openness in my relationships, because I did not want to lie or hide things about sex from my primary partner.

When I think about this now, the funny thing is that I also simultaneously believed in the mythical soulmate (although some people apparently think you can order up a soulmate like a cup of coffee).

I’m still not sure how I reconciled those things in my own head. I think it was that the “soulmate” was a complete relationship, body, mind and soul, whereas the others were just body, fun, not important.

The problem is, it’s hard to let the primary partner know that he is not being used in the same way the others are. [For those who live a polyamorous lifestyle, I admire you, because I know how difficult it can be. More power to you if you can make it work.]

I know now that it was hypersexuality caused by hypomanic swings.

But the disorder affects friendships, too.

When I’m depressed, I withdraw into myself and push people away. The thing is, I want them to be available when I’m ready to climb out of my inner space. But spending months or sometimes years pushing people away is not conducive to having people around when you want them to be. It also makes it difficult to be there when they need you. And then, in the hypomanic phase, there’s no . . . filter. It’s hard to think before I speak, so I may end up saying one of those things that people think but don’t usually say. That doesn’t help keep friends, either.

And then there’s money.

When I’m hypomanic, I can spend some money.

There was a point, in the early 90s when I got a chunk of back pay, around $4,000. At the time, it was the most money I had ever had at one tie. I went on a shopping spree.

I kept buying stuff and spending. To this day, I’ not entirely sure what I spent it all on. And I kept spending. I kept writing checks and did not balance the checkbook. Within a few weeks, I’d spent over $7,000. And now I had bounced checks, and fees and all kinds of craziness to deal with.

So, I get into this destructive pattern with money.

When manic, I impulse buy and don’t pay close attention to how much I spend, and sometimes end up with not enough to pay the bills. When depressed, I sometimes forget to pay things on time (I have a real problem with all sorts of paperwork and phone calls when depressed.) This causes increased fees and decreased credit scores.

The thing is, I know how to budget, save, and invest. I’ve researched the hell out of it. I’ve been an active contributor to a financial website/community for almost 14 years now.

But I still sometimes fall into these patterns.

These are probably the two biggest areas of my life that are affected, but there are others, too. This is getting pretty long, so I’m going to stop here for now. I may talk about other things at another time.

Goals update

Photo from unprofound, words from Richard Bach

Just a brief post here.

One of my goals was to get more consistent with posting. Trying to not be overly ambitious, I said I’d do “at least 52 blog posts” in the year, and spread that out over a couple of blogs I write for. Meaning, at least one post per week on any blog.

As of yesterday, between here and Las Flacas I’ve done more than 25 already.

So, I’ve changed the goal to 100, but if I keep going at this pace, I’ll pass that pretty quickly, too.

I’m also working on trying to establish a couple of habits.

The 10 minutes of writing a day is still going well, and it’s usually much more than that, 30 minutes or more.

Investing in creating a new business is also on the list, and I’ve been listening to free podcasts and/or live conferences every day. I’ve gotten a ton of information and inspiration. I’m still not entirely sure what direction this is going, but I’m trying to journal it out.

And setting Most Important Tasks for the day and daily “to do” lists. I don’t always get everything done, but taking the time to think about things that need to be done helps me focus. I don’t quite make it every day, but a little more each week.

I’m moving forward on my teaching credential as well, although I still have a couple of emotional blocks stopping me from one or two steps. Working on that.

I still need to get a bit more income coming in right now until I can start teaching full time.

I’m NOT doing so well on my fitness goals but it’s possible I’m trying to do too much all at once, so as some things become more habitualized, I’m adding more in.

I do have a newsletter now, the link is below to sign up. Right now, it’s links to recent posts and sometimes links to products I like. If I’m affiliate for any of the products, I’ll let you know. In the future, I plan to turn it into a little bit more.

Sign up for the newsletter here

One nugget of wisdom from one of podcasts I’ve listened to is a quote from the Sufi mystic Rumi is “What you are seeking is seeking you.” This hit me hard. It’s similar to “You teach best what you most need to learn,” which the intermawebs attribute to Richard Bach, and was part of my spiritual training. I’m meditating on these a lot lately, because I think the key to my next path is in there.