Words

My tiny black tree. 🙂

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I finally gave a nod to the season by putting up my tiny black tree. I bought this at Border’s several years ago, when C and I were renting a room in someone else’s house. We didn’t have any room for a real tree or for the 4 ft artificial tree I had in storage. C was into skull & crossbones and her favorite colors were black and red. It seemed perfect for us at the time

Last year, I didn’t decorate at all. I just never got into the mood to celebrate. This year, I put up my little tree. At least I have a *little* spirit this year.

I’m working on my Amazing Year Planner but I’m also working on Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map (I got the digital version last year in her “pay what you can” sale).

I’ve chosen my word for 2014. I chose it a couple of weeks ago. It’s been bubbling in my head for weeks, maybe even months.

Amazing Year and Desire Map Workbooks

I think perhaps reading The Desire Map earlier in the year stuck in my subconscious. The Desire Map is about finding your Core Desired Feelings – decide how you want to feel, and create your goals and make your decisions based on how you want to feel.

I chose my Word before I started doing the Desire Map work, but I definitely chose it with the idea in mind that this word was going to shape the decisions I make from now on, not just for this next year, but for the rest of my life.

I’ve had hard times, I’ve made bad decisions, I’ve done things I’m not proud of, I’ve created strife where there didn’t need to be any, I’ve created drama for the sake of being dramatic. I’m tired of that.

Earlier in the year, I wrote that I kept coming back to a wallpaper Leonie created that said, “Joy is an option!”

For the last several weeks, I’ve been thinking that I want freedom, dancing, liberation, abandonment, unshackled happiness, radical love. . . . in other words,

I want more joy in my life. It’s time, past time for it. I deserve it.

This may mean making hard decisions and letting go of things I’ve held onto for a long time.

But those things are pulling me down, and I want to FLY!

Words have power.

The things we tell ourselves can shape how we see our lives, and ourselves.

Having “Success” plastered in a place where I couldn’t avoid it this year did help. I didn’t accomplish everything I wanted to, but I made a lot of progress on a lot of fronts that have me in a better place emotionally and financially than I started the year.

I’ve had moments of happiness and contentment. And now I want more than that.

It’s easier to look for this kind of emotional fulfillment when my financial picture is starting to get better.

With this in mind, the business may change.

I love giving readings.

But I would like to expand to reach people who may not be interested in readings, but are beginning to explore their inner lives.

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.

Balance

I’m still working with some of the stuff in the Incredible Year workbook, and I’ve also discovered Wild Sister Magazine.

Like a lot of stuff I’ve read, the core of the information is not new to me, but in both of these sites, the women who run them are excited about what they do, and their emotions and encouragement of others come through very strongly which makes it feel a little fresher.

The one thing I’m having a problem with, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, is that they are almost too woman-centered.

Now, first off, I’m a Feminist with a capital F. I worked in a male-dominated field (electronics), in a male-dominated organization (military). My degree is in math, which is still male-dominated. My spiritual path was originally chosen as one that honored the sacred feminine.

I believe women should have autonomy and sovereignty over their own bodies – to dress as demurely or sexy as they wish/feel comfortable with, to have sex when and with whom they choose, to decide if and when to have babies and so on.

I love reading about and meeting strong women. I’ve read Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan and Naomi Wolf. I know how deeply patriarchy is inherent in our culture.

Twenty years ago, the woman-centeredness would have spoken to my soul.

It still does, to an extent, but. . .

In my personal spiritual practice, I long ago moved towards a more balanced perspective: balancing the animus and anima, honoring the sacred masculine as well as the feminine. After all, while women hold up half the sky, so do men. And while men may still have some unconscious advantages in this world, there are some areas where they seem to be being left behind.

There is wisdom in these pages that a couple of men I know could stand to hear, but I don’t see them dealing with all the. . .  girly shit and curlicues and so on to hear the stuff that they could use.

This really isn’t a criticism, because the wonderful women have found their niche, and more power to them!

But I think I would prefer to make my focus a little more gender-neutral. [And guys, if you’re looking for this kind of good stuff, you could check out ZenHabits.]

My 2013 Vision Board

So, here is my first-ever Vision board. I still may add some stuff with a sharpie, but the pics are all up.

I made my Word of the Year the center-piece.

A bit about that. . .

When I first started reading Goddess Leonie’s stuff, I saw a big similarity in in her work and that of SARK, another inspirational woman (turns out, SARK is one of inspirations and mentors).

I bought Living Juicy many years ago, and would use it as a meditation tool from time to time. Both of these women do work that is raw, simple, even a bit childish, and present it to the world without fear. I love that. But seeing their work a lot over the past few weeks got me thinking about watercolors.

When I was in Italy, I bought this really, really nice watercolor set. Sometime during my last stay in San Diego, I apparently got rid of it. That bums me out.

I cannot draw well, certainly not half as well as my daughter does, but I always enjoyed playing with watercolors, mostly just playing with the colors. Going from a dry brush technique to pre-wetting the paper and watching the color run, mixing colors a little bit different every time, and so on.

You can’t see this very well in the picture, but the Word of the Year is in watercolor. The background was a very wet page with 2 reds and a yellow sort of randomly run together. Then I let it dry before painting the word. I don’t normally like the warm colors as well as cool ones, but I thought this word needed an “action” color, and warm colors feel more action-oriented.

The other stuff is pictures of stuff on my goals list – not everything, but stuff I could find pictures of: a couple of pics I’m using as inspiration for tattoos I want, places I want to go, a pile of money (hey, why not?). . .

The word “Me-ing” came from, of all things, an Ikea catalog. It was the intro to a section on creating your own space, but I just thought the word was interesting.

“Me-ing”

Being me?

Becoming me?

Showing me?

“Me-ing” – what does it make you think of?

If you like the stuff I’m doing, you may want to check out Goddess Leonie’s Incredible Year Workbook. She says last year, some people didn’t buy it until late in the year and still got a lot out of it. It’s only $9.95 for the life edition. 

Changing thought patterns

I’ve been working on this for years, how to change the negative tapes in my head that say:

I’ll never amount to anything.
If you’re so smart, why aren’t you more  ___________ 
What the fuck are you doing with your life?
I can’t do anything right.
I’m too disorganized to do anything the “right” way.
No one likes me.

And on and on and on and on. 

I know that these thought patterns are destructive, and they only feed depression.

I know the origin of most of them; they have the same voice in my head. 

I used to think it was completely programming I had as a child, but now I’m not so sure. Because C grew up with a LOT of positive reinforcement. I never said those things to her. And yet, somewhere around age 14/15, these started coming out of her mouth – her own internal programming brought these same words up, including body/beauty image issues.

Maybe there is a biological component to these thinking patterns.

But can we change them?

M recently accused me of being an optimist, which is pretty funny if you’ve only known me in the last ten years, but he knew me long ago, when I was very optimistic about everything. 

I did ask my friend sync if he thought I was an optimist. His response:

You are more so than you think.

You generally do think you can accomplish various things, although when push comes to shove you often need to be pushed and shoved.

You can make it RIGHT UP to an important point, then you kinda freak out about it and try to talk yourself into thinking you can’t do it.


Hmm. 
I’ve been running that around in my mind for the last week or so, since the conversation. And he’s right. 
I still can’t believe that I totally choked on the finish line of my credential. 
I blurred out my name, but there it is, framed and hung on the wall.
After taking 7 years to finish my B.A., after an intense year of working and tutoring while taking grad school classes, after a horrendous semester of student teaching, including surgery in the middle of it (and only missing 4 days of teaching for it), I choked on the finish line. The list of what I had to do to complete the process was ONE freaking paper (and I had until June to do it), two of these stupid things called Teaching Performance Assessments (and the groundwork is all done), a CPR class (I used to teach it, for fuck’s sake). 
That’s it.
Everything else was done.
I was only doing about 5 hours of contract work a week, and a little tutoring between January and June.
I had time to work on it.
But I didn’t.
Self-sabotage at its best. I seem to be an expert in that.
I could have been actually teaching this year, instead of worried about how I’m going to pay the bills now that unemployment has run its course.
But I have been making a conscious effort to work on changing thought patterns ever since J called last May
Another imaginary intermaweb friend, Monday’s Child, posted on my recent happiness post about her step-mother’s philosophy:

Happiness is a decision.
She taught me that happiness isn’t something that is *caused* by anything. It’s a deliberate decision you make, moment by moment if necessary.


Which falls right in line with a wallpaper image I got from Goddess Leonie (yeah, I know I’m talking about her a lot – I get fixated on things, ok?)






At first, this was the only one I downloaded, but now I have all of them, plus a few pictures I thought were beautiful, and a couple of random things, like this mandala I colored a long time ago. They rotate as my desktop background every 15 minutes.


Last year at this time, if the computer was on, I would have always had a browser open and would not even see my wallpaper. But the longer the “Joy is an Option” poster was up, the more I closed the browser and just left the computer on. I usually set the laptop up on a shelf right across from my comfy chair [“nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!”] and I now leave it open so when I glance over I see an inspiring message or just a pretty picture.

I really think that the Joy poster is at least partly responsible for finally flipping my mood around.

So, I am really getting into the affirmations this year. And I’ve even decided to go ahead and do a Vision Board. I’ve never actually done one before. I understand the psychology of it – it’s not really magick, per se, but it keeps certain things happening in your head to help you recognize and bring about your goals. I guess I just thought I was  . . . above? needing something like that. 

I bought this pretty (and cheap) poster board with clouds on it, and I’m ready to get started. . . 

As an aside – What sparked this post was a conversation on Facebook. I wanted to talk about how another of my internet friends today reposted one of my “inspirational” reposts on Facebook. When one of his friends said, “I did not expect this from you,” his response was that he was trying to make changes in his life, to wit, to become “less of a dick.” He also said, “I cannot explain how much better my attitude is about everything after just a few months of reprogramming.” If RJ can change his attitude about things, with a little “reprogramming,” maybe I can, too?

Scary Goals – Incredible Year Part 3

This is a continuation of my series about working through Goddess Leonie’s Incredible Year Workbook. If you haven’t seen them already here are Part 1: Affirmations and Part 2: Word of the Year.

In the goals section of the Life edition, she breaks the goals down into specific sections:

  • Financial
  • Body
  • Business/work
  • Creative
  • Spiritual
  • Family/friends
  • Personal 
  • “Goals that are so big & dreamy that I’m not even sure they are possible”

Goal-setting is scary enough to begin with for me; so scary, I often don’t even make them.

When I’m manic, I can dream up some pretty darn big goals. But when I’m depressed, I can’t take any steps to make them happen. I can’t even SEE steps to make them happen. So, then I take no steps to make my goals happen, and I chalk up yet another failure, [I’m goooood at failure. I’ve done it a LOT. It’s succeeding at something that scares me]  yet another chance to hate myself.

This means I try really, really hard to make realistic goals, if I make goals at all. Other goals, BIG goals, float around in my head, but rarely see the light of day.

And now, Leonie is asking me to actually WRITE THOSE SCARY THINGS DOWN?

EEK!

That’s more than enough to make me want to run to my bed and pull the covers up over my head. Panic attack! Ok, time to remember how to breathe. . . .

Let’s put that on a shelf somewhere because nailing down other goals is hard enough.

I’m only going to talk about some of them here because some just feel a bit too personal.

Financial:

If I’m dreaming, might as well just go for it, right?
Debt free
Have at least one-month buffer in YNAB
Steady income (whether it’s from my businesses or from a job – businesses preferred)
Measurable income from the businesses – affiliates, advertising, selling products
I have a number in mind for what I’d like my income to be at the end of the year.

Body (She calls it “My gorgeous goddess body goals”):

Some of these seem a little silly, but, again, putting it out there. I didn’t make my strength goals in 2012, so I’m looking at:
Squat my body weight
Bench press 75% of my body weight
a pull-up – wide-grip, overhand pull-up (between my weight being more than I can lift and a bad wrist, this has been the hardest strength goal)
Weight 140-150lbs
Actually do that hike Mon and I tried a few years back overlooking Horsetail Falls.
Walk 260 miles (that’s 5 miles/week)
Get back into my yoga practice – at least once a week
When the strength goals are met – get the tattoo C is helping me design (there’s a lot of symbolism in it, and I want to reach a particular goal before getting it/them)

Business and/or work goals

Oh, boy. I don’t know if I want to put these out there. Trying to get specific, even the small ones seem unrealistic. I’ll just say I have a certain number in mind for how many blog followers and income I receive.
sell an ebook
edit a book (which means I need goad the author into getting me some of the chapters to get started on. . . hint, hint. . .)
find a job teaching math – even if it’s part-time. In fact, a .5-.6 full-time job would probably be best, give me some time to work on the businesses
at least 52 blog posts – that’s only one per week spread out over all my blogs, that ought to be attainable.
Write up the study skills booklet for the tutoring blog.

Creative:

Write a self-help/spiritual/growth guide/ebook?/class?
Teach a class at the Learning Annex (topic?)
Write (from start to finish) a new knitting pattern (if I design, I tend to design on the needles and not write anything down)
write and/or record a meditation (sell?)
Take more pictures! (When I joined the Navy, I actually wanted to be a photographer’s mate, not an electronics tech, but I’ve never really pursued an interest in that.)
Help C with the tattoo design. I can’t draw, but I have a specific image in mind, so I’ll have to work closely with her.

Spiritual:

Let go of the fear (of a couple of different things)
Practice being loving (when depressed, this can be difficult, mostly because I isolate myself from other people).
Meditate regularly
Recognize happiness – BE HAPPY
Practice mindfulness, being in the moment

Family & friendship

The biggest one here is to spend more time with BFF. The last couple of years, I’ve hardly seen or talked to her, and I feel really guilty about that. She was the one that helped me the most with raising C when I was at my worst points. I need to be a better friend to her.
And, ok, I’ll say it, I do want to see M. We’ve talked about meeting up, but at the moment, it doesn’t look like either of us will have much cash to do it. So, need to get working on the financial goals.

Personal

Most of the other goals seem pretty personal to me. I couldn’t get a handle on this being a separate category.

And that leaves the Scary-Big goals.

Oh, boy.

I don’t think I can even put these out there. I wrote a couple of things on my pages, but they seem so crazy.

So, I go to the expert in overcoming being stuck (destuckification!) and Havi says:

Here’s the thing with thinking big. It can be terrifying. And when you’re in fear, you don’t take action. Or if you do take action, it’s not going to be the kind of thoughtful, intentional, motivated action that is going to serve you.There are a ton of “think big” people in the world, whether you’re dealing with coaching, “self-help” or the business world. Some of them are really great people– bright, charismatic, good-intentioned people . . . and some of them are pushy, sales-ey, highlighter-wielding types. I like to think of all of them collectively as the “biggifiers”.Even if we assume that they are all well-meaning, brimming over with integrity and have your own best interests nestled in their tender hearts, here’s what happens in real-time:

  • When biggifiers start shouting “think big think big think big” at you, your discomfort level rises to the point that you can’t absorb the rest of their smart, useful advice.
  • When biggifiers tell you that you “have to” do things (and you know, uncomfortable things like “stepping out of your comfort zone”), it’s completely understandable when you default into anxiety mode.
  • When biggifiers tell you how easy it is, you want to believe them … but you also know perfectly well that it isn’t. At least, not for you. And since you’re the one who has to do it, it’s not going to happen.
  • Sure you want to be able to think big, but you equally don’t want to have to do it, so you default into stuck.

Yes!

I knew she’d understand!

This is exactly how I feel.

This is just TOOOOO big for now, too scary. So, how do I deal with it? She says:

The solution is what I like to call Mindful Biggification.Yes, you biggify — but you do it in a slow, measured, conscious, mindful, compassionate way.You practice acknowledging your fear when it shows up. You practice meeting yourself where you are. You practice letting “being in the process” be the “win”, and not having to nail some external goal.You work on letting go of the need for outside legitimacy. You work on noticing where you need grounding, support, shelter and stability. You work on discovering which parts of you are scared to shine and giving them loving attention. 

Ah, ok.

Mindful Biggification.

That goes with the “practice mindfulness” goal.

And I am trying to “biggify” this year.

I think I’m caught in the loop of, “I thought I was going to biggify three years ago, and what happened? I spent a little money and then didn’t follow through. Like always.”

I’m scared that if I put the scary-big goals out there where everyone can see them, then I’ll fall on my face (yet again) and having everyone know exactly how bad. . .

Yeah, I don’t want to do that right now. I’m not that confident yet.

So, I wrote them down in my book. And I’ll look at them when I review the other goals.

I watched an interview with Yanik Silver on Eventual Millionaire today. He talks about using a journal or planner to write goals down. But he writes them down and then puts it away. He doesn’t do the stuff other people talk about. For him, creating the goal and writing it is enough.

Not sure that’s enough for me, as I’ve written goals before. But for now, the big, scary ones remain private.

Incredible Year – Part 2 – Word of the year

More on Goddess Leonie’s Incredible Year workbook. . .

There’s a whole section on a Word for the Year, a “sacred” word to focus on throughout the year.

As I was releasing the 2012 stuff (the first part of the workbook), the one thing that came up over and over for me is something I’ve talked about here before: the fear of success. So, naturally, my word for the year is:


The above is a colored pencil drawing that I’ve stuck up on my door. I can see it from my lazy perch in my recliner. I can see it every time I leave the apartment. I think this is a good place for it. I’m considering making a couple more to put in other places.

I’m still working on the stuff that goes with it that helps you explore what hinders accomplishing the word, and what you can do to increase your chances of making it work.

One of the problems I’m having though is defining exactly what “Success” means for me.

I tried to write a paragraph about my “dreamiest day”.

It involved a couple of people I care about, and doing something fun. It included having “enough” money to wear new clothes and do a fun activity in a location far from home.

Other than that? I didn’t envision a particular job. I did see a large bank account and lots of web traffic.

But how do I get there?

These are things everyone thinks about, right? But there’s a major disconnect between where I am and where that is. There are all these intermediate steps that I don’t know how to fill in.

So, working on that.

What is “success” to me?

Enough money to pay my bills, have a nice place to live, have a little savings put away, help C with college. . . Feeling fulfilled in whatever work I’m doing; having fun with it. . . Having a partner whose skills complement mine, who can hold me up when I’m falling, who isn’t scared of my strength. . .