Comfort zone

I don't like ever talking about what goes on deep inside of me. A few close friends may find out, but not co-workers or you, my reader. But the truth is, I've gotten a taste of what it is like to be struggling with something psychological. And I've decided to let you in on that.

I have a busy mind, and a strong sense of responsibility or duty. That sort of thing easily leads to stress because I've lost the ability to say "no" without guilt. So anxiety has been creeping up on me for almost two years. It's mostly work, but that means that anything bad happening outside of work becomes harder than it needs to be because I have nothing extra to give.

I canceled a trip to Czechia this summer. Prague, home of the astrolabe clock tower, is a city I've wanted to see for years. But it went back on my bucket list due to being so utterly stressed out I couldn't even think about packing without crying. I wasn't staying in the moment but instead had leapt ahead to the week after vacation at work.

Bad move.

A good move was telling a friend and getting some time to talk. Another good move was looping my boss in on what was going on when I got back to work. She sent me to the company shrink. 

My comfort zone: Sitting on a bus, on a rainy day

My comfort zone: Sitting on a bus, on a rainy day

The psychologist was in a neighborhood I hadn't been to before, so I had to figure out bus schedules, and timing so I wouldn't get stressed out if I got lost. I made a decision about which bus to take, and I had taken it before so I knew that leg of the journey.

Sitting on the bus, on a rainy day, knowing I didn't need to worry about missing my stop, I started to feel myself again. I was back in my comfort zone. I know this. I know how to ride a bus. I know the rain. I know how to get myself to an unfamiliar address. I know how to adult that much. So I watched the windshield wipers fight the weather, feeling all warm and fuzzy.

The meeting with the psychologist gave me what I needed. A chance to think out loud and get some feedback. I know all this shit. I know about meditation and affirmations and etheric oils and about not trying to live up to the imagined expectations of others, but all that is beyond my grasp right now. And I kind of want it to be. I don't want to figure this out by myself even if I do know what to do. I want to talk to someone else, get some perspective my own brain can't come up with. Most importantly, I need to hear I'm normal. I don't know that I am, you see.

The psychologist told me I am, and it felt good to hear. One thing I told her was that I feel guilty just sitting. I like surfing the 'net. I like solving sudokus while I listen to my favorite podcast. I like knitting while I watch TV. I like sitting at a keyboard, typing. I like writing. But according to every article I've ever read, all this sitting will kill me, so I feel bad about sitting.

But I like my "sitting hobbies"! And especially the writing and knitting, both activities that produce something, are rewarding. So she asked me, since I was already down and didn't need more pressure, what about not beating myself up further, but instead look upon my "sitting hobbies" as something good, something helpful?

Hmm…

Coincidentally, in the way only the universe knows how to organize, a fellow blogger challenged me to write about song lyrics for three days and, boy, did that feel good, even if it was a topic I would never pick! Just the act of writing, of looking for links and words and putting them together.

One lesson learned.

Stay tuned. I'm not done yet. With any of this.

Savoring

I sometimes wonder if I'm able to savor. I seem not to have passions, things or feelings or beliefs that grab me with all my being and all my fiber and that I cannot and will not let go of. So I let go, perhaps a little too fast, denying myself the opportunity to savor.

Except, that's what my blog lets me do. I revisit, I remind myself, I remember by sharing here and that gives me a chance to savor the experience I just had, to look at my pictures again and enjoy the view, the moment once more.

But as I write this, I realize there are other things that qualify as savoring. For example, the wash cloth that just left my knitting needles.

Knitting is an activity that gives me great satisfaction and calms my mind while also keeping me creative and engaged. With this particular project I was also enjoying the yarn color itself. I think any activity that lets you lose yourself for a bit while also rewarding you in some way is a form of savoring.

Savoring the moment, savoring the activity, savoring the result.

Inspired by the Daily Prompt

2017-07-16-15.55.41-e1500216153536.jpg

I feel good!

You can go find your copy of James Brown belting out "I feel good" if you want. My version is more low-key and without the groovy dance moves, but I do feel good. I like to thank ho'oponopono for that. So I'm going to talk about it again. I broke my own heart this past December. I visited my mother in Nevada and we had no fights, no snark, no desire to avoid each other. Decades of being dysfunctional were over. At one point, we sat at her dining room table, talking about my screwed up great-grandmother who managed to ruin three generations of daughters. Mom and I were now talking about how each of us had found a path that led us to healing and forgiveness, and that we now, finally, were the first mother-daughter pair that got along and had no issues. And it suddenly hit me that that is exactly what we had done: We reversed the habits of a dysfunctional family legacy. We grabbed each other's hand and said triumphantly, "We made it!" The love that had always been there found its voice, and was no longer drowned out by fighting and fears. So when it came time to say goodbye and go back to Norway, I really, really, really didn't want to.

I still try to convince myself that the pain of leaving someone you want to be with is better than the pain of being forced to be with someone you don't want to be with, but I'm not sure. This new pain hits me deeper. Still, it is now the only pain I experience, and that is definitely a desirable situation to be in.

Mom showing signage she designed

Mom showing signage she designed

My grandma told me that when I was a toddler, I happily walked up to people, to complete strangers, all smiles and trust. I have often thought about that person I used to be, and wanted to be her again. Well, I am her now. I have realized that I am no longer afraid of being approached by strangers. I don't have that "whadya want and what's it gonna cost me" skepticism any more. I don't expect trouble, and I don't expect sacrifice. And I don't get either.

I do believe practicing ho'oponopono as well as other spiritual practices are at the heart of this new—or is it original?—me. The practice has done as promised: It has helped heal and remove whatever's in my subconscious mind, tripping me up, letting me repeat past hurts. I now find it easier than before to think well of others and to expect the best.

Now I can use this method to help others. That's actually what it does: By healing yourself you also help others heal.

Here is a short description of the ho'oponopono method. Simply say to yourself these four sentences together, in any order you want, any time you feel not good, whether it's a minor annoyance or a major upset: I love you. I'm sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. Repeat until you feel something shift. Even if nothing's going on, say these four sentences. Don't be surprised if problems resolve themselves and new ones show up. It's peeling onion layers.

When interacting with others, a quick "insurance" is to say "I love you" or "Thank you" to yourself just before starting a conversation or responding to a question.

View of east side of Sierra Nevada mountains

View of east side of Sierra Nevada mountains

Other things that make me feel good: Knitting. I get ridiculously mellow seeing projects made out of wool in my Facebook feed. I think that's way better than liberal friends finding fault with conservatives or conservative friends finding fault with liberals, which Facebook is also full of. I hide those posts and just look at lovely patterns and colors worked by creative hands. That inspires me. Here's one of my projects:

My knitting project

My knitting project