Saturday, March 26, 2011

Another Saturday Night and I Ain't Got Nobody...

I had a moment of panic a little earlier this evening when I found myself home alone on a Saturday night and watching Dancing with the Stars. I almost couldn't stand the horror. I'm ok now, though. The crisis has been averted. Thank god for DVR. 

At one point this afternoon when I came home from the gym, I thought, "So what's so bad about having a nice calm life where I don't have a partner?" I think I've been so focused on not having a partner or even a good date, really, that I haven't been appreciating the time I have with myself. I have so many things I can do that I really enjoy. I have friends I can get together with. I'm ok with it. 

I will do eHarmony once the divorce is filed but I'm not all that optimistic about it. That's ok too. Everything will happen in its own time. As one of my colleagues said recently, grass doesn't grow any faster if you pull it.

It's so cold out there tonight, I've built a fire in the fireplace, hopefully, for the last time in this apartment both because I hope it gets warmer and because I hope my next fire (in the fireplace) is in the condo I just bought! Yay! I'm really looking forward to living in a place that doesn't feel like a college apartment complex. Of course, they're sprucing this place up right as I leave...

I'm looking forward to having a garage that has a door right into the house. I'm looking forward to having a garage at all, actually. I'm looking forward to having more storage space and cathedral ceilings and new hardwood floors that I'll have installed before I move in. I'm looking forward to painting the walls whatever colors I want. 

Now all I have to do is get health insurance and I'll have a more stable life again. Looking forward to these final steps in setting up a new beginning.  

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Unrelated to the topic of this entry, let me say that I really, really appreciate those of you who expressed support and concern about my health care crisis crisis. I was kind of freaking out about it then. I'm feeling much better about it after talking to an insurance broker. There are at least a few more options to try before I'm without insurance at all and Geoff is generous enough to stay married for that process. I felt very loved when you responded. :-)

Now, to the title of this A new adventure. I decided to join for a number of reasons. First, I thought it would be interesting to try something different. Most of you might remember when online dating first came out. When I first moved to C-U, I was single and considered trying something like that but at that time, the rumor (fear) was that only crazy people used such services and you had a 90% chance of being abducted, assaulted and murdered if you even looked at the site. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about now that it's become more popular and I'm single again. 

Another reason for me to join was because I really, really want to learn to lighten up. Since I've always struggled with self-esteem, I thought it would be a good risk to just put myself out there and see what happens. I will say that it has triggered my shame more than once. I have a couple of pictures up and am convinced that when people see the pictures, they most often click very quickly to get away from the horror. Ok. I'm exaggerating but it feels a little that way. I think I'd only be satisfied if everyone who looked at my profile would then try to contact me. That's what I need to work on. Not very practical or good for me either. 

First of all, the process to even register took me a really long time! I'm not sure why, now that I think of it. There are a few places where you can write a narrative so I guess I took too long to write some of those. Once I was on, though, it was amazing how much action I got!! I'd limited my geographic search to within 20 miles of C-U but I got men from all over the country "winking" at me, sending a brief email, etc. I was so surprised and felt a little bit like "ok. Maybe I'm not so bad after all." Well...turns out this wasn't what we call a "corrective emotional experience" in my field.

I responded to one profile of a person who supposedly lived in Rome, GA. I was curious so I responded to an email. He responded and wanted to chat on Yahoo so I switched over to that. He came on waaaaayyyy strong but what an interesting guy! He was from Ireland. He had one daughter who was 12. His photos showed him painting but he was a computer salesman who traveled all over the world. He had been with his partner for 13 years and the two finally wanted to have a big wedding so they saved up all their money to do it up. Unfortunately, poor guy, two days before the wedding, he found out his wife had been cheating. She left him and their daughter and in the past 3 years, the mother had never tried to get in touch with the daughter. Oh....and then his parents died that same year and his sister died last year. This was all in one chat session!! He said that he was working in West Africa. Wow! That's really interesting, isn't it?! 

Jeez. I felt like such an idiot for not doing more research about before I signed up. After this weird chat, I immediately did a google search. Turns out, there are people who create false profiles, try to lure unsuspecting people and then try to get money from them (you know, like the "I lost my passport can you send me money to get out of __________?" whatever country they choose.) I reported the person and confronted him directly through a chat he started. He protested and became indignant. He told me I could check him with the FBI and gave an Atlanta number I could call to check on him. He'd even put up a fake business site (like on LinkedIn or something).  Then he said, "And after you check it out, never contact me again!" Okay...Needless to say, the profile was gone immediately.

I have to say, I wasn't really upset about the possible match falling through. I was more upset about what it says about people that they're pulling those kinds of scams. I never amaze myself by how trusting and naive I can be. I like that about myself but it also means I get disappointed in people frequently. I guess because in my work, I meet with people who make themselves vulnerable and have no reason not to tell the truth, I just expect people "out there" to be that way too. It's beyond my comprehension how people justify their behavior. I get it intellectually but it surprises me almost every time. I can spot these kinds of profiles now and am really annoyed with how many there are. I wrote to complain and told them I wanted to reduce my subscription so now I'll only be on for a month. It's worth that much of a try! 

In all fairness, I did meet one very nice man a couple of days ago and he was a good person. No love connection but I enjoyed the evening. It restored my faith in people a little bit. After this month, I guess I'll maybe try eHarmony to see if they block out scammers better. Maybe I'll just go back to meeting people the old fashioned way...or maybe I'll just be ok being alone!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Health Care Crisis Crisis

The health care crisis I've been hearing about all these years just hit home today. I received the news that my application for a new health insurance policy with the carrier I've had for years was declined. Now that I won't be able to be on Geoff's insurance, I have to find my own. I'm not sure why I was rejected yet. I'll be getting a letter in the mail soon telling me the reasons. I imagine it's all that depression and anxiety. I don't smoke. I don't drink. I'm in good health. I'm relatively young. I haven't had a single hospitalization for physical or mental health reasons. I'm going to need more health care because the stress of finding health care coverage is going to take a toll on my health!

I'm not sure if it was a good thing or a bad thing that I had three clients in a row right after I got the news. It was good because it distracted me and kept me from panicking. It was a bad thing because I just wanted to cry and freak out but had to hold it together. I'm more aware than ever of how privileged I've been all my life to never worry in a significant way about health care coverage. I've always, always had insurance. I'm not sure what will happen if no one accepts me or if the cost becomes prohibitive. I feel pretty vulnerable and adrift. I think I have a much better idea of why people stay in marriages and jobs where they aren't happy. Is that the choice we have to make? Jeez. And what about the people who don't even have that choice. I trust that I'll figure something out.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


I can't tell you how exciting my life has been. To recent activities like cleaning the ashes out of my fireplace and sorting buttons at The IDEA Store, I've added sweet potato carving. Does it get any better than this? Really...

I went to a carving workshop at The IDEA Store yesterday and these cranky, crotchety older men with United States Veteran pins on every visible part of their vests and caps taught me and about 15 girl scouts how to carve a sweet potato. I guess the idea is to move on to wood...I really liked it! I've always wanted to take sculpture because I think my three D perspective is pretty good and I've never tried it before. 

Apparently, sweet potato carving is quite the craft. Carving an old man's face into the sweet potato seems to be a particularly popular pastime because the sweet potato shrivels up when it dries. It gets as hard as wood. Makes sense, I guess, because it is a root! Duh.

If you're interested, you can check out this book. :-) 
Such beautiful artwork (I'm joking). Seriously, I'd like to learn how to carve wood and make smooth, abstract objects with it. 

In the workshop, I picked my sweet potato and wanted to make a generic bird because the shape of the potato reminded me of a bird. It was the weirdest thing, though. The more I carved, the more the potato spoke to me. I thought maybe a robin or a cardinal but the potato kept whispering "penguin...I'm a penguin." So here's what I ended up with. Hilarious!! The sweet little girl scout who was sitting next to me said "that's such a cool penguin" and looked at me in awe. I'm that good. I'm too lazy to photoshop these so we'll let the art speak for itself. 

Not bad, huh? It will look nothing like this when it's all shriveled up. I know, I know "that's what she said." I'll try to remember to post a photo because then the excitement will have fully realized itself. 

Every time I try a new craft, I want to pick it up and get obsessed with it. I think I'd prefer wood but we'll see where this carving thing goes. Maybe I can mix knitting, bead making, painting, book binding, shrine making (another class I took recently), welding (I learned a little welding and would love to do more of it!), sweet potato carving and wood carving. If you have any ideas for a project that would combine all of these, please get in touch with me immediately!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Rough Weekend

Sweet Darkness

When your eyes are tired
the world is tired also.

When your vision has gone
no part of the world can find you.

Time to go into the dark
where the night has eyes
to recognize its own.

There you can be sure
you are not beyond love.

The dark will be your womb

The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.

You must learn one thing:
the world was made to be free in.

Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.

-- David Whyte

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Turning the Corner

In my experience, both personally and professionally, things don't tend to change in an instant but very slowly over a long period of time. Occasionally, though, I've experienced or witnessed some kind of psychological/emotional sea change that surprises me. About two weeks ago, a couple of things converged all at once that flooded me with grief, loss, despair, hurt and anger. That was probably one of the two lowest points of the past year and a half or so. It was so primal I couldn't even fully understand what was happening for me. It's like I imploded. 

The real surprise came over the next day or so. I woke up the next morning and felt lighter. I felt liberated from a weight I'd been carrying around in my heart. It doesn't feel like a straightforward change (e.g., that I was worried about something and now I'm not worried any more). It feels like something deeper and more systemic shifted and created a sort of chain reaction. I wondered if the new state would last for long and I'm finding that it actually is. I was concerned about how the holidays would be since it was a year ago today (12/26) that I moved out of our home. Turns out that I've enjoyed the holidays and haven't felt too sad or depressed. It's still on my mind, of course, but I've been doing pretty well!

I still feel pretty calm and more optimistic about the future. I have ideas about how to continue this life transition in ways that will help me grow and reflect more deeply. They mostly center around mindfulness, compassion, creativity and some of the teachings of Pema Chodron. 

She's a Buddhist nun who has written lots of books and has recorded many of her presentations. I first borrowed some CD's (OK - I illegally copied them...) from my sister Sarah some time ago and have finally gotten around to listening to them. I don't ever see myself becoming a real practicing Buddhist but she speaks to me at this time in my life. She talks about the importance of having the courage to experience pain and struggle rather than trying to escape from it. She sees these experiences as opportunities to build wisdom and compassion. 

She also emphasizes the importance of loving kindness toward others and ourselves. It sounds like common sense but actually practicing compassion and loving kindness is really difficult. The way she talks about these things feels very accessible and accepting. It feels a little bit like I'm at such a vulnerable place that I'm ready and open for these ideas. 

In addition, in my field (and many others), there's so much information coming out about how plastic the brain actually is. I think I've had the idea that I can't really change my fate; that the things I haven't liked about myself or have felt are wrong with me can't be changed. More and more, I'm learning that our brains can change. I'm not locked into repeating old patterns and feelings again and again and again. 

I feel empowered by the possibilities these changes are opening up for me. I'm sure I'll have good days and bad. My hope is to be able to develop equanimity -- this is a concept Pema Chodron talks about a lot. I thought I knew what it meant but looked it up to be sure. Equanimity is "mental or emotional stability or composure, esp. under tension or strain." Synonyms are "calm, composed, balanced, tranquil." 

Here are some quotes by Pema Chodron that I especially like right now:
  • Gloriousness and wretchedness need each other. One inspires us, the other softens us.
  • You're the only one who knows when you're using things to protect yourself and keep your ego together and when you're opening and letting things fall apart, letting the world come as it is - working with it rather than struggling against it. You're the only one who knows.
  • Sometimes the completely open heart and mind of bhodichitta is called the soft spot, a place as vulnerable and tender as an open wound. It is equated, in part, with our ability to love. [...] Sometimes this broken heart gives birth to anxiety and panic, sometimes to anger, resentment, and blame. But under the hardness of that armor there is the tenderness of genuine sadness. This is our link with all those who have ever loved. This genuine heart of sadness can teach us great compassion. It can humble us when we're arrogant and soften us when we are unkind. It awakens us when we prefer to sleep and pierces through our indifference. This continual ache of the heart is a blessing that when accepted fully can be shared with all."
A little less than two years ago, I described myself as waking up. It's been such a difficult painful journey but I've maintained my resolve to be awake in my life and to be authentic in my choices; to finally shed the shame that's been my burden for most of my life. I'm hoping that I'm turning a corner; that I'll finally start feeling the peace of mind and even joy that comes with living authentically and without toxic shame.  

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Maddy's Home!!

Went to get Maddy from U.W. on Wednesday and Thursday this week! It's been good to see her. It's about a four and a half hour drive and two and a half of it was very, very foggy:

It actually got better as it got darker because I could see tail lights in front of me when I started getting close to another car. 

It was great to see Maddy although most of the day, I saw this:
She needed to catch up on her sleep since she'd gotten up that morning to take a 7:30am final!! Luckily, we didn't have a wreck -- not sure the seat belt would have been very effective in that position!