Monday, November 29, 2010

Idealism or Realism

When I worked as a counselor, one of my clients told me that he felt I was a bit too idealistic, and needed to be more of a realist.

 When I was in therapy, before I had become a counselor, I told my therapist that I wanted to apply to graduate school to become a therapist. My therapist's response, "Your clients would eat you alive."  Interestingly enough, during my internship, I worked with people with Paranoid Schizophrenia. Guess what? I'm still alive. It's amazing how some people mask their negativity as "realism", and criticize those of us that would like to believe anything is possible, calling us idealists or dreamers. If I had heeded my therapist's call to realism, I would not have a master's degree.

During the past couple of weeks, I had the good fortune to attend a book festival where several gifted writers presented talks about their work and their writing process. The first lecture that I attended, the author told the audience that had she known how difficult it would be to break into the writing field, she would not have done it. Maybe it's just me, but I didn't find her message particularly inspiring for hopeful writers. On the second to last day of the book festival I had the good fortune to hear co-authors discuss their journey to getting their work published. Neither potential agents nor publishing houses knew what to do with their book. Parts of it read like a novel, however, it contained several recipes. Was it a novel or a cookbook? As a result, no one wanted to touch it. The authors believed in their work, and wanted to see it published, so they published it themselves. To make a long story short, the book began selling quite well, and subsequently has been picked up by Harper Collins. Their message to the audience:  never give up on your dreams, anything is possible.

My message for the day: don't allow authority figures, whether it is your therapist, or a publishing house, to make  important life decisions for you. You could be cheating yourself out of a bright and creative future.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Traveling Through Words

The past few days I have had a feeling that life has a beautiful gift that It is waiting to give me. The feeling is brief, but so deliciously rich with anticipation. I feel as though my life is about to become more vivid and exciting. I want a vivid, creative, and wildly exciting life. The process of writing those words feels like I am getting that much closer to getting what I want.

I am truly amazed that people in four different countries are reading my blog. One of my greatest desires has been to travel around the world. I so much want to see and experience all that life and this world have to offer. However, as of yet, I haven't traveled out of the United States. Last week I realized that even though at present my body isn't traveling, another part of me is traveling: my words. Isn't that a great realization? I like the idea that my words are out in the world having a good time, seeing new sites and experiencing new foods.  I have a lovely image of them being opened and read over a cup of coffee and a croissant in a quaint French cafe. I do hope that they will send for me soon!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

When All You Can Do Is Laugh

A few years ago my daughter and I were spending a leisurely Sunday afternoon at Piedmont Park when we found ourselves stuck in the middle of a downpour. We took cover under an awning for a while. However, it looked as though the rain had no plans of abating, and we were growing restless and chilly and wanted to go home, so we decided to venture out from the safety of the awning and trek towards the promise of a warm and dry car. We took off running, our hair dripping and our wet clothes clinging to our bodies. This was no short trip to the car, we were in the heart of the park. We soon spotted a spark of hope ahead of us. A park employee driving a golf cart was approaching us, it appeared as though we were un the verge of being saved. But when the driver got next to us, he just smiled and waved and drove right past. It wasn't as though he would be offending all the other people stranded in the park by showing favoritism to us, a pitiful looking wet woman with her equally pitiful and wet six year old child. Oddly enough, we seemed to be the only people at the park. The shock and mild disgust that we felt as we watched our salvation drive past, quickly gave way to uncontrollable laughter. We were stuck in a rainstorm with no help in sight. We weren't in any danger of freezing to death or melting from the rain, we were just really wet and uncomfortable. We laughed all the way to the car and on the drive home. When we got home we put on our warm snuggly pajamas, even though it was the middle of the afternoon, and we watched Harriet the Spy and ate snacks.
Eight years later, my daughter and I still talk about what ended up being a delightful Sunday afternoon. It was one of the most joyful times that we have spent together.
Sometimes when there is no escape from the weather, other people, or circumstances, all you can do is laugh.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Words That Heal

Last night I was talking to my father about life and child rearing. I told him that at every parent teacher conference that we attend, my daughter's teachers tell my husband and I that our daughter is one of the smartest kids in her class. My husband and I are concerned about our daughter not achieving her full academic potential. My father's response was a seemingly simple statement, but it was like a balm to my heart and mind. He said, "You were also probably one of the smartest kids in your class."

 If you have read previous blog posts you will remember that I have been plagued since childhood by the thought that I am stupid. I was the cute kid and my sister was the smart one. The word debilitating may be a little strong, but I'm going to use it anyway. Thinking that I am stupid has had a debilitating effect on my life. It wouldn't have helped for anyone else to have said the words that my father spoke to me last night. I needed to hear them from him. My perception of myself has been altered since last night's conversation. This morning I am standing a little straighter, and doubting myself a little less. Never underestimate the power of a parent's encouragement, whether you are four or forty. A parent's words have the power to heal.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

After the Crash

Sometimes it's okay to rant and wallow; however, usually it's best to avoid. I was in a bad space this morning and I'm still not over my "I don't like Jamie" fest, but things are looking brighter. Actually, things where never anything except for bright, it's all in the way that my mind has been interpreting the happenings or lack thereof in my life. So I have indulged in a couple of days of self-pity and loathing, which has been pretty unattractive and not that pleasant to live with I'm sure. Sometimes you're in pain, and even though the pain may be your own creation, you still need to express it. I suppose that it is really a cry for help. Is there someone out there that can save me from myself already!? I guess that my post this morning was really a cry for help, and I'm happy to say that I received help in the form of encouragement, love and support.

Generally, I find that there is a positive that is linked to every negative. In the moment, in the middle of the meltdown, when all systems are crashing it is hard to have perspective. After every crash, I end up stronger, better, and with a deeper and richer understanding of myself. I'm getting there.

The Blues

Despair has me in a stranglehold this morning, and I don't know how to get out. Since I am not working or bringing in money I feel powerless, as though I have no right to think, feel, or exist. Everything that I have learned about stepping back and witnessing my mind and it's propensity for melodrama, has gone out the window. I don't know how to make my life work. At present, I feel as though I will never fulfill my dream of having meaningful work, which is something that I have desperately wanted since I was a teenager. I never fantasized about marriage, my fantasies involved being a great artist.

So much for that thought. I just can't get it together; I feel like a failure.

I have been out of work for over a year. A lot of goals that I had set have been achieved during that time. I have grown tremendously, as I have done a lot of inner work. Right now none of that seems to count, because I am basing my value strictly on money. I'm not making any money= I have no value.

I wasn't going to post anything today, because I am in such a bad frame of mind, but then I remembered that starting this blog was to fulfill my need to write every day. Sorry that I have nothing useful to say at the moment. Hopefully, my mind will take a turn and I will post something later today that is less dreary.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Shadow of the Sister

Growing up in the shadow of a smart, highly competent, over achieving older sister wasn’t easy for me. For the most part I lived in my imagination, which was rich with visions of popes and pasta and gefilte fish and Cossacks. My sister seemed to live in reality, and from what I could see it looked like she was doing pretty well there. She was the smart daughter and I was the daughter that the family needed to pray for. When I finished high school, I didn’t have a great future awaiting me. My grades were average and my SAT scores were even less than unremarkable.  I wanted to see the world and taste life, yet from my performance in school it looked as though the road to an exciting life was closed off to me. The point is that I always felt like I was stupid in comparison to my sister. I even become tongue-tied in her presence, and I’m certain that my IQ drops a few points.
Last night I told my husband that I am embarrassed to admit it, but the truth is that I want to be a writer, not just the writer of a blog, but a writer that is able to create beautiful prose and weave them into a work of fiction. However, I believe that I am stupid, and how can a stupid person write. My husband said that stupid people write all the time. But I want to create something of quality and value; my husband said that a stupid person cannot do that. Then my husband reminded me of the published writers that I respect and admire that have commented on my ability and potential as a writer. But I am scared to try because I am scared of failing, and if I fail I will take that as confirmation of my stupidity. Is it possible that I am still living in my fantasy world; only this time the fantasy is more of a bad dream in which I have convinced myself that I am intellectually inadequate? If I want to live in “reality”, I don’t have any evidence to build a case for my stupidity. I just made up that I am stupid, and I use that to block the expression of my creativity.
Why write a blog post that reveals the nasty little secret that I believe myself to be lacking in intelligence? Because I need to purge myself of this nonsense, and I need to come clean about my jealousy in regard to my sister. By the way, my sister is one of the most amazing women that I know, and I’m sure that she has no idea that I have felt so intimidated by her.
So even though I doubt myself and fear failure, I am going to continue to write. Writing connects me to beauty and wonder, and writing is the expression of the deepest and richest part of me. What could be better than that?
This post is dedicated to my sister whose intelligence and creativity inspire me to become a better version of me.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Breaking Free

I woke up this morning agitated and worried about something that happened last night before I went to bed. Normally if I am upset about something or have had a disagreement with someone, I have a very hard time functioning afterwards until the other person and I have made peace. I didn’t know how I would get through my morning routine, which happens to involve a lot of sitting still and being with myself and my thoughts. I was upset, peace had not been achieved yet in my world, and now I had to literally sit still and be with my restless thoughts for an hour and a half? In the past, like two days ago, I would have said that there was no way that I was going to be able to sit with myself this morning. I was just too restless and the last thing that I felt like doing was facing me; I wanted to run away. However, this morning I did something different, just as I did yesterday morning when I refrained from answering the phone during my meditation time. I started to think about what kind of woman do I want to become, and what kind of women inspire me. I decided that I wanted to be the kind of woman that chooses to do the thing that will ultimately be nourishing and nurturing instead of reaching for familiar, but unhealthy patterns of behavior. So I chose to be with myself, and not escape the opportunity to become a new person in that moment. Every time that I reach for a new way of responding , thinking, and being in this world, I am reinventing myself and getting that much closer to breaking free.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Choosing Myself

This morning the phone rang in the middle of my meditation. The phone happened to be next to me, so I looked at the caller ID and saw that it was my husband making his routine morning call. I wanted to talk to him, but I also look forward to my quiet time in the morning. It is all too easy for my mind to come up with excuses to get up from meditation and wander about the house in search of distractions. As much as my mind and body may struggle with sitting for meditation, ultimately I know that when I’m finished I feel deliciously serene and centered within my body. However, this morning when my husband called, I wanted to talk to him and I worried that if I waited forty-five minutes to call him back, that by that time he would no long want to talk to me. As I was watching this little drama play out in my mind, I became aware that I live my life chasing after people and things, believing that I have to choose them first or they surely won’t choose me. For the most part it has been true, people don’t pursue me.  Some people give off a confident energy that draws people to them; I think that is because they are aware of their self-worth. I have to go to people because I believe that they won’t come to me on their own; I’m too boring, quiet, and introspective, the list goes on and on.  This morning I chose myself and my meditation, and called my husband when I was finished. Choosing myself put me up there with the confident people that know their own worth; it was beautiful experiencing myself as one of them and basking in the light of my own wonderful presence.  

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

In Search of Contentment

Today I began to question if I want to continue playing the role of the restless woman that obsessively checks her e-mail throughout the day. Wasn’t there a time in my life, not so long ago, ten months to be exact, when I didn’t have access to e-mail in my car, in the mall, or in the bathroom at the Quick Trip? I’m not a person that has ever cared much about having gadgets. Up until five years ago I promised myself that I would never own a cell phone.  It was only a decade ago that I typed a paper on an electric typewriter for film class, and now I carry a small computer in my purse. What happened to the girl that as a teenager was enraged that the car had ever been invented, because she felt that the horse and buggy was a more charming and elegant way to ride?
I heard author Sara Gruen speak today at the AJCC’s annual book festival.  Ms. Gruen and her two best friends, who also happen to be New York Times bestselling authors, have a program installed on their computers called Freedom, which allows them to lock their computers off of the internet for a specified number of hours each day, blocking out extraneous distractions and allowing them to focus on their writing.  After the lecture, I began to seriously think about my misuse and abuse of the internet.  With my obsessive need to feel “connected” to other people, I have lost some of my inner grounding. I have lost the ability to sit with myself and feel content, which happens to be something that I have always enjoyed. Lately, I have felt compelled to fill every moment with “connection”, and for the most part I still don’t really feel connected. The flip side has been that I have experienced the amazing potential of technology to connect people on an almost metaphysical level. Technology is a blessing, however, it becomes a curse when I lose my center and use it as a means of escape.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Life Lessons

What have I learned about myself since I began writing this blog two weeks ago?
I get lonely and restless when I don't have a goal or something meaningful to do with myself.
I'm a woman that needs to be creative.
I am incredibly goal driven.
I need creative, interesting, and introspective people in my life.
Since I left home at eighteen, I have never been in a position where I have been financially comfortable. If I am to have the vision that my life is unfolding perfectly in every moment, and that every circumstance and relationship in my life is exactly as it should be, then my finances are part of that perfection.
More than anything I want to be able to travel; financially it seems like an impossibility. However, financial situations can change at any minute.
I'm embarrassed to say this, but I need to feel loved, accepted, and respected by my peers. Believe me, I don't feel good about feeling this way or admitting it, but it's the truth and I want to speak the truth on this blog if it will be of benefit to me or the readers.
I am the only person that is responsible for my lack of connection to people, and my lack of close and meaningful friendships. I'm not the most accessible, warm, or open person, and that's a result of my low opinion of myself. For years I blamed my miserable school experience on my classmates not extending their friendship to me. When did I ever reach out to any of them? When did I ever feel that I was worthy of their friendship? I was introverted, depressed, and a loner. Can I honestly look at myself and believe that the energy that I was giving off invited friendship. Ultimately, I have to take responsibility for my misery; however, I can do that without being harsh or self-critical. I did the best that I could in the moment. If I would have liked, valued, and respected myself I would have seen that reflected in my relationships with classmates. But I didn't value myself, I didn't see my own worth, and I still don't. But I'm a work in progress. I'm reaching out now in this moment through these words.

Monday, November 8, 2010

What Can I Say?

When I was twenty one, I discovered that I was a good public speaker. This came as a surprise to me and probably to many of the people that knew me who were in the crowd that first night that I spoke. I was very shy and lacking in social skills, so I was taken aback when I was asked if I wanted to attend a training to be a Master of Ceremonies at the meditation center that I attended. I remember the feelings of excitement and terror that I felt the night before my first gig to mc. That was a night of feeling like tigers were chasing me! Somehow I survived that night and the next day and I managed to show up for the evening program without ever throwing up. Something amazing happened when I stood up to speak; words came out of my mouth spoken beautifully, sincerely, and with confidence. I felt good when I was at the microphone speaking, and afterward people responded that they had been touched in some way through my words.  In the years since, I have felt like I was given the ability to speak and that I am obligated to use that gift. However, after every talk that I have given, I have told myself that I am not going to speak again in public if I am in the role of “teacher”, which seems hard to avoid when giving a public talk. I don’t want to get up in front of a group of people and speak as if I know something that they don’t; because I don’t. At this point in my life I’m not sure that I know anything, and I definitely have no business playing the role of self-help teacher just because I received a degree in counseling. If I could speak to a room of people and simply share myself without teaching, then I would feel as though I wasn’t cheating anyone involved, particularly myself. How do I get up and share myself, as I did at the meditation center when I was twenty one, without playing the role of teacher?
 I am discovering myself through writing this blog. This morning I am questioning whether I should reconsider speaking again in public. But that takes me back to the question of how do I share myself and my experiences with others without trying to teach them anything.
For the record, I am not a teacher, life coach, or a women’s empowerment consultant. I don’t want to coach anyone, and I am not interested in being a role model to anyone other than my daughter. What I am interested in is helping  people through the honest and open sharing of myself and my life.  Can a girl make a career out of being herself through speaking and writing? I guess time will tell. For now I pray that my path is made clear.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

What is my purpose?

Am I useful at this time of my life? I am not working full-time and the only thing that I am giving back to the world is my thoughts, feelings, and willingness to share myself through this blog. Truthfully, I would love it if I could make writing this blog my job.  For years I fantasized about writing a novel, thinking that if I could create characters and determine outcomes then I would feel as though I had some control over my life, even if only through fiction. The problem has been that whenever I have attempted to create a story it hasn't worked out very well for me; it's been a real struggle. So, I'm starting to think that maybe fiction just isn't my thing.

I remember a few years ago I felt so frustrated with myself; I was tired of saying that I wanted to be a writer and yet there wasn't any evidence that I had attempted to write a story since creative writing class in high school.

 One day after work I walked into my bedroom and it was if a bright light had been switched on allowing me to see what had been previously hidden. I opened the drawer to my nightstand and noticed several decorative journals, legal pads, and scraps of paper with my writing on them. My words were literally strewn throughout my apartment; they were lovingly held in junk drawers, back packs, purses, and under my bed. How was it that I had been oblivious to all of the words that I had written? How had I been unaware that I wrote every day and had done so for years? I had told myself that I was just journaling, which I believed doesn't count as real writing.

For the past few years, I have struggled to accept that I am a journaler. Can a person make a living writing a journal? I still think that the answer is no. Now I have this blog, and I am journaling for an audience. People say that they appreciate the openness and honesty of my words. Maybe sharing my experience of my life's journey is the best that I have to offer the world. I want to believe that I have something of value to offer. So frequently I struggle with the feeling that I show up for life empty handed. I want a purposeful and meaningful life. I want to live with the knowledge that I am creating something of beauty and value and sharing it with other people. Expressing beauty and imperfection; beauty in the imperfection. When will I find my way?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Meditation on a November Night

The dog sits in front of the fire on this cold November night. Winter, a time for introspection, turning within and taking refuge from the cold. Though in the midst of fall, I feel wrapped in the cozy inwardness of winter.  I try to write while the TV blares. What flows from mind through fingertips is fragmented, disconnected, un-cohesive, disjointed. All day I have fantasized about the moment when I would sit with keyboard in hand, pouring my heart and mind out onto the screen. The moment has come and yet I feel too fragmented from the voices of the actors to focus on writing. But I am writing, and it brings me comfort. I love the expression of the words that arise in my mind, whether inspiring or utterly useless. This is enough for tonight. I am content.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Taming the Monkey Mind

A little over six months ago, I started walking three miles a day in what ended up being a successful attempt to lose weight. To be honest, I never enjoyed my walks very much. Every day my mind kept saying, "I can't do this, I really can't do this. Please take me home now." Was it that I didn't have the physical energy to continue my walk? Physically I was okay. I could have been better on the days when it was 95 degrees outside, but still the actual process of moving my legs and walking in a circle five times was doable. The problem was the voice in my head that would simply not leave me alone. Everyday was a challenge for me, because everyday the voice told me that I needed to stop walking and go home and relax. Walking with my constant negative mental chatter is like having to hang out with a bored three year old for the afternoon, as there was constant whining, complaining, and asking for treats. As it turned out, after a couple of months I added another mile to my walk to make it four miles a day. I knew that I had to continue to walk so that I could fit into my clothes again; I had gained twenty pounds since my wedding two and half years ago. Every day, my mind would start with its barage of complaints and reasons why I needed to stop walking and go home. What got me through was having the awareness that yesterday I thought that I couldn't complete my walk and yet I did it any way, and the day before that, and the day before that. I had to look back at my walking history and notice the pattern that even if I felt as though I couldn't make it through my walk and I was just too hot and bored to continue, I could do it; I had been doing it.

I go through this same process with sitting for meditation. My mind thinks up a hundred reasons why I should not take a few minutes out of my day to spend with myself in contemplation and meditation. I'm starting to become aware that throughout the day, my mind is engaging itself in a useless, negative, and destructive conversation about any number of unimportant and meaningless topics.It says, "you can't, you can't, you can't! you simply must not!" It rarely tells me that I can do anything, or that I am a capable or worthwhile person. All of this nonsense is nothing more than the anxious thoughts of a bored mind. None of it is based in reality.

Thank you to all of the teachers and friends that have come into my life to teach me about becoming aware of the monkey mind and its antics. Real and lasting peace is the product of a purified mind.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Filling the Emptiness

I remember once, when I was grocery shopping several years ago, I had the thought that I wished that I could be the same person in the afternoon as I had been in the morning. Looking back on my experience of yesterday, I could say the same thing. When I posted yesterday morning, I was enjoying a feeling of gratitude for all of the blessings in my life. By early afternoon, I had descended into a place of feeling empty inside.

My favorite time of day is the morning after I have dropped my daughter off at carpool, and the sky is still dark. I come home, have a hot cup of tea, read something inspirational, meditate, and then write my blog post for the day. It is a truly beautiful way to spend my mornings, and I am grateful that at this time in my life I have the freedom to do that, for I know that my circumstances may not stay as they are at present and my mornings may one day belong to someone else. Once my morning ritual is over, I feel good for a period of time, until the lonliness, boredom, and emptiness set in. So, I begin to obsessively check my e-mail and look at the stats for my blog, in a feeble attempt to feel connected with people.

I have never been a great lover of technology, I don't possess many gadgets and for the most part don't have any desire to. However yesterday, I was seized with the idea that if only I had a netbook I would be really happy. The netbook would be light, attractive, and I could carry it with me wherever I go, which would provide incentive for me to write. After a couple of hours, I let go of the fantasy that the netbook would rescue me from my restlessness and emptiness. There has never been anything that I have wanted and gotten that has provided me with any real or lasting happiness. Even when I reach set goals, the emptiness remains. About a year ago, I had an article published on a fairly large Jewish website. I had the top article for the women's page that week. I received e-mails from all over the world as a result of that article. I reached a goal, gained an outer show of approval and yet at the end of the day I still felt empty. After reading this, you may come to the conclusion that I am a bit of a depressive, which has an element of truth in it. But I think that the real message for me is that lasting joy and fulfillment never come from things outside myself, and they don't come from other people thinking well of me. I want a joy that is there regardless of what is happening or not happening in my life. I have experienced that state before, the state of being happy no matter what was going on around me; that feeling carries within it contentment and inner strength and it is the highest goal that I could aspire to reach.

At the end of today, I would like to be the same person that I was this morning when I was drinking my tea.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Blessing of Toilet Paper

Writing this blog is one of my most personally meaningful undertakings. It's amazing for me to receive your comments, and to know that on some level we are supporting and helping each other through life's journey.

For me, today is about gratitude. I woke up this morning feeling so grateful for all of the good that is in my life. When I went downstairs and saw that my family has an abundance of paper towels, toilet paper, and laundry detergent, I felt as if I were the richest person in the world. No kidding, my heart really fills with gratitude for the presence of these every day necessities in my life. There was a time not so long ago when it was a stretch for me to be able to come up with the $2.00 for dental floss when I ran out. I had just enough money to support myself and my daughter, with not one penny extra. I wouldn't want to go back to that time in my life for anything; however, the good that came out of that experience was this tremendous sense of gratitude that I feel for what may seem to some people as the small almost negligible aspects of life. I didn't grow up feeling that kind of gratitude, because my family never experienced lack or deprivation. My father made a good living, my mother didn't need to work, and all of our needs were always taken care of without question. My father never wanted his children to have to struggle or do without, as he had when he was a child. Thanks Daddy, you were an excellent provider.

I hope none of us have to do without food, gas, or roofs over our heads. My prayer for us all is that we experience an abundance of life's goodness and riches. I also hope that in the absence of struggle we are still able to connect with the blessing of all of the "little" ways in which we are taken care of. When you feel grateful for your toilet paper, you truly have it all.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Do You Like Me?

I hate to admit it, but I really want people to like me. In fact some part of me believes that I need to be liked and approved of in order to breathe deeply and freely, unclench my fists and relax into my life and be happy. The truth of the matter is that there are people out there that don't like me, and chances are there will always be people that don't like me. It's a rather precarious existence when a person's happiness depends on external sources of approval. Whether that approval comes in the form of an A on a paper, a thumbs up to a Facebook post, or admiration of a new haircut. The wrong kind of comment, facial expression, or lack there of can be enough to ruin a day for those of us that are addicted to approval. One of the main problems with living this way is that my need for you to like me robs me of having a genuine and loving relationship with myself.

There have been countless times when I have sold myself out, going against my gut instinct of what I know to be right for me, and instead following what I think someone else wants me to do, or what society dictates. I don't want to seem unconventional or to stick out from the crowd, and deep down I believe that if I were authentically myself people might think I was a little to "out there", and then I would run the risk of not being liked. The truth is, whenever I have followed the crowd and gone against what I know to be right and true for me, I have ultimately suffered.

When I was in my early twenties, I had a job as an insurance adjustor. Those of you that really know me might find it comical to think of me doing a job that concrete and practical, I know I do. Anyway, one of my co-workers didn't like me very much and did everything in her power to get me fired; in the end she succeeded. It was a very small office without a lot of options for friendships. It became a daily routine for a small group of my co-workers to huddle together in the cubicle across from mine and bond with each other by spreading gossip about me. The co-worker that eventually got me fired, went so far as to write notes on her desk calendar tracking my every move and conversation at work. As painful as this experience was, my memories of this time in my life aren't entirely bad.  I remember one day at work, friendless and ostracized, sitting at my typewriter and experiencing a wave of contentment and joy spread through me. People at work really didn't like me, and I wasn't just being paranoid, and yet I still had myself. It was a powerful feeling to know that the "world" could be against me and I could still be happy.

I have the good fortune to spend my life with someone that models integrity. My husband doesn't feel the need to behave or speak in a manner that will win approval from the outside world. I aspire to one day live with that kind of lofty and yet utterly human state of awareness.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Frolicking Tigers

I woke up this morning with this mounting feeling of anxiety about the list of things that I had to do and the fear of not being able to get them all done. Everything on my list is something that I enjoy doing and that generally produces a state of calm within me. Realistically, I have time to do everything on my list. But anxiety is an insidious thing. It sneaks up and tries to convince me of its logic, that I really do have a lot to be scared about and that bad things are bound to happen if I don't do what I'm "supposed" to do. Before I know it I feel anxiety's rope tightening around my neck.

Sometimes I feel like I'm being chased by tigers. Rationally, I know that there aren't any tigers out there. I've never seen one roaming loose on the streets of Alpharetta, Georgia. And chances are that if I don't complete a project or even start a project, nothing horrific is going to happen to me. If I step back, examine the past, and think rationally, I see that there has never been an instant in which I was chased by tigers or any thing else for that matter. The only thing that has been chasing me and threatening to devour me all of these years is my own mind.

Basically, my mind can and will always be able to find something to fret about. The major part of life's journey is wising up to the tricks and the false logic of the mind; taming the mind and making it one's friend instead of enemy. For the moment, I have banished the mental tigers and sent them on their way to frolic in their own habitat for awhile, so that  I can visit my husband and enjoy a cup of hot chocolate in peace sans wild jungle animals.