Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Shame

I am still in Atlanta, but scheduled this to post hoping that I might get a discussion going by the time I return. What do you think?

In the women's therapy group I am a member of, we are exploring the role of shame in our lives. For this we are using Brene Brown's shame curriculum, which is excellent. Did you know that research shows that everyone experiences shame--everyone! Some more than others, some less. 

This week one of the things we discussed is the difference between guilt, shame, humiliation, and embarrassment. I found it interesting to think about the distinctions between the four feelings.

As I see it, guilt is what we feel when we think "I have done something bad or wrong". 

Shame is what we feel when we think, "I am bad or wrong" and we feel disconnected, cut off from others, not belonging.  

Humiliation is what we feel when we do not believe we deserve the shaming behavior of someone else--we don't own it and we feel badly because we think we are being unjustly treated. We may have done something wrong or made a mistake but don't accept the shaming for it. 

Embarrassment is when we make a mistake or do something wrong, feel bad, and yet know that other people do and feel the same things--we are not alone. 

Isn't that interesting? What do you think? 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Cleaning Up the Mess

Oh my, what a mess we have here!

After Snowmageddon 2012, we had a wind and ice storm that brought down more debris, so I have my hands full helping to coordinate the cleanup with the assistance of our wonderful insurance agency. I'm learning a lot about many different things and meeting new people--our project manager (who works with the construction workers, the roofer, the painters, and the gutter installers), an arborist who will see what trees can be saved, the people who will clean up the large debris and do chipping, and our terrific gardener who is taking care of regular debris cleanup.

While this is going on, I am making a short trip to Atlanta to support a relative there in the treatment program I've visited before. It is an alumni visit, a reunion of sorts, and I'm quite excited about it.

The mess will still be here when I return, but I think good progress will be made.

I am so very, very grateful for power.

I am also grateful to NOT be one of the people who had trees fall and crash through their roofs, effectively cutting their houses in two. Or who had their roofs pierced by a tree branch and now have water all over their belongings. Or who didn't have insurance and now are faced with overwhelming financial losses.

This storm was something that I know we all will remember here for years to come.

Thank you for all of your support, prayers, and comments, my friends.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Snowmageddon 2012

Hello to everyone; I have been snowed in here in south Puget Sound for the past several days. I'm sure it's been on the news--"Snowmageddon" is what everyone here is calling it...I guess we were some of the worst hit here. My blog has been posting away posts that I've scheduled in advance, and so I'll catch up with it, your blogs, and your emails here in the next few days or so.

We've had no power for about a week. I'm very fortunate to have a propane generator so it means I have toilet facilities and water, a few lights, a microwave, and hot water in one bathroom--this puts me way ahead of most people out here. I also have limited heat from a wood stove.

I got my phone service back Saturday--this made a big difference. And my Internet came back yesterday so I'm dashing this off to let you know that I have not disappeared, just have been cut off from the world in a blanket of snow, wind, ice, and stormy weather. When propane runs out (soon) I'll finally have to evacuate, but keep hoping that the power comes on before that.

Because of our forested location, we're among the last to get power back. According to our electric company, there are only 53,000 people left and I'm in that group.

We had slight damage: a large tree limb falling on our house, narrowly missing a huge window (the one in my nook) but causing a bit of damage, gutters, trim off, broken railings, etc. And we lost our fence that goes around the property, several trees, and our chicken run collapsed. We are very fortunate because it could have been much worse. There are stories of people whose houses were cut in half by the huge trees that fell in this storm. And we are fortunate because we have insurance which will pay for most of the damage less a big fat deductible.

The things I missed the worst were not the heat nor the hot water nor the stove nor the television. The things I missed were:
(1) You, my community (gosh did I feel alone),
(2) Being able to go outside and walk and move around, and
(3) All of the people that I usually see and interact with every day.

The last one surprised me because I wouldn't have thought that, since I'm so introverted. But you know, my car hasn't been driven in 11 days! I've had a few visitors, thank God, but have been in the house the whole time. LoveHubbie is going to take care of the driveway so that I can get out tomorrow (I have no chains or four wheel drive) and I'm really looking forward to it.

I've missed you and it's good to be back in touch.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Yes


Special thank you to Bobbi Illing who found this at Quan Yin's Facebook Site with the caption: 

"When you realize how perfect everything is you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky."
~Buddha ~♥~

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Regarding Criticism and Insults

If you haven't read the comments on my post on enemies from yesterday, please do, and if you'd like, add to the discussion. There is much wisdom there...thank you to every one of you.

Here is something to add to that post.  It is a video from Martha Beck about getting over insults, and it is really provocative. Why do "insults" hurt? What is a helpful model for addressing insults and criticism? Martha answers this in just over two minutes.




What do you think? Wouldn't it be something to take what people say as input, and rather than reacting to it, responding to it internally in a truly appropriate way? This is really clean and healthy, I think.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Enemies

A few nights ago my friend Kristine wrote this. She is becoming a successful artist and has been learning the lessons that increasing good fortune brings and it has not been easy. One key thing she has discovered is that not everyone wants good things to happen to you. This can really be a shocker if the person who is not supportive is someone you love, someone who you thought loved you, someone who actually may love you as much as they can.

It's just a hard fact of life that not everyone wants you to succeed.

I have enemies too. Some of them are so-called "beloved enemies"--people I really love who just can't get excited about the good things I experience because they are so miserable with themselves, miserable with their own lives. It's not personal to me; these folks can't get excited about anyone's happiness. Others are the garden-variety enemies--people who do not like me and who are glad when bad things happen to me, people who think I'm a terrible person and "deserve to get my due" and such. I suppose they really truly qualify as an enemy when they are quite active in trying to have a personal hand in delivering my supposed karma to me. I one of those that I know of--I really hope that's it though.

In the past I think I would try to get everyone to like me no matter what. I would try to prove my character and convince others to get to know who I really was deep inside. Now, I just accept it. I've been through family estrangements, lawsuits, and adversarial divorces, and I know that it's just not possible to control what other people think of you.

I can only think of one person I feel this way about--someone who I would call an enemy--and it's because it's someone who has done so many things to so many people, especially children, that I honestly feel as though it would be justice if something terrible were to befall them, especially if it would stop them from hurting others in the future. When I start to feel this way though, I try to shift my thinking into an acceptance of whatever future God/The Universe has for them, mainly because I don't want to have any kind of hatred, resentment, or bitterness growing inside of me.

From time to time I am a little slow in shifting my thinking...sometimes quite slow...I admit to having dreams of "good triumphing over evil" (as I frame it in my head with my will being the good of course and their will being the evil). When I catch myself doing this, I counter such Justice-According-to-Me fantasies with prayers of blessings sent to them, healing energy, etc. Sometimes. At other times I entertain myself with my stories.

Another area in which I am imperfect.

I read that studies have been done which demonstrate that if you aggressively pray for your enemies on a consistent and lengthy basis, your negative feelings towards them will eventually go away altogether. I would like to say I've tried this, but I never have--just token efforts here and there. Of course, the Bible says this as well, but I don't know any Bible believers who have a regular practice of praying for their enemies, do you? It's not a fun practice and is about as popular today as the practice of fasting.

In fact, I know a "Christian" mother who taught her children that God had enough people doing good for others; she wanted her family to work together to help God deliver His punishments to others. He needs human hands to help out with both, she reasoned, and she had a strong affinity for the latter. So she taught her children this! This is wrong and creepy on so many levels it just boggles the mind.

People can get so mixed up.

I want to loosely quote the Queen of Arts and say that the answer to every question, the answer to every problem is the same--LOVE. Big, big love. Love for everything. Love for our friends, love for our enemies. Love!

So today, I'm going to give a shout out to those who call me their enemy--I send you love! To my estranged family members--I send you love! To my own personal enemy--I send you love! To the very sad lady with her "Punishment for God" practice--I send you love! To the people who just will NOT be happy for Kristine as she blossoms and blesses the world with her art--I send you love!


Love is the answer. Always.

What do you think about this? Do you have enemies?

~Photo by Me of some art I did inspired by the Queen of Arts called "Big Love Is Good Love"

Saturday, January 14, 2012

What Has Sprung Free

This post was prompted by what Kelly asked me in a comment, "What has sprung free in you?" She wrote this because I am writing many more posts this year than I have in a great while.

I think it's my word of the year for 2012, "ImperfEction". I am willing to be just as I am. My posts might be poorly written or well written, interesting or not, etc. and I have let go of all of that. I'm willing to just do the best I can.

Also, sometimes when I have read your comments in the past, I've been overwhelmed by the amount of love and support you offer me. At times it is hard to think of an adequate response. Nothing I could write would seem to be enough for what you wrote. I have let go of that. I'll reply imperfectly, but receive what you offer and send love back to the best of my ability.

Something else I've let go of is who my audience is. In the past I've felt uncomfortable with being vulnerable to some of the people who read my blog. I have an upcoming post about them called "Enemies"--something not often written about here or in the blogs I read. My regular community is the most loving and supportive and amazing...so I've decided to just be vulnerable anyway, and let the others do what they do (since they will anyway). I don't want to lose the closeness I value with each of you.

Lastly, I've thought about what I would regret if I were to die or say, if the world ends in 2012 :) I think that this is a useful exercise for anyone to do in order to prioritize their lives and to make good decisions. I would deeply regret holding back from the connections I value so much here.

So in 2012 I decided to GO FOR IT :)

iMPERFECTLY

Below is a painting that hangs on my wall in the nook where I work. I purchased it years ago and it's by an unknown artist (I can't read her/his name in the signature). It is a poem called "I Am Enough". I have posted this before, and it's worth posting again here for today:



UPDATE: I found out who created this: the artist's name is Kristen Jongen and her web site is Soul Soup! Her art work is wonderful and so are her books, so glad to finally "find" her!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

So Many Posts! Did You Miss Any?

I've been posting so much lately. I wanted to just re-announce that I'm back to blogging at the happyluau for 2012, fast and furious and imPerfectly. Some posts are light and hopefully inspirational with quotes and videos. Others are deeper. I wanted to list them here so far in case you've missed any:

Word for 2012: ImPeRfectIoN
Listening
Radical Acceptance
Why I Changed My Name to Olivia
Word of the Year Box
Doing Art...ImpErFEctLy
One Year Ago Today

I have enjoyed and appreciated your feedback so much, and actually, the whole process of sharing imperFectly this year that I want to continue at this pace, so hold onto your hat. Or not--if you lose it, it's not the end of the world, as you can venture hatless and even disheveled into your day (as I have been known to do)...imPerfectly!


~Photo By Me

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

One Year Ago Today

Today is my deceased mother's birthday, but that's not why I remember today.

Today is the date that a beloved uncle of mine died, but that's not why I remember today.

Today I am so grateful. One year ago today I got a diagnosis of macular degeneration and thought I was losing my eyesight. I lived with this diagnosis for two months, until March 15th, when I got a second opinion from an expert in macular degeneration and found out I was fine. It ended up that I had several eye problems, but none of them that would cause blindness in the near future. These eye problems perfectly mimicked macular degeneration when seen by a general ophthalmologist who would not have all of the specialized equipment of a specialist.

I can see!

Those of you who are reading this normally can also see, and it is a blessed gift. Today, celebrate with me, and please grateful for the wondrous gift of sight!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Doing Art...Imperfectly

This is via Kristine Mays on Facebook, and it was so good I wanted to share it here. Note that it does contain some profanity. It is about doing art...imperfectly.





Monday, January 9, 2012

Word of the Year Box

I just received my word of the year box for 2012 from the Queen of Arts and it is wonderful! For those of you who don't have one yet, you can get yours here. They are inexpensive enough that everyone can afford one.




PS Mine came with a special gift, and in gratitude I'm sending a special shout-out to The Queen--thank you Kim!


~Photo by Me, and this was the best I could do (imperfectly). Wish I could do justice to this pretty little box, but alas! the glare :(

Friday, January 6, 2012

Why I Changed My Name to Olivia

(My family of origin--I am at the far left wearing the sunsuit.)

For years, whenever I heard people call my birth name, I would flinch or startle. This was because for years my mother would scream my name as she would beat me; I had such terrible memories of my childhood and I wanted to put them behind me. So, I finally changed my name when I was 33.

I picked "Olivia" partly because the name means "peace" and partly because of the "liv" in the center. Peace was what I valued above all else and what was missing from my childhood. And I wanted to live, instead of die, as my mother had raised me--my mother brought me up believing that I would die, like all of the other oldest daughters my maternal line of ancestry, shortly before my 45th birthday.

My grandmother had died a few days before she was to turn 45, as had her mother. My mother was convinced that she too would never live to see 45. She raised me to think I would not either. For example, when I said I wanted to walk with a pretty cane when I was an old lady, my mother would say, "You know you will never be old--you're going to die just like my mother and grandmother because you're an oldest daughter."

I never wanted to be anything like my mother. Especially, I wanted to live instead of die. I love that saying my name reminds me of what I want to do. I also had some intensive counseling for the year after I turned 44. I reminded myself that my ancestors were miserable (as my mother had described them) and had probably wanted to die--like my mother. I was happy, loved life, and did not want to die!

My mother looked forward to death and anticipated hers with resignation. She was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia and died on January 3rd, eight days before her 45th birthday. I remember the lessons she taught me when this time of year rolls around.

I was reminded of this also by Kim's post and her choice of the word "Live" for 2012. Writing this now, I realize that she posted this on the 30th anniversary of my mother's death.

As cruel as my mother's heritage might seem to some, she taught me many things about life and about how I wanted to be in the world. She had a horrific upbringing and truly did the best she could with what she knew. I do not miss her, but I am grateful for the lessons she left with me.

And that's how I came to be known as "Olivia".

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Radical Acceptance

This such a great quote on Radical Acceptance. Especially the last sentence:

Radical acceptance is not simply a cognitive stance or cognitive activity; it is a total act. It is jumping off a cliff. You must keep jumping over and over because you can only accept in this one moment. Therefore, you have to keep actively accepting, over and over again in every moment. 
If radical acceptance is jumping off a cliff into the deep abyss, then there is always a tree stump coming out of the cliff just below the top and the minute you fall past you reach out and cling onto that stump. And then you’re on another cliff’s edge, asking perhaps, “How did this happen?” Then, you jump off the cliff again. 
Radical acceptance is the constant jumping off, jumping off, jumping off and jumping off, yet again. Radical acceptance is also the nonjudgmental acceptance of the repeated grabbing onto the tree stump.

~Marsha Linehan via Bon Dobbs' blog "Anything to Stop the Pain". Marsha Linehan developed Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for use especially with people with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and recently came out about having BPD herself. The quote was featured in this post by Bon Dobbs.

Photo via Joe Futrelle called "Jerry McSnudd's Falling Off a Cliff Hits"

Monday, January 2, 2012

Listening

Well, so yesterday I shared my deepest thoughts with someone I want to be close to, someone very precious to me. I could tell she wasn't that interested, but convinced myself that as soon as she heard what I was sharing she would definitely be interested. Since it was about my life's course and something very important to me, and all. She wasn't. She gave all the signs of not being interested. They were strong, strong signs. Which I ignored.

I so wanted to be close to her. I ignored her reactions and I kept revealing myself and my heart.

Incidentally, I mentioned something related to money and continued on sharing. She said, "NOW, you've got my attention. This is something I'm VERY interested in." She said it with a tone implying that the rest of what I'd shared was not that interesting. Still I continued on, mainly because I don't want to see her as someone who is materialistic. I wanted to be close, and I wanted her not to be materialistic but to really care about me, and since that was the way I wanted things to be, I was going to soldier on, by golly.

Towards the end of our ten minute conversation, she was looking down at my book and seeming (still) uninterested. As a last desperate plea, I said I needed eye contact. First she stared at me. Stared and stared, without blinking. I kept talking. She kept staring. I said, "Please don't do that. Please blink." She did. Really, really fast. Fluttering her eyelids, as though it was a joke. Ridiculing my need for eye contact, and for closeness. I felt humiliated and rejected. It felt like she'd rejected my heart.

But the thing is, I set myself up for it. I ignored the feedback from her, which was completely consistent, that she had no interest in what I had to share.

I felt ashamed, but not by her--by myself, because I know better than to keep on sharing with someone who is not interested and who does not value me enough to listen or respect me enough to be kind. I twisted reality into what I wanted it to be rather than seeing it for what it was.

And then I decided not to beat myself up about it. I had a good cry and wrote about it here. And cried some more. And I also did not use emotional eating to cope with my feelings. Say for maybe the first time in a few decades. I prayed for help from my Higher Power and felt gratitude for what I experienced since it obviously is what I need to learn.

This is what I want 2012 to be about--learning the lessons I need to learn from what happens to me--feeling my feelings, making mistakes, and then moving forward. And sharing what I learn with you. Thank you, my dear friends, for listening.

Artwork: "Two Women And A Crow" by Colleen Couves at colleencouves.com

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Word for 2012: IMperFectIon

I love the new year because it feels like a clean start, a fresh slate, a chance to embark upon a new adventure.

This morning I have been enjoying reading the blog posts of those of you who have chosen words for the year. kate chose Embrace, Lori-Lyn chose Essence, and Patti is letting her year unfold rather than choosing a word prematurely. I decided to break my blogging inertia because I wanted to share my word with you.

This year my word picked me. It came to me before the end of 2011, and I knew it was right. My word is "Imperfection".

I haven't been blogging because I've felt like a dry well, like I have nothing to say. Whenever I was not dealing with life I've wanted to soak things up, take things in, regenerate my soul batteries to deal with the next thing life would bring by. At the same time, my personal life has been filled with all kinds of activity that has involved other people and stories that for the sake of other's privacy I've not been able to share--but I really want to. I've felt empty and muzzled at the same time.

This year I'm determined to find a way to rejoin you and the rest of my community. I don't know how yet, but I know it will be imperfectly.

As a recovering perfectionist, I want to take this year and actually enjoy doing things imperfectly, knowing that the lack of perfection is not a reflection on my worth or a display of weakness, but a reflection of my value apart from my performance, and a consequence of my taking risks, coming out of hiding, and trying new things.

Imperfection is actually a new freedom for me. Instead of being self-compelled to doing "all things with excellence"--my mantra for the years 1957-2011--this year I plan to do all things imperfectly and to take delight in doing so.

Please join me on my new adventure. I promise I will share it with you more often and...imperfectly.

~Photo by LoveHubbie Mark