Real

How interesting that it has been a year since I last wrote anything here. Has it really been that long?? I guess so.

I didn’t reread my last post yet so I’m not sure what frame of mind I was in, but today as with many days, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and a lot of introspection. I am often alone on holidays, usually by my own unconscious or conscious design. And as usual, today I feel sad to be alone on a day where most of North America is hanging out with their loved ones. But what it always does, and today is no exception, is force me to dig deep into myself and learn something.

Right now I’m learning my desire to be more real. I had a conversation with a friend the other day about being real on social media, how she doesn’t censor out the bad days or her anger or sadness. The instant I heard her talk about it, I was astonished and impressed. I respect the courage that entails. I wasn’t really sure it would work for me. But after spending some time today writing in my journal, I realize just how very alone I feel these days, and how much I year for real connection, and I have only myself to blame for the lack I feel. I don’t want people to know how sad and alone I feel almost every day. I don’t want to be vulnerable to anyone. I prefer to only share and talk about the positive, nice, beautiful things. Because I feel a) like nobody is going to want to here about the things that are bothering me. Who is really going to care about my pain? I mean, it is so small and self-involved in comparison to what others are going through… or b) people will care and will care too much and read too much into it and panic, or ask me if I’m okay and tell me they’re worried about me. But I realize right now that by not being real and sharing the whole spectrum of my emotions and presenting the whole picture, I am choosing my own isolation and I am the cause of my desolate feelings. So that’s a hard lesson. But harder still is imagining being completely honest about how I feel. I don’t like to appear weak to the outside world (outside of me). But I feel very weak inside.

So this post isn’t about a pretty hike that I did. If I have to fit it into the theme of wild spaces, I’d say that I hope this is the beginning of me writing about the wild, little-explored terrain of my internal spaces. It’s a dark, lonely jungle in there and I feel like there are a lot of minefields buried just under the soil. I don’t want to fall apart and have my whole world know about it. But then again, it seems the circle of people I feel like “bothering” with my current emotional state shrinks and shrinks, and right now it is pretty much down to one counselor and a few people I share some true snippets with. I think my counselor is the only one in the world who comes close to knowing all of the real me.

Anyway, blah blah. There was some pertinent reality shit I wanted to share but now I don’t remember what it is. I am coming to suspect/be convinced that this is a very well-practiced coping mechanism for me, forgetting things. Not saying it is conscious. Just saying that when I’m thinking of something hard or scary it’s like it has a time limit and then suddenly the thought fairy comes along and wipes it out so I don’t have to deal with the scary thought anymore. This happens often when I’m in counselling sessions. We’ll be talking about something and I’ll try to explain it, and then another thought will suddenly distract me and I’ll go off into a slight tangent and then when I try to return from the tangent, the original thought has disappeared, though it leaves a vague sense of unease behind plus a lot of frustration. I guess these things come up when they are ready, but I believe my psyche is very good at shielding me from an undue amount of agony. It’s kind of annoying because my conscious mind just wants to open up the box and just let all the things fly out and deal with the aftermath after. And there’s another tangent.

Today I’m feeling a wide array of emotions. This is something that I’ve only learned is possible in the past 1.5 years. I never really knew that I could feel more than one emotion at the same time until recently. I’ve spent a lot of years being depressed, and pursuing happiness. For me there were few variations of emotions…just happiness, fear, anger, sadness, joy, all felt separately, never mixing. Now I know better. Today is a great example.

I feel a lot of excitement, happiness and joy at the birth of my new nephew. I also feel a lot of sadness that I can’t be there to welcome him into the world. I was in the hospital for his sister’s birth, didn’t watch but I got to hold her when she was minutes old. That was a really big deal for me. And it is an equally big deal that I’m not there for him. It is painful. And I’m sad and worried for his family because he may have some health problems in the future. And then I feel guilt because while this amazing joy has happened a few days ago, I am thinking about other things in my life. I feel ever-present fear about how in the world I’m going to make life work this month and then next month, and next. Money is a constant choking, drowning worry. At my current income level I make $20,000/year. About half of that goes to cover my mortgage, which leaves me $10,000 per year for things like property tax, groceries, gas and dog supplies. Clearly this is extremely difficult so I bump it up when I can by working as much overtime as I can, which means that I work too much and tire myself out and then I basically get soul-sick. It’s a cycle. So I am drowning, and that is ever-present. I feel a great deal of guilt that I’m not a better dog-mom. The dogs need behaviour work done and I just don’t have time or energy to do it, nor the time or energy to do things like cleaning and property maintenance. I feel guilt about all that. I guess guilt is a pretty big one.

I feel alone, so very alone. I often feel that I have no one to ask for help. When I spend a moment thinking about it, I realize that maybe there are people who would help me. The real problem is I don’t want to ask for help. I don’t want to place my burdens on someone else, although I probably need assistance with a lot of things right now. And also I don’t want people to talk about how I’m just miserably failing at life. That is raw honesty right there and it is hard as fuck to admit. I feel like I am failing miserably in almost every aspect of life right now, and I’m certainly not achieving much in the way of my goals, but there it is. My progress is way fucking slower than I want it to be. some days I feel like I’m actually moving backwards. And some days I absolutely hate myself for that fact. Other days I just feel numb. Very rare are the days where I feel like I got something accomplished and very rarely do I let myself celebrate.

So I’m just a total mixed bag of emotion right now. I’m raw and there is joy in there, happiness, awe for the beauty that surrounds me, appreciation for little things like the misty sunny orangey-red autumn scenes this morning as I drove some of the residents in my group home to church. Gratitude for the message of thankfulness that I allowed myself to hear from the religious sermon (even though I do not believe in a God or gods). And a lot of exhaustion from desperately trying to hang on for dear life on this crazy ride that humans call life, stuck in one of those old-timey mining carts that are just containers with wheels on the bottom and no way to steer…stuck on this rollercoaster track up hills and down valleys and through caves and darkness and light and all sorts of amazing and weird and scary and cool and exhilarating experiences. But today I’m hanging on for dear life, not looking out at the scenery because it’s just too much too fast at the moment. I’m praying for a bit of a flat spot so i can catch my breath and maybe stick my head over the side to vomit or something. And then find a Ginger Ale to drink.

So that is the real me today. I’m a mess, honestly. And I’ll be a completely different mess tomorrow. Frankly I don’t anticipate becoming less of a mess any time soon, though I’m trying every day to get less messy. I don’t understand how people can love someone as messy as me, so I don’t really bond very well with other humans. I don’t want to love them because I feel incredulous that they would love me back.

I am mainly not only the pretty pictures and wise saying and cute puppy videos that I post on Facebook. I’d call those my highlight reels. I have many facets and not a lot of them are entertaining or pretty or wise. Just messy. Very messy. But I suppose that is my reality, as a look around my house can attest to. If the inside of a person’s home is a statement of who they are, as a friend told me, then yep, my life is a goddamned mess. But hey, today I can say that at least I am still here, and I’m going to finish this post, have a Strongbow, watch something on Netflix, go to bed and wake up and do it all again tomorrow. I’d like to be some cool champion and do amazing shit. I really want to save people and save the world. But right now, on days when I can barely save myself, I gotta make do with the heroic-to-myself act of going to bed knowing that I’m going to wake up tomorrow and somehow find enough strength to do it all again. And hell, you know what? Because writing is cathartic, I think I’m just gonna feel proud of myself that I will do it again tomorrow. Gotta feel proud of myself for something and right now that’s it.

So yeah. It’s been real, friends. I hate being this honest and vulnerable and I hate thinking of what people might comment on this post. But there you have it.

xo. Wishing you honesty, vulnerability and the reassurance that you will wake up and do it all again tomorrow.

 

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Gratitudes

Dear bird,

I don’t know what you are, but your song reminds me of California. Makes me think of thick warm fog, spicy and eucalyptus-flavoured. Waking up and thinking I’m in a dream, your song a thread that pulls me through.

And you make me think of driving along the California coast, the long windy roads that still make me queasy to remember, the ones with little houses stuffed into huge evergreen-scapes above and below the sinuous two-lane stretches. Makes me think of the vows I made that I would one day live in a place like that, a place where skinny threads of smoke weave together home and sky and the air is actually warm-spicy-water-fir-foggy-balmy-magic that made me believe it was possible.

Dear bird, you make me smile and remember my dream, and realize it is real.

Dear hills,

Did you know I used to dream about you? I walked through you this year, learning your intimate twists and turns, your ins and outs and secret valleys and sudden heights. I walked through your thickets of maple carpeted with pendulous green moss and perky ferns, through your tiny white velvet water falls, and had de ja vu. I dreamed this too as a kid, not day dreams and wishes and vows, but the dreams that filled my nights and drifted me through my fears and sadnesses and youthful angst. The more corners I turn, the more you feel like an old friend rediscovered, someone I knew long ago and forgot and found, the familiar joys shared again. I look at you out my window and feel comforted. You’re there, and here, and I’m not alone.

Dear shower,

I couldn’t think of anything fun to do last week. I had an afternoon free, no work, and I wanted to do something fun, but I couldn’t think of anything. What’s fun? I wracked my brain. But you get me through, shower. Maybe its stupid how good you make me feel, but you are my moment to myself, my watery, warm bubble of safety and solace, of cleanliness and order. You are joy. You are pleasure and sensation, you wash away the hurt. You are a tiny detail with huge effects.

Dear hands,

I’m so sorry. By which I mean sorrowful. You feel my abuse. You ache right now, after days of only moderate use. You remind me of my grandmother’s hands, twisted and claw like from rheumatoid arthritis. She never complained, but I hear it hurts. You hurt. This ache, I dont know how to fix it. Was it the cold, all those frozen boxes at my last job? Did I induce arthritis? Did I damage you beyond fixing, beyond repair?

I’m scared of this pain, not because it hurts, which I can bear, but because of what it means for my future. Will they heal? Will they always ache, this cold inflammation? Am I getting old? Is this the first (hardly) sign of deterioration? I can’t lose you. You are everything. How can I type? How can I write? How can I work? How can I eat, pet my dogs, tie my shoes, wipe my ass? You are independence. You are freedom. I can’t lose you. I’m probably overreacting. I hope so. I really hope so. I’m really sorry, hands. Please be okay.

Dear poetry,

I used to love writing you, and then someone told me I was bad at poetry. She read my stuff and looked down her nose at it and tried to be polite, suggesting it was too sentimental, not right for her publication. In retrospect, I shouldn’t have been crushed but I was. I haven’t written, and have read little, of you since that moment. You are that cheesy, guilty, embarrassing, vulnerable act, as risky as taking my clothes off in front of a boy for the first time. You are the nerdy kid hunched over her scribbler, sitting alone in the high school hallways, the one that everyone shuns except to pick on. Notebook stolen from her hands and read aloud to shame…not my nightmare, but someone’s.

You’re that risky every time. You are personal. You are mine. You are too much me to share. But you are most beautiful when shared, when you create human connection. You are different than prose. You are more heart and less head. I’ve missed you. I wasn’t sure I’d come back to you.

I was angry at you for making me seem stupid and pathetic and for making me the subject of someone’s disdain, her judgment. Maybe it was because of you, and her, and that first interaction that I’ve always felt bad about my writing. But you’ve changed…or maybe I’ve changed. Now you are a choice. Now you are an act of growth–maybe small–of intentional vulnerability, which brings courage and strength. But mostly you are me, you are my voice speaking back to me. I’ve missed you. Welcome home.

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Published articles

Backdraft, Summer 2015

They accepted two of my articles and paid me good money for them!

Backdraft-2015-A Visit to YVFD

Backdraft-2015-One More Day

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Just enjoy the view

This is a concept discussed in the book I mentioned in my last post, Being, written by Bennet Wong and Jock McKeen:

When people stand forth they become autonomous and individuated. They derive their self-esteem from their own sense of jobs well done, from their own appreciation of  their having given a task their best effort, of their being all they can be. To them, results are often not as important as the quality of the process of their activity. They are fully involved in whatever they undertake, and experience life as being full of interesting possibilities for exploration and growth. They are self-centred–that is, centered within themselves–but not at the expense of others. They remain connected, sensitive to the needs of others as well as to their own. They have a great capacity for empathy, while avoiding sympathy (which involves a condescension from an attitude of superiority). They recognize and respect the boundaries of others, and are interested in being vulnerable and intimate. They care about others without caretaking them, since they recognize everyone’s potential for being responsible for themselves. Because they express fully and responsibly, they manifest very little resentment or blame for others. It is only by standing forth in this way, accessing and developing strength, that people can experience true intimacy with others.

To stand forth requires the courage to be oneself. …

… Rather than becoming field dependent (dependent on the opinions of those around them to indicate their own value), they remain in touch with what they desire to do; they follow their hearts. Thus they become more spontaneous, self-reliant, and self-motivated. They are more in tune with themselves and others, more fully human and fulfilled. … As they stand forth, they recognize that they just “are,” everything just “is,” and this is enough. As Kierkegaard wrote: “To venture causes anxiety, but not to venture is to lose oneself.”

I spent the last four years, and possibly the last decade, not venturing and I have definitely lost myself. Well, fuck that.

I believe the above excerpt is a good description of the chapter of my life I am beginning to enter: learning how to stand forth. I am learning to trust myself and rely on my inner direction even when people I care about think that I’m wrong.

And right now, it seems like there are a lot of people that I care about that think I am making a bad decision. This morning, someone very important to me expressed deep concern about my choice to keep the house. Very deep concern, expressed very forcefully and vocally and with great passion. And others have told me that they are concerned about me or worried about me. Apparently there are ‘a lot of people’ worried about me. So the consensus seems to be that my decision is making a lot of people uncomfortable. And after sifting through a lot of emotion as a result of being told this again and again, here’s how I feel.

  • Anger at the arrogance of others who place judgement on my decisions, and believe they have a right to judge my decisions and try to tell me what to do.
  • Softness at the love that is behind the concern that they express–thank you for loving me enough to be concerned.
  • Hurt as a result of my interpretation that their concern means that they don’t believe I can achieve my goal of owning a house by myself.
  • Strength, because I know I can do it and I know I will make intelligent, well-informed decisions because I am smart, so fucking smart that none of you probably even realize it.
  • Excitement because I have what I want right now and it is within my power, I have the strength, to keep what I want and to create the life I want to have…under my own power without having to rely on someone else. Without needing a man to help me do it.
  • Confusion as to what persona I have put out into the world that makes people think so little of me; why do they think I can’t achieve my goals? As far as I remember, I’ve achieved any goal I’ve ever wanted to achieve, except one. Passing my EMR licensing exam. And I’m not done with that yet. I will achieve that goal too, eventually.

This house is almost all I care about. I want it more than I want to write and publish a book. I love it almost as much as I love my dogs, and I love them more than anyone or anything else in the entire world (sorry, but they give me unconditional love and never hurt me or tell me that I’m not living up to their expectations).

Another aspect of this learning to stand forth is realizing that it’s okay for me to choose what I want to do. It is okay for me to take education and “waste” it. It’s okay that I have seven years of post-secondary school, a diploma in holistic health, and a degree in communications, plus all of my first aid certificates, and am employed in none of these fields. So I thank all of you well-meaning folks who like to tell me that I should just write a book or get a writing job, or I should just this, or use my education that, or I should spend more time doing this and if I just worked a little harder at that, then I’d get it. This is what I hear you saying: you think I have so much potential and you think I’m wasting it right now. You think that if I just tried a tiny bit harder, just applied myself a little more, then I’d finally get what you think I should have, or what you think I want.

I really don’t know how to explain to all of you (and there have been a number of people express this sentiment to me over the years) that this is MY life. I GET TO CHOOSE HOW TO SPEND IT. When I try to tell people this, for some reason they get offended. I really don’t understand. All I want is for people to just let me live my life and stop trying to micromanage it and control it. Yeah, it probably looks messy from the outside. And yeah, it’s not how you would do it. Not MY problem. That’s a YOU problem. They are my decisions to make (and fuck up , in your eyes).

I had a friend about five years ago, and I was deeply jealous of her. She had a beautiful singing voice, played guitar and wrote her own songs. She could draw these totally unique drawings that were cute and beautiful and I know could have been super popular. And she wrote beautiful poetry. But all she did was complain about how shitty her life was and how nothing worked out for her. She seemed to think that success would simply fall into her lap. I got really fed up with her. I saw her as lazy, as feeling entitled, and I saw her as almost stupid. I felt that she was totally wasting all of this amazing talent she had, and that made me so angry. But the anger was jealousy. I often thought “If I have what she has, I would be such an amazing success,” and I was angry that a lazy person like her was given these talents instead of a hardworking person like me. Because I’d do something with those talents. I’m not friends with her anymore, but I think our friendship ended for other reasons (she was a very dramatic person and I didn’t want the drama).

I have (had?) another friend that I recently stopped talking to. Not too long before we stopped talking, she mentioned in a serious conversation that she wanted me to stop analyzing her life and telling her how to “fix” things. She just wanted to shoot the shit and be able to vent about her work without me telling her that she needed to change her entire life to fix things and be happy. I was hurt when she said that, but she made a really good point, and I knew she was right about an hour after she said it. Who the fuck am I to tell her how to live her life? I just got caught up by putting me into her life. I dreamt about what I would do if I had her salary, her freedom, her car, her bank account. I couldn’t understand why she didn’t just jump up and start acting on the suggestions I made so that she could live out my vision of how her life should be.

I understand now. I was unhappy with my own life and I was numbing my unhappiness because I felt trapped in the life I was living. I had to stay in that life because the alternative was terrifying. Well, now that I’m on the other side of having made that decision, it was actually a great decision for me and my partner. It wasn’t that hard. It was painful, but less painful than living in a relationship where we were totally ambivalent about each other. I feel much less alone now than I did in a relationship, knowing that my partner didn’t love me. But at the time, it was easier to live vicariously through someone else than it was to make that decision and then take action on my decision.

I can definitely say it’s addictive, living vicariously through others (hence reality tv!). It’s addictive being able to tell other people how they should live their lives and use their money and interact with people. I don’t even understand why. I guess, analyzing myself, I got a charge of something, maybe a feeling of power, from imagining these friends doing what I suggested. I got a charge from imagining them becoming more successful or more happy…because I could then take credit, even in my head, for their success. My words, my plans, my thoughts, would be what made them successful. It’s like being able to live life from a distance, a safe distance where I can enjoy the good bits and shield myself from the icky bits. If I just move around the chess pieces, I don’t feel invested if I lose a pawn here or there. They’re the ones that suffer the emotional consequences.

Of course, neither of them did anything that I ever suggested/wheedled/told them to do. And I understand now why they were angry at me for trying to live their lives for them. It fucking sucks when people think they know how to live your life better than you know how to live it. I want to tell everyone who is doing it to me to fuck off and stop it, but that’s impolite and no one likes to hear that.

But I’m not a pawn or a doll. I just want you to tell me that you are there for me and that you love me no matter what I choose, and I deeply value those of you that are able to do so. I know you have opinions about my choices and behaviours, because you’re human. But you don’t feel the need to orate at me and lecture me. I know that if I got myself into a really bad situation where I had needles hanging out of my eyeballs (well, long before that), you’d step in and tell me something was really wrong. But you are the people that I know love me for who I am in this moment: messy, possibly entitled, mistake-making, education-wasting, money-poor, house-rich, drain-on-society, emotional-eating, making all the “wrong” decisions, little old me. And not only that, but you think all of these things add to the depth and complexity of my beauty.

This is how I know I’m learning to stand forth…because I love this deep, complex, beautiful me, too, and I think there is nothing wrong with what I am doing because hey, every adventure has its own merit. I’m not waking up every day and intending to hurt others or be unkind. I operate following the values of: compassion/lovingkindness for others; integrity; environmentalism; service towards others; creative self-expression. I put effort in to follow these values in every moment, in every decision that I make, and hell, sometimes I even succeed. And I follow my heart, too. Since I’ve created this equation for life, which I started using maybe in May, my life has changed dramatically, and all of the changes have been for the best, for MY best. All of the changes have helped me move towards being the most authentic expression of who I am, really, in here, inside, in my corest of cores.

I am proud of who I am. I am content with who I am. I know that I am making the decisions that will support me and the core values that I live by. That’s all I need to live a good life. I DON’T need to be happy all of the time–I know now that is unrealistic. I know now that there is value in balance, in every emotion, equal value in fear and anger and sadness and sorrow and joy and happiness. I know now that I can experience sorrow and happiness and anger and confusion all at the same time (and often do). I am not scared of being sad, or being really really sad (well, okay, I am a little, but I know that it’s okay and I know how to feel those emotions instead of running away from them).

So, all that being said, yeah, I know it’s a risky journey to take on this house by myself. I know there’s going to be a lot of pain in my future, a lot of sadness, anger, sorrow, confusion, fear. I know there will be a lot of joy and happiness and excitement and pride and strength too. And I know that those emotions will be there anyway, whether or not I strive to achieve anything. I’m still going to be scared and get sad and get confused and worry and get angry and be happy and joyful, so why the hell wouldn’t I own a house in the process?

I’m strapped into this rollercoaster ride of a life anyways. I may as well open my eyes and enjoy the view along the way, right?

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Control/Vulnerability

I learned one of my patterns of behaviour today.

Two people who are each important to me are engaging in conflict. To me, watching from the outside, it is hard to understand the conflict. I’ve done a lot of work trying to de-escalate the situation, trying to talk to each party over the past while and keep them calm so that larger conflict will not arise. I’ve been doing it totally unconsciously.

Today, based on a conversation I had, and then my resulting turmoil of thought, came the ah-ha moment. I was worrying over everything and so I went snorkelling with my dogs. It was nice to get in the cool water, see a different world and not think about anything except what was in front of my face for a while. On my drive home, the thought popped into my head. Where am I in this situation? Where does my responsibility lie? How can I be most true to myself?

I realized that I have been working really hard to manage this situation, to the point of exhaustion and worry. One of my natural actions is to manage things, control them in order to manage my exposure and vulnerability. If I can work really hard and keep everyone happy, keep everyone talking and feeling good, then at the end of the day, the situation won’t blow up and I won’t be caught in the crossfire. Which means I’m running back and forth, not telling anyone anything, soothing other people’s worries and angers, leaving nothing for myself.

So what is my responsibility here? My responsibility is to myself. I want to stop controlling the situation (it wasn’t working well anyhow) and stop trying to manage and peacemake. I am just making myself sick with worry when I do this.

Instead, I hope to take the energy I was wasting doing that and use it to strengthen my own spirit. I want to turn my efforts inward, because what I realized was that I was afraid that I won’t have the strength to face and deal with the fallout of this conflict. I haven’t trusted that I am strong enough on my own, in my own right, to deal with the terrible outcomes I have been imagining. Once I realized that I didn’t have faith in my own strength, I was able to step back for a second and see that oh, wait. Even if the worst thing happens, as long as I can remain true to MY self and who I wish to be, as long as I act in integrity with who I am and in a way that is the truest expression of my self and my values, then I remain strong no matter what troubles I face.

And then I picked up this book I’ve been reading and it synchronistically supported what I’d just realized for myself. The book is called Being, written by Bennet Wong and Jock McKeen. The part I’m reading talks about a continuum between power and strength approaches to life. In our society, the emphasis is put on the power approach to life, and we’ve become unbalanced on the continuum. They advocate the need to move fluidly between the strength and power approaches so we can benefit from both. Anyways, here is the excerpt on Control <–> Vulnerability, by Bennet Wong and Jock McKeen.

Control <–> Vulnerability
     Although the option exists to face all facets of experience, children are quickly taught to control themselves and the environment, minimizing vulnerability. To maximize pleasure and security, they learn to control their parent figures by adopting a pleasing attitude, and moulding their behaviour to assure parental protection. Of course, to control their parents, children must learn what the adults do and do not want, and then modify their behaviour accordingly. Children learn to control facial expressions, emotions, and actions, reading their parents for feedback of appropriateness. In short, they learn to control themselves in order to control others, setting a pattern for the rest of their lives. The prize is an increased sense of security and pleasure; the price is the loss of spontaneous expression, and the forfeiting of much authentic, innate experience. This becomes the prototype for subsequent relationships, and indeed for people’s way of relating to all of life. Instead of accepting information from the external world and responding to it (that is, being vulnerable), people generally try to control themselves and their environment in order to gain more predictability. In contrast, if one is willing to be vulnerable, personal strength can be enhanced by one’s willingness to respond to life instead of resisting it.
Control of both self and other involves power. Whenever people are prepared to experience all facets of life, strength develops. In the power attitude, life is an adversary. In the strength mode, a person is a willing participant in the life process; although there will be pain, uncertainty, and vulnerability, the individual grows ever stronger in the capacity to embrace these, along with joy and pleasure.

Today’s learning and reading reinforces the desire that has developed in me to be the kind of person who doesn’t shy away from life and try to find a hole to weather the storm. I want to be the person that watches the storm approach while standing in the open field, feeling the winds rise and the rain on my skin, knowing that there is danger and also know that there is beauty and value in the storm that I want to be part of. Facing life head-on, and being rocked and rolled by it, is painful and scary, but what the book excerpt says brings me a lot of hope (which I’ve recently been learning is a good feeling, not a threatening one): “the individual grows ever stronger in the capacity to embrace (pain, uncertainty, and vulnerability), along with joy and pleasure.”

Accepting and embracing the difficult emotions opens me up and strengthens me, increasing my capacity for other emotions, too, emotions like joy and pleasure.

I love the idea that life is full of adventures, and every day is a new one. Each adventure is as worthy and valid as the next, so no matter if my adventure is working as a pizza delivery girl, or going snorkelling, or being a good dog mom, or loving my family or facing my fears, each adventure is a treasure and each is valuable. Instead of waking and being afraid of what the day will bring, I desire, I strive for, I hope to wake up looking forward to my newest adventure and find an authentic experience of life and emotion in every moment.

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Growing pains

Today feels like growing pains. So much changes for me day to day. And just as I wrote that, I remembered how not even 6 months ago I was begging for change to tear me out of the deep period of stagnation I felt frozen in for months, if not a year. Sigh. I guess perspective is everything.

But I am thankful for the changes. I am ready. They are coming fast, and I feel they are huge, large-order changes. One day I have a shit job and don’t own a house, just slowly moving towards freedom from debt. The next day I’m a homeowner again and my undependable income from the shit job isn’t going to cut it anymore. A few days later I have a better job lined up, but one with it’s own aches and pains. I feel that life these days is a series of stepping stones…or perhaps a better metaphor is ice chunks in a floe. I’m walking across the floe and as I stand on it, each piece of ice is sinking, forcing me to keep moving.

I’ve been researching a job that I looked at and decided was one I should apply to. It is the type of job that I feel I should have, one that fits within my field of study, that would pay pretty well (very well? I don’t know…the guy I talked to never actually answered that question) but a job that seems a little beyond my skill level.

I feel like I’m sort of on precarious ground here. I want to move into this level of existence, a solid government job that is stable, that looks good, a job where I can look at myself with outside judgy eyes and be impressed. This is a job for keeping up with the Joneses.

But it seems like my lack of confidence is the perfect self saboteur. This is the stage of growing pains. I have my sights set on where I want to be and I’m trying my best to get there, but I’m not quite good enough to reach that level yet. Same as the EMR thing. I failed my first two attempts at my license, and the second examiner said “maybe it’s just not the right time yet.” He told me not to lose hope or give up, but maybe I should just step back and take some time before my final attempt. I was angry to hear it, but hell, he’s right. No matter how much I want something and no matter how much I skin my knuckles trying to get it, I guess sometimes it’s just not the right moment. These are the growing pains, the stages between levels of growth where everything hurts. Going back is depressing and not really an option, going forward is terrifying and requires an exhaustive amount of strength; which means I yo-yo back and forth between the two states.

Aspen logger

Over the years I’ve attempted to do one…just one…chin up. I look at the bar, I grab onto it, I hop up, I struggle, I wish, I hope, I pant, I moan, I clench my fists as hard as I can but I’ve never been able to hold myself up to that bar. What I have noticed, however, is that when I make a concerted effort and practice even one chin up per day, I do change. Of course, at this point that means that I simply fall a little slower each time, but I know that if I had the energy and perseverance I would one day achieve that goal. I don’t have the energy and perseverance, nor do I have a chin up bar, so that day of achievement is a really long time in the future, but there you go. I know, realistically, that it will happen once I’ve practiced enough, dedicated enough time and energy to it, and once the time is right.

I guess perhaps all I can really do in this in-between stage is simply make each attempt better than the last.

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10-year plan

Aug. 2, where does the time go? I feel like there have been so many changes in the past month, it boggles my mind a little.

In the past month, I have:

  • Worked as a pizza delivery girl for a month, raising just over $1000  (works out to about 12/hr), which I paid onto my VISA  (in line with my goal to pay off debt)
  • Found a great walking trail where I can take the dogs off leash
  • Took a self improvement course that was very challenging but also informative
  • Almost for sure got my old job back at the YYJ airport (just waiting on paperwork and hopefully by then my sprained ankle will be healed)
  • Returned to being a homeowner (my partner decided he is unable to afford the house and asked if I wanted it. I said absolutely)
  • Called to reduce my student loan payments and ask for Loan assistance, which means if I am approved, the 60 cents per day interest will be waived for 6 months.
  • Took stock of my current debt load and learned that it is $10,000 less than I thought it was. Hooray!

So now my priorities have changed. My main priority is working my ass off so I can pay for the house. My ex partner will stay until Oct and then move out. I may get a renter into the spare room for September who will hopefully stay for the winter or longer.

The job I’m getting is 1.5 hrs away from my house, which adds complexity, but it’s a job I like, I know I like the people, the starting wage has increased since I last worked there, and they have lots of hours for me. The job also pays benefits. My plan is to find an affordable way to stay near work on my days on and home on my days off. The one thing I don’t know yet is what to do about my dogs. My mom said she can take care of them while she’s in town but she has a trip planned late August and then may go away for the winter. Anyway, I guess I’ll cross that bridge if I have to. Maybe my place near work will allow me to bring them, but really they need someone to watch them and my shifts could be up to 10 or 11 hrs.

Other than that detail, which I’ll figure out, my plan seems pretty solid. I’ve done a budget and I think it will be affordable, just barely. It will really help to get that renter in, because the one detail I haven’t factored in is caring for the property, like yard maintenence, etc.

What worries me the most is the expenses I’ve overlooked and haven’t planned for. Hopefully I’ll be able to work those things out, while also still being able to pay down my debts.

A friend of mine recently moved into a higher position at his job. I congratulated him and he said thanks, that he’s been working for it for the past 10 years.

That’s how I’m approaching this. I want the house and it’s not going to be easy for the next few years or so, but I’m in a 10-year plan now, or longer, so I’ll just “knuckle down and be okay with this,” to quote Ani DiFranco.

I look forward to finally having something to make me get out of bed every morning. My ability to trust and have faith in myself, however, needs some work because I’m scared I’ll change my mind once it gets too hard.

Oh well, I guess at least I’ll see what I’m made of.

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