Thursday, May 31, 2012

drawing my line.

I remember when I first got my puppy. The first night was excruciating, a sleepless night filled with cries and howls that seemed never ending. Her first night away from her mother, from her litter, alone in a crate -- it was heartbreaking. I remember getting up, half asleep, after having taken her out to pee about five times already, and just sitting with her on the floor, rocking her to sleep (probably not the best method of crate training, I know, but I was desperate, and it worked) and thinking to myself There's no way I'm going to be able to do this for the next three, four, five months.

Luckily, nights like that ended after a few more days, but the sheer amount of work put into raising a puppy (mostly by myself, too) was too much for me to handle. It wasn't what I expected. I went into it too blindly. Suddenly I felt trapped and stuck and powerless and the feeling was all too familiar. I was replaying a pattern I knew too well. Eventually, after about eight more weeks, I decided it: I wasn't going to keep her. I put the word out, I shed a few tears, I talked with countless people who were interested, nothing seemed to be working, nobody was following through. I still felt stuck with her, despite how cute she was and how much she was growing on me. 

I remember one Wednesday when things felt interminable and awful. And something shifted. I was talking to my mentor and she asked me how much longer I felt I could keep Mabel. Without hesitation I said This weekend. This is the last weekend I can handle it. Beyond that feels impossible.

And just like that, I drew my line. I stepped into my power and it felt right and good and there really weren't any other options: this was it. It was happening. I didn't know how, but it was. It would. It had to.

A friend at work knew a lady who knew a lady and before I knew it, I had met with a woman at the dog park who wanted to take her. Only she couldn't take her for at least another week, and that wasn't even definite. I knew that felt like a stretch, to go past that line I had set for myself even by just a few days, and then my parents decided they'd keep her. That Sunday evening, I unofficially handed Mabel over to them and got the best of both worlds. I can't tell you the amount of relief I felt in that moment.

I drew my line, and it happened.

Things clicked into place. Everything lined up. I was living from an energetic that made it happen. It was powerful and poignant and I've had that feeling stored in my cells ever since.

Because I want it to happen again. I've been waiting for it to happen again, for me to feel into a definite time and space for quitting my job. I've been waiting for it to come for a year and a half now -- in 2010, I thought it'd have to happen by that fall, then by the spring (no later than March! maybe April at the latest!), then when that didn't happen, I settled on last fall, and when that didn't happen (even though I shifted into a freelance job and made some movement there) I knew that the spring felt right. It felt hard to trust what really felt right after all these months of "fails," and yet -- this spring really stuck. It felt possible, I felt movement, I was excited for something but I didn't know what. As this spring has progressed, my faith has waned a little, but it still felt right -- I knew I'd be leaving my job soon. 

And then, just the other day, it magically appeared: my line. A definitive, real, hard boundary that I felt into and leaped upon. Suddenly, magically, just like that, I decided I would work at the daycare no farther past that point. It was drawn. Etched pretty permanently. In my mind, keeping my job past that point felt impossible. I would quit before then.

This all feels new and scary and exciting and my vulnerability is still a little too raw to share my line here "out loud" -- perhaps I still don't have quite enough faith to trust that it'll happen. But it's there. It's here. I'm trying to trust it. Soon enough, I'll quit my job.

Talk about freedom. Talk about exhilaration. Talk about fear. Oh my.

Getting real: Today I was having a particularly lousy day, filled with irritating coworkers and never ending negativity and sick children. I tend to blow these things out of proportion, to immediately slide into feelings of being in the wrong job and wanting to leave so badly and being better than this and being disappointed I was still there, instead of just writing it off as a bad day. I wanted to go in the bathroom and cry. I choked back tears. We were outside on the playground and as I turned to close the gate behind me to hide my coming tears, I heard screeches from hawks circling overhead, just beyond the trees, over the mountain. Hawks. My totem. An emblem of freedom and strength. I shaded the sun from my eyes and watched them for a minute, listening to their calls.

Yes. Of course.

Soon enough, I'll reach my line. It'll be there, waiting for me. And I'll quit.

Friday, May 25, 2012

a few thoughts

Even paragraphs feel like too much work today, so a numbered list it is: (I'm one of those people who make too many lists all the time, are you?)

1. I've made the executive decision that my camera will be my new best friend. She's coming everywhere with me, sitting in the passenger seat, tucked in my bag, slung across my shoulder. I'm going to wear that girl down to nothing. (Then I'll just have to get a new one.....?) I used to take pictures all the time. Every day. Annoyingly frequently. I want to be that again. I'm ready to see my world in a new way, through a new lens.

2. This being said, there is no photo to go with this post. Oh well.

3. I think I was meant to have baby bangs in this life. It feels like they fit me, sit perfectly on my forehead. I'm wondering how I went this long without them.

4. "Be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle." This Plato quote has been floating around in my mind for the past two days. When I was about to get really angry with a coworker yesterday for not helping me with the kids (inside angry, that is), she started telling me about how she wants to make sure she sits at the front of class when she goes back to school this fall (after raising her daughter for the past 8 years, alone) for fear of feeling too self-conscious as she walked to the back of the class. My heart melted, and I realized that we're really all the same, you know?

5. This is probably one of my most favorite blog posts ever written by anybody, ever.

6. I'm so, so grateful and over-the-moon excited to have won a spot in Hannah's Making Space for Surrender program. If you're interested in joining us, it starts Monday and the details are here.

And in other places around the web:

1. Two more good ones from Leonie (could you have guessed?) here and here.

2. She also just released this beautiful Biz and Blogging workbook that I can't wait to take a look at. She's also running her Business Goddess ecourse on June 1, but since I have a tendency to sign up for waaaay too many programs than I can handle, I'll sadly have to forgo it this time around.

3. I can't wait to make these slightly-sweet sesame cookies.

4. Susannah's honesty is what I want for my blog. Love her.

5. Jana and Rachel wrote about our weekends in Philly. (I love that they jumped on the blogging bandwagon.)

6. "I've become truly addicted to the belief that I can have everything exactly how I want it." Whoa. From Tanya Geisler. Can you imagine?

7. I think I need to face it, I'm a HSP.

I'm off to make some tea, rush off to work (like usual), and then start making things happen for a big, beautiful, birthday party we're throwing for my mother this weekend. Have a happy, magical, celebratory Friday and weekend.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

a weekend away.

Happy Tuesday! It feels like forever since I've checked in here, and I guess it really has been awhile. Oops :)

I have so much goodness to catch up on and share, but I wanted first to share my photos from my trip to Philadelphia last weekend. Jana was graduating from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts with her Master's degree and so we had a big gathering of friends to celebrate.

It's always a little bit strange reconnecting with people from my past that I haven't seen in awhile, you know? I've been doing so much growing and changing (internally, at least -- maybe not visibly to an outside spectator) that I quite literally feel like a different person around them, and have to navigate these new feelings quickly. Of course, we're still connected and I love the opportunities -- it's almost like a practice in being-my-new-self.

We ate and slept and walked the weekend away, and when I got home Sunday evening I felt like I had just been around the world. (Traveling tires me out, oh my.)

Congratulations, Jana :)

And now, bring on the absurd amount of photos in today's photo-overload!

inside jana's studiojana's studiojana's thesis!pafajana's thesis work!rachel at jana's thesisjana being sillythesis show at pafareading terminal marketstreet signagereading terminal market : the herbiaryreading terminal market : cheese!the black sheephappy hour at the black sheepeagle on the ceiling! at north 3rddinner at north 3rdphotobomb by rachelmoreyjana + stooppretty wallwalking to breakfastmakin faceswaiting for breakfastpretty janajana and teawaiting for breakfastbreakfast on the sidewalkpretty rachel at honey'spretty jana at honey's

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

yes, choosing joy.

This isn't what I wanted to post today, no -- I have a million other, more exciting posts in mind, like sharing about my weekend in Philadelphia and thoughts ahead towards summer and manifesting dreams and things falling into place and creative juice and so much more.

But today is today, and this is what needs to be written.

You know that phrase, Joy is a choice? Or perhaps you've heard it as Joy is an option or Choose joy. It's the simple idea that you can master your own happiness, that it's a job you work on every day when you wake up in the morning and choose over and over again to make happen. How simple, right?

I never caught on to this idea. I quietly scoffed in my head whenever I heard this idea written or spoken. I made up stories about Well she obviously has a much easier life than I do and Yeah right, have that person spend one day in my head and see if it's so easy and so on and so on. There were a million reasons why I couldn't choose joy.

And there was also a huge amount of self-judgment. A really, really large amount. Because if joy is so easy to choose, why couldn't I choose it all the time? Why was I having bad days and struggling through mind-boggling anxiety when others were just magically, easily choosing joy? If it was really that simple, why couldn't I do it?

I had these thoughts and judgments towards myself for a really, really long time, up until just a very few months ago. And then one day it all became clear (I can't even remember how, I suppose it was just time for me to know it).

Just because joy is an option, this does not mean you need to feel joy in every single moment.

Whoa. I'm still sort of blown away by this. There are two big ideas I found here:

1. Feeling sad or fearful or anxious or off or just-having-a-bad-day is all part of choosing joy. If you're honoring your feelings and staying in the present, aren't you choosing joy? This doesn't mean you can't feel angry at the world or like you just want to crawl under your covers and never come out when you need to -- on the contrary, it actually means that these are our natural feelings that we should own. Not honoring these emotions and covering them up with a false sense of joy would be the opposite here.

2. In Hannah Marcotti's Joy Up program, I learned the difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is fleeting, a feeling that's not permanent and often based on many other impermanent factors. But joy -- oh, joy is that supreme sense of contentedness in life. It's that deep, inner knowing that all is well, that all will be well, that you're on a path towards joy and the journey there can include joy, but it can also include shit and mess. Such a difference.

See what I mean? When I began thinking of it this way, it all opened up. I got it. I can choose joy whenever I please, and I can also choose to sit with my feelings of not-good-enough and overwhelm, too -- and it still means that I'm choosing joy.

Today, I'm in a place of feeling not-good-enough and overwhelm, which is why I felt I needed this post. I'm surviving a post-salon trauma that I usually feel after every salon visit -- except this time, I'm sitting with my feelings and exploring them a bit. I had an appointment for a color and a cut last night, and left with a pretty decent color and cut. Except my stylist wasn't a match for me -- I walked out fighting back tears and feeling attacked, like I was stupid and didn't know what I was talking about and that my frizzy hair just wasn't good enough. It was awful.

Needless to say, I let it all out. (And once I was calmed down, I got out the scissors (gasp!) and trimmed my bangs to how I wanted them and would have asked for them if the stylist had stopped pushing them to the side to try and get rid of them and I hadn't been so choked up.) In those moments though, when I was really in the thick of it, choosing joy did not feel like an option. It felt like the farthest thing from my mind. I did not want to have to choose joy. I felt I couldn't choose joy. And yet, as I sat in my car sobbing and feeling like my world was ending (hormones, oh yes), I think I was choosing joy. The tears and cries were marvelous and soul-filling, and just what I needed.

I'm staying home from work today and moving slowly. I'm drinking hot tea and staying in pajama pants and taking on some extra writing to make up for a smaller paycheck from daycare next week. I'm honoring my feelings, I'm only doing things my body wants to do, I'm taking my vitamins and herbs and letting go of any other obligations.

Yes, joy. I'll take it.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

changing my surroundings.

changing my surroundings

The house fills up. The TV goes on. Chatter (some nice, some not-so-nice) ensues. The energy changes, shifts, thickens.

My quiet, peaceful, post-work afternoon ends, and I begin to feel the anxiety, the not having my writing done yet, the approaching evening (which triggers looking ahead to going to work again in the morning), the chaos in my heart.

But, no -- I may live at home with my parents and family (I touched on this in yesterday's post), but that doesn't mean I'm subject to their surroundings. I've spent the last three years (since I moved home after college) creating a bedroom haven for myself, and it has a door -- which I close often.

And so I make a decision, a decision to change my surroundings and create the space I want and need. I make a mug of tea, a loose blend I first discovered at an Ayurvedic spa on my birthday two years ago. I close the door. I embrace the dark, gray, rainy day and light two candles. I put on warm sweat pants and a thermal shirt, underneath a cozy knit sweater I found at a vintage shop. I turn on my Himalayan salt rock lamp, reveling in its soft orange glow. I turn on the white fairy lights I still have strung up around the ceiling, left up since Christmas (they'll always be a permanent fixture, now). I sip a glass of water, feeling less hydrated than normal, and remember to swallow my multivitamin. I take the above picture. I plug in my laptop, listen to cars driving through the wet pavement on the road outside, and determine to get my writing done quickly. And I breathe.

It doesn't take very much at all. This took me about five minutes, and yet it changed the rest of my day. I wish to remember this more often, to feel my own power about how I spend my time and exist in this home.


(Also, just minutes later, an Enya song came on my Pandora relaxation station, and the lyrics struck me: Who can say where the road goes, where the day flows, only time. Love.)

Monday, May 7, 2012

inside my journey

woods path 

Do you know that place, that place of extreme self-doubt and a dull ache in the heart and incessant inner chatter and not-quite-being-able-to-stay-in-the-present?

I dreamed last night that I was late for work, leaving the house only five minutes before I was supposed to be there (it takes me 30) and not being able to move my body, stuck in slow motion while my mind went at record speed. I stopped at the doctor's on the way, feeling the need for help with a cold, sitting in the waiting room for almost two hours, tapping my toes and feeling the anxiety for now being two hours late to work but too shy to call and explain. When I stepped on the make-believe dream scale at the doctor's office, I broke it.

Later in the night I found myself at Hannah Marcotti's house, only as I showed up at the door her house shrank to the size of a bedroom, and when I was invited into the living room I was too big to fit, knocking over vases and stumbling into the couch, scared and sad that my reality wasn't matching up with my expectations.

I slept poorly and woke up an hour before my alarm, afraid it had been real and I was sleeping through work.

Sleep often provides no respite, only gives my mind a window of time to try and work out what's happening, furiously re-living the anxiety and stress in dreamland.You know?

My acupuncturist palpates my abdomen, feeling the deep tightness and pain and blockages, opting for more at our next session, stronger and harder this time.

I'm not where I thought I'd be, at 24 years old. I'm in this long, slow, learning period of growth and awakening, and I have to remind myself daily that I actually am where I'm supposed to be, despite the challenges and fears and doubts.

Full disclosure: I'm still living with my parents. (I cringe as I type that.) I'm nowhere near the profession I want. I work part-time as a daycare teacher, my old college job, and part-time as a freelance writer. This is not where I want to be, or thought I'd be at 24.


I know this is an important time. I know I'll look back on my 24-year-old self and think how I didn't see it coming, how I was preparing myself for the rest of my life in the best of ways. I'm already able to do that a little, looking back just a few months. Things change so swiftly, but when you're in the thick of it, everything seems so stagnant. And it's easy to get lost in that stagnation.

I'm learning more and more what I need. How I need eight hours of sleep every night at the very, very least. How I tend to forget all the important changes I've made, how I tend to belittle the progress I've worked so hard for. How I need to be gentle with my expectations of myself. How I need time outside. How I need to answer to myself, first. How I need to be careful with my online time, guarding myself against too much involvement in other people's lives and rolling down the fast hill of comparison.

I've been hearing in my head, "When you're ready, it will be ready," for the past week. A message, a thought not my own, coming to me. When I'm in the right place and resonance for these things I want (a well-paying job I enjoy, a new city, a space of my own, a grown-up life), they'll come to me. Most days I have enough faith to believe this. It makes it easier to cope with the hours or days of extreme self-doubt and a dull ache in the heart and incessant inner chatter and not-quite-being-able-to-stay-in-the-present. It's all medicine, I'm just not really able to see it yet -- I know this.


It's all good. It's all right. It's May, and I'm getting there.

A few people and places that have spurred me on:

10 bullshit-free ways to do the hard work  from Kate Courageous

As our body cries out..... from Hannah

Never, ever give up (video)

What's the real emergency? from Amy E. Smith on Roots of She

  forget-me-notscloud art

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

may intentions.

late afternoon sun 

Oh my. It's May. I'm feeling mixed emotions of joy, and excitement, and overwhelm, and trepidation, and possibility, and fear.

How is April over, already?

I just completed a month of Joy Up-ing with Hannah Marcotti's online group, the Joy Up tribe. It was so wonderful. And joyful. And perfect. We've had emails from Hannah every morning, soulwork assignments each week, a private Facebook group for connecting -- it really did fill my month with JOY.

And now here's May, looming before us. The Joy Up is over (though the FB group is still open and I still plan on frequenting it) and my month focused on joy is no more. As it ended, I began to feel sad, lost, confused. I realized this was a familiar place for me -- letting my fear take over and immediately going to a place of "what do I do now?" I felt like I didn't have anything holding me up anymore, like all of a sudden I was alone again and didn't know which way to go next. And the movement all stopped. A very familiar place, yes.

And so I'm setting an intention for May, a new word to guide me this month. It only took me a minute to let it come to me, and it came perfectly naturally: STRENGTH. I'll recall the word and it will remind me that

I'm stronger than I think.
I can make my big dreams happen.
I have a whole bag of tools I've acquired for when I need help. 
I'm not alone.

This whole season feels big and scary and transformational. I feel like May is going to be chock full of changes and challenges and surprises and now

I feel like I'm ready for them.

I have my joy, and I have my strength.