Friday, May 30, 2014

Pushing the Button

My long stride and hurried pace gets me to the intersection just a hair too late to cross. So I turn to my right and wait for the other crosswalk light to change.

In front of me, a petite anxious-looking woman pushes the crosswalk button two, three, four times in a row. The green arrow for traffic turns yellow and she pushes the crosswalk button again once more.

While crossing the street I wonder if she's trying to catch the same bus as me. After crossing the road, we both turn to our left to face the other crosswalk.

The anxious woman repeats her button-pushing process.

Doesn't she know that doesn't make the light change any faster? I wonder to myself as we walk between the white lines...

But then I realize I do the same thing now and again...but...why? Under what circumstances do I feel the need to push the button over and over? Why do I keep pressing the button, expecting a different result? It's slightly insane, doing the same thing over and over...

What it boils down to is that I don't trust that the button was working properly until I see the light change. So I push the button. Repeatedly.

But my message was received. The light was waiting for the right time to answer. If my light changed before the other streetlights completed their cycles, well, I could be very badly injured. The circuitry in the lights are programmed to acknowledge the message when the timing is right. Even though I want to cross the street immediately, the lights won't change until it's safe.  I have to trust something I don't see or understand.

It's a lot like a prayer or affirmation.

When I say a prayer or an affirmation, I am pushing a metaphorical button.  The universe hears my prayer but has to wait for all the other pieces to align. 

This is where I have to practice patience, which is not easy for me.  To learn patience I have to trust that my needs will be met, and if I don't get what I want then there's something better waiting for me that I had not anticipated.  It's easier to trust the process now because I've seen this very development happen several times in my life now. In the beginning, when I was developing my spiritual beliefs, I had to trust the word of others. I read a lot of books and took advice from different people until their words resonated with me. 

Every once in a while I feel insecure and backpedal until I reaffirm my belief system.  This is why I find it necessary to have regular spiritual practices to ground me and tap into my spiritual center. 

When I attain trust, I accept the fact that I have no power or influence on the people, places, or things in my life.  In doing so, I relieve myself of a huge burden.  It allows me to let go of responsibility for something that wasn't mine in the first place...and that leads to a very relaxed state of mind! 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Sober on Bourbon Street

I saw this shirt today and flipped out. It's like it was made just for me:

Because that is ME to a T. Haha - get it? I know...that was a terrible pun. I don't blame you if you stop reading now.

This is my first trip to New Orleans and (so far) I’m doing it stone-cold sober. On my way into town on the plane last night I suddenly flashed back to the first time I realized that those little tiny bottles of booze were less than 3 oz and could go in my quart-size ziploc bag in my carry-on. I was overjoyed at the idea of having alcohol on the plane for a third of the price the airline would charge me. ANY way to save money while drinking was money well-spent, and a good reason to drink. Hell, everything was a good reason to drink.

While I'm a naturally wacky, outgoing person to begin with, for a long time that had to be supplemented with alcohol when I was in a public space with a bunch of people I didn't know.  Everywhere I went, I was worried that people were judging me. How arrogant is that? To think that every stranger I meet is taking time to look at, observe, and make a judgment about me is incredibly self-centered. Most of the time, other people are not thinking about you. Really. They're not. They are thinking about the turkey they need to get for dinner, whether or not they remembered to do something important, or are ruminating over what drink to get next. 

And even if they were looking at, and thinking about you, why should that even matter? 

The moment I accepted "what other people think of me is none of my business" as a personal truth, I lost my fear of people and my self-diagnosed social anxiety subsided. 

Tonight I got up to "sing" karaoke and rocked out to P!nk for 3 minutes and 23 seconds without any regard for what people in the audience thought about my performance or my dress. Sure, before going up there I was a little nervous, and even dragged a girlfriend up with me. I paused briefly and let my fear go.

And was time to rock out. To a drinking song, but hey, "Raise Your Glass" is kind of my anthem...
So if you're too school for cool
(I mean)
And you're treated like a fool
(You're treated like a fool)
You can choose to let it go
We can always, we can always party on our own

So many of P!nk's lyrics speak to me personally, and this one is no exception. The idea that you can choose to let go of the way other people treat you and think of you is not something that I ever REALLY believed in...until I got sober. Learning how to let go of that judgment is not easy, but also incredibly liberating. Once you realize that drama doesn't HAVE to impact you, there's nothing to stop you from having fun whenever you want!

As I danced down Bourbon Street tonight (regardless of whether or not we heard music) I realized that I have a great gift. As a result of working hard learning to love myself, I've given myself permission to cut loose in whatever way I see fit! Whether that's dancing down Bourbon Street, wearing a kissing sticker on my chest, or screaming along to a karaoke track, it doesn't matter.

All that matters is that I stay true to who I am and what I want.

When I try to mold myself to meet someone else's expectations, THEN I run into trouble! 

So let's raise our glasses to never limiting our radiance to blend in with others! 

p.s. P!nk - you're my hero :-)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

my daily dose of happy

Let's face it. Sometimes your normally uneventful (boring) life straight-up sucks for one reason or another... Unless you're one of those people who can weather any storm without anything phasing you. (What are you taking and where can I get some?)

About a year ago I stumbled across this picture which kept me laughing out loud ALL DAY:

I made it my background and giggled every time I closed a window, revealing these four little faces.

When friends of mine at work were having a bad day, I would send them one or two similar pictures, hoping to brighten their days. Then when I had a bad day, or needed a brain break from work, I'd look up some new ones.

It became a daily process very quickly.

The first time I sent out three pictures to all of my co-worker friends, I called it:
my daily dose of happy
and it stuck.

I started sending three pictures every morning as soon as I got to work. I set down my purse, get a cup of coffee or tea, then open my email...
Before I open anything new or allow one iota of stress or anxiety into my head- I find an email with pictures that suit my mood and make me smile. (For me, it's like taking an instant anti-depressant, but it's free and doesn't require a prescription!)

Periodically, throughout the day, I open my Sent Items folder to look them over again. An even though I've seen the same pictures earlier that morning, this simple act brightens my day. Even if it's just for a minute.

What I'm doing at that moment is I make a conscious decision to change my perspective. Some days it's more difficult than others. For instance if I've just gone through a break-up or (like recently) lost a friend to cancer, you most likely won't see me smiling over the cubicle wall. But on those days, I just need to see something silly and fun to remind myself that pain is temporary and you can't take life too least...not if you want to be happy.

I honestly believe that the key to happiness is actually just whatever it takes for us to unlock the vault where adults keep their inner child hidden. Every once in a while, we all need to giggle. We need to see or do something silly and revel in its weirdness. Embrace, for just a moment, a carefree feeling and forget how you should act at your age.

Open that vault, once a day, for 30 seconds.

For me, it's looking at silly animal memes. For you, it may be balancing a spoon on your nose or making noises into a rotating fan.

You might feel absolutely ridiculous. Maybe you'll really love the feeling. It might even take a while for you to find a daily practice that you like, but I promise anything silly will do. Give it 30 days and then re-assess what you think about this exercise.

I am optimistic of the outcome.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Oakland's Morality Clause and The Laramie Project

Educators at Bishop O’Dowd High School have been making the headlines of newspapers across the country regarding a new part to their contract entitled the “Morality Clause.” (If you haven’t heard about this, do yourself a favor and do a quick Google search or check out this article from the SFGate.)

Ironically, this is also the closing weekend of Bishop O’Dowd’s production of The Laramie Project, a play about the notorious Matthew Shepard case, a violent gay hate crime that occurred in Laramie, Wyoming in 1998.

The best part of the show last night occurred in response to a line delivered by Nate Gipson when playing the role of Laramie’s Catholic priest, Father Roger Schmit. While ruminating over whether or not to ask the Bishop’s permission to host a vigil for Matthew Shepard, Gipson’s character stated, “The Bishop’s permission doesn't make it correct. What is correct is correct.”

The timing and delivery could not have been more perfect.

The audience which had been mostly docile and observant throughout the emotionally dense play, erupted in applause. Gentle laughter, mumbled comments between neighbors, and nods of approval rolled through the crowd and slowly subsided leaving no doubts to the viewers’ feelings about the recent news of the Bishop's morality clause.

While the Bishop claims the new clause is anything but a witch-hunt, it seems the students, faculty, and parents of Bishop O'Dowd are not convinced. It's basic relationship 101. If you tell your girlfriend she should "put on something else", she will most like interpret it to mean "I hate that outfit" or "You look fat in that dress." 

Unless the Bishop becomes completely transparent about his intentions on a public level, the most likely assumption people will jump to is, "he's trying to find and fire anyone who goes against Catholic doctrine."

This is just one of many ways in which leaders of the Catholic church continue to alienate themselves from their congregations. 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

My bucket list

A friend of mine died recently. Before he left this plane, he said several times, "I have no regrets."

And as it sometimes happens when witnessing a sudden death like this, I began to ponder my own frail life. If doctors found terminal cancer in my vital organs and estimated I had a mere three weeks left to live, as they did with my friend, how would I live those three weeks? If I died in a car accident tomorrow, would I be afraid or would I be at peace?

Truth be told, I would definitely have regret if I died tomorrow. I am one of those people that keeps a bucket list. I even set New Years Resolutions and yearly goals for myself (though I don't necessarily achieve them). It seems like I let too many things get in the way of me actually completing the majority of my goals with work being the number one offender. I feel that in order to achieve more of these bucket list items I need to change the way I think about making plans, and the way I manage my time in general. Otherwise, 2014 is going to be just another year of hectic deadlines, running errands, fulfilling duties to earn money to pay the bills which I have as a result of just existing.

So here's to me working towards a few of my many bucket list/New Years goals:
   *establish a daily writing practice (for enjoyment - blog, short stories, poems, etc)
   *complete a book proposal before September 23
   *complete a first draft of my book
   *play more games and have more fun
   *spend more time outside
   *spend less time on Facebook
   *finish my paintings of Paris
   *fall in love

These are all things I will likely be writing about on this blog (along with my two adorable and sweet terrier dogs).

Wish me luck!