Internet Inspiration – November 7, 2014

11.7.2014

I posted this on facebook, but I want to read this entire book simply based on this passage:

Our mission is to plant ourselves at the gates of Hope — not the prudent gates of Optimism, which are somewhat narrower; nor the stalwart, boring gates of Common Sense; nor the strident gates of Self-Righteousness, which creak on shrill and angry hinges (people cannot hear us there; they cannot pass through); nor the cheerful, flimsy garden gate of “Everything is gonna be all right.” But a different, sometimes lonely place, the place of truth-telling, about your own soul first of all and its condition, the place of resistance and defiance, the piece of ground from which you see the world both as it is and as it could be, as it will be; the place from which you glimpse not only struggle, but joy in the struggle. And we stand there, beckoning and calling, telling people what we are seeing, asking people what they see.

Great post and resources from Ellen on moving past the fear inherent in creative escapades.

I really loved this article on marriage, from Dr. Kelly Flanagan. Even if you’re not married, I think these are themes in most relationships.

We spend most of our adolescence and early adulthood trying to pretend our shame doesn’t exist so, when the person we love triggers it in us,we blame them for creating it. And then we demand they fix it. But the truth is, they didn’t create it and they can’t fix it. Sometimes the best marital therapy is individual therapy, in which we work to heal our own shame. So we can stop transferring it to the ones we love.

It never occurred to me that I could make hanging wallpaper panels, but now I want to.

I was mesmerized by Monica Lewinsky’s recent speech. Her notes on shame, bullying, compassion, and the power of story are profound.

I have said that behind sorrow there is always sorrow. It were wiser still to say that behind sorrow there is always a soul.  And to mock at a soul in pain is a dreadful thing.

- Oscar Wilde

And also, all of the links Susannah has in this post.

And another she shared recently: A gentleman’s guide to rape culture

The completely reasonable and understandable fear of men is your responsibility. You didn’t create it. But you also didn’t build the freeways either. Some of the things you inherit from society are cool and some of them are rape culture.

I’m intrigued by Benjamin Franklin’s advice on how to train your trolls. Thoughts?

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Your Actions Are Authentic

Your Actions Are Authentic

A few months ago my brother turned to me and said, “I think you should start a barbell program.”

I froze.

What the hell is THAT supposed to mean?

“Uh, ok. What is a barbell program?”

“It’s a program where you only lift. There’s no CrossFit.”

“What makes you suggest it?”

“Because you’re not doing the gym workouts. You haven’t for weeks.”

*PANIC PANIC PANIC* He found me out! I’m a fraud! How did he know? Has he been keeping TABS on me?? Does he not TRUST me?? Is he JUDGING ME??

“I do so! I did the workout… last week…?”

But it was true. I was found out. Caught. I didn’t like doing the CrossFit workouts. In fact, I hadn’t really been working out at all.

So that was really nice of my brother to notice that and give me another option.

And then I thought, “Wait, am I not doing the workouts because I don’t like the gym workouts? Or am I not doing the workouts because I don’t want to work out at all?” Perhaps another option isn’t what I needed; perhaps I just needed a six-week-long nap.

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There’s a line from Jung that goes,

You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.

I think that line gets hijacked a lot, and used to guilt trip people.

But I don’t think Jung really played games with guilt. I think he was talking about how our actions strip away all our pretenses and show what’s really true.

The fact that I didn’t work out was an authentic expression for me. Even though I was supposed to work out, supposed to want to work out, I didn’t work out. Period.

And that action, despite all the shoulds from Bitch Boss or the external collective, was authentic for me. I should have wanted it, I should have done it, but my actions spoke differently.

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Jung also says,

I’d rather be whole than good.

That’s an idea I really love, but the truth is, guilt relies on the fact that it is not okay for me to not be good. It’s intolerable for me that anyone would know how not good I am.

I’m not “allowed” to be a gym owner that doesn’t work out. And exploring that is important. Who am I not allowed to be?

Protecting that shadow saps life force energy. You can’t believe the contortions I’ll go through to make sure no one sees me not be who I’m supposed to be. I’m sure you have parts of this inside you too. You might lie about how you spend your days, what you eat, who you like, the clothes you like to wear. You might be self deprecating at all times, or reject compliments (I’m not supposed to boast or be proud), you might rationalize your behavior (“Here are all the excuses for why I didn’t do this thing” instead of, “I’m supposed to be passionate about this thing but I really don’t give a shit” or “I’m petrified and I don’t know how to get help”). You might spend your free time numbing out with internet or TV.

Don’t underestimate your need to be right. Your body and mind will mobilize to help you feel in control and to block out parts of you that “shouldn’t” be. It seems like a kindness, and in some ways, it is. But it keeps you small.

Sit with how you really feel. Sit with the truth of your actions. I didn’t work out because I couldn’t deal. I just couldn’t. I didn’t vote because I don’t give a shit. I didn’t call that guy back because I didn’t want him, even for one date. Traffic didn’t hold me up today; I hate this job and want to say “Fuck you.”

Go deeper. Be bigger. Let yourself be whole, even when it seems intolerable. Even when guilt threatens to kill you.

Assume legitimacy, set judgment aside, and gaze upon yourself and your actions.

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I want to mention that I’m writing a lot about letting yourself be, and I know we have a lot of discourse in our culture about doing. Or being better, which is not really being as you are. It’s not my intention to discourage your doing new things, or growing and evolving, or asking for help to do something that’s scary. I think that’s really powerful.

But what I want to say is, your existence is more than enough. You don’t have to perform for that. You don’t have to “do” anything to be worthy. You can just be yourself, and it’s enough.

Imagine when a little kid comes into a room when you’re hanging with friends and family, and everyone stops, mid-discussion, turns to the kid, and goes nuts over the fact that the kid is there now. You know? Have you seen that? How we all fawn over little kids, and they’ve done nothing except walk into the room?

Start there. Let all your change and evolution come from that place, rather than the place of “You’re not measuring up and I’m going to beat you over the head until you comply.” Don’t worry so much about being good.

Be whole. Be magnificent.

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

- Mary Oliver, “Wild Geese”

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How to Know When to Quit

How to Decide When to Quit

I’ve been talking a lot about my old job recently. People I know are thinking of quitting their jobs, wondering if it’s the right time to leave, the right reasons to leave, and they call me to talk it through.

Like me, they never learned how to quit. We were never taught how to decide if something was worth continuing. All we got were messages of “Never give up!” and “Quitting is not an option!” and “The only constant in your many failures is you.”

So here I stand, in defense of quitting.

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My last big quit was my job in finance in 2012. Before that, my relationship. Before that, (several) college majors. And I have many stories about things I should have quit but didn’t. All of these were preceded by months of depression and free-floating anxiety.

My job ended up being a toxic environment for a variety of reasons. At the time I was also in the third year of a relationship that probably shouldn’t have progressed beyond one year. I remember almost being surprised by my depression, like I didn’t notice it until I was already buried. And I remember feeling desperate, wanting to claw my way out.

I picked up every single aspect of my life and tried to hold it in my hands to see if it was the source of my despair. I remember being so confused because I had done everything “right.” I had a guy I liked, I was on my way to marriage by 30, kids afterwards. I had a degree from a top 10 university and a good job at the largest financial institution in the US. I had friends. Everything was right. Everything fit the happiness formula I had been taught.

But I was still suffocating. I felt powerless in the face of my malaise.

I needed to find power. So I started subverting wherever I could. I’d hate on my boss when he wasn’t around. I played drinking games with my coffee during meetings (1 sip whenever he says this, 1 sip whenever he says that). I started coming in a little later every day, sleeping in more. My coworkers and I complained about the department constantly. I ate decadently, choosing foods that seemed “sinful.” I’d counter that by going on cleanses, trying to rid myself of “bad” things inside me. I’d shop, using money I wish I hadn’t used on clothes I wasn’t passionate about, trying to recreate the joy I saw women get from sales and “great deals.”

It’s almost funny to write it out now. At the time it seemed like I was just like everyone else. Now it seems like addictive behavior. The fact that I was so unhappy meant that something was wrong with me, and I needed something external to fix myself.

Drugs and alcohol are not my problem, reality is my problem, drugs and alcohol are my solution.

- Russell Brand

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My boyfriend and I broke up on my birthday that year. My youngest brother broke up with his girlfriend the day before. J.Lo and Marc Anthony broke up the day after. Some energy was working on all of us.

I decided to quit my job almost as a joke. I chose December 21, 2012 as my last day, thinking that if it was good enough for the Mayans it would be good enough for me.

Later I decided that I would have my last day be in early November. I had a trip to Southeast Asia planned with friends, and I figured I would leave the job and leave the country all in one week.

Then, one Friday night in September in Valley Forge Park, I decided to give my two weeks’ notice the following Monday. I called my parents to tell them; they were not thrilled. It was like I had passed the last test because I, as a chronic people-pleaser, actually could not have cared less that my parents were unhappy with my decision.

As far as I was concerned, there was no other choice to make. It was a matter of life and death to me.

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Here’s the question you can ask yourself if you’re thinking of quitting something, if you’re wondering whether or not to continue with something, or trying to decide what to choose next.

Can I truly be myself and do this thing?

In the end, even though I still have a lot of healing to do around my old life, this question answers itself as I look back.

I could never have made myself small enough to be happy or fulfilled in the life I would have made with my boyfriend. It’s not his fault. It’s not my fault. I just needed more.

I wasn’t myself at this job. I couldn’t be. Without even getting into the dysfunction and betrayal of the leaders at that place, at its core this was a job that required spreadsheets; coloring inside the lines (except coloring would never have actually been permitted); being a robot; and existing in the binary of right and wrong, black and white.

I’m full spectrum color, baby. I live in grey areas and uncertainty.

I became a Walking “Fuck You” in that job because it was the only thing I could do.

Rebellion is the other side of compliance but it is not freedom.

- Geneen Roth

My eating habits, which I’m still unraveling, were an attempt for me to not have to obey.Even though my methods were unhealthy, the impulse was profound.

I wanted to have what I wanted. I needed for those desires to be valid. I needed to be on my own side. Food was the only vehicle I had to accomplish that.

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There’s a saying that the best thing you can do for an alcoholic is to buy him a drink. Because the truth is, lasting change comes because it must come. It can only come because there’s something within you that can no longer tolerate the status quo. And sometimes the only way to know you’re there is to be at rock bottom.

So that’s what I want to tell you, if you’re thinking of quitting something.

1) You can quit whatever the hell you want. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. Sometimes you need to quit just to prove to yourself that you can quit. It’s fine.

2) You don’t have to quit. It’s fine.

3) You have options. There are a lot of helpful resources out there and a lot of people that want to help you. You even have options as to the size of your quitting. Maybe it’s a job, maybe it’s a policy, maybe it’s a habit, maybe it’s a small thing you say to yourself.

4) If you’re not sure if quitting is the right choice or if you’re just upset about something, ask yourself, “Can I truly be myself and continue doing ____?” You might already turning into a Walking “Fuck You.” If not, this question will give you some food for thought about how things need to change, what kind of environment you need in order to truly be yourself. Use this question liberally, and let yourself be surprised. Take your time.

5) You are fine. The fact that you’re exploring the option to quit doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you. “It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a sick society.”

6) You’ll be fine. There are other jobs. There are other majors. There are other relationships. There is something in the world that will make you come alive.

7) If you’re not sure what makes you come alive, don’t worry about finding a passion to follow. Start by following your curiosity.

No matter what, I’ll always bet on you.

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Internet Inspiration – October 10, 2014

10.10.2014

I have SO MUCH LOVE for this TED talk calling for a new metaphor for sex.

For some reason, says educator Al Vernacchio, the metaphors for talking about sex in the US all come from baseball — scoring, getting to first base, etc. The problem is, this frames sex as a competition, with a winner and a loser. Instead, he suggests a new metaphor, one that’s more about shared pleasure, discussion and agreement, fulfillment and enjoyment. Let’s talk about … pizza.

AMEN!!

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Last week I really needed this post of Leonie’s top blogging tips. So encouraging.

Speaking of sex, I loved these excerpts from Alain de Botton on How to think more about sex.

Our culture encourages us to acknowledge very little of who we normally are in the act of sex. It seems as if it might be a purely physical process, without any psychological importance. But … what happens in love-making is closely bound up with some of our most central ambitions. The act of sex plays out through the rubbing together of organs, but our excitement is no boorish physiological reaction; rather, it is an ecstasy we feel at encountering someone who may be able to put to rest certain of our greatest fears, and with whom we may hope to build a shared life based upon common values.

Have you guys read about Sweden introducing a gender-neutral pronoun? I’m intrigued, although part of me really resists the idea that we need to ignore differences in order to treat everyone equally.

Thanks, Havi, for working through the difficulty that is not getting what you want and getting instead what you’re supposed to get.

I’ve been binge-watching Gilmore Girls since Netflix put it on instantwatch, and it makes me want to accept the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge.

Yes, thank you, I would like everything in this Etsy shop.

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Feeling Doomed? Try Funny and Lighthearted on for Size

funny and lighthearted as antidotes to doom

Last week my dad and I took a trip, just the two of us, to go fly fishing. I had the most wonderful time. It made me remember how much I adore being outside, hiking, camping, and it turns out I also really love fishing. I’m figuring out how to infuse the fly fishing qualities into my daily life.

But another thing that was interesting was to hear my dad talk about his job. He works for GEICO Insurance, an auto insurance company here in the US.

He says the biggest struggles when it comes to marketing auto insurance are

  • Nobody wants to buy it. Anyone who purchases insurance does so because it’s required by the state or by an employer.
  • Nobody wants to use it once they’ve bought it. Really the only reason to use your insurance is to file a claim (in the event of a car crash or breakdown, for example.)

So how is GEICO such a successful business and advertiser, when they’re selling something nobody wants to buy and nobody wants to use?

They keep their content light, and focus on being funny and likable.

If you’re in the US, you must be familiar with the gecko, the pothole commercial, maxwell the pig, and most of the others. If you’re not familiar, have a look.

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It’s so interesting to me that GEICO’s antidote to being unwanted is to approach it from a seemingly unrelated, lighthearted place. Most insurance companies in the past relied on fear and doom to sell their product.

I think this might be a good tactic to have in your toolbox.

If you wouldn’t buy your body and definitely wouldn’t use it, ouch! Any chance of letting that burden go and lightening up? You don’t have to permanently leave it, maybe just… send it back to bed while you take yourself out on a date!

If you’re trying to lose weight, instead of shaming yourself, or worrying about how your weight is going to kill you prematurely, make you sick, prevent you from finding love and acceptance, could you put those fears on hold and try to lighten up?

Even if your physical weight doesn’t change (or changes in Moss Time), could you lighten up mentally and emotionally and maybe have a little fun with your body NOW?

If you’re dealing with anxiety and perfectionism, it’s like trying to fight Medusa. Looking her straight in the face will turn you to stone.

Make like Perseus and use a mirror to come around the edges. Write about what’s freaking you out. See if you can separate a little bit and find out some more details about what you’re afraid of.

What can you do to separate yourself a little bit from your doom and have just a moment or two (or five!) of lightheartedness and fun?

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I don’t make any of these suggestions to dismiss your pain and the hard stuff you’re working through. But sometimes we get so embroiled in the story we’re telling ourselves about what’s going on, it’s hard to get at the true source of the problem. A little bit of separation can yield a tremendous amount of clarity and energy.

Chances are you’ve had many moments in which your metabolism was transformed by something other than food, drugs, or exercise. Can you recall a time when you were sitting at home feeling low energy and sorry for yourself, a time when if someone asked you “How’s your metabolism?” you would have answered that it was sluggish and stuck? Then quite suddenly the phone rings and it’s a love interest calling or it’s someone calling you with good news about money. Your mod instantly skyrockets. You feel alive and optimistic. And in that moment, if someone asked again, “How’s your metabolism?” you’d say it was humming.

So what happened? You had an enormous energy rush yet you didn’t drink any coffee or take any drugs. It was a shift in your emotional world that ignited your body. That’s how quickly metabolism can change.

- Marc David, The Slow Down Diet

Try it and see.

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