Tag Archive: motivation


Organization revelation

I went to my first CHADD (Children & Adults with ADD) support group meeting last night.  There were about 10 of us, mostly women.  I was kind of surprised that it was mostly women, I guess because all the ADHD kids I remember from grade school were boys.  That’s not a very good gauge of the male:female ratio, though — after all, I had it and never knew.  It could very well be the case for many other girls.

Apart from the discussion serving as yet another confirmation that I do indeed fit the description, I picked up a very interesting tip from one of the other women in attendance.  She told us a little bit about an online application called WorkFlowy, which she uses to help keep herself organized at work.

We also talked about the need for people with ADD to have tasks broken down to their most basic components — it gave me kind of a flashback to when I was really little and would never clean my room. The only time it got done in a timely fashion was when Dad would come up and break it down for me: Pick up all the Barbies, you have 30 seconds. Put all the dirty clothes in the laundry basket, 20 seconds. Etc.

This morning when I got to the office I went to the WorkFlowy website and signed up, just to see what it was all about.  And wow.  I mean WOW.  It seems so simple, and yet I can already tell it will completely change the way I do my work.  I was just about overflowing with giddiness about it all day long.  I reset my browser’s start page to WorkFlowy so it starts up first thing, and I can leave it up all day.  I can use it at home and at work.  I had to tell everyone else in the office about it.  I had to e-mail Mom about it. I had to post on Facebook about it.  I’m just that excited about it.

So we’ll see how it goes.  I’m just getting started with it, but I feel pretty confident it will, in fact, change my life.

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Enrichment

I’ve reached that frame of mind again where I think I need to focus on doing things I enjoy.  Enriching my life.  I think I’m going to be alone for quite some time.  I’m not swearing off the idea of good friends entirely, but I think when it’s something I want so bad trying to artificially manifest it is ultimately counterproductive.

I do start to despair a little, periodically, because it’s been so long since I’ve had a good friend that I don’t have things to talk about.  Like I want to have something I wouldn’t even be able to deliver on if it came along.  I don’t know what people talk about. Or I just don’t think about them. Or they’re so internalized, I’m so accustomed to not sharing my thoughts with anyone that it will be very difficult for me to get in the habit of doing so when the opportunity presents itself. And maybe since I’ve spent so much of my time by myself, with myself, thinking about myself, maybe I don’t have much skill at actually relating to others.  I don’t know.  That’s not the point here anyway.

My point is, I turned outward again.  I think it started when I sent that drunken e-mail to NM.  I don’t regret doing that, I think it was a good experience.  But what followed was that old panicked need to Not Be Alone.  And as nice as it would be to Not Be Alone, I can’t count on that happening anytime soon.  I have to focus on enriching my life as it is, not as I wish it might be.  I have to take care of myself now, do the things I want to do now, because Now is all there is.

I feel a bit better just typing this.  Honesty.  Works wonders.

Judgmental

I wonder how I can learn to be less judgmental.  What causes that tendency within me?  My first thought is that it’s self-protective.  Because I am isolated, it is easier on my feelings (which yearn for connection!) to set myself further apart with feelings of superiority.  Therefore it becomes not, “why can’t I connect with these people?” but “I don’t want to connect with these people, they’re immature, crude, noisy, smokers, meat-eaters, etc.”  If I’m right, there’s a constant conflict within me.  I don’t want to feel like I’m better than anyone.  I know intellectually that I am not.  At the same time, I don’t want to have to “be like them” to fit in, to connect.

Here’s an example.  I scheduled the atheist group’s quarterly street clean-up for today.  Then later on, another member posted a Halloween/birthday party for last night.  Talking with another member (NM, actually) at our guest speaker event on Friday, he asked if I was going to the party.  I said no and followed up with my reasoning that “any party with Jell-o shots is not the kind of party I want to attend.”  What came out of my mouth after that was purely uncensored judgment, something about not wanting to spend my Saturday night with a whole bunch of drunken, noisy, immature “adults.”  Which is exactly how I felt about it.  He called me on it immediately, and I kind of resented that.  But it was fair.  I was openly judging the other members of the group for being people who enjoyed getting a little wild and partying in the modern sense of the word.

I was also a little resentful because I feel that, because people attended the party last night, they will be hung over and not interested in attending my street clean-up today.  And it’s true, only 6 people have RSVP’d for the street clean-up.  The last 2 times it was 10 or 12 people and the first time it was over 20.  It’s hard for me to understand why more people wouldn’t want to spend a couple hours on a Sunday afternoon picking up trash in uptown Charlotte.  I say that with a touch of sarcasm — as I type it, I do kind of understand why people wouldn’t want to do that.  I have a hard time not judging them as “selfish.”  The group’s mission statement includes “put a positive face on atheism.”  What I don’t understand is why more of them aren’t interested in doing that.  I don’t know.  I guess in part my displeasure is personal.  As though somehow low turnout at my street clean-up is a reflection of my own popularity.

It all comes down to selfishness, I guess.  I’m selfish, they’re selfish.  We all are.  It’s part of what makes us human.  One of the things “The Untethered Soul” talks about it how ridiculous it is to try to make the world conform to what we want it to be.  The only thing we can control in this world is our own actions.  The world happens the way it happens whether we like it or not.  People act the way they act whether we like it or not.  I must act on my own convictions whether or not anyone else will join me.  But it’s hard.  Very hard for me.  Must keep trudging up that hill.

So I heard back from NM at about 10 saying he was just leaving his family and yeah, he was pretty exhausted.  Which is about what I expected, but it was still not fun to read.  I’m not ashamed to say I cried some.  A combination of the disappointment, a little hurt, and that victim feeling.  But I did feel as I was crying that it did not mean I was unhappy.  It was a momentary thing, and it passed.  I am doing my utmost not to be passive-aggressive toward my friend and NM, and I think I’m doing a pretty good job. So far.  I made plans to get brunch with NM tomorrow which is also nice.

As I type this, and view this practice experience as something of a triumph, I also realize this sort of thing will be very, very difficult to repeat.  It’s a great, very positive start, and I am thrilled at the apparent success, but I don’t pretend it will make the next challenge any easier.

BUT if I continue to remind myself a) I want to be happy, unconditionally; b) I have no control over anything but my own actions; and c) Life just Is, I may have half a chance at a second success down the road.

Treading cautiously

I’m attempting to gauge whether I’m on a New Man high or if I’m genuinely feeling better these days.  It’s really hard to tell.  On the one hand, I am feeling better these days.  Tonight I’m cooking a big pot of vegetable stew, which will be the base for a pot pie with a pumpkin biscuit topping instead of the standard pot pie pastry (courtesy of Fatfree Vegan).  I have a small glass of red wine (courtesy of Trader Joe’s) and I’m clean, having showered after I got home from work.  The stew smells marvelous!  The seitan has to simmer another 15 minutes and then I make the pumpkin biscuits.

What struck me about this moment, and the reason I thought to write about it at all, is how seemingly carefree and mellow I feel.  It’s sad that I’ve come to distrust that sort of feeling, but my experience with this sort of not-depressed feeling is that I do something or say something or something and I end up looking back at this little euphoric moment with disgust.  It’s a strange conflict within me, trying to enjoy and appreciate this positive flow of emotion but at the same time trying not to buy into it too much — like I think it’s a con or something.  And my distrust is valid, I think.  It’s more than a little suspicious that I am feeling more positive, more motivated, less self-critical, at a time when I’ve been on a few dates with a guy I’ve been crushing on and who hasn’t disappointed me yet.  So you see, I can’t entirely trust myself in these matters.  I suppose that’s where meditation helps.

I guess what my concern is is that I feel quite strongly that an individual’s happiness is not solely contingent on the presence of an intimate relationship in their life.  I mean, sure, it probably helps, but I know that I have a lot of issues still to deal with, and I don’t want to see myself laying those aside because of some illusion of contentedness that is a natural byproduct of New Man high.  (I guess he’ll be NM from now on, eh?)

The mind is so complicated.  I guess I can vent some of this out on my therapist this Thursday, too.  But I was telling mom — it’s so funny — my therapist asks me if I’m seeing anyone every time we meet.  I guess it’s not that farfetched, but every time she asks I’m a little amused and a little annoyed.  After all, being in a relationship is not going to solve my problems!  But she knows I struggle with feelings of loneliness, of disconnectedness, so I guess she thinks having someone near my life could potentially be beneficial.  I guess that’s what it is.  So I won’t be annoyed anymore when she asks.  And of course, this time I’ll have a different answer for her.  Watch her fall out of her chair when I tell her I asked him out! (she won’t, but she’ll be absolutely thrilled)

So that’s where I am now.  At this moment content, warm, hopeful and suspicious.  I’m afraid to let go of the suspicion.  I suppose that’s the last little piece of self-protection.  The author of “The Untethered Soul” would tell me to “just let it go…. open my heart… relax and release.”  Maybe I should try that, pain be damned.  We’ll see.  Maybe after another glass of wine.

The Untethered Soul

This is a book I’ve been reading lately.

It’s another one delivered to me by my mom, who is constantly reading one thing or another.

This book has some interesting, simple truths, things that, when one actually applies them to one’s life, have the potential to drastically change one’s experience for the better.  It ain’t easy.  But I’m getting a lot out of it thus far, and I expect I’ll read it again once I’ve gotten through it once.

 

PS- my affirmation lately has been: “I am a good girl.”

Body image

Lately, I have consistently weighed around 125.  That’s 15 pounds heavier than I was before my birthday.  I must make a concerted effort to drop a few.  Simply cutting portion size should do.  I certainly didn’t exercise regularly.  Though of course I know it would help.

I can’t afford to gain any more.  I got rid of all my bigger pants.

Tonight I ate the rest of the cookies I had in the freezer.  They weren’t very good, and I’m glad they are gone.  Now, hopefully, I will not indulge in any more… indulgences.  Of the edible sort, anyway.

I’m on the verge of something.  My therapist today referred to different stages of existence.  There’s comfort, there’s stretching, and then another one that’s like EXTREEEME and unpleasant.  I think I’m lingering in “comfort,” knowing I’m unhappy but being too, well, comfortable to push myself into “stretching” — the type of existence where one grows and prospers.

No yoga this weekend, because there’s a festival in the park.  Maybe I’ll pump my bike’s tires and take a ride to the greenway.  Maybe.

I guess I haven’t been doing myself any favors lately.  I’m on the brink of another minor depressive episode and I keep feeding it instead of fighting it.  Feeding it with cookies.

Maybe it’s just the overexertion leading up to the DNC business that’s got me in this black hole of sorts.  A vacuum.  It just occurred to me that that’s sort of what it feels like.  Figuratively, of course.  Hm.

I woke up this morning feeling very heavy.  Like gravity was stronger than usual and it was too much for me to hold myself up.  So I laid down.  And slept.  Until about 3 this afternoon.  (I ate all the cookies first)

The primary symptoms of this current bout seem to be a general lack of sense of purpose in addition to the standard feelings of loneliness, feelings of inadequacy, lack of motivation about anything and everything.  I see my dying houseplants as a symbol of my inevitable failure at whatever it is I’m attempting (life, or a reasonable facsimile thereof).

I tell myself that in order to be happy I need to pursue the things that are important to me, things that give my life meaning, and I can’t think of any.

Part of me wants to go back to a retail job just so I can meet some different people.  That’s one thing about an office job; unless you really like the people you work with, there’s no social benefit.  At least in retail one comes across the occasional friendship.  But as soon as I had that thought just now I had a flash of a vision of myself working the counter at Starbucks, green visor and all.  It was sad and terrifying.

How does one find meaning in one’s life?  For many, I suppose, it’s family.  Get married, have children.  Two things I absolutely want nothing to do with.

What is there, if not that?  The good thing about having kids is that, if you play your cards right, you can count on having someone around to take care of you when you get too old to take care of yourself.  But jesus, that’s no good reason to have kids.  Not for the kids, and not for you.  Throw away your life and several fortunes raising, feeding, sheltering and clothing a human being.  The responsibility.  The strife.  The stress.  Not worth it, in my opinion.  They say it’s rewarding.  I say, only if you wanted it in the first place.  So that’s out.

The only other option is to find something really worth living for.  But typically, one can’t make a living at the thing one really loves doing.  If there were even something I loved doing that much.  And it’s so hard to find the time outside of work to hunt down any of the things one might feasibly love or come to love.

The teahouse is still a dream, one I don’t allow to come too near my heart because it will break me if I do.  But it still hangs around, waiting for me to gather enough money and know-how to give it a go.

I think that’s part of my problem, really.  I have marvelous ideas from time to time, but I won’t take any of them seriously enough, won’t really throw myself into them with passion and gusto and all-my-heart, because I’m afraid of failure.

And I’ve kind of known that all along.

So here I am, effectively treading water in life, waiting for something foolproof to come along, something instantly successful so I won’t be afraid.

And of course I know that’s not how it works.  You could almost say that my purpose in life (at this point in my life anyway) is to learn to stop being afraid of it.  Of life.  I’ve gotten to a point where I recognize that I am not happy with my situation, not happy with myself.  I think the only real change will come from taking the leap.  Maybe it’s a leap, maybe it’s a slow crawl out of a shell, I don’t know.  But if I don’t, I will continue to have these cycles of mediocre living to kind of crappy living.  But how does one make such a change when this has been my behavior pattern since as long as I can remember?

I have to care.  I have to remind myself each day, this is for ME, this is for HAPPINESS, this is for LIFE.  Am I ready for that commitment?  It makes me anxious just thinking about it.  What if I start tomorrow, and then Monday I fail again?  What if I tell myself things will be different and I don’t do what I promise?  The terror I am facing is the choice between continuing to be exactly what I have always expected myself to be, or believing that I can be more, that I deserve to be more, that I WANT to be more.

I can’t un-eat the cookies.  Can I keep myself from eating any more?

Address Anxiety

Almost precisely 48 hours until my address on the “Free Speech” platform during the DNC.  I’m not really sure what to expect.  The platform is a good four blocks away from the arena where the actual DNC will be taking place.  The roads will be blocked all around, so there will be 4 blocks between my message and all the politicians and delegates in the arena.  I understand we have the Secret Service to thank for this completely absurd perimeter.

But I’m not going to sit on my hands just to spite them.  I’m determined to be heard, or at least determined to speak even if there’s no one around to hear me.  There will be a microphone and a PA system.  And I will speak.

I’m not really anxious about it yet, but I have every expectation that I will be.  Even if it’s not until the moment I step up there.

I need to rehearse my speech.  I never expected myself to memorize it, but I want to become comfortable with the language and play with where I need to emphasize words or punctuate with arm movements.  I’ve spent the last forty-five minutes or so reading “The Count of Monte Cristo” aloud to myself, so I’ve grown a bit tired of speaking.  I need to let my palate rest a bit before I jump on that.

This is one of these things where I feel I probably belong.  I feel like I have needed to do some public speaking, that I am, if not naturally good at it, at least I am not afraid of it in the way many people are.  This is my chance to take a microphone and shout “I” into the heart of the world.  This is my chance to affirm my own existence.

It seems strange that I should feel the need to do this.  Maybe it’s something everyone feels in one way or another.  But no, I recognize welling up in me the crying out to be acknowledged.  In anticipation of this moment I feel every tantrum I ever threw as a child, every opportunity I saw to do something better than someone else but was too shy and thought myself too small and unworthy to act.  This is why this moment is so important to me.  My aching to be acknowledged, affirmed, even loved for all my life is waiting impatiently to burst out through my pores, my voice, inside, is screaming to be heard with an intensity I understand but did not expect.  It’s easy to forget, going through life day to day, how our bodies remember those little slights.  I had not expected it to build up to this degree but here it is, I understand it and I accept it and on Tuesday evening I will speak.  Even if it is only to an empty field.  Even if it is raining and I stand with an umbrella preaching to nobody.  I will speak.  I have needed to speak.  I have only wanted the means.

** Note: “The Beast that shouted ‘I’ at the heart of the world” is a reference to an episode of Evangelion; the phrase struck me the first time I read it and I continue to identify with it; it is apparently a bastardization of the title of a Harlan Ellison story called “The Beast that shouted ‘Love’ at the heart of the world.”

Taking breaths

I got up at about 8 this morning because the cats were whining to be fed and I had to pee.  Went back to bed immediately after, reveling in the warmth and comfort of the bedclothes.

Sometime in the hour that followed I began having the most horrible dream.

It was so surreal it’s difficult to organize and describe.  I was making plans with [someone- either my mom or co-worker or both] to visit my dad at Christmas[? it was wintery].  He lived in Ohio or some other midwestern state.  I think it was Ohio even if it was located slightly further south and west than it really is.  It was time to go and I wasn’t even sure if I was driving or flying.  I was packing and looking for things and needed a shower but there wasn’t time.  Then, mid-way to the airport, I realized I had paint all over my scalp.  I had been painting [a] ceiling and, looking in the mirror, it was like really heavy dandruff all on my scalp, but blue paint.  I could sort of peel it off in strips, but I really needed to shower to get rid of it all.  So I went [home, which was sort of like a trailer park or refugee camp].  There were these little boys – maybe 8-11 years old – who were coming in to the house.  The locks didn’t really function, the doors were that hollow plywood/particleboard and they didn’t really even latch.  But I was desperate to keep these kids out of our house.  It was so stressful.  Trying to hold the door closed only to have one open up a door I thought I had shut firmly.  They were clearly accustomed to making themselves at home and weren’t about to stop.  I did finally get back to the bathroom and that door, at least, kept them out.  I drew a bath and washed my hair, hoping I was getting all the paint off.

Then somehow I ended up with a few people in a gym somewhere.  We were at a card table about to play some game of cards I was not familiar with.  Some of the cards had been bent or folded in the corners for reasons unknown.  The dealer was to my right, and I got the impression he was about to explain how the game was played.  I wasn’t sure why we were there because I really needed to get back to the airport.  A couple cops showed up and I guess we were doing something illegal because they seemed to be looking for us.  All I could think was that I hadn’t done anything [that I knew of] and I just really needed to get going.  I had probably missed my flight but it was only a 4-5 hour drive and I had to get there [to see dad and his girlfriend].

At some point there was a news article online about my dad having been gunned down outside his home.  My dad had been murdered.  It was like something out of Fargo, I could see the house or barn, the flannel red & black, the snow light under the awning.  I did some more searching online just to get a second opinion.  My dad…. murdered.  I started to cry, and that’s when I woke up.

It was a little after 9.  I got up and pulled my yoga pants out of the dryer.  I put the kettle on.  I really don’t feel like going to yoga this morning.  I feel like crumpling into a little ball back in bed.  There are some very clear interpretable images in this dream.  I am determined to pick it apart and use it to help me feel better.  If I’m not going to yoga, I will at least help myself understand where the stress, pain and grief of this dream is coming from.  My tea is steeping.

It is absolutely beautiful outside today.  Mild, even a little cool this morning.  Sunshine and breeze streaming through my open windows.

On to the dream.

The anxiety, feeling rushed, is almost certainly a reflection of the anxiety I have been feeling the last few weeks and in anticipation of the next few weeks.  I just want to take things one event at a time, and find myself having to plan for several all coming back-to-back.  In the dream, I just wanted to close out the world so I could take a shower, have a moment of peace.  I’m not sure what the little boys represented.  They were mischievous, but either didn’t know or didn’t care that they were doing wrong in insisting in entering someone else’s space.  But my home, the structure that is supposed to keep out all but the invited, was not solidly built.  The doors didn’t even latch properly.  This suggests that the house must represent myself.  I am trying to keep something[s] out, I feel they don’t belong here.  Not when I have so many other things I need to do.

If I had caught my flight and made it to Ohio, would I have seen dad before he died?  Would I have been killed too?  Or would we have gone somewhere and have missed the killer[s] entirely.  I don’t know.  Maybe the plane would have crashed.  The point is that in the midst of my frantically rushing and yet not actually attempting to get to the place I was supposedly frantically trying to get to (attending the card game instead), the entire purpose of my frantic rushing was lost.  What this suggests to me is that I need to remember to breathe.  To take what is in front of me and not panic about the rest.  With everything going on in the atheist group, I’m finding it more and more difficult to do that.  I have a rash on my chin that mom suggested was probably brought on by stress.  And she’s probably right.  In trying to accommodate all these “obligations” (as I see them) I am running myself down, not giving myself the care, nurture and attention I need.  I am becoming depressed, my sink full of dishes, clean laundry piled on the chair in the living room for probably a month now.  I feel out-of-control and so am asserting control over one of the few things I can: my household.  By neglecting it.

Poor, dear m E.  I want to brush my teeth, change out of this shirt that smells like mildew, take my drugs and maybe fold some laundry.  So I think I will.  After breathing for a few.