Increased Stimulation

So, why did I repost a post from Ted.com? (See below.)

Because my goal for this week is to “increase my mental stimulation while at work.” I worked this out with my therapist today. Because my job is BORING. It is Boring interrupted with moments of intense and stressed bouts of work. My work is doing the same thing time again. These traits don’t work for me at work.

Or in any part of my life really.

I had a friend once who worked for a pharmaceutical company that kept being bought and merged with bigger pharmaceutical companies around the world. She went through at least 3 merges. She kept getting promoted each time. She got salary increases each time. Not bad, right? Except that she had nothing to do at work! With each new position her work never increased. At the time I was envious because she was making ALOT of money doing nothing. She hated it. She wanted to have work, purpose, and not just sit around.

That situation probably doesn’t happen very often. It’s never really happened to me. But right now, I get paid okay good and only have about 3 days of real work a month. I shouldn’t complain – really, I need to be grateful that I even have a job because I’ve had a lot of unemployment time since 2009.

Let me now preface the rest of this post with the following statement – I am not special or important or smarter than anyone else.

But I am ADHD and an introvert according to Myers-Briggs. And therefore, when I’m bored, which is frequently and quickly, I’m in danger of becoming really, really depressed.

So my assignment for this week was to explore ways I can “increase brain stimulation instead allowing my boredom to settle in.” This does not include playing Mahjongg. Bummer.

So I went to Ted.com and saw this post and it’s really something I need to learn – how to set a realistic goal and how to stick to it.

The H in the ADHD stands for Hyperactivity. Which translates for the Adult ADHD person into anxiety. I have a big job of wrestling with this anxiety everyday. Especially the part of the anxiety that makes anything hard to follow through on. So, that’s another assignment I’ve been given – to “practice following through.”

Ugh. Sometimes it feels like this “co-morbidity” is impossible to tackle. Hence, the therapeutic assignments.

In theory, I understand that anything overwhelming can be tackled if divided into smaller tasks (or goals).

But in action? I have trouble planning what to eat for dinner!

Like with math word problems or math period, a very thick and frustrating fog swirls up in my brain, like a sudden sand storm. I can feel it happening physically. I’m sure only another ADD/ADHD person will believe me on that one.

The good thing about this increase stimulation assignment is that in doing it, I am excited into writing something. Like this. And I can use this blog to share my frustration and “finds” with other frustrated people. Or just people period.

Anyway, I’ve got to get back to Ted.com, and I hope you will check out this amazing website as well.

The science of setting goals

ideas.ted.com

How to make New Year’s resolutions that actually work out this time.

It’s the time of year when optimism strikes anew and we think to ourselves: our New Year’s resolutions will totally work out this time. Never mind that we abandoned them by Valentine’s Day last year. And the year before. And, well, you know the drill.

But what if this year really could be different?

There’s a science to setting goals. The problem is that it often stays in the ivory tower or gets muddled with misinformation. We called up Kelly McGonigal (TED Talk: How to make stress your friend), a psychologist at Stanford University, and asked her about the best way to set and accomplish a goal, scientifically speaking. Below, she shares four research-backed tips to help you craft and carry out successful goals.

Choose a goal that matters, not just an easy win.

Our brains are wired to love rewards, so…

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The Spiritual Synergy of Women

A group of women can come together as sister-warriors forming an immense and bonding force; or, they can swarm and fatally sting at each other, as would a beehive inhabited only with queens fighting for a single thrown.

We are perceived as the latter in the world culture and rarely are free and often discouraged in our journeys to discover and utilize the former.

I was blessed to share this past weekend with a group of my sister-warriors. I almost missed it.

I desperately need female-friends-companions. And, I desperately fear this type of intimacy with women. I have the same relationship with my Higher Power. I’m attempting to grow in both relationship areas.

And yet, I almost missed this particular opportunity in several ways – I let work infringe on my vacation time, I rushed around before leaving trying to prepare and preparing much too much, I got there 3 hours after the weekend began. And, I was tempted throughout the weekend to leave early – the night before, the morning of, when my pain got too intense, and so on. I missed this gathering last year for the exact same reasons. This year, I got a do-over.

I want to share only my experience this past weekend; especially those obstacles I was enabled to overcome through the synergy of  these spiritual women.

Each year this weekend has a new group of women attending – whether they are repeat participants or first-timers. I have participated (loose use of that word here) three times in the past 12 years.

I believe this year was the most powerful and welcoming force for me personally, and allowed me the strength and courage to work through some of my fears and resistance.

Was that because of who showed up this year? Yes!  And, because of the chance of synergy and the power of serendipity, too!

And, also because I showed up this year. The first time I participated, I superficially showed up – because that is as far as I was able to go. I did the activities as instructed but I was in too much fear and anger to actually be there. The second time, I was there a bit more. But not completely.

This time, I feel I was able to be present close to 98% of the time. (I think that 2% of the time my mind went off to its “own private Idaho.” That’s pretty good for a sober woman with OCD and ADHD and any other letters I might combine to spell out ESCAPE! or RUNAWAY!)

I need to acknowledge my parents before I continue. My parents are dead and gone. I am now cut free of the twisted ties I had with both. Yet, I am the person who re-ties or re-binds myself to my parents and their fears, angers, emotional needs, fears, and disappointments. Very early on, I took on the job of making sick people feel better. My recovery consists mostly of learning that I can be free of them; I don’t have to keep reacting to ghosts.

I’m not completely free…. not yet.

So, the fear and hurt and anger I felt at times throughout my warrior-ess weekend were manifested in the mirror these spiritual women held up and reflected back to me so that I might see myself more clearly.

I could see the fear that I would be hurt or even more terrifying to me – that I might hurt others, the fear that my mistakes made me a mistake and bad, the fear that I was not truly wanted or needed, that I wasn’t the person I was supposed to be. I saw the underneath-anger at being denied myself to myself, the compressed-anger from not being heard or seen, the panic-anger from being invisible.

I recognized my own hurt that lies beneath both of these stronger, more powerful feelings. Everything I saw in these other women was my own. Including the courage to change and the aspiration for a spiritual life.

I saw in the woman who said something cruel, my own withdrawal and fear of connection. The sadness and confusion one woman carried for a lost child was my own grief for my own lost child and lost family. The grief and anger of the woman struggling through separation from her husband, I also felt when my marriage failed.

I am also the woman who was sexually molested and the woman who was beaten. I know and have had these experiences – not exactly in the same way, but the emotional damage very nearly the same.

So, I have to embrace the realization that the woman who is so spiritual, so wise, so compassionate is also me.

One kind and beautiful woman told me that the heart I see now as a broken-down shack abandoned in the deep cavern of my chest, she sees as a heart as big as a house.

When I got home, I focused on the woman who said something cruel and I felt mad. I felt like I could understand but I did not like  this woman anymore. And I decided that I would have to talk to my sponsor about this.

Luckily, I continued to process this experience and came to the understanding that that is who this woman is today – just as I had been and could be a person who said cruel and mean things. My attitude evolved into compassion for her on her journey and a prayer for her to find more love and compassion for herself.

I felt more at peace with myself then.

This practice of evolving my emotional awareness is what I have learned from these women and their own spiritual practices. They have taught me to come to a place of compassion for them – and, mirror it for myself.

They brought me to the understanding that fear is the problem and love is always the solution.

The freely given sharing and encouragement of these women helped me believe that I can once and for always let go of the binding ties that trip me up and hold me distant from others.

I don’t know if I’ll go back to this gathering next year, but I believe now that I can go forward more freely in my life.

Expressionist

What am I? I’ve been writing this blog in an ongoing effort to figure that out.

Actually, I’ve been blogging not to find out that I am a writer, an actor, or any other type of person. I’ve been trying to find that “true self,” the person who lies even further beneath a descriptive life’s work-related label.

I came up with “I am an expressionist.” I must express the inner workings, thoughts, ideas, gifts within me, and I must express my unique take on the world around me. (That does not obligate anyone else to receive my expression.)

(Damn it.)

Okay. It’s a start but still not what I am looking for.

I am starting or perhaps re-starting a practice of prayer and meditation this morning. I lit a candle (someone else’s practice) and read from my daily reader of choice. The reading today challenges me to “face the person I fear the most”. It states that this person is my “true self”. The person I fear the most is my true self. From there the reading goes on to explain that my true self is “the person God intended me to be.”

I fear the person that God intended me to be.

That really sucks.

I grew up in an environment of extreme invalidation. Got that from the DSM-IV.  And it’s true. But why am I trapped in mouse-wheel where others may process through to find validation? Oh, yeah, that other trait I share with my fellows – self-centeredness in the extreme. Seals the cage.

Okay, I know the problem. The power of God and the willingness to ask Him for his Will, Guidance, and Grace is the solution.

And, yet, here’s another obstacle – who the heck is my true self? Or rather, what is at the core of me that scares my life out and away from me? Because that is what my fear of true self has done, frozen me in a state whereby I avoid my life.

This is frustrating as hell!

Okay. I sense that I may be complicating a simple idea. For one, the idea of “self,” looking the word up, checking the thesaurus, ah, true nature, character, identity, and person.

(It’s what writers tend to do…“look up” words. I guess that is what an Expressionist does too – try to find the right word or understand the meaning of the word. Or, hell, it’s what anyone with a dictionary/thesaurus nearby does.)

See, now, I take away the use of “self” and I replace it with “nature” and suddenly my mind can wrap around this idea. True nature. What is my true nature that I should fear it so much?

(Not that “self” is the wrong word it just makes it all so, what, Freudian? Which makes it scary and mysterious, mystically un-understandable. Sorry – it’s a habit – making up a story or drama out of a personal conundrum.)

(Ah! Part of my true nature – drama queen?)

I am grateful and blessed to have a friend named Leah in my life. She is awesome in all ways and she is married to a man I love and respect, which is saying a lot. They are both very spiritual and seek within themselves to find answers on a daily basis. I used to wish I could be just like them. To some degree I am, but to the degree that I’m not, it’s okay with me right now.

Anyway, Leah will tell you that her true nature is that she is a perfect child of God. That she was born that way. Then all that junk that gets piled onto us depending on who birthed us, and the people we lived with until we can live without them creates this illusion of who we are. And, we grow up believing in that illusion. Until, if we are lucky enough, we learn how to dig our way back to our true nature.

Or maybe the best we can do is shove it away for a while, or each time we realize we are under it again and need to push.  Because what you get from birth to age (about) 5 really sticks in that part of your brain that is so unforgiving and unfortunately not located in the part that could be lobotomized.

In other words, you’re stuck with that illusion.

That really sucks.

Is there a conclusion here? Not today I am afraid. So, I have to look within at this true nature and discover why I fear it so much that I bend and warp myself to avoid it. I’m going to have to explore that beyond this particular expression of my thoughts.

This puzzle of fearing my true self (or my preferred choice of words – true nature) makes me wonder if Shakespeare knew all of this long before Freud or me or anyone else who could write down their thoughts did.

To thine own self be true.

He also said it beautifully and in fewer words.

(When I’m tired and need to respond to a friend’s email, I write a few words and end with “more later” before hitting send – so they know I got their message but I can’t fully respond yet.)

More later.

PS: I have to post a longer version of the above quote (because I love it):

This above all: to thine own self be true,

And it must follow, as the night the day,

Thou canst not then be false to any man.

Hamlet Act 1, scene 3, 78–82

Returned not Found

Where have I been??

Not here writing Betsy’s Blog that is for sure.

So, I’m breaking my silence finally after 2 years! It’s 2013. How’d that happen?

Ok so what have I been doing, you might ask, in the last 2 years? Or maybe you don’t care. That’s fine, too.

But just encase you are a bit interested…the biggest thing I am proud of is the fact that I participated in and completed a whole novel last November during National Novel Writing Month. Wrote just over 50K words.

I didn’t think I could do it and probably never would have attempted it but for my friend Von who just days before November 2012 told me she’d entered. Whatever Von does, I want to do? Maybe…but I hadn’t written much of anything up until then beyond extremely long emails full of fancy.

It was my attempt to restart my writing engines. And, it felt really good to meet the word goal by the deadline.

Needless to say NNWM does not require one to polish a novel in 30 days – only finish a very very rough first draft of at LEAST 50K words.

Truthfully, I didn’t think I had it in me to do. And, once again I was wrong.

Now, what I need for continuing work on this novel is something like, National Novel Revisions Month!

What do you want?

I’m taking a workshop with Connie Domino called “The Law of Attraction.” LOA is a concept that started spreading about 5 or 6 years ago with the publication of “The Secret.” So, it’s not new but Connie has a delightful personality and sense of humor; and, quite frankly, her attendees manifest like mad! Even I have experienced manifestations when I took her “The Law of Forgiveness” workshop. (I’m of the mind, “sure, it will work for you! But why would it work for me?” Have I mentioned that I’m mental?) Connie found the forgiveness piece of this work to be essential for her students’ manifestations.

With the LOA workshop, we are asked to come up with three priority goals for our lives. And, then challenged to dig out the blocks we have created to our goals up until this point. How does Connie know we have created blocks? Because we haven’t obtained our stated goals so far or, rather, we have, up until now, been frustrated in reaching them.

So, this morning, I’m sitting down to do the work (tonight is the last meeting of this LOA series, OF COURSE), and I am just jotting things down that come to mind. I realize that I can’t remember having any goals as a kid. I mean my own, specific, and only related to me, kind of goals. I have discovered and accepted that my goal of having kids, getting married, and living in suburbia, come from my parents who were born in the 1920s. (As does my own personal repulsion of these very same beliefs do.) And from other sources of input such as my favorite television shows, sitcoms, and Hollywood movies.  Oh, and from reading Cosmopolitan magazine as a teenager in the 70s. (Well, if I could, I would undo that last one!)

As I dig deeper, I see that that is not 100% true for me, though.

My childhood buddy Cathy and I used to come up with ideas for changing our names – I am sorry Cathy I can’t remember yours. Myself as “Toni Pepperoni” (Have I mentioned my eating disorder?), was either a movie star or a Veterinarian. Cathy and I rescued a lot of cats and dogs back then and we are both still dedicated to rescuing or caring for strays today, in our different ways. Later on, as I thought about Toni’s profession, I reasoned that it was too painful for me to see hurt animals all the time. (Have I mentioned my self-centered fears, lately?)

Early in my life my family lived in Ohio, during kindergarten years, I had the “goal” of playing Baby Bear when our teacher decided to mount “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” in class for a couple of days. The “actors” got to pick the next “actor” to play their part for the next show. I should probably be ashamed to admit that I bribed a classmate to pick me as the next Baby Bear by offering her a place in the water line ahead of me.  Of course the deal was sealed, I had a greed and she had a need. That night I can remember telling my mother that I wanted my own curly locks in pigtails for the part and that when Baby Bear was supposed to cry (often), I would laugh instead. I guess it made sense in my head. So, that is what I did and what of course happened is – that every time I laughed instead of crying – a whole classroom of 4-year-olds laughed along with me. Ah! I get it now – one of my first episodes of attention-seeking behavior!

In secret for most of my life I longed to be a movie star. Especially after seeing “The Sting” which looked like a hellava good time and introduced me to my next obsession – Robert Redford.

As a college student and amateur actor, I was frustrated with trying to get AT the craft of acting – how do you do it? How do you create a believable character in a believable situation? I took all the theatre classes offered at my college – but there was no Fine Arts program and most of the classes were technical theater courses. In my one acting class, the teacher gave us the history of performance in a one-two punch:  first there was Thebes and next came Stanislavsky and not much of anything happened in between.  Being astute, I recognized a big gap when I heard one!

So, I began to dig for the information. I dug and found the Neighborhood Playhouse School of Acting in NYC – headed by Sanford Meisner.  At the time, the only reason I needed to look to the Playhouse and Meisner was that Joanne Woodward had attended the school.  And, man, she knew how to ACT! That was the only recommendation I needed.

That was a long time ago for me. And I’m not sure that it would be the goal I’d pick for my LOA workshop tonight. I’m still mulling whether or not it will make the list and in what form.  Should I even want to be an “actor” anymore? Because everything I did and didn’t do in my life lead me to getting sober when I got sober. That – although it looked like no goal or life or wish I ever had – was the best thing that ever happened to me. My motives have changed as has my life’s direction (Thank God). And gosh darn it! I’m 50 – an awkward age for any actor, especially a female one.

Ok, so what do I want? What goals do I put down on the paper? Things I know about myself so far – I want the next 50-65 years of my life to be happy, healthy, full of people to care about and for, and have I mentioned, LONG? I want to keep building a healthy body, mind, and spirit. Those two wants must, for me, be based in my continuing contact and relationship with a Higher Power whom I chose to call God. (Sorry, I’m just used to saying it this way.) It would be nice to find a life partner. I want to go see Alan Rickman on Broadway this fall – so that requires some kind of financial abundance.  I want to publish some of my writing and finish my children’s novel.

And that is, most likely, just the start of it.

Dead-heading the flowers

so that more energy will go into the new flowers…that’s what I spend my early mornings doing when I can. I take a cup of coffee with me (has to have real half-n-half in it!) and the cats are out following me, sniffing the flowers, rubbing their chins on the my lone and dying cactus plant.

I usually get up early and go to a meeting. But lately, I have indulged in my love of slowing waking up.

The first I do when I get up, is feed the cats – no, pamper and pet them or play with them. I need to pray but sometimes I forget until after the girls are taken care of. What does that say about me?? I think we all know. So I feed them. They sit as I put their collars with name tags and my cell number on them. And then they go out onto my deck. My older cat goes slowly out the door, aggravating the younger one, who would just jump out into the new world. Because when I watch them, it seems like it is new every day to them.

I have a wind chime a friend gave me that has a glass ball in the middle that rotates colors when it’s evening until the wee, dark hours in the morning. It’s solar power (along with a rechargeable battery). When I discovered that the ball was still rotating colors in the darkness of morning, I got a cuppa and sat out on the deck to meditate on the changing colors. It doesn’t hold my interest long enough to meditate so I usually end up going down the steps to the grass and the little 6×6 raised garden I put in after my first work layoff.

I watch the cats sniff their new world and wait for a little bit of light to dead-head my flowers by. It’s a necessary pruning in the cycle of natural life.

And, that makes me think about my own “pruning” process. Some of which, was very painful. Some of it full of an awakening awe and acceptance of my truth. All of it a necessary path I must travel – but not alone unless I choose to be alone.

And I have chosen to be alone more often than not. But that comfortable habit is going to have to go under the pruning knife as well. Because I have spent too much of my time and mind looking back over my decisions – were they right? if they were, how come I’m still alone? – as if this would enhance my current day or life.

How come? Because I chose it, that’s how come. Why come? Because I was graced with God’s Will and healing. No doubt about that.

Now, what do I do from here? As I discover that, I’ll get back to you.