Tuesday, June 23, 2009


If you follow my blog regularly, I wanted to let you know that I am expanding it and moved it to another site:

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Yes, IF

In October, I will be moving overseas to serve as a psychologist in a pediatrics department in a large hospital. The move has really invigorated me, allowing me to let go of my anxieties regarding "the direction my life is heading" and "what do or where do you want to go?" Reflective in nature, my brain often suffocates in over pontification, the victim of too many choices and vast land of possibilities saturate it. So, I've let go a bit. Stretching more into my life, having energy to partake in activities I've hankered for in the past and bringing them to fruition. Joined a hiking group, been talking to this charming guy at yoga (The inflexible girl CAN bend!) strolled around farmer's markets tasting Bacon Ice Cream, going on dinner cruises. Perhaps it is the summer, the long light warming my spirit awake to notice how trees stand like Titans and the small sparrows chirp in contstant hunger. Or maybe it's because I know that my time here is limited...and I trusting that "carpe diem" will fulfill me. And yet, single people do move more...this constant state of moving may give others hesitation "I don't want to start that (relationship/project/class) because I won't be here in three months."
In many ways, I am the opposite, plunging myself headfirst into the small community around me. I threw a sock and salad swap last week at work, arranging guests to bring a pair of socks and salads to "share." We're doing appetizers and accessories next. I want to engage, I want to continue building friendships...and others seem to say to me "but you're leaving soon..."After my late twenties, I recognized that the working individual is faced with a tough challenge of building relationships, especially if most of your colleagues are married with children. The friends of mine who are married with children that I share an intimate relationship with are those friends where we solidified our bond prior to them becoming married/with child. "Would you start a relationship right now?"Of course I would...My mantra right now is to BE OPEN. If I start living "no, because" (no, I can't go out with him because he has facial hair) instead of YES, IF (yes, I will take that class if it ends by 8pm tonight), my life would be less authentic, and a perception of DEFICIT would persist. Don't use a stage of your life as a excuse. In the end, you'll end up starved.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Stronger than you know

You are stronger than you know...

The words dripped out of my fat, beloved pink Sharpie and stained a yellow office post it. For some reason, many times through out the day, the drudgery of life nabs my attention. I am impatient, anxious, addicted, weak. And this tendency to parent myself with criticism ("don't buy that, use your manners, stand up tall and make a good impression!") is often inauthentic and inaccurate.

Because I am strong, bad ass chicka!

The post stands and am taping it here...Leave a comment, naming three things you have done this year in 2009 that required strength...

Here are mine

1) Gave up my treadmill when it was clear that I was running due to compulsion and not for my health

2) Waited for a job in ambiguity, and then accepted one overseas beginning in THREE months

3) I signed up for backpacking trip by myself

This is part of Operation Beautiful. I am committing to putting up THREE sticky notes in the hospital today in random places. They will say



WHO you are matters more than WHAT you are

What three things have you done or are than make you strong?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Taking LONGER than Expected

Task #70: Complete a Puzzle
“30 Year Old Women don’t sit around working on puzzles,” the first few words were stressed, with a slight upturned “not when they should be out there trying to find a husband.” While her statement could be verified in a certain light, I also didn’t see a lot of puzzle passion sweeping across any US demographic, save for the slobbered, bulky shaped puzzles that are gifted to Einstein toddlers. People just don’t have the inclination to clear offexpansive flat areas in their homes for such a feat. They don’t seek out opportunities to dismantle tiny pieces in order to merely put them back together again. Adult life has enough of such serious, oftenfrustrating, business. But the times when I do get swept up in popular hobbies, don’t always deliver on their promises. In fact, they often ended in disaster, despite their reputation (one word: perms…the fear should be revered).
I am not a patient person. I do not tend to notice details. I do not like stopping at GO to collect my prize. But I had never put together a puzzle before, and this appeared to beas good a time as any to resolve such a horrific hobby deprivation. Not puzzle making was akin to being robbed of the throng of a plastictube circling around one’s pliant middle or the exhilaration ofjumping through orbiting strings while one skipped musically.
There was no planning beyond the goal: complete a puzzle. The 1000 piece pattern did not overstimulate. I didn’t cherish the pattern. It merely was “there,” but not in a distracting sort of way. I purchased it figuring completion would take a long weekend. That bubble burst when I ferreted out the border pieces that first Saturday morning (3 months ago!), expiring hours as the pieces grew and the simmering border proliferated larger and larger, demanding more and more surfacearea. Who knew tiny pieces would mass together to occupy such significant space?My method was haphazard—rooting through the box first for edge piecesand then sorting them into somewhat similar colors. Frequent distractions (such as, “I think I saw that piece over there’) impaired my intuition to establish some kind of technique. I often shoved pieces together in desperate attempt for connection in those earlystages because just turning pieces over didn’t satisfy enough. Aftermore than a days work, the enormity of the task dandruffed plans for a quick completion.
The process of puzzle making demands release of a checklist mentality. Moments of satisfaction glowed when an expected connection occurred,when my fingers upturned a piece randomly and its unintentional orientation triggered instant adherence. Futile efforts wasted time by my narrow focus, my forced precision often impairing progress. Whenthose little cardboard units audibly clicked, my right forearm wouldshoot up in celebration. Who knew making connections warranted such physical recognition? Within this process, I uncovered unknown reservoirs of faith. Not just with being okay with not feeling like I was making progress, but trusting the effort as valuable nonetheless. The puzzle underlines the ageless wisdom that the journey IS the destination. And the chaos of the unexpected way refines direction. In an age where out sugar-rush hobbies promise immediate gratification, in a time where we are all in a hurry to produce something of tangible worth, this 30 year old single woman found asimple pastime that feed more than a desire to be entertained. In puzzlemaking, connection is the key. It nourishes engagement---literally. And isn’t that what husband-seeking is all about?
I think I sense a new fad coming on here…

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Discovering Love

Two or three times in my life I discovered love
Each time it seemed to solve everything
Each time it solved a great many things
but not everything
Yet left me grateful as if it had indeed, and thoroughly, solved everything
Mary Oliver

I am discovering love.

I recently embarked on a new kick (those who know me, understand that I become intensely passionate about certain things for a season)...right now, I wake each morning to a new poem, setting my intentions for the day. These words greeted me, and immediately, my vision bombarded me with images.

There's my friend, a mother of a curious, precocious 14 month old, who had to cancel dinner theater plans last night due to his cold and her steadfast vision of duty and care. There's the yoga teacher who touches my forehead and blesses me after morning class on friday, the only real touch I encounter in a week. There's the card from my aunt, recognizing a small victory, arriving late but at the moment of exacting insecurity. There's the blogger I know just beginning to recover from a relapse, slowly nourished by words or the gestures of those who know her and those that do not. There's the biting reprimand of a loved one leaving my stomach irritable in validation of its truth.

These moments appear in a flash, solving everything...mirroring the moment mom scooped me up in her arms after falling on my bike (again) and her embrace masking my failure and her kisses healing my shame. And then, gossamer and fragile, their irradescence evaporates, and the gap between me and mother is not solely geographic.

I am discovering love...more the love of this tension, this mystery, this me.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Getting out of Debt!

Task #21: Pay Off one of my student loans:

I paid off my private loan from my Harvard master’s! How awesome is that? For all of us overeducated ladies out there, who pride ourselves on our formal learning accomplishments, this goal signifies a validation of some sort...that I am a woman that honors my debts. Month after month of putting away extra chunks here, of cutting back on cable there, of not going out to eat or analyzing whether a movie was worth $10, I am now out of the high interest rate loan I had to take in order to enroll in the program.

. I had full scholarships for my undergrad, and thus wasn’t upset about taking loans for the master’s…but the federal loans didn’t cover all of the costs. When I decided to go to Harvard, I was very distressed that my parents couldn’t help me financially…so, I took a personal education loan at a 8% interest rate…

Of all the loans I’ve taken to complete the PhD and other masters’, this loan is the most sentimental. The loan served as a token that I am supremely blessed to be born a woman at this time in history, in this country, to obtain multiple higher degrees and be trusted that I will “pay” it back both economically and socially. But since I did it on my own, it signifies that I am capable and quite competent, to find the resources necessary to meet my goals. And PAY them back WITH INTEREST.

I might not be able to meet all of my needs, all of the time…because there will always be wanting, the bitterness always tangible….

What I take, I give back….and I give back leaving more than I took….

Ah, what a life well lived.

Sunday, June 7, 2009


Sauntering. My perusing skills only unfurl themselves fully when traveling, or browsing through famer’s markets. A slowness envelopes me, as time dissipates and agendas humidify, I step into an awareness of that which pleases me.

This past weekend, I ramble happened to walk into a independent bookstore seller while on a day trip to some Oregon beachside towns. Imagine it…the romance of the pacific northwest coastline…ah….and then the reality is…the local mirrors the atmosphere of all the other beachside towns you’ve ever encountered. Only this one is new to you…you get to rediscover it.

And I figured out through browsing. That the destination today paled as murky as the cloudy overhead, and the experience of meeting people, mingled with exploring on my own….whipped together a recipe for “boy, I am digging life right now.”

I signed up for a group trip that provided transportation to the beach towns. Coccooned in the back of the 10 person van, my seat sharers and I buckled in at 6:30 on a Saturday expecting a 2 hour drive….unexpected detours 5 hours later, we emerged philosophically satiated…discussing politics, leadership theory, resilience and value development.

And then, I panted for solo exploration. I embarked my own pace, set my the pulsations of my irregular curiosity of my own pace. I spent 53 seconds in a leather clothing store where a lady chirped “all natural leather, everything TWENTY dollars” three times before hightailing it out of there. My mood stretched high to the heavens meeting a crew at an organic coffee shop resemebling a comedic chorus in a Greek play….giggling about Tai Chi Karoke and different acidity…I snapped a memory, and they returned the favor as I slipped for a brief moment into the ecstasy of rich espresso, the first lick of caffeine after 5 hours taco-ed in a tour bus….heaven!

After reading the backs of 20 books in an independent bookstore, the owner and I collectively welled water filled eyes as we paid homage to our blessings…the gratitude of being female…a lover of words, capable and free to satiate our hungers…for travel, for words, for connection…any time we pleased…as so many women remain locked in oppression, barred from books, even. (Plus, purchasing a book recommended with such passion from the owner herself…the reading is forever woven with the image of sharing a spiritual sisterhood…my geek version of the blood tipped finger smearing ritual of 8 year olds)

And at the end of the day, balance crested…between the expense of strangers and seatmates that I shared myself with and the shalom of my independent mosey-ing. In both places…authentically allowing the promenade to lead…
Sauntering solo, yet engaged and tuned into others.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Hardwired for Singlehood?

“There has always been something wild about you, making you the perfect person for such an adventure, striking out to a new country on your own…you go, girl!”

I found this encouraging remark from a loved one uplifting, provided to me upon news that I will fulfill a position at a large hospital in Germany in October of this year. It’s true that I possess a precocious personality. Having my name announced on public paging systems does not startle me following years of disappearing in the mall as a youngster. You will rarely find me itching to try to return to restaurant or a travel, even if the experience tingled my soul. I define myself not by my surroundings, but by how much I can explore and grow.

A person pointed out to me that my ability and excitement to go work overseas is attributable to being single and not “tied down yet.” But the more I consider it, the more I think it is truly about my temperament, something built in and innate to my personality.

Don’t get me wrong…I am a gal that is currently longing for intimacy. It’s been a while since my last relationship, and I miss that feeling of belonging and connection. But I also know a “perfect union” is an illusion. Even if you are partnered up, sooner or later, you will feel lonely, misunderstood, and that you aren’t known.

I recognize that there is a beauty in making someone’s lunch and knowing exactly what will satisfy and I honor that pinching when that someone fails to comfort you when you are defeated.

Still, my personality evokes independence. Sure, I cared what my peers thought about me in high school, but I was more interested in achieving and my own goals than anything. Perhaps, I am hardwired to cope better with singleness than a person who finds her surroundings more fulfilling than goals. I point out specific attributes I appreciate in others, but I never was a jealous person who longed for more public displays of attention. I like to travel with others, but really need my reflection and assimilation time.

A beloved poem catches my longings to the core:
The Summer Day
Mary Oliver
Who made the world?Who made the swan, and the
black bear?Who made the grasshopper?This grasshopper, I mean-the one who has
flung herself out of the grass,the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,who is
moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-who is gazing around with
her enormous and complicated eyes.Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly
washes her face.Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.I don't know
exactly what a prayer is.I do know how to pay attention, how to fall downinto
the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,how to be idle and blessed, how to
stroll through the fields,which is what I have been doing all day.Tell me, what
else should I have done?Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?Tell me,
what is it you plan to dowith your one wild and precious life?
Am I single because I am independent? …..

Sunday, May 31, 2009


I think I am too future oriented...I've noticed lately that most of my female friends open the skins of their onion-y spirits layers upon layers of seasons...ever sensitive to seasons of change, always on the forefront of major tectonic shifts, the paper like fragility of risking what is in hopes of something more fulfilling, more authentic, more....more...more...."YOU/ME/WHAT IS MEANT TO BE...."

This bending orientation, this grasping, this striving...well, whew! It gets tiring doesn't it? These past few weeks, a recognition swept over me...I am very tired of trying to surpass myself. Of longing for more...

I accepted a stellar position overseas (going in early fall), and combined with a foot injury sweeping away my jogging therapy, I've been struggling with doing less.

Less at work...less exercise....less planning.....

Patience has never been MY virtue...and as I look around at many women, especially SINGLE women, I encounter the same mentality...

My life will be better when "we go that cruise" "when I can run again," "When I move to Germany..."

I still want more...but for now, I am saying the word "less" aloud many times a day...it is a meditation for simplicity...

Is less more?

What do you need to do less?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Growing Pains?

Milestones contain the potential for growth spurts. Harken an image of yourself at the gawky tweener…When rounding 13, affixed with metal teeth, adorned with neon color, all of the sudden, your interests altered dramatically. You began to not only become alert to the opposite sex, but to obsess about Johnny Depp (21 Jumpstreet) or Christian Slater (Pump up the Volume) with a veracity you couldn’t show the boys sitting next to you in class. You began to gulf bowls of chips and salsa or pans of moms brownies while playing Mario Brothers at night. Your legs might have ached, even, signaling a rapid development of height.

This period hallmarks as the “growing pains” era of one’s life.

In a nod to all of us celebrating milestones this year, I have begun to ponder how we’ve been gypped out of reverance for our own development after the teenage years. Growing old may be so feared in this culture that we forget how amazingly resilient, flexible, sensitive we are. In our teenage years, it’s like a switch is turned on where we intensely care about what others think, and that electricity fuels us so intensely thus forward that there is no juice left to pay homage to our own voice. We don’t want to celebrate ourselves, because that would draw the spotlight onto ourselves too directly

…and let’s face it, we’re taught to squirm under the lighting. Just think about trying on a series of swimsuits in those dressing rooms. Or having sex under flurescent lighting. Or examining your face in one of those magical mirrors where every crevice acts like a prima donna. We’re taught to shy away from the process of aging, and thus we don’t celebrate, our even acknowledge our growth.

I think because in doing so, we also have to acknowledge the pains felt in getting there.

I turned 30 over a month ago. I’ve treated the time as an official hallmark: motivating me to question my present habits, activities, qualities in a reflective manner to mobilize dedication to certain resolutions (akin to New Year, but with more intentionality because adopted by me and not by cultural fad). But I’ve also been admiring the pain of the past, and how my losses, my aches, my challenges signaled immense growth spurts. I’ve placed a little light on my life, and instead of shirking back in shame, attempting to hide all the flaws from you all and more importantly, myself, I’ve placed a beam on them.

Uncontrollable beasts, these growing pains prove. They bite back. They may keep you up a night, festering. But we tame them by celebrating them. The milestones matter.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Talking to Strangers

Task #20. Buy 20 dollars worth of flowers and give them away to complete strangers

I have been visiting my hometown this past week and seized the opportunity to hang out with my oldest friend and her new young daughter. I've known her more than 15 years, and when I am with her, am amazed at how we grow and change (she's got nursing "assets!") and how we stay the same (she still despises her hair). I love the fact that I am my most comfortable self around her, goofy, but sharp and witty, and not having to prove myself to her. Thus is the magic of a long, shared and seasoned history.

When she asked what I wanted to do, I came up with this task.

She was hesitant. "People will think we're weird."

"So what?" I explained it was about our intention, our energy, not their responses.

So I bought $20 of Gerby Daisys and purpley blooms and arranged them into 6 different bouquets with lables like "Wishing you Laughter," "May you feel hopeful," and we walked up and down a local outdoor shopping area trying to find people to leave them with.

Some blustered in guardedness (a new mom in a stroller), others in shyness (a pimply faced 16 year old boy selling hot dogs) and some in delight ("A co-worker walked out this morning, are you serious?").

The point remains: people can be surprisely closed off to receiving love, to the opportunity to be touched. And yet, a tiny bit of persistence chips away at that wall, and pushes beyond our comfort zone, to confirm "we matter to each other."

Perhaps the boy tossed those blazing pink sunbeams. But maybe he didn't. Maybe this morning he is waking up to them, feeling a little bit more pleased with himself.

I certainly am!

Do you talk to strangers? I usually don't...but my friend's presence alivens me to be that outgoing version of myself.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Neediness: What am I doing Wrong?

This week a person commented
But if she’s single, and she really wants to be in a relationship, isn’t she doing something wrong?

What do you think? Are people who are single and desire partnership doing something wrong?

I assert the philosophy that people need people. We need to feel as if we belong, and that we matter. I don’t necessarily desire marriage right now, but I do need connection, intimacy, being known and knowing others, contribution.

I have come to recognize that I am uncomfortable with needing. I not only question my needs, but the presence of them in my life instigates a perception of weakness. The question above underscores this mentality. If I need something, or someone, then I must lack it, and the lacking must be “my fault”…I must have done something wrong.

Whoa! Wait a minute…is that always valid?

In our culture, this mentality triumphs. If you need carbs, you must have a sugar addiction. If you need sleep, you must have a TV in your room robbing you or the Zzzs. If you need a hot bath, you must be overly stressed. We seem to think that is something is missing in our lives that we did something wrong.

I often don’t recognize my needs when they arise. I get a big satisfaction from denying my needs because I like to feel like I am intellectually above needing, and a sense of achievement is gained by denying them. When the need becomes louder, I’ll sometimes run to other things to distract myself from needing…I’ll start a new project at work, I’ll read your blogs, I’ll send a card to a friend…all positive activities on the surface, but underneath, sometimes, just sometimes, these tasks are ways to deprive my needs.

Just because you desire or need something doesn’t indicate automatic failure.

If you need a friend to call you back, it doesn’t automatically mean that you are clingy or needy, it doesn’t always signal that you dropped the ball, or that you lack good communication skills. Sometimes friends just don’t call back.

Sure, you’ve got qualities to modify. We all do. You can work on acceptance. You can work on your coping skills, your communication style, your hobbies.

But a need shouldn’t define or judge you…yes, sometimes we do exacerbate our needs….my point here is not all the time.

A need is a signpost for nourishment…a desire for what is essential…not a place of social or individual criticism.

Excuse me while I go take a nice hot bath.

---and while I am luxuriating, what do you think: Are people who are single and desire partnership doing something wrong? What need do you deny?

Friday, May 8, 2009

What you Expect VS What you Accept

It's friday morning, and there's bagels and doughnuts up for grabs in the break room. I insist on enjoying my coffee in a "real" ceramic mug, where the heat of the liquid seeps into the nerves of my hands, enhancing the electrical impact of caffeine induction. Thus, I am nuking the cup...when the attractive, 30 something divorced blonde walks into the room and peers down at the carb selection in front of her...
"I shouldn't eat this..." she begins, plucking a cinnamon raisin half bagel from it's cushy home, "it's so bad for me..." she finishes it with a little light cream cheese and takes a little nibble...then adds "this is why I am single."

I am so tired of hearing women say and make similar remarks, giving themselves and their audience the message that their food choices are "bad" and indicate a lack of self-control, and thus leads to something that might be detrimental.

Does she really expect that a bagel is responsible for her being single?

Men may offer side remarks at christmas parties to approaching being capable of substituting for Santa while downing some Eggnog, but there is an absence of recrimination in such follies.

I am so sick of these remarks that I've chosen to speak up when experiencing them. I said simply, "If that half bagel really satisfies you, then I think it's good for you to eat it."

As single people, as women perhaps, as a culture, there's this expectation to always be striving for self-improvement (often via self-denial and self-control) that we often miss the ways that we are already good enough as we already are. Efforts to enhance ourselves can sometimes negate the presence of fulfillment and joy and health. We want to continually surpass ourselves and do more because the effort may falsely promise fulfillment. When I 'get married' 'run the marathon' 'get a promotion' 'read the book club selection' 'start doing yoga' that's when life will begin.

Well, I've never had a guy who rejects a woman for eating a bagel, or even a Big Mac, on occassion. But I do know guys that leave women that convey "nothing is ever good enough for you, is it?" Maybe she should eat bagels more often...

Maybe she should lower her expectations...

and accept what is...rather than what is not.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

I gave up coffee for a week

Why in the world would you do

Because it’s on my list

You’re crazy.
After 36 hours of caffeine deprivation, I think I may have gone a little co-co-for-coco-puffs. My head blazed, my throat closed up, and my linear thinking relaxed to ovaline proportions. The muscles in my body, confused regarding time zone location, shifted into jet lag mode, and I panted like an overzealous yet underqualified hiker.

So why do it? Why was it on my list? Honestly, because of peer pressure. When examining experiences I wanted to do, a really close friend (a coffee guru from the south who actually used her electric coffee mug warmer at work and whose husband fixed a fresh pot at 3pm) informed me that she had completely switched to decaf. I sat in reverence to her as she explained how doing so awakened her to her body more, and she felt more peaceful. This is a friend that engenders admiration…and so it went on the list.

I recently gave up something else precious to me, and so I threw in the caffeine thing at the same time out of a warped inention to 1) challenge/punish myself in matry like fashion 2) have something more physical to distract my feelings of loss towards.

The results are pretty but the process was messy.

Ah such is life. Here’s the thing. The Rolling Stones had it right: You don’t know what you got till it’s gone. The love gurus were accurate: Absence makes the heart grow fonder…I would have given a few eggs (I hear mine are worth like 25K because of the Harvard degree people, were talking golden eggs here) on Day 2 around 2:30pm for a sip of Diet Coke. Garnering pity or confusion from people around me, so many people advised (but not pressured) me to stop my abstinence and start a tapering off program. Apparently, denying yourself needs a treatment plan. “Everything in moderation” one person patted me on the back.

Day 3, no headaches, Day 4, no restlessness in the AM, but still dragging in the PM…but days 5-7, I didn’t feel any difference….except that I couldn’t take the free Diet Cokes during a research presentation like everyone else.

There is more resilience in ourselves to accommodate than we recognize. And giving something up, not during a time where you feel pressured or obligated, but because you chose to do it for x amount of time, feels incredibly empowering…now that it is over….but during it, you recognize the impact it has on you and you have on it.
Give up something. Just for a week (I am not enforcing any plan for rationing following this) What’s your coffee? Do so as a statement about you…something you want to recognize in your life. It’s a good social statement also. I walked around pointing out: there’s caffeine in that, there’s caffeine in that. Give up plastic bottles for a week due to a love of the environment. Give up high fructose corn syrup to battle the big corn business. Give up mirrors for a week…

Think of all the things you might see.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Why are you Single?

I am a question asker by nature. Too curious...it often caused me trouble, from my 2nd grade teacher tattleing to mom that I mocking her when asking my peers questions to my sunday school teacher placing scotch tape over my mouth...I've always been intrigued by how a good question mark, enchanted at how raising inflection at the end of a sentence could perplex others.
Not to mention the best counter-move of all time, answering a question with a question.
So I asked people this week when I was asked: "why are you single?" with "why are you married/in a relationship..."
The responses definitely stimulated something....
I'm too picky (or it's variant: I have too high of standards)
I'm not into the dating scene
I haven't met the right one
I'm too busy to date
I need to work on myself first

Married/In a relationship
I wanted some one to do things with
I wanted to raise children with him
Some one had to clean up after me because my mom stopped doing it
He asked

When asked, single people tend to provide defensive responses that speak to a personal deficit of some sort...married people point out relational benefits.

So, why are you single? Why are you married/in a relationship? What do you get out of it? What does it cost you?

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Deficit of Trust

From where does trust evolve? Does it start as a sense of okayness that somehow expands through a series of trials and tribulations, arriving on the shores of security?

Our world is pregnant with danger, and it announces its possible advent multiple times through out each day. Trust, security, okayness, well, for me, these are my endangered species. They feel elusive and in hiding. The day is packed full with reminder of potential threats. Our access to more and more information inherently translates to more exposure of present malaise.

So I did an informal study today of the things I was told in my environment to DISTRUST…I excluded all the things I was told to fear (Sorry China, you didn’t make the cut due to this definition) or worry about (Sorry, Global Warming! You’re voted off the island as well)…so here was my list. These were pretty blatant messages, either on CNN, magazine covers, newspapers, conversations at the water fountain. Pretty normal sources.
1) the drinking water…it actually has some stuff in it that could cause your unborn children when you finally do get pregnant in 5 years to have problems with social communication
2) the cleanliness of anything in a school, including mouses, drinking foundations, pencil sharpeners…teachers have the germiest jobs.
3) Lab results, they are often done by untrained personnel that run the wrong tests on the wrong samples
4) Your mother’s advice on dating/fashion/food…all equally unsatisfying. Basically discount anything related to your mother. She’s not to be trusted (especially you ladies)
5) Your bank…yep, your retirement may be floating somewhere off in cyber space somewhere
6) Generic trash bags…they don’t work as well as the ones that cost 87 cents more
7) Your cravings for salt, sugar, carbohydrates, caffeine…your desires are the devil and will lead you to over-indulgence.
8) The person you are sleeping with, want to sleep with, aren’t sleeping with anymore…he/she most likely has a porn or gambling or shoe addiction
9) That you might secure a job that will allow you pay off your student loans
10) When someone gives you a compliment at work, because “she’s just trying to get on your good side so you’ll sign up to bring the soda on Friday” (ACTUAL OVERHEARD CONVERSATION!).

No WONDER I find myself constantly analyzing ALL decisions I make and my behavior!
The distrust and fear simple closes me off to truly experiencing life fully. And I am so longing to FEEL my WAY OPEN…But how?
How does trust evolve? Where can I find my way back to it in this world?

Friday, April 24, 2009

I Don't NEED you!

Back Off. I don’t need your help.

Which is the most pernicious lie of our culture and time. That we don’t need others. The unconscious philosophy that to really make it in this world, you need to achieve and your achievements are only worth their salt if traceable to ones sole efforts. Education experts will point out that often students negate good grades on group projects and elevate those in individual ones. Why? Because somewhere along the line the only things we get credit for are the ones we feel belong only to us.

Which is absurd, because all the things you’ve accomplished in this life, your success, has been dependent on others and many situations or experiences beyond your control I have more degrees than most people do, but that doesn’t necessarily reveal some independent quality in me such as intelligence, ambition, good planning skills, or endurance. People might assume that, but what they fail to recognize is that I was blessed with a 6th grade teacher who basically forced me to enter writing competitions. I happened to get a research fellowship when the previous peon went into rehab at Harvard and my Friday class was cancelled, thus aligning our schedules. I am successful because of many wonderful lucky breaks. Don’t get me wrong, those words do describe me well, but my success isn’t attributable to them.

Recent insight emerged that people are more lonely today than has been measured at any other time in human history. The article provided one explanation is that there are many more people living alone then ever before (we can afford to) and then points out that people are friend fishing on sites like Craigslist. They put up platonic ads like “come to the movies with me.” Why do you think that is?

I think in part we over-rely on ourselves to be “complete and fulfilled.” The single gal gags when hearing that line from Jerry McGuire…”You complete me!” Because that means I am not complete on my own. Shel Silverstein’s awesome book The Missing Piece conveys that message…that we don’t need others to be complete. To be perfect.

Well, pipe in all you married folks, but being partnered up doesn’t mean you feel complete or perfect at all. In fact, relationships only highlight your imperfections! Especially family relationships.

I think what I’ve come to realize is that others DO complete me. Which doesn’t mean that I am enough, I am sufficient, on my own. I like my me time…but I need you.

The current economic crisis, when people may be holding off on purchasing that new electronic gadget, or pursuing the library rather than buying a book at a mass bookstore, perhaps alleviates some of our dependency on being independent. Perhaps we’ll embrace our immediate community more and more. Perhaps Urban loneliness is a myth! What do you think?
But until then, some one’s got to eat these dips. Want to come over?

Monday, April 20, 2009

When it’s nice not to be “yourself”

Tasks Playing Dress Up (#85) & Drink Pink Champagne (#37)
I played dress up for the for the first time this week while drinking pink champagne. There were no formal costumes, and the bubbly really hued a deep merlot…but after you’re thirty, colors start bleeding and you’re already avoiding the lighting and cumbersomeness of dressing rooms.
The combination, like Fun Dip and Road Trips as a child, sent my inhibitions into a tizzy. My senses perked awake, and the burden of perpetuating my normal practical approach to my appearance evaporated.
I wasn’t myself.
No, I was Bubbly…hyper…ready to get somewhere…excited about what energy I might bring to the destination. I wanted to be seen. It wasn’t as if my choice on the outfit involved deliberate selection. What I was out to do was to generating a feeling of upending my typical calculation White wig, a shirt long enough to function as a dress, but short enough for people to wander (is that a dress or a?) some black knee boats, and a mood that floated. That sparkled. That did not doubt or question or leave room for other’s opinions to stamp it with approval.
Here’s the thing, when I put on that wig, the spunky, confident, I don’t-give-a-fig-what-you-think-cause-I-know-I-am-hot K emerged. The kind that doesn’t rely on being noticed in order to sense her inherent worthiness.

More on this theme later: the trap of getting noticed.

For now, I remember that wig, that champagne, as a fond celebration of all the Ks that have been---that critter who always forgot to pee before beginning the road trip---and is, the professional who smirks imaging that the wig might come in handy to facilitate other tasks on my list: ask a guy out on a date, make a toast in a bar, go skinny dipping…

And while we’re at it, a little champagne doesn’t hurt either.
Check out other 101 Task Insights…

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Don't Have a Cow, MAN!

The punch line: are women/married people/religious people more generous?

I had a goal in mind to celebrate my big 3-0.....getting 30 people in 30 days to toss in enough money to buy a cow, supporting Heifer International.The philosophy behind this organization is to bring sustenance and resources into a community, educate them and then require the recipient of the animal to give offspring to neighboors in need. While explaining my campaign to people, their faces lit up, conversations turned toward other acts of generosity, and all in all, people were surprisingly energetic in support.Many people I donot know well, and others I know intimately. Yet in each, positvitiy reigned. In this economy of restriction and a climate of depravity, 30 people contributed more than $650 for the effort...the price of a cow AND a goat. From $2 to more than $100, people pitched in. And honored me by praising the endeavor.It just goes to show how generous people can be, when placed in the right circumstance. Don't get me wrong, I don't think people spontaneously spout generosity. You don't often see many people seeking out opportunities to volunteer these days to...well in any area: organized clubs (like Habitat for Humanity) at work (to serve on a committee not attached to their job duties...like a recyling club) or in our nieghboorhoods (when is the last time you knocked on your neighboors door and volunteered to walk his dog?). Our lack of charitble giving has been griped about in other places, noting that we Americans only give a measly 2% away to charity and that our motivations are primarily for tax breaks..and that they tend to be organizations that benefit the giver directly.
This project underscores that our day to day interactions with one another can be infused with generosity. Sending a check to a charity is no longer the ultimate measure of generosity. Our generation is distrustful of big charities, and for good reasons. It is the word of mouth, one on one campaign, that inspires people to give. But you can't just expect people to knock on your door one day and ask if they can give you a hand. I think we need to cultivate giving in each other by discussing this issues more...and taking a risk by asking each other: can you support me?
Which doesn't mean you have to be 100% behind the cause. I am not 100% behind Thin Mints (not my cup of tea) but every year, I somehow end up with a few boxes of diabetic shockers from those badge-grabbing tweens.
Women are said to be more generous (donate twice as much, volunteer more) People of faith are more generous (Utah volunteers the most, and Americans who weekly attend a house of worship are 25 percentage points more likely to give than people who go to church rarely or never . ) Singles are said to donate and volunteer less. Those most likely to be in helping professions are married, Christian women.
But I think the way we measure generosity may be a bit out of date. If you dig deeper, however, the way single men may give is often unrecognized. I know a lot of guys willing to pick up the bill with friends, or drive me home from the airport.
But perhaps, as one colleague asserted, my interest in volunteering and charity is "an enigma for a single person...you are not normal."
How are you generous? What do you think?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

I am 30...hear me ROAR?

Time and Tide wait for no man, but time stand still for a woman of thirty.
Robert Frost.

This past week, I turned “The BIG 3-0” (quotations added from multiple friends for added emphasis.”
“This is a significant birthday.”
I heard this over and over, and a few days leading up to the big event, I was placing a lot of pressure on how I wanted to memorialize such a crossing,
It begs the question…
From where am I leaving? And to where am I heading?
Looking back on it, the way I and everyone was acting, it was as if I was graduating from brownies, crossing that fake bridge into the land of tampax, where the main commodity involves transactions of Thin Mints and its crack badges.
Why do we put so much pressure on silly NUMBERS? Think about it...the scale, the jeans size, the shoe label, the grams of fiber, the MPG, the third date, the calorie counts. In the end, numbers are only significant when we give them meaning: healthy, slutty, fat, average.
By the time the morning of, a peace settled over me. I rose with anxiety, not knowing what I should do with myself, when I arrived at the conclusion: Whatever the Hell I felt like. I walked to the best coffee shack (4 blocks conveniently) in my sweats and ordered the most sinful cup of coffee in T-Town’s existence. And I sat, and celebrated, and intentionally decided that I would not force anything that day, and honor myself by listening to what I wanted. The bowing to autopilot shoulds had been temporarily shut down for re-servicing.
And since then, I have been trying very hard to a) figure out what I desire and b) find a way to honor it (which doesn’t mean immediate gratification...just recognition).

I hope I am leaving the roaring 20s behind and entering into the depressed 30s…um, wait a second, that’s not quite what I have in mind. I didn’t want to head further into a recession of confidence, but that’s what happened. A few days following my 30 transformation, I tripped back over that bridge, as if the novelty of a new dye job wore off. Today, really wanting a luxurious meal, I opted out of it for something safer…more balanced and healthy and less licentious. I hate my hesitancy. This self-doubt. I ordered a gussied-up oatmeal instead of the steaks and eggs and regretted my cowardness for the full 40 minutes of the meal. Even my date, who was born in the roaring 20s, didn’t behave with such trepidation.
I was definitely treating my desires as if living in the 30s, the 1930s that is, and such smallness would not do.
So! The 30 year old K walked into the nearby gourmet market and bought herself a bottle of pink champagne (task! #37 will be completed this week) and gourmet pumpkin ravioli. While in the market, she ate a French baguette loaf baked with brie.
Now, if this is 30, it feels good…just recognizing that I can either give or steal meaning to my experiences in the moment
What should I leave behind? What should I walk toward?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Smokers Need Not Apply

See IT. Speak IT. “You gotta know what you want, K.”
What do I want?
So…this can go in a number of directions…what I want for my birthday (one of those indoor gardens) what I want for my home (neighbors to watch Lost with) what I want for breakfast (cereal! Duh!). But in this situation, she meant what I want in a relationship.
When it comes to that direction, well, my clarity gets a little blurred.
I have conflicting feelings about stipulating a list of qualities…And this apparent hesitation flows laughs in contrast with my PhD in list-making and objective defining and a masters of going after goals. Why is that?
I believe that when a woman spouts a list, it quickly alters into a list of qualifications. And when push comes to shove, I can’t accept applications for a position I don’t think any of us are ever truly qualified for (I hold a similar view of the presidency if that tells you something.).
The fear is that such a “envisioning” about a partner isn’t a fear of failing to find “the one” that somehow materializes during a book store hunt and magically matches all my visions. In my bones, I like to plan and control for most things, but when it comes to people, such planning blocks experiencing the totality of a person. I project some vision onto him or her…and then compare to preconceived standards. If I articulate—must be educated---what dilemma might fester when I meet a hardworking wine shop owner with a stable income and a strong work ethic? So the standard becomes more general---from education to “good work ethic” and eventually watered down. Why make a list of qualities as well: caring, generous, flexible, when with the hormones surging my attraction will quickly confirm their presence and rationalize their presence.
Not to mention that the validity of a relationship takes time to manifest itself.
So nope…lists don’t make sense to me.
“But you have to know what you want, k!” See it Believes it and it will come (Shout out to Field of Dreams and The Secret groupies out there).
But I think for me, it’s better to name my rule-breakers. What I don’t want. Features that if demonstrated as a pattern will lead me to bail. Not red flags…but parachutes, or even write offs. I won’t become involved with smokers (I’ll try to get you to quit)
estranged children (I’ll spend time compensating by sending Hallmark cards to your mom myself) the leisureless (I’ll enroll you in community hiking groups) the builders (I’ll drag you around with all my traveling and ambition) and the friendless (I’ll arrange for you to hang out with Y’s husband). See? These features make me want to change you. And that’s a job I happen to be qualified for, but isn’t conducive to good heart health.
I’d like to add those that are insecure, arrogant, competitive, abusive, emotionally or rationally bereft, but realize that I become all those things when standing in certain lighting. And when you are in a relationship where you are truly engaging with another human being, you’ll eventually drive your mate to display all these things to varying extents (if the relationship is healthy, on the less destructive end of the dimension).
What I don’t want is dramatic conflicts, a lack of shared interests, always feeling responsible for investing in emotional capital or to feel smothered.
Now that you know what I don’t want…do you know any available person that you can set me up with on a blind date (it’s on my list people!)…ummm? Ooops. Guess I just proved your point: I’ve got a list after all. A list that is not a list but is actually a list….
That’s amore.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

When Pigs Fly

I used to despise flying—the flippant rejection of the illusion that I control my whole existence. Flying demanded release---or a least distraction from feeling the dreaded “out of control,: and there was a season where every atom in my being perched ready for inherent demise as the plane wavered just a few turbulent feet from crashing.
I’ve since evolved. Perhaps my fear, experiences at the heigh of my dissertation writing years ago, reflects a bubbling sophomoric doubt. Perhaps it can be traced to 9/11 and the onslaught of that media image burrowed in my cells.
Whatever the case, the phase passed. I now happily unfurl my belongings under the seat in front of me, and breathe in sharply the moment I buckle in…the clasping announcing that AH! I AM NOT DRIVING THIS THING…and OH! THEY DON’T WANT/EXPECT/NEED ME TO.
On a plane, as I am flying, that intuition kicks into 4th gear, and amazingly, I’ve fine tuned the art of following its lead. If my stomach churns, I sip sugar-laden ginger ale. If I am bored, I’ll pursue the Sky Mall magazine, if under-stimulated, watch on air programming, if pensive, I’ll bring out some work, if all of these things don’t satisfy, a best-selling wouldn’t be caught outside of a airplane/port paperback emerges.
I allow myself to trust that my inclinations are valid. And somehow, I don’t have to be productive—the self-monitoring monster slumbers.
I now look forward to the ride. Not just because it is a relief to experience this version of myself from time to time, just to periodically re-familiarize myself that the world doesn’t end when I am off duty…but also because I used to just SUCK at flying. In light of my past preoccupying debilitating fear, I delight that I am capable of growing up in a big way still. I can cruise at a relaxing 36,000 feet and throw back peanuts like Omega-Three Vitamins.
Where can you just enjoy the ride?

Friday, April 3, 2009

Task #88

"If something should ever happen to me"
No one will talk about my eventual death with me. Eyebrows furl and voices turn icy. Conversation dries up like Popsicle drippings on concrete during the summer…the comfort evaporating and sucking out easy being. When you speak about your upcoming demise to others, people move away from you. Don’t get me wrong…I haven’t been given a timeline by any outstanding authority or anything. It’s not like I’ve caught some outlandish plague from all my traveling. I don’t have cancer. But a very close friend of mine is scared right now, and her experience is a signpost for me to honor my mortality. In my line of business, I am bombarded daily with stories of woe. Lately, I have taken up the daily affirmation of naming something MISSING from my life for which I am grateful. It starts out like this… I am happy I DON’T have: a cheating husband a venereal disease a yellow sweater a job with the AGI I am happy right now that I don’t have a disease (THAT I KNOW OF). Yet. I am also very much aware that I am on borrowed time. Perhaps it is my past and recent relationships, exposure to cultures that don’t pretend that death is somehow an avoidable family gathering, or maybe I’ve inherited some death gene. What ever the reason, I know that I am going to die. Which doesn’t make me drink gallons of Jack Beam, shoot up powder into the fragile rivers of my nasal cavity, or pick up men with facial hair in bars for mediocre nightly romps. Instead, I tend to gush out heartfelt in-case-something speeches akin to diatribes acted out in lukewarm syncopation on Days of Our Lives. It makes sense that I wanted to create a letter to my loved ones if “something-should-ever-happen-to-me.” I am sending a hard copy to three people I trust just to hold onto when the event occurs…What went into this letter? A whole lot of gush. Click here if you’d like a teaser of the letter… In all honesty, writing this thing took months! Not because I tend to run from ambiguous situations (what can be less ambiguous than death?) but because my words never satiate the gathering mass of emotions continuously multiplying regarding living in this world, regarding loving you. Words insufficient. The things I don’t say as gracious as the ones I choose. Perhaps I’ll revisit this creation from time to time to pay homage, or edit in effort to accurately capture any recession or growth experiences along the way. Perhaps I’ll let it gather the wise barnacles of a time capsule wafting on an ocean floor.
What would you say…if something should ever happen…to me? To you? Simply: I tried to love well

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Red Shoes

I love red shoe days.
They shine in patent leather. Cheery Red. They clip clop noisily, and push my feet higher making my steps lighter and quicker.
My red shoes get me noticed. Almost every single day they grace my feet, I experience verbal affirmations. Sure, people compliment them …pointing out that those shoes are “killer!” (although I manage to steal their credit) but they also compliment me…my personality, my skills, my interactions are positively reinforced.
So I wonder…how does a pair of shoes spark attention in others? Ignited more confidence n me?
When advising another to acquire some accessory to wear on days she receives cancer treatment---I called it a Fierce Piece---she said “like those shoes?” easily worn, a reminder of vitality, a tool to empower…yes! But more than that…they signal to others: I am HERE! And they evoke acknowledgement. And I think we all want to be noticed.
Is this inclination bad?
The older get, the less concerned I am with what other people think about me. I have many strengths, skills, positive attributes, philosophies…but I still like it when others point these out to me. As a single woman, visual affirmation still matters to me. Perhaps because I live alone and don’t have much visual or physical interaction in my day to day life (touching is NOT encouraged in our litigious culture).
I don’t think wearing red shoes and enjoying these comments reveals a moral or intellectual flaw in me. “But you shouldn’t need others to validate you.”
To that I respond…it’s not me that needs it, it’s the shoes.

What do you do to get noticed? If you are partnered/married/a parent, do you have a different needs?What are your red shoes?

Celebrate Earth Hour

I am celebrating Earth Hour tonight...turning off all my lights from 8:30-9:30pm. It's not like this gesture is going to save money or much energy...it is more an act of acknowledging that I value the world's efforts to adopt a lifestyle not based on energy excess...
Even Times Square is going dark.
so I am grabbing my candlesticks, my bottle of wine, and basking in the good feeling of participating in a global ritual of reverence.

VOTE EARTH is a global call to action for every individual, every business, and every community. A call to stand up and take control over the future of our planet. Over 74 countries and territories have pledged their support to VOTE EARTH during Earth Hour 2009, and this number is growing everyday.We all have a vote, and every single vote counts. Together we can take control of the future of our planet, for future generations.VOTE EARTH by simply switching off your lights for one hour, and join the world for Earth Hour.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Baby ON Board?

Like it or not, a woman in her fertile years is expected to have a desire to have children. When a woman doesn’t children, sometimes that is accepted as a valid decision. Perhaps the woman can’t physically produce progeny(but then, why not do what Angelina Jolie did and adopt? There are a ton of needy kids out there!). . Perhaps the woman has an extremely important career saving the world and thus has already met her care giving lifetime quota (Oprah’s off the hook). Perhaps the woman hasn’t found a partner and deliberately raising a kid solo is not the ideal situation for developing pristine emotional well-being. Perhaps the woman is psychologically or morally flawed beyond repair (there isn’t baby college in prison systems). These are all good reasons we’ve decided as a culture for a woman NOT having a child…but to not have a DESIRE to have a child, well, that’s “just not natural.” This under-riding philosophy confuses me. This past week, Kelly Clarkson got a lot of hype about saying she might not want kids. But then she has to qualify it by saying that the decision was an act of realistically appraising her lifestyle…not about a lack of desire. It begs the question What does a desire to have children actually feel like? Is it demonstrated through the urge to play dolls as a girl? (I never really enjoyed acting out Barbie and Ken’s forays into carpooling and dream house maintenance) Does it reveal itself if you were whipping up brownies for your roommates in college? (I’ve been bequeathed “The Potluck Princess” in the past). Does the inclination unfurl itself if you find yourself comforting other people in distress (I own 5 first aid kits). Is the craving present if you don’t particularly enjoy cartoons or video games or clutter or chaos of any kind (I subsist on “everything has a home”). I don’t know if these bones have the mettle for motherhood…the job of it…the immense sacrifice….the responsibility…..the faith and patience it requires…but to dig a bit deeper, I don’t know if I have the desire to have children. I don’t know if I desire to give up so much of me to shape another. The more I delay in this act, the more trepidation I experience. If I am a stranger to myself now, just as easily as when I was 7, pungently curious, or 17, doubtfully cocky, or 24, optimistically wandering, I don’t know if I will ever recognize myself long enough to create a life. And I don’t know if I want to. I know I want to belong somewhere, and that I don’t want to be alone….but that does not equal wanting to have children. Before you say “Just wait until you---(fill in the blank: are older, are more settled, find someone, all your friends have babies)…stick with me here. Is my anxiety perhaps due to the fact that I don’t have kids yet at 30, or is it because I don’t want to?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Be a Follower!

If you have a blog that resonates with similar themes of living single, finding balance, searching for significance and self acceptance, consider signing up to follow me, and your blog will be placed up on my sidebar....

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Being Checked Out

I am a sucker for recognition. I like to be noticed. I want to stand out. Not every day, mind you. I like my intoverted time as well...but to feel connected and that my voice maters a few times a week outside of my profession is deeply validating...

So when single guru Bella featured the site in her Psychology Today blog Living Single...I was excited. Then, when Onely spotlighted this blog, I was super flattered.

The purpose of life is connection. I would enjoy hearing more comments from people that are both single and married, parents and those without children, mid-lifers and young professionals. Let's not just read blogs that confine to our current labels.

So, whoever you are out there, read and comment. I need your voice. I need your words.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Emotional Recession

“Something’s rotten in the state of Denmark.” In high school, I learned that this line from Hamlet hints that people sense depreciation of some sort, but it is ill defined. Depleted, irritable, pessimistic, I have felt jostled in my negativity this past week. I am easily wounded. I want to be around others and to be social in one hour and then the next find ways to escape from having to pretend to be my usual upbeat self. I am touchy. Literally, get your hands off of me, and figuratively, why won’t you touch me?

Single people are less likely to donate blood, get a tattoo, or schedule invasive medical exams (um…think prostrate). Researchers postulate that being partnered make us less anxious about our bodily reactions. I think that’s quite a jump. I just think being in a relationship sometimes is a good distraction from over thinking everything (“get a dog” three people have told me in the past four days). I wonder if I was with someone if his company would make me more irritable right now or less irritable. Would having some one else bartering for my mental facilities be a good distraction, or annoying?

The realistic response is both. It is easy to assume that once we arrive at certain experiences in our lives, that we’ll no longer have off weeks, like the one I am having now. We blame fleeting emotions and lows on global states like: being single, being 30, being in transition. But I also have to point out something constant about me: I am never constant. I feel as if I am ALWAYS in transition. And most of the time, I really, really sort of rebelliously dig that about me. I somewhat realize that makes others a bit uncomfortable, especially possible romantic partners. I’ve been told that it is my way of protecting myself from serious romantic engagement. But my gumption, my self-induced “treatment,” also tends to be the shine-iest attribute.

So, I connect in pieces. As I am able. These words, both confessional and egotistical, alleviate a patch of rottenness and re-invigorate the landscape.

I’d back away now before I change my tune.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Pesty Choices

A heavy dose of self-annoyance pesters me this week. I just figured out that my irritable mood is due in part to some trepidation about turning 30 this month. Considering myself somewhat immune to the mundane anti-aging culture we mired ourselves in, it’s with a lot of shame that I confess this anxiety. It’s not like I am stuck on the number, but more so, the little nat of continuing to feel unanchored.

Lately I don’t really know where I belong.

A little background…I am job searching due to the fact that I have arrived at the top eschalon of my field, completed all the expert training possible, and now forced to find a permanent position as an expert in my field. I have 6 months to “find something” in this vomiting economy. The position, the context, this next step, to me and to others signifies a lot about where my future “is headed.” All of the sudden, the fears and worries akin to choosing a major or even a college resurface as if clowns in new uniforms. And we all know how scary clowns can be.

I hesitate, often floating in my experience as a single woman with most of my major connections long distance. Four of my soul sisters were pregnant during my 29-30 phase. I live a fulfilling life. I have purpose, vision, ambitious…so why do I still feel as if life is passing me by and I am behind? There continue to be moments when I feel as if I am chasing something that I don’t even know if I desire.

And it’s annoying to me. The behind feeling, as if something is inadequate or stalled, annoys me. When I am capable of cooking up so much “wow-this-is my-life!” emotions, I still feel as if…

I am missing something…

Is this me? My culture? Is there a choice to be made here?


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Secret of Success

Success...saying that word out loud is a little sexy...the sounds rolls off the tongue a bit wontingly. (Try it out, a bit slow...S-aaah-kkk-esssss)
I love the rush of feeling capable, confident, assured in my ability to complete my intentions. Success, for me, means intentionally living out experiences that align with my values...
That's pretty heady, though...because a lot of time I fall into the trap of feeling successful when my surroundings signal that I am. This means that I feel successful at being attractive when my boss says very casually, "you look nice today," or when someone says, "great job on that assessment." I feel successful at friendship when others seek me out. I feel successful at finances when I time getting gas perfectly in order to go to the place 10cents less than others. I feel successful at being single when I delight in doing whatever I feel like each weekend.
My darling friend whom I've known for over 15 years, told me that success feels like she's "doing a good job," which for many of us women spans from making a tasty meal to engaging in a passionate sex life. But, if we looked at our accomplishments, or failures, a bit more realistically, we'd see that we aren't as soley responsible for doing"our good job" as we think we are.
That great meal Icooked was just as much due to the fact that the ingredients I used were are their random peakness, or that my friend emailed you with a reputable recipe. That great sex I just had may have had to due with what time of the month I was in or if the guy's basketball team was winning or losing.
That doesn't mean I am not a fabo chef or a attentive lover...it just means that sometimes success ISN'T ALL ABOUT ME!
I can make the same argument for the tizzy-fits I have over my innane failures...
I guess we could talk about what society says makes a single woman, or any person successful...But I am more interested in what "success" feel like to you? Do single women define success differently than those with partners?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Shoulding on Myself

Screw what you think…

Umm, can I take that back? I am a bit uncomfortable putting that out there like that. I should be more congenial. Polite. Effacing.

But I long to be that woman who shirks others opinions of her. I should not care what you think. I want to be able to stand with my head held up in the air and defy your judgments or assumptions about how my hair doesn’t do my eye justices or what topics I should avoid like the plague on a first date. You tell me what supplements to imbibe to maximize my metabolism. I should pay attention more…
I have a proclivity to shoulding on my self….it’s quite easy for me to strive towards these maxims, or ideals of what my life needs to reflect, produce, engender, mean.
I should secure stable employment that supports the heft of my student loans, but speaks to my spiritual hungers.
I should live in a comfortable community that reflects the values I would espouse at cocktail parties---green living, tolerance, local commerce, nonviolence, access to education.
Preferring to stay at home than go out, I should by a home while it’s a buyer’s market, create a garden, quit trashing hard earned money on rent, and make more space for all those frivolous kitchen gadgets (ahh…dreaming of a yogurt maker…which would be stored next to my nifty pour, cook, bake, freeze, measure, to-go singe-girl size pot).
I should settle down soon, with a man that “can handle your ambition,” and since I work for kids, produce/adopt/sponsor, some of my own.
If not, I should procure a dog/cat, America’s primary substitute for human love. I should not feel guilty in the slightest sleeping with a dog in my bed (not of the homo sapien variety)
But since I am single, I should “get out there” and explore the world because “now is the time to do it”
Which entails another list of shoulds in the romance department: should try online dating, should try flirting more, should have a one night stand, should join a church to nab a husband, should be more coy, should allow him to take the lead, should just shut up and not try and let love come to me.
There is a whole host of shoulds that deal with my single-girl body:
I should throw out clothes not worn in 6 months, and spend a lot of money on flattering key pieces (more color, less black). I should sleep 8 hours, inhale a variety of fish oil, folic acid, and vitamin D (but should space them out for maximum absorption) I should splurge on organic apples but not pilfer money away on organic bananas. I should shampoo every other day, floss RIGHT NOW, should expend energy on cardio 5 times a week and resistance training 2 times.
. I should love and accept the shape of my body, but not indulge it too much, lest I become obese, slutty, or alcoholic.
I should die trying, but not try too hard because one shouldn’t over do it.

I don’t know where all these shoulds sprung, and I don’t care. I just know that I spend a lot of time kneeling at their altar, chasing after their false promises of health, security, happiness and ah, love.
And although I question their validity, understand their shams, they are constantly present, even as I am aware of the urge to defy them. I feel guilty that I am susceptible to them. I know, I know, I should stop shoulding

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Task 77: Watch Three Foreign Films

I don’t go out to see movies all that much, maybe 7 or so a year. Going to see a movie, now costing around $10, maybe a bit shy of a ticket to a community theater, is an occasion. When I do, I usually stroll over to The Grand Cinema, a nonprofit extremely small co-op film house within a mile of my apartment. It’s even rarer to see a movie with subtitles. But, then I saw The Diving Bell and the Butterfly last spring and was awed. When it came to comprising my list, I wanted to open up my endorsement of modern arts by watching at least three foreign films at home. I started this task numerous times and failed. It appear I am too restless of watch foreign films at home. Alone and left to my own devices, I get up and out of my seat so many times that I miss too much, thus explaining my interest (I did make it through Cheuking Express in August). But for some reason, this weekend, I nailed out three foreign films: From France (Avenue Montaigne) Afghanistan (The Beauty School of Kabul) and Senegal (Binta and the Great Idea).

I am now hooked. The French film surprisingly bubbled. The love scenes sparkled with creativity, yet realism. I cheered for the drama queen. The Beauty school reminded me how women’s bodies can unleash healing, and simple acts, like a shampoo, can tip the scale of transformation, giving freedom, offering empowerment. And then there was little Binta…Binta and the Great Idea. The movie entails a young girl attempting to figure out how to help convince her cousin’s father to send her to school. The film weaves themes of diversity, and community through the universal hope discovered in children. Context Matters.
In a scene where Binta is coloring wide sweeping scene, she says”
I like to use the color green
But I like yellow a lot, too
But my favorite color…(and here the camera zooms on a filling in stick figure)
…is the color of skin
The words glued themselves to my core.
I am more in tuned with characters of foreign films, noticing their body language, the ecstasy or despair emanating in their eyes, the nonverbal unrequited interest or assertive denial. It is easier to empathize. To feel. Not to think or analyze, but purely experience it. Watching foreign films demands my entire attention, that I remain presently processing each moment.
Yep. Context matters. Where you are impacts Who you are. When is the last time you took a step out of your preferred medium?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Give it up already!

I overheard a few single women discussing what they were giving up for Lent today.
"Yeah, I am giving up Chocolate."

"I am giving up Starbucks."

"We'll be bitchy, but thinner." (that's my imaginary movie line insert)

A typical exchange between women (THIS IS A GENDER THING?!)...smacking of self-importatnt deprivation that sounds antispiritual and inauthentic.
Contrary to pop notion, lent is not about deprivation or giving something pleasurable up. It is a time of retreat from the routine in order to gain clarity, vision, release. It is a time of preparation, an emptying of sorts, in order to become more receptive to one's purpose, to grace. I don't think giving up chocolate is going to fulfill any spiritual quest.

In fact, it's not about deprivation, it is about preparing for abundance.

Come on, chocolate?

If you need to cut back down on chocolate because it isyour main source of antioxidants, that is one plausible noble endeavor. In that case, instead of saying NO to chocolate, why not say YES to eggplant? But many people use mass traditions (new years, lent, reunions) to rationalize behaviors that they aren't really owning. "I should do X before Y" We've all been there, especially us single gals. But are these traditions of deprivation, like giving up chocolate, adding depth and meaning to your life?

Or are you just doing it to don the appearance of discipline and achievement. Honestly, what does consumption of chocolate or starbucks say about your character? Absolutely nothing. We don't really care if you eat chocolate, gals. No one is watching you and going to give you a gold star for your nobility. Here's a harsh truth...we don't really care about your chocolate consumption.

When are we, whether we are single or paired, male or female, kid or adult, going to stop equating what we consume with our worth? Our cars, our clothes, if we had mayo on the sandwich at lunch, say NOTHING about our worth, wether or not we deserve freedoms or to beloved.

But wait you say: What we choose to consume, however, may say somethingabout our values. For instance, if we choose not to endorse financially organizations that are morally bankrupt, like those producing goods from sweatshops. Or if we choose to be vegetarians out of a value to protect the environment. But seriously, if you have a candy bar, does that mean that you are a sloth? NO! You don't gain power or control or a sense of capability bysaying no. You get it from saying "yes" to your values.
Believe me: you can not buy/not buy or eat/not eat something to gain esteem. Consumption or depravity does not build character.
Our culture says that our hunger or appetites should define who we are...do you agree?

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Shape Identity

After stimulating dialouge, I tried to find that research study and I couldn't find it...but both adult single and partnered gals have told me that they didn't even consider a body part. Why is that? Have we adopted the positive girl movement that we as girls are not equal to our physical attractiveness? Or is it because by admitting that we have bodies, of which we are both proud and ashamed, feels base? I think there is a double edge sword here...we feel guilty for caring about our looks!

Why is identifying with your shape difficult?

My best feature: my calves. Seriously, I look good in a mid-knee skirt.

My worst feature: my skinny arms.

I dare you to answer...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

My Drive

When asked what they like most about themselves, men tend to speak of their talents...

and women name a body part.

Just words, scrambled together, but stuck like an oily omlet these past few days. Just a snippet of information from Girl's Rock, which I vewied days ago. Folded up and ready for consumption in my hungry mind.

What's my best feature? Sadly, as the question slid around, the first thing I wanted to do was ask a treasured one what feature in me they would identify. It made me uncomfortable trying to name something on my own. Yes, fear of boasting, but more, fear of picking just one, as if this feature tattoo'd forever as a solid identity. Bravely, I start thinking too much, thus making the question less instinctual, more cerebral than real.

What do I like best about myself? My DRIVE...it is the feature responsible for rappelling down a waterfall, obtaining my PhD, or even making my own ketchup. If I have a goal, I almost always reach it. This quality also sinks its hooks into my self-esteem, pushing me to off readily equate okay-ness with what I am producing, what I do.
There's a quote from the poem Ulysses "to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yeild..."
It is quite touching, because it is about living life to its fullest, but also depressing, because it means that "nothing is ever good enough."

Anyway, that's my feature, which shames, surprises and supports me and those I am around.

What do you like best about yourself? Do you feel the same tension in naming one thing? Would you name a body part?

Just have to say: my calves kick ass.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Well Rounded Women in a World of Square Men

I have a friend who has a very curious and active 11 month old boy, for whom she prepares all of his organic baby meals (pureed chickpeas, pulsed carrots) and carts around to swimming class. She works part time in at least three different roles, extending herself way beyond the regular job responsibilities to bake cookies for potential customers and spending hours on details of electronic newsletters. She listens to NPR, reads books from the library. She points out the best features of her husband. She keep physically fit and does the best leg waxing job I’ve ever seen. She has a sense of humor, a love of dance and culture, and is a whiz a map reading.

Seriously, people, she is amazing. And one of many of my gal pals who lead thriving lives. And I have to say, that we are lucky to live in America to develop such a wide range of activities and pursue them with freedom as women. Her work ethic is exhaustingly admirable. I’d totally be smitten if she were single and male…

Which brings me to my point: Why is it that I can name many examples similar women who fit such description and so few men that do? Perhaps it’s due to lack of exposure, after all, my close friends are exclusively women. Perhaps it’s due to our horrific culture that tells women “you can be anything” and have sent woman catapulting off in a self-critical pursuit of perfectionism…all while tsk-tsking boys who cook or sew and aren’t gay. Perhaps it’s due to the fact that we live in an age of instant gratification that feeds a male’s intense preoccupation with a handful of interests (video games, sports).

I don’t know why. I just know that in the past 9 months of volunteering at Habitat for Humanity or at the assisted living center, pursing the public library events, taking cooking classes, attending political events, I have yet to come across single men.
I feel lucky to be my friend’s friend (she’s currently supplies my yogurt addiction) and even luckier to consider myself so well rounded…and at the same time concerned for her son and all the growing boys and already grown (I’ll use that term loosely) men out there. Am I biased? Am just not seeing things correctly?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Worry Wart

I wouldn’t claim that I am a worrier, but I worry that I may be.

I fidget about timing a lot, should I get up an exercise before I go to work, or after I get home? I get my panties in a ruffle if drinking a bottle of wine a week by myself constitutes a prelude to some looming dependency. When witnessing a coworker toss a pop can in the trash, I imagine it wasting in a dumpster somewhere for thousands of years, right next to some outdate electronic game system, where they seep their chemicals into our ground water (Green Guilt Blows!).

A colleague said that “anxiety is the plague of the enlightened,” and for once I bite my lip, preventing a crack regarding the arrogance of such a statement. He graciously went onto say something like remaining peaceful, but being aware, is the key to a contended life.

Sign me up for whatever Buddist camp, you attended buddy. Sounds simple, right? Aware. I choose peace. I am peace. I own peace. Peace is my bitch.

Worry comes from an Old English word that means “to strangle” and ties back to the impulsive behavior of nervous wolves and dogs. Ugghhh…it takes the breath, the life source, directly out of the spirit. Religious scriptures warn that worry-ing is evil. Doctors assert that a worrier’s heart dangerously perches on bursting from high pressure. Old and new philsophers, like Eckhart Tolle, persist that worry strangles your ability to fully enjoy the present moment. and is a waste of precious nonexistent time…

The psychological authorities of worry note that one “should not worry alone,” supposing that sharing our worries with one another will help us come up to “creative solutions to them.” Hmmm…while it is always good to not feel like you are facing a challenge alone, I think it’s a little egotistical to be sharing my tiny worries with you (do you really care if I eat cabbage tofu stew or garlic shrimp?) In fact, the term worry wart comes from a character in a 1950s comic strip Out Our Way. Ironically, the character wasn’t the one who worried. He was actually ignorant of his problems, although he had many. No, the worriers were the people around him, perpetually up in arms over his tribulations…

So I worry that I shouldn’t burden you with these little thoughts. But an author, Tom Peters, The Pursuit of Wow, wrote that:
No, you don't want to get a reputation as a prissy worrywart, but worrying
about details in private isn't a bad idea at all. Truth is, process beats
substance. You may think you're the world's greatest speaker with a message of
the utmost urgency, but if the auditorium's air conditioner is on the
fritz and the sound system is singing static -- well, forget it.
Excuse me…I need to figure out if I should pack my fleece or a heftier winter coat. I am worried about the upcoming weather…

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

High School Singeldom

Do you remember? A ball of hedonist urges, the desire to numb the wildly swinging hormones but also embrace their wantonness? The push and pull of external forces and the zig zagging of identity? The message to define oneself and yet continue to explore and remain open, sow the wild oats. All while trapezeing a tightrope of remaining in the good graces of some and out of the line of fire of many.
Ah…this sounds akin to adolescence, yes? And even though some of us are decades away from that season of our lives, its ghosts can waft around with middle fingers in the air. Let’s face it, this petri dish of insecurity sprouted roots in many of our internal terrains.
Being single often feels akin to old feelings of exclusion birthed during teenage years. Not completely ostracized, but also painfully aware of missing out on something "ideal" this is the state precariously trodden by some of us un-paired. I resonate with certain values---a desire to create a natural place of belonging via 1) nourishment 2) connection and accountability 3) wisdom/knowledge and 4) creativity….these values all lend themselves with ease to the ultimate Gold Star, the trifecta of Marriage, Children, and HOME OWNERSHIP! Obtaining these three brings honor, merit, and often, easy acceptance into social spheres where a girl knows her place.
I am a 30 something professional single woman, who cherishes themed potlucks, reveres homemade projects, and craves the sanctity of home. A goal of mine is to be known by my neighboors so well that they drink my apple cider on Halloween. People have called me the most married single person they know..... Many of us single women in America are often content, passionate in our independence, grateful to be able to wake up in the morning and read in silence. I am disappointed by the depiction of single women in the media (either of the Sex and the City variety or the chaste cat lady) and saddened when left out of most public conversations involving the topic of home life. We aren’t fashion obsessed; we don’t own 5 cats. And yet, at the same time, we constantly are required to answer the “why are you still single” question, pelted by those with Gold Star status. We respond with poise, and self-effacing acceptance as others look at us with longing, as if we are deeply flawed or surely deprived due to our single status. And then we wonder: do we want NOT to be single? And if so, is this desire coming from us, or from the dictated norm?
Ah! See! It often feels like high school…I am free to be me, and yet am pressured (by self and others) to attempt to belong. For those of us single homebodies, either not capable, not called or not desiring the Gold Star membership what does singlehood feel like? How is it different, unique, blessed, and painful? (Do guys go through this?) I am guessing that this feeling isn't unique to singledom status. There is likely something about each one of us (things we can change or cannot) that makes us feel simultaneously excluded and grateful not to belong....

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Where I Get my Kicks

Mysterious, how seamlessly my interests emerge, crest and then slip away from the limelight. They come with fanfare and depart shyly, disappearing from the mist of my good intentions. Perhaps promiscuous in my passions, fluttering intensely in one thing and then discovering a more stimulating fetish. It is not like one substitutes or fits completely into the hole of the others. It is more as if I allow myself freedome to follow the hedonistic highs they bring.
I call these my kicks.

Two years ago, my first suggestion for quality time with my roommate as to plug in an episode from the first few seasons of 24. After a spiritua quest to a Korean women’s spa, I whipped up various of Red Tofu Soup at least 6 times a month to soothe my spirit and body’s cravings. When I was in high school, there was a period of adolescent angst pounded out through solely Beethoven on the piano.

I suppose my kicks could tire others out. They may find my interests always tedious, always thrusting forward, always geared for “something new.” True, the inclination can be intentional, born of boredom’s droll, but many of the time, my kicks are mused from mysterious sources. External in nature. In this area, I trust my desires, and give full permission to follow and see where the kicks take me, or land us. So…I love what I love, and when I love it, I want to LOVE it, you know? Then someday, a new itch has arrives, striking a switch in me, and the familiar resolve sharpens, fueling the sidestep, the jerking of the extremities, the inevitable punt of fascination.

This week my kick is homemade yogurt. I dreamt about it last night, and now feel in heaven as it dribbles over my keyboard, oozing wantonly with crushed flax and almonds and a sprinkle of cinnamon life. Last night poured in perky dollops on top of ravioli, at lunch with wheat germ and a swirl of salsa with corn chips, it satiates every time.

I guess this means I might have that addiction gene after all…
Do you get kicks? When? What? Where? And if you dare…Why?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Worthy of the name: idiot

Yep...Call me an idiot!

I have been sweating like a madwoman during the night for the last two weeks, waking up one several occasions dripping in sweat. For a while there, my research (via google, via family and friend consultation) revealed that I could possibly be heading into early menopause, or perhaps have a kidney tumor. Yesterday, I blew a fuse whipping up some homemade pate and discovered in the fuse box that I turned off the heater in my bedroom this past summer to save energy. It’s winter (duh!) and I’ve been sleeping in a room that is probably around 45-50 degrees at night, which leads to pulling on more blankets, which leads to my body overheating itself, which leads to sweat.

Since turning on the fuse, no sweat….I am happy to say that I might not have cancer after all. I’ve just caught a nasty case of being an idiot.

I confessed my idiocy over a happy hour of lovely merlot, hot artichoke crab dip and kobe beef loafs. Happy hour convo rocks, because it leads fabulously to nowhere. A very intelligent man explained his impatience with most people, because his philosophy was that most people are idiots. This did not evoke a pity party of all our experiences with such individuals, but rather a discussion of What makes a person an “idiot?”

I harbor a inclination to understand others and rationalize their perspective and behaviors. It’s not only a key aspect of my profession, but it is ingrained in a people-pleasing, security-seeking sort of way. To understand why a person acts “idiotically” relieves me a bit. I came up with a rather mature definition of idoiocity: not being intentional, moving about life randomly.

But let’s face it. Sometimes people are just idiots, right?

Don’t get me wrong, I consider myself pretty intentional. It’s easy to come up with reasons why OTHERS are idiots, because it makes us feel less like idiots. But, I usually crack myself up when I am an idiot.
The term, Greek in nature, first meant "private, or removed." About 500 years ago, the term took on a "mental deficiency" connotation.

When I use tablespoons of baking powder instead of teaspoons and creating a lava flow of dough. When I plug in my bluetooth all night instead of my cell phone. When I call my aunt bursting in a sexy rendition of Happy Birthday to realize in the refrain that the day is tomorrow.

Usually I find humor in being an idiot myself. I find empathy in the idiocy of others.


But seriously, people, how hard is it to –fill in the blank here (use a turn signal, pee inside a toilet, find weapons of mass destruction?)---what idiotic thing are you doing right now?

About Me

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PhD in clinical psychology. Single. Pushing 30. Suffering Whiplash from the Roaming 20s...Who am I? What do I want? Where do I belong? Welcome to my self-induced treatment, a testament that we can all be a little crazy in our search for significance.