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 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 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?

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.