Random Acts of Kindness

English: A plain glazed donut. This was bought...

English: A plain glazed donut. This was bought at a Dunkin’ Donuts in Brooklyn. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tuesday morning I awoke to cold rain pelting my window panes. The alarm clock screamed “beep, beep, beep!” while every bone in my body fought to stay under the covers. Given I needed an income, the alarm clock won. I shuffled out of bed and threw on my hooded sweat shirt, pants, and slippers. My dog and I bravely stepped into the rain. Fortunately, he took “go potty” seriously and then we ran for cover.

I executed my morning routine. I tamed my humidity ravaged hair into a cute beachy look and stepped out the door. . . only to realize my car and house keys were sitting in my coat pocket. I was not wearing this coat. )= Fortunately, my landlord placed a key lock box outside my apartment. I quickly manipulated the combination while the rain turned my beachy coiffure into that of Albert Einstein’s.

I hopped into my car only five minutes behind schedule. Woohoo! I hit a traffic jam five minutes into my commute. I called my scheduler and explained my dilemma. I also inquired if I was scheduled back-to-back. She hesitated, “yes, but I am sure it will all work out.” I pulled up to the clinic at 7:58 am only to discover there was no available parking in the provider lot. Fortunately, there was plenty of street parking. I pulled along the curb and saw the NO PARKING on 2nd and 4th Tuesdays for street sweeping. I checked my calendar. Damn, it was a fourth Tuesday. I circled the block several times with no luck. I called my scheduler and explained my dilemma. She recommended I pull into our lot and just block someone until lunch time. She also volunteered to stand outside (in the rain no less) to direct me into the lot. I pulled up to the lot to find her and two medical assistants ushering me in and holding the door open as I ran to my office.

I encountered my patient in the lobby. I apologized profusely for being late. I set all my bags down as I quickly unlocked my door and flipped on my lights and computer. My patient kindly carried in my bags. All was well. My second patient did not show, so I had several minutes before my next patient. I walked out and my colleague offered to pick up my new patient if I got backed up. She also told me she brought in donuts. I exhaled, hugged her, and picked up a donut. All was well.

What random act of kindness can you offer during this season of giving? Sometimes a parking space or a donut can make all the difference.

Imperfectly,

Amelia

 

 

Emotional Short-Arming: Protecting A Psychological Injury

My massage therapist commented that I twist my right arm whenever she moves it. She questioned the origin of this tendency. During the height of my swim conditioning, I short-armed my right free style stroke. My coach instructed me to pull my arm through completely before exiting the water.  This adjustment improved my speed and efficiency. For a few workouts I decelerated and concentrated on pulling through. However, I found it tedious, and it slowed me down tremendously. Additionally, as I fatigued I returned to short-arming. I shared this story with my massage therapist, and she commented, “Maybe you’re protecting something.” She asked if I had a past injury. Prior to swimming, I spent several years rock climbing and pushing my body in ways you can in your late 20’s and early 30’s. I likely sustained an injury.

My response to this physical injury mimics a psychological injury. Often times we compensate to avoid pain and keep moving forward. However, this coping style eventually short changes us when we can no longer progress with ease and efficiency. We are frequently unaware of this protective mechanism until we enter relationships, and others identify it. Once this compensatory strategy enters our awareness slowing down and addressing it proves challenging. We feel pulled into our old habit particularly during times of stress and fatigue. However, if we slow down and address the injury, we start moving with greater fluidity and ease.

Admittedly, when I dive into the pool, I’m tempted to bullet through the water like a torpedo. Then, I hear my healthy self, “you’re short-arming . . . pull through the entire stroke . . . don’t get in a hurry.” I may resemble Esther Williams. However, my right arm propels me further if I can resist exiting at the point of discomfort.

Where in your life are you emotional short-arming? How can you leave your arm in the water a bit longer when it feels uncomfortable?

Imperfectly,

Amelia

 

 

Avoiding Painful Emotions: Garnet Will Make You Popular

My fave piece: smokey quartz and bright orange...

My fave piece: smokey quartz and bright orange garnet crystals, China (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After years of driving past The Cave of Wonders, curiosity pulled me in. I stepped inside and magnificent gems encircled me. A sweet caramel and white pitbull named Bella shadowed me as I perused the stones. I showed Bella a black, shiny piece of tourmaline and explained its energy-absorbing properties. She sniffed and licked my hand, confirming my selection. I picked up a piece of smooth, rose quartz and felt its coolness and weight in my hand. The bin’s placard announced that it decreased stress and brought love into one’s life. Sign me up for that! I added it to my growing collection and continued browsing. Bella grew bored of examining my treasures and parked herself in the front entrance to greet unsuspecting humans.

When my stone collection overflowed the reaches of my palm, I decided to check out. I had gems to help me grieve, avoid negative energy and stress, and bring love and prosperity into my life. Yep, I was covered in the happy life department now. The shop owner handed me a complimentary marble-sized garnet – the stone of the week. He gave me a handout describing its properties and meanings. Garnet brings successful business, cures depression, makes a person popular, adds constancy to friendships, increases security level, cleanses and purifies and increases sex drive. I hit the jackpot! Now I could start a successful business, be happy, popular, confident, clear negative energy and be a sex goddess!

While the garnet claims appeared exaggerated, I think we all hope at times that one special thing or person can provide fulfillment, safety, and happiness. We all have experiences in which we wish a garnet could cure all our troubles. Simple fixes are attractive but no replacement to feeling our way through life. I keep the garnet in my purse to remind me of this fact. If life hands me a lesson, and I choose not to accept the challenge, it comes around again. The times I find myself wishing for a “garnet fix” are typically the times I want to avoid painful emotions.

Where in your life do you find yourself wishing for the garnet fix? What do you need to feel your way through?

 

Imperfectly,

Amelia

 

 

Be Here

A few days ago I visited the farmer’s market near my office.  The market lies in the heart of a working class Asian and Latino neighborhood. I enjoy strolling through the market while hearing the tonal languages of Vietnamese and Lao punctuate the air as the romance language of Spanish dances in between. I’m a bit of an oddity given I’m a fair-skinned red head in business casual attire. After filling my bags with figs, nectarines, and squash, I head straight to the pupusa stand. If you’ve never had this Salvadorian fare, it’s like heaven in a homemade, corn fried tortilla severed with a side of cabbage salad. I love mine stuffed with cheese and spinach. The stand owner enthusiastically greets me, “¡Buenas dias!  . . . ¿Espinachas y queso?” I reply with an enthusiastic, “¡Si!” (You correctly surmised I visit this stand regularly.)

After receiving my piping hot pupusa, I settle in at one of the three rickety card tables which constitute the dining area. It’s a perfect people-watching point. My eyes meet a diminutive, elderly, Asian man who stands about 5 feet tall. His face resembles weathered leather and his eyes twinkle. I smile. He approaches me and hands me a rubber ball with a globe printed on it. It fits in the palm of my hand. Between the mixture of English and Khmer and his missing teeth, I decipher, “For you!” I thank him, and ask if he would like some money. He places his hand on my shoulder, proceeds in Khmer and ends with “gift.” I grin and thank him. He explains I can use the ball to indicate to others where I come from. Then, he shows me his migration from Cambodia to the eastern United States. Through wild hand gestures and rapid changes in intonation, I learn that his boat sank on the voyage, and his wife died.  I say, “You had an incredibly painful and difficult journey.” He nods and averts my gaze. However, he quickly grins and continues speaking. He points to California and says, “You here, and I’m here.” I beam and reply, “Yes, we are!” Then, I proceed to show him Hawaii and explain I was born there. I illustrate my journey from Hawaii to Georgia to Texas to California. He laughs and smiles, “now, you here!” I joyfully agree, “Yes, I’m here!”

Often times, our minds resemble energetic puppies who want to be anywhere but Here.  The ball reminds me that Here is where the magic happens. Here is where we can have glorious, even if only brief, moments when we feel completely seen and in connection with another person. Where are you right now? Be Here.

Imperfectly,

Amelia

 

The Perfect Date . . . With Myself: A Lesson in Self-Care

Une enseigne de débit de boisson en France mon...

Une enseigne de débit de boisson en France montrant les deux orthographes acceptées du mot bistro(t) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Please forgive the TMI. Yesterday, I endured the lovely experience of my annual well-woman exam. Nothing like being stretched, stuck, and smooshed to say “Happy Friday!” I rewarded myself by visiting my favorite bistro with the plan to order a delicious French pastry. Once I arrived, my stomach rumbled, and I realized a croissant would not stave off my hunger. A glass of wine and a harvest salad with shaved Brussel sprouts, pears, and almonds seemed more in order. Instantly my 17-year-old self chimed in and stated, “You will look like a loser eating alone . . . especially on a Friday night . . .get your dinner to go.” My 40-year-old self interrupted and said, “Hey, dining alone is a sign of maturity and self-care. You never know what might happen. You could meet some interesting people or just enjoy some amazing food without feeling pressured to make conversation when all you want to do is sip chardonnay.”

A magazine rack filled with beautiful magazines donned the north wall of the bistro, so I picked up San Diego Home and Martha Stewart Living. For some twisted reason I love looking at gorgeous homes I cannot afford and craft items I lack the talent to create. I thoroughly enjoyed savoring my wine while flipping through the magazines. When I looked up, I noticed three other solo diners. We held the delightful secret of solo dining bliss. My waitress approached me, smiled, and asked if I found a suitable home. I informed her of the “steeply discounted” mansion that now listed for a mere $7,995,000. We agreed, while the price was a bargain, that we would feel creeped out living alone in such a large house. Yes, our cozy apartments provided a much better sense of safety.

After relishing my delectable salad, I consumed the pumpkin tea cake which paired nicely with my wine. I relaxed in my chair, took a deep breath, and peered out the window into the clear, blue sky. Yes, a perfect date. (Ok, I wouldn’t argue if Scott Foley of Scandal asked to sit with me. However, my solo dining date was exceptional.)

Where are you taking yourself on a perfect date this week?

 

You Won’t Die in the Yoga Room

I made the mistake. I had the fortunate opportunity to practice Bikram yoga on a 90% humidity day in sunny southern California. For ten years I effectively tolerated the 105 degree, 60% humidity environment of this yoga. However, this day I entered the studio, unrolled my mat, and instantly transformed into a human water fountain. Sweat gushed from every pore in my body despite the fact I laid silently in savasana (i.e., corpse pose)! The teacher entered the room and announced, “Rise and shine it’s yoga time! I know it’s a hot day, but you’re not going to die in the yoga room.” I stood up and thought, “I’m f*&#ed!” My body boiled. Probably, because I was standing DIRECTLY under the red glow of a radiant heater. Given room was packed with sweaty yoga bodies, I could not escape the heater’s radius. During the second breath of pranayama, my mind raced, “It’s too hot . . .I’m dizzy . . . I have to pee. . . I want to run out of this room . . . what if I run out? . . .I’ve never run out. . .what’s wrong with me? . . . everyone else looks ok . . .this absolutely sucks . . . I should have slept in . . . I will be dehydrated . . .my stomach is on fire . . .why did I eat garlicky hummus before class? . . . breathe . . . breathe . . .breathe.” I eventually calmed my mind. However, my body fought to stand. My stomach knotted and the room spun. I surrendered to my mat until the world stilled. Then, with a big deep breath, I stood up and tried again.

By virtue of our human-beingness, we experience moments of intense emotional pain. We question whether we can tolerate another excruciating second and feel pulled to flee the room. We numb . . . with reality TV (goodness knows I’ve watched way too much Teen Mom), busyness, material objects, and substances. We do everything in our power to escape that radiant heater, because it’s tremendously uncomfortable. We gain momentary lapses of relief only for the heat to blast us squarely in the face. If we surrender and breathe, the perspiration pours from our bodies. The toxins leave, we cool, and oxygen replenishes us. We stand up and try again. When the intensity of the heat overwhelms you, lie down, breathe, and recover. Then, get up and try again. If you run, pain will follow you right out of the door.

 If emotional heat has left you face down on the floor, I recommend reading Brene Brown’s Rising Strong. This wonderful manuscript reminds us that signing up to live whole-heartedly involves falling, and she gives us a formula for rising up.

Imperfectly,

Amelia

My splendidly imperfect dog's version of shavasana.

My splendidly imperfect dog’s version of savasana.

Own Your Power: Channeling Your Inner Beyoncé

A couple of weeks ago, I nearly sustained a concussion while pulling items off my closet shelf. Ok, this declaration is somewhat dramatic. The cardboard tube housing my Master’s degree (earned in route to my doctorate) fell and bonked me on the head. Yes, I did not bother framing it. I already had a terminal master’s degree and a doctoral degree adorning my office wall. I thought hanging this degree would appear excessively pretentious, “too much.” When I theatrically recounted my tube-clobbering story to a friend, he expressed shock that I let my degree hibernate in the depths of my closet for eight years. He said, “You earned it. Put it up!”

Why do girls and women fear being “too much”? Maybe it’s because we tell little girls, “keep your voice down . . .cross your legs . . . don’t get fat. . .don’t make a man look stupid . . . be nice . . . be sweet.” Simply put – “don’t take up space . . . don’t be too much.” For the longest time I feared anger – others’ and my own.  I did everything I could to avoid it; and if I felt anger, I questioned its validity. The messages of “good girls are nice” and “angry women are bitches” deeply rooted themselves in my young cerebral cortex. Now, I realize the value of my voice and anger. When I confided my relationship with anger to a friend, he encouraged me to channel my inner Beyoncé.  In 2008 Beyoncé released her album I am Sasha Fierce. During an interview, she explained her persona of Sasha Fierce allowed her to own her power in her performances and dealings in the music industry.

Today, I am making a vow to let my light shine and to channel my inner Beyoncé. I hung up my master’s degree. I give myself permission to be outraged about. . .

  1. My male advisor in college telling me not to pursue a doctorate because it was “too hard”

  2. Equally qualified women earning 78% of what men make

  3. Being verbally harassed by a male security guard, filing a complaint, being told I would be informed of the outcome and never hearing a thing

  4. One in five women being sexually assaulted at some point in their lives

  5. Having dates thinking a good night kiss entitled them to be human octopuses. Too many times I squirmed my way out of these situations and said, “I have to go.” I was nice, and I should have yelled, “Get your f*&ing hands off me!”

  6. Thongs being marketed to elementary school-aged girls

  7. Having an unfamiliar woman at a baby shower ask me if I was going to freeze my eggs since I was in my late 30’s and not married

  8. Young women being told to “be sexy” but don’t have sex

  9. People telling my amazing friend, who suffered a heart-breaking miscarriage, that she was “lucky to conceive”

  10. Growing up in a culture that tells girls they must be thin, heterosexual, married and mothers in order to have value

To all my amazing readers out there, I encourage you to speak up, speak out and let your imperfectly, beautiful light shine! Please feel free to add comments about injustices you no longer wish to be silent about.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Marianne Williamson

Imperfectly,

Amelia

Making Space

Hello Everyone! Happy New Year! I realize it’s been . . . ahem. . . a couple months since I last posted. Upon reflection, I initially framed this sabbatical as a time of self-growth and actualization. Then, I went home for the holidays and realized I have a long way to go in this department. During my hiatus, I summoned motivation to re-enter the blogosphere. I signed up for a “Get Published Now!” class. Unfortunately, and ironically, it was postponed until next week. However, I am undeterred!

When I returned home from the holidays, I surveyed my cozy apartment. I thought, “I have too much s*#t in here.” I am by no means a pack rat, and I keep my space fairly neat. However, my gaze gravitated to items I no longer needed. Following my divorce I moved my sectional sofa and over-sized chair into a tiny, new living room. I knew the chair overwhelmed the space. However, it matched the sofa, technically fit, and served as my splendidly imperfect dog’s favorite napping space. I rarely sat in it (or dusted under it for that matter . . . eww). I knew it needed to go. I considered consigning it, but this option seemed burdensome. I decided to email my local friends and inquire if they were interested in or knew of someone who could use the chair. A few minutes later I received an email from my yoga instructor. She shared that one of my classmates lost everything in a fire Christmas Day. I made contact with this classmate who expressed interest in the chair. When she saw it, her eyes filled with tears. She commented that it looked remarkably similar to the one she lost in the fire. That evening some friends came over to pick me up for dinner, and we had some time to spare prior to our reservation. They kindly helped me re-arrange my furniture which made my living space open and inviting. Moving the furniture independently would have likely resulted in an exorbitant chiropractor bill!

A couple of days later my sweet sister told me she had a pretty rough day and just desired a hug. On her way to the metro station, she saw a homeless man outside her office building. She had seen him several times, and he never asked for a handout. She stated she felt called to give him a few dollars and wish him a good day. This deed resulted in her missing her usual train. However, while waiting on the platform, she unexpectedly spotted a friend who greeted her with a big hug. She would have missed him had she caught the earlier train.

Love finds us when we make space for it and give it away. What things do you need to let go of? Make space for? How can you show your love today? (Commenting on my blog is one way if you’re struggling here. . . or calling your Mom . . . the possibilities are endless.)

Imperfectly,

Amelia

My splendidly imperfect dog still has many nap spaces
My splendidly imperfect dog still has many nap spaces

Fear – Thanks for Showing Up, But I Don’t Need You Right Now

As I write this blog, my splendidly imperfect dog, Frankie, clings to my leg like Velcro. He’s terrified. . . of the garage door opening below. I am not sure why he has this fear. I guess, from an evolutionary perspective, a garage door opening in the wild would offer a significant reason for a dog to pause and get the hell out of dodge. So I acknowledge he’s scared; however, I do not reinforce it by petting him and saying “it’s ok.” Petting dogs when they’re scared is like saying, “yes, please go on being scared.” Instead, it’s best to show the dog you’re okay, the world is not falling apart, so they are ok too.

In the spirit of Halloween, one of my favorite holidays (Btw – I am dressing up as Scarlett from GI Joe, because she is a red head that totally kicks ass), I am writing about fear. We all have it. In many cases it serves a good purpose. We should be scared of snakes, because a bite from a poisonous one is bad news. We should be scared of jumping out of a perfectly operational airplane for fun . . . what if that parachute (and back up chute) does not deploy? We should be scared of shopping at Target on black Friday. Fighting for an x-Box at mid-night with a group of determined mothers could end your life . . .

However, Fear shows up when it is not really needed. Our “fight or flight” system gets activated – our heart starts beating rapidly, blood rushes to our extremities, our digestive system shuts down (definitely should not be munching on Doritos when in dangre. . .actually best to avoid Doritos altogether), our thought process narrows to the ultimate goal of escaping danger. Interestingly, the majority of our greatest fears result from the stories we tell ourselves versus reality. As I reflect upon my life, my worst experiences were not the nightmares that I dreamed up in my head, they were obstacles that landed unexpectedly in my life. Once they disembarked, I had tasks to do, things to figure out, breaths to take . . . Fear certainly showed up in those moments. Fear said some pretty awful things, “you’re broken . . . people are going to think you’re pretty f’d up . . . no one else you know is in this kind of mess . . . stop crying . . .everyone is going to see how scared you are . . .” Initially, in these moments, I felt compelled to hide Fear . . . kind of like when you realize you’ve worn mismatched shoes or earrings. You do what you can to direct attention away from these flaws. However, I discovered the more you try to silence Fear, the more Fear speaks up and says, “Hey, you should be damn scared right now. You are all alone and all you’ve got is me. No one is going to understand how terrified you are like I do.”

I have made peace with the fact that Fear is going to show up from time-to-time. I also acknowledge that Fear kept me safe and saved my life several times. When I was quite young, my parents did everything in their power to keep me safe. However, outside of their loving care, I encountered situations that were dangerous and where being in a state of fight-or- flight served me well. As an adult woman, these dangers are no longer present in my life. However, certain situations trigger Fear, and we need to have a talk.

Me: Fear what in the hell are you doing here? I don’t need you right now. What do I need to do to make you go away? Seriously, you’re getting in the way of me being present to life.

Fear: I am here to help you. What if something really bad is around the corner? I can protect you. You know that. We can think of all the possible scenarios which could harm you and then come up with a plan to avoid them. We’re good at this together.

Me: Thank you for showing up during the times in my life I really needed you. I don’t particularly need you right now. If you want to hang out with me, you need to zip your lip.

Fear: Ugh, that’s so hard for me to do. I’m so used to talking with you all the time. Particularly when I’m worried that someone is going to hurt you.

Me: I know, but I’ve got this now.

Fear: I’m worried about you.

Me: Is there anything I can do to make you feel better about leaving me alone?

Fear: Connect with people who love and care about you, so I can know you’re safe or conversely they can help you shut me up if I am prattling along.

Me: Deal.

Like my sweet, scared, splendidly imperfect dog, it’s best to show Fear (when not needed . . . this does not apply to being chased by a Zombie . . .you totally need Fear to help you out with that one) you’re okay, the world is not falling apart, so they are ok too. I invite you to tell unneeded Fear, “Hey, zip your lip. I’m trying to attend to life at the moment!”

Imperfectly,

Amelia

The Power of Intention = Dishrag Slippers

My closest friends will tell you I frequently say, “put that intention into the universe,” followed by, “who wants to order dessert?” Intention/goal setting, prayer . . . whatever you want to call it, involves identifying what you desire in your life and living in a way that brings it to fruition. Yes, I recognize this idea sounds a bit spiritually foo, foo, but we have plenty of psychological research supporting the effectiveness of this process. To me, it involves the combination of rewiring your brain to look for evidence of that of which you seek and also spiritually informing the universe, “Hey! I totally want X in my life, so if you could help me out with this one, I would greatly appreciate it.”

Recovering perfectionists struggle with the key to intention setting . . . letting go of how and WHEN it manifests in one’s life. Holy moly, I STRUGGLE with this one!!! I often find myself saying things like, “Hi Universe. It’s me. Amelia. . . um remember me? . . . I’ve been really good . . . working hard to be a loving, caring, confident person . . . I picked garbage off the sidewalk today . . . I called my mom . . . I stopped wishing ill will to Mr. Scum Bucket (see Successfully Failing Online Dating) . . . can you please respond to that intention I set a few days ago? . . .Trying to trust you here, but questioning if you’re on a Carnival cruise or something . . .” Here’s the paradox of intentions/prayers/goals – one must set them and then completely let go of being attached to a particular outcome. THEN, one has to live life like the intention will happen. At this point, you’re likely thinking “Amelia, WTF?” (Mom please message me later, and I will decipher WTF for you. Also, I apologize upfront for using WTF.)

Here’s a simple example. In September, a friend from yoga class invited me to a party on the roof top of a posh hotel. I had no idea what to wear, so I turned to my best fashionista friend for advice. She instructed me to text her pictures of my cocktail dresses . . . yikes! I consigned my fabulously large collection of two cocktail dresses after a “come to Jesus” with my closet months ago. Hence, I made an emergency shopping trip to Nordstrom’s. I had 6 hours to find a dress. With text support from my fashionista friend and my sweet sister I found a gorgeous cocktail dress, along with an adorable price tag. The price did not justify a one-time wear. However, I said, “Hey universe, this dress is stunning, and I would like to wear it again to something really special. . . I love going to weddings . . .I am happy to don this for a future party . . .” My sweet sister encouraged me to wear it to as many semi-formal events as possible, and I invited the challenge! Two months later, my dear friend Sara contacted me to inform me that she and her boyfriend were engaged and throwing an engagement party in February. I responded by saying, “Congratulations! I’m so excited for you both! I have the perfect dress for your party!” (BTW- I’m wearing the dress in the picture on the “About Me” page. If anyone needs a date to semi-formal event, I would love to wear it again!)

Sometimes the answers to our intentions do not come exactly in the form we xpect. Be careful what you wish for and be open to what comes! During my recent visit to TX, I complained to my kind host, Steve, my feet were cold. . .

Me: Hey Steve my feet are freezing. Can I borrow some socks?

Steve: Good lord girl! It’s 85 degrees outside . . . at night.

Me: I know. . . can I please borrow some socks.

Steve: I have something even better.

Me: (Steve returns with what appear to be two, stripy dishrags, sewn closed on each end with an elastic casing along the top.) What are those?

Steve: They’re dishrag slippers. My Mah-Mah in Louisiana makes them. She’s 92 years old. Hey, didn’t you want some guy to bring you slippers?  (see F’ing Honest.com)

Me: This is not exactly what I had in mind . . .

Steve: Well Amelia, you need to be a little more responsible with the intentions you throw into the universe and be grateful for what you receive. You are bordering the line of high maintenance.

Me: Point well taken . . .

“Hi Universe, It’s me. . . Amelia . . .again. . . umm thanks so much for the slippers . . .they are super comfy and nicely complement my heart-print pjs . . . I should have been a little more mature regarding my intention for love . . .so here it goes . . . I would like to find the love of my life when I’m ready and you think the time is right . . .and if I could also wear my cocktail dress again that would be fabulous . . . not necessary though . . .but a bonus. . . Love, Amelia.”

“It’s not so much that we force the hand of God, as we become willing to be who we need to be in order to manifest the intention.” ~ K. Woodward Thomas

Imperfectly,

Amelia

Dishrag slippers

Dishrag slippers

George Michael is Not the Only One Who Has Got to Have Faith

“Yes, I got to have faith . . .I gotta have faith . . . Cause I gotta have faitha, faitha, faith . . . I gotta have faitha, faitha, faith.” ~George Michael

Approximately one and a half years ago life threw me into the churning, 50 foot waves of an emotional ocean. I would come up for air, fill my lungs, only to be hit by another wave, forced under, while the shattering noise of a powerful ocean and gallons of water pushed overhead and held me tight to the bottom. I wanted up. I wanted to breathe. I wanted it to stop. Whenever a wave receded, I came up choking, gasping, spitting up water and reaching for anyone who could keep me afloat. This process happened for months. My tears were a release of all the emotional water I swallowed when I had the safety and space to release it. When they say grief is a process, they are being f’ing honest. The belief which propelled me through this emotional maelstrom was “faith” . . . faith that I would not feel this way forever . . . faith that the universe must have something better in store for me . . . faith there was a purpose in all the crap I stumbled upon.

During the emotional equivalent of Survivor, a friend invited me to a jewelry party. Typically I abhor pyramid scheme companies which utilize “independent consultants” to pedal cookware, make up, vitamins, etc. However, I liked and wanted to support this friend. Additionally, the party had free appetizers and wine, so nothing lost right? . . . I arrived at the party and instantly felt overwhelmed by all the glittery trinkets and charms. My jewelry tastes are simple. . .  small, delicate, feminine, can be found in the jewelry section of Target.

I sifted through the trays of beads, baubles and charms until I found Faith. Unlike the other flashy jewels on display, she was simple. A pewter tag with her name stamped in all caps. She knew I needed her — a visual reminder of what I knew in my heart. I paired Faith with a simple silver chain and headed to the checkout station. My friends informed me that Faith needed a pop of color and encouraged me to select a colorful bead accent. Faith and I hung out together frequently during the first few months of my divorce. Sometimes, I wore Faith to bed on particularly challenging nights to remind myself I would feel better in the morning, and I typically always did.  I continue to keep a close relationship with Faith, because she always comes through.

If faith feels a little too touchy, feely, Amelia hugs trees because she lives in California, there is psychological support for the benefits of faith. Neuropsychologist Rick Hanson states that our brains are wired for the negative. From an evolutionary perspective, it makes sense our brains would look out for and focus on things that have potential to harm us. Hence, we must teach our brains to do what Hanson calls “taking in the good.” If I have faith that good things are in store for me, and make a concerted effort to notice the good when it comes into my life, then I will feel (insert drum roll here) good. Pretty powerful stuff right? Additionally there is a psychological phenomenon called confirmation bias which states that we look for evidence to support our beliefs. If we have faith that good will come our way, we look for signs to support this belief and if we think life is going to suck we will find plenty of evidence to this effect.

For me faith has a spiritual component, it’s my way of saying, “Hey universe, I don’t get why all this b.s. is happening to me right now. I know it’s a FOG (i.e., F!@#$ing Opportunity for Growth) moment. I’m going to do my best to trust that everything is the way it should be right now and all I have to figure out is the next step.” Boy, this one is hard for me. I want the whole plan including two back up plans in case Plan A or B does not work. I also want AAA emotional towing support for unexpected life events. However, Faith reminds me that I’m OK, safe and loved. There is something bigger and better coming if I can have patience and yield to the universe’s time line vs. mine.

May you have faith.

Imperfectly,

Amelia

My splendidly imperfect dog has faith things will be better in the morning . . .

My splendidly imperfect dog has faith things will be better in the morning . . .

Assist Pin: Coping With Painful Emotions

 

I love the chin up/dip machine in the gym. It is one of the most efficient ways to work several major muscle groups at once. Given I detest weight lifting, but I know it builds strong and healthy bones, yada, yada, yada, I celebrate a machine that shortens my agony. I also love that it contains the “weight assist” stack. I simply determine the pounds I want to subtract from my actual weight and insert the lovely “assist” pin. On particularly challenging days, I place the pin near my exact weight and pull myself up with one hand! I feel like Demi Moore in GI Jane except I don’t have a shaved head or her ripped biceps. Gymgoers standing  at least 20 feet away might possibly mistake me for Svetlana Feofanova — a fellow famous red-haired athlete! I do try to challenge myself and move the pin up and pull up more and more of my weight. I recognize muscle building involves pain but some days I need a break from it.

When it comes to painful emotions, perfectionists find the assist pin particularly attractive. Perfectionist assist pins come in all shapes and sizes . . . working long hours, racking up achievements, filling every available moment with something productive, rigid exercise routines, and cleaning. Some assist pin activities can be helpful like distracting oneself from painful emotions by calling a friend, going for a run, or doing something kind for others. Others can prove particularly damaging like numbing out with alcohol, food or excessive sedentariness.

One should not use the aforementioned coping strategies to continuously to avoid painful emotions. Tal- Ben Shahar (2009) highlights that painful emotions need to move freely down the “emotional pipe line” in order to maintain good emotional-wellbeing. When we continuously suppress, ignore, and distract ourselves from painful emotions a clog builds and these emotions remain trapped inside contributing to depression, anxiety and low self-esteem. If we use the “assist pin” over and over again it will eventually wear down, break and send us crashing under our true weight. Hence, we need to challenge ourselves to pull it out and feel, ache, grieve and hurt and know we are human and splendidly, imperfectly built.

At times, we need to put the pin in. Shortly after I separated from my ex-husband the grief permeated my being to the depths that my heart physically ached. I had no idea that a human being could shed such colossal volumes of tears. I recognized that I could not grieve 24/7 and maintain some semblance of sanity. I needed breaks. I needed the assist pin. My “assist” pin included things like a living room early 90’s dance party with my sister, watching really horrible reality TV (so bad I cannot succumb to telling you even though I use a pen name), painting my toe nails radical colors, listening to Nine Inch Nails VERY, VERY loud in my car and yelling “Head like a hole, black’s got your soul, I’d rather die than give you control!,” hot baths, watching videos of cute baby animals on youtube and then . . . I. Pulled. The. Pin. Out. . . so I could work through the pain, build strength and prevent the pin from wearing out. It’s an imperfect process. Sometimes I leave the pin in too long. Other times, I suffer too long under the gravity of my own weight and could benefit from giving myself a break. My wish for all of us is that we can grow in our discernment of when to put the pin in and pull it out.

Imperfectly,

Amelia

My splendidly imperfect dog can be a sweet, furry, four-legged “assist pin.”