Self-care set point

Hello everyone! I apologize for my hiatus. Adulting invaded my writing space.  I started the decluttering method by Marie Kondo. I only keep things which “spark joy.” I’m down to my dog, chocolate, and coffee maker.. Just kidding . . . I have quite a way to go. I’m also brushing up on my Spanish. ¿Como estas?

Two months ago my boyfriend and I started renovating a badly neglected 1959 ranch. We deemed it the “rescue house.” Like a rescue dog, it suffered neglect, had goofy quirks and a ton of potential. It also reeked of cat urine! In true Californian hippy dippy fashion I named and spoke to it. I assured her that we would love her back to life. We just needed her patience and trust. I gave her a good saging and hoped to God the neighbors didn’t think we were potheads.

Holy moly was she beat up! First,I prepped walls for painting. I swear one room had over 500 nail holes. When filling hole 100 I declared, “What the F**k!” A few minutes later my lovely boyfriend yelled, “What the hell!” He informed me the previous owner attached a fan to the ceiling via caulk.

During my initial visits to the house, I left feeling tense, overwhelmed,and guilty that I did not stay longer to help. I noticed myself waking up cranky on the weekends, particularly the ones in which I committed to other social engagements. I just wanted to walk my doggie by the bay, go on dates again with my boyfriend, eat scones from my favorite cafe and curl up on my couch with a book. Instead I ran around like a crazy woman. Breakfast conversations with my boyfriend shifted from meaningful topics such as social justice to how quickly porcelain tile would become the equivalent of shag carpet. Initially a great, trendy idea but later a decorator’s disaster.

One morning I chastised the French press for not accommodating the amount of water I poured into it. My boyfriend calmly walked into the kitchen, “You ok?.” I paused, checked in with myself and realized the answer was, “no.” For weeks I had functioned outside of my setpoint, that delicate balance between doing and being needed to be a semi-sane person in this overstimulating world.

I made a conscious choice to move back to a place of homeostasis.I began saying “no” more often. I stopped feeling compelled to answer emails and texts immediately. I declined social invitations which would cause more stress than joy. I limited my  house renovation time to a few hours a week. I carved out more time to walk by the bay, read, and cuddle with Frankie, who is currently cone-bound due to a hot spot. My boyfriend and I went on a date!

I encourage you to check yourself. Are you attending to your set point? What do you need to let go? What do you need to take on? Do you need a scone?

Take care my friends.

Imperfectly,

Amelia

frankie-cone

Hands Off

During the 1940’s, many pilots perished trying to break the sound barrier. Sadly, the jets handled differently in the outer atmosphere and would frequently spin. In order to regain control, pilots would jerk the controls in every possible direction in hopes of righting the jet. Tragically, this approach often resulted in crashing and burning. As Chuck Yeager’s rocket-propelled jet transcended the edge of the atmosphere the powerful G-forces rendered him unconscious  during a spin. When he came to, his hands were off the controls, and the forces of the universe righted the jet. He communicated this experience to the other test pilots, and letting go of the controls became part of their training. On October 14, 1947, Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in the Bell X-1. Pretty awesome, right?

As a recovering perfectionist, letting go of the controls is incredibly counter-intuitive and frickin’ hard. My mind tries to protect me by rehearsing for tragedy, putting up armor, and getting ready to run. Regrettably, it loves to do this procedure at night when I would much rather be sleeping. Many years ago I served as a fact witness in a legal hearing. I was selected for this “honor,” because my employer felt my skills and speaking ability were well-suited to this task. I performed well; however, the opposite party was not pleased with the outcome and threatened to sue everyone involved, including me. While I knew I had nothing to fear regarding be negligible, I was in the process of applying for another, and very important, position. I feared losing this opportunity. I castrophized and thought of the worst case scenarios, one which resulted in my being homeless. I lost sleep, my appetite, and at times my sanity. I wish I could tell you I let go of the controls and found my peace. Nope, I learned all my worrying did not ward off or produce a particular outcome. Fortunately, the lawsuit never came to fruition, and I was able to secure the job I desired. This outcome still would have happened without my ruminating . . .

Yesterday, I went to a new carwash which required pulling the car onto a platform, shifting it into neutral AND taking my hands off the steering wheel. A warning sign specifically said, “DO NOT try to steer.” I thought, “Humph, universe you’re really testing me on this letting go of control thing, even in a carwash!” I took my hands off the steering wheel, and the conveyer belt pulled my car forward into the washers and suds. Initially, my heart rate increased, and I thought, “I don’t like this.” Then, I took a deep breath and thought, “This is pretty awesome. My car is getting washed, and I don’t have to do anything but sit here and breathe.” What controls do you need to let go of today?

Imperfectly,

Amelia

My splendidly imperfect dog's version of letting go.

My splendidly imperfect dog’s version of letting go.

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