I’m So Weird!

The Mad Hatter: Have I gone mad?

[Alice checks Hatter’s temperature]

Alice Kingsley: I’m afraid so. You’re entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret. All the best people are.

Last night I was talking with someone and the dumbest thing came out of my mouth. It is as if it did not stop to pass go or collect $200 dollars. It just came out and landed on the ground with a plop. At the moment it plopped on the ground my mind gremlins went into full force. The gremlins screamed “Oh no! Oh no! Oh no!” and “Retreat! Retreat!”

Retreat is exactly what I did. I exited the situation like a vaudeville villain which probably made me look even crazier. I returned back to the group of people I was sharing time with. All the while, the mind gremlins were in full force “I’m so dumb!” and “Why did I say that” and “I’m never going to live this down.” Outwardly, I smiled and carried on like there was not a war happening in my mind. I think I am actually quite good at this.

I’ve come to accept that this is my life. I’m weird. Like, super weird. I say the oddest things sometimes and it’s not until they leave my mouth and hit the air that I realize just how bizarre the words are. I once nicknamed someone kitty litter. This is the type of weirdo we’re talking about. I wonder sometimes if people keep me around just to see what falls out next. I suppose that must be both terrifying and entertaining for the people in my world. It’s really all about balance.

I also talk to myself quite a bit. When I walk my dogs, I’ll catch myself having a conversation, out loud, about something that’s happening in my life. I live in a well populated neighborhood so I can imagine that some people have their opinions. It’s not that I’m intending to have these conversations out loud, it just happens.

When I was first dating my partner, he called me weird and it hurt my feelings and I know he did not intend to be hurtful. Those words don’t bother me anymore. I know I’m weird and I have worked to fully embrace my eccentricities.  Naturally, the mind gremlins aren’t too fond of the weirdness. I mean, I’m human so sometimes it’s hurtful when people call me out on it but not too often.

What gives me the most peace about my weirdness is that I think most people spend a lot of time with their own mind gremlins and aren’t really thinking too much about what I’m saying or doing. They might make the mental observation that I said something weird and then slinked away while looking side to side, thus making them even more confused.

I know that I can’t escape who I am so I will raise my cup off coffee and cheers to the great and powerful Maria Bamford, Amy Sedaris, and Leslie Jones, for it is on their shoulders I stand and embrace my peculiar way of being in the world.

Even if you’re disgusting, and everyone is creeped out by you and thinks you’re gross, you know, keep doing what you love! “- Maria Bamford

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Pablo Neruda: The Great Lover of Love.

I love poetry. Love, love, love poetry. I was having drinks with a friend years ago and we both agreed that the world would be a better place if we all read more poetry. He recited T.S. Eliot from memory and I responded with Maya Angelou and Pablo Neruda.

We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time. – T.S. Eliot

NPR reported today that there were newly discovered works from Pablo Neruda. They’re unsure as to whether or not he wanted them shared and usually I think that we should respect the artist and keep what might have been intended to be private, private. This is why I felt so uncomfortable with Harper Lee’s, Go Set a Watchmen being released.

But, I can’t deny that I am extremely excited to read the newly discovered works of Neruda.

Let me share with you some of what was released (courtesy of NPR)

“Never alone, with you

over the earth,

crossing through fire.

Never alone.

With you in the forests

finding again

dawn’s

stiff arrow,

the tender moss

of spring

With you

in my struggle,

not the one I chose

but

the only one.”

That poem reminded me of one of my favorite poems of Neruda’s (both about his wife):

Sonnet XVII

“I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way than this:

where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep. ”

Pablo Neruda

Love.

 

Please, Stop Telling That Tired Old Story.

“We accept the love we think we deserve.” 

Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

“I’ll never be happy”

“No one will ever love me”

“I’m too broken or messed up to be lovable”

“I can’t do that”

“I’ll never get that job/promotion”

“I’m not smart enough”

You’re right. If you keep believing these things you will make them true. This is not so much about the Law of Attraction (aka, The Secret) as much as it is about self-fulfilling prophecy.

We all have scripts written out that exist in our minds related to what is possible and what is not possible for our lives. Whether we know it or not, we operate according to these scripts. For many of us, these scripts were written when we were very young and often written by other people. Maybe we watched our parents trudge through life resentful of their positions. Maybe we were told by someone(s) that we were not good enough. Maybe a teacher told you that you were not smart enough. We know the human mind is attracted to negative messages more than positive ones. And, once the message is in our mind it is locked in tight.

The trick is to first see the script you are working from. Why do you believe you can’t find love? Because you made mistakes? Because you don’t look like a supermodel? Because you don’t make six figures? Those are all ridiculous excuses that have nothing to do with whether or not you deserve happiness. (clue: if you disagree with me you are probably holding on to a script for dear life). All humans are flawed and make mistakes and yet we are still deserving of love and compassion.

Some people are even willing to say what they are really afraid of: Because I don’t want to get hurt. Well, if you are living person you are going to get hurt – that is absolutely inevitable. How would you prefer to get hurt? Living a life you choose or working from a tired old script filled with “you can’t phrases” because that hurts too.

We often act in ways that elicit a response from others that reinforces our script. What do I mean by this?

Example script: I am never going to find love.

What happens next:

  1. You never even try to get into a relationship
  2. You choose a partner that treats you poorly and stay in that relationship
  3. You get into a relationship and convince the person they are an idiot for being with you (you’re too good for me, you’re cheating on me, you don’t love me)
  4. You get into a relationship and push the person away or keep them at a distance (resist vulnerability, act dishonestly)
  5. You get into a relationship and treat the person poorly (abusive, mean, cruel, defensive, jealous, cheat)

Then, the relationship ends and “See! I was right, I am unlovable!” And, I’m not shocked your script played out just as you anticipated.

I could run through the same scenarios related to employment, opportunities, education and happiness. Sometimes in therapy we refer to this process as “begging for your own misery.” As an adult, you are now able to rewrite your script. Yes, the old scripts will linger around and you’ll still hear them and feel the need to follow them. This gets easier and the noise from the old scripts will quiet down. They may never go away but you don’t have to follow them anymore.

What is the biggest difference between people who are happy with their lives and people who are unhappy with their lives? The people that are happy in their lives operate from a script that involves happier stories. It is not that their lives are easier, it is that their perceptions of their lives are different. This was highlighted in the post That Was A Hell of A Day. Be careful very about what you tell yourself about your life and possibilities because it will most certainly come true.

“This led me to a study of expectancy theory and self-fulfilling prophecies or the “Pygmalion effect,” and to a realization of how deeply imbedded our perceptions are. It taught me that we must look at the lens through which we see the world, as well as at the world we see, and that the lens itself shapes how we interpret the world.” – Stephen R. Covey

This Poem Is Stalking Me.

If it is possible for a piece of art to stalk you, this poem would be an example of that for me. This poem finds me on a regular basis.

It repeatedly shows up in blogs or articles I read, books I read (Wild), people literally bring it to me in hard copy (this happened today), it is presented on all forms of social media on a consistent basis. Don’t get me wrong, I love poetry and I love Mary Oliver. I also love Pablo Neruda, Maya Angelou, e.e. cummings, and you get it what I’m saying. But, I never see Alone by Maya Angelou (my favorite poem of all time).

WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO TELL ME MARY OLIVER!?!

A Summer Day

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 down into 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 do

with your one wild and precious life?

—Mary Oliver

My Dream Crushing Gremlin.

“Anyone whose goal is ‘something higher’ must expect someday to suffer vertigo. What is vertigo? Fear of falling? No, vertigo is something other than fear of falling. It is the voice of the emptiness below us which tempts and lures us, it is the desire to fall, against which, terrified, we defend ourselves.”
Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Aim high? Shoot for the stars?  No thanks, I think I’m fine right where I am. – The Gremlin in my head

Recently, I’ve noticed my an increasing tendency to crap on my own dreams. I am definitely the first to say, “it’s not going to work out” when an opportunity presents itself in my life. It seems that the more excited I get about potential opportunities, the louder the gremlin screams stop. That mean little gremlin voice really likes to speak up when faced with an awesome opportunity. That little shit.

I want to be better about this.

I know how self-defeating it is to shut down my own hopes and dreams. I think “would I say that to a friend or family member?” I wish the answer were no, but it depends. We talked about how I try to prevent future problems and save people pain (a futile and cruel practice) by highlighting what might go wrong in “Happiness Terrifies Me” . Overall, I think I try to be a supporter for those I love. But that little gremlin just gets going, “Don’t get your hopes up because what if it doesn’t happen” and sometimes this spills over into my relationships. That little shit.

What if I fail?

Interestingly, I am not too afraid of failure. I’ve “failed” at lots of things in my life and magically, life kept on going just fine. And, because of my job, I know that people talk badly about each other all the time and it is usually not personal. But, I am still a human with feelings so what other people think and say does affect me. And, the gremlin likes to use other people’s opinions as evidence that it’s not worth it to try.

For example, when I share a hope or dream and someone suggests that it might not work out that way. Or, when something good happens and someone I love can’t be happy for me, the little gremlin screams, “See! I told you it wasn’t a good idea and they agree with me!” Literally, one person might suggest that I take the safe and predictable road and ten others may tell me to go for it and the gremlin convincingly uses the one person (that I may not even like) as evidence to back down. That little shit.

The Revelation.

The mean little gremlin voice is just trying to keep me safe (in a rather crappy way). The gremlin is a firm believer in staying put where things are safe and predictable. I need to stop arguing with it or trying to convince it that it’s safe to take chances. Because it is not safe to take chances and the little gremlin is right, things might not turn out the way I hope. Maybe I should stop calling him a little shit? Maybe I need to thank the little gremlin for its concern. I think we all have little gremlins that want to keep us just where we are, We know what to expect here!” – Says The Gremlin. However, if eventually I want be somewhere else or do something different, I need to step out and take chances. The gremlin will probably never be a supporter of change but that’s his job. I get it.

“We are all failures- at least the best of us are.”
J.M. Barrie

That Was A Hell Of A Day.

“What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing. It also depends on what sort of person you are.”
C.S. Lewis, The Magician’s Nephew

For many of us, what we choose to see and how we choose to tell our stories makes all the difference between believing we have an overall good life or an overall bad life. The problem is, we may not always be aware of how we are narrating our lives. Let me present you with an example of the same day told two different ways

First Scenario

How was your day?

Listen to this shit, my tire blew on the way to work and I couldn’t find the insurance paperwork for forever. Then I called my husband and of course he didn’t answer right away. He offered to come help and I was like, “Like you know what you’re doing with a car! Get back to whatever you were doing and I’ll call them myself.” I finally got a hold of the wrecker and you would not believe how long I had to wait for them. I was like “Fine, like I have a choice.” I was in such a bad neighborhood, too! Some creepy dude pulled up behind me and came up to my window so  I cracked the window and yelled at him to go away. I refused to make eye contact with him. Weirdo. The wrecker got there and took his sweet time reminding me a donut wasn’t safe. Like I’m an idiot!

Then, I finally got to work and my boss looked at me like she was annoyed I was late and I thought to myself, I bet you can’t wait to write this on my review. Then I could hear Carol in the next cubicle rattling on about how I’m always late. I stood up and looked her dead on. She shut up.

Oh and then the husband called, he had the nerve to ask how I was. I said “Fine, no thanks to you!” And then! I got to daycare to pick Chelsea up and the lady that is supposed to watch my kid said that Toby bit her. I lost it. I told her that I was going to pull Chelsea out of there if it happened again.

I got home and the husband was sitting in his chair not doing shit, like always. I just shook my head with Chelsea in hand and headed towards the kitchen. Of course, Chelsea screamed throughout dinner. Can you believe, Ted wants another kid. He doesn’t do anything to help with the first one. Anyway, I got to go. The kid needs a bath and Ted “wants a hug.” I know what he wants and he’s not getting sex tonight. Bye.

Second Scenario

How was your day?

Hey! Thanks for checking in on me. My day was full of adventure. Do you have a minute for me to tell you what happend? You do? Awesome.

So, my tire blew and I called Ted. He offered to come help me, but I know he’s busy so I called the wrecker. They said it would only be 30 minutes! That’s pretty quick. Then! A nice guy stopped to help me out. Some people can be pretty great. I thanked him and told him that help was on the way. The wrecker made sure the spare was on and reminded me to get it fixed as soon as I could.

I made it to work in pretty good time given how eventful the morning went. And, then my boss came up to me to say she was glad everything was okay. I really appreciate her support. Oh Remember Carol? I think she’s still struggling. I could hear her talking about me being late, but I shrugged it off, some people seem to want to find things to be upset about. Then Ted called and I thanked him for reminding me about the roadside part of our insurance. Where would I be without him?

When I picked Chelsea up from daycare Susan said that Toby bit her again. I checked her arm and there wasn’t a mark. It didn’t even break the skin. I know she loves those kids and Toby is going through the biting stage. Bless his mom’s heart!

Ted was relaxing when I got home and I gave him a kiss and thanked him again for his help. Guess what? Chelsea still hates peas so the dog got a mouthful of treats tonight. I’m gonna get her in the tub and then cuddle with my husband and maybe make another baby.

Can I give you a call later this week to see how you’re doing?

Great.

Thanks for listening.

Can you tell what made the same day different?

Love.

“I believe I am in Hell, therefore I am.”
Arthur Rimbaud

You Are Creative, I Promise.

“A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.”  ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

I used to believe that I was not a creative person. In fact, I proudly exclaimed it. I never thought of my writing as being a creative. For so many years, I wrote for other people. I wrote about things that I did not find interesting and nothing about that felt creative (or good). I believe that the product suffered as a result.

In graduate school, I had one professor tell me my writing was a catastrophe and he wondered how I graduated high school (where I received awards every year for my writing?) and at the same time I had another professor tell me that my writing was “amazing” and “insightful” even “profoundI felt like a crazy person. Unfortunately, I believed the person that thought my writing was a disaster. I regret that decision.

Now I understand that writing, even professional writing, is a form of artistic expression. There is a flow and and a pace that each of us has with our written word. Much like the stroke of a paint brush or the strum of a guitar some people will love your work, some people will hate it and some people will not understand it.

Last weekend, I was visited by a long lost dear friend. A man I’ve loved and adored for over a decade. One of his paintings hangs in my living room. I have always considered him to be a talented artist. We talked for hours about his writing projects and the novels he is working on. I am also working (slowly) on a novel but I shrugged it off. He stood in my kitchen offended that I would treat my art that way. He was right. He accused me of leaving my characters stuck on a page. He was right. I’m back working on the novel with thanks to his encouragement.

But, this message is for you. You are creative. We all are. And for all you parents out there, I know those Legos are not just for the kids! There are so many ways to be creative and express your creativity. Some people cook, some people craft, some people dance, some people sing, some people write poetry, some people write screenplays, some people write blogs about whatever they feel like (that’s me), some people take pictures, some people build houses, some people dress with style, some people teach (I could go on and on). I know some people that do all of the above and it is incredible.

The point is to take what you do and be creative with it in some way. Add a splash of color to your life. Please, share your wonderful, beautiful, and awesome uniqueness with the world.

If you need science to encourage you:

“Researchers at Maharishi University of Management in Iowa and the University West in Sweden have found creativity lies at the root of innovation, entrepreneurship, competitiveness, and faster brain processing. The findings, which were published in the Creativity Research Journal, highlight the brain’s ability to integrate and process problems and alternative solutions faster if its creative side is more highly developed.” –  (2014)

“Instead, the entire creative process– from preparation to incubation to illumination to verification– consists of many interacting cognitive processes (both conscious and unconscious) and emotions. Depending on the stage of the creative process, and what you’re actually attempting to create, different brain regions are recruited to handle the task.” –  Scott Barry Kaufman (2013)

Remember, if someone says your art is a disaster kindly bid them adieu and share your creation with someone who appreciates your style because I promise, they are out there just waiting for you to create. 

Love.

“The chief enemy of creativity is good sense.”  ― Pablo Picasso

“The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.”  ― Albert Einstein