So “selfish” is NOT a dirty word?

Cover of "The Art of Extreme Self-Care: T...

Cover via Amazon

I really LOVE it when I am in tune with the Universe.  When I am really going by my intuition and listening with all of my senses to what is right for me.  Lately, I have been getting that I need self-protection, to cocoon myself, and spend more time on the things my spirit and my heart guide me to do.  And I know when these things are right FOR ME because it seems like everyone else whips out the guilt on me when I choose to do them.

I have been spending more time alone and loving it.  I had always been a “people person”, always on the go to the next social function, never wanting to miss anything.  On the other hand, I LOVE my own company and am never bored or “lonely” when I’m with myself.  I can always find something to do solo, whether it be going trough the endless pile of magazines I hold on to, watching an old movie curled up under the covers, or spending an afternoon in a bookstore.  It is enjoyable to be with me and nobody else. It’s quiet and sometimes quiet is awesome.

Another thing I have begun to notice is that I am ultra-sensitive to other people’s energy.  Like SUPER SENSITIVE.  To the point of not being able to tolerate some people even in small doses.  It’s exhausting and quite frankly I’m sick of other people’s bullshit.  Maybe because I used to be a great bullshitter… I’m not sure… or maybe because I truly stopped bullshitting many years ago.  I’m just so over hearing the ramblings of idiots these days.  Not that I have less love for someone because they are an idiot, I just would really like them to speed up their walk along life’s path and get a clue.  They rob me of my time, my peace of mind, and afterwards I am robbed of my energy.  I don’t like this.

I have a few people in my life that are constantly on the offensive, constantly trying to insert themselves into my life.  As a result I am always on the defensive, waiting for the next invite I need to turn down or not committing to the next “favor” I’m getting roped into.  Now I know I have created these experiences in many ways.  I have taught people how to treat me.  But I have come to the point where I cannot and will not do this any longer.  It is beginning to affect me physically, and while I will go on for what seems like an eternity being guilt-ed by someone, I draw the line at becoming physically ill because of them..

I happened to get a link to a book, “The Art of Extreme Self-Care” by Cheryl Richardson and it was like trumpets, light bulbs and a thousand “AHA!!”s went off all at once.  This book is about EXACTLY what I am dealing with in my life right now, and how thrilling that I should feel GOOD about feeling the way I do rather than feeling bad about it!!

I used to think being selfish was a bad thing, but I’m beginning to think I may have been wrong all these years.  Yes, being selfish and putting yourself before EVERYTHING else isn’t very appealing or nice, but being selfish in the sense that you take care of yourself FIRST, before you take on anything else, is a very good thing.  And one I am taking on as of this moment.

Try, try again!!

I was going to write a blog post apologizing for not writing posts for a while, then I realized the only one it is really affecting is me.  But, I haven’t really been “neglecting” it because I have been so focused on other parts of my life.  And I have been reaching my goals which is awesome, so I’m not going to beat myself up over it!  It’s all about balance and that is something I’m working on. 

I look back at my life a year ago and I have come SO FAR, it is truly amazing.  I don’t want to revisit it, so just trust me on this one.  I still have some work to do – - ok, a lot of work to do, don’t we all? – - but it seems much more do-able since I have accomplished so much over the last months.  The funniest thing is that it didn’t take that much work, it just took the desire to do it and taking the first step.  The hard part was getting out of my head and expanding my comfort zone a little bit.

I would say I’m about a month away from performing stand up comedy… this is HUGE for me.  I have had so many roadblocks in the pursuit of it and all I can think of is that it must have to do with timing and being in the right place to do it.  I’m trying not to get stuck on “plans” with it, and letting it grow organically…

My new take on blogging is to JUST BLOG as often as possible and not get into lengthy, well thought out types of blog posts.  I get so stuck in my head, overthinking everything, and wearing myself out in the process.  Which leads to… NOTHING!!  And to be honest, if I just do it rather than overthink it, it will probably be a lot more honest and from the heart.

Here’s to regrouping, setting new goals, and getting things done…

Thrive!!

Thrive

Image by St0rmz via Flickr

Ahhhh…. 2012…. it has such a nice ring to it and a great feeling to it as well.  Something changed over the last few months… not just in me but in the world around me.  Maybe it’s the prediction about the world coming to an end in December that is making us think differently, take action where we normally wouldn’t, and just enjoy every single day we have.  Or maybe it’s something cosmic, spilling down on us from the stars or the planets that are suddenly in perfect alignment for change.  Whatever it is, I’m loving it and embracing it.

I want to LIVE this year, to THRIVE, and to have the magical life I always dreamed of.  The only way to get it is to do it, nobody is going to hand me anything.  I have given up on being rewarded for being a good person, or on having a spectacular lottery win that will bring me a fortune.  I have worked so hard to better myself as a person, to understand and heal my past so I can have an incredible future.  That took – - and continues to take – - a lot of work.  The great news is I am learning and implementing changes in my life all the time to make it sweeter.

This month I am working on my ego.  No, not making it bigger but getting it out of my way! 

I recently got laid off from a temp job I took during the holidays.  This was a job I was “done” with, it had served it’s purpose, I was getting burned out, and I wanted to quit.  They did mass layoffs which I survived, then last Monday they did their final layoffs.  I was given my walking papers then.  And what did I feel?  Relief?  Joy?  Thanks?  Nope.  I felt HURT that they didn’t keep me!  Now, keep in mind this was a TEMP JOB that I didn’t want to be at anymore.  But when they let me go, I suddenly felt like I was not appreciated and had been used or duped.  I was jealous of the people who got to stay and found myself wanting to tell them how UNLUCKY they were for being kept on… how they would be slaving away while I was home relaxing and watching “Mob Wives”.

I had to take a serious look at what was going on inside of me, and after thinking about it for a couple of days I recognized it was my ego puffing up it’s chest and feeling rejected.  And while I didn’t get over it immediately after recognizing my old friend “ego”, I could start to disect my feelings and turn them around.

One morning I woke up to work – - yes, I work from home, which is a HUGE gift in and of itself – - and I opened my notepad on my desktop and started to type the things I get to do since I have the freedom I have… the things I WANT to do and I am GOING to do!!  I’m not wasting this gift of life by sitting around being average.  I want so much more.  And, since I could easily not do what I set out to do by keeping these “to do’s” private, I’m going to post them here so you can keep me accountable. 

I have no excuses for NOT creating the life I want to live.  So, in 2012, you will be with me when I accomplish the impossible – - at least by my past standards.  Wish me luck & thanks for being here.

Questioning my “reality”… what a great idea!!

Butterfly

Image by Travelling Steve via Flickr

Many times in my life, I have felt alone.  Or maybe just disconnected from everyone else, which still left me feeling like I was by myself in the world.  Especially when I have what seem like overwhelming problems.  I feel like somehow I did something to deserve it, or I  have some flaw that brought it on.  I was sure that other people didn’t have problems like I had, because everyone else in the world has gotten it together except for me.  I assumed I was special… unique in my pain and problems… going through so much more than anyone else… all the while knowing that NOBODY could ever “feel my pain”.

I have slowly begun to realize that I was wrong all of these years. 

As with most things in my life, I start getting signs that lead me in a certain direction of thought, until one day I get one of those “aha!” moments.  It began with a magazine article or television show where a subject had what seemed like the “perfect” life and gradually we would see that things weren’t as rosy as they looked on the outside.  But my BIG “aha!” moment came a couple of weeks ago at a get-together with some girlfriends from high school. 

There is something magical about friendships from high school.  Well, maybe it’s unique to our high school or the group of women that showed up at this little party.  It was like time had stood still.  There were a few wrinkles, some extra pounds, nicer clothes… but we were all still “us”.  Laughing and talking like not one day had passed since graduation.  Oh, there was something else different, I know I appreciate each of them so much more than I ever could have at 18!!  I LOVE these women, each and every one of them, even if we weren’t so tight back in the day.  I love them for who they are, and for who they were that night.

Which brings me to one of the ladies that I didn’t know very well in high school.  She was BREATHTAKING in high school… dark, shiny, long hair… beautiful green eyes… great figure… the works.  She was very quiet and barely spoke when I saw her at school.  All the boys were in love with her, I would see them watching her as she walked by – - along with many of the girls! – - just watching her, not saying a word.  She was the type of girl I longed to be.  So beautiful, desired by the boys and envied by the girls.  Her life had to be so much easier than mine, I was sure of it.

I would see her on Facebook now, with that same gorgeous face and figure… she is always doing something fun and I still envy her.  But, that night in our girlfriend’s kitchen I learned a valuable lesson.  The pretty girls in high school don’t always have the perfect lives we think they did.  She had transferred from our school to another school for senior year.  I asked her why she did that, thinking the answer would be her parents moved, or they had a certain class she wanted to take.  Nope.  I was so wrong.  She moved because a lot of those boys that liked her had girls that liked them.  Tough girls, like ones in gangs.  And she was threatened so much by these girls, cornered with them ready to beat her face in time after time, that she HAD to leave for her sanity.  WOW!!  That blew my mind!!  I was bullied in high school, and that was one of “my” things that made me so incredibly special and strong.  That was something that I spent HOURS rolling around on my bed sobbing about!!  But I was an overweight girl with a big mouth, so I figured I was the easy target.  I KNEW that if I were pretty and quiet I would have saved myself a lifetime (or four years) of pain.  I have carried that “knowledge” around with me for almost 30 years.   

Over the next couple of weeks, I started letting go of other little mental dramas I had created.  My struggles, my pain, my stories that I have held onto for decades, believing they ARE me.  They aren’t.  They are just thoughts and the things I’ve gone through are just that… things.  And maybe not just “my” things.   I don’t need to re-visit them, especially if they don’t serve me.  I have found that I have lightened up so much since that night.  It is a huge relief knowing how wrong I’ve been. I’m now only thinking back on things to flip the script on myself and free myself from thoughts that have held me back. 

To say it was a great party is an understatement.  I can hardly wait til the next one.

Crazy people get the best drugs!!

Zoloft tablets

Image via Wikipedia

I haven’t posted here in over a month.  I started out with a bang but then life got in the way of my progress.  I have been trying to get back on the horse, but it has been difficult.  So, I have decided to come clean with you about what’s up.  I would love to come accross as somebody who has gotten it all toghether… someone without problems… someone who just floats through life with ease.  I’m not quite there yet.  Not even close.  Which brings me to the double-edged sword that I wield on a daily basis.  I love myself despite my faults and shortcomings.  But my faults and shortcomings can bring on a set of challenges that make me unhappy and challenge my self-love.  

I think my experiences of the last few years and the stress involved caught up with me in September and I fell into a deep depression.  I have dealt with depression and anxiety for most of my life, back to when I was a child.  I thought my thoughts and feelings were normal and just the hand I was dealt in life.  I thought I deserved my pain and suffering.  Maybe God was punishing me (thanks, Catholic school!), or I was horribly flawed in some way.  I envied the girls who could smile because they were genuinely happy.  I could fake my way through anything… acting happy, confident, unafraid… but inside I was a nightmare.  It never dawned on me that I had a medical problem until I was forced to face up to it.  I was diagnosed in 2000 after the job I loved so much was gone and I transferred to a new department full of borderline personality bitches (I wish I was exaggerating!).  My father had a heart attack at the same time.  It was too much at once and I couldn’t control what I had kept hidden for so long.  In simple terms I LOST IT… big time!

As with most “bad” things that happen in life, I thank God that it did.  I was diagnosed with clinical depression and a severe anxiety disorder.  I got an awesome therapist who was on my side and really shed light on my entire life.  I got on Zoloft and Buspar which worked wonders, except I was completely out of it and couldn’t function normally.  I couldn’t work.  The borderline personality bitches were still an absolute nightmare and every day I felt like I was driving up to prison and they were going to shank me in the yard.  The depression and anxiety were fading away but the DREAD of going to work wasn’t.  I talked to my therapist about it and she said, “Do you realize that if you wanted to, you NEVER have to go back there?  YOU have options!”  It was like the clouds parted and the sun shone for the first time in months.  I got my get out of prison free card!  I took a leave of absence and I could breathe, sleep, and smile for the first time in months. 

I would like to say that everything was perfect after that, but it is life that we are talking about, gilded with mental illness.  God, I hate saying that, it is so embarrassing sometimes, but I want to keep saying it until I own it.  Mental illness.  Ugh.

Through the years I would go off the medication.  Stupid, I know, but I would start feeling better, make myself think that I was making me better, not the medication.  On and off… on and off… over and over.  It goes on like that for a lot of us mentally ill people.  Double ugh.

For the last few years I have been off of medication, which is HILARIOUS considering I have dealt with more stress and emotional pain during those years than I ever thought I could handle.  It culminated with our leaving California and moving to Arizona in June.  It was bittersweet for me.  I grew up in Arizona, my family is here, most of my friends are here.  The only thing I miss about California is my beautiful friend Stella, her family, the weather and the beach.  I thought I would be much happier here, and for the most part I am.   But, the stress – - both bad and good – - finally caught up with me in early September.

It usually starts the same way.  I feel a little sad.  Then the days start to bleed into one another.  I start looking at myself and my life as though I’m watching it on TV.  It’s surreal and sad.  A dark wave starts to come over me and I can feel it… dreading it.  Finally, it gets to be too much to handle and I’m in such deep emotional pain I can see no way out.  Thankfully, I have enough sanity left to call the doctor and get on medication, which is exactly what I did.

The medication I’m on now, Paxil, hit me like a ton of bricks.  I wasn’t just lethargic, I was immoble.  For close to two solid weeks all I could do was sleep, barely eat, and lay on the couch.  The thought of picking up the phone was exhausting.  I had to cancel everything.  I couldn’t work.  I didn’t go anywhere.  I was a slug but it felt soooooo good because I really didn’t care about ANYTHING other than resting and getting back to being okay on a daily basis.

Which brings me back to blogging.  I really, really love it and sitting here typing I can’t believe it took me so long to get back on that horse.  I like to do things well and I just try to write from my heart, write honestly, and maybe make a difference somewhere along the way.  I felt like if I didn’t tell you what was going on in my life that I would be lying and turning into one of those people I can’t stand.   The ones who never admit to anything and are never REAL.  I want to be real all the time, even if I am a little embarrassed that I have a mental illness (ugh) and might be considered crazy by some.

As I was typing that I remembered a great line from Sex and The City.  Samantha Jones told someone, “Crazy people get the best drugs!”  Amen to that, sister!

Cheer up!! The bad people are bringing you gifts!!

Stef's Present with Handmade Wrapping

Image by ex.libris via Flickr

Every person that comes into our lives brings something to us.  The good ones are easy to deal with.  They instantly enrich our lives, make us smile, and we when we say goodbye to them we feel better than we did when we said hello.  These types of people are like gifts from the Universe, and we welcome them with open arms.

Then there are the bad ones.  They may look good, sound good, act good initially and turn bad, or they may just be bad and repel instantly.  Sometimes people flip-flop between good and bad… those are the tricky ones.  It is up to you to decide when enough is enough and if they are more good than bad or vice-versa. 

I can honestly say that the “bad” people that have strolled through my life have made me incredibly strong, although going through the process didn’t seem worth it at the time.  It is that double-edged sword in life.  We are who we are because of what we have been through in life, and as many of us know the “bad” experiences have made us rather incredible!!  They humanize us.  Give us empathy towards other people, and help us to stand with conviction when the next drama rolls up. 

I would LOVE to say that I have no drama now… quite the contrary.  It’s almost a joke at this point, like whenever I spread my little wings to fly, someone turns on a fan and throws all kinds of crap in front of it so it nails me right in the face.  In a way, I asked for it.  I asked for insight, growth, strength, compassion, understanding… I just didn’t know what I would have to go through to GAIN IT!!  I have to admit, though, a year ago it would have sent me to bed for a week with the covers pulled over my head until I felt it was safe to come out again.  Now, I just wipe life’s doo-doo off my face, put on a fresh coat of lip gloss and move on.

And in all honesty, these little dramas are making me THINK!!  I come up with new ideas and strategies all day long.  Had I not had anything rocking my boat, I would still be doing the same things I did a year ago, and be in the same place I was a year ago, not growing or moving forward.  The more I figure things out, the more I respect myself… the more I respect myself, the less patience I have for people who don’t enrich my life. 

For the people who do nothing but want more and more from me, guilt me, criticize me, etc., I have little patience.  I used to think that this way of thinking was harsh and selfish.  It may be to some people, but I get it now!!  It is all coming together, and I’m realizing the more I grow and evolve, the more I grow away from these types of people.  It’s nothing about them, it’s about me.  What I want and expect in life is different than it was before.  I like it!! 

As humans we are all flawed, aren’t we?  I have done some really stupid things in my time, hurt people who were incredible towards me, been unsympathetic towards someone, judged people, been a total flake, and more.  Some of these things that I did had reasons behind them.  I’m sure at the time I thought I was totally justified in my actions or I wouldn’t have done what I did.  Some of the people I hurt did forgive me, others never spoke with me again.  That hurts, but I respect the decision not to have me in their lives… and maybe this was for my benefit just as much as it was for theirs.   

So, maybe we are all bad at one time or another.  I like to think that nobody goes into a relationship wanting to hurt another person – - I know I don’t, but who knows what the other person’s experience with me may be.  We all have to deal with bad experiences, bad people, and bad relationships, however, it is how we view these experiences that make us who we are. 

In the end, all of the bad ones are a lot like the good ones.  When we say goodbye to them we feel better than we did when we said hello, and they actually end up being gifts from the Universe as well… they are just wrapped in ugly wrapping paper and you have to tear through the ugly to get to the good stuff.

Is it true?

Baubles in the grass
Image by Steve-h via Flickr

I had an epiphany this week.  A huge one.  I had been struggling with feelings of anger and betrayal, so much so that my chest would tighten whenever I would think of certain people.  And I thought about them – - a lot!!  I was trying to figure them out, what their motivation is, WHY they act the way they do, WHY they are so disrespectful and hurtful, and on and on.  I couldn’t get a good night’s sleep, and just felt weird overall… like something was nagging at me and it wouldn’t go away until I resolved what was going on inside of me.

 Then I happened to see Dr. Wayne Dyer on PBS and he mentioned Byron Katie and “The Work”.  I can’t remember what he said exactly, but whatever it was it was like a firecracker being thrown at me because I was running down the hall to get my Google on in a microsecond! 
 
I went to Byron Katie’s site www.thework.com and printed out the free “Little Book” which is the outline for “The Work”.  I read it.  And my mind was instantly blown.  In the Little Book, she prompts you to ask four questions about any person you are having “issues” with.   For example, I’m having challenges with a certain person who is an arrogant, selfish, immature jerk.  So, I’ll use him as my example!
 
The first question is the one that has changed me forever… the question to ask about the situation with the jerk is,  “Is it true?”
 
WHAT?!  Of course it’s true!!  I’m freaking suffering over here because of it!!  That jerk is so selfish and self-centered and could care less about me!!  Look at how much pain I’m in!!  And he’s causing all of it!!  That JERK!! 
 
Yes, but is it TRUE?  Is it true that HE is causing my suffering?  Is it true that he is selfish, self-centered and doesn’t care about me?  Did he really cause all of my pain?
 
OF COURSE IT’S TRUE!!  All I can think of is how I want to wax his entire ape-like hairy body so he feels an ounce of the pain I’m in right now!!
 
Then, to the second question.  “Can I be absolutely certain that it is true?”
 
Well, no, we can never really be certain of anything, can we?  The jerk is young and doesn’t have a lot of life experience.  The jerk may not even realize he is doing anything to hurt me.  He may not be selfish, he may be busy and feel spread really thin.  He may think that because I am a laid-back friend who never complains if people cancel plans, etc., that it might be ok if he cancels on me time and time again.  As for my feelings of hurt, anger, and upset… those are all MY doing.  I sat on the couch watching the Real Housewives of New Jersey marathon and plotted revenge for hours.  ME… my head, my heart, my emotions.  Not the jerk.  The jerk was probably out enjoying life, smiling and laughing, and thinking everything is great between us.
 
How incredible is it to realize that when I really thought about it, I realized the ENTIRE THING may be something I created… ALL OF IT!!  Not that the jerk is off the hook, but by creating this angry energy around him, what other option does the Universe have but to have the jerk fulfill my prophecy for him?  So, I let it go with the jerk.  And I instantly felt so much lighter.
 
Now, just imagine my sitting there after I fixed the jerk problem, only to realize that I had NEVER even considered that all of the thoughts, judgements, and ideas that have gone through my head my entire lifetime may not have been true?!  I had made life decisions based on ideas and feelings I was so “sure” about.  I had never even considered something might not be true, because I assumed if I was feeling it or thinking it that it was real, therefore TRUE.  Ugh….
 
I’m not going to look back and analyze anything though.  Whatever I have done in the past has brought me to today.  And today I have the gift of knowing to ask, “Is it true?” before I make any decision or judgement in my life.  I am changed forever by one simple idea… and I am eternally thankful!!
 
 
 

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