Sunday, May 24, 2015

Future Guilt

Name it; claim it. 

I am going to identify this harmful habit and hopefully begin to dig it out of my life. 

I bought a cookbook yesterday and stopped by the grocery store to buy a few ingredients to make a frittata and a broccoli salad. As I walked from the car to my door I heard myself say, "This is the sort of thing I should do all the time. Ugh. Why am I so bad at cooking good things for myself? I'll never be able to keep this up."

This was as I was walking into my kitchen with the intention of making a delicious meal!

Another example: the other day I was feeling lazy and shlubby and decided to exercise a little. Afterwards I heard myself say, "Ugh. I need to do this more often. It won't make a difference unless I workout regularly."

I have named this destructive habit Future Guilt. It begins in the feeling that I may not continue indefinitely the "positive" behavior in which I am engaging. And that feeling frustrates me and makes me feel hugely guilty. This is a problem for several reasons.  

Future Guilt is shockingly ignorant of my basic way of being. I am a creature of cycles. It is so. There are times when I am active, motivated and inspired. These are paired with times of quiet, introspection and stillness. I hope to quit attaching a negative/positive label to these two ways of being. In the world in which I live, active is positive! Always. And when I am quiet and still, I beat myself up for not being in the active side of my cycle. Hence the Future Guilt. 

Down the rabbit hole we go! Even as I talk about cycles, I found myself using the word dichotomy to describe these two states of being. Dichotomy means the difference between two mutually exclusive things. Are those sides of me really polar opposites? No. They are not. Next I tried duality, which is very similar to dichotomy, but seems softer to me - the having of two parts. So far, so good. Except ... they aren't really separate. They fulfill one another. They rise out of each other. Cycles, remember? It reminds me of a reference book I own called Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom. In it, the author talks about the menstrual cycle in conjunction with the cycles of the moon. When I first saw it it was one of those aha! moments that helped me explain myself to myself. Here is the picture:

This feels so natural. It rings true in my body. Thank goodness someone writes these things down so I can read them and understand myself!

Which brings me back to Future Guilt. As I move into the active phase of my cycle, I can get angry that it will eventually phase out and I will return to a quieter, less motivated state of being. Living in cycles means staying keyed into my present reality. Finding satisfaction in the activity (or stillness) of the moment. This is something I am working on. I want to be able to enjoy my active and inspired phase. It's fun!! I loved the hell out of my little kitchen and frittata last night. I took pictures, danced when it started to smell good in the oven, and bragged about it to my husband. I worked at appreciating my cooking in the moment instead of feeling guilty that I don't do this all of the time. 

This motivated phase will wane. I don't know when, but I will go make broccoli salad while it waxes. No pithy closing remark. Just a satisfied feeling and a desire to eat some broccoli. 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Looking Down

"You have strength enough. What you love, you will love. What you undertake, you will complete. You are a fulfiller of hope; you are to be relied on."
- Ursula 
I am in a stage where I am grateful for every little help, each moment of centeredness, each rising moon. Every quote I've collected over the years has come back for me now. My literary friends, Clarissa, Ursula, Anne, they pat me down and stroke my hair as if to say, there there. I draw immense strength from their ministrations.

I am closer to the ground than I have ever been. I rode past a church sign the other day that declared, "When in need, look up, not down." I disagree. Look to the earth. Look to the roots of the mountains.

What does it mean to be closer to the ground? It means that I feel more solid than I have before. I am very tired, but very strong. I am close to the earth so I can sit down easily. I have to sit fairly often because I have to rest. I focus. I breathe. I cry a little. I laugh and feel joy and touch the earth. I give myself a break. I think, I cannot get up anymore, and then I get up. I repeat.

If I am at times myopic, forgive me. I have to focus to make it right now. I have to read the quotes, drink the beer, hug my person and keep moving.

I have strength enough. What I undertake I will complete.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Let Genius Burn!

Clarissa says,
Some of the malevolent complexes' favorite thieveries and punishments of women's creativity revolve around promising the soul-self "time to create" somewhere off in the foggy future. Or promising that when one has several days in a row free, then the rumpus will begin at last. It's hogwash. 
I am emerging from a very dark and difficult night. I don't fault myself for curling up in order to survive. There is a time in each cycle for hibernation, to conserve energy. It is necessary. I know that I was drawing a protective shield around my centered self, shutting down complex functions, running on instinct. I know that in the hard work in the dark, I tilled the rocky ground and planted many seeds, tending them quietly, waiting. And I made many promises to placate that creative genius that comes knocking, saying, "I'm here! Get up! Let's go!" I pushed it down the road, I sang it sweet songs of someday.

Now though, in the morning light in which I find myself, it is time to shake loose. Time to breathe in, to welcome the creative genius. To give my little seedlings some sunlight and see how they will grow. To remember that there is a creative river just upstream and a dam ripe for breaking.

Today I was reminded of a passage from one of my favorite books. Everyone knows that good novels reveal themselves slowly, over many readings and re-readings. For example, when I first read Little Women I didn't notice how tremendous it was that Jo's family honored her creative life. And not only honored it, but let her forsake all other duties when genius burned.
Every few weeks she would shut herself up in her room, put on her scribbling suit, and `fall into a vortex', as she expressed it, writing away at her novel with all her heart and soul, for till that was finished she could find no peace. She did not think herself a genius by any means, but when the writing fit came on, she gave herself up to it with entire abandon, and led a blissful life, unconscious of want, care, or bad weather, while she sat safe and happy in an imaginary world, full of friends almost as real and dear to her as any in the flesh. Sleep forsook her eyes, meals stood untasted, day and night were all too short to enjoy the happiness which blessed her only at such times, and made these hours worth living, even if they bore no other fruit. The devine afflatus usually lasted a week or two, and then she emerged from her `vortex', hungry, sleepy, cross, or despondent.
It's time to prepare for the approach of the 'vortex', to make ready for the breaking of the dam. Let it come and let me be ready!