Blog-tember Challenge Day 2: My Goals

Friday, Sept. 2: Share a list of your current goals.

I have had an ugly lifelong lie going on in my head: I am a girl with a lot of problems. Yep, I sometimes wear it like a badge. The other day I saw my spiritual director and I was going on and on about this idea. I am a bundle of problems, they are all intertwined and never-ending. The problems never end because of my thoughts about the choices that I make. How do I decide what is right or wrong? Good or bad? Is this from God or the Devil? Is this healthy or bad for me? Obviously I already know from years of therapy (including dialectic therapy-DBT) and mindfulness training that this black-and-white thinking is not good for me. But telling myself that doesn’t help.

The cool thing is, I only have one problem, my spiritual director said. Don’t worry if it’s right, wrong, from God or the Devil. The only “Devil” we know of for sure is the incessant negative self-judgement. In my mind, nothing is ever right because everything I ever do is wrong, according to myself, he said. The only thing I have to do is say no to this judgment. Be mindful of the rest.

Wow, that was a relief and made life seem so much easier to handle. This has now been my number one goal. As soon as my thoughts spiral (I must be a bad wife, I can’t believe I feel sick again, I feel so guilty because I’d rather read my novel than the Bible, I’m so stupid for choosing to be a MS teacher, what must ____ think?! etc etc), I become mindful and think. Oh yeah-that’s judging. Grace is the power to say no to that.

So that is my number one goal in life right now. I will try and accomplish my goals but I won’t beat myself if I don’t reach them 100%. I am proud to attempt to reach them. And, in saying that, I am reaching my first and top goal-saying “STOP!” to judgement!! (I organized these by type but they kinda overlap):

PERSONAL/EMOTIONAL/SOCIAL:
Look at myself the way Jesus does (at least try to every day for a minute or so)
Believe my husband means what he says and act accordingly
Love and treat others the way Jesus does (especially my middle school students)
Do more random acts of kindness for people (my husband, coworkers, students)
Focus on the 5 senses when I start to worry
Continue to wear no or little makeup and feel relaxed about it
Invite people over more, realizing what really matters is the company not the way my house looks

HEALTH:
Continue on my elimination diet as best as I can
No caffeine, it hurts me; so why do it?
Meditation 5 minutes a day or yoga 10-15 minutes before bed every day
Get to the gym 2-3 times a week
Just say no! (to temptation) It will help other women like you.
No judgments about sleeping pills to help you sleep. Just be mindful.

FAITH/SPIRITUAL:
Get outside into nature every day-even for 2 minutes.
Read the Bible when you feel like it. No pressure.
Pray continuously no matter how dumb or short.
Pray for my husband every day

WORK:
Leave by 3:30 4 out of 5 days a week.
Pray for my students instead of agonizing about them or sending them internal death threats
Really look at them when they talk to you and try to see them through Jesus’ eyes.
Focus more on loving on kids then getting through the lesson plan.

 

 

Prayer of a moment

Dear God,

There’s so much more to who you are, I believe, than what I’d always thought. It’s too complex for me to put into words, the existence of life, of people, goes so much deeper than most of us realize, how spirituality is so alive in everything. How could you NOT exist? But not only You as the Creator, but You as the one who holds each of our hearts in your own. It’s hard to see that when I look at someone else, that you have the same fierce love for each person as if he/she were your only child. I guess I get jealous and possessive because I can’t fathom your constant presence with me.

No matter the Truth it’s hard to stop and listen for you in the rustling leaves and chirping birds. Something tells me You’re off doing something miraculous like healing someone or stopping a car accident or war or something. How could you take up your time to just sit here with me, not in a sad moment or happy moment, just a pondering moment in which my heart is searching, not wanting to once again stumble upon the realization of deadness, desperation.

Just stay with me in my moment in my nice, sturdy haven of remembrance, solitude. Focusing on the feeling of breeze on bare legs, the wisping of leaves and blades of grass, I try to let nothing from yesterday or tomorrow come to me. While my unsteady breath reminds me I’m not in this moment, but I’m trying to be.

Wishing the sun would come back to me, furthering my thoughts from the reality of chaos that is coming. Somehow I choose chaos for myself. I’ll try not to go there. I give thanks for this moment of surrender.

The red cardinal has come to me on a low branch singing his tune as if just for me. Looking around and singing away because that is his role in life. Louder and louder until he zooms away and his song stops. Now I do feel he was singing before only because he had an audience! Now his song begins again for anyone else who has the ears to listen.

written 8-19-11

>Is Escaping Wrong?

>It’s been forever since I have written. Frankly, a blank page scares me because that’s when I have to really think deeply. And I am terrified of what I know is there when I look inside myself. Since I am tired I am going to borrow a bit from a journal recently I wrote about what is going on with me.

I am making myself write because I don’t want to. At least I think I don’t. I don’t look forward to confronting the stuff that is happening inside this brain. Lately I’ve been getting by with my addictions, namely my novel reading. I love getting lost in the characters’ problems. I love forgetting myself by going to another world. I know this isn’t wrong to a degree. I’ve been reading Jodi Piccoult, whose books deal with intense, moral and controversial issues. Hard to put down! She covers themes like self-esteem, popularity, dysfunctional families (whose isn’t?), grief, loss, revenge, redemption, betrayal and faith/spirituality. I’ve learned a lot from her books and I look forward to reading them each day.

But I often feel ashamed or guilty because the themes are so heavy and I tend to become rather anti-social when I read a really good novel (or am otherwise immersed in something deep and passionate, like card-making or writing for example). I don’t like coming back to real life because I always know what’s going to happen. Lately, I feel guilty because I am not practicing my mindfulness or “with it” skills. That and I am beating myself up for not reading the Bible or having a “quiet time.” (What does that mean anyway????) Reading these books has kept me “safe.” By that I mean, less bad thoughts, because I am frankly thinking less about my own problems. But it also means, I feel very out of sync. Like I am not even really alive. And that I’ve been treating others in my life poorly.

I tried to take a break in between the last novel I finished and the current one. So for two days I forced myself to read my Creativity/spirituality book and write in my journal. And it just made me mad and anxious.

The reason I am escaping has to do with, as I said, my thoughts. They are not fun.

As a rule, I try to moderate everything that I do. I am always concerned that I am doing everything right (not too much of this, not too little of that.) I know, I hate that about me but I am not about to start judging my judging, so I will accept that my perfectionism makes me ugly at times but try to accept it.

But I will also thank God for his good and wonderful gifts of creative people who write engaging stories…and many other things. And trust that He loves me no less if I happen to be annoyed with Christian judgements going on in my head, so much to the point that I am resentful of He Himself and the Bible itself. (More on this in another entry).

Well, I am going to go to bed now.

>Success

>Just read an article called “How to Practice Safe Optimism” by Tamar Chamsky.Here’s a link to the whole (really good) article. I could write a blog entry about each one she lists, but today I will just stick with one:

Strategy Five: Define success flexibly: Value process, not just product An optimist hopes for the best, but has realistic expectations. There isn’t just one bull’s eye of success and everything else is failure. This usually means girding ourselves for slow progress and defining success broadly. When we set unrealistic expectations we manufacture unnecessary disappointment that we then have to waste our precious energy overcoming–it’s an additional hurdle which we don’t need right now.

This reminds me of what I read in Never Good Enough (a book about perfectionism) and what I learned in DBT about black and white thinking. Currently I am working on “cognitive restructing.” Due to my perfectionism, personality and other things, I tend to have really distorted expectations for myself.

Success has been defined in my mind in black and white terms. Such as, “Your teaching licensce was non-renewed. Failure.” “You’re single with no children at age 25. Failure.” “You don’t have a ‘real’ job. Failure.” “No graduate degree. In fact, no idea what you want to do with your life. Double failure.” I could keep going but this isn’t helping things. SO I have to change these thoughts into degrees. Such as “You survived two years teaching inner city teaching. Success!” and “You will make a better wife and mother one day because of your committment to healing of self and waiting until you are older and wiser. Success!”

More on this later.

>I am Moving

>I will be moving this Saturday. For the first time since the day has been drawing nearer, I have been allowing myself to get excited, rather than dread it. I am the kind of person who has really enjoyed living alone. I don’t get lonely often. I like coming home, knowing everything is just how I left it. No dishes left around with dried ketchup on them. No unknown people at my house to freak me out. No tiptoeing into the kitchen and bringing my coffee grinder into the bathroom so as not to wake my sleeping roommates. No unwanted catfights. I can leave my dishes in the sink as long as I want. I can clean how I want, organize the fridge and dishwasher as I want, and best of all, I can choose when I want to be around people. I always know I can go home and be alone…just the way I like it.

But I will be moving in with two people. My close friend Theresa has a house she bought a few months ago. She lives with Jen, who I am still getting to know. Theresa’s probably the closest friend I’ve had in a long time, so the fact that I’ll be living with her freaks me out just a bit. I have had my share of heartache living with best friends.

But as the day draws nearer, I am thinking of…get this…the positives of this situation! I’m thinking of how I’ll arrange my small bedroom (I have been spoiled with my large one in this apt). Mostly…how I will be getting away from here, a place that I love because it represents my independence, besides my and Matt’s love of the hot tub (and pool), and because of the vast array of beautiful (albeit annoying) people of all ages and races. But I will be moving a little further away from the city, in a neighborhood where there’s not constant horns beeping, car alarms scaring me out of my wits, radios blaring, kids screaming, dogs barking, or construction machinery howling. Where drunk people don’t accidentally try to come in (and if they do, at least I won’t be all by myself!)

Mostly, my moving means growth for myself, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, interpersonally. I can work on my skills of interpersonal effectiveness from DBT. As I said I have struggled in the past with girlfriends/roommates. Who hasn’t? I worry about conflict because I hate it and tend to avoid it; that’s why I have to create situations in which to practice these skills. I am worried about my and Theresa’s first “fight.” But all close friends have them, or do they? Maybe I mean more, our first disagreement. But the great thing about Theresa is she has demonstrated unconditional acceptance of me. She is one of those people I don’t have to worry about offending and to whom I can tell anything. Not only that; it is not a one-sided relationship. She also comes to me, asking my opinion or sometimes just for an ear to listen. So…while praising God for this friendship, I also ask myself, will I mess up? Will it get ruined while living together (as past experiences have shown)? But I won’t focus on that now.

I started off positively; I’ll end positively: I can’t wait to see where God will take me on this next leg of my journey! Now off to continue packing…