Monthly Archives: August 2013

Time to Kill

And here I find myself with time to kill and a blog post to write.  It went something like this.

Oh wow, I’m unpacked, my apartment is clean, my kid is fed and happily playing independently, my bills are paid, my email inbox is clear… what to do? 

I sit down at the computer and see the “blog” reminder alert hovering in the upper right hand corner of my screen.

urgh.

Urgh?  What’s that about?  Apparently I’m avoiding something.  I am very clear that I’m happy to be home.  I’m not exactly unbusy, every moment of my life for the next several weeks seems scheduled with only enough breathing room to contemplate wasting time on Facebook a few times a day (which I will surely do), and I’m somewhat grateful for that.  Because without that busy-ness where would I be?

Face to face with what’s next.  That’s where.

on top of a mountain in new hampshire--literally and metaphorically.

on top of a mountain in new hampshire–literally and metaphorically.

This summer I traveled to Oregon, New Hampshire, New York, Washington, & Alaska (in that order).  I am very clear about being traveled out.  I was very much looking forward to coming home to my normal life.  But my “normal life” means figuring out what to do with my life.

So while I know that I’m content to be consumed with domesticity as I catch up on my room parent duties, quality kiddo time, and chores it’s not going to last.  Something is going to grab hold of me and start shaking until I acknowledge that I’m not honoring myself unless I’m actively writing.  And, I’m not actively writing right now.

I’m so not actively writing that when I was on a cruise ship, in the gym, on a stairmaster, watching Eat Pray Love (what?  it was on!), I found myself bawling.  And not because I was touched by the story (well, maybe a little).  No, bawling because Elizabeth Gilbert wrote her memoir(s), and had a movie made about them, and was played by Julia Roberts.  Not me.  Her.  Where am I in all of this?  Where is my memoir and related aftermath?

Well, Kate, it’s inside you…  and that’s where it will stay until you let it out.

And that’s what I’m avoiding.  I’m not avoiding it any less than I was when I started writing this…  and now the child beckons (saved by the bell)!

I’m on Vacation

Did I ever mention I can fly?  I can...

Did I ever mention I can fly? I can…

…and this post is being automatically generated by a Kate-is-on-vacation-robot.  Not really, I just wrote it and then delayed the Publish date until now.  None of that is important.  All that’s important is that I’m away (again).  I’d say get used to it but this will be the last one for a while.  Any other breaks from blogging will require new excuses.  While you’re reading this I’ll be on a cruise ship somewhere between Seattle and Alaska and I will probably not be in a bathing suit, but to celebrate the end of Summer I’m posting a radically-self-loving-first-picture-of-me-in-a-bathing-suit-on-the-internet-ever.  Enjoy and see you next week!

On Being Absorbent

Most days I identify as an empath…  The other days I don’t because on those days I associate empath-ness with some superpower that I don’t feel connected to and therefor am unworthy of the monniker (oy!), but most days I identify as an empath.

Which makes it difficult for me sometimes.

I can feel people’s feelings.

The other day when I was at the airport waiting for a friend (and feeling very attuned to my superpower) I noticed I could move around the room and stand near people and very clearly feel their feelings.  Whatever parts of self are responsible for experiencing emotions were being plugged into the person nearest to me.  When I moved away from one and toward another I noticed a distinct shift in the way I was feeling.  Some people’s feelings felt bad so I moved away… others felt warm and fuzzy so I lingered.  It was super trippy.  And super fun!

Beloved and I used to have this pattern where we’d swap crises.  Or rather, I’d take on her crisis.  She’d have a meltdown about something (I use the word “meltdown” VERY LIGHTLY here) and I’d help her through it… and then the next day I would have a meltdown.  And when she was done helping me with my meltdown she’d express concern that her meltdown had led to mine.  To which I would defensively respond with a big “No.”  Because instead of hearing her express concern that she was pushing something onto me instead I heard only that I was doing something wrong.

Because I don’t have the greatest boundaries all the time.  Which I thought was good for a long time, and then bad for a shorter time, and am coming around to both for the time-being.

This past week Beloved (does anyone find it creepy that I’m calling my partner the same name as the dead baby in the Toni Morrison novel?  I hope not, but if you are I am open to other suggestions) has been having a hard time the last several days.  And I held space for her to feel lousy and loved on her and did all I could do without feeling like there was something I could do (and that’s a big one, in case you don’t know).

And then last night I had a meltdown (it basically just means crying… I like dramatic vocabulary).  I was crying in Beloved’s arms about being a bad mother (because that’s my go-to shame space) for going on vacation without my son (fill in any other reason here), and when I was done crying about that I started hearing new things in my head.  I was just about to say them out loud when I realized that if I had said them out loud I would have been saying them to the person from whence they came and so instead I said,

“Oh shit.”

And then I explained that I was realizing that I had taken on her sadness.  And I had a glimmer of shame which I expressed by trying to apologize, but she reassured me quickly and that passed (as shame usually does when spoken aloud).  And then I started to feel better.  MUCH better.  VERY fast.  So fast that I remarked about how much better I felt as soon as I realized the sadness I was feeling wasn’t really mine.

And it lasted–the feeling better–into today.  Which isn’t my usual.  Often I bounce around a bit here and there before really coming fully out of something.  But no, no residual today…  I was just good.

newI used to think not having boundaries was good because it made all of the wonderful things about me possible.  Then I thought it was bad because it made all of the bad things that had ever happened to me possible.  And now I know it’s both because of, well, both…  and I have a new goal.

Instead of trying to be an empath with boundaries strong enough to keep other people’s feelings out when I need them to be, I’m going to be an empath who can simply tell whose feelings are whose.  That way, if I need or want to release them I can!  As simply and easily as I did at the airport or in my bedroom last night.  Poof!  Magic.

Purpose=Worth (Worth: Post 4 of 4)

This is Post four in a four part series about worth.  Catch up on parts one, two, and three!

The truth about this series is that the theme is the only thread… the stories all stand on their own.  That has its benefits I suppose.  If you’ve missed one through three you can go ahead and start reading here and go back if you desire.  You’re not going to be missing any essential details, just some good stories.

Let’s recap.  At first I didn’t know if I my voice on this blog had value, because how can I have value as a writer without having books to show for it?  Then I didn’t know if the pleasure of my company was of enough value to balance out  inconvenience for someone else.  Finally, I almost skipped out on reaching a mountain top because I am not running a program that tells me the peak is within reach.

It’s a little exhausting to discover at this moment how much a lack of self worth is impacting my life.  Thank goodness it no longer has me in a relationship that doesn’t support me or a weight that holds my body away from health.  Thank goodness I know my own worth enough to establish boundaries that protect me, to give enough to myself that I know I have dreams and pursue them.  I’m out of the valley, I’m packing up my stay in the midlands, and I’m heading toward the peak now.  Thank goodness I know life’s a journey, not a destination or I’d have to change the qualifier from “a little exhausting” to VERY exhausting!

When I was in New York City last month I saw an astrologer (intuitive, psychic… call her what you will.  if you need her number, call me).  She is the same person who predicted to Beloved, shortly before she met me, that she was about to meet her “soul mate.”  She laughed about it at the time because she hates terms like “soul mate” or “the one” or “spiritual.”  I expect, if for no other reason than they are terribly overused…

Beloved came in with me to say hello and thank you and the astrologer (we’ll call her S) got chills (and was thrilled by them) confirming the truth of the prediction in living color in front of her.  That was fun, but it got better.

mysoulMy time with S involved a review of my Natal chart (a picture of the planets/stars at the time/place of my birth) and a tarot card reading.  It was so wonderful to hear an explanation of so many experiences I have had in my life.  I heard about how importance it was to have balance in my life because of the presence of polarity in my chart. I heard about the lack of fire in my chart (hello lack of enthusiasm!) and how to get things warm when they’ve cooled down.  I heard that my soul deeply desires purposeful partnership and without it I am unlikely to reach any of my potential.  I heard so much more.  Maybe I’ll do a recap post at a later date…

Ultimately I heard that I am here to make meaning.  I am seeking that in everything I do.  I don’t just climb mountains, I have epiphanies.  I don’t just get anxious about meeting long time friends face to face, I excavate issues of worth.  I don’t just say “this is scary but I’m doing it anyway” I look for the why and then the how to make the scarier more manageable.  And then I write about it all.

My purpose: meaning making (turns out to also be a key ingredient to resilience… it’s not just what brought me here, it’s keeping me alive).  S mentioned Victor Frankl in our reading (it wasn’t lost on me that Donald Miller also mentioned Frankl at #WDS2013 where I returned to my roots as a writer, best be going out to find “Man’s Search for Meaning”) and a quote that I can’t find and she didn’t know verbatim about those who survived the concentration camps being the ones who were focused on the purpose of their moments.  I hesitated at associating myself with the gravity of a comparison like that… but again I was lost in a moment of worthlessness.

Even after realizing that I didn’t need a book to be a writer, I had a GREAT time with my friend, I climbed a fucking mountain…  all I knew was that I had a worth issue, I hadn’t found the answer yet.  Knowing was half that battle, but only half.  It wasn’t until letting all these stories take shape and sitting with the audio recording from my session with S that I found my worth.

Like most things it’s something I knew all along… I’ve been telling others the same is true of them for years!

My worth is in living my purpose (psst–so is yours).  My purpose is finding the meaning and sharing it.  Yours may be something else.  Some will be big and others small (only in scale, not in value).  When I do what I’m meant to be doing I have worth.  It’s as simple as that.

So the next time it comes up… the next time I hear: am I worth it?  If I can match “it” with meaning making then the answer will be yes.

Do you know your life’s purpose?  Do you want help figuring it out?  Turns out, I can help.  Feel free to contact me and let’s draw it out.

Mountain Climbing (Worth: Part 3 of 4)

This is the third post in a four part series about worth.  Catch up on Parts 1 & 2).

I climbed a mountain last Saturday. Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire. 3166 feet to the summit. Went all the way.

Mountain climbing isn’t really my thing. Feats of physical prowess aren’t in general. They say mountain climbing is just as much mental as it is physical and I figure I do enough mental mountain climbing why drag my body through it as well?  Still, I can appreciate the rush of endorphins that comes from pushing my physical limits and am competitive enough to take on a challenge.

I had fewer meltdowns on the climb than I expected. I stopped often, whined, asked Beloved if the top was over the next crest, and wanted to know when it would be over but I only cried twice and got a little snippy once .

When we did make it over the crest that finally put the summit in sight I had a very clear sense that I was done. I could see the top and see people up there but I had no desire to go any further. I would have been completely satisfied turning around and going back down.

Mountain climbing victory

Here I am. Me plus the mountain equals 3,172 feet in height.

We carried on because I am driven by social pressure and the desire to inspire… that’s all really, I truly didn’t want to be at the top.  I just wanted to be able to say I did it and have people I admired admire me for my pursuit.

At the top I took a classicly posed victory shot not feeling attached to my accomplishment, complained about my nausea, and we got on our way.

The way down was just as grueling, if not more, as the way up and when staying in the present moment wasn’t getting me through the burning of my arches or trembling of my knees I allowed my mind to wander.

I started to remember what it felt like to see the summit and not want to reach it and I started to judge myself for not feeling the way I “should.” Gently dismissing the judgement I asked myself, why didn’t I want to go up there. The conversation went a little something like this:

It’s just not in my value system. The peak isn’t what I’m aiming for.

What are you aiming for? What is the goal if it’s not the peak? Why climb at all?

To get out of the Valley

And where does that come from?

A long time of feeling stuck in the valley… And not knowing that the peak was within reach, or that I was worthy of seeking it…

Ah, another fissure in the self worth revealed.

I spent a lot of time in the “Valley: (and I ain’t referring to the San Fernando Valley for you LA locals).  My “Valley” was living a life that appeared satisfactory but wasn’t attached to what I truly desired. It was the “should” plan that matched what I wanted. I wanted to have a happy family so I got a husband and had a baby. I wanted my work to be meaningful so I gave every ounce of myself to it.

There’s no value judgement in this, by the way. The way my valley looked on paper may be someone else’s mountain. And I don’t even mean to suggest that we’re all meant to live at different elevations (figuratively, literally we probably are). Rather that the mountain or valley or midlands in between is simply a symbol for how authentically we are living our desires. Someone else’s path to happy family might be the husband and kid(s) or the great job. I think we’ve learned by now that my way tends to be a little less mainstream than what I’d been force feeding myself.

I’ve only recently climbed out of the valley. I’ve been up in the midlands for a little over a year and despite pressure on myself to keep going I had a clear sense that I needed to hang out around here for a while to see what it had to offer. So far, a lot. I found a partner here, I’ve even found more of myself, I thought I would be content here for some time. But maybe I’m ready to start aiming for the peak.

Maybe I’m ready to climb mountains.

Maybe the ascent has already begun.  For this climb I don’t need sturdy shoes and a liter of water, I need to remain attached to my own worth.  I need to believe I’m worth the trouble.

Part Four is coming your way…

Am I Enough? (Worth: Part 2 of 4)

This is Part two in a four part series about worth.  Catch up on Part 1 here.

The June 2007 Expecting Club started here...

The June 2007 Expecting Club started here…

In September 2006, shortly after I puked up my then-husband’s birthday breakfast and realizing I was pregnant, I discovered an online group of women on iVillage.com who were also expecting babies in June 2007. Now known as the “June Jelly Beans” we’ve been connected through our children’s corresponding birthdates and now our friendship for over six years now. We are spread all over the United States and Canada and several of us have been lucky enough to meet in person. When an opportunity to meetup arises, most of us will take it!

I am doing a lot of traveling this summer. There was the long weekend in Portland, Oregon for #WDS2013 and then a week in New Hampshire and New York to meet my Beloved’s family and eat our way through the city. In August I’m departing on an Alaskan cruise from Seattle. As a result I had the opportunity to initiate some in person meetups with friends I’ve had for six years.

I hesitated at first. Social awkwardness sometimes takes the wheel from me and I default to what’s easier: just doing my own things. Managing my own wants in balance with my son’s and my Beloved’s; a delicate balance that’s challenging for me to maintain without the addition of other people and their needs and expectations and values and (oy, just thinking about it overwhelms me!)

But enough of what I push through results in damn good stuff so I waited until almost the last minute and let the locals in each trip area know where I was going to be. Both the Pacific Northwest and North Eastern groups were looking promising and then as the North Eastern trip grew closer we were down to one other person and myself.

Then the anxiety started to come back. It came in these waves that just say “give up” or “turn back” or “stop now before it’s too late” but I knew I wasn’t in any danger so I pressed pause on the panic and explored the feelings more.

Underneath I found the social anxiety rearing its head again. Sigh. I realized a few months ago that I would rather do something uncomfortable than ask someone else to do something ucomfortable on my behalf. ie, I’d rather go to a party with my Beloved where I don’t know anyone than ask her to come out to dinner with a friend of mine. Because what if they don’t like each other?  Will I be able to entertain them both/keep them happy?  ARGH?!

Is that what this was? Maybe… I kept exploring.

I also tend to be a bit of a Pollyanna, thinking that everything will work out all the time (it does, by the way) and because of this I oftentake on too much. This meetup we were working on was going to be in New York City, near the port authority (equals, not an easy area) and we would have luggage in tow, will have been fresh off of six hours on a bus and four days with Beloved’s family. We would also be a solid hour away from our final destination in Brooklyn. Maybe I was just realizing how impossible this all was turning out to be and wanting the comfort of doing what was easiest instead of what was the most fun?

Beloved and I talked it over and I was pretty clear that although there were some social anxiety triggers at work there was much more of the latter and it made more sense not to meet up. I reached out to my friend and as I started to explain my feelings around the situation I started to realize that I was worried about more than inconveniencing myself or Beloved, I was most worried about inconveniencing my friend. She was coming from two hours away and I was likely to be a hot mess. Was I worth it?

She and I communicated honestly and openly about the situation and when I received much reassurance from her about it being a pleasure for her to come into the city all of my anxiety faded away.

That’s when it became abundantly clear.  When I realized I was willing to put inconvenience aside what was really underneath was that I didn’t think I was worth two hours of driving for a short chat over cupcakes. If I couldn’t promise someone a good time I wasn’t confident they would get anything of value from time spent with me. What if I wasn’t up to being my best self, would I disappoint her?

We met.  It was great.  I wish it was longer, but I don’t feel like I did her a disservice (nor would I had she not had reason to be in the city anyway).  The brief bonding in person was totally worth the effort on both of our parts… but woah.  What’s up with this worth stuff I’ve got going on in my head?

More to come on that journey, stay tuned for Part 3.

For What It’s Worth (Worth: Part 1 of 4)

Anytime I’ve ever said the phrase “for what it’s worth” to someone, what followed next was of value to them (known because they so much as said so). Still, I’m realizing that worth and the value of my voice aren’t something I’m confident about yet.

If you’ve been around lately you’ve already heard I’ve made a commitment to do one small thing each day to remain connected to my “writer” self. If you haven’t, you just heard it for the first time and you’re also all caught up.  I started out with a list of tasks I wanted to accomplish and broke them down with my Reminders app to plot out the following two weeks. I lasted about 10 days before I realized:

A. Some of my “small things” were really quite large and too large for the days I’d scheduled them on

B. I may be better off looking back at the end of a day with the question “what have you done today to connect to your writer self?” Rather than prescribing the action ahead of time. Even if the answer is only that I reflected on the question I don’t have th agony of defeat that comes from an unchecked box on my to-do list.

Why am I telling you this?

Because after posting the Big Brave Beautiful post and my intention to seek contributors my next tasks were, naturally, to start seeking contributors. And that is where I was stopped dead in my tracks. First, I can attribute the lack of progress to the misstep of scheduling the “start writing to folks to invite them to contribute” on the weekend that my son was home in full summer vacation mode before heading off to spend two weeks with his dad. Not a lot of quiet, calm, quality working time to be found in that scenario.

Second, I found myself lost.  And when I found myself I realized I was consumed by self worth issues.  Some of the questions I had for myself were:

  1. What would an audience get by coming here?
  2. ‘How do readers benefit from this blog?
  3. What is the value/worth of my voice?

All of these are important questions. Knowing the value of what you’re offering is essential in any venture… but instead of engaging in a marketing exercise with myself instead my answers sounded something like:

  1. nothing because I don’t have a book to sell them
  2. I don’t know–not at all
  3. diddly squat.

‘Twas not exactly confidence inspiring.

Exploring this further I realized I was needing to excavate yet another “should.”

he writes, therefore he's a writer...  the same applies to me

he writes, therefore he’s a writer… the same applies to me

“Writers should have books,” said my small mind.

This assumption was silently directing me behind the scenes. Sure, I have some books in me and they’ll come out eventually but writing this blog has been my most treasured writing experience so far. So much more than any contest entry, school assignment, or attempt at book authoring.

In revealing the hidden belief as the self worth(less) thinking trigger I was able to refocus.  I didn’t necessarily feel confident but I felt reassured that the path I am on now is right and is enough. I can continue seeking an audience for what I’m doing now. I don’t need to have more to offer my readers right at the moment, what I’m doing here is plenty.

But the Pandora’s box of self worth has been opened and there are at least three more stories to be told on the topic… Stay tuned for Parts two, three, and four.