Appearances

The short version: I got a new haircut and colour and I love it!

Photo on 2013-04-29 at 6.46 PM #2

Yup, that’s my hair!

Of course, this being me, a rose is never just a rose 🙂

Going to the salon, having someone fuss over me and change my look was comforting and fun.  And yet inside there was that little niggle of *should*s.  I shouldn’t be spending the money.  I should embrace myself just as I am and love myself no matter what my hair looks like.  I should be loyal and going to my regular stylist and not someone new.  I shouldn’t feel shame that I feel like a fish out of water at this trendy salon. I should be eschewing the cultural norms that tell me I need great hair to matter in this world.

Sigh.  I think way too much.  (See?  Even there, I’m being hard on myself… it never stops!).

Let me try challenging some of my shoulds:

  • I acknowledge that my worth is not determined by physical appearance
  • I am a part of the culture and do not stand outside of it
  • I deserve some self care and fun
  • It is good for me to focus on something other than body size
  • I used a coupon to cut down on the cost
  • It is not incompatible to know that my value comes from who I am and also to enjoy being feminine
  • I am not, and do not need to be, perfect.

That last one is the one I am striving to embrace.  I unrealistically push myself to always have the right feelings and right actions, as if such a thing is even possible.  I want to accept that I can care about body and self image and still love the feeling of being pampered.  Feeling guilty about it only spoils the experience… it doesn’t change anything aside from poisoning my internal state.

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I am going to take this as an opportunity to be kind to myself.  My counsellor has been teaching me to do this for myself and I’ll likely mention it frequently on this blog.  Be kind to myself.  Having more compassion for myself is a powerful practice and helps me to accept myself.  To accept my imperfections and my natural contradictions without harsh self judgment.

I told you I think too much… and this over a haircut.  The internal dialogue for issues of social justice is brutal 🙂

Back to celebrating what is – I love my new hair!

 

I like political correctness

The title kind of says it all.

As a woman in her mid-thirties, though, I feel like I’m committing grave blasphemy in saying so.  Or at least relegating myself to a life outside the hipster circle forever.

This came up in my conversation with my (ex? current? indeterminate b/c I don’t know just now?) boyfriend.  He was touting a new game that apparently is all the rage – Cards Against Humanity.  He was gushing about how great it was to play a game that throws political correctness out the window.  He found it so freeing.

Disclaimer: I’ve never played the game and have nothing against it in particular.  I hope anyone who has played it will let me know what they think!

It did get me thinking though, that there are many times when I am actually grateful for some degree of political correctness.  I am glad that it causes people to pause and reconsider what comes out of their mouths.  I believe, perhaps naively, that at least changing the way we talk about topics, is the first step to actually changing societal views of these topics.  Do we really have any need to joke about Hitler and the Holocaust?  I don’t think so.  And the ones making those un-PC comments are generally people who don’t get that it is not just a history lesson for some people.  Those who lived it and their trauma matter and should be respected.

Of course the issue closest to my heart is body image.  Though it still gets done, it’s becoming less PC to comment on a woman’s weight.  My dream is that over time, it will become BOTH completely un-PC to make that comment and also unimportant in how we value that woman.

Where I think people’s disdain comes from is that many times we take the concept of being PC too far – there was a Canadian sitcom a few years back called Little Mosque on the Prairie that touched on many sensitive issues with humour.  One episode (see above) centered around what happened when the mayor tried to please everyone by creating a multi-language welcome sign… I don’t think that kind of pandering PC is needed!  And I do admit to rolling my eyes at my niece’s “Winter Celebration Concert” featuring Santa, Jesus, Buddha and a Menorah!

Ideally, the motive behind being and speaking politically correctly would be that a person truly recognizes that empathy compassion and respect start with how we talk to, and about, people.  However, for now, I will accept that sometimes the intent is less pure, in the hopes that driving the words underground will lay a foundation for the spirit.

Mindfulness quote

I am a huge believer in mindfulness and it’s myriad benefits.  I was introduced to mindfulness through work by Jon Kabat-Zinn.  This is a quote from his guided meditation “body scan” – it’s a quote (and a meditation) that grounds me and gives me hope in dark times.

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It is from the cd that accompanies this book:x895.jpg.pagespeed.ic.tIi-P1upMx

I highly recommend it for anyone dealing with depression. I did it as part of a group and found it very healing.  As with anything, though, you have to keep it up to maintain the benefits… I’ve had a harder time with that.

Be well.

I noticed

This morning the sun was out.  I have a love/hate relationship with sunny days here – I love the warmth and it surely life my mood and yet, the minute the sun comes out, the *should*s start dancing in my head.DSC_0042It’s raining here so often that… I should be outside.  I should go for a bike ride.  I should be walking.  I should go for a run.  I should go sit under a tree.  I should take pictures.  I should go for a drive.  I should shop on a trendy street.  Need I go on?

Wait, though, there’s a positive in this post!

I noticed.

I noticed my monkey brain thoughts and urges and got curious (I stand by those words words, but I laughingly see myself in this video – funny, short, worth watching)  I really am coming to see how the only way to stop the chaos in my own brain is to start noticing it in the first place.  Yes, I will one day be a zen master and mindfully pass through both crises and joys  with an admirable equilibrium, but for today, I’m just happy that I caught on to my whirlwind of realistically non-urgent, yet momentarily physically compulsive, thoughts and drives.  The recognizing is a good first step.

So what did I do?

I went for the walk.  And I noticed.

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I didn’t notice every moment but more than usual.  I noticed that the funky apartment down the road has a unit for rent and how I love that building.  I noticed two elderly gentleman standing outside the nearby care home, sharing a cigarette like teenage boys hiding behind the gym.  I noticed the breeze and how refreshing it was.  I noticed the young man painting the dilapidated old house that I’ve always admired but thought could use an overhaul.

By getting outside of my head, I found that appreciated the time outside in the sun, instead of just meeting a requirement and checking it off the list with relief rather than relish.  Nothing changed except that I noticed.

This is important to me and for me as it reflects what I am striving to do in my physical, mental, and emotional world.  I am learning to notice what reactions I have to situations.  I have trouble doing this, I am quick to simply try to guess what someone else wants rather than taking the time to notice what I want.  It’s a factor in my relationship troubles (nothing breeds resentment in oneself like quietly giving in to your partner’s every whim without ever telling him you may have a different idea or thought!).  It’s not been on purpose, I genuinely don’t know what I think or feel.  After all, I’ve been avoiding feelings for so long that they have a hard time surfacing.

With time, I know that this will be easier.  With time, I will learn what it is to be me.

Uncertain

Everything in life feels uncertain.  And in truth everything in life IS uncertain.  We really never know what tomorrow will bring.  I have a feeling I will be writing a lot of posts on this theme.

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I find this ambiguity very unsettling.

My immediate reaction is to want to run from everything in my life.  After all, if one thing is uncertain or unclear, then the best thing is to change everything, right?  Apparently this doesn’t work long term.  Apparently I just end up running away and/or feeling unsettled and anxious all the time.  My mind spins trying to settle on the “right” solution.  For me, this leads to restricting and numbing which I am acknowledging more every day is NOT a healthy solution.

This week has felt particularly hard.  I just can’t seem to get my bearings.  I am doubting everything.  Can I manage school in May?  Is there any hope for my relationship?  Can I actually recover?  Is my diabetes out of control?  Should I even bother with all this introspection?  Am I letting everyone down?  The ‘and yet‘ construction isn’t providing me with much comfort.  I know that ambivalence and incongruity is simply a part of life but I don’t know how to accept that.  How to process that.  I’m left feeling sad and scared and discouraged.

I suppose maybe the lesson is in there.  Feeling the whole range of emotions means I have to feel the negative ones and that, unsurprisingly, doesn’t feel good.  Maybe this is actually a positive step in some ways.  The fact that I feel low and down means that I am actually feeling at all.

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Red Heart by George Hodan

So I will sit with it, I suppose.  Let myself feel and not run away, even though every fibre of my being wants to distract and run away.  I will let it all in and know that it is part of growing into the woman I want to be.

In feeling the hard feelings, I will learn how to be open enough to also feel the joy and love and wonderful feelings when they are present in my life.

And yet…

My counsellor taught me about the “and yet” construction recently.

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It’s a small change in my language that makes a big difference.  It’s very simple.  When I am about to say ‘but’ I replace it with ‘and yet’.  That’s it.  Small but oh so powerful.

You see, I have a big problem with ambiguity and uncertainty.  I want there to be a right answer that is clearly evident.  I want to be able to choose something one hundred percent and commit to it.  I want consistency and stability, especially within my own mind.

The problem with that is that almost nothing is black and white like that.  Anyone who’s ever tried to make a really important decision by writing down pros and cons knows what I mean.  These lists only exist because almost any choice or issue has more than one side.  There are benefits and drawbacks any time we opt for one path over another.  For me, this leads to intense anxiety and obsessive rumination.  Somehow, over my life, I have come to believe that if I just think about something long enough and from enough angles, that somehow things will become clear.  Like those 3-D art posters from the 90s – if I just stare at it long enough, I will be able to see an image that has always been there.  It might take awhile, and I might have to cross my eyes, but eventually the one true purpose of the art will be revealed.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/muckster/5723247325/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/muckster/5723247325/

So where does ‘and yet’ come in?

It’s a way of acknowledging, when I am trying to reconcile something in my mind, that two things can be true at once.  Walking in the sun can be one of my favourite things to do, and yet I don’t want to go today.  I can adore writing and yet feel it is a chore on a particular day.  The discrepancy doesn’t cause anything to be false and it doesn’t value one higher than the other.  So often the “but”s in my mind come from my belief that I need for only one of two things to be true and that if one is, then the other can’t be.  When this isn’t the case (so about 99% of the time), I feel anxious and fearful.  I end up doubting everything which only erodes my self esteem further and further.

I can know I love my boyfriend, and yet I know that we need have some time apart to grow as individuals.

This shift in language takes the opposition out of the two premises; that allows them to sit easier in my mind as co-existing.  I can learn to be still and present with uncertainty.  With not knowing the answers.

Which in turn, allows me to start, slowly, to accept that life and recovery are complicated and messy, and yet, worth every effort required.

 

The 411 Post!

My first ever link up, inspired by Rita Marie at Champagne-n-Pizza and hosted by Blair’s Head Band.  How fun to have a frame and keep this post a little lighter but still full of nuggets of me!  Here goes…

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1. The Basics
Who are you: I go by onebreath for blogging/commenting – still too nervous to give a real name!
Where do you blog: Now. Here. Life.
How did you pick your blog’s name: I’m on a journey lately of self discovery and healing.  The name is a reminder of where I am and also a play on how we parse words: nowherelife – could have a very different meaning!

2. Location, location, location
Where did you grow up: Northern BC (Canada)
Where do you live now: Lower mainland BC
Where would you live anywhere in the world: New York.  Or maybe Boston.  Or London… yep, London.

3. Let’s talk beauty – what is your favorite or signature:
Lipstick: Burt’s Bees lib balm
Mascara: Maybelline Lash Extension
Perfume: I just bought Pink Sugar – super flirty, girly, fun scent.

4. Yummies – what is your favorite:
Cocktail: Manhattan, if there’s no red wine around.
Dessert: Chocolate.  The darker the better.
Pizza Topping(s):  Hmm, not much of a pizza eater these days, but it used to be ham and pineapple (very Canadian)

5. I always have these three things in my refrigerator:
Un: Cheese
Deux: Strawberries
Trois: Soy sauce

6. Get artsy – what is your favorite:
Movie: The Pirate Movie.  (Don’t judge me – so many great memories of watching this with my sis!)
Book: The School of Essential Ingredients – a lovely lyrical light work.
TV Show: Arrested Development.

7. Kid stuffs – three questions about your youth:
What did you want to Be when you grew up?  A singer.
Who was your favorite teacher and why?  Mrs Olson – my first grade teacher.  She was the most warm and caring soul.  So genuine that she made everyone smile.  I moved away from that town in grade two and she continued to write to me in my new town – amazing!
What was your worst sickness/surgery/hospital visit as a kid? I developed Type 1 Diabetes at 10.

8. The Pretty Things – what is your:
Favorite color: Blue
Favorite flower: Daffodils
Favorite artist (painter, photographer, etc.): I could never pick just one!  For painters I love impressionism, for photography, I love realism, for music I love singer/songwriters.

9. Shop ‘Til You Drop
What’s one thing you buy the most often: Books
Do you prefer to shop online or in-store? In store for clothes.
Imagine you open your own store – what would you sell?  It would probably be one of those places selling books and crystals and Buddhist sayings.

10. Be a Hater: what are three things you would like to go away?
Ein: Body image issues – why are we constantly comparing, ranking and judging ourselves?
Zwei: Debt
Drei:  The belief that money is the best goal for us all.

11. The Final Three (x Three)
I hand you a genie – what are your three wishes?  Oh gosh.  I have no financial worries (note: not that I’m rich, just not constantly worrying).  I am transported to the Amalfi coast in Italy.  My family and friends can teleport there to visit but never stay overnight 😉
List 3 things you can see out of your window right now. The fire hall across the street.  A budding tree.  Sunshine!
Who are three people, living or dead, you would invite over for dinner? Brene Brown, Whoopi Goldberg, Dalai Lama.

Practice

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I love the idea that all of life is practice.

It takes some of the pressure off, doesn’t it?  I don’t have to get things right all the time if I’m in a mindset that all I’m doing is learning, ever practicing and learning.  Ironically, I’m still having to learn to practice the art of practicing.

I have always had extreme perfectionistic tendencies.  I have resisted doing many many things because I knew I wouldn’t be good at them from my first try.  I have not allowed that it would be okay for me to simply do something even if I wasn’t good at it.  That’s a lot of self imposed pressure throughout life.  It also means a lot of missed experiences and feeling of inadequacy.

This blog is an experiment for me in so many ways.  One of them is that I am not attempting to make it perfect.  I want it to be good, but the good is mostly good for ME.  That’s a big difference.  It means I am posting without reviewing ten/twenty/fifty times.  It means there may be errors and wording that is less than what I may have written if I had proof read it obsessively.

It means I’m practicing so it will get better over time.

As I’m practicing, I realize I like what I am doing and I’m enjoying the process.  It’s embarrassing (or maybe just winsome?) the number of times I come back to my own page and smile at what I have posted.  It makes me feel good and proud because there is no objective judgement – my pride comes from creating something of my own.  It may never be read (though I admit I hope it is!) but it is still worthwhile because of what the practice brings to me.

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So I think I’ll sit and stay with this awhile.

Less diet drinks… More water!

http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1414925

http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1414925

I know I resort to drinking tea and other sugar free drinks, at least in part to feed my eating disorder.  In moments when I am not “allowing” myself to eat, drinking diet soda or sugar free hot cocoa makes me feel like I’m having something more than just water (which I have always found incredibly boring).  Clearly, though, replacing food with diet drinks is not helping my eating disorder recovery.

In the spirit of one step at a time, I have been brainstorming about what I can do in this area of eating.  Of course it’s not as simple as replacing the liquid with foods, so I thought that what I can do is at least commit to replacing some of the diet drinks with plain water.  I see this as a step that will help me to feel the hunger more truly (without the influence of artificial sweeteners) and also be better hydrated in the process!

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Above you see my purchase in this quest!

The only time I have ever managed to drink enough water is when I was at work in the hospital, toting around one of those plastic cups with water and sipping from a straw throughout the day.  So I splurged on a dollar store version and plan to keep it filled up.  My initial aim is not to replace all my liquids with plain water but to get through at least one (and hopefully two to three) happy blue tumblers of water each day.

I figure I’ll save money too as the tap water here is among the best in the world – no filter and no disposable bottles necessary.