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Where am I going? What am I doing?

Now that I’m feeling better than I was this fall – still tired, still loads of pain, but less depression and anxiety – I spend a lot of time wondering what the fuck I’m doing with my life. This isn’t a new train of thought for me. I’ve been trying to figure this out since I left my job as a prosecutor. While I was there, I felt like I had a purpose and was doing something good for the world.

Since then I’ve bounced around a little. I tended to end up in places where the person I worked for really need help and I was in a position to be able to do that.

That’s all well and good, but what about something for *me*? Something that makes my soul feel like it’s doing its part?

I read Eckhart Tolle’s book “A New Earth” and that made me think that I perhaps need to get my Inner Purpose together and that maybe my Outer Purpose would reveal itself.

Shortly after finishing the book, a friend posted this link about being on the right path even though things feel wrong. I didn’t really expect anything to resonate with me, but it did.

2. Feeling “lost,” or directionless. Feeling lost is actually a sign you’re becoming more present in your life – you’re living less within the narratives and ideas that you premeditated, and more in the moment at hand. Until you’re used to this, it will feel as though you’re off track (you aren’t).

Uh, yeah. That’s sort of the title of this post, is it not? I have no idea where I’m going or what I’m doing. I’m not too troubled about it, except that I feel like I could be contributing more if I knew what I were doing. Though, I do agree with Tolle that getting in touch and living the Inner Purpose IS one of the best things we can do for society at large.

3. “Left brain” fogginess. When you’re utilizing the right hemisphere more often (you’re becoming more intuitive, you’re dealing with emotions, you’re creating) sometimes it can seem as though “left brain” functions leave you feeling fuzzy. Things like focusing, organizing, remembering small details suddenly become difficult.

The amount that I cannot remember and cannot keep straight these days is ridiculous. I’ve been so concerned I thought about seeing a neurologist. If it’s spiritual progress though, I’ll take it!

4. Having random influxes of irrational anger or sadness that intensify until you can’t ignore them anymore. When emotions erupt it’s usually because they’re “coming up” to be recognized, and our job is to learn to stop grappling with them or resisting them, and to simply become fully conscious of them (after that, we control them, not the opposite way around).

Well, yes. Sadness and anger have both been companions!

5. Experiencing unpredictable and scattered sleeping patterns.You’ll need to sleep a lot more or a lot less, you’ll wake up in the middle of the night because you can’t stop thinking about something, you find yourself full of energy or completely exhausted, and with little in-between.

I think my sleep issues are more than this, but I do know that my brain just doesn’t turn off when I try to go to sleep. I’ve been trying to just remember what I was thinking about in the morning, but I’m usually left with a sense of “What was that again?”

8. Intense, vivid dreaming that you almost always remember in detail. If dreams are how your subconscious mind communicates with you (or projects an image of your experience) then yours is definitely trying to say something. You’re having dreams at an intensity that you’ve never experienced before.

For a while I hadn’t been remembering my dreams, but over the last month that has completely changed. I’ve had really vivid and intense dreams. I attributed it to the fact that I was letting my creative side loose by doing my own cross stitch designs, but maybe it’s more than that.

10. Feeling like the dreams you had for your life are collapsing.What you do not realize at this moment is that it is making way for a reality better than you could have thought of, one that’s more aligned with who you are, not who you thought you would be.

My life is NOTHING like I thought it would be. Things I was sure I wanted I’m not sure about anymore. My health has been a lot of the reason for some of the changes. I always thought I would get better, but that doesn’t seem to be happening. I think I’m finally starting to accept that how my body is now is basically how it’s going to be. I’m still seeing doctors to try to get the pain down some, but I have accepted that pain will be an ever-present feature of my life. And that’s okay. I still have so many blessings.

14. “Knowing” things you don’t want to know. Such as what someone is really feeling, or that a relationship isn’t going to last, or that you won’t be at your job much longer. A lot of “irrational” anxiety comes from subconsciously sensing something, yet not taking it seriously because it isn’t logical.

This isn’t really new for me. A while ago I had no idea that everyone didn’t *know* this stuff and that made life REALLY hard. People got upset with me and I had no idea why. Now I get it. I have really come to trust my intuition.

15. Having a radically intense desire to speak up for yourself.Becoming angry with how much you’ve let yourself be walked on, or how much you’ve let other people’s voices get into your head is a sign that you’re finally ready to stop listening, and love yourself by respecting yourself first.

As hard as it may be to believe, I used to have a hard time speaking up if I thought it would cause discord. Now I just don’t give a flying fuck. My jar of fucks, it is empty. Letting things go i why things don’t change. I know that a lot of people believe you can’t change another’s mind, but that’s not always true. Sometimes it’s about saying it in a way they haven’t heard before or asking more questions than they’ve been asked before. Sometimes the answers help me clarify something too.

16. Realizing you are the only person responsible for your life, and your happiness. This kind of emotional autonomy is terrifying, because it means that if you mess up, it’s all on you. At the same time, realizing it is the only way to be truly free. The risk is worth the reward on this one, always.

Again, this one isn’t super new for me, but knowing it and living it are two different things. I am focusing on doing what I can for myself to be happy. I’m going out on more limbs to try new things and seeing whether it makes me as happy as I thought I would. I’m trying to tell any fear of failure to take a flying leap.

I really do hope that I’m getting more aligned with where I need to be so that I can start living who I really am.

What do you think of the list? Any of it resonate with you?

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Book Review: Eckhart Tolle: A New Earth

January was a month for reading – 18 books!! Toward the end of the month I got a hankering (do people even say that anymore?) for reading that was more spiritual in nature. I’d had a lot of thrillers/suspense, fantasy, chick lit and needed to delve into something a little deeper.

I have no idea how I ended up back at Eckhart Tolle. I’ve considered reading some of his stuff before, but something always put me off. Not sure if it was the Oprah book endorsement or the description of the book. I found the audiobook available for free and decided to give it a shot.

Tolle narrates the book and his speech is a little dry and his accent is a little hard to get used to. But his calm tone make the book easy to understand. His concepts aren’t necessarily difficult, but sometimes they take a bit to sink in.

The book is AMAZING. I think there are a lot of us feeling exactly what he details, but not having words to capture our sentiments. We’re tired of the struggle against bullshit and dealing with things that just don’t make any sense to us. We want to live whole lives of meaning, but trying to put that into action while people around us don’t get it is challenging. We feel pushed to respond because of the ego dominance around us. We lose sight of the fact that we can be happier, less stressed out, and peaceful if we just step back and let our minds still.

The book also addresses people who are trying to find their purpose in life. His belief is that the primary purpose in life is to attain stillness – get to a state of BEING – and not let thinking run rampant over our lives. This is what he calls the Inner Purpose. The Outer Purpose is the DOING of our lives.

He gave me new ways to reflect on my life and to find ways to stop reacting to so may situations. Focusing on my breathing, listening for when my ego jumps into a conversation. I’d been working on it before the book, but now I am more aware of what I’m doing. Dropping back and not letting any drive toward feeling superior or like I need to try to defend my ego have made for calmer times.

I’ve already encouraged a few people to read this one. If you’ve read it, what did you think? Did the book change the way you look at your life?

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30-Day Project: January Wrap-Up and February Project

January was a ROCKING success!! This may be the best 30-day Project I’ve done yet! I know! SO MANY EXCLAMATION POINTS!! But that’s truly how I feel about this project. I had no idea how much I needed to work creativity into my life. I have felt better in January (minus stress about Mr. Lyndsy being gone for 10 days) than in many recent months. I got better, faster, and more creative than I expected I would. And maybe a new business!!

But, now that I have all these designs, I need to do something with them. Designing sort of put actual stitching in a backseat. I only got two patterns completed in January! So, for February, my goal is to stitch at least 30 minutes per day. Ideally it’ll be more, but sometimes it causes aches and pains so I’d rather not torture myself.

I’m looking forward to stitching things I’ve bought as well as my own designs. The only way I’ll know whether my designs are worth selling (or need to be modified to be sold) is to actually stitch them. Now I have over THIRTY-ONE to work with!

Anyway, I’m so excited about seeing what I made come to life. I’ll be posting as I finish!!

BONUS PROJECT: I have been growing out my hair for months and months now, cutting off as little as possible. My hair is down to my bra strap! It hasn’t been this long for at least 6 years (I think). However, I never do anything with it. I always grab an elastic band and pull it into a ponytail. It’s not that it looks bad, but if I’m just going to do that, why bother having long hair? Also, pulling it back all the time can cause hair thinning and breakage.

So, I’ve decided that for February, I’m going to use a hair elastic as little as possible. That doesn’t mean I won’t pull it back, but if I do, it needs to be something else. It makes for a different style and hopefully I’ll do less damage so my hair continues to GROW! I want to see how long it can get.

I’ll post pictures when I remember to show I’m rocking my do. It’ll be hard for me to just let it go when it’s curly. I am way too much of a control freak when it comes to having hair flying around. But I look at pictures of women with hair like mine who just let it go and it looks amazing. I’m going to try it.

HOORAY FOR JANUARY and YAY FOR FEBRUARY!

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Thanks, but no thanks

Something that’s floored me over the last few days is the amount that I have heard white people dictate how the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement should be doing its thing.

Someone said to me, “If the BLM wants my help, they know what they need to do.” He wants BLM to be “All Lives Matter.” In my opinion he’s clearly missing the fucking point about what BLM is and what it’s trying to accomplish. If everyone in the United States was getting dropped by police on the regular, living in substandard conditions with substandard education, and not getting access to the same benefits, then that would make sense. But that’s not how it is. He’s also got his panties in a twist because HE feels marginalized by the movement. Yep, his FEELINGS are hurt. Never mind the black people who have felt marginalized for YEARS and in fear for their lives for YEARS. But yes, please, Mr. White Man, let me focus on making your feelings less hurt, while people die in the streets.

Someone else said that all BLM is doing is pissing people off and that they need to try other tactics if they want support.  Um, that’s a big ass cup of NOPE. That is not how this works.

I can’t figure out if they’re trying to deflect the fact that they don’t agree that there are problems, and by doing so, avoiding having real conversations about how they’re racist. Basically, if they argue enough about bullshit, no one will pay attention to the fact that they actually just don’t want to help the United States be a better place because they’re completely fine riding around on their chariots of white privilege.

The fact that so many white people posted this kind of bullshit on the day we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. was particularly disgusting. Instead of really taking stock, they threw up a big ass white sheet and tried to hide from actual discussion.

Instead of wasting everyone’s time talking about how ALL LIVES MATTER (no one is saying that isn’t the case, despite what you may believe) or how BLM needs to protest, try having legitimate discussions about ways to help improve the conditions of the minorities in the United States. Focus on the problem and finding a solution. Figure out how you, as an individual and collectively with the rest of us, can make a real fucking difference.

Or, keep talking the same crap so that I know for sure that you’re a racist piece of shit.

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Interconnectedness changes who we are

I had this bizarre dream last night that involved someone who created a new bee technology – bees that seemed real, but weren’t. The point was that we could supplement the bee population without risking that they would somehow be killed by pollution or pesticides.

The bees came in contact with humans though and changed. They no longer responded to commands. Even if the interactions were brief, the bee was changed with no going back to the old ways. But as this was happening, the people in the dream were connecting too, and most of the time the connections were brief.

But when I woke up, the idea stuck with me that no matter how small the connection, we are forever changed. Interconnectedness changes who we are.

When we interact with someone else, we’re sending energy to them. The simple act of focusing on them sends energy. Much more is exchanged when we’re having intentional conversations. The more intimate or heated the exchange, the more energy is sent.

 

Most of us only think in terms of the effect that our energy had on someone else or the effect of someone else’s energy on us. We rarely stop to think about what we’re doing to ourselves by interacting with other people in the ways we do.

When we seek to “beat” someone else in an exchange, we are actually diminishing ourselves. When our goal is to make someone else feel bad, we hurt ourselves. When we express superiority over someone else, we are actually just showing our fears that we are inferior.

In order to make someone else feel low, we have to generate that sensation in our own bodies first. There isn’t any way to pass along that feeling without first creating it. Before the other person feels bad, we do. We may not notice it in our rage, desperation, etc. But once the exchange is over, that energy will still be in our system.

The irony is that the person to whom we send the negative energy is able to recover before we do. At some point they will be able to recognize that the negative energy and feelings were not their own, but rather ours. While there may be a temporary setback in their energy, they can shake it off. We, however, are stuck with it, especially if we don’t take ownership for it.

This leads to a downward spiral. Because we’re walking around with negative energy still, more and more of our interactions are clouded in it. Eventually, we will be both giving and receiving negative energy. People don’t enjoy being on the receiving end of negativity and will repel our advances in order to ward off the junk coming their way. Before you know it, we’re nothing but piles of bad feelings, without understanding how it happened.

I don’t know about you, but I have no desire to be a mass of unhappiness, rage, or sadness. The only way I can stop that from happening is to take ownership of my energy and control how it emerges from me when I interact with others.

It’s easier said than done in this day and age. There is negativity all around us. We cannot escape it.

We can, however, change it.

To do that, we have to consciously interact with everyone we encounter in a positive way. It is not always easy. We have to first learn to address our fears, because fear is often the motivator for being unkind to another. Fears that we are inferior (no one is inferior to anyone else), fears that can’t be ourselves (no one has the right to judge who you are), fear that we can’t have enough (there’s plenty of everyone), fear of the different (we’re all more alike than we are different), etc.

Once we have control over our fears, being more positive is much easier. Positive interactions are synergistic. We walk away from those interactions feeling happier and healthier than we could if we were generating positive energy independently.

It takes work at first. It’s easy to get trapped in the fear and negativity because they’re familiar and we’ve spent years listening to others put us down and make us believe it’s true. Understand that those people were speaking from their chairs of fear.

Reject that. Whether we believe it or not, the world is basically a pool we’re all swimming in. You may think we have separate pools for different people or want that to be the case, but that’s just not accurate. When someone is being nasty, hateful, or acting on fear, it’s basically like taking a dump in the pool. It may have felt good to take that shit, but after the fact, there is shit in the pool. And that person is probably not the only person taking a dump. Eventually we’re all swimming in shit. I don’t know about you, but I would rather not be surrounded by feces 24/7.

Instead, we need to focus on dealing with our own fears away from everyone else (get out of the pool to take that dump) and then return to the pool when we can be a more positive influence.

Once we start giving off positive energy (because we’ve reduced our fears), more will be returned to us. Then the happy interactions are easier to create and we sustain the positivity for longer amounts of time. At some point, that becomes our usual state of being. When that is everyone’s resting state, the world will be a better place.

“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.” ~Gandhi

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Going Mostly Meatless-ish

As you all know, my thing for this year is doing whatever makes me feel good. I read “Medical Medium” last year and one of the recommnedations for Type 2 diabetics was removing meat products to help save the body from having to digest it. This will help the body use sugar more productively.

I started doing that before the holidays and then everything went to shit. Well, I started taking the metformin again (I’d given it up for a while – I know, bad Lyndsy) and my stomach HATES it. It definitely does NOT feel good. So, I’m back to reducing my meat intake.

The thing is, I struggled only eating it once per day. It was still my lunch and dinner. I don’t know if it was the convenience of it,  (particularly frozen chicken nuggets) but it isn’t working.

To help me with this, I’ve decided to eat it no more than once per week. What this means is that I will probably eat it when I go out to eat since I struggle to find salads I like.

However, since I know that once per week for meat is unlikely and I don’t eat a lot of other foods that are high in protein, I’m going to allow myself to have shrimp a couple other It’s low in fat, but high in protein. I do appreciate the cholesterol risk associated with shrimp, but it’s not like I’m going to be eating a pound of it per day.

It’s going to take me a while to work down to this once/week thing. I have great hopes for how much better I’ll feel once I do it though. I know several people who have gone pescatarian and have felt so much better. I really don’t like fish though, so making that conversion isn’t really an option for me. And sometimes, I just want Chili’s chicken fajitas. Life isn’t long enough to skip that (unless they start making me feel like crap), so I won’t.

I guess we’ll see how this goes!

For those of you who have reduced your carnivorous tendencies, how’d it go?

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Book Review: An Invisible Client by Victor Methos

While the story of the book is not new (think an updated Erin Brockovich-type tale), it is a modern take on the tale.

I’m drawn to books with strong character elements, and this book delivers. Byron’s relationships drive the book. His partner’s are a reflection of his values and ultimately act as a stepping stone for his grow. His relationship with his law clerk is what pushes him to grow beyond the place he’d created for himself in the world. It is through his relationship with his law clerk and “invisible client” that he grows to a place he never though he could, given his upbringing.

The author makes the book interesting even though the core of the book is about rather uninteresting events. You find yourself turning pages, hoping that the case yields the result you want.

The book is well- and tightly-written and well-edited. There are not extraneous elements; everything win the book has some purpose.

I also really appreciate how accurate this book was from a legal perspective. The rules cited are accurate and the path of the case is realistic. The only thing that struck me as being impossible was the lawyer finishing law school in 2 years. Given the rules the American Bar Association has about how many credits can be taken at a time and the number of hours allowed to work during a semester, this seems like a stretch. However, that doesn’t do much to take away from the book and that would only occur to someone who’s been through the process.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who likes John Grisham novels or courtroom stories.

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Book Review: Unpaved Road: An Iranian Girl’s Real Life Story of Struggle, Deception and Breaking the Rules by Niki Bahara

This book came to me through a friend of a friend, because friend of friend’s mother wrote it. I tend to be a bit skeptical about the quality of any book written by people I may know. It’s definitely not fair and the two books I’ve read that way (including this one) are both really very good.

The first thing I have to say is holy shit. This is a true story and I know that I could never have done half of the things that the author did nor survived what she did. The book starts with her life as a young girl in Iran and her time in Iran goes through the revolution. I was particularly intrigued about life in Iran and the changes that occurred once the Ayatollah came into power. She describes a fun and enjoyable Iran, where she could laugh with her friends and dress how she pleased. By the time she fled Iran, women were being attacked in the streets if they were not dressed “appropriately.” Compared to that, I feel pretty free. I can at least wear capri pants!

I don’t want to give much more of her journey away as it’s really best told by her, in her voice. She paints a very clear picture, full of emotion, and most interesting, her thought processes as she travels from Iran to Iraq and eventually through Sweden to the United States.

I found it informative, interesting, and compelling. It’s definitely worth a read if you want a realistic look at what life was like in Iran during the revolution and what it’s like to try to find a new home when yours is no longer safe.

If true tales are your thing, check this one out.

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Creativity is good for my soul

Man! Designing these cross stitch patterns has been so good for me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still exhausted as shit, sleeping poorly, and the back pain actually seems to have gotten worse somehow. But, it’s almost like I don’t mind it so much?

I feel more engaged in life. I feel a little more like I have a purpose. Above all else, it’s fun. I think about the designs as I’m falling asleep. I looked at the elevator light the other day and saw my little stitch blocks.

Some of them are gifts, which is always fun for me. I love handmade gifts. It’s nice to be able to make just the right gift. My plan is to design a bunch, make them, and then on my next trip to the US, get everything framed and shipped out where it needs to go. I’ve made a lot of designs though so I have no idea if I’ll be able to get everything done.

I do hope to sell some of them eventually, but even if I don’t, that’s okay. It’s FUN for me. And I am desperately in need of some fun to lighten up all the BLAH that has invaded my life.

If you’ve got any ideas for things you’d like to see in stitches, let me know. I’ll see if I can tackle it.

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Doing More

I feel like I’ve been able to do more lately, which is outstanding. Well, let’s be fair. When I say that I’ve been doing more, I should clarify what I’ve been doing.

As you know, this month’s 30-Day Project is to design a new cross stitch pattern every. That has been incredibly fun and it’s given me some vitality that I knew I’d lost. I feel driven to create and that hasn’t happened in a long time. I’m thinking about selling the patterns on Etsy once I get them reviewed and stitched up. Not sure how much success I’ll have, but I’ve gotten very good feedback on a lot of what I’ve done so far. People have even requested I send them the patterns to stitch!

I have also been reading more this year. When I do the Reading Challenges, I start slow and then, toward the middle of the year, realize that I haven’t been reading all that much. I frantically dedicate days to reading and get ahead. Then it trickles down as the year comes to a close. Since I joined NetGalley, I feel an obligation to read the books I’m gifted sooner rather than later, especially if the book hasn’t been released yet. Because I keep finding books that look great there and actually getting them, this means I’m committing myself to reading more than I had before.

I was doing my semi-regular cleaning out of email and sorting through things I have to pay for, and I discovered that I own a lot of domain names. Each domain name represents a project I started and haven’t finished. Part of the point of the 30-day Projects is to finish what I start. While that seems to be working (most of the time) on a concentrated scale, larger projects have been completely neglected.

I’m tired of doing that. I didn’t get rid of most of the domain names. I liked those ideas. I wanted something to happen to them. Lost of things got in the way – marriage (good thing!), health issues (bad things!), emotional issues (more bad things!), and trying to live in a new country (neutral thing).

I’ve been here long enough that I need to get my shit sorted out. The health issues aren’t really changing and I’m pretty much doing everything I can for them right now. The emotional issues are better when I’m being creative, so if I focus some more energy (through my 30-Day Projects) on creative things, some of the stuff I’ve been meaning to do that hasn’t been touched in ages may actually get a loving caress from me.

The first thing I need to do is sort it all out so I can get a grip on what’s actually out there. What I feel like I’m doing is standing still with things floating all around me. I need to grab them and stuff them in a box so they can’t get anywhere. Then, I’ll catalog the things so I can decide what I want to do. Then I’ll prioritize. Yes, this sounds like an excellent plan.

However, I could use some guidance on organization of intangibles. How do you keep your projects organized? How do you not let it overwhelm you?