I’ve got a million of em, more or less. Some are old and some are new. Some are almost actual reasons even though, really, they are just excuses for not doing what I coulda, woulda, shoulda.
As my moving day gets closer and closer, I waver between thinking and feeling that I am ready, maybe even beyond and more than ready, to just do it already. This condition is so unusual, weird and different for me, especially since the pandemic and other events overtook any control over or opportunities to do anything completely for or about myself alone, that it is making me uncomfortable.
I am finding more and more lately something helpful to my psyche and my emotions in a whole range of self-help stuff I started quite a while ago but have not done much with until I reached this point, the point of really being able to step back, take a breath and take a look at how far I’ve come over the many many years of my adulthood, before I feel like I’m ready to or have to take the next steps beyond the present and just barely into the very near and barely real future.
This old stuff that has come up has, at the moment, kind of moved me back to the time before marriage and children. This was really the last time I had any control over or opportunities to do anything completely for or about myself alone. As it is now, it made me uncomfortable when I first encountered that feeling. Looking back, I guess I’m not sure I had totally come to grips with it then, to more than accept it but really to embrace and enjoy it, before my marriage and family. I think, hope and pray that I am in a better position to do that now, the second time around.
One of my “gurus” in this new or at least improved journey, with better and more modern and more forgiving and flexible pavement, is Jennifer Louden. I have already referred to Jen as my life/writing coach because for me, at this juncture in my life, those two concepts are almost inextricably linked together.
First, Jennifer Louden was and is a personal growth pioneer who helped launch the concept of self-care with the release in 2000 of her first (or maybe second or third) bestseller with a title, plot and characters that really spoke to me (and the only one I’ve actually read so far): The Comfort Queen’s Guide to Life: Create All That You Need with Just What You’ve Got. Since then, she’s written and published a whole lot more on well-being and whole living. Her work has been profiled or quoted in dozens of magazines; Brené Brown’s books, Daring Greatly and Dare to Lead; and she has appeared on hundreds of TV, radio shows and podcasts—including The Oprah Winfrey Show. Her newest book Why Bother? Discover the Desire for What’s Next, was published, pretty appropriately in my opinion, in the long ago early pandemic days of May, 2020.
Jennifer has been teaching workshops and retreats since 1992. When I first discovered her it went along with my desire to participate in one of them she had planned for Asheville, North Carolina, in the even earlier, in fact almost pre-pandemic days, in the fall of 2019. It had the enticing to me title Get Scary Sh*t Done. Little did we know how much scarier the sh*t would get soon after that because, unfortunately and coincidentally, that’s when the world and my life began to fall apart at the seams. Now that, we all hope, anyway, my life and the world may, after 2.5 desolate and lonely and confusing years, finally be getting all our acts together, and taking mine on the road, I’m expecting to put what I’ve learned from her into practice and to keep learning and practicing those lessons in my life and on paper.
The headline of the current rendition of jenniferlouden.com boldly announces her newest professional endeavor. Create out loud. Make what you want. Make it boldly. Make it the only way you can. I didn’t dig very deeply into what Jennifer Louden had to offer me in pursuit of a new and improved life until last Thanksgiving when, at a weak but at the same time hopeful moment, I took the bold step, spurred on by her free for a month offer, of joining The Oasis. The gist of this program can be found under the Work With Me tab and I must say that the amount of help, encouragement, guidance and assistance I have received there has brought to the surface for me the value of filtering a lot of the stuff I have endured and suffered and just plain lived through to get to myself here and now.
Here’s what I’ve learned and how I’m trying to incorporate it in my new and improved thought process when I look in the mirror, both literally and figuratively.
Self-talk, sometimes just me – you know the devil on your shoulder kind of thing – or sometimes the voice of someone I have known, whispering in my ear or firing off in my brain, has been a big bane of my existence. What I most often hear is encouraging self-talk before following through by taking action I know will, probably sooner (like almost immediately) rather than later, wind up and kick off the negative self-talk.
It may or may not be a good thing that recently the negative self-talk has been more delayed. For example, last night I weighed myself. I do this way too much and more often than not use to determine many of my immediately following actions. For most “normal” people, who don’t use body image as a factor in much of their decision-making, food can be a reward for completing an unpleasant or difficult task. For me yesterday that was packing the last box of stuff, besides clothes, that I will be moving.
I looked at the time when that chore was done and realized a lot more time than I’d realized had passed while I took care of that previously daunting task. This of course is what most people experience when they’re in any kind of a groove. The preference for any kind of groove like this would be to experience it while doing something productive AND PLEASANT. I have recently found myself there more times than I ever had before and I call that progress.
After all that exertion, the scale told me something I wanted to believe but hadn’t necessarily expected. As a result, and with nascent though mild hunger pangs, I treated myself to a non-diet (though not too much because I don’t have much food that falls in that category in the house) dinner. So far, so good, no big deal. Unfortunately, not long after that, the snacking started. That’s why I stock the house with mostly pre-packaged but processed snacks and limit myself to one small package of each kind per day. Again, so far, so good.
I’ve never really known why, but bedtime has always been the time when I really start to listen to that little devil on my shoulder. (I don’t weigh myself anymore before that. I also consider that progress.) It could have (and probably does) have a lot to do with how I’ve handled food when I lived in a house with other people. Anyway, I had been nibbling at an exclusive to Sam’s Club size bag of Hershey’s cookies n’ cream popcorn, over a period of I don’t know how long, maybe a couple of weeks. These are two of my favorite snacks and, as always, when I bought this yummy thing, I checked the serving size and calories per.
This was yet another time when I consciously chose to challenge the limitations I might really be able to apply to the really bad habit I have of subconsciously, telling myself all the while to stop eating whatever I may be shoving into my mouth throughout, polishing off an entire package of whatever it may be. Whatever it may be, even if it is relatively low-calorie, is of course NOT that if one eats the entire package. Even so, of course I never do this with vegetables! Most often, after a bedtime binge like this, I sleep like a baby after telling myself I will start yet another diet the next morning. Believe it or not, I consider it progress that recently, over a week or so when I consciously did not binge, I told myself that I could almost understand how someone could be anorexic and have a fear of food.
Anyway, this is a long way of getting to the point I wanted to make about how I am changing my thinking.
See MY answers above, though I have to say this process does not and I don’t think is intended to tell me or anyone else who engages in it, how to use the answers to change MY behavior.
We must let goJoseph Campbell
of the life we have planned,
so as to accept the one
that is waiting for us.
The concluding thought that stuck with me after the completion of this weeklong Oasis practice:
“I know that this is just a feeling of sadness (for somebody in The Oasis community and I don’t know what for me) moving through my body that probably has NOTHING TO DO WITH THESE THINGS (that both of us know and love).” My fellow practitioner concluded with LOL. I am still nowhere near the point of being able to laugh at this enduring personal foible.
At the end of Jen’s Oasis lesson for the week (my own personal nomenclature for the thought-provoking over the weekend event), she got to the biggest point and best part for me at this big personal transition point:
Aren’t we all? I know I am.