Category Archives: Project Reverb

Reverb 14 and December Reflections

smileselfieThis morning I put the finishing touches on the Self-Compassion Saturday ebook. If you’ve been keeping score, that project ended one year ago. The ebook is something I’ve been planning to get done for a long time, had promised. I kept setting the intention, a goal, committing to a specific finish date, and that would pass and it still wouldn’t be done. First I thought I’d get it done that first Winter Break, but I was so worn out from the year before and we were getting ready for a new puppy so I decided to take it easy on myself. Then I thought it would be complete before we left for summer vacation, but with a new puppy and me starting yoga teacher training, there was just too much going on. Then I thought I’d finish it before I went back to work in the fall, but the puppy and the training were still so much harder than I’d imagined. Then I decided for sure I’d get it done by the end of the year, trying not to cringe that it would be a whole year later, so late. All of it was a great exercise in self-compassion — I would fail, not beat myself up for it, and begin again.

But in this case done was more like almost done. As I wrapped it up this morning, I realized I would have to go to my CSU office to convert the file to a PDF, and there certainly will be issues with the conversion that I’ll have to address before it’s done, done. Then there’s emailing it to the women involved, and announcing and putting it up on the blog. There are still things to do, but it feels good to be finally this close.

Part of the hold up was that there was another book that wanted to be written. Because it’s about my self-compassion journey, I couldn’t figure out if it was part of this ebook. I kept getting the two confused. In my bewildered state, I couldn’t find my way in, figure out how to start. On retreat with Susan Piver recently, I finally came to some understanding. I wrote the opening of that other book and realized what it was, what it wanted to say, that it was its own thing, another beast altogether. In that way, I was released, able to focus on the ebook without distractions. Plus I had the time off work, the space in my schedule.

Vacation is a difficult place for me. Vacation means time away from my CSU work but not much time away from working, from doing. It’s the time when there is room in my days to be able to focus on all the other things that normally have to wait, get overlooked or ignored. That’s everything from working on a book to cleaning out my closets to taking the occasional nap. For example, I signed up for an online dog training class this summer, and even though it was only five weeks long, we were given access to the materials for six months. That time is almost up, and my plan was to go through them over Winter Break, to collect the information I wanted to save and apply it, spend some extra time working with Sam and Ringo. The desire to do so is tangled up with guilt over the money I spent and have thus far “wasted,” and shame about how “untrained” my dogs are.

vacationcouchingIn the last few days, I’ve been considering the fact that I might need to just let the whole thing go, to give myself a break. It might be time to admit that the expectation I could have perfectly trained dogs by the end of a two week break, along with everything else I did and was planning to do, is a tad unrealistic. I can’t do everything. That might seem obvious, but I struggle with accepting it.

I got an annual blogging report from WordPress yesterday. Apparently I started off 2014 by blogging 34 days straight. I’m ending the year by doing almost the same thing, having blogged almost every day in December, sometimes posting twice. Today is the second to last day for Reverb 14 and December Reflections. I’ve done most of the prompts for both, blogging and posting pictures to Instagram, but when I read the prompts for today, I just couldn’t find the energy I needed to make the effort. This voice in me said “I don’t wanna, do I have to?” and was followed by the glorious realization: no, if I don’t want to, I don’t have to.

So there.

Reverb 14: Day 29

Project Reverb prompt: “Describe a typical day-in-the-life. Give us details! Give us pictures! Sometimes our days can seem boring. Is that okay? What do you do to make your days feel a bit special?”

I wake up at 5 am. Doesn’t matter what day of the week or season of the year, it’s always 5 am. It used to be 4:30, but that felt too early. Eric tells the dogs “go outside and go potty” and feeds them when they come back in. I make a half cup of coffee and say “good morning” to everyone before going back to my office. I sit at my writing desk and meditate for about 10 minutes. I either use the Insight Meditation Timer app on my phone, or I watch an Open Heart Project video, listen to Susan Piver give a short talk and then sit with her. After that, I write for at least half an hour.

When I’m done writing, I either go on a walk with the dogs or to a yoga class, where sometimes I’m a student and sometimes the teacher. One morning a week, I work out with my trainer after yoga, but usually after a walk or a class, I shower and eat, get ready to go to work.

Sometimes work is CSU, sometimes it’s a blog post. Either way, I’m writing, and listening to music while I do. I have a subscription with Rhapsody, so I can listen to just about anything I’m currently in the mood for, and have a few playlists I’ve made for myself with some of my favorites. I check in with Facebook and my email, send some messages, consider what absolutely has to get done “today” and make a short list, a plan of sorts, but I also remain open to whatever might arise. In my life and my work, things are always happening, surprising me. I never know exactly what to expect so I don’t have a rigid agenda. I’m okay with being interrupted, redirected. If I have scheduled commitments, I show up, but beyond that I allow things to happen as they happen, let the day unfold as it will.

If I’m at home for lunch, I fix something. I might make extra that we can have for dinner too, like a big bunch of kale and brussel sprout salad. If it’s going to take some time, I like to listen to a podcast while I chop and measure and mix ingredients. If I’m at work, I either run out for something or eat whatever I brought with me, and usually eat it in front of my computer while checking Facebook and such.

comfortfoodWhat happens after lunch depends on my energy level. As I mentioned the other day, I’ve been struggling with fatigue for the past few years, and sometimes in the afternoon I hit a wall. I might read or take a nap or do some more writing, but whatever it is usually happens more slowly, with more ease. I answer more emails and address anything else that’s come up that needs my immediate attention. Some days, I get to go on the afternoon walk with the dogs too. We go for about an hour, walk to City Park and around and back, in that part of the day that is sometimes super quiet and sometimes super crowded, usually depending on the weather. If I’m doing CSU work however, I’m in my office until 5 pm and miss the walk.

cozyWhen I get home, I immediately change into something more comfortable. I don’t want to offend you, kind and gentle reader, but one of the best moments of my day is when I get to finally take my bra off. I hang out with Eric and the dogs in the kitchen, or maybe watch a bit of TV or read. Eric usually fixes dinner for us, and I am either keeping him or the dogs company. We eat and then I check in one last time with my email and such. Then Eric and I watch TV together, which really is just an excuse so that we can “trade some” — what we call it when we massage each other, something we do every night. I highly recommend it.

By about 8 pm, we are in bed. I confess I have a bad habit of playing on my phone for about 10-15 minutes before going to sleep. I got a Kindle for Christmas, so I can start reading for those few minutes instead. There are all sorts of studies out saying how bad that is for your sleep and overall health, but it’s a habit I’m not willing to give up just yet.

I’m sure my life seems boring to other people. I am an introvert and a homebody who finds great comfort in quiet, simple routine. I know who I am, what I want and how I want to feel, and my days honor all those things.

Reverb 14: Day 28

softgoldparkmorningskyProject Reverb prompt: “What does being creative mean to you? How do you express your creativity?”

Being creative means showing up with an open heart and no agenda, allowing whatever might arise.

Being creative means committing to a regular routine and ritual, being present and ready.

Being creative means relaxing, allowing space, cultivating a quiet confidence.

Being creative means being awake and alive.

Being creative means knowing I might not get what I want.

Being creative means enduring, being patient.

Being creative means cultivating a faithfulness to my experience.

Being creative means being both gentle and fierce, soft and strong.

Being creative means attending to the knowing that is present in every moment.

Being creative means discipline, which also means harmony.

Being creative means being curious, having a sense of humor.

Being creative means following my intuition, honoring my truth and not knowing.

Being creative means dancing with what is, holding space.

Being creative means practice, precision, surrender.

Being creative means honoring what I have to give, to offer, to share.

Being creative means knowing that nothing is mine, nothing I create is “me,” so can give it all away, let it go.

Being creative means freedom, but also relationship and connection.

If you haven’t already, you can listen to me talk about creativity with Jamie Ridler on her Creative Living with Jamie podcast.

Reverb 14: Day 27

holyyesProject Reverb prompt: “Did you form a new habit this year? Or continue with an old one? Is it a good habit? Or one you’d like to break?”

The habits I quit were dieting and weighing myself. After years of smashing myself to bits, I experienced a paradigm shift, a revolution of sorts. The last New Year’s resolution I made was to be a better friend to myself, and in the process of learning how to do so, I realized I had been a disordered eater for 30+ years. I had been starving and then stuffing myself, then overexercising to compensate, all in an attempt to look how I thought I was supposed to look, to meet the standards, the norms, the expectations of the culture in which I live.

My paradigm shift required support. I started working with a therapist, doing lots of reading and studying and practicing, and I joined an Intuitive Eating reading group led by Rachel Cole. After much consideration I realized I couldn’t continue to torture myself, didn’t want to maintain this war with my body. I spent so many years restricting and controlling, pushing and punishing, measuring and comparing — all acts of self-aggression. In the process of denying my body, manipulating what I ate and did, struggling to maintain a body that met the standard, I lost myself.

Distracted by either a raging hunger or a dull uncomfortable fullness, I was confused and bewildered. My true power was masked, my innate intuition and wisdom disabled. You can’t diet and practice matri, (“unconditional friendliness to oneself”). You can’t constantly weigh and measure yourself, and cultivate self-compassion. You can’t be focused on what is wrong with you and manifest who you really are. You can’t swing between starving and stuffing yourself, and be healthy, well, or sane. You can’t hate and love yourself simultaneously.

Chasing an impossible standard broke me — broke my spirit, my will, my metabolism, my heart. It distilled the destructive power of pushing, pleasing, performing, and perfectionism into a habit, a routine, a ritual. I was convinced I was “fixing” myself, but I was destroying myself instead.

Stopping is so hard because even if you can quiet your inner critic, stop abusing and bullying and punishing yourself, culture still keeps going, bombarding you with messages that you aren’t okay, you can’t be trusted, something is wrong with you and you must be controlled.

What culture says I should be (look like, eat, do, think).

What culture says I should be (look like, eat, do, think).

Right now is a prime season for this. Pre-holiday the focus is on what we should be doing to prepare ourselves, how we should behave, what we need, all the dos and don’ts and shoulds. How to avoid gaining weight, how to control ourselves, tips and tricks. Post-holiday the cycle continues, the “help” keeps coming in the form of articles and programs and offers and deals, all promising to help you get rid of the excess holiday weight, assist you in your atonement.

Recently, I read a piece on Medium, Fighting Holiday Food Temptation? Try These 13 Tips. It was written by an author I admire, who writes a lot about happiness and habits, so my normal assumptions and avoidance of such an article weren’t present and I actually read what she had to say. It made me feel compelled to write a rebuttal, which is as follows:

  1. Buy as much food as you want, all the kinds you want
  2. Make tempting food easy to access
  3. Wear comfortable, beautiful clothes that you feel good in
  4. Spread the food out on a table with a gorgeous tablecloth and candles, use beautiful dishes
  5. Pile your plate with all the food you want to eat, go back for more as many times as you want
  6. Add on whatever extras sound delicious
  7. Sure, brush your teeth, that’s just good self-care, but if after that, you want another cupcake — eat it!
  8. Eat when you are hungry, stop when you are full, unless you want more and then you should eat it without guilt
  9. Eat as much as you want — you can have whatever you want and there will always be more
  10. Always eat hors d’oeuvres, those tiny little beautiful tasty treats are like a party on your plate
  11. Obviously, don’t eat food you don’t like or want, d’uh
  12. There are no exceptions, you can eat whatever you want
  13. There also are no loopholes — eat whatever the fuck you want!

“Something is wrong with you” is the mantra, chanted over and over. Even though I’ve stopped for the most part bullying myself, there are so many other voices still babbling. Every day a new opportunity to disagree, every moment a new confusion to unravel. My whole life becomes a rebuttal.

Reverb 14: Day 26

reverb14withtextProject Reverb prompt: “What gave you energy this year? What took away your energy?”

This is a sensitive subject for me. I have struggled with fatigue for almost four years. I’ve gone to various doctors and had many tests to try and determine a specific cause, but no luck. I’ve changed my diet, my thyroid medication, my activity level, and how I sleep. I’ve tried both resting more and being more active. I’ve investigated issues related to my auto-immune disorder, considered perimenopause and adrenal gland fatigue and food allergies. Nothing really seems to answer the question: why am I so tired all the time?

What I do know is that I’m depleted from years of pushing myself too hard, allowing myself to get overwhelmed, going until I crash and burn, not eating when I’m hungry, restricting and denying my hunger, starving and then stuffing myself, suffering and grieving without allowing for healing, being crippled by anxiety and tension, not getting enough sleep — but are these the symptoms or the cause?

I felt the tiniest bit better this year. I am on new thyroid medication. I stopped dieting. I work out less. I’m not as tense so I sleep better. I meditate and practice yoga and take long walks with my dogs. But the real, fundamental change is that I treat myself better, take better care of myself. I am mindful that the true “cure” for me lies in self-compassion. I say “no.” I reject any agenda, all the shoulds. Even if it makes other people uncomfortable or they think it’s wrong or don’t like it, I do what is best for me, my own health and wellness. I don’t need anyone else to agree or understand it. I don’t need anyone else’s permission.

I suppose that’s the fundamental shift: I stopped trying so hard to please, perform, or be perfect. I lowered the bar. I turned my attention inward. I became my own guru, my own healer. Sure I get support and information and even guidance from others, but I am the expert. When it comes to me and what I need, I am the authority.

Reverb14: Day 25

cozyProject Reverb prompt: “What are you so grateful for? How did you count your blessings in 2014?”

I write a post every Friday with a list of all the things I’m grateful for. Last week I was on retreat and didn’t know how good my internet connection would be, so I didn’t post one for the first time in 137 weeks. I discovered later that I did have an okay internet connection, and posted a few Reverb responses, but I didn’t remember Gratitude Friday until Monday, so decided to wait. Lucky me there is this chance now. I have so much to be grateful for…

  • Making the choice to get another dog. It was hard, a close call, not for sure at all, risky, but now we are so glad we did it. Ringo is such a comedian, so independent and strong willed, can be so sweet and has helped us heal as much as we can from Dexter’s loss. And in my humble opinion, two dogs really are better than one. ringoandsam
  • Finally, finally, finally figuring out what’s been wrong with Sam. At the beginning of the year when we first brought Ringo home, we thought we were close to having to let Sam go. He was so miserable and no one could tell us why or how to help him. Now we know that he has sensitive skin on his mouth prone to infection and a food allergy that we are working to identify that leads to chronic ear infections. Poor dude also got diagnosed with Pannus, which can lead to blindness, but does mean he gets to wear these cool sunglasses. (We’re still working to convince him that there’s anything cool about his Doggles).samglasses
  • Finishing yoga teacher training. A big part of that is having a partner willing to take over and be in charge of everything, including a difficult puppy and a sick older dog, all the weekends I was away doing my own thing. I’m grateful for the friendships I made, for the kindness and wisdom of my teachers, and for the opportunities I’ve had to practice. sundaymorningyoga
  • Good health for me and those I love. It’s been touch and go a few times, and there were a few mysteries and some worry, but all in all it’s been okay, good even. My brother wrote in his Christmas card to us, “I’m wishing you health above all for Christmas … dogs too.” That was the best thing he could wish for us, the most precious.
  • Financial ease. I am grateful almost every day that Eric and I are in a situation where we don’t have to worry, can afford the things that matter to us, what we need and want, are able to help even. There are so many who don’t have this, and I feel lucky, lucky, lucky.
  • Friendship. I have awesome friends — smart and kind and funny.
  • I love where I live. Close to most of what I want to be close to, nice neighbors, good weather, beautiful scenery, the river and the mountains, big enough but also still small enough with quiet wild spots still accessible.
  • My job at CSU. The perfect fit of what I’m good at and what others need.
  • Books and the people who keep writing them. I got an Amazon Kindle from Eric for Christmas, and he took the change from our piggy bank and cashed it in for Amazon credit, $168, so ALL THE BOOKS!
  • Teachers, guides, healers, and companions who helped me heal, to be well. I had a little Christmas miracle last night when I identified a specific hunger (needing Christmas to feel special, even though we were spending it mostly alone), knew how to feed it (going out for Chinese food at one of our favorite restaurants, then coming home and watching “Elf”), and asked for it, gave it to myself, allowed myself to have it until I was full. In the past, I might have stayed home and ate leftovers and felt sad, or gone out for dinner and stuffed myself full of food until I was sick, all without being able to identify or be honest about what I was really feeling. I can only do so now because I’ve done a lot of work and had a lot of help along the way.
  • Love and confidence. Knowing I am loved, not being afraid to love, knowing that if someone doesn’t like or accept me that’s okay, knowing that what I have to offer matters, makes a difference, knowing who I am and honoring that.
  • My kind and gentle readers. I come here to work through all the things I’m trying to figure out. I show up and tell my story, and other people gather and listen, hold this space for me, offer support and love. I am amazed by it, and so so so grateful. Happy, Merry Everything to you, kind and gentle reader. ❤

Reverb 14: Day 24


Our wild front yard garden/jungle this summer.

Project Reverb prompt: “Tell us about what home meant to you this year. Are you a homebody? Did you do a renovation? Move? Redecorate?”

Home just so happens to have been my word for 2014. That means I already sort of answered this prompt when Project Reverb asked “What one word would describe your 2014?” And yet, I can still answer the four specific questions this prompt adds. Yes, emphatically, I am a homebody. I’m an introvert, so nothing feels better to me than being at home all day. It’s probably a good thing I have dogs who need walked and a job and yoga classes and friends, because otherwise I might never leave. I’m completely comfortable and happy. Everything I need and want is right here.

We’ve been planning some renovations for a few years, but most have been stuck in the planning phase. We want to get our hardwood floors refinished, our bathroom redone, a new deck on the back and maybe a porch on the front, and need a new roof. We did continue converting our front yard from a lawn to a a garden and flowerbeds. My only real excuse for the other things not getting finished is that there’s simply been other stuff that has been more important, like raising a puppy and becoming certified to teach yoga.

We don’t plan on moving. Since it’s just the four of us, our little house is plenty big enough, and the neighborhood can’t be beat — within walking distance to Lee Martinez and City Park, only 1.5 miles from Old Town, and only a three minute drive to CSU. I didn’t do any redecorating this year, not unless simplifying and getting rid of stuff counts, or only if puppy-proofing would be considered redecorating.