Meet Lois

So I have this terrible little voice in my head. She kind of looks like this and is certainly not my friend.
I have named her Lois simply because I do not know anyone named Lois. Lois doesn't work for me. She works against me and she has been driving my life for some time. She doesn't say kind things. If I heard her speak to a friend the way she speaks to me, I would be embarrassed. And so in this journey I am on, I really trying to work with Lois. It is sort of like training a dog. And I am no good at training dogs. If you met my dog, you would clearly understand what I am up against. But the deal with my brain and Lois, is that she really has just ruled for too long.  I am in charge and she just needs to know that. Here are just a few things that Lois has said to me over the years:

Why is this so hard for you? Everyone else can do this.
You have really let yourself go.
Why are you yelling? You are such a bitch.
You can't do that.
Scaredy cat. I knew you wouldn't do it.
That was dumb. How could you lose the keys? or your wallet? or that important piece of paper?
Why did you say that? People will think you are nuts.
You can't.
Compared to other women your age, you really haven't done much.
Get a life!
Your kids are a mess.
All talk, no action. Again. You will never change.
Why aren't you more organized, pretty, fit, smart, put together?

She's a gem, isn't she? So, yeah, Lois is really a witch and as much as I would like her to be gone, it really isn't that simple. I have to retrain her.  I have been working on this ever since we started helping our daughter through her issues. She has a mean voice, too, and it was driving her to do some really awful things. Part her training was to simply recognize when this mean voice was talking and notice her and then replace her voice with something that the strongest version herself would say. So I am doing this, too. And since I have started, I have noticed lots of people talking about similar techniques. They envision this voice as someone who is only a very small part of them. It's important to recognize they exist and try to find a place for them. The reality is that our frenemies like doubt and fear will always be around, but they do not have to be in charge.

I wish I could tell you I am having this PHENOMENAL experience and my life has totally changed. It's not like that at all. It is a journey and it takes practice. I have gone to a meditation center to learn more and what I am realizing is that my brain has been out of whack for quite some time. I also have to keep practicing and noticing Lois and being gentle with Strong Lisa. When Lois starts talking smack about how I meditate, I know I have gone too long without working at it. 

In a doctor's visit yesterday, my practitioner actually PRESCRIBED meditation. When she saw my history of depression, she started discussing mindfulness and meditation and practically jumped out of her chair when I told her what I had been working on. Strong Lisa wanted to shout, "Bring back the high five because I am on this!" 

But I just smiled and Lois glowered... which was totally fine by me. 


As aside, I have to admit that Big Man suggested I try meditation during the heart of our unemployment months. He did because his ego was out of whack, We have different struggles regarding negative thoughts and even different methods for meditation. But none of that matters. It has helped each of us in different ways.  All of this is to say, hon, YOU WERE RIGHT!

On Football and Life

I went to listen to Steve Almond discuss his newest book called Against Football. It wasn't so much that I am a passionate hater of football. More precisely, I was wondering what a former fan of the game had to say about how he arrived at the topic. Steve is a talented writer who has really forged his own creative writing path. I knew this book was not a diatribe in the formal sense....I knew it carried some weight. What he said was that it really came down to the fact that he was ashamed of his love for the game despite the growing evidence that football harms people for life and that the industry itself does little to protect those who play it.  Furthermore, he said, "We need to write about what brings us shame."

This stopped me so much that I scribbled it in my notebook.

I looked up the official definition. Ashamed: embarrassed or guilty because of one's actions, characteristics, or associations.

I started thinking about all of which I feel shame for--times when I did not speak out are only the tip of the iceberg for me.  Here is an incomplete list:
1.  Yelling at my kids.
2.  Leaving the house when I am angry.
3.  Digging up the past 
4.  Forgetting my parent's anniversary.
5.  Being overweight
6.  Watching my daughter get sick and not being able to stop it.
7.  Asking my husband to interview for a job that did not deserve him. He made himself vulnerable by admitting to some problems he'd had and they did not treat him with kindness and if I think too much about this, it still can make me sick. 
8.  Believing in feminism while I stay home to raise kids while my husband is the primary breadwinner. 
9.   Having a garden but buying Quick Trip pizza because I wanted a night off.
10. Sending my son to Boy Scouts though they don't really support gay rights as a national organization.
11. Not attending funerals of people who were important to me to important to someone I love.

I am not saying these make sense. I am only saying that my shame comes from something not ringing true for me in each of these things. 

So Steve got me thinking about how shame arrives when what we believe and think and feel does not line up with our actions.  One of the speakers I heard last weekend said this very thing. She was discussing living a life of integrity. When what we do and say and believe all line up, we are walking in that sweet spot. Something wasn't ringing true for Steve and that is when he began his closer examination of football, it's culture, and so on.

And yet walking with integrity at all times is hard. I mean, I don't think it's always hard. I just think that our world has really gotten haywire- we trend, you know? There is a trend and we jump on or off ,and we just don't really think it through. Everything has become so political- food and football and feminism and religion and school. Somehow it ends up being a right or left thing, and yet isn't all just a human thing?

We are full of dichotomies.We are black and white and grey. And I mostly feel grey. I have rarely drawn a hard line in the sand for anything. It was my biggest struggle as a teacher and lately, I have had to develop a hard line for my son. He's in a phase where his tone toward me is less than respectful. I simply cannot tolerate it and because I love him more than anyone I want more out of him. He needs to be constantly corrected and there are ramifications for him. I want him so badly to see how he hurts me and then get it so he simply stops.

But lessons are hard to learn and they keep coming at us until we get them and I am not in charge of his time frame. I want to be and that is my lesson. My impulse is to feel shame for his behavior and yet, it is his behavior and not mine. I can teach and he can learn...or not. His behavior does not fit into the life of integrity I wish to live and yet all I can do is stay the course and pray that he will join me. 

I admire Steve for just plunging in and investigating and trying to go forth in a way that speaks of integrity for him.

That is our journey, right? To figure out a way that rings true to us and for us and deep inside us and then, have the courage to live it.

Who knew I would get all that from a brief talk about football? But lessons are everywhere if we are paying attention and I guess that is just part of it......paying attention.

Seeking, Part 2

So I have been sitting with all I heard a week ago, ruminating and wondering what rises to the surface and curious about what has stayed with me.

I am re-reading my notes and here are just a few things that stand out:

We are all spiritual beings having a human experience.

Your life is always speaking to you, but whether we are listening or not is up to us.

You are co-creating your life through the energy of your intentions.  In other words, what you put out you get back.

I could take any one of these things and write for hours, but really I think I will just let those statements sit with you.

What each of the speakers was trying to do in his or her own way was to get at each of these.


Elizabeth Gilbert, who wrote  Eat, Pray, Love and The Signature of All Things, spent her time talking about Joseph Campbell and the hero's journey. What she realized is that while there are no examples in historical fiction or mythology of a female hero, it does not matter. When she decided to leave her first marriage, she realized she would have to be her own hero. The other point she drove home is that a hero's journeys is not without struggle. It is not a romantic straight line to happiness. It is bone deep work with ups and downs and when you are true to your deepest longings, you can hurt others and make mistakes because your journey is not theirs. Yikes! Hurt people? Who wants to do that?  But you forge ahead anyway because if you are listening to what you know and believe and feel to be true about you, you will manifest what is meant to be yours. When you are working with the universe to get what you want, things will appear.
When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.

This isn't physic hokey-pokey. I think it's just part of people really following the path they are meant to follow. I also think that if you are paying attention, what you need is often right in front of you.

Sometimes, though, we get confused with wants and what is really meant for us. This is a hard lesson to learn at 12 and 36 and 45 and beyond.

Gilbert's own journey did not involve marriage, life in the suburbs with 2.6 kids and a dog. Something else was calling to her and it took a very hard knock for her to get this, but she says the universe was whispering all along in her love and zest for travel and quests and journeys inside through her writing. All of this took her far away from the kind of life she imagined would be required to raise a child and so she made the difficult decision to leave her husband and set off on discovering the truest version of herself that she could find. This moment in a hero's journey is called Crossing the Threshold. For her, it was a prayer on the floor of her bathroom when she realized she could not go one more day living a life that was not hers.

She wants us to pay attention to those whispers, those nudges, those moments that make the hair on our neck stand up or our head tilt to one side in a question, or cock our eyebrows up in surprise. Those moments are there if we are open to them and they are there to give us information about what moves us. We don't have to cross the threshold in a big and dramatic way. We can simply follow it in the way that we are meant to, but often as imperfect humans we get too caught up in the shoulds. Being true to you involves no apologies and no shoulds, but it isn't easy.

First you have to be willing to ask the question, and then you have to be willing to consider the answer. You may not like it because it can involve some unraveling of a life you already have and that, of course, takes work.

Women with families often lament, "Who has time for this?"  But her challenge is this--we only get so much time. How you are going to spend it is entirely up to you. Really. You.

We are co-creators of our lives which means part of it is in our control.

I am only starting to unpack this week. I am ruminating. The notes are copious and profound, but I haven't stopped reading them. Everyday I take out my notebook and I thumb through it until I stop on a word or a phrase that catches my eye. I am talking to friends who want to know more and I am working with a woman who feels as passionate as I do about really asking these questions. It's all really big and good and hopeful and very hard.

But it's worth it because we only get one go 'round. Why not do it in the way you want? Really, why not?
Be the hero of your own story-answer or ignore. It doesn't start until YOU start.