Wrestling the Octopus

Today I was SO MAD I couldn’t see straight. I was mad at my daughter, mad at the way I was treated on a phone call, and mad at myself for being mad.

I was so mad I couldn’t even LOOK at my daughter. I was convinced she took me for granted, was using me for money, didn’t respect me, treated me like an ass hole, and was a terrible person.

I was also convinced that a woman from work treated me like an ass hole, was throwing me under the bus, and was disrespecting me in front of my boss.

As a matter of fact, I was convinced that the whole world was doing that. EVERYONE treated me like an ass hole and I was TIRED OF IT.

I was so mad I couldn’t talk. I was just stewing inside my head. I couldn’t smile and all I could do was growl. I was in a course and I let everyone else go because I was in a state. They could tell and they just let me be.

As I listened to them, I wondered what was wrong with me. I shouldn’t BE This way. I shouldn’t be mad and upset and angry. I should be rainbows and lollipops, perky and peppy, Pollyanna, Pippi Longstocking, and every other happy character. But I wasn’t. I didn’t know what to do to get the octopus arms from strangling me.

Then I had a thought. What if I granted myself being? Just let my mad be. Allow it. Not resist it. I was upset by my STORY of what happened. I granted myself being. I just let myself have all of the upset and angst. I stopped resisting it.

All of a sudden I could breathe again. My body started relaxing. The octopus arms were loosening from around my neck and chest. The corners of my mouth moved into an almost smile.

I texted my daughter that I was sorry. I was in an amygdala hijack. My story that she was using me for money, had no other use for me and was mean, had seemed true.

After that, I could see that I made it all up. I didn’t like her expression as she walked out the door this morning. She was on her way to a dermatology appointment where they were doing a facial for $211 and I got triggered by her “cavalier attitude.”

That trigger hijacked me into a young story that I am irrelevant, don’t matter, am misunderstood, treated like an ass hole, AND, since everyone else is going to leave me, I will get rid of them first. ADIOS!!! Even my very own daughter.

I could see that if somebody doesn’t act the way I think they should, I make them wrong and alienate them. I am in a course on trust and this is what I’ve seen. When things don’t happen as I want, I give up on them and quit, allowing my resignation to take over.

If I could just be with the world as it is, it wouldn’t be personal, and I could be free. I could ALLOW life to unfold and give up my rigid, narrow agenda of how things SHOULD go so I could be ok.

Live and let live.

Trust the hands of God and the journey. Ask people what they want and empower them to have it.

I could relax, enjoy life, and exude love and joy.

That would be a very different life than being mad and wrestling the octopus.

Neither is wrong. One is just a lot less stressful.

Thanks for listening.

Feels Like I’m On Trial

I use this blog to create freedom.

I feel like I’m on trial. It seems a little dumb, but I really do.

Here’s why.

I have been going to weight watchers since 2011. I hit my goal, AND, still wanted to lose more weight.

I didn’t. I crept up a few pounds instead. After a few years, with the help of Zach, my fearless Weight Watchers Leader, I made peace with it. At 61 years old, I am healthy, fit and look pretty good for my age, despite the number on the scale. (At least I’ve been told that).

Even so, for years, on Sunday and Monday nights, I would get stressed out. My weekly weigh in was Tuesday morning. I would worry about salt, bouillon, heavy foods, and even being constipated. Every Tuesday, despite my self pep talks, I felt like something important was being determined when I got on the scale. I’m not quite sure what and that’s why I am writing this blog.

During COVID, for the first time since I started weight watchers, I felt free. I could eat soy sauce and pizza on Sunday or Monday without being stressed. There was no weigh in to worry about. I was tracking, enjoying my food and relaxed. My clothes were loose and I felt great.

I had a couple of doctors appointments during the summer and was thrilled to see I was down 5 pounds. That hadn’t happened in years. Life was great and I was looking good!!!

So what’s the problem?

That was 2 months ago. Last week they told us we have to start getting weighed once a month to keep our lifetime status. I am getting weighed in 2 days on the official scale. I have no idea what my weight is NOW.

Even though a number on the scale has no inherent meaning, my body sensations are telling me otherwise. Here goes, ladies and gentleman while I try to get to the bottom of my stress:

  • If I am up on the scale, I have to do something different, be stressed, call myself a loser, and hang my head in shame. It means I don’t know what I am doing. I will continue gaining weight until I weigh over 400 pounds. Everyone I know will leave me, I’ll lose my job, end up homeless, and live on a cardboard box over a gutter so in the winter I will be warmed from the fumes of the subway. My hair will be stringy and dirty, my face will be bloated and red, and I will die a lonely and painful death.
  • If I am down on the scale, I can celebrate and enjoy my life.

Wow. I never looked at this before. I can see why I’m stressed. And why I feel like I’m on trial. My weight will determine my fate – celebration and joy or a lonely and painful death. If that was really the case, there is truly a lot at stake.

That is awesome. I am so glad I wrote this. Undistinguished, this was a big freaking deal. Distinguished, I can have a really good laugh.

Truly amazing what a little sharing and saying what you don’t think you should say does. It creates freedom.

Thanks for listening. I have a new life.

Couldn’t Stand The Feeling

Sunday night I was IN A FUNK. I was mad at the person I am dating. I was going to say I was done. Adios.

Here’s what happened: Saturday we were together and I told him I enjoyed spending time with him, found him attractive, and was happy just being with him. Everything was fine.

Sunday, however, I started feeling very uncomfortable. I didn’t like it. I tried to explain to him that I felt exposed and vulnerable.

“Why didn’t you say anything back?” I asked.

“I was just relaxing,” he said. “No reason.”

I tried explaining my discomfort so I could get some relief.

He understood, but instead of decreasing, my anxiety and insecurity grew. I ended the call feeling pathetic, needy, stupid and unlovable.

That night I couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned, deciding that I couldn’t stand this anymore. The only way I knew to get rid of my discomfort was to end the relationship. I was sad, but knew what I had to do.

In the morning, things got clearer. A lightbulb went off. I was merely resisting my experience. I didn’t think I should have these feelings. I didn’t like them and was trying to make them GO AWAY. And it wasn’t working.

What if I could stop resisting and just accept them? Experience feeling insecure and needy without it being wrong? Allow the feelings.

I took some breaths and started writing. What was really going on?

Inside my head I was whining about how I can’t have what I want. Relationships start off great and then end suddenly. I might as well end this now.

I couldn’t believe what happened. It was amazing. Once I stopped resisting, I could see what was going on. I wanted to be right about how this guy COULDN’T really love me. I was making up the fact that he wasn’t giving me what I needed.

Making him wrong SO I COULD BE RIGHT.

Did I really want to be right about how I couldn’t have what I want? That I couldn’t have a great relationship?

Why?

No reason. I actually didn’t. And in that instant, the horrible feeling went away.

And with that, I felt free.

The love, joy and fun returned.

The need to think or talk about this disappeared. I was happy.

Isn’t that amazing?

What can you give up being right about so YOU could return to love and joy?

What Are You Waiting For?

What is something you want to accomplish but just don’t seem to be getting to?

For me it was avoiding making my YouTube videos.

Today I woke up and decided ENOUGH.

I had tried to record several videos on Friday and just didn’t like them. I started making excuses for why I really didn’t need to record one this week. After all, I have a busy weekend. Plus, every fear I had ever had was in my way:

  • they suck
  • they are boring
  • no one watches anyway
  • I’m an idiot for thinking they are good
  • I can’t get it right
  • no one cares anyway
  • if I’m bored watching them, everyone else must be too

This morning I decided not to listen to my fears and excuses. I got up, worked out, and got out my equipment. I made some notes and hit record. I got through my struggle of trying to get the damn thing from my phone to my computer. The whole thing maybe took 20 minutes. And it was done.

That was so much easier than torturing myself with my disempowering thoughts.

What is something you could do today that you are avoiding? Something on your to do list that keeps getting transferred or ignored? What’s a small task you could do?

I promise that if you do it, you will feel like a million bucks. I do. I can move on now and enjoy my life. I feel powerful and productive.

Please let me know. I honor your greatness and your ability to create a life you love.

“You Are A Good Person”

“You are a good person,” my friend told me today.

“I am?” I thought. What about all those times I am cursing people out, making them wrong, and talking badly about them?

“Hmmmmmm,” I thought. “Could I actually be good? Let see………….”

I don’t start about being bad. I think my “badness” comes from thinking I was insulted. Just yesterday I was playing tennis with my brother, son, and niece’s husband. I knew I wasn’t playing well. I was tired after going on a 2 hour walk earlier with my daughter and had also worked out for an hour and a half before that. (It was Saturday so I had time). My legs were sore and I had a hard time running for the ball. It felt like I was running on knives.

I made a comment when we got back into the house about all the exercise I had done, including the tennis.

“You DIDN’T play tennis,” my brother said.

Immediately, my mood shifted. “Fuck him,” I thought. “What an ass hole.” I knew I was playing badly, but I DID PLAY. I felt insulted and a little resentful. I did NOT feel like a good person anymore. More like a nasty, revengeful little bitch.

I like to think I know better than that, so I tried not to dwell on his comment. I tried to get past it and feel the love again, but it kept returning to my thoughts, despite my intentions.

I didn’t like feeling that way. Why should I torture myself? This morning I decided to “check it out,” as Jack Canfield calls it and find out what he REALLY meant by the comment.

“Why did you say I didn’t play tennis? Cause I sucked or the game sucked or something else? Just curious.” I texted my brother.

“It was doubles. Not singles. Nothing to do with you personally,” he answered immediately.

I took a deep breath, body relaxing. “OK, thanks,” I texted back. And that was the end of that. I no longer wished him ill and felt like a good and valued person again.

And then there was that other time……………..

“You should take up rowing,” a friend told me.

Immediately I wished him ill. He obviously thought I was fat and needed more exercise. My alter ego took over my “good” nature. “What a jerk!” I thought. “I never liked him anyway.”

But then, knowing myself and my sensitivity, I decided to check it out.

“Why did you tell me to take up rowing?” I asked.

“Because I like rowing and want more people to like it, too,” he answered.

“Oh,” I said, smiling, my “good” person returning immediately. “I thought it was because you thought I was fat,” I said.

We had a good laugh together. I really did think that. That’s what’s amazing.

Back to my friend calling me a good person today. I AM basically good. I want what’s best for people. I want them to have great lives. I like being friendly and caring.

I just forget. When I think someone is putting me down, I get scornful and it’s hard for me to get over it by myself sometimes.

But, as with my brother today who meant no harm at all, all I have to do is have the courage to “check it out”. And then return to “happy and good” when I find out my interpretation is completely WRONG.

Maybe one day I won’t have to “check it out,” but for now, I do. And I’m ok with that. It’s a technique and tool that works for me to create freedom.

What can you do when you feel ill will?

Just wondering……

Thanks for listening.

Does Anybody Really Know Who’s Fault It Is?

“It’s MY fault,” my dad used to say with the emphasis on MY. “It’s MY fault,” he would repeat. That would be the end of the conversation.

And that’s what I have thought, too. If someone’s been mad, upset, or frustrated, I assumed it was somehow my fault.

Lately I’ve taken the opposite approach. That however someone else is, it has NOTHING to do with me. It’s NOT MY FAULT.

Having said that, I could argue the other side, that if I hit someone’s car and dent it, I was the cause of the dent. They may be upset or angry and I DID have something to do with it.

But they could also be happy. “Thank you,” they could say. “I told myself that if I got one more dent I was going to buy myself another car. You made my day.”

So while I did have something to do with it, I am not determining their emotional state.

There’s a woman at work who has been acting hostile to me. First I felt bad thinking it was MY fault somehow. Now I am saying “It’s NOT MY FAULT.”

Instead of being a victim like I normally would, I’ve taken the offense.

What I’ve seen is that it’s not creating any freedom either. It makes HER the problem and takes it off my back, but it’s still niggling in my mind with negative energy.

I’ve been looking at why it matters who’s fault something is. Why do we spend so much time trying to figure this out?

It seems, after thinking about this, that this is not productive. Where does it get you except to be right, cause shame, and distract us from something useful?

I know, when I’m being right, I want to talk about it so I can get agreement about how right I am. Where does this really get me?

What if we put our time into something else? Let’s have a conversation and see what we are both comitted to instead? How can we make this a win/win for everyone?

What if I could be a grown up and ask this person what I can do for her? Is there something I need to hear that could create affinity for her again? Do I have the balls to ask her or should I just keep making her wrong and keep the tension between us?

Good question. I will think about it. I’m a little scared of her I can see.

AND, I will be brave. Maybe on Tuesday.

Thanks for listening.

Imagine If You Were Free

Why?

Because today I have seen that I am not. I am run by my rules, standards, and worries. Here are the 3 out of 4 plaguing me right now:

  • Getting It Right: I stopped recording videos because I got “advice on how to do them” I KNEW I couldn’t get it right, so………Fucked up Conclusion: Why bother doing them at all?
  • Keeping People Happy: I’ve tried to accommodate them, listen to them longer than I want to, do things I don’t want to do, and basically try to please them any way I can, sacrificing my own happiness in the process, AND, …….guess what? They are not happy anyway……..Fucked Up Conclusion: Why waste my time if they are going to be mad anyway? Fuck ’em as my Dad used to say.
  • Be Nice: I told my neighbor’s visitor not to park in my parking spot. He hadn’t realized he was in my spot so I felt REALLY MEAN. I spent the night numbing myself with two hard seltzers and chips because I felt like “that mean bitch” I’ve tried to avoid being. Fucked Up Conclusion: It doesn’t matter whether I speak up or not – I’m going to judge myself either way so it’s a lose-lose situation.
  • Don’t Act Crazy: There was a strange man following me last night. The hairs on my arms were standing up. I almost didn’t call 911 because I was afraid they would think I was paranoid, crazy and worrying about nothing. The policeman came, and while he was talking to me got another call about the same guy. He was harrassing people in their cars down the road. “Your instincts were good,” he said. Not Fucked Up Conclusion: When you feel danger, ACT. I’m glad I did.

Let’s see if I can use my accesses to freedom:

  • sharing – that’s what I’m doing
  • saying what I don’t think I should say – I don’t think I should be telling you all this
  • not resisting my experience – I am definitely resisting how I feel

That’s a big one. I’m pretending everything is fine. It’s not. I’m afraid if I make a mistake, people will leave. I don’t feel nice. I don’t like people mad at me. I miss my Dad. I wish I could help my mom. I don’t like when people are upset because of me. I don’t MEAN to hurt them.

I pretend I don’t care, but I do.

I’m going to just BE how I am. And it’s fine. I don’t have to be another way. I’m just going to be me – AS I AM. Mistakes and all. I will follow my heart, instead of my mind.

Wow!! What a concept.

Imagine if YOU could be free. Imagine if you could be however you are, right now, free to follow your heart instead of your mind. How would your life be?

I wonder…………………………………….

Have a great day.

“Your Instincts Were Right”

I went to my mom’s house tonight for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. We ate dinner and then my son called. He had been reffing in New Jersey and was with his dad. It was already 8:00. They were an hour away.

“Please don’t invite his dad to come over,” I asked my mother. “It’s late. Let’s see Jesse another night.”

She didn’t listen. She begged them to come like she always does. So they were on their way.

I decided to go home. I told my son that I loved him but that I wasn’t going to stay.

Feeling bad, I called him when I got in my car. I said it was too difficult in that house for me. The caregiver and my mother were always at odds and I couldn’t take it. I burst into a good heaving cry. I could barely see the road through my tears, but it felt good to let my sadness and frustration come out.

I said goodbye when I got home. I got out of my car and started walking to my cottage. Almost at the path that leads to my door, I heard someone behind me. A guy was walking down the path towards me. He was mumbling incoherently, sort of at me. There was no one else around. I got a really creepy feeling but I had already turned towards my house.

“Shit, he’ll know where I live,” I thought. I hurried down the path. “What could I do?”

“Honey, let me in,” I said to the empty house. I knocked on the door, pretending I was being let in. I wanted him to think there was someone here with me. I closed the door and and looked back out through the blinds. He was still standing at the end of my path. The hair on my arms was standing up.

I called my son and told him what happened.

“Call the police,” he said. Normally I would feel funny, but this time I did it. While I was telling the operator what happened, the call dropped.

Surprisingly, my house phone rang a minute later. It was the woman from 911. She asked me a bunch of questions.

“Should I go outside and see if he’s there?” I asked.

“No. Absolutely not. Stay inside. We will send an officer out.”

I felt strange, so I called my son and kept him on the phone until someone knocked. I peered out the blinds making sure it was the policeman.

He asked me what happened and I told the story again. His beeper rang.

“It’s another complaint,” he said. “We think it’s your guy. He’s down by the sea wall harassing people in cars. Your instincts were right.”

Normally I don’t trust my instincts. I think I’m just paranoid, overly fearful or worrying needlessly.

But I just finished “Talking to Strangers” by Malcolm Gladwell. He talks about how we err on the side of thinking people are good, and don’t trust our instincts. That we are “not accurate ” at judging people. We trust the psychopaths because they are smooth talkers, and the innocent nervous people we think are guilty. It was very interesting.

I also heard a segment on Oprah that said that most people want to be “good and nice” instead of trusting themselves when their gut says danger. They are afraid to get the bad guys mad and get into trouble because of it.

Tonight I listened to myself. I’m proud, albeit a little shaken.

It’s been an emotional night. After seeing my mom, it’s sometimes difficult to see that she’s not the same as she was. And to know it’s not going to get better. It makes me miss my Dad. I feel like if he was still here, it wouldn’t be so hard.

I remember standing next to my dad at temple all those years. We would recite Yizkor, the prayer for the deceased. I felt bad that he had to say the prayer because his parents were dead. I knew intellectually that one day I would be the one saying the prayer, but I didn’t REALLY think that day would ever come. I expected my dad to be next to me at temple forever. It was OUR night. As he got older, I loved holding his hand when he needed help walking into the temple. It made me feel really close to him.

I know that death is part of life, but on the holidays, I miss him the most, especially reciting that prayer.

Hey Dad, it’s been a really strange year. This year we said the prayer to our computer.

But the policeman said I did good tonight. Are you proud of me?

I love you.

I Didn’t Invite You to My Pity Party

Yesterday I was going to write and invite you to my Pity Party.

But I decided to just go it alone. I was in a bit of an awful state.

I just decided to feel sorry for myself even though I really should have been able to get over whatever was bothering me. I should have been “perky and peppy” instead, laughing and smiling, and being wonderful. But I wasn’t. I was growling and sulking.

It’s been a rough couple of days:

  • My daughter moved back in with me on Sunday. Starting early Monday, we fought over everything, made everything wrong, and were mean and miserable to each other.
  • I couldn’t figure out how to talk to her without both of us hissing and spewing hatred, resentment and blame. It wasn’t fun.
  • Today, when she was out and I could clear my head, I sent her a text complimenting her and then telling her that I can’t count on her to do what she says. This causes me resentment, makes ME look like the ass hole for continually having to ask her, and misery.
  • She came home and we talked. She first blamed me for why she doesn’t do what she says and I just listened, saying ok and anything else? When there was nothing left for her to spew, I helped her create a structure for keeping her word. I gave her a book where she could write down what she promises people she will do, and then schedule those tasks into her day. It took about 5 minutes. She was grateful.
  • Now, we are friends again and laughing and getting along. It’s a miracle.

The second thing:

  • I was going to hire a company to help me go after my dream. I talked to my Financial Planner. and he asked me a lot of questions about why I was spending this money. I didn’t have the answers. I got upset, decided I was stupid for doing it, it wouldn’t work anyway, and I was an idiot for wasting the money.
  • Instead I would save the money, waddle along in life without purpose, and avoid taking any risks.
  • I invalidated everything I’ve ever done, felt sorry for myself, and was resigned that “this is as good as it’s ever going to get.” La-dee, la-dee, la. Poor me. I’ll survive, it’s ok. Dumb idea. Boo Hoo.
  • I wallowed some more.
  • Today I got a text. One of the guys I was going to work with asked me to talk to him.
  • “Why? What does he want? Probably his money,” I thought with cynicism.
  • “I’m not giving in,” I thought. “I’ll just listen. I won’t say a word.”
  • I listened. Then he asked me a question about what I wanted. It was hard to answer but I finally did. “It’s a lot of money,” I said afterwards.
  • “You are paying for two guys to work for you for 4 months to make you successful. That’s what you’re paying for,” he said.
  • “What does successful mean to you?” I asked.
  • “Oh, OK,” I said. The resignation lifted off my chest. I paid the invoice on my phone.
  • And guess what? I stopped feeling sorry for myself. I felt alive again and on a mission.
  • It was another miracle.

Those were the two big things I resolved today.

So I’m sorry I can’t invite you to my Pity Party. Next time, I’ll invite you before it ends.

Have a great day.

Where Do YOU Quit?

I quit all the time.

I hate to admit it, but I do.

I quit when:

  • someone doesn’t act like I want them to
  • someone doesn’t like what I want them to
  • someone says something I don’t like
  • someone says something I take personally
  • things don’t happen as fast as I want
  • things don’t happen the way I want

Let’s see. Is there anything else? Probably, but I think you get the point.

I also quit relationships.

If someone criticizes me, makes me wrong, embarasses me, etc. they become DEAD TO ME. I am DONE. ADIOS, MUCHACHO.

It’s not like I say it, I just do it. I no longer feel affinity for them. I put them in the REJECT pile unknowingly and put an invisible barrier in between us.

With projects, for example, selling my book or making sales appointments, when I don’t get the results I expect, my excitement and belief disappears. I either forget I ever started, or continue with resigned resistance.

What if, INSTEAD, I could “be” with whatever someone said or did, or with whatever happens, with no loss of affinity or enthusiasm?

Honestly, I can’t imagine what life would be like. But I’d certainly like to see what happens living life THAT WAY. I’m going to take that on.

How about for you? Where do you quit? What could happen in your life if you didn’t?