Monthly Archives: February 2011

Gold Star-flakes for the Goldfish

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What is up with this need I have for Gold Stars? Validation, I know. I think raising teenagers alone makes it extra hard to keep the faith that our work will eventually pay off. Those sweet loving hugs are fewer and further between the shrugs, eye rolls, and messy bedroom challenges. I am in a bind: I want gold stars. My kids don’t give them, even though I work really hard at raising them. It isn’t appropriate for me to look to them for validation anyway (they are children, I am the adult…).

My boss really doesn’t have time to feed me gold stars in the quantity I want them either (imagine a goldfish with brown eyes and long hair opening her mouth really wide at the top of the tank, looking for freeze-dried compliment flakes, and you get a picture of my neediness some days). My boss pays me money to do my job. Gold star-flake feedings are not part of the contract.

My neighbors are extremely sweet, but not heavy on the gold stars ; especially not this month. I still have not taken down the Christmas lights (March 1, I promised myself. They will be all rolled up in the basement by that day).

Friends are heavy with the stars; I readily admit that- I get them on a regular basis from Delia, Liz, Brad, Sara, Fred, Gabrielle, Mark…and I thoroughly appreciate them. Words of affirmation (WOA) is my love language. But it is not enough, is it? Goldfish-gaping-mouth-girl needs a constant feed, not occasional.

Humph. It is a gaping-mouth hole in my heart that humans cannot fill after all.
I’m going to 1) Give lots of gold stars away today, and try to remember that what I want is probably what others would appreciate too; and 2) Buy myself a huge gold star to put on my wall. I will imagine it is from God and he is saying “Good job, Anne. You are doing a great job with the responsibilities I have given you”. Really, isn’t that who my boss is anyway? Isn’t that who I want to please most of all? Isn’t it most important that I do God’s work well and please Him?

And I know I am. I got that message so loud and clear today during spinning class that I started crying during a hill climb after I meekly asked God “Am I doing ok with your work?” Luckily it was a dark room and I was out of breath already.

You try it, ask God if you are doing well enough. You will like the answer. Then keep on climbing. You can do it.

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
– Philippians 4:13

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Grateful Zone February 21, 2011: Ariel and Abundance

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I have been in a state of self-centeredness for a few days, and it is bugging me a LOT. I am a little whiney, lacking gratitude, and resentful of several people who don’t deserve it. I have my health, my job, my great kids, good friends, blah blah blah. I am Ariel in Little Mermaid (aged about 30 years and not nearly as cute in a clamshell bikini)- singing about all the great stuff I have but I WANT MORE. And– I really want my dog Max to stop chewing his fingernails at 4 am, as it wakes me up. Maybe all I need is a nap, but I am going to write aobut it anyway…

Sooo, this is my remedy (along with shutting Max out of the bedroom), my weekly list of things that are easy to be grateful for. Gratitude lists help us remember what blessed lives we live and how lucky we are to be right where we are, today, in this life, living it now.

1. Living abundantly: An entire chicken costs less than $6 at the grocery store. When I add in $2 worth of potatoes, some salt, pepper, and maybe rosemary to the crock pot or roasting pan, it is a lot easier and a cheaper meal than going to Subway or Qdoba for dinner. When we are grumpy and tired, it works like a charm.

2. We can manifest abundance for ourselves. My recipe for abundance this week is this: a) chicken in the oven, b) a trip to the library for a pile of free books, c)gratitude prayers for my health, friends, kids, family, and my job, and d) giving to others. Suze Orman says we can manifest more abundance in our lives by giving away, clearing out, and throwing out old stuff. I believe that concept too. There is no reason for me to hold on to stuff I don’t need or use.

3. We can choose to live abundantly today, without spending any money- I am going to be the most generous person I know today with my time with kids playing their favorite games with them; with my friends giving them smiles and friendship; with myself giving me prayers, writing, and exercising time; and with the community I live in by radiating gratitude and abundant kindness.

4. Giving to others is easier than we think and gives us the gift of losing our self-centeredness. I can get so caught up wishing I had this and that, like Ariel’s song -“ I have gadgets and gizmos galore… but I want more”. I want to lose my self-centeredness, to gain. Just for today, it won’t be about me. (Hopefully it will last a little longer than 1 day, but all I can do is one day at a time. If I plan any more than that, and I end up messy)

5. Living abundantly, without self-centeredness, is Happiness Habit #3. Giving ourselves, our food, our gifts, our things we don’t use that others would use. And again, giving our time (Habit #1) and acceptance (Habit #2) to others without judgment or agenda.

Money, Honey, Mint, and Whales

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“It’s only money, Honey”. And then he would smile soooo sweetly and shrug his shoulders as he handed over his credit card to the cashier. I want to understand that idea- that money really doesn’t matter all that much; that it is “only energy”; that what comes around goes around. I want to live, breathe, and mostly just believe that concept. I want to “stop worrying about money”. I thought I could if I just gave in to his spending and enjoyed it. That is what he kept saying I should do. It doesn’t seem all that tough, does it? Who wouldn’t like to just give in to the energy; relax; let it flow (and be showered with gifts)?!

But, my life is too taken up by the dollar bill and what it represents: a surprise visit to Ben and Jerry’s, new shoes for those dang feet that grow so fast; another monthly orthodontist payment; a pretty sweater for her party Friday night, another hour at work instead of with my kids on the rope swing; gas for the car drives all over town. I draw star shapes as I pick up one from wrestling practice, deliver the other to the other side of town for art class, drive home to pick up the forgotten swim suit, stop to pick up the groceries, pick her up from art, drop her off at swimming, find dinner for him, then pick her up. You know that routine; you live it too. There is a different star shape on your city map for each day of the week, depending on the list of activities.

The man in the first paragraph was my boyfriend. He bought me shoes, shirts, snowboard boots, long underwear sets, Victoria’s Secret sets, sweaters, dinners, chocolate, flowers, jewelry; basically all a woman wants. Wow was I ever wooed! I really wanted to evolve into that mind set. I was so ready to leave those petty money issues I had behind. Who wants to worry about gas in the car? Shoes for the kids? Covering the rent check? “Just think of it as positive energy and it will all work out”. Wow had he ever surpassed me, I thought. I couldn’t wait to arrive where he was with his “flowing money energy” and relax into that philosophy.
But, as I look back, I realize a few VERY important things that had slipped my mind back then (as they often do when being sent flowers and chocolates on a monthly basis). He had not really reached peace with his money; he had reached a far different place… It was Nirvana all right; he was completely out of reality.This man worked his dad’s business. He didn’t have a car payment, a house payment, a need to buy his own gas, or have a student loan to pay off. His sister and mom dropped off groceries (and put them in his refrigerator) and took him to expensive dinners every Friday night.

And you know how things ended. “Only money” pulled us apart. A disagreement over $250 festered in a wound that caused stubbornness on his part and anger on mine. We went to our corners it took us down. (Thank you God)

So be careful. Money is loaded with energy… and intention, motivation, and manipulation.

My answer is to have my own, spend my own, make my own, save my own, and keep track of my own money. I use http://www.Mint.com to help me track it and inspire me to save up for the shoes and underwear myself. AND- I still pray a lot about money, ask for God to help me manage it responsibly, and help me to be less stressed/obsessed about it. The reality is, it is just very hard to do that. I will keep trying to “let it flow” while paying my bills.

The Maori culture included using whale teeth as currency. One tooth was worth an entire canoe. I am sure couples back then were torn apart by a tooth or 2 occasionally*. Yes, we could work to stop “worrying about money”. But it is time we learn how to kill our own whales too.
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*Don’t you wonder what those arguments looked like? Did they throw teeth at each other?

I was such a mess, I got fired by my Reiki energy healer

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I was fired by my Reiki energy healer. Really. After several years together, through lots of ups and downs, she told me she couldn’t help me anymore and that I needed to move on. I was devastated. She would no longer see me. I was that messed up!

reiki (ˈreɪkɪ) — n
a form of therapy in which the practitioner is believed to channel energy into the patient in order to encourage healing or restore wellbeing [Japanese, from rei universal + ki life force]
-World English Dictionary

I was really a mess… My completely devastated heart had been shattered over a period of 5 months while a relationship ground itself into the dirt of dead romance. Mary told me she could be no help to me. I was too far gone. Too far gone.

I can only tell you this because I lived through it all. You are thinking I pulled myself up by my bootstraps and 2 weeks later, felt really fine.

That isn’t the case- I started acupuncture weekly, cut out caffeine (but still took out my frustration on other people occasionally), drank green tea, started running a lot more, called my friend Liz in Texas on a weekly if not daily basis, asked random people to pray for me, prayed for myself seemingly all the time, ate chocolate on an hourly basis at work, talked incessantly to Delia at work, and generally obsessed about my negative energy and lack of healing. I asked God a LOT to bring us back together, to heal me, to heal my heart, to fix the pain. I journaled. I was obsessively trying everything I could find: meditation, pendulums, church, single moms groups, candles, tarot cards, and of course prayer became a streaming communication, a running dialogue monologue at God. I read self-help books and wrote out intentions and put (more) post-it notes all over the house.

I have no idea what actions I took worked or didn’t- All I know is that eventually, after time, the pain (that had become so big it engulfed my entire body) started to walk away with little baby steps. Gratitude etched little cracks in my resentment. Prayer gave me several soothing moments linked together. Christian rock radio sang hope in my monkey brain. Liz (my oldest best friend) kept on loving me too, even though I was clearly a deranged basket case of the extremely tightly woven type.

Then, time. In (God’s) time, I realized how lucky I am that relationship ended and even how rich my life is without a partner pursuing me. My life is perfect today with my 2 kids and our 3-legged, very stable table. God has a plan for me, and it is not with that guy. It really is an awesome plan, and I am relieved it doesn’t include him now. I get to learn more about me for awhile, to read good books in bed with cookies late into the night on Fridays, and to cherish these short teenager years with my kids. I look for the pain-spot every now and then, and I can’t find it.

Mary the Reiki healer and I are back together again. But now I take classes from her to learn to channel the positive energy, asking God’s will to help it along and put me and the energy where He wants it.

This is my favorite Valentine’s day in a long time. I am finally feeling content and love for my life and my 3-legged table, living the best life, the most important path, God’s path, for me. I am not living the timeline I imagined in my youth of what life is supposed to look like.

This is the best life now, and it is ok that I don’t feel like sharing it with someone for a while. Later I will, but not today. And today is all that matters, because we need to just Live One Day at a Time.

Grateful Zone Friday February 11, 2010: Demons and Eggs

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1. Hell hath no demons like an ex spouse disappointed in themselves
They can be total jerks… But- when we realize that weak people lash out at others because they are pissed at themselves for screwing up, it changes the whole energy around the interaction. My 14-year old has figured this out. He will look at me at 9:30 pm when I am in the middle of a storm of 2-day old dirty dishes ranting at him about his chores, and say “Mom, you are tired. Please go to bed. I will do them in the morning.” He can clearly see that I am mad at myself and blaming him. He knows not to take it on. But I learn more slowly… When my ex doesn’t pay the court-ordered child support, and then lashes out at me in abnormally mean exchanges, it takes me longer to figure out that it is not because I am the terrible person he is accusing me of. It is because he is disappointed in himself for not having the money he is court-ordered to pay.

When I can pity my ex and his weakness for eating out too often for his budget, and feel sorry for him for not taking responsibility for his own choices (and therefore losing his opportunity for growth), his entire verbal assault bounces off of me like rubber bullets. I am the unruffled duck to his accusations of tardiness; his cries about my perilous driving (I got a photo-radar ticket that he found out about) don’t even register. I know he is having a hard time with his life, and being lame about moving forward and fixing his own issues.

Yes, I need to work on my speeding, tardy, dirty dish habits. But these habits don’t justify the torment he unleashes. My answer? Pity the fool! Be grateful that we learn from our mistakes and don’t unleash hellish torture and misery on others to try to avoid our own anxiety and natural consequences. This applies to more than just ex-spouses of course…

***Pitying him doesn’t mean I let him out of the money he owes me. It just means I think of him as a chicken instead of a demon.

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2. Eggs are really easy, cheap protein when we run out of money, creativity, and time for healthy meals. Scrambled eggs, fried eggs, hard-boiled eggs- all awesome. Kids think French toast is the best thing ever– try one of those the next time you run out of mojo for dinner.

Acceptance is Happiness Habit #2

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Happiness project Habit #2 is Acceptance. More specifically giving acceptance.

The previous Habit was Giving Time to Relationships. https://3leggedtable.wordpress.com/2010/12/01/can-we-waste-time-to-get-more-of-it/

I called it wasting time, and could/should write an update entry re-defining it as investing time… The more I thought about it, the more I realized that when I give away time to my relationships– just be with them with no agenda, the easier and happier those interactions are. So I am trying to give time away each day. Delia is going to help me make a calendar that I will share with you to track our habits each month, because we do need to keep up with last month’s habit while learning this month’s new one.

I originally thought I could spend a month learning and thinking about 4 or 5 new habits (like Gretchen Rubin in Happiness Project did). But it turns out I must be a slow learner, as I can only do about one new habit a month… This blog category is “Happiness and Contentment“, and specifically, what can we give to the world to get more of those two.

Giving unconditional acceptance to people and situations is my 2nd Happy Habit for Happiness and Contentment. This is hard for people (like me) who tend to think we have control over our lives and people in them… I often have to remind myself that her crabby mood, his mean comment, their impatient attitude, and all of their behaviors and choices, are theirs, not mine.

However, when I learn to just accept the cold day, the cold shoulder from a coworker, the lack of the other car’s turn signal working like it should, the teenager’s forgotten thank you, it all feels sooooo different! I can still try to will it into my way with whining, complaining, grinding my teeth, and arm waving, but I will only get a sore jaw from all that “shoulding on people”…

Accepting unacceptable behavior is not the goal. There is a difference between accepting/making ourselves available for unacceptable behavior (by sticking around and not exiting stage left when a verbal barage begins) and accepting the person who did the behavior. We don’t embrace the behavior, we embrace the person (after they have chilled out and we are all back to our centers).

When I learned to say to my kids “I love you, no matter what choices you make” after difficult exchanges, it took a load off of EVERYONE’S mind. They were were feeling unlovable and ashamed of their behavior. I was pissed that they acted the way they did, because of the way it reflected on me…

Hmmm, kind of silly, huh? Of course we love them. And of course they are individuals, not extensions of us. Verbalizing unconditional love to my kids that way helps everyone over the shame and blame place. Then we could talk about the issue.

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I only have control over my behavior, not my children’s, not the driver in front of me, and not my boss’. So the habit for this month is to behave in a way that shows I accept the person (but not the behavior), even when their behavior is not winning them gold stars.

Club Awesome Grateful Zone February 4, 2011

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A couple of cheap and easy things to be grateful for this week:

1. The light is coming! Make sure you notice that at 5:30 tonight, it is NOT pitch dark!!! Winter is going to subside, the sun will shine, and the weather will get warmer. Spring is not that far away.

http://www.heartlightministries.org/blogs/pttradio/2011/01/29/weekend-single-parents-1292011/
2. That website is for single parents- it has a short little article encouraging us and giving us a few tips. A very quick good read.

3. The shoe isle at TJ Maxx. I have decided that once a month, I will take $30 and check out the shoe isle there. I got some really cute cheap leather Etienne Aigner shoes there in January. Try it!!

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4. It is tax season. Most of us have children that are tax deductions, and will get a little extra cash soon. Dave Ramsey (www.daveramsey.com) thinks we need to put some in savings, so this is the month we have been waiting for to get started on the emergency fund. We need to do it!! Check out his free website and financial tips. The emergency fund is more important than paying down debts…

5. Blueberries are in season somewhere and they taste really good with dark chocolate the next time you need a special treat for you. Add Diet Pepsi, and it is ambrosia.

6. Praying for the people we resent, hate, or have done us wrong really does work to get rid of the negative energy so that we can move on, get into a healthier space, and let go of the crap that is keeping us from living our beautiful lives God wants us to live. Try it this weekend, it really works!!