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Showing posts from November, 2011

Power Sit

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Feeling Thankful

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Juxtaposition

"We are wired from birth to want answers and hard data.  Uncertainty is okay, as long as it exists in someone else's life or we don't have to do anything about it.  But as soon as we're challenged to own it and then act in the face of it, with rare exceptions we run from it.  Because running at it terrifies us.  We're scared of the discomfort that comes with opening doors without knowing what's behind them.  Scared of being judged if it's a monster.  Scared of having to pick up the pieces and rebuild if we go to zero.  Even scared of hitting the jackpot.  And beyond the fear, we just plain hate the persistent anxiety that rides along with continually leaning into the unknown.  Without intervention, we experience it as anywhere from discomfort to outright suffering.

"The problem is, if you strive to create anything--be it a book, a business, a blog, a collection, a body of work, or a career that is defined by brilliance--uncertainty, risk of loss, and …

A Word of Complaint

It feels almost miraculous.  Everything in my life (well, almost everything) that was holding me back (funny, I feel anxious just writing that) is now, well, perhaps not gone, but markedly better.
I have a whole new set of tools for thinking about my eating and my body and my weight; I even forget to count calories most days (and know that it is better to stop myself when I start and simply ask whether I am hungry), and yet, I am eating better than I ever have and (mirabile dictu) enjoying my food. Our home is calm and happy, no longer stuffed full of junk we don't need.   Even better, I have gone shopping several times in the past month and come home without having bought anything because I couldn't find anything that was exactly right. I have established a regular schedule for working on my research and stuck to it for nine months even though I am not on leave.  I have made good progress on my translation, as well as researched, written, sent out for review, and revised (stil…

Bear's New Mantra

Know your purpose.

Trust the process.

Sit with the anxiety until you understand what it is trying to teach you.

Repeat as necessary.

Angry Corgi 2, Thieving Pig 0

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Just Out

I could feel the panic rising almost immediately.  I was at a seminar on Saturday with a number of colleagues in my field, and one of them had a book just out that another of my friends was passing around.  It was my colleague's fourth book (I still have only one, plus an edited volume), but although she is some years senior to me, it didn't help.  The demons were already chattering.

"Where is your second book?"  "Why have you been so lazy?"  "Look, she's been able to publish two books since your first one came out."  "You're falling behind."  "You've already lost it."  "You're hopeless."  "Give it up."

I tried to look calmly at the table of contents and get some sense of what the argument was, but I could barely see straight enough to read the title, never mind absorb anything of what the book was actually about.  All I could see was Another Book When I Still Have Only Published One.  So I p…

Scala virtutis*

Get enough sleep, 7-8 hours night, plus naps as necessary.  Particularly important when you are trying to learn something new, think through a difficult problem, or recover from a session of writing.Eat well and often, about every 3 hours, but only when actually hungry.  Eat foods that make you feel good, not jazzed up or sluggish.Exercise regularly, ideally 6 days a week, 20-45 minutes at a time.  (Translated into Fencing Bear's terms: walk the dog twice daily, go to fencing practice twice a week.)Write (or whatever your most important work is) for no more than 90 minutes per session, with adequate breaks in between.   Schedule your writing for the time of day at which you can concentrate best (in my case, mornings).  Work gradually over time at longer projects rather than "bingeing" or "pulling an all-nighter" or "writing the conference paper/chapter/proposal in a weekend."  Set a timer, turn off all distractions, and concentrate on nothing but your…

It's not just me

"Above all other stresses, it's the feeling of being personally criticized that appears to take the greatest toll on our bodies, and on our ability to think clearly.  In a meta-analysis of 208 stress-related studies, the researchers Margaret Kemeny and Sally Dickerson found that the highest rises in cortisol levels--the most extreme fight-or-flight responses--are prompted by 'threats to one's social self, or threat to one's social acceptance, esteem, and status.'  An impersonal stressor such as an endlessly ringing alarm is obviously annoying, but it prompts a far less pernicious stress response.  When people are subjected to an uncontrollable alarm, their cortisol levels rise but return to a baseline level within forty minutes.  By contrast, a threat to their self-esteem prompts cortisol levels to remain elevated for more than an hour.  That helps explain why even the most 'constructive' criticism so rarely has much impact on us and is often counterpr…

Birthday Dog

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Joy, age 2  b. November 8, 2009

Notes to Self

All those people out there are just as afraid of you as you are of them.  Unless they are saints, which means that they have been able to let go of their fear because they don't need it anymore.  That's what it means to say, "There is nothing to fear but fear itself."  Fear is what blocks you from being able to see other human beings for what they are--not enemies, but frightened children, all worried about what the other kids are going to think.  (Hat tip to my sister for helping me see this more clearly.)

You're not crazy if you think that some of the kids, particularly the boys, are making faces at you and then denying it meant anything when you "overreact."  Maybe they meant to get at you, maybe they were just being kids themselves, unable to sit with their own feelings long enough to understand why they said what they did.  But the ugly face was really an ugly face, the cutting remark was really a cutting remark, the emotional manipulation (or atte…

A Shoulder to Cry On

I always thought I needed one, but now I realize, I don't.

I thought I needed you to support me, listen to me, help me, comfort me when I was down, but now I realize, I don't.

Not like I need sunshine or sleep or food.

Not like I need to spend a certain amount of time every week on my work.  And my blog.

Not like I need exercise or time spent in meditation or prayer.

Not like I need to go to church on Sundays.

Not like I need to know that, however bad it gets in my head, I can sit with it.

Did you want me to need you?  Or did you simply enjoy the feeling of being needed without having to respond?

It's okay, I'm a big girl now.

The falcon has taken wing.

Pen & Sword

Yes, well.  This was supposed to be this oh-so-clever post about how sending my writing out for review was like going to tournaments, but I didn't write it on Saturday when I first had the idea because, yes, I was on my way to a tournament and now, three days later after a day of teaching, I can't think straight.  Which is frustrating, because as it came to me on Saturday it was really cool.

So let's just pretend this is practice.  Because, in fact, that's what blogging is, at least for me.  Practice.  It's easy.  I can just noodle around here, pleasing only myself.  I like having readers (a lot!), but I don't need anybody to say that what I've written is worth publishing because, hey! here it is, not even copy-edited, just blurted out as it comes to me, however I want to say it.  Sometimes I might come up with something really cool that somebody might find worth reading or even sharing, but it doesn't really matter because the point is to write.

Much a…

Vicious Circle

I am afraid to smile at you.

What if you don't smile back?

Does it mean that you don't like me?

Or did you just not see?

I smiled, but you just looked away.

And now I feel abandoned.

Rejected.

Ashamed to think that I was worth smiling at.

Maybe I shouldn't have smiled in the first place.

Maybe you should have smiled back.

Now, how will you feel if I don't smile at you?

Oh, please, smile back.  I'm dying here.

False Economies

Eating something you're not really hungry for just because it is low calorie.  Or "a treat."  Or because you might not be able to eat later.

Buying something that isn't exactly what you want just because it's not too expensive (a.k.a. cheap).  Or "on sale."  Or because it's as close as you think you are going to be able to get.

Doing a job that doesn't inspire you just because it's a good opportunity.  Or pays well.  Or because you don't think anyone would be interested in what you really want.

The Ultimate Irony

Becoming the person you want me to be because I don't care anymore what you think.

Prayers for All Saints' Day

Prayers of the People—November 6, 2011
St. Paul & the Redeemer Episcopal Church 

Year A, Proper 19, RCL
Revelation 7:9-17
Psalm 34:1-10, 22
1 John 3:1-3
Matthew 5:1-12

Written by Rachel Fulton Brown

Humbling ourselves with all the saints before the throne of the Lamb, let us pray to the Lord, saying,
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

God, through your saints you have given us models of the kinds of human beings you want us to be.  Teach us, your Church, to follow in their footsteps, imitating the Lamb in whose image we are made.  Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

God, who numbers as his children every one of the seven billion of us now alive, be with our leaders that they may govern us in righteousness, protecting the meek and working always for peace.  Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

God, whom angels serve and the heavens proclaim, make us mindful of the ways in which our desires and actions affect your world.  Bless those among us who are working to change our habits o…