I don’t believe in an interventionist god…

I did something today that I haven’t done since sometime in the late 90’s (ugh, am I really that old).  I went to church.  No, I wasn’t invited to a wedding and no, no one died.  I just went to church like so many do on Sundays.  My amazing mom-mom is very involved with the church and she has mentioned on several occasions that she brags about her family to her friends there but she never gets to show us off.  In realizing that I need to get more time in with her because: #1 she’s just an incredible soul and #2 neither of us are getting any younger–I decided to offer up one of my Sunday mornings to prove to her fellow church goers that she does, indeed, have a family.

My mom-mom’s face lit up when I met her in the parking lot.  I was up at 7:55am and made sure my makeup was done because I knew I’d be shaking a ton of hands.  I couldn’t have been prouder of my mom-mom.  She’s a total social butterfly.  It’s like I dare you to meet her and not think she’s adorable.  She has a certain charm about her that lights up a room.  She’s funny and she has this ability to slow down life and just be thankful.  It’s remarkable.  As we moved through the church to our pew I was met by so many “good mornings” and smiles.  More importantly, I was met by so many people who had glowing things to say about my mom-mom.  I know how awesome she is, but it was nice to hear she’s touching the lives of so many around her.  I felt both honored to be with her and challenged to start living more like she lives.

I don’t believe in an interventionist god (thanks for the song lyrics, Nick Cave) but I believe in love.  I don’t pray.  I don’t go to church.  But I do believe we’re all connected.  I believe that all humans should be dedicated to that connection.  If we occupy ourselves with cultivating love, understanding, and a deeper appreciation for beauty than we don’t need to believe that some old dude in the sky will answer our prayers.  We won’t need to believe that heaven and hell exist.  We won’t need to live a life to prove our worthiness for the best possible afterlife.  Right?  Just like my mom-mom is doing… connect with those around you and leave them better for it.  It seems simple.  I believe it is and I want to be just like her when I grow up.

Will I go back to church?  I’ll go back to hang out with her for sure.  She’s a cool chick and these memories will always be with me.  But aside from that, I think I’d like to go back.  (Yes, I just admitted that I’d like to go to church.)  I don’t know about the whole worship thing.  It’s foreign to me.  The saints and the holy trinity and such are a little far fetched.  But the congregation coming together to be one and to celebrate life is truly inspiring.  I’ve suffered an extreme lack of connection over the years and this might be a great way for me to climb back into the arena.

Sundays are typically rough for me.  I don’t feel that way today though.  I truly feel grateful for everything that has been and is in my life.  I feel fortunate to have friends and family.  I’m also fortunate to be able to feel connected and to know the benefits of striving to connect.

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I Might Be Wrong

So there’s this super awesome way I’m able to transport myself back to times when I felt infinitely more hopeful and connected.  I have this cool trick allows me to feel past feelings, experience the joys and sorrows of yesteryears, and flat out just emote.  Okay, okay, okay, it’s not rocket science.  I just listen to music.  As I grow older I have less and less time to dedicate to music but music used to be a huge part of my life.  I wish it still was… and I’m happy I still have time to change that.  Anyway, I’m spinning Amnesiac by Radiohead as I type and it brings me right back to my dorm room senior year.  It’s a perfect place for me to travel back to because I had all the possibilities in the palm of my hand.  I loved who I was.  I was a poet, a student, a lover, and a kick-ass party girl!  Ha!  Total perfection, right?  I’m hoping to be that girl again when I retire.

My last blog was a bit heavy and rightfully so.  I’m tackling mountains these days and I’m winning for now.  I have about 80 lbs to lose and a pretty damaging habit to kick.  I look back at happy times in my life… those times when I felt connected to life… but I also look forward hoping those feelings will surface again.  I have it in me.  I know it’s there because things don’t leave.  I have always been and will always be everything I’ll ever need  to be.  I have everything inside of me that I’ll ever need.  My decisions just need to work on uncovering instead of covering my past parts.  Easier said than done (as is the case with typing out most of these realizations).

I’ve been keeping a gratitude journal and my goal is to write 3 things I’m grateful for when I wake up and 3 things I’m grateful for when I go to bed.  It’s been a great practice so far but I feel like I need to get more out of it.  I started by writing just a simple sentence.  But that’s not doing a damn thing because I find different ways of saying the same stuff day after day.  So I’m forcing myself to expand on the thought for like 1 or 2 more sentences.  So far, so good but I still think I’m missing the mark.  I need to dig deeper because I’m not getting emotional enough during the process.  I want to feel these words and feel these connections.

Being addicted to alcohol is like throwing white paint all over the Mona Lisa.  It erases creativity and beauty.  It covers the artist and suppresses any hope of growth.  I didn’t realize this for the longest time.  But I was essentially making myself numb, completely numb from feeling both good and bad… happy and sad.  There was nothing.  I didn’t want to feel the bad so I chose to feel nothing at all as a precaution.  Ha!  I thought I had out-maneuvered life… but really, I just found a way to mute ALL life inside of me.  With this slowly becoming a thing of my past, I can already feel my creative juices flowing and I’m pumped.  That sense of connection will be restored, I’m 100% certain of that!  And maybe I’ll make new memories now with music that I’ll want to revisit 20 years from now.  #goals

 

Personal Revolution

I’m not the first human being during these era to wake up and truly believe that there must be more to life… amirite?  For myself, I feel like I go through these cycles.  Things are going great.  Things are not going so great.  Things need to be torched to the ground so I can start over.  Things are getting better.  Things are going great.  Things are not going so great.  And repeat.

Maybe the torch thing is a bit dramatic for a 35 year old woman.

But the cycles keep going and it’s like I’m constantly on the prowl to figure out how to stop it and witness sustained long-term progress.  It’s been a favorite subject of mine in both my written (yes, still handwritten) journal and in my therapy sessions.  Typically I’m searching my life for a culprit or a knight in shining armor.  Every now and then, like a good little therapy attender, I look inward and start to take stock of what is really going on inside.  Both looking outward and inward for a cause or a catalyst come with traps, right?

The outward-looking trap is quite obvious… no one and nothing other than yourself will propel you to that life of sustained progress.  It’s not possible.  The perfect mate, the amazing job, financial security, supportive family, and whatever other external factors people dump into the “if only I had this, I’d be happy” category are all nice, but they do little to affect the internal barometer of success.

The inward-looking trap isn’t quite as obvious (for me, anyway).  I tend to cycle through my childhood, poor decisions, bad things that have happened to me, my failures, and all the ways I’m not measuring up to the person I believe I am.  So I get stuck there analyzing segments over and over again with no resolution.  I’m merely providing an avenue to give everything that’s wrong a stronger voice.  In many ways, I’m allowing the universe to kick more of the same my way because that’s what I’m drawing attention to, right?

So… the outward and inward approaches aren’t working.  What’s next?  Let a professional handle it.  I’m extremely fortunate to work with an incredible psychologist.  He has a phenomenal skill set and continues to push me in the best possible ways.  The issues I’m facing are deep and I’ve done everything I can to suppress my feelings and their real effects on my life.  Sure, I can meditate.  I can do yoga.  I can say positive affirmations during the day.  I can work to stop the negative chatter in my head.  I can smile more.  I can approach work with a confident attitude.  But these are the small changes.  This are mainly superficial.  It’s the underlying layer that needs the real work.

What does that mean?  How do I get there?  And more importantly, what do I do with it when I arrive?

I don’t know.  I’ve lived for many years by not showing up and certainly not taking any accountability for the path I’m on.  Substance abuse allows one to hit the reset button over and over.  It allowed me to reassign the blame.  I passed the guilt onto alcohol.  I checked out and decided that not feeling was more important that feeling anything negative.  And so here I am… I feel like an infant all over again.  I need to learn how to navigate the world around me but unlike an infant, I also need to learn how to navigate the past that haunts me–that underlying layer that has constructed this escape.

I’m terrified.  Being terrified is a feeling though, right?  I’ll start with that.

Our World is Completely Pliable

As a kid I remember trying to influence the world with my mind.  I was convinced that if I focused hard enough and if my will was strong enough I could make red lights turn green, or see an inanimate object move.  My powers were real and they were limitless.  I also had a crazy notion that you would know who your true love was because they would breathe at the same rate as you–which led to me being out of breath quite a few times as I tried to force myself to breathe at the same rate as a few boys.  It’s like the world is yours until you learn otherwise.  And that’s quite sad.  I miss feeling that connected, that in control of my surroundings.

Where does this come from?  As kids, we have less responsibilities and maybe more freedom to see the world in that light?  I think that has something to do with it.  I know I’ve definitely experienced more disappointment, more setbacks, more complications, and more examples of things not working out for the best and perhaps I’ve let that cloud my optimism.  That’s very possible.

There’s another piece of the puzzle here that I’m fortunate enough to have stumbled upon about 6 years ago.  Having someone in your life that sees the world as you do–this pliable, vibrant, reactive universe–is key in maintaining and growing that vision.  Growing up I was a little different, the black sheep if you will.  Often I would hear things like, “why can’t you just be happy with what you have,” and ” the world doesn’t revolve around you.”  That’s not the right messaging and it certainly doesn’t open me up to feel more and expect more.  But our parents all do the best that they can, right?  And I’m a firm believer that we choose our parents before birth for a reason so there must be a significant reason why I was paired with my mom and dad.  It’s easy for me to place blame.  I’m sad and miserable and disconnected because they want me that way.  Wah wah wah wah… but I need to be better than that.

Where is this all leading…

A little over 6 years ago I met my soulmate.  He’s my epipsyche.  How did I know?  Simple.  My flexible, pliable, connected world came back to me with more vividness, boldness, color, and possibilities than I had ever known before.  He shares my vision and encourages it with every word he speaks.  Not everyone finds this.  I am extremely grateful to have someone who gives me hope, is always patient, and truly loves me (both the good and the bad).  My world changes completely when he is near me.  I see things through a clearer focus.  Colors are more vibrant.  It’s like I’m tapped into the universe and limitations cease to exist.

I’m still a slave to the 9-5.  I still have bills to pay.  I still have the troubles of being a single parent.  I still have all of this.  But at least there are moments of pure magic in my life again.  He and I recently decided to get back together–timing is a bitch!  I couldn’t be happier.

I am not perfect.

It doesn’t happen often but I guess it happens often enough for me to keep doing it.  My journal reads just like my 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th (you get the point) grade journals.  The same themes and issues pop up and really it’s where my thoughts on boys and the daily grind of life go to die.  But I keep at it, trudge through, because every now and then I have wonderful insights… this happened just this past Saturday night.

I was enjoying a fabulous single-mom night in and I took to the page and scribbled a ton of ink down. I was borderline manic.  I penned the line, “I am not perfect,” and was like an epiphany.  Simple, right?  I don’t think anyone believes they are perfect.  I certainly don’t.  But that doesn’t mean that I don’t still judge and hold myself to the standards of perfection.  I think that’s part of the guilt I wrote about recently and the standards we hold ourselves to as humans.  I don’t spend a lot of time admitting to my downfalls though and it’s not the most comfortable thing to lay down on paper–I can assure you that.

But that one line hit me like a ton of bricks.  I am not perfect.  In that one line I found myself holding myself in a place of tenderness.  I don’t do that very often.  I saw myself as a work in progress.  From there I could forgive and move past a few things.  I didn’t have all the answers and it was okay because I’m not perfect.  I wanted to run to the mirror and tell the girl in it that she was more than okay, that she was good.  I chickened out of the mirror part but I need to do that.  Saying things to yourself in the mirror is frightening but so f’n worth it.

That one sentence saved me in ways.  I combed through the past year.  It was a really tough year.  I walked away from a relationship that hurt me.  Sure, I told myself not to blame myself but I held some blame.  I was lied to, betrayed to in major ways, and found myself living a life of pure worry and anxiety.  I’m not perfect though and either is my journey.  It’s been that way for a long time but I’m okay.  So the revised sentence because, I’m not perfect and that’s okay.  My journey will never be perfect.  I was able to then look back at my life and celebrate my successes.  And giving myself some breathing room will allow me the space to cultivate more successes.  I can taste it.

I can’t control everything.  Now that I don’t have the worry of my past relationship I need a new way of building.  That got me thinking.  I’ve spent  a few years reacting and making decisions because I needed to make them.  I lost focus while on the defense.  That’s not what life should feel like, right?  So, it’s time to climb back into my imperfect skin and get down to Britta Business!  Let’s look at life through the Britta lens and make decisions from there.  I won’t be perfect.  Life will send me obstacles.  I will be hurt again.  I might fail.  But if I’m always perfectly Britta, I’ll be a better person because of those trials.

With fall comes Homecoming, right?  Fitting.

Morrissey is okay, but am I?

I love the song “Okay By Myself” by Morrissey…

Click to watch Morrissey perform it live!

Here are the lyrics:

Could this be an arm around my waist?
Well, surely the hand contains a knife?
It’s been so all of my life
Why change now? It hasn’t

Now this might surprise you but
I find I’m okay by myself
And I don’t need you
Or your morality to save me
No, no, no, no, no

Then came an arm around my shoulder
Well, surely the hand holds a revolver?
It’s been so all of my life
Why change now? It hasn’t

Now this might disturb you but
I find I’m okay by myself
And I don’t need you
Or your benevolence to make sense
No, no, no, no

After all these years
I find I’m okay by myself
And I don’t need you
Or your homespun philosophy
No, no, no, no

This might make you throw up in your bed
I’m okay by myself
And I don’t need you
And I never have, I never have
No, no, no, no

I struggle with the down time.  I always have.  Since high school I can remember cramming my schedule full of activities, clubs, groups, and friends.  And when I started dating, I never stopped, never took a break.  And now that I’m an adult (in some sense of the word) I’m the same exact way and I’m sick of it.  Why do I need so much attention?  So many distractions?  Why can’t I just be single?  Why can’t I put my stupid phone down and just relax?  Seriously, I feel like I’m facing a attention-starved, persistently lonely epidemic.  And what do I get from all that white noise?  What’s in it for me?  And is it causing more harm than good?

Every now and then I sit down to think about this but it’s like I’m an addict.  I can’t go a minute without some sort of stimulation (connecting, reaching out, etc.).  I seriously short-circuit when I don’t have my phone with me and I’m heating up a Hot Pocket in the microwave–it’s happened.  I respond immediately to social media, emails, text messages, snap chats, tweets, LinkedIn stuff, and whatever else can be schlepped onto this list.  I crave it.  I need it.

Lately I’ve been more hard on myself from the relationship point-of-view.  Why do I have to constantly be engaged with relationships?  I can’t wake up, get in the shower, get dressed, and go to work without checking in with a guy.  Why?  And I can’t move through my workday without the attention from someone.  Why?  Sure, it feels nice to be recognized and such but like why do I NEED that?  And aren’t I just setting up meaningless relationships?  OR, on the other side of the coin, maybe I’m creating unrealistically high expectations for anyone looking to take on the role of being my boyfriend full-time?  Probably.

What am I getting out of saturating my time with meaningless check-ins and attention?  I’m projecting.  I’m looking for praise in hollow spaces.  I have that problem.  What’s my weakness?  It’s sitting by myself with nothing but quiet.  TERRIFYING!  I’m not okay by myself.  I don’t even permit the time to be alone.  It’s been like this forever.  I can’t live life afraid of myself.  I’m better than that.  Therapy always helped block out time for introspection and quiet time. Maybe I need to get back to therapy.

Anyway…

I need to focus on what’s important.  I need more genuine interactions focused on growing.  Anything that is “filler” needs to be trimmed.

Hate the Heat but I Want to be Back in the Kitchen

It’s Labor Day, the “end” of summer.  Usually I’m excited for the end.  Christian, my crazy 9-year-old, is back to a routine, learning again, and I don’t see his friends as much.  It’s the start of my month long lull (kind of) at work because the students are back, the beds are leased, and I can shift gears and tackle Admissions Events and more creative tasks.  It also signals the return of my favorite season, FALL!  Yes, I’m that #basicbitch that loves all things pumpkin flavored.  I’m dying to get back into my jeans and sweatshirts.  I love the cooler weather.  My birthday is in November and I love the extra days off in November and December.  All signs point to me welcoming the end of summer, right?

WRONG!

For the first time since childhood (cause who ever really wanted to go back to school?) I actually don’t want my summer to end.  I’m in a good spot, with my twin in our cute little townhouse.  I got to spend some awesome time with her this summer… our pools days were amazing.  C had a blast at two camps.  I spent some great nights out, grabbing dinner and drinks with friends.  I had an awesome happy hour with my work crew.  I went out on my dad’s boat a couple of times which has summer written all over it.  By far though, the most incredible part of my summer was going to OCMD for a week at the end of July.  I’ve been to OCMD for a week before, it’s almost become a tradition in our family.  But this vacation was different.  I went with C and the twin.  We had such a blast.  It was unreal.  Lots of beach time, lots of awesome lunches and dinners, and lots of memories,  Mini-golf, a speed boat ride, dolphins, whales, and just a ton of relaxation.  It was awesome.

I don’t want summer to go.  It’s been a great ride.

I also lost important people in my life… not to death, but because it’s in my best interest.  Will I be able to hold strong and keep them away?  What does it take?  I’m horrible (no really, I’m really horrible) at ending things.  I’m not good at it.  All my past relationships ended because the guy left me.  I hold on until they do that.  Is that fun to admit?  No.  But when you notice patterns, you should call yourself out, right?  Even if it makes you want to puke, right?  I hate goodbyes.  I hate losing.  Those two ideas coupled together pretty much makes me “ride-or-die” until the end, right?  I always cave, let them back in, become delusional for a few months, and then erupt in anger and sorrow.  It’s a pretty awesome cycle.  LOL!  And this isn’t the first I’ve thought about or written about it.  So, why continue?  I’m used to what I’m used to and it takes so much for me to break from that mold.

Change or be changed.

I say “Change or be changed,” all the time.  Time to start being the agent of change for once.  I started dating this summer.  I haven’t dated in years… seriously, not since 2010.  I didn’t have to put myself out there, sell myself, and be able to talk about myself in 5 years.  I took things into my own hands and made myself incredibly uncomfortable to learn and grow once again.  It was awkward–lots of side glances and nervous laughing.  I had to find outfits, send confirmation texts, hideout in my car and scope the  scene, and apply lipstick quickly.  It was a nightmare at first.  Dating exposes so much.  My self-esteem was super low.  I was not self-aware.  But I kept at it, even after a horrible first first date experience.  And I met some great people.  Most importantly, I met myself again.  I got to explore all things Britta and it felt like a warm homecoming.

The summer of 2015 has set me up for continued success.  I don’t want to let go, but, as they say, “Change or be changed.”