If there is one realization I would say is both persistent and perfectly-timed for the start of my “Year of Living Intuitively,” it is this:
If I want to be happy, I have to fight for it.
I say this because life IS hard.
It is hard for all of us. And if I choose to, I can always find hardships – mine or others’ – to focus on.
In fact, without even breathing hard, I could keep myself miserable 24/7 just thinking about the incredibly painful, awful things happening all over the world right at this very minute to people, animals, and the Earth.
With all that grimness so visible and readily available, I have to make a conscious, intentional, and absolutely consistent effort to find the bright bits and hold on tight.
I have decide that every glass that looks half-empty at first glance must also have a less easily seen twin that is half-full….and then I have to muster up the guts to walk over and introduce myself and make a new friend.
Netflix can be a blessing or a curse.
Case in point – the other day, I loaded a movie called “Sexy Baby” into my queue.
The synopsis stated: This provocative documentary examines what it’s like to be female in today’s sex-obsessed culture from the viewpoints of three very different women.
And also depressing, frustrating, mind-boggling, rage-producing, and “I’m so over this issue” fatiguing.
The film centers around the completely separate lives of three women:
For reasons likely having to do with both interest and footage, the film largely hones in on Winnifred, who at 12 (she is 14 when the film closes) admittedly has the toughest challenges of her life yet ahead.
Near the end, she says:
I think this is the same with every teenager. You are going through so many changes, and it is so freaking confusing to figure out how you want to portray yourself. And there’s a lot of girls just exploiting themselves and putting themselves out there to be judged by guys and other girls. But at certain point, if you don’t want to become a prop in some guy’s life, you have to find a goal and a path. And I do want to change people’s lives. Um…and I’m not going to do that by being sexy.
Winnifred is right. However, the fact that she knows this, and can articulate it, at age 14, is an insight many teens her age likely yet lack.
As well, it is easy to forget while watching “Sexy Baby” that these three women are people first and “props” (for the filmmakers to explore an issue common to all three) second. There is a lot of nudity, no small bit of rank language, an uncomfortably bloody moment in the operating room (Laura opts to have her labiaplasty on camera), and a number of terms from the adult film industry all jumbled in with the human beings living amongst it all.
Yet each woman has her own life that she is doing her best to live with what she knows in each moment as it unfolds.
Can I just say I thought being a tortoise mama would be easier?
I kept several water turtles when I was a girl, and it felt smooth and simple (of course maybe this was because my mom was the real “keeper of the torts” and I just fed and admired them….and fled when it was water-changing time!)
But for years I had wanted a tortoise (land turtle) and one day, after a bit too much “bad day” for my taste, I got on Craig’s List.
The next thing I knew I was driving home with a tortoise the size of a silver dollar sitting in a tiny tupperware in my front passenger seat.
It has been like this ever since.
She is 1 year old this month, and I don’t feel any more confident (well, only marginally more) than I did on that very first day.
One of the hardest things about being Malti’s mom is not knowing where to go to get my questions answered.
With my parrot, Pearl, there are loads of amazing cockatiel groups and communities with wonderful peeps who eagerly respond to all my queries.
It is not the same with Malti.
I adore pomegranate season.
Pomegranates are so juicy and tasty – like a sweet and a nut all in one.
What I do not love is de-seeding the pomegranates.
In short, it is crazy-making.
My boyfriend, on the other hand, finds peeling pomegranates relaxing.
He says it is like meditation.
(Obviously this works out to both our advantage – I buy, he peels, we both eat).
I love meditation and do it daily, so it is odd I don’t find the same quality in peeling fruit.
But truthfully, my “efficiency-oriented” brain always thinks it can improve the pomegranate de-seeding process.
I start peeling, and then a thought pops up. “Hey, look how easy that last group of seeds came off. What if you did the next section this way instead….”
Before I know it, I’m trying to outsmart the pomegranate, creating a faster, more streamlined approach to de-seeding.
This is about the same time the pomegranate pushes back.
So we are well into the first month of January 2015!
How is it going so far?
For me, it is quite exciting!
But then again, that is because these days, I find the unknown, the unexpected, the un-plannable, energizing and fun.
When I was sick with an eating disorder, this was NOT the case.
I have had to learn that (as one of my favorite mentors, Byron Katie, often says):
“This is a friendly universe.”
But her words alone didn’t convince me – oh no.
Well here we are – once again, it is nearly time for a brand new year to launch!
I always get so excited when a new year arrives.
It feels like encountering a giant blank chalkboard, complete with the most marvelous array of colored chalk.
The chalkboard is all mine – as is the chalk. Whatever I draw on the chalkboard is what will unfold in the year to come.
(By the way, I actually do this at home – I have a big wall-sized chalkboard and lots of colored chalk, and all year long I continue editing and adding new dreams to my chalk board).
I can thank my ongoing recovery journey for this wonderful way of welcoming a new year.
So of course I blogged about it here.
Then, just a few weeks ago, the post’s author, Amy Morin, reached out to share some exciting news – her new book by the same name will be available on December 23rd!
This made me very happy for a few reasons:
a) She offered to send me a copy so I could share the book here (free books, yay!),
b) amidst the holiday stress, a reminder about how to stay mentally strong was welcome and timely,
c) the book greatly expands on each of the 13 points, explaining through stories and examples exactly how to avoid doing each of the 13 things (and replace them with mentally strong habits instead!)
Amy is a licensed clinical social worker, a researcher, a writer, but most of all she is a human being who has personally experienced how developing mental strength is a choice, and one that can be life-transforming.
A few days ago two things happened.
I finished reading “Tracks” by Robyn Davidson, and I posted my first attempt to make some sense of her beyond-the-sensible and amazing journey.
While the book caused me more than a few sleepless nights, I now feel it was a good kind of sleeplessness – the kind that occurs only with the most profound and unstoppable of wake up calls.
Unlike so very many in our culture today (and even me for a time earlier in my life), Davidson did not wish to be famous. She wasn’t interested in being anyone’s inspiration or role model or icon or heroine.
She was searching for something – something private and personal.
She was searching for some kind of continuity within herself, her path, her past, her future – and at that point in her life, the search seemed to require a dog, camels, and a trek across 1,700 miles of desert.
So be it.
In the Postscript to “Tracks” (written in 2012), Davidson states she can hardly relate to the girl in the book she herself wrote, much less the character in the movie by the same name.
I totally understand.
Looking back now, I hardly recognize the girl who flew alone to India, and then to Israel, in search of ….. something. I admire her sometimes – her courage, her innocence, her hope – but I don’t really know her as “me.”
So why did she do it? Why did Davidson spend nearly two years learning to train camels, raising cash, assembling gear, even giving part of herself away to National Geographic in exchange for a cash sponsorship to buy what she lacked?
I can’t remember how I heard about Robyn Davidson or her extraordinary journey.
I just remember, the moment I heard about it, I was online hunting down her book.
Titled simply “Tracks: a Woman’s Solo Journey Across 1,700 Miles of Australian Outback,” the story she has to tell is simply mind-bending.
Davidson embarked upon her solo adventure in her mid-20’s.
When I was in my mid-20’s, I, too, was embarking upon a solo adventure. Mine was to India and Israel, hers through the Australian desert.
But I will confess it took me many more years since then to unpack even a portion of the wisdom she unearthed within herself during her 1,700 mile journey.
For the record, it also seems pertinent here to mention I have never once in my life had even the merest inkling of desire to walk across any large, hot, dangerous body of sand accompanied only by camels and a dog.
Clearly, my life is the poorer for it.
During the early stages of her journey, Davidson frequently gave in to bouts of panic, which, to hear her tell it, were largely initiated by intense inner battles between the order/regime/structure she had previously relied on and the freedom to live in the moment that desert life demanded.
As the desert’s ever-changing environment did its work on her and she slowly learned the wisdom of opting for the latter, her panic eased and inner wisdom arose in its place.
That inner wisdom was – is – as timeless and profound as the desert itself (click here for amazing vintage photos from her journey).
Davidson on her love of animals:
I am quite sure Diggity [her canine companion through the desert] was more than dog, or rather other than dog….She combined all the best qualities of dog and human and was a great listener…..The trip, of necessity, had brought me much closer to all the animals, but my relationship with Diggity was something special. There are very few humans with whom I could associate the word …
I used to dread the month of November.
And not just because of all the scary F.O.O.D.
I dreaded it because November is the “month of gratitude.”
I so wanted to be grateful – to feel grateful – to feel _genuinely_ grateful (as opposed to “faking it until you make it” grateful).
I wanted to be that kind of good person who could feel totally, deeply grateful for life’s blessings….without simultaneously wishing for so much more than what I had.
For instance – I wanted to be healthy. I wanted to be happy. I wanted to have friends (besides my eating disorder, that is!).
I wanted to be able to sit down and enjoy a festive meal with loved ones free from fear.
I wanted to like what I saw in the mirror.
I wanted to love and be loved – to fall in love – to have romance and peace and joy and fulfillment in my life.
So I would start listing out the things I was grateful for, only to be confronted by this other list of all the things I felt I desperately wanted and needed that would never be mine.
In a word….PAIN.