I didn’t enjoy myself…

The evening began easily. We admired their lovely second floor apartment with distressed wood floors, high ceilings, an exposed brick wall and an original stain glass window. We all agreed it was good to finally get together. Being new to the area, we asked how they liked Pittsburgh.

Conversation moved to their upcoming trip to Paris. We shared with them our favorite Parisian museums, parks, and markets. We agreed the best way to experience Paris is to start walking and see where you end up.

As we exhausted this topic quiet moments began to fill the space between us. I knew what was happening in the silence, an unspoken choice was being decided. What was the evening going to be? We could deepen our interest in one another, ask probing questions and offer self revealing answers, or we could talk about, what we think about, what we know about, topics of interest?

I always lobby for the former. Being interested in others is my forte. I am good at it. I know the questions to ask that invite others to share. I am interested in what makes people tick, what we have in common and if this a possible on-going relationship to nurture.

The collective opted for the latter.

So we supped on generalities of economics, politics, and current events. These are not my areas of interest or expertise. I don’t understand economics, although I am a wiz with our family finances. I have strong opinions about politics, but they are not steeped in the facts because I can never figure out what is the truth. Current events are, I suppose, the best of the three, but I still found myself seasoning my contributions with, tell me more about you and I will tell more about me. I asked them if they had siblings? I know it had nothing to do with Russian history, but I was curious.

By the beginning of dessert I began to feel tired. I tried to stay with the conversation du jour, but was struggling. I felt self-conscious, withholding comments for fear I wouldn’t sound smart. I got overly interested in how efficiently the husband sliced the almonds to sprinkle on dessert. After asking him every possible question relatable to precision almond slicing, I fell silent.

I couldn’t get my brain and my mouth to cooperate. My verbal contributions seemed to be swimming in the shadows but refused to be pulled to the surface. I hoped this fugue was menopausal and not early dementia. I began to stare at the seat cushion on the chair next to me.

I wasn’t enjoying myself.

On the ride home I was bothered. What had happened to me?

I realized I had tried to fit-in, versus show-up. I had withheld my vitality, my interests and my emotional intelligence to dine on the conceptual knowledge that was being served.

What if I hadn’t? What if I had offered-up my, albeit different, relational angle into the evening? What if I had seasoned the conversation with relational tidbits?

I became astutely aware that it was me, not them, I wasn’t enjoying.

I suppressed myself and when I do this, I don’t enjoy me. Go figure…

I don’t want to do that anymore.
waxseal2

 

 

 

Comparing Yourself to Others Never Ends Well

Spending the week in Shangri-La was rejuvenating. The view from every deck and window, including the window next to the toilet

looking to the right off of the deck

in my bathroom, overlooked marsh lined channels leading out to the ocean where fishing boats dotted the water early each morning. The house was comfortably elegant with dark wood wainscoting, hard wood floors, comfy furniture and an eclectic smattering of master pieces hung with distinction next to Debbie’s quirky sense of decorating humor. This included schools of fish, made of different metals, clay, and wood, swimming mostly in the same direction, except for a few free thinking swimmers going the opposite way, arranged on two adjoining walls in a bathroom, jars of wonderful old marbles, interesting woven baskets holding porcupine quills, clay sculptures with imaginative faces…you get the idea. When I wasn’t admiring the view, or lost in conversation with my dear friends, I was amused by the subtle humor tucked into little nooks just waiting to be noticed.

 

And to the left toward the ocean

Spending the week in Shangri-La also had a dark side, and mine showed up big time. I began comparing my life circumstances to that of my friends. I tormented myself with, “Where did I go wrong? What if I had gone to a better college?  Maybe followed a different career path.”

 

Then I moved into what I call Cinderella questions. These have to do with a man rescuing me. “Should I have married a rich man, someone who could have provided paradise?” And if so, “How come I didn’t?” My answers were not pretty. My inferiority was in full bloom. She straight-out informed me that I could never have landed a rich man. I am not good enough. Not smart enough. Not pretty enough. (I’ll end here if you don’t mind; this is depressing.)

 

I thought about my middle class family of origin and how I learned limits. How not to expect more than there was. How to be happy with what you had. These are lessons I respect but as I wandered the rooms of this magnificent home, I began to challenge them. What if I expected more? Wanted more? What if being dissatisfied led me to more? Would this be my house?

 

The onslaught of questions left me uncertain of me. I was knocked off my center. However I knew, from past encounters with my darkness, that these shadow sightings are often a good thing…in the end. I trusted if I could stay present to myself long enough, listened to my self judgements until they were hoarse and was honest about this predatory side of me, I would land back on my feet with a greater love and trust for myself. (At least that is what I told myself.)

 

This was risky business-listening to me compare myself to others. I noticed how comparing myself never ends well. When I compare myself to people who have more I feel less than and when I compare myself to people who have less I feel guilty. It is a lose/lose proposition.

 

Returning home to my no longer newlywed husband I find myself feeling satisfied as I look around my surroundings. I feel at home in our space. I love our 7’ x 9’ deck overlooking enough trees that one might think it is woods, but it’s not. I like the simplicity. I welcome the familiarity. And I adore the man I picked, and would pick all over again.

 

So perhaps in the end it is all good. Both Shangri-La and middle class are wonderful gifts to be fully enjoyed.

 

It is comparing yourself to others that limits what you can love, mainly in yourself.

Where Have I Been? Again…

Missing in action.

 

I do this sometimes. I have since I was a kid. I disappear from view, a ‘time out’ of sorts.

 

Historically these MIA’s have been a result of my wish to be found, usually by my family. Would they notice I was gone? Would they care? Am I important enough to be found?

 

If I am honest there was some of that in my absence the past several weeks. (I wish I could say I am beyond that insecurity, I manage it much better these days, but I doubt it will ever be completely gone.) But, more than that, I ‘checked out’ because I lost my vision and my energy. I began to question my decision to become a blogger.

 

Two years ago I didn’t even know what a blog was, let alone how to manage one. So I have been learning. It has been a very left brained-not my strong suit-endeavor, which was painfully tedious. Then there was the need to develop a blog readership. That means social media. So I acquired a facebook page(s) and a twitter account. My facebook page continues to feel like an unorganized closet full of people I don’t know-is that a good thing?-and messages/invitations to things I am not the least bit interested in. I just don’t get it. As for twitter, I have know idea what to tweet about.

 

My exasperation worsened when I realized that there are soooo many Off the Couch blogs written by other therapists. My brilliant idea was not so unique, special or trademarked-which means some other therapist could ask me to “cease and desist” if they started their blog before me. That was the last straw. My discouragement became exhaustion and I let go…of my vision and my desire. I do that to. I sometimes let go of my dreams from a place of exhaustion and overwhelm.  But what I also do, if my dream is in my blood, I pick myself and it back up and start again.

 

So here I am. I am back, starting again, but, this time with the help of a 22 year old intern that is waaayyy smarter about all of this blog and social media stuff than I am. Karen is going to help me clean my facebook closet, tell me what the hell to twitter about, and rename my blog.

 

This is where you, my readers, can help. I need your input and ideas. We are going to start with rebranding Off the Couch blog. I will miss Duke as my mascot. I love the double entendre. But I need to let go, this time of Duke and not my dream to be a top 100 women’s blog.

 

So if you don’t mind, I will run some fresh names for the blog by you.  Let me know what you think. And if you have any ideas to improve the blog, an idea for a new name, social media strategies, or anything else, by all means let me know.

 

I also want to apologize to those of you that look forward to my Monday morning posts. I am sorry for the last 4 weeks of radio silence. I also want to thank those of you that reached out to tell me you missed me. It’s good to be found…

I Love My Life

Before I lived in Pittsburgh I said to myself, “When I live in Pittsburgh, I am going to go to meditation classes, ti chi, and yoga classes, I’m going to sit in coffee shops with friends, go to art openings, eat fun food in interesting neighborhoods, and take some art classes.”

 

I have lived in Pittsburgh for over 4 years now. All the activities I couldn’t wait to take advantage of are right at my finger tips. I have done a few, sporadically, but not to the extent I imagined. Why? I have no excuses. I take that back…I have plenty of excuses, “I’m too tired, I don’t have time, parking is too hard, I have to cross a bridge (did I just say that? I must really be a Pittsburgher), I don’t want to commit to every week.”

 

Why do I do this? Why do I talk myself out of the things I dream of? Do you do this too?

 

As I sit with that question I come up with several versions of viable answers. They all lead to… Continue reading

Loving Life

Before I lived in Pittsburgh I said to myself, “When I live in Pittsburgh, I am going to go to meditation classes, ti chi, and yoga classes, I’m going to sit in coffee shops with friends, go to art openings, eat fun food in interesting neighborhoods, and take some art classes.”

I have lived in Pittsburgh for over 4 years now. All the activities I couldn’t wait to take advantage of are right at my finger tips. I have done a few, sporadically, but not to the extent I imagined. Why? I have no excuses. I take that back…I have plenty of excuses, “I’m too tired, I don’t have time, parking is too hard, I have to cross a bridge (did I just say that? I must really be a Pittsburgher), I don’t want to commit to every week.”

Why do I do this? Why do I talk myself out of the things I dream of? Do you do this too?

As I sit with that question I come up with several versions of viable answers. They all lead to…

What if I didn’t?

What if I gave myself the time and energy to do those things I dream of.

What if I promised myself to follow my interest, my desire, my heart?

What if…(fill in your own)?

I can’t imagine it would be harmful to follow my interests. Can you?

So I have a challenge.

Together, let’s do one thing a week that is enough out of our ordinary routine that we smile, a heart felt smile, knowing we are alive. I will start a I LOVE MY LIFE forum on BeingBoswell and we can share our stories. Hearing others success and excitement can be contagious. Don’t make it a big deal thing, just easy and fun. A dinner at a new restaurant you always wanted to go to, a store you have wanted to explore, a book that has been calling your name, a meal you have wanted to cook, a friend you have wanted to spend time with, a new way home through a neighborhood you have wanted to see.

You get the idea.

To share your experience, scroll down and leave a comment! 

Don’t be shy. Your story will encourage all of us.

I will go first.

New View Point

I just returned from seeing my chiropractor. I love her. I have only seen her 5 times, but she had me at the first phone call when she called me…. darlin’. Ususally I recoil when other women call me honey, darlin’, or sweetheart, but her warmth and seeming “comfort within her own skin” transformed my automatic response to one of feeling “taken in” by her.

I like when I allow my self to have a different reaction. And I am sometimes in awe of that shift. How can exactly the same event produce different reactions in me?

The difference is in me.  If I see things the way I always see them… life  will always look the same. In my office I face a wall with a relatively plain decor, except for a painted cloud and flying fairy. My clients face a dramatic view, a large piece of driftwood, red steel girders , and a woven tapestry rug. We are both in the same room, but viewing it from different angles.

Sometimes I lie on the floor to change my vantage point, (try it- the room looks very different.) Or, I contort myself to look at the world upside down. I am always amazed at how much I notice when I change my position (literally and figuratively) and how different life looks.

I like my life better when my emotional responses can be varied.  I stay more interested….