Monthly Archives: December 2014

What I learned from therapy

I feel like I could make this a super duper short thing, a medium thing, or a super looong thing. I’m going to aim for some happy medium, though.

For the tl;dr crowd, here is the distillation of what I learned and what I apply in challenging moments: Ask yourself: What do I want? Be honest (about what you want). Be kind (to yourself and others). Tell the truth.

Once we lose our fear of being tiny ...
Once we lose our fear of being tiny, we find ourselves on the threshold of a vast and awesome universe which dwarfs – in time, in space, and in potential – the tidy anthropocentric proscenium of our ancestors. ~ Carl Sagan

By the end of 2010 I was a worn-out husk of a human. I’d managed to leave my job gracefully, but not without paying a price. I’d lost all my self-confidence. I didn’t trust myself. I thought I was just exhausted and needed to rest. But after two years, it became apparent that rest wasn’t the only thing I needed.

I knew I was having problems when I was interpreting everything with the same level of fear. It didn’t matter what it was. My internal sense of things was waaaay off, but I could only tell by extrapolation. So I found a therapist.

There were many things that I worked on over the almost two years I worked with G:

  • There was learning to look for support. Everywhere I looked, I saw a threat. Learning to scan for support was HUGE.
  • There was the piece about needing to be seen. I’d learned at my previous place of employment that being my whole self was unacceptable (or had interpreted various signals that way). So I made the choice to stop sharing the parts I felt weren’t acceptable there. As anyone living in the closet can tell you, it’s exhausting. And demoralizing. So I worked on being brave and telling the truth when people asked me questions that I thought they didn’t really want to know the answers to. And guess what? I started having amazing conversations. And I don’t remember anyone running away, screaming, as fast as they could. But maybe I just blotted out those memories.
  • We spend A LOT of time talking about my feelings. As I joked recently, if I’m talking about my feelings, I’d better be paying you to do so. But seriously, I didn’t understand my emotional landscape. I felt totally out of control. I had to learn that it was a) okay to have feelings; b) okay to feel them; and c) okay to not act on them.
  • Which brings me back to fear. Everything I talked about ended the same way: “And then I’m going to die, alone, in a gutter on the street.”
  • Which is patently not true. Saying these things that I feared out loud took the power away, in a profound way. Saying them to a compassionate witness was life changing.
  • There’s a Part II to fear: the illusion of control. I hate feeling out of control. As I began to relax and breathe and learn to understand my feelings, I became less and less overwhelmed. For me, it turned out, my sense of control and safety were directly tied to my inability to understand what I was feeling. When I couldn’t understand what I was feeling, I felt out of control. In other words, my sense of control had nothing to do with my ability. Learning to be present in the moment, slowing down, and uncoupling my response from my reaction was probably the core of the work I did with G.
  • The antidote to fear is curiosity. I’ve been trying this one out. When I feel afraid, I don’t “whistle a happy tune” like Anna in The King and I. Putting on a brave face equals dismissing my own experience. Instead, I take my cue from Doctor Who. He is always curious, even when it appears that death is imminent. I’ve been experimenting and testing it out. Turns out, curiosity is a like a magic wand that releases the straightjacket of fear. If you are feeling gripped by fear, I encourage you to give it a try. Start with something small. Something that feels doable. You can do it!
  • I had to move from criticism and judgment to observation.
  • I was crabby about happiness, which I now find hilarious. So G encouraged me to consider what might satisfy me. So much easier for me to work with than happiness.
  • I had to learn what I value matters to me.
  • I had to learn that I am safe. Always.
  • I had to learn to bloom at my own speed, in other words.

Learning to pay attention to what I want in any given moment has been an interesting process. I’d say most of the time, what I want does not cause me to feel any internal conflict, so getting it is easy – or falls under the category of “wishful thinking” (like an extended trip around the world).

All of these things were layered over time, building on themselves. It was in this way that I learned to neutralize the things that I felt held power over me.

I felt broken and damaged, unloveable and lacking value. I had to learn that what I had to offer was enough. That I am enough. That I have value and what I have to offer has value. If what I have to offer doesn’t work for someone else, it’s not my fault. It’s not their fault. It’s just not a fit.

Solar blooms

I love that I picked slow bloom as the organizing principle for my blog. It gives me permission to focus on opening up in only the way that I can. I can let go of comparing myself to others and continue to return to my desires.

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Update on Liberated Life Marketplace

I’m still selling my cards (through January!) at the Liberated Life Marketplace.

I decided that in addition to offering up the dahlias, I’m also making sets using images from SE Asia, Japan, and Florida. Here are some sample images to give you some idea.

Japan

torii hall with lantern

Kinkakuji

orange pagoda, green hills

crossed knot

SE Asia

tree framing door

faces in stone

sunrise

Some variation on the apsara:

apsaras

Florida

brown pelican in flight

ibis

burrowing owl

So apparently Florida IS for the (snow)birds. I have a couple other images with birds – a snowy egret as well as a triad with an anhinga, roseate spoonbill and an egret.

Also have:

Triple dolphin action

And something similar to this one:

cypress reflections

Also, if you are in Seattle, I’m happy to meet up and hand off pictures, minus the shipping charge. Or if you don’t want to use PayPal, let me know and we can work something out!

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Sweets of the Season

This week’s prompt was around desserts! I usually do make a variety of sweets, but for some reason, I haven’t taken many pictures of them.

For the first time this year, we also went to see the gingerbread “house” competition in downtown Seattle. I will note that this is a fundraiser for an organization working around juvenile diabetes. Yeah, the irony was not lost on any of us.

I had two “houses” in particular that I really loved. One was Hawai’ian (I know, you are all SHOCKED), and the other was a love letter to Seattle.

Hawai’i

Surfin’ Santa

Surfin' Santa

Santapus

octopus santa

Seattle

Skyline

Seattle Skyline

Bertha – Seattle’s BIG DIG

Bertha

You can see the rest of the pics here.

In case you were looking for a temptation you could eat, I offer up this:

I did try out a chocolate mint thins with candy cane crunch from the NY Times, and it’s been a huge hit in our house. One word of caution – do try to crush the candy canes as much as you can. Chomping into a big chunk does put a damper on the enjoyment.

Candy cane cookie!

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52 Photos: Red

This week’s prompt was RED!

I do love the color and I had such a hard time choosing. Here are a few:

Egret in the reflection of the torii gate at Miyajima:

egret in red reflection

Condemned! Red wetsuit:

condemned

Red Gold and White Platform Shoes:

red gold white pumps collection

Red parasol:

red parasol

Amanita mushroom:

red shroom

Red lantern blooms:

red lantern blossoms

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52 Photos: Look Down

This week’s prompt was Look down! I don’t often take up the challenge of the prompt, but I did this week. I have to admit, I’m always happy when I do, too!

Sunday was a cold, brisk day. We took a walk down to the Pike Place Market and then back up the Hill. I looked down, hunting for treasures to photograph. Here’s what I brought home:

A maple leaf stain

maple leaf

Arbutus art

Arbutus on the ground

Ice lace draped over grass

snow and ice

Fire and ice

fire and ice

I also love this step from the sidewalk art on Broadway, The Obeebo, that I took last summer.

step one

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