Realizations and “Ah-Ha!” Moments

same heart

It seems that every-so-often, my heart and mind shift gears, and I realize that there are these things that I thought, these ideas that I had, have had for years, that are as incorrect as can be.  I’m surprised, I’m sad, secretly, I’m relieved.

I can remember the first time I was told to “not sweat the small stuff.”  It was my dad that said it, and he was quoting this book someone had given him for Christmas, and that was the book’s title.  I didn’t buy in.  It was a fine concept, as long as it was just a thought or a concept and not something I would actually be expected to implement into my life.  I think I was around the age of ten or so, and I was already a world-class worrier.  Dad went on to say that it was *almost* all “small stuff.”  This really didn’t vibe with my pre-teen self.

don-t-sweat-the-small-stuff-quotes-gzfa8jjpTo me, everything was important.  Every feeling, every tear, every perceived slight, judgmental look, backhanded comment.  To be more clear, what other people THOUGHT of me, was in no way “small stuff.”  To be fair, it wasn’t necessarily what other people thought or did or said, it was what I (often wrongly) thought that other people thought of me.  And so it went, pre-teen to 20’s Rosa to late 20’s Rosa to current Rosa.  I cared far too much of what other people thought.

That has changed.  Dramatically.  Within the last six weeks, dramatically and, to link in the general idea of this post — I have also come to lower my expectations of other people.  In not caring quite so much what others thought, I found a freedom in releasing other people to be horrible and terrible and, in some cases, simply not as perfect as I had previously thought they were.  I have come to understand that I cannot hold other people to the standards I try (and fail) to hold myself to — they are impossibly high.

The next step of the journey, of course, is to stop beating myself up for not being perfect, for not getting the results out of a project that I want, for not having children, or keeping a perfect house, or being able to handle any little bit of garbage that the world has to throw at me on any given day.

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From now on, I cut up my journey into bite-sized pieces, and while I will tackle what the world has coming toward me with gusto, I most certainly will do my best to not spend much, if any time dwelling on how I just don’t measure up.  I have plans, and I have written thoughts about those plans, and my plans have plans.  There are a lot of plans, and I vow not to be too hard on myself when a plan doesn’t come through, as I had envisioned.

love-processThe beauty of the art I make is in the process, not in the final product. These new tiny bits of information that I learn and adopt as my own on any given day, they are part of my process, and more than anything at this time in my life, I absolutely LOVE the process, and I will let all of those negative thoughts settle upon the leaves moving down the stream of my consciousness, and wave to them as they float away.


Astonishing Light

I am lonely, I am anxious, and have had a very different last week.  But, as Goddess of Mindfulness and Dad both pointed out, I rocked it.

The Big Dawg, QoB, and Rock were all out of town this past week at a water garden conference.  Big-time conference, lots of networking, lots of learning, lots of  fun (hopefully).  They left myself and Blue Cat in charge of the two stores, for the most part.

I think Blue Cat and I were fairly nervous for most of the week, especially when it came to dealing with pond customers.  I was better at saying, “we’re really not sure” and explaining the situation and that it would be better to come back next week.  Blue Cat was intent on just “handling” everything.  Sometimes that’s not the best approach, but sometimes it works.  I just hope he didn’t feed any irreversible information to anyone.

It was fairly slow, but we did bring in some money.  I was in charge of deposits, which I am used to, but I am used to someone telling me when to do one, and then just doing it.  I was also in charge of making sure we had enough money  hanging around to make change and therein lies a delicate balance.

So I’ve been beating myself up since Friday that I didn’t go to the bank and get more fives and tens.  My coin situation was fairly fine — I knew there would be a bank run on Monday, but I’m not sure there were enough fives and tens to last through today.  I never heard about it, so I’m assuming all was fine.  What a lot of lonely worrying I spent on that!

I also beat myself up, because I was supposed to not let the cash reserve get too high, and I failed to count Wednesday, and on Thursday we were double over what we are supposed to hold.  I made a frantic bank run on Thursday morning and am just hoping I’m not going to get lectured about my oversight.  All’s well that ends well, right?

These things have been eating me up all week, and I have convinced myself in my head that I am not competent to do the things I was asked to do.  Hold that thought right there, though, Rosa.

This past week:

1) I didn’t complain.  Not about working longer hours or about helping out with chores at Mom’s.  Did I somewhat dread doing chores because I made jokes about spilling entire gallons of water onto myself?  Yes.  Did I complain?  No.  When people are away, they need to hear that everything is fine.  And it was.  Completely.

2) I kept the dogs a little bit of company off and on throughout the week.  In my mind, that would help them be less neurotic when the folks got home, and hopefully it worked to a degree.  As Mom said, I had a little “staycation” in which I got to drink crushed ice and water from the fridge and put my feet up for a little while before doing chores.  It was actually quite nice to be away from the ensuing mess at home.

3) Speaking of the ensuing mess at home, I didn’t let myself get too bothered by it.  I knew I would get the chance to address it, but when I got home from doing work and chores, I was exhausted.  There is nothing wrong with ignoring a small pile of dishes or a mounting hill of laundry (as long as you still have clean underwear).

4) Today I got some feedback from Mom and as she says, if something got really messed up, we’ll deal with the fallout later.  I have been freaked out all week that we’re almost out of goldfish.  Talk about things that you can’t control.

5) I managed to get my colonoscopy and upper GI done on Friday, while Snickers and Blue Cat held down the fort.  I felt sick all day, so didn’t do much other than animal chores (which Dad helped with, hallelujah!) but I was ok with that.  I know I need to get better, physically.

So after typing this all out, and affirming that my mental health is intact (other than anxiety which is an all-the-time-thing ), I have to stop and say to myself:

Rosa — practice some self-compassion and you will get there.


I Am NOT Broken

There is that unknown, in life.  That curveball waiting around the corner.  When you think things are going fine, but little do you know, they’re about to turn on a dime and suddenly everything isn’t quite what  you thought it was.  There’s a lot of thinking, a lot of worry.

And then you realize that  you’re so caught up in the worry, you start not living your life.  You have the stomach flu for a week and you decide the world has moved on without you.  You feel lonely and a little blue and extremely bored.  And like life has left you behind.

Of course these are not valid feelings.  They are just the machinations of your brain, repeating all of those things that were not-so-kindly stuffed there.  No one wants to hang out with you.  You’re a loser.  That guy is too good for you.  Nobody cares about you, wants you, wants to listen to your crap.  You should just give up now, because none of it is going to happen.  All those little voices in your head, plaguing you, because once upon a time, you let someone in your head that you shouldn’t have.  The person’s words make it difficult to rest, to rest easy and live in the here and now.

You have no real evidence that these things are true.  They just ARE, in your brain.  Your brain which he disconnected from your heart, that truly feels the warmth of people and doesn’t understand the disconnect. The you that is searching to understand the good and bad and truth and dishonesty in people.  The you that is trying to make the right decisions, without heartbreak, without malice or ill-intent.

Deep inside, you recognize the good in people, but you still have that doubt, not about other people, but about YOURSELF.  Am I good enough? Smart enough?  Pretty enough?  Do other people want to listen to what I say, or do I get a relentless status as a complainer, a whiner, as someone who won’t take action to FIX their life?

And then you see, I am not BROKEN.  I do not need to be FIXED.  I just need to love myself and the rest will come in time.  The doubt, the uncertainty, they will HEAL.  I don’t have to force it, I just need to let it come.  I need to let it come and turn it over and over and over again to something bigger than myself.  When the time is right, I will heal and might even laugh over what I have said prior.  But at this time, it is my life.

Turn it over.  I am NOT broken.

Building Rome, Goals for Self-Compassion

It’s that time of the week again where those of us building Rome, all spout out some lofty goals, report on last week’s goals, and maybe throw up a funny picture or memorable quote.  This is all brought to us, of course, by Green Embers who so thoughtfully created and designed and brought this challenge to life.  If at any point you wish to join, just do a Building Rome post and link back to him.

The theme of this week’s “Building Rome” is “building passion.”  My life definitely lacks passion right now.  In fact, I can’t even come up with any passion related goals because I don’t have anything I feel passionate about.   All the things I love to do — read, blog, interact with other humans, watch bad TV, learn new things (crochet!), drive, work — I am unable to do at present.

My brain is so foggy, I can’t concentrate, focus, stay in the moment for any of it.  This is very frustrating.  I’ve basically stopped blogging because I know I sound like a confused ass.  I can’t drive anywhere because I’ve been in a couple near-accidents (because I failed to pay attention).  I can’t read because I read the same paragraph over and over.  I can’t even pay attention to bad TV!  And then there are the long and extended crying spells.  Gah!

What I can do, however, is set some goals for self-compassion.


1) Get out of the house twice this week.

2) Play in my pool every day.

3) Find a magazine or two I can flip through.

4) Walk Kizzie every day.


1) Take meds as prescribed.  Check!

2) Take care of Kizzie’s needs.  Check!

3) Take care of personal hygiene daily.  Fail!

4) Work on healthy eating.  Somewhat check!


1) Keep up with my “always list.”  Check!

2) Spend at least two hours outside every day.  Check!

3) Walk Kizz for 10 minutes ever day this week.  Fail!

4) Finish getting house in order.  Kinda check!

My Apologies for the Disorganization Contained Within

Here recently, I have done a lot of reading of other blogs.  I’ve read some beautiful, horrible, raw, fascinating, plagiarized, well-written, and under-developed posts.  Underneath all of that, however, there is always a story that is being told.  It isn’t up to me to judge, but I can choose to “like” the post.  I can choose to comment.  I can choose to follow that blogger.  With two weeks worth of nothing-ness at work, I have followed a lot of new bloggers.  And by new, I don’t necessarily mean new, just new-to-me.  My goal for this period in which I have a great deal of time to read and ponder, was to comment whenever I could.

Now lemme tell ya, there are many bloggers that I have been following, some for months, some longer, that I absolutely love but never comment on.  It may sound silly, but when I type out a comment, I look at it and think that it’s: a) poorly written, b) not witty enough to keep up with the rest of the commenters or the person who posted, c) just plain dumb.  So, many times, I don’t comment.  Well in these past two weeks, I have been a commenting fool.  I have said what is in my heart, what a particular post makes me feel, a thank-you to the author, trying for originality, and, watch out world, Rosa is commenting.  Fiercely.

I’m hoping that by commenting, I will work my way back into posting more regularly.  I have always written for myself, but there is still a piece of me that says, “Good gawd, Rosa!  That’s a piece of crappy drivel…you can’t publish that!”  Because I don’t want to embarrass myself, you know.  I know I’m far from being a great writer, but I’m not a terrible one, either.  I read these fascinating, well-written posts by talented, but seemingly-human bloggers, who appear to be able to churn out one hand-clapping-worthy post a day, and then I look at the draft I am writing, and I vow not to publish such crap into existence.

Part of the whole problema that is Rosa is that I am much too hard on myself.  I am sharper and meaner with myself than my worst critic could ever be.  This is why I am saying three daily loving-kindness meditations, why I am doing one kind thing for a stranger every day, for a loved one every day, and (am supposed to be doing) one for myself.  Every day.  It was a therapy assignment.  I am most stellar at saying my loving-kindness meditations, as I always have been, because I can so fully feel the community and the connectedness in my heart when I do.  Unlike I am able to at any other time.  Amazing.  It is easy to do one kind thing for a stranger and a loved one every day.  I think I was probably doing that before, just not as mindfully or with such intent.

And the third therapy assignment is the topic of my next blog post:  How do I start being nice to myself?  It’s the next blog post because this one’s already getting a bit long, and also because I will have to do some deep introspection.  I’m not really that good at being kind to myself, but I’m all about growing together.


Last Reverb Prompt for 2013

Reverb13 prompt for the 21st and last day is as f0llows:

Then, without thinking too hard about it, grab a pen and some paper and finish the following five sentences:

2014 is going to be MY YEAR because…

In 2014, I am going to do…

In 2014, I am going to feel…

In 2014, I am not going to…

In December 2014, I am going to look back and say…

This is a hard list for me today, feeling rather down and un-optimistic about the future, but I’ll give ‘er a try.

2014 is going to be my year because…

I am going to try harder.  I am going to backtrack and say, hey, maybe I do need a little bit more therapy to get through to this nastiness I carry around in my brain and body but ignore.  I am going to push through discomfort and take better care of my body…bathe more, loofah where needed, lotion, you know, better self-care.  I am going to try harder to practice self-compassion, giving myself a break, even when I might not feel like I deserve it.

In 2014, I am going to do

whatever it takes to stay quit smoking.  I have worked at this really hard in 2013 and I am not going to let it slide with the new year.  I have so many obstacles around me.  People get panicky and jealous and hateful when you do something like this for yourself.  I’ve had my fill of that.  I am doing this for me and my health, so I can be around for my Kizzer pup until the cows come home.

In 2014, I am going to feel…

like I belong inside my body and my brain.  Changes are a’coming, I hope.  I can’t go on much longer with the status quo.

In 2014, I am not going to

be a doormat, take it when someone yells or criticizes me, allow myself to continue with relationships that break my heart.  Either the relationship changes, or I go.

In December 2014, I am going to look back and say…

I sure got more accomplished than I thought I would.

Self-Loathing in the Face of Self-Compassion

Reverb13 Day Nineteen Prompt, provided by Jill at A Thousand Shades of Gray, is as follows:

The Buddha said, “You, yourself, as much as anybody else in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”

In the past year, I have been on a mission to understand and practice self-compassion, which is sometimes defined as “extending compassion to one’s self in instances of perceived inadequacy, failure, or general suffering,” and what I have learned has made me realize that this practice is at the heart of everything. 

How will you practice self-compassion?

Talking about practicing self-compassion and actually doing it are quite two different birds.  All throughout DBT, there are mentionings of practicing self-compassion.  And really, I’ve never been good at it.  And frankly, I’ve never tried at it very hard either.

Below the surface, there is just so much self-loathing.  Even now, when I’m doing better, I still really hate myself for a variety of reasons.  From the fact that I can’t seem to keep shit straight at home to the “failures” I see in my interpersonal relationships.  I turn quickly in judgement of myself, over and over.  At the slightest action or inaction, I belittle myself in my head.  I am not sure I could be kind to myself, if I tried, and I really am not sure how to try.

My thought is, “S0 what, you let yourself off the hook for things just in the name of self-compassion?”  I guess so.  I don’t really know.  You criticize yourself less, see yourself as more human, give yourself the benefit of the doubt?  I don’t know how to do that.  I don’t know if I can even try.

But I find myself telling people I care about to be kind to themselves.  Be good to yourself, be kind, be loving.  I can encourage that in others but I can’t pick up a torch for myself?  This topic hits a raw nerve, because although I have come so far, I still, deep down, hate me.  I’m sure that isn’t quite right, but it is so.

Understanding the Severity of the Issue

I have been giving some thought to my most recent slip-slide toward depression, and have come up with again the article I referenced yesterday.  I want to expound a bit more upon it.  An excerpt from “The Biggest Lesson I’ve Learned From Managing My Bipolar Disorder,” by Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. is as follows:

“The biggest lesson I’ve learned is to take bipolar disorder very seriously,” said Julie A. Fast, a bestselling author of books on bipolar disorder and professional coach who works with loved ones of people with the illness. Fast was diagnosed with rapid cycling bipolar disorder II in 1995.

“It’s not like other illnesses. It’s sneaky and dangerous if you don’t watch it all of the time.” She compared it to type I diabetes. “People with diabetes one can’t mess around – ever. I can’t either.”

You can’t  mess around with bipolar disorder.  I hear that, I get that, and I forget it.  I get off my schedule, I stay up too late, socialize too much, put too many or not enough things on my to-do list, skip taking some meds, use my sunlamp too much or too little, and I am left picking up the pieces of what was once a really well held-together Rose.

I’ve been doing all of the above lately.   I need more down-time, and I know that’s a lot to ask around the holidays.  I need more time to just read or watch TV and decompress.  All of the social activity of the season drains me.  Just thinking of the two different Christmas celebrations that DSB and I will be going to makes me feel a bit faint of heart.  Do I want to go, yes.  Will I go, yes.  Will it take a Klonopin or three to get me there, probably.

Over the last few days, I have had to take Klonopin because of insurmountable anxiety.  When things are going well, I take a PRN maybe once a week, every other week.  When the anxiety bears down, it can be an everyday thing, until it’s not.  I know that I have that medication available to me to use when I need it, and I don’t feel that I use it when I don’t need it, but it still bothers me to have to regulate my emotions with a pill.  You would think I had become used to that over the years.  I sometimes see it as a personal failure that I am looking for my Klonopin bottle.

As the article references above, comparing bipolar to Type I Diabetes, you have to stay in constant check with it.  That is hard to do, and it’s even harder when you’re feeling better.  You want to forget that things were ever bad, or that they could head back that direction at the drop of a hat.  The desire to stay well has to be constantly pushed into action, by checking up on oneself.

Have I taken my meds correctly today?  Do I need to be kinder to myself?  Do I need more down time?  Am I getting enough sleep and eating properly?  These are all questions I should ask myself on a day-to-day basis, and I don’t.

Just like so many out there, I take the good times for granted and forget that things were ever bad.  It is only while quietly slipping into ambivalence and then apathy and then depression, that these things come up again.  And then we just hope it’s not too late.

Self-Compassion, Another Sticking Point

I sure was in a bad place, or maybe just a strange place when I wrote last night’s post.  I was trying to explain to DSB why I felt like hell about not getting anything accomplished.  He didn’t try and say that I actually did get some things accomplished (which I did), he just gave it the same ultra-rational take as he does on everything: “Stop thinking about it and do it.  Just do it.”

Sometimes I feel like my life is a Nike commercial.  Being urged to “just do it” constantly.  It just isn’t that easy and I do wish it was.  After blogging, I would like to add that I gave myself a facial and took a shower.  It felt very nice, almost like I was rewarding myself for my breakthrough.  I am hoping I can do something similar tonight, if not tomorrow.

Part of DBT is that you are supposed to be kind to yourself.  I, and most people with a mood disorder, am not very good about it.  Because really, seriously, let’s just admit it, deep down (or maybe right at the surface), there is a good bit of self-loathing going on, at least some of the time.  At least that’s how it is for me.

I have taken a well-known self-compassion scale in DBT many times and found the same one here, that you can take yourself, if interested, as well.  My scores are miserable.  I am not kind to myself, am full of self-judgement, don’t feel part of humanity, feel isolated, am not mindful, and am over-identified.  I have taken the same scale many times throughout my “recovery process” and have always turned up the same.

How many people do you know that are self-compassionate?  I can’t think of many, but I don’t have a very big circle.  Maybe you know people who love themselves and care for themselves and are easy with themselves when their flaws are revealed.  That, according to the only two therapists I have had in my 17 year stint in DBT-based therapy, is what it’s all about.

To heal, you must be kind to yourself.  You must practice self-compassion.  Be easy on yourself, and give credit where credit is due.  It’s been 17 years and you think I would have “bought in” by now, right?  Why haven’t I?  Is it willfulness, rearing it’s ugly head?  Perhaps.  Is the lack of self-compassion learned behavior?  Certainly could be.  I can point to the major players in my life and look at how hard they are on themselves and think, “hmmmm, I wonder…”

It doesn’t really matter where it came from, just that it’s hear.  I do believe you, oh you two therapists out there, when you say that I need to be kinder and gentler with myself, do nice things for myself, treat myself well, cut myself some slack.  It is just so damn hard to do.

After my self-administered facial and long shower last night, I felt amazing.  If that is just one small step towards giving myself some kindness, I might even try it again.  There’s a little voice telling me I don’t deserve it, but the long term goal is to  quash that voice and start thinking about what the next kind thing is I can do for myself.