Thursday, January 31, 2013

Life with Either/Or and Both/And

I recognize the lengthiness of this post. Thank you for reading whatever portion of it you read. Thank you a hillion jillion times for any comment that you leave. Thank you ten to the twenty-fourth power if you decide to engage with this post.

Recently in a group meeting of several Christian women of which I was a part, the leader said, "You're either in the game, or you're not." This bold statement was in the context of studying the book, "Spiritual Slavery to Spiritual Sonship" by Jack Frost (1953-2007). Mr. Frost had an upbringing that left him wounded in ways that made it difficult for him to trust male authority figures in his life. Since he was first a ship mate and captain, and then a pastor within the Christian Church, his inability to submit to male authority figures had significant consequences for him.

Although the women in my group, to a one, thought this book was awesome, I was struck over and over by the black and white thinking put forth in the book (which = not awesome).

  • "We either live our life as if we have a home and a loving Father's arms to run to when the world is trying to give us what they think we deserve, or we live our life as if we don't have a home." (p 35) 
  • "We will be subject either to the Father of Creation's mission or to the mission of the father of lies, the accuser of the brethren. These are the only possibilities." (p. 54) 
  • "We either have a spirit of sonship or an orphan spirit; there is no middle ground." (p. 82) 
  • And an entire Appendix A "Contrasting the Orphan Heart with the Heart of Sonship." (p. 213-214) 

There is a deep validity to the fact that many people, adults AND children,  do not have a sense of being loved, of being complete, of being safe. They are embodying what he talks about as the orphan mindset. I also see a contrast between those who feel unmoored, and those who are centered and know they are valuable.

But I also see a third group, those who see themselves as neither an orphan or a child, but as empowered adults. Empowered adults can live their lives confident that life offers a variety of paths, a number of opportunities to learn any particular lesson, and a freedom to act that does not require any particular level of expertise.

Paul says in I Corinthians 13:11 "When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways." To me, childhood is a developmental phase. Understanding the value of myself is something that comes as part of developing in life. In my own development, I went almost directly from orphan thinking to adult thinking, and had a very brief beloved child phase.

Let me think about this:

A child ... 

  • depends on her parents for all manner of health; physical, emotional, social, spiritual, mental. 
  • is great at perceiving, but ill-equipped for interpreting. 
  • has little life experience to rely on for decision-making purposes. 
  • usually has some age-appropriate misunderstandings about who is responsible for what in relationships. 
  • gets along best if she does what she is told. 
  • is generally discouraged from expressing strong emotions. 
  • is at the mercy of others, who may or may not have her best interests at heart. 

An adult ...

  • knows that she is responsible for her own physical, emotional, social, spiritual, and mental health. 
  • has the skills to interpret what she perceives, and to recognize that all perceptions are not factual. 
  • has gained life experience which can be significantly helpful in decision-making about perceptions. 
  • has the freedom to decide to what degree she is going to "get along" by "doing what she is told." 
  • realizes that the expression of strong emotions can sometimes be of service to her, and other times, not so much. 
  • has the opportunity to experience great depth of satisfaction in relationships as she discovers who is responsible for what. 
  • has the mental capacity to understand the concept of choosing her response to any given situation. 

Certainly, a child who knows herself to be deeply loved and valuable is going to feel more secure, although still in a developmental phase where she will have some limitations in understanding and experience. And ANYONE who knows themselves to be lovable and capable and valuable has a center of strength, child or adult. The limitation of Mr. Frost's dichotomous philosophy shows up with his definition of us as EITHER having an orphan mindset, OR believing ourselves to be deeply loved CHILDREN. For surely, there is a continuum between those, as well as times when we are more deeply embodying one or the other.

How do YOU navigate the tension between being told you are a CHILD (of God), but knowing yourself to be an ADULT?

Mr. Frost's clearly states that the child's station in life is the one we have, and that we can either do it well (sonship) or poorly (orphan). His main point is that God is a Loving Father who will take perfect care of us as children. This belief makes sense, but the working out of it does not necessarily support the belief that it is best for us as individuals, spouses, parents, family members, community members, and citizens of a variety of societies, to remain as children.

I am embracing my adulthood! The question remains for me whether Christianity supports us being adults.

  • When I make a decision, my Christian friends say I must have permission from God to take one step or another, but as an adult, I know that I am able to make a decision about which step to take. ( Who decides what the step will be?)
  • When I encounter a hardship in my life, my Christian friends suggest that God has a plan which encompasses every single detail of my life. As an adult, I recognize my own ability to embrace the hardship as something that could actually just be the best possible thing that could happen to me, regardless of what it looks like at first. (Who decides the rightness of an event?)
  • When I am in relationship with someone who is struggling, my Christian friends suggest that praying is the most powerful thing I can do. As an adult, I see that there are many things I can say and do that actually empower the other person, the chief of which is recognizing that that person is the best judge of their own life and they know best which choice will serve them. (Who has the ability to effect change?)
  • When I feel frustrated by someone's "failure" or am disappointed by their actions, my Christian friends tell me I should "give it to God," "lay it at the feet of Jesus," "submit to God's plan." As an adult, I have the capacity and joy of accepting the other person right where they are, being honest about the effect of their actions or inactions for me, and recognizing that I am not dependent on anyone else for my general state. (Who is responsible for my emotional state?)
  • When I see a black and white issue, it's usually my Christian friends who are presenting it, and they feel most comfortable when the issue IS black and white. As an adult, I see more and more how many issues are actually both/and. That is, some people see it as black and white, AND there is plenty of evidence to support a third, or a fourth, or many more, position. (Who gets to decide what is true?)
Yes, I see myself as an adult. I see childlike characteristics in myself as well -- joyousness, playfulness, curiosity. All of us are a mix of adult and child. I'm simply exploring my own understandings of my adulthood and my childhood and offering these explorations as food for thought. Let me know if you decide to chew on any of these thoughts. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Nom Nom Nom

I really, really like food. Who doesn't, I guess, but I think I like it too much. I was actually thinking it might be preferable (easier?) to have an addiction to something like alcohol or drugs, because once you break your addiction, you can simply (but not necessarily easily) eschew those products. They are not necessary to your continued existence. Food, however, is. One cannot stop eating, at least not for very long. 

I remember way, way back in the annals of my eating history, I created an amazingly artistic (well, not so much) poster in kindergarten with manila paper and a teal crayon. The theme of my piece was, "[Blank] is a [type of food] eater." As in, Daddy is a spuds "eatar." Mommy is a spinacg "eatar." Even as a young child, I could see the difference between the foods being consumed by the responsible adults in our household. I was also a spuds "eatar." (The above-mentioned art IS in this house somewhere, and when I find it, I will upload it. In the meantime, there's brilliant repro of it.)

So many great memories of my dad include doughnuts, Pepsi-cola, Husman's potato chips, pretzels, and pizza. I have great memories of my mom, too, but not many of them involve spinach. 

So, I've been thinking about this whole "liking food too much" thing. If I just take the "too much" part off, I am left with, I LIKE FOOD. 

I've read the same four million articles that everyone else has about all the health advice out there. Eat less meat! Eat low fat! Eat more fat! Eat more vegetables! Eat more fruits, but not those, mostly these! Have you ever read one that said, "Eat for pleasure." You know, I bet they are out there, but I don't remember ever reading an article or book that said, Eat. For. Pleasure. 

But eating is really pleasurable, isn't it? Suddenly, a heart dart gets me. The old tapes begin to play; the ones about pleasure being inherently evil. Maybe you didn't go to the same churches I did growing up, and there must be some mixed-up thinking in there, surely. All I remember is that anything that could be enjoyed could only be done legitimately as an act of worship, or in some religious context, and your motives were probably suspect anyway. There was never ever anything taught to me about doing anything for pleasure, except that if you did, you were pretty much on the Express Bus to Hell. 

Pleasure was affiliated with, in my upbringing, sin. Sin. Pride. Being a slave to the flesh. Not doing that thing about the temple (honoring it). Satan. Eve succumbing to temptation. Pleasure had been completely co-opted by the Dark Side, and the Light Side was out to let the Light-Siders know of its dangers. Well, as Bono said so eloquently, Charles Manson stole this from the Beatles, and we're stealing it back. Someone stole pleasure from us and I, for one, am stealing it back. 

Those early teachings seem to be things that made me feel safe, even in my extreme terror, because they said there was a BLACK, and there was a WHITE. And while I was probably never going to manage to be much whiter than dirty snow, as long as I could avoid the BLACK by following the maxim, "We don't smoke and we don't chew, and we don't go with boys who do." (and many other maxims in a similar vein), I was GOOD to GO -- to heaven. 

But, hm, I'm not five anymore. And I've discovered that there are pleasures in this life that evidently do not lead directly to Hell. Of course, I am not talking about life-destroying pleasures like drugs and excessive alcohol, nor am I even interested in those types of things. I am talking about the simple pleasures that come to me through my senses. 

The sight of the face of someone I love. 

The touch of the sun on my skin, or waves rushing up to my shins, the sand eroding away under my feet. 

The smell of freshly baked cinnamon rolls or bread, coupled with the taste of that bread or those rolls. Those things bring pleasure. Many other things do as well, but what would it be like for me to embrace the idea of experiencing pleasure? I think it would be mighty fine. 

Since pleasure was presented as a dangerous pursuit, I am cautious. I have seen people who have pursued pleasures that led them to heartache of their own, or to cause heartache to another or others. So, just like most other things in life, it's a both/and situation. Pleasure can be pursued, AND one pursuing pleasure must be willing to set boundaries. Otherwise, the pleasure becomes the master, and the actor becomes the servant.

For so many years, I have had these really thick, really tall brick walls erected around me, within me, near me, behind me, and just generally in a maze-like layout in my life. The walls that kept me on the straight and narrow, not even catching a glimpse of those baddy-cats outside the walls. The walls that kept me contained, always providing a measure of decorum, lest I lose my mind and shout a swear word, or a praise, for that matter. Walls that clearly delineated the us-es and the thems. So, I'd always know which EITHER/OR I fit into.

I think it was the year that two of my teenagers crashed through some of those walls that I started wondering if everything was as EITHER/OR as I had thought. Turns out the answer is yes, for some people, things are pretty much either/or. And no, for me, many many issues are both/and. This idea used to scare me. How could something be both/and? How could I know what was exactly right to do if the thick, tall brick wall wasn't there keeping everything in line? What if I decided I believed something different from those early teachings? My answer to that now is, well, hallelujah. 

I came up with this analogy of a yo-yo in regard to my eating. You've heard of the yo-yo dieting? Well, this is a sort of variation on that. At the top of the yo, when I'm eating right, and leaving ALL THE DESSERTS on the table, never putting a bad bite of anything in my mouth, I am O.K. Then when I sink to the bottom of the yo, I'm eating wrong, and putting ALL THE DESSERTS in my mouth, and recognizing that everything I put into my mouth is bad. Neither at the top of the yo, nor at the bottom, is there any pleasure associated with the act of eating food.

I'm wondering what it would be like to find eating to be pleasurable.  

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Do You Know the Way to San Jose?

Here I am in sunny rainy California, having traversed much of the USA yesterday. We started out in good old Ohio, then flew over Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, and California.

The Atlanta-San Jose leg of the flight offered a GPS tracker of the flight on the in-seat television screen. The visual representation illuminated just how fast air travel actually is. I only wish the toggling between map and data would have allowed more time for perusing the map.

I was traveling with a companion who has been terrified of heights for several years. Terrified enough that he could not stay in a hotel room above the first floor, felt iffy about driving over a river on a bridge, and got vertigo just looking up sometimes. He ended up finding some amazing resources that got him on the plane and through takeoff and landing, twice, without having a screaming heebie-jeebie fit. I noticed, however, the other passenger in our row discreetly moved before takeoff when he saw the airsickness bag at the ready. Thankfully, the bag was unneeded, other than for knowing that it was there.

 When I think of California, I have a jumbled impression of congestion, and traffic, and chaos, and riots, and excess, and wealth, and earthquakes. Seems I have imagined it to be quite the dramatic place. And yet, last night as I drove from the airport to the hotel, I was struck by the ease I experienced. Almost no traffic. Very well-marked roads. Plenty of notice. Excellent signage. In that short drive, I reflected that my hometown is the one that ended up seeming the most congested and chaotic!

It's a lot like the story of the blind men checking out the elephant. I am quite certain there is plenty of congestion and/or chaos of different sorts in this state. Haven't I read about their financial woes? But I am always so pleasantly surprised when I find myself in a place of ease.

I had always heard life was supposed to be difficult, and I thought the more difficult it was, the better I was doing at living it. Generally, what I have always found most difficult is unending sensory stimulation, whether that is in the form of clutter, heavy traffic, unrelenting advertising, bombastic soundtracks accompanying visually explosive films, or constant noise of any type.

How I love the places, becoming more frequent for me, that are peaceful, that allow for reflection and savoring the moment. Today, when I arrived at The Big Basin Redwoods State Park and got out of the car, I stepped into a place of complete immersion in sensory stimulation that was peaceful and easy. A nose full of the fresh scent of Redwood trees; eyes soothed by the sight of tree trunks lifting my eyes up and up and up; ears resting in the quiet, undisturbed by the sounds of the city, and filled with the quality of peace I sense in the woods;  an awareness of touching the energy of the place which surrounded me with a comforting balm; and the taste of the air itself, breathing its peace into my heart.

Grace comes in the most unexpected places.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Did He Really Say That?

Just read this on a Facebook friend's wall today:

“All I’m saying is simply this, that all life is interrelated, that somehow we’re caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. For some strange reason, I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. You can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality."
- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr."Christmas Sermon for Peace, December 24, 1967

I've been thinking a lot lately about our interrelatedness so I was drawn to this quote and thought about sharing it on my own wall. But, some little voice inside me said, "Go read this quote in the primary source." So, off I went to the internet and read the original sermon by Dr. King. Here is the actual quote from this site:

It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. We are made to live together because of the interrelated structure of reality.
Similar, yes. But the first item is represented as a quote, which means it is what he said, yes?

The quote as posted is given credibility as written because Dr. Martin Luther King supposedly said it! In 1967! Amazing that he said it so similarly to what we might say today! However, the rest of the original paragraph talks about how we are connected because of using things from all parts of the world, which is a rather different meaning, indeed.

The part that was added in,"For some strange reason, I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. You can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be," just doesn't seem true to me. Ought is another word for should, and I don't think there is anything I SHOULD be. "I yam what I yam." (Popeye, circa 1970). Do you think who you are is limited by who other people are?

I'm troubled by this because I believe the original poster to be someone who cares about people and who wants to be part of the solution to the disconnectedness we experience as humans. But saying something with shining eyes and a big smile doesn't make it true, and I submit that while we have the right to post anything we want, and call it a quote if we want to, I want to make sure that anything I share is actually accurate. What would happen to the internet if we all did that!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

How to Clean the Bathroom

When you live in a home with what seems like 37 other people, 38 of whom seem to be boys with all their male-ness, cleaning the bathroom is a different job than when, say, one or two born-organized people live in the home.

When you have chosen to stay at home and have your career consist primarily of being a homemaker, and have chosen to further expand your career by adding in educating your children at home, your home is in high demand from all the feet walking here and there, the refrigerator door getting a complete workout several times a day, appliances singing their tunes heartily most of the time, and the water running somewhere in the house as faithfully as the Mississippi. These conditions lead to what is known in professional circles as "what a mess."

Of course one can delegate jobs to the youngsters. Of course one can create an environment where everyone cleans as they go. Er, I presume that is possible somewhere somehow. But, the fact remains, we humans do shed this and that on a regular basis, and the thises and thats have to be vacuumed, brushed, scrubbed, swished, sprayed, and obliterated.

Whatever the number of people in YOUR home, whatever your career, and whatever your Meyers-Briggs personality type, all those people in your home are going to shed thises and thats. Today we are going to look at the bathroom, but we will try to keep things refined and clear, as opposed to raunchy and sarcastic. Raunch and sarcasm do have a place in this world. Lord knows they have a place in the blogosphere. But they will not be the focus of our lesson today.

Maybe you walk into your bathroom and see detritus along the edges of the floor, spots on the mirror, globs of toothpaste in the sink, water spots on the faucet, grime under the anything and everything, and mysterious colorful things growing here and there. Let's hope you don't see it in this condition, but I confess that my previous cleaning frequency (once every mumble mumble) has at times (most times) led to such a view upon my ingress into the "washroom." (N.B. As I searched for images for this post, I realized that what I have considered to be really heinous is actually very mild compared to some of what is out there. It's not like I never cleaned! I just wasn't accepting the frequency with which it needed to happen!)

 First step to cleaning. Read this statement:

"[A]ct as though the following statement is true: Everything that happens to me is the best possible thing that can happen to me. 

Before I read that statement, I would walk into the salle de bain and have three responses: 1. What a cruddy housekeeper I am. 2. Why are these people so messy? 3. What a cruddy cruddy housekeeper I am.

One day I walked into the bathroom with that statement fresh in my mind (having just read it in the fine book Zen and the Art of Happiness, by Chris Prentiss), and as my eyes raked over all the evidence of my cruddy housekeeping, I asked myself, "What if that's true? What if the condition of this bathroom is the best possible thing that could happen to me right now?" Light bulb! Eureka! and "Hey-ho, sing hey-ho, unto the green holly" (from As You Like It).

Aha! If the condition of the bathroom is the best possible thing that could happen to me, then there are bigger fish to fry than whether I am a cruddy housekeeper! I could be! But, what say we focus on something else! Like making a difference in the condition of this room every time I come in here? And, suddenly, (at least in light of eternity), my bathroom was devoid of its heavy layer of depressing dirt.

Here's how you can make the same thing happen in your own environment.

1. Read that statement. Be curious about whether it might be true.
2. Gather your important cleaning tools. Mine are purple rags from FlyLady , toothpicks, q-tips, and my eyes. I might also bring in a spray or two, but those are somewhat optional. (Except for the toilet, which does require a cleanser every time.)
3. Start.

That's all you have to do. The trick is to do it every day. As you clean the room, it will get cleaner and cleaner. When you are no longer focusing only on getting rid of the visible, surface, this-bugs-me stuff, you will start to see more details that can be tackled, especially little crevices and hard-to-get-to spaces.

And that concludes our lesson for today.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Power to the Peaceful!

I'm a regular contributor and user of I joined last April and have found it to be a great way to track health and fitness goals, and to find community with like-minded individuals. I look forward to the time each day when I play my turn and post my daily review. We have a great time on HealthMonth.

You can imagine I was completely taken aback a few days when I posted a comment on someone's daily review. HealthMonth is made up of both individuals and teams, and this person is not on my team, although I often comment on daily reviews posted by others. Her original daily review said the following:

I said I’d track my meals, not that I’d stay within reasonable caloric limits, because I knew that this month would be tough up until the 17th. Today I was glad I’d been realistic about that as I pretty much fell face-first into a bowl of chow mein. 

There are people from all walks of life and many, many countries on HealthMonth. Just from the way she worded her review, I figured she would be friendly, and just like most of the rest of us on HealthMonth, would welcome encouragement by someone on the same path working on fitness and nutrition. I could completely understand her trying to track meals, but having the realization that staying within caloric intake was something separate. So I posted a brief comment:
The tracking is reinforcing the habit. The portion control is reachable.

Now, I get emails all day long with responses to responses from HealthMonth. I look forward to them. But with this one, I felt like someone had shot a dart into my heart when I read her response:
You know, Susan Taylor, I’m glad you said that. Not because I think you’re making an ounce of sense — you just offered me a couple of platitudes without any supporting evidence and without any actual inquiry into my life, my weight history, my food history, or my caloric intake patterns. That’s thoroughly unimpressive and apparently almost entirely cognition-free. But it did lead me to recognize how similarly lazy and harebrained was my own decision to accept Fitbit’s idea of how many calories I should eat in a day.
I knew fairly soon after reading it that her comment was more about her than it was about me, but the comment still stung quite a bit.

I had to go to the movies that evening and lose myself in Anna Karenina and a small popcorn and let it all simmer on the back burner of my brain. I slept on it, and had two dreams which I recorded, and which, upon a short moment of reflection, were clearly related to the incident of having flames thrown at me with a double-barreled bazooka.

So far, this is a story that a million people can tell.

There seems to be plenty of harsh language, cynicism, and attacks happening on the internet day in and day out. The reason this story is even worth telling is because of the process that i went through, my reflection on it, and especially the contrast to how I would have handled it once upon a time. Perhaps my process will encourage someone else.

As I examined the dreams and considered what the parts of the dream represented about me, I felt my understanding deepening and growing. Suddenly, I remembered a coaching tool offered to me, known as WWG, by my excellent life coach, Dave Blomsterberg.  WWG consists of three questions:
1. What is working?
2. What am I grateful for?
3. What do I want?

As I started into answering those questions, with the deeper understanding, I felt my emotional state slowly begin to rise and clear out the depression that had snuck in. And with the deeper understanding, and the clear emotional state, I knew what I wanted to say in response to her.

Amazing that inspiration can come from the lowliest of places! Glad to be of service. As I have told my husband multiple times, all assumptions are bad assumptions. (I’d Better think about that- it might be another platitude.) My assumptions: My comments on HM would always be understood in the spirit they are offered — as a fellow human on a similar journey. (Bad assumption) That the fact that doing a habit reinforces it would be common sense to everyone like it is to me. (Bad assumption) That I don’t need to know everything about a person to comment on their review and have my comment received positively. (Bad assumption here, but possibly ok in some instances) Thanks for your honest response. It stung, but I learned some things from the experience. Enjoy your banjo and I do wish you satisfaction in your health month goals. Take care! 

I knew that I had responded in a way that expresses the best parts of me. Indeed, I received immediate positive feedback from other people who had witnessed this. I didn't know if she would respond, but oh how she did. With this:
“The spirit in which it was offered”? I saw somebody I don’t know from Eve come in and tell me I’m Doin’ It Rong with neither evidence or inquiry. If your intention was something else, then I believe this would be a good time to to reconsider whether intention is magic. In my social circles, what you did was massively impolite, and you would be not just stung but stomped flat. My people are a fisking people. And yes: I think it is a bad assumption to imagine that the only appropriate way to tackle a large, complex life change is by doing everything at once instead of making a series of gentle, lifestyle-appropriate incremental changes coupled with observation of how those incremental changes are working. (And it is a worse assumption to imagine that it’s a good idea to declare an assumption like that to be true without some serious behavioral-science evidence to back it up.) I think we’re done here. Have fun with Paleo. 

After this one, I decided not to respond anymore. I couldn't really understand just what had set her off, but clearly something had. So I was very surprised when I got another notification a few hours later from her which said:

Well, damn, now I feel like a mean dork: I read “reinforcing the habit” as reinforcing my current eating habits including the occasional habitual chow mein faceplant, not reinforcing the tracking habit. That’s because I do not yet have a tracking habit, so there is no habit there to reinforce. If you meant the latter, I apologize without reservation. (If you meant the former, I still think you’re high.) 

I don't know what made her see it differently. Maybe she asked someone else to give her feedback about her interpretation. Maybe what i said stuck with her. Maybe some little seed of something got the nourishment it needed to grow. I felt a lot of relief that she had posted again, with her recognizing that perhaps she misunderstood in the first place.

This was the time to let her know where i had been coming from in the first place, which I did:

whew. i am glad to hear that you reread my comment the way I meant it! I started having a health month rule months ago of exercising 6 days a week. While I was busy stuffing my face and gaining some weight back in November and December, I kept up with the exercising, even as I continued to eat. When I got back on track in January, I realized that continuing to exercise, as pitiful and feeble as it might have been, kept me working on developing the habit of exercising. That’s what was rolling around in my brain when I commented about tracking, and how doing the tracking would be a reinforcement of the tracking habit, even as it was developing. I could really relate to your comment about falling face-first into chow mein and it reminded me of trying to figure out the exercise bit and the food bit. GO, [name]! 

The last response in the series was hers, and her tone had clearly changed from one of harsh antagonism to friendly camaraderie (one of the things I wrote on my "what is working about HealthMonth" list, incidentally).

Oh, yay! And again, I am very sorry that I read your comment so totally wrong. Maybe one of my rules for next month ought to be “always get a second opinion from a level-headed individual before dusting off the flamethrower”. I’m a big fan of the pitiful and feeble attempt method, and I’ve had kind of the same experience. The P&FA method has helped me keep habits, plus it’s helped me keep in touch with a self-image as a person who does the thing, whether that thing is exercise or cooking or playing an instrument. I used to play a little game of thinking of old saws that contradict each other. My favorite: “Half a loaf is better than none” vs “Anything worth doing is worth doing well.” I’m a half-a-loaf girl, for sure. 

So, what? I remember many times in my life when I have felt that same sense of shame and disappointment when I thought I had let someone down, or been misunderstood. In those times, with my earliest religious teachings still in the forefront, I turned on the tapes reminding me that what I wanted was of no consequence, or worse, what I wanted was the wrong thing. That I shouldn't feel anything negative, and since I did, it was time to beat myself up soundly. That I was failing somehow.

The experience of asking myself questions and finding my internal state changing was powerful for me. I knew I was saying what I wanted to say, and even when she responded with another attack, I knew my original response had been just right. What a contrast to my "religious" thinking which rendered me pretty much useless to actually solve the problem.

Without the constant pressure of those early teachings pounding me against the rocks, I was able to use a resource that transformed my experience, both my internal state and my ability to respond to her.

WWG. What is working? What am I grateful for? What do I want? Of the many answers to those questions in different situations, there is one answer that applies to all three questions: WWG.