Do What You Can… (The Evolution of Ideas.)

21 Jul

yulim:

I am always telling myself: when you can – work. This means, use any opportunity to work, whatever work is at that time: things you need to do for your job, for your home, for your family, for your relationships, for yourself. Sometimes, it is very, very difficult to work. There are times in life when movement and progression are extremely limited. That’s why it’s so important not to waste any opportunities. Circumstances will rarely be optimal, but they are often enabling – to an extent. So work, whenever you can. Be active. Continue striving to achieve the things that matter to you. Do what you can, with what you have, from where you are.

Originally posted on JamesRadcliffe.com:

There is an idea, embodied in a quote that I recently read, which to my mind, is one of the most important and vital master keys to: living a life of joyeous productivity and achievement unhindered by unnecessary bullshit or false constraint.

It is an idea which has been battle tested by every single person throughout the whole of history, who has ever accomplished anything of significance.

It is fully timeless.  It is the internal foundation and impetus for all action.  It has been, and continues to be, of the greatest value in my own life.

Would you like to know what it is?…

View original 774 more words

Good job!!!

19 Jul

Good-job

I’ve been studying this summer, very intensely, which is why I haven’t been writing lately. All in all, I can say that things are going rather well.

I ended it with B, the sensitive yet macho Argentinian broker I’d been seeing for the past three months. It just didn’t seem like it could go anywhere, and as much as I liked the notion of living for now (and as much as the sex was spectacular), it’s just not me to invest emotionally in something that I know in my heart has no future. I feel good about ending it. I mean, it sucked breaking up with him. And I was a terrible coward and did it in a very long WhatsApp conversation. But it was a good thing ending it. And he actually seemed to take it relatively well. I had been sending signals. He’s a smart sensitive guy, he saw it coming.

The main thing that was difficult about this breakup, was the fact that he really cared about me. He thought I was beautiful and smart and fun and a good mom. I got loads of affirmation from him on a daily basis. And I realized suddenly how difficult it was for me to give this up. It’s the best thing in the world to feel loved, isn’t it? But there was more to it.

In the teacher-training program I’ve been taking this summer, we’ve been talking about positive reinforcement. Everyone’s always talking about the importance of giving children constant positive feedback. In my 6 years of teaching, this is something I’ve always made a point of doing, and have been very good at. I give a lot of positive reinforcement to my students, as much of it as possible, and never empty compliments – but rather actual concrete feedback about things they’ve done.

Well, I’ve been reading my Maria Montessori, and apparently, according to her, us adults basically just have to shut up. Let the children do whatever it is they feel compelled to do, to follow their instincts, their “inner guide” that will lead them to meaningful learning, without needing to be taught, without needing us to tell them how well they’re doing. If we constantly give them feedback for their work, how will they ever learn to give feedback to themselves? Huh. Good point.

Most of my life I was utterly unable of giving any feedback to myself. Well, that’s not entirely true. I was horrible to myself. I was always criticizing and scolding myself for not being thin enough, pretty enough, quick enough, knowledgeable enough, fun enough and so on and so forth… It took a baby and a painful breakup to get me to finally acknowledge my own strength. To finally be able to tell myself: Good job!

I still don’t do it often enough. It’s still super difficult. And I yearn, constantly for the approval of others. But I’m learning. And maybe I’ll try to hold back a bit on the positive reinforcement with my students this year. And maybe next time my son builds a spectacular Lego tower and admires it in awe, I’ll just smile, and let him clap for himself and tell himself, with his limited vocabulary, how awesome he is.

Don’t Stop Moving

28 May

empty box

My life is overflowing with stuff that needs to be done. I’m stretching myself to get to the end of each month and to make it there healthy, mind and body. There’s my work, and there’s my Boy, and there’s taking care of the house, and there’s trying to date or have a social life of some kind. I think I’m doing an OK job. But it’s taking its toll on me without a doubt. I push myself to the point of over exhaustion. Then I stop, I take a couple of hours to myself and I discover that I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to be. I feel anxious, edgy, uncomfortable just sitting down. It makes me sad. It opens up that giant “alone” box I have locked up in my chest. The empty one. The one that used to be marked “family” and is now marked “what if”.

I try to relax and watch a silly TV show. It doesn’t work. I try to blog about it. It doesn’t work. I post something on Facebook and await LIKEs. It doesn’t work. So I get up and start moving again. The house needs to be cleaned. My Boy’s birthday is coming up. I need to buy paper plates. I haven’t payed the bills yet. I have a parent teacher conference tonight. I better go get ready.

I know that as long as I don’t stop moving, everyting will be fine.

He’s Here and He’s Good to Me

24 May

There’s a new man in my life. Unexpected, it seems to me, predictable as hell if you ask my friend M.

M says I don’t know how to do casual, and she’s probably right. Here’s something I realized recently: I started dating B slightly under two months ago, and from the start anyone who asked me about him received the same answer: It’s fun, but it’s not going anywhere. B is nothing like me. We are drastically different in our occupations, interests, preferences, lifestyles, our mother tongues, our cultures, in the way we manage our interpersonal relationships.

Oddly enough though we are eerily alike in spirit. We share similar personal experiences. We’ve been hurt in similar ways. We have similar self-constraints. We’ve overcome similar obstacles. We take pride in our (sometimes overly) high self-awareness. We both basically think we know everything there is to know about ourselves and it takes us by surprise if someone manages to point out something we’ve overlooked.

And there is another striking similarity: We are both fearless. I don’t mean that we know no fear. At least for me, fear is an emotion I have gotten to know rather closely these past two years. But I don’t let it run my life, anymore at least. On the contrary, I am often aware that if something scares me to death, it may be just what I need.

So last night, when I said ‘I love you’, and I felt like I might faint, I knew it was probably a good thing. I could feel myself starting to think fast. What the hell am I doing? I hardly know this guy. He’s probably going to hurt me. Anyway, I’m not looking for a serious relationship now (I bet M will laugh as she reads this).  Why can’t I be a little less impulsive? Why can’t I keep my mouth shut? I bet he’s not going to say it back.

He did, though, about fifteen minutes later.

As we lay in bed hugging after a session of mind-blowing post-I-love-you sex, I remembered suddenly that I was sure things with SG would be casual. I had no intention of falling in love with him.  But what’s even more interesting is what I remembered next. Meeting my friends after a 4th date with BD, nearly 15 years ago. Describing our relationship as a ‘casual-summer-fling’. Telling my friends we were going to take things slow.

So M may be right. I guess I don’t do casual. I guess I’m easy to fall in love. I don’t know if that makes me easy, or overly accepting. Is it odd that the first guy who hit on me after my breakup, became probably the greatest love of my life? That it was more difficult to overcome my breakup with him than with my husband, father of my son? That thinking about him still triggers emotions that I haven’t felt towards BD in years? And is it odd that as soon as I was ready to start something new, the first man I dated, that I intended to lure into bed after months of unbearable loneliness, was able to provoke similar emotions in me? Being as different as he is from me? With all the little things about him that I find almost intolerable? His dog-eat-dog profession? His work stories that make me cringe? His incomprehensible taste in music? His freezer, crammed with frozen pizzas and low quality non-dairy ice cream?

But there we were last night. Laughing about something in bed. It’s so nice to just laugh sometimes. I do that a lot with him. He asks in Spanish how I feel, and I answer ‘bien’ and he asks me that every so often when we’re together, because he really wants to know. He always wants to know how I feel. He respects my boundaries: the things I cannot do, or promise, or say. He remembers what I like and dislike, and it matters to him. He’s here. He’s good to me. So I feel entitled to love him, even if it means nothing more than stating what he makes me feel.

I guess it’s true, I may not be capable of casual. I may be prone to falling in love. But am I capable of just being? With someone who is kind to me? With someone who is there?

 

 

Just Being

30 Apr

kale

Last night I was sitting on my turquoise sofa, in my tiny living room, the front door open and a cool breaze coming in through the screen door. I was breathing heavily and dripping sweat from my run, and on the coffee table before me a big cardbord box of organic veggies that had just been delivered awaited me. I took a deep breath, and for the first time in months I felt happy and healthy.

This move is probably one of the best things I have ever done for myself. I love my new home. It’s bright and cheerful, I take good care of the little garden, I’m actually attempting to grow some herbs and veggies. I feel at home here. It’s suddenly clear to me how detached I felt in my old apartment, and I lived there for almost four years. It’s incredible how often in my life I have overlooked opportunities for change, how many times I told myself that it would be better to just stay where I was. But the last two years have been so dramatically life changing, that sometimes I look in the mirror and I feel like I hardly recognize myself.

I stopped putting other people’s needs before mine. I began to be kind to myself.

I stopped thinking I wasn’t attractive. I learned to love my body.

I stopped saying no to things, without really understanding why. I opened myself up to new possibilities.

I stopped being afraid of many, many things. I began to be brave.

I stopped being so grave in my desicion making. I started to take things more lightly.

I stopped worrying about what other people thought of me. I learned to listen more to myself and less to others.

I stopped shutting unpleasant thougts away in a little drawer at the back of my mind. I began dealing with things that are painful.

I stopped feeling guilty for being happy. I began feeling healthy.

I stopped trying to plan everything. I began living a little more for now. This new home that my son and I live in, it’s ours. Sure we rent it. Sure we might have to move at some point. But it’s ours for now, and it’s wonderful to feel that we belong here. I love walking around the house naked when I come out of the shower. I love discovering a new veggie supplier and cooking Kale for the first time in my life (yum btw). I love watching Castle on my laptop in bed, or sipping tea on my porchswing. And I love inviting that guy I recently met into my bed on my night off and not worrying about where it’s going or what it means.

Just being is so damn good for us, isn’t it? I wonder why I don’t do it more often.

 

 

It’s a New Dawn, It’s a New Day (It’s a New House, It’s a New Fling)

14 Apr

porch swing

Imagine this: I’m in my 2001 Mazda, windows rolled down, on the highway, and this is blasting on the radio: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zu4kQRnz75E

Chewing gum and blowing bubbles.

Nodding my head like it’s 1992 and I’m Mike Myers.

It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day. Ten days ago, I left my city apartment, with the chattering neighbors, and the stuffy stairwell, and the streets crammed with buildings, traffic lights and garbage cans, and moved into a quiet suburban neighborhood, where morning sounds are birds chirping, coffee dripping and children playing. After a lengthy search and almost having given up on the idea several times, I finally found a cute little house with an itty bitty garden and a more than decent landlady.

I moved!

I packed, I sorted out books and CD’s and other accumulated possessions into His and Mine boxes. There’s nothing in my new house that isn’t mine. No forgotten pair of men’s underwear intruding on my drawers. No How to Become Rich inspicrapical books that I’ll never read on my book shelves. It’s all me and my boy.

Third morning in my apartment, my Boy slept over at his dad’s. I opened my eyes and looked around the room. I did not feel disoriented, I felt content (in more ways than one). The light coming through the windows, and the quiet of the empty house were soothing and comforting. The coffee I shared with a friend in the sunlit garden and the stories that were told between gulps made me feel free… Stories about the date, first one since Skating Guy, stories about after the date, stories about 5 am goodbyes.

God, I needed that. The second he laid his hands on me (finally, I had been signaling for most of the evening) my body turned to butter as I blissfully parted with analysis and judgment and allowed myself to sink into the sweet oblivion of arms and legs, and lips and tongues and necks, and backs, and other parts.

That was last week. Then there was unpacking. I pretty much deserve a medal for having the house completely unpacked and organized in 7 days. Including, obviously, a PORCH SWING! Including sitting on that porch swing, hugging my knees, with a nice cup of herbal tea. Happy place.

Ever since I can remember, this has almost always been the case: If I wanted something so badly, that I could literally envision it in my head, that I was able to make myself believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that it would come true – it did. I’ve seen this picture in my head so many times before. And here it is materialized.

The highway, the car, the music, parking under a tree that will cover my already dirty car with a sea of dry leaves before morning. The radio switched off, the windows rolled up, the car door shut, the green gate opened, and here I am, in my little haven, with the birds chirping, laundry drying on the line and my son’s toys left outside on the grass.

I made this for myself. And I’m almost as proud of that as I am of the gorgeous little boy I get to share this with.

Happy International Woman’s Day to a Me Still Craving Male Affirmation

8 Mar

I’m having such a blah day. The landlord to that house I want isn’t sending me the contract and I’m beginning to worry there might be something fishy going on there. I’m dying to move, but I need to let the daycare know what’s up in two days, and I’m not sure things will be final by then, or ever…

To make things worse my Boy is sick again, for the fourth time this month. High fever, not planning on going to daycare tomorrow. So mommy has to miss work, AGAIN.

And then there’s the other thing. It’s no secret that one of our most basic needs as human beings is to be touched, and it’s been really long. This sex deprivation is making me agitated in an already agitating situation. Bad for my health. And there’s not much I can do about it. I have no life, it’s all work and motherhood, and by the time I get a night off, I’m usually too tired to do anything. Then I finally get a break and my boy is healthy for an entire week, and he goes to his dad, and I go out drinking and meet a creepy weirdo who doesn’t get a hint.

My ego has really taking a blow lately. I feel unattractive, unsuccessful. Even if rationally I know I’m doing well, I feel like a failure nonetheless. And in this pool of self-pity that I’ve sort of let myself sink into today, there seems to be only one thing that can drag me out: male attention. Affirmation that does not come from within. I just really need someone to think that I’m cool right now, and that someone has to have a penis and a nice smile.

I’ve come a long way this year, but here’s something that hasn’t changed a bit: I still don’t think I’m worth a dime if I’m not constantly told I am by others.

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