Floss One Tooth

One of the issues in any attempt at self-improvement and self-knowledge is the enormity of the task. I know it keeps me from doing anything because getting from Goal Point A to Goal Point B seems more like dog paddling across the Pacific Ocean.

 Affirmations don’t work for me because the Saboteurs in my brain call me a big fibber.

 Me: “I am a money magnet.”

My Brain: “Bullshit! You’re overdrawn and still have bills to pay.”

 Me: “I am organized and efficient with my time.”

My Brain: “Yeah Right! You have 10 boxes of papers from 5 years ago that you haven’t sorted, shredded, or filed YET! More bullshit.”

 Me: I am so happy and grateful that I make $100 a day in passive income from XYZ business venture.”

Brain: “See affirmation reply #1 –  It’s getting deep in here.”

 Me: “I am an ambitious and motivated entrepreneur.”

Brain: “In a pig’s eye. You know you are not motivated by money because you don’t believe you are an entrepreneur and can make it on your own.” More Bullshit and then some. . . .”

  In a few understated words, I am plagued with self-doubt. It keeps me from making any moves at all toward working on a business again, and it keeps me playing small.

 So I beat myself up and see the big picture fade away. And it makes me feel ashamed that someone with the potential people tell me I have could feel so obscure.

 Until a little inspiration comes along from an unexpected place. Zenhabits.com. I have no affiliation with them except to get the emails and prowl the unadorned site for bits of wisdom. And the inspiration that helps me is this:

 Floss one tooth.

 Don’t worry about all the teeth. If you hate to floss or just don’t, then set the goal to floss one tooth. Just one. Here’s the link: http://zenhabits.net/floss/

 Pretty soon you  floss two, then all the uppers. Then all the lowers and eventually every tooth.

 So part of this blog is my “floss one tooth” entry back into writing publically. Back into communicating in a larger way. Hopefully then into making a larger contribution.

 But this is my contribution for the day. If you have a large daunting project you don’t want to start, just floss one tooth — move the stuffed box into an open spot for further examination and sorting the top of the pile. Just one.

 Begin that book with one sentence. Start the blog with one paragraph.

 Since I posted once, some interesting things have happened. A bunch of people started following the blog. Now, some are probably just wanting backlinks for their own sales blog, but that’s okay. A follower from before the “Great Lapse” contacted me and I am greatly encouraged by her words. A new job opportunity opened up and I’ll apply with renewed vigor and optimism.

 From one post. The self-doubt lifts and the Sage within me begins to overtake the Saboteurs in my brain. It’s working.

 Just floss one tooth.

Crape Diem

I just realized why I hesitate to write. It isn’t that I doubt my ability to put words together in an effective or pleasing way. I know I can because people I respect have told me I can, and I get damn fine grades when I take classes in writing. I have been able to find the beauty in the English language and apply it strategically and well. Usually.

I hesitate not because I doubt my ability to write, but my ability to think. Lately I’ve been so preoccupied with the flimsy excuse the US has for politics these days, that I’ve become a one-note samba, a one-trick pony, a single-minded Republican agenda hater, and just as bigoted about defeating them as they are about defeating Obama. (If that’s their only agenda, and it appears to be, the Republican politicians are less appealing than the pond scum at a waste treatment plant.) See? I’m a bigot, too. We all are in some way, even if we hate bigots.

My brain has soaked up enough negativity that I don’t want to infect others with it. And yet, if enough crap gets thrown back at those who are creating this crushing Corporatocracy from enough people, maybe the country can begin to inch toward being more civil. Only with added things like a progressive tax structure (it brought us prosperity before-why not now?); equal rights for gays, women over 40, and other minorities; and heaven forbid, consideration of liberal ideas. In other words progression rather than regression.

I’ve called this blog The Progressive Grandma for a reason, but sometimes it seems to involve too much garbage. I do believe in the Power of One. I can make a difference, but being negative about it isn’t the way. The balance has been lost, but I don’t have to get lost in the resulting crap pile. Crape Diem or Crap o’ the Day, must evolve. Even crap gets to be fertilizer.

So many other things are more important. And more interesting. And more progressive. I want to be positive in my approach to living and communicating. So here again, I‘ll commit to being the essential Me. Mother to the best daughter ever. Grandmother to the cutest, smartest most interesting grandson ever. And more– artist, jeweler, bellydancer, cat lover, humanist, Ex-Mormon-pagan Buddhist (which leads to my paradoxical spiritual atheism), ADD, transplant to Colorado at age 60, Type O negative blood (maybe that’s where it comes from), nature-loving earth Empress.

So when I post political crap, I’ll try to offset it with some good news about progressive ideas or activities along with it. The news is not all bad. I’ll find the good stuff too. My Good Buddy Donovan/Sid/Delta Don/Donnifer started a 30-day blogging campaign a while back. This is my first post to do the same. It’s an outward declaration of my intent, and I’ll elaborate as I go. Mostly because I’m writing by the seat of my pants. It will improve.

And so it begins.

Talk Thursday – Breaking Habits

Few people really know me and I have not been terribly revealing about Me-self in this blog. The following is a cryptic and incomplete synopsis of who I am and some of the habits that inhabit Me.

Baby Boomer, single, female. Born and raised in Eastern Oregon town of about 10,000 people – one-third cowboys, one-third farmers, and one-third college professors – set in the lovely and enduring Blue Mountains. Moved to Colorado November 2009 to be near my daughter, but lived in Utah for too long a time prior. Mountains have become a Happy Habit.

As a result of the Utah experience and several unexpected awakenings, I escaped the Mormon Mind-Fuck. I am now an official Ex-Mormon happily learning to cultivate the habit of enjoying each moment without guilt as a student of Buddhism (which also means I’m an atheist). I hold that fundamentalist religion, including fundamentalist Christianity, is one of the most destructive forces on the planet.

Being addicted to being ADD (or maybe that’s a habit too), I have collected disparate interests, none of which I have developed to any high degree but some of which I’m pretty at in spite of everything: Music (classically trained in voice, piano, and the woodwinds), art, politics, bellydancing, writing (technical and copywriting), cats/pets, crafts, wire and gemstone jewelry, and a big one, spirituality without religion (humanism). I have a knack for setting people at ease. Probably some more I’ve forgotten, but we’ll catch up later.

My one child, a daughter, and young grandson are both are major influences and loves of my life. (Unlike birth in some Mormon familial herds, parenthood of one child is not a habit.) I moved here to be closer to them after her ex-husband killed himself and left her with a good deal more than her fair share to deal with. Plus I didn’t want to repeat my own mother’s pattern of being distant from beloved people. I love my daughter immensely and I want to engage as fully as possible with her and her son. So far, good habit.

Well educated: I have a BA degree in English with a minor in music, an MBA, and half a BA degree in art, and half a Master’s degree in technical writing and editing. I have also coached with Steve Slaunwhite and others, and have certified in business copywriting. In spite of that I’m also unemployed, carving an income out of thin air writing and editing resumes and business documentation. Oh yeah, and maybe blogging, writing website copy, investing, thinking positive thoughts, and professionally trolling for business – otherwise known as networking.

Some Boomers were activists and protested everything. (There was a lot to protest). Then they turned to conservatism, apparently in a form of misplaced guilt. I did precisely the opposite. I was fanatically apathetic during the 60’s, then later opened to being as liberal and progressive as others turned conservative. Which brings me to this blog.

I can’t seem to shake the politics, arts, music, crafts, spirituality blend of interests, so I’m not going to try. I used to apologize for being left of everything, but it’s part of who I am. I used to apologize for skipping around in my interests, but that’s who I am as well. You may find threads of all that here, and that’s okay. (Warning: sometimes inconsistent in posting, but I mean well.) Inconsistency is a habit I’m trying to break.

However, we are not our blogs nor are we our habits. Blogs are not obligations. Blogs are for whatever you need them to be. The very few people who read my blog will notice that I changed the appearance, and that is intentional. Blogs can be amplified, changed, broken, ignored, or dumped; ditto habits.

When asked as a teen what I wanted to be when I grew up, my answer was, “Eccentric.” It has become my Habit. However, unlike Inconsistency, I won’t even try to break it.

So be it.

Talk Thursday: Expectations

Item one – “Oh listen honey. Tomorrow we have to meet with Jack’s teacher about his math grades. Do you think there’s a problem?”

Item two – “Let’s head over to the condo in Malibu next week. I think there’s a festival going on in town that weekend and no bad weather is predicted. Bring that fancy super-lube and let’s make our own hurricane.”

Item three – “I will love you forever. Will you marry me?”

Item four – “That damned recital is this afternoon. If I forget the music like last time, I’m gonna puke right up there on stage.”

Item five – I’m sorry Ms. DeLightsome. Your supervisor downgraded the results of that project you worked on for the past three years. I’m afraid we’ll have to let you go. Please clear your desk immediately. Security is on the way to escort you out.”

Item six – “I’m feeling lucky. Let’s go to Vegas.”

I’ll bet for each item, you conjured up a mental picture loaded with emotions. Either because you lived through something similar, or you can imagine what they must be feeling. (Ah, lovely hurricanes.) You could empathize with the characters and could feel their expectations and you could forecast a good or a bad outcome. Or several outcomes. Or nightmares.

Expectations. They’re always about the future. Some say expectations and intent create reality individually and collectively. Others say that’s horse patooky. Who knows for sure. The only thing we really know is that the more intensely you feel the expectation, the more intensely you feel the resulting letdown or euphoria, depending . . .

Some say:
Expect nothing and you won’t be disappointed.
My expectations were low and they were met.
My expectations were too high and unrealistic.
My expectations were low and I was pleasantly surprised.

Some say don’t have expectations at all. But really it’s okay. Go ahead and have them, but realize they are only ideas about the future, which is just another idea since doesn’t exist yet. But our emotions exist. And our expectations, hopes, fears, and denial about the future exist. Expectations are risky, fun, scary, make for great conversations. When met, such joy.

It’s so hard to not have them; it’s so hard to not adopt the expectations of others. It’s hard to not blame someone, including yourself, if outcomes fall short of expectations. When the outcomes are just awful, it’s sometimes really hard to let go of the disappointment or the anger or the blame.

As a faux Buddhist, I’ve been exposed to some wise people saying lofty things, usually with great compassion. One of the wisest statements I have ever heard came from a French monk visiting the Kanzeon Zen center in Salt Lake City. I don’t even remember what the dharma talk was about, but one statement struck me as profound in its simplicity: That we should regard ourselves with tenderness.

He said we are inherently perfect, but don’t realize it because our striving and expectations hide it from our own vision. Emotions are just ideas, but we feel them intensely. Expectations are ideas, and sometimes we live by them too much, too unrealistically.

Regard yourself with tenderness. When all expectations disappoint as they so often do. When you feel anger, resentment, blame for self. When realization sets in that you’ve snookered yourself again. Or when the joy of success fades, remember that the humanity is still there. And greatness. Expect it, with tenderness.

Writers are . . .

My good buddy Don gave me a book for my birthday. It’s  The Right to Write, by Julia Cameron. I got off to a good start and we challenged each other to do the exercises. I’ve lapsed, seriously lapsed, since then. Was he trying to tell me something?  The second exercise (she cleverly reframes them as initiation tools) was to write positive things about what writers are. Here is the list I came up with:

Writers are mental miners who sort and pick through the folds of their minds for diamonds of ideas, thoughts, dreams, real or imagined memories. We descend into the pit, without the canary, and come back out dusty and somehow a little more solid. Sometimes we even come back up with gems.

 

Writers are thinkers; writers are dreamers. That’s why we writers need to get out of our heads to have the experiences that will morph into stories. We can’t cajole the characters to brazenly splay themselves onto the page without having done something a little brazen ourselves. Wouldn’t be fair. Or honest.

 

Writers make money pimping nouns and verbs. “Let my writing, tasty prose seduce you in exchange for dropping comparable monetary pleasure in my piggy bank. Writers often don’t realize that the piggy bank needn’t be small. It’s okay to make money word pimping. A lot of money. After all, it’s the world’s oldest profession.

 

Writers are business managers with varying degrees of aptitude and practical agility. We manage schedules, budgets, families, mundanity and sublimity. (Probably not real words, but who gives a damn. I’m in full pimp here.)

 

Writers are procrastinators, or maybe that’s just me.  Or maybe it’s a form of mental constipation. You know, you try and try and wait and wait and nothing comes out. What we sometimes need is cerebral X-Lax; Mind Metamucil takes too long.

 

Writers are framers.  We frame language, arguments, stories, characters, technical errata, excuses, delays, prompts, and literary grocery manifestos in our heads constantly. The inner monologue/dialogue/mob scene gets so noisy that it spills out onto a keyboard or gets inked in lines and margins and splashed on paper. We frame, explain, reframe, and refine until the words look right on the surface of our retinas and spaces feel right on the ridges of our bones.

 

Writers seek to be heard and often speak for those who can’t or won’t.

 

Writers are list makers. We make lists and sometimes the lists make us.

 

Writers are anyone and everyone with a pen and a desire to make a difference, even if it’s only to ourselves.

Where will I be in September?

I have been thinking about where I’ll be in a year. Will I still be here in Davis County Utah, a liberal, single, middle-aged woman in a sea of conservative families?  I’ve also been wondering what kind of work I’ll be doing. The writing position is not going to do it for me long term because I want to be more engaged in the community in something other than the military, and I want to make better money. I know I can.

 

I’ve been learning about how to help people avoid foreclosure on their mortgages. That situation is likely to get worse before it gets better, and opportunity awaits. I’ve also been hearing that there is a low cost housing shortage in the area that continues to grow. Another aspect of the situation is abandoned houses.  This morning it occurred to me that maybe there’s a way to get those abandoned houses into a pool of resources for families that need places to live. Maybe I could use my new knowledge of avoiding foreclosure to make abandoned houses available rather than rot on the lot or be used for manufacturing drugs while the banks sit on them and waits for someone to buy them.

 

It’s an idea I need to develop and maybe form a non-profit or small business to accomplish, but it’s the first thing that’s gotten me excited for a while. (Except for an idea about parallel universes I discussed with Don recently, but that another story.)

 

In another episode, my girlfriend Alex who lives in Sacramento has challenged me to change living locations before my birthday in August, and I’m beginning to believe that’s exactly what I should do. Ever since Jennifer and I visited Boulder, Colorado last year, I’ve been thinking about moving to that area. So I did something I haven’t done in a long time – pulled out the Tarot cards and asked a question.  Yeah, Tarot cards. Tarot of the Spirit to be exact.

 

Pulling cards to answer questions is random and the cards really only an indication of where you are at this moment. But, for me it’s often a source of a different perspective and makes me ask different questions, or makes me interpret the usual answers a different way. I really like working with Tarot and have thought it would be a good project to write The Tarot Poems around the themes in the cards. The Seeker was a stab at a poem about The Fool. Okay, now I’m off topic.

 

So I asked the question, “What would be the result if I move to Colorado this year?” fanned the cards and pulled three that seemed to jump out at me as I looked at and touched them.

In order I pulled Universe, Sister Fire, and The Tower. This was a little more powerful than I actually wanted. I almost felt like Don was sitting right next to me because it was easy to pull and really hit me with the result.  Anyway, here are the descriptions of the cards from the little book that came with them. I don’t have a full book yet, but I think I better get it.

 

Universe (Major arcane #21): Your whole world is in balance You move like a dancer with every movement perfectly timed. Every undertaking has paid off. Your endeavors have been successful. You are at the end of a long journey. The world is at your feet Celebrate the great work you have done! If you want to journey further, the time is right.

 

Sister Fire (like Princess of Wands in other suits): Accept all change and movement with a balanced perspective: equanimity. You feel enthusiasm, self-confidence, eloquence. You are moving within the natural flow of the universe and you are favored by all universal forces. When you feel in danger of fragmentation, turn within for the answer; meditate on the sun setting in the ocean—imagine this picture—and you will be soothed and regain touch with what is of real and lasting importance to you.

 

The Tower: A series of insights propels you to new awareness.  You have outgrown the old structure—physical and mental—you have built; you must destroy this structure or allow it to crumble in order to make room for the new structures you need. You may have to sacrifice certain things in order to grow. You may find yourself changing quite a bit. Search your heart for answer. We often have to give up before we can gain.

 

Reading the descriptions was a bit of a mind popper in view of my continued complacency and inability to make big changes. Still haven’t discontinued cable and so have wasted more days in front of the idiot box. Gotta get that done. Maybe TV has become an addiction because I’m alone too much. I don’t’ know, but probably.

 

And maybe what’s been brewing is about to come to a boil.

 

We’ll see.

TT: Joys of Autumn

 

I have been obsessing about how bad it will be if McCain and Palin are elected and the entire world’s economy collapses and all the wolves are plunked dead by crazy women in helicopters. I love wolves – the wolf is my totem animal guide. I have a strong vested interest in keeping the wolf population safe.And caribou, whales, polar bears, chipmunks, and scorpions, mollusks, badgers, skunks, and eagles. . .  And all their relatives.

 

But this political dithering and distressing is counterproductive. That which receives attention is what persists. Or is it what you resist, persists. Either way, obsessing about McGramps and Sarah of the Pale Inn will not bring about peace of mind, world peace, or a piece of pie. Even if they are elected, we will survive. I will survive. Who knows, maybe I’ll even do better than that. Stuff will change, but it will be an adventure. Maybe I’ll be in New Zealand, but oh well…

 

Back to the story. I have noticed that I have been less and less able to write for fun, think of lighthearted and colorful delights, and participate in artistic endeavors. My life has become a manifestation of working at home, watching poly-ticks and enjoying very little play.

 That’s no way to be. Especially since I am intriguingly middle-aged, energetic, healthy, attractive, artistic, talented, and incredibly horny.

 NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO BE ISOLATED! Double especially since I’m still looking for a job.

 

So I know I must shake it off and more fully engage in the beauty around me. Including the colors, smells, and crispness of my favorite season – Autumn.

 

Autumn is the year’s evening, burnished, rich, sunset-tinged.

Our reward for enduring summer.

 

Practical sounds of school bus and youthful voices.

Cats bristling new thick fur and languishing on down comforters.

Baby quail have grown their black bobble head feathers,

Brown bellies spotted with white.

When did they learn to run so fast?

 

It is Nature’s full, heavy sensuality. Joyous Harvest, reaping, readying.

Earth scent reminiscent of summer grass, freshly crisp, yielding, nurturing, cooling.

Snap of apples, crackling fire, sweet wood smoke.

I see your words in the evening air. Your breath has substance, weight.   

 

Deep, lingering conversations over savory chowder and warm bread.

The day’s story, a gentle touch, laughter.

Crystal seduction of burgundy wine and white cake.

Welcome the night, warm flannel sheets, candlelight,

and the fulfillment of sly, suggestive glances.

 

Autumn’s promise – we will awaken content and complete

            When Spring’s sun rises again.

 

 

The bright spot in today’s news:

I read in news article today that the Fish and Wildlife Commission has placed wolves back on the endangered species list because last summer hunters slaughtered about 10% of the wolf population. Sorry Sarah, you’ll have to find some other wild thing to shoot with your nifty automatic weapons. Or better yet, just cut it the Hell out!)