Tag Archives: self-improvement

A new year- thoughts on the future


dark-winter-night-image,1366x768,54916I picked up a book that I had started reading a few months ago and put down and this is the quote that jumped out at me:


“So whatever you do, just do it, without expecting anyone’s help. Don’t spoil your effort by seeking for shelter. Protect your-self and grow upright to the sky; that is all.” Shunryu Suzuki- Not always so


It was like slap in the face…the good kind. After I got over the hurt from two years ago, I wanted to escape and after that I wanted someone to fill the hole in my heart. I have been on the spiritual path and through enough therapy to know that this is my work to do but the illusion that another person could help and heal that emptiness is so seductive.

I was certain that I was leaving this town as soon as I could. That this place was nothing more than a lay over to heal my wounds and then move on to the promised land…wherever that might be. But it didn’t happen that way, not because there were not opportunities or because I didn’t try (tip to Portland) but my heart would not buy it.

Then I embarked on the dating distraction. This was highly entertaining but there came a moment when I realized that  I was not willing to risk anything so I stopped pretending. And then I met someone. Of course being me it had to be the most complicated and impossible person to be with. I came to realize slowing that was a large part of the attraction. Don’t get me wrong he had lots of other wonderful qualities but the nature of the whole situation suited my melancholy nature far too well. And in the end it proved to be the impossible situation I was seeking. Minus two points for walking into fire knowingly.

I know your thinking (she’s at it again rambling about god knows what again) but when I read that quote this morning and it was like something broke loose inside me. All this time I have wanted to survive, over come, forget, start over but I never loved myself enough to protect myself.  I put up walls and shut people out but that was only to avoid pain it was not to protect myself.

When I think about how I would begin to do that it seems hard. I am in danger from no one but myself and in many ways it is harder to counter than someone hitting me. My boss complimented me the other day and I shifted the credit to my team and she said “Amanda, take a little credit for your work.” It is so engrained to see myself as pass-able at best that I’m not sure where to begin pause the voices in my head, to protect myself from me.

But…I am going to try. Try to love my life because its mine, just the way it is. This holiday season was particularly hard, mostly because I didn’t make the effort to lie for other people’s comfort. When they asked if I was alone I said yes. When they asked if I was seeing my family I said no. When they asked if I was okay/ happy I mostly told the truth and said I didn’t know. If I had lied they would have gone on their blissful holiday way for the most part. But by telling the truth it gave me the opportunity to look at my feelings and choices. It hurt but it was honest.

As I go forward into this new year, I hope to be kinder and more forgiving to myself. I think it is a lesson I will be learning my whole life: how to love me.




What I left behind: finding my bliss


I have realized that over the past 6 months or so I have done a lot of surviving and not a lot of living. I wish that I could say that it was necessary but I’m awake enough to realize that a good bit of it is hiding. So the question is what do I do about it?

I know that I could continue to live this life and get by but that is not what I want. I miss the passion in my life about work and creativity. I miss being bold and going places and doing things because I want to with or with out people.

I have used the excuse too long that I don’t know anything about this town or the surrounding area.  All it takes to remedy that is gas and the GPS. I have come to realize that I am afraid to feel. Being an emotional person most of my life this feels odd but it is the only explanation for many of the things I have let happen.

I don’t “make” anything right now. I love photography and haven’t taken picture in month, it has been even longer since I picked up a pencil or a paint brush. I have written but it’s so easy to escape feelings in the esoteric meanings of words. It is not so easy to evade color, beauty or the memories linked to smell. Once I came to this realization I was shocked that I have spent months choosing not to feel.

That is not to say that I haven’t ranted or cried but I feel something deeper lurking just beyond the emotions I know I cn control. It makes me stop conversations and stay out of my study. I know that I need to address it and love myself through it but I seem to chicken out every time I feel it coming to the surface. I don’t want to be one of those people who hides in other words and yet here I am, reading books and watching tv instead of engaging myself.

So how do I break the pattern? How do I reach out to myself in a way that feels safe? By making a list.

Things to do this weekend and next week:

  1. Cook all of my own food- on some very base level this is taking care of me.
  2. TV no more that 1 hr per day- I need to play in the real word
  3. Wake up every day @ 7am and use that hour doing something that is meaningful to me (blogging, praying, exercising)
  4. Go outside!!! Even just a walk down the st.
  5. Find a place in town that I want to go to and go there.
  6. Make a list of all my unfinished art projects and work on one.
  7. Take my camera anywhere and use it.

Some of you may wonder “what is the point in a list if you don’t do those things?”  Well for me getting my thoughts together in some form and out of my head always helps. Also having a record so when I find myself in those unhappy prone to numbness moments there is a plan.

I want to thank those of you who have been encouraging me to be less of a victim and more of a survivor. Thank you for you words directly and through your writing. I know that I will get my head out of the sand and rediscover what makes my life amazing.

Going back to school: life changes 101


Where to begin…for the first time in the better part of a year I am starting to feel like myself again. I have my own place, stable employment and I’m not an emotional train wreck. So where do I go from here? I have had several interesting conversations in the last month or so that have me re-thinking “The Plan.”

To begin with I should state that “The Plan” has already had several revisions and was crafted in a time of utter confusion and emotional instability- hence the need for revisions. I started with something along the lines of “get the hell out of dodge!” this early stage had notions of running as far to the other coast as my little Neon would take me. Thank God my best friend made me sleep on that one.

Then it moved on to “Survive, we must keep safe.”  So I focused on my job but in my semi crazy state any change made me even more neurotic and so I moved again. To a place with a little more space and a lot more issues. Finally, I reached “Remember how to breathe.” This actually being the most challenging phase of the transition to reclaiming my life. Without the distractions of pain and survival to take up my waking thoughts and am now faced with the wonderful question of “What do “I” want to do with my life?”

The obvious answer would be to double my salary and go back to teaching. But after five minuets of logical thought I know that is not the answer. Because the truth is that I loved my students more than I loved my subject or teaching itself.  And I know that I cannot go back to throwing myself  into a life that is empty or diminishing. So I am left to ponder what kind of life/do I want?

In my head I can see a new path for myself and at the same time I have a lot of nagging voices saying things like “You went to school for five years to throw it all away? You want to go to night/correspondence school? isn’t that just a rip off?” But deep in my heart I know that I cannot go back to teaching and I cannot stay where I am either. My life here is good but it is only a stepping stone to real health and stability in my life. And I realize that I could pack up and move across the US and probably be okay now but I would be doing something that I don’t love in the name of money and I am not that kind of person.

I’m not saying that I won’t work a job I don’t “love,” I’m saying that I will not dedicated more than a year of my life to it if there is not an end goal and I think that is what I have finally found. So I’m going back to school to be a Vet Assistant. Other than teenagers my other great life long passion a has been animals. In fact I almost went to college for zoo keeping.

I know if you have been reading my old blogs you’re thinking “wasn’t she writing a book?” and I was and have. But I also realize that I have to eat, and the writing will always be there waiting for me. I know the “real” writer’s are rolling their eyes and rightly so. I am not a real writer. I am a person who loves stories. Real writers write when there is no bread. Get up and do it every day and don’t wait for inspiration and that is not me. All I will say in my defense is that the birth of my would be novel is very much rooted in the death of my marriage and for now they are too closely bound.

There are many things that I am just awakening to. I took my first pictures in months of my bran new niece. It felt good to do something creative but I feel myself holding back. I know I am afraid to open the door. Anyone who works in a creative way knows that whether you mean it too or not your life ends up on the page, canvas or plate. It is the nature of creativity and there is a part of my the is still scared.

This is step one: imagine a different life. I was talking with a friend when I realized in some small way I already have done this. When I used to sit in my best-friends house crippled by a broken heart I would dream about the place I knew I would one day have. I saw an open room with lots of light a large window and I felt happy there. The other day I realized that I was already there. Sitting in my living room with the sliding glass door open to the balcony. Light streamed in on my two cats blissing out. I smiled looking at the tree just beyond and realized I was home. That place I had dreamed about finding was here.

Now I have to dream a bigger dream, one where I’m not just safe and stable: one where I am creative and passionate, one where I am brave and bold and not afraid to try again and again because I and worth it. My dreams are worth it and I still have lots and lots of time to be and do what-ever I decide. I’m about to be 32 and I am starting over- Yay me!!!

ALANIS MORISSETTE: that I would be good


“That I Would Be Good”

that I would be good even if I did nothing
that I would be good even if I got the thumbs down
that I would be good if I got and stayed sick
that I would be good even if I gained ten pounds

that I would be fine even if I went bankrupt
that I would be good if I lost my hair and my youth
that I would be great if I was no longer queen
that I would be grand if I was not all knowing

that I would be loved even when I numb myself
that I would be good even when I am overwhelmed
that I would be loved even when I was fuming
that I would be good even if I was clingy

that I would be good even if I lost sanity
that I would be good
whether with or without you



Two days ago I work up with a achie ear. I am not prone to issues with my ears so I thought of all the “other” things it could be. But by the end of the day we were swinging by the drug store on the way home from work to pick up something which helped me to sleep but it came back the next day.

So Yesterday I went to the Dr after work and he said I dont’ have an ear infection, I have lock-jaw (TMJ) and I’m clenching my teeth too hard at night. I told him that my teeth also hurt and that I was going to the dentist soon.

Why- you ask- am telling you about my teeth? It made me think about my approach to sickness in general. In this case I went outside the pattern and went to the Dr before I was in lots of pain and stopped at moderate pain. I have often thought about how I handle or not, begin sick.

When I was a child I don’t ever remember going to the Dr. I did go to the ER once but then I didn’t go to the dentist either. So I have a small life time of suck it up and deal . Which is not the best option.I have spent most of my life say things like “I’m not sick I just have allergies” this sis my mother coming straight out of my mouth. She does have lots of allergies but I don’t so very small cold, irritated throat gets lumped into the “no so serious stop whining about it” pile. And the funny thing is, I’m not a whiner any way. I hate going on about my own crap because a- I’ve heard it before and b- I’m sure no on else wants to hear about it either. I never would have had surgery on my knee if my husband had not looked at me hobbling around and said “that’s not right.”

In the broader scheme of my life I think this lack of  care for my basic needs fed into a lot of other issues that I gathered along the way.  I wonder why some of us end up feeling as if caring for our selves is wrong or should be put off? I get the obvious fear of bills but the more logical part of me wonders  is it better to put it off and end up in the ER instead of a 50$ DR’s visit? How much is our health and well-being really worth?

I was encouraged though that I did go to the Dr sooner and I did it because I wanted to be good to me. So there’s a little growth going on. Over the years I have worked hard to learn what it means to love me out side of anything else. So here’ s to me learning to be kind because it’s the right thing to do not just a medical necessity.

New Years Resolutions


When I think back about all the resolutions I have made over the years it is almost laughable to recall simple selfish ones like: weight loss, pet projects, home improvements and the like. When I think about the year to come those things don’t seem so important or dire. Instead my thoughts turn to how I want to “feel” in the coming year or who I want to “be.” These things seem to rank so much higher on the important list than meeting some societal self-imposed ideal of myself.

So who do I want to be? And how do I want to feel? Good questions, not so easy answers. I want to be the person who loves what they do, is a blessing to others and knows that each day they are doing something that makes the world a little better. I want to be the kind of person who truly loves them-self, not just on the good days but every day. I want to be the kind of person who believes in their dreams enough that they are not easily discouraged. I want to be the kind of person who believes they deserve to be loved just the way they are.

I want to feel healthier: in my mind, body and spirit. I want to trust myself and let that confidence radiate through all I do. I want to let go of the fear that keeps me from expressing how much I love the people in my life. I want such a deep connection with my faith that it is not shaken when my life is.  I want to pursue those things that make me feel alive and vibrant. I want to be okay with me just the way I am and surround myself with people who affirm this in my life.

And all this means….What? I want less fear and more love. The older I get these are the two gifts I ask of myself and others. They have become a guiding light when I think about why I am choosing to do something or am letting something happen in my life. Even if I cannot control the situations in my life, I can control how I choose to react to things, if I stay in hurtful situations and if I demand respect for myself. I have not totally learned these lessons but I know that with each year that passes I get stronger and I love myself more.

So this is my hope foe 2011:

I see myself at peace: with my relationships, my career and my understanding of God and my relationship to Him.

I see myself open to: creativity, change, love and my own power and magnificence.

I see myself as the child of light that I was created to be.

Namaste, so be it.

Bran new teeth


When I started the journey of new teeth, they looked like this (right). I know they were not “that” bad and had it not been for my husband suggesting that I get braces (at 30) I never would have done it. His reasons had noting to do with mine but in a way got to the heart of it.

He said he noticed that when I used to laugh I would cover my mouth. He asked it that was because I was embarrassed by my teeth. I had been doing it so long that it took him noticing to help me see I had been unhappy with my teeth.

I can not tell you how much my high school students ( I was teaching at the time) loved that I was getting braces. They regaled me with stories of pain and sadistic orthodontists but the honest ones said it sucked but was totally do-able.

Fortunately I was blessed to find a wonderful orthodontist named Dr. Beksih. I can honestly say that it was a pleasure to be his patient and I would definitely take any child I had to him if I still lived in he area or had an adult friend who was thinking about getting braces. One illustration: I saw a young man, maybe 14 or so seemingly wandering out of his chair and through the treatment room. One of the assistants noticed that I was watching him and told me that he had autism and Dr. Bekish let him get up periodically to help manage his anxiety. I knew then that if he would take on a special case like that, that he was the kind of doctor that I was looking for.

Back to the teeth. It is hard to say what was the “most” painful or difficult part. I am the kind of person who lets things get forgotten once they are over and that is what most of my experience with braces was like. Brief moments of discomfort and pain but mostly do-able as my students said.

That is not to imply that I didn’t have to do soft foods for a time or take pain meds, I did but in the grand scheme of things it wasn’t bad.

My original diagnosis was two years of treatment for a misaligned bite and crooked teeth. I fortunately did not have an over or under bite or have to have teeth pulled. I chose to go with the metal brackets because he would have had to pull teeth to do the clear ones and that did not make sense to me, I’m just not that vain.

A few of the not so fun moments were things like having to talk all day (Thank God for dental wax) and trying to floss around my braces. I’m not sure I ever really got the hang of that.

From the beginning I was working the positive thoughts on my braces, affirming that they would come off sooner than expected and that my treatment would go easy. After the first three months my doctor started making comments like “wow, I can’t believe you’ve only had those on for 3 months, it’s like your teeth wanted to move.”

I got my braces off this week after eleven months of treatment = less than a year. This is definitely in part to having a great doctor but also shows the power of positive thought and intention. Now I have a whole new set of things to do. Like my retainers.

I kinda feel like an old lady when I wash them in mouth wash and scrub them with my tooth-brush but what else is there to do? Can’t leave them all funky. All I have left to do is wear the top one all the time for six months and both at night. Then the top at night for the rest of my life, if I want my teeth to stay where they are. I have a permanent retainer in the bottom so the front six teeth can’t move.

So What have I learned about myself thought this process? Good question.

1-I am worth it. I am worth the money, time and commitment to be healthy and happy with my self and my smile.

2-There is no substitute for your own desire and dedication to making any process the best and most positive it can be. What you think and feel about it really does matter and can make it easy or hard.

3-Work with people who have the attitude you want to have too. They are out there and it is worth the time to find them.

4-It may not always be something as big a teeth but it is worth the time to figure out how to love ourselves more and be good to our bodies and minds.

I am so happy that my husband encouraged me to do this for myself. I don’t think braces changed who I am as  person or that I will be more beautiful or attractive because of it but I do know that when I hear something really funny and laugh out loud I won’t cover my smile any more.

So if your young and hating your braces, know that one day they’ll be off and I know that you’ll be glad you didn’t have to pay for them. If your older like me, I know the cost is daunting but think about the little things that might change if you loved you a little more instead of hiding a part of yourself.