Hoarding...

Jun. 6th, 2017 09:27 am
labelleizzy: (dealing with demons)
My sister in law suffers from something I still fight against, which is hoarding.

She said, "I sort and organize but the actual removal of stuff... is so hard to get my mind around why I have such attachments."

I said, "I can only speak of myself but I had attachments because I had fear. Fear of forgetting, so I kept all the papers commemorating things I went to, movies and shows and concerts I saw. I kept all the birthday cards, even from my childhood, and people I didn't remember anymore, because at one point, someone made the effort to give me a card, and that was meaningful to me then."

I didn't feel loved. I didn't feel safe or secure. I came to an early conclusion (younger than 10) that "stuff was supposed to make you happy" because that's what they said all the time on TV? And back then I thought they weren't allowed to lie to us on TV.

It took me a long time to realize that what I was and what I wanted, was different than what the TV or my family or stories or magazines wanted me to be and want. And to put aside those messages that weren't ME.

I was well past 30, not gonna lie.

I started by reading more about how other people had gotten organized, had purged their clutter.
Clutter's Last Stand.
The Flylady's mailing list and website.
SARK'S concept of "micromovements" to get started.
Clear Your Clutter With Feng Shui.

And I realized that thoughts and feelings and attitudes were clutter too, frequently. (*)

Is it useful? Do I love it?

William Morris, the English designer, said, "have nothing in your home which you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful."

I try to live by that one.

I don't yell at myself or best myself up anymore. My self chastisement is gentle, infrequent, and frequently full of humor. Blaming myself for the past, or for my mistakes, was a toxic cycle that helped NOTHING. Just bogged me down in misery.

I didn't want to be miserable. I started making different choices.

What I wanted was for things to be simpler, and to be happier. So I worked on those things, like I work on a rosebush. If something's dead, you cut it off. If the branches are too crowded, or the flowers are, you make choices to maximize beauty, health, and growth, and you cut away the rest and discard it.

But sometimes the rosebush isn't flourishing, and it doesn't need to be cut back, cut down. Parts of our life can be like that too. There's a lot of times where there's not ENOUGH to bloom. Not enough water, or sunlight, or fertilizer.

Sometimes you can nurse a rosebush back to health, if you can figure out what is wrong.

Sometimes you can't figure it out, and the bush dies. And then you have to discard it and start over.

But honestly? Sometimes you don't even WANT a 🌹 (rose). Sometimes you don't even know that you didn't want a rose, maybe you wanted a 🌷(tulip) or a daisy. Or an oak tree! Or a tomato bush!

But if you started with a rosebush, or your whole family takes care of roses, maybe you didn't know you could choose something different.

I'm just saying. It's YOUR garden. Nobody else's. You spend all your time in it. You spend your LIFE in it.

It should be, it IS, your choice what you cultivate, what you grow, what you discard or compost.

I know nobody gets to choose how they spend 100% of their time. But that doesn't mean you don't have choices.

You do.

Now I'm going to go do some household chores.
Gonna go weed my "garden". :)

(*) Slightly different techniques are required to ditch/purge/prune ugly, dead, or impedimentary thoughts and feelings.
labelleizzy: (Default)
Today is st. Patrick's Day. I came up with the term earlier today that suddenly Define for me what these sort of overly emphasized and made up holidays and American culture really are to me.

Plastic holidays.

My dad used to call Mother's Day, Father's Day, Valentine's Day, and a lot of other such holidays quote Hallmark holidays unquote. Because in his mind they seemed to exist only to sell more greeting cards. So that's where I'm coming from.

But St. Patrick's Day, it's not even a real holiday even in a Catholic calendar, not really a holiday in the same way that Cinco de Mayo isn't really an important historical date in Mexican history. And what I feel has happened is that these relatively innocuous holiday dates have somehow been glomped up on by American pop culture as an excuse to party, overindulge, and get drunk.

In that same vein, then this afternoon I was thinking about the Disney movie The Hunchback of Notre Dame. And remember their holiday of Topsy Turvy day? I read at some point *cough history nerd cough* that holidays like that exist in the same way that Mardi Gras exists; which is they are safety valves for the restlessness of the popular folk or the poor folk or the little guys.

The more authoritarian, the more controlling, the more class segregated, a culture is, or the more judgemental and repressed they are about sex (music, dancing, art), the greater the need for the kind of Festival that allows Dionysus to really come out.

That's how we put it in one of my Faith Traditions. It is the necessary Madness in Greek paganism. We call it the Lesser Madness, and we accept the Lesser Madness in order to prevent the greater Madness from taking over. The big problem right now, as I see it, is that the greater Madness is going to come and take control.

Our culture is fucked up in so many ways: the belief that the richer you are the more deserving/virtuous/admirable you are. The deliberate breaking of the education system so that only so many people really succeed in getting educated or in learning how to think clearly. The pervasive baked in sexism and racism that prevents so many people from achieving their dreams, their goals, or even, LITERALLY, continued existence.

The Lesser Madness is on the verge of no longer being able to function as a safety valve in American society. The Powers That Be are drowning us all, pissing us off to satisfy their endless horrific greed. Their disregard and cruelty towards "lesser mortals" endangers vulnerable lives in every walk of life, in every time of life from infancy through eldering.

Americans are learning to SEE. Americans are learning, again, to defend our rights. And the "safety valve" is going to blow CLEAN OFF. It already is, as those in the government making a power grab fail to understand that they have awoken the sleeping Leviathan with their unsubtle callous jerking back and forth at the reins.

It's probably better for us, actually, that they are so incompetent. And so disregarding of our agency, power, and willingness to Fuck Shit Up.

The steam engine of this experiment in democracy seems about ready to blow up because the conductor keeps shoveling coal in and disregarding the dials because he doesn't want to control himself.

You know *scratching chin* they probably could have kept fleecing us for a hell of a long time if they'd only gone about it in a moderate fashion. But I think between Flint, Michigan, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, so so many others, so many failures to protect the people, so many failures to look after us, the sheep are going to stampede and trample a bunch of shit, bring confusion to our enemies.

And some of the sheep ain't sheep at all. We're dragons with wings and roars and fire. We're manticores with poison fangs and lion's claws. We're fae, we're tiny enough to get between the gears of the machine and fuck shit up that way, or we're giant amazons, in seven league boots, bearing giant spiked bats made for smashing.

And those that think they control us and can harvest us at their liking will have another think coming.

Smash the Patriarchy.

further reading: Normal is coming unhinged. For the last eight years it has been possible for most people (at least in the relatively privileged classes) to believe that society is sound, that the system, though creaky, basically works, and that the progressive deterioration of everything from ecology to economy is a temporary deviation from the evolutionary imperative of progress...
labelleizzy: (bunny writer)
Kindling:
The moment of eyes meeting
That flash of heat or awareness:
Gorgeous! So alive!
Potential and possibility.

In that moment,
It's not mister or miss right
It's mister or miss RIGHT NOW
Like, damn you smell good
And
What are you doing later?
And
I wish I could taste your sweat
Or
Do you taste as good as you smell?

The heat builds as you slide closer
Hands touching, eyes meeting
Mouths ... Testing? Tasting.

How lovely is that spark of awareness
That tells me of another's loveliness
Of my desire
Of their desire
Of my loveliness to them.

*****

Sidelong glances, flirting in a coffeeshop. Sparks kindled, fueled by a comfortable loveseat and delicious spicy chai. Warmth of your denim-clad knee, a certain tone of voice, a sudden impulse of delight that burst out in my laughter.

Another, immediate, passionate connection. The crowded pub, the musicians jamming traditional tunes. Ridiculous flirting beneath your lowered lashes as your bold words surprise me, again I burst out in laughter. I dared to flirt back, I kissed your cheek, asked you to dance. That spark flamed so bright and beautifully!

Some fires are slow to catch, and burn unexpectedly. With you, it wasn't the first glance, or the fifth. Perhaps it was the twentieth or even fiftieth, but I was suddenly caught in your eyes, drowning in desire. Wanted to touch, kiss, taste, nibble, hear incoherent noises from your throat.

Some fires sputter, move from warm coals to flame and back again. There's days where all I need is the smell of your hair and your soft body cuddled up to mine, or a cup of tea in your kitchen. But there's days I want to growl and plunder your mouth, take your clothes off with my teeth, drag my fingers over your sweet skin.

*****

Passion, fire, sparks, ignition.
Connection and lust and affection and humor.

It's not the kindling that's most important, though it's the most exciting part of firestarting. The most important part is how you feed and care for the fire.

Some fires you only need, only want, for a moment: strike a match. Some fires you want to keep you warm a long time, and those require more planning, more care, more tending.

Strike your spark, kindle your flames, and meditate.

Do you need a flash of light?
Do you need to feel the burning, do you need to be consumed?
Or do you need a lot of long, slow, warm coals?

Bear what you want, what you need, in mind.

Now select the appropriate kindling for your fire.


This has been my week 19 entry for [livejournal.com profile] therealljidol. I'm pretty sure anyone can guess the prompt this week was "kindling."
Please feel free to enjoy the work of my skilled colleagues HERE and to vote for me in the poll that's coming up Tuesday.

I need to apologize in advance, but since I'm going off the grid this week, I can't guarantee responses to comments. Nor can I really guarantee I'll get to read even the [livejournal.com profile] therealljidol entries on my friends list, much less everyone's entries.

I want to wish everyone the best of luck this week, while I go off to the desert and try to kindle some new fires of my own. =)
labelleizzy: (just do it)
I was having dreams early last night and early this morning, all having to do with solving the situation I'm in, to wit: feeling like I lack mission and drive, that I'm "stuck" in my job search, unsure whether to continue in education (the structure of which frustrates me with an in-grown unfairness of funding and opportunity) and unsure of what else I might do (that wouldn't suck the life and soul right out of me).

During dinner with [livejournal.com profile] princeofwands last night, I came to remember a story about Steve Jobs and his perspective on success. The story goes that Steve was looking at different divisions' reports of success and failure rates, and notices one division has a notably smaller failure rate than other similar divisions.

Steve goes to visit.
At first the department chief is proud and thinks Steve's there to praise them, but instead, Steve says, Fail more. Fail bigger, and more interestingly. Learn from the failures, and use them to try to take even bigger risks afterward. A low failure rate won't lead to innovation or new sales.

Fail More. Fail Bigger. Fail flamboyantly.

In my case the worst thing that could happen is being embarrassed or ashamed, since for example, I've no job to LOSE and I'm pretty sure my spouse will stick by me even if I do something really flamboyantly failtastic.

Planning to fail means planning to risk. Risk is scary, but it's better than stagnating, which is what I fear I'm doing right now. Change is scary but it's better than stagnating.

I've prided myself on my ability and willingness to go after things which were scary, but up till now my practice with scary things has primarily been internal.

I dug up a bunch of giant old rocks out of my garden and have used them as material for fences or conversation-starting ornamental rocks. I pulled out old weeds and old stumps, and got rid of colonies of yucky stuff, earwigs and slugs and fungus, that had lived in my garden. And this endeavor, took years and years of hard work, intermittently and steadily, as I had the energy and resources to tackle the challenges.

Basically it feels like I tilled the land, reclaimed it from the wilderness, and then went to the market to get seeds to plant... only when I got there nobody had the seeds I thought I wanted to plant and grow.

So I have been sitting with my tilled field, watching the weeds start to reclaim the land.

I don't want to just grab ANY seeds and stick them into the dirt; I want to be pleased, literally and figuratively, with the fruits of my labors.

I want strawberries and roses, lavender and bay leaves. I want grapevines and wisteria and hops on trellises. I want shady bowers with koi ponds full of sweet water. I want I want flowers and fruit, I want plain vegetables and fancy decorative flavorful frilly herbs: boxes and boxes of fragrant herbs for cooking and making. I want fruit trees, where we can just walk out and take deliciousness from the branches.

And I want people in my garden. I want my garden to be restful and nourishing, and I want people to feel they have a welcome there, welcome to work and to rest and to play and to sing or play music. I want there to be cycles of productivity and rest, and for one feature to fade away for a season while other features come into their glory.

and now I'm crying again, because the metaphor is beautiful but I still don't know where and how to find the "seeds" yet.

So today it is time to return to the basics. Pull up the weeds and restore order to the grounds so that the earth will be ready for the seeds. And then I have to get working with the seed and seedling catalogs, to decide what needs to come FIRST.

I don't have to decide *everything* right now.
But I do REALLY need to get back on the work I've been neglecting.
Strengthen and reinforce my house(my body). Build up, repair, and plan my garden walls(my boundaries). Weed my fields and garden(prepare for my life and my work).
and... craft a good, solid, beautiful garden gate(to invite in those I want, and shut out things I don't.)
labelleizzy: (asskicking)
Can't remember if I've shared this story here.

I have this way I think about the emotional damage we accumulate during our life. A couple of friends have found it useful, perhaps you will as well.

Imagine a young fruit tree, indeed, a sapling.

The wind blows, and shakes it about, and if it survives, its roots grow stronger. If it gets enough water and sunlight, and planted in the right kind of dirt, it will thrive, grow strong, flower, and bear fruit. Correct?

What about manure? Indeed, what ABOUT bullshit?

Well, a little bullshit helps the tree to grow. But a lot? Too much? The tree burns. The tree suffocates.

On our personal tree farms, if a healthy balance is, we tolerate only a little bullshit.

The problem is sometimes before we are old enough or experienced enough to know better, someone else comes and shits all over us.

Sometimes it's overwhelming, and the tree won't grow right, due to all the shit that's heaped up.
Thing is, after just a little thinking, you come to realize that them what did the shitting are never coming back to clean it up.

You dig?

Well.
Actually, digging is the point.

We all get overwhelmed. We all get to feeling like we're being buried in crap someone else dumped on us.
Thing is?

Get your shovel, and start digging. Some of that shit may be top notch fertilizer. Some of it's surely garbage. But you got to get out of the pile, and you got to be the one who starts digging. If your arms aren't free, holler for help, and make sure to keep the shovel someone brings you.

Cos you've got to dig. Nobody's job but yours to move that crap. It's not fair to ask the world to do it for you. Maybe /with/ you, maybe you both work together on both y'all's piles... but you've got to move the bullshit that smothers you.

And once you're mostly out?
THEN you've got to learn where the crap has been coming from? And then you've got to learn how to stop the ongoing deliveries, if you have not done so already.

...here's a shovel.
*hefts her own shovel*

Your pile or mine, sweetheart?
labelleizzy: (green path)
Struck me rather suddenly today, that animal-taming might make a good metaphor for overcoming personal fears.

Bear with me a moment:

When you begin, the animal (the fearful part of self) is skittish, angry, violent, in pain, unpredictable (add your own adjective here). You don't know what motivates it, you aren't sure how to help at first.

So the first step is to gently build trust. You do gentle things, comforting things, calm, quiet, predictable things. Perhaps you find ways to nourish the fearful animal, as frequently they are hungry. You do this until the fearful animal calms down a little, and you begin to have positive interactions. Perhaps at this point you can start to explore what is causing the fear: is there an old or current injury? Is it a habit of thinking or behaving that can be changed? Perhaps it is something as basic as a self-reinforcing loneliness. (not that THAT is easy to cure necessarily but knowledge of the problem is half the battle to solve it.)

Trust is building, it's an ongoing process. Like Androcles and the Lion, trust itself is often its own reward. If the fear-animal is internal to self, learning to trust the part of yourself that does know better, that does know that fear is a chain that binds you to old ways of living and thinking which no longer serve you and which even hurt or harm you, well. Learning to trust the part of yourself that wants you to be stronger, happier, and more free, and is willing to work for the privilege... that leads you closer to wholeness. Closer to real health.

You have to be brave to work on your fears, work with your fears. You must be gentle in parenting the fearful child within, firm and reliable to train the fearful-animal to strength and reliability within itself. Think of animals that have been poorly trained and how they behave. Think of children that were parented unreliably or who were victims of neglect and abuse. Now, if you have fears that behave like bratty or desperate children, fears that mark their territory like feral cats or piss the floor like (you'll forgive me) my mother's dog, fears that cling to you and don't let you Get Stuff Done?

You may have to start from the beginning. And you may find that no matter how much Work you Do, there is still more to be Done. You may find that even once you are firm, reliable, gentle, loving, and consistent? There will still be days (weeks, months, years) when your inner feral cat or terrified toddler re-emerges and leaves messes all over the landscape.

Guess what?
*sigh*
We are the grown ups now. We are the ones who can choose to take charge, to put those gentle, loving, trust building routines into place. We are the ones who get to build our own internal strength and improve our personal discipline. and to keep ourselves fed so we can Do This Work.

But keep the end goal in mind. Remember the hunchbacked, starving, irritable, cringing, unpredictable, even vicious 'animal' you first knew?

Think of a beautiful, well fed horse running in green fields and coming to eat apple slices from your hand, snuffling warm grass-fed breath into your face. Think of an intelligent, clear eyed dog, attention focused on your face and your hand-commands, waiting eagerly to fetch the ball you just threw, knowing ear-scruffles and praise come after their expected success. Think of a child so funny and smart and upright and trustworthy that your heart aches when you see them achieving their real potential, when you watch them soar high above anything you have ever achieved previously.

That could be you. You can DO THIS.

Stand up straight. Take the first step.

No hobbled horse is joyous. No chained-up starving dog has perked up, laughing ears.

Take the chains off. Be the reliable, loving, gentle friend your inner child needs to grow strong and free.
Love them. Love YOU.

... and if you're already there? Lend a hand with someone else's animal taming.
I haven't met anyone who couldn't use the help.

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle..."
labelleizzy: (Default)
Am currently developing a theory wrt pain (or at the least discomfort) and me learning something new.

The educational term is Cognitive Disequilibrium. That means your brain gets all shaken up when you encounter a new concept or paradigm that you didn't have room for in your prior worldview, and so you need to move everything around a bit to make room for the new (assuming true) thing you have learned or are learning. It's a bit like that trick to suitcase packing, where an already-full suitcase (or especially duffel) can be made to accommodate more stuff by jouncing it on the floor a little, so the existing stuff settles down, packed tighter, and there is then a bit of room at the top of your bag to add something else.
And of course the Extreme Version of Cognitive Disequilibrium would be, the Unpack-Everything-Add-the-New-Thing,-Repack-everything-Up-Again mode of repacking.

I think I've been doing some of that Extreme Version, myself, along with some of the more convenient version... hmmm.

Many people aren't, it seems, even willing to jounce their duffel-o-self a bit to make room for the more-stuff, or to reprioritize their packing lists and omit items that are less useful on further examination. Many people are probably pretty content to pack like they have always packed, assuming they have what they need to meet their needs for the next trip or emergency...

But I'm finding that I want and need some very different things now. When I used to pack my Travelling Bag and my Emergency Bag, I used to include a lot of things my Mom and Dad always included. For example, mom likes to have a shower cap. Dad had diabetes meds. I also used to overpack... "What if I want to wear THAT? and _that_?" I might say. So I would schlep a lot of extra stuff around with me, on the off chance that I or someone else would want or need that particular stuff.

You know what though? I can count on the fingers of ONE HAND the times that someone wanted one of those extra things I packed. Including me wanting to wear THAT or _that_... Life is a lot easier when I decide to pack light, when I rewrite the old packing lists.

Now rethinking The Way We've Always Done Things, well, that's a bit of work. And it's not always comfortable, either. You have to ask Why Have We Always packed the shower cap, and since I'm not diabetic and Dad's dead now, Why are diabetes meds still on the Packing List? Also, realizing, that Later When I Come Home I can Wear THAT, or _that_, and I sure don't need that, which is My Personal Unnecessary Thing I Always Have Brought On Trips, and admit to being embarrassed about the fact that you are only just now admitting that you don't need it, and whyever did it take so long to Figure That Out?

Translate that to my Physical realm and add the element of Will.
Yes, you have to hurt yourself a little, every day, to avoid Harm. That means, work the muscle that's cramping, to the point of discomfort. Bend and stretch even when the joints are creaking and the other muscles complain. You wanna be strong? Re-examine how much damn time you're spending killing time on the Internet and figure out how to make a comfortable space to do your back PT exercises in the house. And then do some yoga or bellydance, and then, seriously, you can use your Power of teh Internets to GO FIND A CLASS because you know that is how you learn best, when forced to be accountable to other people in a class (and particularly to be accountable to the Teacher, if I respect him/her...)

it is gonna hurt, at least a little, to climb back up this rock. And I won't climb in the same way as I did when I was 25 and took for granted that rock climbing was easy. It's also a totally different rock... the river's washed me downstream a significant bit. *grin* (Yes, I like metaphors and parenthetical statements, why do you ask?) I've got some new tools and, as mentioned above, have lightened my carry-load considerably; my muscles are weaker than they once were, but I know that with steady effort I can make them and me, stronger. (Literal AND figurative, here.)

Emotional Disequilibrium
Thing about Emotional Disequilibrium is that you cannot tolerate very much of it and still learn effectively (witness kids' grades dropping with parents fighting, bullying in the classroom, illness of whatever kind, etc etc etc.) However, often the process of Cognitive Disequilibrium PRODUCES Emotional Disequilibrium ... (duh) ... being uncomfortable while having to learn something new, having to admit that You Don't Know Everything, that you can be Surprised, you can be Unprepared... *gasp* quelle horror! in our culture it is often preferable to lie about what you know/don't know than to admit any kind of ignorance and willingness to be educated... We often will take hit points IN our ignorance Because we are Unwilling to admit to our ignorance... (witness most folks initial sexual experiences... and oh yeah my own *regret*)

But Emotional Disequilibrium can, when managed carefully, be the source of Learning, also. It's not MetaCognition, to think about your feelings and whence they came and what your triggers and patterns are, but it's damn effective even if I don't have a nice jargony name for it... I've been referring to it as Pathwork, healing work, Family of Origin work, Clutter-clearing, Reconstruction, and Shadow work. There's probably as many names as there are people doing the Work.

Many call it Recovery. For me, Reconstruction is a better metaphor.

ReDesigning. ReDrafting. ReWriting. Keep feeding yourself and caring for your own needs and making sure you are warm and dry and loved... as much as is possible in a chaotic world, and that you help others to be fed and warm and dry and loved... and you can probably lighten YOUR load, and help others lighten THEIRS.

Feeling useful and loved and secure in the world, yeah, that's the path to recovery/reconstruction/health.

The Path to Peace.
labelleizzy: (moon)
Was feeling pretty crappy yesterday, a combination of physical and mental effects (primarily that my "period" was more like an "!") but am feeling better today, reasonably well grounded, able to stay focused, and sending loving energy to the parts of me that are working hard to do their job.

(I'm envisioning a teeny tiny person wearing overalls who's part of a team shoveling a mudslide out of a roadway in order to allow the flow of normal traffic to commence. I'm sending warm dry socks, solid stompy boots, good grippy gloves and strong quality tools to my teeny tiny team, and I'm getting ready to send the tea-cart around and invite them to take a rest before going back to work again.)

It's amazing, though, the toxic-feeling images that were the first-ideas behind this visualization. I had to consciously pick and choose positive images, changing mental associations. This is a natural process. Not a nasty toxic clean-up, not a job whose attendants are shamed to complete it or looked on as less-than. It is something that must be done as part of the natural cycle of life, as regularly as day follows night follows day.

Framing it positively took some effort. That tells me both that I have problems and that the culture I live in has problems, with this process being a natural, "normal" part of human health.

I'm working to be more conscious of the messages I've internalized from the larger society, and to take care about which ones I now choose to consume, which ones I choose to remain part of my internal landscape.

I like the Road Crew metaphor. I think I'm keeping it.

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