Private Tutoring *or* I Made Out With a Monk Last Night

22 11 2010

Current Habit: Meditation/Yoga Day 4

Deryn: Well technically, a former monk, but we’ll get to that in a minute.  We have officially started practicing yoga and/or meditating every day. I’ve really enjoyed the reaction my body has to yoga in the past (sleeping well, feeling blood flow throughout my body, the loosening of my muscles) and was looking forward to practicing both yoga and meditation more often. In other news, I have recently started dating someone that I’m actually really excited about.  As Sophie so aptly put it, “Yay! You’re not dead inside!” When Zen* asked what I was up to the first night of this habit, I told him that I was trying to meditate for 30 minutes – the longest amount of time I’ve ever attempted to meditate. He texted back, “Did I tell you I used to be a monk?” My first thought: Oh god. I recommended a monk read The Tao of Pooh! My second thought: Score! Private tutor! We began the first of many conversations about his 3 weeks as a monk (it’s a coming-of-age, cultural thing).

Last night, Zen and I meditated together and the only word to describe it was amazing. I have never experienced calm like I did while following his directions on breathing and releasing my thoughts. Previously, I thought that meditation had come naturally for me. It hasn’t been too much of a struggle to breathe slowly and stop thinking, but now I know that I hadn’t been meditating correctly. I learned last night that meditation isn’t about turning your brain off – it’s allowing your brain the quiet it needs to listen to your body. The way I understand it is that your brain only has so much bandwidth, kind of like an internet connection. When there are so many thoughts and sensations happening at once, your brain doesn’t have the space it needs to focus on what’s happening internally.  As a white girl from Texas, I never would have thought that I’d be spending time on a date meditating with a former monk! 

The combination of learning to meditate while slowly but surely coming alive inside again feels amazing. Today I woke up refreshed after very little sleep, relaxed during a very stressful week, and ready to take on what I know will be a very long day.  I think meditation has been the first habit that feels like the results are almost instant.  I know there is still a lot to learn, but it’s really exciting to be seeing and feeling the results!



*No, his name is not really Zen.

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Revival *or* And for you, Tin Man, a heart!

9 11 2010

Current Habit: Exercising, Day 15

Deryn: This weekend I slept at least 36 hours between Friday night and Monday morning, and I haven’t shown much life in the last week.  Even after a dye job went a bit awry, my reaction was a mere “Eh.  I’ll figure it out later.”  (I did.  I no longer have girl-who-listens-to-too-much-Seattle-rock-in-1994 hair).  To sum it up, I was apathetic.  As has been mentioned before, my tendency is to be dead inside, and that’s something this blog is helping (and hoping) to change.

Tonight, I mentioned to Sophie that I was tired of all the upkeep necessary in life.  I have a job so I have a place to live, I work out because I want to stay alive and healthy, I bathe regularly for basic hygiene and employment purposes.  And don’t even get me started on having to eat and drink water…It’s a vicious cycle.  Sophie being Sophie – always wanting to fix the problems of others if they are dumb enough to whine about them to her – smacked me in the face with a tough question: What do you want out of life?

Think about it for a second in your life.  What do you want out of your life?

No answer came to mind for me.  The only thing I could think of was coming home and watching TV.  Acknowledging that is a pathetic way to live, I started giving it some serious thought.

What do I want out of my life?  It’s a choice, after all.  For me, the answer is a resounding “Travel!”

Then all the reasons that travel isn’t possible for me came spilling out.  I don’t have the time or the money.  I have a work culture that doesn’t allow for vacation.  It’s probably human nature to talk ourselves out of our dreams.  Shooting an idea down is easier than it is to come up with solutions.  As my dad used to say, “If you come to me with a problem and no solution, then you’re just whining.  I don’t tolerate whining.”

As the conversation continued, Sophie brought up the fact that I really enjoyed making our Halloween costumes (shown in these two pictures).  For the past few weeks I’ve been especially preoccupied with sewing Halloween costumes for Sophie and myself.  She was right.  I love sewing.  It is a positive and productive outlet for my obsessive compulsive personality, plus at the end you get something pretty!  I have a bunch of patterns and material all ready to be sewn in to some adorable outfits just sitting in my closet that I’ve been collecting for the last few years.  Sophie suggested I start sewing again and actually make some of those things.  It was brilliant!  Within about 5 minutes, I went from being apathetic to getting really excited about all the new projects in store!  We went through my sewing drawer and found that I have a skirt, a pair of pants, two shirts and three pillows just waiting to be sewn.  I have all the material, patterns and time, only needing to purchase a few zippers and some thread.  All my excuses have been effectively tossed out the window.  Now I can’t wait to come home tomorrow night and start my new projects.  That’s probably a much better thing to do than hurrying home to get in my pajamas and watch Parenthood.  That’s what a DVR is for!

More than anything, I think I’m learning that it’s going to take more than just creating some new habits to get away from my old apathetic ways.  I can make myself happy and not let the excuses prevail.  Self-reflection is an important part of the journey for me.  To really change who I am is also going to involve regularly taking stock of my emotional state and coming up with new habits so the old ones don’t resurface.  To start with, do I have an emotional state?  Maybe I’m starting from the remedial class on how to feel like other humans feel, but with regular self-reflection I may just graduate and become a full fledged human, heart and all!





Frustration *or* Did My Boss Really Just Yell at Me for Peeing?

26 10 2010

Current Habit: Exercising, Day 1

Deryn: Today is the first day of a brand new habit: Working out for 30 minutes every day.  It could not have come at a better time.

The past few days at work have been particularly frustrating.  So frustrating, in fact, that the 2 days of being away from work still weren’t enough for me to become un-frustrated.  That’s especially amazing considering I can cure just about any bad mood by playing no more than three Bon Jovi songs.  Livin’ on a Prayer, Baby!  Then this afternoon I was reprimanded for going to the restroom.  No, really.  That’s what happened.

One of my responsibilities is to answer the phone.  That, in itself, is frustrating enough, considering I don’t do anything with customers except answer the phone and forward the call to the person they actually need to talk to.  There are only 2 people that anyone ever calls to speak with, and I am not one of them.  Why don’t they answer the phone?  I just don’t know.  So when it was 2:45, I’d already been working for 7 hours,  and I had still not gotten a chance to eat my lunch (which is almost always done at my desk because heaven forbid I take an actual lunch break), I figured it was a prudent time to use the restroom.  I just really had to pee, man!  It’s not that the day was particularly hectic, I was just trying to focus on finishing a project.  When I got back to my desk – literally one minute later – my boss was in a tizzy.  “What if the phone had rung? … Why didn’t you bring the phone with you to the restroom?”  No, my boss apparently could not have answered the phone.  No, we don’t have voice mail.  And no, our customers are apparently too stupid to call back a little later if nobody answers.

After that whole extravaganza had calmed down, it occurred to me that tonight is the first day of a whole new work out routine!  What a great day to get rid of some stress!  Rather than using beer to make me feel better, I’ll take some endogenous opioid peptides, otherwise known as endorphins.

I’m really excited about this one for a few reasons:

1) When I have been in shape in the past, I never really appreciated it.  I was so focused on looking like someone else that I didn’t fully appreciate what it looked like to just be a good-looking version of myself.

2) I’d like to be able to do things when I’m older.  Being out of shape or unhealthy just doesn’t seem like a fun way to go about life.

3) Gotta love the endorphins!

The real test for me is going to be how I feel once I get home.  I’ve never worked out every day for 21 days in a row.  Usually I’ll get on a work out kick and do well for about a week or two, but then the determination fades.  Once my pans are starting to fit a little tightly again, the work out routine comes back in to play.  21 days is a great because it seems possible without being daunting.  Luckily, I’ll probably have the same job for the next three weeks and that’s proven to be a consistent source of stress and anger.  At least I won’t run out of motivation.

How’s that for optimism?





Results *or* Did you know there are two 6 o’clocks every day?

13 10 2010

Current Habit: Waking Up Early, Day 10

Deryn: Waking up early has been much easier for me than reading every day.   The first two days, admittedly, I had a few violent thoughts towards Sophie at about 6:08 am when I was awake on the couch rather than happily snuggled and asleep in my bed.  By day three it wasn’t as bad, and now I’m pretty well used to it.   I even find myself waking up a few minutes before my alarm actually goes off.   I’ve had a bad cold this week and even had to stay home from work two days.  I was still up and out of bed by 6 am.  I forced myself to stay awake until 10 am before taking a nap.  I was so proud when Sophie came home and I told her all about my feat of staying awake.  That was when she reminded me that we agreed naps are allowed 3 hours after waking, meaning 10 am on weekends or 9 am on weekdays.  Math has never been my strength.

The main thing I’ve found from waking up a little earlier is that I’m actually more productive at work.  I don’t have to spend my first hour pretending to work because I’m not awake enough to actually read my emails.  I don’t cringe every time the phone rings in the morning because I’m too tired to deal with people.  Coworkers have even remarked that I seem much more peppy than I used to.

I never knew I was a morning person!





Positive Decisions *or* The Pile of Books I was Destined to Find

3 10 2010

Current Habit: Reading, Day 21/9

Deryn: Thursday after work my mood was, in a word, crabby.   True or not, I felt like the only places I went were home and work.  Leave home, go to work, go home, go back to work, go back home… The routine was getting to me.  When Sophie came home, I suggested maybe going to the bar that is two blocks from home where a beer costs $1.75.  Sophie shut that idea down for its obvious lack of nutrition.  I then suggested we go to Half Price Books, or as some people who live in this apartment call it, Heaven.   I had a list of books that I was excited to read and had conveniently just gotten paid.  Off we went!

Sophie has mentioned previously that she has a book addiction.  She buys 5-10 at a time on most trips to Half Price Books.  I’m more of a 1-2 book at a time kind of gal.  Too many books purchased at the same time means that I have to spend a good 20 minutes making a pro and con list for what order I will be reading each of the new books.  This particular trip didn’t start out well for me.  None of the books on my list were on the shelves and nothing else was really grabbing me.  Sophie, however, had 4 books in her arms within 15 minutes of getting there.  I was bummed.  Happy for her, but bummed for me.  It is rare that I actually have any room in my budget for the luxury of buying myself a book (even at half price).  The idea that I was in the store with money in my account and no books was maddening.  I scoured the shelves and picked up books that I really felt no interest in.  Then I’d  put them back, all the while feeling a little guilty for having lead them on in the first place.  I knew that book and I would never be going home together.  This just made my mood even worse.  I’m not typically a grumpy, negative or angry person, but I was all of those things in that moment.

And then it happened.  Sophie was ready to check out so we had come back to the front of the store.  I had one book.  It looked promising, but I wasn’t super excited about it.  With a sigh, I wandered over to a cart with a few piles of books.  There was a woman already going through them who looked uncannily like my mom.  In the pile closest to me were a few books I recognized: Love in the Time of Cholera (one of my favorites), The Great Gatsby (a favorite of mine), Pride and Prejudice (a book I try to read once a year because I love it so much), A Confederacy of Dunces (yes, another favorite).  If I were a cartoon character, a light bulb would have appeared above my head with a little chiming sound.  I would pick a book from this pile.  I started to pick the books up one by one until my arms were loaded down.  I started to add books to Sophie’s already precarious pile of books.  I could barely contain my excitement.   There were so many books in that pile that I had either heard of and been interested in or had thought about getting before but had forgotten about.  It was all just so thrilling!  We replaced the books to the pile after a very stressed, but polite, employee informed us that he had organized the books in to piles already and was worried about them getting messed up.  I cheerfully replied that we had kept the books true to their piles and gleefully skipped to an empty aisle to make my final decisions.

The moral of the story is that  I could have gone to the bar, drank some beer, ate some fattening food and gone home.  Instead, reading every day meant that I needed some new books, sending me to Half Price Books which then completely turned my mood around for the rest of the night.  Success!

These are the books that I adopted that fateful evening:

There’s a (Slight) Chance I Might Be Going to Hell: A Novel of Sewer Pipes, Pageant Queens, and Big Trouble by Laurie Notaro

East of the Sun by Julia Gregson

Sunday Jews by Hortense Calisher





Self-Realization *or* What Do You Mean It’s Not Normal To Be Dead Inside?

28 09 2010

Current Habit: Reading, Day 16/5

Deryn: I’ve always been an observant person.  For as long as I can remember, I would watch people and then use their experiences to make decisions about my life and how I wanted to lead it.  The best example I can think of is watching my two older sisters go through high school.  I saw how both of them acted towards their friends and our parents and thinking, “Wow.  That is definitely not the best way to go about things at all.”  I realized that if I got good grades and was up front with my parents about my plans, they generally had no issue letting me stay out past curfew.  I’d been using this Observe and Decide method for about 25 years and it had gotten me through some rough times.  I decided long ago – so long ago that I don’t actually remember when – that I would not close myself off to love.  I would probably get my heart-broken and would probably be hurt plenty of times, but that wouldn’t stop me from keeping an open mind and heart when it came to someone new in my life.  After all, that’s what starts people on the path to becoming an Empty Shell Person.   So, in efforts to stay true to the point of Habitual Me and become the person I want to be, it is time to decide to be open again.

In “Friends” there is an episode where Monica reveals to her husband that she has been keeping stuff locked in a messy closet for years and nobody ever knew about it.  My emotions and feelings definitely live in a locked up messy closet.

In college I had a boyfriend, my own Mr. Big (up to the last season of the tv show, before he was capable of commitment).  I loved him.  We went through a lot of drama to be together and he was a great boyfriend.  Sweet, fun, caring, intelligent and funny.  We both said that we had neither felt anything like it before.  Then he dumped me.  He was wanting to focus on his career and couldn’t commit to our relationship and his career at the same time.  We tried to stay friends, but that was one of the most painful things I’ve ever done.  He didn’t love me, but I loved him.  He didn’t want to be my boyfriend, but didn’t want to date anyone else.  He still came over, kissed me, made me dinner, but wasn’t interested in being anything but friends.  It was all so confusing and so painful that I forced myself to stop feeling.  I rationalized that I would rather be friends with him than nothing.  It was better to have him in my life in some way than not at all.  For the next 2 years it was a roller coaster of us being friends or being a couple, all the while I got better and better at locking my emotions in the closet.  Eventually, I realized that he would never be able to treat me the way I felt like I deserved to be treated in a relationship.  This was especially hard because I never thought Mr. Big would be interested in me in the first place.  It’s contradiction in the purest form: Mr. Big is everything I thought I didn’t deserve because I’m not good enough for him, but when I realized he was treating me like I wasn’t good enough for him then he wasn’t good enough for me, even though I desperately still wanted to be with him.  It was just too much.  My already fragile self-esteem just couldn’t take anymore so I broke things off very abruptly and stopped talking to him.  He didn’t seem to care.

A few weeks later, I started talking to Joe*, a friend of a friend from high school who lived in Dallas.  I had decided that I wanted to be in Dallas,  and Bob was trying to help me get an interview with his company.  Bob had a crush on me all through high school.  He had me on a pedestal, he thought I was the most amazing girl ever and didn’t understand how everyone couldn’t see that.  He was the opposite of Mr. Big in so many ways and we started talking more and more.  I felt so much better about myself as a person again.  It grew in to more than friendship and by the time I moved to Dallas, we were a full on couple.  That lasted 3 months.  A guy who had a crush on me for 12 years got over it in 3 months of actually being with me.  There is obviously more to it than that.  He wasn’t my ideal either.  We fought a lot and we both know that we weren’t right for each other.  Still, it’s hard to not think that I did something wrong.

To comfort me during that break up was this amazing guy, Christian*.  He was beautiful, smart, funny, and made me feel beautiful.  He was also my boss.  Christian and I started to spend a lot of time together for about 3 weeks.  Then, he just stopped talking to me.  I, to this day, don’t know what happened.  He stopped calling, stopped texting, and even avoided talking to me at work.  Logically, I know that I didn’t do anything wrong except trust him too soon and allowed the relationship (in the physical sense) to move faster than was a good idea.  A few weeks later, I was fired for not hitting my sales goals.

Too much of my self-esteem has been wrapped up in guys and by doing Habitual Me, my goal is to be happy with myself for who I am and for who I have let myself become.  I joke with my friends that I’m “dead inside” because I don’t feel things anymore.  Last week, I was driving with a friend and an 18 wheeler was merging into the lane.  It was coming too fast and it was going to hit us.  My friend, the Marine who has been on three tours over seas and shot at numerous times, was screaming obscenities in fear for his life.  I was calm and thought to myself, “So, I guess this is how I’m going to die.”  I was able to swerve the car and get out of the truck’s way so we were fine, but I had an epiphany.  I don’t want to be dead inside.  I decided a long time ago that I wasn’t going to let this happen to myself, and I failed.  It’s time to do something about it.  I’ve observed myself and have decided I need to feel things.  If I’m going to become the person I want to be, that means letting someone in to my life who may hurt me.  Now I just have to find the key to that pesky closet…

* Gotta love the anonymity of pseudonyms.





Truth and Consequences *or* Back to Day 1

23 09 2010

Current Habit: Reading, day 11/1

Deryn:

The Truth:

What I know of last night is a lot of cheese, a lot of wine, laughing hard, and making a phone call.  What I don’t remember is getting home, what I was laughing at, or what I said on that phone call.

I didn’t do my reading.

The Consequences:

The research shows that to establish a habit, the action must be done every day for 21 days.  According to Psycho-Cybernetics, if a day is missed you have to start back at day 1 or you won’t reap the benefits.  To be honest, we knew the day would come that one of us wouldn’t be able to accomplish our daily task.  If there weren’t consequences for our actions, there really wouldn’t be any motivation or incentive to follow through when things get a little difficult.

So, I’m starting over and it’s back to Day 1 of reading.  Reading (for me) will now overlap with the next habit.  I’m annoyed with myself for having not stuck with it better.  I have a lot of excuses for myself (work, mostly), but know that none of them really matter.  But if I really am trying to be a different person, then that means I have to put in the work.  These new habits won’t happen magically.  After working a solid 8 hours at the office and then another 3 from home, I’m not excited about having to do anything else with my brain tonight.  That would just be another excuse.  Instead, I’m going to try to look at my reading tonight as a way to help myself wind down after a stressful day and mentally prepare me for sleep.








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