Thursday, July 26, 2012

Mourning Sexy (A Follow Up to Power)

I've been doing a head stand every morning for the last week.

Now that I've got that off my chest, I want to continue the idea of power from the last entry I wrote. I mentioned images, history, and ideas to which I give my power. I'm diligently working with these images and ideas, finding ways to strip away the power I've given to them. This process is hit or miss right now. I caught a tag line of a research article that mentioned women felt sexiest at 28 years old, and I realized how unsexy I feel now I'm almost 30. I have mentioned this to a few people, who always reply with "but you are so pretty", which I don't really care for. What I really need is a day at the spa. Once a month. And some clothes that make me feel like a girl, instead of a massage therapist. And to be 28 again.

So here I am, having taken power away from the composite image of me at 28, and given it all to the age of 28. When I was 28, I had monthly skin care, haircuts, and money in the bank. When I was 28, I wore cute clothes to work, and people told me I looked amazing all the time. When I was 28, I lived on my own, covered my own bills, and discovered the joy of thighs that don't rub together all the time (short lived, and always longed for). Monday, I caught myself telling my amazing fiance how much I missed my old life. I think I was trying to make an argument for the importance of manicures, but still, it was a bit shit-headed of me.

I had this snarky thought last night: I wonder how many women choose to have babies around thirty because they need something to make themselves feel substantial again.

So the question becomes, why am I giving this loss of sexiness any power? Why do I keep returning to this period of my life where I distinctly didn't have it all together, but didn't care all that much? Why does this matter now? I don't know. I don't know, but I do know I need to stop mourning how I used to be, and start embracing the good stuff I have now.

One year, my friend's mom made her family write down 100 things for which they were grateful as a Thanksgiving ritual. I remember there being complaints, but I also remember a little notebook that slowly filled with everything from the funny to the poignant. This exercise ended up being brilliant. In a similar fashion, last week (when I was so jazzed about self-compassion), I wrote a list of what was really important, and my thighs that didn't rub together: not on that list. Skin care: not on that list. Okay, so maybe skin care should be... but I don't should myself, right?

So here is my plan for taking my power back from the 28 year old powerhouse I was:

1. When I get down about what I used to be, I'm going to give myself a hug, remind myself that it is hard losing someone we loved,  there is still someone here who matters a lot, and that someone is probably still pretty awesome.

2. There is a chalk board hanging in the kitchen. I'm going to write something I'm grateful for every morning. Not only is the appeal of writing on the chalk board undeniable, it is a quick, easy thing to check off my to-do list, right after I do my head stand. This keeps me mindful of being grateful.

3. I am going to get a manicure in the near future.

Simple enough, and I already feel a little better about the situation. So maybe I will never feel the power of being sexy like I did when I was 28, but maybe that isn't the only thing about myself I can put stock in. Intelligence is at the top of that list right now, but I'm willing to take suggestions.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Thinking about Power

I just started reading Caroline Myss' book Anatomy of the Spirit.

The forward alone started to make me think, but the guts of the book are really forcing me to examine how I've been feeding my energy. The piece that is really sticking with me today is the understanding that where we find our source of power is where our energy flows. If you want to take the new age approach, our life force flows that way, if you want to take a conventional look  at energy: effort.

I haven't written in a while. I was feeling depressed, anxious, and all around exhausted. I would try to sit down and write something positive about life, but everything was coming out muddled and ridiculous. I was trying to make valid points, but I kept hitting a superficial layer, missing what I really wanted to get to. Two things happened last week that made a difference:

1. My psychologist recommended a book called Self-Compassion by Dr. Kristin Neff. Normally I would say I try to practice self-compassion, but for what ever reason was stuck in a place of self-contempt. I have not read the book, but there is a great deal of information on the website (, including exercises for developing it, and videos that cover a lot of Dr. Neff's findings. Immediately I was reminded how much better I felt when I approached myself with a little bit of caring-concern, versus mental brutality (also, I am going to read the book, probably next).

2. I started reading Anatomy of the Spirit. I immediately realized if I am going to work through this depressive period, I need to figure out what external source is sapping my energy, stealing my focus, and draining my energy. Myss asserts often past experiences are a power symbol for us, or some sort of trigger, imbued with symbols we associate with power. I'm starting to see emotional ties to past experiences and images I hold of myself. I say things like "I want to be the person I was last year, she had it together".

For what ever reason, slowly over the last few months, I started devoting more of my energy and emotional space to the image I hold of myself from a year ago. Of course, I have taken one snapshot of my life last year, and attributed the things I consider to be my best qualities, and given all of those qualities to that one mental image of me. Essentially, I've been screaming "You were perfect last year!" at myself for the last three months, which is so far from the truth it is almost embarrassing.

I'm going to stop fooling myself now. I'm going to practice speaking nicely to myself (haven't I said this before?), having a little more compassion for myself and others, and I'm going to stop remembering how I was perfect last year, when I really was not. I'm going to focus my energy on the things that matter: building a home full of love, making the changes I want to see in me, and enjoying myself in the process. You can't force a butterfly to emerge from a cocoon, but watching the butterfly emerge at its own pace is a beautiful process. I'm going to give myself a power image of a butterfly. It sounds hokey, but I'm in a stage of transition, and I'm going to focus on the beauty that is currently unfolding.