Friday, October 29, 2010

Doing the Best You Can

According to Don Miguel Ruiz, one of the four Toltec agreements is to "always do your best." One excerpt regarding doing your best:
Your best is changing all the time. Your best will depend on whether you are refreshed in the morning or tired at night. Your best will be different when you are happy as opposed to upset, or healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstances, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.

This quote has come to mind these past couple of days. I'm learning that I want to be able to do my best at all times. I would hate to come to a point in life where I would think that I hadn't done the best I could.

Doing one's best is tricky to differentiate from doing what one thinks one should do; perfectionist tendencies cloud what one's best actually looks like.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

One Way to View the Family Dynamic

I emailed this comic to my parents earlier today; I thought it was funny. It's from Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The 50/50 Rule

I came across this today in Dr. Dean Delis' The Passion Paradox: When One Loves More Than the Other, a book on relationships. A book on relationships that was recommended to me by Bill.

Observe the 50/50 Rule of Negative Behavior
Please don't get hung up on whether your negative feelings are appropriate or "off the wall." Instead, view them as roughly 50 percent reality based and 50 percent inflated. Using this rule, you can say to yourself, "Sure, I might be overreacting, but something's going on between my partner and me that's triggering these feelings." If I've learned anything in my clinical work, it's that every feeling occurs for an important reason.

So even though he's talking specifically about negative emotions that arise in relationships, I think it's alright to apply the rule to emotions from any situation. I just wanted to share because I thought this quote was helpful!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Job Venting and Such

My anxiety regarding my job has skyrocketed, and I think I know why. I'll spend time liking it and then not liking it; I'll spend time really enjoying the classroom environment and I'll spend time crying because I feel so overwhelmed.

I've been spending time comparing my job to being in a bad relationship, and thinking about what I would do if it was a romantic relationship. I would either a) bolt or b) get a crush on another job and then bolt.


I've had to tell myself that the anxiety over this job just has to stop--it has to. I can't deal with it anymore. I cry a lot and in the mornings I have diarrhea and my stomach aches. When I get home, I'm usually drained. And that part totally sucks because this is only a part-time job, and I'm not making enough money to feel comfortable.

So there's a lot of chronic stress right now. I'm trying to be strong enough to just be inquisitive about what my response is to this situation; I think by doing so that I'm not playing the victim as much. And I think that my curiosity about myself in this situation is helping me not blame others for the situation.

I know some basic facts about myself now. And I think I have a better sense of what my limitations are as well as those of this job; that is, I'm not taking every little thing on as my own problem. That helps a lot.

But I know some deeper things, too. In today's professional development meeting, it became clear to me that teaching involves working on so many different levels; to even talk about which level you're on with someone else is very difficult. I like working in theoretical and abstract levels. When things aren't working out in theory, then I have a hard time using the gist of what's being said to work on a more practical level.

Yet I am being told to be practical and to not worry so much about larger concepts. And I have to be practical and have tangible things to do in the classroom and create tangible, measurable learning outcomes.

That--having measurable learning outcomes--feels pretty impossible for me to put my mind around. And something may be measurable, but is it relevant? Who gets to decide? I start feeling really depressed about what kids are supposed to know and how we can know if they know.

On one hand it makes sense to want kids to have certain skills at various ages . . . yet on the other hand these skills can seem really arbitrary. And then some shortcuts seem to be made between standardized test scores and learning . . . and, I don't know, education is just a big mess. (One more giant leap in logic and then I say) Life is just a big mess.

And I've been trying for the past 24 hours to label and suss-out my "existential depression," a term I found the other day, from my general frustration/not-knowing.

I think it's pretty alright to feel like a victim of life; it makes a lot of sense in many ways. By all accounts that I can remember, I don't remember choosing any of my life circumstances. Pretending that I did (maybe in a previous life, for example) makes for an interesting mind game, yet it doesn't capture the very really sense--even if only partially true--that "the life of man [is] solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short."

Feeling empowered in my life and believing in my ability to make choices is something I'm still working on. And it gets very difficult for me because I do think I have the ability to see things from many different points-of-view. And, yes, as someone has said, this makes me easily manipulated. Yet it also makes me richer and deeper. It's a very strange mix, and it's difficult to talk about because I think everyone can relate to what I mean here, yet I also think not many people have experienced such depths as what I'm talking about.

I think that's one of my gifts--the ability to see the depths and intricacies of a situation--and it's been difficult learning that this is something I have! And now that I'm starting to see it, I would like to use it and in so doing, I would hope to be a lot less anxious!

I really want to feel empowered, to make healthy choices for myself, to get rid of all the guilt I feel all the time, and to give to society what I'm capable of doing. And I'd really like to feel economically secure while doing that.

At this stage, I know I need some help, yet I'm not sure what a logical first step would be in asking for help!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Things that Almost Happened Today

This morning, while indulging in a large breakfast, I almost dropped an egg on the floor. But for some reason, and by some grace of reflex, my knee pinned it to the cabinet before it cracked on the floor.

This afternoon a squirrel darted right where I was driving. For some reason it wasn't crushed by either of my passenger-side wheels, and for some reason it wasn't crushed by the cargo van driving the other way.

This evening, for some reason, the glass I was getting out of the cabinet did not crack when I accidentally knocked it over.

And while I was pulling out of the grocery story parking lot thinking morose thoughts about rather being struck by another driver, I knocked myself out of that mindset. It almost happened that I remained in depressive thinking: I would rather experience calamity; I am a fool; I am a failure . . . but for some reason the sky is a beautiful blue. For some reason people spoil me all the time. And for some reason there are reminders to just let it all go.

I love this illustration by Marc Johns:

Highly Sensitive Persons

I picked up a book this past week called Making Work Work for the Highly Sensitive Person, by Barrie Jaeger. And, holy crap, I just might be a Highly Sensitive Person (or HSP, if you will). In fact, almost everyone around might be a HSP in hiding, too.

Part of how work can work for the HSP, Jaeger says, is for the HSP to get out of Drudgery work and focus on self-improvement/development/actualization. By doing so, the HSP can use his/her creativity and originality and can find a job that isn't just a job. Jaeger talks about how a job is never just a job to a HSP because s/he is always fully invested in whatever s/he is doing. However, it can be hard for HSPs to hold a job because they are inventive, bright, and enjoy challenges. So once they have learned a job, they seek out other challenges.

This rings so true to me, and I have felt like a failure for so long! It's amazing how horrible we can make ourselves feel! I'm not finished with the book yet, but I recommend it to anyone.

And speaking of work, today is the last day of the first quarter . . . I think I did alright, overall. I'm afraid there are going to be a few angry 7th grade parents when they see their sons' report cards. I should have been in better communication over the course of the semester.

My goals this next quarter are to do more interdisciplinary work. And to just do more creative things. And to make the kids listen to me play the guitar. Every lesson I teach, I'm going to set to one of the six or seven chords I know. I think that's what any Highly Sensitive Person would do in my situation.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Kids and War

From the "kids say the darndest things file":

Each week the sixth graders have art during one of our language arts courses--the boys go one day and the girls go the next. This week during the art periods, we had a debate regarding a story we read. With the boys, there was extra time, so from their suggestions we started debating whether war was ever a solution to a problem.

After they had written their opinions, I had them line up according to their responses. A couple students had said, "Yes, war was a solution," a couple were neutral, and a couple said no.

After they shared their opinions, I asked if anyone's position had changed. One boy who had been for war (because "war was a good way to decide who owned land" and to tell "which country was the most powerful") changed to a more neutral position.

This left one lone pro-war student, who at the end of our debate told the rest of the boys: "You are a disgrace to war!"

And then on Friday a student was giving his presentation against war. He told us that war started "between the sixteen hundreds and the eighteen hundreds" and that the first war was World War I. (!) Then he spoke about WWII and said something about how bad Hitler was.

That's when the pro-war student (the one who's not a disgrace to war) said, "That's Adolf Hitler to you!" Some of the girls looked at him and then me in confusion. And then instead of saying "ay-dolf," like he did the first time, he repeated his phrase saying, "That's Add-dolf HItler to you!"

I've never been quite as willing to let someone speak on behalf of war as I am with this kid--he cracks me up! Hopefully he won't be a horrifying adult!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Adventures with Moody Mooderson

That's all that's going on here; I'm moody. It's the moon. It's genetic. It's my job, temperament, diet. My state of cleanliness and my hormones. And on and on and on!

I've still been at the guitar, though. (Look at me stay with something for over a week!) I don't know the name of the chords, but I've been practicing "Both Hands," by Ani DiFranco. I figure even if I don't change chords in the song, then I can just strum whenever the same chord comes along. That's about 25% accuracy, folks. And I'll take that rate these days.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Islamic Society of Tulsa 2010 Series

In case you are in Tulsa and interested, here's information on the latest presentations by the Islamic Society of Tulsa:

Know Your Muslim Neighbor Series 2010: The Qur’an- Learn it or Burn it?

Dates: Thursday Oct. 7, Oct. 14, Oct. 21, & Oct. 28
Islamic Society of Tulsa Mosque Tours : 6:30pm to 7 pm followed by Series Presentation: 7pm to 8:30pm
Where: Peace Academy 4620 S. Irvington Ave. Tulsa , OK 74135

Refreshments will be served at all four sessions

Session 1, October 7: Introduction to Qur’an 101

Session 2, October 14: Qur’an and Tolerance

Session 3, October 21: Qur’an and Women

Final Session 4, October 28: Qur’an and Science

Friday, October 1, 2010

"Come and Get Your Love" and/or "Amazing"

The radio played the song "Come and Get Your Love," by Redbone, this morning; I was struck by the lines "It's your business if you want some / Take some, get it together, baby."

Oh, could love be that easy?! You just want some, and so you take some? And if someone is offering some, and you take it, and you're happy? Then what? Then what? What happens next?!

Can we spend just one second comparing this straightforward, happy love song to "Amazing," by Johnette Napolitano? I just picked up her cd from the library the other day, and I'm already in love with this song.

Part of the chorus: "Amazing. You're amazing / And I'm only ok."

It feels so comforting to have some self-denigrating romantic ballads around!

I like these perspectives on romantic relationships. (And I like others, too.) It's fascinating to me how people end up together. What propels someone to another? And there are so many things for any one person to criticize about another; which criticisms are important to hold on to? Which ones aren't? A line from Elizabeth Gilbert stands out to me: that we love someone else "in spite" of himself. But then that sounds so funny. We love in spite? What does "de-" mean? Maybe Gilbert said we love him "despite" of himself; that's the only thing that makes sense. Love de spites the other person, and it de spites us.

I guess sometimes people care about us just because they do. ( Which is weird to me because when I care about someone, I'm usually trying to control him/her.)