Boredom and Perfectionism

So, I’m still living in the woods in Mendocino.

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It’s beautiful. It’s peaceful….. It’s boring as fuck.

I’ve been here for almost four months and I have managed to keep myself occupied during the day, as there are lots of hikes to take and beaches to visit and whales to watch and other things that require daylight. But then nighttime comes and I am borrrred. I decided to ‘When In Rome’ it and head to the town bar every night like everyone else in this town. Boy, did that super duper not work out for me.

So I’ve decided to quit booze altogether for a while. I’ve been sober about a week and I’m realizing without any alcohol or bar time, the evenings are painfully dull. What do I do with myself? The gym takes up a couple hours of post-work time, but basically I hang out alone in my cabin every night because there’s no where else to go. But what to do in my cabin? For the last three months it was “drink in the cabin, of course,” but now that I’m not doing that, I can’t think of what to do.

Actually that’s a lie. I can think of lots of things to do, like, make art! Bake a cake! Do a puzzle! But guess what, I don’t want to do any of those things. Last night it dawned on me finally why I don’t do those things and chose to binge-watch netflix instead.

It’s perfectionism.

Boredom is a direct result of perfectionism. There’s this huge hump I have to get over to even pull out my markers and it’s a very loud voice that says, you’re going to do a bad job so why even try. I listen to that voice, chose to do nothing, and suffer boredom. Yeah, no. I am *done* with that pattern. It took some sobriety to recognize that, and I am grateful for it.

Also, long term Mendo living doesn’t seem quite right for me. While it is beautiful and serving me in lots of ways right now, I don’t think I could survive up here longer than a year. And that’s ok too 🙂 Until I leave, I’ll be practicing some new behaviors like working through this perfectionism.

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Music as Joy

Fighting against a regime and working everyday with the most challenging population imaginable has me exhausted. I can barely write this post but I had to share this song with you.

I have decided to not use the term “self-care” anymore because for some reason to me that feels like work. Maybe it’s because I’m in a caring profession. Instead I call it having fun. Enjoying myself. Checking out. That is so important to do right now. A huge part of that for me is music, and I’ve been listening to this song on repeat for two days straight.

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Skott, the artist who made this music, grew up in a remote forest commune run by outcast folk musicians. Her sound is pretty hard to pin down but I am obsessed with the full spectrum of what she releases. This song, Wolf, I’ve found particularly soothing. Like, deeply soothing in the hardest-to-reach places of my soul.

Enjoy ❤

 

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Women’s March: Continuing the work against TRUMP

Yesterday I participated in the largest one-day protest in US history: nearly 4 million people from Washington D.C. to Nashville to L.A. to London marched in protest against Trump and his incoming administration .Despite being under the weather, I dragged myself out of my power-outtaged cabin in stormy Mendocino, and headed to the Women’s March in Oakland. I made a sign, so did my friends, and also nearly 100,000 other Oaklanders.

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I brought my tambourine and marched, surrounded by fierce females and friends. I felt with every step I was able to shed a layer of anger and set it to motion towards action. I marched for people of all colors, ages, genders and orientations that are oppressed and marginalized by the outdated, conservative, racist, and sexist regime that has taken hold of our country.

Not only was I marching against the ignorant fascism that has taken over, but on a personal note, I marched also against Toxic Masculinity. I have suffered at the hands of narcissistic men that believe they can control and overpower those around them for their own gain, and I refuse to be a victim of that any longer.

I am still a novice at being a proactive activist. But I’m trying. I’m making phone calls, I’m donating money, I’m reading, I’m learning about privilege and locating my humility, and, of course, marching – all for causes and people and groups I believe in. Now is the time to rise up. And if you don’t know how, the internet is a lovely place that can help you learn. Join me.

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Waking Up

Donald Trump became the president-elect on the day I moved to Mendocino. I drove my car, packed to the gills with boxes, for three hours, ruminating on all the ways our country would be effected by this deplorable man. On what should have been a very exciting three hour drive, I was instead repeatedly brought to tears. This feels like a national disaster. Like I said on facebook that day, this feels like every bad man I’ve ever known was just given a boy’s-club-style pat on back. It makes me feel sick to my stomach.

For a moment of sheer selfish narcissism, I was angry that this great day of me following my dreams and moving to Mendocino was tainted. But then, I walked into my new cabin in the woods and thought, “this move represents a new me,” and I changed my tune.

I was too young to vote in the Gore/Bush election, and by W’s second term I was still pretty naive and allowed myself to live in my privileged little liberal bubble. I didn’t protest. I sometimes didn’t vote. I didn’t read about politics. My understanding of politics pretty much ended at “George W. Bush is bad.”

But the last year of my life has been all about waking up. Not giving bad men the power they desire. About standing up for myself and the people around me. Learning about systemic racism and sexism. I’ve finally found my voice to fight in my personal life. And now I’m going to use those skills to fight against this impending government’s oppression for all who suffer. My first day in this cabin is my first day as a true fighter.

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My Cabin Adventure

As you know I spent a few weeks in a secluded cabin in the woods last month.

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Despite coming down with pneumonia while there and it raining nearly every day, it ended up being the best thing I’ve done for myself in years. It’s impossible to catalogue all the realizations and growth I had there, so here is just a little synopsis of how it went for me– the ups and downs and everything in between.

1. I felt like I got hit by a double-decker bus made of unbearable feelings.

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something I wrote on one of the emotionally harder days at the cabin

For the entire first week, this is how I felt. Without my usual anxiety-soothing crutches like Facebook, Netflix, wine, or socializing, I couldn’t escape my feelings. I faced them head on. It sucked but it was exactly and precisely what I needed.

I video journaled every day and re-watched the videos. This ended up being a surprisingly effective exercise in self-attuning and self-soothing. I’d cry or vent or talk to the camera, watch the video, really *see* my feelings, and then they’d pass. And WOW did a lot of feelings bubble up. Some more recent, some very old. I know as a therapist that you’ve got to feel your feelings in order to process them, but I had been avoiding it all year because I was scared of how much it would hurt. When I finally did it, it did hurt but I handled it. All alone. And I was ok. And  knowing that I could do that helped me continue facing my feelings over and over again.

By the end of cabin time, I had let go of a lot of anger and resentment that I thought I was going to have a tight grip on until the day I died. I was able to find compassion for folks in my past that at one time I thought didn’t deserve it. I was able to sit peacefully without the running engine of anxiety in my gut. I felt peace like I hadn’t felt peace in years.

2. I really came to understand meditation. 

Every single morning I watched the sun rise outside, and then came back into my cabin and meditated.

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The sunrise on my last morning at the cabin

Again, I knew the benefits of meditation but I never exercised it. When I did meditate, I felt calmer and more centered all day. Despite knowing these benefits have been scientifically proven, I was still shocked every day that it worked so well. Like, really? That’s all I have to do and this serenity happens? Sweet.

3. Art feels good even when it doesn’t look good. 

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My craft table

I’m intimidated by art and creativity and, as a perfectionist, rarely allow myself to do it. I’m surrounded by very talented and well-trained artists, and that makes it even harder for me. Not to mention, I received messages as a child that basically said, “if you aren’t a prodigy, don’t bother.” So I avoided all kinds of creativity. I intentionally made this cabin my “well, fuck that” experience. I painted something every single day, even when I didn’t want to. None of it is going up in a museum, but holy crap did it feel good. I made pretty things, I made meaningful things, I wrote poetry and created collages and it made me happy. Art, for me, is truly about the journey and not the destination.

4. I discovered I can do things I genuinely thought I couldn’t do. 

Here’s a list:

Chop firewood

Build a fire

Care for myself when I’m really sick

Be alone for weeks

Avoid social media completely

Face overwhelming feelings

Write poetry

5. I solidified what I wanted to do next.

I spent so much time outside while living in the cabin. I took hikes every day and read books outside. Despite feeling frustrated that I had to walk so far to a cold outhouse in the rain when I had to pee in the middle of the night, being in nature really spoke to me. I felt a wash of peace come over me every time I looked over the canyon at all the beautiful trees. It was like every minute looking at this view was an antidote to every painful minute I’ve sat in Bay Area traffic over the last two years. I knew the next place I was moving to needed to be more rural.

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I came home and my next move just fell into place. I found a beautiful, affordable, rural cabin just outside my favorite place on earth, Mendocino. My new landlady has taken to me, perhaps because she too came out to Mendocino from the Bay Area after a breakup, and she is helping me learn how to live in the country.

I move in three days. I’m currently sitting on the living room floor of my Oakland apartment, surrounded by boxes packed with all my things. I’m scared to leave my comfort zone of the bay area, but I’m also so ready for a change. I’ve always talked myself out of moving anywhere, and now it’s finally time. Mendocino is only a few hours away, but it’s a whole new way of life that I’m starting. A slower-paced life. I’ll make new friends and find new favorite places and I’m so excited.

This year has been a huge year for me. My friends and family have supported me in all sorts of ways while I recovered from heart-break and restarted my life. I’m so grateful to you all, and I feel truly blessed. Please come visit me anytime in Mendocino ❤

 

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I’m Going To Live in a One-Room Cabin In The Woods, Alone.

 

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You guys. Did you read that title? I’m going to go live in a secluded cabin in the woods *alone* for a whole month. And that cabin is literally just one room. Just me, my books, some art stuff, some foods, and my thoughts. I am probably more excited than I should be.

The idea came about because I have been deeply craving moving to the country. I’ve been looking on craigslist and every time I find an apartment in the country my brain is like “NOT SECLUDED ENOUGH.”

I don’t know why I have such an intense desire to be secluded in the woods but that desire is not just speaking to me but screaming at me. I don’t want to totally upend my life to follow this desire, so I chose a more wise way of fulfilling the screaming desire. I’ve subletted my apartment for a month, and I’m renting a cabin in the Trinity-Shasta forest for all of October.

No internet. No job. Just me and reflection and creation. I think a lot of people do something like this after divorce. They often travel. I’ve done so much traveling in my life, I wanted to travel internally a bit. Finding my sense of creativity and artistic expression in the shadow of a very talented father has been a challenge for me, so that is what I will mostly focus on: art, writing, music, and healing. I’ve got books on the topic (plus many other topics), and all the art supplies you can imagine. This is going to be great…..

…..And also maybe horrible. Some really Bad Things have happened to me in the last year, and my thoughts have been somewhat tortured by these events. Without the anesthetic of Netflix or dates or booze or drugs or facebook, I think I’m going to have to face those thoughts head-on. And it’s going to be really uncomfortable. But also, probably, exactly what I need to grow past all of this.

Wish me luck folks. It’s gunna be a wild ride.

 

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Coffee and Becoming My Own Partner

When I was 20 I had a mentor named Henrietta. She assigned me homework one night: write down all the things you want your dream partner to be. I wrote a bunch of things….They’ll be a great cook! They’ll read a lot! They’re kind and loving! They dance! I returned this list of my dream lover’s attributes to her the following week, curious what the point of this exercise would be.

She read it, handed it back to me, and said, “Great. Now go become all those things yourself.” I’m sure I stared at her blankly at first. But 13 years later I think I finally, genuinely get it. We can’t look to others for what we want, we have to find it in ourselves. It’s a sentiment I have heard over and over again, but only in this singledom I’ve had the last while did it finally really sink in.

So I’ve been working on doing just that. In lots of little ways.

The last several years I’ve lamented that my partner never made me coffee in the mornings. I always watched my stepmom bring my dad coffee in bed when I was growing up, and I became really emotionally attached to this act. I taught Michael how to brew coffee but he never did it for whatever reason. Blake would occasionally make me coffee but we were usually still fighting from the night before and it wasn’t sweet, literally and figuratively.

Now all alone in my home I still crave waking up to the smell of coffee, not just for the sake of coffee but in my heart I crave it too. Like it’s a sign of being loved or something. So you know what I did? Today I went and bought a fancy coffee maker that I can program to make coffee at a specific time. So tomorrow, my coffee is set to brew at 6am. And I will wake up to the sweet, sweet smell of coffee I made (basically) all on my own. Because I am learning to make *myself* feel loved. This is a small step, but it’s on a path I’m really glad to be on.

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