Posts Tagged ‘Who I am’

Two Faced

Friday, March 16th, 2012

Sometimes it seems like there are (at least) two different versions of me, the one who likes to hang out and be sociable and the one who all but refuses to leave the apartment. In reality, it’s more of a spectrum, from no-human-contact to oh-that-sounds-like-fun-let’s-go, and all the tiny points in between.

I’m at my best when I find my harmony point. Where I can take into account all the other things going on in my day-week-life and realize what events will make me feel good versus those that will make me feel exhausted. Because, they may be the same events, just a difference in the surrounding details.

Varied Personalities Bag bag
If you like this thought, take a peek at the Social Caterpillar store


I’m My Own Rainbow

And then, there’s the way I am when we first meet, the way I am when I’m in a crowd, the way I am when I’ve know you a while and it’s just us… All different, often *quite* different. I have a friend whose husband thought I didn’t like him because the first two times I met him were large group settings and it was all I could to to remember who everyone was, including myself.

I have another friend who recently told a mutual friend that he thought my quiet side was a front. Heh. That’s cute. I mean, I can see why he would think that. When we first met, I barely said a word. Now he can hardly get me to shut up and he’s seen all the ‘outgoing’ stuff I’ve done over the past couple of years. It could easily look like an effortless transformation if you weren’t in my head and so far, I’m still the only one in here.

But really it’s all me. Just me at different times, in different situations, under different circumstances. We all do it. You don’t act the same way in front of your grandmother as you do with friends you’ve had since Jr. High, do you? Please, say the answer is no. Or that your granny likes to smoke with you behind the garage.

Juuuuuust Right… Now

Different isn’t necessarily wrong. It’s that my variables are different that other people’s. Or even my own, depending on what else I’ve got going on. I can feel like grabbing supper with friends one Friday and not want to leave the house the whole following weekend, just because of a difference in all of the other stuff I had going on each week. And that’s great, because it’s what works for me, as long as I see it and make allowances for my limitations wherever they happen to land at that point.

What about you? Do feel like you should always be the same or have you found your rhythm of differences?

Looking to stretch your comfort zone in tiny ways and pick up some resource recommendations? Sign up for Inching Along, and every other week I’ll send you one small (possibly even fun) challenge that you can easily accomplish plus other nuggets that I find.
You know, you can get updates by email or RSS. Yay, updates!

In the comments:

We’re being open here, sharing and saying things we don’t always say out loud. What helps: Sharing your stories and Ideas. Cheering and telling what works/worked for you. What hurts: shoulds, harshness, and such. (I used to teach first grade, I can’t help it.)


Open Home, Open Heart

Friday, November 18th, 2011

Recently, I’ve been working under the theory that my mind is clearer when my home is less cluttered. But, what about the heart?

For years I’ve been really good a building walls between myself and other people. Not letting them in emotionally… and physically. Very few people get invited in to my home. It’s not that I don’t like them, but… more that I’m not letting them see the *real* me.

Behind the Curtain?

The real me and my lack of perfection. My dining area that has a rug mat and no rug, a folding table and two director’s chairs. And before, in my old house, the, well, the dining room was unfinished there too.

Hmmm. I leave the one room in the house that is primarily used for entertaining as the last room to be finished. I finished the studio, that I never used, before I got half way through the dining room in my old house. Wow, okay, I started with one metaphor and ran smack into another one, which still fits with the first one.

Mine, All Mine

I’m keeping my life and my self to me. Not sharing, not inviting people in. I mean, I know more people and I’m more social, than I was, but still. I keep people at a distance. And maybe I need that, but maybe not. It’s a pattern to watch, at this point.

The excuse of clutter, the excuse of unfinished rooms, that’s what they are. Excuses. Reasons to keep people at a distance. And I’ve been wondering, if I’m spending all this energy keeping people out, how do I start letting people in?

All of the people who I’ve invited into my home, they are people who have seen me in my jammies and with sleep hair. I know them that well.

Opening Up

What about having acquaintances over for tea, or a few new friends over for supper? These ideas don’t seem particularly out of the ordinary, and yet, I don’t do it.

So, this was supposed to be about softening my walls and creating an inviting home, opening my heart and mind to finding someone new, someone special, and instead, I ended up at a much more general version of the same idea. Which is maybe where I need to start any way…

Now, I’m curious. How do you handle your boundaries for your home? Where do you draw your line?

Have you been thinking about adding a few comfort zone stretching challenges to your life? Get those plus resources and other fun nuggets of info in your inbox every other week, sign up for Inching Along today.
You know, you can get updates by email or RSS. Yay, updates!

In the comments:

We’re being open here, sharing and saying things we don’t always say out loud. What helps: Sharing your stories and Ideas. Cheering and telling what works/worked for you. What hurts: shoulds, harshness, and such. (I used to teach first grade, I can’t help it.)


Suffering Doesn’t Get You There Any Faster

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Years ago I was at Sunday service at my church and my minister spoke of how she used to take the pretty way to the church when she had allowed herself enough time and the less attractive way when she was in a hurry. One day, she decided to time the routes to see how much time she saved on the less attractive route.

They took the same amount of time.

We tend to think that suffering or depriving ourselves gets us to our goals quicker. Yeah… no. There is no glory in suffering when you could be taking care of yourself.

How often have you tried pushing through and ended up procrastinating by giving yourself breaks or treats, thereby making whatever it was take even longer?

Self Care as a Tool

Today I want to spend some time thinking about what makes us more effective *because* we are taking care of ourselves.

I know that when writing is difficult, I work better if I make it pretty. Instrumental music is great for when I want some pep but still need to think. I’m certain that house work goes faster with Kesha (NSFW).

Making a cup of tea before I start a project leaves me feeling cared for. If it involves a spread sheet, then a plate of fruit is nice too. Making sure I’ve eaten *before* I start the-thing-that-needs-to-be-done-in-a-hurry, yes I need that, since I’m remarkably stupid when I’m hungry.


And, walking away. Calling a time out. When you’re so deep inside a problem that you can’t see a solution, get up, go make more tea, stretch, go for a 10 minute walk. Your brain needs a different perspective, a reset, and walking away will get you to the solution faster than trying to push through and drag the answer out of your brain by brute force.

And one more thing to think about: the way you treat yourself is how others learn to treat you. And we won’t even get into how your children learn to treat themselves.

Self care is important, so is recognizing that you don’t just deserve it, but you need it.

What are some ways that self care makes taking on the difficult things a bit easier?

Annnnnnnnnd we stretch Two Three Four. Sign up for Inching Along and you’ll get small comfort zone stretches sent to your inbox ever other week, plus resources and other fun nuggets of info. 
You know, you can get updates by email or RSS. Yay, updates!

In the comments:

We’re being open here, sharing and saying things we don’t always say out loud. What helps: Sharing your stories and Ideas. Cheering and telling what works/worked for you. What hurts: shoulds, harshness, and such. (I used to teach first grade, I can’t help it.)


How My Mother’s Cat and I Process Reality

Friday, October 15th, 2010

That Darn Cat

Let me tell you about my mother’s cat. He’s a black Devon Rex and when he was a kitten he would jump up and bat the peep hole on the front door. Or try to jump on top of your head. Once he put a paw on each of my cheeks and licked my mouth. Too freaking precious. None of that is the point though.


Kittyumpkins (not his real name) has an issue with patterns. Not emotional stuckified patterns, but real repeating printed motifs. If you drop a napkin on the floor you get an unexpected study in problem solving.

Peer and Poke

Kittyumpkins starts about six feet away from the napkin, walking in concentric circles. Slowly, and hunkered down he makes his way, closer and closer to the offending crumpled fabric. When he finds himself about two feet away he stops and darts his arm (front leg, whatever, it’s my story) out and tucks it back, not getting anywhere near the napkin, and resumes his circles.

Periodically he stops and tries again until he gets almost close enough to touch it and then scares himself and backs away, with significantly less dignity than you would expect of a cat, and he starts the circles again.

Prod and Pounce

If you haven’t gotten bored by this point and taken the napkin away, he makes his way back around and repeats the reach and tuck until he gets close enough to touch it. At which point he decides what to do with the napkin, usually: lick it, lay down on it, or ignore it and go find a catnip mouse.

And while all of this is literally true, it also functions as a metaphor for how I deal with new things. Peer and poke. Prod and pounce. Why yes, I do love sprawling out in sunny patches, biting people who rub my tummy, and running into a room like the Devil himself is after me and then looking around nonchalantly, why do you ask?

I don’t have a question for you this time, but you can borrow my metaphor if you want, just bring it back clean, Kittyumpkins hates being dirty.

You know, you can get updates by email or RSS. Yay, updates!

In the comments:

We’re being open here, sharing and saying things we don’t always say out loud.What helps: Sharing your stories and Ideas. Cheering and telling what works/worked for you. What hurts: shoulds, harshness, and such. (I used to teach first grade, I can’t help it.)


Truth and Trust, Ouch

Sunday, October 10th, 2010

I’ve been hiding. Not from you, but from writing this post. From following through on something important to me and who and how I am. Yes… that. Sigh.


Last week, Lisa tweeted something that struck me, almost physically, with its power:

I knew I needed to sit with it. Shiva it up some. Really let this one come from those hidden recesses that gather dust while you go about your day: work, shop, cook, sleep.

At first, nothing. I’m happy with where I am with my not-yet-a-business sits. I’m making progress, even if only I can see it. I am, in fact, really trusting myself on this one.

And Truth

And so, more Shiva Nata, more sitting with the Question. And then a realization, one I had felt coming since before I left for Mexico, but had pushed aside. I wasn’t ready, and I still don’t like it.

I need to let go of a relationship. Well, part of one. If that’s possible, and I hope it is. A significant part of me believes that an ex will realize his mistake and we will get back together, and travel together, and live happily ever after. Sigh. Yeah. I know. My own grown up fairy tale.

Getting Beyond the Ouch

The problem with fairy tales? They keep us from enjoying reality. Too much of what *could* be and not nearly enough of what is. So, in addition to being out in the world, I am now opening up to the possibility of new and more and unknown. Because the safety of the story in my head is hurting me more than risking my heart ever could.

Lisa turned her question into a #6monthchallenge where most people seem to be using it for business or blog purposes. And I guess this is a blog purpose, but more than that, it’s time to rescue my own damn self. More meeting new people, more putting myself in new situations, more being open to possibility. Because I do trust myself, and the universe, and in fact, serendipity.

What would you do, if you truly trusted yourself? Lisa and I both want to know.

You know, you can get updates by email or RSS. Yay, updates!

In the comments:

We’re being open here, sharing and saying things we don’t always say out loud.What helps: Sharing your stories and Ideas. Cheering and telling what works/worked for you. What hurts: shoulds, harshness, and such. (I used to teach first grade, I can’t help it.)

You want me to talk about *me*?

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

And so, the game of hide and go seek began

When I saw this list of questions from Naomi Dunford over at IttyBiz, my chest went all tight and then I knew that I *had* to answer them. Here. So that everyone can see them. It took me a crazy amount of time to answer them, because I kept running away and then sneaking back.

What’s your game? What do you do?

I help people who are ready to stretch their comfort zones reach out and connect with other people. When you’ve been hiding in your living room for a while, it can be difficult to meet new people or know what to say in social situations. I give small challenges and half steps to guide people comfortably through pushing their boundaries. I’m developing painless comfort zone stretches in a free e-challenge series, an e-book, and a membership site.

Why do you do it? Do you love it, or do you just have one of those creepy knacks?

I know what it’s like to be the shy, quiet, odd chick. My life got to the point where I had turned down so many invitations, that people just quit asking. I never went out and the idea of meeting new people terrified me, but I got bored, and lonely. I wanted to meet new people but I felt paralyzed, that I just couldn’t do it. I knew I wanted to make changes, but I didn’t know where to begin. So,  I stumbled around a lot and went to conferences and started this blog and stumbled some more, because apparently, I’m both clumsy and perseverant.

Who are your customers? What kind of people would need or want what you offer?

People who are shy, introverted, quiet, and reserved, who also want to take the next step for reaching out and connecting.

What’s your marketing USP? Why should I buy from you instead of the other losers?

I know what it’s like. I also know that there are ways to be exactly who you are and still reach out. We’re stretching your comfort zone, not breaking through it, because, ouch, that sounds painful. With me, you take one step, one mini challenge at a time until it is *part* of your comfort zone. Then, another step. We work with who you are, without trying to *fix* you. You’re not broken, there’s nothing wrong with being shy, quiet, introverted, or reserved.

What’s next for you? What’s the big plan?

Next? Next you’ll get to see what those painless comfort zone stretches really look like in real live digital format! Wheeeeee!

So, now you’ve seen my answers. Now I have to keep writing and creating and pulling all this stuff together, for you. For me.

You know, you can get updates by email or RSS. Yay, updates!

In the comments:

We’re being open here, sharing and saying things we don’t always say out loud.What helps: Sharing your stories and Ideas. Cheering and telling what works/worked for you. What hurts: shoulds, harshness, and such. (I used to teach first grade, I can’t help it.)


Turning Can’t into Can

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

In Xela, Guatemala, where I’ve been living for the past six weeks, a local trekking organization leads a full moon hike where you sit atop a volcano and watch the sun rise over the surrounding volcanoes. I missed the first one and knew I’d really regret it if I missed the second one.

So, last night I got to the Quetzaltrekkers office around 11:00 pm. One of the guides took me into the supply room and pulled a sleeping bag, stuff sack, roll mat, fleece, rainproof jacket, and pants for me.

I got the sleeping bag in the stuff sack and started to put everything in the bag. Physics was against me on this one. No way on earth all of that was going to fit into my pack. And so, off I went to find some one who might have a solution. One guide got another and they joined forces to wrestle the sleeping bag and pack into submission, while I went off to change from my jeans (“If we get rained on, those are going to be really uncomfortable”) into hot pink pants that made wooshing sounds when I walked.

After we had all gotten ourselves arranged and sorted, our ride arrived. The fifteen of us climbed into a pick up truck with a frame around the bed so we could stand without falling out, loading most of our packs into another frame on top of the cab. The beauty of the ride is difficult to describe, volcanoes and cornfields shrouded in mist, under the light of a full moon.

We jumped out of the pickup bed and reclaimed our packs. Our guides formally introduced themselves and gave us the rundown on how the night would go. This is what to do when you need to relieve yourself, this is what you do if you start to feel sick, this is how long each part should take. And then we were off.

For about five minutes, and then I started getting winded. Again. I discussed my respiratory issues with a guide when I signed up and convinced us both that it would be fine. Sigh. When I started getting winded, I fell to the back and the last guide would stop and rest with me when I needed. We got far enough behind that the other guides kept signaling to check on us.

In the hike description, I had read that the first part of the hike was the easiest, and brought this up at one of the stops where I would catch my breath.  Yep, it would only get harder.

Now, here’s the thing: I could have made it to the top, it just would have taken me about twice as long as everyone else. For me, the whole point was to summit the volcano and watch the sun rise over the tops of the other volcanoes. Getting to the top at nine in the morning felt kind of pointless, on top of exhausting. So, I made a choice. I chose to go back to town, back to bed, to find a respiratory specialist, start walking more and try again later. It may be a different volcano or I may come back, but I’m not done.

Earlier this week I read a post by Johnny B. Truant, Choose to be outstanding (or choose to continue to suck), and in it he tackles the word “can’t”. I kind of hate the word “can’t”, and I only use it in reference to the physically impossible.

I can’t levitate.

I don’t speak French.

As far as I know, it is physically impossible for me to levitate. I could learn French if I wanted to, I just haven’t.

I can get a group together, start exceptionally early and climb that volcano. I doubt I will do it soon, I’d rather start with the specialist and daily conditioning. But, it’s my choice.

When I’m in a group of people and I don’t say anything to anyone, I’m choosing one level of discomfort over another. I could start talking to some one, it is physically possible. I know the discomfort of standing there alone not saying anything. The discomfort of introducing myself and starting a conversation, I’m less familiar with that and so the choice is more difficult. But ultimately it is my choice.

When I know I’m going to be in a situation where I’ll need to reach out and meet people, I can choose to prepare. I can also choose to leave early if I need to. I can also choose to attend with a friend who may act as a buffer, we’ll get into the details on this in another post.

In the comments:

What choices have you made recently that pushed your comfort zone a little bit, what can you do to prepare for next time? Thanks for sharing with us.

We’re being open here, sharing and saying things we don’t always say out loud.What helps: Sharing your stories and Ideas. Cheering and telling what works/worked for you. What hurts: shoulds, harshness, and such. (I used to teach first grade, I can’t help it.)


Of necessity

Saturday, September 11th, 2010

So, what to we really *have* to do?

Beyond bodily functions and the oft mentioned taxes. What do you consider necessary for the life you want?

Do you need to own a home? Have a car? Set aside TV time?

What about travel? going to restaurants? having a dedicated hobby space?

I returned to Guatemala from a trip to El Salvador a few days ago, and since then I’ve been thinking about the ‘comforts of home’ and what that means for me, someone without a permanent residence.

To feel comfortable in my life, I need:

private space

clear space to work-design, write, whatever else

hot showers

a decent bed

a kitchen

good shoes

seasonally appropriate clothes

a way to stay in touch with friends and family

books (audio, digital, tangible)

plenty of alone time


In truth, I also need my laptop so I can work, but it doesn’t feel right in that list.

When I look over the list, I see a rented room with a desk and kitchen access, maybe an apartment. I see my laptop with Skype, Twitter, Facebook, and email. I see my iPhone and the clothes in my pack.

No wonder I’m still enjoying the trip two months in. I’ve got my comforts here with me. I didn’t really consider this aspect before I left, but it is worth the time to see what you need.

What do you need? And does it look like the life you have?


Ready or Not

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

My current adventure is as much about figuring out some things about myself as it is about seeing the world. Pushing my boundaries and discovering more about how I function.

When I left I promised myself I would try horseback riding (again) and windsurfing while traveling the coast. The options I’ve had for horseback riding have been either for people who already know how to ride, or sunset beach tours. I don’t really know how to ride and a sunset beach tour felt a little too romantic and not really about riding. So now I’m looking for a ranch with real lessons in Guatemala.

And… windsurfing. Apparently it’s the wrong time of year for windsurfing. So, I decided to try surfing, only I’ve never really wanted to surf. But, I wanted to get some sort of adventure travel experience in to set the tone for the rest of the trip. I tend to place myself in the role of observer and that’s a habit I want to break.

I stay in hostels because I want to meet new people, not just watch passers by (although that can be really interesting – especially the stories I make up in my head about them)

I started this trip because I want to see the world for myself with all of its shine and filth, not just read my travel guides.

I want to try activities I normally wouldn’t because I won’t know unless I try and watching on tv or even from the sidelines, just isn’t the same.

But sometimes I’m not ready for what I want. Sometimes I need more mental preparation. Sometimes I need a different location or situation. Sometimes I need a catalyst.

My life goes a lot more smoothly when I follow the lead of the universe. I meet great people and learn what I’m supposed to.

On Tuesday, I arrived in Puerto Escondido and immediately after getting off the bus, the owner of a hostel started talking to me about his place. Given that I didn’t have a room anywhere else, it was within walking distance of the swimming beach, and had a pool on site, I agreed to try it for the night, and I’m glad I did.

Towerbridge has a feeling of easy camaraderie. After I returned from supper, I joined Steve (the owner), Carla (an employee), and Jason (a traveler from Seattle) under a palapa by the pool. Soon after, Nina & Sefil* (from the Netherlands), and Merti* & Luna (from France) invited us to go to the bars at Zicatela, the surfing beach. Each day, as people arrived and left, so many were engaging and generous.

I spent the next two days working during prime beach time and I realized I was putting off surf lessons. You see, Wednesday morning I had gone to the beach to sign up with a surf school. I couldn’t find anyone to talk to and the surfers on the beach seemed to have a cooler-than-thou attitude, something I used to encounter when I spent all my free time in tattoo/piercing shops. I’ve known plenty of down to earth tattoo artists and piercers, but I’ve met many more who believed their own hype. I think I just didn’t want to go back. Since I’d worked so much the previous two days, I was able to take Friday off and spend it at the beach. (I didn’t take the camera, sorry no pics.) When Jason and I left I still intended to take a surf lesson. Once at the beach, I said I just wanted to spend some time in the water first. And then I realized that I had already mentally allowed myself to not take a surf lesson. Only a few people had arrived at the beach and the waves were small. I was really enjoying just playing in the water and talking.

Soon Romina, Petr, and Martin arrived and I admitted out loud that I had chickened out. Looking out into the water, I realized it was true. With too many people in the water and the waves getting much stronger it looked complicated and not like any real fun. Well, the surfers looked like they were enjoying themselves, and really that was when I realized that I wanted to learn to surf for its own sake.

As the waves got stronger, Jason, Martin, and sometimes Romina too, would ride them onto the beach and then allow the receding wave to drag them back out into the ocean. I went out with them for a bit, but I just didn’t enjoy it as much as they did. Letting the wave carry me in was fun, so was letting it flip me around some (like I could have stopped it if I wanted to), but I started to lose my breath, the salt water hurt my throat, and having my backside dragged down the rocky beach back into the ocean lost its charm rather quickly.

Ultimately, I believe the people I met were more important to my journey than a surf lesson. Plus Jason gave me the name of a beach in Ecuador that is supposed to be perfect for surf lessons.

I know I’m ready for something, I’m in the right place, doing the right thing when I can do it readily. I feel right and strong and I win my inner argument with emotion rather than logic. Just like you can’t logic someone into a relationship, I can’t logic myself into action. I’ll act when I’m emotionally ready, not just intellectually.

The same seems to go for people, they show up in your life when you’re ready for them. Martin has also sold everything and is spending the year traveling and figuring out what’s next. Jason’s returning from a whirlwind tour of South America and already plotting how to return to Puerto Escondido and a trip through Central America. Romina is headed back to medical school and has offered to show me around Switzerland when I get there.  With many of the people I met in Puerto Escondido it feels like the journey is not over, like we’ll pick up someplace later. Probably starting with Martin since we’re on similar paths, both literally and figuratively.

I’m ready for the next step, even if it’s not a surf lesson. What do you want next and are you ready for it?

*I am in no way sure about the spelling of these names, or really, even if I’m close.


Throwing out the binky

Saturday, June 12th, 2010

When I was growing up, we moved a lot. From preschool through college, I attended 16 institutions (insert your own mental health joke here). For most people that number is closer to five. I’ve lived all over Texas, in Florida, Mexico, and Sweden. Growing up, I never lived anywhere longer than three consecutive years. I got to be pretty good at choosing who I was going to befriend and developing that friendship. It was a sink or swim sort of thing, and I got in plenty of swim practice.

As an adult, I *never* wanted to move. I acquired massive amounts of stuff so that moving would be difficult. And now… I’m selling it all and starting an around the world trip. I’ve got really cool stuff, and part of me is sad to see it go, but I’d be insane to let this trip go, especially over things I bought on eBay.

I’ll be taking the Copper Canyon Rail, traveling down the Pacific Coast of Mexico, and then spending three months in Guatemala volunteering at a school for children who live on the streets. Then… I’m not sure. I’ll keep heading south, but I don’t have any set plans. And, it turns out, that’s the way I like it.

I’m taking one bag and starting over somewhere new, several somewheres actually. I won’t know anyone and I won’t have my creature comforts to return to. I’ll have to meet people when I arrive, introduce myself and make new friends. This is a challenge I both want and need, leaving me both terrified and thrilled.