Thursday, October 9, 2014

Gilmore Girls, Welcome to Netflix

Not long ago, my dad caught me in their basement watching an episode of Gilmore Girls.

"Again? How many times have you seen this?" He asked this not bothering to hide his dismay. It must be difficult to have a child with an obsessive enough personality that she enjoys watching her favorite TV shows over and over. Still, I find myself lacking sympathy for his plight.

The truth is, I have seen every episode of Gilmore Girls at least a dozen times. There have been many shows over the years that I've enjoyed. Some I've even loved. But Gilmore Girls takes the cake. Gilmore Girls is like that pint of Ben and Jerry's Everything But The.... on a bad day (though I admit GG and Ben and Jerry's are best consumed together). It's pure comfort food, people.

But it's also a really, really well-written show. The characters are believable and likeble. The dialogue is witty, intelligent and fast-paced.  The relationship dynamics keep things interesting. And I would love to visit Stars Hollow. (If only it was a real place.)

So even though I own all seven seasons, since some of my discs are scratched from overuse, I am excited to welcome Gilmore Girls to Netflix.

Earlier, I stumbled upon this tribute to Gilmore Girls. I think Stephanie does an excellent job of describing why women are drawn to this quirky, charming show.

So yes, Dad. I am watching it again.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

QOD (Quote of the Day)

Apparently it's a two-post kind of day. Lucky you! Yes, you-- that one reader that stumbled upon this blog by accident. Don't you feel special? Like it was fate? Well you should. 

So here it is -- the QoD (get ready):

"The word that comes to mind is courage. Anyone can live by a formula. It's much harder to leave the straight and narrow. Yet many of us have found that we must leave. The imperative from deep within is too strong. Life beckons and to dishonor the call would be spiritual death."
- Dr. Marlene Winell

YES! Choose life. This makes me think of a song I have been listening to a lot recently:

"Well I was dying to leave this place I know. Traded it in for something I can relate to. I'll find out who I really am. It may take some time, but maybe that's okay, yeah. Trying to make my way past hope, do what I can with everything that I've been through. I'll take my chances to live again." 

LOVE that song. (It's called "I Should Leave Right Now" by an angsty band called The Dangerous Summer).

Life beckons, but some do not heed the call. Many probably don't hear it. 

But me?

I'll take my chances to live again, too.

A Flippant, Yet "Brilliant" Post

Er, that's "brilliant" in the British sense of the word. Alas, this post will not be brilliant in the American sense.

But that's okay. Because today I bought my airfare to London! That's right! Now I can jam to Fergie's London Bridge (what a life-changing song) while I make plans to hang out in pubs with the young upstarts of the Mother country. I'll order bangers and mash and say things like "bloke" and "blimey" and "cheers" and, of course, enthusiastic declarations like "that's brilliant!"

And I will practice my queen wave (just in case I need to use it) and buy the sort of fashionable hat that no one looks good in but one could get away with in London. Oh, and I can't forget to pay tribute to the Spice Girls!

Just kidding about the Spice Girls. But I am looking forward to riding the tube, buying baguettes and cheese at Tesco, walking along the Thames and admiring the way British men wear jeans that FIT them. No, I'm not kidding about that last one. Say what you want about the bad teeth-- those English blokes know how to work a pair of jeans better than any American guy I've seen.

Hmmm... I think it's time for that Fergie song. Cheers!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

To See and Be Seen

Last week I had a strange dream. I won't go into details (since stock prices are more interesting to read than other people's dreams) but basically at one point in the dream, someone asked me what I want the most. After careful consideration, I replied that I want the ability to see others and to be seen.

This dream  followed an experience I had with a good friend who I used to confide in on a fairly regular basis. Last week, I sat across from him at his desk and shared one of the major changes I have made over the past few months. I knew he would not agree with my decision but I wanted him to try and understand my experience and the WHY behind my decision.

Unfortunately, he dismissed me quickly with eye rolling and a tangent that reflected a lack of empathy for others with different experiences than his. As I sat across from him, I began to feel invisible. He was looking at me but he couldn't see me. I fought the urge to stand on his desk and shout "I'm right here! LOOK at me!"

This week, I had another experience of telling a different friend about the same decision. With sensitivity, she asked thoughtful questions. She LISTENED and tried to UNDERSTAND my perspective. And although she, too, may not ultimately agree with my decision, she assured me that it doesn't change her good opinion of me. After our conversation, she thanked me and told me that she had gained a much broader perspective from hearing my thoughts. She could see me.

I know that I, too, have dismissed others at times. I have chosen not to see them, either to spare myself pain and discomfort or simply because their experiences were vastly different than mine and I did not care to try and understand. I not only missed out the opportunity to connect with these people; I also prevented myself from gaining new insights and broadening my vision.

One of my favorite parts from Lucy Grealy's brilliant "Autobiography of a Face" discusses how people were drawn to Grealy because she loved them for who they were rather than who she wanted them to be. She could see them. Acknowledge them. Accept them. Love them.

Seeing is suspending judgment while we patiently listen to another's story. Seeing is asking questions, and showing interest, care and concern. Seeing is allowing the person to be vulnerable in front of us and inviting him or her to be authentic. Seeing is trying to understand where they are coming from -- what experiences have shaped them? Why do they make the decisions they do? What do they want and what are their struggles?

Even if we're frustrated, hurt or angry, can we acknowledge them? Can we see them?

And do we seek after relationships where we, too, are seen? What makes you feel seen or dismissed?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Down with Positive Psychology?

Yesterday while perusing the Psychology Today website (it's a daily habit, I confess), I came across an article that perfectly summed up something I have been feeling. The article is called "Into the Dark: A Psychology of Soul, Shadow and Diversity" by David Bedrick. 

Bedrick writes, "I don’t know about you, but I can’t stand to see one more article or book saying there are '5 Keys to Success,' ' Elements for Being Happy,' or '6 Steps to Healing.' Not that these writings are without merit, but let’s face it, they often dumb us down. Of course it’s seductive to be given The Answer, especially when it’s the answer to everything we’ve ever wanted. But at what cost? What gets left behind?

To me, these teachings seem to leave out our depth and soul; they fail to account for most of the human beings on the planet who have few options, many of whom are women, children, and people of color; they also leave out our authentic lives and the crosses we must bear to follow our callings, our shadows, our death, our decay, and all that goes with it, and perhaps most urgently, our humanity—that which we share and which often brings us to the heart of the matter: the need for love."

YES!! THIS!!! Bedrick goes on to talk about how embracing the shadow side of life can teach us things. I'll try not to post the whole article here but I particularly loved this part:

"If we promote a psychology that equates health with light, happiness, lack of physical symptoms, and relationships without conflict, we dismiss and deny the truths and the important growth that can be found in the blues, in sickness, in conflict, in the dark. For example, while anger is often considered a symptom to be remedied, in anger is often a great source of power. Sometimes people need to stand up for themselves, resist inner-criticism, speak out against injustice, start a revolution, and make sustainable change by being able to use righteous anger to right wrongs. Or, while depression is often considered a symptom to be fixed through medication, deeper truths can often be unearthed in these low times. People often find values they have left behind or difficulties that have been heretofore unidentified. Depression can be a powerful invitation to look deeper into the self, a space free of the ambitions and activities of daily life to ask the underlying questions that have been ignored for so long."

Last week I attended a presentation on positive psychology. And while it was good and some of the information has merit, I felt something wanting. The reality is that yes, sometimes we have to act better than we feel and put on the happy face. But emotions are not good or bad; they are information. So when (not if) we find ourselves anxious, depressed, angry, hurt, etc., and we dismiss them or bury them because we find them unpleasant, we might be dismissing beautiful opportunities to connect with our deepest selves. The willingness to explore these emotions without judgment can lead to unimaginable growth as we come to know ourselves and value our individuality, our needs and our deepest desires and hopes. I also believe that this exploration can open the doors to true change - if we're willing to face the pain.

Monday, March 17, 2014

I Like This

Each week I read the New York Times Modern Love column essays religiously. I love them. Like if I had to choose between beaches (and I LOVE beaches) and the Modern Love column, I would be seriously torn. (And seriously confused about a world where I had to choose between them...). 

Anyway, I like this quote from Sunday's essay, A Second Embrace, With Hearts and Eyes Open:

"Neither of us sees the world in guarantees anymore. We recognize them as the comforting fictions they are. We accept that you can't always keep the promises you made when you were barely above drinking age. You can't know how you will change, or what life will throw at you ... But he and I have learned, because we have had to, the difference between the illusion of security and the liberating joy of the present, between obligation and choice. And choice, terrifying as it can be, is so much better."

I'll raise my glass to that!

(Also, I think the Modern Love column wins. Sorry, beaches.)


Several years ago, I read Elna Baker's The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance (how's that for a long title?). I laughed. I cried. But that's not the point.

In the book, Elna (I feel like we're on first-name terms even though we've never met) talks about being quite overweight.  Like many, she's tried dieting in the past but it's never stuck. So she's resigned herself to being overweight. Until one day.

While at a carnival, Elna enters a fun house with different types of mirrors that alter reality. Standing before one of those mirrors in particular takes her breath away. The reflection staring back at her is that of a thin girl who is ... beautiful. For the first time she catches a glimpse of her beauty. And she can't stop staring.

Soon after, she signs up for a weight loss program and, thanks to doctor-prescribed Phen-phen, crash dieting and extreme exercising, she drops 80 pounds in about four-and-a-half months. (And yes, she's kept it off.)

I'm not really interested in discussing the methods Elna used for her weight loss or even her weight loss at all. I'm interested in that moment when she catches a glimpse of an altered reality and sees who she could become and it completely changes her perception of herself and empowers her to change. Yes, she still had to do the hard work. Yes, it didn't happen overnight. But what made the difference between all of the times she'd tried before and this time?

We hear it all the time: just believe in yourself. Simple. But rather trite, in my opinion. Because it's ignoring the fact that sometimes believing requires first catching a glimpse of what can be before we can really internalize it and allow it to alter our perceptions. It's often those small glimpses of what might be that motivate us, finally, to begin making changes and sticking through it when it gets hard.

And it's ironic that it's a distorted mirror that helps her realize who she is; an unreal reflection that somehow reflects a reality that speaks to her. How often are we unwilling to go after the things we want because we insist on seeing through ordinary mirrors? Sometimes catching those glimpses that help us cross that difficult realm from dreaming to reality requires us to get creative; we have to let our imaginations change the curve of the mirror or bend the light in a different way.

I am currently experiencing many changes. Although most are welcome, they are still intensely anxiety-provoking at times. But in the past few months, I've had many glimpses of who I am, who I can become and how my life can be -- it's still a distorted reality, a fantasy right now. But there is something real in the fantasy. And those glimpses are giving me the ability to push through the fear and self-doubt and see doors and windows where I could only see walls before.

It's beautiful.