My Blog Motto

"Good judgement comes from experience, and often experience comes from bad judgement"

~Rita Mae Brown

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Holidays Attention Deficit Style

I don't know what it is with me and holidays but I have a set of patterns from which I cannot seem to break free. It goes a little like this.
About a month before a holiday I begin brainstorming, and what a storm it is! So many ideas for projects, thematic parties and events, gifts, baked good and entire menus of, usually thematic, dinners...oh it all sounds so good!
I do a little research, collect some materials...and then figure I have plenty of time to let the genius marinate.
Marinate for 2 weeks.
Madly work on projects/ideas, but at an unstable and inconsistent pace.
Now I have about 4 or 5 half finished (at best) projects and am confused as to how to proceed. I become depressed and despondent asking myself why I can't follow through on things. To prove myself right, I shelve all my projects.
A day or two before the actual holiday I snap into gear. This jolt is usually driven by guilt. Other people have begun doing nice things for myself and others and all I have is a bunch of barely half finished projects that I am sure won't be 'good enough' even if I did have time to complete them. Plus I am usually out of money or supplies.
Christmas money arrives from my Mom, I use this money to complete my supply list.
By now the holiday has arrived. I have a few gifts lined up and settle for a traditional dinner instead of whatever exotic themed fare I had envisioned. I feel guilty, but I remind myself that holidays are about Love and Togetherness.
I enjoy a day of Love and Togetherness, and some people get homemade coupons for gifts to be delivered some time in the near future.
I wait for my tax return and take everyone on a shopping spree.

Happy Holidays Everyone!

© 2010-2012 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

I Am My Soul Mate

I have been single for a little over a year now. For me this is an accomplishment. I used to be one of those people who believed that without a partner I was incomplete. That kind of thinking has gotten me into a considerable amount of trouble over the years and has led to missed opportunities for personal and professional growth. It has only been in the last decade or so that I have overcome that belief and have enjoyed periods of singularity and yes, even celibacy.

2011 was a challenging year for my hard won sense of self sufficiency. I had been through two relationships within a year. The first ended when my partner relocated for employment. Actually it ended shortly after he relocated, as we did make a brief effort at the long distance relationship. It was a half hearted effort on both our parts I think, almost a gesture of politeness or respect for one another or of the very ideal of enduring love.

Once that ended, civilly, I decided for about the thousandth time that love was a lovely ideal but most likely not something that was destined for me. I had a lousy history with it and so did my parents, although to their credit they did both eventually find partners with whom they have managed to stay happily partnered for 30 years each. So the second relationship was not meant to be taken seriously, in my mind, but I ended up getting hurt in the process anyway. That relationship was short lived and quite dysfunctional and it took me by surprise. Surprise because it had all the elements of some of the relationships I had when I was younger and vulnerable. At the time I met this man I was vulnerable again, not because I had suddenly forgotten the painful lessons I have learned along the way but because I was not yet healed from the loss of a very sweet and comfortable relationship that had too recently ended. It was the proverbial 'rebound romance'. I hate falling for cliches even more than I hate the fact that they exist. Even if it's not true love, it never feels good to be taken advantage of and manipulated.

Once that little fiasco was out of the way I pretty much decided that was it I was done with all this relationship stuff. If I couldn't even manage to come out of a casual relationship unscathed it wasn't worth the effort. I've been comfortable with my decision so far. I loathe dating and the pressure of meeting someone new, trying to decide if they are worth the time and effort of getting to know them better and all that mess. I also rather enjoy living my life by my terms, on my schedule and in my own style.

But once in a while I miss the companionship of having someone around who is intimately a part of my daily life. I miss having that person that I can bounce ideas off, share my thoughts and feelings and just Be with. I miss the level of companionship that evolves over time, a settled and comfortable affinity where half the communication that occurs is nonverbal, because you know one another that well.

Maybe not everyone gets to have that, or keep it. Maybe it's a little bit fate and a little bit me. I really don't know.

Most likely this longing will pass and I'll go back to being perfectly content being just me. Usually what happens when I start thinking this way is this: somehow I must emit availability signals indicating that I am single and out of nowhere men start appearing in my life, showing interest in 'getting to know me better'. Then as soon as I get to know them even a little better I realize, or decide, that they are not the person for me. There are always one or two glaring qualities that I just know I could not possibly endure no matter how many other likable characteristics the person might have. Then as quickly and unconsciously as I dropped the shield of detachment I summon it back and become once again, invisible.

Regardless of whether it is me or fate I often wonder about the bit of wisdom that says only when you really love and accept yourself are you ready to love someone else. Eliminating the perceived need for a partner certainly reduces the chance of settling for someone who is not right for you, or even healthy for you, that much is true. But I think many of us have come to regard the 'love yourself' ideal as a kind of magic spell or lucky charm, believing that once we achieve that state balance will be restored to the Universe and we will be granted the wish of True Love.

But maybe the joke is on us, after all the years of trying to achieve that blissful state of self acceptance all the while secretly harboring the hope that we will unlock the magic to finding our soul mate, that we discover we really only needed ourselves after all.

© 2010-2012 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Neither Hermit nor Harlot

Sometimes I think about becoming a Hermit. Occasionally I try the title on for size. In reality I live in a very community oriented neighborhood within a reasonably well populated city. I shop at the corner store where everyone knows my name and I am on a conversational level of acquaintance with my neighbors. I have a few close friends and I interact with on a regular basis. I am far from the hermit lifestyle that I may dream of from time to time; a house in the woods, away from the noise and dirt of the city. I'm pretty certain I'm not ready to take that step just yet.
I say I'm a hermit sometimes, jokingly, because it feels that way relative to my younger years. In my 20's, 30's and even into my 40's I could barely be restrained within the four walls of my own  home. I loved going out to bars and parties and if I was in a clean and sober phase I was involved in parenting groups or other circles of like minded people. I thrived on human interaction. Most of my career was spent amidst the high energy and drama of a youth shelter where I was energized by the diverse and intense personalities and situations I navigated every day. I was the supreme multi tasker, moving seamlessly from a phone call with an angry parent, to comforting a hysterical teenager to mentoring idealistic college students, all within a span of several minutes. In my party years I danced, flirted, gossiped and drank into the wee hours of the night, sometimes into the following day. I couldn't get enough it seemed, there was so much life to be lived, people to meet and music to be experienced. The more I did, in either world, the more I craved. Human interaction was like a stimulant, energizing, joyous and addicting.
So what happened? Why is it that now even when given an opportunity to attend an event where I know I will most likely enjoy myself and meet people that I will find interesting and stimulating I find myself making excuses to stay home. Why do I prefer the company of my four legged roommates or my immediate family to anyone else? And how is it that the energy and motion of the city now feels like an irritant, a noisy distraction from the real me. Why is it that I who would have gone stir crazy without human contact after one day now dream of living deep in a woods where no one can find me unless by my choosing.
I have come to realize that the real Me was not always that outgoing bar hopping party girl. Nor was I the crisis intervening, multi tasking social worker.
The person I was as a child was quiet, shy and solitary. I was a dreamer, not a doer. When my family had parties, I generally tried to become invisible hoping no one would ensnare me in conversation. I spent hours alone in the yard building things out of bits and pieces left to me by nature. I conversed with animals and imagined their responses. I explored paths and empty buildings and I created stories in my mind of events that had happened in these places. I filled them with characters and events of days gone by and the places came alive in a universe of my creation. Real people were typically seen as a disruption in the pattern of world I was creating, unless they were another dreamer, the sort of person who would be a co-creator of the imaginary world.
There were reasons for my semi conscious choice to become the outgoing extroverted person I had been. Living through frequent changes in family structure as my parents divorced, repaired, split and repaired again required adjusting to new patterns of interaction and adapting to unfamiliar behavior and routine. Moving from state to state and changing schools was an opportunity to try on new character traits and to completely reinvent ones self, often at the expense of one's true self. It is normal to want to fit in especially in the pre teen and teenage years but when given a clean slate and a mysterious history one looks to peers and the environment for clues when creating a persona. For a thoughtful and sensitive child all the change and over-stimulation was exhausting and often painful. It finally became easier to do and to be than to think or feel. I had jumped on an express train to external reward and social acceptance and I left Jenny behind at one of the stops. I can see her, sitting alone on a bench nose buried in a book, completely unaware that the train had left the station hours ago.
Now I have returned to retrieve that girl, that dreamer, that reader of books, that quiet and peaceful child who was just a little too sensitive for the real world. I have armed her with the tools I found out there in the real world, so she wont be hurt so profoundly by the ugly things that happen there. I can honor and respect her desire to be left alone but when we need to venture out into the real world, we know how to maneuver through the small talk and chit chat of ordinary life. We know how to read the signals that tell us when to withdraw and when it's safe to move forward (of course we all have lapses in judgement, don't we?) We know how to protect ourSelf without running, without having to have the first word and the last. We know it's okay to be silent and observe when words would only bring confusion or distraction. I/we have merged the introvert and the extrovert into something that is manageable and reasonably well balanced. We have come to accept that being alone with our thoughts and feelings is a pretty nice place to be and that if we need to escape now and then, into a world of our own making, it is a method of survival in an unpredictable world.

© 2010-2012 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard