My Blog Motto

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

~Rita Mae Brown

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Procrastinating happiness

Procrastination. We all react to the word, typically with an expression that resembles some level of physical discomfort. Try it, just say the word and watch whomever you are speaking to. Chances are they will wince, squirm, roll their eyes or if they are in good humor they may chuckle in that conspiratorial way that let's you know that you are in on their secret but that's okay. Because after all it is not secret. Most people, if asked, will admit to falling victim to the procrastination but at some point or another in their lives.
For some of us, it is more that just a minor problem, for some of us it can be downright paralyzing. There are times when I have been at war with my own mind over the subject. Now obviously there are some things we put off simply because they are unpleasant. A trip to the DMV to renew your licence plates, or a visit to the dentist. I know plenty of perfectly normal responsible individuals who will postpone those kinds of tasks. And the reason is, well, obvious.
But what about putting off something that will eventually benefit ones self? If you stand to gain something by doing a small simple task, what on earth is the 'reason' for procrastination. I tend to be the kind of thinker who once given an adequate reason, even if not necessarily rational. I can then turn my focus to a solution. I'm pretty good at talking sense into myself as long as I am armed with a working theory of "why". In all the psychological, spiritual and self help books articles and journals I've read I've failed to find an explanation that fits. So I turned to my friends, most of whom are well educated, many in the social services or education field; and many who have themselves been through a fair amount of therapy or self help programs. Again, aside from some minor speculation, no great revelations. My therapist who is also a practicing shaman, may not always have an answer but will usually pull an evocative question out of his bag of tricks. You know the kind of question that instantly illuminates the path that leads you to your own answer. After all the answers to these "why" questions often vary from individual to individual. Even he was stumped. As a last resort I turned to my psychiatrist. We don't talk much, he prescribes my anti anxiety meds and asks me if I'm safe. That's about it. But I thought I'd give it a shot anyway, he seems kind of old school and I thought he might have some kind of Freudian subconscious defense mechanism explanation.
Nope. He told me to make a list.
Really? I could've gotten that from Dear Abby. It was becoming apparent that I was on my own on this journey.
The most recent example of this putting off something beneficial was my homestead tax form. I don't know how it works in other states but in Wisconsin if you are low income, you can be eligible for a refund on rent you have paid in the past year. What's not to love about that? And yet the form sat on my desk for close to two months. If I had done it immediately I'd have the money by now and I might be out enjoying a movie or a dinner at a restaurant instead of writing about procrastination. The good news is during that two months of not filling out the form and arguing with myself on a daily basis I might have reached a conclusion.
That is, that despite all the work I've done repairing my self esteem and quality of life, there are still bits and pieces of old thinking that linger somewhere in my subconscious. One of the most insidious old lies I somehow still hang onto is that "I don't deserve good things, especially money". It comes from the old belief that as long as there are people starving and suffering in the world it is wrong to have money. Which is completely irrational. First of all, my poverty is not going to lift anyone else out of poverty. Second, a few hundred dollars from the IRS is not going to launch me into the fortune 500 list. In fact, I will still be terribly in debt. And third, and most important, it is okay to have money. Fact. Fact that I need to repeat to myself daily.
I know I've written about this before and in between then and now I've probably been in and out of poverty mentality about 50 times. This is a lifelong battle for me. And it is the cause of much of my procrastination, because as I've been mindful about the things I put off they are most often things that would bring either money or some form of success and happiness.
Now I'm off to make a list. Not a to do list, but a list of all the reasons why I will not hold myself back from money, success or happiness.
And by the way, I mailed the form yesterday.


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

Friday, March 23, 2012

Take Action Against Misogynist Insanity

We've been hearing a lot about the attacks on women's reproductive rights lately, which in itself is bad enough. As I suspected that appears to be just the tippy top of the iceberg from which is a slippery slope descending right back into another, earlier, more puritanical century. You know back in the days when women and children were considered property, when women didn't have the right to own property of their own or vote or, heaven forbid, run for office. When the "rule of thumb" meant that it was okay to beat your wife with a stick so long as the diameter of the stick did not exceed that of your thumb (I suppose this was, at the time, considered a safety measure of some sorts)
 I'm enclosing  links to two articles, each from my home state of Wisconsin.
Here's a  quote by Rep. Don Pridemore revealing his beliefs about domestic violence:
"Instead of leaving an abusive situation, women should try to remember the things they love about their husbands, Representative Don Pridemore said. "If they can re-find those reasons and get back to why they got married in the first place it might help,"  retrieved from http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/03/23/wisconsin-lawmaker-you-are-being-beaten-just-remember-things-you-love-about-your

And earlier this month we were treated to parenting advice from Senator Glenn Grothmann, “In promoting those campaigns and materials, the [Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board] shall emphasize nonmarital parenthood as a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect.” retrieved from: http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/03/01/wisconsin-republican-senator-proposes-bill-that-labels-single-parenthood-as-chi-0

Ok now I'm just plain flabbergasted! Where do they find these bozos?????? It's so insane it's difficult to take it seriously, but take it seriously we must, otherwise we are headed for a downward spiral in which our hard won rights are sucked down the drain!

These verbal and Legislative attacks on Women are difficult enough to stomach for any woman, but let's think for a moment of the impact this trend may have on Survivors, Victims and Economically disenfranchised women. Let's think for a moment of, say, a women who is in an abusive relationship with a controlling husband who allows little social contact or economic freedom. Let's picture her alone at home isolated and unhappy wrestling with the question of whether or not to remain in her domestic prison knowing full well that her children are living in fear for their mothers safety. Now imagine as she picks up a newspaper or turns on the television and hears comments like these. Inside her head the door to her cell slams shut with a cold metallic thud. How can she expect to find the help she needs in a world that reinforces all the lies her husband has used to keep her captive all these years?
Now let's picture another scenario; the same woman turns on the television to see women marching in the streets, supporting one another, and with men alongside them in solidarity, demanding equal rights. Or maybe she tunes into an open hearing where other Survivors are telling their success stories, of how they managed to escape oppression and go on to raise happy healthy children with the help of communities and services that have been in place to lead them down the path to success.
The voices of these Women and their supporters, both male and female must speak openly with conviction and intelligence to drown out the nonsense that is being spewed by these misongynists who would dare to try to take away our power.
Will you be one of those voices?
Here are some opportunities to add your story or to find more information about the growing movement that is going to put a stop to this inhumane and backward trend in social policy and legislation.
http://www.unitewomenwi.org/home.htm
https://www.facebook.com/womenrevolt
http://now.org/issues/legislat/ (for legislative updates on issues concerning women's rights)
http://www.feminist.com/
http://www.centerwomenpolicy.org/
Together we can do this!
Peace,
Jenny Nanakoosa

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

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Introductory V-blog

video
 Ok Here it is, my first official Vid-blog. I did a brief chit chatty experimental version that some of you may have seen on Facebook, but this is the actual Nanakoosa's Place chapter one version. I hope you enjoy it and I will be working on more installments which will consist of specific topics and issues that are relevant to my audience. As always feedback and suggestions are welcome.
Peace,
Jenny

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

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Life in the Big Picture

The past week has awakened my senses to a Way I have glimpsed but never fully comprehended full force. Emerging from the loss of  of my father; the process of reviewing his life. our family and each of us as individuals had turned the lens just slightly to reveal a view of the bigger picture with a new perception.
Some minor mistake, a careless error once easily dismissed, might now evoke sobs. On the other hand, a small seemingly irrelevant bit of beauty can appear as the greatest masterpiece contrived by Humankind or Nature. Suddenly I am at one time the center of the Universe and yet a tiny speck in the Grand scheme, and both things are true at once.
To bring it all down a notch, let me put it plainly: life is brief in review and everlasting in impact yet we tend to live as if the reverse were true. We pour of hearts and souls into leaky containers, hoping our devotion is sufficient to fill the gaps. We cling desperately to the words of other people hoping for self validation. But they are only words and we really have no concept of their true meaning do we? Not unless they are made real with the alchemy of with action and love. Of the hundreds of thousands of words we hear each day, how many are infused with that magic?
We pass by moments of Beauty and Grace every day on our way to saving  the world. Basically we miss the train because we are running so fast to catch the express route. And guess what? The World doesn't need us to save Her, even if we could. She just needs our Love and Respect. Life is a gift, grab it with both hands, unwrap Her with curiosity and delight. Listen to your heart and follow the message. Don't expect anyone else on this planet to make you happy, or successful or powerful. Only you know how to be those things. Anything or anyone who would stop you from being happy with you? My Dad would say "That's just a crock of shit"
Now...go find your bliss!!!!!!
Peace and Love
Jenny Nanakoosa Hazard

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

Friday, March 9, 2012

In between the extremes of 'turn the other cheek' and 'an eye for an eye' lies a world of possibility. Much of that territory is Education. Not just formal education but seizing upon teachable moments to present a fresh perspective and to infuse compassion into a volatile situation. For ourselves,there is the opportunity for  lessons in authenticity, the chance to practice and be who we really are in the core of our True Self. For those of us who have a history of having been victimized or dis-empowered, situations involving conflict or mistreatment (no matter how slight) can trigger very immediate reactions that arise from a place of self defense. From that position we are behind a false front, a suit of armor which obscures our authentic self from the rest of the world. It becomes a blockade through which no true human interaction can pass, in or out, and the opportunities are lost. We percieve a careless word, a dismissive comment or even a misunderstanding as a personal attack. Taking on the feelings of other people, especially the negative is most likely due to our hightenend state of self preservation. It's not that we want to own the world's problems as it may appear at times. It's actually quite the opposite, we dread being the receptacle for someone else's bad day the dumping point for other's anger.
 Anyone who done time an an abusive relationship will tell you that the "blame game" a crucial element of the dynamic. The abuser will not take responsibility for their actions, can you blame them? Who wants to be a jerk? No one is really proud of it, so naturally they shift the blame to the victim. As we learn to play the game, we develop all sort of tricks of our own to throw into the mix. Because the game is usually high stakes, at least emotionally, we often draw our reactions from extreme ends of the spectrum; we either withdraw and forgive or we return the attack with more venom increasing the potential for violence but armed with a sense of self righteousness. If we do become "clever enough to find a middle road, it is often a muddled combination of the two extremes resulting the the most odious of all behaviors, the passive-aggressive reaction. We may pretend to forgive for example, but do so in such a way that is so self deprecating that it practically begs for continued conflict. The role we play and the moves we make within the complicated and ever changing rules of the game of an abusive relationship are well documented and discussed in many books and studies; what I'm here to address is the far reaching after effects that bleed over into our lives sometimes even years after ending an abusive relationship.
I've noticed, in my own experience, that even if I'm generally doing pretty well in my relationships with others there are events and people that can easily trigger those old responses. For me the devastating duo are stressful external circumstances where I feel I have no control, and people (usually authority figures) who interact in a manner that feels cold and detached. You know, the medical personnel who identifies you by the illness or injury you are been treated for, "we've got pneumonia in room 306" or the service provider to whom you are case number 45361.  Unfortunately crisis situations, category number one, often brings us into contact with category two. These are the times I personally am most at risk for becoming either a doormat or a viper depending on my mood and energy level at the time.
These are the times that I have to remind myself that if I want to have sense of personal power over the situation the only thing I really do have any control of is how I choose to respond. If I am being treated in a way I feel is disrespectful or dehumanizing, I have the ability and the right to address the person who is causing the perceived injury. If I am to come out of this scenario with any sense of success it is up to me to be mindful in my words and actions.
So here's an example of a recent event where I was able to catch myself and walk my talk.
Last week was one of those weeks where it seemed everything was going wrong. I had a problem with my bank account due to an auto bill pay that I had authorized long ago and forgotten, my computer was on the fritz, I was having issues with my cel phone provider and then...my Dad passed away. Basically a shit storm of powerlessness. Putting things into perspective obviously some things are more significant than others and Dad's passing was by far the biggie. Death however is after all an inevitable part of life, overdraft fees, not so much. I managed to solve all of the mundane issues while also passing through various stages of grieving my father (of course that's all still going on but that's another story). The clincher came when I realized I was going to have to visit the food pantry for the second month in a row. That in itself was not such a big deal but I needed to cram the visit into a very busy schedule. Where I live there is a "Community Service Hotline" where clients can call to get information about the dates and times of availability of food pantries and other services. I wasn't certain of the times so I called the number to double check.The operator who answered the phone may have been having a bad day or maybe he just doesn't posses proper phone etiquette and I may never know the answer to that. What I do know is he picked the wrong day to tell me, very icily, that according to their records I'd already visited the pantry within a 30 day period and that I couldn't go there again for another week. Now according to the cheat sheet in front of him this may have been the instructions he was told to provide, but I know from experience that particular pantry allows people to come every two weeks, and  I told him that all I really needed was the hours of operation. He actually refused to give me the information, based on his belief that I was somehow breaking the rules. I tried reasoning with him telling him that I wasn't going to argue the rules I simply wanted to know what time they open, and he became more determined to not tell me. The phone call ended rather abruptly when I asked to be transferred to a supervisor and was put on 'hold' i.e. disconnected.
So at his point I was beyond "triggered" I was loaded, cocked and ready to fire at anything that crossed my path. I was also in tears. Everything hit me at once and it was my grief that saved me. All I'd really wanted was a little compassion. I thought about that for a bit, and after running through the first scenarios that came to mind, the victim card, the righteous indignant card the passive-aggressive 'let me speak to your manager and get you into trouble ' card it occurred to me that none of those were real, they were all just moves in a game that I no longer play. If I want real that I have to be real. I took some deep breaths, I got real and I called the hotline back. The same operator answered. I took another deep breath and told him calmly how I felt, in the moment; no extra information, no long stories, I simply let him know that his manner of speaking had made me feel less than deserving, less than human. I told him that while I understood that maybe he was having a bad day that his job involves interacting with people who are in need and that people in need tend to be vulnerable. I asked for no apology or explanation, I simply asked that in the future he would remember that on the other end of the phone was a real person with real needs and real feelings. Then I wished him a pleasant day, hung up and let it go.
I really sincerely do hope that the next time he has a crappy day that he can envision a real person on the other side of the phone. I hope that no one else has to be made to feel less than human because he has to "follow the rules" without question. I hope we can all remember, when were having a shitty day that our bad moods are fleeting and temporary but that the words we say and how we say them can send ripples through time. Maybe our teachable moment will bring something of value to someone else, maybe not.  If we can be honest with ourselves the words we put out there will be authentic and the ripples they send will be the vibration of our true Being and that, my friends, is the gift of Life.
© 2010-2012 Nanakoosa’s Place, authored by Jennifer Hazard