Tuesday, May 31, 2011

It's Not Midnight Yet.....So That Must Mean I Met My Deadline

Today is one week from my last post here. So I barely squeaked by in my effort to post at least weekly. But I did it! I have been a busy little bee doing other things. I do still write every morning just for myself. I have grown to love that ritual. And I'm generally not big on ritual. But this one suits me.

My mind has been a swirl of ideas/realizations/plans. I'm going to start keeping a small notepad with me at all times. I have a difficult time remembering my great ideas because almost as soon as I think of one, another pops into my head. That's frustrating.

Talked via Skype with my oldest daughter who lives in Costa Rica the other day. As different as we may be, we are one hell of a lot alike in other ways. She described to me almost feeling like she gets a high from the surge that comes with a new idea. And how invariably before she can make any headway on that idea yet another  equally high-inducing idea comes along. Oh God.....I have passed this madness onto her. The main difference is that she is much more likely to get SOMETHING in motion than I am. But she is spinning plates down there in Costa Rica. She is still operating her downtown walking tours which is generating some decent income. She has her yoga studio up and running and is always dreaming up innovative classes for that. She's struggling to find enough students to really have it make money though. Since her whole goal was to make it affordable to more people it really is going to take a lot of people coming in to keep it running.

On top of that she is still doing freelance marketing and is heavily involved in the professional womens networking group there. She has been doing a lot of schmoozing with government people with that. If there's one thing Stacey is good at, it's making contacts and networking. She is working on getting the past president of Planned Parenthood to come speak to her womens group. That would be a major feat for her and it's looking like it may happen.

She is now seeking to start a couple more ventures that she hopes to involve venture capitalists with. She has decided that if she wants to actually get anywhere she needs to find a way to get other people to fund her ideas and others to run them. She is best at being the idea person. She really is quite genius if you ask me. I am constantly astounded at what she comes up with. She aspires to really BIG ideas, like those of the social networking startup kind. I have to give her credit. She has already done more on her own than I could have even dreamed about when I was her age. I am inspired by her determination to do what she dreams.

So for myself, even though I may not have the track record of chasing down my dreams or of even figuring out what they really are, I do have things in the works. Things that I am actively working towards, not just daydreaming about. And that's a big deal right there for me. I tend to dwell in the land of daydreams. I have begun the work of putting together a website for my own massage business. I'm looking to have a home based business; not because I can't dream bigger than that, but because that is what makes me happiest. I have had some conversations with a 20 year massage veteran who runs a very successful business in another state. She has a whole wellness center she runs with other therapists, herbalists and acupuncturists working for her. She is in very high demand. She discouraged me from trying to run a business out of my home. But the thing is, I don't want what she has. I don't want to be responsible for the livelihoods of others. I don't want to have overhead cost concerns. I don't want to have to hire an accountant. I don't want all that STUFF weighing me down. I don't need the prestige. But there are lots of other things I do need. I need to feel comfortable and at home. I need simplicity. I need freedom. I need to have clients that are so comfortable with me that coming to my home for treatments feels natural. I'm looking for a clientele that is not interested in a spa setting. I specifically want those people that don't want that! I want them to not see themselves as someone who is to be waited on hand and foot while ordering me around. I want instead for them to view this as a joint effort in healing and restoration, one where we work together to find whatever it is that brings them into balance. By making the setting less about luxury and more about comfort and warmth I will likely keep the high maintenance prima donnas away. I'm also looking at a very different business model than hers. She charges much higher rates than average, because she believes she's worth it, and absolutely never discounts. I get that she most likely is very very good from what I've seen, and let's face it, some people take great pride in shelling out big bucks for services. So she commands those prices and she has no shortage of clients willing to fork it over. But.......I see this whole other category of client who thinks their only option is a massage factory like the chain I currently work at. And they don't have a lot of other options to be honest. I want to give them another option. I know I'm as good or sometimes even better than therapists at some of the more prestigious resorts. I know this because I've been told as much by those who have been around the massage block a time or two. So it's not that I think I'm not worth higher rates. It's that the clientele I most want to reach simply cannot afford it. And they are as deserving  of therapeutic massage as anyone. And I don't give a rat's hiney what other therapists think about someone like me undercutting the average going rates. I don't plan to undercut by that much, just enough to keep the clients total cost competitive with what they pay at the corporate chains. You have to be realistic about who your competition is. So I'm feeling very good about marketing myself as the personal touch alternative to the low cost chains.

I'm also having a great deal of FUN working on the website. It's a great creative outlet both in design and writing. I've spent some time googling other massage websites. There are some very good ones but the majority leave me cold. They come across very clinical and dry. Not what would draw me in for sure! I'm trying to give mine a very warm, serene & beautiful feel. I'm taking my time to insure it's exactly what I want.

I do find it somewhat ironic that I'm doing all this work finally towards getting away from my employer, when in the next year and a half or so we plan to hit the road full time. But I will see how it plays out in the meantime and who knows, I may try to take my business on the road with me. This therapist I spoke of earlier has multiple state licenses so that she can do occasional work when she travels. Tattoo artists do this. Why not massage therapists? We will need some occasional additional income to supplement Karins' pension. That would be one possible source. I could do it on an out call basis.

So this has been my main focus recently, amongst all the other things that catch my fancy here and there. And my headaches have gotten much better. I've been a good girl and been wearing my mouth guard at night. Seems to have done the trick!  :)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Even Keel?

I picked up a bad habit back in my "going through my divorce" days. Which was seven and half years ago or so. I began to grind my teeth and clench my jaw. I didn't even realize I was doing it. Had a regular visit to the dentist in which he saw some damage from grinding and told me I needed to get a handle on it before it got serious. I was clueless as to how to stop it though, especially since I wasn't even aware it was going on. Time passed and I started getting the worst headaches I've ever experienced. I'm not a migraine sufferer so I haven't a clue as to how they compare. But what I was experiencing I could find no relief for. Pain killers did nothing. Sleep did nothing.

Finally went to the doctor and he discovered I had high blood pressure and thought that was probably the cause of the headaches (another new thing I acquired during my divorce).  The meds for that did wonders for my blood pressure but again did nothing for the headaches. Next visit to the dentist and he knew right away I needed help. He fitted me for a mouth guard and I finally got relief. For quite awhile I depended on that to stay pain free. Eventually though I was able to quit using it and for the most part not have any problems. I began to see though that as soon as I got stressed by something I would almost instantaneously get the same headache. I've never seen such a quick reaction. It amazes me. Stress situation appears and BAM! instant pain. And yet I do not feel the physical action of clamping down. The worst part is that once the pain sets in it is extremely difficult to make go away. It usually just takes time, a lot of time. Sometimes days worth of time. And I damn well better watch out what I chew during that time because I just add to the pain by chewing anything not soft.

The biggest help I've found is simply learning to NOT get stressed out by things in the first place. That has been a long time coming to figure out how to do. And I've had to go through a hell of a lot of stress to be able to learn to put it into practice. It has kind of been a "do or die" thing where I have been forced to face this part of me that wants to freak out at what life throws my way. For awhile it was so bad that just hearing Karin get mad at oh say, her computer, would set me off. Stupid stuff like that. A learned physical reaction to the smallest of stressors. So when I am able to truly not feel that stress in the first place I avoid a lot of needless agony. And life is just better all around. I am much happier!

But....last week I experienced something entirely new. I was going through a process of self-discovery that left me feeling elated. Like being on a natural high. VERY high I should add. Think the guy in the "what does it mean?/double rainbow videos. Enjoy that vision for awhile and laugh if you must.  :)   Anyway, guess what happened? Yup. I got a TMJ headache! Been dealing with it ever since. I've been left to conclude that not only do bad stressors do this to me but also really freaking good stuff.  Basically anything that takes me away from an even keel state of being. So now I am perplexed. How do I handle that? Is it not a good thing to be overjoyed? Back to the drawing board I guess. The best possible solution would be to find a way to unlearn the jaw clenching habit. But I just don't know how.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Desk of Horrors

I have a story to tell. But it meanders around a fair amount before it gets to the main point. But the other points ARE worthwhile, so I'm telling it from the beginning. Please try to follow along.

Some time ago I stumbled upon a blog called The Thankful Project http://sothankfulproject.blogspot.com/2011/05/lady-and-thank-you-opinions.html. It's subject matter is mostly about how life improves when you regularly express gratitude. I was drawn to the idea (as I am to oh so many ideas!). In one of the blogs the writer shared a link to a website that is basically an online journal in which you daily write whatever you are thankful for. This has become regular practice now for both Karin and myself. Anyway, several days ago the blogger wrote about a situation she had found herself in that she didn't completely understand and wondered how it should best have been handled. She asked her readers for their thoughts on the matter. I wrote back and briefly commented. 

Yesterday I got an e-mail notifying me that I had a comment on my own most recent blog post. It turned out to be from the aforementioned blogger. Please note that prior to me commenting the other day on her post, I had never had any contact with this woman before. And I never thought I would ever have any reason to quite frankly. I read many many blogs that I never comment on or make my presence known. I just read. So I guess after reading my comment she was curious about me and visited my blog. I had just written about how I scattered I feel in wanting to do so many things and not being able to focus on any of them enough to accomplish much of anything. 

In addition to thanking me for my input on her blog, she told me that after reading mine she was reminded of herself at a year or so ago. She didn't want to push anything on me but she wanted to share with me a book that she had read and that had helped her. Well I am not one to turn down book recommendations! I've happened upon some of the best stuff that way. So I quickly checked the online library catalog and to my dismay they don't have even one copy of it. I looked it up on Amazon. It looked so amazing! All kinds of glowing reviews. The book is The Renaissance Soul: Life Design for People With Too many Passions To Pick Just One. http://www.amazon.com/Renaissance-Soul-Design-People-Passions/dp/0767920880/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1305929553&sr=8-1-spell On the Amazon page for that book there were other books listed that were similar and recommended. So I looked one of them up at the library and not only did they carry it but it was on the shelf at my branch! So of course I rushed out and borrowed that copy pronto! I am not one to sit around when I get excited about something. I have to get to it....NOW. 

This particular book is Refuse To Choose! http://www.amazon.com/Refuse-Choose-Interests-Passions-Hobbies/dp/1594866260/ref=pd_sim_b_1  I brought it home and got right into it. Within just a few pages I was overcome with relief. For the first time in my life I felt like I was seeing myself clearly and seeing that it's not just me and that it's okay to be this way. After being told I was a worthless lazy good-for-nothing (by my ex) and just generally not knowing anyone else like me who I could look up to, I took that attitude to heart. Thankfully I eventually met Karin. She has never treated me like that although I'm sure I have frustrated her at  times with my constant need for something "new" & "different". She has nonetheless indulged me on my whims. She supports my crazy passions and lets them run their course. She is my version of Utopia. 

We are finally coming around to the main point of this post. Something mentioned early on in the book is that people like me (she calls us scanners....always seeking out something else to learn about, create, tackle) are almost always messy & cluttered. It makes sense to us but frustrates those around us. It is a necessary part of who we are.I laughed out loud as I looked across the room to my desk, which is my "mission control center" for my life. It's a cluttered mess all right. But in my mind I have everything under control there. What's funny is that at work I can't stand for my area to be cluttered. I swipe all the "junk" off of my counter and put it inside the cabinet. Nothing but what must be there remains out. But that's not my "mission control center". That's just my professional workspace. Two completely different things. And the rest of our house is more or less orderly and uncluttered. I decided to document my desk as it is most of the time. Occasionally it is worse. Less often it is better. It is always the last thing I get to when I clean house. Here then is my little "desk of horrors".

Somehow the photo doesn't quite capture the full extent of the clutter. Trust me...it's not pretty! It's amazing how much I can get done here though. I rarely feel compelled to tidy it up. It suits me pretty well. Bad thing is that it is in our living room, not hidden away somewhere. Having it somewhere else is not practical. So kudos to Karin for not killing me for this! I cook her really good food in return for the favor.   :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Freedom Through Discipline or Getting My Act Together

I am not the most organized person in the world. I am also not the most focused. But I do have things I want very badly to accomplish. These things matter to me. They are things that feed my soul and honor my body. The problem I have in implementing them is that I get so lost in the very fact that there are so MANY of these things. I feel crushed under the weight of all that I want to do. My current lifestyle is not really all that busy, at least not by comparison with a lot of people in our society. So saying I don't have the time is a poor excuse. But I also don't really want to be as busy as a lot of people I know. I can see where they have so much time eaten up being "busy" that they forget to just "be". But the point is that with better organization and focus, I know that I DO have time to accomplish more than I am. So with that in mind, I am forcing myself to get some sort of a schedule put into place that will give me a starting point and keep a flow going. I am confident that I can do this, no matter my past experiences. I don't expect to be perfect, but I do expect to improve. 

One of the things that is important to me to do is to write much more regularly. I've already taken a big step in that direction. For almost two weeks now I've been starting my day out by writing three pages of whatever pops into my head. This is part of The Artists Way project that I'm doing. Since this project has already been started and is going well, it is obviously at the top of my list of things to accomplish. I am so freaking glad I decided to do this. I've already seen a difference in myself from doing this exercise daily. I never thought I'd be so excited to do anything first thing in the morning, except chug my coffee. I love that the writing is for no one but me. I actually have had to learn to let loose and not care about things like grammar and whether it makes any sense or not. That is so ingrained in me that it's like learning something new. Along with doing my morning pages, I've promised myself that I will blog at least once a week. Before I never wanted to impose any frequency on myself. But I see now that the discipline is important after all. This may seem obvious to most, but I can be a slow learner in some areas!

I have thus far created a list of things that I know I want to do. Some are new things. Some are getting back into doing things I used to do. Some are pretty simple; mostly a matter of making it a priority and just doing it. Some will require learning new skills. My list has to remain changeable. I'm sure I will continue to think of things I want to do. And other things that I now think I want to do, may lose their importance to me over time. Who knows? In the past I have had times when I became entranced with the idea of doing something only to find out that it just wasn't for me after all. That's okay. I got a lot of flack some of those times. I got called a quitter. I don't see it that way. Why would you continue to spend time and energy on something that serves no purpose for your life? Now, there probably have been a few times that I did give up too fast. I think in those cases I lacked the proper tools to make it work for me as well as lacking the support I needed. I feel bad about those instances. They are things I might take another look at in the future and see if I can't come up with a better way to approach it. 

My next step is going to be to prioritize my list into an order that makes the most sense for me. I know better than to delve into too many things at once. Or to tackle too many hard things in a row. I need time to get used to my new habits. I have to deal with the occasional impatience to move on to something else. I know I will crumble if I don't keep that under control! It's important to know thyself when making life changes. I can't follow someone elses' rules. I am me and I make no apologies for being myself! Once I get my list scheduled, I will reevaluate it from time to time to keep it making sense. Life happens and you have to play it by ear sometimes. But having a basic schedule should really help me out. 

I'm excited about this. And curious to see where it all leads. I've always had feelings that my life should be more somehow, was MEANT to be more. But I've always been at such a loss as to how to get there. I feel strongly that I'm headed in the right direction. I have more faith in my own instincts than I've ever had before. It's time.


Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Different Mothers Day Story

I recently began reading The Artists' Way. I won't get into the book too much right now except to say that it is a twelve week course in unblocking creativity. The very first assignment you get is to write morning papers every day. This means to write out longhand three pages every morning. It's to be written quickly, in a stream of consciousness manner with no attention paid to grammar, spelling or neatness (thank goodness....it is in the morning after all!). You just write whatever pops into your head; no planning it out. It doesn't have to make any sense.

So today was my third day doing the morning papers. It's interesting what comes pouring out before I'm fully awake. Today being Mothers' Day, my mind went straight to my mom. And out came a bunch of anger and frustration. Not over anything in the past really. I have gotten over childhood stuff. She was the best parent she knew how to be and for the most part she provided the basics. There was a lot missing on the emotional side of things. But I figure I'm way past all that and have learned to find my support, esteem & unconditional love elsewhere.

But what's eating me now is her refusal, even at this point in our lives, to spend any real time together. And honestly, our relationship being what it is, I wouldn't be that put out except that it means I also don't get to spend any real time with my dad. My mom has always been the one in charge between the two of them. Whenever Dad wants to do something that she doesn't want to do, he either has to practically wage war to make it happen or just gives up. Mom digs in her heels like nobody's business. And to think she has always accused ME of being stubborn. Pot.....meet kettle. Anyway, more often than not, poor Dad just doesn't have it in him to put his foot down.

Since we moved to Tucson 4 1/2 years ago they have never come to visit. We've made seven or eight trips back to Indy in that time. It's a huge expense to travel and we are not made of money. But family is important enough to us that we find a way to make it happen. I still have two children and a grandchild back there as well as other family. I'll be damned if I'm going to just not see my family! But it would be really awesome if for a change they would come out and see us, for so many reasons. My parents don't have an endless travel budget either so I wouldn't expect too much from them. But the kicker is that every single winter they go to Florida for a month or so. There they visit old friends (like from back in their school days) and some relatives (mostly cousins I think). They even visit my dead grandpas' second wifes' (also dead) son who wasn't even "part of the family" until I was almost 40 yrs. old.

But they can't come out here to visit their own daughter. .......................   Now my mom would argue that because I am the one who moved away, it is my responsibility to be the one to make the trip. I have heard her say things like that before about other relatives. But that argument is blown completely out of the water by her own reasons for going to Florida. Almost a year ago, on one of the rare occasions when I was talking to my dad on the phone (because Mom owns the phone too ya know!), Dad told me how much he would love to come visit us and wanted to try to make that happen before too long. And on our visits back to Indy he breaks down every time we go to say goodbye. He hugs me so tight and cries his eyes out. Mom does what she does. "Well it's been nice seeing you; wish it didn't have to be so long in between" said as she scurries off. I'm not saying there isn't any emotion there but she damn well isn't going to let me see it! It just kills me because I know good and well that if Dad had his way they would be out here in a flash.
My parents are in their late 70's. Trying to change my mom at this stage is pointless. She's not only distant but I sometimes seriously question her lucidness. I posted (on facebook) a picture of her holding her newborn great grandson just three years ago. She asked me who the baby was, my son or his son. She couldn't tell from looking at herself in the picture whether it was current or from over 25 yrs. ago! Yet she's ALWAYS been a bit strange like that. Just a little outside of the loop. Makes me wonder if she hasn't lived a life with some level of undiagnosed mental  disorder.

But I digress. Point is that my parents are getting on in years, I don't know how much longer they'll be around and yet much as I would love to be with them a little more, it's just not happening. And especially because of my dad that makes me incredibly sad. So on Mothers Day this year I am sad because I miss my dad.