Sunday, July 31, 2011

I Have Rules!

I was pretty young, maybe 3 or 4 years old, when I started to understand that life has "rules" to live by. There were rules at home. Clean your plate. Close your eyes, bow your head, and clasp your hands when you pray. Pick up your toys. Don't hit your brothers or sister. Definitely don't put your little brother in your doll highchair and force feed him blue play dough!

I'm not really sure why, but I began making up my own rules to live by. I started by dumping all of my crayons out of the box and then rearranging them according to the colors of the rainbow. Black, white, grey, and brown went in last. And each crayon had to be turned so that the black oval and the word Crayola faced the front of the box. Once I wore out the tips on the crayons, I threw out the whole box and got more. I refused to use the sharpener on the back of the box. I refused to share my crayons because I didn't want anyone messing up my order. I also began arranging my M&Ms before eating them. I carefully examined the "M"s on the front to identify the most perfect ones. I then sorted them into color groups and ranked the groups according to my "M&M Perfection Plan". It would take me about an hour to get ready to eat a small bag of M&Ms. Over the years, I continued adding to my rules. Now, at the age of 41, I know that most, if not all, of my rules do not make sense. And yet, I won't let go of them. My five year old nephew knows my rules. His younger brother will start to do something or touch something of mine and his brother will stop him, pointing out that that is just one of "Aunt Kris's rules". He doesn't know why I have the rules. He knows that others don't have those rules. But bless his heart, he honors my rules.

Lately, when I hear him talking about my "rules", I feel sad. It is a reminder that I do things differently and that I do not deal with change well. I've been reflecting on the impact my rules have on my life. I cannot even begin  to estimate the number of hours I've spent alphabetizing, rearranging, ordering, lining things up...No matter how I do this, I struggle with being able to walk away, worrying that there might be a better way of organizing things than what I had settled on. So, I ruminate and obsess and try to think of a more perfect way to categorize my possessions. It is never ending and time consuming. It is tiresome. It is not what I want to spend the majority of my days doing.

Some of these issues can be attributed to some strong OCD tendencies. Recent life events, taken place over the past two to three years, have opened my eyes to new possibilities and new ways of looking at things. I am beginning to be able to identify what it is that is really important to me and what is holding me back. So, I have slowly been chipping away at some of my rules. My colored pencils and oil pastels are just put in their boxes in no particular order. Some are even broken. And I'm OK. The world has not fallen apart. I can now eat a meal in a restaurant, even if the food is not arranged in the "right" way on the plate. I'm beginning to loosen up on having everything I own alphabetized and categorized. I can even eat a package of M&Ms without grouping them!

I am finally accepting that for many things, there are many ways to go about getting the same results. I am reminded of 10th grade geometry. It was one of my favorite subjects. I spent a lot of time on homework, which consisted mostly of "proofs". Even there, there is more than one way to reach the end, proving the theorem. Sure, there is always the "right" way, the most direct, logical way of getting to the answer. But you can also get there following an alternate pathway. Even if your route is more circuitous, you still arrive at the endpoint. I don't know why that came to me the other day. But it served as a reminder to be open to being much more flexible. The more flexible I can be, the more open I am to all of the possibilities life has to offer. There are some rules that should be followed, that are the right thing to do (i.e. should not kill another). But life can be so much more enjoyable when I just go with the flow and let what's going to happen, happen. The real challenge is in learning how to adapt to the situations as they come to me. Life is definitely more interesting and less rigid that way. And I have so much more free time to enjoy what I am doing each day. I'm going to continue working on "letting go" of the rules that are holding me back and aiming for flexibility in my day to day pursuits. I still have to follow society's rules, but I'm pretty sure that I won't be hauled off to jail if I stop arranging my M&Ms.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Infomercial anyone?

Well, here I am in the wee hours of the morning, after being up all night. Actually, I've been up for two nights in a row. Most of the time, when this happens I find my mind racing so fast, jumping and skipping from one idea to another before I can even process what I am thinking about. Sometimes I sit up at the edge of my bed and jot down a few key words or phrases to come back to and explore later on. Other times, I start writing frantically, trying to capture what I'm wanting to say. That can be frustrating at times because my mind spins at the speed of light while my hand, well, doesn't. And the faster I try to write, the faster my hand cramps up. Perhaps one day, I'll make the transition to the laptop and skip the "old school" method of scribbling on a legal pad, drawing arrows in red ink to mark what sentences I want to move to another spot. But maybe not just yet. I've managed to amass a huge quantity of legal pads, and not the "cheap" ones, and more pens than I can count. There's something about all of the back-to-school sales that sucks me in at the beginning of the school year. I finished my master's degree in 1995 but I still buy the stuff, just in case....Did you know that WalMart sells boxes of 24 Crayola crayons for $0.25 each? I haven't used crayons in what, over 25 years now? But I am still  convinced that one day I will need them. All 50 boxes of them. That's the limit WalMart will allow you to buy. It may be a little obvious by now that I have some "issues" and struggle with some OCD symptoms. I try not to go to WalMart from mid-July until the end of August. I am slowly managing to decrease my inventory and donate a lot of the school supplies I have accumulated to local charities and group homes for children. Progress not perfection!

Since I have decided to start this blog, I've spent quite a bit of time pondering possibilities and thinking about what I would want to write about. (Perhaps that has contributed to my insomnia?!) Do I want to stick with a specific topic? Do I want to make an entry every day? I have jotted down a dozen or so ideas of subjects to reflect upon and they go in many different directions. So for now, I'm just going to write when I feel inspired to do so and to write about where my spirit is leading me.

Now, to try to make the connection between what I am writing and the title of this particular entry. Fellow night owls can attest to the fact that TV choices are pretty slim pickings in the middle of the night. Take for example this evening. TLC was running episodes of LA Ink all night. They were only showing three episodes. After the third, they'd go back to the first and repeat them all again. VH1 was following suit, running episodes of Celebrity Rehab. Most other channels are running "paid advertisements", enticing me to purchase things I didn't even know I needed! Those product hosts are good. By the end of the 30 minutes, I'm convinced that I really do need what they are selling. I pull my bank account up online to see how much money I have and try to figure out if I could get the new gadgets and still have money left over to buy cat food for Tiptoe and Fuzzy. This is one of the reasons that I do not have credit cards. I do have a debit card but simply knowing that if I use it, the money will come out of my account immediately, is usually enough to stop me.

I will close with a poem that I wrote back on September 24, 2010:

Untitled XII

Do you ever wonder if
the memories you have
chosen to carry from
the very first time you
could even remember
into today are real?
Or are they exaggerated,
distorted events
assembled according to
the directions on
the back of the box
of that kit
no one can live without,
that you ordered
off of channel 12
for $19.95 and free S & H
that first night
that you couldn't fall asleep?

Future entries will be a little more succinct!
Going to try to catch some zzzzz's now that the sun is starting to rise.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

About me...

When I started to create my blog profile, I saw that it was possible to add information about myself in the profile. After staring at the computer screen for several minutes, I opted not to add anything. I didn't feel that listing my favorite books, music, movies, etc. would be anything other than simply lists, and that for the most part, really wouldn't give much of a picture of who I am. And yet I couldn't stop thinking about who I am, how I define myself...

Life is full of "labels", little boxes I can put myself in that would let others know who I am and what I stand for and believe in. These boxes, roles I play, change over time and the more I come to know myself, the more boxes I see to put myself in. These are some of my boxes: child, daughter, sister, mother, lover, lesbian, student, professional, poet, musician, pet owner (crazy cat lady?!), Caucasian, Republican, Democrat, conservative, liberal, volunteer, Christian, softball player, die hard Cubs fan, alcoholic, mentally ill, disabled...and many, many more. At first, this bothered me. There are too many boxes. And I have very little room in my apartment to store them all!

I am finally beginning to see that I am more than my labels, my boxes. So much more. Today I am striving to love, accept, and appreciate all of me and celebrate the innumerable life experiences that have contributed to the person I have become today. I recognize and embrace the "good" and the "not-so-good". I recognize and embrace my joys and my sorrows, my nightmares and my dreams, my goals and my aspirations, my hopes and my fears, my trials and my tribulations. I think of all of the people I have known over the years, the places I've been, the things I've seen. And what I've concluded is that I am a little bit of everything. I've stopped looking for the "right" box for me.

Can I relate to everyone? I'm going to go out on a limb and dare to say "yes", I can relate to everyone on some level, no matter how small. Have I had the same life experiences as you? For some of you, that can be answered with a "yes". For others, it would be a "no". What I do believe is that there is a common thread, running through all of us, that when stitched together, creates life's greatest tapestry - humanity. I believe that I am a little bit of you and you are a little bit of me.

So, I guess if I must choose a box or two in which to reside, it would be the box labeled "human" and the box labeled "Child of God". That is where you will find me and I will find you.

So You Think You Have Something To Share

Well, here I am, creating my blog site. I must admit that my knowledge of computers, well any technology for that matter, is quite limited. Ok, severely limited. But I'm willing to learn.

I have thought about creating a blog for some time now but was't really even sure what a "blog" was. I now have a number of friends who are bloggers and I enjoy reading their postings. More often than not, they leave me with something to think about, laugh about, even cry about. I am not proclaiming to have any sort of "mission" behind my blog. I don't promise to stimulate your intellect, your sense of humor, or your emotions. I simply wish to share some of my life experiences, my struggles, and my triumphs.

I have always been a "night owl". For whatever reason, my mind seems to start spinning into some sort of, what I like to call, a "story telling" mode. It's alot like having a conversation with someone who is not actually present and listening. Please don't confuse this for the experience of hearing voices in my head (although I have on a couple occassions had this experience as well!) So, that being said, I start out on this new journey of self expression, not knowing where it will lead me. Let the fun begin!