Kim Is Killing It

Trying To Be Awesome Is Truly Exhausting

I have always looked at my journey toward “A Better Me” as taking steps to increase my AWESOMENESS! because it frames the journey in a positive light and lessens the focus on the negative behaviors and energy I’m trying to adjust. I like the idea that I’m working to become MORE AWESOME as opposed to LESS EMOTIONALLY UNSTABLE. I like framing the same journey in a manner that focuses on a positive goal instead of focusing on dealing with negative habits. This, for me, helps on days I feel a little lost and hopeless.

But, it is exhausting.

I’ve been finding myself lately really trying to be mindful so I can catch a spiral before it happens. I’m trying to be aware and in tune with my needs (emotional and physical) and try not to let anything go unattended that could possibly push me into a negative zone of stuffing my face in a box of donuts and crying in my sleep.

I have to check in with myself regularly. Some days, if I’m feeling really fragile or anxious, I check in several times an hour. I stop and stretch every 30 minutes. Maybe I’ll walk around the building 4 times in a work day. I take deep breaths at my desk regularly and close my eyes to re-center myself. Some days it’s a constant dance of Keep Calm And Be Awesome, trying to prevent my anxieties or my sadness for pulling me away from myself.

Like I said…EXHAUSTING.

And most of the time I’m okay with this level of effort because I’m seeing how much it helps keep me stay level or stable. I have been seeing the payoffs. If I stay mindful and check in regularly and ask myself, “What do you need, RIGHT NOW?” then the overall mood and feeling stays in check (not always YAY! JOY! but at least not BOO! JUMP OFF A BRIDGE!) and I become MORE AWESOME as a result. The downward spirals are much further apart (as opposed to daily) and it’s actually been a while since I had a major one. The effort – it produces results.

But some days? Some days I just wish it were easier. I wish I could ignore the twinges of anxiety and not end up falling into a pit of self-hatred and despair. I wish I could overlook the pangs of sadness and not end up curling up with a bag of friend fries and a 6-pack of beer. I wish I could experience an embarrassing moment and not fall into a shame spiral destined for wallowing.

Maybe some day I can. I don’t know. It feels so important right now – to stay mindful in the moment – that I can’t imagine there ever being a day that can end well without that habit. I guess any act of “habit building/breaking” requires this type of focus; whether you’re breaking and addiction trying to eat better. Hell, I know some days I still want a cigarette and I quit smoking in 2003. The act of change is inherently exhausting, I’m learning. And while it’s a good exhausting (like after a race, not like after a night up with sick kids) it’s still exhausting.

That’s okay, the more awesome I get the more naps I earn. That’s a decree I’m putting forth in the universe starting today.

bravery

The Power Of Reframing

It’s 4:15am and I already wrote one entire entry that was kinda good about religion and ministering but it was going something where I felt myself already getting defensive towards myself and I felt like I was framing it in away to invite self-criticism and so I’m putting it in draft mode and saving it for another day.

Reframing. That is something I’m working on in therapy.

I have discovered I have this innate drive to resist complimenting myself out loud, with words from my mouth, while looking at someone in the eye. I can write on this screen the awesome things about me every day because I write without distractions and I have the illusion that I’m only talking to myself. Telling myself, “You’re Awesome!” is much easier if there’s not another person looking back at me.

And let me tell you – it took me awhile to even sincerely be able to say/write to myself, “You’re Awesome!” so I’m not trying to belittle that. I can sincerely tell you lots of ways right now that I love myself that I haven’t loved myself in the past.

(I feel like I should just shift the direction of this entry and make it: Ways Kim Is Amazing. I might still do that.)

But many times my therapist asks me questions and I find myself phrasing them in a way that passing the “complimenting” buck of on someone else.

“Why would someone want to be your friend?” “Well! They tell me…”
“Why would someone ready your blog?” “Well, They tell me…”
“Why would someone love you?” “Well, I’ve been told…”

I have a REALLY hard time just saying, “Because I AM AMAZING.”

And the few times I’ve been able to try to say it I fidget like a crazy person and can’t make eye contact and get all weirdly choked up and start to breathe heavy and I feel flushed and you would think I was about to come clean about infidelity to a spouse or murder to a cop or something. I AM ACTING GUILTY OF SOMETHING. It’s terrible. But also highly entertaining from inside my own head.

I think learning to write good things about myself on here was a great step. I even write positive affirmations in the vein of Stuart Smalley in my bullet journal to look at if I feel like I’m spiraling. There is a part of me that is very aware of the good in me and the value in me. But there is something that blocks that the second I have to speak it out loud.

My therapist even talked about sharing my writings and I was like, “Oh, it’s terrible.”

MY WRITING IS NOT TERRIBLE. I mean, if you have problems with grammar errors and misspellings this is not the place for you, obviously. The technical component of my writing is shit. But the writing itself? I LOVE MY WRITING. At least I love my writing, while I’m writing it. But if you ask me to talk about my blog out loud I am full of criticisms and belittling commentary. I kinda get mad at myself every time it happens. I hear myself belittling this website and there is a part of me (the same part of me that writes here every morning) that gets SO MAD because this is my SOUL. Who gives a crap about grammar mistakes?

I think I often just want to prep people for the worst so they’ll be pleasantly surprised when it’s not terrible.

And that’s basically me, in person, describing myself. If you ask me out loud to list 10 good things about myself I’m not going to survive. I’m not going to look you in the eye. I’m going to get flushed and find a way to maybe mention 5 but I’m going to choose 5 that can also be self-deprecating.

“I’m really good at admitting my flaws.”

That’s one I can get out relatively easily. But do you see that? It’s a hidden jab. It’s like answering, “What’s your biggest flaw?” with “I’m too organized.”

My response is not phrased as a positive attribute. It could be seen as a positive characteristic, but it’s framed in a negative manner.

“I openly share my vulnerabilities.”

That’s basically saying the same thing but the framing of it is much better. I’ve actually said that one out loud several times in therapy and it’s starting to roll off the tongue in a way that brings me a lot of joy. I see it as a truly beautiful attribute as I see the power it has had in my life to bring me friends and joy. That one I can say now and not look like I’m confessing to a murder.

“I feel intense empathy with others.”

This is another one I’m owning. I used to phrase it like, “I’m sensitive and cry a lot.” And that’s true, but that focuses the “compliment” on the expression of the emotions: crying, and phrasing it like it’s negative. But really what’s happening is I am connecting to a person or a story on a level that is so deep in my soul that it triggers emotions that are not rooting in my own experiences but in the experiences of the person around me.

Of course, therapy is not, “Let’s help Kim compliment herself!” It’s actually only ever comes up when we’re working on other things. It’s just these moments where my therapist asks me to pause and rephrase or reframe something I said. “Can you say that in a way that’s more positive?” They’re just small moments. Well, other than the time she asked me to literally list positive things about myself and I cried for 14 days and came up with 1 thing.

It wasn’t quite that bad, but it was a very hard challenge. Look someone in the eye and tell them 5 real things you love about yourself and get back to me with how it went. I HOPE IT WENT TERRIBLE. No offense, but I need someone to commiserate with me here. I WAS TERRIBLE.

Other than that one time, it’s mainly just small moments here and there where we are discussing something else but my answers or framing traces back to that “negative talk” so it’s something I’m trying to be more aware of. As she says, there are thousands of thoughts in my head at any given moment, I need to choose which ones I give power by speaking. And while the negative thoughts are swirling around at a higher percentage than the positive ones, the positive ones are in there. I just have to take a little extra time to find them instead.

I told her that I don’t always hear the things she hears. I’m working on that. I’m trying to create a part of myself that will catch me the same way she does but I’m not sure it’s there yet. Because I truly like that, trying to reframe things – especially talking about myself – in a positive manner.

I just need to speak (in the first draft of this entry that word said “write” instead of speak which is my subconscious trying to prevent me from challenges that may be beyond my grasp) more from the same voice that writes here. I need to allow her to feel as safe SPEAKING to someone FACE to FACE as she does writing here. She’s very brave behind this screen, not so much in person. She tends to make fun of herself a lot. Which, is not something I want to get rid of because I truly find joy in making fun of myself IN A LOVING WAY. I’ve learned to love a lot of things about me I used to be ashamed of, my awkwardness, my goofiness, my clumsiness. When I fall now I truly laugh, as long as I’m not hurt. So I’m not saying I can’t pick on myself in love. I feel like by learning to do that I took the power away from everyone in the past who picked on me for the same things but from a negative place.

I WILL STILL MAKE FUN OF MYSELF! Is what I’m saying.

But I want to recognize when I’m self-deprecating out of shame, or when I’m reacting terribly to a compliment. OH MY GOD I AM TERRIBLE WITH COMPLIMENTS. My therapist has given me SO MANY good ways to respond to compliments and I want those responses to be my instincts at some point…because they are NOT now.

“I love your blog!”
“Oh my god. It’s terrible.”

Is literally something I said recently. THAT IS HORRIBLE. MY BLOG IS AMAZING, I NEED TO OWN THAT.

Anyway. This is a weird entry. This is one of those entries I sometimes think about when people ask me about my blog. “Well, sometimes I write really well thought out pieces over the course of days or weeks and then other times I just start typing and see where I end up.”

I like where I ended up here. Thanks for making it this far.

2417506036_18d6f91bc4_o

Happy and Fragile

I cried at work yesterday.

And it was as embarrassing as it sounds.

It wasn’t even over something good like missing my Dad. I wasn’t even having a bad day! I swear!

Basically someone very sweet and kind pointing out something I kinda already knew about posting about aggravations with my house on Facebook while selling my house and the combination of it being

A) Something that made me feel dumb because I should have kinda known it already and
B) Something about SELLING MY HOUSE: Currently the thing that makes me the most stressed right now

it all just hit a trigger point. I felt the tears IMMEDIATELY and tried to hide my face in work but I had to talk and it was so obvious and she felt so terrible and I kinda wanted to jump out of the window into the CVS parking lot below.

SO EMBARRASSED.

But y’all. Obviously that was SUCH a trigger. Even now, thinking about it, I’m having to fight back tears.

And then, because of this, I went and viewed my Facebook page as someone NOT friends of me would see it and changed the privacy on all of my public posts. I should have done this AGES I go. I know people stalk people on Facebook, I’m certain if we get any serious buyers they’d do that. I just hadn’t really thought about THAT as it relates to my assortment of public posts. (For the record, my coworker’s comment had nothing to do with that kind of stuff, it was just related to selling my house and things I post on Facebook so it got me thinking.)

So I went to make them back to private and that SUCKS because if I make a post public, it’s because my friends are sharing it out. It means my words about some issues (usually social justice) were so good that someone wanted to share it so I made it public. So I had to take time to change all of those to private just in case someone who wants to buy my house is NOT a friend of the LGBT community. And before the Target bathroom fiasco, I was confident none of my posts would offend anyone because we had an OUTPOURING of love here when gay marriage was legalized.

But now half of my feed is boycotting Target and half of my public posts are Trans advocacy posts and well, which do I want more, to sell my house or to make sure strangers know I support the Trans community.

And the answer to THAT is depressing too.

But really, it’s selling my house that’s depressing. Because I can not keep it clean. Everyone is trying but jeepers, we are just DAMN BUSY.

But also? I’m sad my friends are boycotting Target.

I don’t know. I’m really in a good place. That’s the other frustrating thing. This week has felt good. YESTERDAY felt good. Those tears anger me even more because I feel like they say, “Mentally unstable!” when truth-be-told, I’m the most stable I’ve been in months. I AM FINE. I PROMISE.

But the tears. I could not stop them. House. Trans Advocacy. Target.

I’m super sensitive and crying at the drop of a hat BUT I SWEAR I AM DOING GREAT. I mean, does that even make sense? I want to be like, “Don’t worry about me! You should have worried about me a month ago when I didn’t cry in front of anyone. Don’t worry about me now! I know I’m crying but I promise! I’m fine! I just wish I could sell my house and I wish people would see the Target Bathroom Drama through the eyes of people who love their Transgender neighbors. It’s painful. THAT IS WHY I’M CRYING. I promise! I’m actually happy!”

One thing is for sure. I need to go for a run this morning. So I don’t have time to wrap this up in a cohesive way. I guess this is maybe a Stream of Consciousness type of post. Thanks for hearing me out. Here’s to miles bringing some emotional stability. Here’s to happiness disguised in tears.

thanks

Training For Gratitude.

This week has been full of enlightenments in so many forms that I sat down this morning to write and thought, “I CAN’T EVEN DECIDE WHAT TO WRITE ABOUT.”

The cool thing is a lot of my revelations came from friends, AND I DON’T HAVE TO PAY THEM! Woo Hoo!

I had a meeting at my house last night and one of the points of discussion was, “How do we make sure our kids don’t grow up spoiled or entitled?” I think we all agreed that some entitlement is inevitable, but what can we do to minimize that and to make sure they have a realistic view of their own privilege? It’s so easy to think the greater world is just a BIGGER version of our small sphere of experience, but it’s so VERY NOT true. Relative to the world, hell – even just to the rest of our country, my family is wealthy in many different ways. How do I make sure my kids realize how rich we are, even if half of their friends have iPads when they don’t?

It turns out a lot of my friends institute gratitude rituals in their families. In some, it’s part of prayers, in others its just part of recaps of days. In my house? It’s part of nothing. We do “Highs and Lows” some days, but we don’t specifically talk about gratitude. One friend referenced that gratitude is like a muscle you need to work out regularly so that it’s always in shape and comes easy and almost instinctively. One friend does this with constant questioning of her kids, “What are you thankful for?”

So, obviously, I’m stealing that idea.

I’m going to try to start making that part of meal time. We don’t do prayers, except at big family functions. But I like the idea that before meals we could take a moment to share something we’re thankful for. I already forgot to do it once this morning at breakfast, so obviously my gratitude muscle is just as in need of working out.

Do you have any gratitude rituals in your family? Do you have any ways to kinda “force” your kids to recognize things in their life they should or could be thankful for?

Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 4.24.20 AM

Lightening the Load, Without Actually Lightening The Load

Programming Note: I’m very self conscious about constantly referencing therapy, not wanting to be that person who talks about therapy all the time. So from here on out, please assume any wise conclusion I come to I did not come to on my own.

I’ve got a lot on my plate right now and about 2 weeks ago I started realizing I need to remove some of it. We’ve all been there, right? And it’s a terrible place to be because inevitably, you’re letting someone down.

I examined my “To Do” lists that I was never completing and found very little I could really let go of as there’s a certain level of obligation you kinda have to accept due to commitments made. I did have to turn down freelance work for someone I really like working for, but other than that? There was really nothing I could remove. The truth of the matter is, until this house sells? I just have TOO MUCH on my plate.

So, after turning down the freelance job, I opted to maybe lighten the level of “clean” (although it was already pretty light) I was trying to keep my house and just telling the universe, “If someone won’t buy my house because there’s dust on those shelves in that room I never go to, then so be it.”

And then it was time to approach my obligations differently so maybe they wouldn’t stress me out so much. I did three things.

1) I stopped wearing my watch. I found myself constantly analyzing how much time I had left either because I was trying to finish something on time (cleaning my house before the showing) or because I was frustrated I couldn’t get to something (when errands are taking too long) in time. I also was hyper-aware of how little sleep I was getting, something that has gotten even worse with allergy season. SO? Now I have to deliberately decide to look at the time either on my phone, clock, or computer. Which makes time a little less of a source of anxiety.

2) I stopped dating my To Do lists. Normally daily pages in my bullet journal have pretty banners at the top with the date on them. But that kinda makes me feel really shitty when I can’t get stuff done on the day I assigned the task. Now? It just a general TO DO list that I add to until it’s time to start a new page. I don’t stare at the un-checked items under YESTERDAY’S page and feel guilt.

3)I made a To Joy list that I stare at all day. I like to keep my bullet journal open on my desk so I can write things down in it throughout my day. But that means I’m staring at my To Do list and a lot of the things I can’t do from work. So, now? I have a To Joy list with things that have INTRINSIC value and THAT is the list and THOSE are the items I stare at all day. I check in on the “To Do” list occasionally of course, practically it’s necessary. BUT – I’m not staring at it all day as it looms over my subconscious.

Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 4.24.20 AM

I’m hoping these things help with my anxiety level which, HOPEFULLY, will help with my stress eating. It didn’t work yesterday, for the record. BUT THERE IS ALWAYS TODAY!

We’ve had 5 showings in one month (compared to 3 showings in 6 months the last time we tried to sell) on our house but everyone hates all the stairs leading to the front door. We have another showing this morning. Let’s hope these people like squats.