Boundaries are Healthy

Sometimes when I’m in the bathroom, my cat will sit on the floor and stare at me. It’s creepy. You may ask why I don’t lock my cat out. I feel guilty. She is home alone all day, so I think I shouldn’t limit my time with her. But, I resent her stare.

Games we play

This game we play, you may recognize it. My cat stares, and I feel guilty. I pet her and allow her to rub around my legs. There’s only so much I can take with all that attention. We both mean well.


The funny thing about it, when I am with her, as in overextended vacations, she still meows when she doesn’t see me in the room with her. If I step outside to take out the trash or run an errand, it’s no different. She still wants the same amount of attention as she did when I’m home for a few hours. So in my great reasoning, I don’t think it’s because she misses me.
I read somewhere that a cat’s memory is only a few minutes. Cats don’t know how long it’s been.

This guilt I feel is hollow. I am projecting how I would feel in her shoes (paws). So why am I feeling so miserable? What do I want? I like it when we snuggle up on the couch together. I love it when she greets me in the morning. Even when I come home. The time when I’m in the bathroom and staring at me is my fault. I let it happen. If I want to be alone at that time, I need to close the door. A simple thing.

Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Pexels.com

How often do we do this? We yell at people unnecessarily instead of metaphorically and physically closing the door. Have you ever said, “Yes, I’ll do that for you,” when you feel like vomiting at the thought of doing it? We go along with things when we have other plans. We say yes to their idea even when we disagree. It’s not necessary. We think our actions are kind. All we’re doing is building up a reason to hate someone we usually love. That’s what resentment does. It builds a wall of hate. If enough resentment builds, what happens? We yell. We scream. We blame. We walk away in anger. Is this what we want? Is it inevitable?

Kids need boundaries

ASLA 2006 Student Awards

A study was conducted. There was one playground with a fence and one without any borders. The children without a fence clustered towards the center. If you place a fence around a playground, the children used the entire area to play. I found this to be interesting. Boundaries in life are giving freedom. Ironic.

Right here and now

I have the right to close my bathroom door. I have the right to ignore my phone. I feel freer knowing I can fence off my time, declaring ownership. I can put up a barricade and stick my flag in the ground. It’s my time! Right here and now. Kings do it, presidents do it, astronauts do it in their country’s name, and so can you. If it helps, you can make yourself a flag and put it in the middle of your room or outside your closed door. Name your kingdom. Just remember, you’re the enforcer. Tell everyone you will call them later.

If this hasn’t been part of your life before, people may not honor your boundary. But if you continually tell them, they will learn to respect your fence. With cats, children, spouses, or parents, it’s no different. They learn what we teach them. If we teach them that it’s okay to call us names and hurt our feelings (by allowing it), that is what we will get. Some people in your life will need retraining. I like thinking of it as an experiment. Who is the easiest to teach? How long did it take? How did they react in comparison to a different person? Be firm, but not rude. repeat the same line 30 or 40 times if necessary. “I can’t talk now. I’ll call you at 5:00.” Don’t explain. Don’t vary. I’ve used this technique several times, and it’s like magic, but you have to state it firmly and without emotion.

What works for you? Leave a comment.

Adapted and Reblogged from a previous date, 1/06/13 Limitations-Boundaries-and-Those-Cute-Picket-Fences

Our Agency

Maybe it is time to be who we are, to love like we mean it, to smile from deep within, to give not expecting a gift in return. Maybe, just maybe, it is time to stop fucking pretending and get back to who we are.

Deep inside, we know what we want. It’s time we do it. If we can only do it on the weekends or the evening, so be it. I write on the weekends. I hike when I can and travel as I can afford. When my last day comes, I want to say that I have lived as I wished to have lived.

I Have Agency!

When a doctor walks into a medical emergency, he or she isn’t faking their authority. They might have been playing golf or at a dining table minutes before, but at this moment, they’re a physician. Once, I was eating with a doctor and his wife when he had an emergency call. He didn’t stop by his home to don his surgical clothing like a superman cape and become Dr. Perfect. Nope. He went straight to the hospital. He knew who he was.

What is the Concept of Agency?

In social science, agency is defined as the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices. By contrast, structure is those factors of influence (such as social class, religion, gender, ethnicity, ability, customs, etc.) that determine or limit an agent and their decisions.

Take Control of Your Life: The Concept of Agency and Its Four Helpers

Agency is the sense of control that you feel in your lifeyour capacity to influence your own thoughts and behavior, and have faith in your ability to handle a wide range of tasks and situations. Your sense of agency helps you to be psychologically stable, yet flexible in the face of conflict or change.Jan 31, 2015

In one place in your life this week, create order. Be in charge. You are the person who makes it happen. It may be your hair or your laundry, but you’re the bad-ass here.

The Goal is Being Alive

I had been restless, tired of putting up with leftovers. I’d had a lot of second-hand crap. Friends invited me to concerts–if their original date didn’t show. Or sometimes, I stayed in the car while she and a friend met the band and received autographs. It sucked. How did I get into this situation? One day I woke up and realized I wasn’t the first choice in my friend’s life. I was putting more effort into relationships than I was getting. It pissed me off. I’m not the second. When had I started down this path? I didn’t intentionally date taken men or choose friends who didn’t want to hang with me. But it all cracked, and I had enough.

It tested me…

I grew up in a hard-knocks rural lifestyle. If you don’t earn it, you don’t deserve it. Work hard, and take pride in your accomplishments. Park them in the driveway so the neighbors can see. But I was also torn between two worlds. I had earned my old world, the one I left, the mom me. Since I left it, somehow, I no longer had access to the worthiness I had achieved under its umbrella. My ex-husband kept the money. Society withheld the honor.

I couldn’t square the old with the new world I entered. In this modern world, I was a penniless, lonely, divorced female. I didn’t like this person I had become. I was sad and unfulfilled. I lived only to make it another day.

On the advice of a therapist, I planned to make some solo journeys. It seemed reasonable. It would be time away from toxic relationships, and I could readjust my expectations. Recalibrate. Learning to feel good on your own isn’t easy, but that was the plan. Solo Journeys. At least, it was the door I kept trying to go enter. Heaven is my witness; I tried. 

The universe or God had a surprise. I met someone who liked doing the same things I enjoyed – hiking, drinking coffee, etc. I could do it alone. I was willing to prove I could. But maybe I’ve done enough. I don’t know. One thing I’m learning is that not everything is accomplished through hard work and pounding on doors. maybe I’ve done enough. I don’t know. I’m adoring my journeys currently. I’m making peace with my life. I’m alive.

Emotions And Flashbacks

We know emotions. They’re healthy, normal. A pet is sick or dies, and we are sad. If it is sunny outside, this could be a good day. We become excited. We plan for an adventure. There’s a hike, a few hours at the zoo with our family, or maybe the pool. A little sunburn isn’t bad. Even a tantrum from the three-year-old doesn’t spoil a day. Emotions are flavors added to the stewpot.

I’ve had weeks of crying jags for no apparent reason, and I’m bewildered as to what started them. I can’t recall an emotion. Am I sad? Angry? Sometimes I’ll stare at the wall or want to hide under the covers because life seems too much. It’s the tsunami crashing over my plans to move forward into a good life. I write lists and can’t seem to accomplish the tasks.

The difference in simple terms between an emotion and a flashback is the logic. I can be disappointed in an immediate event or happy about it. If I’m having a flashback, it’s illogical. I may be disappointed about the experience but also accuse others that they did this on purpose. I’ll feel like going into a dark hole for a longer time or rage about someone letting me down. And perhaps they did. The flashback has magnified the pain.

Emotional flashbacks are sudden and often prolonged regressions (‘amygdala hijackings’) to the frightening circumstances of childhood. They are typically experienced as intense and confusing episodes of fear and/or despair – or as sorrowful and/or enraged reactions to this fear and despair.  Flashback Management

Pete Walker

How can you tell if someone has a flashback?  

“Flashbacks sometimes feel as though they come out of nowhere, but there are often early physical or emotional warning signs. These signs could include a change in mood, feeling pressure in your chest, or suddenly sweating. Becoming aware of the early signs of flashbacks may help you manage or prevent them.”

RAINN.ORG

There is a time in our childhood before we could name an emotion when we create patterns of feeling. It’s possible our parents were busy and tired. My dad worked two and sometimes three jobs. Mom helped when we had a business—three kids and not a lot of money. As the third child, it was a challenge to be noticed. I needed more than they could give. I cried with ear infections, and mom was exhausted. She needed a break. And there wasn’t one in sight anywhere for her. Now, it’s still difficult for me to ask for help.

Peaceful Warrior

One tool Richard Grannon teaches in his YouTube videos is for emotions. Many of us are not aware of our feelings. I wrote about this in a previous post, The Jungle of My Emotions. We befriend our emotions, even the ugly ones, and they soon become familiar. Name them as to recognize them. Are you afraid? Or are you feeling betrayed? This method has been helpful for me.

A decent way to do this is to set a timer for three times a day. Mine is 9:00 AM, 2:00 PM, and 8:00 PM. When the timer chimes, check-in with yourself. Are you bored, lost, sad, or feeling angry? Being aware of yourself is a start. There is plenty of help if you need it.

I don’t know your life or your family, only you know them. You swim in those emotions deep. It takes a near miracle, as the fish pulled from the water, to realize life can be different. I do have hope for me, and I have hope for you. If you can relate to any of this, follow some of the links. There is help. It can get better.

Resources:

Rick Hanson Ph.D.-The Foundations of Well Being 

Richard Grannon-The Spartan Life Coach

Pete Walker-Flashback Management

My thanks to Wade Harris for the featured photograph. Find him on Flickr or Instagram.

It’s Simple

We wish for the good old days when times were simple. Snapping green beans on the front porch or eating homemade ice cream. What I desire the most is the idle time to spend daydreaming.

I feel bad about the struggles on the other side of the world, but I’m limited to what I can do. I can listen to Beatles music. Maybe say a few lines of Rumi. It’s not by any means stopping the skirmishes of fighting tribes. I don’t wish for the old days, not really. They had their issues. Days were devoted to food preparation and lives cut short by disease. What I want is simplicity—living with this moment—making the most of what I have now. I don’t want to be always thinking about the fun of tomorrow or worrying about the issues that are not in my control.

This We Have Now

This we have now
is not imagination.

This is not
grief or joy.

Not a judging state,
or an elation,
or sadness.

Those come and go.
This is the presence that doesn’t.

From Essential Rumi
by Coleman Barks

The next time you’re watching the news and paying your bills while trying to phone your mom and pet your cat, stop. Do one thing. Only one. Choose your activity wisely and give it your full attention.
Save your sanity and realize your limitations. It’s okay if you can’t fix everything. It’s okay if you can’t save the world. We can put on our tie dyed shirts and chant OM.

Recommendation: The No Impact Man by Colin Beavan

The New Rule by Rumi

It’s the old rule that drunks have to argue and get into fights.

The lover is just as bad. He falls into a hole.

But down in the hole he finds something shining,

worth more than any amount of money or power.

Last night the moon came dropping its clothes in the street.

I took it as a sign to start singing,

falling up into the bowl of sky.

The bowl breaks. Everywhere is falling everywhere.

Nothing else to do.

Here’s the new rule: break the wineglass, and fall toward the glassblower’s breath.

translated by Coleman Barks
This writing is an updated version of a previous post, The Simple Life. Thank you for reading.

Structures Keep Us Sane

Traditions remind me of the monument stones ancient people used to mark borders. We start new traditions when our lives change in a big way. And habits, well they make our life easier.

I don’t think about my tooth care often. I was disciplined as a child, plus I kept those habits of brushing my teeth and seeing my dentist. We often view addictions from the negative. It controls us. I’m addicted to coffee. Truthfully addiction isn’t far from a habit. Only it’s internal—the shadow side. The craving pulls. Pleasure is the fun we wish all life held.

No place is a place until things that have happened in it are remembered in history, ballads, yarns, legends, or monuments. Fictions serve as well as facts.

Wallace Stegner

Habits, traditions, addictions, cravings, and pleasures are whispers away from each other. I crave chocolate and coffee, but not always because they are suitable for me. The desire isn’t wrong, and neither is giving in to savor the coffee. These are choices.

Monuments are for the living, not for the dead.

Frank Wedekind

Hunters and Gatherers

I don’t remember how the habit started. It wasn’t a conscious choice like taking up jogging, but it developed as all do—progressively. One act of pleasure bumps into another until it’s a daily delight. A treat. And my oh my. How can something that brings a smile one day and on the next, seem to be wrong? Another one? Isn’t that excessive? No one else is involved. After all, I’ve got this handled.

At times, I stay up too late browsing the internet. I’m not reading a good book or researching my family tree, just browsing random crap. YouTube videos, current news, or shopping for things I’ll never buy. If I were reading, at least it would be beneficial for my brain cells, right? So down the trail and then turn right. Stop!

—Women who love wine

My one-year-old cat, Dot, is a hunter. He drags his “kills.” He attacks, wrestles, and drags small rugs and blankets around the house. They are gnawed to death. Usually, they are tugged to the food bowl, him growling the entire way. I see it as some instinct he has to bring in a carcass. His version of the gazelle is a brown Mexican blanket that he yanks by its corner. Sometimes he’ll donate his prey to the other cats while they sleep.

Dot has a Q-tip habit. He begs for them, even meowing and waking me at two in the morning when the rest of the world is sleeping. He needs a fix. It is nearly an obsession. Cat games. This cat hunts ear swabs. He hides his skinny, ear swab prey under a rug, then pounces, then discovering it again.

Creatures of nature are instinctive. Humans use instincts but also have developed habits. But we can update old practices. Thankfully we can learn. Whatever it is we want to alter, we can retrain ourselves. It feels odd at first. If it’s essential and we introduce it consistently, we can change. But Dot, the hunter, might forever be addicted to his human ear probes. I might forever be gathering them from odd places, like from my shoes.

Dot, the hunter

Flower-Hearted People

The flip side of survival and the fear of failure is thriving. Thriving shouldn’t be difficult. How is it so difficult to win? To succeed? Well, the difficulty is when you have achieved, what’s next? You’ve met your goal. Do you coast or do you keep pedaling?

Keep pedaling. This is why slow growth is better than the lottery winning. If you’ve slowly grown a business you got there and grew into your success. Lucky breaks give you false hope.

We are good at striving. Making changes, adjusting, sacrificing, but actual thriving seems so dull sometimes. Oh, yeah we all have the fantasy of buying an island and not having to work for a living, but how long would it be before we would want more? A month? Six months? A year maybe? Somewhere in that time, you start feeling the itchy feet. The need to contribute is too great. Building something even if it’s only a garden is a rewarding experience.

“I will not give up the flowers in my heart for stones just because the world is a hard place. The world is only hard because it needs more flower-hearted people.”

Nikita Gill, Dragonhearts

This is a repost from Thrive from 09/2018.

Check out What If I Thrive? and Blue Fish Red Seas

Don’t Speak

Helen Sinclair:
No, no, don’t speak. Don’t speak. Please don’t speak. Please don’t speak. No. No. No. Go. Go, gentle Scorpio, go. Your Pisces wishes you every happy return.
From Bullets Over Broadway

It’s time to hunker down, to stay inside, to do the opposite of what Americans do best. We do not do idle. And even when we rest, it’s not a quiet thing. We fidget. We plan. We vacation.

Today was the first weekend after Oklahoma Governor Stitt ordered nonessential businesses closed and people to remain home.

KFOR News – As part of the new restrictions, Stitt said that all non-essential businesses located in the counties affected by COVID-19 are being ordered to close at 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, March 25 until April 14.

So what happens when you’re home sheltering in place, and the electricity shuts off? No lights or television or computers. Netflix is unavailable. No binge-watching the latest show. Well, earlier, I swept the floor but couldn’t do the laundry. The WiFi was off, so I wasn’t able to edit, not even from my phone.

We took a walk. Thankfully the electricity was turned on by the time we had made the trek around the neighborhood. I had work to do: writing, laundry, and other busy stuff.

This week I will try to rest. Really.