I think an acupuncturist described me as such when I was in college after telling her about myself. I don’t know if I’d call myself a lazy perfectionist anymore. I think perhaps I’m lazy (can you relate?) but have developed habits that urgently push me out of bed in the morning and have learned set goals that keep me on track. And the simpler and shorter my goals and “to-do” list is the better…
Back in March some of you may know I signed up for a half-ironman.Seemed so exciting at the time…and doable! It’s next Saturday. The training has not been as consistent or as hard-core as I would’ve liked, and I have also had some great moments.
For any of you other Lazy Perfectionists or Type-A-Wanna Be-Neurotics you might be able to relate. Perhaps you you don’t always wake up saying,”YESSSSS!!!!!TODAY I’M GOING TOTRAIN! YESSSS!!!! or even, “TODAY I MUST TRAIN, AND I WON’T COMMIT TO ANYTHING LESS..” By the way, you can substitute work or any other goal (it doesn’t have to be training) and this entry still applies.
This mind of mine gets really excited about doing a large volume of training or a really fast pace.. But then And it gets really upset when I don’t complete that large volume or that really fast pace.
So lately I’ve started training my mind in a different way…instead of telling myself that we are going to train hard (anyone else have multiple personalities, ha!) I tell myself that we are going to train focused.
Lake of the Isles, Minneapolis
I know that sounds strange. One of the delights of longer trainings is letting the thoughts drift. Getting lost! Exploring! And it is! But that’s not necessarily what I need for my day at that time. And f I let my thoughts drift too much without feeling my body and my brain rooted in the training then I stop…and drift some more…
…..and knowing that sustained focus is something that I consistently need to practice, why not do it during a time in which a repetitive movement is already built in to my week.
The red-faced, wind-kissed cheeks and the smell of fresh air on your skin ,and knowing that you just came in from a slightly windy morning riding at the beach never really does get old. San Francisco has changed. For sure. But the morning fog still rolls, and and the crazy waves still crash on the shore of Ocean Beach. Still not up to “training pace” but getting out again on Sunday put me back into that infinity circle again of “what have I been missing!”
Crissy Fields is another one of those magical places. I ride my bike down Market, up Polk Street all the way up to the Marina; gives a real feel of how the city changes from one area to the other (from rags to riches…and all the colors in between). My heart becomes lighter as I climb up that last hill and the ocean comes into view.
Getting started, like with anything, always feels like a big push. And last Monday I drudged myself along for the first mile or so, convinced to keep going only by the ocean breeze and the sway of the grass. By mile 4 I was in a groove when I heard quick-footsteps behind me and then beside me. Realizing that we were basically the same pace, the other set of foot-steps and mine matched each other–first her running slightly faster with me a little behind and then vice-versa (the pains and gains of training with another). Half-way through, I gasped between breaths, “What’s…your…name…” and aside from that the only sounds we exchanged was the rhythm of our feet and the quick breaths as we continued down the path.
Yesterday, I tried to run on the treadmill. Bad. Idea. Too tired. Too light-headed. Too stifling. Not happening. Didn’t even want to get into the pool after that. But it’s a rooftop outdoor pool. And it was, again, that perfect mix of fog and rain.”One lap,” I whispered to myself, shivering on the side of the pool. I dipped one foot in the water which sent my face into a scrunch. I felt the whine coming low and fast and before it sent my legs running down into the locker room where a sauna awaited, I dove in, the water making me forget whatever doubts I had about being here in the first place.
Sprints were on my agenda. Just one length of the pool at a time with a 20 second rest…how to get my time down to just 20 seconds? I put my attention on the pull part of the stroke; where the elbow is bent and the forearm pushes against the water. Could I push any harder? Recover any faster? Focusing on the push and recovery on the seventh of twelve lengths, I glanced up at the clock as my fingertips touched the wall. The clock read 20 seconds…all because of a bit of awareness and effort at one aspect of my stroke.
Many emotions last week as I embarked on training week #2. Old patterns of thinking kept coming up-the pushing, the needing, and feeling like, “I can’t.” I am also having some pain in my left foot that I want to be mindful of. I’m not going to push through and hurt myself and yet at the same time there’s a need to have a little bit of fire under my butt to keep going. So while I am committed to training in-so-far as it feels like I am taking care of myself I’ll do it. If September comes and I don’t feel ready then I’ll let it go.
Lately, a sickening feeling of rage and frustration around how lost I’ve gotten, after a year of quiet, into the world of consumption have come up for me. And it feels that, a practice that I so carefully cultivated around just being, is dissipating.
The addiction of indulgence has once again returned. It’s obviously natural to want and it’s a beautiful practice to give oneself a treat every once in awhile. But that treat (for me) turns so easily into a desperate need to have that thing, to complete that goal, to get everything finished….
…I used to feel very much that if I didn’t keep pushing I would lose something vital to who I was. But now I see it as an ingrained habit and the patterns of thinking that say, “See! I told you you weren’t good enough! You just need to keep at it (at what?) and then you will have what you need to be happy.” And as if that thought pattern wasn’t enough of a blow there’s a whole story and judgment that goes along with that too.
I’m angry this morning at another careless act of leaving bike shoes outside my house that are no longer there. It’s not the money. It’s the judgment around, now, making another purchase around my carelessness.
I teach and preach forgiveness, patience, and self-compassion; fundamental to the “undoing” of ourselves. I am grateful to have developed and be supported in a practice of such mindfulness; it reminds me in all these times of feelings, whether frustration or elation, and the judgement and stories that go with them, to just be still with them and if I’m so lucky, to return to a state of just being.
A little girl stands next to a water fountain. She thoughtfully looks over the glistening penny in her hand and focuses in on her wish. I hope my parents get back together she thinksas she whisks the penny into the fountain. She knows this is never going to happen and somehow she knows that it’s not a good idea, nor does she really know if that what she wants. So why wish it?
That is my adult analysis of my four or five year old self. My parents divorced when I was one, and I have no recollection of them ever being together. So it seems odd to me, having no memory of them ever being together, wanting that for myself. Could it be, so young, that I already was feeling that social conformity demanded that the family unit be a mom, a dad, and a child living under the same roof? Could it be that I just wanted things the way they were supposed to be according to what I saw around me? Quite possibly.
During school (especially math class) I found myself in the front lines of a war torn country, being the key to reuniting the two lands, or the heroine in a hostage story while my teachers droned on about adding numbers together. But I knew I had bigger things to conquer.
A psychoanalyst, I think, might have a field day with me: “Tell me about this unsung-heroism-fantasy of yours where you are off saving the world joining lands together?” Might this have anything to do with…your parents divorce at such a young age?
Or, is it just another childhood fantasy that I must be so unique in the world of divorced children that of course a psychoanalyst would find my case interesting?
We learn as adults that courage and heroism do not have to be grand gestures. It can be found in the every day random acts of kindness that we pass onto one another. And yet, there’s a small part of me that thinks that that is complete bullshit. How glorious to save the world in some valiant manner, nothing short of a cape or a glistening wand or the halo that teeters above my head.
Immediately following college I enlisted in a workshop with a political theatre group . In exchange for some hours of labor we were given a workshop in which we learned some fundamentals of melodrama and comedia d’elle arte. Our final product was three plays, written and performed by us. Our play, of course, was about the failures of our education system (we chose melodrama). Having somehow a cast of all different ethnicities we played up our stereotypes (me being the white nerd whose parents sent her to inner city schools because they thought it would be safer than a suburban school where a random school shooting might take place). Through a cookie, the students became indoctrinated with the politics of No Child Left Behind and it was up to those who hadn’t eaten the cookie to somehow save the school from the evil superintendent!
And so we did! Harrah! And as writers, in a fit of idealistic flurry wrote an ending so beautiful and magical in which the school became the most perfect, performing, multi-ethnic-everyone-getting-along school-after, and we all lived happily ever after killing the evil superintendent.
We read the script aloud, and marvelled at our brilliance. Yes, kill No Child Left Behind and leave our emblem of emblems of schools! And yet… somehow we knew even as we read the script for the first time, that even for the fairy-tale/fantasy play we created we had to shut down the school. With hanging heads and big sighs we walked over to our facilitator and broke the news. “We have to shut down the school.”
She looked at us with incredible empathy, and sighed.. “I know,” she said wistfully. We turned around, slumped back to our posts, and reluctantly began the sad business of destroying the school that we had created and had become so attached. If that’s fiction, how might we react to such scenarios when our ideals conflict with reality?
Just recently, I find myself in such conflict. The team that I have been a part of for what seems like forever (really since October) has decided to split into two. This occurred right before I was to leave for the beach for a week. Throughout this week, I took walks on the long sandy beaches, gazed into the sunset,
Sunset in Puerto Escondido
and knew in my heart: that I, heroine-extravaganza, could get both sides to see how important they were to me (oh, yeah, and everyone else) and then of course they would get back together.
Psychoanalysts get your pen ready!
Like the little girl at the fountain sure that the penny would fly like cupid into the hearts of my parents, and the playwright ten years ago, I wrote friends eagerly. “This could work, right?” “Yes!” they responded to me enthusiastically. “Yes! What a grand idea!” I planned my speech carefully-starting of course off with an apology for my lack of mastery in Spanish. And then with incredible articulateness, wit, and empathy dove into how the team had served me. “Too much about me?” I thought. “Maybe so…” and then revised it as such to make it more about “us.”
Returning to the city, ready with my post inviting both teams to a place of mutual agreement, I called my good friend for back up. “This is a good idea, right?”
“Yes,” he responded.
“Not overly idealistic and ridiculous?”
“No. Do it.”
All right. Ready to launch.” Excited and nervous I copied and pasted my comments on the two FB pages only to find that…one member was already talking about different logos. My heart sank. I called my friend. “This isn’t a good idea,” I said. “
No,” he said. “People have already moved on.” “
“Yes.” And sadly I erased my posts.
I have spent all week wondering at my dissapointment. I have told myself I am not disappointed. I have told myself to stop being so emotional about it. I have told myself that I’m fine. But for some good reasons it is a big deal. And there is nothing I can do about it, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s sad. And Goddammnit, as I make changes in my life It would be nice if just one thing stayed the same!! But we all know that the only permanence on this planet is change.
And there’s another truth to this…a selfish-morbid truth:the heroine who at four was so sure that she, single-handedly, could be the answer to her parents reunion, at thirteen could be the re-uniter of two war-torn lands, and at thirty-three, as she danced on the shores of sunset while the waves furiously crashed around her, could join two teams as one, would once again have to sink into the every-day reality of being just another human being.
Arriving back in Mexico has been a whirlwind of (goodness!) and busyness. After sobbing the night I left Northern California and a 2 am departure, it was an incredible blessing to be met at the airport by a good friend who took me to another good friend’s house where I had the fortune to stay for a couple of nights before leaving for a weekend at the beach. Not a bad return to Mexico at all.
I have been busy with work and training, both of which, I can say have been quite a pleasure. I spent much of summer sitting on the porch of my kind guests’ beautiful house tree-gazing. Sometimes thinking, “Hmm…am I doing enough? Should I…and then I would continue to to tree-gaze sometimes thinking about the should I’s, sometimes napping, and much of the time really just staring. That tranquility somehow transferred to this crazy busy city and school year life and although my days are filled from before dawn until eight or nine o’clock all of it is a pleasure and filled with experiences that I enjoy.
Upon arriving to Mexico, my friend recommended a 21 day free online meditation sponsored by Oprah and Deepak Choprah. To ease myself back and to give myself some structured meditation I signed up for it. One meditation, in particular stuck with me: “So hum.” So-I am hum-all that there is. I am all that there is, or Deepak Choprah’s interpretation: “I am enough.” Just being in all that I am doing all the time, through stress and happiness, work and home, has been a high priority and a challenge. In fact, I think I only surround myself with people that seem to just be so naturally because I find it so much easier to accept that within myself when others can accept it for themselves.
In working with children, their parents and other teachers (all of us an incredible bunch, and our control and sensitivity buttons ready to be pushed at a simple, small miscommunication’s notice) I find “just being” to be at the utmost importance as it allows me to connect, listen, and empathize; essential pieces to this line of work. And so when it came time to prepare for Back-to-School Night I found myself in a total complete panic. I wasn’t worried about what the parents would think of me (for once), but I wanted the parents to feel that they could be completely who they were and leave feeling safe, warm, and happy. Thankful to a friend whose third time offer of YOU CAN COME OVER AND I WILL HELP YOU I finally accepted, we created the most, ME presentation EVER. And I think it had the desired effect. Here are two fun examples:
I had an activity planned in which parents take three M&M’s, and answer questions based on the color of the M&M’s with their table members. As parents were coming in, the M&M’s were already on the table. I looked over at one table and all of the M&M’s were gone. Making light of the situation, I walked over to refill their plate and joked that of course they could eventually eat the M&M’s but it was for an activity.Well, apparently that table didn’t hear me because I looked over and the M&M’s were gone again!! My control button buzzed like crazy, but also so did a complete sense of hilarity. It was just ridiculously funny (kind of laughing at myself for caring so much too)! And of course, when I introduced the activity the M&M eater was very sweetly embarrassed (I didn’t say anything, he just realized).
Another very funny moment was when the Spanish teacher was giving her presentation, a mom came up to me and I said, “Oh thanks so much for coming! And she said…”Oh no..I’m not leaving. I just got my period. Do you have anything??” Total transparency and randomness…and I LOVED it.
And here I am. I came down with a mild cold on Thursday, enough to keep me from training today and perhaps tomorrow. The should I’s are running through my head like mad. So Hum.
May you always feel like you are enough. Because you are.