Category Archives: personal growth

Pollyanna versus the Ancient Judgements of Doom

Lyda here.

This week, someone I know put pesticide on their lawn to get rid of the bugs. They used a mild, pet- and child-safe spray to get rid of bugs that were biting the pets and children.

Who knew that this small thing would trigger such big stuff within me?

(My teachers. Because they are wise, they know stuff comes up, and because they are amazing, they gave me tools to deal with it. Seriously, y’all, go to USM.)

See, this is the story.

When I was young, our dog Happy ate some grass in someone else’s yard.

This was the sixties. No one in our little Iowa town had fences in their yards. Pets and children were free to roam about the neighborhood. But I digress…

Unfortunately, Happy chose a yard that had just had pesticide sprayed on it. She died of poisoning.

I don’t tell you this to bum you out.

I tell you this because, when my friend sprayed their grass, that day that my dog died came back to me, all the feelings and judgements as clear and powerful as I had felt them 45 years ago.

I remember searching with my little brother, and singing “Where oh where has our little dog gone?” as we looked. I hated myself for that, after our dog died.

I remember crying as I stood with my dad and watched the vet put our dog in the back of his station wagon and drive away. I remember she was panting really heavily, and I remember being sure that my dad and the vet could make her all better. And being furious that they didn’t.

I remember the man watching this, and saying something about spraying his yard to my dad. I hated the man for killing our dog. And my hatred scared me.

Today I realized that I was still carrying all of these emotions inside me.

All the powerful feelings and ancient judgements made by a child who did not understand why she was losing her dog.

Today I realized that I could let it all go.

Judgements and anger directed at this man who accidentally killed our dog. Judgements of the vet and my parents, who could not save her. Judgements of myself and my brother for making a game of it and singing as we searched.

I feel compassion for those adults, who watched the grief of small children and the suffering of a good dog, and who knew they were helpless to change the outcome. How hard it must have been to do the right thing, to put the dog out of her suffering, and to know that the children could not understand.

I feel compassion for those small children, facing death and not understanding. And compassion for those children who innocently made a game of looking for their dog, and who later hated themselves for it.

I forgive myself for all the judgements, misunderstandings, and misinterpretations of reality connected to this. And I forgive myself for judging myself for holding on to all of this for so long.

Rest in peace, Happy.

Finally.

Pollyanna reads on Discworld, part 3

Lyda here.

I finally completed the seemingly-endless Reading on Discworld Challenge which was inspired by the books of Terry Pratchett. I wanted to read new books for the challenge, which is why it took me so long. Oh yeah, plus getting my masters. And life. I already reported here on the books I read for item #s 1, 2, 4, 5, 9, 10, 11, and 15, and here on the books I read for item #s 6, 8, 12 & 14.

These are the remaining parts of the challenge that I completed:

3. ‘Albert grunted. “Do you know what happens to lads who ask too many questions?” Mort thought for a moment. “No,” he said eventually, “what?” There was silence. Then Albert straightened up and said, “Damned if I know. Probably they get answers, and serve ‘em right.”’  Mort

Read a book about something you’ve always wondered about. What is string theory, really? Who was Deep Throat? And, now that we’re thinking about such things (y’all know you are)… How have attitudes and morals about sex varied and changed by country and era? (That book was my sister’s college graduation present to me – my first graduate course, she said.) Terry Pratchett book suggestions:  “Pyramids” (mathematics, philosophers, why camels look smug, and what really happens to mummies), “Monstrous Regiment” (why military intelligence isn’t always an oxymoron).

I read “The Walking Dead  – Compendium One” by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Tony Moore, and Cliff Rathburn.

What? I’ve always wondered about graphic novels – I had never really read any before – and specifically, I wondered about these graphic novels.

I love “The Walking Dead” TV series, and I knew from watching “The Talking Dead” that the graphic novels (on which the show is based) were different. Some of the characters and their character development are different, important plot points are completely different, and reading the graphic novels is a totally different experience from watching the show. They are both excellent, too.

7. ‘The three rules of the Librarians of Time and Space are: 1) Silence; 2) Books must be returned no later than the date last shown; and 3) Do not interfere with the nature of causality.’  Guards! Guards!

Go to the library and wander into an aisle you do not usually frequent. Pick a book from the shelf  and read it. One way to do this is to look in the new books section, and pick something from a category you don’t usually read. Just don’t interfere with the nature of causality while you’re there. Terry Pratchett book suggestions:  “Good Omens”, “Nation”.

I read “The Writing Diet: Write Yourself Right-Size” by Julia Cameron. (I actually bought this book, so I can use it over and over like her other books.) Y’all, I never ever read diet books. But this one is different. For one thing, it is written by one of my favorite authors, who wrote “The Artist’s Way” and many other awesome books about which I

just (blog post link #1)

won’t (blog post link #2)

shut (blog post link #3)

up (blog post link #4).

This book is really about expanding one’s creativity and shrinking one’s use of food as a block to emotions and creativity. It does not contain a food plan or rules. Instead, it give tools to use to explore one’s relationship to food and get free of old patterns and unhealthy habits. Those familiar with Julia Cameron’s work will recognize some of the tools, like Morning Pages, and find new tools, like keeping a food journal.

I’ll let you know how it goes as I try out the program.

13. ‘It may, however, help to explain why Gandalf never got married and why Merlin was a man. Because this is also a story about sex, although probably not in the athletic, tumbling, count-the-legs-and-divide-by-two sense unless the characters get totally beyond the author’s control. They might.’  Equal Rites

Read a book about sex, sexuality, and/or sexual politics. I think y’all can find one of these on your own. Terry Pratchett book suggestion:  “Equal Rites”, “Sourcery”.

I read “Are Men Necessary? When Sexes Collide” by Maurine Dowd. I wasn’t crazy about this book. Some of the science is out of date, and I didn’t agree with a lot of her conclusions. For example, she quotes a survey that found that 86% of women would quit their jobs if they didn’t need the money. This supposedly shows that women are less invested in their jobs than men are. But I immediately wanted to know: what percentage of men in equivalent jobs would quit if they didn’t need the money? I’m guessing it would be neck-and-neck.

But agreeing with her is not the point. She made me think, and that is the point. Plus, she is a good and occasionally funny writer. While discussing the ‘war between the sexes’ she says, “Will there ever be peace? I doubt it. But there should always be laughter.” And I’ll drink to that.

16. ‘To Rincewind’s annoyance the Luggage barreled after her, cushioning its fall by dropping heavily onto a slaver, and adding to the sudden panic of the invaders because, while it was bad enough to be attacked with deadly and ferocious accuracy by a rather pretty girl in a white dress with flowers on it, it was even worse for the male ego to be tripped up and beaten by a travel accessory; it was pretty bad for all the rest of the male, too.’  Sourcery

Read a book with an inanimate object as a character and/or an important part of the plot. Terry Pratchett book suggestions: “Sourcery”, or any of the books with the Luggage in them.

I read “Wizard’s First Rule” by Terry Goodkind. There is a sword that is essential to the plot, and is practically alive. Plus, there is a talking magical doll in it. I realize as I’m typing this that “talking magical doll” sounds really creepy, but in this story it actually isn’t. No, really.

17. ‘ “It would seem you have no useful skill or talent whatsoever,” he said.
“Have you thought about going into teaching?” ‘  Mort

Read a book that teaches you something. Something that will not come in handy in your everyday life. Learn something completely impractical.  Terry Pratchett book suggestion: “The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents” (you will find out more about rats than you ever thought there was to know).

I read “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened” by Jenny Lawson aka The Bloggess. I LOVE THIS BOOK!!! I feel as if I found my homeland – it is a land of truly weird stuff and wonderful off-kilter people, and Jenny is our leader. Also, I learned quite a lot of very bizarre and not-useful stuff, including things about taxidermy. See this post for my full review.

18. ‘… human beings, little bags of thinking water held up briefly by fragile accumulations of calcium…’  Pyramids

.

‘It’s not for nothing that advanced mathematics tends to be invented in hot countries. It’s because of the morphic resonance of all the camels, who have that disdainful expression and famous curled lip as a natural result of an ability to do quadratic equations.’  Pyramids

.

‘It is a popular fact that nine-tenths of the brain is not used and, like most popular facts, it is wrong… It is used. And one of its functions is to make the miraculous seem ordinary and turn the unusual into the usual.

‘Because if this was not the case, then human beings, faced with the daily wondrousness of everything, would go around wearing big stupid grins, similar to those worn by certain remote tribesmen who occasionally get raided by the authorities and have the contents of their plastic greenhouses very seriously inspected.’  Small Gods

Read something spiritual, mystical, mathematical, or amazing. Something that will remind you of how magic and unbelievable the universe and everything in it really is. Terry Pratchett book suggestions: “Small Gods”, “Good Omens”, “Wee Free Men”… really, any of his books.

I read “River Flow: New & Selected Poems” by David Whyte. I love his writing. It feeds my soul. I discovered his work at school, where several of his books are required reading. Which shows you how awesome my school is.

19. ‘He [Vimes] wasn’t strictly aware of it, but he treated even geography as if he was investigating a crime (Did you see who carved out the valley? Would you recognize that glacier if you saw it again?)’  The Fifth Elephant

Read a detective novel, a crime story, a mystery, or a thriller. Terry Pratchett book suggestions: “The Fifth Elephant”, “Thud!”.

I read “Warbreaker” by Brandon Sanderson. It’s not a traditional mystery, but it definitely fits the bill. The plot twists like a corkscrew, the characters are unique, the ending is surprising, and the world is fascinating.

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I post about this so I can keep it straight in my own head. Which is a rather chaotic place sometimes. Witness the digressions…

Pollyanna and the Game of Thrones, office version

Lyda here. I was going to call this post “Pollyanna gets PWNED“.

This post contains no spoilers, in case you haven’t read the books or watched the series yet. Which you totally should do.

Have you read A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin? My Brother the Professor calls him “Railroad”. It’s the first book of the Song of Fire and Ice series, and it’s awesome. My son The Sith Master loaned me the books, and I devoured them and can’t wait for the next one to come out. Write faster, please, Mr. Martin!

Have you seen the HBO series “Game of Thrones” which is based on the books? A coworker loaned me his DVDs of seasons 1 and 2. The series is awesome, and faithful to the books. As it should be, as the author is involved.

So – this co-worker and I decided we should play Game of Thrones in the office. Without the “cutting off body parts” component of the originals. Silly HR rules.

We named it “Game of Flags.” It’s basically Capture the Flag. We divided the office into four teams.  You have to get the other team’s flag to your workspace, take a picture of a teammate with it, and email it to the office.

The competition is getting brutal.

Friday I was guarding my team’s flag.

It was stolen twice.

Twice.

I only had to guard the thing for two hours. How hard could that be? Very hard, apparently.

So I learned some things about myself.

  • I am a very bad loser. When I discovered the first theft, I acted like a toddler whose been awake for a month, ate all the Frosted Flakes in the store, and lost her toy. I was just lucky that there weren’t any managers around to witness my meltdown, and that my coworkers accepted my profuse apologies for behaving like an ass. I was calmer for the second theft, at least on the outside, although inside I was cursing.
  • I am still capable of embarrassing myself so much that I want to run away and never come back. (See previous.) One might think that one would outgrow such things. One would be wrong.
  • I hate competing. I didn’t like it as a child, and it still sucks. Possibly because I’m such a bad loser. Possibly because I always seem to lose. I never liked sports, spelling bees, or anything else that pitted me against the other kids. Instead, I was always rooting for my friends to do well. I hated it when the teacher called on someone who didn’t know the answer. I didn’t like being graded on a curve. Not because it wasn’t fair, but because I was the one who aced the test and ruined the curve for everyone else. Yes. That was me. Sorry.
  • I am far too trusting to be let out on the streets. I never suspected my coworkers of trickery. I probably need a keeper. Hopefully my keeper would have an awesome sense of direction, which would also solve my getting-lost problem.
  • I’m a terrible guard. Don’t hire me for that. You’ll only have yourself to blame when the crown jewels go missing.

Pollyanna versus the Money Monster

Lyda here.

Oh, that old Money Monster keeps growling at my door. I’ve been working on taming it for more than three years. It still growls at me, but the actual bites have gotten less.

Things were bad. Really bad. “Life completely fallen apart and losing everything” bad. I felt the Monster crushing me in his slavering jaws, and I surrendered all hope.

Fortunately, I have amazing friends and family. They didn’t let me spend the rest of my days curled up under a park bench.  They helped me, pulled me, pushed me, to deal with the immediate stuff. They were there for me every time I started to give in to the despair.

Once the immediate crisis was resolved, I still had to deal with the fallout. I just felt overwhelmed. I had to take one day at a time, slowly rebuilding my life from the ashes.

This book, Money Drunk, Money Sober, by Julia Cameron and Mark Bryan, helped so much. I have been working my way through it over and over again. Every time I get flustered or frustrated, I just return to the book. I cannot recommend it enough. It should be required for everyone.

Even figuring out where to start rebuilding my financial life was scary. This article helped me. My favorite part is The Prioritizer. This works for anything, not just financial goals but life goals. It can help you prioritize organizing, what movie to see first, or anything else.

There are tips of all kinds at CNN Money: Money 101.

Making manageable realistic goals helped a lot. Baby steps. I’ve been paying off debt for three years. It continues to be a priority. Now that I have the debt-repayment in hand, I can focus on some other steps.

Like improving my credit score.

This week I went on Credit Karma and checked my credit score. You can do it on their website for free. You can also see and print out your three credit reports.

I can see that I’ve got some old stuff on my reports that should have been cleared, so my next step is to work on getting these items removed.

One step at a time.

I’ve made a lot of progress, but it feels like there’s still a long hard slog to get where I want to be.

But I know I can get there if I just keep moving. Slowly is okay. Pausing for a while is okay. Even moving back a bit once in a while is okay. Crawling under a park bench and staying forever is not an option.

One of these days, I will look that Money Monster in the eye and realize that it isn’t really a monster. It’s just a beast, and a beast can be tamed. A beast can become an ally. The Money Beast and I can work together.

One of these days…

 

Pollyanna reads on Discworld, part two

Lyda here. The Reading on Discworld Challenge continues. I’ve read more books for the challenge.

I already wrote about completing some of the challenge and reported on the books I read for item #s 1, 2, 4, 5, 9, 10, 11, and 15. I am trying to read new books for most of the challenge. I want to discover some new books to love – which is really why I do these challenges. (I already re-read the Terry Pratchett books mentioned in the challenge. Of course.)

Now I have completed these parts of the challenge too.

6. Read a mythological book, or a book of myths, or a book about mythology.

I read “A Game of Thrones” by George R.R. Martin. Knights, kingdoms, strange creatures… definitely mythological! The Sith Master has been reading the whole series, and now he has me hooked too. I haven’t seen the HBO series, although I’ve heard good things about it. This is an exciting and fascinating story full of interesting, complex characters. The only problems are a) losing sleep because I’m reading these and I can’t put them down, and b) eventually getting to the end of the series. I’m already halfway through the second book…

8. Read a book about money. 

I read “The Prosperous Heart“. I love Julia Cameron’s books, so it went quickly. This is an excellent book, which gave me both small practical steps and big leaps of realization. I’ll be implementing this in my life, gently. Julia’s books are always gentle.

12. Read a book about a strange new land, or a travel book – fact or fiction.

I read “The Fine Color of Rust” by P.A. O’Reilly which is set in a little dusty town in Australia. A good funny “coming of middle-age” story that starts out lighthearted, touches deep, and ends up being hopeful.

14. Read a book that most people would be embarrassed to read in public, because of the title, the content, or the cover art. And then read it in public.

I read “Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex” by Mary Roach. The library copy I read had a white cover with the word BONK in very big letters on the front. Plus the book has illustrations that are… interesting. Mary Roach is a wicked funny writer, and she bravely asked scientists and others the questions we would have asked if we’d had the courage. I recommend it highly. There are definitely more Mary Roach books in my future. Reading the book was fun. Reading the book in public was hilarious.

I still have the following parts of the challenge to complete:

3. Read a book about something you’ve always wondered about.

7. Go to the library and wander into an aisle you do not usually frequent. Pick a book from the shelf and read it.

13. Read a book about sex, sexuality, and/or sexual politics.

16. Read a book with an inanimate object as a character and/or an important part of the plot.

17. Read a book that teaches you something. Something that will not come in handy in your everyday life. Learn something completely impractical.

18. Read something spiritual, mystical, mathematical, or amazing. Something that will remind you of how magic and unbelievable the universe and everything in it really is.

19. Read a detective novel, a crime story, a mystery, or a thriller.

So far, I’ve done 12 of the 19 parts of the challenge.

I post about this so I can keep it straight in my own head. Which is a rather chaotic place sometimes. I need to see it written down where I can find it again.

Which explains the digressions…

Pollyanna versus the Outsider Syndrome of Doom

Lyda here.

Check out this post by Havi of The Fluent Self:  Clan of the Outsider. She makes an excellent point:  Everyone thinks they are an outsider.

I certainly spent my life thinking I was an outsider. My family was weird. I was weird. Different. Perhaps even… special. Oh, that “s” word!

And I thought my pain was special too.

I thought my pain – emotional, psychological, spiritual – childhood pain, teenage pain, adult pain – every kind of pain – was too different  for others to comprehend. And certainly too vast to ever heal.

That made me feel like an outsider. “They would never understand” kept me from being open, from being honest, from reaching out.

I had a death-grip on my pain, cradling it inside me, too often withdrawing to lick my wounds, too frequently snapping at anyone that came too close like a feral dog.

And then I went to USM. And I learned to think differently about my pain.

I learned to share my pain. Haltingly at first, starting with smaller wounds. Working my way up to the pain that condemned me as weak, horrible, and repellant. Or so I thought.

I learned to listen. Really listen. And I heard the pain of others. And it was not different than mine. Not less than, not more than. Not different.

Their pain inspired not horror, but compassion. Not repulsion, but love. And so did mine.

I learned to forgive myself for judging others. Including forgiving myself for judging them as being unable to love me exactly as I am. Pain and all.

I learned that it was arrogant and selfish to think that my pain was different, or that it could never be healed. To think that others could not feel compassion and love for me. To set myself apart from everyone else.

I learned to forgive myself for judging myself as wounded and as unlovable.

And with forgiveness, came healing.

I learned compassion. Not only for others, but – this took much longer – compassion for myself.

I even learned to love myself.

And y’all know what RuPaul says: “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else?”

Also, y’all remember, don’t be jealous of my boogie!

But I digress…

And in almost-unrelated digressions…

Havi also led me to the Pulp-O-Mizer.

Because everything is better as a pulp fiction cover, right?

Pulp-O-Mizer_Pollyanna

Go play, y’all.