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The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

Bending Over Backward or Standing Your Ground?

Many years ago when I was married, my husband would describe me as “an emotional contortionist who would bend over backward to please people.” Not sure how he came up with that, but, to this day, I still think of it as brilliant. It shone a light on my then overwhelmingly co-dependent mindset. I had been raised to be kind, polite and caring. “Don’t make waves. Don’t rock the boat,” were spoken and unspoken messages in my family. Paradoxically, I was told by my mother, “Walk in like you own the joint.” My father would remind me that,  ‘They put their pants on one leg at a time like you do.”  How I integrated those seemingly disparate instructions still confounds me to this day. It heralded challenges in relationships since being widowed at 40. Partners, friends, family and clients would be the witnesses to my feats of flexibility as I would say yes when I really wanted to say no and no when I truly desired what they were offering, out of a sense of uncertainty that I had really earned it. Rarely did I believe I was entitled to love, attention, affection, nurturing and praise ‘just because.’ There needed to be a sense of quid pro quo/one hand washes the other in my relationships. I would attempt to cement my place in the lives of those I valued by doing, giving or at least offering. Who wouldn’t love a caregiver?

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At 57, I have the perspective that early versions of myself brushed past. Perhaps with age, really does come wisdom. I have discovered that, for me (and I would guess I am not alone) attention, affirmation and affection are essential nutrients, on par with air, food and water. Yes, I can tend to my own needs, love the woman in the mirror and still desire it to be mirrored back from others. Noticing when the tank seems to be a quart low. The temptation is to return to earlier, dysfunctional ways  of being, scavenging for low lying nuts and berries that have fallen from the trees. Rather than doing that, I would much prefer to reach higher for richer fruits. I am also speaking up and standing up, not only for others who have no voice, but for myself as well. Still not a boat rocker, by I am a wave maker.

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A few years ago as I was working at an outpatient drug and alcohol rehab, I facilitated a support group for women in recovery. I taught them the ‘walk in like you own the joint’ concept and actually had them strutting their stuff around the room. One of the participants laughed about ‘getting her swagger on’ in her daily life. This same woman happily shared that in certain relationships, especially with her ex-husband, she had not only been a proverbial door mat, but wall to wall carpeting. She happily announced that this was no longer the case.

This former ‘deer caught in the headlights,’ emotional contortionist who was almost always looking over her shoulder to see if the propriety police were watching, is taking all sorts stretches, on and off the yoga mat, standing her ground and strutting her stuff.

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When Fear Comes Calling

A come clean here. This morning, as I was preparing for a radio interview on which I was on the guest side of the microphone, I was slammed with overwhelming fears, feels and tears. The title of the segment on Vivid Life Radio was The Successful Freelancer and the host, Crystal-Lee Quibell invited me on her show since my work in the literary field has been many decades in the making. Writing is my passion and purpose and something I can’t NOT do. It fuels my soul and over the years, it, along with other skills helped to pay the bills. There have been times when it was the bulk of my financial support. At the moment, after a series of lay offs, it is back to being part of the seeking freelance gigs routine.

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I went into this snarky dialog in my head, initiated by my inner critic that I refer to as Perfectionista, “How can you call yourself successful and offer advice to other people when you are struggling yourself?”  My protective (no name for her yet) persona was there,  hands on hips in response, standing up to her bullying, “Knock it off!” I then called in to the show and spoke with Shayne Traviss who is also the producer of my radio show, called It’s All About Relationships and explained my current state. I felt hugged over the phone as he reminded me that I was a success and that every creative person goes through doubt. I dried my eyes, donned my big girl panties and did the interview, feeling more confident as time went on.

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Afterward, I called my long time friend and mentor, newly tattooed lady, Yvonne Kaye who added her vote of confidence and reminded me that I was worth investing in and that I was characteristically being tough on myself. She plays many roles in my life including, since my mother’s passing in 2010, maternal figure. I told her today that I was young enough to be her daughter. We both got a laugh out of that. Even after hanging up the phone I can still hear her Brixton-British accented voice saying, “I know you and what you have accomplished.” I could imagine her standing next to the part of me that was in protective mode as they faced down Perfectionista. She reminded me that I needed to keep on keeping on.

A third angel is a new friend on the other coast, in Portland, Oregon, named Tom Ziemann who has been an ardent and much appreciated cheerleader who came out of nowhere as we are supporting each other in living our passion and purpose. His words and actions have  touched my heart and encouraged me as well.

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These folks have generously allowed me to borrow their belief in me, as my own sometimes flags at times, as much as I present as ultra-confident and when fear comes calling, they send it on its way.

 

Bhaya Naash Mantra (Sanskrit Mantra For Overcoming Fear -Durga Devi Mantra) sung by Jitender Singh

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Hello, My Name is Doris: Movie Review

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I like Sally Field….I really, really like her as a staple in my childhood when I grew up watching Gidget and The Flying Nun. Today, worlds apart from the beach setting of the first show and the Puerto Rican convent in which Sister Bertille lived in the second program, Field found herself in the role of Doris Miller in the new movie entitled, Hello My Name is Doris. A versatile actress, Field dona a mish mosh mashup of thrift store color combo-ed clothes, hair extensions and floppily tied scarves and steps into the character. Doris is late blooming 60- something woman who sacrificed marriage, a family and more rewarding career to take care of her mother. At the outset of the movie, her mother has just died and she is now rattling around their packed to the gills hoarders’ house. It isn’t until later in the movie when she reluctantly engages the services of a therapist who specializes in that addiction that the viewer gets an idea of what makes Doris tick. Although this character blessedly did not suffer the same type of trauma as the one Field played in the disturbing movie Sybil, it is clear that she is troubled by a painful past.

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Each weekday, Doris boards the Staten Island Ferry and heads to her job as an accountant at a creative agency where she is surrounded by considerably younger co-workers, including a new art director that she has the immediate hots for when she sees him getting off his bicycle in front of the building.  She finds all kinds of inventive ways to draw his attention after they find themselves in close proximity in the elevator.  Another plot twist is that along with her friends Roz and Val, she attends a self help seminar taught by a spiritual guru type who re-frames Doris’ belief that what she wants, which is a chance with her crush, as impossible into ‘I’m Possible’. Doris chants that line in her head and out loud as fuel for engaging with her fantasy man. One of the most enjoyable aspects of the film is the ‘Ally McBeal meets Walter Mitty’ active inner world that Doris possesses. She imagines juicy love scenes with the character of John that are only temporarily satisfying.

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Because she is rather awkward and emotionally stunted, she seeks the guidance of her BFF’s 13 year old grand-daughter, perhaps because she actually feels like an adolescent when it comes to matters of the heart. She sets up a fake Facebook profile so she can take a look at his interests. One is a an electronica group named Baby Goya and the Nuclear Winters  whose music she finds oddly compelling and in one scene in a Williamsburg nightclub, where she conspires to run into John, she is garbed in a neon hued outfit and along with that and her enthusiastic break loose dancing, it draws the attention of Baby Goya himself. She and John are invited backstage where she is asked to be the cover model for their new CD. Such an adventure for this sheltered woman who longs for color and a release from the box of boredom in which she found herself trapped.

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As their relationship evolves, it takes some surprising twists and turns, as well as some that are ‘I could have told you this would happen’ predictable. Her desire to do more than merely exist, has her taking emotional risks, living life on her terms and discovering who Doris really is.  As the film begins on the elevator, it also ends there….or does it?

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Getting To The Back Row

In conversation recently with a new friend named Ingrid Guthrie, we were musing about an interesting phenomenon. I think of it as the checkers metaphor. You open up the box and take out the folded board and place it between you and the other player. You place your 12 circular pieces, half red, half black and each set up your side. The object of the game is to capture your opponent’s pieces, so that you triumph. It is an exercise in strategy as you attempt to determine where the other person will move their pieces. A bit of mind reading goes on at times. Sometimes you miss the obvious choices that are right in front of you. Sometimes you impulsively move and your piece gets captured as you groan. In the early stages of the game, you can only move in one direction, in diagonal mode to get to your opponent’s side of the board. Another goal is protect your back row, since once the other player lands in an empty space, they get ‘kinged’ or ‘queened’, with a piece placed on top. This new status comes with privilege, as you can now move forward and backward. The game ends when one person either has no more moves to make or all of their pieces are sequestered. Although there is a sense of competition involved, it is still fun.

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It got me to thinking that life is like that. We begin with a certain number of opportunities to maneuver through our days on the planet. We have to move from one side of an experience to another, contemplating how to get through it, intuiting how to do so, without getting knocked out the game. We need to ‘earn our chops’ before we have the latitude to move in various directions. One might think of the back row as being an inferior position, but in the game of checkers as is sometimes true in the game of life, it is an enviable place to be.

Although I couldn’t find a song about the game of checkers, I offer you this song by Chubby Checker who I saw perform a few years ago, with a friend who took me to a concert for my birthday. The still vital and highly energetic icon from the 1960’s invited me to dance on stage with him and of course, I did.

 

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Bending Over Backward or Standing Your Ground?
Many years ago when I was married, my husband would describe me as "an emotional contortionist who would bend over backward to please people." Not sure how he came up with that, but, to this day, I still think of it as brilliant. It shone a ...

posted 10:38:29am Apr. 20, 2016 | read full post »

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