Productivity Does Not Equal Worthiness

I woke up at 5:30 a.m. today singing like a lark. I hopped out of bed, washed dishes, folded laundry and baked a quiche.Shocked

I know. I am as shocked as you are.

As I was headed upstairs to put clean towels into the bathroom, my husband asked me what smelled so good. I said, “I baked a quiche.”

He said, “What the fuck?”

He could not believe what was happening.

Dexter was not impressed.
Dexter was not impressed.

I have always struggled with mornings. I have come to realize that I need more time and quiet than my life can provide without getting up super early. I am stuck between a rock and my alarm clock.

I don’t even believe in alarm clocks.

That’s obviously not true but I hate them so much. Like deep, deep disdain.

Today is different somehow. I woke up at 5:30 a.m. and my mind went to work straight away as it always does. Two meetings, a press interview, workshop preparation, donations to count and most importantly, people to thank. Typically, I roll over and fight by body for more blessed, blessed sleep. Today, I took advantage of my strange good nature and got up.

You guys, it’s quiet here when everyone is asleep.

I made room for my brain to have it’s thoughts. I brought out my list of to dos. I didn’t plan to DO anything yet. I practiced mindfulness and added things to my list as they floated over folded towels and whisking eggs. I made my cup of tea and listened to my favorite creative podcast. I had ideas as I used colored pencils to fill in flowers and leaves on a notecard.

I found space in my day for the quiet beginnings my brain seems to need these days.

I’ve been straight up preaching #militantselfcare and my focus has been learning about how I roll in the world. I’m actually giving a workshop on it in a few days. My new found meditation practice has offered me mindfulness that I can take into my day and just discover the way I move with gentleness and without judgment.

As a side note: my first thoughts while coloring today were related to staying in the lines, picking the right colors and doing it RIGHT. I giggled at myself, shook my head and just picked up a damn pencil. No judgment just release. It felt good.

I suppose this wakefulness probably has something to do with the amazing sleep I got last night. I did this weird thing. I went to bed when I was tired. I didn’t play a rousing game of Candy Crush, I didn’t watch two episodes of not much on Netflix. I didn’t kill time by trying to steal it back from the clutches of a busy day. I curled up next to my guy with hair still damp from the shower and fell asleep.

Oh heaven.

I have had some trouble concentrating lately. The spaces between sentences in books are filled with things I should be doing. I can’t seem to decide where to start my day and so I attack it mindlessly hoping that at the end of the day my wild swinging will amount to a knock out.

I’m feeling dissatisfied and a little lost. I’m not entirely sure why.

I’ve been trying a few new things and I’ve been forced into new environments. Change is not my favorite. Neither is uncertainty. Wouldn’t you agree?

I think most would.

My office is between moves. My brand is being built. My book is being researched.

Oh. And my children are home for spring break this week which adds a layer of disorganization that I cannot even explain in words. And by disorganization, I mean that I intentionally didn’t sign them up for any camps, events, activities because I realized I missed them. We’re spending time together. For better or for worse (but mostly for better).

I am feeling unsettled but after last night’s amazing rest. I have to say, I think I was largely just feeling tired. Turns out, they’ve actually discovered the cure for that.

Sleep.

On a certain day, a few weeks ago, I wrote down that I desired to feel productive above all else and then I went to work. I plowed through. I focused. I pushed. I ignored speed bumps, distractions, hunger pains, thirst and rest. I was a raging, maniac of productivity. I got shit done.

I was productive. I just wasn’t very happy. These new boundaries and militant self-care principles are lending me lessons in what feels good. Being productive is my way of feeling really worthy but I’ve discovered it is not my way of being truly happy.

Productivity is my addiction.

I get into these grooves of productivity and it’s like a drug. My brain starts to get all hype and starts saying things like:

Look at you slicing and dicing in that inbox. Ooh, man. You are so good at this. Wow. I wonder what else we can pull off today. Forget about that drink. You’re only thirst is for success. You are just so organized and smart. Don’t let that email slip by unnoticed. You are a magician. You’re not hungry. You’re busy. Keep it up. Ignore that cramp in your foot. Keep typing. Keep building. Slam that leftover cake slice if you have to but get this shit done.

I am not made worthy because I work. I am worthy because I am here. That’s it.

Today, I have been productive and now, I am going to go be happy. I am choosing to be satisfied with what I’ve done and release what I have not. I am setting down my addiction to productivity one mindful day at a time. I am blowing the whistle that ends this shift. For now, rest. It cures what ails ya.

Wishing you sweet dreams,10422206_10153223997448588_38878537589826032_n

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PS – I’m probably napping right now.

The Girl Who Got Up

Everyone, I’ve been brooding.

It has not been pretty. It’s been days of unwashed hair, regular napping and whining about the things I need to do but haven’t actually done when I should really just admit that I have no intention of accomplishing anything more than this run on sentence.

In an advanced move of mental health, I decided that meditation was a step in the right direction.

I can’t even recall why, other than to say that I have been really working on creating a lovely start to my day. It’s a part of my regimen of self-love.

Oh. You don’t have one of those? Weird.

I work hard. As I am sure you do. I’ve noticed since the launch of The Firecracker Foundation I was born that I have an issue with riding the waves of adrenaline like it’s not a tsunami of disorganization, deprivation and denial. Dishes stack up, bills go unpaid, and relationships suffer because I have the gift of single focus.

If in the first semester of the year I came home with a low grade in a class (Math. It was always in math class.), I would spend the next grading period going to tutoring, studying, taking crazy good notes and not failing. To no one’s surprise but my own, that grade would go up and inevitably, other grades would go down.

Laser focus.

I can rock a set of blinders like no one else.download

On the exterior, things go very well. I meet goals and exceed expectations. I accomplish something I’ve set out to do. I let nothing stand in my way.

Nothing. Not a solid night of much needed sleep. Not a single plate of breakfast food. Not an hour to myself or a clean load of warm laundry. Not a fucking thing because who needs rest, sustenance and good hygiene?

Not a person who’s working on something so STOP INTERRUPTING ME!

If you haven’t noticed yet, this is going to be one of those posts that feels like a rant until about the end when my emotions cool off. If you are not comfortable in the inner sanctum of my brain, I would like to direct you to the upper right hand corner red X. That is your escape hatch. Bon Voyage!

I decided about a month ago to delve into militant self-care. Some may call this discipline and boundaries but I don’t like people who use bad language. I decided that I needed to learn to nurture my laser focus with compassion for my mind, body and spirit.

Things like reading for leisure, midday yoga and meditation.

(A point of personal clarification: Facebook doesn’t count, day drinking is not yoga and napping is not meditation)

I honed in on what I would consider a regimen of self-love for the thing I struggle with the most right now.

Mornings.

They are just the worst. I hate their sunshiny faces. I hate waking up and I hate being woken up. I don’t want to rush off anywhere. I want coffee in bed and a good book to read. I want to write. I want to cuddle. I want quiet.

All things I can have.

With the exception of not waking up – hopefully, because I would be dead if I didn’t – I can make all of these things happen. I can require more quiet in my home. I can have coffee in bed. I can read, write and cuddle with my little dog if I just acknowledge that I need to wake up a little earlier to have it.

I choose. Or not.

I mapped out my office hours and started counting down the hours I was giving to the foundation. I had set out with a goal of 30 hours per week and I was exceeding it by  a few hours every week. I have placed margins around my meetings for preparation and follow through.

I made choices that felt like risks.

If I don’t respond to my constantly dinging notifications, will I still be able to coax success out of the foundation. If I’m not always right there, in the thick of it all, will it still be okay? It comes down to a simple reflection of ego. Do I really believe that I have to be in control of it all and if I do, what does that say about the people who work with me?

There is a culture that I set out to create. Who better to lead by example than me?

My life has begun to resemble that of a quirky, professional adult and I dig it.

Annd then the shoe dropped. Suddenly, the meditation practice I had welcomed into my life began to start grating on me. It itched. I didn’t want to sit. I started avoiding the comfortable spot in the corner of my sectional. I started to let the time slip by. I was having a full on, physical and emotional reaction to the very idea of sitting still and breathing.

What. The. Fuck.

I started to panic. I am trying to accomplish something here. I need peace. Why won’t my body let me have it? What kind of shit is this? What kind of person has an allergic reaction to mediation?

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This person.

I started calling on the friends who knew something about meditation. Friends who teach yoga and meditation in their daily lives started getting messages from me like:

Hi there! I am having an allergic reaction to meditation. Is that a thing?

And then I went to therapy.

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I sat in a comfy chair and regaled my therapist with all of the amazing ways I was taking care of myself. I rambled on and on about how good I was feeling about it even if it wasn’t perfect. I shared that my handy meditation app reports I’ve meditated for 3.5 hours. Even though I didn’t do it every day and I didn’t have a perfect system down, I felt like I was making progress. I told her that I loved the quiet space I was carving out for myself when my boys weren’t home but I hadn’t found a perfect way to protect that peace when they came home.

My boys + Quiet = not a thing.

I then expressed my concern with the physical rejection I felt towards the meditation I had been enjoying. 3.5 hours worth of enjoyment and suddenly my body was all – this is dumb and I don’t want to do it anymore.

After some discussion, she asked me if I noticed how many times I’d used the phrase “not perfect”.

The discussion led me to a memory.

He used to knock me out of my chair. I would be sitting at the table eating dinner and then I wouldn’t be. I’d be on the floor. Sometimes the chair would land next to me and other times, the strike would come so fast the chair would sit unaffected by its loss of me. It was like one of those magic acts where the table cloth is pulled out from underneath all of the dishes with dramatic flare.

I would find myself on the floor with a stinging cheek and hurt pride. The table would be awkwardly silent. Violence has a funny way of inviting silence. I would slowly gather myself up on little legs, right my chair and sit back down at the table.

This time I would be better. This time I would stay focused on what mattered. This time I would chew with my mouth tightly closed and then I would be worthy to stay at the table.

But I would forget. My mind would dance around with the happy thoughts of the day or I’d get squirmy as 7 year olds do. I’d dig my fork into another bite only to find myself on the floor again with a stinging cheek and a fallen chair.

And I would get up again. Usually it only took two solid smacks out of my chair before I remembered that my mouth was meant to be closed.

After my father died, my mother took me to a dentist to have my teeth checked and I was diagnosed with a cross-bite and an overbite. It was a feat of physical control for me to close my mouth when I ate.

Single goddamned focus.

I was reminded by my therapist that meditation is creating new neurological pathways in a brain told a violently reinforced lesson: You are not worthy to sit at this table.

And every time I settle into my couch for meditation, it is the equivalent of me getting up off the floor and saying, “Yes, I fucking am.”

Love from the girl who got up,

PS – I’ll have more on what I’ve learned about mediation in my next Open Letter.

PPS – Click here to Vote for The Firecracker Foundation in the Big Bang-quet Challenge!

I am a dream.

Today I told my therapist something I’ve never shared with anyone.

I didn’t even tell her that I’d never told anyone. I just left the information there. I stepped over it like a crack in the sidewalk. I hugged my therapist and she kissed me on the cheek. Before I could let her go, she turned her head and whispered into my ear, “I am so sorry.”

The pain sunk in. It sat in my stomach, crept into my body and filled me with exhaustion. I thanked her wholeheartedly, paid my bill and left. Climbing into my car, I paused and then I didn’t move. I just sat there buckled into the seat and breathing. I looked at my phone and tried to think who I should call.

This was not a panic attack. I wasn’t crying. There was no emergency. I was just in pain.

Just. 

Right.

Just a little pain. 

As I mentioned last time, I’ve been taking notice of my memories of my father’s funeral. I’ve been trying to nail down the timeline and remember who was there. Part of this process is like time travel. Or maybe it’s more like a possession.

I sit down and I ask my 8 year old self what it was like.

What was it like to stand over your father’s body? What did it feel like?

I sink my mind into my little self and I open my eyes. I look around. I sniff the air and feel the weight of my feet on that thick, funeral home carpet. I remember the kiss on my father’s cold cheek and the delicate white rose I was given for my grandmother. I remember the things that were stolen.

Today, I admitted something. That’s what it felt like; an admission. I felt guilty. I felt ashamed and the secret made me want to curl into a ball and disappear. I came home nauseous and nearly lost my dinner.

I rarely vomit. I’m not exaggerating. I have a very strong stomach. This tidbit is to explain to you that I don’t do this. I don’t get sick from memories. This one, this horror I lived came back swinging knives.

It was the kind of moment that made me want to get into a bathtub with a large cheese pizza and a six pack of beer.

I decided who to call. Somehow, it was decided for me. I looked down at my phone and my keypad came up with a name. The right name. The person who would ask me a simple question: “If you were the friend of that little girl and she told you the same story, what would you do for her.”

I answered:
Tell her I love her.
Give her a big hug.
Buy her an ice cream cone.
Make sure she has everything she needs to heal.
Give her a nap.

I later added a bubble bath and a glass of wine because I’m an adult and the boss of myself. #amiright

I am still in pain. As I write this, my body is still in turmoil. Trauma is a formidable, haunting beast. This has been a rough night but I’ve spent it huddled up with my beloveds. I looked at them and celebrated that if my father was a nightmare (and he was), I am a dream.

Every day my planner prompts me to finish the statement ‘I am grateful for…’.

Today I am grateful for the fact that monsters can give life to Firecrackers.

Ever defiant,

#WhyItold: Solidarity

You did it.

#WhyItold flooded the world with your stories.

Everyone wants to know how I am. It can be a difficult thing to bear the weight of so many stories.

I had a little bit of tummy ache. I was anxious. I was bursting with pride, anger and sadness.

It’s like an emotional kaleidoscope. Brilliance and darkness tumbling together, inseparable and sadly gorgeous.

The stories make my heart ache but the thing that makes me shake in  my boots is worry.

Are you going to be okay?

You shared vulnerably, publicly and brazenly. You followed my example. You trusted me.

Thank you. I am honored.

Click here for some tips a Tumblr full of self-care tips.

Dear God, let them be loved. Let their family and friends believe them and hold them. Let their words be heard and their journey honored.

Days like this find me praying under my breath before I’m aware I’m doing it.

Because of you.

However, I watched. I read every word and then I read the comments. Holding my breath, I placed my faith in your community. I waited to see if I bet on the right horse.

I did.

Your friends posted little hearts, solidarity fists, kind words and offers of support. Your allies said they heard you and that they believed you. They congratulated your bravery and some stood with you by posting their own pledge in your honor.

Do you see?

Do you see how loved you are?

Of course, these were just the public responses. I am not naive enough to believe that the private response will always match.

If you were not met with compassion or if you just need a listening ear, check out this list of local and national resources.

Today, as I sit in my favorite coffee shop with a hot mocha in my hand, I choose to bask in the steady stream of tiny emoticon hearts posted underneath all of our storytelling.

I heard you. I believe you. I support your journey towards healing. #Solidarity

A few of you registered late and have been wondering if you can share.

You are in control of your own destiny and your wardrobe choices.

I do not own the idea of sharing.

Your story is like your silence; you don’t owe it to anyone.

You do what serves you. I’ll do the same.

Sincerely,

Tashmica

PS – Don’t forget the bonus prompt! Please help me spread the word about #Soulfire2015 by sharing this link: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/soulfire-2015-the-firecracker-foundation-calendar-project-tickets-13463998181