Best of 2016

This morning started off on the wrong foot. More specifically, it started off on the poop foot and the glass foot.

Let me first give a little bit of a back drop for this story by explaining who I am as a human in the morning. I am not at my best, I am actually more of a beast first thing in the morning. I wake up angry. It does not matter what time I wake up, I am usually upset to be awake. I recover quickly but this has been who I am for as long as I can remember.

In recent years I have found ways of easing into the day gracefully that work for me. I start with quiet time, which is most important. No talking, no noise, just me wandering around in the silence of our home. Tea helps too. Stretching first thing in the morning really helps. Meditation, soft music like crystal bowls, and sitting in sun beams. Long story short, peace and quiet is the best way to get me out of my morning grumps.

I actually love mornings. They are my favorite part of the day usually. I just have a hard time shaking off the sleepies.

So this morning I was awake for all of 5 minutes when things started getting hairy. I had my green tea, I was sitting in a sunbeam in the sun room drawing, the house was quiet..

I had the back doors open to let the breeze in. I was enjoying bird song and the sound of the train going by when Lucy came running in from the back yard. She ran over to me to say hello and I noticed a little leaf fragment on the side of her butt. I flicked it off for her and was horrified to realize it was not a leaf at all.. it was poop! Damn it Lu! I got up to wash my hands and called hubs in to see if she had poop on any other part of her. Low and behold, her back foot was covered in it. Time for a bath little girl.

This was not how I wanted to start the day.

I helped scrub her down and then left hubs to finish. I walked into the kitchen to get Lu a treat, she always gets a treat when she gets a bath, and felt a sharp pain in my foot. I looked and realized I had a minuscule shred of glass stuck in the ball of my foot. Oh that is just great.

We finished Lu’s bath and then I sat on the kitchen floor and hubs plucked the glass out with tweezers.

It normally takes me about a half hour to adjust to being awake in the morning and transition from beast mode to my human self. At this point I had been awake maybe 20 minutes. I was a bear.

Time to clear this energy. I sat  back in the sunbeam for a while and continued drawing and then thought about how I wanted to end the year, because I certainly did not want to end it in this energy.. I knew the answer instantly. In gratitude. I want to end the year in gratitude. I pulled out my phone and texted all the people I love and admire and expressed my love and gratitude for them while wishing them a happy new year. I instantly felt better. Then I went and sat in hubs lap for a while and cuddle with him and our clean pup.

As this is the last post of the year I decided I would do a true review of the year and share my personal favorite posts from the year. My year on this blog started in February as last year I was dealing with some heavy emotional work and had been on a break from writing when the year began.

So here we go, the best of 2016 from The Brain Work of an Idealist as chosen by the idealist herself:

February 2016: Acceptance

March 2016: I Built a Bridge

April 2016: Two Years Later

May 2016: Getting By Without a Mirror

June 2016: I Don’t Believe in Monsters

July 2016: Sacred Truth

August 2016: I Love Myself Most When

September 2016: I Am ——

October 2016: Now I Know Why I Am Here

November 2016: Letting It All Out Part III

December 2016: Hugs and Chickens

And my personal favorite of the entire year:

Constant Gardner

With corresponding art work for the post found on:

From Walls to Fences

Thank you to everyone who walked this path with me this year. Thank you for reading, thank you for responding, thank you for your support in all its forms. I hope everyone has a safe New Year’s Eve that finds you surrounded in love, comfort, and connection.

With unending gratitude,

Jillian
The Idealist

 

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“Lists of How NOT to Treat Me” – A Self-Care Project – Part One

list

A perk of my current placement – no early mornings. Well, I still wake up at 7 every morning but I am not expected at internship until late morning/early afternoon so I have hours to myself in the morning and it is everything!

Sometimes I wake up and watch the news and have a dark cherry greek yogurt smoothie. Sometimes I hit snooze and cuddle with my family longer. Sometimes I wake up make green tea and do yoga to crystal bowls in the living room. Sometimes I take a little time to check in with friends. And sometimes I write.

This morning was a decaf coffee, cold veggie pizza left-overs, watching the news, checking in with my soul friend and writing kind of morning.

While on social media this morning I found a list (this post is all about lists) of local coffee shops that are well rated. I sent the list to my soul friend and suggested that we have girlfriend dates at some of them – this started a bigger conversation.

One of the reasons I love this particular soul friend is because she is a creative soul like me. She is a poet (my favorite, I call her the poetry queen), she paints with me (she is one of the first people I ever painted with because it has always felt so vulnerable to me), and she gets the deep emotional stuff. We have conversations that most people would never go near because as a society we like to numb not feel.

While talking I invited her to this art show going on next week because *Breaking News*: I am thinking about submitting a piece at this show next year. That is a whole other post though.

This in turn led us to talk about her art as well (poetry) and open mic nights. She is interested in going to more and I am certainly interested in supporting her in that. She was sharing with me a new inspiration she had about poetry in list form. She was at an open mic recently and one of the poets apparently read something like this and my friend was inspired. She shared with me her latest piece, a list poem, which was amazing, and then she said something I was so inspired by I nearly jumped out of bed. (Yes, I was totally eating cold veggie pizza and drinking decaf in bed while chatting with her – don’t judge me).

Our conversation went like this:

Soul Friend: I wonder what it would be like if people wrote lists of “how not to treat me” as a self-care project.. It could be from a parenting, romantic, friendship, or work life perspective.

Jillian: Yes!!!!! Sorry friend, I am stealing this as my next blog post! I will give you credit!

SF: Please do it! Even better if you or someone else is able to write something from it. I really like it for emotions that can be strong and scary to delve into like fear, hurt, grieving, anger – all things that take over but need to be addressed.

J: Right, it gives a bit of detachment like you said.

SF: Like a grocery list or to-do list for emotional preservation. I knew you would get it!

J: I more than get it, I love it! I am inspired!

Here is the thing, a list like this is not be rushed. I was struck by her stunning emotional brilliance a half hour ago, I certainly do not have my list formed yet. So this post is just setting the stage for the greatness that will come next. I hope everyone reading will take sometime through out the day, or week, or any length of time needed to consider this proposal…

What would your list look like? Who would you give it to? How would you hold others accountable for respecting your list? How would you hold yourself accountable? These are all the things I will be mindful of as I go deep and think/feel about my list(s). Remember you do not have to create just one list for everyone in your life, you occupy many roles, you may have multiple lists for your different identities.

With that I wish you all joy and abundance and I look forward to writing more on this as it forms for me.

I Love Myself Most When

This post is inspired by this photo: i love myself most when

Today I attended a workshop where we had an opportunity to make art. I thought I had washed all the oil pastels from my hands before I left to come home but as I drove through downtown with one hand out the window trying to catch the wind I noticed the blue still smudged on my thumb and finger tips. I thought to myself I love seeing the remnants of my creations left over on my body. Whether it be paint on my knee or elbow, or oil pastel on my hands. Sometimes I almost hate to wash up after a day of creation. I love looking down and for a moment being taken back to the joy I felt while creating.

While I was stopped at a red light I snapped this photo as a representation of this feeling. This feeling of being absolutely in love with myself in a moment. I started thinking of other times I feel this way which led to me compiling a list..

I Love Myself Most When..

I love myself most when I snatch that last glance in the mirror before I walk out into the world for the day. In a glance I feel grounded, loved, secure, and confident. I have taken care of myself at home and now I am ready to be apart of the humming buzz of the outside world.

I love myself most when I am completely engulfed in a project at home. I am in the trance of creation or productivity and I feel full and abundant.

I love myself most when I accomplished something that felt insurmountable at the beginning. I conquered the feeling of intimidation and smallness and made something my heart is proud of.

I love myself most when I am able to speak my truth from the heart. It is when I feel the most connected to myself in the outside world and I find it is often where I find the deepest connections with others as well.

I love myself most when I give myself time. It is a gift I give of myself to others and it is a gift I deserve as well.

I love myself most when I can feel in my body and my soul that I am doing exactly what I need to take care of myself. I feel in tune to my own needs and am showing myself unconditional love by doing my part to make sure those needs are met.

 

Now as I was writing this post in my head this evening I knew it was important for me not only to show love to the pieces of myself that I find easy to love but also to the pieces of myself that I may have a more problematic relationship with. Regardless of my current relationship with the different aspects of my being they all deserve love so I also complied a list of:

I Will Show Myself Love When..

I will show myself love when I break something.

I will show myself love when I get upset with someone I love.

I will show myself love when I make a mess.

I will show myself love when I am procrastinating.

I will show myself love when I cancel plans with a friend.

I will show myself love when I am scared.

I will show myself love when I need to ask someone for help.

I will show myself love when I feel self-doubt.

I will show myself love in moments of weakness.

I will show myself love when one of my plants die.

I will show myself love when I am feeling petty.

I will show myself love when I am having trouble showing love to others.

 

I am worthy of love and that starts right here from within. I thought this would be a challenging post to write because I was worried about it feeling self-absorbed to write out all these reasons why I am in love with myself. It was not challenging though and that is because I know that loving myself is not shameful or wrong or selfish or narcissistic. Loving myself is vital. It is everything.

So I challenge you to step back from this after reading it and finish that sentence for yourself, I love myself most when… Then follow it with I will show myself love when.. Then bask in the awesome glow of your open heart that is beating in that moment just for you. That moment is not selfish, it is everything.

Top 5

I am lacking inspiration today but feel the need to write as a way to balance. With that I give you some of my top five lists. I guess I cannot say I am completely lacking inspiration, this post was inspired by a game Todd and I played with friends over dinner a few weeks ago.

Top 5 Favorite Books

The Wild Wood Trilogy by Colin Meloy
Watership Down by Richard Adams
Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Top 5 Favorite Movies

Pride and Prejudice
Practical Magic
The Wizard of OzThe Sound of Music
To Kill a Mockingbird
You’ve Got Mail

Top 5 Favorite Activities

Traveling
Reading
Writing
Painting
Being Outside

Top 5 Favorite Moments from College (so far)

Graduation
The Community Assessment Project
The Feminist Theory Project
The Community School Food Drive Project
Cultural Competency Class

Top 5 Favorite Foods

Vegetables
Fruit
Dark Chocolate
Rice
Smoked Gouda

Top 5 Least Liked Subjects in School

Math
Math
Math
Math
Economics

Top 5 Pet Peeves

Long Text Message Conversations (with a few exceptions)
Having to Search for Parking at School
Strict Black and White Rules That Stifle Creativity
The Sticky Florida Heat in Summer
Office Politics

 

 

A New Year of Growth

better

 

I do not do new years resolutions per se, however, I do take time at the end of the year/beginning of the year to think about what I want the new year to look like. For example, last year I wanted to start volunteering with Hospice, I wanted to start the Social Work program and I wanted to work on improving some of my relationships. There are a few things that carry over from year to year as well. Each year I challenge myself to live healthier than the year prior, emotionally, mentally and physically. I also strive to be kinder and more patient each year (this falls in with living a more emotionally healthy life each year).

To call any of these goals new years resolutions though just doesn’t work for me. I recognize that is essentially what they are but I find that when I label things so the likelihood of any progress continuing past January decreases greatly. Instead I choose to see them in a different light and find the follow through easier.

Along with my big goals for each year come little aspirations for the year as well, here are a few from this years list..

The first I can already check off. For years I have wanted to cut my hair short, like Rosemary’s baby short, but I did not have the courage. I would see girls with pixie haircuts and always think they looked so bold and feminine. I finally made up my mind I was going to do it a few years ago but no sooner than I decided, Todd and I got engaged. At the time I had recently cut my hair into an angled bob and decided not to go shorter as I knew I wanted to wear my hair up for our wedding.With this I started growing my hair out but I told Todd that as soon as we were married I was going to carry out my wish to cut my hair short. That is exactly what I did.

As soon as we returned from our honeymoon I went to the stylist and chopped it all off. The poor stylist was very apprehensive about my request. My hair was past my shoulders when I walked in and I think she was concerned I was going to regret making such a drastic change, at one point she even asked, your not very attached to your hair are you?. I laughed and explained that my beauty and self-worth are not at all wrapped up in my hair. I am happy to share that I did not regret the change in the least! This is unquestionably my favorite hair cut and style to date. The cut is delicate and edgy all at the same time, I love it. Todd was a bit shocked when he came home the first night as I did not tell him what I was doing that day. After the shock wore off he admitted that it suits me well, to which I wholly agree.

new hair

Another idea I have been mulling over for quite a while is learning how to sew. Up to this point I have never made time to learn. I think this will be the year I get around to it. I already have my first project in mind. I have wanted a basic mid-length circle skirt for sometime and have never seemed to find just the right one. I think a circle skirt would be the perfect first attempt. When I was younger from time to time my mother would sew me dresses and tops. I always enjoyed going to the fabric store with her to pick out the pattern and materials. I would like to have this skill set in case I ever have a daughter. If our cards do not play out that way it is still a skill I would like to posses for myself. Not to mention I think this will be a fun mother/daughter activity for my mother and myself.

Another small self improvement I have decided to take on was inspired by something Todd and I read recently. We were in a store searching for the perfect gift for his mother over the holiday break and stumbled upon a book that was loaded with advice intended to be passed down from father to son. We agreed, after leafing through a few pages together, that for the most part the book was filled with solid advice. One piece that stuck with me was “Figure out what your most used word or expression is and eliminate it”. What good advice. A lot of people have expressions they use with such frequency they no longer recognize it but others surely do. For me it is You know what I mean. When I am telling a story or explaining something I might use this expression at the end of almost every sentence. No one has ever complained about my over use of this phrase, it doesn’t seem to bother anyone but when I started thinking about it I realized it is equivalent to a person that says like or um and inordinate amount of times while speaking. Maybe everyone is just being polite and not showing their annoyance, either way I do not want to be someone that uses filler words and phrases. I want to speak concisely and with purpose. So that is a goal for this year, eliminate thoughtless language from my everyday vernacular.

The last possible plan for self improvement this year has not materialized into an ambition quite yet. I am still working out how I feel about it and where I stand. Some of the smaller things I worked on last year had to do with maintaining better boundaries in relationships (social, professional – which in my case means school, and with family and close loved ones), being honest with myself and others about what I want and with that I also worked on having difficult conversations in a loving, supportive, constructive manner. At years end I looked back at my progress and felt good, like warm and tingly proud-of-myself good. I definitely had some difficult conversations last year that resulted in better communication, understanding and respect in those relationships. I was honest with my feelings and did not hold back when I felt that doing so would hurt me. The area of boundaries is where I felt the most pride. I was balanced and stood up for myself, kindly and with respect, when my boundaries were tested.

My mother mentioned on numerous occasions last year how proud she feels to have raised such a strong independent woman. Those are deeply meaningful words to me and make me feel that much more resolute about the direction I am taking towards self-awareness and growth. Still there is this nagging feeling inside that causes me concern. For example, in one case of a difficult conversation last year about boundaries and where I stand on something the conversation was not successful. It was unsuccessful in that when I began to explain my position on a request that was made the other party completely shut down and shut me out. All they heard was me saying No, they had no interest in my reason for doing so. I know that my No was hurtful to that person, even though they shut down and did not want to talk about it further, and their reaction was hurtful to me.

The most regrettable part of the whole ordeal is what this did to the relationship. The thing is my boundaries had always been there, they were just invisible because they were never tested. I do not regret my decision, I just wish this person was open to a dialogue. I know they were hurt by my decision and I can handle them telling me so, I believe they probably feel let down and although I hate to think I would ever cause someone else disappointment I can still handle being told so. Our relationship is still sound but it is not thriving the way it had been years prior.

So what I am struggling with after having more success than not last year in this area is how to continue to improve. For starters I would like to get this relationship back on track. I realize this relationship might look different going forward than it did before but I still feel we can do better than we are now and that is important to me, I do not like to ignore that kind of thing.

The next thought I have is about how to continue being honest about my feelings and maintaining boundaries without causing damage to any other relationships. A piece of me feels like if a relationship is so easily damaged in this way than maybe it was never that strong to begin with. Although, another piece of me thinks maybe some people are just more fragile than others and it is my responsibility to be true to myself and my way of life while taking others feelings into account.

Tarzan and the Trashcan, why risks are worth taking

I can think of many times in my life where taking a risk did not pay off, in fact, on more than one occasion it led to my absolute mortification.

tarzan and the trashcan

There was the Tarzan /trashcan incident when I was 9. I decided it would be cool to climb a tree (I was a great tree climber as a kid) and tie a rope to one of the higher branches so my friend and I could swing from it. I believe we were calling this game George of the Jungle only in my case it was not the tree I needed to watch out for , no, it was my poorly tied rope. My knotting abilities put my boy scout father and ex-sailor grandfather to shame that day. The rope was a little short and so were we so we had trouble reaching it from the ground. We decided to flip one of those large out-door garbage cans upside down and stand on it to swing from. Since I hung the rope I got to go first. I mounted the trash can and stood there having second thoughts about the whole thing when my friend, impatient for her turn, griped “What are you waiting for?!”. Without further contemplation I leapt from the trashcan with the grace of a flightless bird and grabbed onto the dangling rope. I got one good swing out of it before I came crashing down onto my back completely knocking the wind out of my lungs.

That’s the thing about taking risks, sometimes you end up flat on your ass with nothing to show for it. You can’t let this stop you though. I think of other times in my life when I did not leap and although I may have avoided another Tarzan and the trashcan debacle there is no telling what I missed out on. When you don’t leap that’s when you are left with the “what ifs?”. School for me is an obvious example. I never fully committed to that leap the first time and fell short in the middle. I went back though and I think that counts for something. I think in the end it’s hard to say sometimes what risks are worth taking but here is what I have learned over the years;

Love is always worth taking a chance on.

It’s better to spend that $5 on a beer with friends than holding out for the lottery to finally pay off

And education is always something worth investing in

Ultimately if you do take a risk that doesn’t pay off give yourself some time to heal and you will find you are at least left with a story to tell and that is worth something in itself.

Getting Organized

When talking about the mundane details of everyday life I have to say that I find huge satisfaction in being able to cross items off my to-do list.

Since finishing up at the facility and being home I have been crossing things off my list left and right. Our house is back in order and I feel a weight lifted off my shoulders.

Todd’s parents are going to be visiting soon and I am very excited. I am not quite sure yet what the plan is for while they are here but I am looking forward to it immensely.

Update to wedding planning is just that I met with my girls and we picked out the dresses they will wear. I will be ordering them this weekend. I have started to collect some of the small detail things like the veil and gifts I will be giving to people day of. As the days tick by and our date gets closer I feel the excitement building. I am sure by the time we reach October I will be bursting at the seams.

Update to school is that I delivered all of my documents to UCF and am now just waiting to hear back on everything. I have no real concerns at this point I am just glad to finally be done with my AA and moving on to the next step.

On the horizon I have some art projects lined up for myself, some gardening and I have signed up for some more volunteer work. I also think Todd and I may look at taking some time away together after our visitors have departed. I think it is going to be a nice spring.