Thoughts

I felt an urge to check in here today.  It’s been a lazy Sunday, I’m sick with a cold (we all are).  I’ve also finally had a quiet weekend, so I got some time to think.  

I’ll start by acknowledging the group for getting through this past cycle.  There’s a lot to be said for simply soldiering on, and while I don’t know details of how the cycle went other than one-off conversations here and there, I’m sure it was worthwhile and that folks made real progress in their lives.  Whatever PSPLife may be lacking, that much has always been true:  people make real progress they wouldn’t have made otherwise, and that’s a big deal.  

I chose out this time around, fatigued from our group conversations about taking PSPLife to the next level that seemed to go nowhere.  As I said in a prior post (a while ago now), I think they went nowhere because staying the same was the only vision there was any actual alignment around, although I didn’t feel aligned to that at first; I really wanted things to be different.  Now, I do feel aligned to them being the same.  I don’t think it’s resignation, I think I just have a better grasp of the reality of things.  

I have a tendency to be idealistic, and while it is often a positive thing, sometimes it’s not.  I like believing fantasy can come to life, and I admire people that make things in their imagination come true.  That’s the epitome of manifestation, right?  But in my own life, it’s been a mixed bag.  For example, I like that I left El Paso for Honolulu and landed in New York City, born out of a vision of a future that existed only in my head.  I knew no one, and had no ties, in either place; just a fantasy of what could be.  On the other side of it, I don’t like that I jumped into a young marriage that was never, ever going to work, and that ended up consuming seven years of my young life.  That too was born out of a vision, or a fantasy—of a young marriage that would beat the odds; of young love that would last because we would be warriors who would make it last.  It’s a nice and romantic vision, which made it hard to let go of, but the vision and the reality simply  didn’t match up (nor could they).

In my first marriage, the reality I failed to grasp — causing me to hang on seven years too long — was how unhealthy we were as a couple, and how we had no clue whatsoever how to be any different.  With PSPLife, the reality I failed to grasp was (I think) that in real life, transformation is a sloppy process.  For big changes to happen in any one life, many things must align—life experience, personal readiness, peak desire for change, feeling truly sick of the way things are and unwilling to tolerate the status quo any further, etc.  

Stated differently, I actually don’t think transformation is solely a matter of choice.  I think circumstance plays a possibly significant role (a controversial statement to make to students of this work).  To me it’s sort of like falling in love.   I met several men pre-Jimmy who were good men — good men specifically for me, even.  I could’ve chosen any one of them and had the life I wanted, so why didn’t I?  I think I simply wasn’t ready.  I needed a few more mistakes to learn from, more time to pass, a bigger build up of frustration and loneliness.  I wasn’t willing, in other words, and I’m not sure willingness can be created through forced declarations and choices alone.  I think it may have to happen at a deeper level, with many forces being at work.  

I mean, I made a lot of drastic changes during the workshops, the main ones being:  finishing my divorce, finding new love, and giving up destructive habits.  The workshops certainly fueled those choices, but, I think it’s worth noting how ripe I was to make them.  I had been living in the pain caused by those things for years.  It had gotten very old by the time I stepped into the Basic; the luster of my bad habits had long worn off, and what was left was this unbearable existence (to me).  

When I accept that transformation isn’t as simple as having the gumption to make a different choice, the set-up of this group troubles me far less.  Idealism and vision are wonderful and necessary, but we’ve also got to live the life that’s in front of us, and I think sometimes there are many steps in between conceiving of the vision of change and the time when you actually make the change.  For instance, that vision of lasting love I was seeking to bring into reality with my first husband still lived within me even after that marriage died.  But, I was only going to be able to realize it much later down the line with someone else—with a different man, but perhaps more critically, also a different me that did not exist back then.

I guess I have come to understand that I’ve been putting too much pressure on myself and others to “just choose it”/make transformation happen using the work—when it just doesn’t work that way.  This is a long way of saying I think you can’t manufacture transformation, not even in the controlled environment of the training room.  It is, instead, the result of a series of events and choices that come together to culminate in a meaningful change that may itself take only a second, but was in fact brewing under the surface for quite some time (months or perhaps years).  Working the work helps tremendously, I don’t mean to suggest otherwise.  Even as I don’t think the work can force a split second drastic change, the work causes you to be aware.  When you spend days on end being aware of the thing you wish were different in your life, you eventually reach a tipping point when you just can’t take it anymore, and that’s when the change happens.  The workshops accelerate that tipping point, such is their magic, but in regular life — which this group is designed to accommodate — it takes a bit longer.  

So, PSPLife is, I think, appropriately permissive in the end.  It lets people be where they’re at.  If you do nothing during the cycle, you end up with nothing at the end, and vice versa—so too in life.  In jobs, school, relationships.  We make our choices, and we get to experience the consequences of them, both good and bad—and it’s on us to either learn from these experiences, or not.  If you stop and see how your choices caused your results, you learn, and you begin to change them; if you blame others instead, you don’t learn, make the same choices, and nothing changes.  The benefit of this group is that several people are going through this exercise together, consciously, and providing mutual support so everyone is held accountable—not so much accountable to completing their goals as staying aware of whether they’re completing their goals or not (and why).  It would be hard not to learn more than you knew before after doing that for a couple of months, and in turn it would be hard not to progress some — even as that progress may not be life-altering, at least at first.  And I’m okay with all of that now, because it’s the reality of it.  The only alternative really is to recreate the workshops, or recreate LP, but this group is designed to be something different; something that functions within the drift (not outside of it).  

On a personal note, I’ve been especially disconnected from the work in general lately because my dad, who had been complaining to me about a bad bout of diarrhea, went to the ER and was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer that had spread to every single organ in his body.  As the doctor told my sister and I the night he was admitted to hospital, “your father is full of cancer.”  

It’s hard to describe the devastation I felt that day, and in the weeks after.  My father is only 70.  He doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke, and has no family history of cancer.  He’s blind, but he enjoys his life, and he expected to live to at least 80.  I couldn’t fathom him being gone; no more weekly two-hour phone calls, no more talking shop about work, no more calling him in a panic about some life issue and feeling relieved after he would calmly tell me (and convince me) that it would all turn out okay.  And it wouldn’t be okay this time.  

The worst part was thinking of his suffering, mental and physical.  This hit him like a freight train.  His symptoms were also pretty bad, and quite painful—his liver, riddled with tumors, was failing.  He was yellow from jaundice.  Worse, they couldn’t do anything for him; all medications, including painkillers, are metabolized through the liver.  Two thirds of his liver had been “eaten by cancer.”  Without treating the cancer, which they felt they were unable to do, nothing would improve. 

The whole thing was horrifying, and I’ve never felt sadness and powerlessness like that—so deep, and wide, and all-encompassing.   It came in waves, overtaking me at unexpected times.  I also went through all five of the five stages of grief—only they didn’t happen in order.  They hit me repeatedly from all sides, sometimes two or more at once.

At the outset of my father’s illness, the  doctors told us he was dying in days.  In El Paso, they wrote him off completely; they sent him home to die.  We arranged for him to go to a cancer treatment center in Arizona instead, five hours away (he wouldn’t fly), where one of his brothers lived.  We did so at his behest; he made clear to us he wanted any chance he had to live.  The process was long, and difficult; my sister and I had to be lawyers about it.  I don’t really know how people without resources navigate that crap.  

The first weekend in the Arizona hospital, they told us it was near certain he was at the end, and if he had gotten to the  Arizona hospital even one day later he would be dead.  We believed it; he was so weak he couldn’t sit up, he didn’t have the energy to stay awake more than seconds, and he had lost all interest in food and water for two full days.  His liver numbers, meanwhile, were those of a man in full blown liver failure.  They seemed baffled at the sheer severity of his condition. 

That afternoon we all sat crying in a conference room, talking with the oncologists and my uncle.  My other uncles were flying in from all different states that night to say a final goodbye to my dad.  We went to lunch the next day after they arrived, while my father lay splayed out on the hospital bed in a coma-like state.  My uncles grimly told my sister and I that they knew we needed to make cremation arrangements; it was one of those things that just had to be done.  We then discussed his funeral and decided that, rather than a traditional wake in Arizona where my father had no ties, we’d do it in California at the pre-planned annual family reunion (a month away).  It seemed fitting, as my dad had planned the family reunion for this year himself; he chose California, he chose the beach house we’d rented, and he’d been looking forward to it for months.  As painful as it would be, we decided we’d all still go in his honor, and turn it into a celebration of his life.

We all felt so low that day, so sad, so disbelieving.  My dad is the oldest of five boys.  They lost their mother just three years ago.  The only father they ever knew was my dad, who was forced to step into that role for his four younger brothers when their actual father spiraled further and further into a darkness he’d never come out of (and a darkness that would end with him taking a life, not his own).  

And now?  The outlook has changed.  Chemotherapy—which the doctors initially refused to give him because he was on death’s door, and because it had a less than 10% chance of doing anything for him and an over 50% chance of killing him instantly—has, for now, worked.  He’s still dying.  He’s still full of cancer.  But, his liver is now functioning again.  He’s able to walk, and eat, and talk without losing his breath.  He’s very, very thin, and often very tired, especially after chemo.  Still, I’ve had the luxury of being lulled into a kind of denial that things are, for now, okay.  I view it as a necessary denial though, to get through it, because none of us could survive things staying as heavy as they were—and the truth is, for now, he  is okay.

So much so that, as it turned out, my dad made it to the reunion in California, which was last weekend.  He even went to Venice Beach with us, because he wanted to see girls on roller skates. It’s a miracle, truly; he had so much cancer in him there were lesions on his brain.  His lungs were so laden with cancer he couldn’t breathe.  Every single doctor told us his cancer was so extensive it would not turn around; he had weeks at most, even if chemo worked, and these doctors weren’t being unduly negative or insensitive—they told us this out of compassion more than anything, so we would know, and they did it with tears in their eyes.

So what now, that we have this unexpected gift of time?  I call him often.  We talk about life.  Work, the boys, how he’s feeling.  Yes, we’ve had some meaningful conversations, and I’ll remember those forever—and thanks to Mastery, we say “I love you” all the time—but you’d be surprised how much the routine stuff ends up mattering.  The nothing conversations.  I relish in them.  My dad is also back to tweeting a little; he supports Trump, as many of you know, and is very vocal about it (that has not changed).  Still, he did give a speech at our family reunion that was maybe surprising.  Several of my Texan cousins have married African Americans and had children.  The reunion was striking in its diversity as a result; especially since, in addition, my father himself married a Mexican woman, so did one of my uncles, while another married a Philippine woman.  My father’s speech was deeply appreciative of this diversity, and of the children of multiple ethnicities running and laughing together, carrying on his family’s lineage.  He was inspired by it, and perhaps encouraged.  For all the divisiveness in this country, we were a family of diverse backgrounds and political beliefs, and we were functioning just fine as one unit.

We’ll be flying west again soon with the boys, to spend eight days with my dad in Arizona while my uncle is away on a month-long road trip.  My dad will have a revolving door of visitors that month:  my sister, my mom even, his brothers, his platonic girlfriend.  The love and community he avoided most of his life surrounds him now, enveloping him, and at times I wonder how that feels to him.  

The long haul flights are hard with the boys, especially since outside of this, our life goes on.  I have work, the boys keep growing and their needs are ever-changing, Jimmy has multiple family events, he has health issues of his own (osteoarthritis that he’s begun treatment for), and we need to move into a new house soon.  The trips throw off work, our sleep, the boys’ routine, our finances, and currently we all have nasty colds from one too many crowded flights—but it’s just what you do, there’s no helping it, and of course I am grateful for all of it.  I didn’t expect to have any of this time with my father.  Any inconvenience, any minor struggle, has been rendered irrelevant.  

When big things like this occur, things get simplified — for me, anyway.  I’ve been far less scrutinizing of my life lately and what’s missing.  I am, instead, focused on the big picture, and grateful for the things we have.  The time we have together, our health, our boys.  It’s an abundance, but of course it’s all temporary.  

And everyone in this group (meaning PSPLife), as far as I can tell, has a remarkable life.  Special, meaningful, aware, full.  You guys have great families, great spouses, great jobs, great friends, endless opportunities,—you get to pursue awesome creative endeavors, fitness, new relationships.  

Perspective is a powerful thing; a life-deciding thing. I’m type-A; I live life feeling insufficient and always behind, but not lately.  Maybe my dad’s illness is the circumstance I need to actually make that shift, to finally choose to stop focusing so hard on what I’m lacking.  I don’t have any illusion that I can live in gratitude all the time (I’m human), but, I recognize now more than before that a life cannot be great if you fail to appreciate it exactly as it is, right now.  And, I get that the routine stuff — waking up with the boys, commuting to work, coming home and talking to Jimmy about his day and sharing about mine — matters a lot.  I’m going to really miss all of that one day, heart-wrenchingly so, so I need to be here for it now, present and appreciative.

I didn’t really have an ending in mind when I started this post, so I’ll end there I think.  But I’ll just say again, you guys are awesome for pushing through the BS and completing the cycle.  You’re the reason it keeps going, and in my (new) view there’s nothing off about PSPLife after all.  It’s just that life itself is messy, and so transformation necessarily is, too.  I think we can’t work against that.  We’ve got to work with it, give it room, and PSPLife does exactly that.  

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Reflections about my role as Integrity Captain.

I want to reflect about the cycle from the perspective of being Integrity Captain.  On a personal note I learned a lot from everyone.  After having two cycles (10 and 11) with a large number of participants and a lot of activities, captains, etc. we went back to a smaller groups with many of the participants really wanting to take on their goals.  Not to knock previous cycles at all– I just felt a lot of energy during our kickoff meeting. It was great seeing many PSPLifers succeed and most importantly learn from what they took on.  I am truly inspired.  I really enjoyed my small group as we met two times  and we all challenged and supported each other (with a big emphasis on the being).  I always felt empowered after our meetings.    I took on my goals but know that I could have stretched much farther.  I know that I could have walked further on the skinny branch and this extends to my role of being Integrity Captain.

Yes, I tried to set the tone by blogging about integrity prior to the begining of the cycle and kept track of everyone.  Yes, I followed up with people when they didn’t blog on time. Yes, I even wrote some words of encouragement on Slack.

What I realized is that I didn’t fully embrace and become present to integrity.  I didn’t become one with integrity.   For example, I spoke to my buddy at least once per week but I did not become completely present to his goals.  I judged them and said things like he did these before.. what’s going to change? When he was not present I could have strived to help him become and remain present.  I continued to give him pointers on how to purusue his goal(s)  differently instead of accepting and simply supporting him everyday.  I did not take enough inititative in scaling the unscalable in relation to integrity and the group.  For example, I know that I could have reached out to each participant and to thank them for blogging and ask if there  are other ways for them to document what they are doing (e.g. blogging, videos, audio).  This is to help everyone  find what works for them.  I know that I could have provided examples through my own documenting, sharing, and reporting.  I know that I could have created a feeling of comfort to share even when it didnt seem like a productive week, month, cycle for some. This is particularly the case for those who hide or who are not comfortable with sharing/blogging each week.  The ultimate goal for me is to make PSPLife one with my life and not mutually exclusive.  A bigger stretch (skinny branch) is to enroll others to feel the same.

I was really appreciative of the one’s who restored integrity accordingly.  However, I did not go all in and hold everyone high.  There were some I know who I could have held higher and chose not to for fear of conflict, time, etc.  There are some who hid and I could have reached out farther as well.  Scaling the unscalable would have identified potential buddy issues and an entire small group not meeting at all.  At first, I was quite surprised about this but after thinking about it — this can easily happen if we are all not present.

I believe the same pricinciples  of being present also apply to members of the planning committee,, inspiration captain, social captain, volunteer captain  and frankly everyone in the cycle in order for PSPLife to be successful.

In the past cycle we experimented with a survey started by 

Being  Integrity Captain has really taught me that being present for myself and everyone is essential.  Honestly everyone gets to be present in order for PSPLife to carry forward successfully.

Thank you everyone!

 

 

 

every once and a while. take off your life. and rest.

(Title is a poem by  nayyirah waheed)

Big big week! Launched my fundraising campaign and have achieved more than half my goal. So many people have shown love, and a friend donated $2000! I am still in shock over that one. And so grateful and humbled. Learning so much on the art of asking, on community, on receiving. I also get to do more work now with follow-ups, updates and thank you notes to complete my goal. I’ve been avoiding it, mostly cause it took so much energy to launch it that I’ve been feeling a vulnerability hangover. Also, I am going through a breakup and that makes it hard to get things done right now. But I’m ok. I am sad AND accepting. And I am excited for what’s to come! It’s happening. I’m buying my flight once those funds come in this week.

I was going to plan a whole bunch of things and now I’m just wanting to plan rest for the first two weeks of my trip and let the rest unfold from there. I need rest. I am so so tired. My health crashed this week after a few weeks of feeling so much better. I am grateful I have an amazing naturopathic doctor that told me this might happen. She said it’s common for people to feel better, then worse before they feel better again. I also know a lot of it has to do with stress of day to day life. Hence, why I need this trip to the motherland. I need to take off my life and just rest (sentence inspired by Nayirah Waheed poem).

Haven’t done much on creativity goal specifically this week, though all the writing and sharing for my campaign has involved a lot of my creative energy so that feels good. Though I didn’t check off as much as I intended from my list on my PSP, I feel a much more integrated sense of creativity in my life. Creativity is not something I do on the side, it’s part of how I live, it’s part of how I communicate to people. Every text and email I send involves my creativity. Writing a poem, singing a song, making a playlist and sharing with friends is part of my self-care. Also still working on that piece to send to the magazine. My goals really merged in a lovely way this cycle.

So still much to do. Dominican party coming up, some more fundraising endeavors, some more planning, but it’s all happening, my goals are on their way. I am so grateful for this structure to support me in getting this all started. I appreciate all that I got from this cycle, even some of the frustration with the chat and feeling lack. It was enough and everyone is where they are at. You are all enough. Thank you for being part of my journey.

 

Love,
Ryssel

Final Week – ChelseaNovah

Over all I’m happy with who I was and how I did with Cycle 12, but I pretty much faded out this last week and didn’t do anything. I learned a lot and I challenged myself a lot as well. I’m excited to continue with both of these goals.

Some good wins

As I’ve experienced myself in life, this cycle for me was a little up & down – I accomplished more some weeks than others, and I accomplished more on some part of my goal than on others.

Overall, I’m happy to have moved a number of important factors forward while preparing for a little one to create our brood…

I’m getting a better sense of our budget (although I have not had the success in finding a platform that works as I hoped I would – still open to suggestions, if anyone has), and I’m looking at a few options for improving our savings. I’ve also reached out for an introduction to an attorney for us to create a will/living will. Furthermore, I’ve received information on a few options related to obtaining a long term care policy, which, apparently, is easier and cheaper to do when young. There are a few other things that likely go into this bucket, which I find really important, but typically avoid with names like ‘boring’ ‘confusing’ and more.

I’ve spent quality time with Naomi and while we haven’t yet planned our summer getaway, we came up with a few more ideas, including a week in the Berkshires…which at the moment may be our leading contender, tbd.

Through a really great buddy call I came around on forgiving myself vs beat up over past mistakes. JBJams supported me in realizing that beat up takes me back to the Survival Mindset, it’s a limited place with few options, and ultimately, doesn’t provide ‘clean fuel’ for moving forward. I can have all sorts of feels about the past, my actions or lack thereof, emotions created, time spent, etc – but ultimately allowing the past to be so that I can move forward creates opportunities for me, workability, creativity, and more. Thanks to my buddy for that, and for great early morning walking in the park calls.

I’ve experienced this group as different than I anticipated. After the insanity of last cycle, with so many people, I expected a tight knit bond this time as we regrouped, but I didn’t feel as connected – I think that was on me as I wasn’t regularly sharing in the chat…it’s strange how life is like that…when I share more, I feel more connected – it’s less about how others share and more about how I respond to them or how I share in return.

There’s time left for a strong finish, and I may yet post next Sunday with final thoughts.

VT: Better late than never

I am blog 3 days late. I honestly forgot to do it after I had a very good day.

Things I’ve realized this cycle:

  • Planning daily can be fun and not daunting.
    • It’s actually lent itself to moments of opportunity because I was planning on doing something.
  • I don’t want to write about things that don’t matter/I have a ways to go on research and planning for my career.
    • My speaking career matters a whole lot less to me now that I’ve decided to go after my yoga dream.
      • This feels like a better use of my time right now.

I still want to write that article – but still have to recalibrate the idea so I can execute on it.

xoxo

See y’all at the closing meeting!

 

Not going to mince words.

This week I was not social or at least in putting myself out on the skinny branch.  I want to say I was busy or I was not in the right location for this but the fact is I just didn’t make it a priority.  I knew that taking on this goal of going out on the skinny branch socially would be a challenge given that I am traveling around a bunch.  I have been in Connecticut for the past two weeks but just didn’t make it happen.  I am letting other priorities take over.  What I am doing well:  Getting to the gym in the morning or in the evening.  Spending quality time with family during my time here.  Setting myself up to be productive workwise.

What I am not doing well is to plan my day with the intention to include chances to be social.  On Monday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings I chose to go to the gym instead of being social or going to social events.  On Friday I spent time with my family as my sister came in for the weekend.  There were some nights in which I could have gone out but my night time fatigue kicked in.  I am definitely a morning person.

I have spent some time on some dating apps but have not really followed up with anyone.  I feel a little overwhelmed as I am on too many apps.  These are so easy to download and just swipe.  Deep down I know what I want and don’t want and get to be honest with myself.

I want to say that this week is a Bust  Bust as Libby1114 Said but I also agree with JBJAMS comments about her blog post that it was not a bad week as she accomplished a lot.  I feel that it was not all that bad for me either.  I also liked JBJAMS blog How About We Open Some Windows…, We all know what it takes to reach the next stage/level and we get to take it one step at a time.  I know I get to do this and not overwhelm myself.  Too much analysis paralysis.  I get to plan more reasonable and reachable goals too. Losing energy but keeping this up by  

Came Through Trippin and the actions by 

I am reminded that being in action is key as Week Five ChelseaNovah is taking on her goals.  You keep on striving despite what are perceived as technical or timing challenges.  As you say, “Still plugging away at the goals… 🙂”  You will make things happen for yourself and others!

Malie11 – I accept your challenge   “but what if you committed to connecting with a new person in a vulnerable, meaty way?”   I will have more to share for the next small group meeting. I am also inspired by your actions you described in your blog.  You continue to study and experience new things but also apply what you learned and observed particularly in speaking your truth with others.  Something I am working on too.

I also get to follow Empress Raven’s act by being vulnerable and taking risks in dating!   I admire how you are putting yourself out there.  I get to do the same.

As we enter the last week (less than that) I am going to set myself up for success.  I am plannig to be in NYC this week.   I am committed to finish up strong but more importantly to continue beyond the cycle.  In all honesty, when I started writing this post I was not motivated at all but after recalling everyone’s accomplishments and experiences I feel more energized!  Thank you!!