Sunday, April 29, 2007


Seems like people are always looking to date someone who doesn't have a lot of "baggage." Many of the Internet dating ads and profiles I've read have specified "no drama" and/or "no baggage." I think what people mean is they are looking for someone without a lot of unresolved emotional issues from previous relationships. Additionally, not wanting to be judged or held to a higher standard based on previous partner's mistakes seems to be a part of this.

I'm having an interesting journey with this idea of late. I've always thought of myself as someone without a lot of baggage. When I report on the number of boyfriends I've had, I only count about 3 - that's my creative math at work - even though I've dated many more. These three are the ones that lasted a long time, that I was very emotionally invested in and are the only ones who broke up with me (read: broke my heart). I don't count those relationships I had overseas that I knew would end when I left the country, I don't count those ones that I ended and I don't count the ones that I just hung on for the ride knowing it wasn't going anywhere, but having fun nonetheless. Anyways, of the ones that count, I feel like I've really worked through those issues. I've had anywhere from 4-15 years to work through them and I've done a fair bit of emotional processing and personal growth work since then.

However, this weekend my baggage was put right into my face. I realize that I've reacted to a situation with my partner in an entirely justifiable way from a place of fear generated from the dissolution of my last relationship. Wow. My baggage, my problem, right? Wrong. So here's the revolutionary concept - it's not okay for me to lay my baggage on my partner's door, blame him, judge him or change the standards on him, but it is okay for me to acknowledge the problem I'm having and ask for his help in resolving it in our relationship. Just because a feeling comes from the bad effects of a previous relationship doesn't make it any less valid or any less important to deal with together if it affects our relationship.

We carry around baggage from previous romantic relationships, but also from our family-of-origin, our relationships with age-mates and basically any interaction that we've ever had that was hurtful. I would hope that my partner would want to help me, in as much as I am helping myself, to overcome any of those unresolved emotional issues to strengthen and deepen our relationship, regardless of the source. I guess I have to acknowledge that I have baggage to get us started

"I'm lookin' for baggage that goes with mine."
(Mimi - RENT)


Seems that black-and-white thinking or thinking in extremes is a universal sign of immaturity in almost any psychological program. During an exercise last night, I had an insight about it, because like any defense mechanism, irrational belief or coping mechanism, this pattern of thinking must be there because it serves or has served us in some way. It occurred to me that extreme thinking may serve because both ends of the spectrum are familiar in some way and that is more comfortable than the tension of not-knowing.

I've been afraid to explore the middle path, but have started walking it lately. I wonder if being in the middle path has allowed me to see more clearly why either end is more comfortable.

Saturday, April 28, 2007


I'm writing this from the comfort of my bedroom at Still Meadow Retreat Center. I'm here for two days doing a qigong intensive. We call them "retreats" and I want to riff a little on what that means. Writing it makes me think re-treat as in a second treat and that is often what qigong retreat is...if you like qigong. I've done 8 retreats in the last 4 years and the retreats usually focus on forms or skills I'm learning in a regular weekly qigong course, so it's like a concentrated dose or a second dose, hence retreat.

Let's go to Webster's and see what he says about retreat:
1: an act or process of withdrawing especially from what is difficult, dangerous, or disagreeable
2: the process of receding from a position or state attained
3: a place of privacy or safety : REFUGE
4: a period of group withdrawal for prayer, meditation, study, or instruction under a director
(Military definitions excluded because I just don't want to go there - I'm tired of military analogies.)

So the meaning of retreat for us is clearly group withdrawal for meditation, study and instruction, but I like the rest of these definitions too. As much as I kick and scream about taking time out of my busy schedule to go on retreat, I also am so happy to leave behind the stresses of everyday life. Here someone cooks for me, cleans up the dishes and no one cares if I wear the same dirty sweatpants all weekend. It feels very nourishing and nurturing in that way. This also relates to the idea of refuge - the retreat center is pretty quiet and while my classmates aren't always on their best behavior, people are usually pretty introspective and supportive. The one I almost left out, but really want to meditate on in the next session is "the process of receding from a position or state attained," with the example of the retreat of glaciers. I was thinking, no, we're here to grow, but then I realized that sometimes growth means backing down a path to the last fork and going up the other way. Being on the path doesn't always mean traveling in a straight line and in fact, may never mean that.

That's my meditation for today - what fork in the road do I need to revisit?

Practically, though, I find it ironic that I'm typing on my computer, hooked up the Internet, with my cell phone plugged in beside me, while on retreat. There is something not very retreated about that. And the woman I'm sharing my house with just drove back into town to work at the clinic for a couple hours. I guess it's a matter of state of mind. Mental retreat. Okay, time for another session.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

When I Get Things Done

My housemate and I had a brief row this morning due to my "energetic" nature this morning. I went to bed last night about 10pm and fell straight to sleep. When my alarm started going off at 6, I was ready to get up. I started my day by mopping the entry where Plum and Chibo had a urine fight, making dog food, loading the dishwasher and cleaning my room. It was amazing feeling like I'd already gotten so many things done before I even left for work and reminds me that I'm really a morning person.

Now the question is how to use that information. Do I get up and go the gym? Do I just do my house chores? Do I sit down at the computer and work on my case paper or thesis? I think it will be the latter because this is definitely the only thing I can NOT do past about 10pm. It is getting harder than ever to stay up much past then let alone get anything useful done.

I also learned in the last several weeks that I can't do homework during class (unless it's for that class) - something about looking in books strikes me as far worse in terms of disrespect than doing something on my computer (which we all use in class, because our notes are all electronic) when the instructor doesn't know what I'm doing. This also applies in clinic when I don't have patients. I try reading or working on my thesis and it just doesn't work. So, at clinic and in class, I track my food (I record everything I eat), write my blogs, catch up on email and now I also read my acupuncture board review materials. It's helpful that they are in one easy-to-carry spiral bound book and it's actually not a bad reference when I need to look up some point.

Not the most interesting of blogs today, but practical. Like me.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

To Do: Finish Draft Blog Entries

I have two posts that I started and never finished for some reason. Maybe long-time bloggers will reassure me that this is a common phenomenon, but my perfectionist-completionist self finds it hard to deal with those "drafts" sitting in my list. I haven't quite finished the first because the idea I was masticating kept shifting, so I couldn't quite figure out what I was trying to say. The second is of a very personal nature and I got scared about how it would come out.

One of my friends who also blogs wrote about how she wants to edit her posts, but doesn't and this is something I just can't relate to...I always edit. It's like a conversation with me - I might say one thing and immediately cancel it out and say the opposite. My brain, mouth (when speaking) and hands (when typing) aren't always on the same page and/or moving at the same speed.

However, point being I have two blogs waiting to post. Maybe I should make my thesis the priority instead of finishing those posts? Or my case paper (Goal #6, Due March 23)?

Or maybe I'll keep thinking and writing about how hard it is to go 1 day without swearing (Goal # 66). It started much earlier today, not having established today as a day to try it. Today was the Day of Silence in which I did not participate, but maybe if I had, I would have had an easier time not swearing. I'm going on a retreat this weekend and my housemate suggested not swearing there. It's probable that I could pull that off in that location, but is that really fair? I suppose it's meeting the goal either way and really, those qigong-ers sometimes really piss me off.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Three's Company

Last night A and E had a great evening – they got along better than ever , didn’t fight over me and didn’t interrupt one another. E even told me how much she enjoyed hanging out together. But I felt terrible about it. Is this the ugly monster of jealousy? Am I jealous that they were getting along? Would I rather they were fighting over me? I hope not, but I have to admit it might be. It might also be a product of the strange dynamic of three’s company.

Whenever I hang out in a threesome, I find it difficult because it’s hard for me to attend to two people at once. I’m very responsive with individuals, but become more superficial with more people. Four people is easy because you can naturally break into twosomes and groups of six to ten are pretty good because the ebb and flow is still manageable. More than ten and it starts to break down. That’s why I turn into a butterfly at parties – it’s hard to stay connected with one person when many other people’s energy is connecting and disconnecting all the time.

As E pointed out, I didn’t have this problem with I lived with R and J. The three of us literally called ourselves “Three’s Company” and we had a great year moving across the country and living together. I don't know what's different, but E has pointed out before how whenever we're all three together, A, E and I that is (O and U are out to lunch), someone ends up feeling left out or hurt. It's only happened twice that it's been me.

I have no conclusion - that's why it's been hard to finish this post - there's no easy solution. Except to pull out the three-person board games that I never get to play.


Not swearing is hard!

Avoiding driving helps, although if traffic is bad, I do still swear at other drivers even if I'm just a passenger. I need to cultivate peaceful driving skills.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Beautiful Day

Today is such a beautiful day and my aim is to make today my day of no swearing. It's on my list of 101 goals. I'm feeling today like anything is possible and remembering that any large task has to start with small steps.

After this weekend, my house is clean, my relationship is stable and I feel significantly less stressed. I'm going to use that to my advantage and continue 'cleaning house' all week.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Kin, Kind, Kinder, Kindred

I remember eating a candy called "Kinder Surprise." Kinder is German for children, but I think I ate this candy in Australia - it was an egg shaped hollow chocolate and contained a toy inside. It seems really strange, now that I look back on it, to eat a chocolate egg and have a tiny wooden car fall out. It was surprisingly wonderful and novel at the time though. When I think about kin and kindred, I get a little kind-er surprised too.

When my father passed away in 2006, I experienced more pain than I ever thought possible. It was worse than when my mom got sick - my response then was a very no-nonsense we'll get through this if I have to carry you on my back through the muck. And it was worse than when I got sick and had to give up a very important piece of my dreams - at that time, I was able to focus on spirit and how there must be a greater plan for me. With both my mom and my experience of illness, we had some time to prepare for our bad diagnoses and resultant surgeries. We're both control freaks and extremely strong women, so I think we also needed to "stay strong" for ourselves and everyone around us which helped us cope, in a sense.

My father died suddenly when he fell at work. I got the call in the middle of class on a Friday afternoon - I looked at my phone in the middle of lecture and saw calls from my mom, my brothers and my grandmother. I thought my grandmother had passed and people were calling from her house. I cried a little during class just thinking that was probably what happened. I cried a lot more when my brother told me dad had fallen. E got me on a plane and followed a few days later. I wish I'd insisted she come that day. I arrived early the next morning and spent the day at my father's bedside - my father had fallen and probably died, but he was being kept alive on a ventilator while they did regular scans to monitor his brain. By evening, they knew there was no hope and the family decided not to prolong his life artificially.

This was more than I was intending to write this morning, but it feels cathartic to get it out. I had flashbacks of my father falling and of turning off the machine for almost a year before getting treatment, but I don't talk about what happened, how it felt or how it hasn't really stopped hurting. There are so many levels of pain tangled up with my father's death and the one I intended to write about was the feeling of being utterly alone. That feeling has been reinforced many times in the last 18 months when friends ended relationships, other close friends excluded me, I wasn't able to attend family events and looking forward to graduating medical school with only my mother to celebrate.

It sounds bleak, but in unexpected moments I get reminded that besides kin, kindred exist in the world. Even if we only walk in tandem for a season, there is still value and I still take comfort there.

Friday, April 20, 2007

I <3 Living Alone

I've stayed in various of my homes alone for different lengths of time, but I've only lived alone twice. Once for about four months and once for one year. I LOVED it both times. My housemate is out of town this week from Thursday thru Sunday. I got home last night and immediately started preparing dinner for my boyfriend's imminent arrival, so I don't think I got the full flavor that I was coming home to an empty house.

The words "empty house" seem to have such a negative connotation, but I am thrilled by them. I love that my dog is waiting just for me. I love that everything is in the same place I left it. I love that there is no one to blame this mess on. Even when it's scary or lonely, I love living alone. I've been so anxious in my relationship to move it to the next level (i.e., moving in together), that I forgot that there is this whole other way of living that I'm actually not done with. I want to live alone again. Moreover, I want to live alone with means. The last time I lived alone, I lost my job and had to sell my car and nearly my body on the street just to pay my rent. What a different experience it will be to live alone as a professional working normal hours and making a living wage.

I want to have a fabulous home and fill it with things that I love. I want people to really get a sense of who I am when they walk into my space. I want to entertain and invite people into my sacred space who really deserve to be there.

I want to come home at the end of a long day at the end of a long week, kick my shoes off and not shower for three days while I consume the entire contents of my fridge and catch up on my favorite TV shoes on Tivo. I want to get Tivo! I am not only not ready to move in with my partner, I am ready to move out from my housemate. I'm ready to be a single mom of my rowdy three year old [dog] and I'm ready to unapologetically create the life I want to live. I'm ready to figure out what I want my life to be like without compromises for financial or interpersonal reasons.

But I'm not ready to do all that until after I take my board exams! Til then, I'm going to snuggle into my roommate's couch and try to enjoy all the benefits of living with her. She's a fabulous 'wife' and 'mother' and I'm grateful for her, too!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Koyaaniqatsi is a film. The title is a Native American word meaning crazy life or life out of balance. I learned about this movie/concept/phenomenon when I went on a date with a man who adopted this word as his chosen name. I sometimes miss dating, but when I remember the dates I went on with extremists, crazies, meanies or people with whom I simply had nothing in common, I am grateful for my warm, stable, loving and fun relationship.

I am grateful that I have enough food on the table...I am even grateful that there is too much food on the table so that when the urge to binge in an emotional fit comes on, there is food even for that. I am grateful that I have the liberty of going to school and learning so that I can create an amazing, useful and lucrative career for myself. I am grateful that it will be finished in 10 weeks so that I can sleep in once in a white and hopefully shed the heavy cloak of anxiety that I wear every day wondering "what could I have forgotten to do that will jeopardize graduating?"

I am grateful that while I'm currently participating in Koyaaniqatsi that I know there is another choice.

Monday, April 16, 2007

I am Grateful for...

1. Fresh flowers
2. New shoes
3. Sleeping in

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Progress on 101 Goals

Here's the update on my 101 goals:

1. Complete list of 101 goals. Completed and posted online and on desk 3/30/07.
63. Cook a meal for friends - Completed 4/8/07 – I made egg scramble for many friends for Easter brunch. Enjoyed cooking so much I remembered wanting to open a bed and breakfast when I retire from medicine.

In progress:
37. Pay off my Citibank credit card
38. Reduce by 1/2 my primary credit card
- Currently working on managing credit card through transfer to lower interest rate line of credit. Entire balance of both cards will be transferred to one account to reduce monthly payment and increase principle paid each month.

39. Request my credit report
- Viewed Credit Report through - because this free site doesn't list the credit score, I'm requesting my report from the credit agencies directly.

54. Crochet something to wear
- Purchased a very easy pattern for a lovely shawl. I'm looking forward to making it with the hot pink chenille yarn I have.

101. Visit Italy
- Emailed my friend C about visiting her in Italy. She's excited about it and there are some definite possibilities. Also, reading Neither Here nor There by Bill Bryson in which he falls in love with Italy. I'm ready to fall in love too!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Sick...and not happy about it.

I hate being sick.

I don't like taking medicine.

I really don't like changing my diet to accommodate my illness.

I like staying in bed all day, but prefer it to be by choice rather than my body's rebellion. It's no fun staying in bed when books and movies are not options because my eyes water when I try to look at anything and when my partner is safer in the next room.

I like taking time off work, but would prefer to do so for a vacation. I can't wait to take a vacation.

I hate being sick and feeling like I'm whiny. I want to complain, cry and moan and have someone just hold me, put a washcloth on my head and haul away the mountain of tissues next to my bed. I want someone to cook for me, bring me hot healing fluids and tell me what's good for me. I want someone to tell me that it's going to get better and that the past nine months of recurrent illness aren't the sign of something worse. I want to turn off my doctor's brain and not think about my own health for 5 minutes.

I want my mom.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

The End of a Long Race

In 12 short weeks, I will graduate with my doctorate and masters degrees and be officially finished with my education. I might consider another brief foray into graduate education in future, but currently my only plans for further education are self-study of all the topics I missed in school, fun seminars, professional conferences, CE credits and hobby classes such as pottery, dance and guitar (see 101 Goals). I'm at the end of my first week of my final term and my mind and body are reeling from the stress - deadlines, mandatory meetings, a list of arbitrary check-offs that need to be done before they will hand me the paper saying I am qualified to be your physician - and I thought my last term was going to be easy?

I ran into my thesis advisor last night after studiously avoiding him for the prior 12 weeks - it was unavoidable and really informs me that I should have been in contact with him every week of last term because he was able to comfort me in my stress of not having my draft ready to hand in tomorrow. I told him how surprised I was that I still have so much to do before finishing school and that I had erroneously assumed the last term was just showing up, and he pointed out that you don't slow down at the end of a race - you speed up.

How correct he is - that's why I typed this quickly and am not taking the time to spell check.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

By Appointment Only: The Futility of Office Hours

Being a minor government official (okay, it's student government, but you could probably guess that), I am required to hold office hours once weekly. I come to our little basement office every week for my 1/2 hour (I know, that's ridiculously short!) and balance my checkbook, write my blog, catch up on emails, make my lists and generally do things to help organize my life. I occasionally answer the locked door to allow students to come in and send a fax - I think I can count the number of times I've done this on two fingers.

I understand the reasoning behind SGA members holding office hours and I actually appreciate that I have a scheduled time set aside to write this blog and balance my checkbook as I consider these essential tasks that I might not otherwise have time for, but I can't help but consider this a bit of an exercise in futility.

Because I read the SGA minutes on my email whenever they arrive, I don't have to spend my 30 minutes doing that and no other members with whom I share business are available to visit with me during my hours, so I can't work on our committee projects. Students rarely come into the office on any business other than the very rare faxing which doesn't actually require my presence for anything more than unlocking the door and while the fax machine may require protecting, it seems like keeping it stationed in the always manned library may actually serve students better.

Moreover, with my goals of being an educator in future, I question the use of office hours amongst faculty members. I rarely visit my professors or other faculty members during their office hours, preferring to pester them during the 10 minute breaks we have between hours of class or hounding them at the end of class as they attempt to flee the scene. I wonder if other students visit these professors during their office hours or if they spend their hours catching up on email and blogging about that annoying student who chased them down the hall at the end of the last class?

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Resolution: No More Resolutions!

In December of 2005, I decided not to make any more New Year's Resolutions. Instead, I came up with a motto for 2006. Feeling pretty confident and sparky, my motto was "It's my year," or when I was feeling particularly feisty, "It's my year, bitch!" Well, 2006 didn't like that well at all and she slapped me down within a week. Being a dragon (per Chinese astrology, not temperament), this should have been expected with the upcoming year of the dog. The year of the dog is generally the worst of years for dragons, and they had best lay low and not make any sudden moves.

My friend H is a numerologist and comforted me when 2006 turned out not to be the friendliest year by explaining that numerologically speaking, 2006 was set to be a year of change. When I had to move unexpectedly with very little money and less than 30 days, he suggested we celebrate and embrace the change. Despite the construction woes in our new home, it did turn out to be a decent move. Chibo, E and I at least enjoyed being warmer this winter than last year.

I have considered both of these aspects in planning for 2007. This is the year of the boar and tends to be a decent year for the dragon. It's still a good time for peace and quiet for the dragon, but I can at least flex my legs and look around again. Numerologically, 2007 is a year of extremes, with themes of acceleration and completion. As I prepare to finish my thesis and graduate school, it seems I am at least in alignment with this year - I'm going to try to ride the energetic wave that this year has in store. I can already feel acceleration of the time as my deadlines loom. Best get back to the thesis writing.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Thank YOU!

I was trying to work out what my thoughts were on a particular line my friend said this weekend and I couldn't quite get the posting right. I would like to say I realized the meta-message is that I am so grateful for the people in my life. I am at a place in my life where I am not spending time with people out of default (most of the time). Generally, I choose to spend time with people I enjoy. If you're reading this and know me, I CHOOSE YOU. Thank you for being the person you are and an important part of my life.

I also choose COMMUNICATION. I realized last night that my level of frustration this past week has been high because I have premeditated resentment (i.e., expectations) as well as swallowed responses thereto. I worked out for myself what the issues are the require being communicated and look forward to honestly, but compassionately (for me and the other person involved in this scenario) communicating my needs and desires. Instead of "not getting what I want, but getting what I need," I realize I'll never get what I need if I don't ask for it!

Finally, met goal #1 and have been spreading the word about 101 goals. I organized the list around themes and posted it in my office. One of my friends laughingly said I'll probably do a lot of goals in the first and last months - she may be right, but at least they'll have been made and met!