dusting off ye ol’ blog

so it’s been about a year since I last posted, and really the only clicks I get on this webpage anymore are a sweaty-handed troll or the occasional bot looking to break into my code to plant some advertising. And yet, she persists.

News on me: Still working. Still mama-ing. Yesterday I submitted the first part of my application to get into a PhD program. Still persisting.

Today is Election Day back home — it’s the midterms, and for most of the day I’ll be obsessing over the direction that my home country is heading in. Tonight, I’ll watch John King play with all his fancy graphics and crush over Van Jones’ commentary (and tie choice).

Two years ago on Election Day I was so confident that a certain reality TV star had NO CHANCE of getting elected, and was devastated when he did. This time around, I’m not nearly as confident in the voting masses.

walking with a limp

I finished Brené Brown’s latest, and not surprisingly, I loved it. With each of her books, I find that her writing voice and arguments are getting stronger. She’s the only author whose books I want in all forms — audio, electronic, and hard copy. I love listening to her read, because her Texas accent and expression makes it sound like she’s in the middle of a conversation.

There are SO MANY parts of the book that stood out, but here’s a favourite passage that’s mean a lot to me, especially lately. This segment comes from an interview she did with a minister who went against church doctrine, and stood up and supported the LGBTQ community:

I suspect the wilderness is a permanent home for me, which is both happy and hard. A dear friend sent me a text during those harsh first steps out, having broken party lines irreversibly after publicly wrestling through a fragile doctrinal interpretation.

There is this wonderful and strange story in Genesis 32 about Jacob physically wrestling with God all night in the literal wilderness, and upon realizing that Jacob was positively not giving up and in fact hollered, “I will not let you go unless you bless me!,” he touched Jacob’s hip and wrenched it out of socket, a permanent reminder of the struggle of a determined, stubborn, dogged man with God; an absurd and ballsy move, as outrageous as it was impressive.

My friend texted me: “You are like Jacob. You refused to let go of God until He blessed you in this space. And He will. You will indeed find new land. But you’ll always walk with a limp.”

So I’ve chosen the wilderness, because it is where I can tell the truth and lead with the most courage and gather with my fellow outsiders, but this limp will remind me of the cost, what lies behind me, what will always feel a little sad and a little bruised.

Was it worth it? Unquestionably. And I hope the limp shows my fellow wilderness dwellers that I’m acquainted with pain and didn’t make it out here unscathed either. Outliers, I suspect it won’t hinder our wilderness dance party in the slightest.

I love this passage, so much. I know exactly what it feels like to metaphorically “walk with a limp.” My body and heart are indelibly marked with these wounding occasions, and I won’t ever be the same because of them. But — I don’t regret the times I’ve had to wrestle, and I don’t resent the injuries that have resulted. And yet, I do feel a little sad about them.

Lately I’ve had some really difficult days where I’ve felt like I’m in “the wilderness,” and I’ve added a couple more bruises to my heart.  It can be a lonely place when you stand up for yourself, and you’re not understood. It feels especially heartbreaking when you’re not understood by people who you love.

I like reclaiming the story of Jacob and his wrestling angel, in terms of my own struggles. I’m no longer going to think about difficult experiences as a means to build up my internal calluses and “get tougher” when it comes to numbing my wounds.

Instead, I want to have that “strong back, soft front, wise heart” and recognize that having a limp won’t stop me from moving forward. Or from occasionally dancing.

newest guilty pleasure

Not only is it a feminist, subvert-the-male-gaze kind of musical, but this show also features a neurotic named Rebecca — how could I not love My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend?!

Here are some of my favourite songs from Season 1:

I may sing this song in my head before a date night.

 

I may have watched 5 episodes in a row one day while I was laying on the couch feeling sorry for myself. So this song was perfect.

 

I may have had heavy boobs at one point. But any girl who’s had big boobs can relate. It’s genius, and so so funny.

 

I may think this (at least) once a day.

shrinking my own head

I’ve got a new fascination: neuropsychology.

It all started last year, when I had to work through some conflict in one of my classes. I asked for some advice from one of my girlfriends, who’s a mediator. I learned all about the limbic system, and how our response to conflict is dictated by our body. When our body’s in stress, the brain has this weird way of directing how we process — so when we’re really upset, the blood in our body is directed to go to our extremities (so we can “fight or flight”). In these cases, we aren’t able to think or respond rationally, because it’s physically impossible to do so.

I never realized the physicality that’s involved in our emotions. Whenever I get so upset “that I can’t think straight” — it’s actually because I can’t think straight!  Which makes sense — I love how the most profound truths often are the ones that are so obvious.

Which leads me to the newest book I’m reading: Wired for Joy.  This book is all about Emotional Brain Theory (EBT), a neuropsychology theory that my therapist introduced to me a week ago. EBT is a way of training your brain to scale down the level of stress you’re feeling, to better understand yourself and find contentment. It’s not about ignoring the emotions you’re feeling, but finding a healthier way of processing them.

This method is so attractive to me, for many reasons. First, I’m really excited about the science and research that’s behind it — I’m so wary of some “self-help” books where there isn’t much to back up what’s being advocated (see: The Secret and its ilk).

I’m also excited to learn and practice EBT because it’s a way to acknowledge the powerful role of emotions in a person’s life. I’ve always been known as someone who’s been considered (too) “emotional,” and often I feel my emotions are discounted or disregarded. EBT acknowledges that the only way to reduce stress is to work through your emotions, and then teach your brain how to process them in a healthy way.

I’ve only just started reading the book, but I’ve already learned a lot. I’m looking forward to adding to my understanding of the role of my body and brain, and how these physical systems influence me in how I interact with the world around me.