May did not turn out as planned. In the end I could not even pick up my guitar and two days ago everything fell apart. I am so confused right now. In one moment I somehow manage to repress what has happened, in the other I struggle to remember how to breathe. It seems as if the only thing I can do right now to cope with the anxiety and regret is to write. This will be a tough month, but I seem to be the most creative when I don’t feel very well. So maybe this is the perfect month to finally start writing my novel. Maybe it will be easier if I can slip into that other world, just for a little while, and pretend I’m not the girl who broke up with a boy she still loves terribly.
Category Archives: Love
I’m happy I chose Productivity as this month’s focus, because I really wouldn’t have time to focus on anything else than getting things done. I’m so stressed out that it’s affecting me physically, making me nauseous and tired all the time. Tonight, however, I sat down and tried to structure all my tasks for the rest of the year, week for week. Now I know what I need to do every week when it comes to school, work, driving practice and exercise, and that is somewhat comforting. Next week I’m going away for a few days to visit my grandfather, and perhaps the change of scenery will help me relax a bit as well.
So, what about the Love month? Although my boyfriend and I have had our ups and downs I think I managed to take quite good care of our relationship last month, and I keep trying. I survived the tour, obviously. After the first anxious days I simply didn’t have any energy left for worrying. I let him take care of our contact, which meant that I didn’t have to worry about unanswered texts or calls and got a happy surprise each time I heard from him instead. And I ended up really enjoying having time for myself.
Whether it’s a sky-high heap of homework or a boyfriend touring Europe or something entirely different that makes your intestines ache with anxiety, the only thing that really helps is to let go. And to realise that when you do, things tend to work out quite nicely in the end.
My present focus is Family, and I simply decided to try to give more affection, attention and patience to all the members of my family. So far I think it has worked well. I am a person who likes being physical with my nearest and dearest – giving hugs, kisses and gentle strokes – so perhaps there wasn’t very much to change there, but I have thought about it more consciously than otherwise, and – hopefully – given even more love than I usually do.
I have also tried to listen more attentively to my family members when they talk to me. There I certainly have something to work on. With three small kids in the house (often all of them craving my attention at the same time) and a job without clear boundaries (right now I’m in the process of finishing my latest book and sometimes I steal a few minutes to write a few sentences even though my kids are swarming around me…), it is sometimes difficult to have 100% focus on one person.
One way of giving attention is to find ways of being alone with one child at a time. A few days ago, my husband and I had a lovely moment with our ten-year-old. Our dishwasher is out of order at the moment, so we have to do the dishes by hand. The three of us took care of a huge pile of dishes; we had just had a big Sunday lunch with all the four kids, Miranda’s boyfriend and our youngest daughter’s friend. Our ten-year-old, who typically tries to sneak away as soon as someone wants her to help out with something, really enjoyed the work, since she had both her parents’ full attention for more than an hour! This year we have decided to give our kids time away with their parents, one at a time, as Christmas gifts. That’s one way of showing love, and I’m quite sure they will enjoy it tremendously.
Last week was a challenge for the whole family, but especially for my kids at home. I was away working in another city from Sunday to Friday, enjoyed comfortable hotel beds, good food and the opportunity to work as much as I possibly could, without having to take care of anything but myself. My husband took care of everything at home, kids, dishes, laundry, food – which he is used to, since I’ve been working away from home every now and then for ages. Every night, the wonderful program Skype enabled us to share the day’s events, feelings, creativity, laughs and some tears via Skype. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and it was wonderful to come home on Friday evening.
Love can take different shapes – hugging, doing the dishes and skyping. Love at home and love at a distance.
Despite the success of last month’s project, there was one drawback. There is a distinction between self-confidence and self-esteem, and my intention was to work with both last month. However, I was so busy tackling challenges that I forgot about the second part. I do feel better about myself, when it comes to achievements, but I still doubt myself when it comes to just being me. I still feel bad about my appearance, I’m still scared that l’m not good enough and I still stay quiet because I’m afraid people (even my boyfriend) will find me weird or stupid. Conveniently, the focus area of this month is Love. Thus, I’ve decided to focus not only on my relationship, but also on appreciating myself more.
I fear this will be another ridiculously long post, but these are probably my most difficult challenges so far, and I think I need to make things very clear for myself. Anyway, these are my goals for October:
– Give space
I’ve been terrible at giving space. Not intentionally. I just haven’t realised how important it is for a relationship, probably because, as I mentioned in my last post, my boyfriend has been my life for the last few years. I haven’t had any friends that I’d rather hang out with or a band that I need to spend time with alone. I’ve only had him. So I haven’t realised how trapped my boyfriend has felt, because I’m always there, feeling left out whenever he forgets about me. The last six months up until September were extreme, because he didn’t work and I studied from home, so we were together more or less constantly, getting on each other’s nerves. Besides, because I always worry too much, I tend to contact him too much when we’re not together. He, on the other hand, is terrible at answering texts and calling me back, which only causes me to worry even more. Last month, however, when one of my many challenges was to let him contact me, I noticed that as soon as I kept my hands off my phone, he started calling me and sending random text asking what I was doing. It was such a relief to see that he actually wanted to speak to me, I just had to give him some space. It’s not always easy, but I will keep letting him contact me this month, unless I really need to ask something. I will also keep developing my own social life, so I won’t have to depend on him all the time.
The hardest part of this goal, and something I have dreaded for several months, is the fact that my boyfriend is going on a European tour with his band for ten days this month. That is actually the main reason why I chose to focus on Love during October, because I knew this would be such a huge challenge for me. To not feel jealous or terrified that he’ll do something stupid. To not contact him all the time to make sure that he still loves me and that nothing has happened to him. But after last month, I think I can do it. It will probably be the greatest challenge since we met, but for both our sakes I need to give him that space, show him that trust and be happy for his sake. If I’d ever get to tour with a band I would want him to do that for me. And if I make it through those ten days without freaking out, I think I will be able to do anything.
– Be honest
I played truth or dare with some girlfriends last weekend and one of us had to answer what was the most important quality of a partner. It turned into quite a discussion but I think everyone agreed upon honesty. If you can’t trust someone, that what else about him matters? My boyfriend is very honest and although I tend to forget that when I get anxious, it’s one of the things I like the most about him. I also try to be honest, and that’s lucky, because I’m a terrible liar. Sometimes, though, when I feel bad or sad or scared or jealous for some reason, I just can’t tell my boyfriend about it. I’m not sure why. I’m probably just scared it will lead to a fight and that he’ll hate me. So, I stay quiet, or say that it’s nothing or that I don’t want to talk about it. And he hates that, of course, because he feels shut out and lied to. He’s told me to stop doing it several times. He’s even presented me with an ultimatum. And still I keep doing it. I know this has to stop. It’s not that I always need to tell him everything. But I can’t start crying or sulk for a whole evening and then tell him it’s nothing. I’ve told myself so many times that I have two choices: either tell him or let it go. I don’t know what else to do but keep reminding myself. And be aware of it.
– Be kind
This is quite simple: nag less and appreciate more.
– Give (and appreciate) proofs of love
My boyfriend is not very romantic, and sometimes that makes me a bit disappointed. He does give me proofs of love, probably more often than I realise, but because I’m so bad at remembering the good things in life, they tend to slip by unnoticed. I want to get better at appreciating all the small things he does for me, and be able to show what I feel without expecting a heap of red roses in return. In a week, it will be two years since the first time we kissed. It’s a silly thing that you wouldn’t expect any guy to remember. So, I’ve decided to do something romantic for him then, just because it’s important to me and because I want to let him know how much he means to me.
– Love yourself
Actually, I can’t really imagine how difficult it would be to live with someone who would deny any compliment you give them, who wouldn’t trust you no matter what you did, and who would be terrified you’d leave them no matter what you said. I’ve always been like that, but I need to stop. Now. For his sake. And for my own sake. If I felt that I was good enough, I wouldn’t have to be so anxious or jealous or scared. Life would be so much easier. I’m not quite sure how to do it, though. If I was, I would probably have changed a long time ago. But I will keep writing down good things about myself, and not just achievements, but things that are good about who I am. And I will make an honest attempt to appreciate compliments and exchange my negative thoughts with positive ones. Even if I don’t always believe them.
P.S. If anyone has made it through this post, I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions. What do you think are the most important aspect to focus on in a relationship? Which is the best way to learn to be more open about your feelings? And can you learn to love yourself?
Today is the last day of my Body month, and summing up I feel quite satisfied. I haven’t lost that much weight yet, but my pants are fitting a bit more loosely, and – especially – I have at least started a journey towards a more healthy lifestyle. A journey which I hope will be lifelong. Trying to keep good routines from my first two project months – daily meditation, reiki sessions every now and then, more physical exercise and less unhealthy food – I will now embark upon a new journey.
The focus of my third project month is Family, and the project is in fact a kind of continuation of something that started this summer. Five sixths of my family (i.e. everybody except my oldest daughter Miranda) spent five days at Circle Way Camp, a camp lead by an old Indian tribal chief and his wife. In the camp we learnt about the Indian circle way tradition, clan meetings where everybody talks for an equally long period of time, while everybody else listens. It’s a very good way of practicing listening without interrupting, and it is also a good way of giving everybody equal space: a normally silent person gets as much time to talk as someone who usually talks a lot. Another aspect that we (especially the children) enjoyed tremendously was the great atmosphere of love an friendliness that permeated the camp.
Going back home, we decided to try to bring as much as possible of the atmosphere from the camp home to our daily lives. Ever since July we have had family “clan meetings” almost every day, short meetings where we take turns at talking, usually about something “New and Good” that has happened to us recently. Sometimes we use another headline for our meeting, such as “Appreciation”, where everybody says something positive about themselves and about all the other family members. I have also tried harder than usual to listen to my kids and to avoid hard words as often as possible. It feels like the atmosphere at home is better now than before, but it can always get even better, which is why I’ve decided to devote my third project month to my Family.
The message to myself is simple in theory, but perhaps more difficult in practice:
- pay more attention and listen more
- give more appreciation – verbal and physical
- be more generous
I will end by a quote from one of my favorite authors, Astrid Lindgren, the famous Swedish writer of children’s books: “Give children love, more love and even more love, and their good manners will come by themselves” (my translation).
Ho, ye thoughtful, strong and gorgeous ladies. So many ideas, goals and strategies! Whatever you do the coming year – flood it with love for yourself! Work with your habits and possible flaws only because you love the divine person they are part of – and love that person because she has those flaws, not in spite of her having them. Love is the stream capable of carrying your project the whole way through, and much further. Lots of love and luck to you both!
The words come from my friend S, one of the wisest people I know, and a constant source of inspiration in my daily life. What she writes is so true: acceptance, tolerance and – especially – love are important ingredients in a project like ours; otherwise there is always the risk of ending up with performance anxiety, an ingredient we definitely don’t need. Something that makes my part of the project a bit different from Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project is that I’m not so much trying out new things in order to find out if they could make me happier. I am already happier than I’ve been in my entire life. I have stopped hunting, and found happiness all around me. What I want to do is simply to find more room for things that I really enjoy doing.
With this perspective as the starting point, I feel that my project is infused with love, in every part of it. The commandment I put at the top of my list runs Give love, respect and attention to yourself and people around you. The very essence of my project is to show love and respect towards myself by focusing on things that I know make me feel good, or that are good for me. For instance, I loved my daily meditation routine three years ago, and I’ve longed to get back on track. However, with a life so filled with activity and people needing me as mine, it’s sometimes difficult to find time to do all the things I enjoy. I’ve tried, half-heartedly, for several months, but as soon as I integrated meditation in my project it became so much easier to prioritize.
Being able to document and reflect in writing on what happens in my project is another way for me to prioritize something that makes me go wild with happiness, thus again giving love to myself. Many thanks to you for patiently reading what I write!