Friday, March 09, 2007

Turning Point - Year of the Fire Pig

Here is your horoscope: Old limitations rear their rascally heads, but they do not intimidate you. Rather, they give you a chance to break free of the past. Take a deep breath and move slowly. Step by step, you can conquer these obstacles.

I spent 6 weeks plumbing the depths of my feelings of worthlessness, and came to a decision. I will not feel bad about myself anymore.

The affirmations probably helped, but mostly, I think I just got sick of beating myself up. Other people can focus on my weaknesses, tell me why I can't do this, have this, be this. I'm just not going to be that person anymore.

Lately I've been reading books about how to succeed as a woman in business, make more money, and negotiate. (I've also been working gruelingly long and stressful hours, which is why I haven't posted in a while.) I want to stop undervaluing and giving up on myself. I've been standing up for myself. Not without considerable, as we say in the business world, pushback. There's been lots of pushback. I've also had unexpected allies show up. The harder it gets, the more I've realized what incredible support I have. I've also realized I'm stronger than I thought.

For a long time I've been focused on how my past held me back, disadvantaged me. Now I'm seeing it from a different perspective- I am a survivor. I'm smart, resilient, creative, and have a sense of humor that gets me though a lot. I always try to do the right thing, to be honest and straightforward. When I focus on my strengths, I don't hold myself back with doubt and insecurity. It's not arrogance or aggressiveness; it's confidence. I haven't had much of it before, but I'm starting to get a taste of it. I’m finally on my side. Doing right by myself. No one should treat anyone the way I’ve treated me. There are plenty of people out there who will tell you what’s wrong with you. I’m not going to do their job for them. I’d rather be on the side of the people who think I’m worth something.

This new way of thinking also requires a higher level of responsibility than I'm used to, that is, responsibility to me. Even if other people try to stand in my way, I can't blame them for my problems. I'm never helpless- there's always decisions I can make. I used to feel like a victim, like I just had to take what life dished out. Now I feel if I want or need something, I have to put myself out there and try to get it. It's scary, because there are big decisions to make about what kind of life I want and how to go about getting it. I'm still trying to figure out what I want. I haven't put much effort into considering my options before. I didn't think I had options.

I have two friends, a couple, who are both consultants. One of the reasons I love talking to them is because they both have made decisions about what they wanted in life, and gone for it (including the type of relationship they are in with each other). They inspire me. Being consultants, they are also very organized. They make lists. They plan. I'm very list-y and plan-y myself. Their methods appeal to me. I had dinner with them last night to get their advice. They gave me homework- a book to read and to start making lists of what I want. Without having ideals to strive for, I have no direction, no idea if the options before me meet my needs, or what would be the right choices for me.

In a couple weeks, we plan to get together and "workshop" our lives. I can envision it like workshopping a poem- look for what's working and what's not. Develop the areas that need developing. Emphasis the elements that are working. Cut or re-work what's not. Of course, you don't have total control of your life the way you do a poem, your own creation (although there are always constraints with poetry, even with free verse but especially if you’re working in a form). Still, there is a lot I can do, both in my life and in myself, to "make it work". (I miss Project Runway.)

I just finished the poetry class I was taking. Here's a poem I wrote in 1996. It's a pantoum- a Malayan poetry form with a locked pattern of repeating lines.

Two Weeks in L.A.
You continue to wear black.
Her curtains are lacy, off-white.
We go out her screen door
In bare-feet, we smoke.

Her curtains are lacy, off-white.
Each morning, she chants
In bare-feet, we smoke.
Every yard has a palm tree.

Each morning she chants.
Her cats circle, curl around her.
Every yard has a palm tree
Open as a young hand.

Her cats circle, curl around her.
We have juice and croissants
Soft as a young hand.
She works nights at a bar.

We have juice and croissants.
She is bleaching her hair.
She works nights at a bar
On Ventura, in a strip mall.

She is bleaching her hair
Before the heat grabs us.
On Ventura, in a strip mall
We buy beer, cigarettes.

Before the heat grabs us
You continue to wear black.
We buy beer, cigarettes.
We go out her screen door.

copyright Kristina Coker

4 comments:

I said...

Cool. I've never been in a poem before. Is it too narcissistic to say that that made my day?

I'd forgotten about the bleaching of the hair.

Cool.

Kristina said...

That's not the only poem I wrote about you :)

I said...

All of them nice, right? ;)

Kristina said...

of course! I did make fun of your middle name in one, but in a totally affectionate way :)