Non-wimpy sensitives, and how to be one.

This was inspired by confronting someone, then being accused of sensitivity in response. I denied it a little too vehemently and then pointed out that that’s a shitty thing to call someone who’s trying express that you’ve upset them. I felt like they were saying my feelings and perspective were irrelevant, due to this alleged “sensitivity.”

I was upset due to greatly valuing this relationship, but also because having developed a much thicker skin is something that I’m proud of. I was 16 the day I decided to stop making excuses and to own my shit. A coach called me the weakest link, I cried and explained (excused), and she called me out right there in front of everyone.

I did listen that day, but I was 16. And not a super mature 16 either.

Luckily when we don’t get the message, life tends to repeat the lesson. (As many times as we insist.) Over the years, life just kept teaching me how to not take things so personally. I went to college and majored in fine art, where each piece was evaluated by a large group critique. I was in marketing for about a decade, a field where people really aren’t afraid to tell it like it is. I’m a writer, finally broken in from years of editors’ red pens. I temped for a couple years; so often playing “the new girl,” starting from scratch over and over. (Always learning. Always fucking up the new shit.)

For the most part, life’s taught me to take a critique effectively and I’m down with constructive criticism – which just looks like good advice, when done with style.

But I am (a) sensitive.

This topic is one of those that kinda have two meanings. There’s a science-based official definition, and there’s new-agey definition. The official definition: sensory processing sensitivity (SPS), a personality trait, a high measure of which defines a highly sensitive person (HSP), has been described as having hypersensitivity to external stimuli, a greater depth of cognitive processing, and high emotional reactivity. But in the world of woo, it means being an empath; basically being very sensitive to others’ energy and having great intuition.

Sensitives feel extremely deeply, both the good stuff and the bad stuff. We care. Immensely. Doing all of this takes a lot of energy. I’ve learned to prioritize, to accept that spreading myself all over and being weaksauce with my boundaries makes me feel like poo. We’re highly affected by others. Though shielding helps worlds, I’ve learned that I’m happiest when I’m with people who make me feel understood.

Crowds can be miserable-making. Before, I couldn’t go anywhere crowded without feeling like I might have a panic attack. My hands would get all sweaty, and I would feel like I was getting pulled a million directions at once, and I would then find the bar as fast as possible, haha. Watching violence is unpleasant for sensitives. Recharging is very necessary. (Sensitivity shares a lot of traits with introversion.)

Sensitives can be easily charmed. When we aren’t centered in ourselves, we tend to follow around people who are. (Watch out for narcissists.) Since we can strongly sense the energy of the person whose comfortable in their skin – it’s comforting.

Then they leave, taking their self-assured juju home with them; and the sensitive is left bewildered by their totally unprocessed emotions, because they’ve been wandering around in someone else’s shit all day. (Or the opposite, and carrying around another’s negative stuff.) If you relate, shield up!

Like many sensitives, I’m not super great at dealing with negative emotions. I spend the vast majority of my time being pretty darn happy-go-lucky, feeling all sparkly, and when negative emos come in I’m like, WTF am I supposed to do with you?! Bleeeerrrrrrg. I’m getting much better though. (One explosion at a time.)

A couple strategies for sensitives: Take a minute and ask yourself what there really is to fear in that situation. Is it really so terrifying? If you ask yourself these questions, moving to the core of the issue, whilst focusing on your breath – you’ll probably find that the thing you’re afraid of really isn’t so horrible and find yourself much calmer. (And more rational.)

And while I pride myself on doing my best to not take things personally, staying solution-oriented, and owning my shit – I am sensitive.

And you can be both.

ar-asher

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What’s SO BAD about wanting people to like you?

Nothing, inherently. It’s nice to want to get along and it’s normal to prefer being adored over disliked, of course.

The problem is when you start giving fucks in order to get someone to like you: Agreeing when you actually don’t, censoring yourself beyond politeness, doing things you’d really rather not, allowing attitudes towards you that are less than respectful, and all kinds of other ways we diminish ourselves when we make our objective: be liked.

Because when that’s your MO, there’s no choice than to be less of yourself. Giving fucks makes a dull wash out of the glory that you are; the you when you’re behaving with more inner-direction, when you’re really being yourself.

This realization terrified me when I first had it. I thought of myself as being a good friend, well-liked, caring, friendly, fun – I was only considering myself in relation to others. This led to trouble when I was alone. Over analyzing my relationships. Overconsidering others’ perspectives on things like my art, or even what kind of music I was listening to, i.e. “I’d be so embarrassed if so-in-so knew how much I love this.”

It was like I was never alone, not really, despite larger-than-normal amounts of time spent alone. Who was I even living my life for?

It was such an important realization: My life should be about me.

It was like I was spending all of my energy on being the best co-star in everyone else’s movie. Not that I didn’t pursue my own passions and whatnot – but “they” (those I’d prefer like me) were intrinsically involved in my decisions, even ones that had nothing to do with them. It was just little blips of thought that seemed like nothing, but as a mindfulness-obsessed sort, I quickly realized that they added up to living on the periphery of my own life.

Watch your mind and see if you do this. (You do. We all do.) And try to drop it. This will help loads in the next step: staying inner-directed when you’re with others. This involves fighting the urge to blend in and saying what you think, what you really think. (Don’t be a dick or anything… Or maybe do, I don’t know what’s best for you.)

Start paying attention to your feels when you’re around others, and right afterward. It’s important to feel good.

I feel like that’s almost a controversial thing to say, I can hear the cries of, “but selfish!” It’s not selfish to ensure your well-being, not at all. In fact, making sure you’re feeling centered is responsible. Being where you want to be and doing the things you want to do is responsible. The world needs you at your best! Your people need you at your best!

You’ll probably find that even when you’re acting from a truly inner-directed place you’re still a positive force in others’ lives. Perhaps not in the same ways. And perhaps with a totally different flavor: martyrdom vs weeeeeeee.

And the funny thing is that when you get really good at this inner-direction thing, most folks will indeed like you. It’s nice to be around people who are at peace with who they are, comforting even. They lack neediness and emanate confidence. They offer unique perspectives and speak their truth.

But others will still totally think you suck. C’est la vie.

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Meditation Classes

If you think about it, your mind is your home. And one you’re stuck with, too. Is yours a nice place to live?

Screen Shot 2017-06-24 at 6.23.04 PMOur minds are the constant in all of our lives, we can never leave them…they are basically our permanent homes. But most of us never really even consider them! Mindfulness is out to change this. My class will teach you how to integrate mindfulness into your life via meditation. (And we’ll go over several styles to help you find something that sticks.)

This fun hour applies mindfulness concepts to your real, actual, world. Meditation saved my life, I’ll also share the story of how it did so; and, of course, how it can wildly change yours for the better.

Thanks to those of you who have come to one of my Portland, Oregon classes! I’m now living in Southern California and hope to start classes ASAP, I’m starting to reach out as of mid-August. Keep yer ears peeled! And in the meantime, please contact me if you are interested in having a class for your group or company.

Homework: Blessings from the Loving-Kindness Meditation
Think or say these to yourself, then send it to someone you adore, and then to someone you’re having “a challenging time” with:
May I/you be blessed with abundance and health.
May I/you know that I am worthy of love, and of the things I desire.
May I/you have relationships that provide me with mutual acceptance and encouragement.
May I/you have meaning and purpose in life, may it be deeply satisfying.
May I/you laugh from the very core of the belly at least daily.

Tarot Trip

I bought my first deck of tarot cards in 2014, after having my first reading — which had stunned me with its accuracy. Before that experience I had always likened tarot cards to newspaper horoscopes; lots of general advice that could apply to anyone and therefore really didn’t apply to anyone.

But for me, it’s turned out to be a very different story.

To fill you in on the Tarot, it’s a deck of cards that have different meanings. The cards represent 78 different aspects of life, and each comes with guidance. The origin is debated, some saying they go back to ancient Egypt and others saying Italy in the 14th century, with many other guesses. Some play games with them, but my interest is in divination — using the cards for guidance in life.

Even after I bought the cards I was still a bit suspect. I thought that maybe the intuitive reader was just very skilled, and that I probably wouldn’t come up with much on my own. I tried anyways, and within a few days I was shocked at the frequency of certain cards. Over, and over, and over, and over; these same cards would pop up, cards that had serious meaning in regard to my present life.

And four years later, I’m still at it! I draw three cards every morning for guidance on the day, it feels like “flying blind” on the rare occasions that I don’t get my tarot in. I’ve occasionally had others read for me, they tend to expand on what I’ve picked up on my own — and have yet to contradict anything!

Tarot cards don’t predict the future, they won’t be like, “Yo Meg, your shit’s about to take off, your book’s gonna be published, and it’s going to be a cultural phenom.”  But they’ll be all, “A prosperous new time is coming”, or more often, “Work your ass off, honey.”

They don’t say it like that, of course, but most cards do come with books for explanations of the cards meanings; and it’s your job as the reader to feel into how they could apply to your life. I like to meditate while I shuffle for a few minutes, then I just choose the cards that feel right.

Sometimes I draw however many I like, in response to my own questions; like a dialogue with the cards and my guidance. Other times I use traditional card spreads with just one question in mind. I’ve noticed that they seem to respond to my mood — and I no longer draw cards when I’m feeling fearful or upset, it just makes me feel worse!

Tarot has become an insightful and entertaining tool for guidance and inner-exploration in my life. I quite fancy it, and recommend it to anyone who’s even remotely curious. The Rider-Waite deck is the most universal, and a great place to start.

A ganja love letter.

An editor had me switch formats so the following poem will not be published anywheres. But, I couldn’t just delete it! It’s a love letter to cannabis, inspired by my transition to needing it medicinally.  I think my fellow herb lovers will get it… So, here:

My dearest ‪Cannabis‬,

I know my love’s grown temperamental since our relationship has taken on this medicinal tone, and I’m so sorry. Now I lean on you like Snoop taught me, and that’s everyday. I’ve started to look to your faults, pointing out where you make me lose track of thoughts—and overlooking how you make my imagination ace, helping to form a thought worth capturing in the first place.

I take you for granted, it’s not enough that you melt the pain in my aching body; I just want you to rid me of more, and I want you to keep it away forever. You distract my mind from pain via whimsical and varied trains of thought, but I get frustrated when the same locomotives hamper my ability to express them.

I love how you give even boring food pizzaz, but bellyache that you’re to blame when I munch too much. You ease my worried mind, you coax anxiety out the door—and yet still, I ask for more.

I judge you by your appearance, and even take a sniff to see if you’re up to par. I reserve photos for when you look your best, sharing only your gorgeous purple tones and crystals; and resort to name-calling when your game is off—I call you schwag that smells of hay, and you don’t deserve that, not even on your worst day.

But, my dear ‪marijuana‬; my pakalolo, my herb, my sensi—the truth is that I love you, that you truly are a kind bud indeed. Since our last vote you’re always there when I need you. (Though, I’ll admit, the price increase totally blew.) Whether we meet via vape pen or pipe, or by rip or a toke, if you grew up indoors or out; you’re always someone on whom I can count.

So I vow to appreciate you, my beloved ganja, to see you for all of your goodness; and there is so much to see—for you even make smelling skunky a good thing! I love you so much, I’d even declare it with a ring.

Everyday,
Meg

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No STDs here.

The experience aims to be a cathartic emotional rollercoaster after which you will never be the same.  Kind of like doing hallucinogens or having sex for the first time, but no one’s going to talk about how weird skin looks at great lengths, nor get an STD.  

She’s one-part fuckfull to fuckless tale, one-part 30-meditation challenge, and the last bit is a series of 20 Fuckless Adventures that are totally as fun as they sound.

I hope you’ll join me. Stay tuned for the release of How I Lost All My F-cks!

Follows WAY appreciated:
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Forgiveness, heads and gross eyeballs attached.

When you have hard times — and you will — your relationships will be tested.  Whether it’s an internal angst or an external set of circumstances, at some point you will have a shitty time. And when this shitty time occurs there are those who will disparagingly judge you for it. We often call them fairweather friends.

One morning on Portland OR’s MAX train I found myself daydreaming about getting even with one of these people. I’m devout to my meditation practice, and I am generally keenly aware of my thoughts. Revenge fantasies are not normal for me.

Maybe it was because I was hungover that day (something I hadn’t experienced in months) or because I was due for my Depo-Provera hormone shot, but I found myself in a reverie about warning a fairweather person’s fiance of her nasty nature and then telling her to go fuck herself.

(Why suggesting someone go masturbate is so satisfying, I do not know. Perhaps because it’s saying someone isn’t worthy of another’s affection? Or because it’s something deemed shameful in our repressed society? Or perhaps the reason isn’t so deep, and it’s just the hard consonant ending with the flowing ‘fff’ sound? Go fuck yourself. It really is satisfying to say…almost as great as indubitably. I’ve only ever actually exclaimed it once, a jillion years ago, and I admit, it was wildly satisfying indeed. But, I digress.)

I snapped out of it, a bit shocked at where my mind had wandered, and recalled the only time my vengeful Scorpionic side had been truly revealed. It was over a decade ago, my junior year in college.  A dude had chased me for months, charming me, asking me out, pursuing me relentlessly.

Even in my shenanigan-filled college days, my intuition was pretty sharp and I didn’t trust him.  There was no reason for it, I just felt in my gut that he was up to no good. But he eventually wore me down. We spent an unsatisfying few minutes together, after which he never returned my call.

I was pissed. Back then I was totally hot hotty hot, I had stalkers for Christ’s sake, and this dude gets me, then doesn’t call me back?! It was the first time I felt really and truly burnnned. I stewed in my anger whilst watching the movie Grumpy Old Men on basic cable. I was judging the characters for wasting so much time spiting each other when judgment turned to inspiration.

I had been invited to a kegger at the dude’s house by his roommate, and suddenly decided I should attend...with Grumpy Old Men inspired supplies. I called a couple best buddies who went to the grocery store with me, where I purchased several fish. (Heads and gross eyeballs attached.) I remember my dear friend E saying, “Meg, this is a disturbing side of you, but damn if it isn’t entertaining”.

We went to the kegger, where I pretended like I wasn’t mad. After some friendly chitchat I excused myself to the restroom, which was just outside of the jerk’s room. Inside it I found a clothes hamper. I emptied out half of the clothes, placed the fish inside (heads and gross eyeballs attached), and replaced the clothes. I exited, signaled my accomplices, and we bailed the party, laughing all the way home.

The jerk moved away, and I wound up making good friends with his roommates. About a year after my revenge, one of the roomies told me a devastating story about how someone had ruined his best suit by placing several fish (heads and gross eyeballs attached) in his hamper.

My revenge had struck the wrong person!!

I turned beet red, cried a little, and apologized profusely.  He wouldn’t let me pay him back for the ruined duds, and he forgave me immediately. Ooooohwie, did that hurt! I remember wishing that he would have told me off like I deserved. I still feel awful about it, and haven’t attempted revenge since. I learned my lesson.

So, those few who dismissed me during some of the hardest times of my life (dark night of the soul), will not be the butt of a cruel prank parlayed clumsily by myself (heads and gross eyeballs attached), nor a diatribe of their perceived faults, nor any euphonious sneers. Of course, as I learned with my wayward fish prank, kindness really is the best revenge.

The compassionate act of forgiveness doesn’t mean allowing oneself to be mistreated, but simply acknowledges the harmful actions, and releases emotional attachment to them. It’s wise to forgive, not so the transgressor heals, but so we heal. Holding on to resentment to hurt someone else is as useful as holding onto a grenade. It’s only going to hurt you.

It’s empowering to let go, and an apology isn’t necessary to move to forgiveness. We can release ourselves whenever we choose. Why not now?

How to dissolve cheap beer hiccups with meditation.

I’m sure I learned what meditation was sometime before college, but I didn’t spend much time absorbing the concept until then. I had an Eastern Philosophy teacher that is still probably the most self-assured person I’ve ever met.

He genuinely did not give a shit about what anyone thought of him, as he said, “other people’s thoughts are none of my business”. I found him to be hilarious, and always unintentionally so. (The best kind of funny.)

He said the purpose of meditation was to widen the gaps between thoughts, allowing for observation of the peaceful quiet that exists behind them. And that we’d enjoy a more pleasant mindspace as a result. He shut off the lights, had us put our heads in our folded arms, and asked us to focus on our breathing. Whenever we had a thought we were supposed to acknowledge it without judgment, let it go, and return to our breathing.

Most of the time I thought about a guy, wondered if he liked me. Thought about how cute he was. Replayed our recent conversations. I kept returning back to my breath just to have my mind pipe up again, “He’s so cute.  He reminds me of Floyd from Dazed and Confused…”

But then it happened, I thought—“…………..”, for a few solid seconds.

“Oh! And that’s the same dude as in Out Cold!” — But it had happened, however briefly, I experienced my first sizeable gap between thoughts.  I wanted more of that peaceful feeling. And, apparently, whomever that dude was.

Though I enjoyed the peace I discovered in that philosophy class…I lacked focus. The first real application of meditation to my life was using it to get rid of the hiccups. I drank a lot of cheap beer quickly in those days, so I’d get them pretty frequently. At some point, I realized that all of the solutions offered up (swallow a spoonful of sugar, stare at the ceiling whilst hopping on one foot, BOO!) were all just various ways of *not thinking* about the hiccups.

So I tried using meditation to do so, and low and behold — it works like a charm! In those days most of my meditation was done in graffiti-covered bathroom stalls. Focusing on my breath, calming my mind, and dissolving those cheap beer hiccups.

 

Dethroning the Queen of Shitgibbers

Once upon a time, I was a teenager. My favorite hobbies were dancing, gymnastics, figuring out who’s parents were going out of town next, and gossip.

I relished in knowing what was going on with everyone else, and was sure to fill anyone in who didn’t know. I’d like to say that I was the girl reading Catcher in the Rye and rolling her eyes at girls like me, but I was not. Not even a little.

I remember the first time that I realized that this behavior was a bad thing. It was normal to me, it was how all of my friends behaved, and how we had behaved since sometime in elementary school. It just was.

But then one day someone finally called me on my shit.

Myself, my high school boyfriend, our friend, and another girl had gone a double date – their first date. I can’t remember exactly how it went, but at the end of the night I was sure they were going to “hook up.” The next morning at school I spread the word in the usual fashion. (It didn’t take a lot of effort, I went to a very crowded high school of bored kids in a small Alaskan city. Word got around fast.)

Turns out, they did not “hook up” as it were. Things had turned awkward, and their first date was to be their last. So everyone was coming up to my friend all like, “Yeahhh, dude, heard you got some!” When indeed, he had not.

He came up to me in the hallway that day and called me The Queen of Shitgibbers.

I was a silly lil’ teenager, but even then I knew that was a title I shouldn’t have earned and sure didn’t want. I had done a shitty thing, and it was the first time I really realized it was a shitty thing to do.

I’ve made huge strides in kicking the gossip habit, but it happened the other day. I cracked a joke about someone else, to someone who I knew would find it funny. It was a cheap shot, not even remotely clever, and remembering it later made me cringe with regret.

Why was I posturing like that? Fucking fucks, I thought I lost you. (Clingy buggers.)

So the next time I get the urge to discuss another person behind their back, I hope that I remember it’s a very fleeting satisfaction. For a split second I can connect with another, get a laugh, feel empowered, a little bit superior…but then just awful. This is kinda trite, but Eleanor Roosevelt once said:

“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”

I will strive to be great. I will frequently be average. I will even spend a huge portion of my time discussing the weather or my lunch. (Burrito, B-, overnuked.) But behaving in a small-minded manner like this just isn’t worth the squeeze.

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Lucid Dreaming is the Shit

Lucid dreaming is the experience of realizing that you are indeed, dreaming. Once you gain awareness of what’s happening, you’re able to control the dream. You can conjure up any experience that you want: from flying through the space, to fascinating conversations, to swimming with whales, telekinesis – whatever you can think of!

The big trick is simply remembering to question if you’re dreaming whilst doing so. Because once you do that…it’s on.

Here’s a few tricks to get there:

  1. Remember your dreams. Start a dream journal, either writing or babbling into the mic of your phone. The point is to train the mind to think about dreamtime, to create awareness of it and a relationship to it in your waking hours.
  2. Dream Checks. During your waking day, ask yourself, “Am I dreaming?” Do so every time you do something routine; like every time you check the clock or look out the window, ask yourself “Am I dreaming?” The habit will carry over into dreamtime.
  3. Plan what you will do. Do you want to fly? Get laid? Chat with Albert Schweitzer? Daydream it as practice for the real thing.
  4. Watch the movie Waking Life. That’s how I had my first, after watching this amahhhzing flick, and without even trying!
  5. Think about lucid dreaming as you fall asleep. After you’re all cozied in, simply remind yourself that you are going to go lucid dream now. Focus on it, intend on doing it.

That should do ‘er! Don’t worry if it takes some time, all of the coolest things in life have a learning curve.