Monthly Archives: November 2014

Day 15: Kicking the Online Shopping Habit

Like a Feather D r i f t i n g Along the Roadside

The other day my son told me he felt I was “drifting” when it came to my work.

That was painful to hear and I can understand where he’s coming from. I feel like I’m drifting as well. I do a little work on decluttering. I do a little work on the Business Success from the inside Out Mastermind. I haven’t done much work at all on selling m clothes on eBay.

It’s easy to feel guilty and wrong.

I know it wasn’t Matt’s intent to make me feel bad. He was just making an observation but I’ve lived for so many years under the belief that moving forward quickly and purposefully toward some goal is “good” and not doing so is “bad.” It’s hard to avoid judging myself harshly.

On the other hand I do feel I’m having some big shifts around some of the beliefs that get me stuck in places of anger and resentment.

Staying at my parents this year has been remarkably stress-free. I usually feel a combination of resentment, anger, and sadness and this year I’ve been able to simply appreciate that time I’ve been spending with them and I’ve been able to appreciate them for themselves.

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Day 14: Kicking the Online Shopping Habit

Not Much to Report Today

Spent most of yesterday traveling to Chicago where I’ll be for the next week.

Although I didn’t feel much of an urge to shop I am aware of a lot of resentment coming up towards other people.

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Day 13: Kicking the Online Shopping Habit

Letting Go of Perfectionism Through Forgiving

I’ve been reading the book, Radical Forgiveness by Colin Tipping and am finding it illuminating and inspiring given what I’m discovering about myself.

In my experience, when I do something that causes problems, the behavior and the pain tend to be symptoms of an underlying issue.

It’s tempting to focus on the symptoms as the superficial cause. When I do this, it sounds like “If this situation were different, I’d be happy.”

Meaning if I could change the external condition, everything would be fine.

Sometimes the external situations DO change and I think that creates the illusion that this is the way to go.

But the truth is I don’t have much power over anything outside of myself. In fact, usually, when a situation changes, it’s a reflection of an internal shift I’ve made.

The big enchilada shift for me has to do with the story I carry that I use to explain why I’m getting what I want. My story is “I won’t get chosen because I’m not good enough.” In life this has translated to “if it’s between me and another person (or my idea and someone else’s idea, etc) I won’t get chosen because the other person is (smarter, more outgoing, more talented, more confident, etc).

I assumed if I could just somehow get myself to believe I was enough things would shift.

The obstacle I keep running into is that belief has been reinforced and reinforced over many years and wanting to change the belief hasn’t been enough.

One thing I’ve resisted is forgiving people who I feel are responsible for my having this belief to begin with.

Not just my parents…there are lots of people in my past; some minor characters and some major characters who I feel did not do right by me.

I’ve resisted forgiveness because I’ve always felt:

  1. Forgiveness is one of the few powers I had as a victim. I could choose to forgive or to withhold my forgiveness. If I withheld my forgiveness I retained this power.
  2. It infuriates me to “let those people off the hook.” This is especially true where I believe someone has no remorse or regret for the pain they caused. It nettles me to no end. In my opinion they don’t deserve to be forgiven to begin with.
  3. It seems to me that the only people who truly deserve my forgiveness are those who apologize  and express sincere regret for their actions.

My resistance comes from the idea that forgiveness is a gift given to the person responsible for the wrongdoing and why on earth should I give such a gift to anyone who hasn’t earned it?

The problem I’ve discovered with this idea is of all the people who didn’t do right by me, the person who has hurt me most is me. So I have a lot of self-forgiveness to do and I now realize that it’s hard to feel worthy if I have all kinds of resentments and anger directed at myself. Self-compassion is going to be all but impossible.

Based on the recommendation of my coach, I started reading Radical Forgiveness and it’s been a fascinating.

The idea of Radical Forgiveness is that until we can begin forgiving those we feel have hurt us, we’ll just continue bumbling into situations that give us opportunities to re-experience those core injuries. The author, Colin Tipping offers a process to forgive in a way that allows for completion and healing. And once you forgive in this way, your emotional wiring shifts and the dynamics shift.

What I like about this approach is that it repositions forgiveness as a gift in which I am the primary beneficiary. And it feels like a more concrete way to shift these beliefs a more substantive, effective way than some of the other processes I’ve tried.

I haven’t yet done what I would consider a “complete” process of forgiving but I feel hopeful that this will help me have some relief from some of the beliefs I’ve been carrying that feel very heavy and hard to heal.


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Day 11: Kicking the Online Shopping Habit

What Would Epic A Do?

As I’ve been contemplating perfectionism I’ve been asking myself, what does it look like to be unconditionally lovable?

It’s hard for me to get there myself. I mean it’s hard for me to imagine myself as unconditionally lovable. Perfectionism is a hard habit to break. Every time I think about not doing something as well as possible a lot of resistance comes up.

So I’m using my cat, Gus, (A.K.A. Epic A) because I find it very easy to love Gus unconditionally.

We adopted Gus from a when he was barely 8-weeks old. He had the feline herpes virus which is very contagious and he had been separated from his litter mates and other animals.

Even when he was little Gus just got along well with people. He’s the kind of cat that greets you at the door and he always checks out visitors. My theory is that Gus was socialized at such a young age (he was barely weaned) he considers himself human or he considers us to be strange-looking cats.

Besides being very handsome, Gus has a very endearing “catsonality.” He seems to live his life assuming that everyone will love him and his needs will always be taken care of. Unlike most cats that meow and look worried when their bowl is empty, Gus purrs loudly and gives me friendly head butts until I figure out what he wants.

I nicknamed Gus “Epic A” for “Epic Adorableness” because he’s so naturally lovable. My teenage son cringes when I use this name because the word “epic” is so overused and because things the nickname “epic A” is just completely over the top in a nauseating way.

But I can’t help myself.

What’s important here is this: Gus does nothing useful in our home. Like most cats, he’s basically ornamental. But his lovability makes him incalculably precious to me. When I’m out of town, I miss him. When I return I can’t wait to get in the door to give him a cuddle and say hello.

In the scheme of things, my husband and son are way more important to me. There’s really no comparison. However, Gus is important because he’s the best example I can think of when I try to imagine what it would be like to be perfectly imperfect and yet be very easy to love.

When I described how I feel about Gus to a friend, she commented, “That’s how the Divine feels about you.”

This is a very beautiful idea and one I’d like to feel with ease. I believe when I feel that way about myself I am in the best possible position to do the work the Divine wants me to do.

So my question, “What would Epic A do?” is a serious one because Gus would never walk into a party with any worries about “will they like me? am I worthy of their attention?” He would be his curious, friendly self and assume he would be liked.

That seems like a really nice way to be in the world.

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Day 10: Kicking the Online Shopping Habit

Oops! Road SignIs this a slip?

A couple days ago I purchased a software application to convert videos so I can play them on my iPhone. The newest version of IOS requires a different file format and videos that I could previous play on my iPhone no longer worked.

I did some research and found an application that did what I needed, bought the application online, downloaded it and began using it. The whole process took less than an hour and the software itself cost $35.

This felt reasonable to me. It feels different from what I would call addictive shopping: spending hours searching for a particular item before buying it. I haven’t been struggling since then with the urge to buy more.

My husband and son disagreed.

My intuition and past experience tells me I didn’t slip. But I think this is one of those things in which time tells.

One other thing to mention. Yesterday I received the last item I had ordered via online shopping. Sometimes I can stop buying things online while things are arriving. But after a week or so of not getting new items, I’ll feel justified in buying a “little something extra” because I’ve been “good.”

So perhaps the real challenge will be whether I can continue after not receiving shipments?


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Day 8: Kicking the Online Shopping Habit

My post of perfectionism was exactly joyful but sometimes I need to look at the things that are making it hard to be joyful to have more joy.

One joyful, happy thing I want to mention: one awesome benefit from not shopping online is that I don’t dread paying my credit card bills. Usually I feel a little pang of dread and guilt when I have a new credit card statement. Today I felt a sense of gratitude and relief because I no longer have to worry (Omigod I bought so much stuff last month, can I pay the full amount?)

Nuff said.

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November 17, 2014 · 5:26 pm

Day 8: Kicking the Online Shopping Habit

photo: Jez Page

photo: Jez Page

A Raging Case of Perfectionism

One of my measures of success is waking up in the morning and feeling excited about the upcoming day.

I usually wake up with a sense of dread and anxiety that feel like a low-grade fever. The feelings aren’t so strong that they interfere with my ability to function but enough so that I’d rather stay in bed and sleep late.

I was going to write that a raging case of perfectionism isn’t as bad as a raging case of herpes but I realized a raging case of herpes would be better because there are straightforward treatments for herpes. Perfectionism is something that I think our culture actually encourages in subtle ways.

But I’m not going to write about culture because I always have a choice in terms of what I allow to influence me. I’m going to write about why I’ve chosen perfectionism and how it messes with me and my efforts to do things differently.

I’m going to go back for a moment to the idea of looking forward to the day.

When I was a kid, maybe 7 or 8 years old, I usually looked forward to the day, especially during summer vacation. In the town where I grew up there was an awesome swimming pool that was maybe a 10 minute walk from my home. It was actually 4 swimming pools: one for teenagers, one for adults, one for kids, and one for kids who proved they could swim. My sisters and I would eat breakfast and change into our bathing suits. Then we’d pick up our friends who lived across the street and walk to the pool.

I grew up in the Midwest. We lived close to Chicago and midwestern summers can be really hot and humid. So we were happy to spend our day at the pool. We’d usually take a break and get lunch then we’d head back to the pool. Sometimes we’d even go back after dinner.

If we didn’t go to the pool we’d ride our bikes or play games. If it was raining we’d play games inside or go to the library. I don’t remember being unhappy or bored very often. There was just too many fun things to do. I liked to draw and color and sometimes I’d work on crafty projects like needlepoint or knitting. Sometimes we’d just walk along the creek and look for snakes and muskrats. If we found a caterpillar we might put it in a jar with a stick and feed it leaves to see if it would spin a cocoon.

So I would say my childhood wasn’t unusual but it was a lot of fun and there were lots of simple things that I enjoyed.

When I was 11 we moved to a new town where there were more wealthy people and I had a hard time making friends and fitting in. The move felt like a shock to my system. I knew everyone in my old neighborhood and I always had friends to hang out with. In the new neighborhood the kids seemed different. A lot of them belonged to country clubs and their time was more scheduled. They were taking tennis lessons and playing golf and seemed restless when there wasn’t anything to do but hangout. Plus there wasn’t much to do that was within walking distance. If I wanted to go swimming or go to the movies, my mom had to drive me.

Up until 6th grade I didn’t worry about my weight or what I wore. I usually wore pants and a top. Maybe a dress on the first day of school. For a while I wore the same pair of pants to school every day and a lot of the kids made fun of me.

Then one day my mom went to a local department store and bought me a really nice pair of pants, a blouse, and a sweater. Everything fit me perfectly and I wore my new outfit to school the next day. I couldn’t believe how many girls in my class complimented me and told me how nice I looked and how much they liked my outfit. It was the most positive attention I had received since moving and I felt so happy and wonderful getting that recognition.

It’s funny because I was the exact same person I had been 24 hours earlier when I was wearing my dark red pants. It was like the new outfit transformed me in the eyes of the other girls into someone elegant, cool, and admirable! I love the attention and I loved belonging.

The other girls began inviting me to their parties and even though I found I wasn’t as comfortable as I was with my friends from my old town, it still felt good that other kids wanted to be with me.

I began reading Seventeen magazine to learn about fashion and started choosing my own clothes. I started buying makeup and perfume at the drugstore. When a huge mall opened near my house, I went every weekend with my friends and was always looking at the new fashions being shown.

When I turned 16 I started working part time and I’d spend all my money on clothes and makeup.

I was a teenager in the 1970’s and being thin was the look. It wasn’t different from the 1960s which was more about being natural. In the 1970’s it was being thin and elegant so you could wear designer jeans and slinky tops. Although I was never “fat,” I definitely didn’t have the kind of figure that looked good in designer jeans and slinky tops. I was kind of chubby-looking and in most of the pictures taken of me at that time I look uncomfortable and confined in my jeans and blouses.

I decided that I was going to go on a diet and take on the weight problem once and for all. My mom was always watching her weight and worrying about my dad’s weight so it was easy, even encouraged to go on a diet. The problem was once I started losing weight and getting complimented for how good I looked I decided that if losing 10 pounds was good, losing 20 pounds would be even better.

My diet turned into a full-blown eating disorder. I had anorexia and I found I couldn’t just lose a few pounds and maintain that weight lose. I developed this deep fear that if I gained any weight I’d never stop gaining. To keep off the weight I developed these elaborate rituals around food which is pretty common in anorexia.

I had foods I would eat in certain orders at certain times and if I broke any of these rituals I would freak out because I was sure it would lead to massive weight gain.

That’s when my perfectionism really kicked into high gear. Most of my energy went into food and clothes and keeping my bedroom neat. When I went to college, the perfectionism expanded to include my study habits and grades. Looking back what I had done was to create a very comfortable prison cell to live in. I was lonely, isolated, and living a very one-dimensional life but it was predictable and under my control. I had no real friends but that was ok because friends were too unpredictable and caused problems. I had no boyfriends and made no efforts to meet men because if girlfriends were a distraction, men were a major distraction.

Plus my appearance was not exactly what most men were attracted to unless they had a freaky side. But it didn’t matter. Even if someone was interested, I would have be oblivious.

I’ve written a lot. I think mostly to look at how I went from being someone who enjoyed her life to someone who is constantly anxious and slightly depressed. I’m seeing that becoming a perfectionist made sense because it seemed to be an answer to how I could feel happier and better about myself at one time in my life. But ultimately like most things it became a problem when I was ready to grow past it.

I’m going to write more about perfectionism tomorrow and how it shows up in my life currently.

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Day 7: Kicking the Online Shopping Habit

Be the Change You Want to See in the World

Be the Change You Want to See in the World

One week anniversary. Hooha!

I’m going to use some of this found time to declutter.

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Day 6: Kicking the Online Shopping Habit


Is withdrawal beginning to kick in?

I had a sudden mad impulse to start shopping on Michael’s Crafts website. I began wondering, “If I do start shopping, how do I look at that? Can I consider it research?”

But my current rule is: no shopping unless it’s something I truly need and can’t move forward on a project without having. There’s nothing I need when it comes to crafts supplies. In fact, if anything I have too many crafts supplies and end up having to throw things away because inks have dried up or evaporated, papers yellow, blades rust, etc. I can’t even find half the stuff I bought!

So, no. No shopping today for anything.

But I’m beginning to miss it … and I’m not feeling inspired to fill that time with more productive diversions. Uh oh.

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Day 5: Kicking the Online Shopping Habit


Last night I was up until midnight sorting through “stuff” and putting it away.

Some of this stuff comes from accumulating paper, office supplies, boxes, etc for over ten years without taking the time to periodically toss out things that were outdated, no longer useful, and so on.

Some of this stuff comes from buying things online in a knee jerk fashion without first deciding “do I actually need this?”

When I shop online it’s easy to buy stuff. I don’t have to have my credit cards in hand when I buy things from I just add things to my cart, click “Buy” and it’s done. I used to love 1-Click shopping. I still appreciate it but it makes impulse buying a little too easy for someone like me.

As an example, one retailer sent me an email letting me know that I had $1,900 of unused credit on my  credit card. My guess is they want t encourage me to use that credit to buy holiday gifts. My immediate emotional response to the subject headline was the same feeling I get when I’m washing my jeans and find a $20 bill in one of the pocket … like “Wow, I forgot about this! I meant to spend this and i didn’t . Yay! What fun stuff can I  buy?” But $1,900 in credit isn’t $1,900 in cash. If I spent that $1,900 and then it took me six months to pay off that debt, I would actually be spending a lot more than $1,900.

Although I opted out of receiving emails from this company, it’s interesting how many emails companies send on the pretext of offering useful information. Something i’m a lot more sensitive to now that I’ve made a conscious  decision not to buy online.

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