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Self-actualization

Last night, or more correctly this morning at 5 am, I was guided through a self-actualization exercise a la Tony Robbins by my longtime friend–and sometimes foe, for that’s how the best friendships tend to be–Ironside. I was asked to visualize a behavior I wished to change, and visualize how I would be after the change. Then I was to concentrate on using the new, happy image to destroy the old, ugly image. I went through this routine seven times last night, and seven times this morning.

My goal was to instill in myself the desire to get out of the apartment and move around. The picture in my head of the ‘bad behavior’ was a rather Jabba the Hutt image of myself sitting on the couch or at the computer desk with a blank look on my face, surfing channels or the Web. My ‘good behavior’ was a joyful, thinner me, bouncing around the parking lot of the apartment complex and enjoying the feel of the breeze and the vigor in my step.

When I finally made it to bed, I was having trouble sleeping. The concentration had made me feel rather light-headed and giddy, and the way I’d been asked to shout “WHOOSH” when I exploded the image of ‘bad behavior’ had only added to that sensation. Finally, though, I drifted off into almost perfect, uninterrupted sleep.

Somewhere around 9:30, I was awakened by a thunderstorm. High winds were shaking the gutters and flinging splats of rain onto the window. For a moment I was concerned…and then I remembered that Sean says we don’t get tornadoes here, and so I rolled over and went back to sleep.

When I finally returned to true consciousness at around noon, I opened my eyes to see that Sean was not in bed beside me. There was little point in remaining there, wrapped in covers; and indeed, the room felt stuffy and just a bit too warm. I remembered that I’d shut off the air conditioning the night before, and I knew that Sean probably wouldn’t have messed with it. Strangely, though, it wasn’t with resignation that I rolled out of bed so much as with actual desire to be awake. This was quite different from Friday morning, in which I hid in bed for as long as possible, shirking my chores and responsibilities, too sorry for myself to even move.

I pulled on my black ‘house pants’, bra, and white ankle socks, and then I searched through the top drawer for a suitable T-shirt. It had to be light in color, that much was certain. Finally deciding on a beige tee from the “Jester” incarnation of my brothers’ band, I pulled it on and then slipped into my tennis shoes. I left the bedroom, crossed through the living room, and went to ‘my’ bathroom, the guest one. I applied deodorant, pulled my hair back into a pony tail, brushed my teeth, and washed my face. I then stepped into the office, where Sean was already engaged in a game of Asheron’s Call 2.

“I’m going for a walk,” I said. “Want to come?”

He seemed to deliberate before saying “No.” It turned out that he had just begun a long quest. I kissed him and retrieved my keys from where I’d left them on the card table–home of Eowyn, our dear server–and turned the air conditioning on as I left the room.

I wasn’t sure how the weather was going to be. I hadn’t checked it before stepping out the front door and into the rain-soaked world. But it turned out that the air temperature was fine–not warm, but certainly not cold, and there was a gentle breeze. My outfit was perfect, although I think I could have gotten away with shorts instead of pants.

Tromping down the three flights of stairs that I assumed would get me into shape when we moved in, I stuffed my keys into my pockets and set out through the parking lot. I’d made this circuit before, starting at the dumpster back behind and to the right of our apartment and moving clockwise. Today I went counter-clockwise. I stayed on the outside, defining my route by the tips of the parking space lines.

I’d smashed the ugly picture of myself seven times in my head the night before, each time with a solar plexus-huffed cry of “WHOOSH!” I was supposed to do it today, too, but I hadn’t done it in the apartment for fear of looking foolish in front of Sean–isn’t it amazing how such insecurities can follow us into married life?–and so I figured I’d better do it now. At reasonable intervals, when I thought no one could hear, I performed the visualization exercise as I walked, “WHOOSH”ing as loudly as I dared. Seeing the Jabba the Hutt me was more difficult, but seeing the new, happy, active me was easy, since I was doing what I want to be doing. I felt fantastic, the breeze cooling my skin, my muscles warming and moving, the scent of recent rain calming my mind and erasing stress and trouble. I have always loved water, and I believe it has a beneficial effect on me.

I decided to quit after one circuit. My muscles were tingly but weary, and I decided that rather than overdo it, I would go in, relax, and then take another walk later in the day. So I cut across the parking lot, stopping at my car to retrieve some groceries I’d left there a few days ago, and carted an armful back up the stairs.

Sean came out to greet me as I returned. “Ah, groceries! Hotdog buns! Hotdogs…that sounds good.”

“You want hotdogs?”

“Yeah. You can make them for dinner if you want, but they sound really good right now.”

He returned to his computer, no doubt lured once more by the call of Asheron, and I unloaded the basket I’d brought up from the car. Linens went into the bedroom, bread went into the breadbox and freezer, Mountain Dew and strawberry jam–homemade, from Mom–went into the fridge, and the basket itself went into the bathroom, where it will hold probably about half of my gargantuan collection of beauty products that I rarely, if ever, use.

I placed four hotdogs into the steaming shelf of my rice cooker and set it to ‘cook’. We still don’t have a microwave. As they were steaming I got out four buns and two plates, then started cooking a can of green beans (Allen’s, Kentucky Wonder style) and a can of Bush’s Baked Beans on the stove. By this point I had decided that I was not interested in eating at the dining room table, or at the computer. I slipped back into the office and hugged Sean’s shoulders.

“Busy?”

“Um, uh, why?” My husband is very eloquent when he tries.

“I want to eat on the deck.”

“I feel compelled to do that with you,” he said after a brief pause. I love the way Sean phrases things. He always says what he thinks, but in such nontraditional ways that the importance of the words seems greater. In any case, I was highly flattered by this. “Let me just find this chief and kill him and I’ll join you on the deck.”

Agreeing, I moved off to prepare the deck for our picnic. The porch was a little damp from the rain, so I laid down two towels first, then spread my orange quilt on top. The breakfast in bed tray Gabrielle gave me one year (for Christmas or my birthday, I can’t remember…but I love that tray) was ideal. I set out two potholders for the bean pans. The resulting area looked like this. I would like to mention at this juncture that the twenty extra dollars per month we pay for our view is well worth it. Once Sean was finished assassinating the NPC, I moved the food out to our cozy little picnic spot, like so.

We spent the early afternoon just sitting on the deck and eating and talking and watching the ducks frolic in the pond.

It was just nice. I feel refreshed and content. I plan to go on another walk a little later, to take the trash out and carry some letters over to the mailbox and then bring up more items from the car once I’m finished with my stroll. Today feels very positive, light, and happy. It’s nice to feel good about myself, especially after the past few days of constant self-loathing. Cycles of despair are far too easy for me to fall into. But today I’ve been productive and yet carefree, satisfied. What a remarkable, welcome feeling. I don’t know if the self-actualization is what did it or not, but I fully intend to ride this wave for as long as I can.

And now I feel the urge to get away from the computer…so I bid you a fond farewell. Have a lovely day, all, and keep smiling.