Happy Thanksgiving

I just wanted to take a moment to wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow. As I get older, this holiday is becoming my favorite. It’s not as flashy as its neighboring Halloween and Christmas, and retailers are trying to eradicate it from the calendar completely, but it keeps growing in my heart. A whole day of Thanks Giving. How lovely is that? I mean what a great idea! A whole day to show and/or say your thanks to the people and things who make your life a little bit sunnier and brighter.

I’m a sap and what I am noticing is that there are some really interesting side effects to pain if you open yourself to them. Suffering and loss and pain can really help a person appreciate what there is in their life as other things fall away. I think that you just have to get yourself out of the way, become less self-involved in a way.

I used to think that one of my better traits is that I would really analyze myself– why am I feeling this way, behaving this way, etc.? Now I’m wondering if that just makes things worse. All I do is focus on the me and the my with that mentality. I’m always on the alert to what could potentially impact me. It’s very paranoid-making.

These days I have been practicing a lot of gratitude and a lot of love and a lot of appreciation. Even though there is technically a struggle going on, it has reaped me many benefits. I am learning to compartmentalize better for one thing. In other words, just because there is this difficult thing happening with this one person, it doesn’t mean that everything else is falling apart and it doesn’t mean that it will impact every facet of my life. Apparently I have a bit of a flair for the dramatic when bad things happen. But this is something that I am working on with some good old refuting techniques and by shifting focus to the good things that are present and continue to be present.

So, I really hope you take advantage of tomorrow. I don’t know, maybe take an hour of your day to write some Thank You cards to some good people. Or plan some surprise acts of kindness for your loved ones. Or hey maybe make sure you take a moment to really appreciate yourself. Better yet, maybe do a little bit of all of it. And then enjoy your delicious food with your beautiful families. Forget the malls and the stores and the sales– that stuff really and truly doesn’t matter. Stay home Friday and bask in the glory of gratitude instead of running out to the stores and reminding yourself of your many shortcomings (it’s what stores are designed to do after all). And then on Saturday, make sure you show your gratitude to the local and small businesses that give your life a little bit of extra flavor or sunniness by supporting Small Business Saturday.

Enjoy this holiday, and I’ll see you on the flip side!

Positive Psychology

Lately, I have been reading some really interesting stuff. I have been introduced to Industrial/Organizational Psychology which in turn has introduced me to Positive Psychology and I’ve been reading some great books and watching some great talks.

Like many people, I too bought into the idea that if you are happy and positive, you are somehow inauthentic. I never described myself as a pessimist, but staunchly clung to being a realist. And I always felt that people who were too positive and happy and bubbly were fake and somewhat irritiating.

But the more reading and listening I keep doing, the more I find what a mistake that has been and I am interested very much in correcting it.

The past few years have been really trying for me. I am sure you all have some sort of idea from reading here but I also know that I have been quieter and quieter as things have heated up so you might not really understand it or even know what is going on actually and that’s ok. Point is, lots of trials, lots of tests, lots of beatings.

This year, I really got to another deep low. I felt that I was just breaking into a million pieces and I lamented that I would never be myself again. I felt that whatever happy person I did have was being ripped into shreds and thrown into the wind. I felt that every time I dared to enjoy peace and happiness, storms hurtled through and I was worn out and exhausted and just beyond done.

But, one of my signature strengths is love of learning so I started to seek out, once again, thoughts on happiness. And this time, I wanted the hard stuff not the fluffy anecdotes of someone with lots of money to spend on fulfilling many of their desires. No, I wanted to see what the science really said– the good science, the one that had LOTS of research with BIG sample sizes, with results that had been duplicated. I didn’t want to hear about that one study of like 30 people this one year.

That’s how I fell into The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor. I was looking at some psychology journal online and read this neat little study they did on self-help books on Amazon and Shawn’s was credited as being one of the very few that was rigorously scientific. So, I snagged it from the library and it really was a great read. And the best part about it, I think, was the huge section in the back with the references. From The Happiness Advantage, I have dived into Authentic Happiness by Martin Seligman, Ph.D. and I have many more of his queued up as well.

I think these books are important because they give me a scientifc explanation for things and they also scientifically discredit popular opinion. For instance, one of the big big big ones for me from Seligman’s book so far has been the fact that scientific research simply does not back up the popular opinion that we are who we are today because of our childhood experiences. It’s just not there even though everyone swears up and down by it. As a matter of fact, the science shows there’s just not much that can happen to you that will leave a significant impact on you for much time other than the death of a spouse or child which often leaves people suffering as long as 5 to 7 years after.

So, in other words, your past has little to no bearing on your present and certainly little to no bearing on your future.

This was a big one for me. In other words, every day IS a new day if you accept that. If you really embrace the idea that the past is in your past and that your future is in your hands and that your present is what you make of it, well you are quite a powerful creature aren/t you? And lighter too as you release SO much resentment and anger and bitterness.

I have been reading about things like Learned Helplessness and it’s all just really amazing and powerful stuff. And I need it. I am reading through all this as once again another storm is gathering and growing and blowing through my family– my precious and beautiful family that I am eternally grateful for. This storm is likely to last for months and I am trying to build myself up to deal with it– not fight it, because fighting the weather is futile you know. But I am trying to build up my reserves, my buffers, and my army to help me cope with any potential pain or damage and to help me rebuild if things get really really bad.

I want to hide away from everything more than ever. I want to spend days in bed in the covers in the dark in the quiet, but everything scientific says NO that’s NOT what you NEED so screw your wants. So I am. I am reaching out and am focusing on gratitude and building up my self worth and letting go of what did or didn’t happen so long ago and am ready for now and am trying to be hopeful for MY future along with everyone else’s. I am trusting in myself and in my family and in my friends. I know that we are all so strong that we should be able to reduce the potential damage of this storm to the equivalent of a mere thunderstorm.

I love my children. And my children love me. I love my partner and my partner loves me. I love my family and my family loves me. I love my friends and my friends love me. And those are the things that matter. Those are the things that count. There are people out there who have a lot of anger towards me, who view me as a monster I am sure. But I am secure in my confidence of myself and my love for myself. I am not a monster. I am fair and I am patient and I am kind. Because I do not bend to the demands of another again and again and again does not make me a monster, it makes me a human with a backbone. And I am that as well.

I never in my life dreamed that five years after separating my ex husband would have so much anger towards me. I never in my life dreamed he would go behind my back to try and accomplish things. I never in my life dreamed that he would involve the children and cause them confusion. I never in my life dreamed that he would not be generous in his support of them. I never in my life dreamed that he would not be able to meet with me to discuss things. I never in my life dreamed that he would refuse to hear me out on everything, that things would get so ugly they would end up like all of those other dramatic divorces I heard about.

It just goes to show you that the only thing that you can be sure of is you and your response and your reactions. And you HAVE to believe that you have that at least under your control because if you don’t, you find yourself in the depths of despair and hopelessness and that is brutal to recover from.

So here is what I know, what I am certain about. I overflow with love and kindness. It is who I am. I know that I am resilient and that my children are as well. I know that these messes that keep coming up are annoying and pesky but in the long-term, they will fade into black.

This is Halloween

This is the second year in a row I set up a Photo Booth at my Halloween party with my son’s laptop. It is always the funnest thing in the world and my friends really enjoy it. I thought I’d share some with you guys.

Photo Booth 7

The Hero and the Goddess

Photo Booth 6

The Goddess and Star Lord

Photo Booth 5

The Goddess and the Kitty

Photo Booth 4

The Goddess and the Kids

Photo Booth 3

The Goddess and Her Boys

Photo Booth 2

The Goddess and Her Hero together again

Photo Booth 1

The Witch, The TARDIS, and the Goddess

An Open Letter to Chaos

Dear Chaos,

I think that perhaps you and I got off on the wrong foot and I am writing to you today in an effort to rectify that situation. You see, in my world I was taught early on that you were not one of the good guys. You were something we were encouraged to avoid as much as possible. We were taught that nothing good came from you and so we were taught many ways to defend ourselves against you.

I think that maybe you like me because I keep running into you and I must confess, this idea was almost offensive to me at first. I mean, you are supposed to be the bad guy. So when you first moved into my home, I was really pissed off. I didn’t invite you. I felt that was very rude of you and you were definitely not welcome in my home. But you stayed. From what I can see, you seem to have a preference for the living/dining room and the play/craft/laundry room mostly although it appears you also camp out in the kids’ rooms, the kitchen, and my bedroom every now and then. Oh and that hall closet, too. I think you really like it in there.

Anyways, I have been forced to become very familiar with you which is quite hard to do considering that your very nature makes you unpredictable and one needs some sort of predictability in order to develop a familiarity, right? Well, regardless, I feel like I have a better idea of you now and I feel like maybe I know you much better than I used to and much better, I think, than some other people do. After all, if you spent equal time with everyone, you wouldn’t be very unpredictable would you? That would be balanced and you don’t do balanced.

So here is what I think of you. I think that you are quite mysterious despite the fact you seem to hang around a lot. I think that you can come off quite rudely and abrasively at first. I think that it takes a lot of time around you to get used to you and I’m just not sure you really hang out with everyone enough for that to happen. I am sure you hang out with other people way more than you hang out with me and they probably have a much better feel for you but I’m also pretty sure you hang out with me a lot.

I am definitely not used to you, yet. Every time I run into you, I think I run a 50/50 chance of handling our encounter well or poorly. This doesn’t have anything to do with you really, it’s more the way I’m wired and whether or not I’m running hot or cold, you see.

However, it seems to me that I have spent enough time with you to understand something very important– you’re not a bad guy. You’re not a good guy either. You just are. But I guess in this case, the important realization for me personally was that you can result in bad things just as much as you can result in good things. I am trying to shift my focus primarily to good things.

In my culture, there is a lot of talk of paths– the wrong path, career path, etc. There is talk of ladders and of destinations, of goals and benchmarks. In my culture, we are incredibly linear and I am starting to appreciate how futile that sort of thinking is because we can’t vaccinate ourselves against you. You are bound to enter everyone’s lives several times. You are all around us all of the time. We breathe you in, we drink you, we eat you, we hear you, we brush against you, and sometimes we watch you.

This letter is long and this letter is rambly but I think that you appreciate that. I hope at the very least that you appreciate this:

I know you like me. I know you like to hang around me a lot. I’m ok with that. I’m not saying that we should totally be best friends and spend every waking minute together and go on adventures and take over the world or start a cult. I am just saying that I am done trying to push you out and I am done trying to keep you out. You’re here again, and that’s ok. Do what you gotta do and hang out until you’re bored and on your way out again. I’m not even mad because I know that you’re just as likely to bring me some good as you are to bring me some bad and that’s ok. There are some extra blankets in the hall closet– the other one. Help yourself, I need to tidy up in there anyway.

Sincerely,

Mutant Supermodel

Five Years of Mutant Supermodel

Lucky Number 5ive

 

Five years ago, Mutant Supermodel came into official bloggy existence with my lamenting the female characters little girls had to choose from. Five years later, I feel pretty good with the way things are changing and morphing. So much so, videos like this one now exist:

I mean, whoa. But that’s seriously beside the point.

I have been this persona for five years. So many things have happened in five years. Five years ago, I was recently separated. Five years ago, I was working as an office manager at an elevator company. Five years ago, I had two pre-schoolers and one elementary kid. Five years ago, I was under 30. Five years ago, I wore mostly size 2 clothing. Five years ago, I was getting deliveries from Diapers.com. Five years ago, I hadn’t missed a major holiday with my kids. Five years ago, I was pretty much sorting through major rubble not really understanding there was actually way more destruction and chaos down the road. I sincerely thought that I had done the hardest thing there was to do and that the rest would be so very easy.

If you ever happen to click on that drop-down box that’s on the right side of my blog that says Time Traveling, you will see that it lets you go back as far as February 2006 which is when I first signed up with LiveJournal. Before that, I had been writing on Diaryland since October 2002. So yeah, I have been writing about my life online for TWELVE years. Maybe if I had actually stuck to one place and kept it consistent I would be a super mega blogger person. But I didn’t and so I am not. I’m just the Mutant Supermodel with a name that everyone adores but no one really understands which I feel is exactly the right way I would like people to think of me.

So it fits, you see.

Anyhow, thank you for reading my words. Thank you for chiming in with your posts. Thank you for your support. Thank you for your advice. Thank you for your endless patience. Five years.

Another five doesn’t sound so crazy.

Goodbye Coffee

I think that it’s time to say goodbye to coffee. I’ve always battled with coffee, but lately things have gotten really bad. If I drink a regular cup of coffee with a spoon of sugar and some creamer, and I don’t eat anything substantial with it, I get really sick. Sometimes, it’s immediate– less than two hours. Today was one of those days. My stomach is still reeling from a cup of coffee I had five hours ago. It’s not just my stomach either, I sneeze too and need to use my nasal allergy spray so that my sinuses don’t get completely blocked up.

I’ve known this on some level for years now. There are ways for me to drink coffee without having a major reaction and I guess I could do those now and then. The best way for me to drink coffee is one of the Nespresso’s with a LOT of almond milk and something to eat. And then I drink lots of water through the day.

But what I really need is a good replacement. So far, I am leaning towards trying out Teeccino. I like tea but I love my coffee even though it’s very cruel to me. Has anyone tried Teeccino? Amazon has it at $30 for three packs. I wonder if Whole Foods carries it and if so for how much? I’d like to try it without committing to three packs of it, you know? And yet I’m willing to bet if I go to Whole Foods, I’ll find one pack is going to cost me at least half what Amazon has it for the three. Because that’s how Whole Foods works.

Anyhow, if you have some input on some effective coffee replacements I’d love to hear them. My stomach thanks you.

More Happy Research

Last night I watched a documentary on Netflix called Happy. I think it was on someone’s list of really awesome documentaries or something so I had added it to my list ages ago and yesterday we had some time while the kids were at Karate and I was making tutus (something I am doing every single day).

Great little documentary. It’s just over an hour or so long. It was done about three years ago and it goes over all of the research that has been done in the past several years on happiness. Really interesting research. All kinds of scientists weighed in and then their research was highlighted with anecdotes.

What I got from it was that there are some things that have an immediate effect on your mood and that by doing them constantly you are likely to be a happy person. Those things are:

  • Generating dopamine in a novel way (exercising works but fun exercising is even better).
  • Creating gratitude by focusing on what you have and letting go of what you don’t have.
  • Connecting to fellow humans in positive ways such as:
    • Acts of kindness: Doing something nice for someone else reminds us that we are part of something larger
    • Teamwork and cooperation: Working together helps us focus on what we have to bring to the table and makes us feel good for being able to contribute.
    • Socializing: Coming together with people, especially across various generations, feeds into our need for fellow humans and by socializing with different kinds of people we are more likely to learn new things.
  • Intentionally changing it up even if only in small ways (like taking a different route on your morning commute) or trying a new food.
  • Challenging ourselves in some way so that we find ourselves “in the zone”. Being in the zone is really good for our happiness levels.

Watching the documentary and seeing these different kinds of very normal, very humble, very happy people was moving in a way that is quite different from reading about happiness and the research.

It also made something very clear to me and I know that it’s somewhat fleeting in a way but it’s important to try and remember it– happiness really just isn’t that elusive a thing as we are taught. The thing is, there are a lot of messages in our daily lives that tell us we can’t possibly be happy because we are lacking this, that, and the other.

And I think that is what was so prominent to me. We hear about happiness being a lifestyle and I understand that. Happiness means truly turning your back on very powerful dictates and expectations that come from all kinds of places and just relishing what you have, what you are.

I can’t help but think, how wonderful and simple that is and how unfortunate that it is so easy to lose sight of.

Another thing that kept swimming through my head is really how interesting the research is and that I totally could have been a psychologist. Not the kind that listen to your problems but the ones that conduct studies and do research and try and understand why we do what we do, why we don’t do what we don’t, what drives us, what sinks us, etc.

Anyhow, really interesting little documentary that’s worth your time. Hope you all have a great weekend.

Is it ok to talk about Christmas yet?

I mean, it IS mid-October. And yet I am sort of annoyed with myself. I am not even Christian so why I get totally caught up in Christmas is hard for even me to understand. I mean, I love getting together with people I love and I love buying presents and I love sparkly lights and I really am easy to please so I guess it’s not THAT confusing. Maybe harder to accept.

Anyhow, yes I am totally plotting for Christmas right now. I submitted my FSA claims today so that I can get the money just in time for Black Friday which is actually not a thing I ever participate in but this year I just might. Or at least, I am not buying much until the sales start happening. I do sort of feel hypocritical going shopping hours after contemplating how grateful I am for everything that I have. So instead I’ll focus on the fact that I am grateful I can go shopping at all. Yay!

I am pretty sure I am going to get the kids a communal gift this year. One big ticket item for them to share plus stocking stuffers is what I have in mind. They will not be with me Christmas Eve and Christmas morning so I don’t really feel like a bigger Christmas is necessary. They’ll come to my house fresh after opening a bunch of stuff and my whole family will be there with all of their stuff.

I want to make some things for presents for my friends and family. But I don’t know how that will turn out. If I get very busy again with Christmas tutus, I might just go shopping instead.

So are you all thinking about Christmas yet? I am willing to bet at least some of you have been thinking about Christmas for a while already!

 

I need sum edumacation

Nothing exciting to report– thank goodness am I right?

I have been really very buys with tutus and will be very wrapped up with all of that for the next ten days or so. Maybe more.

I did manage to get the Halloween bins into the house last week and let the kids decorate. Now I have to get the bins out of the house.

This is typically a chaotic month for me. My conference is usually looming around the corner, there are holidays, and school gets very busy with lots of activities. But it’s ok, I like this kind of chaos. When you’re always busy, you don’t have much time for silly thoughts and doubts and that works well for me.

That being said, I am really looking forward to December. I just want to get the conference out of the way already. I have a lot of things I really need to actually think about and yes I am primarily concerned with my future. I keep making all kinds of attempts at getting my life on a path of sorts but I just end up all wandering and stuff.

I really do struggle with the idea of, “What am I going to be when I grow up?” and I just don’t really know much. The one concrete thing I have is that I don’t want to work for other people for the rest of my days. I really, really, really don’t. I want to work for me.

And the other thing that is somewhat concrete to me is that I want to continue my education. I do not want to stay with my Bachelors. I definitely want to pursue a Masters at the very least and am interested in a Doctorate if it provides me a leg up.

I’m just sort of ambiguious on what I want to learn more about (why can’t I get a Ph.D. in Everything?) and this is where I struggle. I feel like I’m floundering about and would have much rather toyed with this in college years ago but my life just didn’t allow for that experimentation in college.

Kids, might I just chime in and say that academic experimentation is the MOST IMPORTANT type of experimentation you should do in college. Seriously. I know that you will feel other types of experimentation are more important and/or more interesting but this experimentation is pretty much guaranteed to help you have a much clearer and brighter outlook than other types of experimentation. Not that experimentation is flat out bad and wrong but I’m just saying, life-changing experimenation is a thing and it can go either way.

Right so anyway, I want to have a plan for higher education in place by the end of the year. Whether it’s law school (so back and forth on this, you won’t even believe it), or business school (also back and forth), or computers, or psychology, or numbers, or something else not on my radar right now, I am definitely sure I want more school somehow.

Now, I have compiled a list of things I think I should consider in regards to higher education but if you have other ones to add (I should check NicoleAndMaggie, they may have done this in a post already) please do so:

Growth. Is the field growing, declining, or steady? Is there a lot to be learned still or do we pretty much know most of what there is to know? What is the affect of emerging technology and advancements made on the field?

Investment and return. How much is the advanced degree for this going to cost? If loans are needed, will I be able to get post-graduate employment that allows me to easily repay those loans?

Jobs. What kind of jobs does this kind of degree program lead to? Do I have a good chance at being self-employed a few years after graduation or am I likely going to have to seek employment in organizations? I consider working as a consultant self-employed btw even if it leads to exclusively working for one organization for a specific time period.

Travel. Does this degree allow for easy migration later? In other words, if I get my degree here will I be able to find employment in other places relatively easily? Or what about vice versa? Is there a good local market for this degree or will I most likely have to be willing to relocate in order to secure decent employment?

What else? What do you think are some good ways to get a feel for a field and your compatibility with it especially in a post-college situation?