I need to work on confidence. My spirit, energy, life force, qi, whatever, is shrinking.
I’ve become more introverted, quieter, and fulfilled by gentler adventures these past few years. To a certain extent, this pleases me; our edges soften as we age, right? And hell, my twenties were certainly raucous enough for one lifetime. But then there’s the part I do not choose, and cannot control. The part that is purely physical, determined by that stupid bug that bit me so many stupid years ago. The part that I can’t do anything about. Or can I?
I want more energy. Qi. Life force. Whatever. I want it so, so badly. This is a major problem when you have an illness like mine. It drops the fuck out from under you without warning. It’s why I have a spoon tattooed on my forearm: to remind myself to not burn out the energy I won’t have for when I’ll need it.
There’s not much more I can do to help my body in that respect, but there’s gotta be something I can do to boost the waning confidence that’s resulted from my anticipating the energy loss always around the corner. I’m now always on alert for the drop. I’ve become timid. Protective. Afraid. It’s starting to seep out into my personal relationships and work, somewhat. And I really, really hate that.
So a few weeks ago, I decided that the next Challenge had to be a touch more of a physical one so that I could get outta my damned head!
I was thinking ambitiously: 30 minutes of qigong or yoga a morning, come hell or high water! Except this is not about doing something to prove that I can, and I don’t do things that harm my body; some mornings, moving is too painful. Then, I remembered that a major part of this Year is about taking something out rather than adding in. It’s about making space, not giving myself a to-do list.
Still, I knew that I wanted January to be about increasing confidence. About empowering my body and spirit. Then Christmas happened.
Jaunty on my drive home to Connecticut, an ex-gentleman-friend called with the cheery news that he got married two weeks ago. Yay! 94% of me was totally happy for him! 6% was like why did you have to kill the independent single lady badass buzz I was bringing home for the holidays with me, asshat??!! Deflated.
PSA to every man I’ve dated or slept with: You do not need to tell me — especially on a holiday — that you got engaged, married, or are having a child. Thanksssss.
Fortunately, another single lady friend had been texting and within minutes retorted, “Do you have Queen’s greatest hits in the car?” When I said no, she sent me links to Fat Bottomed Girls and Find Me Somebody To Love on YouTube. A few power ballads later, and I was back on top of the world, rocking out with Mitra looking highly confused from the back seat.
Then Carrie Fisher died — a feminist icon who lived without apology, wrote with brutal honesty, faced her demons and, in regards to Leia, proved princesses can be generals and do the saving their damned selves. A day later, Debbie Reynolds passed. Years ago, I read an interview where she shared a lesson Fred Astaire taught her about hard work and sacrifice–what got her through the dance numbers in Singin in the Rain–which stays with me to this day.
Finally, Muffin told me about this Ted Talk by Amy Cuddy, where she explains how 2 minutes a day of “power poses” have been scientifically proven to raise testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, resulting in increased confidence. She names one, appropriately, the Wonder Woman.
January will focus on increasing my confidence by catching negative thoughts and refocusing them onto Queens.
Every time my thought tings a negative feeling about my own self-worth, I’ll catch it, stop it, and immediately focus on the badassery of one of my Queens instead. Like the brave mess that was Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds dancing her way into the morning like it’s the easiest thing, Wonder Woman power poses, and Fat Bottomed Girl rock.I’m gonna take out songs from my iPhone that inspire softness and melancholy, and power it up with uplifting positivity. I’ll do a Wonder Woman first thing out of bed every morning, and any time I’m feeling small.
I will track these daily. Just to count how many times this happens.
Testing it out this morning already made a difference. One of my first five thoughts was of a former lover (not Christmas Groom Guy), and it just pinged my heart and…. no. I shut it down. It worked. I ordered myself: “No, Queen, you do not get to go see what he’s Tweeted since you last looked… sixteen hours ago.”
I realized that part of making myself feel stronger, more spiritually energetic and more confident is realizing the thoughts that lead to action, and shifting those actions, too. This will work!
Still focusing on a literal, physical abstinence, I’m also taking out television, to a point. Two years ago, my father bought a flatscreen and my brother mounted it across from my bed so that I’d spend more time resting. It worked. I don’t fall into the depths of despair when my brain shuts down because Hulu and Netflix and Google Chrome exist. But it’s a crutch, and I know that.
As a foil to the potential morning qi, television was to be the abstaining part, reframing my nightly ritual. But unlike social media or sugar, I think I can challenge myself by leaping directly to discipline. Because it’s good for me to be able to get in bed and watch an hour or two when things hurt or my brain is too muddled to read a book.
So I get one episode or one movie an evening. Not a day; it must be, if at all, the end of the day when I get into bed. Only one. That’s it.
So there I have it. I start tomorrow, January 2nd. (I was gonna start today but have been hemming and hawing, and there’s no point in rushing until something feels specific, genuine, and like it will have an impact. So I’m doing an Everything Bagel day today instead, which I’ll explain another time.)
It’s the month of Queens and saying goodbye — almost — to my darling crutch of a flatscreen.
Happy New Year. xoxo