Fruition Update: Part Seven

Well, we made it. Welcome to my last fruition update post. If you're just joining us, you can get caught up on the week starting here.

This year, seeds I planted months or years ago are bursting into wild, messy germination. Everywhere. And all at once.

We're only halfway through, though, so this Part Seven is not a conclusion. Just an intermission.

In closing off my fruition update week, I'll leave you with two other huge goals I've met this year that have eluded me for a long time, although are probably not exciting enough outside my own head to warrant their own posts.

1. I got into crow pose for long enough that it wasn't a fluke. 

2. I finally learned how to center clay on the wheel. 

If life has taught me anything, it's to be just as thankful for the small things. Every little snowflake added helps create an avalanche, after all. And with the force of six months' momentum behind me, I can't wait to see how the next six will cascade. 


Fruition Update: Part Six

Welcome to Part Six. If you missed the intro to my Fruition Update Week, you can get caught up here

My first panic attack, just before my 19th birthday, caught me in bed nearly asleep, jolted me into excruciatingly awake, ran me into the bathroom and convinced me that I was going to throw up.

I didn't.

I sat there with heart palpitations and cold sweats and my head over the toilet wondering what the hell was going on. Eventually I fell asleep there against the cold porcelain, woke up a bit later feeling totally normal, then went back to bed and forgot about it.

The panic did not, however, forget about me.

The list of places I've had panic attacks and/or severe anxiety include, but are not limited to: while standing in long lines, while standing in short lines, in crowded restaurants, in not-crowded restaurants, in counseling sessions, in libraries, in bookstores, during classes, while trying to fall asleep, in movie theatres, during plays, at airports, while introducing myself, in malls, on public transportation, while attending school functions, at the dentist, during work, while driving, during sex, while sitting at home watching TV, in the middle of a very normal and chatty conversation with my neighbors, in grocery stores, during job interviews, at swimming pools, while walking dogs, during yoga class, while on the phone, in the middle of my own wedding ceremony, while eating, and when stuck at a red light, especially if waiting to turn left.

These things are not scary to most people, but are seething and snarling and fierce to the 18.1 percent of Americans with an anxiety disorder. That's close to one out of every five, folks. Sometimes if I'm in a crowded room, I look around and try to pick out the other broken humans. 

It isn't that I don't know the panic is irrational. I know it. If I didn't, it wouldn't be so exasperating. 

Anxiety so limiting, so angering and awful and humiliating, you become willing to do anything to get rid of it, no matter how silly.

The list of things I've tried to reduce or eliminate my panic attacks and/or severe anxiety include, but are not limited to: dropping out of college, getting out of relationships, going on Paxil, going off hormonal birth control, going back to college, changing schools, starting new relationships, switching jobs, acupuncture, living in denial, moving, counseling, yoga, Xanax, avoidance, CBT, subliminal affirmations, giving up caffeine, increasing my protein and decreasing my carbs, taking five deep breaths, ACT, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, isolating myself, passionflower extract, curling up in a ball and crying at the futility of it all, having my chakras read, exposure therapy, positive self-talk, and drinking a cup of salt water first thing every morning to cure my probable adrenal fatigue.

With varying success.

Three years ago, I was close to housebound. That lasted around a year and a half. Maybe longer. I dragged myself back to some semblance of functionality through equal parts willpower and stubbornness, determined to regain my sanity without drugs. By the time I'd arrived in CO, I could leave the house again.

Of course, when your comfort zone is about the size of a walnut, you're still really nowhere good.  

Objects in mirror may be further than they appear.

I was running out of options. My next strategy leaned toward accepting that life was just going to be smaller than I ever wanted it to be. Permanently. I'd pretty well exhausted the list of things I could try to beat this monster after all, with only hypnosis remaining. And believe me when I tell you, hypnosis no longer sounded as ridiculous to me as it would have a few years ago; desperation makes practically anything seem sensible. 

Then I read about this type of therapy called EMDR that's intended primarily for PSTD, but has been helpful for anxiety also. Supposedly. When nothing else has helped. So I think, hey. What's a few hundred more dollars thrown at this thing and one more disappointment, right? And I call an EMDR counselor and tell her my problem.

"I do everything I'm supposed to. I do the self talk. I do the deep breathing. I don't feel panicky, then all of a sudden I am. I feel totally normal, and then it's a diaster with no warning. It's like I just can't conquer that knee-jerk anxiety reaction."

She says "That's exactly what EMDR is perfect for. I tell my patients that it's like losing that last five pounds after your diet has plateaued."

Let's get lighter.

So we do a session. It's kinda weird, but what the hell. Better than losing any more irreplaceable life to this bullshit phantom.

And there's this... shift.

I've had this funny problem the last couple years where every time I sit down to write my own stuff, I end up in tears, like writer's block combined with fear of failure. Or fear of success maybe? I don't know. I do know it's crippled my attempts at self-publishing. 

That disappears after the second session. 

After the third session, I'm walking through the back of Target with Gwyn and can't put my finger on something that's off somehow, something that's missing... and I realize it's the panic. There isn't any. I'm far, far away from any exit and I'm okay. Not "I'll just grit my teeth and get through this" okay, but legitimately, actually okay. 

After the sixth session, just after New Year's, she tells me I'm cured. I really want to believe her. But then, maybe I should believe her; I have made more progress in 4 months than in the last 18 years put together. 

Then my boss, who is based out of Las Vegas, calls me. He wants me to attend a business dinner  there. Part of my new job description will be having me work directly with clients; the primary client I'm taking over is coming through town in March. He wants to meet us. But really, he wants to meet me. 

I am dry-mouthed and shaking on the other end of the phone, but I know it is time. 

This is my final exam. Going through the airport security line. Taking the shuttle bus from the parking lot to the terminal. Riding in an airplane. Attending a business dinner. Oh, and eating at a restaurant. At a restaurant that I've never been to in the far back of a casino. If you add Pennywise the Clown to that list, you've pretty much got every one of the most unnerving, anxiety-triggering things lurking in my head. 

[Warning: If you don't know who Pennywise is, do NOT google him. There's a reason I didn't include a picture here.]

But you know what? I'm feeling good and confident. I haven't had a major attack in months, and my last session was just after New Year's. Then the week before the dinner date, I go to a school function of Miss G's and suddenly I'm blacking out around the corners of my vision and hyperventilating. 

Totally freaked, I call my counselor the next day for an emergency session or something. 

"No. Uh uh. You are NOT coming in here for this."

"Uh-- what?"

"Nope! You got this. If you want, you can call me before the dinner but you won't need to. You got this." 

Feeling abandoned, I call Dan for moral support. He's no help; he says pretty much the same thing as the counselor did. I feel all naked on top of the high jump. 

And then, I decide to believe them. Because sometimes you have to have faith. And because I know that continual pushing of my comfort zone is the only way out of this mess. And because I want to see if I am, indeed, actually cured. 

Because someday, I will have my last panic attack. And maybe I'll be able to say it was this year.

I make Dan fly with me. I survive, although I did have to do a little tree pose-- well, balance subtly on one leg-- while waiting in the security line to find my balance.

I attend the dinner, and I am charming. I tell delightful stories like a normal human who doesn't want to claw her hair out and run screaming from the table. I give heartfelt silent thanks to my mother's rigorous training in social graces, because those deep-seated instincts save me now.

And then dinner is over. And I'm walking back to the car in the parking garage, where Dan waited for me the entire time because he is amazing. He climbs out of the car to pick me up in a giant Dan hug.

"I did it," I tell him, laughing and crying at the same time.

"Of course you did, Wife! I knew it'd be no problem. Fruition, honey. Fruition."

1. attainment of anything desired; realization; accomplishment. 
Ready for an intermission? Me too. Here's Part Seven.


Fruition Update: Part Five

Remember that writing job I applied for on a whim?


About a minute after settling on my New Year's word, my boss called me up and asked me if I would be interested in going part-time for an hourly wage instead of working as an independent contractor. We've discussed this before, and it's fallen through twice already. This time there's an official starting date: February 1.

Probably 16 hours a week to start, he said.

A few months later, I'm averaging 25 hours a week instead.

It's fruition for him, too. I'm his first employee. With the time I'm saving him by taking on extra work, he has more resources to devote toward building up our clientele. More work comes in every week.

He's updating his website. He wants me to give him a bio and include my photo; somehow I became integral.

When people ask me what I do, I tell them I'm a writer.

1. attainment of anything desired; realization; accomplishment. 


Fruition Update: Part Four

Welcome to Part Four. If you missed the intro to my Fruition Update Week, you can get caught up here

One of the first things I did at the start of the new year was to begin chiropractic care. Bringing my spine into alignment is not only a great life metaphor for my fruition goals for the year, but also a great way to undo some of the worst construction kinks left over from painting ceilings for  most of last 7 years.

I'm going to let the photographic evidence do the talking on this one.

<-- Before. After -->

Our necks should have a curve in them like a banana. As you can see in my Before picture, my neck was totally straight. Not just straight, but actually tilted backward at a negative angle from where it ought to have been.

After 6 months of treatment, my neck is all banana-like again.

Incredible. Thanks, amazing chiropractors.

2. enjoyment, as of something attained or realized.
Continue on to Part Five. 


Fruition Update: Part Three

Welcome to Post Three. If you missed the intro to my Fruition Update Week, you can get caught up here

With my mind on buying a new car later this summer, I sometimes window shopped on Craigslist. One day this ad went up for a really lovely 2004 VW Jetta Wagon TDI.

When I saw the listing, I thought "Dammit, that's exactly the car I want! If only this were July already!"

Then about a week later, my dad called with a proposal to buy my existing car and pick it up from me in a month. Just like that, everything became very real.

There are not many of these cars around, at least not used. People buy them and just drive them into the ground. People LOVE these cars. And a wagon? The manual wagon at that? Yeah, they're even harder to find.

In the Denver area, there were exactly two. One was at a shady car dealership, and the other was that perfect listing. The day that car went up, I knew it was my car. Even though I had no way to buy it, even though I thought I wouldn't be buying a car for months. That was my car.

Then my dad called. Then I got approved for an auto loan.

I called the dealership, test drove the car and bought it all in the same day.

For my last 3 cars, I've had this little bell dangling from my rearview mirror. The idea (according to the included card at time of purchase) is that you ring the bell to get the Universe's attention, and then you set your intention while you have the Universe's ear. I call it my wishing bell, and every time I look at it, I think of all the dreams I have.

In the new car, I have a pomegranate necklace hanging from the mirror instead. It reminds me of all the wholesome growth that is bearing fruit in my life. No more reminders of what's missing or what-ifs. Instead, a focus on what is, and on all that is good.

2. enjoyment, as of something attained or realized.

Continue on to Part Four here


Fruition Update: Part Two

Welcome to Part Two. If you missed the intro to my Fruition Update Week, you can get caught up here.

Two years ago, when we made the decision to move to Colorado the following year, I realized I'd need to check my credit before house hunting.

My score was in the high 500s, which is pretty terrible.

I called the nice folks at Sky Blue to get guidance on fixing my score.

"Your payment history is great," they said, "but you don't have enough debt."

"That's not a good thing?" I asked.

"No, because creditors want to know that you're responsible with your credit."

"The fact I'm not swimming in debt isn't evidence enough that I'm financially responsible?"

"No, it doesn't really work like that." They sounded amused.

I hate being in debt. Or, more accurately, I don't believe in being in debt. I canceled all my own credit cards years ago.* My name's on a shared card with Dan, and that's it.* And that sucker's been maxed out* for about forever because paying it off is way down on the list of priorities after things like 'buy groceries this week.'

So, on the advice of Sky Blue, I signed up for some new credit cards. Secured credit cards reserved for those of us with truly terrible credit scores; you have to send them a deposit, and your credit line does not extend beyond the amount of your deposit.

"So this will really work? These little baby credit cards?" I asked Sky Blue.

"Yep," they said. "You should expect to gain about 100 points over the next 6 months."

Sure. Two $200-limit credit cards will gain me 100 points. Because the credit bureaus seriously aren't smart enough to see through these shenanigans?  

But I shrug, and put my billed-monthly YogaGlo membership on one card, and my billed-monthly Netflix membership on the other. A couple $20 payments I can pay off in full every month, even though such a clear gaming of the system feels ridiculous.

Dan does always say, though, that credit is really just a giant Monopoly game.

So, okay. I'll play.

Before I leave Nevada, about six months after getting my stupid secured cards, I check my credit score again. And damned if it isn't up by a solid 80 points or so. Still not great, but high enough to get us a decent rental.

To buy a house next year, though, I need a better score. I call Sky Blue back for some more advice:

*My credit history is too short. Those canceled cards I'd had since my college years? Should've paid 'em off and kept 'em active by charging a few bucks on them every now and then and paying them off every month.

*I don't have enough credit (still) and I don't have enough different kinds of credit. Variety counts.

*Credit utilization counts against your score. You should, at any given time, only be using between 20-30% of your available credit. I was using like, 98%.

My history can't be changed. I can't get more kinds of credit till my score is higher. And paying down that credit card is my number one financial project for the year. So, all good goals to work toward, but a house is definitely off the table.

A few months later, my dad calls. He wants to buy his car back, the car he sold me a year ago so I could have reliable transportation up here. No biggie; I always knew this wasn't my forever car and had planned on selling it on Craigslist later on this summer. I already know the next car I want to buy: one of the VW diesels. Big enough for kids, dogs, camping detritus and gets an average of 40 ever-loving miles to the gallon. It's like the holy grail car we've always wanted.

Except, I don't have the money I would have 3 months from now, because we're still waiting for our house to sell, Dan has some cash coming in from some sculptures, plus I'm waiting for him to arrive, contribute a second income, and give me some financial breathing room. All of these things should come together by July, my target date for car buying. None of them are even close at the moment of Dad's call, which was in April.

So, maybe I could get a car loan instead of buying with cash, right? Right. Because I am now reluctantly embracing a life of Monopoly debt. The cash from the car sale could be my down payment. And I can pay the loan off when the various ships come in, thus boosting my score while avoiding further debt.

Except, no. I can't get a car loan because-- although I haven't checked in a while-- I'm sure my credit has not improved significantly in the 6 months since my last conversation with Sky Blue, because nothing has changed. In fact, I could use a car loan to add to my credit variety, which would boost my score. So that I can... er, buy a car.

This kind of circular shit is my exact least favorite kind of predicament, because I don't know which step to take first. Use Dad's cash purchase to pay down the credit card, which would boost my credit score, which might get me a car loan? Wait, there's no time to boost my credit score in the 30 days before he picks up the car. Or use the cash to convince the nice auto loan people to take a chance on me? GAH.
Stupid holding patterns. 

Then I decide, screw it, and I just freaking call my bank already. I always feel better when I'm doing something, even if it's the wrong thing.

The super nice auto loan lady was all "How much do you make? How much do you pay in rent? Okay you're approved!"

And I was all "Uh, what?"

It was seriously that fast. I mean, less than 2 minutes.

And she goes on to say "Looks like you're approved for a new $7000 limit credit card with us too! Should we sign you up?"

Feeling like I'm on some kind of gameshow and reminding myself to stop being terrified of debt and this is my damned year of fruition after all, I say "Well, I want to buy a house in the next year or so. Will this help me or hurt me?"

She says "Well, probably help you, because it decreases your total credit utilization."

Of course it does.

So I say yes. Yes to the Monopoly debt, yes to the car loan, yes to the new card. Yes to the new car.

Yes to the new life.

Later, I checked my credit score out of curiosity.

It's in the 720s now.

1. attainment of anything desired; realization; accomplishment.

Onwards to Part Three


Fruition Update: Part One

I'm talking about my year of fruition this week. In case you missed it, here's the intro.

I'm sure that in other languages, there is a word for the process of getting unstuck, of removing obstacles. In English, I need a whole blog post to talk about it instead.

I moved to Vegas-- for the second time, because apparently some lessons don't stick-- in 2005. About 3 years later, I'd had it and was ready to get the hell out.

In the meantime, though, I'd met Dan. So instead of leaving, I stayed. We moved in together.

This did not make things any easier. Instead, life got steadily more constrictive and unhappy.

About a year later, Dan's ex filed papers to move to Reno with Miss L, thus launching a brutal legal battle that's best left undiscussed further, except to say that Dan did eventually agree to the move a year later.

With Miss L gone, the possibility of leaving Vegas suddenly opened. Except by then I didn't want to move Miss G again; she's changed schools far too many times already in her comparatively short time on the planet.

Work lessened further. Money got slimmer. The kids at Miss G's school got meaner.

Two years ago, Miss G decided she'd had it too. She wanted to move, she said, during our vacation visiting my sister. She wanted to move to Colorado.

This slender lifeline came down into our collapsing, slick-walled tarpit and I used every ounce of willpower to haul my ass out and make a run for it.

Dan, however, would not budge.

Just after Miss L moved to Reno, Dan's folks moved to Hawaii. We had a plan to sell our house, move into theirs and pay them rent, so we started doing some minor updating in the house. Which ended up being that loose thread on the sweater that unravels the whole thing.

At the time we decided to move to Colorado, half the house was torn down to rafters while the other half remained untouched. Of course the house couldn't stay like that. Dan and I agreed that finishing the remodel was our number one priority. 

Yet nothing changed. 

No matter how many discussions we had, timelines we came up with, agreements we reached, or fights we had, Dan refused to move forward with the house. 

Last spring, I told him I wasn't waiting around until he was finished, that he'd had two years to finish the damned house. He said that was fine; he'd be done in just a few months and then move up himself. 

I got here a year ago. Dan is still not here. 

Around the three-months-apart mark, he said, "I think even though I said I wanted to move, maybe subconsciously I really didn't." 

I said, "You think so?"

He said, "I really do want to now, though. I'm done with Vegas. I'm ready to get out of here and start our new life together."

This week, the last of the drywall goes up. One half of the house is finished except for paint and flooring. The other half gets tape and mud starting tomorrow. He'll be here next week, for good. 

Our year apart has not been super fun for either of us, but it's been really good for our marriage and really good for each of us on our internal journeys. 

Miss G is thriving here. I'm thriving here. I have no doubt Dan will thrive here also.

This is the year we have all finally escaped Las Vegas. 

1. attainment of anything desired; realization; accomplishment.
Onwards to Part Two. 


Fruition Update: Introduction

So, we're officially halfway through my Year of Fruition. Time for an update.

Short version with spoiler: This is my most awesomely fantastic New Year's word yet.

Longer version with teaser: So awesome, in fact, that my actual fruition update is going to be broken into several posts throughout the week week because (appropriately enough) there is just too much awesomeness to fit into a single post.

First, some background.

When I wrote my New Year's blog post, I needed an image to illustrate fruition. A pomegranate tree with harvest-heavy branches bowed to the ground was the first thing my mind called up, which seemed... random.

Without researching, I knew about how six pomegranate seeds keep Persephone in Hades for six months every year, and I've also heard that some scholars say that it was a pomegranate Eve offered to Adam, not an apple. Since I'm a research junkie, I dug deeper and found that pomegranates are laden with symbolism. No pun intended.

Jewish pomegranate legends teach that pomegranates have 613 seeds, one for each mitzvot, or commandment, of the Torah. It's traditional to eat pomegranates on Rosh Hashanah. In Judaism, the pomegranate represents knowledge, learning and wisdom. And fruitfulness.

The pomegranate is native to Persia (what is now Iran). The Qur'an, in three separate references, lists pomegranates specifically as an example of the good things Allah creates. Pomegranates are also mentioned as one of the bounties growing in the gardens of paradise.

In Hinduism, Bhumi Devi, the fertility aspect of Lakshmi (goddess of prosperity and fortune) is depicted holding a pomegranate. And one of the names for the god Ganesha, the Remover of Obstacles, the Lord of Success, translates to "The One Fond of Pomegranates" [literally, 'the many-seeded fruit']

"I really just like them for the anti-oxidants."

In Armenian culture, the bride threw a pomegranate at the wall on her wedding day, and the number of scattered seeds told how many children she'd have. Then, together with her groom, the newlyweds enjoyed pomegranate wine on their wedding night.

Images of pomegranates bursting with seeds are hung in Chinese homes to bring fertility.

Ancient Egyptians revered the pomegranate as a symbol of prosperity.

A silver pomegranate vase from King Tut's tomb.

In Greece, it's customary to bring pomegranates as the first gift to a new home to attract abundance. The fruits are placed by the religious icons in the home as an offering to invoke blessings from the Divine. Pomegranates are also a traditional food at any Greek wedding feast.

And in Christianity, the earliest found mosaic depicting the Christ child shows him flanked by pomegranates. Pomegranates are woven into liturgical hangings and vestment embroidery. Both Botticelli and da Vinci incorporated pomegranates into their religious paintings, cradled in the hands of the infant Jesus or the Virgin Mary.

Detail from Botticelli's "Madonna of the Pomegranate" - ca 1487

Obstacles removed.

So, maybe not completely crazy that my mind equated pomegranates with fruition, which is itself the full realization of all those things.

Except that I knew none of this symbolism before that post. 

On that mystical note, I decided a pomegranate would be a good mascot for the year. Much like the dry erase boards I kept in previous years for my New Year's word, having a single focal point helps me stay on track. 

So I bought this little bracelet:

From the etsy shop of Clay & Strings

And I wear it every day to remind myself: Fruition. Fruition. Fruition.  


Fathering from the Heart

Miss G is with her dad in Vegas for a chunk of the summer, and Dan is still down in Boulder City fixing up his folks' house, about a half hour from Miss G's dad.

Miss G's dad & I talked about summer plans and worked out her travel schedule back in early May to depart immediately after Memorial Day weekend. A week or two later, he called up and asked if I could change her tickets.

"I got a work call. I'm scheduled for the entire first week she's supposed to be here," he explained.

I said, "What if I keep the flight the same but she just stays with Dan for that week? Then you can pick her up when you're finished with your call." 

It didn't even occur to me to check with Dan first to see if he'd be okay having Miss G for the week. I knew he'd be super excited.

Dan was super excited again today because Miss G's dad got another work call for next week, and had asked if Dan could take Miss G again. Of course Dan didn't hesitate. Even better because Miss L is with us for the remainder of the summer now, so he'll have both kids under his wing. 

Nothing makes my husband happier than being a dad.

I am thankful every, every day for his presence in our lives.


Change and Chicken Coops

My new chiropractors are very full service. Their clinic offers supplements, special cervical alignment pillows and a slew of classes on all kinds of random things. I've avoided most of these, but one class description was too juicy to pass up, something about discovering your formula for change. Since I've been a virtual maelstrom of change for the last year or so, I thought why not up my game.

The instructor says, "Pretend I hand you a chicken. You need to build a coop for it. What's the first thing you do?"

First, we have a cigarette together. Clearly. 

I write down buy chicken wire and lumber and then think, shit, no-- that's wrong. I have to learn how to build a chicken coop first. So I scratch it out and write instead research how to build chicken coop. There. That's more sensible.

"What's the second thing you do?"

Buy chicken wire and lumber. Yep, I'm on the right track for change now. 

Then I think, we're probably supposed to go with our first reactions and this is probably cheating somehow. So I go back to the first answer.

And then I think, this is why my life is in near-constant crazy. Because I buy the chicken wire before learning how to build the damned coop. And I sigh.

On the upside, this class will teach me how to change all that.

Then the instructor tosses up an image on the projection screen.

Note: This is not the actual image. That one was copyrighted. But you get the gist.

The Triad of Change.

Change consists of three elements. If all three aren't on board, you won't achieve change. Also, if you don't do them in the right order.

Right, just what I figured. I need to stop building chicken coops as my first step. I need to slow down and plan stuff out first. So far, nothing I don't know about myself. Good thing this is a free class.

The instructor says, "Everyone has a lead strategy, a keystone and a drain. When you want to create change in your life, you have to begin with your lead strategy and follow with your keystone. Otherwise you can't move forward. If you try to create change by putting your keystone first, you'll fail. If you start out with your drain, you'll never really start. So, back to the chicken coop. Look at your first reaction."

I look.

"That's your lead strategy. You should always start with this. If you sit down to plan things out and make lists, then your lead strategy is structure. If you answered you'd buy supplies, build a coop, or clear out a space in the yard for the chicken, then it's behavior. If your first reaction is to think 'OMG I have a chicken! This is so exciting!' then your lead strategy is perception."

I write a B next to my original (scratched out and now barely legible) answer. Huh.

"Now look at your next answer. That's your keystone. That's the thing you're always doing without even realizing it. It's probably what others describe you as doing, even though you might not describe yourself that way."

According to my chicken coop, for me that is planning. Organizing. Structure.

Which makes the last side of the triangle, perception, actually thinking about things, my drain.

This can't be good.

I raise my hand.

"So-- you're saying, our first instincts... that's the way we should be doing things? All of the time? That the purpose of this Triad of Change isn't to correct a wrong behavior, but is to show us what our natural behavior really is and-- then make it work for us?"

"Exactly," she says.

"Um, but-- okay, my lead strategy is behavior. And my keystone is structure. Doesn't that seem like pretty much a disaster? How can this be a good thing?"

The class laughs like I'm being charming and self-deprecating but I am totally serious. I don't even listen to the instructor's answer about 'Oh, well, I know it seems that way but each method has its strengths' and yadda yadda yadda. Instead, I start thinking about all the times I've jumped into things without planning or preparation, how often I've ended up in stupid situations and blamed it on my impulsiveness.

Then something clicks. I realize-- Nope.

The times I've been most stressed out in my life have been when I've felt stuck or trapped. Unable to act. The times I've taken a leap of faith instead, exploded into action with zero planning, everything has come together with a cosmic yawp.

I'm always better in a crisis. I hate anticipation. The thing that trips me up the most is figuring out how I feel about something-- which is so backwards, because I'm super intuitive and perceptive and always make decisions based on gut instinct.

Yet when I stop to think about things, my brain tangles up my feet. I go nowhere.

I look at my answers, one scratched out and then circled again, with a B and a LEAD STRATEGY? written next to it. And the other with an S and an arrow and a firm 2 circled, plus a black blotch off to the side that used to be a circled number 1.

No matter how I try to trick the chicken coop test, the evidence is obvious. Even the way I answered the questions clearly shows that I lead with behavior.

Another lady raises her hand and says (in a pointed way that I refuse to take personally) "But how could putting behavior first ever be a good thing? I'm structure first. I just can't imagine that not planning things out could be better."

And the lady next to her, bless her, turns around and smiles at me and says, "What about EMTs? They can't afford to think or plan things out. They just need to move."

I smile back, because I am thinking about the new car* I drove to class tonight, and that it would not be mine if I'd frittered around with perception and structure first.

Another woman says "I'm structure too, and I thought that at first also until I remembered this one summer, I'll never forget it, the kids wanted to go on a picnic. And my first instinct was to sit down and make a list of what we needed from the store, and frustration that we had no food in the fridge, and I was on the verge of telling them it would have to be tomorrow. When I look up, my husband's gotten the picnic basket down and he was just chucking in all the food from the fridge. Hard boiled eggs, pickles, tomatoes, cheese, bread.... It ended up being the best picnic we ever had."

Really, despite my answers, I totally agree with the naysayer lady. Behavior first does seem like a terrible way to run your life. And yet, it has undeniably worked for me, no matter how many people have told me I need to slow down. No matter how many times I've told myself that.

I think now-- the opposite. I think: speed up.

I am better in motion.

*more on this next week, I promise.