I stumbled across a psychology term that couldn’t describe what I do more perfectly: rumination. Wikipedia says it’s “the compulsively focused attention on the symptoms of one’s distress, and on its possible causes and consequences, as opposed to its solutions.” And the American Psychological Association says, “The word ‘ruminate’ derives from the Latin for chewing cud, a less than gentile process in which cattle grind up, swallow, then regurgitate and rechew their feed. Similarly, human ruminators mull an issue at length.”

It’s an endless loop, a circular reference, me trying to solve a problem that can’t be solved. I keep making the same realizations, I know. But I’ve been getting a little discouraged that after so many months of meditation, life coaching, positive thinking, prayer – just working so fucking hard – that I’m still stuck in these thought patterns and still going over the same things in my head. Over and over and over and over, knowing I’ll never figure them out but still trying endlessly to.

(I’ve made a ton of progress, don’t get me wrong; on the whole I’m a much more positive, more accepting, calmer, more peaceful, more compassionate person – who actually likes herself.)

It was super comforting to know that what I do is so common that it’s been studied, has a name, has scholarly research behind it, and, <angels sounding trumpets> ways to stop </angels sounding trumpets>! It felt like getting a solid diagnosis that I can now work on concretely.



The first solution that popped into my head was that as soon as I catch myself going over the same thoughts, I yell out (in my head of course) “RUMINATOR!!” just like Miracle Max’s wife in “Princess Bride.” It makes me giggle and takes the situation down a couple notches on the seriously-I’m-fucking-crazy-right-or-not-oh-god-what-is-happening-in-my-head yardstick.

For the life of me, I couldn’t remember the damn word, though! I caught myself doing it – a lot – and then tried to come up with the word but all I kept coming up with was either “enumerator” or more often, “bloviator.” Both were fucking hilarious to me and so worked pretty well.

The other tactic I’ve read about (obsessively, natch) to stop this shit is distraction, either with another thought, an activity, or by the one I already came up with all one my own, which is to say, “Stop.” to yourself. Or, “BLOVIATOR!!!!”

So, half marathon it is then. I had already started running again when a nasty little cold kept me on the couch. I also started volunteering with the kid’s grief group and it was AWESOME. I love doing those things, they’re so fun. Hard to understand, I know, but it really isn’t sitting around crying about how sad we all are.

Hello, my name is Lara and I’m a ruminator. It’ll take me a while, but some day I’ll be a recovering ruminator.


“Gender aside, ruminators share some common characteristics. They often:
  • Believe they’re gaining insight through it.
  • Have a history of trauma.
  • Perceive that they face chronic, uncontrollable stressors.
  • Exhibit personality characteristics such as perfectionism, neuroticism and excessive relational focus–‘a tendency to so overvalue your relationships with others that you will sacrifice yourself to maintain them, no matter what the costs,’ Nolen-Hoeksema explained.”

This Must Be How Junkies Feel

I think I had my first awesome meditation experience today. I don’t know if this is how it’s supposed to go, but it was almost like dreaming. I totally let go and all kinds of nutty things came up, very dreamlike. It was only a ten-minute meditation but I felt completely cleared out and refreshed after.

So for the meditation experts, is that how it’s supposed to go? I hesitate to ask if I’m doing it “right” because I know that’s not really the point. I’m super happy with it and even I was just lucid dreaming, I’m psyched that it just completely shook the physical and emotional crud that’s been building up.

But, is this normal, that it felt like dreaming? At the Buddhist meeting last night, the sensei was talking about the five blocks commonly encountered in meditation practice. I totally forget the names, but one was a sort of fuzzy brain, like not being able to see anything clearly. That’s sort of what this felt like today but it also didn’t feel like a block to anything, especially because I felt so awesome after.

I also want to meditate again NOW! I’m a little afraid of losing this calmness and clarity. Which is completely ironic, I know. The crud is kind of slowly seeping back and the awesome fresh vibrant feeling is a little duller. I’m hoping that as I gain mastery in meditation I’ll be able to call up the awesomeness more often in meditation and it will last longer between meditations.

Anyone else have this experience?

I Want to Feel the Holiday Spirit

Really I do. Some days I get overwhelmed by love, friendship, family – all those feelings Christmas is supposed to be about. But it never really does it for me. Even Thanksgiving this year, my favorite day of the entire year where I really do feel those things – just not so much came up for me this year. 

Meh, maybe it’s just not my thing. And New Year’s, ugh and a fucking half. I’ve had a handful of good New Year’s Eves but mostly they’ve been anti-climactic duds. Last year’s was good, I guess. It was the night I hooked up with the ex, exactly at midnight. We turned to each other to say Happy New Year and spent the next hour kissing in a bar. I had visions in my head of anniversaries the rest of my life that would make New Year’s actually fun for me. But no. Again it’s a built-up night of crap that I’m dreading.

But hey, Merry Christmas everyone!

Tempting, but…

So there is this boy. I’ve had a self-destructive crush on him for quite a while now and even made an attempt at him a few years back. He rejected me flat out and gave me a good old fashioned “It’s not you it’s me” spiel. I ended that night passed out drunk in a hedge. It took a few years and becoming a co-worker in the meantime to get over it and be able to speak to him like a normal human being.

I’m not entirely blind though, and don’t generally make passes at people who aren’t interested in me. He’s interested. I know he’s interested.*

The other night he came out to dinner and drinks with a group of friends. One of my friends – one who actually pulled me out of the hedge that night – made fun of me a bit because she thought he was trying really hard not to just make out with me right there. So I have confirmation, which is satisfying from a “Thank my shit I’m not entirely crazy” point of view.

I’m interested in him. Off and on, mostly depending on my mental state at the time. I feel like he’s a good litmus test for my emotional growth. I know I’m attracted to him for very wrong, very unhealthy, very self-destructive reasons. If I’m not attracted to him, it’s probably because I am probably growing up and liking myself more, right?

Office #2 Christmas party. I’ve promised job #1 partner that I’d be back in the office #1 by 3 at the latest, which means I have to leave by 2:30. It goes something like this:

noon: Arrive. Scan room for ~him~. Ooh, there he is. He’s so tall. Oh hello Debbie, you’re waving me over because you’ve saved a seat for me! Thanks Debbie! Ooh it’s across the table from ~him~ thank the good Lord. Ooh, he’s so cute. Hmm, he’s very drugged up from his morning dentist appointment. Frowny face, he’s not paying me much attention at all. It’s okay, just ignore him, you do not want him, you do not want him, you do not want him.

12:15: Decide with Debbie that it’s time for adult drinks. Ooh ~he~ made a funny. He’s so funny. Ignore, ignore, ignore.

12:40: Finally decide on the Cactus Banger. Yes, that’s a real drink name that I had to say out loud to a waitress. I say something funny. He’s the only one who gets it and laughs. Ooh ~he~ gets me. We would be so perfectly funny together. Dammit, re-engage ignoring boosters!

12:50: Fuck, this Cactus Banger is awesome! And yes, he’s noticed I’m here again. Lots of attention. I could take care of him in his post-dentist haze. FUCK! IGNORE. IGNORE. IGNORE.

1:05: One more Cactus Banger, please. Out-drinking Debbie, who’s been talking shit all week about how she’ll drink us all under the table. More attention from ~him~ please yes thank you ooh!

1:25: He’s buying a round of tequila shots for him, Debbie, and me. God he fucking wants me. (Yes, me. Debbie is happily married with two kids and would squash that bug in a second if she thought he was making a move.) Fuck ignoring him.

1:40: Where in hell did this second round of shots come from? Of course. From ~him~ how is everyone not seeing how much he fucking wants me?!!?

2:00: Coffee with dessert, thank God. Him asking me about coffee maybe? I state again very clearly that I have to be out of there by 2:30. Something from him in response? An objection? A smart ass comment? Whatever, it’s clearly him wanting me.

2:10: Shit, is this another round?

2:35: If I do not leave now, I will end up in his bed or in a hedge. Logic and reason say it will most likely be the hedge. Fuck you, logic and reason.

2:40: Leaving. Really really leaving. Don’t want to leave. Want to end up in his bed. Remember the hedge. Feel the hedge. Be the hedge.

I left. For possibly the first time in my life, I made a smart decision and I left. I did not text him to go out later that night, even though that was a very real option in my 2:40 in the afternoon tequila brain.

Here’s the down and dirty truth: I am consciously and actively trying to move him into the male-obsession slot currently occupied by my ex, which he had a solid grip on before the ex. But why does this slot even exist? Why do I have to have someone to be tormented by every single day?

It’s always been like this. There has always been someone in that slot, since I was probably 7. There’s always someone at-bat whom I’m either dating, wanting to date, or trying to get over. I can’t think of a single day in my life when there hasn’t been someone I’m either blissfully over the moon about or heart crushed in a million pieces over.

Is it possible to eliminate this slot, or will I forever be shuffling boys in and out of it?

* He might not actually be interested. Other possibilities include: 1) so amazingly closeted gay but very flirtatious with everyone and, being a sales guy, very good at making you think he wants you, 2) so amazingly emotionally screwed up that he doesn’t actually know what he’s interested in, or 3) so amazingly aware that I want him, which makes him know he can reel me in for…what, I have no idea.

The Calling Is Getting Louder

Today I went through part of the training to facilitate the kid’s grief groups here. Just like the camps, they do things a bit different here than I’ve done before but the same basic ideas – you’re there to give them a safe place to work through whatever they need to in their own way. I’m really excited to get started with the kids. Which sounds weird – I’m so psyched to talk to children about death, woo! Obviously it’s not the same kind of excitement that a bottle of Jagermeister or skydiving or a hot night with a hot boy stirs up. It’s a quieter pull to something I know I’m good at that I know will make a difference in the world.

So why don’t I rush to my nearest graduate school and get licensed? I’m not ready financially, emotionally, or in spirit. I’m having fun with my magazine, first of all, and I haven’t worked through enough of my own issues to be able to help anyone out at a counselor level yet. You work to that in school, I know, but I do think you also need to sort out your own shit to a certain point before you can get started. So I’m sorting shit out and heading towards that path. That career isn’t going anywhere and although life is short and we shouldn’t put off things we want to do, I feel good with taking it slow and letting myself grow into that place. It’s a new tactic for me, for sure.

And what a day to feel a pull to help children with grief and trauma. It would be awesome if there was no need for the kind of career I want to have but that supply and demand equation isn’t likely to change anytime soon.

My New Best Friend

Today was a total shit day. Not for any good reason, I just felt like a growling angry werewolf. So I broke my very long streak of zero physical activity and hit the treadmill early so I could make it to the local Buddhist meeting to meditate. The run was great – I am feeling the twinges of wanting to get back into regular running and 1/2 marathons yay! – but I still felt like a powder keg.

In the shower I just broke down. Here’s the conversation I had in my head:

Me: Go to the meeting, it will do you good.

Me: But I am crying, I don’t want to be around people. I can meditate here, it will be just as good.

Me: Hey bitch, how do you know what’s best for her?

Me: Why does this have to be so hard?

Me: Other people don’t have to struggle so much you know, why do I?

Me: Hey now, chin up there, little buddy! You’re okay. Go, don’t go, either one will be okay. Ease up, you’re doing great. Cry it out and get showered. When it comes time to leave and you still want to go, go and have a great time. If you don’t, stay home. It’s okay!

Me: You’re not going to yell at me and tell me I’m doing it wrong?

Me: No man, you’re doing it fine!

Me: Wow, thanks. You’re actually a good friend. Way better than those years of you being such a dick to me.

Me: Yeah, that chick was a fucking bitch, huh?

Yeah she was.