Excerpts from old journal entries

Reading old journal entries. Am gaining a ton of insight from this retrospective view. The biggest insight was how futile all my anxieties about the future were. Even the worries that ultimately manifested into reality, either the next day or the next year, were ultimately independent from and irrelevant to the thoughts I had about them beforehand.

I’d like to do an in-depth analysis of that in the future. But for now, I’m just going to recommend that you read your old journal entries more often!

Here are some excerpts that people besides myself would find interesting.

Such fear

“I don’t want to lucid dream anymore, for now. I’m afraid of my dreams. I mean I’m afraid of my brain. I don’t want to let it run rampant. It’s like a gourmand. It’s like my eating habits have been cured, but at the expense of my brain. Arg. Ok I’m really hankering for a run. Outside. Run as fast as I can to escape my mind.”

Such judgment

“Yesterday I was really negative about my waltz partner, and I think it bothered James. I don’t even know why I was telling him. What was the purpose? Just to get it off my chest? That didn’t work, just made it worse. To brag that I handled [the unpleasantness] well? I don’t think that came across. To vent my guilt? I don’t know. I need to write a scene about a guy like that. Why are they like that? The guy yesterday, and [a dance partner from earlier in my life that I won’t name here]? Ugh. And both were dancing scenarios too. Omg it’s just like Liz and Mr. Collins!! She was SO panicked when she was in danger of getting stuck with the short end of the stick. Ugh I just smelled a whiff of the guy’s breath from last night. How is it that all dancing guys have something significantly wrong with them? Is it b/c dancing is such an intimate activity that your senses and standards are heightened? And there’s so much unfamiliar skill and interaction involved? Must explore more deeply. Anyway, I was pretty terrible in dancing last night too. Ugh, I need to practice. I think I was the worst girl.”

Such high

“Yesterday was the best valentine’s day ever. Recording it so I don’t forget! I got a beautiful bouquet from James. Then we went to Coupa for their ridiculous nutella waffle with banana and strawberry. Then we went to Crate & Barrel and the Stanford mall in search of popover pans. The best part was actually when I finally pooed in Nordstrom. Then we went to picnic at Shoreline park, which was beautiful, and the food was good. We walked around, then came home. I think we bought more food than we ever did at TJ’s and Safeway. Crazy. Actual food in the kitchen. Then we opened the champagne and played Grim Fandango. … I had some edible. … Then we watched Sabrina. James really enjoyed it, which makes me happy. … I realized I was really high. Hilarious vertigo and inability to open eyes for more than a few seconds at a time. … Oh yeah we played charades. Much more fun when high. Best Valentine’s day ever! And I forgot to write morning pgs, but I just want to be w/ my James in the wkend mornings. … Being high is insane. You have no memory of things from a few seconds ago. No time sense either. So you’re not sure if an eternity passed since you were last conscious.”

This one made me cry. Happy nostalgic crying. Not because of Valentine’s Day but because of all the weekend mornings. I’m so glad I recorded this. It really reminds me to breathe in the beauty of my life in this moment.


Happy rebirthday to me…

Today marks the first anniversary of my first and most powerful nirvana experience. I wish I could say it has had a profound impact on my life. I guess my basic perspectives on the universe and consciousness and mankind have changed. So, ok, I should give it some credit 🙂

But frankly, I’d completely forgotten about it until I saw the date on my calendar. And overall, my habits haven’t changed much. I still eat junk food. I still judge people. I still self-sabotage. I guess the empowering lesson here is that transformation really is about deliberate changes over time, not a one-off reboot.

When I tell people about my “journey” from an engineer to a life coach, I skip the part where I experience nirvana. The real story has a sort of symmetry in its outline:

  1. Corporate
  2. Nothing
  3. Acting
  4. Nirvana
  5. Coaching

There’s an alternating of Doing and Being.

But I leave out Part 4 of the story, partly because I’ve found the experience hard to explain convincingly, partly because I don’t want to lose credibility (“I’m one of those woowoo people!”), partly because I don’t want people to think you have to go through a profound experience to change (you don’t), but very often because… I forget. It’s hard to hold on to.

I have a lot of thoughts and questions on the science of the whole thing. And how I can experience it again, and preferably not by hitting rock bottom. But today I just wanted to leave a marker so I won’t forget again…

Dream: Lions in the bathhouse

Last night I had my first nightmare in a while. I woke up in the middle of the night, terrified that a lion would come through the door and eat me alive.

I mostly consider dreams to be semi-random neuron firings that don’t hold much meaning in themselves. But I do believe that a particularly vivid dream is a great stimulus for exploring latent truths and new perspectives on my waking life.

As my philosopher friend, Scott Szymanski, says:

The subconscious and emotions have all sorts of stuff stored in there we normally don’t get access to. We usually use the “highways” and rarely see the side streets where the trash builds up, but also where the real culture and hole-in-the-wall gems of our subconscious reside.


From my dream log:

I was playing in a crowded communal pool shaped like a canal that wrapped around the town square. The colors and textures in this world felt more like a Renaissance painting than real life. In fact, the scene was heavily inspired by The Wedding at Cana. Just imagine that crowd of people (in the front of the painting) playing in a pool lined with stucco.

Öèôðîâàÿ ðåïðîäóêöèÿ íàõîäèòñÿ â èíòåðíåò-ìóçåå Gallerix.ru

I’m always fascinated when bodies of water are prominent in my dream. In literature, they represent the womb or the birth canal (i.e. vagina), depending on the shape, I assume. In dream interpretation, water represents the unconscious and emotions. Specifically, a pool or bath represents the need for relaxation or renewal.

I sensed a sudden, subdued tension in the crowd near the center of the pool. I looked over and saw two adolescent lions wading in the pool, on their hind legs, toward the wide open town gate. The lions were technically female because they didn’t have manes, but they felt male or androgynous to me. 

Lions in dreams can represent strength, courage, assertiveness, power, predatory feelings, or threats.

Fat women and hairy men separated to make room for the lions, but a few children kept playing, shifting the spotlight of their game to the fascinating newcomers.

We all watched in horror. No one stepped forward to rescue the children. The lions smirked but didn’t attack.

Continue reading “Dream: Lions in the bathhouse”

Mosquito bites and behavioral addiction

Nowhere can behavioral addiction be more tangibly illustrated than in mosquito bites. Of which I have nine.

You’re going through your day just fine, and then one of them starts to itch a little. And you think, “Sure, I’ll indulge in a little scratch.” Before you know it, they’re all inflamed, and scratching is no longer a one-time, casual indulgence; it’s a cycle of desperate need.

In the gap between the mild itch and the inflamed, burning itch lies the last easy choice. If you choose your way into the cycle, choice will become so difficult that you’ll believe you don’t have any. You do, technically. You can still choose to writhe and spasm and scratch any other part of your body…

But if you can choose to create more and more distance between you and the itch, the choice doesn’t quite go away, but at least it stays relatively easy.

At least I think so. I don’t know, I haven’t succeeded at this.

Paradoxical values

Cover image by Nick-m-a on DeviantArt

Lately, my coaching has been pretty focused on Values. Today, I read this passage in the Co-Active Coaching book:

Values are intangible. They are not something we do or have. Money, for example, is not a value, although money as a resource could lead to honoring values such as fun, creativity, achievement, peace of mind, service to others. Travel is not a value. Gardening is not a value. But both are examples of cherished activities that honor certain values, including adventure, learning, nature, spirituality. (Page 122)

It’s been a while since I reevaluated my values, so I thought I’d do it again. For context, here’s how we do values in co-active coaching:

Because our language is imprecise, it’s often easier to cluster values than to try to invest all the meaning in a single word. Thus, we might separate a series of value attributes with slash marks to indicate a grouping of value words that communicates a composite sense. For example, freedom/ risk taking/adventure is different from freedom/independence/choice.

– Coyote / wild dancer / mischief maker
– Luminous / chenille / lavender
– Standing ovation / going for it / buzzer beater

(Page 122)

So this afternoon I opened my notebook and scribbled down all the values I’ve mentally accumulated since I started coaching.

I noticed that some of my values contradicted others, so I reorganized them… and now I have this:

Light / easy / fun / Legolas / sprinter 1 Lush / overflowing / energy / alive / saturate / rich
10 Individual freedom / TEHO – to each his own / radical acceptance / Atticus TKAM / Walk Two Moons / infinite story 2 Connection / love / intimacy / overlapping / melting pot / synchrony / vulnerable
Learning / understanding / getting it / puzzles / figure it out Mastery / skills / fine technique / Coach Han / flip turns / yoga / hone
Reset button / new / change / instability / rock the boat / surprise / clean slate / square one / ALL the things / novelty / variety / sampling Physical safety / home / comfort / luxuries / cushions / fabric / curtains / stuffed animals / relax / massage
Experiment / putt putting around / in beta / dabble / resourceful / adapt / opportunity Integrity / solid / Ramson steel rod / trust / anchor


  • The numbers refer to where the values rank overall, 1 being the most important to me, 10 being the least. I had difficulty ranking all of them.
  • The bolded words are the most representative of the value as a whole

Thoughts that came out of this exercise


The words light and deep more or less encompass the yin and yang of the values. They don’t oppose each other necessarily, but they do often clash in practice. I think the key here is balance.

I’m delighted to find, in my values, yet another example to support my theory that everything important in life can be understood as a paradox (a post on this later).

I’m also calmly (for now) acknowledging that my past and future frustrations at my life choices are a result of honoring certain values at the expense of others. Examples:

  • Choosing to move a lot throughout my life – Honored Reset button/sampling at the expense of Home/comfort; Melting pot (old friends)
  • Ending perfectly good 5+ year relationship (It was mutual!) – Honored Reset button/sampling at the expense of Love; Home/comfort; and Integrity
  • Generally being quick to change course when an opportunity arises – Honoring Resourcefulness at the expense of Integrity

Clearly one half of my values is easier to honor than the other. Ha! Well, at least now I know where to shift the balance.

Book notes: Attached (Part 1)


Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find – And Keep – Love by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller

Book links

Borrow the audiobook for free on Hoopla

My notes*

Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find – And Keep – Love by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller

3 styles of attachment in romantic relationships. You can be more than one.

  • Anxious: You want intimacy and are preoccupied with relationships
  • Secure: You want intimacy and are not preoccupied with relationships
  • Avoidant: You want independence more than intimacy and are not preoccupied with relationships

The chart below, from the Attachment in adults Wikipedia page, gives a more interesting organization of attachment styles:

Screen Shot 2016-06-24 at 10.37.32 AM Continue reading “Book notes: Attached (Part 1)”

Dream: A spy in prison

Last night I dreamed about being a spy again for the first time in years. In high school and college, it was a recurring theme, usually involving an assassination assignment.

Last night’s dream also involved

  • A “deformed” girl and her mother, likely inspired by The Glass Menagerie
  • Time-travel to the past and future of my secret agent partner’s life, in which he married said girl, lived on the floor of a kitchen in her mother’s apartment, and was very happy
  • Being in prison with my best friend
  • Running from a timed bomb in an elevator that didn’t work so well
  • Being obliged to download and use an annoying Android app on my iPhone (I am not a religious Apple-ite in waking life)



The three of us – my partner and I and a South American spy we’d picked up along the way – had been wandering for quite some time around what we’d thought was a long-deserted prison in Cuba.

The South American spy was a middle-aged mother who told us about her “deformed” daughter whom no one wanted to marry. We’d decided to join forces with her because we shared similar missions but also because it was just the three of us on the whole campus, and we’d run into her repeatedly anyway. It was the polite thing to do.

She was quite careless in her search methods, however, and had accidentally set off two bombs already. I was growing a bit annoyed with her, but my time traveling earlier in the dream had revealed her importance in my partner’s life (he would marry her daughter someday), so I accepted that she would be with us for a while. Continue reading “Dream: A spy in prison”