Tag Archives: guts determination and character

30 Days of Jung — Day 9: #Awareness #Discovery #Unconscious #Psychology


THIS. This is why I’m still doing this series; this is why I started in the first place.

Welcome to Day 9 of “30 Days of Jung,” my series, wherein (soon, I will start repeating myself, like now) I take a famous quote of Carl G. Jung‘s and try to make sense or refute or invert or disembowel it or where I turn into a heaping pile of mush because of it in 1,000 words or less.

If you don’t know who Jung is, he formulated the theories of introverted and extroverted personalities, the stages of individuation, the basis of the “Meyers-Briggs” personality (INFJ / ESFJ, etc.) tests. He’s the “father” of modern-day psychoanalysis. In short, he’s a badass. But he’s dead, so he can’t be with us today.

My first exposure to Jung was in college, naturally, when I pronounced his name with the hard “J” sound; I also pronounced “Goethe” as “Goy-thee” and was summarily laughed out of English 101. I also pronounced “Tucson” as “Tuck-son” when I was little and was also laughed at by assholes scholars. Did I say that? Anyway, when I read Jung’s “What irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves” back in college, I was in. Jung, to me, was the one badass who was willing to Call People Out for their crap; he was like the “Oh Yeah?!” guy who you need just before a knife fight in a darkened city parking lot.

So today’s quote is this stuff, this heady stuff which is why I love Jung so much:

“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”
C.G. Jung

BOOM! Jung drops mic, walks off the stage.

End the count at 1,290.

I’m a woo-woo person; I like to believe that fate guides us. I also like to believe in free lunches, Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and Cap’n Crunch. I know that the “I am where I am meant to be” mantra helps prevent overwhelming angst, but I also know that those concepts, while stress-relieving for the most part (and that’s where for me their benefit lies) are also … sort of … well sometimes a load of crap.

For example: My son has a guitar lesson. It’s a five-minute drive. I can choose to leave eight minutes ahead of the start time to give him a chancy 3-minute cushion (a segment of which I can blame on ill-fated -timed lights, a car accident, or a Kashi Go-Lean -filled little old lady who drives 15 miles per hour in a 40) while waiting for the lesson to start. Whatever the scenario, the choice is mine. I can continue to give me that possibly stressful 3-minutes, thereby making my son a nervous tic for the first ten minutes of his lesson or I can consciously decide to leave ten minutes early and get to the lesson several minutes early.

I know what I need to do. But here’s Jung hissing (’cause he’s dead) over my shoulder: “But what do you want to do?”

Another case in point: I’m a little hungry and I’m writing most of these posts 12 hours in advance and so just now, I wanted (unconsciously) to go eat a brownie, but as I approached, I actually felt the shift in my consciousness, and I chose a cheese stick and water instead. I heard myself say to myself, simply because I am writing this post, “Self, if I eat the brownie, I will regret it because it’s all sugar and I’ll be pissed later because it certainly won’t help me stay healthy.” So I growled at myself and got the cheese stick (pepper jack, thank you very much) and a big bottle of water and while I’m not exactly thrilled I chose against the tastier treat and I know that the cheese will satisfy me longer, I am psyched that I noticed the shift in my consciousness and chose the healthier option.

Basically this quote to me is the “prove it” quote. As far as I’m concerned. it only applies to adults, by the way. We all have stories. We all have suffering and we all have joys. What this quote means to me is that we have a choice, again. It also feels like it’s also about fear, again.

In order to grow up, pull up our big people panties and stop blaming “fate” for our lives, we need to wake the hell up and take stock of our lives and commit to living the best possible way we can. If we are asleep / unconscious, we continually focus on fate as being what we’d rather use as ammunition to blame our current predicament on (obesity, bad marriage, bad job, crappy relationships, parenting challenges, addiction, etc.).

Say there’s someone who complains about their second marriage and troubled relationships with kids and friends and that the lack of self-esteem is blamed on a crappy childhood and sexist parents and everyone else is the problem. Let’s say this person drinks a bottle of wine every day, during the afternoon with lunch, y’know, because we all do that, either with friends or alone and then more with the spouse at dinner despite it being against doctor’s orders. Add in some inappropriate emotionally adulterous relationships with other, much younger people even though the spouse is bending over backwards to give attention and by all accounts from this person, demonstrations of love and support, even if somewhat controlling (due to worry). This person continues to see the patterns, even suggests depression but stops therapy because it’s “too hard” and continues the obsessive bad habits and unhealthy relationships. These behaviors all sound like unconscious desperate attempts for attention because they are regardless of the interventions and psychiatric help. So one day I posit: “If you were reading about this person in People Magazine, what would you think? Does this story sound like someone who’s got it together or does it all sound a few DUIs and a custody battle away from a ‘LifeTime True Stories Original Movie’?”

The answer, “I know, but…”

So it continues. That person is unconscious and is calling this fate.

I shrug. If I’m not careful, my unconscious could take over and ignite my addiction to chaos (which I’ve written about extensively) and I’d be in the movie too. So I walk away.

Speaking of walking…

I just watched Nik Wallenda cross the Grand Canyon from 1,500 feet up on a tight wire that was two inches in diameter. It took him 22 minutes. Doing anything consistently for 22 minutes without a break is hard, I can’t imagine it on a tight wire in the wind. He was carrying a 45-lb, 30-foot-long beam held by a yoke across his shoulders. That dude? He wasn’t unconscious; he wasn’t calling this his “fate!” He was aware, focused, determined and quite connected –in every possible way– to the elements: he was aware of the wind, he was wearing leather booties, he was wearing skinny jeans (!?) and he was praying and praising Jesus like an Olde Tyme Preacher, but maaaan… he was conscious.

Do you think he blames “fate” for his ability to cross? Do you think he’s any different from me and you? Sure, he has tons of training, but other than that, he looks like any average American middle-aged man who’s spent his Saturdays at the ball park. He wasn’t a beach body, he wasn’t super tall or fabulously handsome. He wasn’t even charismatically fantabulous; he’d probably bore me to tears at a picnic, but:

THE DUDE HAS CHARACTER and consciousness. We all have that potential. We all can be conscious and take control of our lives and stop looking for things to blame, which until that day we choose otherwise, have been our main reason we might not be truly happy.

Thank you.

30 Days of Jung — Day 6: #Darkness #Self #Awareness #Hypocrisy


For some reason, I want to leave my home, RIGHT NOW, drive to wherever Jung is buried, exhume this dude and scream at him. Then compose myself, promptly apologize, smooth over any wrinkles I might’ve made in his dead suit lapels and gently put him back.

Welcome to Day 6 of “30 Days of Jung,” my series, wherein (soon, I will start repeating myself, like now) I take a famous quote of Carl G. Jung‘s and try to make sense or refute or invert or disembowel it or where I turn into a heaping pile of mush because of it in 1,000 words or less.

If you don’t know who Jung is, he formulated the theories of introverted and extroverted personalities, the stages of individuation, the basis of the “Meyers-Briggs” personality (INFJ / ESFJ, etc.) tests. He’s the “father” of modern-day psychoanalysis. In short, he’s a badass. But he’s dead, so he can’t be with us today.

Here is today’s:

“Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people.”
C.G. Jung

Really? So I am feeling a LOT like I was on Day 2 (Lisa Loopner day). You know, that whole “takes one to know one” theme. But today’s is actually more pointed, more intentional, more intense, more… dark. I’ll likely ruffle some family feathers in this post, but here’s me, “it’s nothing personal” and their reaction is not my responsibility; it’s theirs (day 2 as well).

Alright, let’s do this. Count: up to 1,265.

Darkness. Darth Vader: he knew it about himself and maxed it out and he imploded. Heart of Darkness: war, deep stuff and violent; this is irrefutable, craven darkness, in-your-face, hard-to-admit-about-ourselves stuff. Dracula: a metamorphosis after deceit. Screwed-up as all get-out, a little puerile (honestly! — biting?! talk about id issues!) but a great metaphor for how we can infect people with our obsessions and darknesses. Don Draper — there’s a dark dude. I’m gonna wax etymological on Don one of these days, I mean it’s full of potential: don and drape. I’ll be gender fair: Medusa, Lizzie Borden, Mommie Dearest.

I’m feeling oogey. I am reluctant to write about this quote because I have spent a lot of time in the darkness. I grew up witnessing and partaking in some crazy dysfunctional stuff and I was disappointed and terrified and lied to a lot as a child. I Work Very Hard these days to credit my past for whom I’ve become. (Jung would high-five me and you about that reframing.)

I prefer to talk about resilience, perseverance and the benefits of soul-crushing Hard Work of awareness and release about my childhood during my adulthood to make the little triumphs in my adulthood all the sweeter, once I allowed them. Those childhood disappointments made me industrious (which is good) and hard (which isn’t so great). Say I’d won the “Best Person Ever” award. My response, “Meh. It’s ok. You want it?”

When you grow up in a world where the people you were given to by God hide, deny, project, compartmentalize and rage through their issues, you see a darkness that at times can warp your brain and your outlook on life. I will release my memoir one day and people might say it’s not true; that it’s an angry vitriolic slight and slam at my parents; it won’t be. It’s not. It’s about growth and forgiveness. Take Running With Scissors; aspects of it are very close to my story. People talk about how it’s fiction; that no one treats their children that way or the way I remember being treated. But then there will be people who silently nod and they will know. They’re in touch with their own darknesses, and so we can relate. (HAY! I’m still on topic.)

But despite this quote, I’ve never been able to endure having darkness be the foundation upon which I can build my relationships. It’s unbearable for me. It has happened and it has FAILED MISERABLY. I always want out. Eventually, I want to go back to my (our, yours too) essence. I want to return to the state that created me: pure energy and light. I employ that darkness to know light; I use lies to know truth; I use fear to know confidence; use chaos to know peace; and use mindlessness to know mindfulness. All that stuff I can’t seem to find in a box of Cap’n Crunch.

Angler fish? That dude lives in some seriously dark and cold water. But even he needs light to trap and survive.  (c) Disney / Pixar, disneywiki images

Angler fish? That dude lives in some seriously dark, deep and cold water. But even he needs light to trap and survive.
(c) Disney / Pixar, disneywiki images

What’s the hardest for me at times in all of this is coming to terms with my capacity for my own darkness. I absolutely possess it; and that’s what makes my ability to see right through others’ bullshit façades like a TSA agent working the conveyor belt at Dulles. They can’t hide from me. I’ve been there. Will I call them out? Not likely; it has to be rampant. I just take notes. I’m starting to blossom a little: I’ve delicately called out hypocrisy and self-righteousness when I see it. It will make me unpopular. I don’t care. People won’t die from being made aware of themselves and their patterns. That includes me too.

It’s almost like an ill-begotten superpower. Like that dude in “Powder” whose mother was struck by lightning (don’t worry, in typical style I’m about to turn Jung upside down again) when she was pregnant with him, he could sense things (secrets, feelings, thoughts) in others and that made him a threat. I am not bald and messed up like he was; I can still grow hair out of my head, but I do know that everyone EVERYONE has been hurt and no matter how brave and how strong and how funny and how smart and clever you might think you are: I’m on to you.

I’ve been there, I know the capacity for darkness in myself and even though I’m not in your shoes: I get it. That makes me your cheerleader. That makes me proud of you, that you’re still here, swinging for the fences. It also makes me aware that you are liable to pop at any moment. Because all that bravado spills over and starts to burn and there’s only so much tough, funny, dedicated, smart guy or gal your pot can handle. Trust me. Even when you think you’ve got it all together, that’s the moment you really don’t. I’m laughing at this actually, because it reminds me of Kevin Bacon in “Animal House” just a few seconds later after Flounder’s enthusiasm became unbridled (same scene as yesterday):

He had to get run over by a stampede of panicked Faberians to be convinced that all hell was breaking loose.

Don’t be like Bacon. Don’t get fried. (Yuk yuk yuk – that was insanely hard and impossible clearly for me to resist.)

So I want to invert this because despite all my crap growing up, I’m an optimist.

We can not know our own darkness without having an appreciation of our own light. We know, even in our darkest, deepest moments, that it’s no way to live. We know that we deserve better thinking, better behavior, better coping and better lives. The question is: do we have the guts to do something about it? I know we do — simply because we are still here. Personality disorder? I get it. Practice some self-awareness, get your act together. Be cool, tone it down, APOLOGIZE.

So to get back to the quote: I know yours because I know my own. Do you know your own to deal with someone else’s? And at times, it is “dealing”; it’s a negotiation just to survive it sometimes.

Thank you.

30 Days of Jung — Day 5: #Service, #Action #Honor #Character


Today’s Jung quote would be more suitable for a Monday or the start of something, but we will forge ahead nonetheless, because I’m in.

Welcome to Day 5 of “30 Days of Jung,” my series, wherein (soon, I will start repeating myself, like now) I take a famous quote of Carl G. Jung‘s and try to make sense or refute or invert or disembowel it or where I turn into a heaping pile of mush because of it in 1,000 words or less.

If you don’t know who Jung is, he formulated the theories of introverted and extroverted personalities, the stages of individuation, the basis of the “Meyers-Briggs” personality (INFJ / ESFJ, etc.) tests. He’s the “father” of modern-day psychoanalysis. In short, he’s a badass. But he’s dead, so he can’t be with us today.

This is today’s quote:

“You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.”
C.G. Jung

Start the count to end at 1,186…

I feel like this is another easy one, like yesterday’s about us not being the sum of what happened to us but rather that we are what we choose to be. But then I realized it’s much deeper than that, damn that dead Jung.

Just so both of you guys know, I’m getting these quotes as they are ranked on Goodreads. I’m not arbitrarily selecting them. But in keeping with today’s quote, I’ll say this: I wasn’t sure I’d commit to this series when I first considered it about six months ago, even though I loved the idea. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do it or come up with enough content to see it all the way through. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to make it entertaining, I wasn’t sure was afraid. I was afraid I’d falter or that it would suck. But I need to be bigger than that. I need to commit, which I have, and get it done and do the best I can at keeping you entertained and maybe enlightened and hopefully become a fan of Cap’n Crunch cereal if you weren’t already.

By the end of this series, I will have produced more than 30,000 words devoted to these quotes. (I have just chewed up about 300 words talking about doing this… sound frighteningly apropos of the quote?)

I will admit this also: when I’m in, I’m all in. But until that moment, I’m dust, vapor, a chance of follow-through.

Goodreads has its own tags beneath the quotes and I used two of them for today: Service and Action. But even though, yes, those two tags are appropriate, they still felt anemic to me; they weren’t “thick enough” (to borrow Prego pasta sauce’s tag line from years ago). So then I added “lip service” which was close, but not quite right. Then it occurred to me, this quote is well and good, but the thrust of it, the core of it — to me, is about honor; and then even deeper still, it’s about character. Guts. Thicker: it’s about fearlessness.

It’s about believing in yourself as much as your people believe in you and doing what you say you will do rather than talking about it all the time and letting people expect you to do it. Worse: it’s about not keeping people on the line when you promise to deliver. It’s about showing up.

I’d rather have someone never commit to something than tell me they will do something and not follow-up. Those people, those Chex Rice people, they are hard for me to be around. Their sentences aren’t words, they’re sonnnnngs and they whiiiiiine their responnnnnnnnses when they taaaallllllk to yooooooou.

“AAAAH SHADDAP!” said Bugs Bunny.

One of my first and all-time favorite editors is a guy I still have the honor of knowing. I worked for him as a lowly editorial assistant back in 1993 in Alexandria, VA. I learned more from him in the first year of my job than I ever did in my fourteen years of college. When I took that job, my skills and interview spoke for themselves, but I’d never worked in a newsroom. The plan was that I would shadow someone and learn by example. I would watch and assist in the culmination of the entire week’s work go down on Friday and then take over the following week. It was for a weekly column called “Legislative Update” which was a summary of action that happened on Capitol Hill relative to the education legislation we were covering.

So I started on a Monday. I had my Cap’n Crunch for breakfast, a cold glass of OJ and a piece of toast, just like on the box. I was a freakin’ carb mess. I showed up at the front desk, and presented myself to the receptionist. My hands were likely shaking and my body was vibrating. I don’t remember driving there, I think I just hummed my way to work and up the elevator chute (I’m quickly approaching 1200 words).

I was all, “Girl Friday” about it. “That’s swell, boss! I’ll get on that right away! You bet!”

Tuesday, same thing, different suit.

Wednesday, getting a little nervous but paying attention and taking notes. “You betcha! This is a hum-dinger!”

Thursday, I’m keen, enthusiastic, “Cat’s pajamas! You’re the tops!”; watchful, asking lots of questions and pretending I knew what the hell was going on.

Friday, I’m all in. I’m wearing jeans even because it was casual Friday. “Oh Boy! Is this is great!” I’m all “Flounder” from Animal House when they’re about to sabotage and spill the 10,000 marbles at the Faber Day Parade:

And so I’m waiting for the marbles, y’know. I’m waiting for my mentor to show up, the one I’d been shadowing all week.


A part of me died inside.

“Well, you know what you’re doing, Molly, you’ve been following her all week, you can do this. We’ll need copy by 3,” said my almost executive editor, the man I still know today.

“Uhhh…” I thought I was going to hurl right there. Lose all that Cap’n Crunch all over the industrial midnight blue berber carpet.

It took me all day. I learned how to format, I learned how to edit, I learned how to not die.

I did it.


He liked to say later that it was all part of the plan, but I know it wasn’t. It was “baptism by fire,” as he described it last time I saw him at Costco. That’s how I’ve learned to operate since; I don’t talk about what I’m going to do too much until I’m ready to do it; then I just try to get it done. I grew up with a talented, smart and beautiful mother who never followed through. I don’t know what stopped her other than some incredible fear. It’s heartbreaking, really. Then there’s me who believes, “You can’t win if you don’t play” and that the only way to do things is … to DO things.

I have a friend, RICK, who has zero patience for people who say, “I want to…” she cuts them off, with love, but says, “Then do it.” She is countered with “But I…” and she will again interrupt with love and say, “Then stop talking about it. Do it or shut up.” She’s said that to me a couple times, and she’s right. If it weren’t for her, I’dve never started this blog. If it weren’t for her, I’dve never entered that fiction contest (I didn’t place as a finalist, but I did it…). She’s right. She’s Bugs Bunny.

So, yeah: we are what we do. It’s pretty a clear message.

Thank you.

This. I Did This.


So I just did this:

holy shit, right?

holy shit, right?

I just entered a fiction writing contest. For people who are 45 years or older. I am 45 years or older. I am 45.56 years old. I’ve written some fiction. I submitted some of that content. So, like … heck to the yeah!

I’ve never done anything like this in my life.

If you knew me, you’d say, “Why not? You’ve a winning personality and a bright smile and a cheerful outlook on life… why wouldn’t you go for this?” and I’d say, “Because I don’t know. Because I suck. Because I have no confidence.”

And you’d say, “But you have this blog, you write all the time, you love to write and you wrote this whole story, that one about the poor kid who injected himself to turn himself into a tree, but he didn’t know why he did it himself, like why he felt this irrepressible urge to turn himself into a tree, but he learned later, you know in that scene you wrote… and that scene, man… holy shit, did you submit that scene?”

And I’d say, “No, I didn’t submit that scene, but I did submit the parts that led up to it; the parts that started the story because while that whole scene, and maaaaan, yes, the ones after it, painted such a … wow, a detailed and intense reason and like shed light on a whole slew of effed-up family history, like real intense stuff, I decided against submitting that part because I wanted to follow the moderator’s advice, which was: ‘always leave the reader wanting more.’ So I did. I did that. I left the reader wanting more.”

And then you’d say, “Well, that’s OK, but you should’ve submitted that scene, Mol. It was so good, so intense. What about the later one, at the cemetery? Did you do that?”

And I’d punch you in the face because I would feel defeated because I had already submitted the content. I’d say “No. Just the earlier parts… because I didn’t want to give too much away and I had to keep it to 5,000 words and I had to have the content stand on its own…”

And then you’d nod and smile and say, “That’s awesome, Mol. Good job.” And you’d pat me on the back and then you’d think a little and your face would make a squinchy expression, like you smelled something rancid in the other room, but just a hint of it and you’d ask, “But when will you find out if you placed or won or got an honorable mention or anything, Mol?”

And I’d say, “Humph. You know what…? I have no clue. It sorta doesn’t matter. Except for the fact that if I won $1000 for the competition I’d use it to purchase a publishing package … or yoga certification classes. But the more I think about it, probably the publishing stuff. Right?”

And you’d say, “Yeah, I mean you don’t need certification to teach yoga and that Bikram dude is a total perv and that John Friend guy is another perv, so yeah… do the writing thing.”  And I’d nod.

Yeah, so I’m stepping out of my box again. I have only one person to thank and she knows who she is. She lives on the other side of a fence line we share. Years ago she told me “I believe in you.” And she gave me this little card that said so. And if there were a little place to write a dedication for a content submission, it would be dedicated to her. So thanks, RICK. xoxo

So, if you’re on the fence to do something like this… just do it y’know? After your first writing contest what’s another one? The second… 😉 (I just said that to a friend of mine in a comment.) So don’t be afraid. I did this. You can too.

You can’t win if you don’t play. (That’s my motto.)

As for the rest of you: have a wonderful Sunday and a Happy Easter if that’s your bag; it’s mine, so I will.

Thank you.