Expectations, and Surviving them.

The other day, my friend couldn’t order a London Fog to try because the shop was out of Earl Grey.

“What a disappointment!” I heard myself say, with good cheer.

And that was profound.

Because for whatever reason, I grew up feeling like disappointment was THE WORST EMOTION you could possibly have. Or incite in others. Or observe being had.

I mean, some part of this is that I am highly sensitive to other people’s emotions, so. Any negative emotion wasn’t great. But disappointment? THE WORST.

To be avoided at all costs.

This leads to a rather obvious decision: don’t expect anything.


or whatever. I mean, maybe no one died of merely expecting something and not getting it, but why risk it?

We moved across the country when I was 9, and at that point I cottoned onto a concept of deliberately holding no expectations of a new place or environment. When we moved to Japan about 4 years later I was quite determined to not be at all anticipating anything, because it was so outside my realm of experience.

It worked, on one level.

But fast forward to now–and learning about how helpful making a concrete vision for your life is. How necessary it is to acknowledge your emotions.

Even disappointment.

And I also have realized another thing: if you think you don’t have expectations, you are probably fooling yourself. Now, it is possible to not know what to expect of a new place but when you are preparing for it you need some information going in.

Working with your expectations, consciously, means you can also work with your disappointments–consciously.

Not to say that I was wrong to arrive in Japan with a blank slate. There was literally nothing a 13 year old girl could do to prepare for that.

But it’s a survival mechanism I no longer need.

New Blogging Sketch Practice!

For a person who loves blogs and all their facets, I do avoid blogging quite a lot.

I’ve got a new campaign! I’m going to write for about 20 minutes every day, and if I’m not finished with it, I still have to publish it.


The thing is, daily practice is the only way to get better.

I may be doing some vlogs as well.

What’s today’s blog going to be about? Well, that is the question.

I could post about the fantastic time I had at the Sirens conference or how much I’m looking forward to next year.

I could post about the fact that I’m upgrading what I offer my one-on-one coaching clients.

I could tell you all about the amazing steam train that stopped in Claremore yesterday afternoon, or the way the fog was amazing this morning on my walk.

Instead, though I think I’ll wrap this up after a linkbloggity and 10 minutes to give myself an icebreaker and a chance to improve tomorrow.

Till then, nerdlings!


~ Bethany, Your Friendly Neighborhood Health Coach

Draw That Demon

I attended and was part of programming ReaderCon last week! One of the panels was titled “Challenging the Coercive Muse”.

During the discussion, there was an interesting breakdown on muses as demons vs. as true inspiration.

Since I don’t really have much of an investment in the muses idea, I hadn’t thought about when the inner critic gets bundled up with it.

Maybe a lot of people consider that a lump deal.

That makes it seem like an internal critical monologue is a necessary part of the creative process (which SEEMS true, I have experienced that).

I no longer think it is. Should you apply critical thinking skills to your artistic process? Absolutely. The emphasis being on “thinking skills”. Because the Inner Critic is just trying to minimize risk, not improve your art.

I’m going to be doing an online workshop on Tuesday called “Quash Your Inner Critic”, about just this!

Here’s a preview video I bust out today:

Quash Your Inner Critic Teaser

Get in on the Facebook Event for reminders: Quash Your Inner Critic Event

or be ready to get on at 7pm Central on Tuesday the 19th at this Marvelous Link

Replays available eventually!


How do you distinguish your inner demons from your inner genius? Haha. Let me know in the comments!


A second session of MoJo – a Month of Journalling is coming up! Check it out.

Joy and Disassociation – a disaster story

When I was in Germany doing a bike tour a few years ago, I witnessed one of our group wipe out and get hurt badly.

I didn’t only witness it–I took point and administered first aid.

I should remember how this feels, I thought vaguely, fingers holding warm, bleeding skin, mind in a tunnelled state of purpose.

While this member of the group was ambulance’d off with her husband, the rest of us had hostel reservations at the other end of the day’s ride.

As we pushed through, a fine rain chilling fingers and faces, I felt surges of anger toward my helmet (she hadn’t been wearing one), despair that we were still bicycling, and vivid recall of moments after the accident.

I should remember how this feels, I thought, when I could back up from those surges and laugh at myself.

I knew what I was going through: trauma. (Thus the power of fiction: I recognized the state more from being inside the head of fictional people than from any textbook description.)

And I thought, maybe having an authentic experience will help me write these kinds of things vividly myself.

Also, I am clearly disassociating. Cool.

It was my first time to feel that outside-in perspective on a bad experience that many writers have discovered.

But what amazed me about this experience wasn’t so much my ability to act in an emergency, or the part of me scrutinizing my experience from outside.

It was how happy and hopeful I had been in preparation of the trip–and how happy and hopeful I was even as I rode out the first two days post-trauma.

Because honestly, my emotional baseline used to be so different.

I went into The Artist’s Way arguing with the text about being blocked as a writer (I was still writing!), about being depressed (I wasn’t sad!), but not about the importance of clearing out emotional junk.

When I finally looked back on my depression as something in the past I couldn’t tell you when it had started, or if it had ever stopped.

And I came out the other side of the Artist’s Way’s 12 week course, I had begun shedding a shell of pessimism about my potential for happiness, for healing. I had my work cut out for me, still. But I’d taken a light to that mental attic where core beliefs warped my experiences and ability to handle setbacks.

Part of the journal entry from two days after the accident, which had been the last thing I wrote about:

Sept 14th

Seems forever since I wrote that last entry, and yet jut moments ago I was in that particular hotel, writing it…

Today’s journey started in sunshine on a balcony, meeting–we had döner and wine the night before, up there.

Two more days! Of riding anyway… This is a trip I’m going to be sad is over and think about and wish for, for a while to come, I think.

To be honest, I’m surprised even now by the joy I was able to experience. At the end of the trip I saw our friend again, on the mend, and had a physical “crisis over” reaction that made it clear I’d been holding a lot of tension and worry.

It was another thing that a part of me sat back, observed, and laughed at.

The MoJo workshop is my way to pass on what journaling has given me.


When a few months after this incident I decided to study with IIN to become a coach, I knew I’d be taking what I already had learned from The Artist’s Way, Women Who Run With the Wolves, and other resources to be part of what I did.

I would like to invite you to join me.


Body Language – or how my immune system throws intelligent tantrums

My body and I are working out our communication issues.

Recently our fights have been about sugar. “Why are you hurting, stomach? You’re the one craving chocolate!”

“No, girl, that is all you and your psychological need for comfort because you are stressed.”

Of course, I have to do the talking parts for both of us. Sometimes I mistranslate.


Day 1

Stomach: ow

Bethany: I know, I’ve been terrible. We’ll quit sugar now and caffeine as soon as I’m back in my groove. Peppermint?

Day 2

Throat: ow

Bethany: I know, travel and toxic environments, we’ll work it out. Salt gargle?

Day 3

Ears: ow

Face: we’re burning up here

Throat: OWCH

Stomach: don’t do anything I wouldn’t do

Bethany: OK, what is going on, I did the ears thing, the throat thing, still nothing. Aspirin? OK, I’m just going to bed.

Day 4

Everything: OWCH

Bethany: Dude. I’m staying in bed. Maybe for the week.

Day 5

Everything: slight ow detected, but thank you for your work


Because I am not as stupid as I once was,  I realized that I was still taking the week off, or my body might need to reintroduce tantrum tactics.

While I was busy blaming myself and the environments I’ve been living in for getting sick, assuming it would work itself out, I forgot (or at least undervalued) what I’ve discovered before. My throat gets sore when I’ve been running too far, too long, and need a break.

The thing that fooled me here was that I have been doing self-care. Taking days off, having fun. Which is why my body could afford to wait until I had a week with no commitments (practically) to hold its little “Woe Is Me” festival.

It all worked out beautifully.

I’ve migrated from my bed to the desk today, though the week isn’t quite over. And I’m commemorating with this post, because this is really progress. It feels very “wise health coach”–not to be sick, of course. But to read the signs and figure out what my body is saying.

It can feel like a maze when you first get started trying to listen to your body. In some cases, communications have broken down so badly, you’re essentially rebuilding civilization from a razed-to-the-ground apocalypse.

And for a girl who still occasionally misspells stomach because as a kid the compound-like “stomache” made more sense to her, I’ve made some progress.

And I have a comrade in it with me: my non-lingual but by no means silent body.

When I Had Money – or, gratitude lesson of the day

I started on my taxes Saturday and discovered something strange:

Apparently, I had a lot of money last year.

This came as a bit of a surprise.

That money is now a good memory. While I freak out about whether those numbers are right, and I really do actually have to pay taxes (I was only barely self-employed!) I also remember getting a lot out of my money last year.

I got to travel to two conferences and one class reunion, to enjoy eating out, going to movies, and even picking up the tab when taking friends out for lunch.

I don’t remember having more money than usual. I do remember having enough.

I’ve been taking my belt in after quitting my part-time job (metaphorically speaking)–cutting back on memberships, adjusting my travel plans. It’s what I expected.

And though it can cause a bit of panic (still working on my tendency to anxietate), I am appreciating the small things. Like finding an early-bird price ticket past the cut-off because someone couldn’t go to a conference. Getting to help remodel my mom’s house and practice for my own place someday. Loving my library like we’re newlyweds again.

I’m enjoying this time, with it’s different challenges and joys. So I can think back fondly, without resentment, to what I did with that money even if it’s gone.

Barring the fact that the IRS now wants some.*


*Though spending a few hundred bucks supporting a country that makes it easy for me to start my own business isn’t too bad. And it’s another thing I need to get used to, as a business owner! Silver linings.

Petition to Stop Bagging on Makeover Scenes

There is a pernicious sort of cliche (at least in k-dramas, which are more my area) where the girl is dragged off to the high-end of town to be made to try on clothes she would never have picked out for herself, and leaves the place aglow with beauty and a suddenly new idea of her own worth.

Since this is often done under the eye of a male character (or better: on his credit card), there’s a justifiable cynicism toward them. Since (especially in k-dramas) the more deprecating the guy is toward the girl’s appearance the more you know he’s the rich Prince Charming…well. Problematic is a good word for it.

The character is discovering their value as determined by sex appeal.

I assume that’s what happens in this movie I haven’t watched


I was thinking about this as I watched Mean Girls for the first time. (Pondering also a SMS post about the issue with making “evil” girl characters or alter egos inevitably be sexy in counterpoint to the ingenue.)

See, makeovers are about hope.

I’m not even going to pretend I haven’t watched this movie… several times.

This was what you know as a young girl: looks matter. You may never become a princess (and goodness, you might not even really want to, apparently you have to behave) but the way people treat you has a lot to do with how well or badly you do the beauty thing.

Which takes time, skill, money.

Even girls like me who spent years feeling vaguely morally superior for not learning these skills and investing that time and money, we knew that it mattered.

And maybe we just needed more help.

Princess = Ridiculous Closet Space + Personal Shoppers. Plural.

So let’s not bag on the way this fantasy of support plays out in media. Instead of making fun of makeover scenes, or even blaming girl characters for having them, how about we talk real about the fact that the skill of dressing and redrawing oneself is complicated?

Because it’s hard to be good at it, and it’s totally okay to not care to be that good.

But it’s also cruel to pretend that hope is silly.

celebrating female characters – KDRAMA

Last week, I participated in a fandom-led K-Drama Women’s Week, culminating in International Women’s Day.

A lot of the prompts ask about characters who are sidelined or treated unfairly–and I love the way I get to hear what other fans love about characters.

Some of my own posts:

Rewrite: Character Most Likely to Escape Abusive Relationship – GIL RA IM (Secret Garden)

picking a character who, in retrospect, should have enjoyed herself and then moved on…

Favorite Overseas Returnee: Coffee Prince’s YOO JOO

because Coffee Prince is still just the greatest in some things – the returned ex is a trope that is often deployed thoughtlessly for tension, and this is not one of those

And definitely not least:

Favorite Fridged Mom – PINOCCHIO

She didn’t even get a name, though she got an actress I hope to see in more high-profile projects.

Top Picks from Other Bloggers

Fridged Mom: Arang and the Magistrate (spoiler alert! spoiler alert!)

Favorite Matriarch: Miss Korea

Favorite Lead: Go Dok Mi – Flower Boy Next Door

Celebrate the ladies!

This Nerd: Why Introverts Hate Surprises

I recently heard the quote, “People don’t want to be surprised by a story, they want the best birthday present.”

I’m not sure who said it, and I think it should be “People don’t want to be surprised, they want the present they didn’t realize they already wanted” but I agree with the idea wholly.

I dislike surprises. For example:

I hate practical jokes.

Now, I love the Weasley Twins in Harry Potter, practical jokers extraordinaires. How does this work?

There’s a definite difference between walking under a door with a bucket of water, and picking up something that’s not yours and having it turn into a rubber chicken. If only you were OBSERVANT, the latter wouldn’t happen to you. This seems fair.

The Weasleys seemed to always give people a fair chance, and laugh at their lack of intelligence.

Many practical jokes (and the whole of April Fools Day) essentially rely on undermining your faith in humanity. I hate that.

Short-sheeting beds (which I had never heard of before I helped someone figure out the science of it) in an established prank war is hilarious. Handing someone a cup of fish sauces instead of an Americano is just cruel.

What does this have to do with introversion? When you are thoughtful, you put a lot of effort into obeying social rules, or choosing which to break. Expectations are something you try to predict to smooth things over. Surprises, like surprise parties and gifts, usually involve an expectation–which you have no control over.

Lizzy Bennett was twice surprised by proposals–if she’d been hoping for either of them, she would have been happy. But because she wasn’t, it was more horrible for being a surprise. When Mr. Darcy proposes at the end there’s a lot more lead in, and therefore she has time to somewhat expect it. And still be thrilled.

So when dealing with an introvert, and trying to surprise them with a gift–get them something they asked for.

I don’t want to be surprised with something I never thought I wanted. I want to be surprised by what you remembered I wanted–or what you chose off that carefully prepared list with reach items and some too-cheap things that could be a multiple-choice.

This Nerd : Eating Under Duress

Currently my (mom’s) kitchen looks like this:

rawkitchenit’s going to be BEAUTIFUL

but let’s be real. I am not cooking balanced meals right now. The stove isn’t even hooked up.

I’ve been buying a lot of finger-foods and conveniently packaged whole foods.ontheconveyor.JPG

I think I’ve been striking a good balance between nutritional value and convenience (though there has been a shade more chocolate and ice cream in the mix than usual…)

The really tough part is listening to my body about being hungry. If I don’t sit down to regular meals, it’s easy to graze through the day, or just eat a lot at late hours. I know I do best with people to sit down with, to remember to take my time. Chew. Enjoy.

But I also know that when my family’s out of town, maybe sitting in my car at the park listening to Harry Potter on audiobook and eating sushi is a decent alternative.

I’m pretty sure it’s not a health food, but it’s a good bargain to strike with a body craving comfort, and a brain craving novelty.


What’s your brain-and-body strategy to deal with today?