Archives for January 2015

Worry is a Lack of Confidence (AND an Energy Killer)

Corrie Ten Boom Worry Strength

Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.
~ Corrie ten Boom (1892-1983)

I am often described as outgoing, boisterous, happy, and, yes, a bit obnoxiously perky (especially for those not as excited about the earlier hours). And those things (even the tendency towards the obnoxious) are true.

However, those who know me well will also tell you I also have a tendency to be anxious. My anxiety is sometimes warranted by actual causes for concern. More often, unfortunately, it is just a malfunction in the way I am wired; a reminder that I am, in fact, human and should remain gracious to all because we all have our challenges.

Having dealt with this for a really long time, I have gotten really good at talking myself down. I won’t bore you with the ins and outs of mindfulness based cognitive behavioral strategies or how diet and exercise really do matter. I will tell you that while it all works and I am very thankful for it, it is exhausting.

This is primarily the reason I am also know as an optimist. You will here me repeatedly say things like, “don’t borrow trouble,” “make one decision at a time,” “will will cross that bridge when we get there,” or, my favorite, “let’s step back and make sure we are looking at this right.”

Too often we create more worry by entertaining exaggerated worry over situations that actually require little if no worry at all. At which point we then proceed to escalate the situation. The situation needs attention. We worry. Worry makes us distracted, less focused, hesitant, and less capable to employ our abilities. This makes any situation worse. By the time we have worried all over it, we have created something to worry about!

Today I want to encourage you to focus on confidence. The number one reason for worry, insofar as I can tell, is lack of confidence in ones ability to handle whatever happens next. The future is the largest producer of anxiety. This is so unfortunate because the future holds so much hope and promise! The present is where our potential works and the future is the enjoyment of that success! To sabotage that and to steal that from ourselves is all we achieve when we worry. Our strength lives in certainty, assurance, and joy. That’s a much better basket of tricks than worry.

Eaten up from Nose to Tail

RikkiTikkiNagaina

It is the hardest thing in the world to frighten a mongoose, because he is eaten up from nose to tail with curiosity.
~Rudyard Kipling, The Jungle Book

Fear sucks. I have experienced my fair share of it and, quite frankly, I can do without it. I understand that it can be a positive motivator for some folks. I get that the rush it induces in some is a welcomed side effect. I am not one of those people.

Therefore, I spend a pretty good bit of time trying to train myself to not be afraid. Sometimes it works. Too often it doesn’t. I can’t function like that.

Just trying to decide whether or not reviving TAT after all the time away was scary.

Then I recalled today’s quote and it seemed to relate.

I am curious about what I would say if I started again. I was curious if others would be interested. I was curious if even I myself would be interested. I was ate up with curiosity about what it would look like if I harnessed the energy it took to put the nouns and the verbs together in this way again.

That’s when the fuller truth in regards to the relationship between fear and curiosity made sense to me. Fear is, for the most part, just not knowing. What if? Who knows? Is it possible? What is it? How can that be? All those questions can be very, very scary (at least they are for me).

Today I am encouraged to fight fear with curiosity. If I have to experience an emotion towards the unknown, I will attempt to do that with the wonder so often displayed by children versus the paralyzation that accompanies adult sized fears. What was the last thing that sparked your curiosity? In our busy lives I have noticed it is sometimes the curious nature that takes the backseat to the tried and true. There is time to wonder and explore. And for me, knowing is a lot less scary.

 

*TAT 1/27/15

A Letter to My Senior

This was not my idea.

High school Senior Parent Letter Assignment

Dear Bear,

You are such a beautiful soul that I am always cautious when I impart advice to you. But, I am your Giver of Life. As such, I invoke the right that all Givers of Life have to dispense advice whether needed or not, requested or not, right or not, wanted or not. (In this particular instance, I also note that YOU required it of me at the bequest of your teacher; this is not to be used against me in any later therapy that you may or may not need.)

Trust yourself. You are wondrously made. If all people had the heart you possess, the world would be a better place. There will be many times you feel unsure, doubtful, fearful. That’s okay. We all feel that way. Know that you are more right than you are wrong most of time. Yes, this is true regardless of what other people may want you to believe.

Consume at least 64 ounces of water a day. (Water in your Starbucks lattes only count on Sunday.)

You will get it wrong. We all do. When it happens – and trust me sweet girl, it will happen – own it, fix what you can, leave what you can’t, and suck every piece of education you can from it. Failure is not something you are, it is something you do. It does not define you. It does not define them. Grace is a gift I hope you freely give to yourself and others. This is not a trait of the lax or the pushover. It takes strength and courage. Do not believe those that tell you otherwise.

Banana splits are occasionally acceptable for dinner.

Sometimes you just have to say “F(edited out of courtesy to your English teacher)k it” and move forward. Not all choices feel good and safe. Not all choices are fun and desirable. Some things just have to get done, left behind, cleaned up, walked over, turned out, wrapped up, thrown away. This is where life just is what it is. These things, being left to their own devices, only get worse. I promise you, what smells bad today only reeks worse tomorrow. Just bulldog it and move on.

Drink with people who love you. Be the designated driver for those who don’t.

Be real careful what “they” you listen to. There is a whole world filled with the ominous “they.” We aren’t really sure who they are, what type of training they have, what their agenda is, but we are pretty sure they live in their parents’ basement nomming on cheesy poofs playing Dungeon and Dragons. “They” have big mouths and are currently trying to figure out how to make a living trolling the internet. They do not have girlfriends. Easy filter – if “they” insists that everything sucks and nothing you do is right and the entire existence of the world is a big conspiracy meant to create entire subcultures of GMO tolerant, gluten adverse, non vaccinated, obese fast food consumers, breastfed gym rats that poo granola Oreos, you are probably dealing with a “they.” Abraham Lincoln said it best – “Don’t believe everything you read on the internet.”

Semicolons are sexy. Learn how to use them.

There are assholes everywhere; that doesn’t define the “everywhere.” (Sorry, the edit just didn’t do the thought justice. Besides, you’re a senior, you can handle it.) Every sect of society – professions, neighborhoods, races, religions, clubs, cults, PTOs, opinion groups – are just a microcosm of society. A bad cop, teacher, solider, sailor, politician, mommy, doctor, teenager, old person does not provide reason to assume that all folks in that particular demographic are idiots. Quite frankly, it doesn’t necessarily mean the offender is an idiot. We all have bad days. And we all have folks in our groups that we would rather we didn’t. Boxes are for shoes, not people. Everyone is created as an individual and deserves the consideration of an individual. Of course, if they prove themselves individually to be the designated asshole, take them at their word that’s who they are and move on.

Don’t be afraid of profanity. It is not a sign of weak vocabulary any more than a love of chocolate is a sign of a weak diet. Sometimes, they both just taste good.

Different is not wrong – it’s just different. Your daddy likes to cut up his steak as he eats it. I like to cut up mine all at one time. You like to have your daddy cut up yours. None of those things are wrong – they are just different. Be wary of people who try to make “different” = “wrong” as they are usually covering up for some feeling of personal inadequacies that I can bet money you don’t want any part of.

Be a rebel. End sentences with prepositions. Unless you are speaking Latin. Or honoring Yoda.

If you realize one day that all your friends are alike, get new friends. I’m not saying cut the old ones loose. I’m just saying you need to grow your circle. There is no better way to become an asshole than to surround yourself with people who always think like you, agree with you, and are a whole lot like you. Nature shows us this. If we plant the same crop over and over in the same field, eventually the ground dries up and produces trash. Diversity in relationship is the single best thing you can do to ensure you do not become stale as a person. It also makes coffee shop conversation much more interesting.

Disregard that thing I said about profanity around your great grandmother. Thanks.

Don’t ever make one decision out of fear. It is my belief that there are only two true emotions in life – love and fear. I don’t have to tell you that one is exponentially more productive than the other. There are times you will find yourself afraid or feeling one of its offspring emotions – hate, anger, depression, spite, resentment. Don’t beat yourself up about that as it is natural and human. It is in those human places that we are able to work through and find those ways to be more human. That is where we find grace, compassion, courage. Make decisions in that space. It is worth the work.

Do not make a habit of eating food that comes out of a window.

Make the commitment to love forever. There are so many obstacles and story spinners out there trying to convince you that love is not the answer. They need your love most of all. Love animals, love people, love babies, love criminals, love saints, love the broken, love the healed, love yourself…always love yourself. This is not always easy and sometimes it can only be done in a detached, acknowledged only in a broad sense type of way. There are atrocities in this world that will bend your heart to the point you think it will break. People will be careless with your emotions and you will hurt. You will look at yourself in the mirror and find an imaginary million and one ways in which you don’t measure up. Don’t be surprised when it happens and don’t let it define who you are. Your heart is the most beautiful thing ever created. Share it, be prepared to nurse it, do not hold fear in it.

My baby girl, there are so many more things I want to tell you…

  • Never go on a second date with someone who is mean to the wait staff
  • Live your passion
  • Never leave home without your sketchbook
  • Sometimes going to the store in pajama pants is necessary
  • Exercise
  • Volunteer
  • Always have a book to read
  • Compliment others
  • You can always come home
  • I am never further than a phone call
  • Diet soda is for crazy people – just drink the regular stuff

But most of all I want you to know that when you feel like it doesn’t matter, you don’t make a difference, you aren’t capable of being in this adult world – you are wrong. You have been changing lives since the day you were born. Who I am now is so much because of you. It scares me to think who I would have become without you. Thank you for growing up with me. I am so glad you are my kid.

Love,

Momma

 

The Tale of the Sometimes Always Writer

Flannery O'ConnorI am a writer. I have always been a writer, learned how to write an annotated bibliography, how to use literary techniques and so on. Okay, so maybe when I was first born and not yet able to hold a pencil and all that literal shit, I was NOT a writer. But in my body, in my spirit, I have always been a writer.

Notice I didn’t say brain. Writing isn’t in the brain. Grammar, spelling, punctuation – that’s in the brain. Writing is somewhere else. It is ethereal.

When I was on deployment I always kept the pictures of my family put away. Tucked into my Bible is where they stayed. I didn’t pin them up, tape them to my bunk or inside my locker. I hid them. In order to remain sane so far away from them, I couldn’t look at those pictures unprepared. I had to be ready for it. Otherwise, it would throw me into a spiral of whatever that ache is that you get when you can’t put your hands on your children or kiss the forehead of your beloved. A person can’t live like that.

Such is the danger of a writer. You can’t always go there. Well, put a better way – I haven’t always been able to go there.
Private Thoughts

I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say ~ Flannery O’Connor

And I am not always prepared to know what I think. There are some moments, days, periods of life that are just not appropriate for in-depth contemplation. Sometimes after the spouse is adored, kids are nurtured, career is clocked, food is served, teeth are brushed, I am grateful to maybe have enough energy to fold the laundry, and, if it is a particularly great day, have enough left in the tank to carry on an adult conversation with a girlfriend who has been seriously neglected. To add an in-depth conversation with myself? Yeah, no.

I am not afraid of my truthSo, no writing.

As a point of explanation, that entire “not prepared to know what I think” paragraph had to be paused, rewritten, edited for content as there is too much left to say and analyze between the spaces and commas. I don’t have time for that.

In addition to not having time, I don’t have the inclination. I have a hard time with private writing. I heard somewhere that George Washington said, “Never write down anything you don’t want the whole world to read.” I don’t care enough to google the authenticity of that citation. The point is I believe the sentiment.

Therefore, I rarely write what I can’t publish. I don’t trust it. That being true, there is a ton of stuff in my brain that will never find the page. While necessary, the downside of that is periods of time where I just will not write. It is just too much to figure out the best way to balance authenticity with tact, honesty with privacy, truth with rant.

I am a universe of secretsIt’s a conundrum really. Which I suppose is only fitting. When I described myself as a conundrum in my skin to my husband, he reflected for the briefest of moments and agreed with a huge smile.

His response was enlighting for me. One, it affirmed what I thought and verified that I was not over thinking myself and on the track to being more comfortable. Two, most importantly, the smile gave me courage to embrace that odd cattywampus juxtaposition of self that so often feels…well…unknowable.

So maybe I will just have to write about it…