Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Practicing Self Love One Leadership Role At A Time

I have been volunteering to lead things.

Yes, really.

This is new territory for me.

Last week,  I was the co-leader for the craft activity for 350 kids during our week long Vacation Bible School at church.  This step has been years in the making.  To others around me, I can tell, it's no big deal.  And in some ways, it really isn't.  Except this was me in a leadership capacity, I NEVER EVER saw myself doing.

Progressing in my shift from fear to love, one of the things that I have learned, is that it is a very slow journey.  And progress is seen, after the fact.  What I noticed this week, is that I rolled with things that were uncomfortable for me.  There were problems and imperfections that would have thrown me into a huge tailspin in the past.   As I wouldn't speak up in the past, acting on my intuition is new territory.   I enjoyed seeing the needs, acting on what needed to be done and watching my directive occur.

 I like working with adults more than children.  It's just a fact and my truth.  I enjoyed chatting with my adult volunteers.  The thought of going back to be a guide leading kids is not appealing at all.  And I've been in a few capacities during VBS for the last 10 years.

After I came home each day last week and the adrenalin slowed, I was utterly exhausted.   During the week,  I took to my bed as much as I could around the needs of my children.  I know that there is no doubt, I am an introvert.  I'm a friendly introvert, but social interactions, leave me drained.  I can only recharge by being alone and doing absolutely nothing.  No internet, no tv, and no talking, just solitude.  When I'm exhausted, I eat as it feels that I will never have energy again.  This particular feeling appears to be a difficult one for me to overcome.  There are so many times that I am tired.  But, this also gives me more time to practice, right?! {smile}   I use to question, why, why am I so tired?  And I would think no one else in the world is tired like you.  I judged myself unmercifully.   I have learned not to question it anymore, it just is.  And I have to not beat myself up about the overeating.  Self-love is the only way out of this and as I have read and listened to experts in the field of compulsiveness, I need to be curious about the behavior, not judgmental.

I am doing things I never thought I could do.  And it takes practice.  This is my written reminder to practice self-love.

A few weeks back, after I lead a week of Mission Day Camp with the kids, I ran into our Spiritual Formation Director and I said working with kids really wasn't my thing.  She said there was a need for adult teachers in several studies...

This seems very, very appealing.  I get excited about that.  I may be on to something.  And all of this practice in other areas that didn't necessarily excite me has been laying a groundwork to step out in areas that do follow my passion.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Fear and Loathing in Baton Rouge

"Every time you substitute kindness for criticism you improve your relationship with yourself.
When you feel depressed, abandoned, anxious, or worthless that’s a big clue you are telling yourself something harsh and untrue. Challenge your beliefs vociferously in the context of unconditional self love and watch your life improve"
~♥ Nicole S. Urdang

Unconditional self-love.  I believe for the first forty years of my life, I practiced unconditional self-loathing.

I didn't even realize what I was doing.

Looking back, I lived in fear and talked to myself ALL THE TIME about how I didn't measure up to others, how I couldn't do whatever was placed before me.  So many, many moments of my life were spent worrying about the next ones (and not being present).

It is no way to live.

I wouldn't speak up.  It didn't matter the situation, or to whom I was speaking.   I would never lead ANYTHING.  It made me nervous just to participate.   There was no way I could lead, even though I could see better ways to do certain things, I would never voice the thoughts in my head.  When I had to call someone on the phone or address someone about something relatively important, it was a capital H,  Huge deal.  I would agonize over it for hours or days and procrastinate.  My husband commented to me how I freeze in my tracks and just don't move.

It seems every interaction I had with others, I felt like I would be found out.  I wasn't who I appeared to be.  I had made good grades, I was cute and had pretty hair.  I was a cheerleader for gosh sakes.  (That's another entire issue there)  I lived by all of the externals - anything that was on the outside: from what groups I associated with, to the name brands I wore, to how I looked.

It is makes me sad to think how little I thought of myself.

How do you come out of that, especially if you don't even have the awareness that it's going on?

For me it was therapy.  And like most people, usually something has to hit a breaking point for anyone to head to therapy, rehab, treatment.  I wanted to find out why I couldn't lose weight and keep it off.  I knew there was something much deeper to my relationship with food.  And that is where my journey to shift from fear to love began.  I didn't even know that's what I was doing.    What I found out was why I couldn't love myself, and the stories I told myself in my head.  I began the process of becoming who I AUTHENTICALLY am.

And the bizarre thing to me, was that my spiritual journey was one and the same as my therapy.  I unintentionally ended up at church in studies that matched exactly what I was learning on the "outside" and I didn't know those studies existed inside the church.  But it is all one and the same.

You know "God is love." {smile} {wink}

At the core of spirituality and therapy is love.  It had been lost for me for a really long time but it's coming back!  Now, when I judge myself or another person, I stop, and think, Hmmm,  oh yeah, that's fear talking.  And these days, the thoughts just flow right out again.  In the beginning of practicing mindfulness, it might take a few days when someone or something really got in my craw.  But lately, it's down to a few hours and for small issues, it takes minutes or seconds.  

It's been a slow journey and at times painful but one that I am gloriously happy to be on.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

White Knuckling Plane Flights and Life

I still haven't gotten over airline flights: the magic, the mystery, the fear.  Yesterday morning we were in San Diego, two time zones away.  This morning, I wake up in heat and humidity and the Central Time Zone of home.  Before we lifted off, Mallory asked me, "How does the plane fly?"  I said she needed to ask Daddy denying my feminist self.   I have no idea how the plane works, and I ain't got time for that,  I just need to take a half of Zanax, put my head down and roll with it.  It has taken me several years to understand that's just what I need to do to fly. Well, truthfully I figured it out once again five minutes before she asked.

Before her inquiry, I thought, I'm not having any claustrophobia at all.  A moment later, the flight attendant announced she had good news and bad news.  As I looked up for the first time to the front of the plane, my stomach curled both with the visual of the rows and people ahead of me and the thought that there was bad news.  (All I could comprehend now was the nightmare of being stuck on a plane for 9 hours on the runway.)  I immediately got out my pill bottle and took the half that was left from the previous flight seven days ago.   Mallory was telling me that she really didn't like flying.  I thought, one of us needs to be medicated and I don't know what her dosage would be.

So I held her hand and Riley's hand who hates takeoff and away we went.

Even after flying for the last twenty odd years, it is still simply amazing to me.  To be in one place one thousand seven hundred miles away and then bam, three and a half hours later, I am across the country.


I use to try to white knuckle my way through flights.  I thought there was something wrong with me that I needed to take medicine.  I have claustrophobia and I don't like being in enclosed spaces.  I had several bad experiences on planes which I now know where panic attacks.   And then a few years ago after trial and error,  I discovered there was medicine to help.  I found a primary care doctor who I felt comfortable with and have had the same bottle of anti-anxiety pills since 2011. I don't fly that often.

I also use to have a hard time having fun.  For some reason, I didn't think I deserved it.  I didn't put myself out there.  I didn't make plans.   I scratch my head now and think, why did I think that?  (I wasn't worthy….)

It doesn't matter any more.  I have learned to have fun.  Not just in flying to California but in the little everyday things.  Each day, I can make myself miserable or change my thought patterns, and accept things the way they are or change them.   Once I made the choice of conscious living, everything changed bit by bit, I was no longer the victim.  I now have my sense of humor back and the sense of doom has departed. I do forget every now and then though, and I need a wake up call.

San Diego was fun.  Los Angeles was even more of a blast for me.  Food poisoning was not.  But it happened and I recovered and moved on.  The beaches were utterly spectacular.  They transformed me instantaneously to a relaxed space the moment we stepped out of the car.  Getting away and exploring new places is a wonderful adventure. It has taken me years to know that traveling is my right and privilege and I'm so grateful that I can do it.  And… it doesn't have to look perfect.

And I'm so grateful to know that every day is an opportunity for white knuckling fear or for love.  Most every day I choose love now.


Friday, June 6, 2014

Social Media and Me…

My eldest daughter is now on Instagram.  She has been on it for a few weeks.   Instagram doesn't interest me that much.  It's just pictures.  On Facebook, you can write something about the pictures.  I like the writing.  I want to hear about the experience, not just the picture.  Pictures can really be deceiving and that is another blog.

And on Instagram, there are no links to any other writing either.  It's just pictures.  And then there's Twitter.  They limit the writing to 144 characters.  Where is that going to get me?  There are links but I have to click several times to get where I want to go and then go back to Twitter again. I'll admit those are the ones about the Housewives, though and I don't need to know that much.  And there are like 3-4 different communications going on within one tweet,  and I'm still figuring out who originated the post.  Hashtags are cute but then it takes time to decipher what the words are and some people can't spell and I get stuck trying to figure out what the heck this person is trying to say. #notclearatall

Yet, I post all my political agendas on Twitter because if someone stops following me, I won't know, because I forget to go there.  Facebook unfriending is so much more severe…  I do post things on Twitter that I want to keep at least for as long as I can find them.

I like words and have moved to a place in my life where  I like to know what people think (well some of them) and if they have proper grammar and not just what they look like.  I am slowly letting go of superficiality.

I have not been "good" at Instagram either. A few weeks back I realized that my Instagram was open for anyone to see and I had no idea how to find more people. Luckily, I had only posted one picture.  It is definitely for those who use their phones and not a laptop .  I had been trying to delve into Instagram more deeply but I was on a laptop and there seems to be no way to navigate.  That was immensely frustrating for me.  So thumbs down for Instagram.

I am aging myself out with my rigidity of words, and large screens just as all the young people have flown from Facebook because all the old people are on there now.  I am one of those old people.  I like laptops with bigger spaces.  I am a word person, not just pictures.

And that is O-kay.

Except I have to watch what is going on with the young people, especially my young people.  I must not be so rigid that I won't at least check it out before I diss it.   And figure it out enough to see what my peeps are up to.


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The DVR and My Soul Being Covered By A Thousand Veils

It's Memorial Day 2014.  I have a cold.  I was in bed all day yesterday and I read and watched TV.   The most physical thing I did was get up and go to the kitchen to find food to feed myself, because of course, the family rallied to take care of me.


I digress.  Needing to rest, my activity in the horizontal position was to clean up my DVR.  I was determined to get rid of the shows I evidently don't want to watch because I had them taped for weeks or months.  And then there are the Super Soul Sundays.  I don't watch them in a timely manner, yet I know they are good for me.  I resist them but…

They never disappoint.

This one was an interview with Elizabeth Lesser, the author of Broken Open.  She had recently given her bone marrow to keep her sister alive.  She asked her sister to go to therapy so that they could work through their sister baggage.  She wanted the bone marrow to be released and received in the most positive and healthy ways possible.  Oprah asked what was the biggest lesson she learned from all of it:

I am enough, just who I am, just showing up.

My soul is enough. Not what I do, not who I am. (not what I wear, what I drive, what my job is, what my house looks like, what restaurant I eat ate, etc.)

We think we have to BE someone, to do something to get that acceptance we so look for everywhere but in ourselves.  As Elizabeth Lesser says our "golden, radiant core is enough."

That is what it all boils down to. We arrive in this world as beautiful lights of being and then we become veiled to our selves and our souls over time from various messages from those around us and society. We are told to be quiet (a veil comes down), not show our emotions, (another veil) etc.  Oprah and Elizabeth talk about a quote from Hazrat Inayat Khan about "the soul being covered by a thousand veils")
And yet we already have our own answers to who we are and what we can do (as Glinda the Good Witch says in the Wizard of Oz said - "You had it in you all along").  Elizabeth says there are many way to peel back the veils: psychotherapy, coaching as well as getting healthy physically.  Our unhealthy bodies are a veil.

And Oprah says: our bodies are a literal shield. 


My Aha came speeding down the pike: I think my weight is a literal shield of a boundary to keep people away until I can maintain the boundaries that I need on my own.   The weight in the past has kept me from trying new things and new activities.  I am learning to have boundaries with other's expectations of me.  What others think of me, and expect of me is not my concern.  I am learning to disengage from it and it is a slow evolution.

Irregardless, my golden radiant core is enough.  Thank you Super Soul Sunday!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Middle School Honors, Home Depot, Dogs and Grief

My daughter's Middle School Honors Program was two days ago.  Ten minutes before I am due to leave to attend, I break down in an ugly cry.  The feelings came swiftly and seemingly out of nowhere and these powerful emotions surprise me, but they were so cathartic.  The thoughts came in my head that I missed my mother in law and wished she was here and how proud she would have been of Riley and bam, the waterworks spewed.

Today would have been GaGa's birthday.  We lost her to nasty, ugly cancer two years ago.  

I miss my mother in law's unconditional love and enthusiasm for my children.  She loved them as if she had given birth to them herself.  As a mother, I wanted to keep that person on my team. 

This relationship with my mother in law didn't start out glorious.  It took the nineteen years I knew her to work through excitement, dread, commonality, and then unconditional love.  I learned how to have boundaries with her, especially while she was dying, and that was the greatest gift of all for this recovering people pleaser.  

Over the weekend, we found cushions that fit in the patio chairs that had come from her apartment.   I had a verklempt moment in the middle of Home Depot when I realized that they would work and they were pretty and we could keep this little part of her around.  

But she IS around.  My inconvenient crying prior to school events is her letting me know she is with us.  I'm sad she never met Annie or Brinkley.  She would have loved those dogs.  For this reformed cat lover, dogs are more active expressions of unconditional love. (and work and love…)  I know she must have been the one to help wear me down to Mallory's pleas  to agree to get the first one.  

And the second one.  

But GaGa, we are done with adding dogs for now!  And as Mallory has given up on begging for a puppy, I will not get a bunny either.   Two dogs, two cats, two kids.  We are brimming with four legged love. 

I know you are with us.  You are still a part of the team.  Happy 82nd Birthday!  Love you and miss you here walking beside us, but I still feel your presence.  


P.S. Riley would like to make mention that she won a merit medal for Science, is on Principal's List for All A's and was recognized by the Duke Tip program which she made me sign her up online which resulted in another trip to the stage to receive a certificate!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Puppy Story

Watching a Lifeclass with TD Jakes and Oprah.  It is like being at the best church revival ever AND EVEN I want to say AMEN.  And that is saying a massive amount of HUGE for me to want to be in a fundamental church and listen to his style of speaking.  But what he is saying is so dead on and thoughtful.

He tells a story about a female dog that gets hit and loses use of both of her hind legs. She gives birth to puppies who are perfectly healthy.

The puppies drag themselves because that is what they see their mother doing.  That is what is modeled for them.

They are perfectly healthy.

Oh my.

This speaks volumes to me.

You learn from whom you are surrounded by.  Do you like the message you are receiving?  Do you like the story that you tell yourself about who you are which repeats itself unceasingly day in and day out?  Is this who you authentically are?