Cherry On Top

Today has been a wacky day.

I haven’t slept the last two nights. At 6 am this morning, I finally went downstairs and turned on a movie. This afternoon, I thought I might be able to snooze, but no dice. I am in a fog. I hope things change tonight.

I had a wonderful conversation with my friend Warren this afternoon. It was awful and upsetting subject matter, but I am grateful to have a friend who can have these tough conversations. It is real life. It isn’t a sitcom where every issue is neatly tied up at the thirty minute mark as the theme song swells in the background. It helps to be vulnerable and know that the person on the other end loves you enough to listen and offer you support.

One of the biggest gifts of this journey, has been the opportunity to be open and vulnerable. It has been extremely difficult for be to be vulnerable in the past, even with my closest friends. Even though I haven’t made huge gains in all areas of my life, this is one element that I have had success in. I have learned that the world won’t self-destruct if I am vulnerable. I can be broken and survive. I can let people see that.

Sometimes, embracing that honest frustration and sense of brokenness that we feel helps usher in a new feeling. Warren asked me gentle questions and I had to admit that I’m doing all that I can. All of these areas of my life can not be controlled, not by me at least. I expressed that the only thing I can control is my attitude. I can think positive as opposed to negative. I can believe in my own worth and find a way to believe that other people will see that too. I have been worrying and stressing with all my might, but what I really need to do is focus on what I want to happen, not what I don’t. Like the Indigo Girls sing, ” The hardest to learn was the least complicated.”

Even on a day like this, when I think I can possibly have a happy ending, a little ray of light shines through and a prayer seems to be answered. As I was working on dinner I noticed a special ed job at an elementary school where another good friend of mine works. Obviously, nothing to report yet, but it can’t hurt to have someone who loves and supports me in the trenches to vouch for me to the principal. I got what I asked for, with such desperation as I tossed and turned last night – hope.

Now I plan to get a good night’s sleep and have a better attitude tomorrow. There just might be something sweet in it for me after all.

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The End of the War

Norbert Rosing – National Geographic

I’ve been nudged toward teaching for a long time now. For years, I skirted the issue, thinking that I could never be happy in a classroom when I was told what and how to teach. I’m still don’t like the idea of being told how or what to teach, but I’ve learned that teaching is what I’ve been put on this earth to do. I love writing books and songs, and I feel I was put here to do that too. But my storytelling is really another form of teaching.

As I write this, it seems egotistical, like Look at me, I’m so smart, but that’s not it at all. I learn just as much, if not more from the students. I am a lifelong student. The world is my classroom. This blog is a class.  My life is one long (I hope) journey of discovery and as I learned today, there is grace and divinity even in the times when I am the most frustrated and confused.

This man I mentioned, who told me I should teach said that I had a natural, nurturing side that wants to help others, but my brand of helping is to teach people how to do for themselves. I thought that was true and wondered how he could possibly know so much about me.

One of my best friends was at a coaching workshop this last week, and he brought this up to me as well. He said, “I want to fix it, you want to help people see it and fix it on their own.” I thought about life coaching about five years ago when I still believed I wouldn’t be happy in a classroom, but I backed away from that idea too because I felt I had no right coaching people when my own life was such a mess.

I’m learning that I end up being a teacher or a coach, even when I don’t mean to. Despite myself.

This summer has been difficult. Not letting myself go to a negative place about the possibility of not getting a job. I try to turn it around, but in so many quiet moments, I know I’m making myself feel miserable and trying to pin it back on me. Your resume isn’t good enough, you don’t have enough connections…The irony of it all is that I ran away from my path for so many years and now I want it more than anything and it’s just outside of my grasp.

However, I was the student today. I learned that I am a teacher, whether I get a job or not. I learn as much as I can everyday and try to make sense of it. Even as I struggle to make sense of it, someone else is learning from my experience and finding peace with themselves. Then I learn an even bigger lesson. That’s the beauty of teaching. The brilliance of being present and aware.

This peace may be fleeting, but I have a feeling that things will work out. I may not get a job in August or I might have so many offers that I won’t know how to pick. I might finish my degree and then try to teach internationally. I do know without a shadow of a doubt that I am doing what I’m here to do and I have one very special person to thank for that today.

Thank you for reminding me that the war can be over, if I want it to be.

Raindrops Keep Falling…

I’m still feeling a bit down in the dumps, unfortunately. I’m working through it, but I have to say I’ve hit some speed bumps that are testing my patience and my faith. Same old story, right.

The rain has been falling literally and figuratively these last few weeks. We have had some horrible storms recently in Colorado. Worst than any that I remember since I was little. Nothing like some of the terrible flooding that has been happening in other states, but intense nonetheless.

I think part of my melancholy is that things are happening in my life that I can’t control, I’m doing all I can. However, I haven’t been very good at spending time on the activities that make me feel sane like writing and making music, and that lack of creative outlet is making me feel worse. I can change how I use my time and stewing about non-existent job offers or lack of romance isn’t helping…clearly.

I have had a hard time understanding that I can’t hold myself to standards of other people’s experiences as the status quo. I always look around and outside of myself for measurement as to what I should be accomplishing. Yet, I know deep down that I march to a different drummer (and a nice horn section too!) and I never do things in a sequence that is “normal” or similar to anyone else’s experience. I need to remind myself that there is nothing wrong in going your own way, in making new ground and taking the road less traveled.

My mom gets a Unity publication of daily meditations. Yesterday, interestingly enough, was an essay on trust called, “Let Go, Let God.” This is a phrase often used in recovery and it used to rub me the wrong way because surrender is so difficult for me. In all honesty, I scoffed a little when I saw it sitting on the counter. I almost didn’t read it. I’m glad I changed my mind. It held some insightful reminders.

Letting go brings me peace and freedom. As I let go of worry about a job, the economy, my health or a loved one, I allow Spirit to work in these situations. When I let go of self-doubt and unworthiness , I let divine inner wisdom be my guide. Letting go does not mean I do nothing. It simply means I am less willful and more willing. I let go of the need to control or solve every problem and marvel at the way life is forever moving in the direction of my highest good.

The last line resonated the most with my own life right now. Although it seems like nothing is coming my way, I can’t see how I’m being led to my greater good right now. I will see it and understand it eventually. The sun will come out again. Maybe even tomorrow. As the music swells in the background.

Becoming Real

“Real isn’t how you’re made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up?” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

Excerpt from The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

I like to use my own photography, but had nothing in my archive that would work for this post.

My self-esteem has been in the dumps these last couple of days for a handful of reasons.

I’m getting plenty of reinforcements from friends, family and the universe…it just isn’t doing much good at the moment.

I’m allowing myself the day to feel lousy and then tomorrow I have to get over it. I know this negative attitude isn’t helping anything, so that needs to go too.

I was looking for something today when I found my old copy of The Velveteen Rabbit. I think this is such a beautiful and bittersweet story. I re-read it and found it to be so profound. I loved it as a child, but the message of becoming real resonated in a new way.

Part of the issue is that I’m still avoiding things a bit, but I know it’s not the same old stuff. One element of this work on my self, is that the more epiphanies I have, the more it feels like Pandora’s box. I know this is just a part of the process, but this week it all is too much. I am still just beginning to understand shame and how it related to my experience. Two steps forward, one step back but eventually I’ll get there.

Shame On You

Shame – noun

The painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous, etc., done by oneself or another: She was overcome with shame.
       I’ve never really thought much about shame until this week. I understood what shame meant, but in a distant arm’s length way. Like stealing or lying were actions to  be ashamed of, stuff like that.  This week I have come to understand shame in a new, personal way. I feel that the book The Gift of Imperfection  has been a gift. I’m learning about belonging and my quest and sabotage of love in my life.
       According to Brene Brown, shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging. This definition of shame rings true. I have been experiencing deep shame for a long time. She goes on to explain that shame keeps our worthiness away because we’re afraid that people won’t like us if they know the truth about who we are or even if they realize how wonderful we are – sometimes, she adds, it’s just as hard to own our strengths as our struggles.
      Wow.
       I have been thinking about how, since the fifth grade, I have been comparing myself to everyone around me and measuring myself in a constant battle of okay/not okay. My lips are nice and I have soft hair, but my stomach is too flabby and skin hangs over my elbow unless it’s extended…I could go on and on. I am now seeing that this is shame. Shame and fear preventing me from ever seeing or experiencing my truth.
       I think understanding shame and learning how to break out of this shame cycle will be a huge leap for me. I feel like the light has been flipped on finally. Shame, who knew? I’m excited to keep reading and applying this gift of a book in my life.
       Also, I have not crumpled under the pressure of my online profile. I’ve even made contact with someone, which is still scary and I’m trying not to retreat back into my shell. I actually think I will be reactivating another profile soon. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe today.
       I watched an awesome speech by Bill Cosby this morning, that was funny and touching about being authentic and not falling into the shame that is beneath you. It’s a bit long, but worth watching if you have time. You can link to the video here.

Breaking New Ground

I can’t believe it’s already July. I applied for a handful of new jobs today. I’ve been a bit frustrated lately, but I had to remind myself today that I am doing all I can do. I must have faith that I will wind up in the right spot.

I’ve also been reading The Gift of Imperfection and enjoying it a lot. I just started the chapter on worthiness and I’m hoping to find some helpful strategies. Even though I’m still working through feeling worthy right now, I’m feeling the fear and doing it any way.

I have been online and have been brave. It’s funny because the site I am on makes you message people before you can complete your profile. I am being pushed by the Universe and a computer program to step outside my comfort zone.

I’m also going to reactivate my profile on another site, mainly because I need to give this a shot and I am less busy this summer than I will be in the fall. It’s a good time for me to give this a try.

I met with a friend for breakfast yesterday who told me that she had recently read through my old blog posts and said it was fun to see my growth.  It’s harder for me to see it as an outsider might, but that’s one of the reason why I wanted to do this blog. It keeps me honest but it also serves as a record of all of this as well. I’m excited to sit and look back over a whole year of my life once this is over.

I know that it will never really be over, not for me. I am always growing and that’s a good thing.

Brene Brown writes, Belonging is the innate human desire to be part of something larger than us. Because this yearning is so primal, we often try to acquire it by fitting in and by seeking approval, which are not only hollow substitutes for belonging, but often barriers to it. Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.

I am working toward truly belonging and presenting my authentic self to the world.

Pieces Broken

And I’ll give you all my pieces broken
In your hands, there’s nothing that you can’t fix
My heart is frayed, my scars are open
So put me back together now, stitch by stitch
Put me back together now, stitch by stitch.

Javier Colon

I have been trying to recreate a conversation I had on Tuesday for this post and like most bursts of inspiration or epiphany – everything after those original words seems slightly hollow.

I have been very impressed and entertained by the singing contest The Voice and although I loved all four of the finalists, I was sooo happy to see Javier Colon come out on top! His original song, Stitch by Stitch is not only well written and beautiful, but it really speaks to me right now. I thought it was an appropriate anthem for this journey I’m on.

I have been learning a lot about behavior in summer school and I can’t help but connect it back to my own experience, especially in terms of my reluctance to go out on a limb and face rejection again. I’ve learned about positive and negative reinforcement this last week and how either reinforcement affects one’s behavior. I think back to past rejections or all the well-meaning comments and critiques from my mother as I grew and I’m starting to understand my own behavior much more – my tendency toward avoidance and my comfortable shell of fear.

One of my best friends commented recently that I turn into a different person around straight men – especially men I would be interested in. Like Clark Kent and Superman, I have been skilled at transforming into someone else to protect myself and stay out of risky situations, but at what expense. I don’t want to spend any more time living as a multiple… a shadow self.

A week ago, I had another epiphany after I was nudged toward the truth by a friend about a unhealthy relationship. I have been settling for less than I deserve. I’m sad to back away from this situation because I was getting some important positive reinforcement from the relationship, however I wasn’t getting everything I need. Not even close. Once I sort through my feelings and find my bearings, I think it will be safe to be open to this person again, but for now I had to get some clarity and give myself some room to breathe. I also was told that my time and energy spent on this less than ideal relationship was blocking a REAL relationship from coming into my life.

I started a new book called The Gift of Imperfection. I’m not very far into it, but I think it will offer some insight and strategies for dealing with my lingering feelings of unworthiness.

After some urging, I finished (mostly) my online profile on a dating site. I feel like I represented myself truthfully and I’m excited to see what adventures are ahead. I’m still scared out of my mind, but proud that I am no longer waiting until I get thinner, more successful, more together, better etc. to give it another try. I have only done it one other time and in all honesty, I didn’t give it much of a chance the last go around. I had a couple emails back and forth with a couple of guys, but I never accepted any offers for dates and quit before my month was up.

I’m trying to keep my expectations in check and have an open mind and heart. My pieces still feel a bit broken, but I’m taking time to get my real self put back together stitch by stitch.

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