A Windy Day

I wanted to feel secure, to be carried, to at least be helped with the many things in my arms. I wanted my mom to hold me. But it didn’t happen that way. Mom said I needed to be a big girl and learn to do things myself. 

It was May and the end of school. The Oklahoma winds were blowing across the plains,  propelling my tiny kindergarten body forward. With my school projects in my arms, I walked toward my mom’s car.  I didn’t feel capable. It was as if the wind was going to use this poster board as a kite, pulling me upward into the sky.  I trapped it tighter between my elbows and ribcage. My skinny legs couldn’t hold my body to the earth. At any moment I knew I’d float away upward and my papers would be lost. Everything would be lost. But I kept stepping toward my mom, silently pleading for her to step forward. 

I’d like to say I grew confident in my strength, but no, I didn’t. Instead, the synapsis string of scarcity formed in my brain. I was not enough. And there was no one here for me. It left an emptiness in my stomach, like when you go down a hill too fast in a car. I couldn’t lean on my parents. It was obvious.

It wasn’t the first time. Hell, no. I remember many times before. Deep sadness and feeling alone. But you learn to shut it down. That was when my mind completed the circuitry of understanding. The lightbulb zapped. My parents were not capable of being The Brady Bunch parents.

They also were not anything like Marianne Williamson’s amazing parents.

When you have generations of people who have been deprived of love because of poverty, war, lack of education, The Great Depression, and families who have struggled to survive, the children of those generations won’t have strong support. They aren’t capable of loving with full hearts. They were not taught.

That kindergarten day,  the wind showed its face to me. It was the wind that has blown across the plains of our state for generations. It’s known our names and tasted the dust of our bones. It is lack. I don’t fear it. It is empty and dry because we have forgotten where we came from and who we are. We have forgotten to love our people. 

What if the wind took me away? Could I return?

If you like this, check out Catch Me

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Midlife Awakenings

I think midlife is when the universe gently places her hands upon your shoulders, pulls you close, and whispers in your ear:

“I’m not screwing around. It’s time. All of this pretending and performing – these coping mechanisms that you’ve developed to protect yourself from feeling inadequate and getting hurt – has to go.

Your armor is preventing you from growing into your gifts. I understand that you needed these protections when you were small. I understand that you believed your armor could help you secure all of the things you needed to feel worthy of love and belonging, but you’re still searching and you’re more lost than ever.

Time is growing short. There are unexplored adventures ahead of you. You can’t live the rest of your life worried about what other people think. You were born worthy of love and belonging. Courage and daring are coursing through you. You were made to live and love with your whole heart. It’s time to show up and be seen.”

~ Brené Brown, quoted by Peter Freed in “Prime: Reflections on Time and Beauty”

Katharine Krueger ~ Journey Of Young Women

Learn to mentor girls, guide Girls Circles and offer Coming of Age

JourneyOfYoungWomen.org/Mentor-Girls

Art by Sylvia Pavlova

-this is a reblog.

Motivation

“I keep asking why he did that.” Yeah, I hear this a lot. I say it a lot. We are a little naive about the behavior of others.

From my eyes, I see opportunities for learning. The world in front of me is a vast library with armloads of books to grab. All of that information, every word excites me, makes me want to blab all of it to someone else, but there’s usually too much to unload onto one person. I wouldn’t dream of torturing another in that way. And each day is another chance to learn.

When I had my kids, it seemed obvious how I’d raise them. Parents do this to their kids without thinking. Athletic parents prioritize sports and fitness. Being physical is natural and encouraging this in their children is a given.

As an adult with adult children, I know I got lucky. My children and I have similar enough personalities, and my craze for teaching them didn’t warp their brains. There are some inconsistent families with parents who are baffled by their children. They wonder why their child doesn’t play football or refuses to hike all day in the mountains. As I said, I was lucky.

Don’t think I feel the same as you, even if I’m wearing the same brand of clothing. It’s the common thing, the easy slip, to assume we believe the same way.

Not everyone has the same viewpoint. We’ve had different experiences. Learned lessons the other hasn’t. The most significant differences I notice are in our motives. What excites me, learning and teaching, is nothing to most. Doesn’t register. But we’re familiar with people who work tirelessly at a singing contest or those scientists who cure fatal diseases. They are motivated more than if they were offered money.

We are all human and need a reason to wake up in the morning, but that reason might be so different than mine I can’t understand it. Ah, but there’s the beauty of life.

Scenery

We mellow. Some of us do, at least. Learn some lessons and apply the knowledge, then over time, we seem smarter. That’s the plan.

In my youth I loved trying to move mountains, making situations change to fit my needs. Except I have grown tired as I’ve gotten older. Dodging fights. Hiding isn’t the answer either.

These mountains you try to move, you are only supposed to climb.

Yesterday, was a beautiful day for me. I finally let myself be as I wanted to be. All of last week I did actually. I chose actively to be in my own life. I’m choosing to enjoy the mountain scenery, you could say.

Not everyone will understand, but not showing up for life is a big epidemic lately. It’s easier to pretend that everything is fine, go to work, but inside you don’t give a damn.

Showing up in our personal life is more difficult than taking a shower and eating food. It’s choosing yourself over your job or the opinions of others.

Showing up requires effort in our thinking. We have to do the challenges life has placed in front of us.

“These spiritual window-shoppers,
who idly ask, ‘How much is that?’ Oh, I’m just looking.
They handle a hundred items and put them down,
shadows with no capital. What is spent is love and two eyes wet with weeping.
But these walk into a shop,
and their whole lives pass suddenly in that moment,
in that shop.
Where did you go? “Nowhere.”
What did you have to eat? “Nothing much. “
Even if you don’t know what you want,
buy _something,_ to be part of the exchanging flow.
Start a huge, foolish project,
like Noah.
It makes absolutely no difference
what people think of you.” – Rumi These Window Shoppers, taken from wegotthis.com

The Jungle of My Emotions

I get caught up in the anger. My emotions of rage, betrayal, and wrongness engulf me. There’s no compassion, only my problem. Monkey mind is in control, and I struggle to make sense of the chaos.

Maybe you don’t have this problem, but emotions are painful for me. I was trying to negotiate a bill with my homeowners association which should have been a logical discussion. But I was PISSED. How dare they say this is my bill. They agreed to pay. With each thought, my temper guzzled a gallon of gasoline before striking a match. I had an ice cube’s chance in hell to win really. I’m one against the organization and the proof I was using was vague. But emotions are the fire in our belly that keeps us fighting even when the odds are against us. Yet, sometimes we win.

This rage is my jungle. I should know my way through it by now, but I don’t. A therapist will tell you to name the emotions. Instead of rage, get down to the baser emotions. Fear. Insecurity. Feeling utterly alone and vulnerable. When I was negotiating, I was taking it personally. She was attacking me and saying I was wrong. Backed into a corner, I felt powerless. So, I defended my territory.

Here’s my thought, over time, if I keep walking back through my jungle, I will have markers on my emotions, and I will see them and their triggers. My jungle will have paths with directional markings. But I have to be brave enough to walk into it with my eyes open. Face my demons. Lose some battles. But, someday, I won’t be walking around blind anymore.

“Did you want to see me broken? Bowed head and lowered eyes?

Shoulders falling down like teardrops,

Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?

Don’t you take it awful hard

’Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines

Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,

You may cut me with your eyes,

You may kill me with your hatefulness,

But still, like air, I’ll rise.” #StillIRise #MayaAngelou

Awaken Your Integrity

Being yourself sounds easy. It’s the current advice. It will solve all of your problems from dating to your life’s work, but what does it mean?

Recently, we’ve watched society reject men doing their thing. Vulgar stuff. Alpha men have gone their ways for centuries and getting by with it. Is that the answer? Gawd, I hope not. Oppression is not me. I’m uncomfortable in that world.

Society and the current work environment makes it almost impossible to be yourself. Even your day and night cycles are timed to fit someone else.

So, what are the solutions? Claim as much of your life as you can. Take assertiveness courses. Learn your style and use the information to your advantage.

Is there an area in your life that bugs you? Can you take action? Even if it’s a small change, it can help. Tell yourself ‘yes’ and others ‘no.’ Read, learn, and find like-minded people.

Regarding integrity, I believe Anthony Bodine lived his truths. Hello Darkness, My Old Friend by Mike Rowe

check out one of my posts, To Love Yourself

This Is Where I Live

This body, life has left some marks. These last few weeks I’ve been poked and tested but, it is the only one I have. It’s my living space. I have to treat it in the way that helps it work best. If I overstress it with high expectations or overwhelm it with too many activities, it will start throwing alarm switches until I listen.

This last week my body has started reminding me that while frugality is admirable, stinginess is cruel. Pushing myself again past my limits for my job and staying up too late, this creates pain in my muscles, and a massive headache.

A couple of years ago my washing machine quit so I had been “making do” until I could save enough to buy a new washer. While that sounds admirable, I wasn’t frugal for a purely financial reason. There was a massive chunk of ego that wanted to boast of how worthy I was! Quite a laughable thing once I realized what a tricky thing our psyche is. After taking a step back and looking at the situation, I went to a local home improvement store and financed a washing machine. Yes, I could have waited, but it was stressing me unnecessarily.

Have you ever tried to push a shopping cart with a broken wheel? That’s how it felt. I kept going, kept working because that’s what I do. I keep pushing because I know I can. I’m active and capable, right? But, when I took care of my needs, I realized how tired my enduring had made me. When I stopped trying to push the broken cart down the aisle, I could release the burden I was carrying.

Real

I have unrealistic expectations of myself, and I frequently don’t allow myself to live in the moment.

  • I choose not to kill my soul with harsh criticism and unrealistic expectations.
  • I choose to let joy and life flow through me so that when the time comes, I can also bring joy to others.
  • I choose to be a part of life in the now and not above it. The future is sometimes frightening, and I don’t want to face it, but there is always a way. There is still a simple step. It’s not always the boastful, shiny, impressive way, but there is a solution.
  • I choose to glean the joys of yesterday, and like seeds in the garden, I will sprinkle them with honor and watch them blossom.
  • I choose to honor myself, as I am, even all the jiggly parts.

Dare To Be Great

One of the tendencies I find most troubling in contemporary culture is that of mistaking cynicism for critical thinking. – brainpickings.org

It takes effort to be strong. Conscious thought and awareness are needed to bring out the good in others, but if you can do it some of the time, most of the time, try. Because not trying, not even bothering to show up, is inexcusable. And turning bitter is usually the result.

Anger, resentment, sadness, grief are the leftovers of loves unfulfilled. Unplayable songs, words we held inside a moment too long.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat… Roosevelt’s Writings

Neuroticism on Board

I sat at the kitchen table and listened to my mom, the same one who ripped at me since I was a child about my friends and my clothes, were they too big or should I by a size larger because I could shoot up a couple of inches in height this year.

There was a time she’d read the letters from my friend in Wyoming. Janie had moved at the beginning of 9th grade. Her parents divorced, and she’d decided to move north with her dad. Not quite a Twilight story since there were no vampires involved and Wyoming has skiing. Janie and I kept in touch throughout our high school years by writing letters every week. It was the thrill of my day when I’d go to the mailbox and run back with an envelope in my hand. My mom would ask, “Is that a letter from your friend Janie?”

Yep. And being the teenager that I was, I’d go into my room to read it away from prying eyes. Janie would tell me about her classes and friends, about her guys and her after school job. I never thought there was anything different about her. She was me but with different parents. Well, she was able to do things I couldn’t. School dances, dates, and she had a real job. I never thought about it until my mom said one strange comment. “Your friend Janie seems a little wild.”

What? Of course, I was surprised. I never talked about Janie or read the letters aloud. I realized what had happened, and I didn’t have a lot of options. There wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it. She’d read my letters because I had left them out. And I didn’t understand the wild girl accusation. So, I dismissed it and hid them all away and anything else I didn’t want her to find.

The years passed, and many incidents like that one. I’ve put each aside. I didn’t give them a lot of weight other than thinking, Mom is strange, or where does she get these ideas? My mom believed particular women, like Kim with the red hair, were going to steal my husband. Then she felt my mother-in-law was actively plotting to take our money. The list goes on. It’s been a constant battle for me to shield myself from her jabs. They’ve felt like accusations. As if I couldn’t see the evil in others.

Here’s the truth: she stripped me of my self-confidence. I was always defending myself against the person who was supposed to nurture me.

I saw her last night when I was back at the kitchen table. I was doing some financial planning with her, my brother and dad. This time the neuroticism was not directed at me. I saw the blood red eyes of the monster. I saw my mom rip into my older brother, and it disgusted me. It was ugly, and I want nothing to do with it ever again. I’m not toying with it anymore.

No more putting it aside. I call it what it is. My mom is insecure. She is high in neuroticism. It’s a personality trait, yes. Even that can’t be excused, though. I’m glad I saw the monster.

Strengthening Character

At the end of the day, it’s only you. Alone. How you met each challenge and each conflict was up to you. Did you face your demons or pretend they didn’t exist?

There’s a lot of talk about being real. Authenticity. For me, it’s not always easy to be myself. It’s not that I try to fake people out by pretending to be someone I’m not. I’m not an impressive person and never wish to be.

My nature is to relate to people on the level they are. You might think me inauthentic at times because I’m a human who has been damaged by life. My cracks show.

When I feel I’m in an emotionally dangerous situation I’ll plaster a fake smile on and spout out the trite phrases, whatever it takes to get me through the situation. This is the game we call life.

Our character is built by the choices we make. We develop strength or kindness or wisdom through practice. Such as continuing to practice grace and mercy if you’re wishing to become a more forgiving person. Truthfully, it comes down to living intentionally, as best you can.