The Key To Measuring Up

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFirst grade jarred me from my innocence. That’s when I learned society had expectations. It required me to measure up. I knew about the measuring tape and the door post. I knew my mom was five feet two inches tall and she was tall enough to reach the top of the refrigerator. This was big. Elementary School opened my grey-blue eyes another concept.

What did you get for Christmas? Where did you go for Summer vacation? These were the questions my teacher asked when we were in school. The fun camping trip or the week you spent with grandma became part of competition. Level up.

In second grade one child shouted she went to Disneyworld for summer vacation. My summer paled in my eyes even though it had been filled with staying up late with best friends and playing hide and seek with my cousins. I wasn’t enough. As you can see, my belief in scarcity started young.

Know your currency

My family owned two thriving businesses in our small town of 3000 or so people. None of that mattered to a first grader when it’s story time, though. I reached for a quick currency. The going rate of exchange for school kids was a story. It was how we were proving our worth at that moment. If I’d only seen a bear while camping, gosh darn it!

Fitting in isn’t quite as easy as picking a pair of shoes. You don’t point to a style and say yeah, I’ll take that in size 8. There are methods. But it’s not so simple when you’re six or even twelve. Maybe not when you’re 20.  If you’re the queen, you know where to sit. You wear the crown, and people bow to you. There are rules. Royalty. You do what you do because – well, hell, you are you.

Collinsville thrived on its small town charm. Parades filled Main Street on cold holiday mornings with marching bands and paper flowers covered cars with trailing streamers. Friday nights meant a competitive football game or a movie in the theater. We had our regular early morning coffee drinkers at the restaurant. And those who liked to stay late at the bar down the street.

Tweet: So, I learned a new trick. I learned to tell my story.

I might not have been tall like my brothers, but I could reach the cereal box on top of the refrigerator by dragging and standing on a nearby chair. It was this new type of measure that was difficult. So, I learned a new trick. I learned to tell my story. But now I know it’s much more than telling a good tale. It’s listening without worrying if your present was better than mine.

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” John Rohn

Book suggestions:

Never Eat Alone

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Trance of Scarcity

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I Love a Good Yarn – A Story That Is

He doesn’t exist. It’s a beautiful story of love and charity, but the evidence of his existence isn’t there. THERE’S NO LAND ON THE NORTH POLE! No houses, no elves, no reindeer, no toy shops, nothing but air and water in the form of ice exists on the north pole.

Magic

Saint Nicholas was real a person, but his story grew into the legend of Santa Claus then morphed into a fantasy.  It makes me wonder. Is this what happens to the others? As in legends of Robin Hood and Marco Polo? I grew up believing that Marco Polo was a living, breathing man, not just the threads of a story that had been told and retold until they came to be a full-blown legend. But that’s the magic of a story. And of how it can grow.

There is ancient belief that if you tell a belief well enough and say it often enough you can create a Tulpa out of your story, giving it life. It’s almost a truth isn’t it? Maybe not as in bringing a true Frosty the Snowman to life or bringing a Santa Claus to a land of toys, but we almost have created an industry ran from just that type of story telling.

My Dad’s Tale

I was at the folks back in January and they were telling about growing up. Dad was talking about his dad being afraid of taking a government loan to buy land when he could have owned his own property. And he told a story about a “Balking Horse.” His dad had just purchased two horses, Duke and Dan, with some money he’d borrowed, for pulling the wagon for gathering his corn. They were renting some property on Grand River along White Horn Cove in Wagoner County Oklahoma. Dan was the horse that would “balk” and wouldn’t move and dad’s dad would get so furious he’d almost kill it by beating him. They’d load the wagon with the corn, then start moving forward, then the horses would stop because Dan would refuse to move. Then all the corn would fall out and they’d have to reload it. It happened several times until finally I guess Grandpa gave up and they went to get another horse they had. I can almost feel the sweat and the heat. Those good ol’ days.

The Deep

A story tells so much. After listening to my dad, I realized he had some of the same frustrations that every generation has with their parents. Some he stated aloud, but some he didn’t. He never talks much about his childhood, but one thing has always stood out to me, he believes in this story – his dad should have bought some land. His dad should have borrowed the money, worked for something, gave something to his boys and somehow built something even if it meant being in debt to the government for a while. How do I know this? It’s not just this story, it’s his life also. My dad went into debt and built something, then was frustrated when his sons weren’t interested. Isn’t that how it always goes?

So what’s your story?

Seth’s Blog – Your story about money 

Stories We Tell

I’ve talked about stories before. It’s probably one of my top 5 issues. Mostly because it goes by daily and we don’t notice its influence. We know about forgiveness. Change this one thing in your mind and so many other things fall into their perfect places. Probably 80% of us are on some type of self-improvement kick, but our story goes unnoticed.

Maybe you have no idea what I am talking about. Okay, ground rules.

  • This is non judgmental. No story is wrong. And no story is right. Mine is just mine. Not superior or inferior.
  • We don’t always know who gave us our story, but we can notice that it’s there.

  • It’s changeable if we decide to change it.
  • Only we can change our story.

  • We all have a story playing in the back of our minds. Some script we rule our lives by.

Who is the bad guy to my good guy? What is my role in life? Notice the next time you’re in a room with a group of people. We all have our drink in hand or we’re standing around our cubicles. If someone is talking, someone is telling their story. What does their tale say about them as a person or community? What does it say about their belief in right and wrong? I’m really hesitant here to say much because I don’t want people to clam up around me. Maybe if I generalize, people won’t realize how much I listen to them. But specific instances would highlight my meaning. Are you the good parent? Your ex the bad one? Are you clever? Your classmates stupid? We like to talk about how we hate stupid people, but most of us cringe inside wondering if we’re the stupid person. Haven’t most of us went the wrong way on a one way road? Yikes.

Okay, so I will dive in….

If I want to be the good guy, I have to cast someone in my life as bad. Usually we have regular cast members in our life that fill the roles we play. I’m the good one. The smart one. So you have to play my bad, stupid friend. Just kidding, not really you. The guy driving in front of you in the morning is stupid. Let’s use him. We can tell because he’s on his phone when he’s driving. Right? He forgot to use his turn signal also. Can’t he see how stupid he is? This also makes him a bad guy. He’s breaking your rules.  What about when your ex forgets to tell you of an important birthday party for your 8-year-old daughter, planned for the weekend-your weekend? Of course you get angry. Rightfully so! You’re angry because once again he has proven how irresponsible he is. On the side note, he also proved how responsible and righteous you are. So when you tell the story of your ex and his lack of consideration and his lack of planning, you add any details to flower it up a little. The time he forgot to pack her toothbrush or her lunch for school. How her bedroom at his house still isn’t decorated. What a horrible father he is. By telling these things you aren’t really concerned about the toothbrush or the bedroom paint color. You’re telling your story. Your role in life. You are RESPONSIBLE! And don’t forget smart. We might as well walk up to people on the street wearing a t-shirt saying we are responsible and smart. I’m with Stupid (arrow pointing to the side). We could start our conversations with, I am so responsible. Let me tell you what happened today to prove it.

Am I overdoing it? We all play roles in life. I have mine as well. Why do I have a blog? Why write a book or two? What’s my story? Shhhhhh..don’t tell if you know. Super undercover here.

My story

I want to tell you my story. At least one of them. I have a few. Some of them conflicting with each other. I grew up in a great home. We weren’t rich, but my family was hardworking. I was always proud that my last name was Bailey. It meant a lot to me. Strong, capable, enduring. I was a tiny girl in a small town. I was always trying to catch up with my brothers. If I could keep up, I felt big. My family had two businesses in a town the size of a peanut, so I didn’t feel obscure. I started kindergarten and graduated high school in the same town. Small town, small school. It was a perfect environment for me. I had lots of adults around me. And I have one very strong memory of a family in particular.

Not only did I start and complete school in the same town, but my family went to the same church all of my life. From 8 years old and up. I was baptized in that church and got married there. They gave me my baby showers and poured a lot of love into me. The McAfees were a family that had helped start the church. They took me under their wings for some reason. Their oldest daughter gave me her paper doll collection when I was around 10. When I was 15 I volunteered to help in a summer children’s program. I went into the classroom expecting to be a helper and wound up being the teacher. Mrs. McAfee was my helper. She told me straight out that I would teach this class and she was only the helper. Stammering and stuttering…ummm. Why? Because that’s who she was. She saw something in me and wanted to encourage it to grow. It always makes me tear up. I feel so blessed to have grown up with people like that surrounding me.  They loved me. And not only me, they did that with many children. It was their story.

Carolyn Myss has a book called Sacred Contracts: Awakening Your Divine Potential.  She talks about archetypes. If you have a chance to read it, I urge you to do so. She has a new one which I haven’t read yet, called Archetypes: Who Are You?. Archetypes are stories. Roles that people play. One that seems the most obvious to me is Oprah. She plays a queen. Whatever your feelings towards this woman, you have to admit she’s a queen. She’s not evil, she’s not good, but she is in charge when she walks into a room.

Just a quick note on role-playing. It’s one way to update your story. Role playing has a very powerful effect. People can often put psychological spells on you by putting you into a role, but you don’t have to play their game if you recognize what they are doing. Don’t play along. Walk away.

There’s a study from Stanford University of inmates vs wardens role-playing. In 1971, for 6 of the originally planned 14 days they conducted an experiment with mostly white, middle class volunteers to test the outcomes of the roles we play. If you’ve never heard of it, you can read about it here wikipedia or Stanford Prison Experiment. I don’t know if these people had any lasting after effects, but I can’t imagine it not having a lasting impression. Professor Zimbardo later apologized in his book, The Lucifer Effect

“of not providing adequate oversight and surveillance when it was required… the findings came at the expense of human suffering.”

Now you have a good idea how the game is played, let me remind once again you of the ground rules about the stories we tell…

  • This is non judgmental. No story is wrong. And no story is right. Mine is just mine. Not superior or inferior.
  • We don’t always know who gave us our story, but we can notice that it’s there.
  • It’s changeable if we decide to change it.
  • Only we can change our story.
  • We all have a story playing in the back of our minds. Some script we rule our lives by.

Wash, Rinse, Repeat

Do you ever wonder about your own weirdness? Those quirky things we do, like the way we cheer for the underdog. Or we want the crook caught. I wonder about mine. I know I’m not alone with my quirks. So I thought I’d mention some that I’ve noticed in myself as well as others. Our quirks in common.

PUPPIES 50% OFF

Why do women try to fix people? Men especially. We see a disheveled boy/man and we want to take him in. Just like a lost puppy. And then we feel disappointment when he pees on our carpet. It’s a crazy world out there. The sooner we realize our tendencies, the healthier we are. If we don’t want the puppy chewing up our new red shoes, maybe we shouldn’t let him follow us home. I guess that would be the wiser thing to do. But we enjoy the cuddly phase. And that puppy smell is intoxicating. The moment we find him all splattered with mud, we pick him up and carry him home. We bandage him and hold him tight. Our love rescues him. Once again we see our worth. We show our strength. Our love conquers all. But maybe that’s an oversimplification. Not all women have this complex.

We all love stories. The sadder, the more outrageous, the better. We can listen to someone’s ailment or how they feel mistreated by their spouse. We get involved in the other’s life and story. We feel their pain and their joy. What makes us addicted to sad stories so much that we’ll get just as outraged at another’s injustice even if we just saw it on the news? Do you find it silly? I find it draining.

Intelligence impresses me and I often mistake the spouting of facts as intelligence. Most of us idolize people who comb their hair just right or say clever things. And we know it’s all fake. We get advice from people just because they made a TV show. Are we that lost? It’s difficult to believe that the Dugger family know any more about child rearing than any other parent. Or the Kardashians can give me beauty advice.

puppy

The only way I see to stop repeating the same tendencies is to recognize that they aren’t working. I could resist kissing on the cute puppy. NO CUTE PUPPIES. I could refuse to acknowledge my attraction to people who need help, but resistance will just create a bigger need inside. It is better if can take a good look at my attraction. See it for what it is. It’s my craving. Whether I give in or not, is not important. I think it’s worse to walk into a relationship blinded by your romanticism and think it’s the guy of your dreams, the one who will save you from your despair and loneliness. And when you wake up and see his attention wandering or like the puppy, peeing on the carpet, you act surprised. He was that person from the start. You just put a hero costume on him, because you needed him to play the hero for you.

It’s difficult to remember these things in the middle of an enchantment. It’s so easy to get caught up in the thrill of dating and weddings. There’s so much energy. So much excitement. Sparkle and shine. And all the friends and family encouraging you,  keep you from noticing the flaws. Cracks in the wall. Chipping paint. Mold growing along the baseboard. We’ve found our perfect man. Our hero is a fixer-upper. How long until we wear out  from constantly repairing the leaking ceiling?