Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Gingerbread Man… he is not

My child has ADHD… he daydreams to escape the classroom full of fears, boredom, frustration, and anxiety. He has ADHD just like he has blue eyes. Neither are things that I’d want to change about him… even if I could. Both are just his characteristics… his things that make him special and unique.

I am raising a human child. Our education system, unfortunately, thinks I am raising a gingerbread man. My challenging role as a parent is that my blue eyed boy is not a gingerbread man. He doesn’t fit inside that cookie cutter shape. His edges are too organic and free form to cram inside that mold. And, I, his baker, refuse to trim those edges so that he can fit… so that he can look just like the others in the baker’s dozen. In a bakery full of gingerbread men… I’d pick him over all the others. I’d say,  “I’ll take the one whose edges are wavy, the one with the blue gumdrop eyes.”  

As I held my crying child in my arms, I told him that I love him just as he is. I told him I don’t want to change him… I just want to help him control his daydreaming. I told him that daydreaming is a good thing… he just needs to learn how to turn it on and off… when it is appropriate and when it is not.

My love for him is so big, powerful, abundant, and unconditional that it is enough to cover the judgment and the misunderstanding of who he is. My love will allow him to overcome not being a gingerbread man. My love will permit him to be his authentic self… just who God made him to be.

I don’t know what his cookie cutter shape really is… that has yet to be determined. But, if I had to guess, I would say there is only one cookie made from that cutter… and I am proud to be his mom!  

Monday, January 21, 2013

Worthy of Love

I have lived most of my life worried that if people saw me as anything other than perfect that they would deem me unworthy… unworthy of their love. I realized the root of this unhealthy behavior. It is because I grew-up with love having a condition on it… if you were good you got attention, if you were bad love was withheld from you…in loves place you received yelling, a smack upside the head, isolation, abandonment, and/or shame.

(Disclaimer: My parents did the best they could… that was the way to parent… old school style. I am not blaming them. I am just trying to gain clarity in my rearview mirror as to why I have developed certain systems and unhealthy ways of doing things.)

Being good (or as I translated in my mind… being perfect) bought you love and the feeling of worthiness. The love I speak of is love not only from others, but from myself and God. I was so conditioned to believe that I was either worthy of love or not based on my choices, it ran so deep inside of me, that I truly believed that I either was or wasn’t worthy of self-love or God’s love too.

So, when I was feeling particularly unworthy or unloved I resorted to what I know in order to receive worthiness and love… I resorted to attempting to be perfect. One of the many problems with this system is that in reality it isn’t how the world works. I kept trying to be perfect hoping that worth and love would be the reward; yet, it never worked that way. I was playing a game that my childhood taught me; yet, nobody else was playing the same game. Unfortunately I kept playing… for a long, long time.

I finally caught on. I finally learned that in order to be worthy of love all I have to do is be me… who God made me… flawed, vulnerable, honest… just as I am… I am enough.

Now that I understand the root of my unhealthy system, I can now build resilience to the system. I can now change the way I am wired. I must overcome the deep rooted response. When I am feeling unworthy of love instead of resorting to attempts at perfection I am communicating and being vulnerable with the people whom I love the most. I am learning self-love. I am finding comfort in God’s endless, unwavering, and perfect love.

No more games. No more unhealthy systems. No more conditions on love. I will be loved and I am worthy of that love whether I am good or bad… perfect or imperfect. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Owning My Story... some more

My life didn’t truly begin until I realized that I had to accept my story… my entire story… I had to own the whole thing so that I could find myself buried underneath the bricks and rubble.

I was running from my story. I was doing things to rise above my story… so that you all would see that I wasn’t that child anymore. So that I would see that I am not that child. I was succeeding so that I could prove that the sacrifices I made were worth something. All the while I was I piling the rubble on top of my story… I was attempting to bury my story with my successes… with my attempt at perfection I was laying the mortar…with my  duties I was stacking the bricks… I was making a wall and mountain at the same time… a wall of bricks to be intentionally separate from my story and a mountain of  rubble to protect me from the pain of that story.

An education, a marriage, a child, a career… all of those things I should be doing… all of those things that are expected of me… all of those things to show the world that I have risen above… all of those things were the bricks and rubble. They separated me from having to own my story. My story got further and further away from me… I got further and further away from me. The bricks and rubble created distance and distraction from the truth of y story.
As I stacked the bricks and piled the rubble, I was burying the child that was within me. She was inside hurting, crying, wanting to be loved, needing to be saved, desiring to be protected… and I too turned away from her… and I too abandoned her. I told her she wasn’t who I was going to become. I was different than that… I was better than that… I was going to rise above that. 

So, I left the child within me to be buried away… forgotten.
I am owning my story and in order to do so I must uncover the child within me one brick and one shard at a time. I can hear her. Sometimes I get so close to uncovering her and revealing her that I can smell her innocence. I know that it is that innocence that carries my freedom… that holds my purpose.

Uncovering that little girl inside of me, I can now see that my purpose is to save her and to heal her. My purpose does not lie in an education, a marriage, a child, a career… those do not define me. My purpose is to fully become all that I am and was made to be. I am digging my purpose out of the rubble. I am un-stacking the wall. It hurts again… it is lonely and helpless again… it is full of shame again… but there are no more secrets. I am feeling the emotions as they wash over me. I am vulnerable. I am telling that little girl that it is okay… there was nothing you could have done… you are safe… you are worthy… you are enough.

Once the bricks and rubble are un-stacked, my purpose will be fully exposed… to become the person God created me to be.  It is then that I can walk hand-in-hand with the child that is inside of me… it is then that I can grow wings to carry me through my journey… it is then that my passion for all other things in life can flourish and bloom.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Confession Wednesday

Welcome to Confession Wednesday! I believe that sometimes admitting our behaviors is the first step in correcting them…or laughing at them…either way…here’s what I am confessing to this week:

I received a confession email today from a co-worker (whom shall remain unnamed). She said after all it was “Confession Wednesday”. In this email, she spoke of the overwhelming feelings she was having in the classroom. I appreciated her honesty. I could totally relate.

Teaching is hard. My enthusiasm and dedication to the job comes in waves. I get burned out. Not that I am a terrible teacher when I am burned out… I am just not as effective… I am just not as intentional… I kind of just go through the motions. I actually was excited for about an hour the other day… then my prep ended.

Last week I had a really bad class period. They were naughty… I was grouchy… not a good combination. After I reflected on the day, I realized that I was in part to blame for the “bad class period” because of my lack of enthusiasm and preparedness.

That realization has catapulted me into a revival! I am recommitting myself to teaching. I am re-fueling the flame that burns inside of me to shape the minds of the future. I am working on plans to teach in new and different ways; which takes my time and effort to prepare. But, I do find the efforts are worth it because when I teach the same old stuff in a new way it does create enthusiasm… and when I am excited and on fire then my students are too.

So, here’s my confession for this Wednesday…

I love teaching, but my enthusiasm coves in waves… usually centered around my preps.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Owning My Story

So, here I am smack dab in the middle of my “Almost 40” crisis… my “WOW! I am 2 years away from 40 and what have I done with my life” crisis. I am re-evaluating, re-focusing, re-connecting, and re-healing (wounds that I thought were scarred over). Through this process I am attempting to own my story. What I’ve done most of my life… my almost 40 years of life… is hide my story … I thought I was so far removed from my past that I was now actually separate from my story … I tried to stuff my story down so deep inside of me that I forgot it was a chapter in my story. Owning my story means owning where I have come from… owning who I was… owning my accomplishments as well as my shame.

While hiding who I am and NOT owning my story, my shame oozed into all aspects of my life. Shame made me feel like not even God could forgive me. Shame made me feel not worthy of love from my husband. Shame made me feel that I wasn’t ever going to be enough for my child. Shame made me feel that if people knew the true me that they wouldn’t accept me… for sure they would abandon me, turn away, and take with them my sense of belonging… and their love.

Shame certainly loves company and secrets. I have made others feel ashamed, unworthy, and as if they are not enough because of my actions or inactions towards them… because of my lack of vulnerability and empathy. This may not have been intentional, but if I am not being intentional in helping people to feel as though they belong and that they are not alone, as if they are worthy no matter what, and as though they are enough just as they are… right here and now… then I am unintentionally making them feel the opposite… just like I make myself feel the opposite when I am not living my own story with intention and ownership.

There has been a lot of shame that I’ve had to allow to re-surface so that I could re-heal. I have felt that shame and the pain that shame caused me… the feeling of shame is such a strong and overwhelming emotion. However, I am allowing those feelings to wash over me. I am feeling them. I am owning them. I am making the past part of my story instead of separate but within… deep within. I am who I am because of where I have been.

You might ask the same questions I’ve asked myself, “Why un-stuff? Why re-surface and re-heal? Why own my story?” The answer I’ve come to terms with is that there is no choice… I HAVE TO un-stuff, re-surface, re-heal, and own my story so that I can become the person that I am intended to be… so that I can be me to the fullest… so that I can fulfill my purpose… all the while giving you permission to do the same. I want to rid myself of shameful feelings so that others can free themselves of those feelings too… so that I can live intentionally for myself and for others.

In becoming me to the fullest and owning my story… I can be more compassionate, I can offer empathy, I can say with vulnerability that I’ve been there (without fear of judgment), I can love more fully, I can live more truly, I can walk more softly on the earth, I can help make the journey a little brighter and lighter,  and I can be of service to others.  

What I have learned through this process is that is it never okay to make myself feel ashamed, unworthy, and as if I am not enough; just as much as it is never okay for me to make another person feel that way. I am owning my story and I am no longer going to see it as separate from me… I am worthy, I am enough, and I am loved… that is my story… THAT is my purpose. 

Saturday, January 12, 2013


I was looking through a camera lens that was out of focus. What I saw on the other end of that lens was a blurry likeness of my life. I needed only to twist the lens a lot to the left then a little to the right again to zoom in on my priorities. The picture turns out much clearer when I am intentional in my life.

I am re-focusing on my marriage… love, happy, communication, friendship

I am re-focusing on my child… love, independence, self-confidence, purpose

I am re-focusing on my relationship with God… love, forgiveness, trust, faith

I am re-focusing on my teaching… love, knowledge, wisdom, compassion

I am re-focusing on my friendships… love, respect, intention, empathy  

I am re-focusing on me… love, vulnerability, worthiness, enough

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Team “Pretty Dirty” … we are ALL IN

Our adventure began with an item on one of our friend’s Bucket List. She asked us all to join her for a Dirty Girl Mud Run. Without hesitation, we were ALL IN. We registered right away… leaving us with about 3 months to plan, prepare, and train.

We planned and prepared for the big run starting with creating a team name… “Pretty Dirty”.  It was fitting. Then, we designed a uniform. The uniform was complete with custom t-shirts, matching tutus, sweat bands, goggles, and socks. On one sleeve of the t-shirt we honored a dear friend who lost her battle with cancer and on the other sleeve we celebrated another precious friend who won her battle with cancer… and continues to fight the fight every day.

We trained and conditioned our bodies. HAHAHAHA! Okay, not really… unless you consider meeting for weekly happy hour “training”. It would be more accurate to say that we trained and conditioned our souls for the experience by creating a much deeper sense of belonging and community amongst us. At our weekly meetings we shared the excitement of the upcoming run… we shared the details of our daily life’s struggles… we shared the joys of life too… we were doing life together.

The Dirty Girl Mud Run finally arrived… the day we’ve been waiting for. We all met in uniform for a pre-race breakfast burrito and a mimosa. The true breakfast of champions! We took a ton of pictures. We had our game faces on! Then, the race began.

During the race, when another team would pass us on the path we would create a human tunnel of love for them to run through… allowing them to pass us with grace. We’d slow down or speed up as an entire unit. We interlocked our arms as we went through the mud pits. We were ALL IN… together… as one. What we found on the path was more than just a 5K full of obstacles, mud pits, and water stations… what we found on the path were the same things we found in doing life together. We found love, encouragement, and statements of “I’ve got your back” (or butt… whatever needed help getting over the obstacle on the path).

Whether it is at a Dirty Girl Mud Run or in the race of life… we aren’t afraid of getting dirty together. The back of our t-shirts said it best, “Because real women aren’t afraid to go through the mud and PRETTY DIRTY.” 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Recovering Perfectionist

I am a recovering perfectionist. Well… recovering might be jumping the gun… I am in the process of recovering… knowing full well that I will always be in the process of recovery.

It is not that I make a conscious choice to be a perfectionist. I don’t wake-up in the morning and say, “I am going to strive for perfection today!”. Nope, it just happens… I just fall into the trap and the cycle. But, I am noticing a pattern for when and why it happens… the method to my madness. This is a HUGE step. Perfectionism happens when I am trying to numb myself from overwhelming emotions. This is the place that most addicts come from… a numbing place. We numb so that we don’t feel the emotions. Instead of just allowing the emotions to wash over us we numb ourselves with our addiction. My addiction just happens to be perfectionism. I have jokingly said before that I am addicted to being awesome… little did I know at that time how true that statement was. Like any addiction, mine gets in the way of me being fully who I am meant to be. Addiction is a barrier or a wall that we must break down piece by piece and scale over to the other side… or find the door that takes us straight on through.

In trying to break down my barrier and understand my addiction to perfectionism, I am reading Brene’ Brown’s book, “The Gifts of Imperfection”. A friend of mine gave it to me as a gift. She was really giving me a gift of sobriety because this book has sobered me up to the harsh reality of my addiction. Brene’ shares my journey and she says it so well with these words, “[I am] a recovering perfectionist and an aspiring good-enoughist”.  She also hits me with the concept that perfection rears its head in our lives when we are “feeling particularly vulnerable”.

Let me discuss the piece of my barrier called vulnerability. I’ve been a closed and shy person most of my life… out of fear; however, I knew I had to let those pieces go in order to become what God has made me to become.  It was a necessary step to get where I want to be in my journey. So, I took a risk and I began blogging. Through my blog I am attempting to create a community and I am striving to belong through my vulnerability. I went from a private and closed person trying to portray this perfect persona; to being emotionally raw and vulnerable for thousands of readers… friends that I know personally and friends that I have yet to meet face-to-face. It is like opening my diary for the world to read. To say that I was out of my comfort zone initially is an understatement! I was not “particularly vulnerable”, as Brene’ says, I was overwhelmingly vulnerable. Therefore, perfection crept in to numb me from that extreme feeling of being overwhelmingly vulnerable. If vulnerability is a piece of my barrier that I need to work on then so is a desire to belong… they go hand-in-hand really. But, I will call them separate pieces.

We all have a desire to belong… to a family, to a community, to something bigger than ourselves. God just made us that way… to be one. Belonging comes at a cost though. That cost is vulnerability. In order to belong we must be vulnerable within that family, with that community, and open to receive something bigger than ourselves. It can hurt to be vulnerable… to allow the rawness of vulnerability to wash over you. Most of us have systems in place to protect us from being open and raw because we are afraid of being hurt, or made fun of, or, worse of all, not belonging.

When those fearful and hurtful feelings approach us we don’t want to feel them… we want to run and hide. So, we do… we pull away… we hide… we withdraw… we run… we numb… and some of us (by “some of us” I mean me) attempt to perfect. In running away from and numbing those feelings though, we are separating ourselves from that deep desire to belong. Our barrier stacks taller than ever. Our system to protect goes into overdrive. Running from our feelings also makes us run from our true self, our family, our community, and disconnects us from that something bigger. Our sense of belonging ultimately runs and hides too. We cannot have belonging without vulnerability. And, since we have an innate desire to belong we seek out other places… safer places… to belong… places that don’t require so much vulnerability and, in turn, so they don’t require so much feeling.

With those safer places, we attempt to fill the void where real belonging should reside. Those so called safer places become surrogates… not the real thing but a replacement. Surrogates give us a sense of belonging or control or numbing; albeit a false sense… it is still a sense.  Maybe it is the internet, food, alcohol, sports, over-working, perfectionism, etc. these surrogates attempt to fill-in. Now, don’t get me wrong there is appropriate and healthy space in our lives for some of these items. It is when these items become your fill-in, replacement, and surrogate for real belonging… it is when you run and hide to these items because they feel like a safer place… it is when you use these items to numb the vulnerability… it is then that these items are not appropriately being used and become unhealthy… it is then that these items are a piece of your barrier.

Let me back up a bit to say that even though there is a cost to belonging, which is vulnerability, it is so worth it! The benefits are that we truly do belong, we are connected, we stop running and hiding from ourselves and our fear, we don’t use surrogates, we feel and allow those feeling to wash over us, we stop numbing. What I am trying to say is that vulnerability is the door we must open to get to our true selves… the truest form of you is waiting on the other side of that barrier… open the door.

Like I began discussing in the beginning, I am trying to open the door of vulnerability. There are just some deadbolts holding it closed. Through Brene’ Brown’s book I am learning how to “lean into the discomfort” of vulnerability. I am realizing that it is okay to hurt and to feel vulnerable, but it is not okay to numb with perfectionism.  Brown has taught me that it is not okay to “over-identify with my feelings”. And, that when I numb to not feel so exposed and raw then I also numb the good feelings too. This numbing doesn’t stop until I am fully removed from all my feelings (even the good ones), from my real sense of belonging, and from my true self.

I am admitting that I am a perfectionist and I try to numb my vulnerability through perfecting. These are my first steps…admitting and knowing why. My next steps are to allow the feelings of vulnerability to wash over me instead of “over-identify with my feelings”, “lean into the discomfort”, and to be “a recovering perfectionist and an aspiring good-enoughist”. 

So, if you see me bellying up to the perfectionist tap to fill myself a glass of perfect… please save me from myself. I can obviously use your help! 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Confession Wednesday

Welcome to Confession Wednesday! I believe that sometimes admitting our behaviors is the first step in correcting them…or laughing at them…either way…here’s what I am confessing to this week:

I sent a text to a friend with this valuable information… I plan to stay in my yoga pants today and to remain a not really public appropriate level of personal hygiene. And, that my standards were low. She said she loved those days. I love that she gets it and didn’t judge me. I did send her another text to let her know that I DID brush my teeth…you know, for the record.

Don’t get me wrong… I don’t just sit around and do nothing. It is on these yoga pants days that I get a lot done around the house. I have a cup of coffee.  I visit facebook. I have another cup of coffee. I wash bedding. I write in my journal. I clean toilets. I read a bit of whatever book I happen to be enjoying. I just bop around the house and succumb to my whims of house cleaning and soul cleansing.

So, here’s my confession for this Wednesday…

My soul requires a day that I spend in my yoga pants pajamas and the most personal hygiene that I partake in is brushing my teeth.  

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Moment in Time

I hear of people making these things called “New Year’s Resolutions”. They are the things they want to do differently with another new year of life. They want to quit something, or start something, or finish something, or heal something, or be something. So, they wait for a new year to do their “something”… the fresh smell of the new year is the motivation they need to make a change.

Yet, habits are hard to break. All of those “somethings” that they want to change take time. But, they want immediate results. They want it now with little effort. They forget that when they are learning to do “something” new that they need to have patience with themselves. Instead of patience and compassion they get frustrated and convince themselves they can’t do “something” new. Then, feeling failure and growing pains… they give up. This giving up leads to them doing more or less of that “something” they wanted to change in the first place… more numbing and less self-actualization.

I can relate with those people because I used to be one of them. I used to wait to do “something” about all of those things that I want to change. I’d try to make several changes at once; which would set me up for failure or more growing pains than I could handle. I would be impatient with myself and eventually give up. That is… until I realized that each day is a new start… each moment I have a chance to make my life better… to become who I want to become… to make the choices necessary for change… to do something about those “somethings”.

I too like the fresh smell of the New Year. I become reflective of what the past year has taught me and brought me. I am blessed with yet another year that lies before me… the possibilities that God has planned excite me. I now get impatient because I can’t wait to see what the New Year will be about… new “somethings”, new challenges, new opportunities, new chapters, and a new and improved me.

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions because I am in a constant state of becoming better. Doing something about those “somethings” is a rhythm in my life. I do not wait for a new year to come before I begin the process… a new day… a new moment in time is all I need.