Wednesday, March 27, 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:

What I loved most about being on Spring Break last week was the carefree lifestyle that I can live. I stay in my pajamas until I feel like getting ready. I have time to be creative. I don’t have to rush to get anything done or to go anywhere.

I can just be. I am able to practice being still. There is plenty of time to get stuff done. No worries.

What it boils down to is that I was hard wired to be a hippie. It is my Mom’s fault, for sure. I was born to be free, to roam the world, to be still, and to be an artist.

I think that’s why I repel the conformity to modern society. I think that’s why I have anxiety over my fast paced life. I think that’s why I don’t like to shave my legs. I think that’s why I feel complete when practicing yoga. I think that’s why I like to eat organic and healthy foods. I think that’s why I’d rather be sitting on a patio sipping a cold drink and making connections with friends than making something of myself.

So, here’s my confession for this Wednesday…

At heart…I am a hippie.

Monday, March 25, 2013

It Isn’t About Me

I’ve always been in the service industry. I’ve worked in jobs that require me to serve others. In high school I worked at a garden nursery. In college I worked at restaurants. After college I was an Administrator for a play center. After that I was an Administrator for a private preschool. And, now I am an Art Teacher. All of these jobs require customer service. The customer might have been somebody wanting to purchase plants, enjoy a meal, enrich their child’s life with playtime, seek an early education for their child, or the customer might have been student’s themselves eager to absorb the knowledge that I have to offer. No matter the job… I have always provided a service.

You would think that with over 20 years of providing a service to the public that I would have had this realization sooner… come on, it’s me we are talking about. I always have to learn things the hard way… and 55 times… before I get it. It’s not that I am a slow learner… it’s that I am stubborn. I always think my way is the best way. I’ll address that issue in another blog… another time.

Today I am here to say that I realized that it isn’t about me! Nope! Not one bit about me. It is all about the person receiving the service I have to offer… the customer.

When you are providing a service to others it can’t be about you… but I have made it so much about me… about whether or not I was in a good mood, if I had enough sleep the night before, if I was hungry, if your attitude towards me was nice or not, if I felt well, or if I felt overwhelmed by life. It was all about me. The customer was just in the way of me getting a job done. Do I dare admit that I was, at times, burdened by the customer… put out by their requests?

I know those of my readers who are more enlightened than me are probably thinking, “Duh! Of course it isn’t about you!” Well, please don’t judge me for just now getting it… we are all on different journeys. On my journey, the obvious things in life are not mile markers or billboard signs… they are more like geocaching… little nuggets of obviousness hidden away until the coordinates of my GPS point a big flashing red arrow at them.

Not only is the service I offer in my job not about me, but this life really isn’t about me either. No matter what I do, or where I am, or who my customers are… I am here to service God. I am here to allow God to work through me. I am here for His glory. When I can fully surrender that it isn’t about me… I can fully be open to God’s plan, purpose, and love in my life.

It isn’t about me! 

Friday, March 22, 2013

There Are A LOT Of Positive Moments In The Day

All of this work I’ve done to learn about shame has me thinking about how it applies to other areas of my life especially in dealing with children… both as a parent and a teacher. I see other parents and other teachers use shame to try to change the behaviors of children. I’ve been guilty of it myself a time or two; however, I do not make a habit or a practice out of the business of shaming children. Shame just creates more shame…creating even more shame… until there is a wall of shame. Shame does not change behavior for the positive.

In the classroom specifically I see behavior programs and models that are shame based. The “bad” student has to move their “clip” from green to yellow on a chart… in front of the entire class… as the other students look on with judgment. The “bad” student has their agenda signed by the teacher in front of the entire class. The “bad” student gets a detention and shamefully arrives to spend 40 minutes sitting in a quiet room to dwell on their “badness”. The “bad” students sit on the wall at recess… when what they really need to do is run off some of that energy. We may as well put a dunce cap on them. Isn’t it all the same… punitive and shame-filled discipline for behavior modification?  Sure it is accountability, but isn’t there a better way?

As parents we shame our children into thinking that they are “bad” instead of their choice just being a lapse of better judgment.  We ground them. We spank them. We put them in time-out. We make them pay for what they’ve done. Sure it is accountability, but isn’t there a better way?

I think the better way is to focus on the good in children. Instead of being their biggest critic… be their biggest advocate. There are a LOT of moments in the day… focus on the positive.

Let’s break it down… there are 1,440 minutes in a day and 86,400 seconds in a day. That’s a LOT of moments. If a child has a lapse of better judgment… that lapse is just a moment of their day. Not a “bad” day… not a “bad” child… not a “bad” life… just an undesired moment. Instead of focusing on those negative moments… maybe we can focus on all the great and positive moments of their day.  With one lapse of better judgment… we’d still have 1,435 GREAT minutes and 86,300 GREAT seconds of positive moments. There are a LOT of positive moments in the day.

If people only focused my mistakes… my moments of lapse of better judgment… I’d be devastated. I personally want people to see the good in me. I want opportunities to allow that goodness to shine. If I am experiencing shame then I am diminished to that negativity… I become “bad”… instead of just feeling like my choice was “bad”. What moments of your day would you want to be identified with? What moments of your day would you want somebody else to recount?  The positive or the negative? Yeah… me too.

When I think about the choices that children make… it is our responsibility as the adults in their lives to teach them in the ways they should go… our vocabulary becomes their self-talk. If we focus on the negative… they will focus on the negative. If we shame them for all of their “bad” moments… they will focus on the “bad” moments. When they get caught for doing something wrong it just adds to their wall of shame. When they caught for doing something right it adds to their self-esteem and builds their self-worth.

Think for a moment (you have a few to spare)… what would the world be like if we stopped shaming children and started to embrace each of their positive moments in the day.

When I think of what that would be like… I picture children getting over their mistakes much quicker and allowing themselves to make mistakes even… I picture children not over-identifying with a lapse of better judgment, but knowing they are still “good”… I picture children feeling worthy of love no matter how many not-so-great moments they might have in a day.

Each new moment is a chance for renewal… extend that grace to the children in your life.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Fill-In-The-Blanks of Perception

I’ve been reading Brene’ Brown’s books about shame. I have grown so much through her work. It has been difficult to break through some of my issues…like tearing through  scar tissue. Sometimes I am hesitant to pick up the books because I know reading the words  will require me to resurface feelings that are undesirable. It requires me to be vulnerable and raw.

In Brown’s book “I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn’t)”, there was one page requiring me to fill-in-the-blanks to become familiar with my shame triggers. I couldn’t fill those blanks in for weeks. They remained blank. I put a few post-it notes on that page with some ideas of what I thought might cause me shame. But I really had no clue what experiences were causing the shame…I just knew I felt that feeling a lot.

It was only when I was aware and in-tune with my feelings that I could identify the root of my shame.  I was committed to learning the fill-in for those blanks. I started to take note when the rushing feeling of shame came over me… or when the darkness of negativity and depression crept up on me. I started to see patterns. After weeks of observing my emotions, I could finally fill-in-the-blanks.

One of Brown’s definitions of shame was… “Shame is about perception. Shame is how we see ourselves through other people’s eyes.” I am beginning to understand. I am beginning to see that I feel shame when I put so much value on what others perceive me to be. I allow those perceptions to define me.
People’s perceptions are usually based on emotions and, quite honestly, their own set of shame triggers. How could someone forgive in me what they can’t even forgive in themselves? How could someone give me grace when they do not even extend grace to themselves? And, how could I do the same for others? Not only do we shame ourselves…  we project our shame triggers onto other people as well.

There are two ways in which my shame surfaces (or when I project my shame on others)…how I want to be perceived and how I do NOT want to be perceived. If I feel as though I am not being perceived the way I want to be perceived then I begin to feel as though I am not worthy…I feel as though I am not enough…I feel as though I am a failure. I allow those feelings to define me… I over-identify with those feelings… they take up residence within me.

In my commitment to be more vulnerable with myself and with others, I am going to share my fill-ins with you. I think it is important for women to talk about these shame triggers because they are the same for many of us. Shame has power when we keep those feelings a secret. I am exposing my shame triggers so that they no longer have power over how I feel about myself…how I think others perceive me…how I project my shame onto others…giving you permission to be brave enough to do the same.

“I want to be perceived as a great mom, sweet/loving person, attractive, successful, and a woman of God.

“I do NOT want to be perceived as an unloving/uninvolved parent, rude/inconsiderate,  fat, my past mistakes, and unworthy.”

What would your blanks be filled with? What are your shame triggers? How do you want to be perceived? How do you NOT want to be perceived? What shame triggers are you projecting onto me? 

What if, just what if…

We only cared about God’s perceptions? Wouldn’t that take the power away from shame? If shame is about the perceptions of others… then let’s change the rules of the game. Let’s choose God’s perception of us over people’s perceptions of us. In God’s perception, we are perfectly flawed… perfectly forgiven… perfectly His child... perfectly loved.  

Just what if… we allowed God to fill-in-the-blanks of perception?

Wednesday, March 20, 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:

Each time I go to my Bikram Yoga class I dedicate my practice to someone, an emotion, or an idea. This is my focal point for the class. I meditate on that specific thing for the entire 90 minutes. Not only am I working through my physical boundaries, but I work through my emotional boundaries too. Mind. Body. Soul.

It is during our final pose, Savasana also known as the dead body pose, that I begin to cry…every time. I lie there meditating, near death, sweating, and I allow the tears to roll down my cheeks. Sometimes they are tears of joy, relief, understanding, peace, or love…sometimes they are tears for the clarity that I have gained. Sometimes the tears are because I realize through my practice that I am worthy, I am enough, and I am a child of God!

So, here’s my confession for this Wednesday…

I cry in my final Savasana… and it is not because I am near death.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

In Between the Pages of a Magazine

I am beginning a new lesson in my Junior High Art Classes. It is a word self-portrait; involving the students cutting out words from magazines that describe them.

To my delight, I found a stack of magazines in the staff lunch room at school. I scooped them up, took them back to my classroom, and perused the pages to make certain there wasn’t anything inappropriate.

Every other page was either about how to lose weight, or about sex, or had half-naked women with flawless bodies. There were too many pages of inappropriateness for me to tear out! I recycled them all!

I am glad I was able to save my students from that tragedy; however, I did not save myself.  The magazine encounter was about a week ago. In between the pages of a magazine I found unworthiness…I found shame…I found discontent with my body…I found a diminished self-image…I found my beauty diminished.

For a week now, I actually believed these terrible things bout myself! All because of what those magazines were selling and what I bought… discontentment and dissatisfaction. Once I realized what was going on... I had to do some damage control with my worthiness and my self-image. So, this is what I convinced myself of…

I am beautiful! Not because of my size…small, medium, or large. Not because of my shape…apple, pear, or banana. Not because of anything that you can see from just looking at me.  I am beautiful because… I. AM. GOD’S. CHILD. And, that beauty, my friends, cannot be sold or bought or even advertised in between the pages of a magazine. 

Wednesday, March 13, 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:

My husband snores! This has just started within the past year or so. It only happens when he sleeps on his back. In my sleep deprived state of desperation… I started to roll him over when his sawing logs woke me up from a dead sleep. Then, one night when he wouldn’t roll over, it apparently escalated into him thinking I hit him. I really was just trying to roll him over.

Although, as I thought about this accusation of a midnight beating… I realized that I  know not what I do when my sleep is interrupted … and I cannot be held accountable for those actions. I LOVE my sleep… obviously it is worth fighting for!

My solution was to wear ear plugs to bed. I know…I know…very sexy! If you only knew what else I wore to bed…you’d be horrified!

So, here’s my confession for this Wednesday…

I wear ear plugs to bed…it is working wonders for my sleep… and for my husband’s black eye!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

151 Positive Characteristics

I am always researching ADHD so that I can better wrap my mind around my son’s deficits. As if I was searching for the Holy Grail of solutions to “fix” him. Then it occurred to me…perhaps I shouldn’t focus on the negative aspects…perhaps he doesn’t need fixing…perhaps it is societies view (and mine) that needs the fixing.

So, I researched that topic. I found a website that listed “151 Positive Characteristics of People with Attention Deficit Disorder”. I printed this list, cut each one of these characteristics out, and I put them in a jar. For 151 days my son and I are going to read a new positive characteristic. We are going to celebrate his ADHD! Maybe when the 151 days are over we will start again…maybe we will come up with our own list. Whatever we do, we are not going to go back to our old ways of thinking…he doesn’t need fixing.

I believe it is the daydreamers and the people with ADHD that will make the most incredible contributions to our world…IF they are taught that their differences are a good thing not a bad thing! 

“151 Positive Characteristics of People with Attention Deficit Disorder”

Ability to find alternate paths to overcome obstacles
Able to take on large situations
Adventurous, courageous, lives outside of boundaries
Always finding alternate routes to any given location.
Always willing to help others
Ambitious – you want to be everything when “you grow up”
Attractive personality – magnetic due to high energy
Being able to see the big picture
Being able to see the patterns in the chaos.
Being intuitive towards others’ difficulties
Broad focus – can see more, notice things more
Can create order from chaos
Can do many projects at once
Can make people feel they are heard
Can see the big picture
Can talk about several things at one time
Can think on my feet
Career variety
Center of attention

Comfortable talking in front of groups
Comfortable with change and chaos
Compassion for others and for themselves
Conceptualizes well
Constantly evolving
Creates connections easily
Creative writing
Creative – musical, artistic, “dramatic”
Good in a crisis
Good at customer relations
Determined to gain more control
Eager to make friends
Eager to try new things
Empathetic, sensitive
Excellent organizers using journals and reminders (notes etc.)
Flexible – changes as the situation requires
Fun guy to be around
Good at conceptualizing
Good at motivating self and others
Good at multitasking
Good at problem solving
Good at public speaking
Good at understanding others/mind reading – empathetic
Good conversationalist
Good delegator and good at organizing others
Good in emergency situations
Good listener
Good looking and aware of it
Good people skills
Good self esteem, energetic
Great brain-stormer
Great multitasker
Great self-company
Great sense of humour
Great storyteller
Great with kids (central figure around kids)
Hands-on workers
Hard worker
Has friendly relations with their family
Has the gift of gab
Helps others who are also in trouble
High energy – go, go, go
Humour, very healthy, quick picking up ideas
Hyper focus !!
Hypersensitive – very empathetic and good at non-verbal communications
Idea generator
Impulsive (in a good way) not afraid to act
It’s ok to not finish everything
Learning as much as I can to help children and others with adhd
Less sleep is good
Like to talk a lot
Likes learning new things
Look at multidimensional sides to a situation
Lots of interests
Loves to cook and be creative
Master idea generator
Mentoring others/helpful
Mentoring people with low self esteem
Move on fast – never hold a grudge
Multitasks well
Never bored and rarely boring
Never intimidated to try new things
Non-linear, multi-dimensional/edge of chaos
Not afraid to speak mind
Not contained by boundaries.
On stage and ready
Holistic thinking
Problem solver
Quick thinking
Quick witted
Relates to people easily
Saves money in the short term by forgetting to file tax returns
See and remember details – recount them later
Sees the big picture
Socially adaptive and flexible.
Stabilizer during difficult situations
Takes initiative
Think outside the box
Thinks 2 meters ahead of the world
Thinks big, dreams big
Unlimited energy
Very creative, able to generate a lot of ideas
Very hard working to compensate – workaholic
Very intuitive
Very resourceful
Very successful
Visual learner
Willing to explore
Willing to take risks
Willingness to help others
Won’t tolerate boredom
Works well under pressure

Wednesday, March 6, 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 got out of the shower and was drying my face off with my towel. I know it is my towel because we have different colors towels. Mine is red.

As I am drying…I felt a little hair in my mouth. For a few brief moments… I. FREAKED. OUT! I stopped drying. I stuck my tongue out. I reached up with my fingers to pull the hair off of my tongue… all the while hoping that when I looked at the hair that it wasn’t going to be kinky and curly. You know… one of THOSE hairs!

Nope! Straight! WHEW! Close call!

I finished drying off and hung my red towel back up on its hook.

So, here’s my confession for this Wednesday…

When I feel a small hair in my mouth… I jump to the worst case scenario!