What I need when I need it…

Growing up, I was taught to be “separate from the world”.  Instructed that God wanted me to be an “outsider” to the “worldly” people around me.  I got out of that belief system but found it difficult to connect with others.  No matter how hard I tried, or how badly I wanted it, I didn’t feel like I could be part of the groups of people I perceived around me.  For a while, I tried to remedy this by being “like them”.  That didn’t work because that required me to ignore who I really was, lose touch with how I really felt, and “they” still didn’t like me.

I’ve been getting better and better about being myself and it’s working out!  Some people still do not like me.  I don’t click with everyone.   That fact still hurts sometimes but I try to see it for what it is, not meant to be, and move on.

However, there are people I do click with.  They come into my life, somehow at just the right time, without me trying to make anything happen.  For this, I am extremely grateful.  The only thing I’m really doing differently now than in the past is being true to myself and having faith what I need will appear when I need it.   Lo and behold, it works out again and again! Hooray!

I have always wanted a group of people to exercise with.  It seems that I’m always “in the middle”.  There are people more fit, faster, leaner, that I can’t quite keep up with and those folks that are less fit who can’t quite keep up with me.  When that happens, I feel like the outsider again.

I sense that tide changing this year.  As I’ve worked on accepting myself, I’ve met some really wonderful folks who are on a similar path at a similar pace.  They stick to their schedule even if everyone else fails to show up.  They are focused enough, they challenge me to do better but aren’t so far ahead I feel like I can never catch up.  The concept of listening to my body and doing MY best is getting more natural all the time.  The people I click with the most aim to practice those concepts as well.

My body is a temple.  It’s the only place I have to live.  I’m learning to appreciate what it can do instead of hating that fat bulge here or lack of curve there.  It’s liberating!  Whenever I start wishing I looked like someone else, I think about what I’m really asking for.  I think about all the good things about myself I would miss out on.  I realize that even the people who seem to “have it all” have burdens to bear and oftentimes, I wouldn’t want to trade my burdens for theirs.

 

From my heart to yours

Thanks for reading

 

 

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The Learning Curve

When I was in fourth grade, I LOVED my teacher, Ms. Booth.  She was sweet and kind and smart.  She rarely yelled and always made me feel good.  I was tested to be in the “talented and gifted” program but did not get put in.  I realize now I do not know for sure if it was because I didn’t “pass” or because my parents decided not to let me do it.  Regardless, the message I recorded in my brain was that I was not good enough.  Close, but not close enough.  College for the sake of learning new things was not an option.  I was to learn a marketable skill that would allow me to support myself.  While supporting oneself and not depending on a man for a financial plan is admirable, I was robbed of the joy of learning for the sake of learning.

Add to this, I was part of an extremely male dominated religious structure.  I have come to realize almost every single natural strength I have contradicts the core belief structure of the group I was born into.  From my perspective, women were to get married, have babies, and look modest in a skirt.  That was the ultimate honor for a “good” female.  Men made the decisions.  Men had the power.  The only way a woman could have influence was through “her” man and being so “godly” in words and appearance that others noticed.  They talked A LOT about sex and how not to have it.  I would not have thought about it so much if they had talked about something else for a while that didn’t involve death.  Between sex and death, frankly, I’d rather think about sex.

Reading was not fun for me.  I was supposed to read pages and pages and pages of material that told me I wasn’t good enough, people were bad and most everyone was going to die soon.  There was no joy or excitement created around learning new words.  The really smart people were the “bad” ones!  They had “worldly” ideas and “no appreciation for God”.  The material I wanted to read I wasn’t supposed to read.  So, I just didn’t read…

Sigh……..

I’ve been away from that constant chatter for a decade now but, as I challenge myself to learn without limits, several old tapes are playing in my head.  They say such things as: Boys should be wise, girls should display a “quiet and mild spirit”.  You know too much. Increase knowledge, increase pain.  Your ideas are wrong.  You are too much trouble.

These tapes do not serve me any longer and I’m grateful they have come to my conscious mind but they are also a little painful to process. What terrible things to say to a little girl!  Not all of them were said in so many words, but some, sadly, were.  The people who spoke them did not know what they were really saying, they were trapped by their limiting beliefs.  Today I am writing about my first steps in unlocking whatever potential my mind may have because I know I am not alone in hearing these messages.

Vocabulary is one of my weakest areas so I purchased a book to help me learn words commonly used in SAT tests.  As I opened the first few pages, I was bracing myself to feel stupid.  Instead, I found this wonderful description of ways to learn new words such as: learn the definition with your own words, imagine a picture or an absurd phrase to learn it’s pronunciation, write it down, use it in a sentence, read more books…  And my favorite: “Do what works best for you”.  I realized in that moment that I am no longer limited by old tapes that told me what I could and could not be.  I don’t know what I can be until I try.

When I trained for my first 5K, I was not expecting to win.  I didn’t feel like less of a person because I couldn’t go as fast as the person who did (I do not even know who won that race).  I was happy I ran further than I ever had in my life and I knew I could do better next time.  My mind is the same!  I am not Stephen Hawking or Albert Einstein but I can learn more today than I knew yesterday.

This is a gift!  This is something that no one, nowhere can take away from me now!  I don’t even have to share how I remember words.  I can remember them however I want.  That, friends, is incredible freedom!

The same things I tell my son to tell himself when he’s feeling “less than” intellectually are helpful to me as well.  They are: I am capable.  I can learn.

From my heart to yours,

Thanks for reading

Taking the Road Less Traveled…

My grandfather grew up in Chicago, Illinois during the Great Depression.  His nickname was “Farmer Joe” because he dreamed of being a farmer.  Somewhere in his late teens, he hitchhiked his way down to the Clinton, Iowa area to work as a farm hand.   He worked and saved until he could buy his own farm, married, lost his wife to cancer a few years later, raised 2 kids on his own and saved more money.

In the winter of 1978, he got snowed in for over a week.  Without a phone, he had no way to call for help.  This scared him so much, he started spending the winters with my family starting in 1979 (the year I happened to be born).   (Side bar: he never did get running water.  His electric well was good enough for him. He still only had a self dug outhouse the last time I was there sometime in 1998.)

Grandpa wore bib overalls all year round…. Without a shirt or underwear in the summer (I know because he talked about the freedom) and with puffy-stitched long underwear when it was cold (they must have been from somewhere in the 1950s because I never saw them in the stores new).  He would jokingly say, “I bathe once a year whether I need it or not” and that would have been more funny if it wasn’t so true.

He was his own person.  He would find out within 10 minutes of meeting someone:  their name, where they grew up, what they loved and at least one obscure detail that even that person’s closest friends may not know.  He loved me.  I both admired and loathed his ability to be true to himself no matter what other people thought.  In my early teens, it was extremely embarrassing.  As a small child and a young adult, it was inspiring.  I inherited his gift of gab and often think of him when I meet new people.

Grandpa loved to save money.  No, seriously… He LOVED to save money.  Paying for things was painful for him no matter how necessary it was.  I remember him going to buy his new royal blue TOYOTA truck and instead of  being excited about having a new vehicle, he complained about how much the cost of cars had gone up.

Part of the money he saved went to pay for my Associate degree and my first car.  I graduated without debt, married, and 3 weeks away from giving birth to my son.

Fast forward 14 years…

I am at a crossroads.  I’ve made incredible progress, in the last 10 years especially.  From a miserable, confused, sob story to a mostly confident, healthy, business woman but I want more.

I want to be highly educated.  I want to make a difference in the lives of others.  I want to reduce crime and obesity by helping kids and their parents learn to process their emotions.   I want to live in Western Washington and go for hikes in the mountains more weekends than not.

For the first time in my life, I feel all of that is possible.  I do not know exactly where to start.  I don’t know exactly what that journey will look like but I can see it and, from what I’m told, that’s the first step.  The closer I get to taking my first steps in that direction, the louder the shame tyrants come out with “can’t because…”.  They say I’m not smart enough.  They say I’m too old, don’t have enough money, it won’t work, it’s frivolous (side bar: “frivolous” was the worst insult my father would ever give me.  It really meant ‘of no value to him’ so therefore was to have no value to me.).  I hear them but I don’t have to listen!  I CAN!

In closing, I have two requests:

1) Live your dream!  By you living yours, you help me live mine.

2) If you happen to have any advice on how I get to life experiences I described above, please share.

From my heart to yours,

Thanks for reading

It’s about the journey, not the destination…

This morning, I watched some TED videos, surfed Facebook and spent some quality time with my husband.  I was explaining to him, with tear filled eyes, how touched I was by a few people who have recently told me I matter to them.  They call me “inspiring” for being me. For doing what I love. For trying to eat more healthy than unhealthy, aiming to be kind and taking care of myself the best I can each day.  He told me I should write about it so here I am…

Last Sunday, I heard a speaker John Cacioppo share the results of his research on loneliness.  He shared that it isn’t a ‘disease’ or a ‘condition’, it’s a survival mechanism for social species.  The same way hunger motivates us to eat and thirst motivates us to drink, loneliness is natural response to motivate us to do something different to meet our social needs.   His speech spoke to me.  Most of my life I have been extremely lonely, no matter how many people were around.  The majority of my time has been spent in “survival mode”, watching for the next thing that is going to ‘get me’ and feeling like if I did not watch out for myself, no one else would.  It was comforting to learn that was not a defect in me but a instinctual response as a social creature in a particular environment.  I am human.

It is only recently, the last few years, that I have begun to feel part of society.  This year, I attempted to mentor others in running and it wasn’t as much about my race, my time, my fitness as it was their’s.  By doing so, I am feeling like I belong. They are motivating me and encouraging me in ways beyond words.  I am extremely grateful for the experience.

I default to thinking about all the things that I don’t do well, all my shortcomings.   I project a positive outlook because every day is battle against negativity.   I am practicing acknowledging the heartbreaks, disappointments, anger, I feel without letting any of that own me.  It’s not easy.  Simple, but not easy…

I have not maintained my diet or exercise perfectly. My body composition is not exactly where I want it to be at the moment.  However, I am healthy.  I was able to go 18 miles last Saturday, injury free.  People are different.  My body has certain strengths and limitations that are unique to me.  My husband has certain strengths and limitations that are unique to him.  Everyone has a place.  Everyone deserves to belong.

The scripture about not comparing yourself to others means more and more to me all the time (Galatains 6:3-5… “If you think you are better than others, when you really aren’t, you are wrong. Do your own work well and then you will have something to be proud of. But don’t compare yourself to others.  We each much carry our own load.”).

I am on my own journey but I am not alone.

John’s Cacioppo’s TEDx talk can be found here.  I highly recommend watching:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0hxl03JoA0&feature=youtu.be