Change Only Me

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“If we had God’s power, we would change everything. If we had God’s wisdom, we’d change nothing.” Scott Richardson

If you’re a parent, especially a mother, you likely know the feeling when family gathers all together after not seeing each other for a while. Sometimes our hearts are full because of conversation and laughter, meals at favorite restaurants, and activities that keep everyone entertained and happy. These visits end with either my husband John or I saying, “I’m grateful and so proud of each one of them.”

Other times, togetherness worries a mom. When we’re up close, we notice if things don’t seem quite right like tense moments and edgy remarks, frustration, and comments about problems at work and home. I’m no less grateful and proud, I’m just no longer focused on those things. I’m fixated on what needs fixing and changing. It’s a mom thing even if not a God thing.

When our family recently gathered, John and I looked for things to do since we’re better when we’re busy, but hotel checkout and flight times, a get-together with friends, mealtimes, and naps conflicted with almost every idea. The grandkids were waterlogged and worn out after a week’s vacation in pools and beachside before arriving at our house. All six adults sat on looming deadlines whether it was my writing, our daughter getting her daughter ready to start school, or her husband beginning a business startup.

Nothing seemed particularly wrong, but neither did our time together feel right. I tried to justify it with all these reasons.

I preoccupied myself the evening they left with vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms, and washing sheets, so I held off the emotional hangover until the next morning when I skipped my shower, the gym, and writing. That afternoon, I skipped lunch because John and I argued instead of eating, and not because of anything that happened between the two of us during the weekend.

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“Get your own life” (the topic I blog about most often) came to mind two or three times, but it was easier to give into louder voices in my head that said things like, “What if something’s wrong and you don’t help fix or change it?” “What if you discuss your concerns and make things worse?” “What if you don’t converse and drift apart?”

This kind of thinking convinced me I needed to write and talk to others, so I started blogging again in January. I figured I wasn’t the only wife, mom, daughter, sister, and friend who needed to be talked off the ledge for caretaking, enabling, and people pleasing and surely I wasn’t a loner when it came to being overly responsible for others. All this doing for others feeds our attitude of “fix and change everything” when the real difference (the real fix and change) happens when we get our own lives.

This doesn’t mean we have no obligations to our families because we do. I doubt it means we’ll ever completely stop worrying about them either. It does, however, explain why the quote at the beginning of this blog post is significant. Life changing, really.

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Hearing I didn’t have to change anything because God wouldn’t change anything freed me to stop replaying the weekend. I could get back to my own life and my routine.

Hearing I didn’t have to change anything because God wouldn’t change it either staved off feelings of having to do something. It reminded me to accept what is and to acknowledge things happen as they should.

Hearing I didn’t have to change anything because I didn’t know what to change anyway freed me to have family conversations last week – conversations with real people instead of conversations in my head. By the end of each one, I figured out I had nothing to change except myself. Imagine that.

“Whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.” Max Ehrmann (writer of Desiderata)

I used to sign off my blog posts “write where I’m supposed to be,” so we may as well make where we’re supposed to be gratifying by getting our own lives. What do you think?

#GettingYourOwnLife #ChangeOnlyMe

In This Together,
Kim

Photo credit to Pixabay.com.
Thanks for passing along the quote, Iain Boyd.

Choose Well (a distracted Martha in a world that admires merry Mary)

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“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.” Nelson Mandela

I’ve heard about Martha and Mary so often, I almost zoned out during Sunday’s sermon because the message is always the same, “Be merry like Mary.”

The biblical story (Luke 10:38-42 NIV) is about Martha preparing the house and food, and worrying about many things. While she worked, her sister Mary sat at the feet of Jesus and listened.

Instead of learning from Mary, I’ve sat in plenty of pews and resented her. What “Martha” wouldn’t? Mary didn’t mind sitting around while her sister worked. And Jesus didn’t suggest Mary help Martha so both women could sit at his feet. Instead, Martha ended up fatigued and frustrated while Jesus commended Mary for choosing well.

It wasn’t until last Sunday that I heard the sisters’ story changed up and Martha talked about with compassion. I had never heard anyone give her a break much less show her grace. I had never thought to do either one myself. I spent my time wishing I wasn’t like her.

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I teared up when I heard our minister talk gently about the Martha in scripture, as well as all the Marthas in the sanctuary.

For the first time, instead of focusing on and resenting Mary, I fell in love with Martha. I understood how hard it was for her to stop working, to stop doing, to stop trying. I heard how she loved Jesus like Mary loved him even though Martha couldn’t sit still and enjoy moments with him. I felt sad hearing how Martha missed the moment, the magic, and the message (from a quote by Rev. Chuck Murphy).

What I’d thought was Jesus’ criticism of Martha turned out to be his encouragement when he told her, “Do these things.”

He wanted Martha to follow Mary’s example, and not because Martha disappointed him and Mary was favored, but because he loved Martha. He wanted her, like Mary, to choose well.

 I thought, Maybe it’s time to forgive Mary, and time to make friends with Martha and myself.

I wish I could put into words what that moment was like, the moment I felt grace for who I am. I’ve wanted to think differently about Martha in the midst of a world that admires Mary, but still wants the job done. I’ve wanted to accept Martha’s dilemma in a world that secretly believes good works get us to heaven no matter how often the church says it’s by grace, and this may be the same church where we feel guilty for not doing enough. I wanted to help Martha in a world where we’re reminded we have a purpose, but we forget the reason is to glorify God, not “worthify” ourselves

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I gently remind myself a dozen times a day when I’m working feverishly, worrying, or distracted, “There you go again being Martha.”

This simple prompt helps me slow down and choose well. It helps me with #GettingYourOwnLife. It helps me “look up” like in this quote shared on Facebook by friend Lucille Zimmerman. Thanks, Lucille.

“The moon was reigning over their world, glowing its full splendor to all those willing to look up.” Irina Serban

 I hope something in this post helps you, as well.

In This Together,
A recovering Martha

Thanks for the golden photo that looks like heaven, Joel Carter. Thanks for the other photos, Pixabay.com.

 

Nice Talking with You (positivity and truth … is it either-or?)

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“Say what you mean, but don’t say it mean.” Anonymous

I’ve written a lot lately about speaking up. Next thing I know, I’m also speaking up on my vlog, but this time it’s about being quiet unless we frame what we say in a positive light, in a way that tells what we stand for instead of what we stand against.

I questioned if I’d contradicted myself even before a friend commented, so I’m clarifying just in case. Positivity is good, but sometimes we have to …

  • Say the hard thing no one wants to hear.
  • Say the true thing we’d rather ignore.
  • State the reality we prefer to deny.

I also questioned if framing our messages positively and telling the truth, the kind people call “brutal honesty” because they don’t like it, are mutually exclusive. I must have thought so since most of my life I’ve told people what they’ve wanted to hear. I ended any message with a nervous little laugh to be sure no one took me seriously. I valued being positive (and liked) over being honest. No wonder family and friends interrupted my conversation, stopped me if they didn’t like what I had to say, and ignored my requests to not talk about topics like religion and politics. No wonder “no” didn’t mean no. No wonder I slammed doors instead of finishing a sentence. I had no voice.

Goodness, I’ve written about this until I’m sick of hearing myself talk about it, but I can’t stop until I get this out and until I get it straightened out. I don’t have a shot at doing what I’m telling y’all to do, #GettingYourOwnLife, until I get my own voice.

#WhileLovingthePeopleinIt isn’t happening either unless I’m willing to tell the truth. If I don’t love you enough to be honest, I don’t love you enough. Sometimes I can tell you what I need to say and frame it positively. I may figure out a way to keep it upbeat while keeping it real, or I may not. “You have a bad attitude” is hard to frame in a positive way.

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I responded to my friend about my vlog when she commented something like, “There is a time to be positive, but there’s also a time to speak the truth.”

“You’re absolutely right,” I said. “I don’t want to be held to this video and expected to always be Polyanna.”

I’ve aspired for people to say, “I’ve never heard her say a negative word.” I don’t want to be her anymore. I want to speak up positively when I can. When I can’t, I’ll speak up kindly, but I’ll still speak up.

practice-615657_960_720Here are ways I’m practicing:

  • Say what I have to say and get out, especially if I’m confronting someone who explodes, defends, or acts senseless. I walk away so they have time to reflect and so I’ll stop talking. People typically argue not to deal with an issue, but to distract from it. I’m following Facebook’s meme with a fierce guy being chased by his opposition. It reads, “Give your opinion and run.”
  • Rock the boat. I speak up about what’s bothering me even when we’re getting along, especially when we’re getting along, because it’s easier to talk then and because a single issue is easier to deal with than a long list of all that’s gone wrong this week, this year, this decade. If I wait until troubles build up, the culmination feels overwhelming to me, and it sounds crushing to whoever is hearing it. My son said, “It would be easier to hear this stuff in increments. You know, along and along.”
  • Consider what’s important and helpful, and what’s not, when it comes to speaking up. Sometimes I fight just because I’m frustrated, maybe my husband’s finished with his paperwork while I’ve procrastinated over mine or he’s in bed early and I’m not. Other times I’m frustrated because I’m too afraid to speak up. That’s when I need to.

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Here is what “speak the truth” is NOT:

  • An offensive comment to control, to insult, or to make a point we know doesn’t need to be made. Usually the point we’re making is,  “You’re wrong and I’m right.”
  • Disrespect like talking about something we’ve been asked not to talk about and for good reason, but we say it anyway.
  • A way of defying human courtesy instead of asking ourselves, “Is it kind? Is it true? Is it useful?” (By the way, these questions apply even when we’re talking about big personalities like Hollywood stars and political candidates. Their bigness doesn’t justify our belittlement.)

Does anyone else have anything to say about speaking up? I’d love to hear your take on it.

In This Together,
Kim

Thanks for the pix, Pixabay.com.

Speaking up Trumps Shutting down

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“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.” Coco Chanel

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I’m voting for Donald Trump. There, I said it.

And, believe it or not, this is not a political blog post. It’s a personal one, as well as the only one I could make sense of this week. The other post I tried to write during the wee hours after the Republican National Convention read like a crazy person wrote it, which is what happens when I shut up and shut down.

Yes, I am blogging about speaking up … again.

I stayed quiet early on about my vote because I was unsure even though I liked much of what Trump stood for. However, I thought, No way because he seemed an unlikely candidate and No way because others didn’t agree. Nonetheless, he’s the candidate out of 17 who came to mind every time I prayed for our country and about my choice. To clarify, I’m not saying Trump is God’s choice. I’m just telling you what happened when I prayed. As Trump’s popularity mounted, so did my confidence in my pick for President, but not to the point of sharing it with anyone.

I was vague about my vote when I posted an article on Facebook the night Trump swept my home state of South Carolina during the primary. The opinion piece I shared gave an accurate account of why voters like me showed up at the polls and cast the same vote I did. I agreed with its writer, I voted in part out of fear, but mostly I voted my conscience.

Click here to read the article by Andrew Shain @ thestate.com, “How Donald Trump won the SC GOP Primary.”

Aside from this story, I’ve remained silent and figured I’d lay low throughout the election. I mean, why speak up? Unless, of course, you’re a writer who is blocked because you’re not writing what you’re supposed to be writing …

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This whole speaking up thing resurfaced last Thursday evening while I watched the convention. I teared up when I heard how proud Ivanka was of her father. I planned to turn off Trump and finish my weekly blog post since time was running out, but I couldn’t break away. I was so stirred by his speech, I spent the evening supporting him on friends’ pages and commenting about highlights from his speech.

When it crossed my mind to share the same sentiments on my own page, I scared myself with images of what I’d seen for months on Facebook – unfriending, mocking, arrogance, and hateful criticism. I thought, I’m not writing about Trump anywhere online. It’ll have to be enough to cast my vote for him in November.

“If I feel strongly about something, I have a responsibility to speak up about it once.” Anonymous

Speaking aloud, like Coco said in her quote, helped me figure out a few things this week, and I figured them out fast.

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I figured out fast, voting is not enough. Not for me, anyway. Since I didn’t honor what I wanted to write on my Facebook page, I couldn’t put together a cohesive paragraph for last week’s half-finished blog post, the one about Focus. Yeah, I couldn’t focus on Focus. For days I couldn’t write. It seemed the only explanation was my brain shut down until I paid homage to my heart.

“What is the source of our first suffering? It lies in the fact that we hesitated to speak. It was born in the moment when we accumulated silent things within us.” Gaton Bachelard

#SpeakUpinsteadofShutUpandShutDown

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I figured out fast, glossing over what a person doesn’t want me to say does not guarantee he/she will be a friend or even kind. It only guarantees I’ll have to do more glossing to maintain the relationship.

“We’ve all become so conscious of how we’ll be perceived and so frightened to possibly offend someone that we’ve filtered ourselves to what borders on dishonesty.” Aaron Blaylock

#SpeakUpinsteadofGlossOver

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I figured out fast, more is at stake than my writing. When I don’t speak up, I sacrifice my sanity and give up my dignity.

“Honesty is more than not lying. It is truth telling, truth speaking, truth living, and truth loving.” James E. Faust

#SpeakUpinsteadofGiveUp

Now, maybe I can finish my blog post about Focus and move on to the next one.

#SpeakUp #withrespect #WhileLovingthePeopleInIt

In This Together,
Kim

Thanks for the photos, Pixabay.com.

 

Living Out Loud

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“If you ask me what I came into this life to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud.” Emile Zola

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“Mammy, stop talking, okay? Look at Lalaloopsy,” said Claire, my nearly three-year-old granddaughter. She held up one hand to interrupt me, while the other was on her hip right before she reached for her baby doll.

This was in response to me saying, “Well, Claire, I think it’s time for …”

She’d already had a bath, snack, and story time, so all that remained was bedtime. I guess she hoped to change up the conversation and get out of it.

I thought, I bet your granddaddy wishes he could pull off your cuteness when he changes the topic while I’m telling him he still isn’t listening well.

I thought about my grown son and daughter who’d probably appreciate a grin like I gave Claire instead of a glare when they try to shut me up with “Mom, …” said in two syllables and in a tone that, if you’re a mother, you know grinds off this page.

My friend probably wished I’d laughed along when, like Claire, she used hand signals to wave away my mention of depression as she rambled about how grateful she and I should be for never experiencing anything like it. She said, “Not you. You’re happy and funny.”

She’d sat in spiritual groups where I’d shared about bouts with depression, as well as sitting across the table like this evening and talking one-on-one. All I wanted was a to-go box and my check before I said something critical like, “Why do we bother to get together? Is it so you can change the subject? I mean, what’s the point?”

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“The work of the artist is to express what is repressed or even to speak the unspoken grief of society.” Michael Leunig

My husband listened that evening after I crammed the box into the refrigerator and talked about my sad lot in life. I said, “How could she not know I’ve been depressed? Or maybe she didn’t want to hear it?”

With him as my witness, I accused her of being thoughtless toward others. I talked about how she asked questions, but only if those questions bring the conversation back around to her. I mentioned how she had something to prove with every point she made and how she always, always, always had an agenda, usually political over personal. I blamed her a dozen times for a ruined evening before I talked about myself and how I felt.

I hurt when I’m not heard. Therefore, instead of running off with my to-go box, I need to speak up.

A friend cautioned me about this … about friends and my conversations when I’d whine no one listened to me, tell how everyone interrupted, and settled on shutting up as the solution. She bolstered me time and again, but kept asking the same question I was tempted to ask my other friend at dinner, “What’s the point?”

My point was to make them listen to me.

My friend’s point was for me to say what I have to say. To speak up. To live out loud. 

Even though she’s been gone for years, I can almost sense my friend’s relief now that I’m finally listening to her.

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Here’s the stuff that’s made it hard to say what I have to say:

  • I’m living out loud on my blog and in person even though I dislike confrontation.
  • I’m living out loud on my blog and in person even though I’m uncomfortable with being perceived as confrontational.
  • I’m living out loud even when people don’t like what I have to say.
  • I’m living out loud instead of screaming when I’m not heard the first time or the second or the third. With each repetition, what I want gets clearer even to me.
  • I’m living out loud even though I shake, which happens when I’m afraid I won’t be heard yet again. I say what I have to say until I am heard. It helps I’m a former kindergarten teacher.

Here’s the stuff that’s made it worth it:

I’m “living out loud” because of the tremendous gift of being heard on my blog and videos.

I’m “living out loud” because of how significant speaking up and being heard has been toward restoration and happiness and toward getting my own life. A friend remarked, “Have you noticed how much happier you seem?”

Why, yes, I have.

I’m “living out loud” because of my daughter and my granddaughter and my daughter-in-law; because of my quiet friends who have bold statements to make, but they’re not sure they can; because of friends I care deeply about who aren’t speaking up to their husbands and grown children and parents even though they need to; because I wish someone had spoken up for me when, even though I looked capable, I didn’t feel it.

I’m “living out loud” so Claire remembers she told me to stop talking, but I didn’t. And so she won’t either.

What did you come into this life to do?

In This Together,
Kim

What If I Fly?

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“What if I fail? Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?” Erin Hanson

Since my ballet and clogging days, I’d wanted to dance upfront one more time. Teaching Zumba seemed a low stress way until my classes filled up. It’s not like I packed in hundreds of people, but the more students who came, the more pressure I felt to keep them coming.

When the gym closed, I turned down jobs to teach at the local recreation center, a karate studio, and a private gym. I was happy to run from my Zumba teaching days.

The same thing’s happening all over again even though I’m no Chewbacca Mom. Blog readers and viewers keep showing up, so I have to also. And to keep you reading and viewing, I have to keep coming up with content. You know, I have to write reader-worthy stuff and say viewer-worthy things.

I question being up for the challenge.

“Don’t let your fear of what could happen make nothing happen.” Unknown

I can’t believe for a second I envied Derek Harvey, fellow blogger whose blog post went viral. His post titled “The Silent Killer of Relationships” reached more than a million views and almost overnight. I choke a little thinking about the hundreds of comments he was left to answer. I congratulated him and told him it was a blogger’s dream while heading back to the safety of my dozens of readers and a handful of comments. His might be a blogger’s dream, but mine is an introvert’s dream – a few close friends commenting, and then going to bed.

On the heels of his viral blog post, Candace Payne’s original Facebook video about the Chewbacca mask was viewed 158 million times and shared 3,349,721. She’s clearly enjoying the publicity, giveaways, and travel. If you don’t know about her, click Chewbacca Mom.

I thought, Why couldn’t that be me?

Next thought, I’d have a nervous breakdown.

Her stardom brought me to my knees, not to beg for it, but to barter against it.

Dear God, please spare me that kind of exposure unless I’m feeling skinny, keeping self-doubt at bay, and John says my hair’s looking stylish. If people watch my videos, let every single one of them Love me and Love everything I say. No negative comments, please. Not one. And hold my hand so my feet can’t run away from the 40 friends who do continue to show up and say kind things. Amen.

I felt stuck thinking, I’ve begun it, so I have to keep up this blogging and video thing.

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An argument ensued in my head because, actually, I don’t have to keep blogging and vlogging. I can run like Forrest because, like one voice said, “It’s better to leave them before they leave you.”

Another said, “Pray all you want, the more readers and viewers, the more criticism.”

The loudest voice mocked, “What are you worried about anyway? Like you said, you’re no Chewbacca Mom.”

I thought, I already acknowledged I’m not Candace Payne, but my videos aren’t flops.

“Not yet, but isn’t that what you’re afraid of? It’s just a matter of time before your ideas and your viewers dry up.”

I’d heard enough.

I’m up late (again) and confessing, not so you’ll comment, “Keep blogging and vlogging,” but so I’ll come to that conclusion myself. #GettingYourOwnLife

It’s like when my husband John consoled my fear of heights when he told me I didn’t have to hike. He suggested I spend the night at the hotel while he and our kids trekked the Grand Canyon. I could tell he didn’t understand why I had to do it. I wasn’t even sure. I just knew I did.

“Running away from any problem only increases the distance from the solution.” Unknown

Running from Zumba wasn’t the same, but the thought of running from blogging and vlogging put me back at the canyon’s edge. I can’t explain it, but I can’t run. I have to do it.

I think it has to do with being impassioned, and the quandary of passion is it’s so important I can’t run and so important, running’s all I want to do so I won’t fail.

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What’s so important that it keeps you from running away, but makes you want to?

“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.” Nelson Mandela

In This Together,
Kim

Click here to read Running Scared, an older blog post on this same topic.

Thanks to Joel Carter for the magnificent ferris wheel photo, and to Pixabay.com for the others.

 

When I’m Not Bouncing, I’m Yo-Yoing (a post about emotions)

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“When you’re happy, you enjoy the music. But when you’re sad, you understand the lyrics.” Frank Ocean

My husband John and I rode for what seemed like a long time, even though probably only 15 minutes, in the opposite direction of Claire’s mom while Claire (our almost three-year-old granddaughter) cried, kicked the back of the driver’s seat, and begged us, “Go in that direction.”

She pointed back toward the park where we’d picked her up. She’d been with friends and missed her afternoon nap, on top of waiting to eat dinner with us. Between the two, being tired and hungry, she melted down when her mom drove away from our meeting spot halfway between our houses. We’d met to pick up Claire and keep her for a couple of days.

We finally pulled over. I hugged her and walked her around. By now, she gasped for breath and kept asking to go in that direction, while pointing the right way even though we’d made two turns. Nothing calmed her. Not talking to her mom on the phone. Not her favorite snack.

And especially not John telling her, “Stop it.”

She wore herself out, but not before she’d also worn out John. He’d become as frazzled as her.

At the house, Claire’s mood turned around after three bites of pizza. She talked about playing in the park and asked where we bought the fish that was new on our wall.

“I’m so happy you feel better,” I said.

She placed her hand on her chest, tilted her head, and said, “Oh, Mammy, I sorry, but I was so sad. I just missed my mommy so much.”

John and I laughed through our tears at her sweet voice and sincere apology. Both times she said “so,” she accentuated the word. I looked at John to see him calming down also.

“You can’t have the highs without the lows,” I said. 

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It wasn’t like he didn’t know that from experience. I’m a yo-yo, but he’s never appreciated it and neither have I. If I had tried to talk him into it, we both would have questioned, “What’s there to appreciate?”

Before we ever had kids, I was diagnosed with something, probably manic-depressive disorder. I was eligible for free counseling sessions through our health insurance if my therapist assigned a label. This was years prior to half our population being branded with diagnoses, so the therapist squirmed telling me I had to have one. He didn’t volunteer what it was and I never asked.

I’m not convinced my emotional overload needs to be labeled a disorder, but I do want to find order in it.

I, as well as everyone around me, tried to eliminate my emotions, bury my emotions, or ignore my emotions to the point that for years I’ve had trouble breathing, as well as living. I’d prefer John and I team up like we often talk about and accept, appreciate, and work together to understand my emotions, and his too.

My dad, who had the same overload, asked me anytime I’d run to my room, close the door, and cry uncontrollably, “Who do you think you are acting like that?”

Instead of asking about “acting like that,” I wish he’d asked about my feelings since they drove everyone a little crazy, including me.

After he asked, I wish Dad had cared about my answers. My responses may have helped us both.

I’m a little girl who’s scared you and Mom are going to divorce.

I’m a little girl who’s afraid you’re not okay, which means I’m not okay because we’re a lot alike.

I’m a little girl who loves you no matter what. I wish that’d make a difference in how angry you get and how scared you look.

If we are to get our own lives, we have to come to terms with all of who we are.
If we are to love the people in it, we have to do the same for them. 

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My high mood is when I shop for an hour at Target to find the swirly dress and collared shirts, the princess wand, and a Little Tike’s basketball goal.

It’s when my husband and I talk for hours about the house we’ve looked at to buy in “Mitchfield” (Litchfield Beach), as Claire calls it.

It’s when I can’t get enough of Claire and her little brother, and laugh loud on FaceTime because they’ve gotten down from eating dinner to dance to Fight Song … again.

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The flipside, not synonymous with the bad side, is my low mood when I’m focused on what’s wrong with you and me. I cry over spilt milk, literally. I curl up in bed and stay there all day because a child is missing in Disney.

I’m not sure these are because of a diagnosis or if we’re all plagued at times with life. What I am sure of is it’s helping to accept the lows right along with my highs.

Everyone welcomes laughter, but Claire’s teaching me to embrace it all – her high-spirited personality, as well as her fits of emotion and her soggy face. And mine, and yours. I mean, I would never dismiss her feelings or label them, so why do it to myself?

What’s up with this blog post about emotions and what’s it got to do with getting our own lives? #GettingYourOwnLife

It’s inconvenient, frustrating, and sometimes scary to feel bad, but it’s as necessary as feeling good so we know what’s going on with ourselves and each other,  and so we have direction (what to do and what not to do). One purpose of emotions (both the positive and the ones we consider to be negative) is guidance.

We label and try to eradicate or medicate our God-given emotions given to us to guide our next step towards #GettingYourOwnLife and our God-given emotions given to us so we’ll relate and have compassion #WhileLovingthePeopleinIt.

But, like I told John about Claire, we can’t have the highs without the lows. 

While researching “the purpose of our emotions,” I found an article on PsychologyToday.com (see link below) where the author talks about having too much emotion and not enough outlets like when we lived in the wilderness and fled from tigers. She said, “Perhaps emotions get out of whack today because they bubble without an effective outlet.”

Let’s choose #GettingYourOwnLife #WhileLovingthePeopleinIt to be our effective outlet. What do you think? I think it’ll keep me on my own yo-yo string and maybe even appreciating it.

In This Together,
Kim

Click here to read “Why Do We Have Emotions?” by Ilana Simons Ph.D. @ PsychologyToday.com.

 

Finding Ourselves in The Struggle (while looking for “the thing” that works)

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“Look at a stone cutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred-and-first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not the last blow that did it, but all that had gone before.” Jacob Riis

You likely have friends like mine who jump on the latest, greatest, and fastest quick fix whether it’s a vitamin, book on tape, nutritious juice, blog to read, advice about drinking 13 gallons of water, Bible study, get-rich-quick scheme, revivaled church, diet plan, exercise plan, or life plan, and they talk about it ad nauseam.

Yeah, they drive me nuts too, but I get ‘em because I’m one of them.

It’s like I’m on a trampoline and bouncing from thing to thing to thing. Each time I land, I’m sure this is the fix for getting my own life. I’ve struggled through all that’s gone before, but I’m convinced I’ve now arrived, right in the middle of highlighting a book that arrived yesterday from Amazon.

I’ve finally happened upon the thing.

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That is, until the next latest, greatest, and fastest quick fix comes along.

For a couple of years now, my search has been for the thing that spurs enough inspiration to complete my manuscript. I enthusiastically promoted Michael Hyatt’s Influence and Impact Summit, convinced that was it. I posted daily about the high profile speakers and their motivational presentations. In hindsight, the summit was “all that had gone before” (from the quote above), but it wasn’t the hundred-and-first blow.

Even though the hundred-and-first blow (the thing we’re searching for) comes about because of the search, I easily tire and become exasperated with searching for and anticipating it. Maybe you do too.

And maybe figuring this out last week will help. Here it is. I figured out that it’s in hindsight I recognize I’ve found what I’m looking for.

Soren Kierkegaard said, “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”

When a friend posted a story about the importance of taking ourselves seriously, as well as the impact of that attitude on finalizing projects, I thought, This is the attitude change I need to move my manuscript toward completion.

In other words, this is the hundred-and-first blow. It is the thing.

My next thought was, Hear I go again.

I resisted talking about the article like I’d done with Michael Hyatt’s summit. Well, except my one mention in my last blog post. I decided to wait and see. Otherwise, I’m caught up in the information instead of initiating it. If I complete my manuscript in light of the author’s insight, I’ll give credit and tell all about it. If not, I’ll keep searching. That’s pretty much how it works. #GettingYourOwnLife.

Even though we can’t bring about the hundred-and-first blow and we have no idea when it will happen, the quote offers hope that it will. It also says “all that had gone before” matters.

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In light of this, I’d like for us to …

Let go of the struggle.

Simply do the next thing without expecting it to be the thing, and know it matters.

Trust the thing will happen.

I can breathe a little easier. How about you?

In This Together,
Kim

 

Ditching Distractions for Life

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“You can always find a distraction if you’re looking for one.” Tom Kite

In fact, sometimes distractions find us.

Since writing my blog post from two weeks ago, the one about avoiding my writing (“Are You Hungry for #GettingYourOwnLife?”), I do believe I’ve avoided it even more.

Or maybe I’m just noticing it more. No, wait, it’s for real because I didn’t post last week.

Distracting myself became so obvious, I took notes on it, which I’ll share at the end of this blog post.

My distractions became obvious to my husband, as well. I snapped at him for asking about dinner at dinnertime.

“I’m in the middle of writing,” I said.

The truth? I was 15 minutes into a new section and frustrated I was way past my self-imposed deadline.

I heard the same kind of frustration when leaving a networking luncheon with a friend who’s starting her own business.

“The guy building my website is waiting for one piece of information from me. One piece and I haven’t sent it,” she said holding up one finger to emphasize how little he wanted from her.

“And why not?” she said.

She was asking the question of herself, but I felt convicted, so I confessed.

“I do the same thing. Sometimes I feel paralyzed, so instead of writing my manuscript, I write on Facebook.”

Another friend mentioned her difficulties in trying to claim her life, her space, and her energy to start up a women’s ministry.

“I’m tired from struggling through life and now have an opportunity at the good stuff, but it’s hard because I’m not disciplined for it. I’m used to doing for others,” she said.

“I’m not disciplined either,” I confessed again.

It helped to admit my secret to friends and to John. I mean, it’s not really a secret because Facebook friends see I’m on Facebook and family knows I’m texting, FaceTiming, and shopping at Target. It’s a secret because I’m hiding out from it. Joking around about procrastination isn’t an admission or a fix for it.

I’m a lot like my friend who said, “I’m not an alcoholic. I’m a drunk.”

No one’s fooled by his jokes. However, until he’s willing to give up alcohol, his drinking becomes his life.

The same is true for me until I give up distractions. They become my life. 

When Summer Turner, founder of Summer Turner’s Success for Introverted Women, suggested putting aside anything that doesn’t move me closer to my goal, I was tempted to defend my full calendar, except I knew she was right. When a goal’s been important enough, I’ve limited distractions and written.

For this reason, I’ve always met editor’s deadlines. However, I seldom meet my own, maybe because they don’t seem important enough. 

I have friends my age who, like me, are looking at their lives head-on. An inventory like this can happen at any age, but I think we typically look harder at our lives when we’re shifting from being a mom or dad and a daughter or son to asking “Who am I now?” Also, when we realize we’re not going to live forever.

Most of us are moving beyond “shoulds” and what others think. We are past child rearing years, and one or both of our parents are deceased. We may not need to work as much, but we need something to do.

We’re mindful we have life left, but concerned we don’t have energy for it. We’re tired from wrangling and juggling rigid routines, an overload of work, and complicated relationships.

We’ve been more focused on minding others’ business than our own because we thought we had to be.

More focused on busyness than being still because we thought we had to be.

More focused on family calling or our workplace calling than on God’s calling because we thought we had to be.

I told you in the last post I’d write a good bit about distractions. I also said, “… at the end of this blog post and the next one and the next one, there’s only one way to #GettingYourOwnLife. It’s to get your own life.”

Begin it. Start. Do it every day.

sowa-344442_960_720Having been reminded of that, just moments before I planned to publish this post last night, I read an article written by writer and comedian Sarah Cooper. I hope you’ll read “Do You Take Yourself Seriously?”

Sarah wrote this – if we can’t “just do it” (if we can’t begin it, start, and do it every day), it may be because we’re not taking ourselves seriously. I needed to hear her insight about #GettingYourOwnLife. Maybe you do also.

Here are the notes I mentioned above.

More distractions (all of which I’ve done during the past two weeks):

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  • Overthinking #GettingYourOwnLife.
  • Eating out with family and friends. I appreciate restaurant life.
  • Taking daytrips even when John and I agree the weekend is for catching up on writing and paperwork.
  • Caretaking and enabling others (doing for them what they can do for themselves).
  • Commenting on others’ Facebook pages. I previously only mentioned scrolling my newsfeed, but I often take rabbit trails to personal pages.
  • Commenting on blog posts. This one comes via a writer friend’s observation that we may both be distracted from our writing by each other’s writing.
  • Riding around on our golf cart an hour longer than planned.
  • Cleaning out my inbox and junk emails.
  • Cleaning up the desktop on my laptop.
  • Responding to Facebook notifications.
  • Deleting phone messages.
  • Helping John with his home improvement business even when he doesn’t ask.

What has NOT squelched distractions:

  • An online accountability group where I sometimes exaggerated my progress. (Please reframe from gasping and saying “You lied?”)
  • An incentive board to cheer myself on. (What was I thinking since I didn’t make the high school cheerleading squad?)
  • A detailed plan. (Although the plan wasn’t all that detailed, so I may try again.)
  • A timer or two or three to get me off Facebook, out of my email inbox, and onto the page. (I’m obviously unaffected by buzzing and ringing.)

What has squelched a distraction or two:

  • Setting small (sometimes minuscule) daily goals.
  • Having a cleansing cry to flush out frustration. #iamallsplotchy
  • Throwing a fit all by myself whether it’s in my closet or in my car. #donotlookatme
  • Journaling about resistance and why I don’t want to write or why I won’t write. Writing about the fit I just threw sometimes helps.
  • Pushing through things I think about like If I have a clean desk, I’ll write more and better.
  • Playing music because it stirs me. There is a fine line, though. When it’s upbeat, it can stir me to dance for Fitbit steps.
  • Taking a walk to clear my head and figure out what to write next. #onesentenceatatime

What distractions do you need to curb or ditch completely? What attitude change (like taking an inventory or taking yourself seriously) might help with ditching them?

In This Together,
Kim

Summer, thanks for sharing Sarah’s article. It may be a game changer as far as how I think about and accomplish my work.

Pixabay.com, thanks for the pix.🙂

Readers, thank you for keeping me going.

Are You Hungry for #GettingYourOwnLife? (cut out distractions)

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“Starve your distractions. Feed your focus.” Unknown

Distractions are not all bad. In fact, some are good and necessary. Here’s proof.

Definition of distraction: a diversion or recreation.
Synonyms: amusement, entertainment, diversion, recreation, leisure pursuit.

A second definition shines a less positive light: a thing that prevents someone from giving full attention to something else.
Synonyms: diversion, interruption, disturbance, interference, hindrance.

The third definition reminded me of author C.J. Darlington’s answer to an interview question about her becoming irritable when she didn’t write. The definition: extreme agitation of the mind or emotions.
Synonyms: frenzy, mental distress, insanity, mania, agitation, perturbation.

“When I don’t write, I’m turning my back on that (my calling to write). It’s taken me a long time to realize this, but I think it’s true for any of us when we don’t do what we know God’s called us to do,” she said during our Interview with C.J. Darlington, Part 3.

The last definition best fits what I’m writing about in this blog post.

I wished for C.J.’s kind of irritability, the kind that feeds our focus. Instead, I got irritable when John ran late in the afternoons. Time he pulled into our driveway, I let go of the guilt I felt about another day of not writing and I put on my wife hat. For at least a year, I postponed writing in anticipation of our dinners together.

I sound hungry for anything but my own life, don’t I?

Pretty ridiculous, huh? I’m as baffled as you must be and I’m as embarrassed as you probably think I should be about how I drummed up that much distraction around 30 minutes of eating.

From Gerald May’s book Addiction and Grace, I vaguely remember his explanations about addiction that could also apply to distractions. He talked about forming attachments, as well as addiction according to mind, body, and spirit and all sorts of addictions we conjure up. The same makes sense when we replace the word “addictions” with “distractions.”

The thing I clearly remember from reading May’s book is his explanation about overcoming addiction.

Stop it. Quit. Don’t do it anymore.

The same is true for distractions. I’ll write a lot more about them because I have a lot of them (see the list below) and because I distract myself often, but know that at the end of this blog post and the next one and the next one, there’s only one way to #GettingYourOwnLife. It’s to get your own life.

Begin it. Start. Do it every day.

Profound, I know. But beginning, starting, and doing it every day are not as easy as they sound in the midst of distractions.

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In the next few days, I’ll post a video about a time I practiced #GettingYourOwnLife. I hope you’ll tune in. This evening, I’m posting just for fun a partial list of ways I distract myself from it.

  • Shopping at Belk
  • Changing nail color
  • Reading old magazines
  • Saving articles to reread
  • Scrolling Facebook
  • Shopping for grandkids
  • Playing counselor
  • Playing God
  • Replaying my past
  • Baking and eating
  • Scrolling Facebook
  • Organizing photos of grandkids
  • Holding drama marathons
  • Signing up for too many activities
  • Saying “yes” to the multitudes
  • Doing things to kill time
  • Scrolling Facebook
  • Bragging about grandkids
  • Pinning on Pinterest
  • Replaying what I should have said
  • Shopping at Steinmart
  • Shaping my eyebrows
  • Scrolling Facebook
  • Ordering things for grandkids
  • Organizing clothes by color
  • Organizing shoes by color
  • Organizing underwear by color
  • Organizing my desk
  • Scrolling Facebook
  • Organizing grandkids’ toys
  • Organizing coupons
  • Shopping at Target
  • Cleaning blinds (desperate distraction)
  • Obsessing about relationships
  • Scrolling Facebook
  • Posting on Facebook about grandkids
  • Wollering because I’m frustrated
  • Napping when I should be writing
  • Talking about writing
  • Complaining about not writing
  • Scrolling Facebook
  • Looking for Christmas gifts for grandkids (in June)
  • Walking in place with my Fitbit
  • Researching and re-researching
  • Hitting the snooze button
  • Cleaning under beds
  • Scrolling Facebook
  • Posting on Facebook about grandkids (again)
  • Dusting ceiling fans
  • Piddling
  • Checking Fitbit steps
  • Scrolling Facebook
  • Making lists about grandkids
  • Making more lists
  • Rewriting lists
  • Exercising for hours
  • Etc.

There are plenty of worthy activities on this list, but none of them move forward my writing. Also, what I name as my distraction may be the way you get your own life.

The diet plan to starving our distractions is for each of us to decide what #GettingYourOwnLife looks like and focus + act on it so we can feast on the life we want.

What focus are you feeding? What distractions do you need to starve, at least for a little while? #GettingYourOwnLIfe

In This Together,
Kim