I Lost Ten Pounds!

This post has nothing to do with weight loss. The scale is not even in my bathroom anymore. It never had anything nice to say. This post is about a conversation I had this week with a sweet friend. I would describe her as a divine gathering of stardust. She is the kind of person that the moment you meet them you just know they are special and you want to know them more.

Anyway, she asked how I knew to start this blog. That was a fantastic question. The truth is, I wanted a place to tell the truth. I wanted a place to gather my thoughts and observations about my life experiences. I also wanted to talk through some of these things with a community of people.

I was never concerned with how many people actually read my words. I just wanted to lose the weight of the thoughts in my mind. When I share a truth about life experiences, it feels like another pound of pretend is off my back. It feels like “well now that’s out there” and I am free from pretending like it’s not part of my story or part of what I value.

Elizabeth Gilbert opens her memoir Eat, Pray, Love with the quote “Tell the truth, tell the truth, tell the truth” I get it now. I get that telling my truth has nothing to do with you and it has everything to do with me. I am a bit more free with every truth I tell.

We live in a culture that shames our scars. We are expected to be fine or okay all the time. These expectations are devastating for a lot of people. Life is hard for us all in one way or another. No one gets out without a few scars. Too many of us spend so much time adjusting our images to hide our scars and our stories to make them more palatable to the masses. I have no desire to be palatable and every desire to be real.

My husband’s poppa asked me early on in our relationship “You are real, huh?”

Yes, I am real, I’m messy, I’m scarred, I’m held together with string, I’m confused most of the time, I think rodents are particularly funny, I would only eat pizza if I were single, I love with an exhausting intensity, I care so much, and I’m beautiful.

Love.

 

Advertisements

I Never Needed A Makeover

A friend of mine is in town for the week (I love her ) and we were talking last night about a time in my life when I (significantly) lacked confidence and what that felt like. Honestly, I think we all struggle with confidence from time to time but there were times when I thought that I was just not good enough at anything.

This post makes me so sad for the person I was.

There was a time in my life when people would tell me how to dress, how to do my hair, or what I should act like or talk like. My laugh was too loud and my opinions were too much. When I shared these stories with my friend, I could see her sadness and that made me sad. It’s just not nice to tell people that how they are in the world is wrong. I never needed a makeover, I was good enough, what I needed were people that love me just the way I am.

If I want to wear sneakers with a dress, I will do just that.

If I want to laugh out loud, I will do just that.

If I want to share my opinions on issues that are important to me, I will do just that.

I was doing a training with adolescents last week and a table of young women were asking such incredible questions. One young lady asked why I did not have children and I answered that it was complicated. She looked confused and made some guesses that were sweet but incorrect. I summed it up like this:  it takes a lot of courage to live a life true to yourself and some people will never understand or agree with some of your life choices and that’s okay. If you pause and consider your life honestly, you will know what an honest life for you looks like for you. It’s scary but it’s worth it. It is so worth it.

When I was in first grade I wore fake glasses without lenses to school because I thought they looked cool. This is who I am.

Why is this such a radical way to be in the world?

If you are struggling with confidence and the people around you are always picking you apart, you don’t need new clothes, you need new people.

Love.

Guest Post! Don’t Fret Yet: The Planet Isn’t Actually Shrinking

Author: Jared Sipes

“The more I learn, the more I learn how little I know.” – Socrates

In 2005, I was barely into my 21st year of life. I didn’t know anything about the world I lived in, outside of a mild beginning of interest in U.S. politics. And then I made my first trip outside of the U.S. Germany, to be exact. When making plans with the person I was going to visit, they also mentioned a visit to Prague. I told a coworker, who said, “Oh, the Czech Republic, huh? Cool!” I agreed, “yeah, definitely!” What I didn’t admit, was that I had never even heard of the Czech Republic before. I was a product of a small-town public school that didn’t put much stock in teaching kids about the world and focused more time on practical things and when it came to social sciences, tended to focus more on the American side of things, and I was never curious enough to seek out any additional information. I thought I didn’t need to. I thought it didn’t matter.

Before I go bandying about throwing around superlatives about the life-changing experience that travel to a foreign country can be (and which likely everyone has heard before), I will say this: it is not necessary to travel to learn about the differences and similarities in the world around us. I’m personally never one to berate those who don’t have a passport or don’t express interest in international travel. It’s expensive! It’s overwhelming! It’s different! But it’s not that different, really. And this is why informing yourself and having a global perspective of your life is important.

Let’s look at the concept of Globalization, which by definition is “a process of interaction and integration among the people, companies, and governments of different nations, a process driven by international trade and investment and aided by information technology.” What this means to you, Ordinary Citizen, is that we as a planet are growing closer by the day, so why not try to understand that world a bit more, especially when it is easier now than it has ever been in history? You can find newspapers, magazine articles, and blogs from around the world detailing every bit of news everywhere – and just like travel, it can be overwhelming.

However, knowing these things, knowing about other countries, cultures, political systems, and societies, not only can make you a better person, it makes you a better global citizen. If you seek information on your own, you’re less likely to rely upon an “article a friend posted on Facebook” and can instead fight misinformation, and offer a different perspective from those who may not have thought otherwise.

I know this is a lot to ask, and it’s hard for a lot of people to relate to people, places, and things that they consider to be “foreign” – but I have a feeling (and maybe a bit of knowledge from my own personal experience) – that the more you dig around, the more you understand, the more you’ll see that we’re all not so different after all, and you’d be surprised how much better it feels to be able to relate to someone else’s experience, rather than point out our differences.

We go on and on about our differences. But, you know, our differences are less important than our similarities. People have a lot in common with one another, whether they see that or not.” – William Hall

What’s Up With That Kid?

“Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them”
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Once upon a time, I worked with at-risk youth and their families. Before this experience, I was naïve to the suffering of children in my own community. Working with these incredibly resilient families tore me from my ignorance and thrust me into the daily trenches.

This is not an explicit call to action but if you feel persuaded to support at risk families in your community, I encourage you do so.

I want to address the attitude some adults hold regarding children that demonstrate “poor social skills.” If you remember, Tell Me About Your Mother, we talked about how children will do whatever it takes to get the attention of their parents because they need to do so to survive.

Kids need their parents to regulate their emotions. The developing brain renders children incapable of saying “Hey I need your attention to thrive and make sense of my world.” They are only capable of communicating their needs by demanding your attention through their behavior. They do this with the hopes that you will comfort them or at the least acknowledge them.

Let Me Provide You An Example

I would like you to imagine, for a moment, that a young girl lives in a home with an overworked and exhausted mother (or father). The young girl goes to her mother for affection and attention and is brushed aside. The mother is exhausted from trying to manage on limited finances and maintain a household. She does not have the attention to give.

The young girl still needs attention and now tries a different strategy. Maybe the young girl remembers that the last time she made a mess or cried she was able to get her mother’s attention. “Aha” the young girl thinks. The young girl starts to cry and the mother comes to her. Maybe after awhile the mother learns that her daughter is “just dramatic” and does not need attention every time she cries. The young child still needing attention and affection now has to try a different strategy. Maybe the young girl throws a tantrum and is inconsolable (remember she needs a parent to regulate her emotions). Maybe mom responds negatively but negative attention is still acknowledgement.

Imagine it goes on this way for years. 

Now imagine that the same young girl goes to school. The young girl learned through interactions at home that if I cry, scream, and tantrum I will get attention. The young girl may use these learned skills in the school environment.

Is this child acting out? No, this child has adapted to her environment to get her basic human needs met. The child does not know that she does not need to act that way with all adults. How could she know? Some children learn that they do not need to act that way in school or with every adult (or peer). This usually happens by way of a compassionate and patient teacher or school counselor. Other children may not adapt as quickly and as easily in the academic environment. Imagine how confusing this is for the child.

The mother in this story is not a villain. She is overworked and exhausted. She is spread too thin with too little support. The teacher in this story is not a villain if she loses her patience and struggles with compassion. She is also overworked with thirty kids that have thirty different needs staring at her every day.

What is the solution: Support, Education, Patience, and Compassion.

Is the situation hopeless? No, although it feels that way. We can do better. We must be patient and compassionate with ourselves. We need to do a better job of supporting all families.

This example does not attempt to capture children struggling with developmental disabilities or any other social impairments/challenges.

Parents and their children can benefit greatly from professional support (e.g., therapist, psychologist, school social worker, pediatrician, occupational therapist) to learn healthier interpersonal skills. This does not mean you are a bad parent, it just means you need support. 

Love.

“Every child deserves to be born wanted and loved”