Friday, September 19, 2014

Perspectacles

Every now and then, with the amazing world at our fingertips called the Internet, we come across an article that really puts things into perspective. Today, I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed and came across a couple of different articles and videos that different friends posted, but they all seemed to be directed at me. It's like they just knew that I needed to view these things today. Whether you believe in a higher power or not, there was something causing me to see these today.  What I learned from these articles/videos is that I needed to take a moment and step back for some perspective. As one writer noted in her post here, it's a matter of looking through perspectacles. A silly, made-up word that I like very much because it makes complete sense. 

My house is a messy, unkempt place. We live in it. All the time. We have pets, children, and love. We have an amazing home that accommodates our mid-sized family perfectly. We have so much to be thankful for that at times we forget to be thankful because we take things for granted or we don't stop to smell the proverbial roses.

As the author posted at the beginning of the post noted above:

"If we do not feel grateful for what we already have, what makes us think we'd be happy with more?" -- Unknown

There is no need for us to "keep up with the Jones" or the Kardashians for that matter. It makes no logical sense to compare ourselves to those around us. We are always telling our children that, but why do we not follow that as adults? Why do we not practice what we preach? This is one of those times when I, dealing with my inner demons, need to put on my perspectacles and stop and smell the roses. 

I am a mom. I get to work from home! The best job in the world! I get to home-school my autistic son and help him to learn how to navigate this crazy, screwed-up world! I get to help my daughter learn how to be a confident, mature young woman. I struggle with that myself, but I am home and able to help my daughter find herself like I didn't really do as a young girl. I have a roof over my head, I have food on my table, I have fresh water to drink, I have access to anything I could possibly ever need and I take advantage of that.

When I was teaching, I had students that had no idea how to ride a bike, let alone actually own one! I have six downstairs right now! We can take family rides at any time we want. 

I have a husband that I love and that loves me. We support each other in everything that we do. We care for each other and provide for each other. We listen to each other and talk with each other. Note the with and not to or at. We actually discuss and solve and fix things together.

I am an amazingly blessed woman! If the rest of us were to step back and look through our OWN perspectacles, we might realize that we all are. We don't have to have the best of ANYTHING! We don't need to put ourselves so deep into debt just to make our home look a certain way or to have things. We need each other. Our home to protect us. Food to eat.

I have all of that. 

I. Love. It.

In case you wanted to watch the video that really got my attention today, you can find it here. Now, it's a Mormon made video, but the message is what is really important. Whether you are religious or not, regardless, the message is the same for all of us.

I hope that you are able to find your perspectacles as I did mine.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Becoming Good Enough

The first step in not being self-conscious is to set an intention.

Now, you may lean back in your seat and think, what the heck does that have to do with anything? Honestly that was my first thought, but as I am thinking about it, I realize it's like setting a personal goal. My intention is to like my self and my life as a positive representation for my children, particularly my daughter.

We are inundated with information about how to be some specific way for the world to see. From television, to magazines, to movies, even literature. everything has ideals on how people should present themselves to others. Nothing really seems to address how people feel about themselves, but looks to others for that validation.

One particular example that I can think of is the story Purplicious by Victoria Kann and Elizabeth Kann. The story is cute enough, but Pinkalicious, after being teased and tormented about liking pink, doesn't really love her color choice until the new girl at school validates her choice to love pink and shows her that it makes purple which is the new girl's color of choice. Shouldn't she just like it because she likes it? Regardless of what other's think?

I realize this is super simplistic, and may not be the best analogy, but I think it is a pretty significant point. If we are supposed to feel confident, why should we need another person's validation that what we like is okay to like? Shouldn't we be able to just say, "Because I Said So!" and be done with it? Am I mistaken in thinking that most people don't automatically do this? I know I nearly never have. I have always felt that I had to have the outside validation.

Often we don't get that acceptance that we crave and it's really because other people are busy focused on themselves, to bother with validating others. What I know we get a lot of is criticism. With constant outside criticism, you hear only one thing in your head... "You Aren't Good Enough".

How hard is it just to type those words? You Are Not Good Enough. They require all capitalization because they are so significant. After a while, the outside support you may have been able to hear as a child quickly disappears and then you no longer want to seek that outside affirmation. Eventually, that negativity is all you can hear and you start to believe.

I think that is why middle school/junior high is such a tumultuous time for so many pre-adolescents. You need outside support because you are trying to find yourself, but if you don't have a solid support in place, you won't get it. You will hear the taunting, the snide comments, the hurtful things, but you will rarely hear the positive things.

By the time you get to high school, the damage is pretty strong and no you are really hitting puberty and feel horribly awkward and anxious. You compare yourself to others because that is what you are taught to do from everything surrounding you. Eventually, you come to the conclusion that You Are Not Good Enough.

So you start hating yourself for being such a loser, even if you never actually call yourself that. You think that all those evil little voices in your head that really do affirm the negative things you heard others say are right. You can't figure out how anyone could ever like you, especially yourself. So, you sit in your office one night, and look up how to not feel self-conscious. And you begin pouring your heart into a post on a blog.

You hope to goodness that no one actually reads this blog because if you do hear negativity, you are pretty sure it will all be for naught and every hateful thing you have ever thought about yourself is true. You really don't want to visit that dark place again where you told yourself that your husband and children would be so much better without you.You know that deep, deep, down it isn't true. And that little glimmer at the bottom is what keeps you trying every day. You decide to start today and you set your intention.

I think about my children growing up without a mom, my husband raising two children without a wife and partner. I know that I can never allow that to happen. So I set my intention.

I intend to like myself and my life. I intend to see the good that there is in me. I intend to find out what it is like to feel pride when I look in the mirror each day rather than disdain. It takes so much out of you to not like yourself. It is physically and emotionally draining. I intend to end that horrible cycle. Because it is horrible. No one deserves to feel that way. No one should feel that way.

No one.

Every person should be happy with themselves, because we have such an amazing gift! We get to live! We get to explore this amazing world, we get to experience things that are mind boggling! We are lucky! We are amazing! We really are Good Enough!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

How to NOT be self-conscious...

Interesting that we are in a society where everyone has some self-conscious moments, but evidently, not everyone feels self-conscious most of the time. That special little title is not applicable to everyone, like I had always assumed. See, I can't do anything without feeling self-conscious or self-critical. Honestly, I thought everyone felt that way. I had no idea that I was the abnormal one.

I recently quit my career as a teacher and embarked upon a new one, where I work from home as an editor/proofreader. I also homeschool/unschool our 13 year old Autistic son. In my new, awesome, amazing career, I work from home reading currently unpublished novels for self-published author's. Many of the books I have been reviewing lately are of the romance genre. Evidently a popular genre.

I noted to my husband how irritating I found it that the main female characters in these books always feel so amazing the instant that their clothes come off. How can they never seem to feel uncomfortable with their bodies or their feelings? I asked him why he thought that this was the case and he told me that most people tend to feel comfortable with themselves, particularly when they are intimate with others.

This is honest-to-goodness news to me. I honestly don't know whether I believe him or not. If this is true, then why on Earth are the so many magazine articles, websites, self-help books, and therapists out there helping people to feel better about themselves? If this is not true, then how does one stop one's self from feeling self-conscious?

As I stated above, I feel self-conscious pretty much all the time. I don't feel comfortable in my own skin, I don't feel as though I am ... I guess ... good enough. As my husband stated to me, you just have to learn to like yourself. My first thought that crossed my mind was seriously, what is there to like? Now as I look at it, I realize that is not a healthy perspective of one's self so I began looking online to find out how to help myself become a happier inner me and shut up my inner witch.

I found one article that lead to two different articles. One listed 12 ways to accept yourself and the other listed three steps for self acceptance. So, ultimately that is 15 steps. The three smaller steps list is very general, which would make sense considering that learning to like yourself is a pretty huge thing. At least I think so.

I would type them all out, but I think I'll address each of them separately. I plan to begin with the 12 steps first (who doesn't love a good 12 step program, right?) because it does have more specific goals. After that, I intend to move on to the 3. Hang out for a bit. I think I may just enjoy this, or I may end up rambling about stuff that no one really cares about.

That may just be my self-consciousness shouting out again.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Things Students Say

I had a student ask me today a question that I considered to have an obvious answer, but seemed to have a surprising answer for her. The question was, "will people be reading and writing about us in History books?"

My immediate thought was, "of course, duh"! But then I realized that this young lady was legitimately asking me this question. So I told her that yes, one day they will be the people in History books. Then I posed to her a question that took her by surprise. 

"What kind of history do you want to be known for?"

I told her that even George Washington was a 14-year-old kid once upon a time. And I bet he probably didn't think he would be a prominent person in history. Adolf Hitler was once a 13-year-old kid and I doubt that he would have thought that he would have as profound an impact on history as he did. 

These revelations allowed for a very interesting "teachable moment" with my class. These children all wanted to know what I thought about their futures. I told them that they are writing their own histories every day, even though they didn't know it. One day they would leave a legacy behind for their progeny to either respect or hide from. 

So I asked them again. "What kind of history do you want to be known for?"

This time I added, "do you want your grandchildren to be able to speak highly of you, or do you want them to be ashamed"?

They all verbally and non-verbally agreed that they want their families of the future to be proud of them and their accomplishments.

When I explained to them, that the path to the positive or the negative has already begun for them, but that they can always change their paths as they progress, they seemed a little scared (as any 13-year-old child would), but I told them that as long as they keep the question about their future history stories in their minds, they will choose the right path for them.

There are no laws or regulations that say you are stuck in the same path forever. You can grow and change. You can venture forth into uncharted territories and be remembered for great, amazing things. You can sail a calm path and be happy. You can do what ever you want to do. 

After that I told them that I was going to get off my soapbox now, and they all got a confused look on their faces and asked, "what's a soapbox"? 

I guess we can't win them all.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Tonight, We Cook!

I will never profess to be anything even remotely resembling a chef. I can barely boil water. And yet, I have days where I like to pretend I can cook. Today I will be making an orange glazed tilapia for dinner with rosemary roasted carrots. Now, I'm sure the tilapia would be better paired with rice and broccoli, but I don't eat grains as much as possible and I'm out of broccoli. So carrots it is.

I have also been working out a lot lately in an effort to build up some physical fitness. As much as I like relaxing on the couch, I realize that I will begin to look like virtually every other adult female in my family if I do. This is not a legacy I wish to pass on to my daughter. So physical fitness is important in our house. I don't subscribe to any one fitness routine. Truly, I fit it in where I can. Saturdays I take an adult ballet class. As a former dancer, this is my true passion. If I could dance daily, I would. I also love to play the various dance games on Xbox. That is a workout!! I also do Tabata style workouts. This is a good resource if you are curious. Finally, a coworker and I have started challenging each other in my classroom. During one of our classes together (she is my co-teacher and an awesome one at that!). So everyday, we do little things in class. The students think its funny. Hopefully they too will see the importance of working out. Some of my students are quite overweight, sadly.

I hope that by my own resolve, I can better my life and encourage you to better yours. :-)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year, New Start

My husband, Sean, and I decided that this is our year. We will be getting healthier both physically, mentally, and financially. I do not typically make resolutions, but I think this is something important for us and our family. Time to break out of this unhealthy rut we have found ourselves in.

Breakfast: Gluten-free waffles (due to personal health issues) -I don't typically like any type of grain, but today was a special day for the kiddos.

Lunch & Dinner: Corned Beef, Cabbage, & Black-Eyed-Peas (a family tradition for each new year)

Workout: Beachbody 10 minute trainer: Cardio & Brazil Butt Lift: Bum Bum
You can be my buddy on Beachbody if you use that site: Gretchen's Beachbody Profile

Only I am accountable for my actions. Oh yeah, I am also saving all my pennies for a new laptop. Trying to type a post on my iPad is really ridiculous. Even one penny a day will buy me a decent little laptop at the end of a year.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

I wonder if I could ever be a writer.

How often do you tell yourself "I'll do that later"? Then you realize that you never did it at all and you start to get mad at yourself. Then this seems to become an evil growing monster within yourself that you are now battling everyday and you start to think less of yourself. You start to think that everything is your fault. Perhaps if you just stop doing that procrastinating behavior it wouldn't be so difficult. Then, you realize that you have instilled that behavior in those around you and you realize you really are to blame. If only you had not been that way from the beginning, you wouldn't hate yourself now and the person you've become. You start trying to change yourself, but those around you are so ingrained with the previous way, that you find it virtually impossible to shift your own behaviors. You visit with others and realize that they don't have problems like you do, so it really is all your fault. Then you start to think dark and despairing thoughts. You try to ignore them. You tell yourself that you don't deserve to be a part of those around you and you start to distance yourself from them. You feel yourself slipping into an internal darkness but continue to pretend on the outside that you are okay. You get up each day, look about you and think "why bother", but you continue on anyhow. You don't really understand why you do it. You feel deeply lost and full of self-hatred because you are an ugly person and you lash out at others that don't deserve your lashings. Then you hate yourself even more and think those dark despairing thoughts again and again. You want them to stop, but you can't make them go away. You tell yourself you are being dramatic, over-reactive, and just plain stupid. You try to return back to pretending to be happy. You soon realize that you are in need of help from this despairing place you have put yourself, but you don't want to admit that everything is your fault, so you avoid seeking the help you need. You cry to yourself that you are not worthy of help. Deep inside you realize that you believe that this is true. Those around you may realize that you believe it and attempt to help. Or they may just tell you that you are being melodramatic and you need to get over it. Others tell you that it is all your fault and if only you had changed from the beginning, which just makes you feel terrible and perhaps even a bit worse. So you start panicking because you see where this thought process is headed. You need to break it and fast or else something bad may happen. The evil monster inside roars and says "maybe something bad should happen, maybe then those around you will do better than what you have done". Then you go to bed and cry, because you think this is all true and the evil monster is right. Then you are filled with a self-loathing so great that it consumes your every thought. You start to project the opposite to others outside you because you want them to think that you are okay. That you realize you need to fix all those problems within yourself and now you are smiling as you talk with them and you are practically cheerful to everyone. However, inside you know the truth. And you hate who you are. And you want it to stop. But you don't know what to do any more. So you give up. And cry. Again.