"thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress" -- psalms 4:1
oh, and happy halloween all!
When we carved pumpkins this week I had an amazing realization: last year I got about halfway through prepping a pumpkin and had to stop because of hand pain and weakness -- this year I carved the whole pumpkin and wasn't sore afterwards. I went on to spend the next four days of the week working like crazy on costumes (if you want to see how they turned out you can check out my pinterest or instagram) and never once had to stop because of hand pain. I mean I've had some pain and tingling from all the activity but I haven't had to stop and just lay on the couch with heat packs. I still have a ways to go to be back where I was before all this craziness started. But here in this moment I am just soaking it all up and feeling incredibly blessed.
"thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress" -- psalms 4:1
oh, and happy halloween all!
I'm just sitting here reading a book a friend loaned me. It's Oprah Winfrey's "What I know for sure". Well I for sure don't know a whole lot about Oprah. Call me crazy but I've maybe seen like 2-3 snippets of her show through out my lifetime. Of course I know who she is, I know what her talk shows are like, I know she has a lot of money. But oh my goodness! This woman has some wonderful thoughts.
Talk about vulnerability! This book is making me smile one page after another. She's sharing stories of her life and lessons she's learned and it's just piercing my heart!
But before you think this whole post is about me gushing about Oprah Winfrey... let me share something I read and let's discuss shall we?
"Beginning when we are girls, most of us are taught to deflect praise. We apologize for our accomplishments. We try to level the field with our family and friends by downplaying our brilliance. We settle for the passenger's seat when we long to drive. That's why so many of us have been willing to hide our light as adults. Instead of being filled with all the passion and purpose that enable us to offer our best to the world, we empty ourselves in an effort to silence our critics. The truth is that the naysayers in your life can never be fully satisfied. Whether you hide or shine, they'll always feel threatened because they don't believe they are enough. So stop paying attention to them. Every time you suppress some part of yourself or allow others to play you small, you are ignoring the owner's manual your Creator gave you. What I know for sure is this: You are built not to shrink down to less but to blossom into more. To be more splendid. To be more extraordinary. To use every moment to fill yourself up".
Yes, Oprah! YES!!!
The other night I was talking to my husband about our relationship and such. We have recently joined into the military life and with it comes some major changes. There will be many weeks and months ahead where I'll be alone. But not really.
I have grown to love the woman I am. I haven't already felt this way but now as I type those words I know it's true. I love myself. It's a journey and we're all on different paths to self-love but I believe that the more we love ourselves, the more we have the ability to accept love from others. When we love ourselves, we give ourself permission to be loved. With that comes the greater capacity for us to love. I thought to myself a few months ago, I am a really great lover. If I loved myself the way I love other people just think of how happy I would be!! Well it's starting to happen. I am loving myself more. I am letting myself be wonderful and letting myself develop.
I'm learning more about what makes me feel fulfilled. I need quiet time. I need a book. I need big groups of people too. I need projects (lots and lots of projects)!! I need to giggle with my daughter. I need talking with my husband. I need dates with my husband and cooking with my husband. But mostly I need to love myself. I need to let myself make mistakes and forgive myself. I need quiet time to study the scriptures and pray to my Heavenly Father. I need time to breathe.
This is why I won't be alone. As I have come to accept who I am I have realized that I can be my own friend. I'm developing and growing and sometimes it feels like it's really slow. Some days are bad. But that's the part of growth that is the most necessary.
So blossom. Grow. Shine. Be wonderful and powerful.
So thanks friend, for sharing such a wonderful piece of you that wonderful night. Thanks for listening to the spirit and for being uplifting.
Last night just as four-year-old K climbed into bed he realized his precious mickey stuffed toy was missing. While Dad went to search for it I filled the time by repeatedly telling K I had a secret, then whispering in his ear, "I love your laugh, " "I love your sparkly eyes" and other such Mother stuff. He caught on quick and told me he had a secret. When I leaned in to hear he said "I love you even when you're angry."
I think a year ago such a comment would have really shook me up. "He thinks of me as angry, I'm an angry Mom, I'm traumatizing him because I can't control myself, " are some of the thoughts I might have tortured myself with. But because I have spent a year working on vulnerability (which basically means working on accepting my whole self) K's secret was one of the best things I could have heard.
At some point my children are going to see anger. At some point they will feel intense anger. Anger is a hard enough feeling to process without adding the feeling of being abnormal to it. Humans who love each other and live together and invest so much into each other are going to rub each other the wrong way sometimes. It's not that anger is this terrible emotion that needs to be hidden or held in. Anger is simply another emotion that needs to be learned and processed. The same as fear, excitement, anxiety, surprise, joy, love, etc.
So at our house we've been working on not throwing hard things when we are angry or not yelling at people we love. We've been working on finding a calm down space and talking about what helps us fell better. K likes us making silly faces at him, I prefer big squeezy hugs. We are working on telling K and H we love them no matter what, even when we're angry or they're angry. And when I say we I mean we. Today I got overwhelmed and threw dishes in the sink. When I calmed down I told my babies sorry for throwing hard things. I said, "I am still working on making better choices when I am angry."
K said "me too," very casually. And that was that.
side note: If you don't already love the children's book "Mama Do You Love me?" by Barbara M. Joosse I recommend it. I always loved it but found an even greater appreciation for it when I realized how much it helped me talk to K about my own emotions. It is the mother in the story who feels surprised, worried, scared, and yes angry but all the while loves her child. Good stuff.
I have briefly mentioned my hand pain here and there, but not in any kind of detail. Here is the deal: 6 weeks after my sweet H was born I returned to my 10 year career in childcare. Just a few days later I started having unusual pain in my hands. Weeks went by and the problem worsened to severe pain and lack of strength to do basic tasks. A month or so after the pain began it was discovered I had minor carpal tunnel. However, the typical treatments offered me no relief. Almost a year later we think we finally have the correct diagnosis: dysfunctional (aka: tied up in ridiculous knots) upper trap muscles that are pinching the nerves down into my arms. Treatments in this area have given me hope, but not a lot of consistent relief yet since apparently a year of dysfunction takes time to fix.
Which has meant a year of crazy consistent hand pain and limitations. A year of R convincing his professor he can work from home so that three times a day I can say, "Sweetie will you lift H into her highchair? I'm not strong enough." A year of "Mom can you carry me into bed?" and "No, baby, Mom's arms aren't strong enough." And other daily heart hurting moments.
SO in this moment I am taking some time to acknowledge some important things:
It's true, I am not strong enough to push the stroller for our family walks, but I am strong enough to run alongside K on his bike and keep him safe. I am not strong enough to work childcare anymore, but I am strong enough to persist through a month of searching and find a new job I love. I am strong enough to bike myself into that job three times a week. I am not strong enough to lift my children for more than a few minutes at a time, but I am strong enough to help them notice wonder and joy in the world. I am strong enough to show them I love them in a million other ways. I am not strong enough to drive but I am strong enough to accept help and rides from my amazing friend. I am strong enough to be all I need to be in the life God has laid out for me. And even on the days when the pain has made me mostly still and I've had to leave the bulk of things to R, I am strong enough to say, "tomorrow I can try again"
What are you strong enough to do? It would be great to hear about it.
I've been thinking a lot about what I want to my sweet baby girl to learn from me about beauty. From all my wondering an idea formed. I call it: Beautiful Reality. AKA: I want to be a voice in society that shows a more holistic and realistic view of beauty. Thus, I've been watching for women who I see doing something that makes them beautiful. And with this new focus I found Glen (pictured above).
Yesterday we got one of those crazy Colorado afternoon storms. It went from warm weather blue sky to dumping buckets in a matter of minutes -- and Glen got caught on her walk home. When I first saw her it looked like you could squeeze a buckets worth of water out of her outfit, but she was dancing in the rain. The pure joy that was radiating off of her was so stunningly beautiful that I had to have her picture for this post.
So hats off to Glen of Denver CO for being beautiful enough to dance in the rain.
A few weeks ago I was pinning pictures of my latest creative projects when I came across this photo to the left. It reminded me of something my good friend shared with me. She said when most women look in the mirror it is to detect our flaws. You know: anything in my teeth? did I put on mascara? is my lipstick still fresh? does this shirt show off my love handles? do I look to tall? to short? to boxy? and on and on and on. Then she talked about the power of looking in the mirror with complete acceptance--just taking a moment to look at yourself and accept the beauty of who you are in this exact moment. The other day was an attempt-to-scrub-the-house-and-do-laundry day. In the midst of intensely cleaning the bathroom I saw myself in the mirror. My first reaction was, "Ugh, I haven't put make-up on and its after noon and I'm in this ratty shirt. I look pretty bad." Then I remembered what my friend said and I thought, "Wait, no -- this is exactly how I choose to look on a house cleaning day. I don't feel any need to wear mascara or nice clothes to haul laundry around. I look perfect for what I am doing today!"
It was such a loving and liberating experience. It reminded me of a little saying I picked up from the amazing people at Beauty Redefined: "I am capable of much more than looking hot". Now, lest there be confusion, let the record state I am a "fashionista" in a lot of big ways. Creating outfits is a huge easy-access creative outlet for me. I am a sucker for whatever "they" are saying the latest thing is, I can never seem to get enough of buying new clothes, etc. But the numerous great things I've read over at BR have helped me re-evaluate what my body is and how I look at it. I love their focus on our body as an instrument. I love thinking of my body as this fantabulous tool just waiting to create something amazing. Maybe some days that is a unique outfit, maybe some days that is a sparkly bathroom. The point is that all of this is part of me: what I create, what I do, what I think, how I connect with the ones I love, everything. Eyelashes with no mascara and under-eye circles with no cover-up are just the tiniest parts of me--literally.
So why so often when I look in the mirror is what I'm "lacking" the first, or sometimes only, thing I notice? I am going to keep working on this. When I look in the mirror I want to see the inspiration, creativity, love and potential that are part of me first. Then I can choose whether mascara is necessary today. What will you see when you look in the mirror today? Please share with me what wonderful things you see.
One of the best songs about honesty (and vulnerability). Just saying
A week ago I got the much awaited call about a dream job. I didn't get it. Just a few days before it had seemed that everything was just falling into place. The job was an amazing opportunity, I got called for an interview right away, etc., etc., -- even the potential hours wouldn't take too much time from R's studies. It all seemed so right.
Till I choked in the interview. Something about the format of the interview just threw me into all my old habits of fear and self doubt. I tried to "snap out of it" but I walked out of there with a sinking feeling. And somehow in that moment is when it hit me how much I WANTED this job. I spent the next couple days convincing myself it could still work out. They said it would be a week to get back to me, try not to panic. Then the call came -- moving forward with other candidates. I had failed.
And that was a rough few days: "My style is lame, I think I can pull these things off but I can't." "I don't know why I believed I was creative, I'll never really be successful at a creative career." I was mentally beating myself up so bad that I could barely get myself off the couch to do anything. Deep down I knew this wasn't vulnerability, this wasn't self-love and acceptance, this wasn't any of the things I am working so hard at. But I literally couldn't think of it any other way. Failing at something meant I was a failure -- the habit of connecting the two was just too strong. So I had a couple rough days and I prayed really hard.
Slowly but surely the help came. Something my mom posted on facebook, something I read, a thought to search "failure" on pinterest. Somehow He got the message to me that failure is part of life, part of trying, part of eventually succeeding. It's not the end of a journey, its a twist ( a painful, difficult twist--but a twist nonetheless). That to pick yourself up and try again was success enough sometimes.
Somewhere in this process I realized the deepest disappointment came from being my afraid-of-what-they-think self instead of the "new" vulnerability-loving me I've been working so hard at becoming over these past months. So I called and asked if they would have time to let me try again. Then I went in and did the interview again being my best me. That was an amazing difference. I walked out of there pretty sure they'd already filled the positions they needed but feeling on top of the world nonetheless because I'd been true to myself instead of being afraid.
And I wasn't a failure. I am never a failure. I am an amazing human being who sometimes must work through a failure. So are you.
In so many little ways I've been counting down for over a month to H's first birthday. Yet, in other ways it just sort of snuck up on me. Somehow it was just about a week ago that the I got super excited about transforming our bland-to-say-the-least club room into a fairy princess wonderland. Thus this week has been full of runs for supplies, late nights, a project in every corner and a lot of "should-ing":
I shouldn't care this much (but I do). I should just let this go (but it would look amazing!). I should be more focused on the kids (wait they are gluing, cutting and painting along with me and having a blast). Why can't I just stop caring so much?! I shouldn't be like this (wait what?).
In my years in childcare I learned about a "Why not? attitude." A why not? attitude meant when a child or parent came with a request to do things differently I tried to think "why not?" rather than just "no". I love using this thought as I interact with those around me. So why don't I love using it on myself?
Why not throw a last minute humongous party and love it? Why not go crazy creative and feed that wish-I-were-an-interior-decorator/party-planner-need deep inside that only gets to come out once every few years? I admit, I wouldn't want to live every week of my life going this crazy (and sleep deprived) over a party. However, when I look back on this week there is not anything I would change. So why not just love the go-crazy-about-a-fairy-party side of me?
Why not just love me?
I sang in church today. Like, by myself in front of everyone not just sitting in the pew singing along. Depending on who you are this may not seem like a big deal, but for me with the anxiety issues it was. It meant I had to think it would be ok for normal voiced me to perform in a ward (congregation) rife with professional vocalist. It meant that I had to walk up to the lady in charge of organizing musical numbers and stutteringly offer to perform if she "needed me at all" instead of never even mentioning I like to sing and then feeling picked on because I never got asked to perform. Then it meant a little over a week of procrastination and panic attacks over the thought of performing. All this cumulating in me deciding last night that I "hadn't put enough effort in" (aka my best wasn't good enough) and R should just perform a piano number instead of us doing the variation of the hymn we had created together. Lastly it meant me waking up this morning deciding to "just run through it once and see" and realizing how much of my heart and belief I had put into our arrangement. It meant me realizing that I wanted to be the one to sing it-- me with my soft voice in my imperfect way, even if I had to reach for the high notes.
And that is why I am feeling content this evening. In one of the ways that is hardest for me and right at the moment I about ran away, I entered the arena today. Whew. Thanks for listening.
Two women trying to be vulnerable. We are learning that the imperfections of life are what make it wonderful and real. Here we share our thoughts, achievements, failures and anything else that comes to mind in the hopes that our honesty might help lift another.