Monthly Archives: August 2012

If the shoe fits!

Whether we are trying to impress someone or not, we all need a place to feel loved, to know we are accepted, to fit in. We gravitate towards those that make us feel liked, understood, and apart of something.

Many of us have that with our personal families. It is a sense of belonging. We also find our niche in relationships with people of like minds. Our commonalities bond us. One’s creativity, passion, pain, social group, sports, business setting, gang affiliation, or plethora of other factors can attract us to other people who are somewhat like ourselves in one way or another. They make us feel safe. They make us feel comfortable. They make us feel like we are wanted.

When we are out of our element we can momentarily close down. We can become awkward and uncomfortable. This unfamiliarity also causes some to overcompensate, act out, and draw negative attention to ourselves. Even those with charismatic personalities can either withdraw or speak-up outside the appropriate timing. When we are a fish out of water, all of us feel a certain amount of tension as we really want to be accepted.

On the flip side, there are those who think they “should’ be authentic all of the time. They have no desire to impress anyone. Instead of giving time to adjust to the situation, allow for observation, transition, or working through the un-comfortability, the behavior usually comes off as rude, obnoxious, irritating, and arrogant. When this occurs the person tends to walk away feeling misunderstood, un-liked, and sincerely unappreciated.

With no place to belong, we remain feeling rejected. We translate other people’s awkward responses to our equally awkward behavior into the belief we are unlikeable for who we are. Then, in a pure move of stubbornness, we make a choice not to change ourselves to be liked either. We walk out our pride and refuse to discover what it takes to cultivate healthy, authentic relationships. Unfortunately, this also reenforces our insecurities that we are un-enjoyable.

We want to be apart of a bigger picture. We want to be liked. We want to be loved. We need to belong somewhere. We try performing to fit in. We become posers when we attempt to squeeze ourselves into someone else’s shoe. We become manipulators when we play on others affections. We beguile and use our power as a source of influence. When all else fails, we hide.

When do we know we have arrived? How do we know we found our place in this world? What causes our heart to feel at home? How do we keep that feeling of assurance in who we are while also putting ourselves out there for rejection?

It’s kinda like….shoes.

Our shoes mold to our feet. We imprint our soles on their surface. Sometimes we need a new pair of shoe, but we will have to allow time to break them in. While other shoes have been faithful for years and bring us familiarity and comfort.

However, if we only had one pair of shoes to go with every outfit and every occasion, there would be times the shoes would not be appropriate. They would look out of place. It would be noticeable if we wore flip-flops in a blizzard or running shoes with an evening gown. We do not have to wear other peoples shoes. We do not have to try to fit into their mold and impression. We do not have to squeeze in shoes that are two small or swim in those that are too big for us.

We simply need to find and wear our own shoes. Shoes that fit the occasion. Shoes that fit our style, our personality, and our sense of comfort. When we wear our own shoes, we can look good, feel comfortable, and not draw unhealthy attention to ourselves. We can be our authentic self and dress the part, too. All the while being at ease in every situation.

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Intentionality

Intentionality…

Why is it so hard for us to do things simply because it is good for us? Too many of us do things out of force instead of taking initiative. Partially this is because we lack motivation. Without pain, stress, panic, or reactivity we rarely pursue anything that poses the slightest difficulty.
What would our lives look like if we did things on purpose? What if we lived intentionally? How would our world look if we wrote down our vision and pursued our goals just because it would benefit us and those around us?
Ice cream vs. Veggies!

We had just ate dinner a little while before discovering one of daughters sneaking a handful of chocolate covered peanuts from the pantry. When Matthew and I confronted her about the situation we chuckled a bit, at the same time using it as a teaching tool. It went down something like this:

Matthew : “What’s in your hands?”
Our daughter:  (Pausing in her tracks…) “Uhhh… Chocolate peanuts?”
Matthew: “Why are you trying to sneak them?”
Our daughter: “Because I just ate and I am still hungry… and I thought you wouldn’t let me eat these. I thought you would tell me I need to eat more dinner if I was still hungry.”
Matthew: “So what you are saying is you don’t believe we want you to have what you want and we will only force you to have what is good for you?”
Our daughter:  “I just wanted chocolate.”
In my head: …this is a girl after my own heart. (LOL)
Matthew: “If I was to give you the option to eat ice cream or veggies for dinner, which would you choose?”
Our daughter: (Without missing a beat) “Ice cream.”
Matthew: “Do you want to be healthy as you grow up or sickly?”
Our daughter: (a puzzled look on her face) “Healthy!!!”
Matthew: “Do we leave you out when we have desert?”
Our daughter: “No.”
Matthew: “Do you trust us to take care of you as well as give you what you want?”
Our daughter: “Yes.”
Matthew: “One day you are going to be an adult. You will get to tell yourself what to do all of the time. Until then, it is our job to help you be a healthy person. Hopefully, by the time you get to make all of your own choices, you will understand the value in eating veggies.”

You could see the light come on in our daughters head. She was not made to feel stupid. She was not yelled at. She was not belittled. She did not have to hide in secret her hearts desire to have something. She was instead guided through the process of making a good choice for a good reason. As a child she thinks like a child, as an adult we need to think like adults. It is all too common to find many who are adults in age but not in thought and especially in action. There are many that live in response to circumstances instead of creating a lifestyle of good habits.
Staying the Course
If we are not driven by pain or the threat thereof, we are driven by performance. We care about what people think of us. How others view us affects our response to a situation. If we set our standards low enough we can live up to them. We will save face. We have an innate sense of failure, and therefore we lack the ability to risk. We live “safe” in “doing things” because we are afraid. We hide behind “hard work” (manual labor),  “laziness” (out of balanced priorities), or a myriad of other excuses to keep us from success in any area.
We have greatness inside of us. We have ambitions, aspirations, and hopes. Ironically, we avoid achievement. The work is strenuous, tedious, and requires patience. Mistakes can be embarrassing. No matter how much we practice we discover we can never obtain perfection. We have bought into the lies that we are not good enough one way or another. The odds are never in our favor so we relinquish follow through. We end up suppressing our heart and settling.
On the flip side, we hide our insecurities with arrogance, self-righteousness, and pride. When we have shortcomings we tend to hide them. We don’t let people walk with us through our struggles. We take independence to an extreme. We isolate ourselves and consequently we repeat the same ol’ behaviors. This causes us to validate our feelings of inadequacies and incessant failures. Once  this occurs we tend to play life’s victim. Swinging to the opposite end of the pendulum, we are open to being controlled. If I can’t get things right, I need someone else to tell me what to do. Then if I fail, I don’t have to take responsibility because it is all their fault.
We close ourselves off from walking in relationship as those can be messy. There is conflict involved, disagreements, and collaboration. We don’t know how to master a craft. We often give up too quickly. We want it now or we are on to the next thing. We are broadly focused and not single minded. We spread ourselves too thin and get discouraged when we desire a simple solution. The “hard work” and effort it takes to complete a task we set out to achieve often requires requires extreme focus. Keeping our eyes on the prize is a necessity. Continual recalibration is important if we are going to hit what we are aiming for. Keeping this in mind, it is important to note we do not have to be on top of everything all of the time as long as we keep on going.
We have to learn to balance our here and now needs with the pursuit of dreams without compromising one for the other. We tend to lack intentionality and get scattered by the wind. On the other hand, we can hold on so tight we abandon everything else for the cause. We also have a hard time taking the pressures of adulthood.  We struggle with feeling overwhelmed, incompetent, and surrender to the disappointment of unfulfilled expectations. Dedication, perseverance, and achievement provide greater satisfaction with a higher pay off.
Like in the story of The Tortoise and The Hare, if we are good at something and it comes natural, oftentimes we think we have nothing to learn. So, like the Hare, we fail to grow only to be passed up by someone with less skills who has remained faithful to the cause. Tortoises with intentionality do not get wrapped up in the highs and lows, but stay the course. They will enjoy the journey and not fret over who is passing them up. Eventually they know they will make it to the finish line.


SuperMom

SuperMom

Just call it like it is… from my breastfeeding cape to my sliding doors minivan, I am a mom. My reputation as a stylish, fun, and outgoing woman always came with a side of drool, diapers, whining, and now, as my girls advance into teen years, boyfriends.
At the age of fifteen I planned my first pregnancy. Craziness right?!? Not as outlandish as some might think. It was my way to make sense of this disjointed planet we live on. As many young girls do, I struggled with my identity, my purpose, and my ability to accomplish my dreams. I sought solace in motherhood, hoping to ease the discomfort I could not understand. Without all the tools in my box I started on a journey to build a household.
Eighteen years later my oldest daughter is now a young lady. She is b-e-a-u-tiful. She is smart, talented, and thoughtful. I look back at all the things I did right and the many things I could have done better. All in all, I am most proud that through trail, pain, and happiness, she and I have a strong connection. No matter what that girl goes through, she knows without a shadow of a doubt, she has a momma who loves her; not one who always agrees with her; not one who always condones all of her behavior; not one who placates her; but one who wants the best for her and will never give up on bringing about wholeness.
Beyond her I have raised my severely disabled son who has been the delight of my life. His happy go lucky smile and his loving spirit brightens everyones day. Most of the time he does not have a care in the world. He trusts that he is going to be well taken care of. He provides life, hope, strength, and love to all who come in contact with him. After fourteen years of diapers, seizures, and throw up, I still would not trade him for all the money in the world.
Then along came her. This little girl who thinks so far outside the box I can’t even fit her on my grid. After taking years of parenting classes, reading books on the subject, and inquiring from matured parents, she has challenged my very being to grow. I love her with all my heart and soul, this girl who can make me think more than my brain has capacity. She understands computer science, mathematics, and pokemon, all the while my internal mother board struggles to upgrade. With an outgoing personality, the word stranger isn’t even apart of her vocabulary. This fun, imaginative, and cute girl has captured my affections as well as my attention.
As my nurturing side consumed my being, I began to love those who struggled with their parental figures. I opened my arms and my home to many kids through the years. Some of these young people are now adults and even have their own families. One lady in particular has blended with our family to point we think of her as our own. She is sister, daughter, and friend. I have dedicated my life to her success in every way including financial, physical, and emotional. The love she reciprocates is unparalleled and I am honored to know such an amazing human being.
It was when I became a step-mother that I truly knew what it was to lay down my life for others. My children are easy to love. They are mine. Flesh and blood unites through anything, however those we love out of choice can be changed. I imagine this love to be much like those of adoptive parents. I get to on purpose care for others I did not bring into this world. I get to carve out a special place in my heart for them to call home. I look at them with the same affection I do the others. Not because I have to, but because I have given them power over my love. They have my devotion, my commitment, and my love which never waivers. When It comes time to share them with their mother, I do not find myself thinking out of sight out of mind. On the contrary I feel a hole, a loss, and a longing to have them in my presence.
Both are girls. The oldest has a strong personality. She is compassionate, friendly, and opinionated. She has a great sense of style, good taste in food, and a heart of gold. Though she, like most children from broken homes, wishes her parents were still together, she still loves, honors, and respects both of them and their new counterparts. Through sharing homes, sharing attention, and sharing lifestyles, this girl puts in her all and comes out on top.
Her younger sister is equally fantastic. She is creative in every way. She looks at the world full of black and white, but carefully adds subtle shades of grey. Yet, it is when she adds color she truly astonishes with articulate, artistic thoughts. She is full of wit, full of knowledge, and full of determination. She is not the social butterfly her older sister is. She craves one-on-one time which requires intentionality. She flourishes the most when she is given the attention she needs to express herself.
Now that I am much older than when I began, I find myself delightfully happy to have started the process all over again. With yet another girl, my life feels complete. I find myself with sensations of euphoria as I look into my baby’s eyes and see such wonder. I feel confident in my skills as a mother. I enjoy and embrace the ups and downs life brings my way. As I hold this tiny creature, bliss fills my being. She was hard fought for. After conquering my fears of raising any more children, we saved for a vasectomy reversal. Next came miscarriage after miscarriage after miscarriage. Finally, my cup was full only after enduring the nine months of pregnancy’s glows and hormonal blows. Consequently, for the last four months I have been suffering with enormous amounts of postpartum joy.
Through it all, my carefree, spontaneous, thrill seeking side still exists. I did not surrender my dreams, my ambitions, or my goals for my children. They are not a burden or a dead weight around my ankle. They are right there with me. Through thick and thin, through fire and storm, my children – all of them – teach me, love me, and give me courage. We do family well. We support each other, lift up each other, and seek the best for each other. We celebrate individuality, praise each other’s giftings, and strive for unity. Out of humility we serve each other and forgive shortcomings.
I am not afraid I will not arrive. I already have, and I am bring my entourage with me.


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