Lil Lemon Drop

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posts in category Growth Mindset

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Metamorphosis

 


All throughout our lives we are changing. At first the changes are blatantly physical, but as the physical changes slow down and eventually start to pull inward, rather than blossoming outward, the internal changes have the capacity to increase.

Internal changes are more subtle. They can be self-driven or occur due to circumstances. I have always found life is a circle with rhythmic patterns emerging and rising and slowly dipping below to surface to allow others areas to surface for a while. While I am always spiritual, my dependence upon organized religion tends to wax and wane over time. At times, I desperately long to be  part of  some religous organization, and at other times, I am happy with the hodgepodge of beliefs I have put together alone.

On my own, this is fine. I can allow the inner tide to ebb and flow and grow and retract as my soul needs. I think sometimes it confuses my husband. I can't count the number of times he has said, "I thought you liked...." or "but in the past you wanted....."   And all I can do is look at him exasperated, "But that was in the past! This is now. Now is different."

Then I think perhaps I am just trapped in perpetual adolescence with my identity wavering depending on my moon (I meant to write mood, but moon came out through my fingers, and isn't that a prettier thought).  But...I don't think that is it. I think the core of who I am is always present. I am just trying on different dresses to see how each on fits. To really taste what is like to walk a bit in that particular dress. It's just an experience to think about. 

I went to an activity recently which had me viewing other people in a different way. For this activity, I was hugely thankful for outgoing, go-getters and appreciated the role they can fill in getting certain activities done. The more reticent and shy are not as well suited for this activity.  in this activity. It made me think of all the times I technically "showed up," but wasn't particularly useful in that activity. But there are other gifts besides the gifts of recruitment. Some people need more time to feel secure before they open up. Others would prefer to have to have a task and work diligently on that task. I am sort of like that. It isn't who I want to be. I want to be at the forefront and influential and noticed, but...I think my walls are just too high. But I can work behind those walls. I remember in Astronomy club in college. We were doing a public showing at the observatory. I was actually a fairly new physics student (yes, I know. Nothing in me says difficult, abstract, creative math problem solving...but I had to try it out-to taste it, and the Universe is dazzingly romantic). Anyway, it was one of the years when Mars was a little closer to the Earth and relatively bright and prominent.  There were lines of people for hours. I was given an 8 inch telescope, already set up and was to allow people to look through it. I did this. But I didn't KNOW anything. I was just sweetly smiling and shaking my head and explaining I was new. But then one of the professors came over, looked through the telescope, then gave me information about the particular globular cluster the scope was focused on. And suddenly, I had a job. With some general information, I could get excited and share some facts that people could visualize and understand. I didn't have to rely on making awkward small talk. I had a purpose. What is my point? My point is, we can all play some sort of a role, you just have to find that role. 

So Metamorphosis. I don't think I am actively in the midst of a shift right now. I have learned a lot of the past several months, though. I don't have the patience for young children I used to have. Part of it may be, I don't have the large expanses of time I used to have. I always have work to do online, so time shaping my children is taking me away from time developing my plans or doing tasks which need attention. If I didn't have to work perhaps I will feel differently. If all I had to do was get through the day, maybe I could slow down and just focus on developing and enjoying my children. But that is not an option for me. For so many years, I wavered on the edge-desiring to be home and homeschool (not with that online stuff-but my own real, self-designed work for my kids). But now, I realize, I will NEVER get the sense of security I need by staying home. I cannot handle being financially dependent on someone else with the life experiences I have had. It sort of sucks. All I ever craved was a quiet domestic life, with some creative time for writing (I mean who doesn't want to be famous for their hobbies, right?), but that dream cannot be balanced with all the other factors. And it sort of makes me feel weak. Part of me is like, "No! you have to stand up, throw it all away, and go live a simpler life. You have to prove to yourself you can handle whatever comes. You have to do this hard thing because it is the only thing that will make you feel alive! Break out of  the middle class comfort zone, with its insurance and retirement plan and semi-security. Go be real and live where you can feel it." 

But it isn't good for kids to be poor. I feel too much anxiety to rely on the possibility of needing the social nets if  things go wrong. I don't trust they would be there.

Plus I cannot stand the idea of not having enough money to get the heck out of Missouri on a regular basis. Why wasn't I born somewhere romantic like Scotland or Ireland? 

I feel like I am still asleep. I guess what I am searching for is that next change. That next shift that gets me excited and feeling alive. I want more and I am ready for a change and something new to think about. 

And I await the Universe for God's perfect timing. 





Friday, July 17, 2020

5 Things You Should Know About Life by 30







Life is fantastic. It is an emotional roller coaster filled with ups and downs and sometimes it simply feels too hard. I was walking the halls of the building I am working in, and found myself envying the position and opportunities other people have. And that's when I had to take myself in hand and get tough. Envy might be useful for just a brief moment, but Envyland is no place to live.

Fighting Tooth and Nail


There are so many things I wish I had learned early in life. Some people appear to be born with an inner sweetness and fortitude which helps them navigate the wilderness of life and they appear on top early and stay on top. Others of us had a lifetime of the wrong kind of training forming our brain patterns in ways which seemed beneficial at first, but eventually led us deeper into the fog and away from civilized life (meaning acceptable norms and behavior). 

I am from the second camp. I have used tooth and nail to drag myself (along with the quiet helpful hands of those who have guided me tenderly and forgivingly) out of the self-imposed wilderness into, well, maybe the edge of the woods.  Yes, my mistakes have been totally humiliating, but no, they aren't who I am. I am so much more than just the bad. So I wanted to share some of the thoughts on life I have been having. To some of you, they may seem blindingly obvious. To others, the lesson is still buried in your subconscious waiting for the right time to flip the switch on to self-realization. 






5 Things You Should Know About Life by 30 (or earlier)

Note: You'll notice I have 30 instead of the 40 in the infographic. After reflecting on it, I realized I may have learned the lessons late, but learning them early is, naturally, preferable.


1. Forgiveness is key to happiness- This is one  idea that has been brought up time and time again, but being able to forgive people is essential for a happy life. Forgiveness doesn't mean letting someone hurt you over and over again. You need to do what you need to do to set and enforce your own boundaries for safety and peace of mind. But forgiveness means allowing someone to make their own mistakes without letting the choices they made blacken your heart forever. It is hard not to hold a grudge. Sometimes not holding a grudge can feel like weakness. It can feel like you are letting people walk all over you. But holding a grudge is like a cancer, encroaching upon your heart, eating away at the happy possibilities for the future. Bitterness can feel very right, but bitterness is the language of the ego and the ego is a child. The ego doesn't necessarily have your best interest at heart, even though it will present itself as doing so. Like a pleading child, the ego will tug at your emotions, begging to you avenge wrongdoings against you. But as long as you listen to ego, and struggle to hold anger and hate close, you will be hurt. Learn to forgive.


2. You can't always get what you want- I know it is shocking. It is even more so when others seem to have a golden lighted path leading the way into greatness with strong hands lifting them up along the way. Life doesn't seem fair. Meanwhile you find yourself striving and stumbling, and that which you want just seems to be out of reach. Like grudges, this can lead to a deep and dark bitterness. Learning to visualize the bitterness and anger being washed away has been very helpful to me. When I feel the burden building up on my shoulders I like to imagine golden rays of sunshine lighting my head with warmth as turquoise foaming waves crash gently against my shoulders. Lifting my burden, I am left with all that truly matters. These external desires will all dissipate eventually. The world itself will some day disappear. Learning to find peace and joy with what is inside, with what is real, is the key. 

3. You get to determine your worth- Noone else gets to decide your greatness. Not your parents, not your boss, not your lover. If you are happy with who you are and what you have accomplished, you are a success. Maybe your parents dreamed of you walking the halls in a white coat with a stethoscope wrapped around your neck. But your heart lights up at the smiling faces of your preschool students each day. You are a winner! Perhaps your boss doesn't think you are worthy of her inner circle- but your job gives you time to go home and paint spectacular paintings which thrill your soul. Winner. Maybe your lover wants you to earn more money and bring up their lifestyle, but peace is your ultimate goal. You get to make that choice. This doesn't mean you should be a jerk and not listen to input from others or continue to be valuable in the jobs and family roles that you are responsible for. It means not allowing someone outside of you to dictate how you feel about who you are and the value you bring to this world. That's up to you. 

4. Life is incredibly short- It's really a blink of an eye in the eternities of time. Balance wisdom with childlike curiosity. Save for retirement as early as you can. If you are in your 20's, start now! Don't put it off one more year. Take that income tax refund, or next raise and start investing it right away. There are a myriad of books available to help you get started. At the same time, have fun! Take that vacation. If you are like most people you will have to choose between experiences and things. I can't make that choice for you. My husband and I have chosen an older home with a lower price tag so we have more money for traveling and experiencing the world. If your heart lies in aesthetics, you might prefer living in a beautifully decorated home more than taking a vacation. Only you can decide what your values are. Do some soul searching-discover your values-what matters to you-and start making choices which honor those values. Don't wait. You can always start planning for your amazing life today.

5. Make the effort- If you want to connect with someone, make the first move. Send a text, call, stop by and visit. The worst that can happen? Well, I guess they could go on a radio show and share your heartfelt attempts in a mocking manner, but is that likely? And are they worth your time if they mock you? Take a deep breath and reach out. You might be the light of someone's day. Make the effort in all that you do. Relationship, work, play, rest. Don't be afraid of failure, hiding behind mediocrity, excusing your flaws away. Love yourself immensely and enough to keep striving towards the best version of yourself. Remember number 4. When you have decided your values, go full-force into attaining them. If you screw up, remember number 1. Forgive yourself. We are all learning. We are all perfect in our imperfections. Then stand back up and try again. I won't promise you will reach some arbitrary goal, but I will promise if  you don't try for what you want, regret will sink deep into your bones.  

At some point, life is painful for all us. But it can also be very rich, very rewarding, and very, very good.


Friday, July 10, 2020

When Breath Becomes Air Book Review

Photo by Artem Sapegin on Unsplash


Biography and Autobiography is not a genre which I find attractive typically. When I picked up the book When Breath Becomes Air,  by Paul Kalanithi, after it was recommended in a Facebook book group, I found myself initially disappointed to see that it was an autobiographical book. However, it was fairly short, and I decided to give it a try. Within a few pages, I was hooked. The writing was interesting and the tone was one of a calm friend, explaining his world to me. I wanted to know this person.
 
This is an affiliate link. 

What interested me first was his casual dedication to excellence. The importance of a top-notch ivy league education to his family and the lengths his mother went to in order to ensure he was properly educated to be a competitive applicant to the top schools was fascinating. Honestly, it was a whole new mindset for me. All my life has been focused on reminding myself it was not a race-life was about experiences-prestige doesn't equal meaning. Suddenly, this person is earnestly talking about the importance of striving, and it was just--fascinating. My working class worldview couldn't help but be shook up a little. I found myself wondering how the mindset of his family and his friends was so different from mine. Are they just naturally more intelligent and thus striving towards excellence in their field is the only way of life they can fathom? Is it snobbery and keeping up with the Joneses-a life filled with achievements for bragging rights? Is it to build up a strong financial future so they can spend more time later working on wants rather than needs. I don't know. I was completely intrigued. My whole life was built around consoling myself that it is okay not to get what I desire because that isn't where meaning was to found anyway. To have someone so easily speak of achieving major accomplishments as if they were base expectations for life was just incredible.

The book itself is a heartbreaker. You will feel the wide open expanse of time as Paul briefly describes his childhood and feel the time cave in as he discusses his struggle with lung cancer. Paul struggled towards finding meaning and throughout the book, I found myself slightly unsatisfied. I kept waiting for that aha moment of illumination, when understanding of the purpose of life would shine on me, but it never came. His discussion of his childhood religion, and his belief that mercy trumps justice, left me feeling a bit in the dark. Of course, mercy trumps justice. Isn't that Jesus' point? Mercy and grace-giving people more than they deserve- are hopes we all cling to desperately as we feel life slipping away. But...why? Am I a sociopath in that I don't feel tremendously guilty about things? I feel bad when I hurt someone's feelings, particularly if it was intentional, but I don't writhe in my bed at night worrying about coming hell fires or even karmic vengeance. We are all just babies learning. My mother converted to Catholicism the year before she died. I struggle to understand this conversion. What had she done that was so bad she felt the need for someone to tell her God's grace was waiting. God's grace is all around us. God's grace is within us. We don't need Father Joe to tell us this-but maybe some do. Maybe some need that external validation that God loves them and will be merciful in light of their failings. It's a mindset I just don't struggle with. I've spent my share-precious few- less than two hands-of nights on the floor wrestling with the darkness and God's seeming absence. I've known what it is like not to feel another human's tender touch (besides my kids) for years, and finally broke down, staring at the carpet fibers as waves of darkness crashed over me. I've cried out in silent tears to God about the loneliness and despair of a world in which I just couldn't see or feel God's presence at all. But then, the loving arms of sleep would pull me in,  and in the morning I would rise once more.

But perhaps I am lucky. Perhaps my brain chemistry is just so that optimism is bound to peek around the corner even in the midst of the darkest thoughts.

And I started to feel that dark futility after I finished the book. For a brief moment, no matter how interesting and entertaining the book was, I wondered where Paul was. I wondered where the people I have lost are now. Are they there? Do they exist? My mom is deep within my cells-I am made of her. But Caleb? I can't feel him in my cells. I can't feel him around me. Is it because he takes me and goes out somewhere else? Does he feel me within him? If anyone has disappeared and ceased, it is him. And the darkness of death fell over me for just a moment or two. What happens when we die? Not the stories of old books, not the desires our heads have created, but what really, really happens? Is there this whole other existence, elsewhere? Is that the fairy tale we have created to make the days happier? Does the truth even matter? And then I pulled the sunshine out again. I will choose that which makes my soul sing. 

And the book was good.




Monday, May 11, 2020

How Using a Mantra Helps Me

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash



Why a mantra?


Do you have a mantra? I have been using them pretty often this year to direct my thoughts and calm my spirit.
When I first heard the term "mantra" years ago, it seemed like this weird, new-agey thing, that you just had to be Californian, named Chloe or Zoe, and sit around in long flowy dresses, or yoga pants being zen. Not me, for sure. But I still used them over the years, from time to time, and since last fall have been using them much more frequently.

What is a mantra?
man·tra
/ˈmantrə/
noun
  1. 1.
    (originally in Hinduism and Buddhism) a word or sound repeated to aid concentration in meditation.
  2. 2.
    a statement or slogan repeated frequently.
    "the environmental mantra that energy has for too long been too cheap"
~From Oxford






Now, to me, of course the first one would be used in meditation. I have been known to use those occasionally, because the mind loves to wander. But in this case, I am talking about the second. I use mantras to calm my spirit when I feel it bubbling over (in a not-so-positive way). For example, "All is Well," is very helpful when I feel anxiety starting to build. "God is in control," is another simple phrase which helps me regulate anxiety. 

I have a headful of dreams I want to accomplish and often feel I am spinning my wheels and never getting there. Since I put hours and hours of work into my business and blog, I find it frustrating to not be getting where I want to be. Most of my reading suggests I need to just lay off a bit with the stress and worry. "Ask and ye shall receive." "Let the Universe know what you want, and then sit back and listen." These are the ideas floating around which I hear often. 

Now, there are conflicted opinions on what this means. Some people say to be very specific  about what you want, then sit back and watch and wait. Others say, "Well, God didn't just make this whole Universe so he can hand you a fancy mansion." Okay, they probably do, I made up that particular awkward sentence. So I think the truth lies somewhere in between. You need to be communicating with God in order to get the guidance to go where you need to go. Once you have talked to God, poured your heart out, let you wishes be known, then you can sit back and watch the events unfold. The thing is, they don't always unfold exactly the way you want them to. Perhaps you are praying for a fancy sports car. You may find yourself placed in a situation where that does indeed happen for you. Alternately, you may find your own self and heart being changed by a chain of events which makes that sports car no longer so very desirable. It's okay to want and expect things, but one needs to be open to growth and possibilities which were never imagained. 

What this leads me to, when I am feeling so frustrated with my lack of worldly success (although, goodness knows I have plenty and more! I have been very blessed), when I feel I am losing focus, and wonder why I keep spinning my wheels and sharing these thoughts, which are so embarrassing to share, I find the simple morning mantra, "Show me the way," to be helpful and calming.

"Show me the way," acknowledges there is a plan, there is a path, which leads to greater things and fulfilling destinies. It acknowledges I want guidance from God to get to get there. These simple words acknowledge my strong desire to do and create more in a powerful way. And they help me to feel peace and trust that help is coming.

For me, choosing a daily mantra, is like choosing an ongoing prayer in a sentence which I want to communicate it with God. Sometimes it is a simple affirmation to soothe my nerves, but often is a prayer, asking for guidance. When I feel confusion or anxiety or concern rising, I can simple take to prayer with my simple phrase, "Show me the way."

And once I let go out of the desire for a specific outcome, and realize this help may lead me down paths I never imagined, I can go forth with peace and joy that God will guide my heart towards the highest path of growth.

Finding your Mantra


If you are interesting in find your own mantra, a simple web search should lead you to a variety of sites with advice.

This one on Oprah.com explains how to choose  a mantra which is personally meaningful to you. 


What is Your Personal Mantra is a site which has a fun quiz. Although the pictures are no longer the working, the quiz still does-you will just have to read the explanation below where the picture should have been to read the "advice."

If you are trying to choose a mantra to supplement your yoga practice here are some ideas:








Thursday, April 16, 2020

My Worst Job Interviews Ever


Photo by Amy Hirschi on Unsplash


Let me start off by saying when you are not a natural public speaker and you struggle with self-esteem, interviews can be a killer. I have watched more outgoing and less qualified people talk their way into jobs that those who knew them knew they were NEVER going to keep, while I was getting turned down by Waffle House and KFC. It was so frustrating!

So without further ado here goes:

1. Kentucky Fried Screw-Up- It was November of my junior year and my mom was pushing me to get a job. Now, I was about the shyest thing since baby Bambi, so it was pretty traumatic. "Just say you are looking for holiday work. Everyone needs to hire more people for the holidays," my much more outgoing mom told me. Embarrassed I dressed up (because Mom) and headed into nearby fastfood restaurants to apply.
I filled out the application at Kentucky Fried Chicken and the manager behind the counter asked what I was looking for. "Um, holiday work?" saying what my mom had told me. The assistant manager chuckled and said, "We don't hire for that." Meanwhile a boy from my year at school was working and I wanted to crawl under a rock and die.

2. Waffle House. I had waitressing experience and yet somehow I could not get hired at the Waffle House. I don't really remember the details other than the north side one interviewed me and suggested I try the one a few miles away. The south side one stuck her nose in the air and made it clear I wasn't what they were looking for. Too old? I was 27. Too young? I don't know. Too fat? I was about 145. Not chatty enough? Most likely.

3. Division of Family Services-Senior division. I was sitting on a psychology degree, not really relishing the idea of getting a masters. I had been in a few master's programs because the ultimate goal for anyone who loved college was to become a professor, right?, but nothing was really calling out to me enough to put that much work into it, and whenever I tried science (the Master's of Geosciences was calling to me), my self-esteem issues got in the way.  I decided to try being a social service worker. I went into the interview so nervous. I was literally sweating all over the place. My hands sweating were a given, this was prior to learning how to stop the hand sweat. However, I had sweat dripping down my back, across my upper lip-it was awful. They actually told me to just relax. I didn't get the job shockingly. They were super nice, though.

4. Another social servicy job. This was at the food stamp office. I had some doubts about the interview time, as I was excited and nervous when they called, but I was too embarrassed to call back so I thought it through and thought I had it right. I went to the interview and they called me up. They asked me questions and talked about what a responsible, organized, and punctual person was, how I kept track of records by writing things down, and juggling appointment times would be not trouble. Then one lady cocked her head to the side and asked,  Why then, had I been ten minutes late to the interview? I was mortified.
They didn't hire me and I am glad. I would have been good at it and trapped in it forever most likely.

5. A teaching job.  I had been working at Greenfield which, while I loved the little kids, wasn't quite what I wanted long term.  It was literally an hour's drive each way.
I was interviewing for a school district which was only 30 minutes away. It was a science position and I felt reasonably confident in by ability to handle middle school science. In the middle of the interview, the principal looked me in the eye and said, "Define loyalty." She was so hostile about it I knew I was trapped. She wanted someone who would stick out the position for several years, I think. Fair enough. But her hostility had me tongue-tied. Clearly I was interviewing for this position from another school (and people do this all the time. People change jobs and look for something closer to their calling ALL THE TIME. IT IS OKAY). The other interviewers looked embarrassed and looked down at the table. And I knew, I sure as heck did NOT want to work at that school. The position was open again the next year, by the way.



Those were my worst interviews. I am sure there are other moments I may have forgotten, like the time I interviewed for a seventh grade social studies job that I REALLLLLLLY wanted and said, "Y'all" when when answering a question.

Or the time when an assistant principal called me to set up a phone interview for a time I had had tickets for over a month to see a movie with my daughters. I didn't handle it well, and then mortified called her back and left a message to go ahead and do it. I sat in the summer-hot car in a parking garage outside the theatre with the windows rolled up in fear of getting robbed. I was definitely sweating. I did get the job, but I don't think I was their first choice.

Well...they say it is good to get uncomfortable and step outside your comfort zone. Noone can argue I haven't done that, right? And I think all these embarrassing moments and all these mistakes are just an indicator to not give up. Go on your interviews, answer their questions thoughtfully, and then adjust your answers accordingly at the next interview. At first this may seem dishonest, but it really isn't. Just as I was unwilling to promise I would stay at a school a certain amount of time (beyond the contract), I also found the the act of changing my answers also changed how I viewed the job and approached the question. For example, if I said I was perfectly comfortable calling parents, well, then I was making phone calls to parents without complaint. If I said the office was a last resort, then I was promising the office would be a last resort. Changing your answers to fit the interview isn't really a lie. It is a learning experience about what the job expectations were and your willingess to meet those expectations.


Man, if I didn't believe in growth mindset before, I sure do now!

Enjoy learning!

Jillian






Don't forget to check out our kids' clothing shop! 

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Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Handling it, but not as well as I could

Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash
It has been about a month since our Disney trip was cancelled/postponed and stores began slowly closing. A month of uncertainty, a little fear, a lot of anxiety, and the ever-encroaching boredom gnawing at my brain.

The thing is, I love to work. As much lip service as  I pay to being home, I like to be actively doing something with my head, working on something, finishing something, creating something. And here I am feeling like this big "SUCK" has latched onto my brain, and is sucking out the light and blowing in the darkness. The idea of not going back to work until August is really hard to hold on to.

Just lots of disappointment all around. And it's not just me, I know. The fact that everyone else is feeling the stress brings a feeling of solidarity. The extreme sleepiness bothers me, but I apparently this is a much larger stress to our mind than we might realize.

So what to do?
Well, I am still working on the 50-walk challenge. It's a little hard to get motivated when day after day is dreary and chill, but once I head out the door and walk, I never regret it. I am well on track with that goal.

I am slowly working on a much needed cupboard and cabinet cleanout. The struggle with that sort of cleaning is there is always a crazy mess right in the middle. But I am getting there. I want to paint, but I am embarrassed about getting paint. I feel like someone is going to stop, point me out, Invasion of the Body Snatchers style, and scream, "NOT AN ESSENTIAL PURCHASE!" But my keeping myself emotionally healthy and busy is essential, too. So maybe I will grab a daughter for moral support and head up and get paint. Are they still mixing paint? I guess I could call.

If I, as an ultra-introvert, am suffering, how are the extraverts handling this? How many people are REALLY following the guidelines and how many are pretending, too, but breaking little rules here and there? I am curious.

Anyway, goals are important, so I plan to get from 10 books read on my reading challenge to 15 books by the end of April. I plan to paint my three-year- old's room. I plan to organize all the kitchen cupboards. I do have some paperwork for work which will take up a chunk of time. Maybe I will just go through it r e a l l y  s l o w l y to stretch out the time it takes. If I am working a lot, I will appreciate the downtime more.

The jury is out on gardening. If I don't have summer school, I will have enough time to do a great vegetable garden, but I am sort of sick of the mess. I am leaning towards just throwing out grass seed and having a green lawn.

Eventually, I will pretty these thoughts up, put a lovely filter over them, adjust the lens, and make them into something else. But for a little while longer, I am just going to feel the reality.


We've got this, right?
Jillian




Don't forget to check out our kids' clothing shop! 

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Sunday, April 12, 2020

The Dichotomy of Personal Choice

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Recently I was super-excited to find a cheap online learning course regarding living a life with poise. I happen to like this author, most of the time, so I was excited to get a little more lifestyle reading in. But even as I signed up for the cheap course (which lets face it-nothing is new-it's always just a refresher of what's already been mind-consumed), I felt the pull against poise. The pull towards authentic honesty.
There are two different camps. The camp of elegance, poise, and a bit of polite mystery stand tall on one side. Meanwhile, the pull towards authenticity, honesty, and transparency rises on the other. True, there may be some who can straddle both camps, but I think that's rare. And I find myself being pulled back and forth. I feel as if I should be on the poise side-the senator's wife is how I would describe it. Cultivating an aura of warmth, while revealing nothing, living the beautiful life and striving towards greater beauty would be paramount in this lifestyle.
On the other hand, I have always feared I would be put in the dreaded Candor group in Divergent, with a pull towards openness and honesty. I want to drag people into my crazy, into my mess, and show them,"Hey, it's all okay."

I see people around me falling into these two camps. There are people on Facebook who only show the lovely parts, who never speak of sick relatives and rarely share photos. Everything they post appears so carefully planned to present an image which helps them climb the ladder of their ambition.
And then there are the real people, the open and honest people, who tell it like it is. And I think these are the people I like more. But of course, there has to be a balance. Feelings change on a breeze, a new thoughts changes the perspective, and creates an all-new terrain frequently. If you always tell it like it is, you'll be a in a mess. I like people who are open about peeing their pants on a date, who ask people for sympathy when loved ones are ill, and who admit when their spouse is being a butt.
But then I read the poise side, and I wonder if maybe they are right. The world certainly rewards them more.

And as someone with a growth mindset, because I too am a product of this environment, I want to be improve and become more and better. I just wonder which way more and better is. Obviously, this is a case of wanting to have my cake and eat it, too. I want to say what I think, have people care, but at the same I want people to take it with a grain of salt and not care. Impossible. Ideally, I would become one of those lucky few who straddle both camps. But who is to be my guide, when I don't know any of those people? Who is to show me where the line is, so I can push it just a little bit, without hopping off the edge?

I was talking to a relative a year or two ago, about my blog just not picking up the readers like I wanted it to. This person suggested I limit the amount of personal introspection and boil it down to a lesson to give people advice on how to better their own life. This leads to doubt and stilted writing as I feel I always have to have a point. Maybe I just need to go with my gut and write what I feel and if noone follows, noone follows. Not having followers and loyal readers though, when I have the urge to write, makes me feel as if I getting it wrong. Writing with authenticity is a matter of laying one's soul bare-or rather pieces of one's soul because if one were totally honest-well, it wouldn't be pretty-and it is raw and difficult. And to not be followed can lead to a such a flushed, hot feeling of embarrassment and shame.

And then I remind myself of all the times I was quiet, and I think a life not expressed is a life not really lived.

Friday, April 10, 2020

THE 50 WALK CHALLENGE

I am so excited! I have been lying around slothlike and really feeling the detrimental effects of not moving much. After going over my max daily maintenance calories AGAIN, I grabbed the boys and went for a starlit walk. And then it hit me!
I needed a goal to get myself moving on a regular basis. The idea for a 50 Walk Challenge came into my head, and wheels were set in motion.

As soon as I returned home from the walk, I downloaded an app to keep track of
my walk. I set a deadline of May 31st. I absolutely counted today's walk 😀. I decided the walk had to be a minimum of 15 minutes long to count.
Accountability is a hard one for me, so please feel free to ask me how the challenge is going. My current plan is to report back every Friday night until this goal is met!

I downloaded an app called Goal Tracker to my Android phone. I can just check off my daily walk.

Here is a pic of what the chart looks like.

I could use an accountability partner if you want to play along and share your workout or walks in my comments each week.

What a Wonderful World

Today I was pouring myself out in words, playing up the melodrama, and feeling sorry for myself. I referred to my younger self as poor. Then all of a sudden little things started to happen, and I realized once again how lucky I have been.

What I realized:

  • We didn't have a lot of money, but we had a mother who read to us which is worth its weight in gold. 
  • I remembered a time in high school when we were running errands for French (as juniors). We stopped by my townhome, because I needed something. "Wow," my classmate (with the car) said, "How much do you guys pay in rent?" I told her. "That's what we pay for our house and these are much nicer!" Just a moment before I had been embarrassed over the trials of living in a rental townhome, and she was legitimately saying it was nicer. We stopped by her house after, and I understood.
  • I remembered visiting a friend in a nearby neighborhood. My mom dropped me off with plans to pick me up later. As we walked back to her room, which was on a glassed-in porch, I noted there were no cabinets under the sink, just a cloth hanging there. Now, there is nothing wrong with that and it could be quaint, but it was my first time seeing someone in such a situation. 
  • Then I was also lamenting having to make meatless meals for days on end for my kids when I was in college. Oh the horrors! And then as the day went on I realized, "My God! I had meals for my kids! Some people eat meatless meals every single day. By choice! I was able to go to college as a single mom. Sure our house was a bit crappy in large part due to my own poor housekeeping, but to pity myself as poor? I was so lucky!
  • And finally, I was taking a long, hot bath searching through Zillow. Now typically I look at higher end houses for fun, but today, I decided to look at cheap houses just to see what was out there, and I saw some of those places and thought, my goodness-people live there. People get naked in that house and touch those floors with their bare feet, and I realized again, how darned lucky I have been.
And I had to shake my head at my own foolishness. Perspective is EVERYTHING. I know you have heard it many times before, but there are people out there who only DREAM of things you have. I have more than so many people on this earth, and if half of it went away, I would still have more. 
How is it that we get so lost in searching for what we lack or have lacked, that we fail to see all the abundance around us, over and over again? 

I need to make a sign, like Augustus Waters mom would put up, reminding me just how very lucky I have been in this world. I'll hang where I am forced to see, and I will remember what a wonderful world this is.



Sunday, April 5, 2020

8 things I Do To Make Myself Happier

Listen! We are living in some crazy times. If you are anything like me, or say, the other 7. whatever billion people on this planet, your whole life has been turned upside down in just a few weeks. Although most of us are holding on the hope that things will eventually (and hopefully soon) get back to to normal, we are still going through a huge amount of uncertainty, upheaval, and resulting stress.

To get through these times without losing my mind, I find it helpful to keep a stash of little things in my back pocket to lift my spirits, so I can continue to be the strong and mighty queen the world needs!

This post contains affiliate links.

1. Rehydrate every morning
I find it hard to drink water, especially upon waking, EVEN IF my throat is dry. One thing that helps is having a quick 8 ounces before I start my coffee brewing (seriously it almost makes me gag, I don't know where this aversion comes from),  and then sip another warm cup with fresh squeezed lemon. Somehow when I warm up the mug of water, and splash a little zesty lemon it becomes a palatable treat!

I've got to get this happy cup!



2. Caffeinate
I like my coffee. Dark, rich, and hot, just holding that steaming cup in my hands in a fantastic morning pleasure. If coffee isn't your um, cup of tea, perhaps trying a cup of tea will give you a lift. There are so many varieties of coffee and teas, both caffeinated and decaf, you can easily find the right brew to lift your morning mood. Anything that becomes part of a quiet morning ritual will enhance your day and bring a feeling of wellness. When it comes to favorite brews, I swear I love the Walmart Great Value French Roast K-cups. To increase the value of that minute or so waiting for the Keurig to heat up and brew, I do between 20-30 various squats to tone my legs.

Go crazy and consider this coffee:




3. Morning Meditation
I am not going to lie. I am not a super-meditator who can sit for 45 minutes visualizing world peace (although if you are, you go!). But I like to sit and listen to a short meditative lecture on the Simple Habit app, while doing slow stretching exercises to warm my body up and loosen for the day. After that, I will listen to some white noise or meditative music and practice true meditation and visualization for oh, an average of around 6 minutes.
If the Simple Habit app isn't for you, here are links to several other similar sites you can try

4. Hiking

Photo by Toomas Tartes on Unsplash

While not my picture, and apparently that photo was taken in Chile, I love hiking. I don't do it nearly as often as I should, because the hump I have to get over to pack enough for the kids and get all the stuff ready seems to outweigh my perceived benefit of pushing through, but when I do push through I always am delighted I did. I love the outdoors, the scenery, the exercise, and even the confidence I feel when I manage rocky terrain surefootedly. Nothing as of yet has compared with our short family hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park, however, I have explored Ozark hills, quiet wooded paths,  emerald green paths atop the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland, and I plan to see how the Alps compare to the Rockies as soon as fate allows!

While not technically hiking boots, these were my go-to boots on rainy walks in Ireland:




I swear I love these things. I get so excited on work days when it is wet and rainy. A perfect excuse to wear my two-year-old boots!


5. Favorite Movies
A little media can be good for the soul. Watching a tear-wrenching film is often the carthartic release I need to look at the world through new eyes. Most of us are getting more than enough screen time. Let's just make sure it is something worth our time which enriches our lives. For you it might be a silly comedy, an action film, or a light-bright rom-com. You do you. You deserve it.

Or watch something fun, like the movie we got my youngest child, Alec's name from (I am totally the dorky blonde girl)





6. Reading
I will never have enough time to read. From fabulous fiction which takes me away to a better place, to informative and inspiring nonfiction which helps me discover who I was meant to be and encourages me to become that person, there are so many amazing books out there! Now that my life is so busy I read a lot more nonfiction than fiction. It is just so much easier to skim and drop off and pick up a nonfiction book. But every now and then a fiction book will grab ahold of me and won't let me go until we come to that shaky, sleep-deprived ending. Heaven!
I'll be posting on my current reading soon.

7. Brainstorm Fun Ideas
From bucket lists, to do now dream lists, to planning imaginary virtual vacations, I love to think about the all the options in the world, and think about what it would be like to make it happen.
I have recently been inspired by my reading of How to do Everything and Be Happy, by Peter Jones. It's a simple book to help you feel brave enough to take back some time and has practical hints on how to organize the things you want to do and get them done.

This is one of the books that is cheaper in paperback than kindle...




8. Practice Letting Go
Letting go of past hurts and disappointments is never easy. But it is the KEY to a happy outlook. Give yourself the time to really dig in and feel the feels and then when you are ready, look for the lesson, and move on. Learning not to hold grudges and not to drown in self-pity has given me the power to control my own happiness, and I recommend giving it a try. This is a lesson which requires practice, because once forgiven, doesn't mean always forgiven. The stubborn heart when challenged will bring back those unpleasant memories, so it helps to think of forgiveness as an ongoing process you can practice again and again and again.

I am sorry. My good-girl-ness doesn't usually like bad words, but is just so right on. A good short affirmation for yourself!



As you can see, these are simple ideas. Not a one of them is too crazy-hard to implement to increase your daily happiness. While you would obviously want to switch out the ones which don't work for you and put in things that make you, personally, happy, the key is to add a little joy to your life Every. Single. Day.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Responsibility

Image result for sunset photos


It has been a long and beautiful weekend. The days crawled by as the children played with neighbors in 60 degree weather. I did next to nothing. Oh, I did some maintenance housework, my husband and I rearranged the bedroom, (managing to avoid the Coffin position for the bed, for those who read my personal blog), and the house received a good airing. I did some things for my online shop, but really, it has been a lazy weekend.

I paid off my library fine for the coffee damaged books, and have more on reserve. I have been listening to books on Audible, but this will not be about them.

I found a short little article which so succinctly summed up my feelings on healing and responsibility, by Brianna Wiest,
Trauma is not Your Fault, but Healing is Your Responsibility.

This article has been timely for me because I find myself being reminded of snippets of unpleasant memories. Not the memories of  my many, humiliating mistakes, but memories of moments outside of my control. Many of these occured as child, a few as an adult. And sometimes it is helpful to be reminded of the pain and trauma of the past for various reasons. For one, a depth of feeling brings a sense of painful angst which drives me to write, drives me to create. Also, little Jill just sometimes wants remind the world, she is still here, and the scars still mark her skin.

But, the thing is, noone can fix the pain, but me. It doesn't need erased. It needs acknowledgement. But acknowledging it and dwelling in it are different. We all have our scars. In some way, we have all been hurt. Some have faced more trauma than others. I am luckier than so, so many who walk the earth. If I don't choose to learn and grow and takes steps to make different choices, my life can never accomplish what I was intended to accomplish. So while at times I choose to snuggle up with the inner child and hold her, I don't choose to live in that place.

I believe in a higher power who listens to me and helps me. If I ask for strength, or guidance, or wisdom, or even for unspecified help, I believe I will receive it. We are our own superman. We are the ones who intervene for our more fragile selves and take the leap of faith and ask for help. We are so strong and so powerful when we learn who and how to ask.

If you are like me, a part of you is dismayed with this focus on self. Perhaps you, too, feel your focus should be on helping others. But my dear, you can't save anyone until you have learned to save yourself (or to ask God for the help you need). You can't hold your child aloft in the crashing sea  if you don't put your life preserver on, too. There are so many things I wish I understood decades ago. But with faith I walk forth, and the blame game stops, and the healing begins.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

The Inner Critic

Image result for shame




"Imagine having a friend who always made you feel bad about yourself because every time they came over they told you what was wrong with you." That loosely quoted quote came from my morning motivational series on discouragement.

I have been discouraged! Anxious. Stressed.

I realize a great deal of this comes from my own perfectionistic tendencies. I apply these to myself as well as others. I think part of me sometimes feels there is a positive proactivism in being perfectionistic and that in harshly holding myself in line, I will become the better person I want to be.

As we know, though, the inner critic, often backfires when it is too harsh, too unaccepting. Wisdom tells us we will let ourselves down. I will make a snarky comment without forethought, or a customer will be disappointed because they didn't read all the available information. My natural tendency is to jump harshly on myself. Rude comment? Welp. That's it. Noone will ever like me. Angry customer? Welp. I suck. Why on Earth would I think I could run a business? And I feel this shame over myself.

But Gosh darn! Enough already. The anxiety riding in my belly this week, requiring me to rely on Benadryl to relax into sleep and to wake up in a slight fog is just so absurd.

I made a snarky comment. Most people will know that snarky comment is a reflection on me and my insecurities. Other people make snarky comments all the time. That doesn't mean I should just not care what I say. But rather, the moment has passed, and I need to let it dissipate, and move on.

My unhappy customers? Well, on the one hand, it was spelled out clearly on the item page when shipment would come. Shipment has been slightly delayed due to issues with the supplier and a health scare, but not significantly so. However, as the seller, I have to realize people probably don't take the time to read all the information carefully. I have to either not presell, or make it very clear along with a follow-up email offering a timeline and a way out.
I have to LEARN from this, not throw in the towel in shame and discouragement.

I believe in the inner critic. I believe in holding ourselves accountable and pushing ourselves onto higher moral and professional grounds. However, the inner critic has to also be loving. The inner critic has to offer proactive help, not helpless disappointment. Working towards kinder thoughts and words is always a good thing, but allowing myself understanding and the ability to occasionally screw up is required. I don't know anything about running a business. I have so many things to be proud of including the signs showing that I am on the verge of beginning to figure how to make it profitable. That's a huge leap since we really started up last July. I am becoming more knowledgable and competent all the time.

I need to recognize and realize those accomplishments. I need to continue to work towards giving myself grace and mercy. I don't HAVE to punish myself, just as I don't have to punish others when they let me down (or make the occasional snarky comment-although, I wonder, if my quest to become the loving and sweet Melanie Wilkes, if I will make myself into the most boring person on the planet. Time will tell, I guess). I think that is the balance I struggle with. I spent years self-repressing and hiding because I didn't trust myself, and as I have struggled to break free from those self-imposed prisons, I tend to sway when I make mistakes and upset others. It's a process I suppose.

On a side note, we talked briefly of out-of-body experiences and life after death in the office yesterday, and I was so happy. I think of these things all the time, and it is so fun when other people join in!



Thursday, February 13, 2020

"You Had a Bad Day."


You know it is one of those days when Daniel Powter's Bad Day is running through your brain like your theme song. It started early. It was just off. My classes were fine. The kids were fantastic. We talked and laughed, they asked questions, I answered. Behaviors were great. Even the kids who challenged me had valid points, which was refreshing. I got enough sleep. I liked my outfit. My hair was a little questionable, but nothing is perfect, right? But everything felt off. Every offhand comment felt like a smudge, a swipe, a swat against who I am as a person. And I felt this creeping shame crawling over my skin, flushing my face and branding me as a misfit. I dreamed of a hot bath and a good cry, but nothing was really WRONG. So there are no tears.
There was this thing nagging at me and bugging me, until big girl Jill, came up, snorted, labeled it jealousy, and I had no choice but to deny it and build a story to fight against it, or acknowledge it and roll with it. Big girl Jill is actually pretty wise, so I listened to her.
Then Tierney had a phone call from an upset customer wanting to know where her things were. I get it-she sent us a lot of money-but she neglected to note the page said these were preorders and wouldn't begin shipping until mid-February. So I called her back and soothed her, but this flashing "Failure" sign was lighting up my brain.

I haven't had my morning time this week. People keep waking up early, early before 5:30 a.m. and breaking into my spiritual time. I haven't FELT like listening to deep thoughts this week from my ebooks, and just want to coast along on a romantic song and a cloud. But without that time, my fortitude is down. My emotions are raw rather than cared for. So, I came home, made some brownies, and decided to pull it together.

So! here is my have a better day mini-pack. You're welcome.

First some ideas  https://www.theodysseyonline.com/100-things-to-do-when-youve-had-bad-day

Make some brownies. Seriously. Brownie batter makes everything better. Just don't get salmonella.

Listen to some of my favorite songs (don't laugh at my song choices, I fear I am a simple cliche. That's okay, you know. The right people still love me).
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLYjZBZyb8_3DaOm16CLfq4lRNcrXvZpLO

I often go out for a diet soda in the evening to listen to music, get a break from putting Alec to bed, and get my second wind. But I think I might just take a bath tonight and just soak (but I am restless, so I don't know how that will go. It's hard to lay in a hot tub when your nerves are hopping all over the place).

Finally before bed I will watch a favorite show with my husband. Our go-to is Zoolander, but there won't be enough time. We'll probably catch some of The Office. Who doesn't love that show?

And it will be better.

What do YOU do to cheer yourself up?


https://youtu.be/gH476CxJxfg







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