posts in category self-improvement

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

On Improvement



 I feel as if I am constantly on a quest to be better. From being a child pouring over my aunt's teen magazine and my mother's women's magazines to ordering fun little books like "14 Days to a Whole New You," from the book form in junior high, I have always wanted to do better.

As a child, conquering my temper was my main area of focus. Oh, I could get mad. It still flares from time to time, particularly when one of the kids are making gigantic messes on a day when my body is already just done. Or when the person I am trying to have a discussion/argument with is refusing to be logical-or bringing up past arguments. Then I will find myself on the edge (you know, the place where the F word abounds). 

One thing that amuses me is how in my 20s and 30s and early 40s I always saw myself as the good guy. Yes, I was too prideful and could get bitchy when my pride was attacked, but my expectations for others were rather high, perhaps impossible. My fear of rejection was so great, I couldn't just relax. I was ever vigilant, ever worried.  And there is some reason behind that-people do exclude and people do talk about other people-even friends, and that sucks. But somehow, you just have to suck it up, and keep moving on. The problem is I don't know how to be open and vulnerable to people and still be detached and self-protective. And I guess you can't. If you want to be open to people, you have to just accept you are going to be disappointed and hurt. You are going to have to pick yourself up, talk about it, and forgive. I can understand that intellectually. But emotionally, there is always this wall that barricades me from the pain faster than I can see it happening. I don't want to detach so easily, but I do understand and accept that this wall once served an important purpose in my life. 

We won't drag all that out here. Let's just say, I don't feel I have reached the previous year's goal word of "connection." 

To me, connection would be having someone to call when I needed to talk (besides my poor daughter), someone to walk with, someone to see movies with. Or several someones. And I am not there. Of course, I have real, pressing daily responsibilities which preclude just being able to go do things, and I am weirdly perfectionistic about my home (which means, I won't let people in, unless it is just so), so...it just may not be my season for that, but it doesn't stop the yearning. 

Anyway, improvement. I feel I have shown growth over the past few years. I feel angry that lessons which should have been learned early were not-but what can you do with that? I mean, it is what it is, right? I need to talk and identify feelings more with my kids, so they don't have to figure so much out on their own-not to make my life easier-but to make theirs easier.

But you want to know a secret? Nature is there. She is coiled up in the pit of your stomach, and no matter how much you learn to tame your pride, and how much you struggle to keep your eyes open and be honest with yourself, she is always ready to strike. Maybe the real truth isn't that I don't trust others. Maybe it is that I don't trust myself. 

There is an argument that people don't change-not really. And whenever I feel the flare begin to flame in my belly, I understand this. Our nature is always with us, always awaiting its chance to strike, tear apart, and build itself up. Our higher self must remain ever-vigilant, ever aware of this impending destruction. Our higher self must calmly hold the reins, guiding us ever-onward and upward. It isn't an easy fight, and it is one I have poured my soul into through my prayer journals (but wait, there's more!)

And so, we keep moving forward. I have my journals begging for growth, peace, clarity, wisdom. God DOES answer prayers-but the path he leads you on is not the path of least resistance. To the external eye, it may seem as nothing is happening. To the seeker however, the path is present and difficult and real. 

Let's finish up with up with a little Oceans, shall we?

I long to be in the mountains.


 

Monday, January 17, 2022

On Vision-Why Developing it Matters to Me

 

Photo by Matt Noble on Unsplash

Vision. 

My focus word for the year

Vision is the word I have chosen as my focus word of the year. It is something most of us probably like to think we have, but many of us truly do not utilize vision to the fullest extent possible. If you had asked five years ago if I had vision, I would have said, "Yes, of course."  However, aging has a way of making you look at yourself differently and embrace your faults and shortcomings in a kinder, more whole-hearted way. And I don't operate from a place which utilizes vision. 

Now is this TRULY a shortcoming or just a manner of being? That, my friend, is wholly dependent upon your values and how you wish to live your life. For me, it is an area I just feel the need to expand upon. 

What is vision exactly? 

To me, vision is the ability to use your imagination to see how things might be different or better in the future. Vision is looking beyond maintaining the status quo and picturing a way to make things better. Vision may or may not be about bending things more to your will, but ideally, it is based on constructing an enhanced future with greater depth and meaning. 

I often feel as if I going through life partially asleep. Physically it feels like there is a lulling, foggy weight sleeping on the frontal lobe of my brain and behind my eyes. I feel as if I am truly NOT completely awake. While it is possible to operate in a fairly complex manner and maintain a challenging life half-asleep, it can also lead a sense of complacency with what is and sleeping through life watching Netflix reruns and living for the next donut opportunity. It's a smaller way to live. 

And again-it's okay. If you work hard and are relatively good (most of us are neither as good nor as bad as we think ourselves to be, I imagine), you will live a fairly fulfilled life in the half-asleep state. You will enjoy your animal comforts, love your children, laugh at jokes, and enjoy the sensation of a soft pillow and a conscience-free heart. And for many that is enough.

But if, like me, a persistent, nagging feeling is tugging from within-pressing on your eyes, rousing your forehead (it's truly a physical sensation for me) shaking the cloud hovering just over the front of your head, it may be time to search for more. 

I cannot imagine this is a one and done affair. I can't spend 30 minutes imagining a future, write it out and be on my merry way. First of all, I am out of practice when it comes to imagination. As a child, I would lie in bed at night envisioning ways of making my mark on the world. I was to be a martyr, universally loved and cherished at the  moment of my death. People would KNOW. Now though, martyr dreams are out-I have  a family to raise, and frankly, it just doesn't sound appealing.  I have to sit and DO the hard work of planning. And I am out of practice. As much love as I have for self-help books, I always skip over the workbooky aspects of them which require putting onto paper your thoughts and plans. I thought it was because doing so was a waste of time and slowed down my intake of ideas from the text. I know now, however, that it was sheer mental laziness, impatience, and a way to consume ideas without truly digesting and fully incorporating them into my life. I thought it was mental freedom, but it was actually mental neglect. 

There are different ways I can handle this. One is to get a book which organizes a life path-where I just need to fill in the blanks. Another might be to determine which paths to focus on before I spend time envisioning the future. Yet another is to just sit quietly and let the dreams and visions unfold to determine what I want. Even now, I just want to think about thinking about it. I don't want to DO it. It's hard. Thinking and imagination, for those out of practice, is HARD.

Always have to make the plan...

Since this is a yearlong focus, I will be blogging at least monthly on my progress in this area. 

  1. First, I need to determine which life areas I wish to focus on applying vision. 
  2. Next, I will need to spend time allowing my imagination to soar as I envision ways to improve, alternate possibilities, and how to go beyond "drink more water and get more exercise," to creating a truly unique life experience which awakens and challenges me. 
  3. Finally, I need to put it into practice. 

For me, this is the satisfying part. Writing out what I plan to do is usually enough to make my brain hit that little checkmark tab on and I think, "Done." I need to move beyond a simple plan, into true thought and imagination, and finally application. 

I need to keep shaking myself, keep waking myself, and keep demanding I stay awake and aware.

When I return I plan to have an outline of the areas in which I want to focus my vision. 

See you soon.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

What Does it Mean to Be Mighty?


 



Lately, I have been thinking a lot. In truth, now that I am the only adult in the home, the quietness , though it is rarely ever quiet, leaves a lot of thinking time.

Tonight I sit by the white-orange logs in the firepit where the larger logs burn with a heat and mesmerizing chemical magic which fails for words. An artist would be able to capture it perhaps-an an artist's eye could determine whether the logs burn white or orange, but my untrained eyes, can't distinguish. It is both to me. 


A breeze is brushing the treetops and the stronger gusts bring a shower of maple seeds-helicopters- raining down on me. The moon is just the slightest smidgen shy of full.

It's been weird. A peace invades the house, my house, my castle. I do what I want when I want (as long as it involves kids). I sleep on the couch without excuses, my room smells, not of tobacco, but of cats and me. I don't resent anyone lying on the couch while I work, and I don't have the easy ability to slip out the door and into the car alone anymore. 


People irritate me. I try to explain my feelings-the joyous peace, the occasional crush of loneliness. Others say, "I could see. I could see you were hiding your pain. I knew you were unhappy." It is frustrating. Of course. It is so easy on the outside, isn't it? But I know me. I know my easy ability to wash away the pain, to forgive the past, to see what is so wonderful. Happy posts about flowers and candlelit baths were REAL. They weren't put on for show. The date night selfies were done in fun, not show. The companionship of sitting by the fire, watching a favorite tv show together, that was real. In truth, bad things are rarely bad all the time. If they were, they would end so much sooner. Bad, awful, hurtful things are interspersed with good moments, with laughter, with understanding,, and intimacies. People on the outside don't see that. They don't want to see that. They see the evil, the bad. The bad, I so easily forgot, I had to start keeping a diary to remember what had happened.

And that's fine. It isn't their burden. But it feels as if my cross to bear is the inability to be honest about the pain. About the loneliness. About how hard it is to be the only adult in the house-even when it is easier to not live with someone unstable and unhappy. Nothing is simple. And were people to come over, I would probably make polite conversation, and wait, and watch the clock, wanting my hours back to myself. Companionship is not to have any warm body, but to have the right warm body. Oh, don't get me wrong. There is noone on my mind. And that is difficult, too. My INFPness lives to dream of romance, to get lost in a crush, but there is no one now. Everyone I meet is married or young. And damn, if that isn't dull.

And I thought I could be so happy alone. My own bed. Noone to care that I am gross sometimes, or let the bathroom trash sit way too long. And I am. But my toes tickle for the touch of someone else-don't read into that-I don't have a toe fetish-, my toes are actually just tickling right now. They are propped on the edge of the firepit, probably falling asleep. And it is like some animal urgency, this desire to have someone. I don't really understand it. I am 47. I do not want more children. Why does my mind scan the world for a partner NOW? But alas, the world is made for couples, it is normal to want someone to do something with, I suppose. Restaurants, nights out, travel. The world was made for two.


And I make my stupid jokes, and then I worry that people pity me. And I do hate pity. I want to be adored and babied and yet, I want to be strong and admired. The truth is, even as I write these thoughts-it isn't so bad. I don't feel so sad. I don't cry. I worry. I worry so much about this person who is falling apart and won't let me help. I worry for my four year old who misses his dad. And I feel the sickening disgust that so many of my thoughts are financial. Am I really so cold and removed and calculating as that? Everything is filtered through loss and gain. And then I remind myself that idealism only goes so far. It is okay to think about practical matters. It is okay to fight for the best life possible. All those hurtful words thrown at me-cold, calculating- don't matter. If it is cold to want the best life and stability for my kids, then toss me in a glass of lemonade, because I do. If it is calculating to do what is within my power to keep my kids in a stable home, then I guess that is what I am. There is no shame in caring for their well-being. 

So to be mighty. What is that? Is it being honest and open? Is it carrying on in silence, striving towards the future with grim determination? Is it something in-between? 

According to the Century Dictionary, mighty means:

     Possessed of or endowed with might; having much ability, strength, or power; eminently         strong, powerful, or great: as, a mighty conqueror; a mighty intellect; a man mighty in         argument


I think to be mighty is being honest with oneself, doing the tasks for the sake of those who need me, and just letting the waves wash over and around me. If you don't fight reality, you don't sink. If you go with the flow, eventually the water will part around you, and you just rise and fall with the swell of waves. So I am mighty. I am sad. I am tender. Nostalgia is all around me in this sad house, and yet each morning, I wake up with a smile, and joy for how incredibly amazing this journey continues to be. I snuggle in my soft bed at night in peace, not with tears, but with a feeling of strength and pride. And as much as I long for people to understand exactly what I feel, I know they can only see what the filter of their own experience allows. I am mighty when I am sad, and I am mighty when I move forward. Mightiness doesn't dissipate because I am real and because I feel. Mightiness reigns because I move towards the future, because I know I will survive. There is no self-pity, no surrender. There is just determination to keep on going, to keep on feeling, to keep on pushing towards destiny and seeking God's purpose. 

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