Saturday, January 12, 2019

Themes of My Life: Authentic, Vulnerable, Brave

Last year, my one resolution was to be more authentic. To be okay with being myself, yes - but more, to have the courage to be more outwardly vulnerable. To have the courage to be more honest.

It was a good resolution. Just with a short life.

My first attempt bit me in the ass, basically. It was met with words that I found painful and sent me running back to my defenses. The risk is too great, I thought. Authenticity is too hard. I guess that courage didn't last very long.

Even in the fall when I got a little more solid in my life decisions, when Iw as a little more sure of my why's, and I wanted to write more -- I laid out some affirmative mantras for what I wanted to guide me, one of which was "You have permission to be honest." Wrapped up in that was a continued desire to open myself up, to stop carrying secrets, to better practice and exemplify that authenticity. I found it harder than I thought.

Authenticity comes in pieces. When I think about it, it's not true that I haven't practiced it. It's just been very private and where I felt safe. There are a few people I've trusted enough to be authentic and open, people I was sure were there for me and not just gossip. And with those, I've been much more open about laying out everything. Outside of that, though, I've been pretty closed.

But maybe that's okay to start. One of the Brene Brown pieces that sticks with me is that we choose authenticity, we share our most real stories with those who have earned the right to hear them - not just willy-nilly with the maddening crowd. And maybe that's how you start to learn to be more real - with one trusted soul at a time.

Until, perhaps, the risks of holding tightly to your story become greater than the risks of giving it wings and validation.

I still want to work toward greater courage, deeper vulnerability, truer authenticity. If nothing else, as a gift to myself. But, I think I see now that there are footholds to rest on between the two extremes, and that it isn't an either-or.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Themes of my Life: You are fine.

I trolled back through my own writing of the last seven or eight years...  I write about being fine in yourself a lot.

I guess, because I am often not.

I have always been a bit of a chameleon -- admittedly in a slightly snarky package. That part of me, I don't think I could camouflage if I tried. But I have found myself trying to squeeze into boxes that would be pleasing.  And then I'm mad at the world when I realize that I don't fit into them.

Writing about it... exhorting the idea that it's okay to just be you... I think that's probably been my way of therapying myself into believing it, too.

Even now, I find myself trying to shape myself differently as I write. There are places that I feel I should be further along... in growth, in healing, in maturity.  I know that I'm not... and instead of being honest about those things, my inclination has been to just not talk about them or just skirt their edges or to pretend they aren't there. It's not even that I'm ashamed of those places. Growth is a part of life. Healing is a part of life, and I don't really feel like anyone should have to adhere to a timetable. It is what it is.

I just don't want to have to defend that timetable to anyone else.  The growth and the healing is hard enough without having to construct shield and armor around it. If I don't speak of it, I don't have to defend it...  which is, in itself, a kind of shield and armor.

I'm not sure I feel any more comfortable in myself for the writing... but I do find that it makes me more aware (sometimes) of how I treat others in their broken places. Or even in just the things we love that differ.

I ran into that when my Celtic Thunder furor was at its peak... I never liked it when people made fun of me for it. We don't all have to love the same things... but when people ridiculed the things I loved, it was hard to not feel that what they were really ridiculing was me.  I'm more cognizant of that in myself now... am I treating someone's love for their things in the same way I'd want mine to be treated?  And even, if they don't love what I love, am I treating their preferences with kindness?

Oh, I'll get there.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Silver Linings, Lessons Learned

I am optimistic...  or maybe it's not so much that I'm optimistic, but I believe in the good in things. I'm really good at finding silver linings.  If you were around for my rantings over Crazy Grumpy Lady, you will remember how we clashed when my insistence on locating silver linings crashed up against her insistence that there aren't any.

Not saying either is better.  Just saying that she was annoying as hell. :)

But, I was thinking about that as I was searching for silver linings in my own chapter-closings. What I was thinking about was "Okay, that was an odd decade...  what was going on there? What was I supposed to learn from all of that?" 

And I wasn't really sure.  When I thought about the most obvious things I'd learned about myself, they weren't really all that different from what I believed when I started -- aside from maybe a fresh realization I hadn't had before that I was pretty naive and apparently had "Easy to Manipulate" stamped across my forehead. Was that it? Not that this was the only thing.  There were honest accountings of bad choices, unhealthy motivations, pride swallowings, and uncomfortable admissions. There were people that I wished I had treated differently, people I wished I'd listened to more. Advice I should have taken, stubbornness I should have bested.

Maybe those are the lessons.

But I also thought, "Maybe the point isn't the mistakes you made or the lessons you were supposed to learn.  What do you regret doing?"

And really... nothing.

I didn't regret trusting. I didn't regret caring. I didn't regret trying. I didn't regret supporting. I didn't regret pouring in.

and while there were specifics in the middle that I could have done a whole lot differently, who I was... she wasn't someone I regretted being.

Just maybe next time, I can listen to myself and trust myself a little bit more.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

2018 Through Lenses: Just Me

Just my own things...

I am ending the year in a bit of exhaustion. I don't think that's really been the theme of my whole year. But enough here at the end to color the way I see it. It's not really not getting enough sleep, and maybe it's just a piece of getting older. But I've had all these things I want to do, and I've just been too tired to do them. That's a big piece that I want to address in the new year.

But that bleeds into something else. I really wanted to be a better friend this year, and I just don't think that I was. I wanted to be more present, more engaged. I wanted to deepen my friendships and my base, and I just didn't give it quite the energy that it deserved and that I intended to give it.  In part, that energy went to my family -- which I don't regret in the least. I'm in a time where I want to soak up that family piece. But it also went to Candy Crush and nonsense. And that, I do regret.

I did really enjoy some friendship pieces though. I've thought a lot about what I've taken to calling serendipitous friends. And maybe all friends are this, I don't know.  But there are a few in particular that stand out to me.  Those friends that you didn't necessarily SET OUT to make... but through one thing or another, they became your friends and they were literally EXACTLY what you needed. Not just "it's nice to have them around." But you genuinely needed them. And you hope that you have been the same kind of friend to them.  Because you can't help but be unendingly grateful for what they were to you.

I wrote about this recently, but I had some experiences with those friends you almost never see -- but when you do, it's like you just pick up where you left off like no time has ever gone by. I've always felt a little jealous of people who talked about friendships like that.  I guess, because I didn't think I had any, and then I beat myself up for that... for the things I had done or not-done to lose friend intimacy. But... those experiences the last couple months made me realize that I have more than I think I do. I can tick off a few people that I know, when I see them next, will not be awkward, will not be weird, and we will talk and talk until we can't talk anymore. And that I have been jealous of things I already have. So, that's silly.

I also spent a lot of time losing a friendship. My head spent most of the year wrapped up in this, largely just arguing with myself over whether it was the right thing to do or not. I knew it was probably healthy, just not if it was right. I genuinely did not think that expressing my gratitude for 5 years of friendship would be the catalyst for ending it. But, in a weird way, it was the kick that sent the ball rolling, and that's a bit sad. But, from where I sit now, I understand it better. There were a lot of things that contributed to me being in this place now, and I've already talked about some of it. But, it's always been hard to explain it, and there were things that I didn't feel that I should explain.  Being me was a lot of it, really. I'm a woman and a mom to three girls and a person who has spent her entire adult life, since 20, shepherding young women. Befriending an ex and accidentally befriending a young paramour had an impact deep enough and truly disappointing enough for me to say, "No... this matters."  And enough had been broken by the time he was deliberately hurtful that I could say, "I'm not doing this anymore." So I stopped.  …. and I spent a good part of the year getting used to that and healing from it, deciding how I felt about it. And sometimes I was just fine. And sometimes I was really sad. And sometimes I was pissed....  and the year is over now, so it's time to just be honest, and then put it behind me. It's done and there's no changing anything. So, you move on. 2018 was just as weird as 2008.

But, 2019 is a new one. I said I wanted to be more authentic in 2018.... which I started, and then it broke my heart, and I became afraid of it. But, I think I'm ending the year more of what I wanted to be.

Bravery to be myself. Bravery to risk rejection. Bravery to not mold myself to fit in. Bravery to be embarrassed and uncomfortable. Bravery to not be right. Bravery to persevere when I want to hide.

And I'm ready to bring that into the next year.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

2018 Through Lenses: My Family

This is the bulk of my life right here. I have books I read, music I attend... but the bulk of my life is right here, wrapped up in my family. And as our children near adulthood, there isn't anyplace I'd rather spend my energies.

Our girls turned 18, 18 and 17 this year... it hardly seems possible that we can have children that old. But, we do. The number of our licensed drivers in our family increased to four, and the number of cars we own to three.

That was an expensive purchase obviously...  but it was probably the best present my husband could have given to ME -- even though the car was for the kids. I spent so much time the year before, carting everyone places.  School, work, volunteering, etc, etc.  The girls being able to drive themselves places was a godsend. Not having to leave the house at 10pm to pick Casey up from work was a miracle!

We moved our big vacation to February (instead of an already-full summer) and took a cruise out of Texas to Mexico and Jamaica.  THAT was a good idea, too. Having somewhere sunny to look forward to at the end of winter was just what we needed to get us through.  I'm sorry that no one's vacations match up and we can't do it again this year!

Casey had a year of constantly trying to fly the nest early.  She so much wants to be a grown-up. She got a tattoo. A really big tattoo. She saved her money all year to go to COSTA RICA on a volunteer trip. She started school at the community college. She went from being a cart girl to a cashier at her grocery store, and then worked really hard at proving herself to move from cashier to a different position she really wanted.  Which just looks like stocking shelves to me, but is apparently a step up. She and I disagree on her work schedule. High school seniors should not be working so much that they qualify for holiday pay. But she loves it.

McKenzie's heart had to grow up a little when her beloved cat, Biscuit, got sick during the wildfire season and passed away. That was pretty much the worst ever. It was a traumatic few months, as we made our way through that grief. In its aftermath, though, we adopted two new kittens who have become a beloved part of our family -- and has led to McKenzie having her first volunteer job at the shelter that we adopted them from -- which is very very cool.

Alicia and I spent a lot of time together this summer. We spent a few days at the Oregon coast together. We went whale watching in the spring. She got spoiled with a trip to Ireland/briefly-Liverpool with to go see Shawn -- and we had a really wonderful time. She's a good travel buddy! Also, I drove and we didn't die. We had some trouble when school started with some anxiety. But... things work out. I am very grateful for the school program we ended up in. I've not always had good experiences with school administration when we have had to deal with this in the past, but the administration at this new school was so helpful and so interested in doing what was best for her that I cried. We've shaped up to be in a good place.

I went home to visit my family in July for a quick trip... which became longer when my dad's simple angiogram turned into a worrisome week-long stay at the hospital. The doctors at Mckenzie-Willamette were wonderful, and got him back in shape after a buttload of tests and blood transplants. But it was a long stressful week with lots of driving and lots of worrying.

We took a trip to Leavenworth post-Oktoberfest -- our favorite place... Joel and I did some driving and some dreaming around one morning while the kids were still asleep.  We'd like to move there someday, and we're starting to think about that "someday" more and more.
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