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Happiness Really Does Come in a Jar!

Merry New Year!  I hope the year is off to a great start for you.  I hope your holiday season was filled with love, warmth, comfort and all the things that make your heart swell. As for me, I spent my holiday sick. And I mean sick.  I was literally sick for 7 whole days *cue Toni Braxton*. Then I woke up feeling miraculously well and like my old self on New Year’s Day. So I’d say my 2018 is off to a great start.

Upon thinking about things, I’ve found that 2017 wasn’t so bad either.  Sure there were some world wide upheavals and tragedies. No, I didn’t get everything I wanted and there were disappoints. But in the grand scheme of things, 2017 was pretty darn good. How can I say that? Well, a jar told me so.  My jar. My happiness jar to be exact.

I can’t remember now where I saw this, but I saw someone talk about keeping a big jar for yourself. They recommended that you decorate the jar how you like and call it your happiness jar. Each day, you write a note about the things, people, places, or whatever that made you happy in that day. I keep a gratitude journal so I figured this was along the same lines so I figured, why not? and decided to give it a try.  I found the perfect jar and I decorated it just the way I liked.  And then the note taking began.  I didn’t start until May, but I figured that still gave me plenty of time to begin to take notes for the year. And I was right.

Last night I actually went through all the notes and I’m so glad I did.  I had 8 months worth of happiness stored in my beautifully decorated jar and it allowed me to see and take in so much.  My happiness notes allowed me to see that it really doesn’t take a lot for me to be happy. I’m quite happy with the seemingly “simple” or mundane things in life.  There were several things that made me quite happy (repeatedly).  Here are the highlights of my happiness from 2017:

My Fizzle. There were many notes about how happy I was to play with her, watch movies with her, snuggle with her, walk the dog with her, or just chill and be with her.

Food.  Like seriously. I was happy as a clam about food in 2017. Especially chocolate (if you know me this is no shocker). I was surprisingly happy about grocery shopping AND cooking. Now if you know me you know cooking is a shocker. I cooked more in 2017 than I think I ever have and I actually enjoyed it.

Following in my Daddy’s footsteps, mani/pedis seemed to make me quite happy. I talked about those a lot and was really happy about it.

Paying bills. Now this one took me by surprise. But as the year went on, I began to gain an appreciation for simply being able to pay my bills. I was able to shift my perspective from Man this is due! or Damn now I have to pay that! to simply Thank you for the use of this and Thank you that I can now pay for its use.

Working out. I have never really put much thought into whether I enjoyed working out. I just did it because I enjoyed the health benefits. But 2017 helped me to gain an appreciation and love for working out simply for its enjoyment. To quote Legally Blonde’s Elle Woods, Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people don’t kill their husbands.

Yoga made me very happy.  I was made especially happy by hip openers. It is said that our hips hold a lot of our emotions. I’m guessing the hip openers helped me to release a lot. Either that or I’m preparing for some stuff. I’ll allow myself to be the only dirty birdy with that thought.

Meditation. I began my meditation practice again last year and it made a profound difference in my life.  I became more peaceful and calm. I also strengthened my relationship with myself and my intuition.

Giving to others. I’ve always been a giver. Reading my happiness notes helped me to realize how much joy it brings me to be able to pour into others.

Walking. I walked a lot in 2017 and I enjoyed every bit of it.  It made me happy to get out in the fresh air and walk.

Cleaning and decluttering my house. In May I had what I can only describe as an out of body moment and I began purging and cleaning my house.  It turned out it wasn’t a passing fancy. I actually enjoyed the process and I have kept it going ever since.

Reconnecting with my family. 2017 brought me closer to my family–particularly my dad’s side of the family.  It felt really good to gather with them and laugh and fellowship and have fun.

Showers. Apparently 2017 provided me with some of the best showers I’ve ever had because they made me quite happy. I talked about the wonderful showers I had taken quite often.

My Ulta reward points. Thanks to all the shopping I do at Ulta, I had tons of reward points which made it possible for me to get so many of the wonderful things I love at Ulta at discounted prices.  That truly made me happy.

Getting out and about.  I was more social in 2017 than I’ve been in a long while. I made new friends whom I love and had a ball with, spent time with old friends and had a blast. I even got out by myself and had fun.

I also recognized that I learned a lot in 2017 and I didn’t learn through pain. While not every moment of 2017 was wonderful, I can’t say that it was a painful year.

I learned the art of detachment. I recognized how to hold my desires without attaching to the outcome.

I learned how to believe in myself and love myself and actually like myself.

I learned how to appreciate and forgive myself and how to stop criticizing myself.

I learned how to see myself as beautiful, and dare I say, even sexy.

I learned that it’s just as important to receive as it is to give. More than that, I learned how to graciously receive–to allow others to pour into me because I am worthy of it. And I must admit that it felt great to let others pour into me.

I learned to trust myself, thereby extending that trust to the Universe.

I learned how to listen to my body and rest when it called for it without feeling guilty.

I learned thatI don’t need to constantly “do” to be productive.

I learned how to truly stand in my own power. I said No and Enough so much in 2017 and it felt amazing!

I learned that no matter how sh*tty a day is, there’s usually at the very least one thing to make me happy or smile in that day.

I learned that no matter how “tight” or “sticky” the situation felt at the time, some kind of way was made me to get me through–whether it was through my own means or through the help of others it always appeared.

I highly recommend you get yourself a happiness jar. I found it so much more helpful than I imagined. It was so nice to spend the day going through each note and being reminded of the wonderful moments, people, places and things that made me happy.  I think one of the most profound things keeping this jar has done is allowing me to realize that life is so much more than the few memories we attach to and allow to tell our story.  Were there disappointments in 2017? Of course. But keeping this jar shifted my mind and heart to a space where I didn’t attach to the disappointments and hurt, allowing them to color the rest of my life.  My happiness jar forced me to start to look for reasons to be happy instead of looking at my lack, or finding reasons to be disappointed. Through keeping this jar I learned that life is so full. We just have to be open to seeing it. With keeping this jar I learned that the point isn’t whether the jar is half empty or half full. The point is more about what’s filling the jar.

It’s Just the Fullness of You

Happy Friday!  We are now in the midst of the holiday season.  Contrary to the myth, depression and suicide are not on the rise during this time. However, that doesn’t mean that loneliness, sadness, and strife don’t exist during this time.  Sometimes I think it gets highlighted more because this is a time that is supposed to be all about gathering with loved ones.

And therein lies something about the way we connect with one another.  We tend to let a day hold more significance for our relationships than we do the cumulative moments.  We tend to get irritated with our loved one–and people in general–just for being human. We expect them to think and act the way we would. But we forget that they are not us and they do not have the same life experiences and world view as we.  I think it’s time for us to have fuller, deeper, more rich connections with ourselves and one another. But in order to do that, we have to get real with ourselves and with one another about what really happens when we don’t like something.  That means we can’t just react or lash out. We have to be mature–even when we don’t want to.  I think we should give it a try. What have we really got to lose?  Glad you asked! Truthfully, not a doggone thing.

Forgiving and Learning

Happy Friday!  I have spent a great deal of my life hating myself and to be honest it hasn’t felt good at all.  But here’s what’s crazy about that.  For as horrible as it felt to hate myself, I continued to indulge in the hatred.  Part of the reason I hated myself is because I was judging and criticizing myself for all of my past mistakes. I was looking at myself through this lens of hindsight vision, expecting me to have behaved in the past the way I would currently  now that I am armed with all the information I have today.  It was incredibly unfair and abusive to do and while it has taken me some time, I have finally learned to release those wounds and forgive myself.  To be even more honest, it’s been one of the most glorious and freeing things I could have ever done.  I hope you have not been as unkind to yourself as I have been to me. But if you have, I hope you can forgive and free yourself and begin to love all the parts of you there are to love because you’re so doggone loveable.

 

What I’ll Tell My Daughter About Love

When I was of what my dad considered an appropriate age, he began talking to me about what to look for in men.  He gave me a lot of advice:  Look at his nails and hands, pay attention to his oral hygiene, make sure I don’t have to depend on him for anything.  He also advised me that when I was ready to make a commitment to a man to make sure that I liked him.  He warned me that “love” or the feeling of love at least can come and go, but liking the person would ensure that I’d be more likely to work on the relationship as people tend to be more kind to those they like.

Well, The Fizzle isn’t actually of dating age just yet. She’s only 10.  However, she is of age where she is able to bear witness to relationships and she has already formed the foundations of what she’ll carry with her when she forges down that road.  Of course there are more things I will tell her about romantic relationships based on what I’ve learned over the years.

  1. I’ll add a caveat to her grandfather’s advice of making sure to like the person.  I’d say pay attention to what liking someone means.  Don’t settle for someone you find likeable because there is a distinct difference between finding one likeable vs. liking said person.  A likeable person is one who you like well enough but not entirely. You have a list of a few traits you like about them but you have an equally long list, or longer, of all the things you don’t really like. But instead of being honest about the things you don’t like, you sweep them under the rug and tell yourself you can live with them.  Well he makes me laugh. I like how he dressesHe’s really good with kids. Or some other such trait.  Instead, ask yourself: Do I truly like this man as a person?  If the answer is no, then Simon Cowell him.
  2. Choose someone whose values are in agreement with yours.  So many people look for surface agreements. We love the same movies. We have the same taste in music. We both love pizza. Sure those things are wonderful, but they aren’t necessary.  What you want is someone whose view of the world is in alignment with your own.  You want someone whose values are compatible with yours and that takes more than having the same tastes in food or music.
  3. Instead of focusing on how much you agree, pay more attention to how well you disagree.  So many place a high emphasis on how many things they can agree upon.  While agreeing is great, differences are inevitable. You’re not going to ever live in the world by yourself. Choose someone with whom you can agreeably disagree with and who can do the same with you. That will be a better measure of how well you can get along than agreeing upon things.
  4. Ask yourself, if this person never changes can I accept him?  If this person never changes can I accept him? And you have to ask yourself these questions because when you sign up for a relationship, you sign up to be with the person as they are.  That means you can’t sign up based on the potential of who you think he may become. There may be things you want to change about him, but you have to be able to accept him as he is because he’s not going to change for you.  He’s going to be exactly who he is.  However, at the same time, we are constantly evolving as human beings.  So you have to be prepared for the change you either wanted or didn’t want.  Sometimes we ask for things and we find ourselves ill-prepared for them once we receive them.  You may find that you wanted your mate to become someone only to find you don’t like what he’s become once he actualizes that.  Or he may actualize into someone else that you weren’t expecting and you may find you don’t like it.  Either way, you have to make space for him to be who he is and to become who he will become.
  5. When considering attraction, don’t make a snap decision. So many people base attraction solely on the first impression of physical looks.  That’s such a tiny part of attraction.  Attraction wanes or increases the more time you spend with someone. You can meet someone who you deem to be a 10 based on his looks, only to find that he’s a 5 or less in every other area.  On the other hand, a modest looking gentleman can easily become a 10 if he has other qualities you find attractive.  Also, don’t listen to your friends or others about his attractiveness.  You are the only one who has to find him attractive.
  6. Don’t go for the “good” guy.  So many pass themselves off as good because they get good grades, make good money, or dress nicely.  Good is an arbitrary term. You have to get specific about what good means to you.  Women settle constantly for the good guy without getting specific about what that means.  Does it mean kind, compassionate, intelligent, hard-working, assertive, etc.  Do you want someone good with kids? Good with explaining things you don’t understand?  Do you see where I’m going with this?  Also, understand that whatever it is you want him to possess, it needs to be compatible with you.  You both must complement one another.
  7. This should be an add-on to number 6. Please, please, please don’t go for the nice guy!  Whatever you do, avoid getting with a man simply because he’s nice.  So many people place a high emphasis on being nice.  But don’t confuse nice for kind.  Nice isn’t actually admirable.  It isn’t authentic. Nice is what people do so that others think well of them.  Nice guys are the ones who are insecure and do things to seek approval from others.  The nice guy is the guy who does things he really doesn’t want to do and later resents you for it. Instead, seek out the kind guy.  The kind guy is the one who is confident in who he is and gives of himself because it’s simply in his nature. He respects himself and others and expects to be respected in return.  He doesn’t need you to make him feel better about himself.  Yeah, go for that guy. But make sure you’re that kind woman first so that you’re not the nice girl he fell for.
  8. Be clear about your expectations. And your wants. Don’t hold back. At all!  Don’t be afraid to be clear about what you want from your mate or the relationship.  That way, the person can tell you yay or nay on whether or not they can deliver or if they’re willing to.  And you are then free to decide how you’d like to proceed from there.
  9. Don’t take it personal when a person can’t or is unwilling to give you what you want. Sometimes people love and give the best they have but their best isn’t good enough for us.  You absolutely get to say what’s good enough for you. But you don’t get to assess the true nature of the person’s heart for you.  There’s a lot of advice that says when someone loves you they’ll do whatever it takes to be what you want/need. That sounds wonderful, but it’s so untrue.  We meet people at different stages of their lives and sometimes no matter how much someone loves you, they just may not be ready or capable to give you what you want/need. Doesn’t mean they don’t love you with all they have though.  It also doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you.
  10. No matter what happens in the relationship, don’t ever be ashamed or guilty for being yourself, for caring about the person or for showing how much you cared. Oftentimes, when a relationship ends, or when someone doesn’t hold up their end of the bargain, or when someone is unable/unwilling to give us what we need/want, there is an emphasis of blame.  People tend to tell the hurt person it was their fault for choosing that person or that the hurt person should not have done all the wonderful things they did in the relationship.  That’s a tit-for-tat mentality that is a relationship killer.  Please know that you never ever have to feel any shame for loving someone with all you have and showing them that.  You’re only responsible for you.  What they do with your love is on them.

And of course, I’ll tell her to look at his nails and his teeth too cause her grandfather was on to something with that. But again, she’s only 10.  I’m sure there’s going to be more to come.  Now that I look at this list, I think I need to remind myself of these things.  What will you tell your children, or friends, or yourself for that matter about love?

Acceptance is the Way

I actually had no intentions of writing about this ever.  But for some reason, this issue kept showing up in conversations with others who were struggling with something similar and I felt the nudging to share.  I’ve said before that I’m a firm believer that we are not meant to hold our lessons in. We bring healing when we give our voices to share with one another.  We bring healing to others and ourselves.  I believe this unpleasant moment in my life brought forth some healing for me.  It wasn’t actually painful either. However, it was surely an Aha moment.

I have been divorced for 9 years.  I’ve said before how in spite of the trials of that relationship, my ex-husband has served as one of my greatest teachers because I’ve learned a lot about myself.  He didn’t fail to teach me yet again.  During the summer, we had a significant blow up that resulted in me having to call my cousin who happens to be a Seargeant for CPD and also me making the decision that it is best that he and I no longer speak.  It’s not something I’ve ever wanted. I actually hoped that by this point we’d have transitioned into co-parenting bliss. You know, we get along so well cause we’re actually friends.  Unfortunately, that is not the case and I doubt it ever will be.  Good thing for me is that I’d have been devastated if this had happened years ago. But as they say, when the student is ready, the teacher (and the lesson and test) appears.  And so did the test appear, hand delivered by the teacher, my ex-husband, and I was ready so I was not devastated.  I instead accepted it as it is.

While I won’t go into specifics, I will say that his behavior was unacceptable. From my point of view, it was a simple miscommunication.  However, judging from my ex’s behavior, it was about more than the particular miscommunication.  I probably will never know the full reason(s) behind it, nor do I need to.  Suffice it to say that he became aggressive–unnecessarily and unacceptably so.  He did so in front of our daughter and his other children.  It’s important to note that my point of this blog isn’t actually about him or his behavior. This is actually about me and what I took away from that.  I could easily point my finger at him and say he is horrible and call him names. But he’s not.  He’s just a mere man, going through life just as I am. His path is full of lessons for him just as mine is filled with my own lessons.  We have served our purposes in one another’s life and created a beautiful soul in the process. We have gotten all that we needed from one another and our time has come to an end.

Let me say that I’m one of those people who has no problem being friends with exes. I have actually never understood why one wouldn’t want to remain friends with an ex–bar there is no abuse or severe mistreatment.  I’ve always been of the belief that if you were a huge part of my life, I can’t understand why you can’t remain in a different capacity.  Suffice it to say that I don’t let go nearly as often as I should.  But that logic stayed with me through my divorce. As far as I was concerned, I had no major beef with my ex husband other than the fact that he was my husband. Once he ceased to be my husband, I was cool.  But that was selfish on my part because I didn’t give space for him to feel whatever he feels. Now he has never actually said it in words, but I fully believe the man hates me. And you know what? That’s ok.  Problem is, I wasn’t giving him the space for that. In my mind, we are parents and we are tied together for life (and we actually are). Since we are, we may as well be friends. But he doesn’t want to be my friend. I’m not even sure he actually wants to co-parent with me. And again, that’s ok.

Over the years, I have done what I thought I could to mend the bridge between us. I would offer olive branches. I would ask for talks to get to the bottom of things and clear the air.  He would have a list of grievances and even though I didn’t agree, I would agree with him to make peace. My logic was that he needed the win and if I gave it to him we would be that much closer to getting along.  Well, I was wrong. The moment I found myself standing in his doorway 9 years after our divorce having to walk away from his aggression is the moment I finally accepted that it just is not meant to be.  That’s when it hit me.  Aha! It took me 9 years to finally let our relationship go–even though I knew before the wedding, during the wedding and after the wedding that we were not a good fit.  And now it has taken me 9 years to fully accept that we are not and will not be friends or cordial co-parents.  And that’s ok.  Let me say  now that it will not take me another 9 years to get any other memo from this dead relationship. Lesson is learned.

Honestly, I could have saved myself the trouble if I’d accepted this years ago. Now please let me be clear. I am in no way assuming responsibility for his behavior on that night in July.  I’m taking responsibility for my role in not accepting things as they were prior to that night.  And to be honest, it has always been about me and not him.  I struggled greatly with choosing to end our marriage–even though I knew it was the best thing for us.  We just did not fit.  There was a big part of me who felt like a failure.  I failed at holding my marriage together.  Actually, I felt like a failure before that because I chose to marry a man whom I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold down a marriage with for long.  So as far as I was concerned, the least I could do was successfully co-parent with him.  It was bad enough our daughter wouldn’t be from a two-parent household. I owed it to her to show her parents who were mature enough to get along and work together.  I was especially charged about this because when I was growing up I saw my parents argue frequently over two things: money and me.  They disagreed often about the best course for me and I vowed I would never have that problem.  We’ve all heard about saying never, right?  In my mind, the least I could do is get the co-parenting right.  It was not acceptable to fail at both marriage and co-parenting. I wasn’t making space for the fact that doing what was best for everyone involved–including (and especially) myself isn’t actually a fail.

The other thing I struggled with is accepting that my ex does not like me. To be honest, I always felt like he didn’t like me–even during our marriage.  But that’s something that I hoped would change after our divorce and it hasn’t.  I actually think it has intensified.  There are people in life with whom you disagree regarding values and views on life, but you find you still like them.  There are those with whom you disagree and you don’t necessarily like them, but you do find them tolerable.  And then there are those with whom disagree and what’s more, you just cannot stand them. Their views and who they are just gets on your nerves and you do not like them. I believe I fall in that final category with my ex.  Who I am and my way of being bothers him.  The fact that I bother him so much has bothered me.  Can you say co-dependency? I was like a 6 year-old who just kept offering toys to get him to be my friend.  And it never worked.  And I never understood, nor would accept that it wouldn’t work.   My ex and I are fundamentally different and that’s ok. But I had to learn how to  allow it to be ok that we will not get along because of that.  But here’s what I finally get.  Because we are so fundamentally different, my ex sees me through a lens that is veiled by his own perceptions.  He sees a completely inaccurate intent from me when I do things.  No matter how many times I explain my logic and point of view, he sees what he sees and there is no changing his mind. That bothered me a lot.  It finally got to a point where I had to ask myself why it bothers me so much.  The truth is that it bothered me because on some level I still cared what he thought of me–not necessarily as a person, but as co-parents.  I told him when we divorced that I would never intentionally stand in the way of his relationship with our daughter and I meant that.  I have done my best over the course of our daughter’s life to uphold that bargain. I take that seriously. Our daughter is entitled and deserves to have a relationship with her father, no matter what is going on between us. So it bothered me to know that he sees me as intentionally doing things to undermine or disrespect that.  I had to come to accept that he is just one of those people who will never see me as I am.  And that’s ok.  He doesn’t get me. He never did.  But what’s more important is that I understand that how he sees me is not the truth of who I am.  It may be his truth.  But again, his truth is veiled by his experiences and his being and in no way does it dictate the truth to who I am.  And I can’t say enough that this is ok.

The other thing that I realized is that I just had to let go of control.  I’m a pretty laid back person and don’t think of myself as a control freak. However, in some ways, my inability to accept things was a form of me trying to control the outcome.  I’m not sure how long I was willing to go on this crazy ride with my ex, but I know I have gone for far too long and I was willing to do it to make sure that I got the picture that I wanted.  The picture consisted of peace and harmony. After all, wasn’t that in the best interest of our child? I was unwilling to accept that the peace and harmony would come from me letting things go. It has been several months now since that night and I haven’t spoken to my ex since. Frankly, it has been quite peaceful ever since. I can’t speak for him, but I’m willing to bet the same has been true for him.  I certainly hope it is.  And who knows? Maybe now that I’ve stopped fighting against things, some day in the distant future we’ll evolve into the picture I held for so long.  Or maybe not.  Either way, it’s ok.

If there is anyone out there going through turmoil in your divorce or post-divorce relationship, I encourage you to accept things as they are. Release whatever picture you have in your head of how things should or could be.   And for the love of all that is sacred, please don’t take anything personal!  You are reacting from your stuff just as your ex is reacting from their own stuff.  No one is actually right or wrong.  Instead, you are both doing the best you can–at least I hope you are.  I’m not saying you have to like it because you don’t.  But I do believe accepting things will bring you so much closer to peace.  I know it has for me.

Why Do I Care?

 

*my dad as Uncle Vester in the movie House Party 3 giving his nephew, Kid advice about not caring about what people think of  you*

 

Growing up, I have heard some variation of this from my father on several different occasions.  Being a sensitive child, this lesson would bear repeating.  It would infuriate my father when I would come home crying about how someone hurt my feelings because they either said or did something to me that, well, hurt. Dad: Why are you crying? Me: Because so-n-so said _________.  Dad: So what? Who are they? They ain’t nobody! Stop caring what people think about you!  I tried to do as he said. I truly did. But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t seem to master the art of not caring.  And here I am today, still unable to stop caring.  Truth be told, my father never actually mastered that art himself.  He was another sensitive soul and contrary to what he did his best to portray, he cared a lot about what others’ thought of him.

Thing is though, this isn’t “bad.”  It’s a very human thing. We care. We want to be accepted and liked and told we’re ok. It’s uncomfortable when that doesn’t happen. Depending upon the source of the rejection, or how the rejection is dished, it can hurt. A lot. I’ve spent a lot of time contributing to my hurt by trying to act as if I didn’t care. I recognize today that it’s much easier to simply acknowledge that I do care.  Now don’t get me wrong. Mere strangers don’t necessarily have the ability to break me down with their critique or rejection. However, depending upon the method in which they choose to deliver it, I can be hurt. And if I truly care about you? Fuh-get about it! I am hurt. And you know what? That’s ok.  There is actually nothing inherently wrong with caring about what people think and say about you. It’s a natural, human condition.

I understand my dad’s intentions for trying to teach me to not care.  It was rooted in the desire to protect me. But denial doesn’t actually beget avoidance.  There’s no actual way to avoid having your feelings hurt in life. Sure, I could hide behind a well crafted wall to keep people out, thereby insuring no one gets close enough to hurt me. I actually think we’ve gotten to a place in life where most of us are walking around crafting these walls to avoid pain.  Our ultimate goal is to avoid pain, so we deny, deny, deny. We act nonchalant about everyone and everything, all the while secretly feeling everything.  So yeah, I could do that. However, I’d not only be keeping out hurt. I’d also be keeping out love and all the other good stuff that people have to offer.  I think the key is to allow myself the space to experience my hurt feelings without giving so much weight to what others have to say.  I’m the final judge and jury of my life so I get final say. Someone thinks I’m ugly? Ouch, but that’s their opinion and not a fact. Further, it doesn’t have to cloud my opinion of my looks.  Someone thinks I’m a terrible writer? Well I’ve never! Actually I have and it hurt my feelings, but I didn’t allow that person’s opinion to stop me from writing because I love to write.  And not to sound cocky, but I think I’m pretty damn good at it.  So there.

This comes up a lot now because my daughter is at a pivotal stage in her development.  She reminds me a lot of myself when I was her age and she seems to encounter someone here and there who tells her something unflattering about herself.  And because she takes after her mama in the area of sensitivity, she admits that her feelings become hurt when it happens.  The Mama Bear in me wants her to point them out so I can accidentally trip them on purpose, but I know this is her lesson and I have to mind my business.  Although let me just say that I’ll fight a kid.  Yep, sure will!  Anyway, unlike the lessons my dad gave me, I allow her the space to be hurt.  Inevitably after the hurt passes she tells me that while she was hurt, she knows who she is and she doesn’t believe the person. Well, would you look at that?  Who knew?

I’m not knocking my father at all.  I know he did the best he could with what he had. And I appreciate him immensely for all he gave me.  I think parenting is incredibly difficult and it’s impossible to know with certainty how what you give will impact your children.  But one of the beautiful things in life is that we can learn both directly and indirectly from our parents. This was an indirect lesson I learned from my dad, but it was a lesson nonetheless. And as I feel with all my lessons from him, I’m so grateful for it.

 

*I do not own the rights to the above video*

Not For Play

Happy Friday!  I hope all is well in your world.  Normally, I like to keep it light and bubbly, but today’s topic doesn’t really allow for that.  I’m talking about depression.  It’s a very real thing and one that we too often sweep under the rug.  Either we have it and we don’t think anyone will help us so we wear a mask and act like all is ok until we crumble under its weight; or we see those suffering from it and deem them weak, or attention-seeking and tell them they need to “get over it.”  That’s now how this works.  That’s not how any of this works.  It’s one thing to not understand. It’s an entirely different thing to not care.  Just some food for thought.

 

Silencing My Inner Critic

A very warm and joyous Friday to you!  I am still riding my high from the weekend and I’ve decided to consciously choose to live on this high for the rest of my life.  I say that with the full understanding that life is going to happen and every moment won’t necessarily be a pleasant one.  However, I recognized that allowing myself to get overwhelmed to the point that I need a get away doesn’t serve me well.  I recognized a lot this weekend.  One of the things that became glaringly obvious to me was the way that I speak to myself.  I caught myself and I actually cringed.  I asked myself, Why do you speak this way to yourself? and I recognized that it was my inner critic speaking.  My inner critic was a harsh one.  But I had to have a sit down with her and I think it was the start of a beautiful ending of a relationship.

 

An Open Letter to My Body

Dear Body of Mine,

I owe you a most sincere apology.  For just about your entire existence, I have not liked you.  I have spoken of and to you in most unkind ways.  I’ve called you horrible names like fat, awful, and ugly. I’ve compared you to others and found you to fail to measure up.  I’ve wished you were something you were not.  And each time I felt you failed me, I blamed you.  I actually felt like you were a curse to me.  In short, I have hated you.

You may wonder why I have hated you and abused you.  I could pontificate about all of the underlying psychological issues and social conditioning that I may have and have possibly been exposed to.  However, the simple truth is that I’ve never thought you were good enough.

Why did I think that?  Well, I’ll admit that I just never liked the way you looked.  In the beginning, you were just skinny. Too skinny. And remember, this wasn’t during the time that it was cool to be skinny. I felt that you subjected me to teasing and taunts from others. Laughter filled advice about eating sammiches were painfully abundant for me–despite the fact that I did, in fact, eat many sammiches and more.  Yet, you weren’t filling out any time soon.

It would be many years later when you would begin to fill out.  I would be about 24 years of age.  Yet the problem with that is that you didn’t fill out the way I wanted you to.  You didn’t give me the curves I wanted.  You didn’t fill out to create the hour-glass physique I so desperately coveted.  No, there would be no Tocarra Jones’ body for me.  Instad, you kept your athletic physique, complete with its  narrow hips and wide waistline.   But you didn’t even have the decency to give me Serena Williams athletic type.  You just gave me straight body with a tire around my waist.  And I hated you for that.  Each time I saw another woman with the coveted hour glass frame, I thought you to be an even greater failure.  Why can’t you look like her? I’d lament.  You never answered me either.  Instead, you just kept calling for me to love you as you were and I refused.

Then came what I felt was the ultimate betrayal.  Pregnancy.  After the birth of The Fizzle, you developed stretch marks in places I never wanted, never even realized one could develop there.  You began to bulge and droop in places that I didn’t think were meant to bulge and droop.  And let’s not even talk about what you did to my stomach!  I worked out throughout my entire pregnancy to combat such changes, yet they were all for naught. You still drooped and bulged and you didn’t even have the courtesy to return to your pre-pregnancy state, post pregnancy. Then you gave me the dreaded C-section pooch.   It was hard enough tolerating you before then.  Now how was I supposed to appreciate you?  I swore I would never forgive you.  And I didn’t.  Until now.

Now here we are, 10 years post pregnancy. I’ve since accepted that the pre-pregnancy body is NEVER returning.  And while I don’t like it (not one bit), I realize how cruel and superficial I have been. I have treated you as if you’re good for nothing more than an aesthetically pleasing accessory.  How wrong I have been!  You are so much more than that.  You have carried me through this world.  You even brought forth life!  How amazing is that?  And thanks to yoga, I now know you can do some amazing things I never even thought possible!  You are the vessel through which this soul of mine wanders through this Earth.  You lend your hands to help others up. And what’s more, you use your hands to pull yourself up when you fall down.  You love me so much that you will pad yourself to protect me when I am wounded.  I have finally realized that your worth doesn’t lie in what you look like.  Isn’t that ironic though? I’d have a fit if someone deemed me less than worthy based on my appearance, yet I meted that exact harsh judgment on my damn self. I have no excuses or any justifiable reasons for my ill behavior. All I can say is that I was ignorant and immature.  I didn’t know.  And I’m so sorry that I didn’t know and even more sorry for the way I have treated you.  But since I am not big on sorry’s or words, I’ll allow my actions to show you how much I have changed.  I’ll affirm you when I look at you instead of cursing you for everything I hated about you.  I’ll reframe your so-called flaws.  Where I once saw failure, I’ll see Life and splendor.  I won’t compare you to anyone.  I’ll appreciate you for who you are.  I’ll feed you well and move you so that you’re as fit and healthy as you can be.  As my Daddy used to say, I can show you better than I can tell you. And while I have never actually said this to you before, please allow me to close this simply by saying I love you.

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