Connection…it starts with me!

Photo by Stacy Brown

As my son finishes up his 6th lacrosse season, I finally feel like I’m connecting with the other parents. His first season, I was shy, and nervous, especially because all the other families seemed to know each other so well, while my son had been an outcast early on because of some behavior issues.

Anyway, some of the parents were actually unkind, and others just doing their thing. There were definitely some parents that were inviting and helped me feel at ease. But as I watched the boys gather after a tough championship loss, I felt more connected to all of the families than I ever had before. And while it’s true that over time, those relationships develop, I think it was more about me: I wasn’t connecting with myself.

I was a mess, insecure, emotionally volatile, and couldn’t meet my own social and emotional needs. I feel like now that I’m listening to myself, and meeting my own needs, I’m more open to connecting with others. And in turn, people are more open to connecting with me. Feeling proud and happy today, truly. What a feeling!

Yes, I do need to be my own hero

I just got home from paddling and checking in with a friend, had a nice conversation. Came home, put some of my stuff away and opened up my social media. Lately, I’m digging Andy Grammer and his new video was posted. I gave it a listen and before it was half over, I was saying to myself, “that’s exactly what I have to do, what I’ve been trying to do!”

Check out this inspiring song

So in the interest of following what strikes me, I am going to be my own hero. I am going to look within, and look at my skills, and notice the positive impacts I can have on the people in my world. I am going to be my own hero.

Please feel free to share if I have affected you in a positive way!

I’m too much sometimes

I’m learning that sometimes I am too much for people. What I mean is that when I connect with someone, and I feel something positive, I open my world to that person. And though I’ve had some success, and some reciprocity, it’s difficult when I come on too strong and there is a retreat by the other person. Even more challenging is when it seems like it’s accepted, and all of a sudden, I am met with silence.

It sucks. But that won’t stop me. You know why? Because I am finally myself. I no longer feel a need to stifle the real me. I accept the rejection because if someone doesn’t want me, I know it’s their loss.

And I also know that sometimes, a person needs a little push…a reminder that they are worthy of friendship, and that they can contribute to another persons happiness, and of course, that they deserve kindness, belonging and connection.

This song, I’m not giving up…, reminds me of what I said to my friend, Laura, when she started to push me away at the thought of moving. Sometimes it’s too hard to care, sometimes it’s too scary, too risky, and sometimes, we walk away. I fought for her friendship, and I won. She is a clear case of someone who needed the fight, needed to hear that she was worth the effort.

But this songs makes me think of my dear friend lately, who just doesn’t have it in him to be my friend anymore. I am too much for him. I have to accept that. It sucks, but it’s his loss. And yes, I did fight for our friendship, “…until my heart was black and blue,” but at the end of the day, his friendship came with so little reciprocity that it wasn’t good for me anymore.

I’ve paid tribute to the friendship in so many ways, and I’ll always treasure the personal growth that came from it. And if he ever decided to let me back in, I’d still be myself…but of course I’m still discovering who that is. For now, I’m just me. Open, honest, blunt, flawed, emotional, scared, brave, whole, vibrant, alive…and I’m grateful for the color that came into my gray world when I needed it most.

*and did I mention that this song is absolutely breathtaking?!

I Can Only Imagine

Finally saw this movie, which is so unlike me…but a friend of mine saw it awhile back and said it had a powerful impact. So I’m finally watching it and I’ve been in tears off and on the whole time-and I’m only half way through. Had to pause it to write.

  • All it takes is one teacher, one manager, one person to have faith in you to make yourself the authentic and real you
  • Songs as an anchor…they can reach you in a profound way and carry you through tough times
  • The sunsets and sunrises in this film make me want to travel (well, not really but almost😉!)
  • When you have passion and hope and faith (in yourself or something bigger) things will come together as they should
  • Perseverance
  • Sometimes your passion about…whatever…will be too much for people. It’s their loss. Share it anyway
  • Trauma, perceived and literal, stays with you and shapes you…better to accept it than fight it, to heal and grow.
  • “What are you running from? Let that pain become your inspiration.”
  • It’s hard to trust the change in someone, the one that triggers you, when the trauma is still so fresh for you
  • “I got a lot of questions about myself” What a powerful statement-it opens up a whole world of vulnerability
  • Knowing what another person is feeling, thinking, or at least having a window into their world can create understanding, build a bridge between two islands
  • Choosing to forgive…there’s great power in that, though I don’t think God has anything to do with it…I think it’s about putting down the heavy load you’ve been carrying…whether you give it to someone/something, it’s good to set it down and let it go
  • “Like junk, like to fix things, make something out of nothing”…metaphor for redemption
  • This blog is my journal. I choose to share it, but I do it for me. “It feels really good”
  • “I’ve never told anybody my story…” sharing his song, was important for him and his healing…that resonates with me and that’s how I feel about my book. And when your story is embraced…what a feeling!
  • You never know what will open up your soul, your curiosity, your sense of wonder and engagement in the world…stay open, let it happen, and grow from it

Everything happens for a reason…I don’t always know what it is, but I believe we are shaped by everything we touch and are touched by…it’s strange, my friend says he sees himself as the monster, but I see him as the little boy who grew up with a lot of unresolved trauma, who is working through it still. I only hope to see what kind of man he becomes someday…

Little by Little…

I was in the newspaper today!

Little by little, I’m getting better and better all the time. And I feel proud. And happy. And I’m sure I’ll have more roller coaster moments, but I’m stronger than I’ve been in a long time.

I had a roller coaster moment this week for sure, and it hit me hard at first. But I picked myself up, dusted myself off and looked for a reason…a next step. I was able to reflect and begin to let go and move forward. And though it’s still in progress, I’m feeling good about my next step.

I had a therapy appointment just this morning, and usually, when something happens and I choose to hold onto it, I don’t tell her. But I’m feeling solid in my forced and reluctant decision, and so I told her. And I thought I’d cry and be all kinds of whiny or whatever, but I wasn’t. I surprised the both of us!

I did cry eventually though…because I am letting go of my dear friend finally. The friend who sparked my soul and started this whole thing…we have reached a point where we are no longer good for each other. And though it really is the right decision, it’s tough. I shed tears thinking back to those first acts of kindness and friendship, the laughter and the discoveries, the debates and the conversations. I am grateful for all that came in the days since, despite pain and tears…I’m finally becoming, little by little.

Knowledge is Power: a super power, so keep learning

When I was a student, I thought this was a load of crap. Why on earth do I want to spend my time studying? I’m never going to use this stuff in real life! But you never know what you will or will not use. Now that I’m much older and wiser, I get it. Education and knowledge have only enriched and enhanced my life, my career, and my roles as leader and mentor. Have you ever heard anyone say, “I wish I didn’t know so much” and mean it?

Now here’s the kicker…you can apply the phrase Knowledge is Power in a variety of ways. Book smarts, math smarts, science, art…so many areas for this to apply! But I’d like to draw your attention to emotional smarts, or emotional intelligence. I was introduced to this concept at a conference this fall by the keynote speaker Debra Cannerella. She uses emotional intelligence as a tool for companies to maximize employee performance and ensure leadership success.

Emotional Intelligence is defined by Dr. Dick Thompson, President and CEO of High Performing Systems, Inc., as a person’s innate ability to perceive and manage his/her own emotions in a manner that results in successful interactions with the environment and, if others are present, to also perceive and manage their emotions in a manner that results in successful interpersonal interactions.

Learning to read facial expressions, body language, tone of voice, as well as your triggers, stress management techniques, all of these can give us information that we can use to maximize our interactions. But it also makes a big difference to know your own emotional intelligence skills, impacting interactions, and decision making.

Anyway, what I’m saying is this…keep learning. Embrace it. Seek it. At least now that I’m an adult, I can choose what I want to learn about, when, and how I learn. Growth of the mind is a valuable thing, and should never be taken for granted.

I’m not the only one growing and healing…

Had a conversation with my husband last night. He was finally honest with me about how my friendship with a guy made him feel. After a lot of listening, I told him to turn it around: when he was grieving his sister and father, I was feeling the way he’d been feeling. But instead of months, it was years. Instead of jealousy, I was burdened with isolation and extreme pressure. It’s not a competition, and there’s no blame. Only perspective and empathy and understanding. I explained that the friendship met a need for me that he wasn’t able to meet, my husband relied on me for everything for so long that my friendship with this man that didn’t rely on me for anything, filled a void.

I think my husband is finally ready to fill that gap again. And I couldn’t be happier. I’m so proud of his personal growth and vulnerability…I wasn’t sure I’d ever see it, but I guess we all have setbacks before we leap forward…

She’s using my skills against me…and it’s so dang helpful

Once again my talented therapist is surprising me with her insight and skillfulness. I’ve been having some repetitive thoughts and trying to make them stop only makes them worse. She ever so carefully steered me into how to get to the root of those thoughts without my awareness, with no pressure, and an ease that allowed for openness.

So here it is…her magical approach:

If a child in your care was having a tough time letting go of some feelings, how would you help that child move through it?

So simple. First I would listen to the child, because after all, every child wants to feel heard. I would then observe the child’s behavior to look for non-verbal communication. Children’s behavior is a such an enlightening form of expression and communication. Next, I would find activities or roles based on my observations that I could offer to empower the child and build on that child’s strengths, ultimately meeting the unmet needs.

Damn she’s good. She got me so focused on the child that popped into my mind that I forgot I was talking about myself! But here comes the tough part, right? Looking at myself as the child instead of the teacher…well, she put me in my secure role as educator and so I carried that feeling with me as I dove in.

So here I am sitting there thinking that I have to listen to my young self. And that child says nothing. She is silent and trying to make herself small, trying not to cause any trouble or unwanted tension. She wants someone to notice her, to listen to her. She wants someone to ask her what she thinks, and she wants to be listened to when she answers. She wants others to want her. She wants others to accept her. She wants others to feel comfortable with her. She wants to be seen for who she is becoming, and she wants to cheer on the others who are becoming…

Here I go…

  • Writing my blog helps me feel heard and I love that others find inspiration in my words and thoughts. (Keep it up!)
  • I’ll never be seen if I don’t let others have the opportunity to see me, so I am putting myself out there. (Be brave!)
  • I will keep becoming myself, and accept who I am, since my own acceptance is of paramount importance.
  • I will keep working toward being comfortable with myself and the comfort of others will come on it’s own (right?)
  • And finally, I will begin to let go of the fear…fear of rejection, loss, fear that I will never again find the connections like those I’ve had in my life.

Wish me luck…it’ll be a process, a trial of sorts with some backslides and failures, but I’ll get there.

“Pain is Love” a misunderstood quote

My friend has this quote tattooed on his arm and I always thought it was cynical and negative, and honestly quite sad. But as I step into the new year, I’ve been thinking about it, and I get it now. The article below says it so much better than me so please read it, but I will grab some highlights for you that resonated with me in particular.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.huffpost.com/entry/why-can-love-be-so-painful-6-ways-to-heal-and-move-on_b_5134565/amp

Love is painful, because it transforms you. Love is growth.

Love means the death of the ego, because love cannot be controlled.

To suffer in love is not to suffer in vain; it takes you to higher levels of consciousness.

The transformation we all go through is from control of the mind to vulnerability of the heart.

With love, the ego drops and the soul arises. Love is food for the soul.

Go through the dark night and you reach a beautiful sunrise.

This song just came on, and the line “hell will always come before you grow” captured my ear

update: after some consideration, I think the expression should be pain from love…it hurts because of the love we have for one another…

Grief 5 Years Later…

I’ve experienced a lot of loss in my family, my husbands family, classmates, community members…but the loss of my dear friend Laura was the roughest on me (sorry mom). When you choose to bring a person into your circle, into your life, it’s got a different significance than who you happen to have in your life already.

Laura was kind, thoughtful, but also down to earth and flawed. She held her flaws close, but shared them with me from the beginning…we had a comfort with each other almost right away that was easy. I’ll never forget the evening she told me about the lump in her neck…

We were having dinner together on an early November evening. She had the roasted garlic potato soup and I had the pumpkin ravioli. We chatted quite a while and when I noticed the lump on her neck, she said she’d have it checked as soon as her insurance kicked in in January. While I completely understood waiting for financial reasons, I told her not to let it go longer than that. But that evening, I had the thought: it’s cancer and she’s going to die. I can’t explain it, to have not just a feeling, but the sure and certain knowledge of what was to come was overwhelming. Sure enough, the doctor saw her on a Wednesday in January and took it out two days later on his lunch break, telling her he was 99% sure it was cancer. From there, scans and tests and chemo…and by July she was cancer free. But she struggled to shake a cough, taking steroids to reduce inflammation changed her appearance and did little to help..In October, they did a biopsy of her lungs, and she was hospitalized for good after that. Early November brought news that she wasn’t conscious, relied on a ventilator, and had an uphill battle. I knew she would not come back to us, I knew that life had been too hard for her, that she didn’t want to fight anymore, and that she knew letting go was the kindest thing her family could do for her. Her paperwork was quite clear: after two weeks on a ventilator, with no signs of improvement, she was to be taken off life support. She only lasted a week on the machines, her body just couldn’t keep going.

Laura was one of the most perfect imperfect people I’ve ever met. She was nurturing and gentle, and a dear friend. I’ve been finally allowing people into my heart again, and though I’ve been hurt, I’ve also been healed. I’m not much for heaven and all that, but I believe she is with me, and that she sent me a couple of wonderful people to help fill the Laura-shaped hole in my heart.