deal 2015

For the last two years I have chosen a word for the year. It’s so much easier than resolutions, which I never did any way because…why? Three weeks later they are just going to be broken and then comes the guilt, the shame and the self-loathing.

Yeah.

No.

I am already too good at that having perfected it for the last 50+ years.

No resolutions for me. Not ever.

Focusing on one word to sum up who I want to be and how I want to live this year is what I choose instead.

2013 was the year where I chose to embrace. Miles helped to define 2014 for me.

And for 2015?

I thought about it as I began to write down The Big Top calendar. As usual, the days of the month filled up quickly with work schedules, a couple doctor appointments, birthdays, meetings, holiday plans, parties, classes, practices and half marathon training.

Sigh!

Already it promises to be a busy month because even as the kids have grown up what else would I be doing but juggling?

It’s very easy to become overwhelmed as one imagines that there isn’t enough hours in the day while looking at that calendar.

Very easy.

I look at my coffee mug and smirk thinking that yes, I’m just going to have to deal with it.

DEAL!

When it comes to this year I just need to hitch up my big girl panties and just get stuff done.

Leap.

Without fear of failure.

This last year, with a big gulp and a swallow, I began to try to learn and understand just who I am. With a lot of help, I am learning how to be content that I am enough for me and me alone. I’m not perfect and I never will be but I am enough. Enough to take on the hard things, and be okay if everything doesn’t fall into place as planned. It will be okay to not have everything figured out. It will be okay because I am going to just deal with it. I am going to remind myself (often I imagine) that you don’t always need a plan. Sometimes you just need to breathe, trust, let go and see what happens. Sometimes you just need to deal.

In 2015 there will be good days, bad days and ugly days. And with a little luck, hopefully there will be some great days too. Each day I will face and I will deal with it, as I always do. But this year I will deal with intention.

touching a nerve

It would seem that the post I put up a few days ago touched a few nerves.Those words certainly fired mine.

Thank you everyone! I am beyond overwhelmed and encouraged by all of your words.

And then last night happened.

Jenny, The Bloggess, as she often does, found the words I was feeling last night and today:

I’m sad about last night for a lot of reasons.  And if you are human, and allow yourself to be so, then you probably are too.  Maybe it’s the verdict that upset you, or the destruction afterwards, or the long and difficult path that has led us here and has shown us we have so much further to go before we get to the place where we want to be…a place where kindness and compassion and vulnerability are the things which can be lauded and seen and encouraged and felt.  Or maybe, like me, you’re upset about all of those things and you feel too defeated to want to care anymore.

But if you’re like me, you can’t switch those emotions off.  It’s so much easier to turn those feelings of vulnerability and hurt into a shield of rage.  Rage feels powerful and strong.  It feels good.  And rage is important.  But not at the cost of compassion.  If, like me, today you woke up weary and wanting to become numb, or turn away, or lash out angrily at everyone involved then I feel you.  But I encourage you to keep compassion at the forefront.  Remember humanity.  Remember that your words and actions make a difference.  Remember that the majority of us are so much better than the worse things we see in the news, and that so many of us are leading a quiet revolution to be kind, and compassionate, and to listen to the hurt, and amplify the things that will make a positive difference in our world.  It’s a quiet revolution that will never be covered on CNN.  It’s a movement of people who redirect anger to kindness.  Who listen even when it’s painful.  Who take the hurt of others on ourselves and feel it so that we can become better people.  Who wade into horrible online threads and inject compassion and reason because we know that it can become contagious if done the right way.  Who hope that reason and empathy will somehow lead to a place which is safer for our children and grandchildren.

Yes.

I like to think that Jenny’s words followed by her call to action is what led to the staggering spike in donations to the Ferguson, Missouri library because perhaps what the citizens of Ferguson need most right now is a quiet sanctuary along with our compassion…especially if we just don’t understand.

I know that I don’t. even after spending part of my afternoon reading through just some of the Grand Jury’s transcripts.

Oof!

No I don’t understand. I imagine that I never will. But I can be outraged. I can also have compassion for people who are obviously hurting right now in a way that I can never possibly imagine or understand; and so while watching my own circus clowns as they enjoyed our new (to us) “dining room table” I ignored the hate and the rage expressed from all sides all over social media and I prayed, I gave what I could and I gave thanks that I could do these things.

Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are ~ Benjamin Franklin

ownership

Working this week on me being the sole proprietor of my thoughts, my memories, my words, my opinions with my therapist has been hard. A lifetime of being told these are not mine, not real, not true, not worthy of being shared takes it toll. It’s one of the reason why I stopped writing decades ago, much to the disappointment of a high school writing teacher who just recently reconnected via Facebook upon discovering that after high school I stopped writing altogether. I did stop, until I started blogging more than ten years ago. First in secret. Then with a faceless audience who seemed to like the words and thoughts I put out there. Then it grew and grew as did the audience some who know me very well and some who like to imagine that they know me even better than I know me and now, well sometimes it’s hard again. Most times I ignore it all as I remind myself that I am a grown-assed, accomplished woman with real thoughts and opinions and memories that have every right to be put out there with the words that I want to use. But sometimes that damn codependent-y, Golden Retriever in me comes out and, well, it’s hard.

Which is why this week we worked more on the truth that I am the owner of me. And as I reinforced this within myself I received this:

I’ve promised the one who shared this that Brad Pitt will be cast to portray him in the movie version.

selfie love

As if this blog wasn’t self-indulgent enough, I have been participating in a 365 day photo project: the #365feministselfie project.

The what?

Why?

Go ahead and roll your eyes. I know you want to.

You feel better now?

Good.

Talking about one’s sense of self love and self worth, Tamryn Hall recently shared, “It was not a magazine that formed my opinion of myself, it was what my mother told me…“. Ms Hall’s statement struck a very loud chord with me. How true this is. Children learn what they live. She went on recalling all the positive words her mother, her father, her extended family have always said to her about her and how that has always been with her with every success and setback in her life.

When I started writing in this blog, I began because I needed a safe place to put my thoughts, my fears and frustration. My plate was overloaded raising my five children including a very angry teen pushing hard and breaking through as many boundaries as possible and a medically fragile toddler whose weekdays were busy with appointments with specialists, physical therapy, occupational therapy, feeding therapy. My brother had recently died and honestly, it seemed like I was the only member of my family who was mourning him. So much was rattling around in my head that I had to have a place to put it and here is where most of it went. Through the years this has been a place where I could write about what ever I wanted to write about…my thoughts, my fears, my tears, my joys, my opinions…and they all mattered here.

Pretty much my entire life, even now, I have been told what is wrong with me…how I talk, how I walk, the colors in my wardrobe, I’m too skinny, I’m getting fat, my career choice, my parenting choices, my opinions, my beliefs, what I read, what I watch, what I listen to, my thoughts…and on and on and on and on….and it STILL goes on because as I approach my 52nd birthday I still need the correction criticism like I am still a child. It’s hard, very hard to recall ever hearing “I’m proud of you for being you”.

Children learn what they live.

But as this blog grew through the years into more than 3,500 entries, I have evolved and have grown to like me a lot. I like the parent that I am. I like the NICU RN that I am and I wouldn’t settle for anything less. My thoughts, my beliefs and my opinions are indeed my own and they are most definitely just as important as anyone’s…maybe more so to me because they are mine. Ten years of navel-gazing writing has exorcised a lot of demons and damage. Of course, it is a work in progress.

Which brings me to my own #365feministselfie. Pretty indulgent and narcissistic of me, isn’t it? Oh, and definitely attention seeking too.

Enough!

Attention is power.

Of course, the self-portrait is an easy target for charges of self-involvement, but, in a visual culture, the selfie quickly and easily shows, not tells, how you’re feeling, where you are, what you’re doing.

In our age of social networking, the selfie is the new way to look someone right in the eye and say, “Hello, this is me.”

Hello, this is me.

I’m discovering that in this exercise.

I’ve never liked nor respected too much the image that reflected back in the mirror at me. I’ve never really seen what my darling husband has seen and still sees…I recently overheard him say that he has a hot wife. I don’t know if I will ever see what he sees or what my kids see; but I am starting to see things in these selfies that I do like…my curves, my edges and my perfect imperfections.

Self-indulgent.

Of course.

Still it is a very important part of my exercise in self-love.

Self-love is about taking care of yourself inside and out. It’s about reminding yourself that even on your worst hair day with a red zit glowing at  the top of your nose, your heart deserves to smile. A smiling heart and a passionate life will create a beauty within that transcends the standards of most. Only the weak and superficial among us will be unable to see the smile that shines from within because they haven’t earned the privilege to see into our souls.

Added bonus is the kids will have a few pictures of me for my memorial someday.

And if the daily blog ruminations and selfies aren’t enough to cluck one’s tongue over…

It’s my birthday month!

play it again: in a word

Addressing my holiday cards, I found myself searching for a particular address. I knew I had it here somewhere, I mean we exchanged cards last year but it wasn’t in my address book. Then I remembered, we direct messaged each other our addresses so that we could exchange holiday cards. Scrolling through a year’s worth of private conversations on Twitter, I find the address.

Hurray!

I also find a conversation we shared last January 4 when I found myself needing to just unload all my worries and fears…and as always, Kale listened; as Kale always does. You’re a good friend, Kale. I love you! If only you and I were geographically closer. Reading our exchange from that day I can’t help but think that January 4 must have been a pretty intense day.

It was.

Surely I blogged about it because…

I did.

Writing out my thoughts helped. They always do. But talking about what was on my heart, what was really on my heart and knowing that someone was listening was even better…so much needed. I honestly don’t think I could have chosen to “embrace” this year…this year with lots of good, some bad, too many feelings and a whole lot of adventures with laughter, tears, fears, silliness and joy.

Originally published January 4, 2013

Oh 2013, a brand new year!

Welcome!

Four days into it and I am finally considering a reflective post about the start of another new year for me. I have no resolutions. I don’t believe in making them. I’ve said that before here…over the last eight years around this time of year. I don’t. But like so many others, I can’t help but consider this a good time to reflect on what lies ahead. Like my friend Kristen said, they are “days full of wonder without any mistakes in them. Yet.” Others are making plans to run big races or get organized or maybe to break a bad habit or to lose a set number of pounds and those are all good things to work on…for them. As for me, I choose to look ahead.

Okay, fine, there is a little bit of personal navel gazing…but no resolutions.

My hair is now long enough for me to twist it up into a braid…a thick strong braid because my hairs are so dang thick. I like it. I like it a lot because, well, it doesn’t take much to make me happy sometimes. Being able to plait my hair is one of those simple things that puts a smile on my face. So while I took a break from my navel gazing, I regarded this braid of mine. It is pretty cool. It is thick and it is strong.

A braid is indeed a particular type of decorative hairstyle or an embellishment that is created by entwining or twisting round and around three or more strands. This intertwining of the smaller, weaker strands of material or hair creates a bond woven together that is stronger than the singles could ever be alone. In their unyielding embrace they are made substantial and strong.

Yeah, I was looking up the meaning of the word “braid” and as I was I came across these words: embellishment, entwine, intertwine, weave, substantial, strong, unyielding, embrace. And yeah, I was seeking a little inspiration while reflecting on my awesome braid and the start of a brand new year. While I fiddled and twirled my braided hair between my fingers it came to me…

EMBRACE

My one word for 2013.

One word that sums up who you want to be or how you want to live. One word that you can focus on every day, all year long.

For 2013 I choose to embrace…embrace who or what? That is to be determined each day in this coming year but I will embrace each day and whatever that day presents to me.

My well-being and my happiness is no one person’s obligation but my own so it should be my responsibility to embrace this life I am given, this life I have created, this life that I am responsible for each and every day. My life is full blessed with my talents, abilities, my darling husband, my beautiful children and grandchildren and the people I hold dear and call friends but none are the key to my happiness and well-being. No, not one of these.

I have been working hard lately on me for my own health and well-being, as well as for those around me whom I love and who love me back. In order to be a better me, to the me that I deserve and certainly the me that they deserve I must embrace every day.

EMBRACE is my word for 2013.

Don’t rely on someone else for your happiness and self worth. Only you can be responsible for that. If you can’t love and respect yourself – no one else will be able to make that happen. Accept who you are – completely; the good and the bad – and make changes as YOU see fit – not because you think someone else wants you to be different.

Stacey Charter