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Archive for the ‘Esteem’ Category

Day 69: Daring Greatly

In Esteem, Family, Happiness, Love, Women on September 14, 2012 at 3:46 am

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. 

I don’t watch much TV, in fact I hadn’t watched TV really in the past five years.  However, I decided to get cable recently.  I still find myself rarely watching because it’s so out of habit, and I have ADD (I like to clean my floors way too often).

Anyway, awhile back I wrote this post on the topic of wholeheartedness.  I had randomly found myself listening to Brene Brown’s TED Talk, coincidentally when I popped on the TV today, which I rarely do, the Katie Couric show was featuring Brene in person.

She of course talked a lot about the topic of vulnerability and its necessity in our lives.  I’ve been thinking a lot about fear lately, I’ve felt fearful as I enter into a new life and anticipate being a recent grad school graduate.  So, I guess someone knew I needed to hear these important words about vulnerability once again.

You see, there is nothing more dangerous and scary than standing on the out skirt of our own life.  What should matter to you is not whether you succeed or fail, but that you were brave, and the people that matter in this whole experience are those who love you not in spite of your vulnerabilities but because of them.

Brene talked a lot about a concept she refers to as foreboding joy.

Interestingly, I know this concept  all too well. She explains it like this:

That moment when you enter your child’s room, while their sleeping, and you look over their precious little body and think how much you love them.  Then in that moment of joy you shudder–what if they were taken from me by death?

It’s that moment when you realize I have a great job, a wonderful family–I have joy.  Then always comes the shudder as you realize that joy could be marred by tragedy.  Those who experience true wholeheartedness in this life take that moment and transform it.  Instead of allowing the joy to be stifled by fear they allow it instead to be a moment wherein they mindfully practice gratitude.  They embrace the reality of something possibly going wrong through quite simply, thankfulness.  In this, their joy can always live.

What’s worth doing even if you fail?

I thought about this.

…and I realized for me it’s all the scariest things.

going to school.

being a single mom.

loving someone.

because those are the things that are worth every risk.  they are not worth looking at from the out skirt of my life.

Today, I realized for the first time ever that it’s OK to be scared and if I fail at something then that’s OK too.  What matters is that I was brave.

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HOLSTEE AUGUST: Remember to Love Because It’s What Makes You Real

In Books, Esteem, Friendship, Happiness, Holstee Manifesto, Humanity, Laughter, life, Love, Teaching, Thoughts, Writing on August 3, 2012 at 8:40 pm

“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

Love is such an interesting emotion, it’s one of the things that makes me feel vulnerable, but being loved is truly what makes us real–just like the Skin Horse says. It doesn’t happen to people who break easily because love takes toughness, endurance, and perseverance. Love is not like the romance film, it’s much more real than that, and I oftentimes wonder if the people in this world, the ones who truly know how to love, are only those who have endured an entire lifetime giving it to someone. I think it just might take those loose joints, lost hair, and shabbiness to truly understand what it means to love. Perhaps that’s why we’re given an entire lifetime to pursue it, perfect it, and understand it.

In looking through the Holstee Manifesto and it’s proclamations, which we have now made it through in entirety, the only words that appear more than once throughout are: life and love. This provokes something in me, it reminds me of the importance of living a life of sought love. That’s what the manifesto begs. It’s not easy, it will hurt at times, but it’s like this quote states:

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Day 59: on being wholehearted

In Blogging, Esteem, Faith, Happiness, Humanity, Laughter, Love, Men, TED Talks, Women on July 30, 2012 at 8:58 pm

Today I am on a flight, again.

I had the privilege of visiting NY, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, all in less than 5 days–whirlwind trip. Very fun, though.

What I am thinking about mostly right now, though, is a TED talk that I listened to on my flight into JFK. I was having a long day, sleep deprived, and I just happened to snap on one of the 5 free Delta radio channels (for the record Delta is a joke). There came words I needed to hear and I find it no coincidence that I started to listen to that very station when I did. For those of you that know TED talks, the briefers are limited to a less than ten minute time period to present their research in the most imaginable and insightful way, so the fact that I caught this particular one is quite lucky.

This talk wasn’t focused on the customary scientific findings surrounding most, no, it was centered more on an emotional type of research that could be classified in the psychological jurisdiction; however, I still felt it to fit its own category of sorts having listened to several TEDs and never encountered one quite like this previously.

The speaker, Brenda Brown, was presenting her research on the topic of wholeheartedness. That is, what constitutes a whole hearted individual. She goes on to explain that she had spent several years interviewing several individuals categorized as wholehearted and then those who live, well, unwholehearted. The first problem, if you could call it that, that she encountered in her research was the notion that those who portray a wholehearted esteem recognize that to be wholehearted one must first accept that this requires making everything that you desire to be certain, uncertain. This was problematic for Brenda because, well, she’s a researcher and to be a researcher is to seek the definitive. She segues to note this first encounter required her to take a 2 year research break and attend weekly counseling, lol. However, once she overcame this realization she was able to even further delve into the information that would enlighten her as to what the belief system requires amongst the wholehearted. She goes on to note:

The way to live is not to control and predict, rather, it’s through vulnerability, the wholehearted live with vulnerability because this is the birthplace of love and happiness. The wholehearted let themselves be seen and they love life with their whole hearts even though there is no guarantee. The wholehearted recognize that you cannot selectively numb emotions. You see, when you numb anger, fear, disappointment, you cannot do this without also numbing love, happiness, and laughter. The wholehearted stop catastrophizing and believe in good, they are grateful because of this. They ask themselves, what makes me vulnerable and then they face it head on. They realize that it is this vulnerability that allows them to be them and to live.

Most importantly though, above all else, Brown’s research found that the wholehearted always believe this:

They believe they are enough.

Brown posed the question on her blog, what makes you feel vulnerable? She felt getting to the heart of this might help individuals to reveal their wholehearted nature. She received thousands of responses.

Waiting for doctor results
Initiating sex with my partner
Saying I love you
Getting a mammogram
Going to the doctor
Looking for a job
Going on an airplane

So I pose this question here, what makes you feel vulnerable? How do you find your way through that vulnerability, or do you?

a thinking whit

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Day 46: Atticus Hansen Earns His Wings

In Esteem, Fiction, God, Happiness, Holstee Manifesto, Humanity, literature, Men, Teaching on May 28, 2012 at 2:01 am

I’ve always been a very intuitive person, especially when it comes to things that are near and dear to my heart.

I’d decided about a week ago that I am going to run Eppie’s Great Race in honor of sweet little Atticus Hansen whom I have mentioned on my blog a few times.  Here and here.

Well, today I set out on my daily run.  It was 6, plenty late enough for the massive heat wave to have died down, I was running within my range of miles, and I was making about average pace (for me).  But I kept looking down at my Atticus bracelet, I kept telling him to be strong, and I kept telling myself to run harder and faster than I had previously–for him.

I couldn’t do it, I got to about mile 2.5 and my body just was aching in pain (it normally isn’t like this).  I began to walk, and I thought about Atticus the entire 1 mile of it.

I got home thinking my lag was from a lack of calories, so I immediately loaded up on some tuna and broccoli and then I went straight to the computer.  I thought, he’s gone–and he was.  His sweet little soul returned to Heavenly Father today and as I stared at the picture of him that was posted, in his little baseball digs, I thought of little e and my immense love for him.  I can’t imagine the grief the Hansen family must be feeling this day, but I am thankful for the knowledge that Atti will now be serving a higher purpose and watching down on all of us in love.

I am also thankful to know that he will always be a strength to me.  It’s amazing how one little boy and a blog could touch my life so deeply.  Thank you Atticus.  Little e put it nicely this morning as we we’re leaving for the pool.  I asked him if he had his Atticus bracelet on, with wide eyes he looked up and said very matter-of-factly, “Yep, got Atticus right here!  He’s going to the pool with us today!”  Who knows, maybe he did.

If you’d like to help support childhood brain tumor research please follow this LINK.

Strength and Courage: Day 38

In Esteem, Faith, Happiness, life, Thoughts on April 15, 2012 at 11:41 pm

Today I was thinking about the nature of strength and courage.  Both are things we need to make it through this life but there are definitely differences between the two.  I read a poem that highlights this, there were two portions that really stuck out to me:

“It takes strength to survive, but it takes courage to live.  It takes strength to love, but it takes courage to be loved.”

Up until this point, I’ve been operating on strength alone–building my strength again.  I wrote about this a long time ago, but after my divorce I found myself at the weakest point in my life.  I was weak both physically and mentally and it has taken me all this time, and experiences, to rebuild and test my strength.  However, now, it’s time to work on rebuilding my courage.  It’s not enough to merely survive, I want to live.  It’s not enough to merely love, I want to be loved.  Without courage, neither of these things are possible.

I love Woolf, so I’ll end this post with her words,

“This soul, or life within us, by no means agrees with the life outside us. If one has the courage to ask her what she thinks, she is always saying the very opposite to what other people say.”

Get It, if You Want It, But Love It if You Got It.

In Esteem, Happiness, life, Thoughts on March 29, 2012 at 7:17 am

I stumbled across this blog post and thought, hm, man that’s just what I needed to hear today.  She doesn’t really answer the question that’s posed within the title, “what did you give up to get what you got?”  So I got to thinking about my own experiential journey.

I’ve given up a lot. I’d venture to say, I gave up a marriage (a dead end one but still one at that), time, sanity, sleep (lots of it), my love for independent and chosen book reads, hobbies, some of my passions (although this admittedly saddens me), the time to decorate my house and craft often with my son, income, monetary desires.

I could probably go on with this list for days.  The truth is, though, it doesn’t hold a candle to what I’ve gained, essentially, what I’ve given up to get what I got.

In a few months time, I’ll have an education (one she so valiantly mentions) in the arts and an impressive resume with college teaching experience. Yes, nice. But, I also have several gained friendships (one’s I feel I’ll always have), the memory of touching the lives of others and teaching them about my passion for writing, a knowledge that I can do hard things, an experience I can one day relate to my son if he contemplates grad school.  I can actually say, “boy, get your butt in gear, your mama did grad school and raised you!” (in my best black mama voice).

And then I have my usual I got em’s…a lovely, wonderful kid, a great dog (who only poops on the carpet occasionally), a great family, a beautiful place to live, wonderful friends (more of them), everything I need to live and enjoy life.

So I may not have it all, but I’ve got a lot. A lot. I think the most important realization for all of us is, we will never have it all in the sense of the popular romance novel (the sexy man who feeds us grapes while we bathe in the summer sun off the coast of Bermuda–and gives us his charge card) but is that really having it all?  Isn’t part of it, understanding the not having it part.  It’s what we don’t have, that we can attain.  That’s really exciting.

So, I’ll end with a note from my most recent fortune cookie:

Day: 31

In Esteem, Faith, Happiness, Humanity, Mother, Thoughts, Women, Writing on September 20, 2011 at 5:33 am

give me the strength to accept the things that I cannot change

and the courage to change the things that I can.

Should I get Divorced?: Day Eighteen

In Articles, Blogging, Blogs, Dating, Education, Esteem, Family, Fiction, Friends, Happiness, Humanity, Laughter, life, literature, Love, Men, Men, Mother, Musings, Parenting, Politics, Romance, Sex, Stories, Thoughts, wit, Women, Work, Writing on November 16, 2010 at 6:51 am

It seems to me that after you experience divorce, that is, become a divorcee, you also become a magnet for those seeking “friendly” relationship advice.  Since my divorce, I have never had so many married friends approach me expressing their own personal marital woes.  Can we say smoke and mirrors?

So, what do you say to these helpless worshippers?  Their eyes pining upwards toward yours, in dismay, you (well I) certainly cannot leave them hanging.

So, I tell them what my mother told me almost four years ago–

“It’s time to evaluate.  There are thirty days in a month and if over half of those thirty days are spent in argument/fighting/retribution, then you seriously need to consider your life.”

So, I did the addition and I recommend it to my pleading friends as well.  If you’re in the negative then…

I guess this doesn’t necessarily mean divorce, it didn’t for me, marriage counseling can always be the next step but most I find have already given that a fair shot.  So, then I move to my next bit of advice.

It isn’t easy (divorce that is).  So, consider wisely.  This isn’t a life and death situation, in any sense of physicality, but it may be with regard to the soul, your soul.  If he doesn’t pick up his dirty underwear, empty the dishwasher, or clean off the toilet seat–you may want to hire a maid and get a good job with long work hours, instead.  No, but seriously, divorce isn’t easy and making that jump will most certainly change you in every way possible, good and bad.  It will also present a little addition to your life.  Something I like to call the “what if factor.”

What if he had been different?

What if I had been different?

What if the timing had been different?

What if that whore from the Nordstrom shoe department had never been working that Wednesday afternoon when my husband, on a whim, decided to go peruse for a new pair of penny loafers?

You’ll always wonder, what might have been?  What dreams might have come AND could things have worked?  This is what you sacrifice when you choose divorce.  You sacrifice ever knowing.  However, consider this, whose to say things wouldn’t have been different anyway because with every circumstance, every change, there comes a differing outcome.  So, maybe the Nordstrom girl wasn’t there that Wednesday, instead, five years later your hubby gets run over by a truck crossing the street–either way, you’re alone with accompanying heartache.  It’s all a matter of relativity and the passage of time, leading you this way and that, all dependent on varying occurences.  I think Robert Frost put it nicely, “And both [roads] that morning equally lay / In leaves no step had trodden black / Yet knowing how way leads on to way / I doubted if I should ever come back.”

So, finally when I have exhausted all the aforementioned then I end with this, “secure your finances before ever mentioning the word divorce.”  Trust me, it’s not being deceitful…it’s being smart.  If you have to, stick it out, until you have what you need to leave.  I’ve encountered many friends, with young children, no assets, no education, their husband(s) owning everything; having reduced them to the life of: housewife.  Just make sure you leave when the time is ripe, oops, I mean right. 😉  It never hurts to get a little legal advice prior.

A good friend from back when I was married emailed me the other day concerning a matter similar to this post’s topic.  I thought it funny, she, after all these years, my divorce from her husband’s friend, had returned to me for some semblance of hope.  My final words to her, “I’ll be praying for you and your little family.”

That’s how my advice column will always end, always.

A divorced whit.

Day Seventeen: “Gender is a Performance:” Play Your Own Part.

In Articles, Blogging, Blogs, English Major, Esteem, Family, Friends, Happiness, Humanity, Laughter, life, literature, Love, Men, Men, Mother, Parenting, Politics, Romance, Sex, Stories, Thoughts, Women, Work, Writing on November 8, 2010 at 10:14 pm

I recently stumbled upon this blog post, which I found to be slightly disturbing but not for the reason you might be inclined to think.

Our society has transitioned into a new wave of discrimination and this time the target seems gender related.  Since the beginning of time, and even currently, differing cultural groups, religious groups, varying ethnicities, have been the product of discriminatory practices but now we’re venturing into a whole new sphere.  I think the important thing to remember is this is nothing new.  As many of you know, my educational background is focused in the area of literature.  Throughout the years I have explored a variety of texts, poetry, fiction, essays, etc, where gender/sexuality issues exist.

Yes, there were homosexuals in the fifteenth century. Big shocker.

However, gender and sexuality, in the past, were presented mostly through allusions, satirical jest, etc.  We’re entering a new era and in this one people are opening up.  Finally, individuals are facing the blatant reality that gender is not so easily defined nor is sexuality.  How wonderful that we are transitioning towards this way of life, writing, living the obvious, the real, why hinder such?

But it’s happening, people are impeding this miraculous feat and, yet again, lives are being lost, ruined, and hurt because of differences.

A professor once said,

“gender is a performance, a fabrication.”

You could think of it like this, each one of us is playing a role in a play, acting the part, being the person that very role assigns.  Unfortunately, life, sexuality, gender, is far more complicated than a role so strictly designated.  Individuals may choose different performances or they may be living a biological performance different from that of yours or mine.  That doesn’t make their performance any less real or vital; however, your assumption or judgment of it may be detrimental to their life. If we continue with the theatrical allegory, the world of theatre, is quite obviously designed and encouraging of creativity, why not then in our own societal structures as well?

Individuals, children, adults, PEOPLE, should be allowed to live their lives. They should be allowed to perform the way they choose and most importantly our children need to know that those choices are okay because inevitably they will grow up and act a part of their own.

The holocaust, the chinese exclusion act, black slavery, native american discrimination, and the list goes on and on.  All of these historical events have one thing in common–injustice.  People being forced into roles they were never meant to inhabit.

So, play your part the way you want to.  Don’t try to perform the role necessarily assigned to you by socially constructed gender terms.  Little Boo played his part (the one he chose) and I think he did a great job of it.

Whit.

Sharing Life: Day Fourteen

In Articles, Blogging, Blogs, Dating, English Major, Esteem, Friends, Happiness, Laughter, life, Love, Musings, Stories, Thoughts, wit, Writing on August 16, 2010 at 7:21 pm

There’s this little white blank church I would pass everyday on my way to work.  I’d find myself wondering, who worships here, who fills this place every Sunday?  What are their thoughts, hopes, desires, and pains?  That happened every morning for a few months.  I was so tempted to return on a Sunday, the place was so lonely, but I knew there was a time of infusion.  The worshippers would come and breathe vitality into this place.

In your life there comes an instant where you really have to sit and evaluate who you are and what you’re living for.  This moment isn’t the same for everyone.  For some it comes by a breath of happiness, others tragedy, some change.  I can remember the day I got married.  I thought this was my juncture.  Here I would ask, “Who are you?  Who loves you? And then, you are going to have this beautiful life with this beautiful person—you are defined.”  But these moments aren’t so easily recognized, and oftentimes they happen without us even noticing it.  This is how it happened to me.  I did get married, I remember pieces of that day so vividly, and I hold them in my heart, mostly so I can share them with little e.  I recall the pink cake, and how the train on my dress ripped unexpectedly, I remember sitting on a bench, surrounded by white, staring out through the etched windows of the church.  Uniquely, I remember doing all of these things by myself (this is quite anomalous for someone’s wedding day).  I don’t ever remember being scared, or worried, or even unsure.  I felt blank.  This was not my moment.

Six years have passed since that occasion.  Now, I find myself meditating on who I’ve become and what that experience did to my life.  I realize that I’m angry.  I’m so mad at the person who betrayed me–he let me down.  I direct that anger, not at him, but at people I’ve dated since him.  It may be something they do, something they say, it reminds me, and then suddenly I see a reflection of his face staring back at me.  While this is happening, I let him do whatever he wants.  I never show disappointment, or rage, for him I am still blank.  Once he told me, after everything was done, he was about to remarry, “I am so sorry for ruining you.”  I responded with a quick, “thanks?”  That was my first evaluation session (some people have more than one).  I was no one, a ruined individual that was it.  Well, you know what they say, “ruin is the road to transformation.”  I gave myself a few months and began taking that seriously.  Then with the start of this project there came my second moment.  I write it out and I begin to see who I am and what my dreams are.  I’ve accomplished. I’ve lived.  I don’t feel ruined anymore, but I have to stop being angry or I’ll never capture what I am truly living for, happiness.

So, I asked myself last night, what good has come from the end of that marriage? Immediately I thought, the people I have met.  I think about all of them.

****

Steve, his wife died of cancer and now he’s a single dad with two beautiful girls.  Chloe, his miracle baby.  She was delivered premature so that Bridget (Steve’s wife) could undergo chemo.  Then there’s Grace.  Steve once told me that while driving in the car Grace noticed the leaves outside falling, blowing away.  She said something like, “Daddy, that’s like mommy right?  The leaves come and go.”  He loved that moment because his little girl understood life and death.  Steve taught that there is beauty in tragedy, and hope.

Karen, when I met her she was weak but at a distance I have seen her grow into someone of strength and courage.  Her family lives in Hawaii and she raises her son on her own.

Jason, his wife also died of cancer.  He graduated law school, top of his class, and got a job with one of the best firms in Nevada.  He bought a new home and then six months ago sold it after being laid off.  His daughter McKenna is beautiful and has a stitched pillow on her bed with a picture of her Mom holding her.  I met him right after my divorce and he taught how to move on.

Wayne.  I wonder about this one.  I spent a year crying that we weren’t together but then one day I realized, that’s a good thing, now you know what it feels like to love someone.  I never felt blank with him.

Dr. S, our custody evaluator.  I spent numerous trips to San Diego for sessions with this fellow.  He reassured me of all my parental intentions.  He never said, “you’re a great mom,” instead he said something much deeper, “you have a spectacular child, one who is very loved, I thoroughly enjoy little e.”  He restored my worth as a mother.

Joey.  A Mormon that taught me Mormons are good when I stopped believing they were.

Jerry.  He gave me my first job after my divorce.  When I started working for him I was timid.  I didn’t even know how to say, “I WANT THIS.” After leaving his office I worked for a law firm (that should give you a good idea of my progression).  I ran into him at the grocery store about two months ago, he said, “I can just see how you’re different.  You’ve got life in you.  You’re in a great place.”  He was a stepping stone.  I had to start somewhere and he gave me that opportunity.

The countless men I’ve dated.  They’ve taught me how to date, how to pray, how to recognize a wanker, how to listen, cultural awareness, money management, passion.

Glen.  He’s my attorney friend who always has good advice.  He’s also always on IM chat and easily accessible.  We’ve been friends for three years now.

Scott.  A single Dad who loves taking me to concerts and being my “wingman.”  He’s always willing to take one for the team.

Chloe.  I just met her, but she reminds me of all my college girlfriends.  Chloe laughs with me and it gives me a sense of “times gone by.”  She’s great.

James.  He taught me about addiction, what it’s like to live in the shadow of it.  I pray for him.  Memories of James helped me through some tough family times.  I needed to meet him.

Toby.  He sold me an Anthropologie rug off craigslist.  A cute aussie who has since moved back to Melbourne.  In a late night conversation he was able to get through to me.  He also taught me the word “wankers,” which I love.

Jonathon.  He started out as the perfect date.  He’s an English professor who loves literature.  I learned from him that I may be able to get a job when I someday finish school.

Professor Ochoa.  She told me that someday I’ll write a book.

****

I look at all these people and cannot help but smile.  They’ve given me so much life, they are all so beautiful, and have attributed to the transformation currently underway.  I am like the white church, the blank lonely church, and all of my friends they are the worshippers. They come into my life, at their moments, and they infuse me.  I am going to stop being angry, and self-conscious, and closed.  I am going to let more people in. I said before that life is defined by moments, but I retract that statement.  Instead, life is defined by the moments you share with others.

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