Category Archives: self-confidence

We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. – Elie Wiesel

Social Media posts are a real bummer these days, am I right? I miss hamsters eating burritos!

I heard some complaining that they were tired of the depressing posts about the former Stanford student who got off easy for sexual assault and the responses to Emily Doe’s letter she read in court. Chances are, they aren’t the 1 in 5 women who have had the pleasure of being the victim of unwelcome sexual advances or God forbid, rape and sexual assault.

And enough already with their feed being inundated with comments, stories, and various posts about the Orlando shooting and a desire that our government reassess – or at least have a grown up conversation about- our gun laws, I hope to God their privilege protects them long enough to never fear being open about who they are or who they, or their children, love.

When “Black Lives Matter” compels you correct someone with, “ALL Lives Matter” and remind everyone that being a cop is hard. Yeah, it’s got to be a real breeze to worry about driving or walking or breathing, all while being Black.

People are screaming out to be heard because of a constant reminder that many of us are marginalized and not enough, just as we are, to be left the hell alone. If it is depressing to see our pleas and reminders of the way so many people are treated- DO SOMETHING. If you are one of the privileged, SPEAK UP! I’m tired and weary of preaching to a choir that already agrees, but I cannot be silent.

If nothing else, let’s make a deal. If you want us go back to cat videos, pictures of our kids on the first day of school, and what we are eating for dinner, and God knows we ALL want that, listen and take a second to look at your privilege. If you can use it in any way, use it stop hate and reject anyone who wants hate and fear to be the path we take in our country.

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July 7, 2016 · 2:17 pm

These Are Days

These are days, you’ll remember
Never before and never since, I promise
Will the whole world be warm as this and as you feel it

“These Are Days”, 10,000 Maniacs

I remember receiving the message from a vintage friend. He told me that our friend was sick. Fucking Cancer. I gotta say, yeah cancer sucks, but you gotta give it to fucking cancer for getting you off your ass and take stock and tell people that they are loved and let them love you. I was lucky enough to have that chance with her, and over the last two years of her life, especially during the last six months, where we had several conversations over email, text, and Facebook. I remember she was at the hospital doing a iron infusion and was bored and her iPad wasn’t streaming and couldn’t go anywhere or do anything. She was telling me that she just finished her sad little pop tart and now what?

I told her jokes. Really stupid, bad jokes. I found funny videos.  We made up a song about needing to pee but being attached to an IV pole. She asked me about the things going on in my life, so I told her about my silly life. It felt really uncomfortable telling her about my problems when she was desperately trying to not die and fight cancer. We reminisced about sleepovers in junior high, listening to Purple Rain and those horrible parrots her mom had, which, by the way, terrified me every time I slept over. I was too embarrassed and didn’t want to be seen as ‘not cool’, although I suspect my Pat Benatar hairstyle and Harry Caray glasses probably negated any concerns.

One thing we talked about was our hang-ups and when we think someone else has got it all, we’ve got to remember that chance are, they are just as insecure as we are. When we were teenagers, I thought my friend was so amazing and so cool. I was so envious- she was smart, kind, popular and so beautiful. She had AMAZING hair, and her smile? Man, she had a radiance and glow that was contagious. I’m glad I got to tell her that. But really, I was happier to hear that she wasn’t always so sure of herself, but that she had learned, especially because of fucking cancer that the critics mattered a whole lot less than her own truth.

One thing we talked about was bad days- and good days too, but when we’d complain about the shitty things, all I kept hearing in my head was, “there will be days.” There will be days- days when you just don’t know if you are doing any of it right. Days where it just seems too, too hard. They seem to go on forever, but these are just days. There are other days where you feel invincible. Where ideas flow, energy is plentiful and love shines on you everywhere you look. These never last long enough, these days.

This is our life. A series of days, good and bad, and none of them are on our terms. I don’t mean to sound melodramatic, but I’ve learned that most things will happen with or without my input. People I love will have beautiful, healthy babies, get new jobs, buy their dream homes and have wonderful relationships. People I love will get stupid fucking cancer. People I love will struggle over things big and small. People, who I think have it all, have crap days, but I just might not see them. And some people will avoid these days at all costs, not only ignoring the bad days, but missing the good ones completely.

I have had all of these days too. I guess what I am trying to say is that I can’t give everything to each of these days. I have to accept that they are just days in my life and all get to have a place in my story. And after my friend died, when we were sitting at her house after her funeral, I was struck with a sense of gratitude that I got to have a role in the story of her life. Maybe it was just a small part, kind of like when I got to play “Friend #1” in the Buffalo Grove High School presentation of “Oklahoma!”. I killed it by the way. I sat on that grassy knoll and pretended to be really devoted to whatever the lead chick was saying. My point is, I had a part. It didn’t matter if I was the lead or in the background, I was part of the story.

Lately, I’ve put a lot of stock into not only letting my bad days define me and the days that follow, but also the size of my role in the story. I’m working hard to take steps to pursue a dream, and I’m getting close to realizing it. But then I get scared and want to throw it away. I get stuck in my own hang-ups and start comparing myself to others. I take things personally. And really, none of it is anything more than my own insecurity and fear and remember that the critics don’t count for much. Then I remember my dear friend and how these are just days. Beautiful days that I want to remember.

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Filed under fear, self-confidence, truth

Oh My Lanta

 

“But the one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.

The moment that you feel that, just possibly, you’re walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself. That’s the moment you may be starting to get it right.”

Neil Gaiman

These days, I feel like I’m going to either throw up or poop myself. Neil Gaiman talks above about walking down the street naked, being exposed, but I never felt comfortable, or compelled for that matter, to strut my kibbles and bits in public. My discomfort manifests in a complete loss of the bodily functions I have come to rely upon. It’s gross, but you have my word that I won’t go into detail. I’m not that kind of writer. I will say that this isn’t the first time I’ve felt like this (and wasn’t pregnant). I know what this is. It’s my gut. It’s telling me that I’m headed in the right direction, that what I’m about to do is going to be significant in my life and it’s exactly right. I’d call it a cleanse, but that’s a bit too L.A., plus, it doesn’t include cayenne or ginger.

My first memory of this shit show was in high school. I loved singing and wanted to perform. Early on, I auditioned for the school musical and didn’t make it. Still, I joined choir and sang anyway. Later that year, I auditioned for “Concert Choir” and didn’t make it either. That was okay, I knew I wasn’t really ready. I loved singing and didn’t mind Varsity Choir (which took anyone who signed up). In Varsity Choir, I yearned to get better. I wanted to be good enough to make it into Concert Choir and even more, I wanted to be in “Expressions”. Expressions was a 24 member ‘show choir’-think Glee- not with quite as many cheesy renditions, but just as much drama. From the first time I saw them perform, I knew I wanted in. I sang well, but when I had auditioned my sophomore year, I didn’t make the group and I knew why. I wasn’t ready. I worked my ass off the next year, and when I auditioned, I was terrified. For the days leading up to the tryouts, I was sick. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t do anything but work on my routine and mentally picture myself making it. I knew I was good enough and I knew that the director saw how hard I worked all year. My gut told me I would make it and I did. That was something I hadn’t felt in the previous auditions. I had never been so physically certain that I was doing something, that for me, was big.

The tricky part about my trusting my gut, is that her pesky sister, ‘self-doubt’ shares space nearby and is always eavesdropping on our heart-to-heart talks. And in the moments where my gut lets me rest, she likes to sneak in and whisper in my ear. “You’re not tall or skinny or pretty as the other girls trying out. You’re decent enough as a singer, but really? There are better ones out there. Why don’t you just stick with choir. It’s so much safer and you won’t be as hurt when you don’t make it.”

I listened to her. Considered what she had to say. She was right about so much of it. I wasn’t as tall or as thin and didn’t look like some of the others, but I was ME. I had a good attitude and I worked hard. I was ready, able, and (sometimes more importantly) willing to do whatever my director asked- if it meant jumping up to second soprano or helping the small group of boys in the tenor section to help and increase their presence. I was funny, a nice kid, and you know what? I was good enough to make it and take my place in that group. I offered something special- each one of us in that group that year did. And it made us great.

Over the years, I can point to several examples when I have experienced this same level of nausea. There have been times when I allowed self-doubt to share her opinions loudly and gave her the power to lull me into a false sense of safety in certainty and ignore my gut. Each of these times, I’ve had regrets because in addition to giving into my fears, I actively avoided and ignored something that made me incredibly happy. When I have told her to F off, with all the grace I can muster, and gone with my gut, I’ve gotten it right.

I talk to my kids about their gut and when something in their belly feels right, it’s right and when it feels wrong, it’s wrong. I keep it simple and leave the poop talk to them, which they’ve mastered at much more appropriate times. Like dinner. Instead, I try to encourage them explore the things that make their heart sing, to let that voice be louder than self-doubt, which I suspect will invariably creep in. As a mom, this feels right, but it also forces me to push myself as a creative person to listen to my own advice. How can I ask them to follow their instincts if I won’t do the same? It’s simple. I can’t.

A few months back, I did something I always wanted to do. I had an opportunity to write and perform a 10 minute set of stand up comedy as “The Virgin” in Nicole Blaine’s Virgin Sacrifice show. I was incredibly proud of it and humbled (and thrilled) by the feedback I received from real-life comics and writers. I’ve been pursuing my writing and have found myself in the midst of some fantastic creative breakthroughs and with that, a big bout of the barfs. It’s odd though. I haven’t heard self-doubt yet. I know she’s there, paying attention, trying to find her chance to chime in, but it’s oddly quiet. I’m taking full advantage of her silence, though, writing away, and enjoying my Pepto-Bismal Parfait.

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Filed under fear, Motherhood, Personal Growth, self-confidence, truth

“Student of the Month” is Stupid

“I’m pretty much guaranteed to never be Student of the Month,” my oldest son tells me. He is in the third grade. This is a harsh thing for an 8 year-old to believe. I would love to tell him that even though in the three previous years at his school he has never received this “honor”, there is always hope. Unfortunately, I made a promise not to blatantly lie to my children.

I hate saying this, but he’s probably right. He has trouble sitting still. He asks a lot of questions. He can’t just do what he is told, he needs to understand why he is doing a task before he can proceed. He often lacks impulse control. He probably speaks out of turn a lot. He is strong-willed, curious and not always socially appropriate. I see room for improvement, for sure, but I also see a mostly normal 8 year-old boy who last time I checked was supposed to be learning and growing and not perfect.

Student of the Month is an antiquated ritual where the cooperative, quiet, ideal of a child is rewarded for being convenient to teachers. These children are generally introverted and shy, and sometimes they are kids who have learned how to play the game. Listen, I am not telling you that these kids don’t deserve recognition or praise, these are nice kids. But they are not the ONLY good kids at the school. I’ll be honest, I think it’s a cop out for the teachers to just go for the low hanging fruit. It’s easy to reward these kids. But here’s what my son has figured out: because he isn’t perfect out of the gate, he will never be good enough for his teachers. Last year, in second grade, he came home every month and said, “My teacher said I was really close this month. But someone else was better.” By the end of the year, he told me, that he gave up. This is the message my son has walked away with by age 8. He isn’t ever going to measure up.

I can tell him until I’m blue in the face that he is enough, show him the myriad of ways that he measures up, but there is something deeper. He craves the acknowledgment that his teachers see him. He wants to know that they recognize how hard he tries. He tells me that his teacher hates him, she only sees what he does wrong and not the good stuff. I worry that he is correct. My heart breaks. I want to send his teacher a list of the wonderful things that this child does on a daily basis- helping others, showing kindness, improvement and growth- but I don’t know that this is the right way to approach it. From what I’ve seen at our school, I don’t really know that they want to be different. So I work from the inside. I try and show him that what others think of you is less important than what you think of yourself. I try to believe this myself, because sadly, he also gets this from me. I am tempted to keep them out of school during the awards assembly, because each month, I see it wears my older son’s self-confidence down a little bit more. Then I think that maybe it’s okay for my kids to have this experience, to learn how to navigate feelings of disappointment.

Before I am criticized for being bitter, I will disclose that I have two children. My younger one will probably receive “Student of the Month” most years at the school. He is a different kid. He is generally cooperative, small for his age and has a lot of charm. He is a helper and knows how to be quiet (most of the time). He is smart, funny and the kind of person who easily fits in. It comes naturally to him, he doesn’t need to work on it at all and I would rather he didn’t receive an award for it. Recognize the child who has a really hard time sitting still or doing math or learning patience. This is where teachers have an opportunity to change a child’s life. And I know it sounds dramatic, but when you are small and your main job is to go to school and learn, to be recognized for something that you have worked so hard on, something that does not come naturally to you, will change everything. That child will learn that they can shine, that they can change and learn and grow. I can say with 100% confidence that if my older son was given that recognition, it would make a huge impact on his education and his self-esteem.

Now there will be educators that stand up and tell stories about giving it to a child who showed dramatic improvement and I applaud this. But let’s be honest, we all know that each year there will be 9-10 students in a class of 25 who are given this award and I bet if we took a look at the winners, we would find that they majority received it before and are the kids that are the quietest and most cooperative. What does this really teach our kids?

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Filed under Mom Rant, Motherhood, parenting, self-confidence

Date Night

When I was in my twenties, single and without children or much in the way of responsibility, I used to occasionally take myself on a date.  I would take a shower, put on makeup and a nice outfit and even spray on a little perfume too.  The courtship of myself was something I took seriously and I wanted to impress myself.  I picked a nice restaurant, enjoyed a good meal and then if I was in the mood, I would treat myself to a movie or a coffee in a cafe someplace.  A lady never kisses and tells, but if the date went well… maybe I’d get lucky?  Who knows?  Anything’s possible on a good date. The whole point of dating myself is to take time- to treat myself as I want others to treat me, to explore the things that I enjoy and mostly, to enjoy my own company and build my self-esteem.  Looking back now, it was an admirable idea, but I wasn’t ready to really learn these things.

Now, I’m in my early forties now and as you know from reading this blog, I am on a journey of self-discovery and I believe I am now ready to fully embrace myself, exactly as I am.  Now that I am single again, there are some nights without kids and I thought I would see if I was free tonight.  To my delight, I was.  I don’t want to ruin the story for you, but it is now 6:47 p.m. and I am home blogging.  So yeah, it didn’t go great.

I’ll be honest, I’m WAY out of practice in terms of dating myself.  I waiting until the last minute, basically took myself out to dinner immediately following yoga, despite being a sweaty mess.  I do get points for taking myself to a new favorite restaurant of mine, LYFE Kitchen.  I had a book and my mind on their vegan ‘sausage & cheese’ ravioli and recalling the days when I would go out on solo date nights, I was very optimistic.  Walking to the restaurant, I checked to see what movies were playing.  I saw that Lee Daniels’, “The Butler” was starting about an hour later so this was all looking good.

Walking into the restaurant, I see that they have ‘happy hour’ prices for appetizers so I opt to order Edamame Hummus along with my ravioli.   I knew it would be too much food, but it was HALF PRICE!  You can’t just pass that up!  As I sat and waited, I relaxed, read a little, listened to the music playing.  Good music- and I was super excited when I heard, “Can’t Let it Go” by Lucinda Williams* (written by Randy Weeks).  She is so darn talented and I haven’t heard that song in some time.  Anyway, the hummus shows up and it was so beautiful.  Fresh edamame, radishes, tomatoes and cucumbers along with these tasty flax seed chips.  Delicious.  I know this isn’t a restaurant review, but the hummus made me so happy!  If you find yourself at LYFE Kitchen, seriously, try it.  Good stuff.

I don't know if you can see it, but there are tons of fresh veggies and flax seed crackers with it.

Edamame Hummus.  Book.  Iced Tea.  This is good stuff.

I should have trusted my instincts, though.  I was enjoying myself and ended up eating too much of it and then ate my ravioli too.  If you know me in real life and personally over the last few years, you know that I don’t eat that much and when I do overindulge, I am one sad little panda.  I had to tell my date to take me home.  Date over! And it was going so well!

As I drove home, I thought about the date.  I felt the familiar pangs of guilt I recalled from dating in the past- like I was letting someone down by taking care of myself.  Instead, I challenged myself to think about it as the other person.  If someone told me that they needed to go home, wouldn’t I understand?  Of course I would.  And it was then I reminded myself that I deserved the same grace that I would offer someone else.  So instead of thinking about the past, the too much hummus debacle and going home before seeing a movie, I thought about my standards of dating- whether it be myself or another person:

1.  Not only should I NOT make a date last minute, I should NOT say yes if asked last minute, either.  Meeting up with a friend is one thing, but in my opinion, a date should be planned.

2. If I must go on a date after yoga, I will take a shower and put on clothes that are date-worthy.  I enjoy dressing to impress not only my date, but also myself.

3.  Know my limits and keep my eyes on the entire evening.  Even if hummus is half-price.

4.  If I do need to call it a night for whatever reason, it is fine to apologize and even feel disappointed.  Someone who is worth dating will understand.

*So as I sat, writing this and listening to Lucinda Williams, I found out that she was played in L.A. tonight. Had I planned it, that would have been a kick ass date.

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Filed under Food, Personal Growth, self-confidence, What Really Happened

Is it Hot in Here or is it Just Me?

Image

The fine folks at BlogHer have been kind enough to give those of us participating in NaBloPoMo for August daily prompts to help us blog each day.  The prompts are only if needed, and for me, today, ’tis needed indeeded.

Monday, August 5, 2013
What makes a woman hot? Is it something physical, an intangible personality trait, or something else entirely that labels a person as hot?

Really?  Sheesh.  In that case, let’s do this.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of hot is:

a : having a relatively high temperature;
b : capable of giving a sensation of heat or of burning, searing, or scalding;
c : having heat in a degree exceeding normal body heat.

This really makes me think the answer to this question is simple.  Menopause.  Menopause makes a woman hot.  Also, wearing too many clothes.  That will make this woman hot.  Or if the heat is on too high.  Or if it is 95 degrees in Chicago in the summertime and I’m not in A/C.  Who’s hot then?  Me, baby, me.  Oh, and let’s not get started on Mexican food.  That will make me hot in a flash! (get it… hot…flash?  I’ll be blogging all month, thanks.)

But that’s not really what this question is asking, right?  Let’s use another reliable source, shall we?  Hit it, Urban Dictionary:

1.someone thats EXTREMEMLY good looking but not like cute, more like sexy. when they walk by u turn ure head and wish u had a pause button or something.
2.something that is in some way attractive

Aside from the fact that ANYONE can post their own definition and the use of proper spelling and grammar is apparently optional, this is really what is at the heart of this question, isn’t it?  And you don’t really want to hear about why all woman are hot in their own ways either.  The question is basically asking me to blog about what I think makes a woman hot, isn’t it? I agree completely with Urban Dictionary’s first entry, with the exception being that someone needs to be extremely good looking.  Obviously, there are people who are just good looking, but that doesn’t mean I find them ‘hot’ or get hot when I see them.  The qualities that I find attractive in others is hard to define- it is a look, a way they carry themselves, the way that they look at me.  It can be a gesture, a smile, the way they look in glasses.  I just know it- I feel it- when it’s there.

Tomorrow, the question asks if I would want to be known as hot.  I’ll just answer now.  I’d be lying if I said no.  I think everyone at some point or another in our lives, wants to feel desired physically by another person.  And when I feel good about myself, that only adds to the mix.  I feel attractive to ME and that confidence shows through to others.  That, is hot.

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Filed under NaBloPoMo, self-confidence, truth, Uncategorized