Revive me again

What gives me energy?  What helps me feel like me instead of this tired impostor? I’ve had about 24 hours to consider that question and this is my list so far:

  1. Singing.  Preferably with a group.
  2. Dancing.  And no, I don’t mean choreography.  I’m actually not very good at that.  It’s hard to concentrate on specific movements.  I mean dancing.  Listen and feel the music and respond.
  3. Performing.  It isn’t so much the appreciation of the crowd, but the work and discipline and challenge of doing it and doing it well.
  4. Yoga.  This may be a different sort of energy, but it’s energizing none the less.  It’s focused energy.  Calm energy.  Strong energy.  Aware energy.
  5. Early morning walks in the cool, crisp air, listening to Mumford and Sons, U2, Alabama Shakes, or other engaging music.
  6. Attending concerts or musicals.
  7. Time out of town with Jason.
  8. Time out of town with family.  Down time more than hurried, rushed, see-everything-do-everything, overly planned time.
  9. Time out of town with the besties.
  10. Laughing.  Oh my stars.  Laughing.

I’ll add to the list as I go.  For now, that’s what I’ve got.
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September 2 update:

  1. Painting. I truly enjoy putting paint onto a canvas and seeing what I can do with it.
  2. Pedicures.  Again — like yoga — it’s a different kind of revival, but it’s calming, soothing, and also gives renewed energy.
  3. Having people over for a casual but enjoyable time together. I don’t want to be all fancy pants, but I really do enjoy having people over.
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Enlarging the cast of characters

Today’s session was a bit deeper.  We listened to a few more of the speakers of my internal dialog and found that Fred is not the biggest negative voice.  Instead, it’s a character we called MC.  For a couple of different reasons, I’ve since decided that MC Hammer is a more accurate name.  Not the MC Hammer who wears gold harem pants and dances sideways, although having that as a complementary visual does help it seem less intimidating.

Someday, I’ll share a picture of MC Hammer, but today just know that it’s there.  Always speaking.  Always questioning my decisions. Always telling me there’s something wrong with me.

The happy part of me is someone I’ll call Ellie.  She’s little me (Little Lisa) but I’m  using the two Ls to give her a new name.  She’s bright and fun and loves it when her mom plays Broadway music at home.  She loves to sing and make people happy.  She likes who she is, but she’s also sad because she doesn’t feel like it’s OK to be as loud as she is.  She thinks quiet is more favored.

And there’s also Allie or Adult Lisa.  Me when I know I’m capable and and feel confident and know I’ve completed a hard task or given my all to a project.  Me who doesn’t seek others’ approval.

So on this journey toward a healthier life, I have Jimmy Carter, Fred, MC Hammer, Ellie and Allie.  This week, I’ll be journaling about Allie and Ellie’s sadness and fears and I’ll also be making a list of 10-20 things I can do to feel more energized and alive.  Some kind of performing is a priority on the list.  I’m also posting and practicing this truth:  I know my goals.  I know what I’m capable of and I can do it.

observations from this week

  • i can’t do tic marks for how often i hear fred instead of jimmy because my internal dialogue is primarily negative.
  • the internal dialogue is primarily worry and fear based.  what if? am i good enough? will i look ok? what will they think? is what i’m doing ok? what if i’m wrong? what if he gets angry?
  • i loved watching President Carter during his press conference.  he was a picture of grace and firm faith.  he knew his God. he knew himself. he was calm and poised and ready.
  • i want that level of grace and calm and preparation.
  • yesterday in class, we had to write down the secret struggle that we didn’t share with people — the one that caused us the most hurt.  it didn’t take me any time to write down, “i hate my body.”  it’s the first time i’ve thought of it in such a clear way, but noticing just how pervasive the self-doubt is has made me realize that it’s true.  it’s been my biggest source of shame across my entire life.  it’s my point of failure. i love my intelligence.  i love my kindness.  i love my musical talent and my ability to love deeply.  i love my thirst for spirituality.

    but i hate my body. it’s my shame, my shortcoming, my embarrassment.  my not- good-enough. my failure.

Meet Jimmy

OK.  So you met Fred.  Yesterday, I met someone else.  Another voice. A wise, encouraging, kind voice.  One who has a history of speaking of the inherent value of women and their contributions to the world.  One who does know me.  Who sees me for who I am — the good, the bad, and the ugly — and still loves me and believes in me.

I was asked to give a persona to this voice and in my heart of hearts, I really wanted it to be Maya Angelou, who penned these words:

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman

Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

When I say I wanted the personification of my inner strength to be Maya Angelou, I mean I really wanted it to be her.  Wanted it so much I even looked at the personification and said, “You were supposed to be Maya Angelou.”  He (yes he) calmly replied, “Well, I’m me.”

Jimmy Carter

Jimmy Carter is the personification of my inner wisdom.  My courage. My strength.  My sense of value and worth and ability.  The voice I want to encourage to speak loudly.

What in the world?

In some ways, it makes sense.  He has regularly spoken for truth and fairness and the value of all mankind.  He’s a peacemaker.  Not just a peacekeeper, but a peacemaker.  He addresses problems and does something about them, but in that process, he is always kind. Always calm.  Always respectful.  Even when he’s on the receiving end of criticism, he is kind and respectful of others.

It was a bit of a conundrum that he — my inner voice — was a man.  Does this mean I can’t accept wisdom from women or that I feel I need a man to give me permission to be strong? I don’t think so.  I believe it means I am able to look past gender and see the core of people.  I don’t label or stereotype based on physical appearance or bodies.  I’m able to see all people as that — people created in the image of the Divine and bearers of that light and love into the world.

So, shut up Fred and welcome Jimmy.  It’s very good to make your acquaintance.

Shut up, Fred!

On Saturday, I had a phone call with a new friend who is helping me process some body image issues.  She asked me what life would be like if I didn’t have body/weight issues as part of my life.

“I can’t even imagine what that would be like.”

We talked about not having excuses . . about becoming who I thought I could be . . . about dealing with my fears of either not being enough or of being too much.

“So could you give that voice a name?  What would you call it?”

Without a pause:

Fred.

(Note: I have an amazing friend named Fred and this has nothing to do with him.)

On the left is my super fly friend Fred and he is not at all like the Fred I’m about to describe. 

Fred is a grouchy old man with white hair who thinks he can tell me what to do.  Tells me that I’ll be too much if I’m fully me and not weighed down and pre-occupied with thoughts about what I should or shouldn’t do or eat or be.

“So, Lisa, if you could talk to Fred, what would you say?”

“Shut up, Fred. You don’t even know me.”

Fred doesn’t know me.  He doesn’t.

But he thinks he does.  He tells me I’ll be too much or that I’m not enough.  He tells me that I were ever fully me that I would overwhelm the people in my life or that if I were fully me it still wouldn’t be enough.

Side note: Isn’t it odd that we can have fears of being too much but also of not being enough?

So from now on, that’s my response:  Shut up, Fred.  You don’t even know me.

You don’t know my  heart.  You don’t know my spirit. You don’t know that I would move heaven and earth to help the people I love and that it hurts me to the core when I feel I’ve hurt someone.  You don’t know that even when things look easy for me, they’re hard.  You don’t know that I second guess myself more than I don’t and that I have unresolved fears you can’t even imagine.


But neither do you know that even with that, I am strong.  I am capable.  I am loved and talented and full of life and joy.  I refuse to be defeated by life or fear or by something as menial as food.  I can sing and paint and teach and read and learn and cook and make people comfortable in my presence.  I can laugh and love with the best of them. I’m fun and funny and smart and I made a perfect score on the writing portion of the GRE.  

Shut up, Fred  You don’t even know me.

Thankful Thursday

I am thankful that no lives were lost in yesterday’s storms.

I am thankful for a good night’s sleep and a better, more settled spirit today.

I am thankful for a husband who calls every day and look forward to coming home; a husband who wants to work on moving through and beyond these struggle times.

I am thankful for healthy children.  In spite of car wrecks and Type 1 Diabetes, my children are healthy.

I am thankful for my home.  My beautiful home that I am able to share with others.

I am thankful for my new mother-in-law and her obvious love for people.  For her hopeful yet realistic nature.

I am thankful for words and books and friends.

I am thankful for time I had with friends on Tuesday and for future planned time.

I am thankful.  I am happy and I am thankful.

Wisdom Wednesday

It’s no secret that my life has been in upheaval the last few years.  Lots of change.  Lots of loss and grief and difficulty.

It’s no secret that writing has been difficult for me and that I’ve had multiple attempts at trying to discipline myself into writing, but it hasn’t worked.

It’s no secret that I am now incredibly happily married to Jason.  What you may not realize is that I feel safe in many ways for the first time in a long time.

Emotionally safe

Spiritually safe

Physically safe

Financially safe

Safe

My head knows that through my faith in God, I had those things all along and that head knowledge kept me going on many days.  Now, it isn’t just head knowledge. It’s heart knowledge.  Something inside of me knows that it’s safe to process some of the difficult things I’ve put on hold for a long time.

Today, I had to deal with some money things.  Money, especially, is a HUGE cause of stress for me.  I started worrying.  Started thinking about the what-ifs.  The maybes.

The reality of the situation, however, was that we had enough.  We may not have a lot extra, but we have enough and we both have jobs that will provide the next paycheck.  When I took a few deep breaths and reminded myself of that, I was able to settle and not feel so panicky.

Here’s the thing.  Or a thing.  Or maybe just something.

I’ve never thought of myself as a worrier.  I may not be the calmest person in the world, but I typically always believed that things would work out.  Somehow, in the midst of all of that change and turmoil and difficulty that changed.  Now, it’s more of a choice to remember that I’m ok.

One thing that Gandalf (code name for my counselor) mentioned to me was the need to remind myself of who I am.  Sometimes I feel powerless.  Voiceless.  I don’t like the word “victim,” but I suppose those are elements of victim thinking and I do not want to be a victim.

So today, I reminded myself of who I am — of what is true about me.

I am safe
I am capable
I am kind
I am intelligent
I am loved
I am talented
I am  stable — financially and otherwise
I am a good mom
I am a good wife
I am a good daughter

I am not perfect and never will be, but I care deeply for people and do what I can to be a positive presence in their lives.

I don’t know if there’s wisdom in this post.  There are no big answers for the world, but there are a few things that gave me answers today.  Live based on what’s real, not on what’s imagined.  Know who I am.  Be who I am.  Let faith in God be the reason, but appreciate it when a person adds to that knowledge.  Let the people who help you know the reality of God’s love know that you appreciate them.  Say it.  Act on it.  Don’t take it for granted.  Not every relationship has that component.

Live in the light.  Be the light, as in brightness, and be light-hearted.  Be who you are.  

Taciturn Tuesday

I don’t really know what it is, but somehow I’m off today.  Yesterday, I was home with a migraine.  Not just a bad headache; a migraine.  Light did weird things to me and I could read but couldn’t really process what I was reading.  I stayed home from work and slept a lot.  Today, I woke up with a bit of leftover headache, but all the peripheral symptoms were gone so I came to work.  Focusing is still hard, though.

I like to know why.  I like reasons so I’ve been trying to figure out why I feel so very blah today. Is it migraine hangover?  Maybe?  Is it stress from having a lot to get done before school starts?  Very possibly?

Or maybe I just miss Jason.  Maybe I’ve become accustomed to the balancing element he adds to my life.  I’m good at starting projects; he helps me follow up and finish things.  I overestimate or underestimate how long projects will take so I’m always a tad off; he methodically works through things and gets more done than I ever could.  I seem to have become a worrier in recent years; he helps me remember to laugh at life.

He’s a true companion in my daily life and I miss him.  He’s in Guatemala working as a translator for a medical mission trip.  I love that this is part of his summer each year.  His servant heart is so beautiful and I’m thankful that he gets to use his knowledge of the Spanish language.

I wish I could explain the difference it makes to have a spouse who is a believer.  A true believer.  If I could bottle that and share it with young adults, I might be able to save them some heartache.  

I miss his humor too.  I talked about how much he balances me, but OH!  How he makes me laugh too!  

I’m blessed beyond anything I ever thought I would be.  I’m happy in ways I didn’t know would be possible for me.

And I am thankful.  Thankful beyond words for the peace and joy and happiness that Jason has brought to my life.  I’m honored to wear his name.