Being Ruled by Lies and Fear.

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Keeping my 4 and 2-year-old at home was a decision I made, largely based on this idyllic image in my head of me and my daughters spending all these lovely days together, and then their going off to school as these confident, smart little girls, totally prepared (thanks to all that studying our ABC’s and 123’s at home with Mom). Add together a wild 4-year-old, a totally sweet but nutty toddler, the general stresses of gradually setting up a new life in a new place doing new jobs, financial insecurity, and a Mom (that’s me!) who sets totally unrealistic expectations for this experience= Mess, chaos, and meltdowns galore (many of which are mine). Welcome to my life 🙂

With a heavy cloud of self-doubt and frustration hanging over me, wading through a sea of Pre-K prep, Brain Quest books, and flash cards, anxiously planning out lesson’s and time with my kids, something dawned on me; This is not fun.

Life is not always fun and that’s ok. But learning, something that many of our kids go about naturally and joyfully….in this house, it’s become painful. Yikes. Stuck somewhere between sight words and numbers, I sat there thinking; Why did I want to keep the girls home again? Why am I trying to do everything? Why am I consistently shirking off my husbands advice to get help? Immediately a list of well-rehearsed answers strung through my mind…..they’ll go to school soon….spend time with them now….good foundations….connectedness with your kids….blah blah blah….and then as if that dark cloud that’d been lingering over my head sprung a lightning bolt, I saw it; I saw the truth; All these reasons I have for being the way I am now and making the decisions I have, they’re not untrue; but they are also not the whole truth. In part, they are a shield; One I’ve been wielding, feigning a noble cause, when on the flip side of these truths, there is another real and dark motive; FEAR. As if my metaphorical cloud began to pour, I suddenly saw that my perfectionism, my dedication to make my 4-year-old sit the fuck down and focus, for what it is. It’s not about protection or preparation. I am not functioning from the fear that my daughter is lacking. I am being driven from the fear that I am lacking. I sat there feeling foolish. Silly. Guilty. Here I am pressing feelings of lack and anxiety onto my perfectly fine kids. This my friends is one of many ways we pass our burdens onto our children.

“I am stupid.” “I am silly.” “I’m incompetent.” “I do not have the capacity.”

These are variations of lies I learned young and have carried with me into my adult life. We all have lies about who we think we are, and many of us go about our lives terrified of discovering their truth. 

This post is not about parenting or kids. It is not in any way meant as a commentary on homeschooling or using educational stuff with our kids. It’s about the lies we let dictate our lives. It’s about the way these lies and our fear of their truth creep into every facet of our beings. It’s about seeing them for what they are….lies, and then choosing a new way. My kids don’t need my lessons. And they certainly don’t need the energy of self-doubt that I’ve been drudging around here. They need my love and my attention. As do I, I suppose. 

When you look as your life, does it reflect who you really want to be? Your job, your attitudes, your politics, your habits, your hobbies, your relationships…in what ways do you struggle with not allowing your fears to dominate your life?

 

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The “New Kid,” Making Friends as an Adult.

“Being alone in body and spirit begets loneliness, and loneliness begets more loneliness.” F Scott Fitzgerald, Tender is the Night.

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If you’ve ever started something new as an adult, I’m sure you’ve felt that “new kid” sting. It can send us right back to the days of braces, square pizza, and recess. We peddle around seeking and prodding to belong. To make matters worse, as an adult we’ve been taught that this “new kid” experience is just that; it’s for kids; that we’ll grow out of it as we become these awesome, accepted, belonging, valued individuals. And maybe we won’t even need friends because we are just so darn self-sufficient and independent. Right? I wish.

I am drawn to write about this right now because I’m going through it in my life. It’s uncomfortable and I feel a bit like I’m dating again. But the more I look at it, I’m finding that that makes perfect sense. We search for soul mates, boyfriends, spouses, like its our job. But since many of us have stumbled upon our besties at work, school, or elsewhere, it feels strange that we may have to go out in search of friends. But honestly, it’s not so different from seeking out your next special someone.

Why does making new friends become harder as we get older?

  • We don’t meet herds of new people the way little kids do. New sports, new lessons, schools, etc, they are often around new people. Adults, unless we make the effort to be, usually are not.
  • We make the requirements to be our friends increasingly difficult to meet. Are you…..Christian? Brunette? Stylish? Hindu? Where do you shop? Whats your job? What kind of stroller do you use? Are you married? We observe their body and makeup and jobs and connections in addition to how we feel around them. Kids do not. Do you like unicorns? I do too! Done and done. With children, if there’s fun, if there are good feelings, there is a friend. Simple. 
  • We don’t prioritize nurturing our friendships as other life responsibilities mount up. Most of us treat the coffee date with a friend, the girls night out, the guys weekend away, as a luxury. Reality? You need it. I need it.
  • We’ve been taught and allowed to disguise our fears or distort our natural tendencies by labeling ourselves things like “loner,” “lone wolf,” “different,” “independent,” “better off alone,” or “introvert.” Reality? We may recharge differently and need different amounts of time with people versus time alone. But we all need human connection. People need people (Cue Barbra Streisand…”People…people who need people…“).
  • Our fears are more set than our children’s. And its likely that we are either blissfully unaware that our “new people dealing habits” are steeped in fears. Or if we are aware of it, we staunchly defend our ways and stick to the beliefs we’ve created about new people.

Steps and Tips towards Making New Friends:

  1. Drop the shame for wanting it. The desire for human connection is the most natural thing in the world. At one point in history, our survival was hinged on our belonging to a group. Its natural. So instead of feeling immature, or silly, embrace that desire, lean in, and move on to tip # 2.
  2. Discover your preferences. This is a 2-fold exercise. First, list what you’d like your new friend to be like. Next, cross off anything that is not a character trait or value. Open yourself up to the possibility of connecting to someone who is totally different than you. The 2nd part of this exercise- make another list of friendships that did not pan out. I don’t mean ones that were and then fell apart. Perhaps you met, exchanged info., maybe you went for a coffee? But then what? Why did this relationship stop there? Is it because you felt something around them you didn’t like? Was the ending on their side? Did you have a great time together but it ended due to inactivity? Did this person meet your criteria listed in part 1? This leads me to #3.
  3. Recognize that they may not need a new friend (that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t be happy to have one). But they don’t need it and you do. SO you may have to do more pursuing in the beginning. Those friendships that didn’t develop? Maybe they didn’t need a new friend but if you’d pursued it longer, would it have developed? Accept to walk that weird grey area, commit to pursue a friendship, understand that you may face rejection and agree that that’s ok. This doesn’t mean to invite them out every single day. It means to be willing to be more proactive for a while, to use your instincts, trust your gut, and to actually pay attention how you feel around this person. This is just like dating! Do you have fun together? Can you be yourself? Do get the sense they are also themselves with you? Do you share values? Can you appreciate the ways you’re discovering that you’re different? Can you disagree? When you’re together, are they checking their watch or phone the whole time? Or are they engaged? Pay attention and don’t cling to the prospective of a new friendship because you’re lonely. You deserve real, connected friendships, not ones you settle on because feeling alone sucks. Give it some time. Then let go of people and friendships that continue to be one-sided, or don’t feel good.
  4. Embrace fear and notice how you function in it. Meeting new people can be scary. Like many people, I am ok with the first impressions and superficial stuff. Weather. Family. Kids. Jobs. But then what? After this, I oscillate between pouring out information about my life and freezing up, stuck. Blank. It’s awkward and sadly, seems to just be the way I deal and get through encounters with new people. This awkward scene is how I function in my fear; fear of rejection, fear of never belonging, fear of being left out. Observe your ways. Give yourself some grace. Then embrace the fear, acknowledge it for what it is; an honorable attempt to keep you from pain. And then call up that friend and invite them to coffee, for a drink, on a play date, whatever. And if you go through your awkward dance, then so be it. Smile. It’s ok, we’re all kinda weird.
  5. Accept that there is a process. There is a “dating” period. They are still feeling you out. Being new and desiring a sense of belonging can be rough, but don’t just nuzzle up to someone because they are most welcoming (though we do appreciate these folks). Instead take the time to figure out what they’re all about. Pay attention. Spend time together doing normal things. Perhaps invite them on your Target run. If you can keep showing up, eventually that awkward fear-dance from step 4 will pass. Eventually you’ll see that you’re ok and that you’ll be ok, however this and any other friendship pans out. You’ll eventually manage to relax into it. Let them reveal themselves to you in their way and time. And you do the same. Don’t show up as someone you are not; it sounds juvenile, but us adults want to fit in it too, and sometimes we behave inauthentically to do so. Let the friendship grow, if it will, in an organic way. And remember, all good things take time.

Extra Thoughts & Tips:

  • New place, new friendships, new you. Embrace the opportunity to find friends for the person you’re becoming now. Sometimes bffs from another life time, no matter how awesome they are, make it hard to move into something new. You can love someone and also recognize that their place in your life needs to change to make space for something or someone new.
  • There is such a thing as too different. Our differences are amazing and make the world go round. That being said, it’s going to be hard to grow a real, deep friendship with someone with whom you share no interests and no values.
  • The people your life naturally takes you around- Do you know your coworkers? Your neighbors? The people in your church? If not, make the effort to meet and get to know them. If life isn’t naturally taking you the places you need to find people, then make it happen. Find the groups, the communities, the playgroups, the book clubs, the coven, the nature walkers, whatever- find where your people may be and show up!
  • Make notes. If you’re in a situation (new jobs, new churches, etc) where you’re meeting lots of new people, take notes. I keep a note in my phone. I jot down a new person’s name and something that may help me remember them. Martha, sat beside me at church. Short curly hair. Told me the President Lincoln letter story. I don’t study these notes or anything weird, but before I go into service on Sunday, I check my phone to see who I met last time. Can I find them? Recognize them? They may not remember me or know how I remember their name. But they appreciate it. And from these warm feelings, even if it’s not the roots of a deep friendship, can go a long way in lending to a sense of community and belonging. When I know them, I delete the note.
  • Make a goal of it. Pencil in your planner that this week you are going to invite_____ for a play date at _____. Then do it. And set a little friendship-initiating goal for yourself for each week. Baby steps.
  • It’s true that there are clingy people, toxic people, people who’s sole goal is to bring you into the fold at their church, to save your soul, to leech favors. These people do exist. But we “date” before we commit in order to learn who someone is and hopefully discern and separate from these folks. Beyond that, if you find yourself strapped to someone you don’t want to be…break up! Yes, I am talking about friendships here. Sometimes you need to break up. It’s not mean. It’s kind to you. The point in sharing this isn’t to make you hide-away to avoid this ever happing, but to point out that you are never really stuck. So don’t be afraid, take your time, embrace the process. 💜

The Search for Greener Pastures.

Early tomorrow morning, my family will be moving out of Texas. I moved here in 2009. Neither my husband nor I are from Texas but we met here in 2010, and with the exception of 2 years in Europe, we’ve been here. Now in search of cooler temperatures, nearness to family, scenic mountains, among lots of other hopes, we’re leaving behind something (and someplace) really good in pursuit of something great.

So this is what’s on my mind; Greener pastures.

When it comes to ditching something good in pursuit of great, I’ve felt both support and resistance from family and friends. I have no strong emotions or ties to either responses; these decisions are mine and my family’s. However, I’m interested in how diverse, how on very opposite sides of the spectrum (one being YES to changes, even big, life-altering ones. The other being NO. NO. NO.) many people are. I understand that adhering to structured beliefs, taking up a view of the world that is black and white, lends sense and organization to a pretty confusing place. But I’d argue that needing to consistently understand and simplify decisions and situations also robs us of vital growth experiences. The world is not black and white. We live in a world of grey. The trick, then, is to learn to see and judge your life and decisions with a sober view of what you have, what you want, to what degree various changes in your life could benefit you, and (in some cases) how much risk can you and your family take?

Happiness and contentment are not products of our outer worlds. But our environments, the jobs we do, the nature we are (or are not) surrounded by, the hobbies we enjoy, the households we create, the cultures we participate in- these things shape our lives, help us instill them with meaning, and simply help us have more joy. So from this perspective, I’d say that making changes that allow you to do more of what lights you up, to feel and see what lifts you up- well, that’s makes a lot of sense to me.

There are those who will endlessly be seeking something better, to have more, to be more, chasing something new to be happier, never still long enough to experience the joy of any given state. There are also those who will stagnate while defending their choices and fears using reason and “wisdom.”

And there is grey area, as there always is- the necessities for life do not allow many to up and ditch a job and lifestyle that is working and supportive. But the sentiment I’m aiming to share here is applicable on all levels; giant and tiny changes. Between the restless and stagnating folks out there, there is a world of grey. Where are you on this spectrum?

Are there changes in your life, small or large, that may give you a healthier, happier, or more interesting life? Are you so busy being busy that you never stop and smell the roses? Are there places in your life where the pastures are pretty lush if you’d only take the time to notice? In what ways do you feel called to growth? Do you resist change? Do you resist the moment you’re in right now? And most interesting to me, how do you judge and measure these things in your life?

talk to me.

 

That’s all for now- Strawberry Moon, Chapter 3 out tomorrow!

From one parent to another…

From one parent to another,
I won’t lie.
I’m afraid.
When again and again, repeatedly, we have days like today.
When we see loss and pain and tragedy,
And it hits so close to home,
And we seek some solace in our leaders,
But there are none,
We’re on our own.
From one parent to another,
I won’t lie,
My heart, it breaks.
I wonder how long we’ll fight for our rights despite who else’s rights and lives they take.
From one parent to another,
I’m appalled and mad and confused,
1 nation, divided,
Neighbors living worlds apart,
Our once-trusted systems abused.
From one parent to another,
Don’t turn away, it could happen to you.
So when it comes time to march,
To vote,
To take a stand,
To show up,
It matters that you do.
💜
#enoughisenough #santafeschoolshooting #guncontrolnow

Take the first exit off of “Sane-and-OK highway” and you’ll be in “Ruts-ville” in no time.

Recently on a breakfast outing with G (my husband), over what I consider to be the city’s best chicken and waffles, I expressed that I was feeling a bit in a rut (hence the copious amounts of butter, syrup, coffee, fried chicken and waffles…). This statement got a whole conversation started on our “ruts,” what gets us there, why and how it happens, and how (if possible) to avoid them, or maybe more realistic, pull ourselves out when we find ourselves stuck.

I feel like we can generally point it out when we’re there; what I’m more interested in is the road that leads to “ruts-ville.” Cheesy, I know. In a long diatribe with the intent to track my rut-road (this really displayed my husband’s amazing attention-span) I suddenly saw it; I saw where that road began.

It’s one thing, one moment where you’re feeling a little sensitive, a little self-conscious, a little self-doubt, but instead of feeling it and then focusing on all the reasons to feel strong, self-confident, and assurance, we dive into that fear and begin a wild, swerving race down the road to “ruts-ville.” Ok, let me explain…

Currently there are various happenings in my life that are not entirely in my control. For all you other control-freaks out there, you know how challenging that can be. I’m waiting for a response from a literary agent whom I would Love Love LOVE to work with. I’m on the cusp of beginning to teach yoga in a new city, a new studio, as a new teacher. In short, these are two of many going-ons that have the possibility to flare up my insecurities. Days go by and I haven’t heard from Agent Lady. The conclusion I jump to? My poem-formed query was a stupid idea, I’m a lousy writer, and really just an all-around twat. In my yoga practice, the conclusions and fears I hover over are similarly bleak. I fall out of a pose, forget what’s next, you name it= you can’t teach. You’re a clumsy cow, who would see you as a teacher? Ugh, joke! Seriously, mean inner conversations happening here. Take these obvious visceral things and mix them with the intricacies of moving with kids, setting up a new life, and really just all the ins-and-outs of daily life…it’s a concoction for a serious detour off of “Sane-and-OK Highway” right on down to “Ruts-ville.”

The nugget of wisdom that made me want to share this is the reality that it all starts in a moment. I miss my alarm? Yep, that could do it. I’m late getting my kids to school? Yep. No emails from Agent Lady yet? Yep yep yep. My pants fit just as tight as yesterday meaning that yoga doesn’t work and I’m just an eternal cow? Yep.

It’s not about the moment that brings up that insecurity. It’s about what we do when that feeling arises. It’s about making the choice to focus on the empowering aspect of any given moment rather than the aspects that bring us down, the moments that we make mean all these other irrelevant things (I’m stupid, lazy, not enough…etc).

We then become hyperaware of any moment, interaction, feeling that might solidify our fears that whatever scary conclusion we’ve come to about ourselves is true. Example- I slept through the alarm. So we’re late for everything. I’m so lazy, pathetic. Ugh, the other moms won’t be late. You are incompetent. You’ll never accomplish anything you want. And then when someone beeps in traffic, I assume it’s at me. A look from a stranger…yep see? Every moment then supports what I fear to be true. And voila! Momma is in “Ruts-ville.” Anyone else do this? I know you do.

 

The trick, I suppose, is to catch the moments where your self-doubt is triggered. Feel it. But then, instead of following that feeling and ending up with some disempowering message that you’ll go on to seek proof of (and find of course), choose not to follow it, but instead, to let it go. Instead of focusing on what’s not happening, on being late or behind, or feeling out of shape, feeling that your work may be rejected; Instead focus on what good IS happening right in this moment. So you’re late? Don’t rush, vow to come up with a system to help you be on time, pat yourself on the back for caring, and let it go. Feeling behind or out of shape? You are where you are today. Can you find something you love about where you are? Fear that your work will be rejected? Can you instead focus on the joy of doing work you love and putting it out there? Can you congratulate yourself for being brave enough to share what you create?

Choosing to uphold the perspective and belief that “I am enough” again and again, I believe, is “the secret” to keeping-going on down that “Sane-and-OK Highway.” There is, of course, a necessity to be realistic and to see ourselves with enough clarity to be aware of what ways and habits don’t serve us. But to use that knowledge to beat yourself down helps no one and certainly does not set you up for more successes.

Do you catch yourself when your insecurities rise?

Do you feel when you’re beginning to lose control, beginning that wild ride down to “Ruts-ville”?

What do you do to bring yourself back? To keep yourself moving along the “Sane-and-Ok Highway” as smoothly as you can? I’d love to hear.

 

In other news, I’m posting Chapter 1 of Strawberry Moon tomorrow. 1 chapter a week. Whooo! Stay tuned.

 

Jeannie Yogini

Jeannie Yogini PDF- CLICK HERE

(Note: Jeannie Yogini contains some profanity. fyi.)

I recently participated in a Yoga Teacher Training (RYT200). It was amazing and I felt the need to memorialize the experience and give a little something to the other amazing yogis I’m learning with. So I wrote Jeannie Yogini; Jeannie is in her first teacher training and learns that yoga is about so much more than poses. Enjoy!