Coming of Age

Photo by D.K. Brint
Photo by D.K. Brint

I’m not sure it has anything to do with approaching 60 in a couple of years but it probably does. I’ve become selective. Decisive. Choosy even. Grabbing the damn rudder and steering the frickin’ boat.

This coming from an individual who has always rolled with whatever; sometimes to my benefit and sometimes to my detriment, thankfully nothing that ever landed me in absolute dire circumstances. Thankfully life has been kind. I was the go with the flow person you’ve heard about, the let it be and carry on person. The shy wall flower, who rarely if ever said boo.

I am now more apt to walk away from something or from someone who annoys me, and I will not hesitate to openly voice my thoughts when someone’s view conflicts with mine. I don’t have time for acquiescence nor do I have to endure buffoons. I’ll tackle it all -politics, sex, religion or lawn care, what have you, you’ll hear my perspective. In fact there in lies an empowering statement: I DON’T HAVE TO.

Say it out loud-  Sooo liberating. This proclamation can be shortened to simply NO! Toddlers are on to something. I’ve come full circle.

I’m the boss of me. I know me better and acknowledge and respect my tolerances, shortcomings, the time I invest, and to what I prefer to turn my attention and to whom.

It’s clearly understanding my wants and needs, and if maturing can give me anything other than skin damage, a slowing metabolism, hair in unwanted places and the torment of hindsight it should give me that.

Who’s the captain now, eh?

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Just Wanna Celebrate

 

celebrate man with hat

I’ve never cared about “doing something” when celebrating a birthday. Even birthdays that marked a decade  transition were low key, lightly acknowledged affairs usually spent enjoying the evening with my family or having a lunch with my mom and sister. Anything more seemed fussy, pretentious and contrived. In fact it’s how I was raised, birthdays weren’t a big deal. I was fine with this. It was a day like any other.

Until a friend and former colleague showed me how birthdays should be done.
I noticed when her birthday came around she celebrated the whole month. Hey when the Queen of England has a birthday she celebrates for weeks. Why not the peasants? She treats herself to a weekend away, sometimes arranges a dinner party at a restaurant with friends-because she loves her friends- she gifts herself mini spa treatments, anything that gives her pleasure and joy.

She is honouring her life.

I may be a slow pitch but this is kind of a revelation. Honouring my life. And what better time to make that appointment with myself than on the day I popped into the world? When I put it in this context it changes what it means to celebrate. I am allowed to honour my existence. Why would I think this pretentious? It’s my life and I’m very happy to be here!

I can celebrate the fact that I have lived yet again through another year and got to do stuff I liked to do with people I liked for that whole year. I can make a wish in the hope that the next year will pan out, and  be alive to celebrate another one with those I love. At least for My Day I can be kinder to myself, be receptive and ready to embrace the positive and joyful encounters when presented, leave the dishes, have cake for breakfast for crying out loud.

The tough year(s) I’ve come through – still here!

So Happy Birthday to me! I’ll run with the ball for the day -(or a week or two or three) smile, be deeply grateful, and let myself maybe luxuriate if not with a spa treatment (may happen) at least in the fact that this is the youngest I will ever be.

Whoop Whoop!

How do you acknowledge and celebrate your life’s milestones and high points, how do you honor your life? Have you always done it BIG or quietly when no one is looking?

 

Own Worst Enemy

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Everybody falls prey to this once in a while, we beat ourselves up for acting foolishly or for not doing something that later we regret and wish we had. We can be hard on ourselves and tell ourselves to smarten up, to get it together, even to not be so stupid! And if we’re not diligent before we know it we’re on a slippery slope of negative self talk, turning a back on ourselves, to be abandoned to the wolves.

Last week I fell into that trap; it insidiously got a choke hold and squeezed out my level-headed, glass half full nature all together. As the day progressed I began to berate ALL my life choices, and all the things I had set out to accomplish but didn’t quite complete; the things I could have been and done had I not lacked courage and confidence.

Then I scolded myself for lacking courage and confidence!

I was so disgusted in my credulity. I was disappointed in thinking myself not  intelligent, clever, talented, socially cool enough, not achieving enough. I even compared myself to other women friends going back over 30 years ago and reprimanded myself for not being the Wonder Woman like they had been, juggling child/home/relationships while pursuing career with focus, tenacity and…oh yeah, COURAGE and CONFIDENCE!

OMG, it was like being on a waterside except I wasn’t squealing in glee towards a lovely warm pool but more into a frigid abyss of self-deprecation and feelings of inferiority!

In a sense I took myself to a back alley and beat the stuffing out of myself.

I don’t know how I had let myself succumb to such low blows, and I wasn’t wallowing in self-pity, I was pissed off at myself! I reprimanded myself for all the things I didn’t fight hard enough for, then once more with twice the passion for not fighting even harder for myself and what I wanted to fulfill in my life. I railed against every misstep, character flaw, and opportunity lost through my entire life up to now!  Sure I’ve confronted these same self doubts before but this time it was so much more. Hey, I’ve done some grand and yes courageous things that I’m proud of and I’ve shown confidence many, many times too. Why would I discount that then? Why was this so intense this time, why discredit myself so harshly? I wasn’t making any attempt to rescue myself from myself!

After a few days and having regained my composure I had to acknowledge the real fault was in my perspective and attitude when I lambasted my perceived shortcomings. We all want to be the best of ourselves at all times, to make precisely correct fitting choices, to always take the right roads in our lives. To be confident and courageous in all our decisions and conduct. What we want is perfection.

So instead of harsh self-criticism perhaps self compassion is the key here. To acknowledge the journey was and will continue to be  bumpy in places, to know there will be gaps and holes in the pursuit of goals and expectations. The message for me here is to forgive myself for being imperfect, recognize the good stuff  I do do (haha) and get realigned with my core values and celebrate my brilliant imperfection!

Ok, this is good, now it’s getting exciting, I like this water slide much better!

self esteem

Susan McGinn

It was grade 5 and the day to elect students to do class tasks. Tasks like wiping down the chalk board at the end of the day, making sure things were back in place, those kinds of things. Susan McGinns’ hand went up like a piston when the teacher asked the class for nominations. Yes Susan? Teacher said. I elect Debbie to clean the toilets, Susan said turning to me with a big smile, and the class of course laughed along with her. I think I dissolved into my desk, I can’t recall exactly. I blanked out. I think I was partly in shock that she could humiliate me and look right at me. Gutsy.

Susan McGinn started out as my friend who lived across the street. After school I’d go to her house and we’d watch National Velvet and eat cereal, other times I would help her dry the dishes that were left from breakfast and we would play “if I were a millionaire.”

She lived with her dad and they had a pool table where the dining room table should be. Their dog would sometimes shit under it, Susan would come home from school and find it there and clean it up. Her dad would be at work so she was by herself for a bit after school. He liked country western music and drank beer, but I remember he was quiet, kind and gentle.

I spent the night at her house many times and we’d put on “Sugar Shack” and sing ad nauseam in her bedroom and make up dance routines.

I can’t recall what it was that suddenly made her hate me so much. It was like a tap. Next thing I knew she had a vendetta on me. I don’t know what set her off, but my  school life became nearly unbearable because of it. Her confidence, as she rained down condescending remarks on me, was solid.

She could rally the class behind her and hold their attention as she picked apart my choice of clothing I wore that day. Man, I wish I had that kind of confidence. But I wouldn’t use my confidence for evil purposes. I think back to all of the great things I might have accomplished if I had had good Sue McGinn confidence. But my deficit in that attribute was deep and crippling. I was the quintessential Shrinking Violet. If you looked up Wall Flower, I’d be there.

Then one day a miracle. Sitting at my desk I feel a nudge from a classmate from my right, I turn to find an envelope being held out to me and I look past it to see Sue McGinn smiling the drippiest, diabetic, sugar drenched smile at me. It was from her. I took the envelope and inside was a card with a beautiful drawing of flowers on the front, drawn by her. She was making up! Finally my torment was coming to an end. I smiled back, then I opened the card.

I should’ve opened the card first so I wouldn’t have smiled first. I should’ve played it cool and taken the card with maybe a furrow in my brow that implied what the hell is this now? To show her I wasn’t falling prey to her wicked ways. I should’ve then opened the card like I could care less, then look right at her (the way she boldly does at me)  roll my eyes and toss the card back at her.

She got me. I smiled back before opening the card. She got me perfectly. Hook, Line and Sucker. I can’t recall what heinous hallmark curse was inside, I blanked out again from sheer embarrassed humiliation. My gullibility was chronic. She was goood.

She moved away not long after never to be heard of again. We moved too, out of Garden Grove to Huntington Beach and to a new school and though I never encountered the likes of Sue McGinn again in other classmates since, she did a stellar job of embedding a fear of criticism and being singled out in a group, even if for good things like a job well done or a talent or a job interview. Still very uncomfortable with any attention turned on me. But I’ve worked to overcome as we must as we mature, but she gave me some darn good stuff to work with. So, uh thanks I guess.