Holidays, evil minions and expectations

 

We hold the holidays in high regard. The expectations are incredible, from family showing up and getting along to everyone having gifts to open. The tree must be just right, someone has to be in charge, a perfect dinner arranged and no one is supposed to worry about the finances. Those are just the generic ones. Every family is different and each one has even more expectations. I spent all day thinking about what to write about. I knew I needed to write but wasn’t sure what to focus on. Now it’s clear.

I love Christmas. I enjoy going all out, decorating everything, getting everyone well thought out gifts, cooking dinner and watching die hard and a Christmas Story. I have been pretty blessed in previous years, everyone put their personal stuff to the side for the sake of family. This is not one of those years. My truth…is that my mother and sister are estranged, my boyfriend and I are at a major crossroads, my pseudo step kids think I’m the devil incarnate, one of my friends thinks I’m inconsiderate and I’m sicker than a dog. My father and I are sharing the holiday together, both sick, unable to visit anyone with no tree or decorations. My expectations are destroyed and I’ve spent most of the day in total despair. In walk the evil minions…or gremlins as Brene Brown calls them. They are the voices in your head that tell you you’re not good enough, not smart enough, not strong enough, not pretty enough. You are not worthy of love and belonging. Those evil minions can be engaged simply by a comment someone says to you, but when shit really hits the fan their voices are all you will hear. For the last 5 days that’s all I heard. I’m sick, exhausted, beat up and kicked on the ground.

I could name all the reasons for my pain. Not being able to see the kids faces as they open the gifts we picked out so thoughtfully together is one at this moment. That was my choice, albeit a difficult one. The universe has insisted on my current solitary reflection. Sometimes, it is as necessary as the air we breathe. Never, ever, settle on your morals and your boundaries. I’m not saying be a martyr either, that always seems to lead to death. But if you want to attain peace and happiness as badly as I do then you must stand firmly and bravely in the face of negativity, blame and projection. I will not allow myself to develop a cloak of shame because someone else wants to blame me for their past. I am brave, I am worthy. I am a good person and work hard to nurture the relationships close to me. I am not someone else’s judgements or pain. I am not my past but the possibilities of my future. I am resilient and what is difficult today will strengthen me tomorrow.

No one can hurt me without my permission ~ Ghandi

Be very careful who you listen to when you allow their words to define your character. Very few are capable of pointing out things that truly help you to grow as a person. Most, in fact, will project their weaknesses, or self perceived flaws, onto you. Maybe they will misjudge you’re motives for having ill intent. Don’t get me wrong, not everyone has the best intentions and not everyone is good natured. Sometimes you may really need someone to put you’re butt back in line. I’m grateful for those moments. I’m strong willed and don’t always listen but I know when to admit I was wrong.

I found myself recently questioning who I was. My intentions were good. I wanted to provide stability, space for new roles, boundaries and love. Get to know who you are on your own. Self reflection and self love will carry you further than you can imagine. Not everyone knows how to love unconditionally, I’m still a padawan. Mastery of the force still eludes me. Not everyone will be considerate, patient and gentle with your shame triggers. Some people will purposefully summon your evil minions. Not everyone is a trusted friend. You are lucky if you have one, and very blessed if you have more. By listening to yourself you can be the one who decides what you need to work on and what you don’t. So, this holiday, release some of those heavy expectations, know you are doing you’re very best and appreciate every moment you have with family and friends. Merry Christmas. XOXO

~K

 

I’m late, I’m late for a very important date

 I’m dependably 10-15minutes late to just about everything. Do you see the white rabbit with his pocket watch running off to the party? I have a bunch of vibrant vivacious characters dancing around me throwing tea parties and speaking nonsense that is exhilarating, taxing and charming all at the same time. It’s also yet another distraction from being on time. I can distract myself all on my own so the variables around really turn up the volume. Ironically, I’ve been more on time lately than I have in a while! Why? Because there are more ways I could end up later than 10min? Maybe. Calling someone back on the phone though? Forget-about-it. There is so much energy around me on a given day that my cup over floweth. I am grateful.

What I learned through kids today…

1) If you say a curse word you have just given free license to say that same word as many times as possible in a given sentence.

2) If you say “don’t open the washer until it’s done and I will be the one to open it” apparently that is not a good enough explanation and it will then be opened prematurely with dirty clothes throw in.

3) Kids are brutally honest, hilarious and ALWAYS testing if you have that 3rd eye in the back of your head.

4) If you’re on the phone, your attention is urgently needed.

Letting go of fear and embracing your courage within

It’s omnipotence can be palpable at times. From a bad taste in my mouth and a lump in my throat to a heaviness in my chest or just an overwhelming urge to break down into tears. It can hold me back or propel me to flight. It can be useful if I’m outrunning a bear or debilitating and stopping me from expressing my authenticity. We all have it, we all know it. Some people say, “I’m not afraid of anything. Nothing scares me.” Bullshit. The ones that say that are even more scared than the ones that don’t. After the initial aggravation and vulgar thoughts where I’m judging that statement I remember, that IS fear.

We can’t ever live without it, it’s part of our biology BUT we can be aware of it. We can acknowledge it when it rears it’s ugly head, cordially greet it, and send it packing. If you’re physically being attacked, fear is highly useful, your fight or flight could save your life. However, in normal life it will usually cause you to hold back your authenticity, live a less fulfilled life and cause you to be plagued by anxiety. When you acknowledge your fears and bravely move forward in the direction of your dreams even though it’s terrifying you will find a happier, more complete version of yourself. I know when I hold back I begin to feel resentful and self loathing. If I hold back too many times in a row I begin to feel powerless, because my fear is in the drivers seat. The cure is a healthy dose of accomplishment, doing something I am confident I can complete and then doing something brave.

Fear is venom and the antivirus is bravery. The more unknowns, the bigger the gamble and the higher the fear. The higher the fear, the more courage and bravery you will need to summon in order to combat the fire breathing fear dragon. As I practice courage more often lately I find my self esteem, self talk, self image and self love all improve as does my patience and compassion for others. I want to live rather than exist, I want to be self-aware, I want to be a leader to others trying to find a way out of their self inflicted pain, I want to be happy and I want to help others be happy. I want to be authentic each and every day.

Fear punches authenticity in the face and says “Who do you think you are? You’re not good enough. You’re not smart enough. You’re not educated enough. You’re being rude by sharing your truth. No one wants to hear that. You’re wasting time. You have laundry to do. You need to focus on your to do list, not how you feel. You’re acting like a narcissistic teenager, only thinking of yourself.” Courage fights back. Courage is what gets you back on your feet, squares off with fear and says, “I’m scared but I am good enough, I am smart enough. I have something to say and I will do it compassionately but with firm boundaries. The laundry and the to do lists aren’t going anywhere, I will get to them as soon as I’m ok. I will always think of myself first because I will not be as important to anyone else as I am to myself. I love you for trying to protect me but you’re going about it wrong. Now take a seat because you’re in my way.”

Choose courage.

 

 

Moving sucks

I recently moved about 30 miles away from my previous address. Unless you’re well off enough to pay for a moving company, have someone magically pack all your things in boxes, tetris them into a moving truck, drive them to the new place, unpack the truck into the new place, clean the old house, break down all the boxes and organize the new house then like me you will have a week of anger, exhaustion and blame. I know I could have thought of it as an opportunity to learn more coping skills for stress but that eluded me at the time. I was much happier complain, snapping back when my boyfriend gave me attitude, and breaking down into tears periodically from pushing my body beyond it’s limits.

I’m human, I get mad and I hate moving. As if the moving isn’t difficult enough … you still have to eat, feed the kids and pets, go to work, get some sleep, do laundry and put your life back into some manageable order. I’m exhausted but I’m also grateful. The last week was extremely taxing but I surprised myself

Building trust with kids

Simply put, kids are tough. Whether they are yours, your partners, your students, or a friends child, they don’t make it easy. If you’re in any position with them where you need to have some structure, boundaries, or consequences there will definitely be resistance. Setting a boundary isn’t even the difficult part, being consistent and firm without anger or frustration THAT is the difficult part. 

I have 4 step kids and work at a multi-age school for mild to moderately disabled children. The kids at the school range from autism spectrum disorder to dyslexia and ADD. I am literally surrounded. 

Every day I have an opportunity to explore what works and what doesn’t. When I can set a boundary and when I need to let it go. No two days are the same and every day I learn something brilliant. 

You cannot establish healthy boundaries without first building trust, or atleast actively doing both. Building trust can be tricky with kids that are reluncatant to hand it out. It can be very complicated and very rewarding. I think there are some essential building blocks for trust. Authenticity, perseverance, flexibility, courage and humor. 

The foundation of the blocks must be authenticity. Sharing your experiences or atleast snippets of how you have failed will help them understand we are all human, doing the best we can and that you don’t expect them to be perfect. The better the example you set of being genuinely you, without allowing fear or anger to dictate your behavior, the more free they will feel to be themselves.

Perseverance and flexibility. The definition of perseverance is: steady persistance in a course of action, especially in spite of difficulties and obstacles. We have to be able to stick by their side, through the good and bad. We have to show them if they have a meltdown we’re here. If they have a proud moment, we’re there with our praise. If they break down into tears over something, we are there. The flexibility will help you react based on context and importance. This is where you can test setting some small boundaries. Every situation will be different, you have to be nimble and flexible enough to go with the flow of the moment. If you’re married to handling the situation a precise way, or getting a specific outcome, not only will you successfully aggravate yourself but you will fail at building trust.

Courage allows you stand strong in an emotional storm while perseverance is the act of moving forward through the mud and the muck. When the ball is not your court and you have to give a child some space or hear hurtful words without reacting angrily-THAT is courage. Courage will keep your heart in tact and perseverance will keep you moving forward. Humor is a coping skill and one of the final foundational blocks. The ability to redirect, or as my boss says in a playful, Monty Python tone, “and now for something completely different!” It’s ok to be firm with a boundary AND make a child laugh!! This is the toughest and the most important at the same time! If you can be firm and have the next step be childlike whimsy… You are now building trust.

Sending out lots of love to the universe!