You are one of the strongest women I know…

Was received as both a compliment and a contradiction quite some time ago. But this statement likes to make a reappearance in my brain from time to time to remind me it was said. To fill my emotions with the security I felt the day it was mentioned. To almost tawnt me into the ring of life with an “are you chicken?” kind of tone. I know there are times I exhibit strength. I know there are times I have been stronger than others. I know I have pushed through certain types of pain that would melt the average individual. But all this pales in comparison to the massive list, I have in my mind of the times I have been anything but strong. Where I have been weak, weaker, the weakest. I give in to what others want, I sacrifice a dream because of fear, I look the other way because I don’t want the hassle, or I am afraid of what people will say or think of my choice.  So in the picture of the tipping scales, most of the time, I do not SEE myself as STRONG. So when I come face to face with one of my battles, I hear the second part of the conversation:

“…Are you going to let THIS define you?  Are you going to let this one thing defeat you?  This is nothing, this is minor, this is such a minute part of life; I cannot believe for an instant you are not strong enough to overcome it, defeat it, master it.” 

And there is was… a statement of BELIEF in who I am as a person.  A statement that reminded me of how much BIGGER and HUGER I have made this whole food, exercise, weight issue in my life.  Why isn’t this as straight forward as every other challenge I have undertaken?  Why has this habit, lifestyle, perspective taken up sacred untouchable territory in my subconscious?

For me it is simple… because I allow it.  I have decided that there are enough excuses, reasons, allowances for me to be this way, eat this way, live this way that it is OK to given in, give up, throw in the towel at a moments amount of pain.  People will understand, its okay, sometimes its just too hard, life just can’t always be won.  Everyone has something they struggle with.  But I must say I am tired of this being MY THING… I am ready for a new challenge.  I am ready for God to reveal to me something ELSE in my character I can master and correct and improve.  So no more excuses, no more permission, no more reasons it is acceptable to give in.

Make decisions now for the outcomes you want later.  So I am making decisions now that will give me the outcome later… In the center of my decision making process is the fear of pain, embarrassment, rejection, humiliation.  And I have determined that it is better to hide behind the physical boundary of weight than to deal with the world without it.  I heal my pain with food, I reward my pleasure center with food, I hide away in my room away from life and activity for fear of the pain mistakes bring, judgement holds, and life distributes.  But that is not the life I want, that is not the life I can have, that is not the life I am meant to experience.

Only one way to change direction… change actions.  It is time to build character, strength training for the soul, kick that belief out of command central of my feelings, and do things that hurt.  Do things that will stretch my heart, mind, & soul to new places.  I’ve tried easy, I’ve tried grace, I’ve tried one step at a time; but now its time to take command of my life.  Tell my inner self it’s time to get in line soldier… because we are going to the high places, we are going to change our name, we are going to do as the Shepherd says because the time of living as Much Afraid is over…

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Jr High Revisted… I Dare You!

I don’t know when it started… BUT SOMEWHERE in my life experiences; it became VERY VERY important to me to never let a challenge pass me by. To never back down when presented with an ultimatum, real or imagined. If my mind sensed the slightest inclination of the speaker to say something that I COULD NOT DO (either because I was too young, too old, too weak, too short, a woman, not experienced, etc), it was just as potent as those DOUBLE DOG DARE YOU threats you see in The Christmas Story. Mind you, no one actually said to me in just that way, or probably even meant it, but it is what my inner being HEARD. And when THAT happens, it is like a switch flips in me that begins the adrenaline pumping, vein pounding, attitude shifting determination that throws all other thoughts into minor insignificance.

There were moments while teaching Jr. High, when my resolve was so strong internally when it came to discipline and consequences with my students I felt like an impenetrable fortress. I had my days of caving in like any GOOD teacher would, but I also remember those days of standing with my arms mentally crossed displaying out-and-out defiance refusing to budge from the prescribed consequence for the next rule breaker.

I had such a moment at work the other day that reminded me of my teaching days. A co-worker was attempting to distract me because we did not agree on how I was working on a project. But they made the fatal mistake of saying they could “out annoy” me. It was in that moment I thought of one of my favorite interview answers (usually asked in reference to ability to handle difficult learners or my patience level): “I taught Jr. High, there isn’t much I can’t work through.” And there it was, the attitude of defiance. The dare beneath the surface… So I embraced it as such and tested myself. Could I genuinely out last this person, could I persevere through this juvenile taunting and annoying? And what do you know 2.5hrs later I DID!!! Now don’t get me wrong, this silly two-hour game tested my skills (and my patience) at getting work done despite being distracted, hurt, annoyed, frustrated, bewildered, bothered, etc, etc. But I was determined to not give in, I was determined to not let it stop me from what I was doing.

And just like that, I found something I thought I had lost. I rediscovered a part of me that I have been desperately missing. Although for miraculous reasons, did not realize was gone.  It is a part of me that has always been there, but for some life rationalizing reason, I locked it away hidden. But here it was, like brand new piece of jewelry I forgot I had.  And now that I have found it, it is not leaving my neck for any reason what so ever.  It’s mine and its shiny and I am going to keep it!!!

There it is!!! The Voice inside my Head is…

Is it amazing how one conversation with a Parent can change your ENTIRE perspective on the voices in your head?  I am currently in the never-ending debate between RENT or BUY.  I am not completely out of debt, but I am tired of moving, I am tired of sharing, and I am tired of getting 30-60 notices because someone wants to sell their HOUSE (that I am living in).  So I am kicking around the idea.  There are pros… there are cons… There is going to be money spent EITHER way.  But I started to get excited about the prospect of actually buying something… for ME.  NOW MIND YOU… I did say JUST getting excited about the prospect.  I haven’t looked at anything in person, I haven’t applied for loan approval, I am simply toying around the idea in my head like a young girl shopping for a new dress before the first day of school.  Does it fit? Do I REALLY like this color? Do I have the right shoes to go with it? Does it make my butt look too big?  But I digress….

When I shared just a fraction of a comment with my father about looking at buying a home; and without warning, without fail, without so much as a consideration I get THAT LOOK and those CAUTIONARY words that should seem so harmless, “…a house can be a burden, you have to take care of the yard, you don’t want to have to mow a yard do you? If something breaks your responsible…”   There must have been something on my face or maybe it was the way I started defending the fact that I LIKE MOWING THE LAWN (thanks to Dan’s gift of a faithful lawnmower) and working in the garden (and I Know how to hire a gardener).  When the all too late, but ever so vigilant retraction, “It’s not that I want to be negative….” BUT that’s EXACTLY what he was doing.  Raining on the parade, I wasn’t even HAVING YET!!!

And in the time it took me to drive home, I started to piece together years and years of conversations.  Phrase after Phrase of precautions, warnings, potential pitfalls that swarmed around my brain like pollen in the spring time.  Each and every phrase generating worry, doubt, fear, which then snowball into DISASTER!!! Yes I am a smidge dramatic, but then again so is my brain.  So these little comments that on paper could seem harmless and inconsequential start to completely derail me from a mere idea of something.

This is when I REALIZE… This is where they came from… This is the source of their existence… It is his comments throughout my life that have shaped a certain amount of how I do things almost out of habit.  Here I thought it was just my High – C, practical, fearful personality that was the creator of my cautiousness.  Here in living color and familial discussions, did I discover a significant piece of my WORRY.  I didn’t use to think I worried, I didn’t think I was fearful, I didn’t think I was holding myself back.  But in the last couple years, I have been seeing my life in a new light and there is Fear there I think… Worry… & trust issues.  I thought I was applying practical caution as someone who needs to take into consideration all the options before making a decision-that is going to be wrought with negative out comes anyway-but responsible well thought out decisions none-the-less.

But here it was, for the first time LOUD and CLEAR a part of what is holding me back.  The voice in my head giving me all the things to worry about before I even try.  I have seen the failure before I attempted, I FELT the rejection before I opened my mouth, I experienced the AGONY of defeat without the rewards of beginning the challenge.

So it is in this revelation that I propose a new perspective, a new voice per say: I am stronger than that, I am better than that, I am done lying low, I don’t need to play it safe, I am finished waiting to see, I am ready for a challenge, I can endure anything.  Well, almost anything, after all I don’t want to get my new dress dirty. 😉