You be the judge

As I continue my way through The Shack, I am continually surprised by the ideas and concepts that grab my attention. Under the justification of self-preservation, being alert, or just calling it like it is; so many times I find myself in this exact position. In the exact defense of my snap judgements or firm judgments of the people I see and meet.

“You have already proven yourself very capable [of judging], even in our short time together. And besides, you have judged many throughout your life. You have judged the actions and even the motivations of others as if you somehow knew what those were in truth. You have judged the color of skin and body language and body odor. You have judged history and relationships. You have even judged the value of a person’s life by the quality of your concept of beauty. By all accounts, you are quite well-practiced in the activity.”

WOW… What a statement. And it clearly speaks to me in that punch to the guy kind of convicting way.  I have made judgements and decisions, comments and conceptions all based on my gut reaction, my emotional feelings, and my eyes sight; but in all honesty how much of that is truth. How many times have I had that conversation YEARS later with a friend or co-worker that revealed some deep dark secret about their first impression of me? Or my feelings and thoughts of them? At which point, we have a great grand laugh and joke about how good our friendship is now and continue to tell the stories that make us who we are.

But in those moments of revelation is there not an ounce of concern or worry? Do people not think for just a second about what a judgemental their friend is for thinking those things? How about the idea that if these truths about perception had been revealed in those early moments, the friendship would probably have never formed?

Where oh where did this come from?  Why do I do this? <– My question for EVERYTHING I do that I don’t like.  So I search my heart, my life experience, my mind, and my feelings.  At times I wonder are there they reasons, excuses, justifications or something more dramatic like genes or upbringing (nature and nurture – gotta love it.) Yet for me I find its deepest, loudest voice is found in fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of rejection, and fear of failure. That if I can not understand it then it will hurt me.  If I cannot put it in its box, I cannot predict it and prepare for what it will do.  If it is not like me then it makes me uncomfortable.  If I do know KNOW what it is capable then I cannot protect myself, because I NEED protecting… I always need protecting… if I don’t do it no one else will.  (There’s a thought for  future blog dissection. )

As much as I would love to live in that exotic place with my gold crown shines beautifully, I must be honest and truly search for why I cling to the need to continue as I always have (Brent knows how much I like Cleopatra).  Evaluating, observing, deciphering, determining, planning, perceiving, and in all it does translate into a form of Judgement.  And where does the first glances of innocent first impression fleeting thoughts turn into brick hard judgement?  At what point, do I insert the wall of mistrust because of a statement, joke, look, gesture, or story someone has shared?  When does my perception of their person become a judgement in my mind against that person? 

This da Judge???

And even worse at what moments in time do I then say those things out loud to another person, passing it off as truth with a capital T?  For then they accept my judgment or decision on that person and apply it to their behavior or interactions with that person.  And in the blink of an eye a fleeting thought, hurt feeling, misunderstood statement, or giving gesture gone awry has turned into this pile of judgement against a person. 

So I am taking a couple of days to dig deeper into my thoughts surrounding judgment and where it comes from in me.  And even share some of the things I hear in my mind when I do it, not in the form of justification, but in an effort of self-disclosure.

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People Pleaser no more… If that’s ok with you?

Somewhere in my vast training I forgot to learn something. I forgot how to learn how to not care what people think. A friend of mine a few years ago sat in my living room and called me a people pleaser. Now that may not seem like much to the rest of you, but in my mind that was the most perfect form of insult you could throw at me. I was aghast, appalled and a few more adjectives I will refrain from displaying. I did not however SAY anything to this person simply because I didn’t want to be rude. Some of you may even ask, what is wrong with that? Isn’t it a good social skill to know what it is that people want and try to adapt a situation to fit it? Maybe if you are a marketing firm trying to sell more chocolates but not as an independent free thinking opinionated single woman who wants to make her mark on the world.

The thing you have to realize is that I have been working for over a decade of my life to shed this character trait. I have been trying so desperately to be my own woman, make my own decisions, and try oh try NOT to do what only everyone else wants. The problem is I think I have revert back to this behavior because I have found a good EXCUSE. Isn’t that always the way of it? We fight against a particular tendency or habit only to discover a perfectly good REASON for us to continue doing the original behavior. So we justify, rationalize, and make excuses for said behavior all in the name of the REASON.

I mean I have been trying to accommodate most of my friends to spend time with them, is that pleasing? I don’t invite people to go out to dinner because I know I will have to compromise on where to go, gotta go with the flow, right? I even censor my opinions and ideas as it could possibly offend, is that for the people? I even took a huge break from blogging because I was afraid IF a certain person was reading it, misunderstanding it, and causing chaos in my life, now that was just SILLY know, I KNOW!

Even this week during MY vacation, I have been in a constant struggle with knowing what to do when, with whom, or in what order. I mean FOR HEAVEN’s SAKE since when did my happiness or relaxation become about whether or not everybody else was pleased? Some how I have lost whatever healthy ground I had gained in this area.

I have started to read about specific women in the bible and have had some genuinely heart-felt connections occur in my mind that I thought would make good blog posts. Only to be confronted with the idea, “No one wants to read about that, its boring; besides shouldn’t you have had these insights like years ago (if you had been reading your bible); it’s this basic bible stuff your JUST now figuring out?” I mean nothing screams trapped than an insecure person having a fight with a paranoid worrying personality with a co-dependant people pleaser. I am not laying a claim to any of the other parts of those (at the moment), but it is definitely beginning to cause me some concern.

So just as the original intent of this blog was to write WHATEVER, WHENEVER, HOWEVER it comes out… I am giving myself permission to view it that way again. It isn’t necessarily about the comments, hits, likes I get—although I must admit its kind of addicting at times—it is about writing and sharing and storytelling. It is with this renewed attitude and focus that I take up the pen, well keyboard and begin this process… yet again.

Is that ok with you?

Life is Pain, Highness.

Begins a quote from one of my favorite movies of all time.  Not because it is a romance with all the GOOSHY ICKY girlie feelings in it, but because it tells an incredible story.  And in that story there are some of the finest quotes ever spoken, bit dramatic, well just remember who the writer of the blog is.  Yet as I continue my ever so slow read through “The Shack” I am finding that there are certain pieces of perspective that are triggering parts of my own world view.  And this day it was the “Here come Da Judge” chapter. 

In this season of life, I am struggling with meeting new people, believing their input, trusting the sincerity, and leaning on them for support.  Now each of these things are at different levels of relationship (I understand), but my heart’s goal is to have true community and be able to lean on people for support.  In turn also be there to provide support emotionally, physically, and financially as much as I can.  So at times the first thing is completely bogging down the ability to accomplish the end goal.  For some reason the ability to just relax and enjoy the newness of a potential friendship is clouded by the fear of OH SO MANY THINGS.  So in my giant list of REASONS why I do not step out and reach out and initiate just the simplest of HI how are you?  There is this paralyzing wave that over takes me and I am beyond my normal strength to break through it. 

When reading today it occurred me the part that what I fear is the pain.  The potential pain or the fear or experiencing the SAME pain I have in the past.  I worry that these people will do all those things I fear: laugh at me, reject me, ignore me, humiliate me, make fun of me, and yes most importantly LAUGH at me for trying.  Then even deeper is the thought what if these people cannot be trusted?  What if I put in all this effort and energy and they hurt me ANYWAY? What if I believe this is real genuine heartfelt honest to goodness friendship and they abandon me, again.  Again… What a word that is… and it of course launches me into a whole new pile of analysis.  But that one is the heart of this posting ANYWAY. 

Again… Abandoned again… Left Alone again… Even harsher Hurt again… Ignored Again… Rejected Again… Humiliated AGAIN… All of these phrases take me to memories in my head that are specific to some of the most painful, hurtful times in my life.  But amazingly enough these people (most of them) were and are my friends.  The ones at the time I trusted, leaned on, relied on, opened up my deepest of worries and concerns… but they still hurt me.  Not on purpose, not with malicious intent, not to inflict harm.  Yet they hurt me. 

Just recently I had a situation with some of my nearest and dearest friends (at least so my emotions would tell me) and I feel like I trust them with so many parts of my life and soul.  But our exchange was hurtful, their advice biting, and their understanding of my dilemma was completely absent.  Instead I experienced judgement, criticism, unwarranted advice, and condemnation.  It confused my heart, it baffled my emotions, and left me feeling completely depressed and disoriented. 

With that episode firmly lodged in my recent memory, I was confronted with an ugly truth.  They will always hurt you, they will always disappoint you, they will always come up short.  So if my friends that I trust and believe in will, can, and DO hurt me… how is that any different than the strangers I am so afraid of meeting.  How is my perspective in trying to start something new so scary and insurmountable because they can’t be trusted, when really truly no one can be trusted not to hurt me. 

That is not how this world operates, that is not a reasonable expectation in this fallen world of selfish people… myself included. The next thing in realizing that life is pain, highness is to attempt to remedy life inside a world of pain.  How then does someone walk through this life with reasonable expectation of being hurt, but not allowing it to destroy them or deflate them?  How do I embrace the knowledge that pain is coming without being paralyzed by the fear of its coming?

Think like an Athlete

Today begins again another attempt to start the restart.  I have been planning for days and working on getting my mind and my motivation ready.  I have cleaned out the house, prepped my food, and moved my mind into a place of submission (for now). But I just can’t help feeling like this is just another futile attempt at something that can’t end in anything but failure. 

What a Failure

How do I ever get back in the game?

And not just one of those I gotta B instead of an A types of failures.  No I mean the kind that brings hopelessness, chaos, discouragement, fear, and “who cares it doesn’t matter anyway” type talk. This kind of place got me thinking about that impossible hopelessness feeling…

I remember those days when it was drilled into my every waking moment that CAN’T was not a word.  It didn’t seem to matter whether it was from school, home, or sports; it was a belief that was spoken with power and conviction.  I am beginning to believe that this life philosophy whether societal, academic, or athletic driven it truly planted a deeply rooted attitude in me.  It didn’t matter what I felt, thought, desired, or believed the meer idea of CANNOT, COULD NOT, UNABLE, IMPOSSIBLE were simply a lazy man’s vocabulary.  All the talk about winners never quit and quitters never win is something I KNOW pushed my average life forward towards an above average goal.  But I sit here wondering where that philosophy went in my life.  I don’t hear myself saying those words of push and promise and drive and ambition and goal focused. 

Instead, I hear myself giving me permission to be less than I can be.  Giving reasons and excuses to why I can’t do this or that.  I have been putting in my resignation before I even TRY to be sucessful and make a difference.  Regardless of the type, if I feel the smallest amount of resistance and I reach for the towel.  I don’t even try to push through the discomfort.  I am convinced there is no gain after the pain.  I am not reaching through the pain or seeing the beauty through the sweat; I am definitely not realizing the Prize of Achievement. What happened to the girl who would run laps because the coach said so.  The girl who wanted the best time even though she had no chance of beating the top swimmers.  The person who went to speech events with horrible material, yet pushed to make finals and walk out with a ribbon.  The woman who wanted to grow more, learn more, know more every day.  Not to mention the Soul who wanted to change the world… where did she go? 

Even thought this simple area of my life seems to revolve around food and exercise with plenty of plans, techniques, promoters, and know it alls; I find it reaches deeper into my soul and identity than a simple choice between a donut and an orange.  With every confusing step I take these days, finding the right motivation, right feeling, right method, right attitude seems to be the only way I find success.  But this has only led me to temporary victories and marginal successes (yes I will agree 93 pounds is a touch more than marginal); but alas it was still just temporary. 

So as I begin the CHOICE today to resume my plan, submerge my feelings, and focus on the goal; I was asking for the key.  The key to knowing how to make this stick, unlock the deep dark love affair I have with food, push me kicking and screaming through the tough times.  Knowing that in the past my emotions always seem to win out in the end, I was struggling to find the reason the motivation the desire the TRUTH to why it is more important to be healthy than happy (doesn’t that sound like a blog post all by itself. )

I prayed for some point of reference that would make sense to me.  Trying to find some real world example where someone continued to try and try and try even after repeated PUBLIC, HUMILIATING, and DISCOURAGING failure… And in pleading for an example, I received the image of every athlete I have ever watched in the Olympics.  So many of them were NEVER brilliant from birth, they did not arrive at the Olympics after years and years of perfect execution of their event.  athletes are the prime example of constant failure, yet that never stops them.  They miss their mark, come in 2nd place or last, drop the baton, hit a pole, miss a turn, slip and fall, or just get BEAT… and with all the press and cameras and people commenting on their every move along with showing it on the instant slow moe replay for 100 times; they still get up and try again and again and again. 

I recently watched a documentary on Chris Evert (one of my hero’s growing up) and Martina Navratilova and their rivalry.  I was reminded of their continued competition for years they would compete.  But for a series of 3 years Chris could not beat Martina, losing 13 consecutive matchs-TALK about discouragement.  Listening to Chris talk about that time, she tried everything she knew to do to try to compete with Martina.  She struggled and struggled but just could not beat her.  In that moment, I heard myself whisper, “Why keep playing if you know you could never beat her?  Why not just take the successes of you youth and walk away?  Why is it worth all the fight knowing you just can’t beat her?” 

I can't do this anymore its too hard

And there it was… the evidence that the fight in me was gone.  That competitive fight I had when I was younger was replaced with the resignation of taking the easy road because victory was impossible.  Yet, Chris didn’t do this.  She kept playing, training, fighting, competing and even though it took her time to achieve her victory over Martina; she did it.  So as I was mentally trying to prepare for the long game of this competition between me and food I was drawn back to my sports days of running laps, fielding grounders, and doing suicides on cement (love softball in California) and asked myself does that girl still live?  Isn’t it time to find take that girl back out onto the field and remind her that a competitor doesn’t quit when they fail.  An athlete doesn’t determine they have lost based on the score, this time they are fighting for the win.  This time could be the Hail Mary pass, this time the record could be broken, this time I could be the winner…. and that only works if I’m in the game. 

Alrighty friends and fans… June 6, 2011 begins the first inning… first at bat… first stretch… first swing… Today I made it through on plan. 🙂

Hope – Its not just Fluffy

The beginning of the bolder being moved into change in my life started with FPU – Financial Peace University.  Something about the way Dave Ramsey – say things – Straight, Direct, No Excuse, Funny, with No Apology.  It got me moving.  I am on a plan, I am paying things off and making slow progress, but its is progress.  I only have 3 more years on my debt.  10 year on the student loan.  BUT I am on the road.  This started Spring 2008. 

Then I started on Medifast: Food plan that has gotten me to lose 85lbs so far (July 2010) so far.  But the biggest effect it has had is my perspective on food and the constant emotional struggle and fight I have with myself about control.  It really REALLY comes down to this one area I don’t want to surrender.  I am fighting with myself everyday these days.  But I started to start over every day.  I know this is the right plan and it is working out the character of my real life, who I really want to be.  This started July 2009. 

Even in my season of getting mad and fighting through the feelings of despair and hopelessness, I did not realize how the hope of success carried me.  It wasn’t just a delicate doily in my pocket that I waved in the air.  It was this Marble Pillar I grabbed hold of with all my might and pushed and pulled and wrapped my arms around because I knew what I knew what I knew that this was the future.  This WILL be my success, my HOPE that i would make those daily choices to allow me to keep hold of this victory became the sword that I wielded against every little thought that would attempt to pull me away from my goal.

More than Fuffy

NEW DAY
NEW BEHAVIOR
NEW RESOLVE
NEW DEDICATION!!!!!!!!!!

This is just as important this year as last year.  It means JUST as much to me this year as last year.  It took me almost 2 years to get the Dave Ramsey stuff on track… WHY would the food struggle be any easier. 
 
Behavior change affect the attitude change. The same goes for motivation and achievement. It seems if we are just motivated we will achieve our goals. However, it is just the opposite…motivation comes from achievement. The more you achieve the more you will be motivated.

To me that is such the complete opposite of everything I remember hearing.  I remember voices saying just be disciplined, make the sacrifice, be uncomfortable, make the choice.  And as much as I am realizing there is definitely a place for each of those thoughts and attitudes.  I can definitely agree with a standing ovation in the cheering section, that when I achieve something, no matter how small how insignificant to the rest of the world; I AM MOTIVATED!!!!

I still do battle with the worthlessness, I still hear the voices of self-doubt and I still rebel against what is good for me.  But when I see the achievements, when I feel the improvement, when I KNOW what I know WHAT I KNOW that I have accomplished, achieved, even MASTERED something in ANY way.  My motivation is stronger.  My drive has returned.  My Hope is Brilliant and Glowing. 

It’s no wonder that I have 5 different songs on my iPod at the moment ALL by different artists with the theme of: It’s a brand new day, New Day, New perspective, New pathway, New Challenge to inspire my psyche as I spend more hours than I care to count in my car. 🙂

Goals can be a bad thing

A friend suggested I give myself A BREAK!!! Seems like such an easy, NICE, PERFECT idea, RIGHT?  Not for me some days… Most days… these days.

I have this NEED to improve myself, work on things, get things right, make progress, make better decisions, etc.  But I sometimes (ok BE HONEST – ALWAYS) set these INSANE goals… too lofty… too high… too difficult for almost ANYONE to achieve.

But that is what I was taught in Motivation and Leadership class in college.  That is what all the successful business people tell you to do.  Even the bible says that a wise man builds with a plan.  So everything I hear is about making plans, working harder, and setting goals.  Goal theory describes making goals DIFFICULT, SPECIFIC, and MEASUREABLE.  Difficult because you will push yourself beyond the comfortable to reach a higher level than if you just set an easy goal.  Specific because you can look at the details of your progress as you are making changes and taking action.  Measureable because if you can not see where you are in improvement by using some kind of measure then it is not motivational and you can’t say you ACCOMPLISHED or Failed.

If I look at my life in terms of grades (because that is a measurement, I understand at my deepest levels-having spent many many years in school), I would say I’m getting a C- or D+ on the food, exercise, and finances areas of my life.  I mean that is still passing; but BARELY.  And some how some way my psyche is expecting A or A+ on everything all the time.  Isn’t that how things are supposed to be done?  I try and try with gusto, passion, and good intentions… the results are supposed to be success and success with a perfect output.

I mean, come on, other people can do it.   Just look at all those sound bites we hear about the millionaires who worked and worked and is now successful.  Or the athlete that OVERNIGHT became this great amazing stupendous professional.  Or what about the person who just woke up one day and decided to exercise themselves to an amazing tiny size and POOF they did it.  Ok, Ok, OK I will fess up… most of those stories have some amount of failure, disappointment, or stagnation in the middle of the story before the GREAT GIANT AMAZING success.  But for some reason my mind doesn’t every HEAR that part of the story.  So I see myself as the below average non-achieving failure.  I ask myself: Why am I falling so far below the marker?  How come I can’t have instant or first time success like all these other people I have seen? 

You would think that I have some kind of logical approach to these areas in my life that are not easy.  That if I am not strong in this area, it’s not a strength for a reason.  It is going to take some training or retraining, maybe even some practice.  And by all means, I shouldn’t expect Perfection the first time, or two, or three DOZEN times, no matter how much I push or persuade or drive myself into some kind of evil, oppressive obedience (because as we all know that doesn’t work).

So this ties in beautifully with my post on the Re-Do button.  That I need to allow myself permission to mess things up.  I need to allow myself the grace to try and fail; to try and kinda fail; to try and almost not fail; and maybe then… JUST MAYBE to try and not fail so much.  I might actually make some progress to overcoming the weaknesses in my life… To making better decisions on my finances, food, exercise, and emotions.  I mean Rome wasn’t built in a day what makes me think a human can be changed in a year, or two or three for that matter.

So a BREAK it is… No judgement, no measurement, no goals right now… Just live, and laugh and BE… The goals will be there tomorrow.  I couldn’t bring myself to throw them away.

What I have Overcome

There are moments when something  just connects with my heart.  Its been a challenge over the last few months,  trying to find balance between logic and emotion, between what is and what should be, between hope and despair… But in all this I have seemed to find a series of songs that have literally leaped out of the speakers of my car to speak my life into words. To take the emotions I am feeling and the words I can not imagine and put them to music that pierces a point into my soul.  And when I travel for work it is exciting and new and different and I LOVE all those components.  I have never wanted to do an 8-5 in cube land, but then there comes a time when my heart is just longing to go home. There are only so many times a person can pack and unpack their car without it affecting that sense of stability and routine.  Personally, I HATE routine as a general rule… but I am realizing I need some of it for my mind to feel a sense of peace (maybe not a lot… but a little).   

When I am in a place of chaos and upheaval, some of the most raw and deepest emotions CRASH (not float or rise, but CRASH) to the surface.  I am then pushed to find resolution or some form of managing style just to function in my life.  So when those feelings overwhelm me, there seems to be internal affairs team that goes straight work on my self-worth and performs an internal audit on my value as a person.  Regardless of the victories I have had lately or how many people have said “I am amazing”, this team has ability to discount and discard all those things and go straight for the negative points. 

Anyone ever been through an audit?  It’s not about how well you are doing its about writing on  a list all the ways you have “failed” meeting specific standards and conditions.  There is a point by point evaluation by the strict unemotional adherence to the “rules”.  As much as I have grown in encouraging myself and letting myself see me as God sees me – valuable, worthy, beautiful, precious; this audit team has the ability to remind me with LOUD voices I am not perfect – NOT EVEN kinda, or close or even much better than last time.  I mean cuz when you miss things on an audit you don’t get kudos for the B-, it’s a simple Pass or FAIL!!!! No matter how much progress I’ve made, the audit team is never satisfied if they can continue to find imperfections, issues, and problems.

When this song came across my iPod in an almost accidental connection with my brain, at least enough to listen to the WORDS, I realized this needed to be my new fight song.  This needed to be what I repeated in my mind and sang loud and proud to the audit team that wants to insist I am failing in all these areas STILL. 

“What I’ve overcome”

I’ve got this passion, It’s something I can’t describe, It’s so electric, It’s like I’ve just come alive
I feel this freedom, Now that my past is erased, I feel the healing, I’ve found the meaning of grace

If only You come see me yesterday, Who I used to be before I change, You’d see a broken heart, You’d see the battle scars
I’m not what I have done
I’m what I’ve overcome

I know I stumble, I know I still face defeat, This second chance is, What will define me
So I’m moving forward, I’m standing on my two feet, I’ve got momentum, I’ve got someone saving me

I make mistakes and I might fall, But I won’t break, I’ve got someone saving me
Funny how words can’t explain, How good it finally feels to break the chains

I’m not what I have done
I’m what I’ve overcome.

There is just something about that phrase “I’m not what I have done, I’m what I’ve overcome” and in the light of so much these last few months, I am reminded that I have overcome A LOT of things in this life. My mother dying when I was 15, being torn away from the one community I loved and cherished, having to find my own way to pay for college, moving out on my own with no support no back up no home base. Struggled to find direction at church, work, life; Put myself through university and despite all my weaknesses and short comings finally graduated; fought to find a job, get an adult job, and work through my own emotional crap that seems never-ending and poisoning at times. And I still continue to decide I have to remember that I have battled a lot, overcome a lot, and survived a lot. So much of why this song seems to ring so true to me.

So in the most eloquent words of my best friend Heidi, the Audit team can… “SHUT IT!!!” (Insert funny sarcastic comic inflection here, for emphasis.)