Is it Really Worth Getting Annoyed?

Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult.  – Prov 12:16

Some days when I don’t know what to read, I go to the chapter in proverbs for the day of the month.  And today as with most days there is confirmed wisdom and subtle reminders of whom to live.  This one seemed to have a lightening bolt attached to it.  A jolting reminder with “Oh yeah!!!” qualities.  There was  a time not so long ago when I hear someone say, “People don’t MAKE you feel miserable, YOU make you feel miserable.” And with RADICAL fervent objection, I argued with myself and God about its truth.  Only to come to the all to startling realization… Yeah that’s true.

Why was I believing other people had the control or influence over me like that?  How was I allowing people to make me FEEL miserable?  And before I had even made it through the first day did I realize it began with the little annoyances.  I would start with the stupid drivers on the way to work, followed by the lazy people I worked with, interrupted by the selfish friends I had, and topped it off by the rude people I lived with.  (HORRIBLE overgeneralizations I agree as well, because life really isn’t that bad and people really aren’t that awful.)  But it was so easy to come to those beliefs just by a few actions that people said, did, expressed, or didn’t do in connection with my world that I would spiral down into a pit of anger and frustration without even blinking.

So what can I do? Surround myself with better people, change my outlook, move to another state to start fresh?  But what if I could CHOOSE to NOT let others frustrate me, not allow the things I don’t like bother me, or not feel people’s actions as an intentional affront to my goals. I didn’t think it was possible, I didn’t think it was changeable, I didn’t believe there was a way I could reprogram my mind and emotions… but I was wrong.

Upon reflection of my life I have noticed: I have changed a lot.  I have grown a lot.  I have overcome a lot.  And there was a huge credit to many people who coached me, taught me, mentored me… but what I have forgotten is that I let them in.  I let them change my way of thinking and operating.  I told myself I could do things differently, I could do things better, I could do things RIGHT.  So even though I may not have known HOW I did it… I did it all the same.

So this time I tried to change my mental thinking: whenever something would irritate me, I would talk myself out of being irritated.  Who knew words from the inside to the inside could be so powerful.  They could have such an effect.  That just telling myself this annoyance wasn’t really annoying me THAT bad, or that in the grand scheme of life what does it matter that I didn’t like how someone did that, or ever What does it matter to me that they are doing it WRONG?  Just to name a few of the mental challenges…

And amazingly enough it was fruitful.  I found my frustrations lessening, my annoyances reducing, and my stress level falling.  So this verse just reminded me that I can choose the way of the prudent and overlook insults.  I can choose the way of the wise and believe I can be changed from the inside out.  There is hope that growth still occurs, change is still possible… this dog can still learn a few tricks.


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…

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. 😉

Its Just December Its not the End of the WORLD…

So we are just beginning the last month of the year.  The time when we are supposed to be relaxing into the holiday spirit, enjoying the fact that the end is near, and telling ourselves that we should put off those goals and changes until January of NEXT year.  But for some reason I am just not feeling that this year.  It’s not that I have accomplished so much that I don’t think I need to make the traditional New Year’s Resolutions, it is because I am finally in a comfortable track of working on MY weight loss I don’t want to take a break for the Holidays.

It reminds me of the first year I started this program with Medifast because I was spot on, no cheating, no breaks for the entire month of December and I was perfectly fine.  I didn’t feel that overwhelming desire to eat sweets, over indulge, or test out the treats of the season; and with it came an amazing accomplishment of actual weight loss in December.  Now don’t get me wrong I had a nice Thanksgiving dinner, and I enjoyed asparagus with Hollandaise sauce, ham, and scalloped potatoes for my Christmas dinner.  BUT I did not write off my ENTIRE month of December in belief that I couldn’t make it through the holidays. 

So this year, I have been back on plan for 7 weeks and it has had its challenges, and I have not be completely successful BUT I have had a general positive movement in getting healthier.  I haven’t been agonizing over being hungry.  I haven’t been stressed out over how boring the food is.  I am even finding myself lost in certain days where I have forgotten to eat my full calories because I am deeply focused on life and not food.  It is finally nice to feel like food is just ONE area of my life and not EVERY waking thought. 

So as I begin to get my mind focusing on those things that are important to me… Yes I am still trying to figure that out, I am confident that food will become less and less important.  Although I can promise you WAY more posts about my struggles and victories as I work through this process.

I even exercised TWICE!!! Now that may not seem like much to most people, but for me that is progress. 

I even got a little giddy and excited when I noticed they are coming out with 2 new food options.  I mean how focused am I?  Now granted it is a chocolate chip cookie bar and what looks like Orange Juice… so how can a girl NOT be excited?

Independence over relationship

Somehow my entire adult life, I have been striving to achieve independence. Independence from my father, independence from debt, independence from food, and independence from men. Now please attempt to take those as they are intended which is a stand of strength, confidence, and accomplishment (not that I was trying to be an island or hide away in a cave). So the decisions I currently make are all based on the intent to further my independence, to prove that I can DO IT myself. In the past I have found myself to be quite competitive in this department, which has led to quite the conflict with most of the men in my life.  Which at the time I found fun, enriching, and exciting; for the men NOT SO MUCH. 

I believe I have generally been driven to  be that capable, confident woman who can live out in the real world and survive. Not necessarily by myself, but that I can do the things I need to do when they need doing. And in my humble opinion and the opinion of some of my trusted advisors; I haven’t done to shabby. I have a job that is in the field of profession I was seeking (not perfect but about 75% there). I live in a house with roommates where I manage the finances, pay the bills, and keep the lights on (now the cable is a completely different story-hee hee hee). I am striving to get my finances under control and I will be debt free (except my student loan) in less than a year. My food is beginning to see the signs of management and control, but alas I am working on it (some days are better than others). Each of these things I have done myself-the independent woman. I have reached out for prayer, support, help, connections, ideas, and a ride from time to time; but in my mind it was still done myself.

So the idea of releasing my independence over my life is a completely foreign, abstract thought that has no place in reality. The idea that this whole time I have been working towards a counter productive goal seems just silly and completely off balance. As I continue my trek through the book, The Shack, I find myself in a state of confused agreement. Why is it that when I read that independence takes us away from God and out of relationship; I admit I was dumbfounded? The idea that this goal of independence in my life, in ALL aspects of my life, has taken me out of relationship with God and maybe even out of relationships with others, has my psyche chasing its tail. It really began when I read:

“When you chose independence over relationship, you became a danger to one another.  Others became objects to be manipulated or managed for your own happiness.  Authority, as you usually think of it, is merely the excuse the strong ones use to make others conform to what they want.  In your world the value of the individual is constantly weighed against the survival of the system-political, economic, social, or religious.  One… are easily sacrificed for the good and ongoing existence of that system.  Unencumbered by structure and stress to simply be in relationship with me and one another.  If you had truly learned to regard one another’s concerns as significant as your own, there would be no need for hierarchy. Broken humans center their lives around things that seem good to them but will neither fill them nor free them.  They are addicted to power, or the illusion of security that power offers.  When a disaster happens, those same people will turn against the false powers they trusted.  In their disappointment, either they become softened toward me or they become bolder in their independence.”

How is it that this seems so DIFFERENT than anything I have ever heard, but rings so true to my core. Maybe this is why so many people speak of this book’s value. The idea that independence translates so quickly to manipulation caught me off guard. I have this EXTREMELY negative aversion to the concept of manipulation in word and in deed. But the more I am becoming aware of my surroundings the more I am realized I am manipulated every day without my consent (between the internet and my television not to mention my well-intentioned friends, I am beginning to wonder how much the marketing machine is winning). So if I am independent, I am manipulating and managing people for MY own happiness. That sounds so vulgar and cruel. It sounds controlling and deceptive. It represents something I had strived my whole life not to be.

It even becomes a stronger thought when he writes of hierarchy because that is something I have learned to trust. Official political, business, or even church levels of authority is to be respected and honored because that is how you (we) know who is right. My goodness this sounds familiar. It doesn’t just stand in the way of the circle of relationship, it really does put the will of one over another. But some how I always believed that is how things NEEDED to be in order for us as people to work together at ALL. 

Some days it is amazing to read new ideas and thoughts on the world or even ones own perspective, but other days it just makes me think I have been doing this life thing all wrong.  So how do I make such a significant change to things?  Am I the only one who finds this fascinating and disturbing all at the same time?

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.

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?