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Archive for April, 2009

(With thanks and apologies to Tina Turner for the title.  J)

The last couple of coaching conversations with Coach Jim have centered around revisiting/revamping/revising/reworking my goals.

When I started a year or so ago I had three goals originally and fairly quickly added a fourth.

The first three were pretty basic—one relates to my health, one relates to being more of an optimist (though I don’t really use the word optimist to describe myself—I told Jim it felt a little like calling myself a Republican—it just felt like something that would never be true!  ;-)), the third one relates to my emotions.

As it had been many moons since I had really looked at my goals they were probably over-due for some revisions.  I’ve made a number of changes in the past year and have progressed to the point where the goals as written weren’t really “big” enough for what I now want to do.

It was nice being able to go in and tweak them as needed!  It helped me see I have indeed made progress.  Who knew??  (Well…..I suppose everyone close to me knew…..I was probably the only one holding onto an old picture of myself.  LOL!)

The fourth goal kinda stumped me.  It originally read:

“I perceive myself as positively as others see me.  I am comfortable with myself and my emotions.  I allow myself to be vulnerable when appropriate and allow others to serve me or take care of me when necessary.”

A year ago it was a huge struggle for me to put even that much into writing.  It felt like a huge leap. 

I see it from a different perspective now.  It seems overly restrictive.  It seems somehow limiting.  It seems….well…it seems small.

While I haven’t achieved (for lack of a better word) this goal—oh heck no, I’m still far from it — I want more.  I’m not satisfied with that as my goal—I want something more all encompassing.

You know how from Einstein forward physicists (or at least some physicists) have been working to develop a unified field theory?  (You don’t?  Well check this out.  http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/elegant/everything.html)  They are searching for a single theory to tie two incredibly diverse fields/areas/whatevers of physics together.  They are searching for something bigger.  (Which, if you believe string theory may be an answer, ironically turns out to be something super small.  J)

I found myself wanting something similar.  No….not a string!  One unifying goal.  One goal for the big picture.  One goal that the other, more specific, goals fall under.  Something to tie everything together with a nice bright piece of ribbon—or string if you care to stay with the physics analogy.  Grin!

And I couldn’t quite come up with anything.  Actively thinking about it didn’t give me visible progress.  Letting it “stew” in the back of my mind was equally unproductive.  Trying to write about it produced lots of blank space on the page.

Hey!  I know!  I’ll talk with Coach Jim about it!  Cool…….maybe an actual out-loud conversation will help my brain find what I’m looking for. 

So I did.

Almost two weeks later I still don’t have my fourth goal fully developed.  AND I’m perfectly okay with that.  Talking with Jim helped me find the direction I want to go with my “unifying” goal.

As you can probably see from the original fourth goal, I don’t feel like I have an accurate view of myself.  I can tell you 3.2 million things I do wrong, or areas that “need” improvement.  But ask me something I do that I’m proud of?  Something I do well?  Yeah……not much material for those questions.  My vision of myself, my perception, is skewed.  I know that and it doesn’t sit well with me.

So originally I wanted to see myself as I am.  Flaws and all.

And now I realize that isn’t quite enough.  I want more.

I want to be comfortable with who I am.  I want to accept myself.

And that still isn’t quite enough.  I still want more.  The “unifying” goal is bigger than that.

So as I talked with Jim about all of this our conversation kept taking twists and turns…..which is normal and really cool!  It felt like the more I talked the more I realized that what I was saying wasn’t big enough.  It wasn’t hitting home. 

I talked about wanting to be kind to myself.

That wasn’t quite right.  So Jim kept asking, what else?  What other words?  What is bigger?

Hmmmmm….okay….I dunno….gentleness?  I want to be gentle with myself?

While that is true (I typically am harsher on myself than anyone else would ever be….long stories there….I’ll spare you the details.), it still wasn’t resonating with me.  Kind I felt I could claim—I could put that into a goal.  It wasn’t what I was looking for though.  I wanted more.  Gentleness didn’t sit well.  That seemed to feel like I wouldn’t hold myself accountable—that I would let myself “get away” with too much.  That wasn’t working.

Jim kept asking, what else?  What is bigger?

Hmmmmmmmmm……I don’t have a clue Jim!  Okay Spudise….keep going…..keep searching….keep tossing the nets wide and into new waters…..

Think.  Think.  Think. 

 

Pooh thinking

 

 

 

 

Okay….what encompasses kindness and aspects of gentleness and still allows me to hold myself accountable for the stuff I need to be accountable.  There’s got to be a word.  There’s got to be a concept.  Keep working your way through this.  Keep going.  What does that unknown concept look like in others?  What allows you to extend grace and at the same time hold other people accountable?

Whomp.  (How’s that for onomatopoeia???  ;-))  Right upside the head.  It hit me.

And it scared the livin daylight out of me!  Seriously.  It scared me.  I knew if I didn’t start talking immediately I’d chicken out.  So I started talking.    

“Blah…blah…blah….blah…I can’t even believe I’m about to say this Jim….it’s love.  Love is bigger than kindness and gentleness.  Love.  That’s what I’m looking for.  I want to be able to say ‘I love me.’ and not burst into tears at the thought.  Blah….blah….blah….”

(The “blah…”part is me stalling by the way.  J)

If this caught Jim a fraction as off-guard as it caught me he probably fell over and hit his head.  Seriously.  Self-love is NOT a topic I have ever wanted to discuss.  The mere mention of it a year ago had me in tears.  Jim asked me at one point if I could say “I love me.” which caused me to promptly burst into tears.

Could I speak the words?  Sure I could.  Speaking the words is easy.  Speaking them and meaning them?  Nope.  Couldn’t do that.  And speaking them without meaning them felt wrong—it felt like cheating—it felt like it was going against everything I had committed to when I decided to work with Jim.  I had committed to being honest.  I had committed to being open and not hiding.  And saying “I love me” when I clearly didn’t “love me” would be lying.  And I wasn’t about to lie.  I could NOT say the words and have any sincerity behind them.  I could not say them and have any truth in the statement.  So I chose not to say them.

The tears didn’t come from a physical inability to speak simple words.  The tears and drama (not that I would EVER admit to being even slightly dramatic ;-)) came from knowing and feeling that I couldn’t honestly say them. 

And here we are…..a scant year later….and I’m the one bringing it back into the conversation.  How bizarre is that?!

“Do you know what you just said Spudsie?”  Jim asked.

“Yeah…..blah…blah…blah…” Desperately trying to avoid talking about it.  Maybe if I just keep talking he’ll let me off the hook. 

Snort!  Fat chance with that Spudsie!  J

Jim kept talking about what a huge change that was from a year ago.  The more he talked the more I wanted to get away from it.  I just wasn’t ready to dive into it.  It’s still a brand new thought.  I didn’t want to think about the implications just yet.  Fortunately Jim’s really, really , REALLY terrific at saying things in a gentle way so that I can hear them for at least a fraction of a second.

Frankly I don’t really remember much of the coaching conversation after that point.  And we ended early because Jim could clearly tell I wasn’t really able to move forward at that point. That I’d hit my “maximum progress” point for the day.

So we talked about books for a few minutes.  And I LOVE talking about books!!  LOL!

Where am I now?  In terms of having a “formal” goal on paper….I’m no further than I was 2 weeks ago.  And that’s okay for now.  I’m still trying to be comfortable with the thought.  (And please, no Yoda quotes about “Do or do not.  There is no try.”  Grin!) 

So my starting point for my “unifying” goal is “I love me.”  I want to give it more definition…I want to give it measurableness (is that even a word??? Spell-check certainly doesn’t think so!)  I want to be able to define a little more what that looks like.  Okay…okay… I want to be able to begin to define what that looks like.  When you have nothing I suppose defining it “a little more” isn’t very precise.  LOL.

Goal number four.  The unifying goal.  I love me.

Can I do it?  I don’t know.  Maybe?  I think so.

And that’s a good place to begin.

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Out-With and the Fury

If you’ve read “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” by John Boyne you’ll recognize these two phrases.  (Tho I haven’t seen it yet, I imagine if you’ve seen the movie you’ll recognize them as well….)

One of the things I wanted to do when I started this blog was to write about the books I read and the impact they have on me.  I’ve done that a few times since starting this—tho not as often as I imagined I would.  Or as often as I’d like to.  I have so many thoughts flowing through my head when I finish a book they never seem to “gel” into anything that would make sense to anyone else.

After reading this book I don’t really care if it makes sense to anyone else.  I want to put pen to paper (even if it’s only e-paper) and record a few thoughts.  It doesn’t matter if it flows well, or if it’s something that interests anyone else.  I want to write about it anyway.

Holocaust books trouble and intrigue me at the same time.  They always have.  I’m not sure why.  This book was no exception.  It’s written from the perspective of a 9 year old German boy.  It’s charming, beguiling, abhorrent and disquieting all at the same time. 

I don’t want to re-tell the story or discuss the plot.  If you want to read what people think check out the reviews on Amazon.com or on Goodreads.com.  Plenty of people smarter than me have written lots of thoughts.

There is something so compelling, so captivating in Bruno’s story.  You see Auschwitz (or “Out-With” as he pronounces it) and the Fuehrer (or the “Fury” as Bruno calls him) through the eyes of an innocent, naïve 9 year old child.  The author does a remarkable job of showing his adult audience the horror of the situation while sheltering his younger readers from the full vileness of Auschwitz and the Holocaust.  I am truly impressed with how Boyne was able to successfully balance the two. 

As an adult reader of his book I found myself drawn into Bruno’s life more than I had realized.  At the end of chapter 18 I had to literally set down the book.  I set it aside and said out loud, “I don’t want to read the rest.  This will NOT end well.  I don’t want to read this anymore.  I don’t want to know how it ends.  He’s so innocent.  He has no idea.”

I picked it back up a few minutes later and read chapter 19 in almost total denial.  “Maybe it will be okay.  Maybe it won’t be as bad as I think.  Maybe the author won’t take the story where I think he’s taking it.  I’m jumping to conclusions.  Maybe it will turn out fine.” 

How did it end?  You’ll just have to read the book to find out.  (Or e-mail me for more of my thoughts offline.)  I’ll say only that the author impressed the heck out of me.

The thing that is staying with me (as much as the story) is the author’s note at the end of the book.

Boyne writes, “The issue of writing about the Holocaust is, of course, a contentious matter, and any novelist who explores it had better be sure about his or her intentions before setting out.  It’s presumptuous to assume that from today’s perspective one can truly understand the horrors of the concentration camps, although it’s the responsibility of the writer to uncover as much emotional truth within that desperate landscape as he possible can.”

Wow.

Maybe that hints at why Holocaust literature pulls at me so much.  Maybe it’s (at least partially) because I know that I cannot understand what happened.  What it must have been like.  What it must have felt like to experience it.  I cannot imagine how those who ran the camps managed to convince themselves it was okay to treat other human beings so horribly.  So brutally.  I cannot imagine how so many people knew about it and did nothing.  And how so many more people intentionally chose NOT to have knowledge of what was happening.  How many people chose to deny what was happening.

I can’t wrap my brain or my heart around any of those questions.  So I read, and re-read, as many different perspectives as I can.  I read as many different authors as I can.  Any well-written book that touches on the Holocaust in any way—even if the main focus is not present, first-person perspective.  From “The Reader” to “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” I am drawn to them.  With a curiosity to learn more.  To attempt to gain a better understanding.  To see things from a new perspective.  To answer in any small way possible, “Why?” and “What can I do to keep it from happening again?”

None of the answers are satisfactory.

There aren’t enough words in the universe to explain “Why.”  When I get to Heaven the first thing I’m going to ask God is, “Why?”  I am positive I will not be alone.   Faith (the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen) alone allows me to trust God will have an answer we can all accept.  I cannot imagine what it will be.

“What can I do to keep it from happening again in my lifetime?”  Yeah.  That question makes me want to scream.  And cry.  Look at the genocide/holocaust in Rwanda and Darfur and Zimbabwe.  Those were in my lifetime.  Those were in my adult lifetime.  What did I do?  What am I doing?  How often did I actively avoid news stories…..feeling there was nothing I could do.  I tell myself, those places are so far away.  Maybe it’s not so bad.  Maybe it’s not what they are saying.  Maybe……

But I know.  It is that bad.  It is what they are saying, and have said.  It is.

And I feel so helpless.  So powerless.

I pray, “God do SOMETHING!  End this!  End it now.  You can do that.  You can bring people to their senses. Please.  Please.  Please!  I’m begging.  Bring peace.  Bring love.  Bring understanding.”    And I see no change.

Maybe I’m drawn to Holocaust literature because I’m searching for an answer.  What can I do?  What can I do?  What can I do?

I have no answers.  So I continue searching.

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I’m borrowing liberally from Coach Jim’s blog today.  This past week he wrote a GREAT entry about attitude. 

Okay….it’s about waaaaay more than attitude.  In fact it’s probably more about perspective than attitude.  Just bear with me and keep reading.  Hopefully it will become clearer.

First things first.  Here’s a link to Jim’s blog entry. http://www.lifewithhappiness.com/2009/04/nothing-is-good-or-bad/  It’s worth the couple of minutes it will take to read the entire thing.  (And he’s much more concise with his writing than I am.  J) 

Here’s the introduction to his blog.

“…there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
Hamlet, Act II Scene 2

This quote from Shakespeare is one of my all-time favorites… and defines a foundational element of my coaching practice and life philosophy.

Events are just events.  Stuff happens.  That’s it.

THEN…we create a story to explain that event.  In our “story” we interpret what happened and make up reasons why it happened, and that story evokes an emotional response from us… and suddenly an event is labeled: good, bad, ugly.  And we feel sadness, optimism, fear, anger, appreciation, frustration, concern, etc

Not from the event, but from our thinking about the event.”

I love that!!!  And it’s soooooooo true!

When I see others “over-reacting” (granted, that’s an assessment on my part…..I think you know what I mean regardless …)it’s super easy for me to see that it’s the story they are telling themselves about the event, rather than the event, that is causing them stress, anxiety, etc.

I mean really, when someone doesn’t use their turn signal (or their “directional” as I often say) it’s not because they intentionally want to cause you to swear at them.  They aren’t doing it to intentionally aggravate you.  I’m nearly positive they aren’t thinking about you at all.  They are simply doing what’s easiest for them.  And ignoring the traffic laws.  Ahem.  How freakin’ hard is it to use a turn signal anyway?!?!

What?  Oh.  Sorry.  I’m off track already.  (Sheepish grin!)

Regardless of my lack of focus, this seems to be the perfect example.

If I’m the passenger in a car and the driver gets upset because someone else didn’t use a turn signal, it’s easy for me to see that the driver is reacting to the story they are telling themselves rather than the actual event.

When I’m driving the car and someone doesn’t use a turn signal, and it causes me to lose 30 seconds of time I’ll never get back…..well….that’s an entirely different story.  Grin!  Or perhaps it’s the exact same story….I’m simply telling it to myself rather than seeing someone else doing it.

It’s challenging to pull back from the story and look at the event for what it is.  And the more emotionally involved in the situation I am the more difficult it is for me to see the possibility of any story other than the one I tell myself.  After all, I am the sun and the universe revolves around me, right?????

No?  Are you sure?  😉

Once I’ve recognized I’m in the middle of reacting to my story rather than the event it’s usually fairly easy to coach myself through, “What other reason(s) might explain this?” type conversations.  And I can calm myself down and remind myself that the world does NOT revolve around me.  I can look at the situation from a different perspective and react in a different manner. 

While it’s seldom easy, I find it do-able in most situations.

Where I really struggle is in recognizing I’m reacting to my story rather than to the situation.  I’m typically so wrapped up in “this is awful, how could anyone do this to me, poor potato, doesn’t anyone ever think about me, why is everyone so mean, why are they trying to ruin my plans…” that I don’t realize it’s my own personal story I’m reacting to.  So I’ve been working on that.  On trying to realize that when I feel like I want to scream at someone it’s very likely because of how I’m interpreting the events—rather than the events themselves.

Some days I’m more successful than others.

Today is a day full of challenges.

My birthday is coming up in a couple of days.  I’ve learned (over the past 15 plus years) to be very specific with Mr. Spuds when letting him know what I’d like to do to celebrate my birthday.  (Remind me to share the bowling alley birthday story at some point.  😉  It’s a classic!)  Some years I don’t really want to do much of anything, some years I want to have a bunch of people over, some years I just want to do odd stuff.

This is an “odd stuff” year.  When talking to Mr. Spuds a few weeks ago about what I wanted to do, I asked if he would consider taking me to Nordstrom’s to shop the Saturday afternoon before my birthday.  He said that sounded like fun.  (And yes, there is a limit to what I can spend.  LOL!)  Cool!  So I’ve been looking forward to this ever since. 

Making plans can often cause more stress for me than I’d like.  I’m a total capital J (MBIT) and a bit of a struggling-to-let-go-of-the-need-to-pretend-I-have-control-of-anything control freak.  What can I say?  It’s where I am and it’s a struggle.  I’ve managed to relax some over the years.  In fact just a few weeks ago someone who’s only known me for a year or so called me “laid back.”  Whoa!  Anyway, making plans can cause stress because I have pictured in my mind exactly how everything will happen, will fall into place, will go according to plan.

And we all know how often things go according to plan.  Never!

Back to shopping.

I’d been looking forward to shopping today for a while.  Good weather or bad didn’t matter.  I’d prefer sunny and warm-ish—but whatever.  It’s indoors so no big deal.  I’d sleep in.  Get up and get ready.  Read a little.  Do the odd chore around the house.  Some point mid afternoon we’d head out.  And maybe grab some dinner on the way back.  Or if it was still too early to eat we could always stop at a book store, right!  (No comments about how many books I already have to read please Jim.  You’re just as addicted as I am!  LOL!  ;-))  Just a laid back kinda day.  One thing to do, not really planned.

I could picture it perfectly in my mind.  Ahhhhh.  What fun!

Being able to picture it perfectly in my mind might have been my first clue that I had “planned” it far more than I was admitting.  Sigh.

Mr. Spuds came home last night and told me about some guys from work who were getting together to celebrate a birthday.  They were getting together Saturday night—it sounded like fun to him.  Did I want to go?  Cool!  Yeah, let’s do it.  They are a great group of people.  We can stop by for a drink or two or dessert.  Yeah.

Okay.  We can go from Nordstrom’s to meet them.  They are getting together around 7PM.

What?  Ummmm….that’s not exactly what I had pictured.  Okay Spudsie….compromise.  It isn’t really that big of a deal.  It’s not like Mr. Spuds is trying to “ruin my plans” for the day.  Deep breath.  Okay.  He’s simply trying to work out the timing of 2 things we both want to do.  Okay.  This can work.  I can adjust the picture in my head.  I can push it back a couple of hours.  Okay.  Adjustment made with relative ease.  The irritation is gone.  This will be fun!

I didn’t sleep well last night and woke up feeling a little under the weather.  With very little energy.

Grrrr…..that’s not how I wanted to feel today! 

Okay Spuds…just go with it.  Relax.  Let Mr. Spuds make the bank-run by himself.  It will be fine.  Stay in bed later.  Take a long shower.  Relax.  Okay.  Adjustment made again.  Still gonna be an awesome day.

Go downstairs.  What?!  Mr. Spuds is still here?  I thought he’d left for the bank a long time ago?  What are you still doing here?  Oh.  You thought I wanted to go with you.  Sorry!  My bad.  I don’t feel well, could you go without me?  Okay.  Back upstairs.

What?!  You still haven’t left?  Now what?  Oh.  You can’t find your keys.  Sigh.  No I haven’t seen them.  Why don’t you take mine?  Okay.  Keep looking.  I’m sure they will turn up.

Hey Spuds…..it’s not like he intentionally misunderstood your desire to go to the bank with him.  And he certainly didn’t lose his keys on purpose.  Okay.  Deep breath.  This doesn’t impact you day at all.  Let it go.  No need to react to you story that the fates are conspiring against you today.  J

Eat lunch.  Read more of “The Memory Keeper’s Daughter.”  Listen to the birds.  Watch the squirrels (sorry Maggie Mae….I mean the tree rats!) steal the bird seed.  Ahhhhh….fluffy tailed rodents who think they are birds.  What fun!  I may not feel good, but at least I can enjoy the wildlife.

Mr. Spuds decides he wants to make a major grocery shopping run.  What?  Today?  WHA?!?!  It’s already after lunch.  You’ll never get the shopping done and get back in time to head out shopping when I wanted to.  Just when did you think we’d leave?  HOW LATE?!  I wanted to be out of the house no later than 4PM.  ??!!?!?!

Okay.  Another few minutes of deep breathing.  I can adjust again.  It’s not that big a deal.  Let go of your story Spudsie.  There’s still enough time to get everything done.  We’ll just push it back a little later than you had planned.  No big deal.  An easy adjustment to make right?  Okay.  In fact, you can use the time Mr. Spuds is at the grocery store to write.  You’ll be guaranteed no interruptions.  Yeah.  Way to spin it into a positive Spudsie!!  You go!

What?!  You’re still here?  I thought you left 15 minutes ago.  What?  Seriously?  You can’t find your keys AGAIN?!  Okay.  Okay.  Sorry for the tone.  Did you have them when you came home from the bank?  Yes.  Okay.  Did you have anything else in your hands?  Can we re-trace your steps?  Was the garage door open?

(Perhaps I should mention here….Mr. Spuds losing his keys brings back memories of when our house was broken into.  It happened overnight and we didn’t realize we had been robbed until the next morning when Mr. Spuds was ready to leave for work and couldn’t find his keys.  That was our first sign something was wrong.  I still tend to flash back to that moment when Mr. Spuds says he can’t find his keys.  My story immediately flashes to “We’ve been robbed again!”)

Okay.  We’ll find them later.  Here are mine.

Okay.  I’m sure the keys weren’t stolen Spudsie.  He just mis-placed them.  They will turn up.  Deep breath.  Okay.  Let’s write!

45 minutes later I hear the garage door open.

What?!  45 minutes is NOT enough time for a major grocery shopping trip.  Is that Mr. Spuds?  Or did someone else manage to open the garage door and walk into the house.  “Hello?”  “Hello?”

(Evidently 2 instances of Mr. Spuds mis-placing his keys in one day sends my sub-conscious mind to “someone will break into your house again” mode.  Sigh.)

Mr. Spuds?  What are you doing here?  You forgot your list?  Seriously? 

I’m sure the irritation was obvious in my face and in my voice.  I fought to control it but I’m not sure how much good it did. 

As Mr. Spuds left again I found myself really irritated.  My story?  I’m not sure what it was.  Something along the lines of , “Nothing EVER goes the way I want it to.  I can NEVER plan anything without it falling apart.  All I wanted was to be at Nordstrom’s right now.  What is that so flippin hard?!  Doesn’t anyone ever LISTEN to me when I talk?  When I tell them what I want to do?  One afternoon.  That’s all I wanted.  One afternoon!”

Whoa there potato-woman!  Calm the heck down!  That’s a temper tantrum worthy of a two year old!

You know what?  It’s not that important.  Really.  You will still go shopping.  And you’ll meet Mr. Spuds’ co-workers after shopping.  It’s not on the exact time frame you imagined, and you’ve had to re-assure yourself three times that no-one has broken into your house.  And you know what, that’s all okay.  You were able to get some chores around the house completed.  You were able to write for a while.  You were able to take it easy and try to feel better.  You got some reading done.  It’s a beautiful day.  Why the heck are you getting so stressed at a story you are telling yourself that isn’t even accurate?

C’mon potato-woman.  Deep breath.  Change the story.  Quit being irritated.  It’s not even Mr. Spuds that has you irritated.  It’s the thieves who broke into your house that have you on edge.  Why give them so much power?  It’s your own un-communicated expectations that aren’t being met.  No one can read minds.  And plans can always be changed.  Different does NOT mean less.  It simply means different.

Okay.  Letting it go.  No more frustration.  Only happiness.  And optimism.  And joy.  And enthusiasm.  And relaxation.  And peace.  And calm.

Hmmmm….that’s a pretty tasty emotional stew!  J

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Let me start by saying I hope Coach Jim doesn’t sue me for plagiarism!  ‘Cause “happiness is a decision” is featured pretty predominately on all his stuff.  If I pause to think about it I bet he’ll choose to be happy I “stole” his line….fingers crossed!  😉  (Please don’t sue the potato….please don’t sue the potato….please don’t sue the potato…)

In all seriousness, happiness as a decision (rather than an event) is something I’m becoming more and more comfortable with.  I love the concept and have since I first heard it from Jim a few years ago.  I was instantly drawn to it.  Putting it into practice?  Well….that’s another story.  It takes a lot of work.  It doesn’t come natural.

Or at least it hasn’t in the past.

Two things in the past month helped me realize how much I’ve changed—even within the past six months.  How much I’ve really started to integrate that philosophy, that belief, that truth into my life.  It’s pretty cool!

A couple of months ago our church started talking about “Dinners of 8.”  What on earth is a “dinner of eight???” I asked myself.  It turns out it is a dinner for eight people.  Well…..whodathunk?  LOL.  Literally dinners of eight.  They ask for couples to host a dinner (pitch-in style) for six other people.  They recommend you try to find a group of people you don’t know and sign up for a dinner with them.  Dinner with six total strangers.

Oh yeah.  Tons of fun for an introvert who prefers books to just about anything else.  That sounds as appealing as eating a bowl full of green beans!  (Have I ever told my green bean story?  Probably not.  Suffice it to say that green beans and this potato do NOT get along.  I’ll spare you the details.)

Despite my “I’d-really-rather-not-do-this” internal attitude Mr. Spuds and I signed up for a group.  We knew none of the people on the list.  Didn’t recognize a single name.  This could be kinda fun!

What?!?!  Fun?!?!  Did I really just have that thought???  That’s odd…..that seems fairly out of character for me.  Hmmmmm…..

Yep.  Sure enough I found myself looking forward to the dinner with a positive attitude and a great deal of curiosity.  Wonder who we’ll meet?  More curiosity than nerves.  In fact there were no nerves involved at all.  That surprised me.

As we were getting ready to leave Mr. Spuds commented on felling a tiny-bit nervous about going into such an intimate setting with 6 people we don’t know.  He said something like, “If I’m feeling like this I can only imagine how you are feeling!” 

That stopped me in my tracks.  Not because of what he said, but because I realized I didn’t have any feelings of nervousness at all.  None.  Zip.  Nadda.  Zilch.  Nothing.  I felt calm.  Peaceful.  Curious.  And it all came naturally—automatically.  I didn’t have to talk/breathe/stand myself into the feeling.  It was already there.  No butterflies.  No anxiousness about what I would say.  Would I remember everyone’s name?  Would I say something stupid?  Would I put my foot in my mouth?  None of those thoughts were running through my head.  I was in a totally calm, peaceful, curious place.

Wow.

Really! Wow!

Totally different response than I’ve ever had to meeting a new group of people.  I like it!!!

So that was my first hint that I was making some pretty big progress.  It didn’t really sink in though.

Thursday was haircut day for the Spuds family.  It was also “let’s-add-some-color-to-the-normal-brunette-tinged-with-grey” day.  Yup.  A potato who colors her hair.  Grin!

I totally trust my hairdresser.  She knows how to make my hair look good—and keep it super easy for me to take care of.  She’s terrific!  She’ll always ask if I want something specific done.  If I do she does her best to match what my hair will actually do with what I ask for.  If I don’t have a specific request I’ll just tell her, “Nope.  Just do whatever you want.  It’ll look great!”

When she asked me about what hi-lighting I wanted done I told her to do whatever she wanted.  Typically she adds some really cool “caramel” highlights in that look neat-o.  (Yeah….I need to expand my adjective vocabulary a little..lol)  So I wasn’t expecting anything too different.  I noticed she was mixing two different colors instead of the normal one.  “Hey Chris, what’s that?”  Turns out she wanted to do two different colors.  One caramel-ish and one one reddish.  Okay.  I can live with that.  “Nothing that will make me look like Ronald McDonald,right?”  Nope.  No worries there.  Great!  Go for it!

An hour or so later I’m looking at the finished product.  Hmmm….the sunlight is really streaming into the room.  Can’t really tell….but the color looks really, REALLY red.  Hmmm….okay.  Whatever.  I’ll get home and see what it really looks like.  Thanks Chris!

Jump in the car and pull down the visor mirror.  Ummmm…..hmmmmm.  This is interesting.

The “reddish” hi-lights?  Yeah.  “Reddish” my ……ahem…sorry.

Do y’all know what a brand new, shiny, uncirculated penny looks like?  Yeah.  Copper.  That’s the color of my “reddish” highlights.  Copper.   Bright copper.  Think new copper flashing on a new home.  Brand new copper wire.  Yup.  That’s one of my highlight colors.

I’d say it was a color that doesn’t occur in nature…but…well…it’s copper.  So it clearly exists in nature.  Grin!

It’s not a color I would ever have requested.  It’s not a color I would have said, “Great!  Let’s try that one!” if asked ahead of time.  It’s clearly not a color that naturally grows from my scalp.

And ya know what?  It’s okay.  In fact, it’s better than okay.

I got home and as soon as Mr. Spuds saw it said, “You’ve got red in your hair!”  “You’ve got A LOT of red in your hair!  Let me see.  Wow.  That’s a great Vegas color!”  Laughter.  “Probably not a conservative, financial office color…”

Ummmmmmm…that doesn’t exactly inspire comfortable-ness with the un-natural color there hun.  LOL!

Anyway…..I found myself almost automatically making the decision to be happy with the color.  To be excited about it.  To want to “rock” the new color palette! 

Normally I have a day or so of “Oh. My. Word.  What was I thinking adding in BLONDE hi-lights?” when I have the caramel-ish color added.  It lightens my hair enough that it catches me off guard every time.  Once a week or so has passed I always end up loving it.  It’s simply the initial shock that sends me into the “what was I thinking” mode.

This time?  Even though the color was more extreme, I didn’t feel any of that.  No momentary panic.  No “what was I thinking” or “I wonder if this can be fixed” type of hyper-ventilating.  None of it.  I simply found myself thinking, “I can make this fun!  I can be happy with this.  It isn’t what I expected.  It isn’t something I would have asked for.  AND I am going to be happy with it.  I’m gonna ROCK this color!”

Wow.

That’s a lot of change for me. 

Happiness is a decision…..not an event.

I think I’m finally beginning to “get” that and live it Jim.  Cool!!  And thank you!!!

"Natural" hair color?

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