Thoughtful Thursdays: If you are cute and you know it, bat your eyes.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17

I’ll be honest, some days I feel more like my old self than I do my new. Some days the old me emerges out of nowhere and I wonder if I’ve grown any at all. Thankfully, feelings aren’t facts.

The old me was really really cute, and man did she know how to work it. I still do and I hate it. As much as I hate how good I am at cute, there was a time when I hated being called out on it even more. And yet, I have a mentor, and a multitude of friends who when seeing my “cute self” try to push her way around, call me out on it. A lot. I am learning to appreciate that even if it hurts. That’s what happens when you hang out around 12 step rooms for too long. You learn to appreciate things you used to resent. – Like the truth. It took me a long time before I ever allowed people to tell me the truth. While I’m selective today about who gets to, I still allow it because I know I need it from time to time.

“I’m cute and I know how to work it!” Said no self-respecting woman, ever! —Tweet This

Playing cute is a lack of trust as well as a lack of respect both for ourselves and our victims.

My cute self got us in a butt load of trouble when I was younger. So much trouble in fact it cost me the respect of my co-workers, friends, and myself. What made me change? A man. An honest one at that.

Do you know what he said to me?

“Don’t get me wrong darlin, I love my wife. I just think we’d be good in bed together.”

I didn’t feel very cute after hearing those words come out of his mouth.  Actually, I never felt more alone, hurt, and ashamed in my life. My cute self had behaved us into a really nasty corner and I felt stuck.  I’d pursued him, if I’m being honest, under the guise of we work together, we should hang out. What’s the harm in that? Not that he wasn’t willing, ready and able, but I digress. Every time we hung out after work was at my invitation, never his. And we rarely hung out in a crowd, it was usually just us and a couple of beers.

My excuse at the time “I thought we were just buds. I never saw that coming, HE’s the jerk, not me.” — It took me a few weeks (okay years plus a few 12 steps, sponsors and finally a flat on my back moment of surrender) to stop lying to myself. Even though I wasn’t willing to admit it at the time, deep down, I didn’t want him to love his wife, I wanted him to love me. Now that the truth was out, I couldn’t lie, I couldn’t pretend and boy did it hurt.

The truth is, they always love their wives and you and I deserve better than meaningless table scraps. We deserve the whole banquet and yet due to moments of extreme stupidity, loneliness, lack of self-esteem or what ever you want to blame we are easily tempted to settle for so much less.

Instead of being the kind of woman that brings out the whole man, we play the cute little girl who can manipulate boys and nobody wins.

“I love my wife…” I heard these words more than two decades ago, and I have never forgotten them.  My life changed that night.

Yes, I turned him down. Just in case you were wondering. Not that it matters really. It still cost me my job eventually. I also cried for weeks. Cute stopped being fun. It stopped working. Cute wanted love, not a cheap one night stand with a married co-worker. I had to kick her to the curb if I was ever going to get what I really wanted and kick her to the curb I did.

The problem I have with Miss Cute Self is she likes to make an appearance every once in a while just to see if she’s still got it. That’s when my brain kicks in and tries to tell me that I will never change.

I have a news flash, my brain lies. For one thing the committee that meets are a bunch of drunks, misfits, co-dependents, floozies, and stone throwers. They are the nay-sayers of life and live to prove that I’ll wind up homeless and rejected tomorrow if I’m not careful. They like to wring their hands and show slides from the past. They like to try to prove that what tripped me up yesterday will surely trip me up today and I need to stay in my little cocoon and keep up my old tricks in order to survive.

Every time my brain rehearses the past to take away my present reality, I lose the chance to grow.  Committees are just dementiated liars. (I made that word up – my committee suffers from memory loss and warped perceptions of reality.) I don’t care how many times I hit replay on that DVR’d memory, it’s going to be foggy. Did I say this or that? What did they really say? When did that really happen? All I get are sound bites and nothing more. Just enough really to want to cling to my old habit, old hurts, old resentments, old anger, whatever.

I miss out on so much when I let the committee have its way with me. When I get lost in my mind as I’m prone to do, I need a referee. I need an advocate. I need Christ to take over and set things straight. Once I have that, I can ignore them when they call. Unlike my committee, God doesn’t keep score. I’m told in psalm 130 that he keeps no record of our sins.  I think that’s fantastic. He’s not some boogie man in the sky waiting to strike me dead or hold me to account for my past — he covered that with the cross.

There are still old habits, old behaviors, and old memories that trip me up from time to time even today. That doesn’t mean I haven’t changed or grown. It doesn’t mean I have to keep doing those things either. When I catch myself in an old behavior (or have an old behavior pointed out by a friend) I can choose to react and behave differently right this minute. Yep, I’m back to choices.

I have friends who believe in me enough to tell me the truth. Sometimes it’s a “yeah you, you so got this!” and sometimes it’s things like, grow up, quit being a victim, don’t manipulate me, and take responsibility for your choices.

I don’t have to crumble when someone points out something I know to be an old behavior surfacing. It’s not the end of the world. I don’t have to allow the committee to take over with their doctored evidence. I can own it, apologize and move on. And it’s over and done with. I love that.

Sometimes there are tears because it hurts. Hurts is okay. It means I’m alive. Allowing myself to be open enough to these friends is a good thing – and a somewhat new thing. Ken Davis said it well in his book Fully Alive, If you choose to move forward in your quest to live fully alive, you will fall, it will hurt…and it will be worth it.

I have friends who love me enough to help me kick her to the curb when they see her and I love that. I don’t need to be cute with them. I just need to be me.

Contrary to what the committee says, I don’t need my cute self in order to survive anymore nor do I have to stare at my past and believe I’m never going to change. I have changed and that is good news.

What old habits trip you up? Do you let them define your day? How do you change?

Have you ever played small? Cut it out.

Making myself nothing to suit others is not humility; it’s ego and lack of trust. When I make myself small to “help” someone else feel like they are important what I’m really communicating is I think I’m too big for you to handle and you are too weak to see my greatness. Real relationships require real honesty. If I cannot allow myself to be fully me when we’re together, am I really allowing the other person to be all they can be? Of course not.

Making myself nothing is just another mask for fear. Fear is nothing more than False Evidence Appearing Real. What are we really afraid of when we do that? Rejection? Failure? Pride?

We get caught up in the lie that we are being too prideful if we boast (talk) about our accomplishments. Really? Isn’t playing small prideful as well? Yes, we can be very prideful in our ability to make ourselves small — I see it all the time in church. We get hung up on thinking that playing small pleases God. No it does not.

God did not create us to be small nor did He create us to fit in. We are created in HIS likeness in order to make a difference in this world. We cannot make a difference if we are playing down to nothing.

Making myself nothing so that other people can feel like everything is about manipulation and control. It’s about people pleasing and being liked.

Let go of the control.

Be who you were created to be and make a difference.

You can do it.

I believe in you.

Mending My Life

Well written poetry heals souls.

Why bother using an Ivy League vocabulary when the truth is as simple as that?

Well

written

poetry

heals

souls.

When discussing great literature, I catch myself wanting to write as if I’ve graduated from Baylor instead of business college. That makes book reviews difficult for me sometimes. I want to match the intellect of the authors in question and write as if I were a scholar myself. My main problem with that however is the scholastic approach to writing does not match my day-to-day voice. I’m not an MFA graduate. I’m just me. Mac and Cheese as Molly calls me. Comfort food in many ways.

I went looking for my literary voice last year and found my heart. Granted my heart was at the time in a about a million pieces all over the floor. I was lost in the rubble when a ragtag band of modern-day poets and women’s rights activists invited me to internet tea last fall. We banded together as only women can and sifted through the debris of unmet needs, false hopes, unrealistic expectations of others and toxic co-dependency.  Their love and acceptance breathes life into my battle weary soul.

I have no idea how long I’d been holding my breath; it must have been a while. I just know that it had been long time since I’d had fresh air. I found a respite and breathing place with these women. I took big gulps of air at first and gushed quite a bit over their acceptance and caring. I’ve settled in quite nicely now and my heart rate and oxygen levels have returned to normal.

Recovering from a broken heart takes more time than I am sometimes willing to allow.  One of the unexpected bonuses, while I am picking up the pieces I discover that not all of them fit any more. This is good news. This means there is room for more —

More friends

More hope

More adventures

More love.

I have officially turned the corner and the scenery is to die for.

I wrote my first poem of sorts in many years on September 12 of 2011.  My poetic soul knows what I didn’t. You might say it was my battle cry.

The Fractured Mirror

To be handed one’s emotional ass on a silver platter and yet have so little regard for self, that the best revelation one can muster that anything is wrong  are stomach issues, persistent blushing, and chest pain is a travesty. While it is true that artists are capable of being emotionally empathetic to a fault and that our souls can easily be a magnet to acts of spiritual terrorism, we still have choices.

Does one choose to succumb to this warped sense of reality, thereby being a victim of the fractured mirror of others as well as their own learned misogynistic views? Or can the false mirror be broken and a new paradigm created?

Some world views are nothing more than a fractured reflection of one’s own self-hatred and false dichotomies.

Unrealistic expectations and lies of others do not define me. I DEFINE ME.

Thus began my journey back to wholeness and life. Molly gave us the following poem during my very first week of writing classes – I’d never read The Journey by Mary Oliver before. As soon as I read it, I knew I was home.

one day you finally knew what you had to do, and began. though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice, though the whole house began to tremble and you felt the old tug at your ankles, “mend my life!” – each voice cried, but you didn’t stop you knew what you had to do. though the wind pried with its stiff finger at the very foundations, though their melancholy was terrible, it was already late enough and a wild night, and the road full of fallen branches & stones. but little by little as you left their voices behind the stars began to burn through the sheets of clouds. and there was a new voice which you suddenly recognized as your own and that kept you company as you strode deeper into the world, determined to do the only thing you could do, determined to save the only life you could save. – mary oliver

I’m continuing my journey next week by attending Poetry Book Camp led by Molly Fisk which means I won’t be here. While I’m gone might I suggest reading a good poetry book or better yet – write your own poems. Like I said – Well written poetry heals souls. Your soul is worth it.

I’ll be back before the month is out.

Take care.

I’m Sorry + I Forgive You should = Peace but does it?

No sweat…just send me your best cash love offering and we’ll call it all good. – the dude I insulted last weekend after I apologized. (see Medusa Face)

I think his response is hilarious – and frankly God’s way of telling me to lighten up just a scoshe and breathe. It took about 48 hours for him to see my apology and respond to it. The dude is not on twitter that much. I died a million deaths in those 48 hours let me tell you.

Honestly, I stink at receiving forgiveness. If I were to walk this out, I’d take him at his word and then avoid him for the rest of my life. Which is self-defeating really, but again. it’s how I roll sometimes even with God. I have a lot to learn. If you want to know more about that see Can You Give Me Three Days?

I’m not different from any of you. We all need forgiveness even if we aren’t willing to admit it. I have this hole inside of me sometimes that craves to be filled and rather than receive the right things, like forgiveness, I’ll fill it with fear and overachieving perfectionism and call it good even if it isn’t.

My abandonment issues can be so bad that I catch myself jumping up and down causing great internal injuries just to prove I’m loveable. It’s annoying at times I’m sure. Failure and Forgiveness are not part of my family tree. Not only do we never admit fault when we can blame someone else, we never forgive others even if they do try to make amends. Forgiveness has always been that carrot we hold out to each other while we make the other person jump through hoops to “earn it.” not that they ever do of course.

It took me years to unlearn those teachings.

While I’ve learned the difference between I’m sorry and I was wrong and how to forgive others who are asking for forgiveness, I’ve yet to fully learn how to receive forgiveness in the right spirit. I don’t trust it really. I’d much rather buy my way out of a bad deal than receive grace any day. Which is why I thought his response is so funny.

I noticed a lot of you (over 1,000) found my blog this last week looking for how to say I’m Sorry and Letting Go. No one came to my blog this week looking for forgiveness per se, but that’s really what they were looking for when they searched “I’m sorry.”

Something interesting happened this week. My elder pulled me aside after our Sunday School class and asked if I’d teach on Luke 21. The whole chapter. We are on 19 right now and I’d have roughly two weeks to prepare. I immediately said yes, and then excused myself to throw up.

Yep, that’s how I roll. I say yes to God and spend as much time praying to the porcelain god as I do the real one. Hope that doesn’t offend, I’m just trying to keep it real.

I’ve taught before. I’ve spoken a lot of places, acted in some movies and have done stand up and yet again I’m giving  God my list of “why I can nots” and He tells me “Just read it will ya?” The very first paragraph caught me right between the eyes.

The Widow’s Offering

 1 As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. 2 He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. 3 “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. 4 All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

All of my reasons of why I can’t, courtesy of the evil committee that lives rent free in my head.

1. I’m not good enough – did you not see what I did to that man? A stranger yet!

2. He hasn’t even forgiven me.

3. What if I’m not forgivable?

4. Why are you wasting your time on me?

5. I’m a neurotic mess, isn’t there someone more qualified?

The God I worship for whatever reason doesn’t seem to want someone who can give out of the wealth of their gifts. He sees my two copper coins for what they are – and calls it beautiful. My poverty: My sinful nature,  my pride, my fears, my needs for forgiveness even when I don’t know how to receive it yet, my ego, my low self esteem, my neurosis and bad attitude, my warped sense of humor and my willingness to be humble – all of it matters to him.

 I have no confidence (as the world would define confidence) in my own gifts and / or abilities, but I am in confident in this – “Being confident in this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 1: 6 (NIV) –

And I have confidence in knowing that He will indeed bring people into my life who continue to model true forgiveness and that I will eventually find peace that lasts .

Now, if you think that God would just leave me here – you would be wrong. Click on the photo below to hear His answer to my doubts. Thanks!

Happiness is a choice.

Kirstie Alley wrote it. Melissa Gilbert retweeted it and so did I.  – “What does it feel like to be happy?” It feels swell..I highly recommend it…takes LOTS of work..;)”

I am in the process of making my very first quilt ever. I’m not doing it alone. I’m working side by side with several other women who are doing the same thing. All of them are older than I. It occurred to me yesterday while I sitting at the sewing machine working on yet another chain, I felt happy.

Never in my wildest imagination did I expect to feel happy about sewing. I don’t think it’s the sewing. Honestly I think the happiness feeling is about learning something new, working to complete it, and being willing to stay in community while I do it.

I’ve heard this message in various forms all week, whether it is from blogs, from books, or from Twitter:

Happiness is a choice.

It isn’t easy.

It takes work.

Choose to be honest.

Dare to live in Community.

Just my thoughts for today. I tend to know more about what happiness isn’t due to my life experiences most of which I’m not willing to put in writing. (smile) It can’t be chased, only earned.

No one can hand you happiness on a silver platter – not even if it’s in a champagne glass. It’s not about money as I’ve been wealthy and I’ve been poor. It’s not about achievements really — I’m in the Who’s Who of National Female Executives. It’s not about sex. Well you know what I mean– anyway, I’ll embarrass myself if I go too far with that.

Happiness isn’t a passive gift.

Happiness involves living breathing risk taking gut level honesty in community. It isn’t safe in the simplistic meaning of “safe”

It is not in the false community we build up for ourselves on the internet. There is no real risk in long distance relationships. I can present which ever mask I want online.

Happiness – is in the moment of day-to-day sweat, truth, and courage.

It isn’t easy.

It’s work.

It’s good work.