I know Mother’s Day was over 2 weeks ago, so I guess you could say I am a bit late with a Mother’s Day post. It is funny, when I was pregnant with Nico during Mother’s Day 2015 people sent me notes to say Happy Mother’s Day. It felt a bit odd to me, as we had not yet met this little baby boy. This year also felt a bit strange — as he is still so young.
My mom passed away when I was 16, and even then she was not really present in my life going back to the age of 12. Those four years in between were filled with doctors appointments, hospitals, nurses, at-home health equipment, food stamps, depression, and so much more. I do not remember much about middle school and the beginning of high school, but I remember the bed pans, the pain, the fear of not being there for her. What kid should go through that? I also do not remember much about how we spent our Mother’s Day each year.
So why do I sound like the scrooge of Mother’s Day? I strongly believe that we do not need these hallmark holidays. Those that know Chris and I will know that my response to someone who says, “Chris, pamper Tami on Mother’s Day.” I would say to that, “pamper me everyday.” Why not, right? We should love, cherish, and take care of each other each and every day. Why find one day out of the year to share appreciation? Why not do it every day? I feel the same way about Valentine’s Day and a plethora of other hallmark holidays.
So since I have spent more Mother’s Day without my mom than I spent with her it maybe takes a bit of the pizazz out of the day for me. Since Nico is so small, why celebrate? When he is old enough to care I would rather he decide how he would like to approach the day. Some kids get really into it. At the end of the day, though, I would rather teach and model to him that we cherish each other every day. Why not, right? Life is short.
I had been anxiously awaiting Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book: “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.” Since I am not running these days my book reading is a bit slower, but I finally just finished it. It is an easy read, but not like those of a novel that you cannot put down. It is best consumable in small chunks so you can ponder the ideas she shares on creativity. She even has a few stories that were ‘aha’ moments for me.
One of the ideas that she shared especially resonated with me:
“These days, I’m far more moved by authenticity. Attempts at originality can often feel forced and precious, but authenticity has quiet resonance that never fails to stir me. Just say what you want to say, then, and say it with all your heart. Share whatever you are driven to share. If it’s authentic enough, believe me—it will feel original.” Page 98
Maybe because I hate when people lie, I hate deception, and all I ever really want is for people to be real. If you do not know something, do not make up bullshit to make yourself sound like you do know it, just be real and say you do not know. There is nothing I hate worse (both personally and professionally) than when people lie to make themselves look better. Just be you.
Be yourself, and do not regret it. Oh, and definitely take some time to read Gilbert’s book. It is worth it, especially if you are in a rut and want/need a kick in the butt to get you thinking creatively again.
We all have fears. Some are ones we might never share with another individual. Others we have no issue with telling the world about because in some ways it bonds us with others. Somehow over time our list of fears seemingly add up, and for those few of you out there that are daredevils and are willing to do and try anything, I bet there is still something that you are afraid of.
What is your greatest fear? I cannot necessarily say that I have decided what my greatest fear is, but I can tell you that I am absolutely petrified of snakes. Whether I see a small garter snake in the grass, or I am watching a movie with a massive snake I quake just a bit in my skin (okay not a bit, a lot). It does not matter where I am, I do not want to ever interact with a snake. Which means that on a hike, or even out for a run I will literally freak out if I encounter a snake. Forget looking at them at the zoo behind the glass, they still give me the hibbie jibbies. Maybe my fear is because they are so unpredictable, or they have a way of being sly and then striking. I have always been scared of them.
Your fears might be of talking in front of others, or the dark, or traveling on a plane. Sometimes our fears are because of something that has happened in our life, or because of something that has happened to someone we know. Other times our fears are about anticipation. We dream up all these potential scenarios of what could happen, or what should happen, and in reality we make it all up in our head. I am not sure if I can ever get over my fear of snakes, but I do know I probably make a bunch of crap up that keeps me afraid (the self-fulfilling cycle of fear).
Michelle Poler decided to not let her amassing fears overtake her life. She decided to live for 100 Days Without Fear. Take a peek at her website, where she posts videos that show her doing what she is afraid of. It is inspiring, and well I am not doing so well because I had to quickly scan past the video of her holding a massive snake. She did look slightly in pain doing it! So, what are you afraid of that you could maybe overcome?
Where do we learn the behaviors that make up who we are? For some reason I was retrospective today. Thinking about my childhood, my teens, college, and my early professional career. At each stage I was a different person and I am still growing into who that is today.
As a kid I was definitely strategic (even if I did not know it at the time). I would find a way to con candy out of the old ladies at church (maybe I would not have resorted to it if it was given a little more freely at home). I learned early on that my sister would get sick on rides at the county fair, so if I asked to go on the spinning ones first I could potentially get the rest of her ride tickets. I was often quiet in the presence of my father when I knew he was in a bad mood, I did not dare piss him off. And I was fun and playful. I liked to be silly.
Somehow as I grew into being a teenager, I grew quieter and more introverted. I had seen too much in my life. Death, anger, poverty, sickness, desertion. As I look back at my senior year of high school, I feel a sadness. I barely made it through to graduation. I was lost and sad, but did not really know it at the time. On the outside I probably looked fairly normal. I was social, had friends, was a cheerleader, but my sadness came from not really having a home or parents to ground my day-to-day life. My last three years of high school were spent at a boarding school, so living away from home (that did not exist) sans parents was strange and so different from my classmates and friends. There was no one I could really relate to.
In college, I eventually found my way and I found my voice. That voice evolved into my professional life and experiences. I began to speak up for what I believed in without fear and decided that I had something to say and did not care what others thought of me.
Throughout it all I have been strategic, relentless, and thrifty. When I decide I want something I figure out how I am going to get it. I had to be that way. No one was taking care of me through high school or college so I learned early on to depend on no one but myself. While I now have people I depend on in my life, there is still always a thread that floats in the back of my mind. Will they drop the ball and I will have to pick it up? Will they follow through with what they said they will do? Each stage of my life has evolved into who I am today. Strategic, sometimes introverted, sometimes extroverted, intuitive, blunt, thrifty, and relentless. I have to trust you, and when I do the rest is history.
Goodness. Somedays it is hard to see it. Somedays are a struggle and it is harder to see the goodness in our lives. I ebb and flow with reminding myself that I need to focus on the good that is all around me. Usually when I have a moment of struggle and frustration I go down on my knees and am reminded of all that I have, all the goodness that surrounds me each and every day. Those moments of gratitude helps me to see what I am forgetting. Those moments remind us of the bigger picture.
Recently, I came across this excerpt from Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love)’s Facebook page:
“The other day, the great author and sociologist Brené Brown (my sweet friend!) was asked, “What do you know for sure?”
She replied: “Fear is dangerous. But people are good.”
The evidence that people are good can be found all around us.
The evidence that fear is dangerous can also be found all around us — particularly because of the terrible things that fear makes people do (both to themselves and to each other.)
We all live amidst fear and goodness — and their consequences.
We are all composed of both fear and goodness.
You have a choice. Every moment of the day, you have choices.
You can follow your goodness, not your fear.
You can feed your goodness, not your fear.
You can support and encourage the goodness of others, rather than preying upon their fears or adding to their fears.
To choose goodness over fear is the single most life-affirming path a human being can ever possibly take.”
It was a good reminder for me. There is goodness in watching my niece do things for the first time. There is goodness in my day-to-day world. My marriage, my job, my family, friends, and home. Lots of good is happening around me. We all have a choice to decide to see the goodness or not. I choose to see the goodness. I choose to be happy. I choose goodness, not fear. That does not mean that I do not have fear. I do fear, but if I can focus on the good, it means I am seeing the light, not the darkness.