You Gotta Fight For Your Rights

Woman suffrage. Mrs. Swing, picketing White House, 1917

You guys. One of my girls brought home THE most awesome thing from school today and I’m stealing it. And NOT because I didn’t have any content for this week. I just didn’t have any content I could actually publish. Because. You know. Some weeks are messier than others and it would just not be appropriate to press the Publish button. Woah Nellie.

But THIS! This fits perfectly into a messy week. It’s the Personal Bill of Rights and I totally wish I knew who the author was so that I could give them a big ol’ hug and kiss and double high fives and secret hand shakes and do-si-do with them and whatever else you do when you wanna celebrate. Because this rocks. I’m hanging it on my fridge and in my kids’ rooms and giving copies to a few friends. I’ve lived far too long with some blurry and loose boundaries, People-Pleasing Behavior Syndrome (because that’s a thing) and not always understanding what is reasonable to expect for myself or others. I’m guessing we could all use a reminder from time to time about what it genuinely means to be real people with real feelings and needs; Reminders about what is healthy and right and should be expected in healthy relationships. This list is that.

Personal Bill of Rights

1. I have the right to ask for what I want.

2. I have the right to say no to requests or demands I cannot meet.

3. I have the right to express all of my feelings, positive or negative.

4. I have the right to change my mind.

5. I have the right to make mistakes and not have to be perfect.

6. I have the right to follow my own values and standards.

7. I have the right to say no to anything when I feel I am not ready, it is unsafe, or it      violates my values.

8. I have the right to determine my own priorities.

9. I have the right not to be responsible for others’ behaviors, actions, feelings, or problems.

10. I have the right to expect honesty from others.

11. I have the right to be angry at someone I love.

12. I have the right to be uniquely myself.

13. I have the right to feel scared and say, “I’m afraid.”

14. I have the right to say, “I don’t know.”

15. I have the right not to give excuses or reasons for my behavior.

16. I have the right to make decisions based on my feelings.

17. I have the right to my own needs for personal space and time.

18. I have the right to be playful and frivolous.

19. I have the right to be healthier than those around me.

20. I have the right to be in a non-abusive environment.

21. I have the right to make friends and be comfortable around people.

22. I have the right to change and grow.

23. I have the right to have my needs and wants respected by others.

24. I have the right to be treated with dignity and respect.

25. I have the right to be happy.

~Anonymous

Amen. And Amen. Thank you, Anonymous. You are wise and brilliant and insightful and you have done it again. XOXO

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Starting Over on a Tuesday

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Yesterday was the first official Monday of the New Year. And it started out bright and early and shiny with so much promise. There was coffee. There was meditation and journaling. There was all sorts of positivity and optimism and good feelings. All kinds of regrouping and restarting. Ahhhh. A New day. New week. New Year.

And then it happened. Later on in the day, it happened. I totally lost my shit with someone. And I’m not telling you this because I’m proud of it. I’m telling you this because SERIOUSLY? It was Monday! Monday, January 5th! The new start! The fresh week! The Do Over! The Reset! I should’ve still been basking in the after glow of New Year’s resolutions and inspiration! Still full of hope! And I was! Until then.

But it was Yucky. It was like an Ugly Cry- Jesus, Excuse Me for a Minute, I’ll be Right Back- kind of moment. There may have been a foot stomp or two and a door slammed or so. You know the type. Yeah. One of those.  Happy Effin’ New Year. Blah blah blah. Bite me.


But luckily. Luckily, I had read this little gem of an article earlier on when I was still in my right mind. It was all about pausing in the midst of a total train wreck moment and deciding to say thank you. I know. I know it sounds totally whacked. But when I stepped away from the mess I had just been standing in and collected myself, I sat still for a few minutes and did it. With a few tears running down my face, I said to God and to the Universe, “Thank you.”

And at first, it was weird. Because, seriously, what was I thankful for? That I hadn’t just committed complete Harikari  in my own home? But Kate, the kick ass Life Coach and author of the article over at Your Courageous Life, had said this~

“What can shift in those seconds when you are in it, and deep, and you start saying “Thank you” is that you are paving a way to say that all is not lost–that there is something divine about this experience–there is something to be gained.”

And indeed, there WAS something to be gained. Besides composure. It was a very fast, very clear moment of self-awareness. I immediately was thankful that I could see exactly what the trigger point for me was. And exactly where I still have work to do in 2015. And 16. And probably 2017, 18, 34, and 52.

And in defense of my trampled little self-aware heart, the trigger was someone hurting someone I love. Which somehow makes me feel a teeny bit more justified about my fit. I don’t get worked up over traffic. Or long check-out lines. Or someone being late. But hurt someone I love and I will rip the bow out of my hair, clutch the pearls from my neck and go all Beer-drinking- Buffalo girl on you in two seconds flat. But still. It’s something I want to learn to handle better.

Which leads me to this: While I love a new year and a new start and fresh, clean slate as much as the next person, the truth is, every day is a Do Over. Thank God, every single day is a Do Over. Turning off the alarm every morning is like hitting a reset button. No need to wait for January. Or Monday. Or Spring. Or whatever it is. God knew exactly what He was doing when He divided the sunshine and moonlight into manageable blocks of time called Day and Night. He totally knew we would need time to regroup in between. Time to say, “Help.” Time to say, “Thank you.” And the continual promise of a Do Over every single day.

So here it is, Tuesday. And I’m starting over. Again.

“I was still learning.”

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My girls and I were chatting recently and reminiscing about all kinds of different things. As one topic and memory led to another, I started to have Big Mom Feelings for both of them and began to tell them how much I like them and how proud I am to be their mom.

But as the conversation wore on, we all started to laugh as we recalled the littlest one in her much younger days. She was…How shall we put it? A handful. More fiery than the older two. A biter, if you must know. Much more physical and strong-willed than I was used to. Years ago, my then 5 year-old nephew once referred to her as a “rough woman.” We have many funny stories about things she said and did. And she knows this was true of herself and also laughs about it now.

But during this recent conversation, she looked up at  her older sister and I with a shy smile and said these very profound words:

“I was still learning.” 

Oh.

Oh baby girl. Oh of course you were.

How I love those words. How moved I was by her very gentle and compassionate perception of her former self. And though I didn’t make a huge deal out of it in the moment, because I’m pretty sure I may have been met with eye rolls and slightly blank stares (Mom is FEELING again)… That little sentence won’t leave me alone.

The rearview mirror of life can be pretty unforgiving. And age doesn’t even really matter. Most of us have no shortage of regrets. Words we wish we had said or never said. Choices that hurt other people or hurt ourselves. Broken relationships. Missed opportunities. And just the general crap of life. Bleh.

2014 is coming to a close and I’m already beginning to take stock of how it all went down. But now I’m resolving to take a page from my daughter and remind myself ever so tenderly, “I was still learning.” And I am still learning. Everyday. All the time. Maya Angelou once reminded us “When you know better, you do better”, and now my daughter has reminded me of this as well.

Be gentle with yourself and each other, dear readers. We’re all still learning.

Here, Let Me Help You

I love Self-Help. I am a self professing Self-Help junkie. And I know, from all of my Self-Help study, that admitting you have a problem is the first step towards recovery. Not that it’s a problem though. Not for me, anyway. (And I am NOT in denial- the act of believing something to be untrue- at least I don’t think I am). Although it might be a problem for the people around me. (Not that I’m paranoid.) It’s just that by now, I’ve acquired so much useful information from all the books I’ve read and classes I’ve taken, that I could be so helpful to other people.  Isn’t that a good thing? What could possibly be wrong with that? I mean, as long as I’m not being an enabler and subconsciously encouraging co-dependency, right?

Does this make me weird? Although, I shouldn’t really care–that would be insecurity–the belief that I am somehow being judged by others and am somehow inferior. And I’ve read Beth Moore’s book,  So Long Insecurity, so I should be all set in that area. It’s just that I find myself so interesting. And not just me–because that would be Narcissistic: the obsession with oneself and the feeling that one is somehow particularly special or different from other people. But everyone else, too.

I somewhat consider myself a deep thinker–an analyzer– my husband claims that I’m always psychoanalyzing him. When at times, he asks me what I’m thinking, the truth is, he probably doesn’t want to know–because it’s a tiny bit possible that I’m OVER thinking. Maybe. Why does he  do we do the things we do? Why does he do we think the things we do? How do our perspectives get so incredibly skewed and confused and at times so far from the truth? I read a quote one time that said, “How I see it is not how it is. It’s just how I see it.” That’s a lot to ponder. Especially when you think you’re right all the time. You want other people to see it your way, too! Aren’t you just helping them gain a better perspective? Although this could seem controlling. Maybe as long as you don’t say things like, “WINNING!” …Because that doesn’t seem helpful.

I think the Self-Help sections of the library and the bookstores are really rather fun. I’m sure you’re familiar with some of the titles out there, but here are a few of my personal favorites: “How To Be Happy Though Married”, “When Your Phone Doesn’t Ring, It’ll Be Me”, “Sippy Cups Are Not for Chardonnay and Other Things I Had to Learn as a New Mom”, “How To Be Pope”, “Anybody Can Be Cool…But Awesome Takes Practice” and “Have a New Husband By Friday”. This last one kills me. I swear I have not personally read it, (though I know someone who has) but if I ever saw my husband reading a book called  “Have a New Wife by Friday”, I would make it really easy for him. By Tuesday. Trust me.

But here’s the funny thing about Self-Help–a lot of times when you’re reading it, you don’t see yourself. You see everyone else in your world. Instead of thinking of all the ways you need to modify your own behavior, all you can think about are the people you know who could really benefit from these new truths and insights. I am guilty of actually reading and highlighting in these books and adding other people’s initials in the margins! It’s like sitting in church, hearing a sermon and wishing so and so was there because you know they could really apply this in their life. I don’t have a technical psychobabble term for this behavioral phenomenon. I think it might just be called judgmental. Or critical. But those words sound kind of harsh and I mean it to be kind. And helpful. So let’s call it something nicer, like, love.