How Are You Running Your Race?

(Disclaimer- I proofread this thing a dozen times and used an online site to help. If you see any mistakes, oh well, I’m only human. Thanks for reading!)
A little over a month ago I was listening to one of my favorite podcast called, “The Read” hosted by Kid Fury and Crissle.  The episode is called, “Cheerleading” and in it, Crissle talks about her history of depression and negative self-talk.  She said something that her therapist told her that made her take a serious look at how she speaks to herself.  And after hearing it, it also made me take a look at how I speak to myself?  Her therapist said to her, “Picture life like a race. And one person is beaten along the path.  Like someone is whipping at their back. Chastising them and telling them all the ways that they suck.  And they’re moving forward trying to be motivated by the negativity.  And the other person has cheerleaders in the distance who are rooting for them and encouraging them to keep going.  And when they fall saying, ‘That’s fine.  You know we all stumble sometimes.  Just get back up, dust your knees off and keep going at it.’  And you can choose how you’re going to talk to yourself through life.  Are you going to beat yourself through it?  Or are you going to cheerlead yourself through it?”  Crissle said as soon as her therapist told her that, she began to change the way that she spoke to herself.

I know for an absolute fact that most times I am not kind to myself.  My words can be harsh, rude, mean and downright disrespectful.  Sometimes so that the things that I say to myself I wouldn’t dare allow anyone to say to me.  So why is it ok that I say those things to myself?  Ideally, I know that it’s not.  But that doesn’t stop me from constantly doing it.  At one point the negative self-talk was loud and often, it became the only self-language I knew.  I have come a long way from the constant beating myself up.  But I still have a tendency of whipping my own back instead of rooting myself on in this race called life.  My problem is I’m often living the past or worried about the future.  Neither of which is mentally healthy for me to do.  One reason is that I can’t seem to forgive or forget my past mistakes.  The second reason is that I’m not presently where I want to be in life, and I worry I’ll never get there.

My negative self-talk appears to come from my own vision of lack and comparison.  Since I don’t have the things that I want, all I see is lack.  Here’s how it usually goes:  “I’m not currently working as a full-time writer because I lack the skills needed in order to achieve that.  I’m single because I lack the beauty it takes to draw someone’s interests.  I’ll never move ahead in life because I made that awful decision five years ago.”  You get the idea.  The comparison comes from looking at what everyone else is doing instead of looking directly at my own path.  I’m watching how everyone else is performing in their race of life and that slows me down.  I get slowed down because I think I should be where they are in life.  Often times I forget the fact that everyone runs at their own pace. So where does the negative self-talk, my vision of lack and compassion get me?  The short answer is:  NOWHERE.  And who the hell wants to stay there?

After hearing Crissle give the race example that her therapist gave her, it really made me want to change my internal dialogue.  I want to cheer myself on the way I would cheer for others.  I’m a fantastic cheerleader for everyone else.  Why shouldn’t I do the same for myself?  Learning to not beat myself up will surely be an everyday struggle.  This isn’t something that will suddenly stop overnight.  I will probably have to work hard each and every day to see the good in myself.  I can do this by learning to ignore those things I don’t see as being “good enough.”  For every discouraging thought that comes across my mind, I will quickly follow it up with something I love about myself.  I will keep my eyes on my own journey and pace, and not worry so much about what others are doing.  And not comparing my speed to theirs.  Knowing that comparison only serves to injure me in my own race.  Daily, I will think of a least three things I like about myself or that I’m good at.  This will serve as the encouragement that I need to hit the finish line. I want to run a strong race, with all the strength that I can muster.  I must learn to not be my biggest adversary.  And become my biggest supporter, encourager and overall best friend.  Because after all I am the one running this race, and this race I fully intend to win.

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Self Care- Be a little selfish, it’s ok

I was having a conversation with a co-worker recently and she told me that her step-mom sent her half brother and sister to visit with her for a while from Florida. I asked her to define “a while” and she said until late July/ early August. All of this wouldn’t be an issue if my co-worker didn’t work two jobs and shared a small living space with three other people. When I asked her why her step-mom sent them in the first place she said, “Because she didn’t have anyone to watch them during the summer. And she needs to get her business off the ground.” I wish you could have seen the look on my face when she said that. (Insert side eye emoji here)  I told her that I understand that she wants to spend time with her siblings and help her step-mom. But I pointed out that she already told me that between the two jobs, she’s exhausted. It’s fully okay to let her step-mom know that she would have to make other arrangements after a few weeks because she needs time to herself. Between the two jobs and playing babysitter to a 19 and a 14 year old (yeah you read that right) she wouldn’t have time to do anything for herself. She paused for a second and said, “I know. You’re right.”

I think a lot of people find themselves in this situation more than they would like to admit.  They find themselves in predicaments where they have to do something they don’t want to do in order the help someone else.  Or worse, they’ve been volunteered by someone else to do something to help another person.  Both cases suck, and one would definitely not be ideal.  It’s not that they wouldn’t want to help, most times people generally do.  But helping all the time takes away from time for themselves to recharge.  I have a cousin who by all accounts is extremely kind and generous with her time.  So much so that she’ll put something completely aside to help someone else with something they have.  She might go without money, sleep or personal time to assist another.  This was always at the expense of herself and her well-being.  I remember saying to her once that she needed to, “take a break man.”  I told her that she was burning the candlestick at both ends.  And if she didn’t take some time for herself, that candle would eventually be completely gone.  Over time she got fed up with everyone needing something from her, not giving her much in return.

Whether you’re a mother, father, wife, husband, caregiver or an awesome best friend, you have to reserve some time for yourself.   You are no good to anyone (or yourself) if you don’t have time to recharge your batteries.  That’s why you may have to get a little selfish with your time.  Taking care of your mental and physical health should always be your number one priority.  You can’t help others if you are weak and suffering in either of those areas.  And more importantly, you will not be happy.  So take some time out for yourself.  It doesn’t matter how long you take.  It doesn’t matter exactly what you do.  Just go do it.  Do something that makes you happy, makes you smile or makes you laugh. Find something that brings you joy and a sense of peace.  Doing this will not only benefit your overall health, but it will help keep you in tip-top shape to be there for those around you.

Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

Oxymoron- (Definition according to Merriam-Webster) a combination of contradictory or incongruous words (such as cruel kindness; broadly: something (such as concept) that is made up of contradictory or incongruous elements.  By definition comfortable being uncomfortable is quite the oxymoron.  How can one be comfortable while also being uncomfortable? Impossible you say?  Wrong.  It’s a very easy experience to have.  Here are three examples:

1.) It’s the middle of the night, you are sleeping in your bed and now you are woken up because you have to use the bathroom.  The bed is too nice and warm to get out of, so you decide to try to sleep it off while your bladder proceeds to kick your insides.  Comfortable being uncomfortable.

2.) You’re flipping through the channels on TV and you clumsily drop the remote on the floor.  Too lazy to pick it up, you start watching a documentary about how the thimble was invented.  Comfortable being uncomfortable.

3.) You’re working a job you can’t stand but the pay is steady.  So you go back day after day, to see people you would rather not, to do work you don’t care about in order to receive a check that doesn’t pay you enough for your efforts.  You do this instead of going back to school to get that degree you want or starting that company or dream job that you can’t stop thinking about.  Comfortable being uncomfortable.

The first two examples were a bit silly (even though everyone is guilty of doing them) but the third one is a doozy.  I’m sure everyone at one time or another has been (or currently is) guilty of something similar to that.  Hell as I write these words, I’m culpable of doing that right now.  For me comfortable being uncomfortable basically means, “I don’t like something in or about my life, but I’m too lazy, unmotivated or doubtful that I can do anything to change it.” Since I held that belief that meant I didn’t do anything….ever.  I stayed the same (comfortable) but in the same situation (uncomfortable.)  It was ridiculous and a complete waste of my precious time on the Earth, but that didn’t stop me from NOT doing it anyway.  I honestly never gave that much thought until about a year or so ago.  I got tired of being uncomfortable more than staying miserably comfortable in my own bullshit.  It came down to me not wanting to continue to live the same crappy life that I had been for so long.  That meant I would have to climb (kicking and screaming at times) out of my comfortable zone.

Now I could sit here and tell you that it was easy for me to do.  That I enjoyed every waking minute of it because I knew that I was improving myself and my life.  And that I was super eager to get started.  (Insert fake smiling face here)  But my friend, that would be bullshit.  And the one thing you won’t get here from me on this blog is bullshit.  So I’m going to keep it all the way real with you…… The shit kind of sucked.  At least in the very beginning when I first got started on this new journey.  There was a lot of starting and stopping over a long period of time before I actually found my steady stride.  The thing that I held onto was that although it hurt now, it would all pay off in the end.  I’ll share a few tips I use to get through this process as unscathed as possible….with minimum bruising.

START SMALL- Trying to change a bunch of things that make you comfortable all at once is a sure fire way to end up quitting. Pick one or two things that you can handle first. And once you have them handled, then you can add another one.

PUSH THROUGH THE RESISTANCE- Your mind will try to psych you out at every given turn, don’t let it.  Despite you trying to improve yourself, it will tell you that there’s no point.  It will tell you that you can’t do this and that you will fail.  As you push through the pain, your mindset will begin to change.  That will help you continue to gain more momentum and progress.

FOCUS ON YOUR WINS- I don’t care how big or small, a win is a win, no matter how short or tall.  (Just went Dr. Seuss on you right there, but you get the point.)  Any improvement you make on your journey is a victory.  And it should be respected and treated as such. Don’t downplay how you have advanced in any situation you have been working toward. And for the love of God, don’t let anyone’s comments to you that aren’t good knock you off your game.  If they can’t get with you and what you’re trying to do, they can get gone without you. Period.
And the most important thing to do……

DON’T GIVE UP- Now that one can be a tricky bastard because when things get tough for anyone the first we want to do is quit.  And to be honest with you, you might quit.  As I said I have started and stopped many a day, but ultimately I didn’t fully quit.  I got back on that damn wild horse and rode again.  Remember why you started the process in the first place.  The work will be hard (I’m not going to sugar coat it for you) but it will be worth it in the end when you get to where you want to be.

So start, push through the pain and stay the course. You can do this.
 

Laziness vs Goals

I can readily admit that I am a lazy person by nature.  I have been for a good portion of my life.  And as I have gotten older, I feel like my “lazy” is probably more mental than actual physical.  Being mentally lazy brought me to a state of comfortable being uncomfortable.  Let me explain…..  Even though I was clearly unhappy with almost every aspect of my life, I would do next to nothing to change it.  You would think that being immensely unhappy in that situation would be the catalyst that I needed to want to change.  But at that point I was way too comfortable in my own uncomfortable to move off the couch, let alone set goals to get out of my rut.  It was a lot easier to sit around, bitch about how my life sucked, get sympathy from people and daydream about my goals.  My desire to sit around and sink into my mental lazy was stronger than my desire to reach my goals.

To be honest, this is still (and my always be) something I fight against daily.  Case in point, I have a current weight loss goal of 15 pounds by April.  My laziness kicks in when its time to hit the gym four days a week.  Right now, I’m managing only three days a week consistently.  The shame…. This blog is another example as well.  My initial goal was to post once a week, and for a good portion I have.  But there have been weeks where I didn’t post anything at all.  Either because I couldn’t think of a topic, felt like no one was reading anyway so why bother (still sort of feel like this, but I push through anyway) and of course the oldie but goody:  laziness.  But if I really want to be the writer that I claim to be, this blog is where I start paying in sweat.  (In my Debbie Allen from the 80’s TV show Fame voice. Look it up if you don’t know the reference, Lol)  This is where I will tighten up my writing skills that will help me become a better writer in the long way.  This blog will teach me the importance of patience, so that I won’t give up if my audience isn’t coming as fast as I would like.  I also know that this blog will eventually get me noticed by different companies and people that will help launch my writing career to new heights.  At least these are the things I tell myself to keep my motivation up and running.

I know in order to achieve any of the above I must:  FIGHT. THE. LAZINESS.  This isn’t always easy (or attainable) for me to do daily, so here are a few things I do to help me solider on.  I have a tendency to only see what is directly in front of me and not on the over all future achievement of my goal.  Instead of solely focusing on the present day, I work hard to move that focus to what will happen when I hit my goal.  How I will feel, how I will look, what I will say about my journey and what people may say to me about hitting my goal.  In other words, I try not to give too much energy to my current state and give higher vibrations to my future self and what she has accomplished.  With my current weight loss journey, sometimes I lose sight of the fact that I’m actually down almost 25 pounds.  When I look in the mirror, I still see my “problem areas” and that makes me feel defeated.  So to change my view, I printed out a picture of myself from a friend’s wedding in August and taped it to my wall.  This will help me see how far I have come, instead of how far I may still have to go.  I’m currently looking for full time employment in an office environment.  I have had a few interviews, but no offers as of yet.  Today I found my positive outlook slowly sinking into despair at the thought of not having a full time job, with full time pay, to catch up on my bills.  Again, I turned it around by visualizing pulling up to my new job, in my new office building, with my friendly new co-workers, sitting at my new desk and doing work on my new work computer without having to answer any phones to deal with clients.  I’m not saying by any measure that it will always be easy to change your view.  But do your best not to let what you see directly in front of you, block the beautiful view just behind it.

Heart vs Brain: Emotion vs Logic

Have you ever made a decision where you chose emotion over logic?  I have on numerous occasions that I would like to forget.  The one that comes to mind first is when I packed up my life to move down south for someone I was in love with.  Yeah, I did that dumb shit.  (Smh)  Long story short I met (and quickly fell in love with) this person six weeks before moving out of the state.  We kept in touch over a roughly two year period.  I decided that I loved this person so much, that I wanted to move back to be with them.  We discussed it and the final decision was made by me.  The weekend before I’m about to leave (bags and boxes packed and in the car) this person calls and say that maybe I shouldn’t move after all.  Huh?  Excuse my language in advance but my response was, “What the fuck do you mean I shouldn’t come?!  You asked me to fucking move back!”  In retrospect, my response was freaking hilarious.  I heard the words that the person who I was in love with was saying to me, but my heart wouldn’t fully let me process it.  There was no way I couldn’t go!  Not now!

Reasons being:
1.) Because I was young, dumb and in love.
And
2.) There was no way to save face with friends and family if I didn’t go. I couldn’t take the embarrassment.

I had made such an argument to go (despite being advised otherwise) that at that point there was no way I could let them know they were right.  My 20-something year old heart and pride wouldn’t allow me to do that.  So I move back and after a short time we got back together.  About a month or so after that, the person breaks up with me.  I kind of forced their hand to get some balls and do it already, but that’s a post for another day.  I learned a hard a lesson through that experience.  Listening to your heart over your head, could possibly blow up in your face.  In last week’s post, I talked about quitting my Preschool Teacher Assistant position.  As much as I love and adore MOST of the kids I work with (heart), momma needs to make a little more money (logic) than she is currently making.  You feel me?  I know you do.  I will miss their sweet little faces and the funny things they say to me on a daily basis.  Last week a four our year little girl was singing Alicia Keys “Girl on Fire.”  Too cute and hilarious.  The fact that I love the kids (MOST of them as I have stated. Lol.)  I can’t let my emotions make the decision to stay.  And there were a few other factors that made me completely unhappy and miserable.  They played a factor in my decision to leave.  So in this case, I choose my logic over my heart.  My emotions may be bruised for a little while, but they’ll get stronger in the end.  Choosing logic over heart doesn’t always pan out well either.  Have you ever liked someone (heart) but chose not to say anything (logic) for fear of rejection?  Guilty!  I could have missed out on a great love because deep down, I’m a bit of a chicken shit.  I really gotta get that confidence up.  I say all this to say that when making a decision, never go too quickly with either your heart or logic.  Weigh the pros and cons of all situations before making a major decision.  Because if you don’t (and go hastily with either) you could be making a choice that can hurt you and is difficult to come back from.

I quit my job: Now what?

I just quit my job (as a Teacher Preschool Assistant) this past Monday and I actually feel good about it.  I will admit that part of me is still a bit nervous about quitting my job. Mostly because I don’t have another one lined up, but I simply couldn’t let that be the reason that I decided to stay.  I just couldn’t do it anymore.  I haven’t told anyone in my inner circle yet because honestly I don’t want (or need) to hear anyone’s fucking opinions.  Deep down I know that I will be ok (in the long run) but in the short there is concern.  I may not have made the best decision financially (money could be tight for a short while) but I know that I made the best choice for my well-being.  I used to really enjoy my job, I truly did.  Anyone who knows me knew that more than likely the next time they saw me, I would have some funny story to tell them about a child that I was working with.  I have done this job off and on for the past 7 years, but this school year was different. I didn’t find the joy in it like I used too.  Education, as most know, is not a gold mine financially.  You definitely go into for the love of helping children learn and grow, because it’s damn sure not for the paycheck.  Any teacher can tell you that as a fact.  So I sacrificed money to kick it with cute, funny little kids all day to watch and help them grow was awesome……In the beginning.  Somewhere along the line though, the awesomeness wore off and I became unhappy.  What do you do when you have a job (steady paycheck) that the mere thought of having to attend one more day immediately brings on feelings of dread?  Do you stay because of the paycheck, but die mentally, physically and spiritual a little inside every day?  Or just cope by turning to alcohol or food cause that always makes you feel better for the moment?  Or complain to anyone who will listen because more than likely they feel the same way about their jobs as you do yours?  Or take a leap of faith and jump out of misery to find your happy, without knowing where exactly you’ll land?  I had already done the other things for far too long, so for the first time I decided to step out on faith.

I have faith that the universe has my back and I’ll land safely on my feet.  I just have to be patient, positive in the face of the tough times that may come because of my decision. I can’t receive good things in my life, if all day every day I’m fill with negativity.  And that’s what my job was starting to do to me: ALL THE TIME.  I would be running for the door when the day was over completely drained of all the energy I was able to muster to even go to work.  What kind of life is that?  Not a healthy one, that’s for damn sure.  When I tell you that the minute I informed everyone that needed to know that I was leaving, a sense of calm and peace came over me.  Those are feelings that I had long sense forgotten could even exist for me.  And to even type that is quite sad. No one should ever wake up every day with a sense of dread because a job.  Ridiculous!  The choice I made to leave my job without a clear cut plan, won’t work for most people.  Keep in mind I’m single and have no kids, so all I have to worry about is me.  But if that isn’t the case for you, you can still leave a job that makes you unhappy.  You will just have to make a plan first.  Sit down and think about what it is that you would love to do that would truly make you happy.   For most of us, that’s the hard part.   I’m still working on that one myself.  For most of us, that’s the hard part. I’m still working on that one myself. Then talk to people, read books, research and google shit to find out exactly what you might need to do in order to get to your happy.  And for the lord of God, don’t let other people who aren’t happy where they are try to tell you to stay unhappy where you are! And above all else, please know this:  YOU ARE NOT STUCK.  It may take you longer than others to find your happy (I struggle with that daily) but eventually you will get there. There are sure to be days ahead that will test your faith, resilience and patience to the highest level.  Happens to me almost daily.  But I know that I’m stronger than any of that bullshit.  I will push through…..And so will you.  Period.

My job: I like it….but mostly I hate it.

Let me first start off by saying this: I feel BEYOND blessed to even have a job that I am slowly growing to hate. (Ha! Ha!)  A lot of people (including myself a number of years ago) who are unemployed would love to have a job period even if it was one that they loathed.  You ever had a job that you use to enjoy, but going there now is almost as unpleasant as going to the dentist for that filling you’ve been putting off?  Yeah, that’s me now.  I currently work a job in the education system that I actually use to enjoy.  It has since become a damn near daily, unpleasant experience.  I work with children ages 4 to 5, and for the most part they’re super cute.  But there’s always that one or two that make you question why you do this job and how you can get your tubes tied ASAP.  I don’t have kids and working this job has set that in stone for me.  (Ha! Ha!)  I try to focus on the kids that are enjoyable to be around and not the ones that if they were adults, would have gotten cussed out by now.  (Ha! Ha!)  I always said that I had more patience for kids than adults. A few kids that I work with now have me thinking that that may no longer be the case.  My patience level has be dwindling rather quickly this school year.  We are only about two months in and I’m like, “How many days until summer break?”

I try to put a positive spin on the current problem children….Oh who am I kidding?  It’s just one kid that drives me crazy.  So let me rephrase that.  I’m trying to put a positive spin on the current problem child that I have to interact with daily.  Maybe this kid was put into my life to teach me more patience for things I can’t control.  And trust me, short of me getting super stern with this kid (basically going black momma and if you don’t know what that is ask a black friend to explain, Lol) or completely ignoring them (They hate that, but it works.  Eventually they settle down and do whatever is I’m telling them to do) they are uncontrollable.  And honestly I don’t want to control this kid, or any of the others.  But what I do want is for them to follow the rules of the school (that they clearly know by now), be safe and do what you’re supposed to do.

You’re probably reading this and thinking two things:
“Why does she work with kids when it sounds like she doesn’t like them? They’re only four years old.”

To answer your first thought, I like kids.  But what I don’t like is disrespectful, rude, smart mouth kids.  And two, I know they’re four years old and can’t always control their thoughts and emotions sometimes.  But when I tell you to do something, and you look at me and smile while NOT doing what I just said to do, we have a problem.  And that’s the type of stuff that this kid does.  And that’s what makes me loathe going to work every day.  I’m sure that whatever is going on with this kid has zero to do with me and everything to do with what is happening at home.  Or not happening at home aka no discipline.  And I try to be mindful of that as often as possible.  But when a four year old is yelling in your face that they aren’t going to do something AND calling you a liar, that isn’t always easy to do. (Takes deep breaths and remembers to mediate later.)

Just know that if you are feeling the same way about your job as I do about mine, you are not alone honey. There are plenty who feel the same way we do. So until this blog takes off the way I envision, my first novel gets bought by a publishing house, my name appears on the New York Times Best Sellers List, I’m making TV and bookstore appearances and the money that I want for my art/ writing comes flooding in, this is my job. Love it or hate it.