Clean up the milk and move on…

(Disclaimer- I proofread this thing a dozen times and used an online site to help. If you see any mistakes, I’m only human and not perfect. Thanks for reading!)

If you read last week’s post, then you know that I love listening to a podcast called, “The Read” hosted by Crissle and Kid Fury.  In the episode called, “Cheerleader”, Crissle spoke on her depression, seeing her therapist and the advice given by the therapist.  The therapist compared negative self-talk to running a race. (See last week’s post for full description.)  Crissle’s therapist went on to give an example about forgiving your past mistakes.  Her therapist said, “Let’s say a child spilled a cup of milk.  Are you going to every time you see that child, every day for the rest of their life be like, remember the time when you were 5 and 38 days and you spilled milk?  And I had to use three of my good Bounty’s to clean it up?  And replace my eight ounces of milk.  Are you going to drag that baby for that?  Or are we going to clean up the milk and move on with our fucking lives?”  From that moment on, Crissle decided that she had to clean up the milk in her life.  She would stop blaming herself non-stop and start looking forward again. Bam!  It hit me like a ton of bricks!  Is that what I have been doing the majority of my adult life?  Bitching over milk I spilled when I was young, naive and didn’t know any better.  Constantly berating myself over and over for situations that no longer exist and couldn’t be changed anyway.  Being my own biggest critic/ hater has always been a real hotbed issue for me.  After hearing the example that Crissle’s therapist gave her, I fully comprehend what my problem has been.  I have a lack of compassion for myself.  Isn’t that a fucked up thing to find out about yourself.

My understanding and heart is always so large for others.  I am able to fully support others with mistakes they have made in the past with my encouraging words.  But when it comes to having those same words for myself, there’s been little to none.  It is as if I don’t allow myself space to make mistakes or bad decisions.  For some reason, that is not allowed in my world.  For me, it’s not so much that I’m trying to be perfect.  I know this will never happen.  And that is completely all right with me.  Trying to be perfect, looks like a lot of work that I simply wouldn’t be dedicated to doing.  So where does my lack of self-compassion stem from?  Why is it that I can be so kind and uplifting for others, but not myself?  I am very skilled at stopping someone from beating themselves up.  I’m also very good at telling someone to have more patience with themselves and quick to say, “Everyone makes mistakes.”  Sometimes I can see the potential in others way more than I can see it in myself.  I have given myself far too much cruel kindness.  That is clearly something I would never do to another person.  Maybe I thought I was helping myself by giving cruel kindness.  By reminding myself of unpleasant situations I have been through, this would somehow help me to never to make those mistakes again.  By constantly replaying situations and poor choices, I would somehow learn to never do it again.  I found that this is unacceptable behavior and an oxymoron that simply makes no sense.  So what are the steps I plan on doing to change this behavior?

Step 1- Acknowledge that I am not compassion with myself.  Seems easy enough right?  But until one can admit to themselves that they have a problem, the situation can’t be fixed.

Step 2- Accept that mistakes have been made.  I’m human and humans make mistakes.  Some of the mistakes I made were necessary in order for me to learn and grow.  They taught me to make better choices and to listen to my gut.  Without making certain mistakes, I wouldn’t have become the person I am today.  And right now, I think I’m pretty awesome.  🙂

Step 3- Change the thought.  When NENE just won’t seem to shut her negative pie hole, I have to quickly remind myself of how awesome I am.  I begin to think of all the accomplishments that I have made over the years.  I will speak positive affirmations that prompt my brain to go down a more optimistic path.

Step 4- Forgive myself. This one will truly be the hardest to do of all the steps. I’ll have to learn that I’m still a good, smart person, who has flaws. No more or less than anyone else, just flaws. My past choices or decisions do not dictate how much I have grown. They also don’t determine my future. I will give myself a pep talk when I think of a mistake and move on. I will not dwell on choices and things in the past that can’t be changed.

As long as I’m walking the Earth, I will make mistakes.  It’s an important fact of life that I must remember.  I will acknowledge when I have done so, learn from said mistake, forgive myself and move on.  Because I’m tired of beating myself up over old, spilled milk.

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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.
 

Going through the storm: A time for renewal

Have you ever had a certain period of time in your life, where it seems as though you are surrounding by nothing but dark clouds?  Things are moving alone, but often at a snail’s pace and not always for the better.  I noticed that my storm began sometime around late November 2017.  I totally wasn’t feeling any of the holidays this past season.  And that’s not like me, because my inner chubby kid can’t wait for Thanksgiving to arrive. Ha! Ha!  But this past year…Nothing.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I was depressed, but I would say that I was in a serious funk.  I made a major decision (and took a big leap of faith) in November, which I thought would give me instant gratification.  I quit a job that was totally making me miserable, inside and out.  So for a brief period, I was totally okay with my decision.  Elated even.  That was until next month’s bill (and Christmas) came, then I had what one would call “buyer’s remorse.”

“Did I make the right decision? Maybe it wasn’t so bad there as I thought it was. I was probably totally overreacted as I usually do. I wonder if I could get that job back.”

Those were just some of the thoughts that crossed my mind when the storm clouds began to brew around me.  Maybe I brought them onto myself with my negative self-talk, or maybe it was just my time for renewal.  Years ago before I began the work of self-improvement, I would have viewed these clouds as dooms day.  No good will ever come of this.  I won’t be happy again, let alone be able to make it through the other side safely.  All is lost…..woe is me.  See where I’m going with this?  Total Debbie Downer to the fullest!  And I would have been full on comfortable with that.  But that’s a topic for another post…which you will be able to read soon.  But I digress….

Why do I think it’s a time for renewal instead of just a storm full of nasty clouds out to destroy me?  Simply this. Night has to come before the sun arrives.  It’s the way of the world, its nature.  My hair (which is naturally curly) got damaged due to over processing of color in late September.  Everyone kept saying that I would need to cut off all the damaged parts and start over. My hair was finally down to my mid back when straighten, so I refused. I deep conditioned the shit out my hair, but to avail.  My curls were all but gone, dead, a distance curly memory. (Insert crying emoji here)  And somewhere along the line, I had to except that a move on.  So little by little, I had inches cut off here and there.  By late January, I couldn’t take seeing my leftover straight pieces, so I begged my hairdresser to cut the rest of damaged hair out.  And then even it out altogether. I knew that this would mean that my hair would be hella short again.  Almost as short as when I decided to stop putting relaxers in my hair and go natural in the first place.  But as soon as she was done and I looked in the mirror, I was so freaking happy!  I felt light again.  New Year, new attitude, new outlook, new goals, new hair and a new me.

Now I say all that to say this:  Even though the clouds may brew around you, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a bad thing.  The storm could be there to clean away some bullshit that you may not be ready to do yourself.  (Which is usually the case for me.)  It could be there to teach you a lesson that you need to learn.  It could appear to help you learn to have my faith.  Faith in your journey, faith in your life or faith in yourself.  Maybe it’s there to remind you that you are strong enough to handle it and whatever comes your way.  I know I often have loads of trouble remember that last one.  During your storm just remember that you are strong and will survive it.  Take this time as a time for renewal of all things in your life.  Do whatever it is that you need to do to help you stay positive and make it through.  Keep saying, “This is a storm and it too shall pass.”  Sound corny as hell, but has helped me stay focus on what it actually is instead of what I think it is.  The sun is up there and it’s waiting to sun on you again.  As in life just as in nature, the sun never leaves.  Before I wasn’t able to see the sun through the clouds, but I never gave up hope that it was still there.  And by keeping that hope close to my heart, that’s how I’m making it through my storm.

New Year New Me: Same Shit

 

Ahh yes, it’s that time of year people.  The beginning of the year when things are fresh, new and extremely cold.  Everyone (including myself) wants to start a on a clean slate.  So what do we do?  We make those dreadful “New Year Resolutions” that declare a, “New Year, New Me.”  We flock to the gym to finally get the body we dream of.  But we struggle and the majority of us don’t make it past March.  Guilty….  We decide to go on a “diet” to improve our health and body.  But when there’s a 2 for 2 deal at our local fast food joint, all bets are off.  Guilty….  We try to give up all our vices that we have acquired over the years (that have never served us well) in the span of a few weeks.  I plead the fifth your honor.  (Shaking my head)

Don’t get me wrong, some people do find great success in their “New Me” campaign.  But for many of us the answer is a resounding, “No.”  Why do we feel the need to torture ourselves at the beginning of every year with the same bullshit over and over again?  Do we do this because we feel obligated too BECAUSE it’s a new year?  Everyone around me is posted it on their social media, so I guess I have to too right?  Or do we do this because we actually DO want to make the changes that we feel will help level up our lives?  I believe most people go into the New Year with a wide eyed optimism of change.  They feel this is finally the year when they will get their shit together and everything will suddenly change overnight.  Or at the very least within a few weeks.  Guilty….

 

I made a resolution years ago and honestly it has been the only one I’ve ever been able to keep.  NEVER MAKE ANOTHER RESOLUTION!  That doesn’t mean that I don’t go into the new year not wanting to improve something about myself that I couldn’t quite master the year before.  I just don’t make it a habit of calling it a “resolution” because it doesn’t work for me.  I ended up getting so frustrated in myself (and the task) that I got anxiety, would get pissed off and quit.  I had to find a way to improve myself in the “New Year” in a way that didn’t stress me out.  Currently, I’m working on changes that I want to improve on little by little all year.  There’s no “I’ll start Monday”, “I’ll start next week” or “I’ll start in January” anymore.  That was my holy gospel for many years.  If the shit bothers me now, I work on it now.  Simple as that.  It has to be that way or else I’ll continue to use time constraints.  Time constraints caused me to stress about having it done in a certain amount of time instead of focusing on the process.  And who needs that mess?  There’s nothing wrong with “New Year New Me” if it is something that you can handle.  But if you’re someone like me (and that phrase proves to be too much) work at your improvements in a slow and steady pace.  Learn to work through the uncomfortable periods that come when trying to gain good habits.  Push through when you feel like quitting or feel like you can’t possibly go on another minute.  There will be times when it will become irritating, frustrating and disagreeable to your very nature.  That tends to happen whenever a breakthrough on a positive change is near.  Hold steady, work hard and stay strong and know that you can do this.  Remember why you’re doing this and the outcome that you know will happen once you’ve reached your goal.  That’s the only way to stay focused, level up and elevate your life.  And for God’s sake don’t beat yourself if one day you don’t do so well at your goal.  You’re not the only one who doesn’t want to go to gym.  (Raises hand slowly)