Archive for "Selfcare"

Why Is It So Hard To Stand Up For Ourselves?

Relationships, Selfcare Apr 09, 2014 10 Comments

phone-miami 038Some moments in life are difficult, like pretty much all of middle school. We don’t really know who we are or what we want, so we end up following other people and giving in to peer pressure. We struggle with friendships and issues of self esteem. Middle school is mostly about the social side of our lives, with a little bit of school mixed in.

Luckily, we get through that and become adults. We figure out who we are and discover what we want. We become strong and confident, and create the lives we want for ourselves.

It seems like by now we should have it all figured out, especially when it comes to the social.

But I’m realizing that it is still so difficult to stand up for myself.

I consider myself a strong person, especially when it comes to emotional and mental strength. I’ve worked hard not to care so much what other people think and to do what makes me happy. For the most part I am successful.

Unlike in middle school, I don’t really care if I fit in with people who seem “cool,” and I certainly don’t try and get people to like me by being anyone other than myself.

But when someone attacks me, my first reaction is still to freeze. Especially when it comes from someone I consider a friend.

Sometimes friends get used to certain roles. I have been the weaker one who needed help and guidance. As I get stronger and more confident in myself, that can make people uncomfortable. Insecure in their role. They might even start to see me as competition, despite the fact that I don’t compete. When people are uncomfortable they can lash out and say mean things, even to friends.

One of my friends started that with me. It began with little digs. Things that don’t really bother me, like about me being late or not ”good” at math. I brushed those off easily.

The problem was the more I ignored the digs, the bigger they became.

In a class we were taking she called out across the room what I was doing wrong. Then she pointed and laughed. I wanted to tell her to stop, to leave me alone. But my voice was frozen inside my throat. In that moment I couldn’t think of what to say or do. I just wanted her to stop.

Emotionally, I was back on that middle school playground. And the bully was winning.

I tried to focus on ignoring. Part of being strong means not caring what others think of us, after all.

So she moved over next to me and continued to point out all the things I needed to work on.

I should’ve told her to go away. I could’ve said, “You’re being really mean.” Maybe she would have heard me. But I was scared to stick up for myself.

The funny thing is if someone had been doing that to her, it would have been easy to say something. Sticking up for my friends comes naturally, even when they are the ones putting themselves down. So why can’t I do the same for me?

Later, at home, I realized that part of the problem is the unexpected attack. If she wasn’t my friend, I could say something to defend myself without worrying about her. But for me to be mean to my friend to stop her from being mean to me is hypocritical. It’s not something I can do. It wouldn’t be true to me.

Luckily, I have many good friends in my life. I called one and she helped me talk through what to say. Now I have a phrase ready to go that shows people I am not ok with being bullied, but without attacking them in return. “Picking on me doesn’t help either of us.”

It is true, and if I say it without emotion, hopefully it will point out something she doesn’t realize she is doing. If she is trying to help me, she’ll see that it doesn’t. And if it was meant as a joke, she’ll see that I felt picked on. Either way, it will tell her that the behavior is not something I will accept.

I get to stick up for me.

Maybe sticking up for ourselves is like any other skill. We just need to practice.

Do you have a hard time sticking up for yourself with friends? Does it seem easier to defend other people? How do you deal with friends who may say hurtful things or try to compete with you? Does being prepared help? I’d love to hear what works!

We Need to Practice Failing

Fitness, Selfcare, Writing Feb 13, 2014 No Comments
Dropping the bar can be harder than it looks!

Dropping the bar can be harder than it looks!

I’ve been doing CrossFit for over a year now. I’ve lost weight, gained strength, and become more fit all around. But I still struggle with some of the exercises we do, especially anything where I have to lift weight over my head. Even holding the empty bar above my head and just standing still is scary.

I am afraid of dropping the bar. I am afraid of failure. I know this about myself. And, really, it’s what terrifies us all: failing.

If I don’t try, then I have no risk of failure. I’ve seen this over and over again in so many areas of my life. Applying for jobs, moving, getting in to school, sending out stories and queries, getting the bar over my head and being a bad ass in the gym. Everything I want in life has a risk attached; the risk of failure.

I understand that failure is a part of life. We have to fail in order to succeed. I’ve heard all the quotes about getting up, dusting ourselves off, and trying again.

But that doesn’t make it any easier or less scary to try. Thinking that I’ll just try again doesn’t help me when I am frozen, too scared to try in the first place.

The problem with failure is that we never practice it. We spend our whole lives trying to avoid it or ward it off, and we keep it this big, scary unknown. The question is always at the back of my mind: What happens if I fail?

After talking with my coach and some friends from the gym, I realized that I didn’t know. I had terrible images of being trapped under a bar, and every scenario involved missing teeth and lots of blood. Yes, I am overly dramatic and a total worry-wort, but that’s who I am. I’d witnessed other people drop heavy bars and stand up with either a smile or a really pissed off expression. I knew it could be done. Just not how. And I wasn’t so sure by me.

So my coach made me practice.

First, he put some weight on the bar and had me practice dropping it. The loud sound of metal crashing to the ground used to make me jump, even from across the gym. I had to get used to it. I had to get over setting it down nicely, and worrying about what would happen when I dropped it.

My coach told me not to worry. “We can get a new bar,” He said. “We can’t get a new Emma.”

Then he took me through all the overhead exercises, showing me how to get out from under the bar and throw it down away from my body. He had me practice with the bar toward the front, toward the back, when I was down in a squat, and while standing.

Once I got it, he had me practice each fail over and over again. Until it became almost natural.

It may sound silly, but each time I did it, it became easier. I wasn’t scared of the bar crashing down on me or knocking out my teeth because I knew how to get away from it. I knew how to fail without getting hurt.

Does it still suck to fail? Yes. But I know I’m not going to get injured. And I’m not afraid to try it again.

The next day at the gym, I was more willing to attempt overhead lifts. I didn’t count and re-count the weight on the bar and try to talk myself out of it. I just stepped up to it, and did the move.

Practicing failure at the gym made me think about how I can practice failing in other areas of my life. I could send out a story to the journal of my dreams and hope for the best. But I would be ready with the list of other places to send it if they said no.

Just because I might fail with one journal, doesn’t mean I’m going to stop trying with others. And it doesn’t mean I have to give up before I try and only send it to the journal I’m sure would accept it. That would be like never putting any weight on the bar, because I know I can do that. A sure thing doesn’t have much risk, but it doesn’t have much reward either.

So I sent out my story.

And then I got to work on another, remembering that it is just a draft. I’m not aiming for perfection. I’m trying to hone a skill. I can try something new and totally fail, but I’ll still get something out of it.

When I think about it, every attempt is really a triumph. Every time I aim and try, I get a little bit closer. A little bit stronger. And a whole lot more confident.

Failure isn’t so scary once you know what it is and how to handle it. We can fail, we can drop the bar, and we can get away unharmed. We just have to practice.

Have you ever practiced failing? If so, what have you practiced failing? What areas in life do you think it could be good to practice failure?    

 

It’s OK To Take A Snow Day

Selfcare Feb 06, 2014 No Comments
This may not look like a lot of snow, but it's more than enough here.

This may not look like a lot of snow, but it’s more than enough here.

We just had a winter storm down here in North Carolina. I know people up North may laugh, but I’m pretty sure it even had a name. Leon, I think they called him. Leon doesn’t sound like such a trouble maker, but when you’re not used to snow any amount can be a big deal.

I can drive in the rain. I am a Duck, after all. But, when it snows I stay home. I can’t think of anything that is worth the risk of driving. In an emergency, anything I really need is within walking distance. Better safe than sorry, and all that.

When I was a teacher I watched the news at the first hint of snow, hoping to see my district listed in the school closures at the bottom of the screen. A snow day wasn’t just any regular day off. It was a day where you couldn’t do errands, so you might as well get cozy on the couch and watch a fun movie. Maybe make some hot coco and read. Definitely, a day to stay in pajamas.

A snow day is different than a weekend. It’s like a forced vacation, and the fact that it wasn’t expected makes it extra special. You don’t worry about the day you have to go in to work to make it up, because a snow day makes you feel like a kid again.

But this year, I’m not teaching. I make my own schedule, and I can have a day off whenever I want one. I give myself two every week: Saturday and Sunday. Ok, maybe just Saturday. I know I only have so long in school and I want to make the most of every possible moment.

The point is, a snow day shouldn’t change anything for me.

And yet, somehow it did. There is still something special about a snow day, something that takes me back to being a kid. That giddiness that comes with being stuck at home and unable to go to school. I still felt it.

I told myself it wasn’t mine to enjoy. I’m not teaching, so I haven’t earned it. I thought about all my friends who’ll be working on Saturday or over Spring Break to make up for the time off. Who was I to hijack their day?

So I went back to my desk and tried to work. But every few minutes I would come up with a reason to get up and look out the window. Was it snowing again? Had any melted? Was the sun coming out? The more I tried to ignore it, the more questions I came up with.

The kid in me wanted to celebrate the snow day on the couch in my pajamas. But the grown up kept saying that it was a normal work day for me, so I better get to it.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that we all need breaks from time to time. And just because I’m no longer a child, doesn’t mean I can’t celebrate like one. Nature was giving me a day off, it would’ve been a waste not to enjoy it.

So I turned off my computer, put on some winter pajamas, made a cup of coffee, and curled up on the couch under my favorite quilt. I found a fun movie on Netflix and still had a view of the snow out of the living room window. It was a perfect snow day.

The next day when I woke up and the ground was still covered, I didn’t even really notice it. I sat down and went back to work. Because I had taken the time to enjoy that snow day, I wasn’t drawn to the window or thinking about movies I could be watching. I enjoyed getting back to writing, maybe because I’d given myself some time off.

We all need rest and breaks from time to time. And what better time than a snow day to embrace the child like joy of free time. Our work will probably be better because of it.

How do you feel about snow days? Do you give yourself time off? Or do you work through? How often do you get free time?

 

 

 

This Year, I’m Letting Go of Should

Lifestyle, Selfcare Jan 09, 2014 5 Comments

Some people have very strong feelings about New Year’s resolutions, either for or against. I have always made them, but up until last year I never took them very seriously. I made fun resolutions that I knew I would want to keep, like to drink more fancy cocktails or go out more often with friends. One year I resolved to wear more track suits. That was a very comfortable year.

Last January I decided to take resolutions seriously, and really look at what I could do to make my life better. My resolution for 2013 was to be kinder to myself, and it worked. I practiced using supportive self-talk instead of tearing myself down. And I didn’t say as many negative things about myself to others. Yes, it is something I need to keep working on. Changing the way we treat ourselves takes time and practice, but I am well on the way. And that one change made a big impact on how I saw myself, and consequently, what I was able to do over the year.

I got into the MFA program of my dreams and started to take myself seriously as a writer. I had the courage to quit my job to focus on school and writing. I joined a new gym, made great new friends, and began to see myself as physically strong and capable.

In some ways, I almost feel like a completely different person than who I was a year ago.

But one thing that is still dragging me down is my habit of worrying about what I should do.

I should be productive, I should take the first job I’m offered, I should do the laundry, I should get up at the commercial break and do something. I quit my job so I should spend every minute working on my writing, and at the same time I should have time open to help other people out. The list of shoulds is never ending. I get tired just thinking about it.

When I do the things I should do instead of the things I want to do, I am miserable and they take twice as long.

I’m starting to realize that there is a reason for this. All of these shoulds are based on outside sources: other people, society in general, things I picked up from my bio-mom. I am letting other peoples’ values and ideas direct my actions. I am allowing other people to decide what is right for me.

So this year my resolution is to follow the energy and trust. I know what is right for me at any given time, because it is what I have energy for.

Yes, some days I have energy for doing laundry, going to the grocery store, and other boring chores. Usually it is when I am hungry or out of clean socks, but there is nothing wrong with that. I have energy for writing in the mornings and for working out at the end of the day. Instead of trying to workout in the middle of the day because I have time for it now or writing at night because I can sleep as late as I want, I am going to follow my energy and stick to my schedule. Because it works for me.

Just like I listen to my body to tell me when I’m hungry or tired, I’m going to listen to myself and choose how I get to spend my time. And I’m going to trust myself and my decisions.

We all have energy for certain things for a reason, at least that’s what I believe. When we try to force it, we only make things harder on ourselves. And most of the time we end beat ourselves up for lacking the energy in the first place, because we are so worried about what we should be doing.

When maybe what we should be doing is listening to ourselves, and following our energy.

Do you worry about shoulds? Have other peoples ideas of what is right or best for you ever influenced you? Gotten in the way of your dreams? Do you listen to your energy and trust your own decisions? If you have any tips, I’d love to hear them.

 

Two Wrongs Can Lead to Right

Relationships, Selfcare Sep 26, 2013 16 Comments

I think he took a wrong turn somewhere…

I’m not sure where most people fall on the continuum of crap-taking, but I used to be very far down on the end of taking it all.

Really, I was kind of a door mat.

Need to borrow money? Want someone to talk to about your crappy relationship, again? Looking for a scape goat? I was your girl.

Even if it had nothing to do with me or clearly wasn’t my fault, I would take the blame. I was used to being punsihed for things I hadn’t done.

But somewhere along the way I got tired of it. I started asking myself why I let people treat me so badly. And, I had some great friends who pointed it out and asked me about it, too. They told me I didn’t deserve it. Luckily, I listened.

I realized that a lot of my behaviors and decisions were just patterns I had learned as a kid.

Before my dad and step-mom came into my life, there weren’t really any rules that made sense. I could get in trouble for not doing something I wasn’t told to do, or for doing something I was told to do. There was no rhyme or reason for punishments, and they definitely didn’t fit the crime.

I got used to taking what was given, no matter how bad.

But I’m not a kid anymore. And I decided not to allow myself to be punished like one.

So I started setting boundaries for myself. I turn my phone off at night, I don’t offer money to everyone I meet, and I tell people when they hurt my feelings or upset me in some way.

For the most part it has been a nice transition, and the people in my life understand.

But last week, I kind of lost it.

Looking back now, it seems simple enough. I was at the gym and when my coach asked me for my time (how long it took me to finish the workout) I blanked. I had looked at the clock, but when I tried to remember my time it was just a flashing red light in my brain. Empty.

The coach did what he always does when someone doesn’t know their time. He told everyone to do 10 burpees. Not such a big deal, right?

Wrong.

I didn’t want to be punished for something I couldn’t help. It wasn’t like I hadn’t paid attention to my time. I just blanked. I do that with numbers sometimes. I decided that as an adult, I get to decide what I will and won’t do.

And I wasn’t doing those burpees.

But it didn’t stop there. I got so upset I had to fight back tears. And I wasn’t totally successful.

Then I decided I wasn’t going to stay. I got my stuff and stomped toward the door, determined never to go back.

Lucky for me, the coach was at the front of the gym sitting behind the desk. He didn’t let me storm out. He made me stop and talk. And he listened to what I said.

I didn’t go in to details, I just told him that I don’t like to be punished unreasonably.

He said he wasn’t trying to punish me, and didn’t mean to hurt or upset me. He felt bad that I was so upset and didn’t want me to leave.

My heart rate and breathing calmed down, and so did I.

The next day I was feeling embarrassed and worried. Why had I acted like such a crazy person? I talked it through with my step-mom and a couple of close friends who helped me realize that the freak out was all a part of the process.

We can’t expect ourselves to go from no boundaries to perfect boundaries without any difficult adjustments.

It’s like driving in bad weather. Sometimes we have to over-correct in order to get back on the right path.

After years of just taking crap, I am going through a take-no-crap phase so I can find my way to the middle. So I can set healthy boundaries and keep them.

Both extremes are too much. I shouldn’t be punished for everything, but I can’t expect life to be without any consequences. Neither way is healthy.

Hopefully, now that I see what is happening the transition can be a little smoother. I have my hands on the steering wheel and I can see the turn ahead.

When I went back to the gym the next day I was worried about how people would react to me. Would they all stay away from the crazy girl who might flip out over nothing?

My coach told me he was really glad that I had decided not to leave. Then he winked and said he was pretty sure I’d remember my time that day. My friends shrugged and said everybody has some issue to deal with and we all freak out from time to time.

So I learned a nice bonus lesson on this one: when you are in your right place, people accept you as you are, temper tantrums and all.

How are you at setting boundaries? Do you have any hot button issues that you are working through? Have you noticed a pattern of no boundaries to overly strict boundaries? Does over-correcting lead you back to the comfort of middle ground?

 

 

 

To Thine Own Self Be Known

Selfcare Aug 15, 2013 No Comments

Being true to ourselves is important. Sticking to our beliefs and our values makes us feel stronger in them, and stronger in ourselves. But, I realized recently, that we can’t actually be true to ourselves until we know ourselves.

Most of us spend years trying to do and be what everyone else wants us to be, or what we think we should be.

Right out of college, I was kind of a party girl. I went out every weekend and wanted to know all the newest and most popular clubs. Yes, I do like danicng and being social. But that’s not why I did it. I thought that it wasn’t ok to be at home on a Friday or Saturday night. And, even worse to want to be home on a weekend night.

I had to be out and be seen. I wanted people to know that I was fun, and I was enjoying life. Somehow a full social calendar was the only way to prove that.

But going out all the time is draining. It drained my energy and my bank account. And, eventually you just start seeing the same people all the time.

Lucky for me, I moved to Ecuador. I made friends who wanted to go out sometimes, but also liked to stay in and watch bad TV marathons and eat good food. I realized that hanging out in sweat pants, laughing and talking with friends is just as much fun as going out dancing all night.

I realized I actually enjoy that more.

Now, I go out every once in a while. When I feel like sipping a fancy cocktail and dancing with friends. But, I’m usually on my way home by midnight and I don’t care what anyone thinks.

When I look at the decisions I’ve made in life, I see a not-so-happy pattern of doing what I think I should instead of what I want. Usually, because I didn’t even know what I wanted.

I didn’t know myself.

I’ve heard people say they are trying to “find themselves” before, and I always rolled my eyes. It sounded like a bunch of hot air. Or an excuse for an exotic vacation. But now I see that what they meant was they were trying to get to know themselves. They want to find out who they really are and what they really want.

There’s no hot air in that.

I’ve been on that journey for a little while now. It is more work than an exotic vacation, but it is actually fun. We get to learn new things about ourselves all the time. Sometimes it’s small things like that I enjoy an early bedtime or that I prefer my hair short. Sometimes it’s as big as career changes or going back to school.

It’s so much easier to be true to ourselves when we actually know who we are. And we get to find out how cool we really are in the process, even when we are hanging out at home in sweat pants.

Do you think it is possible to be true to ourselves without knowing ourselves first? Have you ever tried to be someone you thought you should be? What have you done to get to know who you are and what you want?

 

 

Maybe Competition Isn’t All Bad…

Fitness, Selfcare Aug 01, 2013 6 Comments

We worked out hard, and that’s always a good feeling!

I have never been a fan of competition. I don’t do team sports, I don’t watch any of those reality TV competition shows, and I don’t like to make a bet on something with a friend. I don’t like the feeling of me versus them. Nobody wants to lose, and the safest way to avoid that is not to compete in the first place.

I’ve seen how competition can mess up friendships and stop learning from happening in a classroom.

So when my gym hosted the Barbells for Boobs fundraiser, I made sure to call myself a participant. I was not interested in competing.

I was teamed up with a friend and our goal was to finish in the best time possible for us. It wasn’t about beating anyone or coming in a certain place. It was us versus us. Or maybe us versus the clock.

We finished in a time we were proud of (14 minutes and something seconds, I can’t remember exactly now) and we felt good. We didn’t place, but we weren’t last. Right in the middle of the pack.

Then the RX rounds came up. These were the people lifting the really heavy weights. My gym had a couple of teams in each of the womens’ and mens’ competition. I was excited to watch and cheer on my friends.

But what I didn’t expect was how badly I wanted them to win.

Yes, it was fun to watch and cheer. They could hear us screaming their names and encouraging words. We knew they could do it, and a little reminder would just make them feel all the more confident.

When I saw that our teams were a little bit faster than the others, I got excited. And when I couldn’t tell if they were ahead or being lapped, I worried. Because it wasn’t me competing, I actually cared.

As it came down to the final few exercises, I was jumping up and down and screaming. I knew they were close to winning, and I wanted it for them.

I was in to the competition.

Our womens’ teams ended up taking first and second place, and our fastest mens’ team got third. And, I have to admit that when they called them up to the makeshift stage to get their prizes, I was proud.

People I see everyday, working out hard to get stronger and faster, had accomplished something big. It showed that all their work was paying off.

But I also realized that while I was excited for my friends to win, I wasn’t feeling or witnessing the usual downsides to competition. People from all different teams were congratulating each other, giving pats on the back, and shaking hands. People seemed genuinely happy for the winners and no one was doing the “In your face!” kind of poor sportsmanship that makes me not like competition.

So, maybe competition isn’t all bad. Maybe it can encourage us to work hard and do our best at something. Maybe it depends upon the competition itself and the group of people competing. Maybe a CrossFit competition isn’t all about separating the winners from the losers because of the closeness of the community.

Competition doesn’t have to pull people apart, it can actually bring them together. I saw it myself, first hand.

I’m still not planning on ever watching The Bachelor, Iron Chef, Survivor, or any other competition reality show. But, maybe it’s ok to be a competitor myself.

When the competition is the right one, it isn’t all about winning. It’s about doing our best and working as hard as we can. And there’s nothing bad about that.

How do you feel about competition? Does it always bring out the worst in people? Or can it bring out the best?  

 

 

We Need to Give Ourselves a Break!

Selfcare Jul 25, 2013 2 Comments

We can give ourselves down time, or end up like this…

I recently started graduate school, which has added a lot of work to my life. I get up and do school work before going to work at my full time job. After work, I work out. Then it’s home for more school work before bed. Then get up the next morning and repeat the cycle.

Work, work, workout, work. That is what makes up my weeks.

Sundays have become my chore days. That is when I do the grocery shopping, laundry, and cook for the week. I find it easier to get it all done in one day, and get it over with.

Saturdays have been my fun days for pretty much as long as I can remember. Even as a kid, I remember waking up early to watch cartoons in a quiet house. There were no chores, no must do’s, no homework.

As an adult, I’ve made it kind of a tradition to do whatever I want on Saturdays. Not only is it not a day for work, it’s a day when I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to do.

Lately, it’s been a day of pedicures, shopping with friends, and going out to eat. Kind of my three favorite things in the world.

It’s not hard to see why Saturday is my favorite day of the week.

But when I started grad school and realized how much work I have to cram in to my already tight schedule, I put Saturday on the chopping block. I figured I could add in a few more hours of work on each of the weekend days.

I mean, I had this whole empty day just sitting there. Twelve hours unfilled, unclaimed, and up for grabs.

I started to feel guilty about my ”Me” day. Maybe I didn’t need a down day to do whatever I wanted. Maybe I should be spending it doing some of the school work I need to get done.

Luckily, the word should is a big red flag for me. I know when I am saying should, there is something off. Because shoulds are the things that come from outside of me. From other people, from our culture, from the impossible desire to be perfect.

I know that when I think I should do something, it’s time to stop and take a look.

So I did.

And I realized that we have this crazy pressure in our culture to always be doing something. It’s why anytime we sit down we have that nagging feeling in the back of our minds that we should be doing something. We run through that list of things we have to get done because we know we must be forgetting something.

When really, the only thing we are forgetting is that we need rest. If we don’t give ourselves any down time, eventually our body will force us to take a break. We’ll get sick or be so tired and clumbsy that we trip and hurt ourselves.

How many times have you done something “stupid” in a state of total exhaustion? Fender benders, pulled muscles, putting milk in the cupboard instead of the refrigerator. Little mistakes we make when we don’t give ourselves the rest we need.

Sleep isn’t the only break our bodies and brains need. We need to rest while we’re awake, too. We need the downtime.

I realized that if I fill my Saturdays with work now, I won’t end up any further ahead in the long run. Because I won’t be able to keep up that pace. I’ll just push myself to the point of exhaustion and then collapse into a puddle on the floor. Then I’ll be forced to take downtime, in order to recover.

So, it’s our choice. We can plan when and how we want our breaks. We can spend a Saturday at the salon with friends and take a nap.

Or we can push ourselves as far and as fast as we can, until we can’t go anymore and our bodies force us to rest. We can get a cold, the flu, sprain an ankle, or even have a nervous breakdown.

Me, I’d rather break on my own terms. So I’m keeping Saturdays open just for me. I might read, watch a movie, or hang out with friends. Whatever I feel like doing to relax. But the one thing I won’t be doing is work.

Do you plan down time into your week? Are you someone who pushes until you can’t do anymore, or are you good with giving yourself breaks? What do you think of our “go, go, go” culture? Do we all need more time to rest?

 

 

Why Can’t We See What Is There?

Body Image, Selfcare May 29, 2013 21 Comments

I feel like I’m missing something…

Transformation doesn’t happen over night. I know that. It isn’t like the movies where the dorky girl takes off her glasses and changes her pants, and all of a sudden she’s a super model.

Change is slow and it takes a lot of hard work.

Outside of the movies, change isn’t just superficial, either. We don’t work on ourselves to get the cute boy. Not after middle school, anyway.

Most of us are working on something: learning a new skill, going to college, eating healthy, or going for a promotion. Life is about growing, moving forward, and we all have goals.

I’ve been working on getting strong for a long time.

I started lifting weights in college, to balance out all the running I was doing. It made me feel strong and capable, something I’d never really felt before. So, I kept it up. But I never got beyond a certain point.

I thought it wasn’t my goal to lift heavy weights. I just wanted to be strong and toned, and I could do that with ten pound dumbbells.

But it turns out it wasn’t about goals at all. It was about how I saw myself. How I still see myself: wimpy, weak.

I never lifted heavy weights because I didn’t think I could.

When I found CrossFit I was just looking for a way to like exercising again. I’ve always known that I need to work out. My body works so much better when I exercise, and being healthy is important.

But CrossFit is also about getting strong.

My favorite coach is always telling me that I’m stronger than I think I am and that once I figure that out, I’ll be pretty amazing. I always roll my eyes and think, ”Yeah right.”

Me, strong? I just can’t see it.

It isn’t about self esteem or self worth. I know I am smart and capable. I think I’m funny and I’m a great friend. I really do love me.

And it’s not even that I’m comparing myself to others.

It’s that I’m comparing myself to the idea of myself that I have in my head. And that self isn’t physically strong.

My friends at the gym tell me I’m strong all the time, too. And if I look at the numbers, I can see that they aren’t lying.

I can dead lift 200 pounds and I’ve gotten 90 pounds over my head. That’s a lot more than 10 pound dumb bells.

I can see it in writing and hear other people say it, but for some reason, I just can’t see it myself.

That makes me wonder how many other women can’t see the truth of who they really are and what they are really capable of? Do we all go around with this small version of ourselves inside, unsure of what we can really do?

I don’t want the idea of who I am to hold me back anymore. Especially since I know it isn’t true. It doesn’t really matter where it came from or why it’s there. The thing that matters is taking that old image of myself and replacing it with the truth.

I want to see what my coach sees and what my friends see. I want to see me as everyone else does. The real me. The strong one.

Maybe if I start calling myself strong, eventually I’ll believe it.

How does your image of yourself match up with the real you? Are there areas where you could be holding yourself back? How can you see yourself as you really are? If you have any suggestions for how to start seeing myself  as strong, I’d love to hear it!

 

 

We Can’t Stop The Sky From Falling

Selfcare May 22, 2013 6 Comments

The sky isn’t actually falling. It’s just the ceiling…

Last week I had a day that started out like any other day. Until I came home and heard a squishing sound when I stepped onto the carpet.

It took a few seconds to look around and register what had happened. My desk, my chair, the floor, everything in the dining room I use as an office, was covered with water.

I stood over my desk and water dripped down onto my head. My computer was sitting in a puddle.

The first thing I did was freak out. Then I got a towel and tried to dry off my computer the best I could. I called the apartment managers and pushed the button for emergency.

While I waited for the maintenance people to show up, I cleaned up. Some things on my desk were salvageable, so I dried and them and moved them out of the way.

Some things were ruined, like the beautiful box I kept all my great ideas in, written on stickies and scraps of paper. Luckily, the ideas inside were dry.

What worried me the most was my computer. Yes, I am good at backing up and I had just saved a bunch of stuff that morning. But there may have been things on there I didn’t get to. My computer is precious to me, not just for what it holds, but for what it allows me to do.

The maintenance people came and started to clean-up. They found the source of the leak. I was very happy to hear it was the air-conditioning unit above me, not the toilet.

They brought in fans and a dehumidifier and put them under the giant hole in the ceiling.

More guys came in with special vacuums to suck the water out of the carpet. They used it on my beautiful chair, too. They said that, eventually, they’d get everything cleaned up.

But I still didn’t know if my computer could be saved. It was too late to take it to Geek Squad. All I could do was wait.

I surprised myself with how calm I stayed. At first I wanted to cry or scream, but the feeling went away fast. There was no point. I couldn’t change what happened and yelling wouldn’t actually make me feel better.

The only thing that could make me feel better was finding out the truth about my computer. It would either work, and I would feel relieved. Or it wouldn’t, and I’d come up with a plan. Fix it or buy a new one and transfer all my stuff.

It was the waiting that wore on me.

So I did the only thing I could. I watched an episode of Nashville on the DVR and then I went to bed.

In the morning, nothing had changed. I woke to the sound of the fan, like a giant white noise machine, only louder. I still had a hole in the ceiling and my books were in stacks in the living room, drying out into crinkly pages with swollen middles.

But I knew that everything would be alright. My computer would work, or it wouldn’t. I could replace the books. My desk and chair could be cleaned. I couldn’t do anything about what happened. And I can’t do anything to prevent it from happening again.

We can’t stop the ceiling from falling on us, the pipes from bursting, our bosses from choosing someone else to promote. The crap is going to happen.

The only thing we can do is breathe, stay calm, and watch some good TV while we wait for it to work out.

Have you ever had any at home disasters that surprised you? Broken pipes, crashing ceilings, or no heat? How do you deal with bad things that are out of your control? And, is this a clue that it’s time to move as soon as my lease is up?

* My computer is fine, thank goodness! But I still have a hole in the ceiling…