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Thursday, December 29, 2011

What I Want in 2012: AUTHENTICITY

Well, I am STILL not ready to commit pen to paper with a list of New Year's Resolutions.  I know, I know, I only have a couple of days left.  But I want to be serious and thoughtful about what I promise to do because this year I am committed to really making changes in my life.  I cannot continue life in the same manner it has gone in the past, because I will wind up with the same results.  And more of the same is NOT an option.

One thing I know I want for next year is au·then·tic·i·ty  [aw-then-tis-i-tee, aw-thuhn-] -the quality of being authentic; genuineness.   I will actively work to to establish relationships which have reciprocity.  I will not be "fake", pretending to be OK with behaviors which are hurtful or don't serve me/my needs. 

So as the year rapidly winds down, my list of resolutions will be simple and manageable.  But insisting on realness (is that a word) will be integrated in my plans.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

"If you wanna be cha chee, be cha chee"

Well, I am still not ready to make my new year's resolutions.  However, I have been reflecting on who I am and who I want to be in an effort to figure out what I need to focus on next year.  So you know what I want?  I want to be cha chee.  What's cha chee, you ask?  Well, it's hard to explain, but here goes---

Some time ago I was watching a t.v. show that featured people who had created amazing lives.  Many were creators of well known businesses or inventors of gadgets, things like that.  They were people who seemed to come out of nowhere and where catapulted to the lifestyle of the rich and famous as a result of their ingenious ideas.  I am so mad I can't think of the name of the show or remember what cable channel it came on.  But elderly lady was being interviewed.  She said to the interviewer "if you wanna be cha chee, be cha chee.  Life is too short".  Now this woman didn't explain what cha chee meant.  But you could figure it out from the context of her whole interview.  Her whole point was to not let life constrict and confine you.  She encouraged people to not worry about what others say you should do or who you should be, but live life based on who your own terms.  Cha chee kind of symbolized a vivacious spirit.  Remember Charo? was cha chee.

Now, I don't want that level of va va va voom.  But I'd like to be sexy before I am senile.  Bumping it up a notch would at least put me even with the vitality/sex appeal of umm, I don't know---Rosa Parks? And I want to reclaim that girl I knew decades ago who was fearless; my former self would be met with a challenge and take it head on.  And win!  I miss the bad ass who was on track to work for the CIA.  The gutsy girl who went to ISU five months pregnant and met every naysayer with a death stare cold enough to freeze hell over, managing to graduate ON TIME while raising a baby.  The one who used to be able to take a punch and and still remain standing. My kids never met her---they only know the doormat who traded her dreams for security (that's not so secure), lost her voice and allowed others to disrespect her (and them).

So, I think 2012 will mark my quest to be cha chee.  Here's my theme song:

Don't you want to be cha chee?

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Close of 2011

Well, December is here and yet another year is rapidly coming to a close. It's amazing how time seems to take forever when you are a kid, but goes so rapidly in adulthood. Remember how it seemed like Christmas would never come? Or your birthday? Now you look up and think geez---the year's almost over? Where did the time go?

So now that December is upon us, I can't help but think about the resolutions I made for 2011 and what I will make for 2012. Resolutions for 2011....what did I even resolve? Let's see---think, think, think---oh yes. One of my resolutions was to lose weight. Hmmm.....I can probably skip a few lunches and manage to accomplish that resolution before the year draws to a close. After all, I didn't say how much weight. So if I shed two or three pounds, I can scratch this off my list. (Ope, but I better do a teeny bit of exercise, since I will probably add a pound or two on Christmas day. After all, just the scent of Red Velvet cake causes my pants to fit a little tighter). OK, what else. I vowed to read more this year. Do the tabloids in the check out line count? I think so. Check yet another one off my list! I'm feeling pretty good now. I didn't realize how much I accomplished this year. What else did I say I would do? I know----I said I would take up a musical instrument. Darn, I can't say I did this. But wait! Isn't my clarinet still at mom's house? Sure, I haven't touched it in twenty-five years but what the heck. I will call mom tomorrow and see if she's seen the pieces around her house. I'll scoop them up some time next week and get busy re-learning how to play it. How hard could it be? I played from 4th grade through my senior year in high school; I am sure it won't be a big deal that it's been two and a half decades since I've touched it.

I am glad I took the time to review my resolutions for this year. I accomplished far more than I realized! I think I will go take a nap now. I've worn myself out just thinking about how much I did this past year. Hopefully 2012 will be as productive :-)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Forgiveness, Part 2

Why do so many of us find it hard to forgive others when they have wronged us? I don't know about anybody else, but for me it has a lot to do with what it seems to mean. Forgiveness feels like if forgiving someone makes me a participant in the wrong they have done to me. Or as if I am saying what was done to me was OK.

Intellectually I know this is not the case. But this is what so often keeps me stuck. When someone has done something horribly wrong to me, I don't want to act as if it didn't matter, as if what they did was OK. And forgiving and moving forward feels like I am negating the severity of the offense.

So again, as I continue to work to be a more forgiving person, I remind myself that I must show the grace that I want shown to me.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


I went to the grocery store to get a few last minute things for Thanksgiving. As I left the store, I saw someone who was a year ahead of me in high school. "Ugh", I thought to myself. My mind immediately flashed to my senior year of high school, when I was at the mall with my mother and this person was behind me. She made some very unkind comments about me, purposely loud so that I would hear. I was surprised, because I really didn't even know her so I couldn't understand why she had such disdain for me. So my "ugh" when I saw her was a reaction to something that happened when I was in high school.

I nursed these thoughts for only a moment when a sense of shame came over me. Seriously? Am I going to hold onto something that happened 25 years ago? And what will be gained? This woman probably doesn't even remember me, let alone the incident. And if she did, so what.?

My next thought was a flash of an incident where I was the "mean girl". In a fit of impatience, I made unkind statements about an intern in our office. Unbeknownst to me, she was still on the phone and overheard me. She did a great job defending herself in a very professional manner. I was so embarrassed you could have bought me for a penny. But you know what? This girl not only forgave me, she has been nothing but kind to me. In fact, we are casual friends! But I often think back to my 'meanness' and her graciousness. Her being nice always reminds me of the scripture that talks about being kind to an enemy is like heaping hot coals on their head. That certainly was true for me in this case.

As this year rapidly draws to a close, I am determined to be more forgiving. I have to learn to let go of hurts and wrongs done to me, and give the same grace that I want afforded to me.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Lord Is Kind

I have been a member of the church I attend for fourteen years, and for as long as I can remember our pastor would say "the Lord is kind". I always agreed, because he is. However, I am understanding that expression on a deeper level than ever before. For several months I experienced a storm that, quite frankly, was hell. And as difficult as the primary situation was, in the midst of it I kept discovering unpleasant characteristics and personality flaws of my own. So not only was I feeling battered by circumstances out of my control, I was also greeted with ugly little pictures of my character---ouch!

But just when I felt totally overwhelmed by the magnitude of my flaws, I had four different instances of people coming along side me and truly building me up. Every single issue that I discovered about myself that was ugly and painful, someone came along and said something to offset it. Now let me be clear---all the ugly things I discovered about myself were true and needto be addressed. But each positive affirmation helped me to not be fully engulfed in negativity. God loved me enough to show me my faults (Hebrews 12:6 - whom the Lord loves he chastens); and just when He knew I was at the brink of self-loathing, people came along to help me see that my flaws are not the totality of my being. The Lord was kind enough to confront me with my 'sins' so I could grow deeper in my understanding of Him and His grace, His mercy, and my need for Him, and kind enough to provide me comfort and reassurance. I now really understand "The Lord is kind!".

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Power of the Tongue

Sitting at my son's college preview session, I heard an irritated "dad" exclaim "he's an idiot. His badge said State Farm Business building. He isn't a business major. He's just a moron!". I turned and saw the look of anguish on the face of who I assume was his wife. I wanted so badly to turn around and say "you're the idiot, you moron. If you had been listening, you would know that they said the major doesn't necessarily match the building the meeting is held in!".

Instead I gave a sympathetic smile to the wife. And my mind began to race---I bet he's a stepdad. I bet she has a hard time dealing with him. I bet he's verbally abusive. I bet, I bet, I bet.

Life is short, and difficult enough. It's really, really hard when we choose partners who don't mind mutilating us (or our children) with their tongues. It's no wonder people have become jaded about marriage.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Life Lessons for the Workplace

Many years ago I had a supervisor with whom I truly had favor. She was a mentor and a friend. Over time this person constantly made statements affirming my worth and value as an employee. Her promises for future upward mobility influenced decisions to not pursue other job opportunities and turn down offers.

I grew complacent in my workplace. Rather than diligently working to advance my career, I sat back waiting to be advanced. Make no mistake---I worked hard and did my job with excellence. But I didn't seek out "bigger" or "better" opportunities. I gave someone else more responsibility for my success than I gave myself. As time went on and things changed, I realized the drastic mistake I made. As I gained self-confidence, I lost "favor". Rather than the promised advancement, I was boxed-in and limited.

Lesson learned: no one should ever be given more "control" over your career advancement than you give yourself. And no matter how much someone professes to like or respect you, things change. A motto used in the field of community organizing is "no permanent enemies; no permanent friends". This is an important lesson---as people change, so do their allegiance. Someone who may have once been a friend can quickly become foe. It is important to always operate with integrity, but don't be lulled into complacency waiting for someone else to move you forward.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Perception is Reality

I am new to the whole Facebook phenomenon, joining recently only so I could access my daughter's travel photos. As much as I have said I was not the least bit interested, I admit that delving into this new foray has been a little fun. I have had an opporutnity to interact with friends from childhood that I hadn't seen or talked to in years. One very interesting old friend I ran into? Myself. That's right, I found myself (or am finding myself) on Facebook. An old friend posted a picture from junior high---I was working a concession stand at a party. I was struck by the fact that I WASN'T FAT IN THE PICTURE. I looked again---it must be a mistake. I have been fat since I was eight years old, haven't I? I looked yet another time, nope---the girl in the picture, though her back is turned, definitely is me. And furthermore, that girl was not fat. This may seem like no big deal to you, but it is HUGE for me (no pun intended). This past year I have been working hard to challenge my inner demons and let go of all the negative images of myself that I have allowed others to place on me. As I "fight" the bad information I have received from family and friends alike, I also struggle to understand who I am. To realize that "fat" was a label put on me that wasn't even deserved at the time makes me weep for the little girl I was and the woman I have become---someone so willing to believe other peoples' lies that I accepted them as truth. Even worse, I adopted them so strongly that I allowed it to become a prophecy fulfilled. But I won't weep too long; I rejoice at this awakening and can't wait to see who I turn into now that I realzize that other people's perceptions don't have to become my reality.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Friends, how many of us have them?

I think it was Whodini that sang "Friends, how many of us have them? Friends, ones we can depend on...". I have gone through a long spell, feeling sorry for myself because I don't have a tight circle of close friends that I do things with, hang out, etc. Today as I was going to the car I was chatting on the phone with my friend Robbin. As I finished chuckling and hung-up I realized that I am more blessed with friends than I realized. A newly formed bible study group with women that I have had individual relationships with for years has resulted in whole new life to these relationships; I have relationships with women at work that have enriched my life. A former coworker introduced me to someone a few months ago and we hit it off instantly; I suspect that she will be a friend for life. When I reflect on why I don't have a close circle that go on trips or hang out and do things like other women, I have to be honest. The last twenty-three years have been consumed with parenting and being a wife; I didn't create time for myself and escapes to indulge in the benefits of friendship. In the midst of caring for everyone else, I forgot to care about Sandra. Also, my marriage and family status placed me in a situation where I don't exactly connect with friends from childhood because our circumstances are so different. I started a family at age eighteen---my closest friend from high school has a four and five year old, while my baby is fifteen. I am paying the price of my own neglect. So now that I realize that I cheated myself out of close, deep friendships with other women (and thereby cheated my daugthers from witnessing the importance of female friendships), I have to work to correct this. But again I smile, because while I may not have tons of friends, and I don't have girlfriend getaways, I do have a bunch of girlfriends that are there when I need them. I have the solid, sensible friend who is always going to give me sound spiritual advice. I have the tried and true friend who I may not talk to often, but we go back so far she isn't just a friend, she's family. I have SEVERAL friends who are my ride or die chicks, and every girl needs that. One of these is particularly precious---I have a standing commitment to meet me in the garage if it's necessary to give my hubby a tune-up. What more could a girl ask for?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Make Sure You Have Self Worth

Legendary entertainer Marie Osmond (of Donnie and Marie fame) was interviewed on the Oprah Winfrey show a month or two ago. She talked about the death of her son and though she wouldn't say a whole lot about her divorce, she did offer a bit of insight. Osmond stated "you marry at the level of your self esteem. Make sure you have self worth". She made the statement with such simple clarity yet their was a deep sense of pain and wisdom usually heard in the voice of a wise old sage.

In the weeks that followed I heard several similar statements. In the song I'm Doing MeFantasia sings about the value of self worth, warning against catering to the needs of lovers at the expense of one's self. Shaunie O'Neal (ex-wife of basketball superstar Shaq), in an interview in Jet magazine, talked about the loss (and regaining) of one's self worth.

So why is self worth important? Is it the new buzz word to replace self esteem? Are they the same?

No, they aren't.

Self esteem relates to how much you like yourself, and usually is based on things such as your looks, talents, etc. --- things which can change. Self worth, on the other hand, is about your respect for yourself--what you feel you are worth, how much you value yourself; what you feel you deserve. Truly understanding one's self worth can totally change a person's life. Once we truly understand our own intrinsic value and believe we are worthy of good things, we won't settle for anything less that God's best for our lives. How many bad marriages, poor relationships, unbalanced friendships, workplace mistreatment, etc. would we avoid if we understood our value as a human being?

How do you feel about yourself? What are your positive feelings based on? Are there things which you would like to change? Here's a challenge: take some time to think about your feelings about yourself. Evaluate your self esteem AND your self worth. Make a list of anything and everything that stands as a block to truly valuing yourself. Then, slowly but surely, take steps to attack each and every block. Let 2011 be the year to grasp all that is intended for you. At the end of the day make sure you have self worth.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Year in Review

Usually the last week of December is filled with television shows that review the biggest news stories of the year. I saw a countdown of the top videos of the year and I saw a tribute to all the celebrities who passed on in 2010, but I didn't see anything that reviewed big news stories for the year. Maybe this means I ran from reputable news and only watched television shows/channels that were strictly entertaining. Or maybe others are feeling like from 2010 and don't look back.

Don't get me wrong, I realize that I am blessed. I am still employed, I have a wonderful family that I love, I have a roof over my head, etc. etc. etc. But if I am not careful to stay positive, I can't help but moan about the fact that 2010 was filled with more than a fair share of negatives, including: several health crises for myself and family members, relationships with loved ones that were particularly challenging, stressful financial challenges, professional attacks that I have never before experienced , and great disappointment by two individuals whom I looked up to. So I am quite content to view 2010 from the rearview mirror.

This time of year I usually declare "this is going to be my year!". But it never is. So in order to achieve different results, I must do some things differently, right? 2010 has taught me the following: Guard your health - you don't realize you've taken it for granted until it wanes; cherish your family, but develop interests beyond them---the day may come where family members feel smothered and their assertion for independence will feel like rejection; get serious about finances, because financial distress effects so many areas of life; trust people but don't put all your faith in man, because man will fail you. My professional crises in 2010 taught me so much that I will have to share those lessons at another time. But suffice it to say that 2010 confirmed what I already knew --- have something beyond work to give you value.

Take one last look at your 2010. What lessons can you glean from your experiences to make the most of the new year?