The good about giving up. 

I want to be one of those patient and dedicated slow-pour coffee types, I really do.

I admire anyone who can take  precious extra minutes waiting for their fine, fresh brew. I even bought one of those tiny one cup pour-over cone shaped thingies since I drink alone in the mornings. And I tried, I did. I attempted a bleary-eyed dribbling of the hot water kettle into the cone of grounds–for about 5 seconds before I said “oh poop” and poured enough water to fill the cone and drip into my large mug. Morning is not my friend, and Slow applies to me in the hours before 10 a.m. but it dare not apply to my coffee. (And I use a paper filter to make it easy to clean up! Sacrilege, right?)

My friend Susy (author of the marvelous blog Animalia) and I laughed over this the other day. Her son is one of those who is gifted in Slow-Pouredness. I on the other hand know exactly how many times I can fill the paper cone of grounds with fast-pour kettle water for each mug I own. Oddly, I am okay with this. I accept there are many things that I will never be gifted in.

I will never be: naturally thin, naturally tidy, naturally energetic. I will never naturally feel my age. BUT I will always: laugh–often at embarrassingly inappropriate times–and believe the best in others, and love my family and friends ferociously.

The Lies in my bones have often told me I should Fail In Nothing. The Lies in my bones have said that who I am will Never be Enough. Oddly and unexpectedly, I am slowly learning that I quite like the imperfect and complicated person I am. That I can choose to grow or choose to be stagnant (by the way, I choose Grow. It’s more interesting.)

So what if I’m never thin? What if I can never be a successful slow-pourer, or even be desirous of becoming one? We all have our strengths and weaknesses, the things we feel passionate about and the things that we strive to succeed at that don’t really matter.

Today I will: celebrate what makes me unique–my passion for words, love of laughter, and ferocious love of those God has brought into my life for good and growth. I will celebrate the crazy and colorful (and possibly untidy) collage of books and dishes and art that surrounds me in my space and makes me smile.

The BringYourOwnBeverage conversation: What success are you striving for that honestly doesn’t make that big a difference in your life and you could quit wasting that time? What will you celebrate about yourself today/this week/this month that the world may look at as Less Than? What might happen if you saw your reflection and smiled instead of judged?

Till next time!

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Not very Mary (Tyler Moore)

Today as I was trying to back out of my spot in a very crowded Sprouts parking lot, a woman next to my car gave me the stink-eye and muttered loudly. I had a sudden compulsion to roll down my window and yell “IF I’D WANTED TO HIT YOU I WOULD HAVE!! BETTER STEP LIVELY!!” Normally I’m the essence of Kind Thoughts and believing everything including global warming is my fault, as in I’m sorry I made you feel threatened for your personal safety. Or as in My car door touched the the car next to mine when I tried to get back into my car…if I wasn’t so fat I wouldn’t need to open my door that far. Today I’m sure I huffed and muttered something about them parking diagonally like a drunk.

I’m not feeling Nice. I’m not feeling Generous. I’m also not feeling like beating myself up for the rudeness of others.

Normally I would judge myself HARD for these thoughts. I’m sure Jesus wouldn’t mutter in parking lots…and Jesus would never be too fat to squeeze into an impossibly tiny space…

Do you remember the eternally effervescent and kind Mary Richards from the Mary Tyler Moore Show? She was single and making it on her own in the big city as an assistant director of a 6 o’clock news show. Sure, she was sometimes a bit goofy, but LOVABLE goofy, the best kind. I loved that show! Of course since it started in 1970 I could only possibly have watched it in reruns…ahem….

Today lacked a certain effervescence. It lacked a certain self-flagellation. Maybe they weren’t the kindest, but I did manage to bite my tongue and not yell my immediate thoughts at the aforementioned driver and pedestrian.

But what would have happened even if i DID yell? It’s likely that no small children would have died. It’s likely I would not have been swallowed up into the asphalt.

Where many people could stand to be a little harder on themselves for their actions (know what I mean?) I go polar opposite. I’m fat because I fail, and why do I still have Fibromyalgia, certainly if I had self-discipline in all areas I would be well. Why am I not yet over all the traumas of my early life? WHY WHY WHY???

What will I do for myself today? Maybe I could just give mySELF a little room for error today and not use it all up on others.

The BringYourOwnBeverage conversation: Do you beat yourself up regularly about anything, and if so, What? (i don’t want to feel alone here people, spilling my guts.) What do you think is the Lie in your words to yourself? Heck, in my words to myself?

Tell me I’m fat.

Yesterday when being shuttled home from the dealership where my car was being serviced, the talkative driver referenced my weight with a look and a comment while telling a story about an eating contest. He said, “And we were like you and me,” nodding toward my lap, “him a big guy who drives big ol’ Buicks, and me,” he said, nodding down toward himself.

I was raised to be polite, so I didn’t ask, “What exactly are you saying?” Plus, I was thinking, well, he’s right…I AM big. Bigger.

Recently a friend brought my attention to the This American Life episode called Tell Me I’m Fat. One of the things I treasure about our friendship is the trust that allows us to talk about the No-Nos of life, like our honest feelings about the bodies we inhabit.

I reacted to the title, Tell Me I’m Fat, with shame and horror–more judgment! Do I not judge myself enough when I eat anything outside the realm of leafy greens?

Several women were interviewed on the show, sharing their views about their own bodies and struggles. Some, like Lindy West, author of Shrill: Notes From a Loud Woman, felt that words like “overweight” suggest a lack of acceptance. That overweight means there’s one Right weight, and her weight is simply Wrong.  She’s accepted that the body she inhabits is Fat–let’s just embrace it, and move on and enjoy our lives.

Another, Elna Baker, talked about the journey that began with wondering if her inability to get a boyfriend or a job was due to her weight. On losing the weight she realized that, yes, it had all been about her weight. That her current boyfriend would not have been attracted to her before. That people treated her differently, other thin people she encountered in public looked her up and down and then nodded, leaving her to wonder, was there some sort of thin people code she’d previously been oblivious to?

The subject of obesity as a moral issue is also discussed–are we weak or stupid or sinful because of our poundage? Another interviewee, Roxane Gay, author of Bad Feminist, says in her book,

Sometimes a bold, sort of callous person will ask me how I got so fat. They want to know the why. “You’re so smart,” they say, as if stupidity is the only explanation for obesity. And of course, there’s that bit about having such a pretty face, what a shame it is to waste it. I never know what to tell these people.

Yesterday I wondered with my shuttle driver, how would he react if I said something along the lines of, “And it was like you and me–yunno, an idiot… then, me.”

But I don’t. I don’t want someone else to feel the way I have at the words of others. Once in a Starbucks a stranger approached me to say how he’d lost a lot of weight because he’d had diabetes, and I should do the same–all while he looked me up and down.

I want to be as kind to myself as I am to these misguided souls. I don’t beat THEM up, so why should I beat up myself?

What I will do for myself today: I will live out of the joy of the person I am, reminding myself that I’m so much more than my packaging. The gift of who I am is inside.

The BringYourOwnBeverage conversation: What do you judge the hardest about yourself? 

 

When elastic surrenders

Maybe it was simply worn out. It was a fairly old skirt after all. But did it need to give out in public?

I suppose that elastic could have a retirement date, or one of those “best before” dates like food. All I know is that I was happily wandering through a shoe store in Portland with my daughter and son-in-law when I reached back to pull my shirt down, and touched….pants!  Of the under kind. WHAT?

I edged slowly, casually–well, as casually as one can while clutching the waist of their skirt–toward my daughter. “Um,” I said quietly, “my skirt elastic died.” I explained The Discovery.

She laughed. “I didn’t even notice!” And if the salespeople did notice, well, I don’t ever have to see them again. Ever.

This time I was able to laugh about it, even though my first thought was If you weren’t so overweight that wouldn’t have happened. Second thought: Everyone will make fun of you. Followed by a little You should have known–then you could have avoided this.

What if I met myself in these circumstances with a little compassion, and maybe just a pinch of logic?

Truth: Yes, I felt Imperfect. I felt Embarrassed. Those feelings washed over me, and went away when I giggled with my daughter. I realized that my whole importance to the sales clerks was whether or not I bought shoes. My Incident would be no more than an amusing anecdote to them if they even noticed. People don’t spend nearly the time focused on me as I think (which is a good thing in this instance). And not being psychic, as much as I would like to be at times, I couldn’t have known when the elastic would expire.

Today I will do this for me: When I feel that quickened breathing of anxiety as something unexpected happens (and it will), I will feel what I feel, then tell myself some version of Stuff happens (because it does). And I’ll give myself a little virtual hug and have some compassion for myself, since I deserve it just as much as the next guy.

And I’ll put some safety pins in my purse.

The BringYourOwnBeverage Conversation: Clearly for me, my weight is what I see as one of my biggest Flaws. What do you see as your biggest Unacceptable Flaw? What area in your life do you need to work on accepting? Where do you need to show yourself compassion?

 

STUPID STUPID STUPID!

“YOU ARE SO STUPID STUPID STUPID!”

No, these weren’t the words of Mommie Dearest being spit at her daughter at finding wire hangers in her closet. These were my words to myself. Last week, in fact. And I don’t even remember why I said them.

It could have been after eating a Krispy Kreme donut. It might have been because I couldn’t figure something out, as happens often with my Fibromyalgia-brain. (And with the Everyday-brain as well.) It could have been nothing at all: simply not fitting the key into the door, dropping something, not reaching the (low) daily steps goal on my Fitbit.

The point isn’t what was happening that conjured those horrible words to myself, the point is, would I EVER say those words to a single other soul on the planet?? The answer is simple: NO. I would not. I know how hurtful that would be, how long the words last when the event is long forgotten. So why the heck say them to the person I should be loving and protecting–me?

I don’t remember ever hearing those words directly spoken by someone else, but I do know I learned that I was Stupid and Less-Than by the way I was treated. I’ve always been a tender and sensitive person–OVERsensitive to some–so the slightest growling look could devastate me as a child, let alone hurtful words. I expected myself to be psychic, needing to know the answer to something I had no way of knowing, so I wouldn’t be ridiculed. And so rises the ugly head of Perfectionism again. Never make a mistake, never eat the “wrong” thing, (Dear Donuts: if loving you is wrong, I don’t wanna be right…) never fumble and be clumsy with your keys, never be less than kind to others…. The list goes on for me, and probably does for you, if you feel any sense of commonality with this blog.

So–a couple of the Lies I still seem to tell myself are that I Must Be Perfect. I Must Never Fail (if fumbling with my keys is a failure, which I sort of doubt in the grand scheme of things). Someone can say a hundred-and-fifty-nine mean things to me, but if I utter two unkind words back, there I am judging myself with that growly look again.

What I’m learning lately: STUPID (or “steewwpud” as one friend’s mother would call her and is now a lie written in her bones) seems to be more of a judgment than a feeling. What is it I’m actually feeling when I berate myself so unkindly? Inept/clumsy/hopeless/discouraged/inadequate/regretful, maybe. But I know I’m not actually stupid. And yet I say it.

What can I do the next time I spit those evil words at myself? Can I stop and admit that I feel frustrated/inept or any of a million feelings I have in a day?  I love this definition of grace (thank you, Siri!): “courteous goodwill”.  I extend it to others constantly–people in traffic, standing in line at the Post Office. Why not myself?

SO–today I will do this for me: hear the words I say to myself, acknowledge what I’m feeling, and tell myself “I’m extending Courteous Goodwill to you. You’re welcome.” And not get sidelined by the unkind words, but keep moving forward.

The BringYourOwnBeverage conversation: What are some of the words you say to yourself that you would never say to another being in the known universe? What are you feeling when you say them? How will you practice Courteous Goodwill with your own wonderful self today?  🙂

 

Pants.

I was 17.

Standing in front of my brother’s full-length mirror I admired my lean body. I was wearing an old pair of his corduroy pants I hadn’t been able to put on before.

Hmm…my hipbones show now, and look at that flat tummy. I smiled at my reflection. That ten pounds really did it, I thought as I turned this way and that. Only one-hundred-fifteen pounds now, and I didn’t even have to use the diet pills mom had the doctor give me.

I’d been sick with a fever of 104 when I was diagnosed with pneumonia two weeks before. Fever, chills and a swimmy brain for long days was all it had taken to get the ten pound loss that rendered me finally Acceptable to myself and hopefully my mother.

Sad, really.

Major landmarks of my life are marked by numbers–the numbers I saw on the scale. Before I started college, my sophomore year, after college when I put myself on a strict diet that included fasting one day a week. What I weighed when I got married, what I weighed before I delivered my daughter, what I weighed when she was three months old.

Recently I saw my doctor for my annual physical. I hadn’t weighed myself in a year and was pleased to find I weighed ten pounds less than I thought. Okay, it’s still far too much, but at least I’m not as heavy as I thought! That’s Acceptable.

When I went to see my Favorite Mental Health Professional, my therapist, I proudly shared my surprising news.

“What if you had weighed ten pounds more instead of ten pounds less? Would that have meant you weren’t acceptable?”

My eyes widened at the thought. THAT would have been a DISASTER!

Reading the response on my face she continued, “But isn’t the goal of self-acceptance to like yourself no matter what the numbers say?”

OH.

 

Never have I run my life that way. Always there has been some way to be Acceptable and a million more ways I am UNacceptable. Too fat/too loud/too friendly/too much of a bother–and the list runs on. Always I’m rating myself in my head. And much of the rating system depends on the feelings and actions of other people, people I have no control over. How can I ever win at THAT game?

I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one dealing with this crazy-making mental game that will always end up with a loser, and believe me, it’s not the other guy in our rating equation. Heck, he may not even know he’s playing!

I hope you’ll join me on this road trip toward a healthier sense of self. I hope you’ll join in what I’d love to see become a conversation between us. One thing we have on a road trip is plenty of time to talk, right?

 

the BringYourOwnBeverage conversation:

What rules do you use to find yourself Acceptable? What are some of the entries on your UNacceptable list?