Sunday, May 28, 2017

Kindness Challenge - Week 3
Created by Niki Meadows
#RevOfKindness @NikiMeadowsWA
Who am I supposed to be?  The person everyone can depend on--the person who tries to help others.  As the eldest of four children, that's how I was raised.  My mother needed my support--support I wasn't emotionally capable of giving at seven years old.  Often, she expressed disappointment in me for failing to meet her expectations.  When I was older, she admitted, "You didn't have much of a childhood."
My siblings looked up to me; I was their Big Sister.  At times, I resented my parents' assertion that I should make sacrifices for the "younger children."  If I complained that something was unfair, I was told I was selfish.  The criticism worked.  I developed negative feelings about myself, which took half of my adult life to resolve.
Who am I, really?  A person who cares deeply about other people, but who seldom relies on anyone else.  People often come to me for comfort or advice; I seldom go to them.  I'd like to change that, if I could--to reach out when I need help, without feeling that I shouldn't. Sometimes, it's difficult to accept who I am when other people don't, or won't, especially family.  They view me in a different context than my friends.  We have a long history and years of baggage...
That's what I've come to understand.  I won't be defined by anyone else, nor will I be defeated.  Once I learned to accept other people's shortcomings, I learned to accept mine.  I have many reasons to love my life, to count my blessings every day.  Forgiveness and gratitude are essential to a healthy body, mind, and spirit.
I don't know about "unconditionally," but I can laugh at my mistakes and not take myself so seriously.  That's a good start!
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Suggested reading:

From Amazon:
Perhaps no book in this generation has had a more profound impact on our intellectual and spiritual lives than The Road Less Traveled. With sales of more than seven million copies in the United States and Canada, and translations into more than twenty-three languages, it has made publishing history, with more than ten years on the New York Times bestseller list.

Written in a voice that is timeless in its message of understanding, The Road Less Traveled continues to help us explore the very nature of loving relationships and leads us toward a new serenity and fullness of life.  It helps us learn how to distinguish dependency from love; how to become a more sensitive parent; and ultimately how to become one's own true self.

Recognizing that, as in the famous opening line of his book, "Life if difficult" and that the journey to spiritual growth is a long one, Dr. Peck never bullies his readers, but rather guides them gently through the hard and often painful process of change toward a higher level of self-understanding.
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Happy reading, happy writing, and happy thoughts!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Kindness Challenge - Week 2
Created by Niki Meadows
#RevOfKindness @NikiMeadowsWA
Coping with Change & Sadness

From the time we’re young, we’re told:

“Don’t act like a baby!”
“Stop feeling sorry for yourself!”
“Pull yourself up by your boot straps!”
“Keep a stiff upper lip!”
“Snap out of it!”

That’s why it’s easier (and more acceptable) to show sympathy to other people than it is to ourselves.  Compassion is reserved for those who truly deserve it.  Not us, right?  We regard self-compassion as a sign of weakness.  Somehow, we’ve failed to master our emotions…

Would you soldier on through a bout of flu, when you have a fever, chills, and body aches? Would you expect your body to keep going without any self-care?
Of course not.  The same holds true for our emotional well-being.  We can’t ignore how we feel or what we need to maintain good mental health.

This week, I made an effort not to underplay how I was feeling—to figure out why it’s so hard to say, “Linda, you don’t have to be strong all the time.  You don’t have to hide your sorrow from the rest of the world.  You have the right to grieve, just like everyone else.”

In May 2016, my dear friend Lyn died from brain cancer, after a courageous, ten-year battle.  I helped take care of her the last few months of her life.  Although I’m thankful I could be there for Lyn, the experience was heart-rending.  Five months later, I found myself at my mother’s bedside while she was dying, the memories of losing my friend still fresh in my mind.  My mom lived in Chicago, and when I left to return to Denver, I knew I would never see her again.
After Lyn died, my Denver family broke up.  Her husband moved to California.  I did get to see him this past Monday, when we gathered to inter Lyn’s ashes—another painful reminder.  My best and closest friend—Lyn’s cousin—is retiring to Tennessee with her husband, brother, and mother.  I’m having trouble adjusting to all of these changes in such a short time.

My positive affirmation is: “Don’t be sad it’s over; be glad it happened.”
With that in mind, I’ll try to show more compassion toward myself during this transition and move forward with my life.  New opportunities will arise; I’ll grow closer to my other friends.
In the interim, I won’t shy away from sharing what I’m feeling or how I’m coping.  Feel free to share your innermost thoughts, too.  I’m always happy to lend a sympathetic ear…
And remember: Writing is cathartic.

For my post about my amazing friend Lyn, please click on the link:

Happy reading, happy writing, and happy thoughts!