Don’t Let Anyone Put YOU in a Box

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We are always placed neatly into little boxes. We are categorized, placed inside and then it’s duct taped tight until we become stuck, trapped in our little prison until eventually we believe that box is home.

One of my greatest challenges as a parent is to make home bigger than any box. It is an uphill battle every single minute to teach my kids to think outside the box. It is only when their mind believes they belong in one that they remain trapped. Life is constantly defining who we are. You are varsity, jv, a team, b team. It’s what whispers quietly behind those labels that destroys the potential of what someday we are now guaranteed to never be. What do those words REALLY mean? You are awesome, you are the best, you are average, you suck, you are the bottom of the heap. We use these words in the name of sports and competition and convince ourselves that these lessons are necessary for us to grow. Really? Grow what? Greatness? Suckness? I guess it depends on who you are. Grow where, in our little box that someone else gets to stick us in. Our label of talent, be it work, school, sports, whatever, puts us in a place that eventually cuts off our very own spirit until we become exactly who people tell us we are.

What can you do about it? What can any of us do about it? I don’t have all the answers but I can tell you what I do. I build their spirits up so great that they will never be contained by a little cardboard box. I tell them that hard work and effort and character and attitude all outweigh that little piece of talent determined by someone else. Those traits are so much larger than the confines of another’s opinion. They are like a magic key that will guarantee you will never belong to someone’s opinion, you will never be someone else’s prisoner.

If I’m being honest, we are not labeled by our determination or even our talent. We are just simply labeled and that label is handed to us by someone who has no idea of a single ingredient we are actually made of. That is his truth and not ours and it is not even the truth at all. Rip that box open. Have the courage to fight your way out and step into the box you know you really belong in. Don’t close it up. Stand proud and say this is who I am and I decide where I belong. Then the box that could have been a prison will be a gift to everyone your life touches. You will be a hero, a voice and an inspiration for the ones who choose to remain trapped. Don’t be a victim. Be a hero.

A Humbling Lesson About Humility

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There are times when self discovery can influence us in such a way that the experience can absolutely transform the person who we are. It’s tough to change. It usually happens gradually over a long period of time and requires overcoming an enormous amount of resistance. But sometimes, the lesson is so eye opening that it brings about immediate change. I am hoping that is what comes from my lesson today.

I started my day in a yoga class with an instructor who prides herself on perfectionism. She is critical and really grows frustrated with anyone who has less than perfect form. She expects it from everyone in the room without taking into account how long someone has been doing yoga, individual physical strengths or limitations, and whether or not it’s even a goal of the student to have perfect form and alignment. She pushes her expectations on everyone and I have to admit, I dreaded every single minute of the hour and a half class. I don’t like her comments, I don’t like her attitude and I certainly do not walk out of class looking forward to going back. I decided today would be my last experience with her. Sometimes we think we have to challenge ourselves to prove something to someone. It’s just in our stubborn, competitive nature. But today, I realized people who are perfectionists are impossible to please. In their minds, there is only one person that can do something completely correct, and that is the perfectionist herself.

Unfortunately, this whole experience forced me to have one of those AHA moments and take a good, hard look at myself. I am a perfectionist too. If someone tries to do something for me, it is never good enough and often I will redo it because I will do it better. It’s disgusting, it’s shameful and it is going to change. It is hard having these traits, because as hard as you are on everyone else, you are that much harder on yourself. The truth though, is that it feels awful for the person on the receiving end. It is degrading and condescending and harmful to someone’s self esteem. Why on earth would we want to make someone else, or even ourselves so uncomfortable or fearful that what they do will never be good enough?

It’s easy to see something that absolutely disgusts us about someone else. The truth is, what disgusts us more than anything is seeing our own reflection in the very thing we despise. Some look the other way and pretend there is no connection. The brave look it right in the eyes and commit to change. I hope that change starts today. I would never, EVER intentionally want to make someone I know or love feel that bad. Hopefully I can say lesson learned. I was truly humbled today and grateful that I was able to make the connection. And, I am never going back to that class. I enjoy yoga. If I am proud of what I do and it is good enough for me, than someone else’s standards will never define my self worth.

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I Am A Superhero. Well Kind Of

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Recently I requested a very talented friend of mine turn me into a superhero. I got a great chuckle out of it but the more I seriously thought about it, I don’t need to be a superhero at all. In fact, I believe we are all built to be superheroes in our own unique way. Everything I need to help me navigate through this world is built inside of me. I was created in such a way that I could move mountains if I figured out how to tap into my talents. I have many powerful qualities that we could call superpowers. I’ve come to realize that I can fly above each and very trial and tribulation that shows itself in my path. I can rise above or fly above hatred, regret, wrong doing, mistreatment. You name it, when I have to, I will fly. So the point here is we have to use what we have to turn ourselves into the superhero we were meant to be. No one can sketch our character or write our story. That responsibility falls with each and every one of us.

Sometimes when you are critical of yourself it becomes easy to get caught up in the things you feel may need to be fixed. It’s really, really important though that you don’t lose sight of the good, of the very things that make you stand out. I believe, at least for me that my strength, determination, perseverance and ability to reason can be threatening if you are on the receiving end of it. However, if I fall victim to the people that try and turn that quality into a negative to benefit themselves, then my strength actually becomes debilitating. At least, in my mind I have come to believe it does. The lesson here. Never let anyone make you believe your strengths are actually weaknesses. Be proud of your strengths and don’t be afraid to use them, especially if you are standing tall for something you believe to be important. Stop apologizing for who you are and how you are and stand quietly and confidently tall. Once you start to explain, the game is over. Walk in with a sign that reads I Rock, period! No explanation needed and see how the situation unfolds a bit differently. I tried that approach today. I stood tall, I called on all my strengths to respond to whatever was thrown at me, I didn’t apologize for what I was doing or for who I was, I said no, I clearly defined what I would not accept and I stuck to my guns. And when I walked outside, I got my cape stuck in the door. Silly me.

Defining Moments

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So many moments and experiences have helped define me. A handful have changed the person I am. I would like to share some of those lessons and defining moments with you.

The first time I gave birth I found my strength. I realized, that even when something seems beyond harder than what I can bear, the strength is there inside me .

I learned confidence the first time I stood in front of a crowd to voice an opinion that was different from the majority of people sitting around me. I learned that even when I am nervous to my core, and my mouth becomes so dry that my lips are sticking to my teeth, my voice is important and it’s okay to stand alone by staying true to myself.

I learned the art of practicing peace sitting at a small table in Rome while listening to some of the prettiest music my ears had ever heard. To be in that moment every second without the distraction of my mind taking me away to someplace else.

I learned the world is bigger than I ever imagined the first time I laid eyes on Sedona. My eyes grew so large and still I couldn’t take enough of it in. That is where my desire to travel was truly born. This adventurous side that wants to see everything I have never seen before.

I learned love the first time they placed my baby girl in my arms. And just when I thought I couldn’t love anymore, they placed that baby boy in my arms and I swear that day my capacity to love grew more than I ever thought possible.

I learned what it meant to be selfless the day I decided to be a stay at home mom. It’s not always easy, but learning to be selfless prepared me for a sometimes thankless and selfish world.

I learned fear the day they flew my sick daughter to a hospital 3 hours away. That is the day I realized life is precious and time is not meant to be wasted, that nothing is ever certain.

I learned appreciation and respect as I watched each and every one of my grandparents, and great aunts and uncles be lowered into the ground. I learned that having a support system and feeling like I was part of something bigger was a support system we could all use in this sometimes difficult world, when we really feel like we are all alone. What a shame, our younger generation has let that wonderful gift slip away.

I found God a few years ago when I really found myself in a hopeless situation that I thought could never end well. That is when I learned to hit my knees and pray for what is really important. When I learned to put my faith and trust into the hands of another and just let things be as they were meant to be.

I found balance in a small town in Oklahoma. I realize that some of our most challenging experiences lead us to a better place.

I found hope in blogging. It is a place I can safely express myself without my character being attacked. It is a place I can really just enjoy being me and take a chance to share my innermost self with the rest of the world.

I found my happy in yoga after it went MIA for a long time. It is in this practice that I rediscovered balance and playfulness that I have brought back into my life to make it so much better.

I discover gratitude everyday. I actively look for things to be grateful for all around me. I have learned that counting my blessings will make them more abundant.

Life is an adventure. There are times we are coasting easily downhill, and there are times we don’t know how we’ll ever make it to the top, if we can even see the top at all. It’s important to reflect on all of it. Things begin to become clear, and we get to know ourselves a whole lot better. I’d love to hear about some of the moments that have defined you.

Finding Hope in ADD

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Today was the awards ceremony at school. I think you all know by now that I am not the type of parent that brags about my child just because. I’m pretty sure I am tough to please. Many of these awards are just a joke to me, especially because of all the grade tweaking and re-doing of papers that goes on in our schools today. But, this time, Chase getting teachers Honor Roll made me very proud. I’m not so proud of his grades, but rather the fact that this is the first nine week semester that he was able to complete all the work himself. Usually it takes hours and hours of supplemental help at home just to get through his papers but lately, it has warmed my heart that he has done some really good work and on his own. He just took a social studies test last week and scored a 93. He was actually confident enough in studying independently that he didn’t even need me to test him. It’s been a really tough ride for all of us this year. Finally finding out his issues are caused by ADD, figuring out the right dose of medication, and finally bringing the school and teacher on board to meeting his needs. I finally have more than a glimmer of hope now. I have faith that he will continue to do better and better and I am so grateful for how much Chases confidence in himself has grown these past few months. I hope this is a sign we are on our road to recovering from the fiasco school and learning has been in the past. For awhile, ADD had its hold on us, but now, I think we’ve taken hold of the ADD.