Tag Archives: honesty

Who I Am

I have spent most of my life running away from myself. Who I thought I was. What I didn’t want to be. What I thought I should be. What I thought I was supposed to be. What I wished I had been. Running away from looking at who I am.

I have spent the last few years beginning to take a good hard look at who I am. Seeing myself for what I am – not what others wanted me to be or expected me to be, not who I wanted myself to be.

I’m surprised by how relatively little most people know about themselves. Or share with others what they know about themselves. Or both.

I’m surprised at how difficult it is to strip away the layers to truly see who I am.

And how surprisingly easy it is to examine who you are once you do so.

Who I am is my foundation.

I had to tear down the house and the driveway and the meticulously planted landscaping and the poorly formed sense of myself to find the foundation.

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I spent a very long time thinking, and believing, that I was a bad person. Because I didn’t fit into the molds that (I had believed) other people had created. Because I hadn’t spent the time and energy to examine the beliefs I grew up with and picked up along the way to determine if they were in sync with what I feel to be true. Because I did not accept the parts of myself I didn’t like.

Because I didn’t love myself.

I have analyzed every aspect of myself – why I do anything, what I feel, why I act and react the ways I do, what triggers me, what I value… I continue to do so. Now that I have discovered the foundation, I am beginning to build upon it.

I have accepted that there are parts of myself I cannot change. And I have begun to work on changing the things I can change about myself.

I am learning to love myself. For who I am.

I’m not perfect. I sometimes take steps backwards but, even on my worst days, I can examine and plan for better days using what I know and continue to learn about myself.  I am whoever I want to be and, if I am not, only I can make changes to get myself there.

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The Best I Can

I’ve been putting off writing a blog entry. Actually, I’ve been putting off a lot of things. Not because I don’t want or need to do them. Or because I’m actively avoiding them. I just have entirely too much to do. I seem to always have too much to do.

I’m overwhelmed.

I like to think of myself as strong, independent, a “super” person, if you will. I like to believe that I can do everything. By myself. Perfectly. On time (early if possible).

I like to think that I alone can be the person to do everything. For everyone. All the time.

It’s a lie.

Most days I have no idea how I even managed to drag myself out of bed, let alone put one foot in front of the other to make it out the door.

Most days I do. I somehow manage to get the kids off to school and daycare, dressed and fed. I manage to make it to my classes, taking notes and tests, writing papers and getting good grades. Somehow I manage to get children to activities, dinner on the table, my house fairly clean and still standing.

Most days, after everyone is in bed, sleeping and looking ever so peaceful, I sit awake worrying. My mind races running over all the things I still need to do. Picking apart my day and criticizing how I, “should have gotten more done,” or, “could have done that better.”

I struggle to fall asleep against the thoughts that I’m not good enough. That I’m not doing enough. That I should be doing better. That I’m failing.

I don’t honestly believe that there is a level where would feel like I was doing enough. My perception of “good enough” knows no ceiling. I see those around me beating themselves up for not being good enough, for not being where they’d like to be.

I see them continue to work towards their goals, despite significant struggles and barriers. I see them become frustrated with their perceived lack of progress, when I see that they are moving forward, though likely not at the pace they had hoped.

I see those around me doing the best they can. I see them dealing with sick children, failing relationships, insufficient incomes, lack of transportation, health issues… I see them at class. I see them in the halls of our children’s school and in the waiting rooms of dance lessons, doctor’s offices and counseling centers.

I see them continuing to try.

They could give up. They could let themselves be swallowed by the brokenness of our society and the systems within it. But every day they get up and they continue to try.

They are doing the best they can. And even if they don’t believe it themselves, I see they are good enough. I see they aren’t failing. I see that, however tiny the steps, they are moving forward.

I’m not failing by anyone’s standards but my own. I’m doing the best I can.

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Fear, Success & Getting Out of Your Own Way

It’s very easy for me to lose motivation. To lose sight of my goals and aspirations. To over focus on others and false beliefs that I can change them, despite knowing only they can change themselves. To get caught up in negativity. To doubt myself and my abilities. To have many amazing ideas and, instead of focusing on one or two, half-completing or never starting any of them.

I don’t want to lose this moment and the clarity I have.

I’ve been working very hard on my education. Working to bring my GPA up so I can be eligible for Phi Theta Kappa and the potential scholarships it brings. Working to make sure the classes I take at my community college are the correct ones and will transfer to the private, four year college I want to attend after obtaining my (second) associates degree.

I’ve been planning ahead. Making appointments with advisors, program heads, financial aid counselors, transfer counselors and people at both the school I currently attend and the one I wish to transfer to. I’ve been making sure my “ducks are in a row”.

Last week I visited the private four year college I hope to attend. I had never been there before and it’s over an hours drive away. As I exited the freeway my car collided with the car in front of me. I instantly panicked. I instantly cried.

I felt that perhaps this was a “bad omen” that I shouldn’t attend this college. I felt so overwhelmed with emotion that I wanted to just turn around and go home. Thankfully, all parties were uninjured and there were minor damages to the vehicles. As many pointed out to me later, cars can be replaced. People cannot.

If I had let my emotions and fear control me in that moment, I would have gone home despite being five minutes away from the college. Instead, I was able to contain myself and keep my appointment.

I’m glad that I did. I very much liked the campus and the program I would enter. In talking with the program head, it appears that I can even complete my bachelors degree in three semesters instead of four, thanks to my ability to transfer in additional credits to the school.

Today I met with the transfer counselor at my community college and he told me I was well prepared. He stated that I had talked to all the correct people and taken the necessary steps to be set to transfer next fall. I left feeling amazing. Capable. Strong.

am capable and strong. I have been through so much in my life but when I focus I can accomplish so much.

Last night I had a dream. I somehow totaled my car and was unable to drive anywhere, leaving me housebound. This also meant I was unable to attend school. In my dream I did not try to find alternate ways to get to my school. I simply resigned myself to never being able to graduate and achieve my goals.

I woke anxious. As I analyzed my dream I realized what was most terrifying – I had let one obstacle (my car breaking) stand in my way of moving forward. I had lost momentum and became blinded to other possibilities because I only focused on the negative.

I will achieve my goals of education. I will not let anything stand in my way. Not even myself. I so often doubt myself and make myself believe that I am not smart enough or deserving enough or strong enough.

In the past I’ve put up road blocks subconsciously. Perhaps I was afraid to succeed. Perhaps it was easier to believe that I couldn’t do it instead of seeing it through and awaiting the outcome. I often wonder how much of our “failures” we have caused ourselves.

Let’s stop tearing ourselves down and instead build ourselves up. I can do it. And, if somehow I fail, I can view my failure as an opportunity to learn from it and try again. Isn’t that really what it’s all about? Making mistakes, learning and trying a different way instead of doing the same things over and over again (especially if it doesn’t work)?

I say, get out there and achieve your dreams, work towards your goals and live your life! You are, after all, the only one who can do any of these things for you.

I Want Love

Elton John, I Want Love ©2001 Mercury Records Ltd.

I want love, but it’s impossible
A man like me, so irresponsible
A man like me is dead in places
Other men feel liberated

I can’t love, shot full of holes
Don’t feel nothing, I just feel cold
Don’t feel nothing, just old scars
Toughening up around my heart

But I want love, just a different kind
I want love, won’t break me down
Won’t brick me up, won’t fence me in
I want a love, that don’t mean a thing
That’s the love I want, I want love

I want love on my own terms
After everything I’ve ever learned
Me, I carry too much baggage
Oh man I’ve seen so much traffic

How often do we look to others to give us the love we deserve? How often do we do so before looking to ourselves?

It may seem impossible when we feel broken down, scarred and numb, that we could find love. But love comes in many forms and many ways.

You can have love, on your own terms, and it starts with you. It starts with loving yourself.

With believing that you deserve love. That you are worthy of it. That while you are imperfect and have flaws and scars and baggage and holes, you are not only those things.

It starts with looking closely at yourself and accepting all of who you are. The positive aspects and all the baggage.

You aren’t perfect. And neither is anyone else. Expecting that you will find love from another that will fill all the voids within yourself is a concept that will never succeed.

You are amazing, just as you are.

Work towards accepting and loving every part of who you are, because if you can’t love and accept yourself how can you possibly expect others to?

How could you possibly ever believe that the love they give you is honest and deserving, if you don’t believe that you deserve love?

On Vulnerability

Sometimes I don’t write for long periods of time.

I have many thoughts on topics I could write about and ideas that are amazing and important points I’d like to make and a funny story about something that happened to me. I have many thoughts about how I could write these things down and expand on them and how amazing they are.

Most of the time I forget them. They never make it out of my maze of a mind.

Some of the time I write them down and realize what I thought was amazing, really wasn’t.

Some of the time I write them down and I realize that what I’ve written is amazing. That what I’ve been able to express in words truly conveys what I initially thought, honestly portrays how I feel and reveals pieces of utmost clarity and importance in my self-growth and realization.

And most often then, I get scared.

When you write something such as that it’s like finding an opening inside of yourself, like taking a light and shining it on parts of yourself that you weren’t fully aware existed. In examining those parts you identify them and name them. In a very real sense, you expose yourself because looking at anything that was formerly unknown requires some method of exposure.

For me, this sort of exposure, this vulnerability is one of my greatest fears. I commend those who put themselves out there, who allow themselves to be open without fear of outcomes. Without wondering what that vulnerability might bring.

Perhaps they have been fortunate to not have experienced the pain that can result from being vulnerable. Perhaps they have but have found ways to compensate for it. Perhaps they don’t calculate or view any risks.


I have been in many situations throughout my life where allowing myself to be vulnerable has been taken advantage of. Each time resulting in removing some of the vulnerability I allowed myself to give, until I reached a place where there was no room left for me to give any at all. Where I reached a place where the risks of doing so gravely outweighed any benefits of allowing myself to be vulnerable.

Those of us who have been through trauma, those of use who have been through abuse, those of us who have been manipulated, deceived, hurt… know that eventually we can’t allow ourselves to be vulnerable anymore. We build walls, physically, emotionally. We seclude ourselves from other people, from places, from experiences. We prevent the possibility of risk and further damage to ourselves.

I’ve spent a long time doing this. I’ve spent a long time avoiding people, avoiding experiences, avoiding anything more than the bare minimums of life. And, for a long time, doing so served it’s purpose.

Only in the past few years have I realized that my keeping everything/one a safe distance away was not only protecting myself from the risks but also preventing any of the benefits. Walls work both ways. They keep all of the painful, negative “stuff” out but they also keep all of the satisfying, positive “stuff” out too.

Dismantling walls (especially those that have stood for extended periods of time) is far from easy. You don’t suddenly go from being heaving guarded to being entirely exposed. Nor would it be a wise idea.

I’ve been working on allowing myself to be more vulnerable. Not recklessly so, but I’ve built such high walls that there have been parts of me that I wouldn’t even allow myself to be exposed to. It’s a frightening process and it’s terribly difficult not to regress backwards in reliving past events or using those past events as evidence against allowing vulnerability.

At this point I so clearly see that the only way I can progress in my journey of self-growth and self-acceptance is to continue to work on my issues of vulnerability. I can’t be angry at the lack of support and people in my life when I’ve honestly not offered any opening for such. Voluntary vulnerability is a manner of trust. In myself and in others.

So here I go, revealing an opening and shining a light on a part of myself I haven’t before. The walls continue to come down.

The “First” Thanksgiving

Every Thanksgiving Americans across the nation gather with family and friends. Huge, multiple course feasts are prepared, with all the fixings and favorites. Turkey. Mashed potatoes. Sweet potato pie. Cranberry sauce. Corn. Green bean casserole. Corn bread. And finishing with desert (if we have any room left in our stomachs!). We give thanks and rejoice at the bounty we have before us.

There’s traditions in each family around Thanksgiving. Special dishes of food. Perhaps viewing the Thanksgiving Day parade on TV. Or a football game. These traditions are special to each gathering, to each group of people. We take comfort and joy on this day as we reflect on what we are thankful and grateful for.

This aspect of Thanksgiving, of being mindful and aware of our gratitude, is one I support and enjoy. I have much to be thankful for. However, the myth of Thanksgiving is something I strongly disagree with and that I find upsetting. Especially as it’s taught in our public schools.

I wrote about my disdain on how Columbus Day is perceived and taught earlier this year. I am equally appalled by how Thanksgiving is presented, especially in schools.

My oldest daughter, Z,  is in 2nd grade and for the last three years I have needed to “re-teach” her about Thanksgiving. This year she told me her teacher had read the class a book about the Pilgrims coming to America and how the Indians helped them. She told me about “the first Thanksgiving” where the Pilgrims and the Indians sat down and shared dinner on that day. In 1st grade she shared a similar story with me that she had learned in school. And in Kindergarten, she brought home a photocopied book she had made, the first few pages are shown below.

Looks real peaceful. Smiling Pilgrims with a gun and a solemn Native American.


So… what’s so wrong with any of this? Why am I upset over it? Honestly, I’m upset and saddened because what I was taught in school as a child, and what is apparently still being taught to my daughter, isn’t true. When I mentioned to Z this year that what her teacher read the class was a nice story, she defended the story of the first Thanksgiving by telling me that it really happened.

It didn’t. The story of the first Thanksgiving that we have been told is a myth. A legend.  The idea of Pilgrims and “Indians” sharing a peaceful meal is entirely fabricated.  There were many days of thanksgiving, both amongst the Pilgrims and in Native American tradition and these were celebrations of a successful harvest season. Much more of the myth is, well, myth, right down to what the Pilgrims and Native Americans wore or ate.

There’s also many omitted details. Such as  in 1637, when the day of Thanksgiving was a celebration of the return of Pilgrim men who had traveled to Mystic, Connecticut and fought against the Pequot tribe resulting in the deaths of 700+ Pequot people. Or of Pilgrims robbing the graves of  the Wampanoag tribe and stealing their food (information that comes from a Pilgrim’s account of the first year). Rather than these events being altered, they are entirely left out.

My dismay over the Thanksgiving story as it is currently presented isn’t solely based on the omissions on how Native Americans were treated. Or the stereotyped construction of Native Americans being primitive and dumb. It isn’t from the way Pilgrims are presented either, as pure models on which to base our selves. My dismay is that we are teaching our children (and adults) that this story is truth. That the story that has been constructed as the first Thanksgiving is history.

Why do we teach false history? If the idea of the thanksgiving tradition is important somehow, then why don’t we frame it as a tradition? Why don’t we frame it as a story? When we frame it as, “this happened” we aren’t teaching our children anything worthwhile. James W. Loewen wrote in his novel Lies My Teacher Told Me that, “The antidote to feel-good history is not feel-bad history but honest and inclusive history. If textbook authors feel compelled to give moral instruction… they could accomplish this by allowing students to learn both the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ sides of the Pilgrim tale. Conflict would then become part of the story, and students might discover the knowledge they gain has implications for their lives today.” (p 97)

Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it

History should allow us to learn from it. It’s my hope to raise two confident, intelligent children with the capacity to critically think and examine what is presented to them. And to be able to decide what is truthful based on their own exploration of such, not blindly believing what they are taught or told. It isn’t only the past history of our nation that we are misinformed on. The events that are currently happening in our nation are often misconstrued, censored and even hidden — by the media, by those in power and by the overwhelming fact that most of us aren’t even aware. Try googling ‘UC Davis Pepper Spray’ or ‘Occupy Wall Street’ and see how aware you are of the events happening right now, in our nation.

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for the teachers and people in my life who taught me to critically think, to question, to examine and seek out the truth in everything.

Focus on Success

Some days are filled with frustration. With waiting. With anger. With lack of movement. With lack of change.

Some days, despite our best efforts, we don’t receive the things we need and require. We don’t accomplish the goals we set out to reach.

And we don’t hear the words we need to hear.

On some days, this is due to our own inability to hear them. Those around us are speaking words of praise, acknowledging our accomplishments and our successes. Providing support and encouragement in continuing to succeed and offering constructive criticism in an effort to encourage our growth in those areas. On some days, we are lost in our own minds, our focus elsewhere, and we do not hear all the positive feedback that we receive.

On other days, there is no one speaking words of praise. On these days we must speak praise to ourselves. We must acknowledge our own accomplishments and successes, encouraging ourselves to continue moving forward in our goals. On these days we must be patient with ourselves and realize that despite the lack of outside support and encouragement, we are doing a “good job.” We are doing the best we can and we will continue to do better. We must be kind to ourselves and speak positively of our accomplishments, noticing our strengths and weaknesses while weighing them equally.

At times I become frustrated as I continue to look for praise & approval from those who have never given me such. From those who continually choose to overlook my strengths and instead focus on my weaknesses.  I am not perfect. Neither are you or anyone else. We all have our own strengths and our own weaknesses. To focus solely on either, in ourselves and others, is neither kind or productive.

We must try to focus on the strengths in ourselves and others.  Constantly receiving negative feedback (about our weaknesses, our failures, our mistakes) while neglecting any positive feedback (about our successes, our accomplishments) doesn’t make us feel good — whether the talk is coming from another person or ourselves. A focus primarily on negatives (even if the goal is improvement) brings our thoughts to “I-can’t-do-it” and provides supporting examples of such beliefs.

Identifying and acknowledging strengths provides a foundation on which we can build on. A focus primarily on strengths provides examples of times we have been successful, allows us to examine how we were able to succeed and empowers us by identifying methods that have previously resulted in success.

I know when I’m told that I’m, “doing a good job” I tend to not believe such. What does “doing a good job” mean? How is it defined? Statements like that are generic and don’t provide any supporting “evidence” that I, or anyone else, really did a good job. In acknowledging success we must be specific. For example, “You did a good job at setting the table. You really paid close attention to where the forks needed to be placed.” Not only did I offer praise but I gave focus to a specific aspect of success and used “you” statements to show objectiveness, rather than “I feel…” or “I think…” statements, which show my subjective view.

We could all benefit from an increased focus on strengths. While there is a space and time for constructive criticism, we as people also need to hear what we are doing well. We need to hear praise and acknowledgement of our accomplishments. We need to hear support and encouragement. We need to hear these things from ourselves but we also need to hear them from those around us.

Can we try to not only focus on the positives, but also communicate them – to others and to ourselves? I truly believe that we are all doing the best we can in this moment, given the knowledge, resources and support we currently have. Let’s tell those around us that we see the accomplishments they’re making and the things they are doing well. Let’s help them build their foundation for continued success and build upon our own in the process.