A Wonderful Mess

Are you a mess?  I’m a mess!  Do you love your mess as much as I love mine??

I wondered where people stood on this topic as I contemplated the statement, “You’re a wonderful mess.”  The mere juxtaposition of the words wonderful and mess conjures a sense of:  “It’s okay.  Yes, I’m a mess, but it’s wonderful, because I’m wonderful, just the way I am – – with whatever mess I happen to be carrying around.”

That’s the way I see it.

We all have our stuff.  Our emotional stuff, our physical stuff, and aye-yai-yai – our stuff with our mothers!  It all makes up the mess that is us.

Here are just a few examples of my messes:

  • I prefer to eat standing up
  • I talk to and carry on with my dog to the point of being obnoxious, and it’s apparently quite uncontrollable on my part
  • I find it difficult to work at my desk with any sort of clutter on it (although I can place it directly behind me while I write, just as long as I don’t see it in front of me or in my peripheral vision)
  • Half the time I think I’m a doctor, yet I refuse to take medication
  • Until about two years ago, I couldn’t wear sunglasses and hear at the same time.  It’s very embarrassing, but true.  I had to practice for years before I was able to master it.  Yet still, to this day, my sunglasses can’t be very dark, otherwise I lose significant hearing.

There are many more examples, some more on the normal side, others no doubt twisted.  The point is, we all have them.  I am a Wonderful Mess.  Yes, You are a Wonderful Mess too.  The question is, do you see your mess as wonderful?  Do you embrace it?

Wherever you are on the spectrum between loathing/denial and embracing/accepting your mess, are you willing to share with us?  Maybe just one?  ….in the name of being Real and showing up for yourself?

 

Wilted and Parched

I spent the most relaxing weekend in Austin with a girlfriend.  No kids, no schedule, no demands, no nothin’.

When I arrived on Friday, my friend was bringing a plant back to life.  As she gingerly placed it in the sink, she called me over to look at its sad, sad state, wilted and parched.  As she drenched it in water, she was quite convinced that it would revive and resume its beautiful state.

I had my doubts.  (A few hours later, she had her doubts, too.)

There have been times in my life when I’ve felt wilted and parched.  As if no amount of rest or sleep could plump my skin or satisfy my thirst.

During my teens and 20’s I didn’t even realize when I was feeling depleted.    So I would just plow on.  And the more I pushed through, ignoring the warning signs my body was giving me, the more depleted I became, until finally I’d come down with a cold or strep throat or something that forced me into bed to rest.  I remember one time, I had neglected myself so, that my husband took me to the hospital, only for them to hook me up to an IV; I was severely dehydrated.

Our immune systems become weak the more we tax them.  Lack of sleep, an improper diet, as well as repeatedly exposing ourselves to negative thoughts, all have an impact on our physical bodies.

Wilted and parched.

The answer was so simple:  Stop.  Rest.  Drink some water.  Engage in activities that fed my spirit.  And although the answer was simple, I’m embarrassed to say it took me years to learn the lesson Life kept trying to teach me.

I must confess, lately I’ve been feeling wilted and parched.  I’ve sensed the slowly rising need to recharge my battery.  Hence, my weekend trip to Austin.  I was the wilted and parched plant.

It’s incredible what a weekend of Amy’s Ice Cream, sipping tea and chatting, carnitas, zero demands of me or my time, and a pitcher of sangria on a HOT July afternoon can do.

On a similar hot July day, seventeen years ago, my mother-in-law pulled me aside on her deck and shared this bit of advice with me, “Make sure things are right with Mommy first.  If things are right with Mommy, things will be right in your house.”

And although I wasn’t a mommy yet, I knew what she meant.  I saw the ‘house‘ she referred to as something both concrete, the traditional noun picture of a house, but also an intangible house, more like the temple where body and spirit reside.

As I sit here typing, sipping tea, my friend still peacefully sleeping, I look over at the plant.  Although it took several more hours to revive than my friend had anticipated, it has, indeed perked back to life.  It was sorely wilted and parched.

This weekend with Kelli has been wonderful.  I laughed so hard yesterday, I had tears streaming down my face – – on two separate occasions!!  And no, this was not even remotely close to when the sangria was being consumed.

This weekend has been a nice kick start.  But like the plant, who took easily twice as long to perk up this time around, I have more replenishing to do.  These next several months I’ve decided to dedicate to feeding my spirit.  To healing.  I’m embarking on a new chapter in my life, one which is sure to be filled with many new life experiences and lessons.  And although it’s with a slight hint of reservation, my gut is urging me to share these upcoming experiences and lessons with you.

So, I thank you in advance, for embracing my writing and allowing me to share with you.  It’s through your encouragement of my writing that I continue to learn and grow, and for that, I am very grateful.

Temple Grandin! (Different. Not Less.)

Over the past two weeks I’ve been extremely busy, each day my tank inching closer and closer to  empty.  My big plan last night for re-fueling was to sit all alone and indulge in the simple pleasure of watching a movie.  No interruptions, no distractions, just me, dog at my feet, cuppa tea warming my hands, and a movie I had been wanting to watch for weeks.  Until I interrupted myself.  As the movie began, Claire Danes stepped out as Temple Grandin (the main character of the movie by the same name).  Within her first sentence, I knew this was something special.  I said WITHIN the first sentence, not after the first sentence, within it!

I paused the DVD and popped my head out into the playroom.  EVERYONE in my house had to see this!  As I hollered for my then nine and 12-year old sons to join me, I caught a glimpse of them peering over their shoulders at me, with looks that said, Are you kidding me?  We saw the cover of the movie box, and we are NOT interested.  Reluctantly, they left their video game, and at a snail’s pace, ambled past me in the direction of the movie, mumbling something unintelligible all the way.  My husband paused the golf channel downstairs, and gave me ‘a look’ as he approached.  Was that his “this had better be good” look or his “I’m humoring you” look?  Maybe a little of both.

I was very clear:  If, after ten minutes, they weren’t thoroughly entertained by Claire Danes and company, they were welcome to leave.  Heck, I didn’t want them sulking through a movie and ruining my me-time.  As it turned out, not a soul left, with the exception of one trip to the bathroom.  As my older son made a mad dash for the restroom, he begged us to pause the movie, to which we all responded with a simultaneous, “Shhh!!!”

Meeting Temple Grandin

Temple Grandin grew up in a time when we knew very little about autism.  Her story is one that is truly amazing, inspirational, and the definition of a ‘must see’ film.  I won’t give anything away, but do want to share with you something that my older son embraced from the movie in a way that he owned — something Temple’s favorite teacher said, then her mother repeated, and later Temple echoed herself:

In describing Temple, each said she was, “Different, yes.  Not less.

My son liked the way that sounded.  Looking over at him in the dark, as he took in the simplicity, yet boldness of it, I could have sworn I saw him sit a little taller.  “Different, yes.  Not less.”

When you grow up visiting as many doctors as my son has over the years, I imagine you can start to wonder if you’re less than.  Less than perfect?  Less than normal?  Less than… something your peers are not faced with?  By the time he was ten-years old, he alone had more “ologists,” as he called them, than most families do, their distant relatives included.  It wasn’t until the addition of his hearing aids in the third grade that the first real teasing occurred.  Luckily, it has been kept to a minimum, but with the start of each school year there is always that one new student who comes in, and inevitably, makes an insensitive remark.  In times like those, remembering, “Different, yes.  Not less.” can come in real handy as a mantra.

We Are All Different.  Not Less.

Here’s what I believe:  We all have our ‘thing’ (or thingS).  Your kid may be autistic.  He may have ADD, dyslexia, asthma, peanut allergies, warts, be a bed wetter….  The list, as you know, is endless.  We ALL have our thing, kids and adults alike.

There are those who deem their particular thing as being better or worse, lesser or more, on some imaginary scale of injustices.  But regardless of what our thing is, we have it for a reason.  And as I’ve stated before, we don’t always know the why’s and how’s of it, nor do we need to.  See, whatever our thing is, it’s there to serve a purpose.  We’re supposed to learn from it, otherwise, we wouldn’t have it in the first place.  Our thing makes us who we are.

This is where Trust comes in.  Surely, it’s the Trust or the Knowing that Temple Grandin spoke of when she stated, “If I could snap my fingers and become non-autistic I would not do so.  Autism is part of who I am.”

There is no resistance to What IS in that statement.  I hear a person who has embraced who they are and exactly the way they were brought into this world.  There simply is no fighting What IS.  Now, she fought like crazy for what she believed, and in most cases, fought an uphill battle, especially in the profession she chose.  But she didn’t fight who she was or the condition she was labeled with.  She never gave up.  And she never saw herself as less than.  Her Will and her Spirit simply could not be broken.

Look at yourself.  Look inward.  What is your thing(s)?  How about your child?  Can you discuss your child’s thing with them?  How does understanding your label, yet not becoming it, differ?  How have you been able to compensate?  Perhaps even excel?  To learn?  To grow?  And after your learning and growing, how have you shared with others to help them on their journey?

If you’re struggling with any of these questions, start with Trusting in a higher power.  You are not alone.  And you are not less.  Simply different.  No one else comes with your unique gifts and talents to offer to the world.

~~~~

Thank you, Heather, Ginny, Robin, and many others who chimed in to sing this movie’s praises and introduce me to Temple Grandin.  TLT readers, rent it!  You won’t be sorry.

Temple Grandin

Temple Grandin cattle structure

One of Grandin’s LARGE contributions

If you enjoyed this article, please click on the ‘Share’ button (or any other button that strikes your fancy).   Thank you!!   Love, Leslie

Full Circle Journey

I’ve had the idea for this article for quite some time, but haven’t felt the right time to write about it.  Based on comments made by Heather and Kathy on Monday’s post, “Strategy for Overcoming Fear,” I feel now is the time.

Both comments share a theme of two people who consider themselves to be positive, but have noticed their positivity being directed primarily outward toward others, instead of focusing on the inner self.  Heather wrote of the soul-searching and self-improvement she’s been successfully working on over the past year, while Kathy wrote of learning to love herself and the benefits she has experienced as a result.  They both provide examples of how it’s through our struggles that we’re able to get to the other side.

But why is there the need to get to the other side?  It’s my belief that we come into this world whole, loving every part of our beings.  As babies, we explore every part of our bodies.  We suck on our own toes.  We cry when our needs aren’t met, and we don’t care if the whole neighborhood hears us!  As we grow and are attempting to develop our identities and a sense of self, I believe just the opposite happens – we lose ourselves.  It’s no one’s fault, really.  There’s a myriad of contributors:  part parents, part society, part culture, all sorts of parts…but regardless, it happens.

During this growing and developing, some remain fairly close to who they were as kids.  For the rest of us (myself included), we stray away from our true selves.  But eventually, we cultivate a yearning** to get back to something that is more real, before we began to place so much importance on what others thought of us.  Before we fell into this habit of living to please others first.  (**I believe this yearning is Spirit talking to us.)

I’ve come to realize that much of what I refer to as ‘my journey’ has been a journey back to Me.  Back to the girl who knew herself really well and liked herself a hell of a lot, but somehow got lost along the way.  In my defense, and yours too if you fit into this category, I didn’t have the intellectual capacity (nor the desire, to be frank) to cogitate many of the ideas that roll around in my head these days.  I mean, come on, I spent over two hours yesterday, between drive time and waiting in lobbies, either listening to or reading about material on quantum physics (thanks Doug, thanks KP!).  And you know what?  I loved every minute of it.  So I’m not saying that we revert back to our exact former selves as children; I sure didn’t care about quantum anything back then.  What I’m saying, is those of us who have gotten off course, if we’re fortunate enough to 1) realize it and 2) have a desire to get back to something real, we don’t have to look very far.  Our Truth resides inside of us – it never left.  It simply got buried under all of the other ‘stuff’.  We come into this world whole, knowing much more than most adults are aware of, because they too, have forgotten.

I feel very blessed at age 41, to still be in contact with many friends I’ve known since kindergarten.  (And that’s even BEFORE Facebook.)  :-)  One of the blessings in still being in contact with people who have known me for 35+ years is they’re able to share what they remember of ‘that girl’ with me.  In many instances their insights mimic my own memories of me, which also embody who I see when I look in the mirror today.  Each time that happens, it validates my theory.

As I wrote earlier about myself, I liked that girl.  And now, many years later, I like this woman.  I like that I’ve made this full circle journey.  For me, it was necessary in order to get to the other side.  It doesn’t stop here though.  Now that I’m firmly grounded on who I am, this is where I believe the real learning occurs.  Because I‘m clear, and free of all of the superfluous junk, I am better equipped to see the Truth(s) Our Creator has placed on my bigger journey.

Heather, thank you.  Kathy, thank you.  Through your comments you provided all of us another opportunity to share, learn, and grow.  What more could I ask?

I don’t have a kindergarten picture, but I do have this one from third grade handy.  After scanning the picture, I see that I’m still in contact with FIFTEEN of you.  Take a good look at yourself and think back.  Have you been on a full circle journey?  Perhaps you didn’t need one.  Perhaps you did.  Perhaps you still do.  You decide.

Harker Heights Elem. School, Mrs. Rippy’s 3rd grade class

Whatever the case may be, your journey is unique and you have a story to tell.  Some of you are bloggers, some vloggers, and some of you are just plain good story tellers…send me your stories.  You don’t like to write?  That’s okay.  Tell me your story and I’ll write it for you.  And that goes for any of my TLT readers.  The more you all share, the more the rest of us are able to learn and grow.