17. dropping the pieces

You know that phrase, “picking up the pieces”? The one where you are supposed to pick them all up and move forward? Well, I pretty much hate it.

Right now, I feel like I’m constantly picking up the pieces only to drop them again. Each time I gather them all up, something knocks them out of my hands.

Others are being so generous and helpful, trying to pick them up for me. Most are explaining EXACTLY how I’m supposed to pick them up, where I’m supposed to put them, and how to move forward.

For some reason, I just can’t seem to keep them all in my hands, tucked away in a pretty basket, despite everyone’s and my own best effort.

But maybe it’s not about picking them all up. Maybe it’s about leaving those jagged pieces, the old pieces, the ones that cause pain and suffering. Leaving the pieces that are memories of false happiness, lies. The pieces that are of an ugly picture painted pretty.

Maybe I’m supposed to leave those pieces on the ground, close the door, and walk away from them. Remember that they existed but leave them lying there because they just don’t serve me anymore.

The painful pieces need to be left in the dust, not carried in my arms into the future.

Here’s to picking up the pieces that encourage me to grow, learn, love, heal, and forgive. Here’s to putting them in that pretty box, wearing a genuine smile on my face, and walking forwards.

Here’s to finding the puzzle of my future. The place where the pieces I pick up and carry with me fit seamlessly together to create an imperfectly beautiful picture.

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16. cheers

Self-reflection and I have become VERY good friends as of late. In fact, I think I’d even go so far as to say that I could probably win the”self-reflector of the year” award if there was such a thing.

I’ve learned far more than I ever thought possible, felt more intensely than I knew I could, and proved my resilience despite my sadness.

This past weekend was challenging. No. This past weekend was heart-wrenching, rip the bandaid off, raw. My suspicions were confirmed, my fear turned into reality, and my eyes were opened to a “truth” that cut deep. Everything that I thought was proving to be a lie. Every strand of trust given was thrown in my face.

I quickly began to internalize what happened, assigning my self-worth as a woman to a person’s inability to express any sort of empathy.

Then, while “Pinteresting”, I saw this.

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The truth in the words of this quote far surpass anything I was telling myself the past few days.

Brutally honest for some reading this, comfortably reassuring for others. This is something to be printed out, framed, and hung to see each and every day.

Cue self-reflection. Am I living my life in such a way that I can be proud of? Are my actions accurately reflecting the words I speak to myself and others? Do I treat those that are in my life with respect, love, and kindness?

Yes. Yes to all those questions. Does this mean I live perfectly? No. In fact it means quite the opposite. Do I make mistakes, say the wrong thing, become over emotional, and have anxiety over silly situations? Yes. But I am living authentically, in a way that is CONSISTENT with what I “preach.”

I look back to the past several months. What I thought to be a shining example of unwavering faith, a life lived with emphasis on acceptance, gentleness, kindness, and compassion has become so far from the truth it’s not even funny. The willingness to use sacred information/insecurities as a weapon is some serious stuff. The lack of empathy is shocking. It is directly the opposite of the words that were preached, the ideas presented. The promises that were made.

Do you know what emotion I now feel? I shake my head in disbelief as I get ready to type this. The emotion I now overwhelmingly feel is the same as last week.

GRATITUDE.

I am absolutely, whole-heartedly GRATEFUL that I am me. The way I live my life is 100% consistent with the words I say. Sometimes my actions are messy, my feelings are a roller coaster…but who I am and who I say I am are the EXACT SAME THING.

A quote from the book Daring Greatly comes to mind:

“We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness, and affection. Love is NOT something we give and get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated when it exists within each one of them–we can only love others as much as we love ourselves. Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows. Love can only survive these injuries if they are acknowledged, healed, and rare.”

So here’s to the willingness to live without a mask. To speak words of love with pure honesty. To have my actions & words seamlessly entwine in the tapestry of my life. To heal, learn, and love again.

Here’s to forgiving the one that hurt me deeply by quickly speaking the SAME words of love & kindness to another woman. Here’s to being grateful for all that has happened.

Here’s to being the most authentic version of me and to daring greatly.

15. radical gratitude

In the past month, I have been stretched beyond my limits emotionally. My strength has been tested in every way possible. Each day proves to be challenging.

But I’m still here. I’m still fighting. I’m still finding ways to smile. Most importantly, I’m reflecting. I’m learning.

Recently, a bit of anger has been tossed into my profound sadness. Angry that someone could actually do what was done. Infuriated that a person could have no regard for someone else’s feelings. Disgusted at the fact that someone could continue living their life as if nothing major had happened.

If you know me, you know that I do not like being angry. Negativity is not something I handle well. I’m overly optimistic, positive, and genuine. Naturally, I decided to see what I could take from this negative emotion.

Today, I had some much needed “me time” and used it to reflect and look inwards. I decide to use my anger to my advantage and practice something I call “radical gratitude.”

I took each layer of anger and thought about what I could learn from it. Why I’m grateful for it’s presence and how I could apply it positively in my life. Here’s what I’ve come to be grateful for:

I’m grateful that I have the capacity to give someone genuine true love. The kind of authentic love that withstands hardship, struggle, and challenge.

I’m grateful for the ability to form real relationships with others. Not only romantic relationships, but friendships and family.

I’m grateful that I have people who TRULY know and love me. They know all there is about me (not just a facade I present to them) and cherish me for who I am.

I’m grateful for the honesty of the people closest to me. I LOVE that they would have the courage to and be the first to tell me if I’ve treated someone with disrespect. Because they care for me, they would NEVER let me disregard someone else’s emotions without confronting me about fixing it. Although it would be hard to hear, I’m glad they would do that for me.

I’m grateful that I am self reflective. I understand that I am an ever changing, always growing human being. Sometimes my best self is not always shown, but I know I can learn from every situation and become better. I will always continue to learn, reflect, and grow.

I’m grateful that I am accepting of others. I would never try to shape, change, or mold someone into who I thought they should be. I will always challenge and inspire people to become their best self, but understand and love everyone for who they are.

I’m grateful that I work THROUGH my problems and emotions. I face everything head on, no matter what it looks like or feels like. I never run around things or bounce from one new thing to another. I always work through something, no matter how challenging or uncomfortable.

Practicing radical gratitude today has really helped me to process some of my feelings of anger. Although the road ahead may still be tough, gratitude and the support of others will always bring me through.

Here’s to being grateful, loved, supported, and REAL. Here’s to always showing my true self, loving without limits, and working through challenges. Here’s to being and loving me.

Bob Marley said it best.
Bob Marley said it best.

14. mindset

Last week, one of my students presented me with this book.
mindset
Her dad is a superintendent in a neighboring school district and explained that his staff had read, loved, and learned from this book during the summer. On top of the book was a pink post-it note with the words “Thank you for being you.” The subject matter of the book, the kind note, and the timing of this gift brought tears to my eyes. Little did I know, this small book would have a HUGE impact on my life.

This post is going to sound like a book review at first. In a sense, it is. But bear with me, there is more.

Although unassuming and plain, this book has SO much to offer. The focus is on mindset and how it affects every aspect of your life. The author explains that there are two mindsets people have: the fixed mindset and the growth mindset. The explanations of both are simple yet powerful.

The fixed mindset is the belief that your abilities are carved in stone. This mindset creates the urgency to prove yourself over and over.

The growth mindset is the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts. There is an emphasis on being able to change and grow through application and experience. It allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.

As soon as I read that statement, I was hooked. Challenging time? I’m right smack dab in the middle of the most painfully challenging time of my life.

A quote that accurately explains the growth mindset is this:
“A person’s true potential is unknown (and unknowable); it’s impossible to forsee what can be accomplished with years of passion, toil, or training.”

The author even goes so far as to say that “failure IS a painful experience, but it doesn’t define you. It’s a problem to be faced, dealt with, and learned from.”

As I was reading, I could just feel myself nodding. The pages of my book were filled with exclamation points, highlighted phrases, bracketed sections, and comments written in the margins. During independent reading, I could feel my students staring at my in confusion…wondering why I was excitedly writing in my book when I was supposed to be reading.

Because of the current situation I’m experiencing, the chapter on how your mindset affects and influences your relationships with people really struck a chord. I read and reread, analyzed and collected some of the most valuable quotes and pieces of information from this section. On first glance, it looks like a typical “be better” section of a book. But the more deeper you think about what you are reading, the more you try to apply what is being said to your life…the more valuable it all becomes. The following section is woven together from different pages from the section. It doesn’t come from just one page or heading. It’s woven together from all of the ideas to make complete sense.

Relationships and your Mindset
The belief that success shouldn’t be taxing, uncomfortable, or hard work robs people of exactly what they need to make their relationship thrive. The belief that being in love means never having to do anything difficult is absolutely devastating to a relationship. It takes extremely hard work to communicate correctly and expose/resole conflicting hopes and beliefs. The idea of “they lived happily ever after” is more accurately expressed as “they worked happily ever after.”

Once people in the fixed mindset see flaws in their partners, they become contemtuous of them and dissatisfied with the whole relationship. It’s better and healthier to acknowledge each other’s limitations and build from there.

The belief that partners have the potential for change should NOT be confused with the belief that the partner WILL change. The partner has to watn to change, commit to change, and take concrete actions toward change.

The growth mindset lets you rise above the blame, understand the problem, and try to fix it–TOGETHER.

Every single part of that relationship section was completely eye-opening. It didn’t make what I’m experiencing any easier but allowed me to start to formulate answers from a situation that has made absolutely zero sense.

I’ll leave you with a few powerful ideas from the remainder of the book. These can be applied to any aspect of your life. I’ve made them into quotes and have posted them in my classroom and on my bathroom mirror at my apartment.

“Embrace all things that have felt threatening: challenge, struggle, criticism, and setbacks.”

“Love challenge, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning.”

Here’s to shifting myself from the fixed mindset to the growth mindset and understanding that others may not be willing to do the same.