Have You Listened to Yourself Lately?

woman-tagged-with-qualities-low-self-esteem[1]What are you saying to yourself? Whatever it is, you probably believe it–because that’s how it works. But it’s a good news/bad news thing. If you are engaging in daily negative self talk, those ideas help shape your self image. AND if you are engaging in daily positive self talk, those ideas help shape your self image.  We have done more damage to our self esteem than our enemies, our abusers, our haters, and our culture. We have self destructed—based on the self-insults  we have had in our own heads. Self talk is the discourse between your ears based on your world view and self view. It can manifest emotionally, mentally, spiritually, even physiologically. The words you use about yourself fuel your self-regard. Where is your fuel taking you?  Think about this: You have access to YOURSELF 24 hours a day, and your self talk can convince you to bypass opportunity, avoid risk, skirt around intimacy…BUT can also take you to the highest levels of yourself and help you attain your assigned purpose. If you do not learn to recognize that voice and shift it in daily purposeful ways, it will rob you of all you value and all you deserve.

Every day for at least a year, this woman (that would be me) said to herself, “you’re so stupid—you did it again,” “no one will love you if you don’t control your emotions,” and “you let everyone down because you are a fraud and you’re worthless.” Those words did tremendous damage to my heart and to my soul. Today I do mirror talk EVERY DAY (per my therapist): my five affirmations——
1. You are so fucking beautiful!
2. Your love is abundant and returned to you ten fold.
3. You make glorious mistakes and gain wisdom every day.
4. Every wound prepared you for this purpose you are stepping into.
5. You are kind and empathetic, and you are changing lives, starting with your own.

I encourage you to make your list of 5. Change it up. Be outlandish if you want. I know–it’s hard. But guess what? You don’t even have to believe it right away. Just stand at the mirror every single day and pronounce your worthiness TO YOURSELF. Over time, you will believe it.  Be ridiculous. Be celebratory! Be magical! You will be transformed, I pinky promise.

In truth and love,

Alinda

Dichotomies of Depression

Depression is saying “Sure!” and “Yes, Ma’am!” when your brain is saying “Okay” and “Whatever.”
Depression is forcing your tired and beaten body and soul out of bed merely because you know that to stay in bed is to sink into the abyss.
Or it’s not forcing your tired and beaten body and soul out of bed because the abyss is where you want to be.
Depression is listening to voices in your head that you know aren’t true, but the energy to fight back is tucked away in a place you can’t reach.
Depression is wanting to be happy but not knowing how.
It’s seeing all the beatify in your life and processing it in your brain but being unable to access it in your heart.
Or on certain really tough days, it’s being unable to see any beauty at all.

woman staring through window

Photo by David Cassolato on Pexels.com

Depression is the wearing of many masks.
It’s the playing of many roles and the detachment from many roles.
Depression is lukewarm.
It is the hopeless lingering in the darkness when you know the light is nearby.
Depression is wanting to ask for help but not wanting the world to know that you can’t do it on your own.
Depression is a liar.
Depression is not a refusal to feel joy—it’s the space between joy and your soul—it’s a chasm deep and wide.

Musings on my First Fifty Years

Birthdays are a great time to reflect, and after celebrating number fifty over the weekend, I have a few thoughts, for what they are worth. After fifty years on this planet, this is what I know:
If this isn’t the life you want, the life you think you are destined for, it’s your job to create that life. Listen to what God/the Universe is telling you to do, and then do it. Keep your eyes open for the path that is being created for you, and follow it, and be willing to do some foraging through the overgrown and tricky parts. Remove those barriers around your heart and feel that pain that you are afraid will kill you. It won’t; it will strengthen you for the all the love that awaits. You have to believe that the wounds serve a purpose. You have to believe that from those dark places, your light can shine brightest. The world needs your light. You must be willing to let go of people and things that threaten to stifle or distort that inner voice that says, “You are enough.” And you have to know that no experience, whether it be one of joy or sorrow, or triumph or trauma, is a waste. It is in your power, and it is in fact your responsibility, to give it a shape, to make it matter.

In Truth and Love,

Alinda

Letting You Go

I am responsible for what I write,
But I am not responsible for how you feel about it. 
I am accountable for the truths I tell,
But I am not accountable for your denial of those truths.

I own what has happened to me, 
and what I have done,
But I will not own what has happened to you or what you have done.

I am free to feel my shame,
But I will not chain myself to yours.

I can forgive you,
But I cannot make your amends.

I can walk beside you through my grief,
But I cannot carry you through yours.

I look into the mirror, and I examine my reflection,
And I leave you to gaze into your own.

I will one day look into the eyes of God and seek atonement for my sins,
But I will no longer pay for yours.

Photo by Artem Bali on Pexels.com

Connecting the Dots

 

“I’m not creative at all.” How many times have I heard friends say that? Most recently it was at a fun and engaging youth event in which one of the volunteers, a friend of mind, had put together a program for a group of young people. It was a weekend of activities, all of which were interconnected by the theme of looking to others for our identity. No, I’m not kidding. This clearly talented woman could not see that she had created an experience of diverse and meaningful opportunities for expression and had literally made something big and powerful where there had previously been nothing. With only a general theme and a handful of guidelines offered her, she birthed something purposeful, something that evolved over three days into a narrative of self for a hundred young people. If only I were that creative, I thought.

The jury is still out (sort of) on exactly what creativity is. There are plenty of ideas about it, and some are more sinuous, while others are more restrained. In a completely subjective way, I do believe we all are creative. We all have the ability to create something where there was once nothing, and we do it every day. You can’t make a sandwich without it. Some of us are gifted at it, while others have to work a bit harder. Some of us like to color in the lines, and some of us need to be messy. Some of us are impassioned with these activities, while some feel frustrated by the effort, and others are completely indifferent. But I argue that most of those distinctions do not matter much, in terms of defining creativity, and the real issue for me is that those who are invigorated by the act of creating—ought to be doing it. And doing it often.

One of my favorite notions of creativity is expressed in the now famous statements made by the late Steve Jobs, who mused that “creativity is just connecting things.” I don’t know about that “just” part, which implies a simplicity too basic in my opinion, but I think for me and those I have mentored, the connections are a key foundation of creating. It is also in part about rejecting the traditional in lieu of the unusual. We all have it inside us to see the unusual. It has just been stifled by our routines and dulled by our habitual ways of living. But to see with new eyes is to be creative. To connect those nebulous dots and give them form—that is how we make things new. And isn’t that what my friend did? She took an idea: identity-self-other, and she connected the dots in a way that was new and meaningful for a bunch of 16-year-olds. Pretty impressive.

I know some of you are doing impressive things, too, and probably not giving yourself enough credit. I encourage you to spend some time exploring what creativity means to you: the definition, but also how it manifests for you. I hope you’ll share those insights with me here or email them to me at alinda@scribewoman.net.

In truth and love…

Redefining American Greatness

be the spark

Happy Independence Day! Today is a day to celebrate freedom from oppression and freedom to believe as our consciences dictate. The signing of the Declaration of Independence was a hallmark moment and a precursor for the development of the democracy that Americans hold sacred. Our country is in a painful place today, and our community connections and our international relationships have sustained damage that at times feels irreversible. We are watching horrific injustices unfold on our own soil and struggling to find the most effective use of the power afforded us in a democracy to make desperately needed changes. But the American spirit that I cherish, characterized by service, honor, diversity, and personal and religious freedoms is a fighting spirit, and there are too many warmhearted, intelligent, progressive, and generous souls here to warrant my ever giving up on our ability to do the right thing. I value the ideals upon which this country was founded, even in their imperfection. I value our history of offering asylum and freedom and opportunity to the marginalized and the suffering. Those ideals and these passionate, truth-seeking individuals will be the spark that TRULY makes America great again.

Worth It

blog photo #15 advice for saleThe best things in life are free…

This is one of those sayings that we have heard many times, and we just accept it as truth. And the Beatles helped convinced us, didn’t they?

I, however, live in the “everything has a cost” camp, which at a glance, appears to be where all the cynical kids play. I am here to argue that we are indeed the hopeful campers. Everything that matters in life has cost me something. That’s in part why it matters to me. To prove my point, I’ll illuminate my top three.

My relationship with God is the most important thing in my life. I know that we Christians like to say it costs us nothing, and I agree that God’s grace is a free gift. But I’m talking about the choice, every day, to put my spiritual life at the forefront. To really examine what God/dess would have me do, and align my behaviors accordingly. It’s painful, friends. And costly. There are plenty of times I would prefer to shout at someone in anger or (this one is the biggie for me) keep score and seek revenge. Choosing not to engage in those behaviors is a challenge for people like me.

My children come just after God, and anyone with kids will tell you that parenthood isn’t free from struggle and sacrifice. Need I go on?

And my number three is the development of my nonprofit organization and my writing life–because they are intertwined. I’ve been writing since I could spell “writing,” and it is my saving grace. I can say this without fear of sacrilege because for me, the Divine is born in me through my words. When I set out to be a writer,  as you can imagine, I got nods and smiles and pats on the head. While some of my peers earned business degrees and went on to celebrate with gargantuan salaries,  and others followed a different bliss, maybe one similar to mine in teaching or social services (which I did for a while, too), I was fighting to find MY bliss and live MY truth, as I felt the Universe had asked me to do. I’m not suggesting that my friends aren’t living authentic lives; I’m saying that the predictable schedules and income and the safety those things offer are the things I had to give up to BE a writer–to step into my truest self and honor who I was created to become. I had to risk not making rent. I had to skip the summer trips to the beach. At one time I was working FIVE part-time jobs! I had to piece together a living that would keep us fed and also feed my soul. I had to eschew romance and instead choose the quiet solitude wherein I could hear the voice of God/dess whispering to me. My children paid for it too, which was at times painful to watch–its images full of triggers for guilt, questions, and self-doubt (the mommy’s Holy Trinity).

These are things I value most. And they were not free. I love my relationship with God. It is a highly personal one, and it is my compass in all earthly matters. My children are my heart. They have brought me greater joy than any other experience in life. And my time at the keyboard or notebook is filled with moments during which I am most fully alive. The price tag for all three was crazy high. But totally worth it.

What are your top three, and how much are you willing to pay for them?

Renewing Me

My New Year’s request to the Universal Spirit:

Open my ears to the voice of the Divine, who creates and nurtures. Let me hear Her whisper love above all the noise of hate and anger.

Fill my heart with so much joy and tolerance that there’s no room for doubt, fear, or judgment.

Silence my tongue of all things unkind or harsh, and instead teach me to speak only words that promote life and offer encouragement.

Pour peace into my soul that I might drink it until I overflow and I may share it with others whose souls are in torment.

Use my hands to wipe tears and my arms to embrace those who feel broken, so they may know the healing power of your grace.

Guide my path toward mercy and forgiveness, and walk with me, first toward myself, and then allow me to be a light to guide others there.

Touch my spirit with the fresh balm of gratitude, that I may always reflect who You created me to be.

Let me a blessing to all those who need one today and always.

To the Man who Stole My Childhood

To the man who stole my childhood,

I’m taking it back.

 

To the man who crept in on angel-soft steps,

You are the devil.

 

To the man who anesthetized my heart,

I feel joy, and I feel pain.

 

To the man who slithered through the darkness,

I’m turning on the light.

 

To the man who lied about  his love for me,

I know the truth.

 

To the man who hushed me with his violence,

I shout your name into the Universe.

 

To the man who stole our childhood,

We’re taking it back.

 

Entering the Spectrum

My beautiful son Keegan, who happens to have autism, just celebrated his fourteenth birthday.  I promised I would try not to wax nostalgic, that I would just, for once, let it be a birthday, and not let it be about fourteen years of struggles and tears and goal-setting and victories, large and small. I promised that I wouldn’t get all lecture-y on social media about early intervention and advocacy and so on. But here’s the deal. It turns out I must have some sort of compulsion about this stuff. Keegan might not be the typical kiddo with autism. He is more high functioning than a lot of others on the spectrum. And he is one amazing human being! But  you can’t look at someone and know what is going in his brain. You can’t know the challenge of learning all the nuances of behavior and interaction that have come relatively naturally to you–knowing how long to let your eyes linger in a conversation, knowing how much touch is too much touch with a friend, and why is it different with this friend and that friend, being constantly anxious that you will not know how to behave or engage, wanting desperately to have a connection with someone, but fearing that an interaction will go badly and everything will be ruined. Keegan juggles those thoughts and worries every day.

When he was diagnosed ten years ago, he was placed at the moderate level, NOT mild. This was AFTER three solid years of intense intervention. I did not wait for a diagnosis. I acted on my gut, and got him help, when he was eighteen months old. I read everything in print, I talked to other parents, I dedicated a room in our house to Keegan’s sensory needs. I recall one day, when he was three years old, I realized, with a broken heart, that he might NEVER come out of this world where he lived: a wordless world of staring at the ceiling fan, lining up hot wheels, grunting and spinning in circles, banging his head, licking everything in sight, refusing to be touched. That isn’t the Keegan most of our friends know, because they never met that Keegan.

So on that day of realization, I made a choice. If he wouldn’t come out, then I would go in and join him. That’s the day my relationship with my son changed. It’s also the day that my relationship with autism changed. And it was still one year prior to his diagnosis. It was in the midst of doctors telling me “Give it time, it’s a phase, he is just shy, try different discipline, he is too young to test, some kids develop later than others, let’s watch him for another six months….blah, blah, blah.”

You know your child. You know him because he has little pieces of you inside him. I saw myself in my little boy’s eyes, and I saw him quietly pleading for me to come inside and be with him. So I did. I slowly, but firmly, created a space in his world, a little each day, until eventually it was big enough to hold us both. It wasn’t easy. He got angry at me. He pushed back at me. HARD. But I trusted what I saw in his eyes, and I thank God for opening my heart enough to hear what my son was really saying to me. I believed that even though every behavior he exhibited screamed “Leave me alone,” and “Don’t touch me,” that it wasn’t what he truly wanted or needed.He was writing my name on the wall between us, and it was an invitation I couldn’t ignore.

If you think something feels wrong, get it checked out. If you don’t like the answer, ask someone else. And someone else. Read every book available until you find the one that makes sense for you and your child. If you are resisting a diagnosis, know this: the word “autism” does not have to define your child. That is your choice. Use it as a tool to get the help you need. But those six months the doctors are telling you to wait, are the most precious f-ing six months in the world to a developing child, especially one on the autism spectrum.

So July 16 might never be “just a birthday” to me. And I will probably never stop lecturing about early intervention. But I have zero doubt that if I had listened to what the professionals were telling me, everyone would have met the aforementioned Keegan, instead of the confident and capable young man he is becoming.

 

In Truth and Love,

Alinda