Reality Check

Getting personal

My mother hurt me to the core this past summer. A hurt cutting so deep that it opened-up once again childhood wounds that I had worked diligently to confront and heal over the past several years. I saw a new side of her, or rather a side, I tried not to see for a long time. And because of long standing childhood wounds and this last straw, my behavior had become a blaring, blinking, red danger light and it was becoming apparent in everything I was posting online, writing or journaling.

My attitude was becoming belligerent a result of coming from a place of anger and deep sadness. I was retreating more and more into a self-imposed exile away from family, friends, and even God.

Getting real

Attitudes are shaped by past and present experiences, perceptions, long standing exposure and repetitive feedback of those around us, particularly those who have raised us and who are closest to us. And our behavior is the result of that attitude that reinforces our beliefs of being bad, good, or worthy.

To make a long story short about the current state of my attitude, I was coping with my anger and emotions versus managing them. Coping, in my opinion, puts a person on the side of weakness instead of empowerment. I needed to get real about my current state of mind.

The outside world

We have become a divisive nation on almost every front and it seems to be getting only worse. I cannot control the world, but I can control what I see, hear, and read. Mind you, I am not putting my head in the sand, which was my own initial fear, but the fact of the matter comes down to these 3 questions I have had to step back and answer:

What do I stand for?

What I am unwilling to negotiate?

What are my core values and how are they being defined in my life?

My personal world

What’s in my control in my personal world just like in the outside world is a bit more daunting when personal slights can trigger emotions regarding long-standing issues. I began to realize how the outside world was feeding the negative experiences and perceptions I had of myself – a few of those auto-wind tapes from childhood I thought I had shredded had been left behind. My parents are who they are, but they have taught me many things, and in some instances how not to treat my own sons. But my parents are not the whole of who I am, their experiences are not the totality of my experiences, nor are they the sum of who I am as a person, a wife, as a mother, as a colleague, as a friend, and so on.

“Getting me” is the same as “getting the other person”

Take for example, University of Michigan coach, John Harbaugh’s response when his son came out as being gay and he immediately responded to his son, “Live your truth.”

Our behavior is determined by our beliefs, either our ability (or inability) to express ourselves and talk about problems comes from our individual frame of references. And are we each open to communicating with each other in a supportive atmosphere? If social media has taught us anything is that making a simple statement to putting our laundry out on the Internet is ripe for ridicule. Whether it is social media or my personal interactions, I am going to live my truth and try to abide by my motto that I developed years ago which is….

The 4 R’s – Resist Reaction Let Reason Rule:

• What is the motive behind my behavior?
• Are my words or my behavior, according to my principles, or they in response to the other person?
• What is my intention with my interactions with others?

Recognizing the danger signals:

Can I?

• Actively listen?
• Acknowledge the other person’s position?
• Accept the other person’s perspective?
• Avoid accusations?
• Move on in grace, knowing my values may not be honored or accepted?

Final note

Whatever that “TRUTH” is even if it is never shared with or honored by another, may we all resist to control, blame, judge, misinform or be indifferent to one another.

Reality check

I’m still in my imposed self-exile working on being positive, kind, and more importantly, healing myself and trying to help others thrive.

Peace

 

Reflections: A Mother’s Journal

The sights and sounds of spring always bring to my mind mothers and children. And as the days led up to Mother’s Day, my daily journal reflected on my childhood, my mother, my childhood and being a mother too.

5/5/2017

as they grew
the Lord took her hand
she blossomed too

5/6/2017

tangled roots
buried in childhood
tripping me

5/7/2017

how the grow
lilies of the field
yellow bus

5/8/2017

barbed wire
her spoken prayers
the sparrow

5/9/2017

a tether
between young and old
mother’s will

5/10/2017

how are you
she hears something else
my mother

5/11/2017

my first nurse
without a degree
mother’s love

5/12/2017

wiped with
a downy feather
mother’s tear

left behind
echoes of their song
empty nest

The rooftop
Singing her prayers
The sparrow

5/13/2017

used to be
silence was golden
empty nest

5/14/2017

vibrant hues
a floral bouquet
mother’s pride

Mother's Day

A Mother’s Advice: Stay True

Recently, I had dinner with friends I had not seen since last summer. We sat over cocktails catching up on family activities, surgeries, and our children. Both of my sons are in college. My oldest son is a college junior pursuing a Fine Arts degree majoring in photography and is still considering his minor area of study. My youngest son is completing his freshman year and has already changed his field of study back to his original love of cultural anthropology with a minor in philosophy. His original college degree consideration was an international business with a minor in marketing.

Of course, whenever I discuss my sons’ college majors, the first questions I receive are:

What type of job can he get with that degree?
How many jobs are available for that career?
Will he be able to earn a living?

As a parent, I understand the basis of these questions. Fine art and anthropology degrees don’t conjure up wealth and prosperity like business degrees. But I have always advised my sons to “pursue your passion and you will find your purpose. You will find a way to earn a living and support your family.”

From an article written in Forbes by Paolo Gallo, Career Lessons from Steve Jobs, Bruce Springsteen and Snoopy, “Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, said in his commencement speech at Stanford University in 2005 that we should look in the mirror each morning wondering: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I’m about to do today?” He added that, if the answer was negative for too many days in a row, it would be time for a change.”

Negative tapes

My passion growing up was to be a writer, journalist, or editor. I remember sharing this idea with my father across the dinner table late one evening when I was sixth grade. I had written a story and my English teacher had written positive feedback on my school paper. Encouraging my father to read it, I told him I wanted become a journalist and I had even set my sights on where I wanted to go to college. As usual my timing of this big discussion was ill-timed, he was drunk. Not just drunk, wasted drunk. But then again, my timing would never be correctly timed because every night was the same. My school assignment was in the exact same place on the kitchen table the next morning. His silent answer told me all I needed to know. I would never make it as a writer.

Throughout my childhood, anything I accomplished was always met with the same response from my father, “Girls can’t do that,” or other similar responses, but the worse response was his silence which was the response I received that evening long ago. His silence, whether drunken or in rare sobering moments left with me wondering about my own abilities.

My father didn’t keep me from pursuing my passion. I did. I allowed the negative tapes from my childhood to keep playing in the back of mind. I wasn’t going to allow those negative tapes to become a legacy tape for my children.

I pursued the business route, climbing the ladder, and earned a very good living despite those negative tapes. But that path still led me to an upsetting end in 2009 when the U.S. economy collapsed. I might add however, I still could have been an out of work writer too. My point is, no career is guaranteed but doing what we love doing gets us through the night, if not the day.

My path

I have learned a lot over the last seven years about myself, commitment, pursuing passions and earning a living. But the number one lesson for me is material wealth should never be the goal unless that is truly your passion.

Everyone’s path is different and everyone’s concept of success is different.” Jim Gaffigan

I am currently working in a job and for a company I enjoy. It provides the necessary income to pay the bills and invest in a 401(k). While the job doesn’t fulfill my passion for writing, it does allow me to pursue my love of writing when I am not at the office.

If I had started my career with the lesson of material wealth, not being the goal, but the goal of pursuing my passion, I may have had more than one published book by now. Would I now have material wealth? Maybe. Maybe not. The point is I didn’t stay true to myself.

Motherly Advice

My advice to my sons is not just for their career, but how they approach their future.

“Stay true to God, stay true to You, stay true to your dreams,” I advise, “You will find a way to earn a living and achieve happiness if you continue pursuing your gift. Ultimately, your ‘gift’ leads you to your purpose.” Sheri Prielipp-Falzone

I remembered an argument from someone a few years ago when my first son was graduating from high school. I believe the argument derived from the television show, American Idol. The person’s argument was that these kids were being given bad advice as to not to give up their dream even though it was obvious they could not sing and achieve stardom.

I’m sorry. I didn’t buy his argument that we should pee on someone’s parade.

While I agree they may not achieve top of the chart stardom, they still can have the passion to be a part of the music industry in some fashion. Perhaps their voice simply leads them to explore and expand their musical expression in a different form of success.

“Attitude, not aptitude, determines altitude.” Zig Ziglar

I am happier now than I have ever been in my life having gone through the last seven years of rejection, reinvention, and renaissance. I certainly don’t want my sons taking a lifetime to figuring out their purpose here on earth. Our purpose involves the gifts God has blessed us in our abilities. He has blessed each one of us with a passion to pursue.

My career advice despite your age

Write down all your responsibilities, talents, and abilities. Divide all three into columns of what you can do but would rather not do, like to do and don’t mind doing, and then what you really like to do. Let’s face it. We all have to do something in all three columns in our career, but concentrate on what you really like to do. Even if it is just a day job and you are pursuing your dream elsewhere. This is the path I took in developing my own contracting business and now into full-time employment.

Stay true

I am staying true to my dream of writing. There is still a lot of ink in this fountain pen, and I aim to keep writing. As for my sons, they are doing outstanding in their chosen disciplines at college, and I have no doubt, they will be successful in life too.

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