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We All Have a Story

We all have a story.

In preparation for a book my husband and I are working on, “How to Stay Married,” I have been perusing old journals.  I have a lot of them! I started keeping a journal many years ago when a woman I respected encouraged me to keep a chronicle of life lessons. Her reasoning was that someday, I would write.  I so appreciate her nudging. She told me that when I was ready to write about my journey, my journals would give me accurate recall. To pass along truth is important to me, so I am deeply glad that I took her advice and now have written accounts of experiences and lessons that have brought me into my ThirdThird.

Last week, I spend some time in the 1980’s. The 80’s were full years for me.  Our last 2 children, one miscarriage, a diagnosis of cervical cancer while I was pregnant with #5, our only daughter. After her birth and subsequent surgery, I spiraled into a puzzling physical weakening that was eventually (after 2.5 years of doctors and testing) diagnosed as myasthenia gravis. In spite of those difficulties, those years had some deeply positive results for me.

Those years brought me to several of my life mantras.  

Refusing to be “controlled by others’ insecurities” came from these days.  Other women close to me did not believe that I might actually be sick. I grew weary of hearing others’ complaints and the ensuing competition for who had it harder with their life as wife and mother.  I determined not to talk about my difficulties and went on with my life. I learned to face my own insecurities and to seek health for myself.

Deciding “I would not be insecure” also grew from this time.  I knew my body and my history and I had to be determined to get to the bottom of my weakness…even if my friends doubted me and doctors tended to scratch their heads and suggest another test or specialty. I learned to trust myself and my own experience.

I learned and grew through weakness.  I remember, especially, learning to be thankful for my own experience of being weak because it helped me understand people who are not strong. Weak people had always annoyed me, rather than elicit sympathy. Until I experienced weakness myself. I learned to prioritize my responsibilities and to take “one step at a time” towards learning to live with the reality of the day.

Good things came, but it was a hard time.

Reading through those journals last week took me back to some very difficult and sad times as well as reminding me of all the good and positive.

In the 1980’s, I found myself not in conformity to the organization we were deeply involved with and that led to much angst on my part. I was (am) strong willed and opinionated and a challenger. While I was committed to the stated goals of the group, I often was at odds with leadership because I didn’t naturally or easily conform. I brought my own self and my own experience and my own opinions. But, I was misunderstood, not respected. My stories were not honored.

Interestingly, a few years ago, I stumbled onto a website for people who had similar experiences to mine in that same organization.  It was mesmerizing. While I had been able to remove myself and find self-respect and health long before finding that website, it was a powerful experience to read that others had very, very similar situations to mine.  I lurked…not joining in by posting. I was past needing to express my own painful remembrances. Yet, even with that being true, it was hugely validating to see that others knew my pain, honored my story, even if they didn’t know me.

I felt that my story had been honored.

Fortunately, my marriage survived those years and those people.  Thankfully, I learned during those days to listen without becoming defensive, to look for the truth in spite of the messenger, and to forgive.

Unfortunately, I spent several strategic years in fear and dread. I lost joy and had physical repercussions. Our children were affected by the difficulty that their parents faced.

I have moved on.  

Thankfully, with grit and determination over a long period of time, I rarely consider those days now.  But recent remembering has made me acutely aware of the fact that there are people who have discounted my feelings and perspective then and now.  There are relationships that I think I would enjoy having now, if those people could honor my story.

I would be interested in knowing some of their story now.  I would honor them. Even if they were vastly different from my own. Reading my journal accounts of those interactions long ago, with time distancing my sight, I can honor the stories and understand some of today’s reality.

In the organization where my hurtful story exists, others have a different story. Some have left. Some have remained.  Others have eased away through job relocations or other life changes. Some legitimately do not see harmful practices. Others choose to ignore them.  Still others call them out and suffer the consequences. I believe that there are some who honestly do not see how their actions might be hurtful.

The one thing I would wish for is if we could all learn to honor each other’s story. Not in that organization, but on a daily, personal basis.

Wonderful stories of healing and acceptance.

    Difficult stories of pain and struggle.

         Happy stories of reconciliations and forgiveness.

        Moving stories of abuse and distrust.

         Redeeming stories of self-acceptance and solid understanding.

I heard Brene Brown say in an interview that she believes in the goodness of people…but that it is hard work to stay out of fear and to stay good.

Hearing and honoring another’s story is a way to do the good, hard work that will make us better. To face our own fears and to look for the good.

Let’s honor each other’s story.

 

 

 

 

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Change the Way You Think

Saying daily affirmations, out loud, is a very effective way to live on purpose.  Having true, positive statements you say about and to yourself is rewarding, energizing, focusing, and, actually, can change the way you think.

If you google “affirmations” you can find lists of suggested affirmations to tell yourself to make yourself feel better, think more positively, have greater success.   

“My heart is overflowing with joy.”

“All is well right now.”

“I nourish my body with healthy food.”

No doubt, those affirmations can be helpful.  

 

But I have a better way.

Rather than googling for words from someone else to say to yourself daily, instead, take a moment and consider your limiting beliefs.  The most effective affirmations will replace those limiting beliefs with affirming statements.  

I have been doing this for the past ten years and it is a life-changing exercise that just keeps on giving.  Replacing my limiting beliefs has been a practical way to keep growing, keep learning.

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Identifying your limiting beliefs is the first and necessary step.  

For me, as I walked the halls as CEO of the young company I was charged with making profitable, I was challenged by a coach to recognize my limiting beliefs.  I found that I had a number of them! One very limiting belief was, “I really don’t know what I am doing and I hope no one finds out!”

Truth was, I was leading a group of people into a new way of doing things with great help from the franchise, receiving information and training that was beyond adequate. I was absorbing new information easily and readily and we were off to a great start.   By telling myself that I was clueless, even in a fleeting moment, I robbed myself and the investors of this company, of some of the energy and confidence required to succeed.

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Replace the limiting beliefs with true and possible affirmations.

I replaced the above limiting belief with this affirmation, “I am a confident, successful business woman who knows where I am going and who is meeting the people and developing the skills to become outrageously successful.”  Gradually, as I repeated this, I became confident that everything I needed was available and that I was the best person to be at the helm for that time.

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Repeat them, out loud, at least once a day.

I partnered up with a younger man from a different state to do daily affirmations.  One of us would call the other and dive in. “Good morning, Andy! I am a confident, successful business woman who knows where she is going and who is meeting the people and developing the skills to become outrageously successful.”  And so on, for my 5-6 statements. Andy would say, “You rock, Debbie!” Then Andy would say his 5-6 statements, addressing his limiting beliefs. I would say something encouraging to him, we would hang up and go into our day. 2 minutes, average, was our investment.

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You will see positive results.

In those 10 years, Andy stepped out into some risky (yet rewarding) ventures that have brought him a sense of significance. He has increased his productivity and grown his business and improved his relationships. He is making more money and living with purpose. Also, he has lost a significant amount of weight and has made fitness a regular part of his life.  

Me? My affirmations gave me the courage to build that new company with a good foundation, then move to another that needed a turn-around. I have been willing to risk some investments after telling myself that “I am wise with money and have multiple sources of income.” I once recognized an opportunity when I was told they were “creating a role” for me since one of my affirmations said that exact thing…. that I “attracted ethical, successful people who recognized my strengths and created opportunities for me.”

I don’t believe that thinking about them made any of these things happen. I simply see that by changing my thinking from limiting beliefs to possible realities, I was able to see and hear and respond to possibilities when they came along.  

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Keep your affirmations current.

Affirmations need to be current and personal to effective, so adapting them is key.  

I recently revisited my limiting beliefs, since I am doing new things.  And, I wrote new affirmations. One of them that I say daily is, “I am fulfilled and happy, living on purpose and making my ThirdThird my BEST Third”.  Feel free to borrow it!

It really is possible to change the way you think.  Just recognize those limiting beliefs and replace them with truthful affirmations that are possible.  

Say them, out loud, daily, at least once, and begin to notice the positive changes in your life.  

What are your limiting beliefs?  Can you replace them with positive, possible affirmations?  Do you have examples of changing your thinking? Please go to YourBestThirdThird Facebook and share your thoughts!

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

Perfection is Highly Overrated

Perfection

Perfection is Highly Overrated

Full disclosure… My natural inclination is not toward perfection.  I prefer to make things work, rather than fix them.  I had a VW bug that needed a new starter (1970’s) and rather than spend the money to get it fixed, I always parked on a hill (easy in Austin, TX) so I could push it and pop the clutch to get it started (that worked well until I moved to Lubbock, TX, where there are no hills).

I get my face and hair to the point that I am satisfied and then I don’t look in a mirror for the rest of the day.  I have written a weekly newspaper column and this blog and others, but could not bear the tedium of trying to write good poetry.  I have no problem creatively substituting chicken for shrimp or cauliflower for potatoes or flour for cornstarch rather than making another trip to the store. I don’t regularly check the air in my tires or the balance in my checkbook or get birthday cards mailed on time.

Perfection is Overrated

I do have an appreciation for doing things well and right and correctly, though.  In truth, I am a rules follower (if I have deemed the rules worthy of being followed).  Grammar, driving, attendance, polite behavior, reading a book from the front to the back, putting your dirty dishes in the dishwasher, doing that you say you will do…all of those examples and others like them should definitely be done following the rules.

There are times when doing things close to perfect is important.  Trying your hand at carpentry?  You should definitely measure twice, cut once.  Knitting an afghan?  It makes a difference if you check the dye lot on every skein of yarn.  Going on an overseas trip?  Checking the expiration date of your passport is prudent.  Heading for a baseball game at Wrigley Field?  Checking the weather can prevent being way too cold on a blustery day in August.

I am all for doing things well…
striving for perfection, however, is an entirely different thing.

The pursuit of perfection on an everyday basis wastes time, prevents communication, halts progress, frustrates goals, annoys others, gives false impressions, and generally keeps progress from happening.  Finding the reality of “perfect enough” saves a lot of misspent energy and time.

 

 

 

 

Straight and Sturdy and Strong

sturdy and strong

My husband and I happened to be in a house recently that was next door to one we lived in long ago.  It brought back a lot of memories and we smiled a lot while remembering our lives and our family at that place, that stage of our journey.

We remembered a lot of work there, too.

We are always remodeling, upgrading, adding to homes, it seems.  Once, I counted 17 different addresses we’ve had in our 43+ years of marriage and in each, we left our mark of added rooms, new roofs, refinished floors, etc., etc.

At this particular past address, Dave noticed the fence he had built 30 years ago. He designed it and erected it by hand with his carpenter/friend. Six feet tall, made of wood, handsome lattice at the top, it is still straight and sturdy and strong.

No warping.

No sagging.

No leaning.

I think back to my life there in that home and realize that home is where I started building my strong life, digging a deep foundation for where I am now…making my BEST ThirdThird.

We were living there when I learned about wiring and started studying and sharing the life-changing information that comes from understanding self and others in terms of DiSC behavior styles.

It was there that I decided I would no longer be insecure.

There I learned there were certain volunteer efforts that I should say no to because I wasn’t all that good at them and others could do them better.

In that home, I learned to be grateful and to appreciate the moment.

Now, I stand straight and sturdy and strong….just like the fence Dave built.

Weathered a bit.

Needing a fresh coat of paint occasionally.

Showing age if you look closely.

But, standing straight and sturdy and strong.

With gratefulness and purpose.

 

 

 
photo credit: Nanagyei Droplets – HFF via photopin (license)

Fit and Healthy

fit and healthy

Staying fit and healthy in my ThirdThird is an everyday choice.

Get out and move daily.
Consider my diet.
Drink lots of water.
AND, it is not really so hard once it became a habit.

Long ago, I decided that I would not add weight as I age, forming one of my life mantras, It’s easier to keep it off than take it off.  I saw others around me adding a pound or two or five every year, and realized it would sneak up on me if I didn’t consciously take control.

So, I determined to keep it off.

With clear motivation (keep it off), it’s simple. Really. Even though, the older I get the more intentional I must be.

When my kids were all at home, there were things we simply did not have in our home.  Soda. Chips. Store-bought cookies or cakes. Partly, it was an economic decision.  Feeding a family of 7 required some thriftiness and those extras can be expensive.

Partly, it was a life lesson that things you don’t have all the time are more special.  Pop or soda was more fun if it was an occasional treat.  Having store-bought cake at a friend’s birthday party added to the fun.

Partly, it was a lesson in nutrition.  One of the big ideas in Younger Next Year is “Don’t eat crap.”  Garbage in, garbage out…. except for the extra weight and fat that stays.

Staying fit and healthy is a choice.

I was brought up in a fairly typical middle class family in the 50’s and 60’s surviving on Betty Crocker and Post Toasties and Hostess.  So, it was a conscious decision to become a scratch-baker and to learn about nutrition and the role diet plays in our overall health.  It made sense to me, even in the 70’s, that less sugar was better and that enjoying pure foods in moderation was better than eating chemicals and saturated fats by the forkful.

Now, my kids are out of the house and I could have those things around if I wanted to with fewer mouths to feed and no one I am consciously setting an example for.  Truth is, I don’t want them. They aren’t even tempting.  I don’t like the way they make me feel.

In Thinner This Year, by Chris Crowley and Jen Sacheck, they point out that in the  US, for most people, 35% of the total calorie intake comes from added sugars and solid fat.

I’m pretty sure that is shocking to most of us.

You can train your brain to only want food that is good for you.  Choose to cut out one bad-habit food that you know you should not be eating… in fact, that you feel a little guilty about eating. Stop eating it for 3 days and see how you feel.

I would wager that you will find that you don’t want it after a few days.  And, if you are guilt free, the benefits will be more than avoiding a few empty calories.  Emotionally, you’ll be pleased with yourself and that just might result in more energy and the inspiration to be better in other ways.

 

 
photo credit: Bathroom Scale-001 via photopin (license)