There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. ~Anaïs Nin

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Enough is Enough

Be the change you want to see in the world – Mahatma Gandhi

There are many people in my life, who for whatever reason, cannot seem to see their own beauty.  They are very hard on themselves, working tirelessly to live up to some image they hold of themselves.   I hear them start their sentences with such phrases as:

“I wish I was…”
“If only I could…”
“If I was more…”

…then I would be happy, then I would find peace.

And I look at them, bewildered, wondering why they don’t see how wonderful they are, wondering why they beat themselves up over things that don’t define them.  I know the impact these people have had on my life and I wish they could see it.  I wish they could see themselves through my eyes.

The problem is I do this to myself.  So how can I expect these people to change if I am not willing to do the same.  I see myself in my friends when they refuse to acknowledge their greatness and I understand why others get frustrated with me.

So what would my life look like if I just stopped.  Stopped complaining about my weaknesses, stopped focusing on my faults and instead celebrated my strengths.  What would my relationships with other people look like if I chose to be a little kinder and gentler with myself.

In the interest of being a guiding light to all my friends who cannot see their own beauty, I am willing to make a sacrifice.  I am willing to give up the self-flagellation, I am willing to give up the constant stream of negativity directed toward myself.  And hopefully, I will create the change I would love to see in the people who mean so much to me.  

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Anything But That

I am a very generous person, so I’m told.  I will give you the shirt off my back. I will open my house to you. I will let you borrow anything from my closet.  I will buy you what you need, I will loan you money.  But if you ask to borrow my truck, I will say no. 

I will drive you wherever you want to go, I will rent you your own truck, but you cannot have mine.  And because of this I feel selfish.  I should want to help you, right?  That’s what friends do for each other.  But I can’t give over the keys.  Why?

It took me until recently to understand this perplexing behavior of mine.  But I do understand it now.  You can’t have my truck because my personal vehicle is my refuge.  My safe haven. My place of solitude if I choose it to be, or my place to blast my music.  Not the music the kids like, or my husband likes, but the music I like.

 I can turn the volume up or down as I see fit.  I decide if I want air-conditioning, or open windows.  I decide how fast or slow I will travel, where I will go and which route I will take to get there.  Behind the wheel of my personal vehicle I am in control of my life.

When I get stressed out or frustrated, I go for a drive.  If I argue with my husband, I clear my head in my vehicle.  It is my ticket to freedom. It is where I do my best thinking, my meditating, I solve the world’s problems from the time it takes me to get from here to the grocery store and back.

So in the interest of world peace, please don’t ask to borrow my truck…

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Happiness is Overrated

I hear the question “what will make you happy?” or “what can I do to make you happy?” a lot.  Hell, I ask it of myself all the time….”what will make me happy?”  or “what do I need in my life to make me happy”.  I ask it as if by finding the answer, that elusive thing out there, that one thing that I am lacking, then I will finally be happy.

But what do I even mean when I say “I just want to be happy?”  Does that mean I never want to be sad? Is that what I really want?  I love to watch movies that make me cry, so does being sad “make” me happy?

Does being happy mean I will never experience difficult times in life? That I will have smooth sailing from here on out?  Quite frankly, that would make me bored.  Not that I want to wish difficult times on myself, but if I look closely at those times in my life, the really challenging times, it was those times that I learned the most about myself. And it was during the challenging times that I grew the most as a person.

Does being happy mean that that I will never be angry, frustrated or discontent?  But it’s when I’m feeling those emotions that I make changes in my life. And those changes are generally for the better.  When I’m frustrated or discontent, I evaluate why I am and I work to change it. 

So what do I mean when I say I need this or that to make me happy?  Happiness that I attain from something outside of myself is not really happiness.  It’s a momentary feeling of being happy, perhaps, but it never lasts.  Why?

Because I can’t be happy all the time, in fact, I think it would be downright annoying to be happy all the time.  To be fully human, fully alive, I must experience all things. All emotions, even the painful ones.  Maybe even especially the painful ones.  Because that’s when I realize that nothing out there will make me happy, that can only come from within.  And it isn’t a feeling…it’s a state of mind.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Narcissism at its Best

I haven’t been blogging very regularly.  Not sure if that’s because I don’t have anything to say, I don’t want to write about what I would like to say, or if I’m “just living life” and don’t have time to say what’s on my mind.

Regardless, I miss it.  I miss writing.  But I’m getting a little bored writing about myself all the time.  (Did I seriously just say that?) I mean it is my blog. And it is where I get out all my thoughts, but still…

So I’m trying to think about other things I can write about and tonight I’m thinking about this whole new Twitter phenomenon.  Much like blogging and Facebook, this is definitely an “all about me” thing.  Narcissism at its best. 

By signing up for Twitter I can spew out random thoughts all day long for anyone who cares to listen.  I can also follow famous people (because how did I ever manage to get through my day without knowing what Ashton Kucher had for lunch) or just follow people I know.

It seems the more technologically advanced our society becomes, the more disconnected we become.  Talking at each other, rather than with each other.  I’ve tried to understand the new generation of people, such as my kids, who are constantly plugged in.  With their phones in hand to keep up with their texts, their statuses, their tweets, and whatever else they are engaged in to keep their minds sufficiently stimulated.

Try as I might to teach my kids the value of a face to face conversation, this is a battle I’m losing.  So I’m joining the wonderful world of Twitter. For two reasons...First, because instead of taking the time to write on my kids wall to advise them that dinner is ready, I can "tweet" at them instead. And second, because just like how I feel about Ashton Kucher, I don’t want anyone being kept in the dark about what I had for lunch.

Follow me @DebBohlz

Sunday, June 19, 2011

D is for Dad

The first man a little girl falls in love with is her dadAuthor Unknown

I grew up in a house with typical old-fashioned values.  My mom stayed home and did the women’s work, my father was the provider.  And never the twain did meet.  My mom always did all the cooking, cleaning, laundry.  My father did all the yard work, house painting, etc.   They had clearly defined roles.

My father was also the disciplinarian.  “Wait till your father gets home” is a mantra I know all too well.  So I grew up with a healthy fear of my father.  Always knowing just how far I could push my mother before my dad would get involved.  Because I did not want my dad to get involved.

As I grew older, I fought with my dad, resisted him at every turn. I wanted to be different than him.  I wanted to break free from his tight control and yet secretly, when I saw him standing in the high school gym with his FBI type overcoat, and his threatening stature that he developed in the military, I felt safe.

The boys in high school knew my father well.  I think I may have lost out on some dates because they knew they weren’t going anywhere with me until they met and were approved by my father.  At times I resented his rigid control, and at other times, I was relieved by it.

My father was strong, opinionated and stoic.  It frustrated me to never quite know what he was feeling.  Was he happy with me?  Was he upset with me?  Did he love me?  I spent most of my years wavering between trying to please my father and trying to defy him.  Whatever worked to get his attention.

My father’s expectations were high, and I rarely felt as though I was living up to them.  But my father walked the walk.  He had high expectations of himself and he  met them.  He was honest to a fault, impeccable with his words.  A man of integrity and I admired him and strived to be like him.

Even today, my father is still the person I use to set the bar for myself.  Because even though I rebel against him, resist his ways, and even pick fights with him, I can’t find a better role model.  So I work to reach that bar, I push myself, place high demands on myself, because it’s the only way I know to show my father that I love him…I just wonder if he knows that.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

You've Come A Long Way, Baby...

My favorite job growing up was babysitting for the kids who lived across the street from me.  Their mom was the coolest lady around.  She was tall and pretty . She dressed very fashionably and she always had a Kool Menthol cigarette nestled casually between her fingers.  By all standards, she was sophisticated.

I couldn’t wait to be in my 40’s so I could be as cool and confident as my neighbor.  I thought that with age all of my insecurities would naturally fade away.  I wouldn’t care what other people thought of me. I wouldn’t be thinking about what I wanted to do with my life because I would be doing it, and I would be enjoying life to the fullest. 

But now I’m in my 40’s and I don’t feel as though I’m living up to the image of the lady I thought I would become.  I still have insecurities, I still care far too much what other’s think and now I’m wishing I was young again.  I think about the things I would have done differently if I had paid more attention to what I wanted and not followed the script.

What would my life be like now if I had taken that year to live in a big city before I got married?  What would my life be like now if I had chosen to continue to work after my kids were born?  What would my life look like now if I had insisted that my husband take that job in that other state so I could experience something new?

I will never know the answers to those questions because those are not the decisions I made.  So I have a choice.  I can continue to live with what if’s and regrets, or I can be thankful for all the wonderful things that I do have in my life. 

Which, come to think of it, actually looks an awful lot like the life of the lady that I have admired for all these years.  The only difference, as far as I can tell, are the ultra cool, Kool cigarettes.

Damn...I think I picked the wrong crutch…

Monday, June 13, 2011

Blowin' in the Wind

Sometimes I wonder about the things I say in my blog.  I read over some of my entries and think, wow, I’ve got it all going on.  I’ve got it all figured out and I’m moving forward with perserverance and quiet confidence knowing that in the 20 minutes it takes to share some new piece of my journey, I have the answers.

But I don’t have all the answers. Somedays I have my relationship with God all wrapped up in a nice little package with a pretty bow.  But other days, I’m not even sure I believe in God, thinking that I’m quite content to be the master of my destiny and draw from my own strength and look to myself for guidance.

Somedays, I handle things with my kids perfectly, giving myself a pat on the back for a job well done.  And other days, I think I don’t even know my own kids.  They become unrecognizable and I question if we have a relationship at all.   Some days I’m strong, content to go about my business on my own.  I am independent and capable and don’t need anyone in my life. 

And sometimes I am so lonely as to wonder if there is anyone out there.

And I’m learning as I continue my journey that that the one thing I know for certain is this…I don’t know anything for certain.

Because life isn’t easy, life is challenging and constantly changing.

Which brings me back to wondering about my blog.  Is this the real me?  Is it the me I wish I was?  The me I think I should be? Or is it the me I’m striving to be…

Perhaps throughout my journey I will find those answers.  In the meantime, I will continue to do the best I can with the information at hand.  I will continue to do my best given my own personal struggles, weaknesses, shortcomings, needs and desires.

And I hope like hell that it’s enough…

Sunday, June 12, 2011

"And Who Do You Say That I Am?"

When I was young I was taught the “truth” about God and Jesus.  I learned that Jesus was God and only those who believe in Him will go to Heaven.  And that I must pray a specific prayer to invite Him into my heart and then do what the Bible says to do as far as “right living” in order to remain in good standing.  I learned that the Bible was the inerrant, infallible word of God and therefore need not and should not be questioned.

Then I learned that there were more gospels written, the Gnostic gospels, which were not included in the Bible.  And I also learned that there was a council held in 325 AD to determine the divinity of Jesus and which ultimately came down to a simple vote.  Then I learned that other faith traditions also claimed virgin births for their gods.  And further I learned that the Protestant Reformation was driven by King Henry VIII’s need to get a divorce.

And I became skeptical of what I was taught about absolute truth. I began to wonder if Karl Marx was right about religion being the opiate of the masses. Is it a tool used by the power hungry to control our thoughts, deeds and wallets? 

The more questions I had, the more books I would read in search of answers.  And with every new book I finished, I was more confused about the “truth”.  It seems everyone had different theories about God, truth, religion, the universe.  But I pressed on, determined to find that one right answer, the absolute truth about God.

And throughout this time, I talked to Jesus. I went to Him with my concerns and questions. I believe He alone has been with me all along, and yet, I forget that.  I forget that God is with me and within me.  Guiding me, loving me, supporting me.  I forget that I have a relationship with God that comes first, before my relationships with anybody else.

And when I forget that, I rely on others to tell me what’s best for me.  I forget to trust in my own relationship with Jesus, thinking that others, who are more trained, schooled, or well-read than I am might know better than me what’s best for me.  But there are no tricks, no secret codes, that can only be unearthed by scholars.  God is as available to me as He is to anyone, and once I finally embrace that absolute truth, I can move forward secure in the knowledge that the decisions I make for my life are between me and God, and I don’t have to explain or justify them to anyone.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Excuses, Excuses

Shortly after 9/11, I convinced myself that the terrorists were going to blow up our bridges. This fear progressed to a full-blown phobia of all of bridges, including overpasses, to the point where I couldn’t drive on any highways.  I consulted my doctor and went on Paxil for about 6 months.  When I felt the time was right to go off the medication I went cold turkey, against the doctor’s advice.

It was a difficult time.  I had incredible dizzy spells and these strange electric zap feelings in my head.  But each morning I would force myself to walk for an hour. By the end of the hour, with cell phone tight in hand in case I fell, I was able to get through my day without side effects.

I learned from that experience and others like it, that once I set my mind to something I do it.  I can be very motivated and driven. And yet,  I often get down on myself about how disorganized I am with bills and housework, and think that I’m lazy and incapable.  I have been making all kinds of excuses for not doing my housework.

“I’m so busy with the kids”
“I’m not good at it.”
“I never learned how to be a good housekeeper.”
“I have ADD, my brain doesn’t function right, so it’s impossible for me to be organized.”

I could keep going…

The reality is, though, I don’t do my housework, because there are about 3 million things I would rather be doing.  I simply don’t want to put my energies into cleaning my house. It bores me, it’s unrewarding, and never-ending.

So if I look at all the things I have accomplished, the goals I have met, there really is no excuse for me to not also keep my house clean. It’s not that I can’t do it, I am choosing not to do it…and that’s a very different mindset.

Monday, June 6, 2011

You Can't Change What You Don't Acknowledge

I recently misinterpreted some signals from a friend that led me to the conclusion that he was mad at me.  I didn’t come out and ask him if he was until I saw him later and he told me that what I had interpreted as him being mad at me, actually had nothing to do with me at all.  There were other things going on his life that had created the situation.

Then he said something to me that struck me very hard.  He said “the universe doesn’t revolve around you, Deb”.

Now had that come from anyone else I would have let that comment upset me to the point of probably not talking to the person for awhile.  I have a tendency to avoid that which makes me uncomfortable.  But this person is a close friend whom I know always has my best interests at heart.  So instead of getting upset, I chose to hear his words and consider them carefully.

Is it true?  Do I think the universe revolves around me?  I am a highly self-conscious person.  I am very aware of everything I say and do.  Checking and rechecking my comments in my head before I say them, doing the same with my appearance so that nothing is out of place.

I know this comes from my anxiety about myself and the world around me.  It’s my way of controlling myself, my emotions, my thoughts so that people only see what I want them to see.  But have I crossed the line from being anxiously self-conscious to selfishly self-absorbed?

When I think of the times I am having a conversation with a friend, barely listening to what they are saying because I am too busy formulating in my head what I am going to say next, the answer is yes.

When I take so long picking out just the right outfit that I’m running late and have no time to stop for a birthday card for a friend, the answer is yes.

When I choose to delete a great photo of one of my kids because I wasn’t looking my absolute best, the answer is yes.

How many times have I let my anxiety keep me from enjoying the moment and appreciating my friends and family.  I’m grateful to my friend, that he had the courage to bring this to my attention because now that I’m aware of it, I can do something about it.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Perfection to a Fault

My father-in-law said something interesting to me today.   He said “Deb, you need to stop overthinking everything.  It’s not possible to be a perfect wife or perfect mom so stop trying so hard.  Just let you be you. Relax and have some fun.”

I have been thinking about that comment all day.

I mean, he’s right.  I rarely just blurt out a comment or allow myself to feel an emotion without giving careful consideration to whether I should say what’s on my mind or allow myself to feel what I am feeling.

I am not spontaneous. I analyze and consider, giving special attention to the person or people I am with so as to predetermine their reaction to anything I might say or do.  Then if I believe I will be met with a favorable response, I will say what’s on my mind.

It’s rather exhausting, I must say.  I’m tired.  Mentally drained.  It’s very difficult to try to guess how others  will respond to what I say and do.  It takes tremendous concentration, which of course, takes me out of the moment.  And sucks the joy out of any activity.

Today was my niece’s graduation party.  I wanted to relax and enjoy myself while visiting with her and her family, but I was tense.  I thought I was hiding it well, but judging by my father-in-law’s comment, it must have been written all over my face that my wheels were spinning. 

And I realized while sitting there, that I missed drinking.  When I drink, that is just about the only time I am not carefully considering my every thought.  It is very freeing to have a little buzz and let my guard down.  I was hoping as this non-drinking year progressed that I would learn to have fun without alcohol…I’m starting to wonder if that’s possible.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A Diamond in the Rough

“I’ma be what I set out to be, without a doubt undoubtedly, and all those who looked down on me, I’m tearing down your balcony.”

I am a huge fan of Eminem.  I probably shouldn’t be.  At least that’s what I have been told.  His lyrics are offensive, he’s an angry guy, I should listen to more uplifting music. Music that inspires, music that I can play aloud and not worry about who might be listening.

And I agree that some of his lyrics are offensive, but when I take the time to hear the message behind the rough exterior I like what he has to say.  I listen to his Recovery CD every day in my car. I have memorized the lyrics to several songs so I can sing along.  (My kids are so proud).

Because this is the music I find inspiring, this is what works for me. It builds me up, gives me strength and makes me feel like I can handle anything.  I find his words empowering. 

But I still feel as though I shouldn’t listen to it.  I still turn it down when I come into a parking lot or pass a construction zone and think that other people might actually hear the words that I am listening to in my car.

I have been taught to believe that as an older mom I am supposed to look and act a certain way, and that way doesn’t include Eminem.  Where did I get my ideas of who I am supposed to be?  And when did I accept this truth that someone else knows better than me who I should be?

I don’t want to be that person anymore. The person who is so concerned about what other people think of me that I can’t even play the music I like aloud.  But I don’t know if I have the courage to be that person.  I will need encouragement and inspiration, something to empower me and I know just where to go to find it…

“You can do anything you set your mind to, man”