A Little Perspective

This week has been hell, folks.

I’m talking the worst, most stressful week of my life. Every day was a new shit show, with another round of “What in the world is going on?”

But in times of great stress and trials, I’ve discovered my corrective nature.

Each day I woke up wondering what other shoe would drop, each night I went to bed defeated.

Until.

I woke up and made fresh coffee, some espresso with creamer and instead of drinking the whole thing down, I poured some into the cup I use for ancestor offerings. I begged for safety and happiness and success.

The next day, I did the same with drip-pot coffee, black. Then hot tea.

I remembered what Brene Brown said in her Netflix special: If you’re in the arena, you’re going to get your ass kicked.

I thought about all the things I learned as an MSW student. All the things I learned about how to deal with crises. About life. And I started putting those to use. Breathing techniques, meditations, anxiety work. I worked the program, my friends. I learned to trust and accept and validate my emotions, without letting them beat me down. I let myself cry, and worked through it. I gave myself room to be.

I went to supervision and reframed my situation. How lucky am I that I have options to stress over. To have the knowledge about what to do. To only experience one week of crisis-as opposed to one lifetime.

And I stopped waiting for the shoes to fall. I stopped expecting the world to crumble around me.

Instead, I gave myself permission to be human. I asked for help, I apologized for slacking in a spiritual way. I hoped for better things. I focused on finding the balance between the negative and positive, the dark and the light. And while I tried to allow myself to thrive, I found I wasn’t as preoccupied with the stressful terrors that plagued my days.

Slowly-and we’re talking snail pace-I reframed my experience to create a more objective picture. I let my reactions be reactions-not reality. I let go. I learned how to exist in the stress, to fight in the arena.

And yes, I got my ass kicked. But sometimes the lesson you need to learn has to come when you have been stripped of all your reservations.

I can’t neglect parts of myself just because I think I know better. Putting coffee out for the ancestors and the spirits in the good times is great, but brushing them off in the bad times is arrogant. Make space and time for your spirituality, your mental well-being. Make space for your emotions. Make space for yourself. You deserve to live your life. And that life may be hard at times. But you can make it through. You have to step back and believe. Then get back in the arena and keep fighting.

Advertisements

I Chose,Therefore I Am

(I started this a couple days ago, so the timing is off, but all still as true as when it was actually happening in situ.)

I’d mentioned that my absence recently was due to the wedding (my brother!) but I haven’t really gotten a chance to develop all the things which occurred from then til now, so I think today is an excellent day to do so. Plus, I’m trying positive thinking instead of letting myself get bounced around by “crap”.

The mother of the bride is has the same name as I do, and because I was officiating/helping and she was organizing/planning, Michele/Michelle was on everyone’s lips. Within a day, I was quite sure I’d get whiplash from turning my head to look at someone who wanted “the other one” instead of me-so I told everyone to call me, Misha and let her take our name. And they did. I mean, it was all part of my grand scheme to take over the world. I’m kidding. My neck just couldn’t take the constant movement and I wasn’t sure I wanted that much demand on me anyway. I picked Misha because it’s just the first half of my first name. It’s simple, I’d respond to it, and I really thought it would help. Turns out, it absolutely did.

Misha Collins’ real name is Dmitri. His mother thought Misha was a nickname for it and called him that. The name stuck. Without going on a complete rant about how fantastic he is, I just thought I’d talk about the pertinent bits. Misha is quoted as saying:

img_2038
Anyway, the point is, the man exudes confidence. And in a time when my whole life feels like quick sand, I need that.

The first time I felt confident in myself was as a freshman in high school. I was in a play called Wagon Wheels A’Rollin and I played Clementine-fiery law enforcer. I dyed my hair copper, brought my own spin to her and I felt proud of my work. Then I acted in Little Women, as the nurse maid. I did my best Irish accent and afterwards, someone came up to me and asked me where I was from, and if I could “say something”. I asked (in my normal voice) what they wanted me to say and it was then that they asked if I was an exchange student and then complimented me on my abilities. Despite my frustrating shyness, acting is a blast for me. I love the adrenaline of it all.

But anyway, back to the story.

So I spent all weekend at my parent’s house, being myself (which I’d missed) and being called Misha. (My parents just went along with it-I’m a grown ass woman, but they know I’m just being me the only way I know how). And when I came home after it, I tried to get back in the swing of things, and on Friday I got word that I wasn’t selected to finish my IMADTTO project. All day Saturday, I waited for an email I knew wasn’t coming. The one that said “We made a mistake and want you to present your project!” And on Sunday, when I could face it no longer, I needed a change. I needed to take charge of my life and be in control of something.

I picked gender norms. Of course I picked gender norms.

So I got a foot of my hair taken off. I wore my makeup too dark and felt that for the first time, I didn’t have to care what other people thought-because I’d already “stuck it to them”. I’ve always heard that it’s womanly and feminine to have long hair on your head, shaved legs and underarms, waxed eyebrows. Those are the norms prescribed to a “western woman”. On top of that, a woman should be thin, tan and have perfect makeup-the kind that says “I woke up like this” and wear heels and skirts and hose.

That isn’t who I am.

I’d been so worried about getting a pixie cut because it would make “my face look fatter”. I spend so much time covering up parts of me I don’t like-my face, my flab, my stomach, my everything. And that is complete and irrevocable bullshit. Why should I apologize for being who I am? I am the one who grew this body (with a 9 month boost from my mom) and I’m the one who knows it best. I don’t have to look like a tent just because I don’t want people to notice my rolls.

So that’s why I’m doing some positive thinking. Because I have two options ahead of me: lose weight or love myself. And as my sweatshirt reminds me Love Yourself First. I think that’s great-because weight loss in and of itself isn’t going to make me happier. I’m still going to be the same person, I just won’t be as held down by gravity. So I got that pixie cut.

And the moment the hair stylist looked at the Pinterest picture I feebly held up, she didn’t agree. “Oh sweetie, that’s so much hair! Are you sure?” And I looked her reflection dead in the eyes and said “Yep. Cut it off.” She made the comment several more times and some of the other patrons chimed in before she was done. But I knew that my haircut was symbolic. I needed to cut ties with the things that held me back.

Now I’m not saying there will never be a relapse into the self-conscious dregs of my personality. Becuase even this morning on the bus, I found myself growing mopey and self-conscious about how much space my sweatshirt was taking up. And so I began the mantra: I am fierce. I am brilliant. I am more than my failures. I am more than numbers. I am more than grades and tests and school. I am more than my biggest hopes and goals. And soon enough, I began to smile. I caught the gaze of a girl with lilac colored lipstick and we shared a mutual smile. I even found out where she got the color (Ulta). Maybe I’ll go grab an ice blue. Who knows.

But what I do know is that by taking charge of the small details in my life, I regained something that I seem to always misplace: confidence. I don’t know if it’s because I mimicked a much beloved inspiration or if it’s because I decided that society wasn’t going to dictate my actions and behaviors and looks to me anymore. All I know is that I looked for a chance to believe in myself and now I’m taking it.

**Update**

So I think I started this on Wednesday. I’m fairly pleased with how well it’s going. I wore a lovely cowl neck dress shirt yesterday to go to the law fair at my school and introduce myself to several admissions people. I even put aside my concerns about large groups of people and let myself feel at home-because these people are the key to the rest of my future. I got questions answered and I felt the residual feeling of progress once more. I love it!

Today, I’m in a hoodie once more. Not because I’m ashamed-but because it’s so cold and rainy out. But I look super cute and I know that I’m still awesome. I got epic news yesterday, I’m mid-way to figuring out my entire life and I feel like things are starting to look up.

Sometimes the symbolic things are the ones that make the difference. Taking on another person’s best qualities for a time can lead them to become your own. Admitting that you’re in need of a change and then making it happen can lead to great things. I miss having long hair (sort of) but each day I wake up to curly, bed head sticking up everywhere just reminds me that I’m the one making things happen. And I know that I can do this.

I’ve got my magick back. And to quote a very excellent piece of philosophy:

Nobody, in all of Oz-no wizard that there is or was-is ever going to bring me down!

Thankfulness, Day 29

Today is my last day of break. Tomorow, I start my new job. My husband and I are cranking out homework and well, it’s going to be a good day. I love the temperature today, I love the smell, I even managed to make coffee and breakfast without burning myself on the darn eggs (or frying pan!). So as I write, coffee in reach, I’m pondering what to write that hasn’t already been done.These last few days have been harder for me to find unique topics. I’m incredibly grateful for the things I have, the people I know and the…got it.

Today I am thankful for the people I have known, who in their own way have helped me get to where I am today. My sister was reading The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom, which honestly is one of my favorite books and I really loved the screen adaptation. I’ve been centering around that book all week it seems, just by pure coincidence. It sits in the back of my head, like a little reminder that we are all connected. So today, I want to give a little shoutout, without naming names, to the multiple people in my life who have shaped it. Perhaps some of them will even read this. Who knows.

  First, I will name a name, but only because I’m not entirely sure if I’m correct in attributing this lesson to this person. I THINK it was Woody Hayes who said something about treating all levels of people with respect and how you should always get to know the name of everyone, including those people who are behind the scenes, like janitors. I learned that lesson as a young adolescent and it has opened many doors to insightful relationships.

  One such relationship was actually with a wonderful, witty janitorial staff member of my high school. She’s a fabulous person, a caring individual and she goes out of her way to make others smile. She treated me to a soda once, and even without that incident, she impacted my life. Even now, when I return to my old haunt, I know she will be there with a hug and a smile.

There are several teachers throughout my compulsory education who also deserve recognition. Mrs. U. for her encouragement to enjoy reading. Mrs. B. for instilling a great respect for responsibility. Mrs. M. for understanding the need to have a creative outlet and expressive behaviorisms. Mr. W. for being an upright citizen and always keeping calm. Mrs. R. for being a blessed angel. Mr. G. for brightening my day with the wonders of the world around us. Ms. M. for proving to me that hardwork makes masterpieces. Mrs. B. for showing me that just because you are different doesn’t mean you can’t be brilliant. Ms. R. for letting me love music for many years. Mrs. H. for giving me the first taste of passion. Mr. B. For introducing me to theatre. Mr. W. for introducing me to my husband and making sure it was really funny that he did so. There are others, but I think this gives you a taste of my early education.

In college, people were thinner spread, because most of the lessons they had to teach had been given to me before. But a few of them really did make a difference. My history of art professor who made history real and art far more than just pictures of artifacts. It is because of him that I have fluorished in my academic career. My first anthropology professor, who said “not all of you will become anthropologists” and made me the exception. She is a continued supply of valuless knowledge. My theory professor, who has made sure that I will never leave college without knowing the truthful answersto my questions. She has been a godsend. I’m not done with college, so this list remains open ended.

My first boss, who made the most hilarious things happen, like answering the phone with her nickname instead of her real name. She was honestly the best first boss I could have ever hoped for. It made working food really wonderful and that is an extremely major thing. My newest boss, who took the time to give me (a total newcomer) a chance to belong. I will forever be grateful to her for that. 

My mother and father, obviously, for teaching me not to be a spoiled brat with entitlement issues. My husband, who teaches me how to be strong every day. My brother for introducing me to great music, my sister for allowing me to take over conversations and tell her all about college, even though she probably wasn’t looking for a rant. My friends who are always there for me, even when I can’t come to the phone or go out.

My readers, who always look at my stuff with open hearts, because I never really see things the way everyone else does. The students I have met, who make me sit wide eyed and wonder what their line of thinking is.

I have had a large grouping of people who have given me lessons, and the ones I have listed are only the ones who have given me positive lessons. There are plenty more who have given me a taste of my own medicine, who shall just be referred to as “others”. I am thankful for them too, though, so never you fear. If there is such a place as heaven*, I think I shall have quite a lot more than just five people meeting me there.

  
*In a later post, I shall reveal my thoughts on the topic, as well as many others. This in no way means to say that I do not believe in an afterlife, or that I view those who do in a negative manner. I in fact, have a great reverence for what comes next and hold no belief systems as lunacy (apart from those which willing inflict pain on others). That post is coming soon, really. Read: I’m not being an ass, I promise.