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A Different View From One Outlier
What is the distance from total exasperation to the declaration that “we’ve got this?” Personally I have always liked the encouraging words, “you’ve got this Saundie.” I love that most people in my life see me as a strong, competent feisty, positive realist who refuses to give up. And I love to point out these exact same traits in others when they simply need someone to hold the mirror up for them so that they see the strengths they have within themselves. It can be pretty easy to find ourselves burning the candle at both ends or wiping ourselves out completely & accordingly feeling exasperated, frustrated, fed up and so many other emotions. While I find the character “Grumpy Cat” to be somewhat funny I certainly don’t want to be a person that is a complete downer. The balancing act though is not going too far on the scale towards appearing to be utterly one dimensional either. That is the domain of portraying to the world that everything is perfect & that nothing gets to us. No thanks.
Perhaps most of us have had someone in our life share with us that we will likely reach a time in our lives where we see nonsense like something on glass. Or maybe we are at that point in our own lives right now. I know that is where I have journeyed to & it is quite a relief. Once I found my voice I made a decision to use it for truth & hopefully in a way that reaches others in friendship. Are you familiar with the commercial that is on television advertising Snickers chocolate bars & the slogan is “you are not yourself when you are hungry?” On a funny aside, our middle son uses those words often to describe himself when he is feeling especially grouchy. In our house hungry boys can often equate to grumpy boys. That is an easy grumpy to resolve though through of course simply feeding the hungry boys. Our kitchen seems like an all day grazing place however they are growing boys so I happily keep up with restocking snacks & meals that turn into snacks. For me, the “you are not yourself” is more in conjunction with when I am consistently grumpy or impatient. I am not fond of “grumpy me.” I doubt anyone enjoys being in a bad mood. For years I have been warned about a probable inevitable thing called “diabetes burn out.” Thankfully that has not happened to me yet however I certainly am always on the look out for it. I do however know exactly what physical & emotional burn out look like from professional & personal experience. For the past few weeks I have been diligently working on restoring the “controllables” in my life like making even better physical choices, health choices & using the word “no” on occasion. (my “no” really is a “not now” rather than a “no” since I know this being wiped out will resolve with time & effort). Lots of people are quick to share experiences of victory looking from the top of the mountain so to speak however I have found that examples of people sharing continuous getting back up while in the valley of life looking up towards the mountain are more difficult to find. This is a perfect segue into what led me to this writing story this week.
You are very likely to relate to the situation where you are in a group setting with total strangers & the facilitators use ice breaking exercises to encourage the participants in becoming comfortable with one another by getting to know one another. Ice breakers I believe can be marvelous & I know that as a facilitator I have certainly used ice breakers. There is such a variety that you can choose from or create yourself. I am pro ice breaker. On the flip side my husband loathes ice breakers so it is a personal personality style preference perhaps. Recently I participated in a workshop where there was a neat ice breaker question asked of us to discuss in our smaller groups. The question was, “name one person that you consider to be an inspiration to you.” Each person had some challenges around that question & as usual I found myself in the outlier category. Most people hemmed & hahhed & struggled to come up with someone that they could name right on the spot as an inspiration to them. Meanwhile, I was writing like a mad woman a list of names of people that inspire me & I could not (or would not) narrow my answer to just one person. Some of the people in my discussion group kind of looked at me in a friendly albeit I must have 2 heads kind of way. From my youngest memory I realize that having others as examples or inspirations is just something that I gravitate towards naturally. I look at it this way. You can either hang around with people that are pretty similar in their thoughts & attitudes to yourself or you can include people as well that turn your thinking upside down in a great kind of way. We can gravitate towards the “woe is me” pity party group or we can get ourselves into a group of realistic encouragers who don’t have it within themselves to lose hope as one example. Another example is that if we are feeling impatient then would it be a favour to get ourselves around a person in our lives as much as possible that has mastered patience & peacefulness? It may be super easy to find other “Grumpy Cats” but how is that going to help us out of that grouchy state? There have been countless times that I have shared my feelings of frustration or exasperation with one of my inspirational mentors & received a response of “that stinks & use that as a pole vault to get to where you want to be & you can do this.” Then we brain storm or my brain goes to work. It is a little difficult to convey on paper the emotions behind the words. The words are not ones discounting the struggle or a cheerful “you can do it.” It is more in the eyes & what is given from the heart…that is 90% of the communication. There was a second part to the ice breaker question & that was, “How can you become an inspiration to your own children?” Again, I found myself in the land of the outlier as I thought about this. While my peers seemed to effortlessly come up with lots of answers in the form of behaviours & traits that they could use to become inspirational my brain went in another direction. The answer that came to me & that I shared with our group was that this is to me a profoundly humbling question. I said that I don’t believe that for me at least that I could set a goal of being an inspiration to anyone including my own kids. That is different than becoming an inspiration in the eyes of another I continued. When I think about this, the closest that I believe that would approximate an answer is that I try with all my feisty, rascally might to live my life by the examples that I put into action each day. Some days I miss the bar by a mile & our sons see that failing at something does not mean that you throw in the towel. Even when we fail at something we can live our lives in a way that shows our kids that we are still filled with hope & we can build strength, tenacity and other foundations that are essential for our kids to see. Life is full of challenges for any person. If we can master the trait of not giving up even on the toughest of days I shared with my group that I believe that is a win. Although I did not go on to tell them anything about my having type 1 diabetes & 3 other autoimmune diseases & how those “365’s” have helped me grow into a stronger, more determined rascal I sure thought about that throughout the week. Whether we have children or not, there are usually eyes upon us. They are the eyes of others watching us to see how we react to adversity & whether we give up or we fight on. I have learned that I am a gentle, sensitive tough cookie. No matter what our personality styles are we get to make the choice to give up or get stronger through adversity. Living with the ups & downs of type 1 diabetes has taught my whole family that there can be some really indescribably difficult days & that diabetes like life is not always fair but as Maya Angelou so beautifully articulated in her writings & speaking engagements, “we are not reduced” by our struggles. It turns out that we can be stronger, bolder, braver, more hope filled, more determined & so much more despite adversity or perhaps because of it. The choice is ours.
My heart’s hope for you is that you give yourself the gift of getting yourself around people who encourage you & hold up the mirror for you to see that you are one strong, tough but caring person.
Smiles, Saundie :)
May bold, determined, hope filled you have a gentle week. There are a few ideas swimming in the ether already for next Monday's writing to share :)