Thursday, August 26, 2010

Just "Be" (For Those Beginning A New Season In Life)

As summer ends and fall begins, so do new seasons in the various aspects of our lives - school, college, work, church, football, etc.  A new season is a time for change.  For me, this new season represents the opportunity to make the most out of my relationships with family, friends, colleagues and students, in a way that is different for me.  This year, I am pledging to put myself at the top of my list, after God.  In putting myself first, I am going to become a better counselor, friend, daughter, sister, and eventually, wife and mother.  As I reflect on what I want to happen in my life, I realize that our destiny is not always determined by what we do, but by who we are.  With that in mind, I've set goals that consist, not of things that I need to DO, but of what I would like to BE.

1. BE COMMITTED. I will keep my promises to myself. I will give 100% to what I commit to do.

2. BE POSITIVE. I will change my thoughts so that they are more affirmative, and my life will follow the direction of my thoughts.

3. BE GENUINE. I will be my authentic self, which will engender authenticity in my relationships.

4. BE ACCOUNTABLE. I will do what I have said I would do. I will let others know what my goals are, and will seek help in achieving them.

5. BE GRATEFUL. I will enjoy the present. I will focus more on what I have than on what I want. When I am grateful for what I have, I am demonstrating that I can be trusted to receive what I want.

In sharing these goals with you, I hope to inspire you to just "be"!

Based on goals I set for myself last year, inspired to share again by a conversation with one of my wonderful students today!  (Hi C.C.!)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Insomniac Thoughts

For the past ten years, I have experienced insomnia. I'll go to bed fine, but I'll wake up about 3am and stay up for at least two hours.  Many times, I get frustrated, angry, sometimes I even cry.  Even if I get back to sleep, I usually have to wake up in less than an hour, which leaves me exhausted for most of the day. 

Some days I'll still be frustrated, but many times I try to work with the insomnia.  I'll write in my journal, read, or get up and put the dishes in the dishwasher.  Last week I decided to freewrite the thoughts that ran through my mind - though these occurred in the same night, much of these are typical thoughts for me:

God really loves me.

Sometimes, I get sick of myself.

Am I one of those people that you either love or you hate?

I'm so self-absorbed.

Yet, I think about others way more than I think of myself.

Well, I don't know about that.

Why doesn't God answer my most consistent prayers, like healing my mom or making a man love me enough to put a ring on it?

Do I expect too much from people?

Am I living the life God intended for me to live?

I think I'm just supposed to laugh a lot. That's what feels best.

Why do my old boyfriends look me up after 10, 20, almost 30 years?

Did I really have a boyfriend almost 30 years ago? I shouldn't have.

One thing I'll never regret: eating anything chocolate.

It hurts to love, but at least I'm feeling something.

Take the time to write your insomniac thoughts.  Thoughts that run through your mind in the quiet of the night might be trying to tell you something.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Broken Glass (A Poem About The Risk of Loving)

It draws me in
Beautiful colors reflected in its light
I'm intrigued; fascinated by its radiance
Its beauty, not in its whole, but in its parts
Compels me to come closer
Study it, investigate it, want more
As I draw closer
I reach out to touch it
And, what was beautiful to behold
Now cuts me
It causes me to bleed
Just like broken glass

You drew me in
Your brilliance reflected in your words
I was intrigued; fascinated by your intensity
Your beauty, not in your whole, but in the sum of your parts
Compelled me to come closer
Smell you, taste you, want more
And, as I opened my heart and reached out to touch you
You cut me
You caused my heart to bleed
Just like broken glass

Monday, August 9, 2010

On Kourtney & Khloe, T.O. & Ocho

Last night, I was flipping the channels between VH1 and E! on a quest to give my mind a break.  Although I get easily annoyed by the privileged and spoiled, I decided to watch a couple of episodes of Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami, as well as Ochocinco: The Ultimate Catch and The T.O. Show.  Although I realize that these so-called reality shows are very much scripted, I was intrigued by the interwoven themes in these shows, especially between the Kardashians' and Terrell Owens' lives as played out for all of us to see.  (My brain doesn't like to take long breaks, apparently.)

The ongoing saga of Kourtney Kardashian's relationship with Scott Disick (her "babydaddy") grew even more dramatic with his (self-)destructive actions, his admission of problems with alcohol and decision to seek therapy.  Meanwhile, on VH1, T.O. discussed problems in his current relationship with his girlfriend Kari with his therapist.  In both shows, the men seem to realize that their behavior is impacting their relationships negatively.  They seem to value the women in their lives, but don't want these women to hold them accountable for their behavior.  The women seem to put up with behavior that they know is unacceptable, and although Kari seems pretty firm with Terrell about ending their relationship, she's asserted herself before, only to find herself right back in the same situation.  Same with Kourtney, who seems quite strong-willed and sometimes incapable of listening to others, yet she takes Scott back time after time with no real improvement.  (So okay, I know a little more about these shows than I originally let on.)

Here's my question:  Did these women realize the history and baggage these men have carried with them before getting involved?  Was there no indication that these men are quite self-absorbed; no red flags, no doubts floating through these women's minds that these men were destined to bring pain along for the ride?  Of course.  Kourtney and Kari knew this.  Who wouldn't know that someone like T.O., who's not a team player and can't stay committed to one football team, would have difficulty committing to one woman?  Who wouldn't know that Scott, who didn't have a job before the Kardashian Konnection (sorry!) hooked him up, was basically sponging off of the fame and fortune of a family in the spotlight?  These women have demonstrated that they are not stupid, and that they have respect for themselves, yet they expected more from these men than either of them have demonstrated they could do.

I'm not judging.  Believe me, I am not one to judge.  I've asked myself the same questions.  I'm known to be strong-willed, intelligent, independent, and feisty.  Yet, I have found myself wondering where that strong woman goes when the man in my life demonstrates behavior that I find unacceptable.

Here's my theory, though it's getting late and I haven't fully formed it: In our society, women have been conditioned to believe that men are to be loved, and not respected.  Flow with me here.  Mothers love their sons in ways that make it difficult for boys to understand that, if they want respect, it must be earned.  For example, my mother did not require the males in the family to lift a finger to clean.  The cleaning was done by my sisters and me.  While my brothers participated in sports on Saturday mornings, I cleaned their rooms.  There was no expectation that they should clean up the mess they made.  Now, for the most part my brothers are good men.  However, using the cleaning analogy, THE MEN DID NOT HAVE TO CLEAN UP THEIR MESS.  THEIR MESS WAS CLEANED UP BY A WOMAN.  Some men (I won't generalize) are raised to believe that they are not accountable for their actions.  When men are not held accountable, they do not learn how to earn respect.  In the Bible, in the book of Ephesians, chapter five, verse 33 says, "However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband."  While the Word of God admonishes men to love their wives as themselves (causing them to have to examine their own self-love and stepping out of themselves to love someone else), it admonishes women to RESPECT their husbands.  Interesting, isn't it?  How easy is it to respect someone who hasn't earned it?  Not very.

A few months ago, I dreamt that I was surprising a man that I had been dating for awhile.  I walked into his apartment, into his bedroom, and found another woman hiding in the room.  In the dream, I proceeded to clean up after the other woman (right after I pulled her up by her hair and threw her out of the apartment, of course.  I said I was feisty.)  A couple more women came in, and I threw them out, cleaning up any traces of women who this man was carrying on with.  Meanwhile, although in the dream he seemed fearful of the possibility of losing me, this man did nothing but stand by and watch.  The dream ended when an older woman who seemed to have this man's respect came in and told him that he needed to stop messing around with so many women and look to God to fill the void in his life.

WOW.  What did that dream symbolize?  Aside from the fact that God symbolizes the ultimate authority who has expectations of us and holds us accountable for our actions, I believe it meant that I needed to stop "cleaning up" after the messes of the men in my life, whether they be a love interest, my brothers, even my male students.  In my work, I need to make sure that I hold ALL of my students accountable to achieving their goals, but I notice that, while female students often come to me with specific goals and action steps in mind, male students might have one long-term goal (often to make money), but no clear and specific ways that they will achieve that goal.  It will only benefit them if I ask them to make short term goals and objectives, and as they achieve short-term goals, express pride in, and respect for, their accomplishments.  This will help them to "earn" the respect men truly desire from women.

Men are so lovable, and we can't help but to love them.  But we really need to respect them.  And the best way I believe I can genuinely respect a man is to demonstrate to him, in a loving but firm manner, that I have expectations of him that are realistic and achievable, and then to hold him accountable for meeting those expectations.  And then, when those expectations are met or exceeded, I can shower him with the love and respect he truly deserves.  Am I right or what?

To be continued...(or, on the next episode of...)