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I could say to you, Don’t worry. Be positive.

Or, Don’t beat yourself up about that. You always try your best.

But all of it boils down to this equation: Don’t tear yourself down. Build yourself up.

So yesterday, you didn’t get anything accomplished. Your tuchus was dragging all day. All you were able to do in the affirmative was turn on the heat when you realized a chill had rolled in. I suppose you could even beat yourself up over that. Tiny mean voice in head: Oh, great. Another dent in the ozone layer! Way to minimize your carbon footprint, genius.

Or when you make a mistake: You always do that. Will you never learn?

Always and Never are the two Poles of Pain. The North Pole of “Always” is a place of perfection that you believe you fall short of but, in truth, can never reach. The South Pole of “Never” is what you feel you always fail to do. They feed off each other and distract you from the Equator of Balance. 

But “always” hasn’t happened yet, and “never” may never come. Life isn’t all-or-nothing. It’s some-and-something. Take some steps, and you’ll accomplish something. Give yourself some latitude, and something will change for the better.

Breathe in fully. Relax your muscles. Have some cocoa or herbal tea. You did your best today. Tomorrow’s a clean slate. Move forward. Oh, and also? Be where you are.

Don’t deplete. Replenish. So what if you’re not perfect? You’re flawed, but you’re also funny, functional and formidable. Don’t let negative notions tell you otherwise.

You’re fine as you are. 

In other words, perfectly you.

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On the one hand, giving labels with letters to conditions like ADHD or OCD helps people. It gives insight on how to manage it.

On the other, it’s limiting. Here’s what you can do, but more tellingly: HERE’S WHAT YOU CAN’T DO.

If it’s ADHD: You can’t sit still. You can’t focus.

OCD: You can’t stop doing repetitive behaviors. You can’t override your wiring.

I’m not an expert in this field, but could that be the thing to focus on?

You can’t override your wiring. Well, you can take a pill. Get counseling. But maybe, if you can’t beat em, should you join ‘em?

When I gave one of my son’s friends with ADHD a project he was interested in, I’ve never seen better focus. He was all in. But when he was without a specific goal, he tended to touch everything. He moved constantly. Once, he put his hand into a pan that was sitting on the stove. “Don’t do that! What if it was hot?”

“It wasn’t,” he said. “Just checking.”

“Don’t check with your hands, son,” I said. But it was too late. He was touching everything else in the house.

I realized that he’s a tactile learner. He takes in the world using his hands. He’s gathering data. Processing it all.

If there were such a job, I think he’d be a great Reverse Inventor. He could tell you how something works by taking it apart, examining it and putting it back together, perhaps in a different configuration.

It’s only fitting you should be who God made you. Work around the aspects of your condition that hold you back. Get help and treatment, if possible. But also, why not write a letter to yourself? A reminder to give yourself a break and your soul some TLC.

I need to organize, like Norma Rae. That’s just a saying I made up, and I say it to myself as I attempt to sort through closets and drawers, vainly looking for:

  • The spatula with the melted handle that got too close to the flame on the stove
  • The meat tenderizer/hammer-looking-thingie I’m going to repurpose into an ice cracker
  • A copy of that screenplay I wrote about Amazon warrior women in space, submitted cheekily to Amazon via their Storywriter submission tool two years ago that they rejected instantly (uploaded – 11 AM, “declined” – 12 PM)
  • An energy booster like you see in video games to beat the late afternoon drowsies
  • Another hour of daylight
  • That other sock

Yep, I really need to organize. Heck, I need a union! A union of one. A one-ion, if you will. I really need to talk to whoever’s in charge of getting these closets in order, because they’ve got some explaining to do! Who’s in charge here? Bring ‘em out. Huh? Oh. That would be me.

Like so many people, I’m fascinated by the existence of someone such as Marie Kondo, the Japanese organizing guru who suggests discarding all items in your home that don’t “spark joy.” I do think she’s on to something, but then how do you flip a pancake? My spatula (referenced above, semi-melted) doesn’t spark joy. It’s merely functional.

Now, when it comes to clearing out a memory of past pain from our soul’s storage, the only way to eliminate it is to remind yourself you did the best you could at the time. Remember all you’ve got to be thankful for nowadays. This might be the key to optimal mental health. De-clutter the space in your soul and make room for the better things coming your way.

Anybody remember Weebles? That little egg-shaped toy that would wobble back and forth but land upright? I felt like that two days ago, when I woke up leaning to the left. It’s one of the symptoms of MS that happens only rarely for me, but when it does, I focus on a fixed object, sit upright and wait for the dizziness to pass. The key is never to lie down; that’s when things really start spinning. I know it has to do with brain function, but I don’t quite understand the whole process.

The mind is a mysterious thing, isn’t it? Just yesterday, I thought of some terrible social faux pas I made in third grade, of all things, and it brought me down.

What’s the name of the ocean on the east coast? “Atlantic,” I wrote.

As I looked at it, I remembered that I’d gotten a simple answer wrong on another test the previous day and started to doubt myself. I crossed it out and wrote, “Pacific.” The teacher told the class I got it wrong and the other kids looked at me, shaking their heads and snickering.

And I wondered why something from so many years ago still echoes in my mind.

Balance is so important in life, isn’t it? Not just physical balance, but emotional balance as well.

As I went about making my coffee this morning I had an epiphany. If it were someone else, I’d say, Give yourself a break. You were just a kid. It’s nothing to beat yourself up about. I’m completely supportive of everyone else when they make mistakes, even complete strangers. But myself? Not so much.

So I’d like to propose that we think of ourselves in the past as another person entirely. Someone else, in a different era. That way, you’re more likely to regard yourself with compassion.

Maybe that’s the lesson of those days. Perhaps in releasing the need to have done everything perfectly correctly and within the bounds of social decorum, you’ll unclench and be less likely to make the same mistakes. And even if you do make mistakes, maybe you won’t see them that way. Maybe instead of mistakes we’ll call them human foibles. It sounds less painful. Almost cuddly!

Foibles. They could be the distant cousin of Weebles! They wobble, but they don’t fall down. This could be our motto: Foibles. We fumble but we don’t fall down. 😉

Grace the no fault state

 

Sometimes I wonder if self-awareness is actually a gift. Sure, it separates us from the beasts of the field, but it also adds hours of stress that can take years off of your life.

Yesterday, some challenges arose, so I marinated, stewed, and pressure-cooked my psyche about what’s going on in my life. Well the reason my son has that issue – still! – is because I was toofill in the blank, lenient, strict, emotional, sick, pre-occupied – to be a good mother all the time.

I blamed myself in my head for things in general. Finally I realized God is the one who made my son who he is, and there’s no way in the world I would ever, EVER have the gall to blame God for our troubles.

So why do I continue to throw acid at myself in this way? I wouldn’t do it to God, who created me as well, so where do I get off criticizing this child of God? Who just happens to be me.

I read an article about divorce and the fact that certain states are considered “no-fault” when it comes to ending a marriage.

In truth, the only real, bona fide no-fault state is this one:

Grace.

God’s in charge of everything we see, and things we can’t see, like gravity, atoms, uh… Spanx. You know, all of it. Things we hide – and that hide our figure flaws. Our past, secret dreams we harbor but tell no one, “morning face.” These things are no secret to God.

If God decided that your son should have flat feet… poof! Or maybe, splat! It will be so.

If God decided that you should have “child-bearing hips”… poof! (Better give that a double whammy) Poof, poof! Perhaps even, bada-boom, bada-bing! You – like me – will be, shall we say, wide in the ride. (I just made that one up! Hope it becomes a thing. Looking at you, social media!)

If God made you and your children, there is no reason to question why things are so. Of course, you should try to improve the things you can improve. But blame doesn’t make things better.

Give yourself a break. You weren’t put on this planet to obsess over things you can’t change right now, if at all. You were meant to find the joy in the journey. Take a deep breath, step back, and release the Impossible, the Unsolvable, the Ugly-Cry-Dramas into God’s hands. It’s like an instant Disaster Relief Program, coming to your aid. Living in the state of grace is like finding your way back home again.

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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