This week, I had the privilege of discussing adoption, adoptees, adoptive parents, and foster care with Marchita Masters, PsyD, who not only has worked with foster care children in several settings, but who has also adopted a child. Our conversation can be viewed on YouTube or listened to on SoundCloud or via Buzzsprout until March 2021. I hope it is helpful as we seek healthier ways to engage with and support one another.
Last Saturday, we held a successful virtual book reading via Zoom and FB Live. About 40 people floated in and out and we are very appreciative.
Also, y’all know I’m always writing about relationships and how we can do a better job with relating to one another, so I gotta say THANK YOU to my grannie and aunt and sister-friends from all walks of life who showed up. Sending gratitude to the following bloggers who also made a way to pop in from Nigeria, the New England area, Oregon, and Georgia:
If you missed it, here’s the 2-hour recording:
Today, I share a conversation I had with Timothy A. Dukes, behavioral specialist. We discussed parenting and children, specifically during the pandemic. However, he shared insights about how to help children re-set their behavior, as well as how parents should do something as simple as asking our children, “What can I do to make your day better?,” which can be beneficial even if there’s no pandemic occurring.
Today, I share a conversation I had with Kotrish Wright, MSW centered on PERFECTIONISM. She shares 5 strategies we can use to move past procrastination, and subsequently past those debilitating thoughts that swirl around in our heads. It can be viewed on YouTube or listened to on SoundCloud or via Buzzsprout until March 2021. I hope this brief discussion helps us all to become healthier versions of ourselves.
The word perfect used to permeate every aspect of my life. My former best friend believed my hair to be a weave because it was “always so perfect.” I’ve written before about how other friends shut down criticisms of my husband because they perceived him as “Mr. Rogers,” a human symbol of perfection. People believe our marriage to be perfect. While we believe we’re perfect for one another, a flawless union is impossible.
Accusations of my perceived perfection used to anger me, until I began looking closer at myself.
I used to put on lipstick just to take the trash out. I used to think long and hard before I opened my mouth for fear of sounding flawed. One reason I used to make a 360-mile, round-trip drive to a job was to prove I was good enough to be at what’s considered one of the top research universities in Florida. My perfectionist’s status was unconsciously crafted and maintained for decades.
But not anymore.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but one way I ceased portraying perfectionism was when I went natural. Wearing my hair in its natural state helped with accepting myself as is. I had no idea how my hair would look or what I would need to do to maintain it. I literally had to learn to love how I looked every day, because with natural hair, your hair never looks the same two days in a row. I grew accustomed to strangers’ looks. I didn’t know if they were going to praise my hair or stare and remain silent. This helped me accept my whole self, no matter what, releasing an image of perfection.
Another thing that’s been helpful is arriving in public spaces in so-called socially unacceptable ways. I’ve done this at varied levels. Last year, Dwight and I were out of town and headed to have a drink in the hotel lobby. I didn’t feel like changing back into my clothes, so I joined him in my red Valentine’s Day leggings, Western Michigan University alumni sweatshirt, and old, tattered boots. I’m not sure how he felt about how I looked, and I didn’t care. Years ago, I would’ve feared who may see me in such a state, but not now. Now, I couldn’t care less. What does it matter how I show up to have a drink in a hotel lobby?
A third practice that limits perfectionism for me is focusing on myself in the here and now, without comparison. Yoga helps. With yoga, the concept is to do your best that day, which can change from just the day before. This idea allows me to accept myself as is in each moment. Just because I did the bomb pigeon pose last week doesn’t mean it will occur today. Also, I cannot be focused on standing on one leg, while worrying about how high yours is. It…is…impossible. I will surely fall over. I know because I’ve tried. In some ways, this has carried over to my life off the mat. Fall ’17 students may have thought I was the best, but Spring ’18 may not. That’s something I would’ve fretted over in the past. Today, I know it’s okay, as long as I did my best both semesters.
Another thing that’s helped me accept my less than perfect self is to be intentional about what I’m doing and to focus on the process. Before, I was unconsciously stacking up achievements in an effort to be perfect in my own and everyone else’s eyes. As of 2015 and about 95% of the time, I consciously began choosing experiences aligned with my core being and that will benefit others in some way. While I would like for each outcome to be favorable, I’m no longer tied to the actual product. No matter what my mother tried to teach me, I now realize a perfect/imperfect product does not reflect me. Instead, I’m happy knowing that I began with a positive intention and had fun doing something I enjoyed, which, no matter what, will always turn out well for everyone’s best interest.
So, what say you? Do you have any suggestions for de-perfecting your life? I’d love to hear them.
Today’s answer is from my oldest goddaughter, Kotrish of Inspirational Words and Quotes:
When we try to live life, it strategically sets us on an evolution of the following:
- Being able to self-love
- Learning how to self-love
My dogs died in my early teens. My grandfathers died in my mid-teens. My grandmothers died in my early twenties. My dad died when I was twenty-three years old. My first real love and heartbreak was at seventeen years old.
Those events began to shape my heart. I know that the word adopted is fundamental in my love language. Being an adoptee pushed me or taught me to appreciate who I am and to love who I am becoming. As love began to hit me in my adult life, I learned how to hone in on the pain and the feelings of rejection, albeit most times this reaction taught me to deny the why of everything. I know that when rejection hurts it can nudge, push and pull us in dark and undeniable places. I have learned that someone’s rejection of me is neither a detriment towards me, nor should it be an obstacle for me.
I am learning that God has prepared us and purposed our lives in such a way that there are no coincidences. Our choices place us on different paths other than what we ask for. Divorce happens. Love is hard. Life creates a ménage of events that leaves us breathless, yet we do not know what life will entail. We are incapable of learning and knowing without going through the process. Life leaves us faultless without a covering, healing is necessary.
Each wound teaches us a different way to love ourselves. Lessons teach us that we are not who we were, but we have become on a grander scale. We are evolving, all within understanding our feelings and emotions. As our faith deepens, our spirituality matures. Our way of thinking impedes upon us to do better, to be better and not to remain stuck in a painful way. It is our divine responsibility to take care of self, to love ourselves-to learn how to love ourselves.
God created us to create. God created us to love. His greatest commandment is to love one another as you love yourself. That I believe is one of the hardest mandates He gave. In order to love ourselves, we have to be aware of who we are. We have to know what makes us tick, how we are living this life is ever-growing, ever evolving-there is no mastery to loving oneself.
We do not come into this world knowing how so we allow the hurt, the pain, the wounds and the disappointment to redirect us into a whole other realm of loving, of living, of thinking. In order for us to love ourselves, which God requires. If I love myself, there isn’t any way that I am going to maliciously, purposely and with intent harm you. Learn to practice self-forgiveness on a daily basis. Do no harm.
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(Shared for Forgiving Fridays)
Our second video comes from Michelle at Me, Intimately Worded.
Well do you? Do the people with whom you interact know exactly how far they can go with you? Physically? Emotionally? Psychologically? Do you know how far you want to go with others?
I recently listened to an Iyanla Vanzant episode centered on relationships. You can find it here. In it, she suggests that we not only establish boundaries in our relationships, but that we also make those boundaries known to individuals. Another useful step is to ensure those people know what the consequence will be if they should violate your stated boundary.
I can see how this will work with children because, well, adult-child relationships definitely require boundaries. For example, my 15-year-old, Desi and I were texting one day. In it, she replied, LMAO. To which I responded, you don’t get to laugh your ass off with me ma’am. She hasn’t done it again. She tested a boundary. It failed. She learned how far she could go.
But what happens when there are two adults and something more serious? Remember Buddy? According to Iyanla’s lesson, I should have stated something like this ahead of time: Buddy, I will not tolerate drunken, violent behavior. If you become drunk and violent, then you will have to leave our home.
While I have no problem having a boundary conversation with most adults, I do wonder if I can establish boundaries and allow the person to be him or herself, simultaneously.
Stay with me here. You know I value allowing people to be whoever they are; however, if I establish a boundary, then aren’t I asking the person to not be themselves while they’re in my company? So, is it better to ask Buddy to be mindful of his drinking limit, or just not invite Buddy to the next family function? For most of my life, I’ve just done the latter. That way Buddy can be himself…at…his…home.
I suppose my question is, can you establish boundaries and allow the person to be him or herself at the same time, or are these two different philosophical ways of living life? Can the two work together?
I know this post is more questions than answers, but that’s how (my) life is most times. Let me know what you think. Which do you prefer? Are you a boundary-setter? Tell us all how you do it.
Jasmyne was the fifth wife that I’d interviewed, but I decided to use her story first because I thought it offered a blatant message. Her entire relationship seemed to be based on Bible-based therapy and ill advice from friends and family. Each of these demonstrated one of the themes I’d intended to convey with this book: It is important to listen to yourself and your inner voice.
Concept: During our interview, Jasmyne told me about a couple’s retreat that her two therapists wanted her to attend before she divorced Eddie. “You invited us into this marriage. Now, you have to invite us to its divorce” is a direct quote from the counselors. She felt as if she couldn’t leave the guy based on her own feelings.
When she mentioned the retreat, I knew that would be the focal point of the narrative. I wanted her character to flashback several times to illustrate how she knew Eddie wasn’t the right husband for her. It was important for me to show these feelings existed before she got married and way before she ended up at a weekend session.
Although all of the details of her marriage are true, I made up the part about vomiting. Again, I wanted her intuition to be obvious, so I thought associating her gut feelings with a stomachache would send a clear message to the reader.
Commentary: There are two things that stood out as I listened to Jasmyne’s story. The first was her description of Eddie. I speak with many people who have abandonment issues in one way or another, so it was natural for me to ask, “Where are his parents?” Due to therapy, Jasmyne understood Eddie’s issues stemmed from two deceased parents. In her answer, I heard about a good guy who wanted to give and receive love; however, he seemed to be a little boy who never learned how to be a man. She felt that she could remedy this with her love. This is a common relationship pattern, but I’m not sure what the success rate is for working out childhood problems in this way.
The second thing that stood out is something Jasmyne’s friends, family and therapists continued to tell her: Nobody’s perfect and he’s not that bad. Although I was sad to hear this, I was glad that it was a theme for her story. This is something that women tend to do. We encourage one another to remain in unhealthy relationships, simply because the man “isn’t that bad.” In my opinion, the tolerance level lies within each person. For example, a friend of mine texted that she would’ve left Eddie once the hot water was turned off. There are plenty of women who would stay. My point is that it’s not for me or anyone else to suggest staying or leaving, but rather, it’s up to the person to learn to listen to her inner voice and make the best possible decision for her situation.