Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Self Esteem

Recently I have been going through a coaching exercise as a sort of trial for a friend-of-a-friend. J is learning to be a coach for a program in Montana, whereby people from the business world come in and learn about leadership during a work retreat, involving horses. What I am doing has nothing to do with horses, but in a way has a lot to do with the same concepts a person learns in leadership training. J needs to practice with her tools and techniques prior to being able to finish her training, and I'm a guinea pig for that. Since I'm already grossly introspective anyway, I probably make a really EASY candidate for this exercise... not much of a challenge for her, but probably give her the ability to use a lot of her tools!
It's been pretty enlightening for me also, in the way that counseling has been enlightening, the few times I have engaged in counseling in my lifetime. However, when I have gone through any counseling before, it was in response to some major issue going on in my life, and I don't feel I have any big pressing major issues right at the moment. Maybe that is a better time to sit back and reflect on oneself, though, because I'm not caught in the crossfire of the issue itself.
One big fat aha moment for me has been around the area of self esteem. As a child, when I lived in Iowa and befriended a girl with hearing aids, I was absolutely NOT a popular child. Like, dump-the-books unpopular, or turn-off-the-bathroom-light-on-her unpopular. I always figured it was because of my association with Erika, who was exponentially even more unpopular than I was, as she had the social skills of a rock (or one of those oddballs at a Star Trek convention). But even when I moved to Texas, I wasn't HUGELY popular. I had friends, quite good ones, and was well respected and never teased or tortured like I was in Iowa, but popular? Nope. And I grew to understand it was more a function of my looks than it was anything else. So, I became REALLY REALLY GOOD at a zillion things. Art. German. Other languages. Straight A's. And then eventually as I went to college and so on, the world broadened for me, and I met a wider range of people, once I was out of that microcosm where your looks and charm determine your likeablility. You know how it is in every high school in America - either you're gorgeous, you're a star athlete, or you're the class clown. The latter two not requiring the looks as much, but those sure help out.
So, I'm not what I'd consider grossly unattractive by any means. I'm just not a bombshell. I am well aware that I'm not pretty in the sense that the world finds people pretty. I'm also not interesting looking, in the way the world will still consider you attractive if you've got a quirky, funky look about you. I have the same nose all babies are born with - a pudgy little ball plopped on the middle of my face. I have no bridge to my nose, and my profile is just very flat. My smile is kinda funny, and my hair... well... let's just say it has never been my best feature. At age 37, it is amazing how much this STILL seems to play into my psyche and my self confidence. I know it shouldn't. At this point, it makes about zero difference in my world. I have tons of self confidence about a great many other areas of my life, but that one still remains a bit hamstrung. I didn't really even know it, because I have always considered myself a pretty confident, self-assured person. What I found out is that people will often overcompensate in one area, to make up for something they perceive themselves lacking. And that's me to a T. I just wasn't actively aware of it until recently. So my current self-project is to really focus on this area, and come to terms with exactly the way I look, and let it the fuck go. There's very little about it that I can change, and fundamentally, it doesn't matter. I don't need to overcompensate for it, I don't owe anyone anything extra because I'm not easy on the eyes and/or the funniest thing alive. It's a hair shirt, and I'm tired of having that feeling in the back of my mind. I'm not entirely sure how one goes about taking OFF said hairshirt, but I'm sure as hell going to try and figure it out.
Okay. That's all.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


I've been swamped recently. Trying to get a million things done before Thursday, when I will finally hear from my orthopoedic doctor what the F is really going on in my shoulder. It's bothered me since Hootie was born, basically, since that timeframe in which she lived perched upon my right shoulder whilst I bounced endlessly, pacing and walking, keeping her from the interminable screaming which would take place, generally between about 3 pm and 4 am. At first I attributed it to her not caring for the BRIGHT, COLD place in which food doesn't come at a steady pace anymore, but eventually I settled in and let it be called colic. Four months (give or take, it sort of faded, rather than stopping abruptly) later, my shoulder would ache and occasionally I would feel a sharp pain when I put it in certain positions. I've consumed somewhere on the order of a shitload of ibuprofen since then, most days at least some. Some days none.
About 18 months ago I saw the doc, had an x-ray, and found out that I have calcific tendonitis, which is basically this chunk of hard calcium my body decided to place on my tendon where it experienced some tearing from overuse. Somehow my body got this signal to "fix" the problem. But what it does to fix it makes it worse. Now this chunk of calcium scrapes and shreds my muscles and other soft tissues when it comes in contact with them. Which hurts, of course.
I haven't ever been one who likes to sit around and belabor things which hurt. Let's drink Folgers coffee at the kitchen table, smoke a pack of Camel Unfiltereds, and talk about how we're getting older, falling apart, and did you know Preparation H is on sale at Walgreens? No foolin? Yeah. NOT.
So instead of bitching, I started doing yoga. And that helped me a lot, for a year, especially when it came to getting my range of motion back. I had gotten to where I was so careful with the arm, I stopped moving it very much, and that sucked. So the yoga got that back for me. And for a while, it didn't hurt as much either. But the more I progressed with yoga, the more I'd come home with a sore shoulder, take ibuprofen, and have to rest up for the next class. So now I'm back to being on the verge of bitching, and I made the commitment to myself I wouldn't do that. If it ever started to prevent me from doing something that I wanted to do, I would do something about it.
The doc tried cortisone, it didn't work. He said he could try again, but he knew he got it in the right spot, so didn't hold out much hope of it working the second time, so I skipped that round, left his office, and sucked it up until about a week ago. I went in again, told him it had gotten worse. He scheduled an MRI, which I endured last Friday, and now I'm waiting to go talk to him Thursday about the results. If my muscles are torn in the rotator cuff region, he wants to operate quickly. If not, I can wait until summer timeframe. But at this point, I am not sure I want to be waiting much longer, as it's really been bugging me more in the last few weeks.
In the meantime, I have project upon project lined up for me to complete. I just made a bookshelf this week (6' tall by 30" wide) with my friend Gene, for Hootie's bedroom. I need to sand and stain and seal it next. I want to redo an entire garden bed in my front yard with lavender, rather than English ivy, which is gonna take some shoulder to do it. I started painting and selling things on eBay (selling paintings, that is), and have been trying to figure out how to create a business for myself whilst I am at home, something I could do with my artistic side to pull in some G. In order to buy some furnishings for my house, which we've been needing for quite some time.In any case, I feel like I'm a bit under the gun, to get this done before I'm Gimpy the Sling Girl for 3 weeks, and "I can't do much with this floppy thing" for the following 5.
Productivity is a driving force in my life. I am not sure what I will do when I'm a "lame duck" for 2 months. Gah.
But HEY! I haven't had a sinus infection since Thanksgiving! Life is awesome!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Staying Connected

I read a post on one of my favorite blogs today, sweetjuniper. For those who don't care to go read it (it's lengthy), the core story is that Dutch was in Generica (strip mall in suburb area) at a party store, when an old man came in looking for mylar balloons which commemorated his 60th wedding anniversary. He wanted to take them to his wife in a nursing home, who wouldn't really know the difference. He told his little story to the clerk who was disinterested and didn't interact with the old guy at all.
Most of the people on the post were noting how sad it must be for that little old guy, and how shitty these people were for not just reaching out and hugging the guy. Then there were the mom-and-pop store jihad folk, who wanted to say it's all because of Big Box America that clerks you talk to in stores don't give a shit about you or about their jobs. Some wanted to say, "hey, the kid's a teenager, cut him some slack". I tend to think those people are parents of teenagers, but whatever. There was some wistful hearkening back to the good ol' days of yore, when people cared about their customers, got to know them by name, gave good service.
But none of this was really the point of what Dutch was trying in there to say. Basically he was surprised that this little old guy even shared his story, because that's not how our current "society" typically interacts. It is how HIS society, back in his youthful days, did interact. People didn't have the internet to "talk" to each other. If you wanted to meet people, you went out on the town with your friends. You went to a dance, to a drive-in, to the soda fountain, or to church. You met people at the grocery. If you wanted to buy something, you went to the store to buy it. And you probably didn't have the 412 choices we have today. The guy selling it to you was knowledgeable about his "craft", whatever good or service he was in business to provide. Everything involved a lot more direct person-to-person interaction than we do today.
Why is that? Are we in love with convenience? Are we lazy? Are we a new breed of massive introverts? What is it that causes us as a society to withdraw so significantly from each other that we barely even have that which used to be called a community?
I take a look at myself - I'm a bit of an oxymoron in this vein. Yes, I'm introverted, but I'm not a hermit [crab]. But admittedly, my preferred method of communication back and forth with a good many friends is via email. It isn't that I don't like to talk - I talk to my mom and sister just about every day. But I like the fact that I can write something and check back later for an answer, rather than calling and leaving a voicemail, and waiting for a call back, or talking. I like face-to-face interactions better than the telephone or email, however, so I'm not hopeless. But the point wasn't lost on me that the concept of community is slowly eroding around us. That's sad. But more than it being sad, it's a call to action. If that isn't something that I want for our lives, if that's not something I want to pass on by way of example to my daughter, I need to behave differently to create a different experience. I am generally speaking polite and courteous when I'm out and about with people. Sometimes I can tend toward impatience when I'm around someone who is ignorant and blocking my way, but even then, I try and just talk myself down from it and let that go. But moreso than just not being rude in public, I think there's a stronger effort required to frequent the businesses in my neighborhood, develop even more relationships with people in my area, sit on my porch and play in the front yard with Hootie more. Talk to people as they go by. We're very lucky in that we live in a neighborhood where there are porches and sidewalks and neighborhood groceries and bakeries and wine shops and delis. In some of the more recently built neighborhoods, you rarely see people even outside. If they are, it's in their back yards, behind a 6-foot fence, guarding their privacy. People drive into their garages, close the door, enter their houses, and don't even interact with their neighbors at all. I don't want that, but instead of just saying I don't want that, I need to be responsible for not HAVING that. For going out there more, meeting more of the neighbors, being more involved, and being more open and responsive when other people open a line of communication with me.
I know my child is going to grow up with technology at her fingertips, but I hope and pray we manage to teach her that technology doesn't and shouldn't take the place of real, face-to-face human interaction. That's what emotionally feeds us. It isn't that we cannot also connect with these tools - I've gained a broader view by all of the insights and perspectives I read on the internet, and have developed some tentative e-relationships through that mechanism. But it certainly isn't my primary interaction mechanism, and shouldn't be.