Wednesday, May 18, 2016

"Beth Anne, you are not Jesus."

I don't think I have written a post, a story from my childhood. This oldie but goodie has been, in front of my mind's eye for a long time to share. I am in the process of overhauling this blog but I can't wait any longer to write and share these stories. I am really excited for the new name and look and feel of the the meantime, I will share pieces of where I came from - experiences that shaped the woman I am now.

Now that we are raising kids and hearing the word, "bully" almost daily, from our kids and the media - I can no longer remain quiet about bullying. I don't disagree that bullying is something our kids are confronted with. Cyber bullying is a real problem. I believe there are ways to not give cyberspace so much power. Are we monitoring what our kids are participating in online? Are we requiring our kids to be the representative branch of our family unit? Are we doing activities and spending time with our kids while unplugged? Are we forcing our kids to use their imagination and create play time apart from the internet and electronics. I haven't perfected this concept. Some nights, I lose the battle, out of sheer exhaustion and lack of energy to "deal" with it. Though, it is easier now that the weather is nice. I send them outside. Then the neighbors get to witness the grumbling, eye-rolling, limbs flailing, misdirected frustration towards siblings, then mama bear's booming alpha-male voice rolling out of our humble home to remind them they are being ridiculous. It is so weird how that voice works. My overall point is this: are we helping, in fact, empowering our kids? Are we holding them accountable for their words? Their actions?
We have a serious epidemic and bullying is only the product of this epidemic- family units are broken. Kids and their activities have parents running ragged. I can't get into all of that. Another post. Don't tell me, but when was the last time you really had family time? At home? Around the table? Conversing with the family you created? We can rationalize and make any event fit "family time". But you know what I am asking. The other evening, we turned tv off. It was raining outside. We nixed the kindle and iPad and video games. We listened to music and enjoyed watching our kids play on the living room floor with each other and our Tilly. It. Was. Awesome. Truly.

Part of my frustration comes from knowing I was bullied several times in grades 6&7. Now, the word "bully" gets used because socializing is tough sometimes. But true bullying? Well......let me just share my experience.

I was 12 when my parents separated. Looking back now, I wonder if this made me a vulnerable target? What I do know is my mom was the one present when I'd come home crying and defeated. I had always been feisty. I still am. This part of my personality makes my husband giggle. I digress......    After my parents separated, it changed me. I felt vulnerable and unprotected. Plus, we had started going to church regularly and I had learned about Jesus turning the other cheek and as a firstborn, perfectionist child that lived for pleasing adults - I wanted to learn the lesson of what it is to turn the other cheek.
I don't remember the details of what started the bullying. I remember it was about a boy. I was in 7th grade. He was in 9th grade. An 8th grade girl liked him and he liked me. The 8th grade girlfriends started taunting me. I had never met them prior to the bullying. They wrote nasty words on my locker door. The group of them (4-5) would follow close behind me, down the hall and step on the back of my shoes. They'd dead leg me as I stood at my locker. There were only 2 of the girls that were particularly nasty. They started sitting at the table behind my girlfriends and I at lunch. The day these two sat on either side of me, and made my friends make room for them, then pulled my hair, in sharp, short tugs, made fun of the way I ate, called me names -  that was the day I went home crying and told mom what was going on. I wasn't actually "going with" the 9th grade boy. I wasn't allowed to "go with" anyone . I remained quiet and didn't cry (to my remembrance) in front of them. I was turning the other cheek. I hadn't done anything wrong and the more I remained quiet, the worse they got. I went home a mess, the day they started kicking and shoving me as I exited the lunchroom. There would always be a bottleneck, in the hallway where all exited. They were kicking, shoving me from behind and pulling my hair. That night, I cried to mom. She had already placed a call to the school guidance counselor - and my mother was visibly frustrated. I had dealt with this crap for over a week.
Finally, my mom looked at me and asked, "Beth, why are you letting them do this? You rough house with your father. You know how to get them to back off." I started bawling and said, "because Jesus would turn the other cheek!" My mom has a look when she means business and of all mother's looks, hers is the best. While I was staring back at her with my big eyes, tears mother lowered her head, set her jaw, grabbed my chin and with her big eyes looked into my soul and said, "Beth Anne? You are not Jesus."

*blink* *blink*

Mom continued to say she would back me to defend myself against these girls since the school had done nothing - to not fear the consequences but she expected me to stand up for myself the way she knew I was capable of doing. Since it would be two against one, I also remember her saying, "But once you start, don't you stop." Boy oh was like my whole thought process turned upside down and it felt good to know that I had my mom's support and that if there was any more crap, I would put an end to it. I knew I could do it. I was scared shitless, but I knew I could do it.

The next day at school, it all started again at lunchtime. They wouldn't allow me to talk to my girlfriends. They were making remarks about how they couldn't wait til lunch was over so they could knock me down in the hallway. I knew Mt. Saint Hoffman was ready to blow. I was intentional to wait til we were in the hallway because I'd have better leverage standing than sitting. We got about 4 steps out of the lunchroom when one of them shoved me from behind, almost did knock me down. But I bent over, gathered my power in my legs, and turned into Taz from Looney Tunes. I spun around and decided I would wail the one right behind me though I didn't know which one it was. Turned out it was the short chick with the huge jugs for an 8th grader. With all my force I knocked her backwards by hitting her square in the chest with the length of the top of my forearm. Then.....I don't remember much except the other one dove at me and I did whatever I did. The only thing I remember was they were both crying and my little league baseball buddies, pulled me off the one, on the floor, while the circle of students was huge and not very loud considering the amount of students present. I remember more of an awed hush. My buddies boo'ed the 2 girls down the hall and I was a trembling mess.

Then the tears came and the fear came because of my actions and because the girls ran away from me really upset too. My friends gathered around and we got collected to head to Mr. Yarger's health class. I couldn't stop shaking and all the blood was rushed to my head. Mr. Yarger stood, in front of his desk, his arms crossed his chest and he began talking about whatever chapter we were covering. Let me say, in case I have not at this point, I was a teacher's pet a few times in my life, a great student, the good manners, sweet, respectful. I knew I was not going to be able to sit there any longer.
I slowly raised my hand while Mr. Yarger was talking. "Yes, Miss Hoffman?"
My voice cracked, "Mr. Yarger, may I be excused to go to Mr. Hopkins office?"
 "Now Miss Hoffman? Why?"
"Well sir, I just got into a fight after lunch with two eighth graders and I need to go see the guidance counselor."
"YOU? Miss Hoffman? YOU were in a fight??"
Then one of my baseball buddies burst out, "YES! And she beat the crap out of them!" The class started cheering and laughing and they were still in shock, as I was.
"Yes, Miss Hoffman. You may go see Mr. Hopkins."
The class cheered as I got up from my desk and exited the classroom. I got into the hall and my knees almost buckled. I'll never forget the feeling......I feel it as I write.

Needless to say, Mr. Hopkins was not pleased with me. I was the first one in his office. He hadn't caught word of this fight yet. I was reporting it, which also shocked him. He summoned the other 2 girls - gave us a talking to. Then he called my mother because there would be consequences. My mother sat across from him with the same look she gave me when she affirmed I was not Jesus. ;) It was a short meeting and I had no consequences because my mother reminded him that she had made him aware of the girls bullying me. He said something about how I should have come to him. She said, "I told her to stand up for herself since you were doing nothing." He asked, "You gave her permission to fight?!?!" My mother, with her look, said, "Yes. It was that, or call a magistrate." Meeting over. And I went and looked up the word, "magistrate". hahahahahahaha!

By the end of that school year, one of the girls had sought me out [the non-jugs one] and apologized for what happened. We were never friends but it was nice to know I could make eye contact with them again and not worry.

I was bullied two other times, in my life. Once was the neighbor boy chasing me off the bus to kiss me and I busted his braces. I was a 6th grader, he was an 8th grader. I had another occasion, in high school, where I wrote a satire piece and volunteered to read it out loud, in the class, because all who it was intended for were sitting, in that class. That's my favorite way I combated bullying.

Brains and brawn are a good combination. ;)

Besides, reliving a good story, from my life - I think of these challenges often, as a parent. It's a different world we live in. The question remains: Are we empowering our kids to take care of themselves? Are we building their confidence when they aren't capable of weighing out the options? Tragedy is tragic. So is creating little humans that don't know their worth and how they learn victimhood over self-empowerment.

xoxoxo~ Beth 

What would I tell my 18 year old self?

It's graduation time. The time when so much buzz about having our houses spic and span for the onslaught of visitors and the hub-bub about keeping up with the Jones'.... right? is about the rite of passage, going from a "kid" to adult as our graduates exit high school and go to college AND again as they go from college to "the real world".

I sound cynical. I get annoyed at the fluff and nonsense we pump our graduates with. They are intelligent. Keep it real. Want to inspire them?  Speak with them, not at them, about the challenges ahead, which are completely surmountable and if they turn out to be insurmountable? Well...that's why there is yoga, exercise, journaling, traveling, and the good ole nose to the grind theory. Here's a sample of what my near 40 year old self would tell the 18 year old me.

1) Breathe - it's not overrated.
2) You are flawed - embrace it.
3) You are not on the earth to please and impress!
4) Your mama still knows you best!
5) At 18? Self love is the most life changing.
6) If it doesn't add value, don't do it. If you do it -  don't be blaming.
7) Your mama is right.
8) No one made you do anything!
9) Making decisions to please family members and then blaming family members for having made the wrong  decision is irresponsible, cruel and child's play.
10) Error much? Own it.
11) Rejoice much? Re-live it.
12) Life is unfair when it comes to cancer or death  of loved ones. Otherwise? Life is life. STD's, sucky grades and DUI fines are results of poor decisions. Period. End of sentence.
13) God is real. Don't worship yourself, don't direct your  worship as if to a far- off land. Worship your Source, your Creator, living in you.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Blasting Light - Exposure!

To a point, the phrase, "Healing takes time" is true.
Without awareness of what one needs to do to heal, time will be an enemy.

I wish to lay my soul bare before anyone whom will read this. I do so with trepidation. However, I have heard it said, "Vulnerability is the greatest measure of courage." To write this AND post this will be a defining moment towards my healing.

I was diagnosed in December with severe depression and anxiety disorder.

A process of losing me began to stew over 2 years ago when I was in my zone, my niche, my flow and we moved. Allow me to preface, I blame no one. I was shook and it has taken me a while to stabilize. We moved from a place where I finally wasn't known primarily, as a stay-at-home-mom and/or the city manager's wife. The details aren't important for the sake of healing. I am not at a place where I can bullet point all of the emotions....the underlying thought: When do I matter and to Whom? The past is the past, while one needs to identify the tripping events.....I can't change it and I know now, I wouldn't change it. I put on my "face". I dug in, in our new community, and put myself out there to start sharing my love of my business - Young Living while trying to keep connected to my people I left behind in the previous community. I was determined I would "fake it til I made it."

Two months later, we learned I was pregnant. If you have read any of my blog at all, you know, this was not joyous news no matter how others put on their dancing shoes and gave no thought to what I was going to have to deal with prior to a baby truly getting here. I felt like I couldn't be honest with those that I had been close to because I was met with, "Be positive. Have the right attitude!" There would be another baby! That is the important thing, right? [Disclaimer: The past 2 lines are dripping with sarcasm. My face would give that away, if we were conversing face-to-face. I am still a work in progress of realigning with reality of relationships after the past 2 years. I can't change how it made me feel. Also, I swear. Yes, I have a potty-mouth occasionally. I won't apologize or be shamed for it. ] My parents? They were scared shitless, initially. Why? Because I was at great risk. My Mom was my biggest support through the coming months. Me? I cried for weeks after learning the news. Fear shrouded everything. Guess what? Only Steve saw me cry almost every night. I pushed myself until I literally couldn't. I didn't unpack our home. I didn't scrub floors, I didn't do laundry. Our home looked like we needed an intervention for an episode of Hoarders. It was so awful because I do not know how to function in that. And I didn't know who to ask for help and I was ashamed of anyone seeing the condition of it ......because this was not the first impression I wanted to expose in our new community! My mind ran rampant with people talking about how the city manager's stay-at-home wife doesn't do anything all day. "That poor man!" The reality is I have been burned by that gossip factor, in the past [not on my housekeeping] but other things. There's a great possibility NO ONE would have said or spread anything. However, since I didn't know where I was safe and I was in survival mode....I just kind of rolled-over. I didn't love myself enough to be vulnerable and ask for help. I was in physical pain most of the time. We went to have the "big" ultrasound in Iowa City at 20 weeks. I had reservations about delivering in Waverly. Iowa City examined me and consulted that they would be happy to have me doctor in Iowa City but all looked great! So it was our decision. Well, we knew we didn't want to drive 2.5 hours every month in the Winter for regular appointments. PLUS - it was a girl! I was able to breathe. And I did.

4 weeks later, my water broke. [Please read the post "A Warrior Princess is Born" for the story of the beginning of that adventure.]

The experience of Katie's pregnancy, her birth, the separation from my family, grieving how nothing went ideal through 3 pregnancies, anger towards myself for not being able to have a "normal" pregnancy, coming home as an alien and being thrust into "regular" life......I wasn't being honest with myself. I was shutting down. The insecurity was magnified to a point where I started resigning that maybe I didn't have a place here. Maybe I was just the donor of babies to the world. I have seen myself as a vessel all my life. One day I wrote, "You are bigger than the life you are cramming yourself into." The issue with that statement is that I wasn't taking ownership of who was doing the cramming.

The week of Christmas 2015 - It got bad. The thoughts of harming myself......I had kept all the pain killers the hospital sent me home with, 10 months before. I remember when I left Ronald McDonald House the thought was "throw them away - you didn't use them in the midst of that pain...." and I packed them with the story, "I may need an out. I am weary. Some have made it clear to me, I am not needed as a mother or a wife. What if they don't need me? If it's as simple as that - I will want out." I still had a month before Katie was discharged. I wouldn't know if it was as I feared, until I got home.
The week of Christmas 2015 - I found a counselor and started anti-depressants. The shame. I am no longer ashamed - so please don't send messages that I needn't be ashamed.  Also, I don't want pity or sympathy. I share because I know I am not alone. I know there are others that are imprisoned by their fear of dying and/or living and worst of all- dying with a heartbeat. I had nearly completely disconnected. I called the OB who sent me to Iowa City the night my water broke. She was the only doctor I trusted in a close proximity to where we had moved prior to getting pregnant with Katie. She was part of my story. She saved my life and my daughter's life. On the phone, I trembled and told her, "My thoughts are not ok." "Do you want to harm yourself?" she asked. "Yes, but I can't. The baggage it will leave my kids with......" and I sobbed. She said something I will never forget, "Good. If you only knew how often children save their mother's lives." Then she told me the regular professional and clinical stuff and we set up a time for me to see her, and it was prompt. Then I was connected with a family medicine doctor to oversee the administering of an anti-depressant.

I was having anxiety attacks and had no idea that's what they were. I couldn't breathe. There was tightness across my chest. My body or parts of my body would go completely numb. I realized I have lived with anxiety all my life. Just always told myself, "You are neurotic and weird." A tip: if you view yourself in any light other than amazing and fabulous? Don't share that with those that don't love you. They will pounce and agree. Experience talking - when you have a low self-confidence, those who don't love you see you as prey and will jump at the opportunity to reinforce the negative self-talk. I don't know why. I still struggle with anxiety. When I feel it coming on, I try to do something fun or do a mindfulness exercise. There are many triggers: hearing from certain people, loud noises, the dog barking unexpectedly, the boys fighting, when Katie is in kitchen because we don't have the capability of putting a baby gate at the back steps going down from the kitchen, something on the calendar, leaving the house, large groups of people........I will keep working at it. I fear being perceived as lazy for as often as I have to sit and do breathing exercises through out the day. Oh....I struggle going out to community events.

No one else is responsible for my healing, but me. Sharing my story is part of my healing. When I expose shame and fear, darkness loses it's seduction and power. A couple months ago - I was in no place to write this and post it. My last post was called "Sanctuary"......we all need Sanctuary. Sanctuary is not synonymous with Seclusion. No one else is responsible for building my self-esteem but me. And that is what I have been doing.
Choices....choosing life over existence. Choosing to see me as my Creator sees me. Choosing to embrace this moment, and this moment, and this moment and the next and each thereafter. It's a discipline. I also need to start exercising...but I am giving my mind exercise - the good kind. Not running aimlessly.

I got stuck. I was spinning out, in my mind, over hurts, over my purpose, over things in the past, things I couldn't control, things I was and still am angry about. I seek ways to reinforce and pour energy into what is right with me. I have had to get to a point that even if not another single human being sees my value and treats me accordingly - it's ok.. because I will.

I had a distinct turning point, two weeks ago. I was watching my new favorite show Super Soul Sunday on OWN. It wasn't one single moment turned around that pierced through and shed light on my stinkin' thinking. It was 3 episodes of Super Soul Sunday. One with Daniel Goleman about Emotional Intelligence; a second with rock star Brene' Brown about her book Rising Strong (which has inspired me to be transparent about this struggle), and a third with Jon Kabat Zinn about Meditation. In that third episode, Oprah repeated a line from a previous guest she'd had, defining mindfulness as, "If you are cooking and stirring the pot, stir the pot." I heard that and instantly my mind's eye scrolled fast and furiously. I could see how I rarely ever look zdown and stir the pot, for the meal I am cooking without worrying about where are the kids? Anxiety for all I have to do or what I haven't accomplished and how I could be doing something else than stirring that damn pot. Which leads me to another quote by Eckhart Tolle: "Stress is nothing more than wishing the moment you are in was something different." Is that not true???

Therefore, I have communicated with Steve about what I need. I had two Saturdays the past month just Tilly and me, in our home. Recharge time! I meditate a couple times a week. I have to make it a discipline because it is incredible. There is an app called Calm - so great.. I have started coloring in adult coloring books. I have bought tickets for a couple cool things to do over the next month, Steve and I will see Garth Brooks!!!! A new friend and I are taking a painting class. And a life-long friend and I are going to a foodie gig Sunday! Progress also means I have made Katie cry it out at bedtime. That is a whole other post. I basically haven't slept since the 3rd week of September until the past 2 weeks. She is not a special needs baby. For me it was part of the trauma of her birth and for 12 weeks I didn't get to hold her whenever I ached to. Not until the day before she was discharged. While that is true, I was doing her no favor by giving in to her every whim. That night, I took back my nights. She is almost 17 months old, coming up on 25 lbs., wearing 18-24 month clothes, eating and drinking everything she's given.....she is perfect. She always has been. We are now at the place where no one knows she came in the second trimester and weighted 1lb. 11oz. That her daddy's wedding bad could slide on her leg up to her thigh. She is good. Great! Time to take care of me again!

 I have vision for my life. There's a scripture that says, "Without vision, my people perish."  I lost myself gradually over the past 2 years. I have been finding myself the past two weeks! :) I have stopped taking the anti-depressants - I am being transparent. I've had no ill side-effects. I have nothing against anti-depressants. They serve a purpose. They got me to where I could see different options. When the light shines in and solutions are evident and in my control - I'd rather struggle and work it out. Plus, the thoughts were starting to get scary again, the prescription was up and I decided to just stop the drug. After 4 weeks of taking the drug, my energy increased - but no joy. They never really did help with anxiety. Joy returned when I started practicing living IN the moment. I am still seeing the counselor who gave me the green light for "Driving out of survival mode." I also saw a post on Facebook the past week that said, "Struggle is not the same as suffering." That really speaks to me.

I have dreams again. I am also practicing my listening so I can learn more from God. A belief I have which is helping me tremendously is that when I was a twinkle in Heaven, I chose this life. This body, these desires, my parents, these struggles, this path and said to God, "Ya! That life! Sign me up! Put me in the game, Coach!" maybe sounds corny but what if Not only God knew what we'd face, in our lives, but at one point our spirit's did too?  Look at Super Man! He comes to earth and all his senses are jacked with and he has to learn how to discipline and train himself and hone his supernatural abilities to still be who he is, while loving and living presently, on Earth because it is a Gift to be on Earth. Huh. I like that.

Thank you for reading this. I know depression and anxiety are real. I also believe they are wake up calls to paying better attention to living authentically. I am grateful for when our bodies and minds indicate something isn't right - because then we have the opportunity to make it right. I haven't felt this great in 2 1/2-3 years. We are more powerful than we think. Being still is my new favorite place to be.