Tuesday, November 6

Weighty Labels

(Audio below)
It seems that for most of us it’s easier to identify with a label someone else gives you than it is to identify with a label you give yourself. In fact, few of us create our own labels, but we get handed them all the time by others. It starts when we are little.

I’ve decided that this happens because at no point in growing up does anyone tell you “Hey, you should start deciding for yourself who you are”. We just kind of fall into the existence of being told how others see us, “You are overweight”, “You should be a ballerina”, “You are funny”, “You are too serious”, “You are effeminate”, “You are weird”. And we let these mean something to us and tell us who we are.

Now, I’m not saying we consciously allow this to happen or we consciously don’t decide for ourselves who we are. It’s one of those things we fall into because we never think to be/do otherwise. It’s more by default.

I too did this most of my life, and it wasn’t until I was in my 30’s that I was suddenly able to hear it, and realize I should be the one deciding these labels, not others. And the reason I say that is that it almost doesn’t matter what other people want to label you with, if you don’t make your own labels, you will ACCEPT you are who you’ve been told you are.

And before I go much further I’m going to throw out a spoiler of sorts… the labels you are given have everything to do with the person labeling you. Based on THEIR views of themselves and how they grew up being labeled. It’s kind of a messed up way to receive self view. But I’ll come back to this.

I want to use an analogy to explain what I mean.

Imagine being handed a card every time someone tells you something about who you are. Lets say that as you are growing up, your dad continuously hands you an “overweight” card. Again, this is based on what HE considers to be overweight, and also, that concept “overweight” must be an issue for him! It’s not an issue or important to everyone and doesn’t have to be important to you either. It’s also based on which part of the world he lives in and what he is exposed to. Is he hanging out at the gym? This kind of thing.

Also, you think your dad is only going to hand you ONE of these cards in your lifetime? No… he is likely going to hand them to you over and over. So you are figuratively finding pockets for all these cards, and carrying them around with you everywhere you go. They become your reality and almost a safety-net, so that at any time you can pull out a stack of cards from one of these pockets and SHOW people who you are by listing your labels.

And chances are, you do not at any point realize you are being handed these cards/labels. You take them and you put them in your pockets. You even find that you keep being handed the same cards by the same people, so they don’t even stand out or feel strange anymore. And when your pockets are full and you are feeling down on yourself, you don’t notice it’s because of all the cards you have taken on board. Picture a pair of overalls, with added makeshift pockets to carry all the cards you have as you’ve got older and met more labeling people. Maybe it’s only at that point you realize you’re sick of these heavy overalls full of inaccurate labels. At some point, it might just get too much.

This was true for me. And when I finally had the idea of taking off everything that had a pocket, I stripped down to nakedness and taped a couple of those cards to my body, unable to let go of every label I’d been given, still unsure who I really was. And what an uncomfortable space to be in. The realization that you don’t know what you think because you have been taking on board what others think for so long. Its freedom on a level you might not be able to immediately accept. “Well, if I’m not going to believe “this”: ___, then what is my “that”?

To be honest, it’s giving yourself a blank slate to decide anything about yourself really. The craziest thing is that you COULD HAVE been doing this your whole life, but for some reason, you missed the memo.

This removal of all pocket and card containing layers of clothes coincided with a bunch of uncomfortable life changes for me, and finally reaching a point where I had to make my own decisions about who I am in order to like who I was. This is where I’m trying not to turn this into my story, but show others I have the same story. But this time, I’m hoping so bad that I’m not talking to people my age with decades of taking on cards they turned into a mountain of labels. I’m hoping that my young friends might be able to see “I’m doing this too. Nat is over here encouraging me to take off all those layers of labels and be comfortable in my own skin. Label and card free.”

You want to know what labels I’m willing to accept now? Happy. Loving. Kind. And when people try to hand me cards, I don’t reach out and take it, I let it fall to the ground. I decide who I am now. With a bit of attitude about it too. People can create or make as many labels for me as they wish. That’s their thing; let them be a label maker. I’m going to be me, do me, and worry about me. So that what I feel about ME…is all good.

Saturday, September 22

Fuel, Drive, Joy, Motivation, Creation, Accomplishment


My use of the word accomplishment recently led a friend to misunderstand that I meant it in a way that brought me some status, or money, or lifelong dream finally built. I shouldn’t be surprised, because the word itself kind of insinuates much effort was put forth and an end goal was reached.

When I typed “accomplishment” I was trying to sum up and find a word that fit why I love to write. Which really just did the opposite, I then had to explain what I meant by using that word, and I’m so glad my friend didn’t hear it how I meant it because that gave me opportunity to do what I love… explain and clarify so that I feel a sense of being understood. AKA Accomplishment. Point made.

And in the writing of my explanation, I realized I have another friend who might like to hear this, because that friend is in a place of not feeling fuel, drive, joy, motivation, creation, or accomplishment. To the point that friend is putting themselves inside a “cave” to be unreachable and alone. Outside of my arms length to affect or help. Sometimes that’s all I need to find a reason to write and feed myself a sense of accomplishment. (This same friend in the cave calls me a wordsmith, so you bet I want to be writing for that friend.)

And that is really the point I am going to make by the end. MY sense of accomplishment isn’t actually conditional upon success of a large end-goal. Sure I want my friend to come out of the cave, feel helped by my words, and benefit somehow from knowing me, but the truth is… MY sense of accomplishment, MY motivation, MY drive is just finding a way to say the things I want to say -to someone I care about. Whether my friend ever even reads this does not change, whether or not I have succeeded in that desire to clearly explain thoughts and feelings. I don’t write earth shattering words. I don’t feel ground breaking concepts, I write because I love to, and for how it makes me feel.

Like a race car driver. I doubt Kimi Raikkonen races ONLY to win and stand on the podium. He can’t. He clearly must love to race. He must love the team, the car, the tracks, the competition, the atmosphere, the everything, or he would not be doing this since the age of 10 (28 years). Every aspect is his fuel, his drive, his joy. Each of us have those things in us that bring us motivation in life. Which tends to be the stuff we are good at because that’s the stuff we enjoy doing most.

So lets go back to my slow small slug-like version of accomplishment. For me it’s nothing large. It’s nothing so fancy as that for Kimi. For me it’s taking a concept like mattering to a person and organizing words in a fashion where I feel people could get what I’m trying to say. And MY MIND feels satisfied and accomplished by the end result. As long as I’m satisfied, I am accomplished.

This is not an idea that has been with me all my life. I used to have giant towers and mountains of ideals surrounding me that looked and felt impossible to ever conquer. I had so many imaginary un-scaleable mountains that provided me with a million excuses for why I couldn’t become this or ever succeed at that. And eventually I saw that these towers and mountains were all created by my imagination. They weren’t real, and nobody else could even understand them, let alone see them. “Are you fucking crazy Natalie? What are you looking at?” could be the words spoken to me. And I realized accomplishment comes wherever I want it -in whatever form I enjoy and want to feel it. I could just as easily decide that none of my writings will ever be read by anyone and feel accomplishment in filling the hard drive of my laptop with a library of essays. (I do that too.) The realization I DECIDE was the real groundbreaker. Not anything I actually did or “accomplished”. I can feel fuel, drive, joy, motivation, creation, accomplishment, over anything I choose to feel it over and I even decide if I’m going to argue that with the negative committee in my head. I can decide also that nothing is up for debate, because the negative committee is not me, not employed by me, and they are best seen as squatters who need to be kicked out.

What we feel, the levels at which we feel, the end results of our feelings, so much is for you to decide. You own you. It’s easier to believe you don’t and that those mountains aren’t scaleable… but that is only because that is what you are used to. I’m now used to not seeing mountains, just molehills I can cover.

If my “caving” friend reads this, my friend will remember the many things I’ve had to deal with this year. And how I have not sailed through easily. Life can happen to us as well…but that is why we have to remember to be in charge of the things we can be deciding. There are plenty of things outside of our control. We may as well control the things we can. And frankly, I want to be having joy in all the areas I am capable of joy. Personally, I want to choose to feel accomplishment even at typing black letters onto a white screen…because all those things happening to me aren’t at my fingertips to delete or rewrite. So you bet I will control all the things I can. My attitude is the most important one. This has nothing whatsoever to do with reward or money for said accomplishment. I create my creation. I love the process. I feel fulfilled. This is why I have never cared for money. It’s a necessary tool. Its not attached to what is my joy. My feeling accomplishment at what I wanted to accomplish is the real goods.

Tuesday, September 11

Lucky

How do I explain feeling so lucky when it has everything to do with someone's suicide? I know I just wrote about suicide of my friend, but two weeks earlier my adopted sisters best friend Berta committed suicide. Berta is also the sister of one of my close friends. And as I watched as these people I love so much mourn this incredible woman, (who I never somehow met) I continually felt, and feel lucky. For multiple reasons.

The first reason feels cruel to type. But I am glad that as I hear so many stories about Berta; her talents, her kindness, her beauty, they are still stories for me. I didn't know her voice, I don't have conversations cataloged, and no memories to replay in pain. I don't have to feel the giant hole her loss has created for my loved ones who are worthy of knowing top quality humans.

What I do have, is more love for my loved ones in pain, and luck to have them around.

An even bigger reason for me to feel Lucky these last couple days is that Berta should have turned 40 a couple days ago. My 40th birthday was the best birthday of my life. I was on the best vacation of my life, and having some of the biggest realizations of my life. I even wrote a short story about it. So, for someone to miss out on something that was so great for me, it's like I'm being reminded, "You are so Lucky!".

Anyone reading that knowing what stresses I've been through this year would question my honesty, considering how big a mess I have been at times, but today as I think about Berta missing out on turning 40, the sensation of being so lucky is loud and clear. Fact is I didn't lose a best friend or a sister and that too makes me lucky. Life is fragile and a gift. The only way to enjoy it is through choice combined with perspective. I NEED to love life. the alternative is too hard and uncomfortable to bear. So here I sit in a soft chair in my creative canvas I call home, and with a list of countless people I love and who love me...lucky is the most accurate word I have.

Another friend also touched with suicide in his life posted a pic of a fortune from a cookie on instagram. It read: "The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground". I am going to continue hoping I will be so lucky to become a mighty oak. Not letting anyone -including myself- chop me down before I get there. This little nut is going to hold tight.

Ya know, when I die I don't need there to be a reward or an "after". All I need is to be happy and feel good. Anything after or "next" would be a bonus. I'm already lucky.

Sunday, July 22

Yanny?


I was recently introduced to that YT video with the recorded voice saying a word that some people hear as Yanny and others hear Laurel. Twitter says 47% hear Yanny, and 53% hear laurel. Other videos have been done where they change the pitch of the word which does affect what people hear, but lets stick with the fact that in its original sound, we hear something different. Does this mean anything?
 
It does.

It means that no one person can be 100% right because there is no RIGHT. There IS perspective. And Nobody has to change who they are to hear something different, all anyone should do is accept we aren’t all the same. We won’t all agree and most of the time there isn’t only two things to argue rightness about.

I’m also feeling the need to write about this because it’s one of my biggest pet peeves… when someone insists there is no other perspective but theirs. Usually these are people who believe everything is black and white, and since I’m a believer of countless grays, I can’t even entertain conversation with a B&W closed mind anymore. It’s pointless and time wasting. I write about this in Gray is Good and recently have referenced Statistical Uniqueness in conversations about this too. The world is obsessed with our differences right now, to the point of a mentality being created. This “You are offending me” kind of thinking. Which creates this over inflation of pride which then makes the offended individual offend. It’s like the building of an attitude too. One that doesn’t allow for Yanny to be Laurel. And if I get to throw out an opinion now –I think that changing this attitude could be easy. It would only require putting oneself in a space of RESPECT. Because there, one could accept what I hear: Laurel, is not what you hear: Yanny. And does this have to break the bank? No. Not in a space of Respect. In that space we accept EVERYONE is different.

So… how often can we put ourselves in this space? Trying to go there after an argument is already underway is rather impossible. So why not try to make it the space you occupy continually? Like your Aura, your bubble, your surrounding vibrational field that people feel when you are nearby? Why not live in that space of respect?

I’ve also referenced Being Understanding When I Don’t Understand, in a couple conversations recently. The two ARE different. You don’t have to understand a person and their choices to be understanding that they are struggling with those choices. It also doesn’t mean you have to garnish their load and make it your burden. To be in a respectful space and to be understanding, you are in the best place for yourself. If they expect your respect and understanding to be your lifting of the load too… that is their inability to grasp being in a respectful space and that in our differences, nobody need be exactly on the same page. Because fact is, some hear Laurel.

We are not automatons. We are humans with a googolplex of cells making each of us unique.

Saturday, June 16

The Heart Pumps Love


I can only imagine what it is like to have a human created from YOU and who you are. I have to just guess how it feels to see the best of you in them, and have your heart pump love because of them.

I made the choice to not know this kind of love, because I could imagine it, and it seemed so incredibly giant. I couldn’t and wouldn’t do it. I even let “god” know that if “he” somehow made it happen, I would stop it.

I realize this is a decision I could one day regret when I’m old and alone, but thus far in life, I’m glad I made the choice I did.

If we did have past lives, I would be more than happy to assume I know this feeling of your heart pumping love because of a human you created. It would make sense that somewhere in me remembers that giant level of love, and somewhere in me also knows that in this incarnation I am strong in some ways, but very weak in others.

I start even saying this because I realized at the appearance of someone I love so very much, that there are faces in my mind that 100% of the time bring me a physical smile, and make my heart pump with love. What would I do without these dearhearts? Because fact is… If my heart can’t pump with love, there is no reason for it to operate at all.

Everyone is NOT equal. Sorry. Not everyone knows how to be a dearheart, and that’s a private club for every individual to check ID at the door.

To my Dearhearts, you know who you are… I live for your beauty, love, and knowing you are happy. My heart pumps because of you.



Saturday, June 9

Wholeness (and Dancing)

(A friend who knows me well said that this was too short. She asked me to elaborate because it ended too soon. I love my Melissa, therefore: EDITED)
There are tooo many things to write about these days. I’m so in my head with multiple life lessons and “issues” needing my attention. I would say I’m overwhelmed, except for the gravity of each of them. I think they are all bigger than me. So really, its like looking at planets or moons… all I can do is stare and talk. There is no holding them or trying to carry their weight. They are just too big. Feeling these things are bigger than me, I do still feel pushed by them. Despite not collapsing under the weight, I find myself needing coping mechanisms.

I have two great ones. The first is more temporary than the second, and its also a bit ethereal because it requires the decision to be present. I think that decision to be present is possibly why so many people love PHOTOGRAPHY. I highly doubt most people know why they love taking pictures, just that they do. I think for many, the joy comes in that capturing of the NOW. They don't consciously say "I am being present, I am enjoying this scene, I am composing this image, I am paying attention to this beauty, I am a sentient being" (haha). All they know is it's fun and feels nice.

It's fun and feels nice to me too. It is also an enigma to me. I've been taking pictures since I could operate my mom's Kodak Instamatic 608 using 110 film. (Which btw, I still have; it's in my camera collection.) I have done portraits, glamour photography, food, still life, and ads. All fun, but my greatest love with photography is what I see vs. what the camera sees. Many people argue this, when I say it, but I stick to my experience, and that is I don't decide what looks good. The camera does. And with that in mind, I regularly grab the camera when I see something that looks cool to my eyes, to see if the camera agrees. I would say 75% of the time it does, and it even shows me MORE than what I SAW. And then there are all those times the camera can't see anything I am wanting to capture. One thing I know for sure, is that if what I'm seeing has elements of light... Then the camera and I conspire in fascination for coolness and we have even more fun together. Which is also a reason why I love macro photography. I want to see the little stuff the naked eye can't appreciate, like how the shape of water is sometimes only evident because of light. The camera is fond of this too, and we regularly PLAY.

Instagram was made for people like me who take hundreds of photos and share one every few hundred taken. I love to see what other people are finding cool, and what their camera is finding beautiful. The mention of instagram compels me to say that people who are finding their own face or body fascinating everyday are the ones I just can't follow for long. Sorry Charlie, your pouty lips just aren't as cool to me as they are to you. But, Yay You, for loving your face!!

Photography is one of the few things that give me a separation from those weighty planets, with my brain happy to say: “I’m busy right now. Call back later. I'm already occupied with looking at beautiful things”. 

The second coping mechanism is actually a pretty big thing I should have discovered long ago –and many have. It’s DANCING. Not dancing for anyone to see, just dancing for me to feel. This also comes back to what I write about all the time: getting to know yourself and improving self esteem. Which is how the dancing started, actually. I decided to use it as a way to try and feel more comfortable in my own skin. And I’m going to jump ahead for a second to say: It Totally Fucking Worked!

I’ve said this so many times, but I have not known myself most of my life. I’ve been an enabler ON HOLD. So as I've been getting to know ME and realizing I have many things to fix and heal, I have learned much about who I am and who I’m not. This is my journey now. It’s possibly best described as a path to wholeness. So, in my attempts to feel whole, I must stretch and step outside of the space I regularly stand… and Dance.

How I started was like a coward. In the dark, in the bathroom, in front of the mirror, but with the only light coming through a crack in the door from my bedroom. So I began dancing in that sliver of light, and used my fascination of light and shape as a way to keep moving. The REAL key was having just discovered the music of Andrew Belle. Dancing to his Black Bear album was more fun that I could believe, and so the dancing continued effortlessly, until one day, the dark didn't even matter. I knew how certain songs made my body feel, and then The 1975 got involved, and it's impossible to hold still when I hear songs I love.

Dancing has altered so much in me. It’s been over a year now, and there is no going back. The benefits literally can’t be explained or shared. It has changed how I see myself and how I even see life. It has increased my love of music (which seems impossible) and I can’t squeal enough about this new found tool. I do realize dancing is so normal for most people they don’t think twice about it. But for me it was never normal, and now it has become extraordinary.

Having explained the dancing, I will say this is one of the reasons my lovely Melissa and I connected. It is also why she said this post was not long enough. I had already started dancing as a therapy, before I learned she is in school to become a dance therapist. She saw the dancing become more and more fluid to me as this whole process unfolded.

That old Lee Ann Womack song “I hope you dance” has new meaning to me. I always heard the message as taking what life gives you and turning it into success –Dance being the metaphor for success. But now I want to hear it as Dance being the tool to get through everything. Don’t do what I did and NOT dance. Keep yourself healthy, keep you eyes and ears open, keep you body and mind willing to be fluid, and when you need some help, or happiness, or therapy, DANCE. I’m proof it does things, it changes you.

Now I’m gunna dance my way to Wholeness.

Saturday, April 14

The LITTLE things ARE the BIG things.


I don’t know what to call this thing that we have inside us that wants to feel like we’ve mattered, that we’ve affected something for the better, but really, it’s a need to know the world is a better place because we were in it. It sounds a bit narcissistic if you look at it shallowly, but what it is when coming at it from the heart; it’s knowing you’ve done something for someone. Some of us think “making a difference” has to be some multi-life-saving event that we will be memorialized by. And yet, most of us also still feel content knowing we “helped” whether by giving someone twenty bucks, offering a much needed hug, or by being understanding and kind to someone really needing it. This need to feel “a difference” follows us throughout life and I think it might be a thirst that’s unquenchable for some.

One of my jobs is serving coffee, and although some could argue that serving coffee is making a difference, (*big smile*) I come in contact with many people who make a difference to me. Whether it’s getting to experience their kind heart, getting to know my sweet co-workers better as they share personal stories, or in serving my small town police officer that grew up in this town and genuinely loves the people he serves… these small things make a difference to me because these people are sharing their lives and hearts. I have to then hope that I might be doing this for someone else, either through coffee or in my general life, also sharing my heart.

Really, we can’t possibly know what difference we’ve made at the end of a well-lived life. We can’t quantify each encounter to end up with a great sum. The sad thing is that the way we spend so much of our lives beating ourselves up for not being “enough”, it’s likely we don’t even see the difference we make on a continual basis.

I know that I don’t tell people who give me a much needed laugh that their light-heartedness, or my medicinal laughter because of them -helped me. But the truth is, things like those are vital. I survive on those small moments as they happen daily, and I’m surely not alone in that feeling.

Life is fragile, not just our physical life; but our hearts too. Cruel words, a mean attitude, and general negativity affect us. They affect our day, our sleep, our happiness, and when it comes to feeling “ok” or “not ok” it’s the small things that make a difference and keep us going. Two of my favorite small things are love and kindness. THAT is how we make a difference.

Wednesday, March 28

Balance… and imbalance


After a concussion and then a car accident, I’ve recently had reason to wish for balance. I had an abundance of vertigo and dizziness, with the concussion. Once that left, the car accident gave me whiplash and a lack of balance in all areas even without the vertigo or dizziness reappearing. I easily lose physical balance, but in addition to that, I have found there is now an emotional need for balance. Because what comes with a car accident? The need to find another car, countless phone calls and appointments to put everything right again... My balance of simple/busy life has tipped the scales to busy leaving me wishing for simple again. And with my physical balance still and issue even though the vertigo and dizziness are gone I’m continuing to dwell on the word BALANCE mostly because of whiplash and neck pain. Physical imbalance makes it almost impossible to have a good attitude and be willing to exert oneself beyond what in the immediate moment you could call “comfort”.

I’ve started getting massages to help. The muscle relaxants make me feel shit in my whole body, so it’s just trading one form of feeling shit for another. NOT what I want. So these massages are a new experience for me. I’ve never had so much physical attention to my bones and muscles finding I hurt in places I didn’t know were hurting. But I’m also experiencing that its when I am laying on that massage table that I am closest to feeling balance. At least that was the case today as this “desire for balance” was in the forefront of my mind. When it comes to having a massage, if I’m not present in the massage I am wasting the opportunity to be there. And why would I want to waste a massage? Ya, I don’t.

This lesson of being present for the massage has come about because of a realization with my work schedules that are ever changing. There is no point stressing myself out trying to remember what time I work each day and each week. So how I stop my mind from going out of balance is to stop my mind from the attempt to remember. I remove the need to remember by looking at when I work the day before. This keeps me present and doesn’t fill my mind with unnecessary information. If I need to know I can look it up.

I also got myself a dry erase board for the fridge that holds a fortnights worth of upcoming appointments. My memory since the car accident is pretty crap, and so I kind of have no choice but to put my appointments in one place. Doing so on the fridge… somewhere I visit each morning is like giving myself a place to trust instead of my memory.

I am also leaving a job because it is forever tipping me to imbalance. I can no longer work such long hours when mental and physical are non-stop. The need to take a break and relax is a real need.10-12 hours of working straight is something my dog hates me doing too… and I also need balance for her. She’s a priority I paid a lot of money for, and she too cares about long work hours.

Am I naive in wanting to find balance in existence irrespective of me? I want balance to BE. What I mean is, whether it is me or someone else that walks into the room the environment is balance, not the individual entering. Which isn’t to say I don’t want to be balance or HAVE TO be balance—because frankly—if the environment is balance then my turning up and also being balance is a successful situation, and I’ve said it before, success takes us to happiness, and what is happiness? (the meaning of life when I’m the one answering that question.) I want to be balance without being the balance generator. I feel like this might be daydreaming. I can’t be the only person out there seeing the great need for balance.

Here… it’s like rims and tires… I don’t want to be the rims or the tires. Or even the alignment for that matter. Id rather turn up and do the part as the tire tread. If I also have to be the entire tire, I’m left wondering just how effective the rims are, and considering my need to be rims too. Balanced rims and tires mean my tread is totally useful and needed as a balanced part of this “system”. Concentrating on my role of helping the vehicle move forward safely. Some people in this world want to be the tread, the tire, the rims, and the whole damn vehicle. But you know what that is? Imbalance. I don’t care what aspect of life you look at, whether it’s what you put in your body (food/drink/drugs), how you treat your body (exhaustion/abuse/respect), and where you stand emotionally (lack/steady/excessive), you will “succeed at living” when you find balance. Learning to see when too much is too much, when scarcity is too severe, and learning (or just finally seeing) where balance is and how you capture it.

I have glimpses of balance, I’m going to use those to get more of it.

Thursday, March 8

The Sparkly Ones


I’m going to sound like a little kid, and the giddiness that comes when I talk about sparkly people only makes it worse. I’m not saying this topic makes it hard for me to be taken seriously, but it is a funny/quirky topic.

I started using the term “Sparkly” because of a regular customer at work. He’s a young married dude who I shouldn’t even be noticing, but I am not in control of how his insides shine through his face and eyes. And NO… he is not flirting, I don’t even know if he knows how much he sparkles. And truth be told, I have no idea if he has a good heart or who he is. But traditionally when someone sparkles, they not only have a good heart, they have an amazing heart and the ability to care, be kind, be present, and thoughtful and have huge amounts of inner beauty… and THAT is why I’m writing this. Its having seen sparkly peoples insides.

The people I DO know well, and sparkle, they have Beautiful insides oozing out of them. In fact, I’ve learned too; that the non-sparkly people, and I mean the assholes, DO NOT have inner beauty that is big enough to radiate out. Which isn’t to say I’m calling them people without any inner beauty, but I am saying that they don’t have it at such high levels with a genuine-ness that makes their inner beauty shine. –To Sparkle.

And yes, if you haven’t already heard it, the Sparkly ones are beautiful. I say it clearly on the gallery page of my instagram account: It doesn’t matter what your outsides look like when your insides are ugly. And do you know what this means? Beauty is not an outer thing. Its an inner thing.

And guess what? I just made a connection. Correlation is a thing I love, and this connection has been staring me in the face my whole life. (THIS IS WHY I write –I can put things together and come up with answers and clarity)

In my last post I talk about the Beautiful Man, and seeing myself as the Ugly Girl. With that poor self esteem taking me to the severe word: “ugly”. Part of that conclusion is looking like my father whose outsides match his insides. That fact makes me see my resemblance to him as me being ugly… but… and this is what I just realized: The real way to be ugly, the ONLY way, is to not have beautiful insides, and if there is ONE THING I have learned to this point in life, it’s that my insides are NOT ugly.

So really, to have used the word ugly associated with ME, Natalie, is crazy. It’s inaccurate and based on what I’m writing about today, what I see in others, and who I am to them, it’s far more likely that I too sparkle.

That’s a bold statement! HA! It’s even hard to reread. My ego mind wants to criticize the writer of that sentence with a sarcastic “Wow”.

Another example… I learned this lesson recently when I went to see one of my most favorite singer/songwriter/musicians in concert. Andrew Belle was opening for Matt Kearney and between acts I stood in line and met the wonderful Andrew. First of all let me admit I have never seen via instagram that AB was Sparkly. He just seemed like a great dude overall that makes incredible music. But standing in line to be one of the adoring fans wanting a photo and an autograph, I saw not just sparkly, but humble and beautiful through and through. I was surprised. I did not know he would be one of the Sparkly Ones. I felt shock and awe learning that inner beauty is really only seen when you get to stand in front of a person and see WHO they are. I’m fascinated by this. I finished up looking like a teenage fan with my adoration and walked away to find his sparklyness had affected me enough that it fell out of my eyes. (When something feels big, it “falls out my eyes”.)

Back to topic. Whether it’s a customer, Beautiful Man, or Andrew Belle, it doesn’t matter what your outsides look like because once your insides get seen through your eyes, your choice of words, your intonation, your actions and deeds, even your smile for godsake… You show people who you are and you WILL be ugly or beautiful. You might even Sparkle.

Saturday, March 3

Self Perception and YAB stickers


I recently installed Marco Polo on my phone. For most people this is probably nothing to blog about. But as someone who has spent her adult life trying to tackle self esteem, it’s a “thing” for me to suddenly be watching myself as I hold a conversation. Cuz you see, I have become an avid believer in NOT doing things you know can “damage” your self esteem. For me, one of those things is not watching myself on video. I have plenty of reasons why, but that’s not the point. The point is I have accepted that although I don’t see myself in conversation, others DO see me talking to them. So I need to wrap my head around it being NOTHING for them to see me talking. And it shouldn’t be for me either. Annoyingly this is not easy. I don’t look on the outside like I see myself. I’m also thinner than I’ve been most of my life, so this only adds to my lack of recognition when I see myself talking. Why is this so different from what I see in the mirror? Clearly I can’t see myself very far from straight on, so self view is limited. This is true for all of us. Plus I’m not a selfie taker, so I don’t have an obsession with my own face.

Since I’m being so up front writing about my childhood as of late, I’m going to admit something… *deep breath* The thinner I am the more I look like my father. And since I don’t want to be anything like him, that physical fact is actually upsetting. Yes, I try to put weight on but fact is my body is operating better than when it was 30lbs heavier. However, that additional weight is what I want to look like again. The main reason being I didn’t look as much like any family member. I just looked like me. I want to look like me again.

This last summer I learned that children who were hit on the head, grow up with self loathing issues. Although the word loathing is extreme for me, I would be a liar if I sat here and said I didn’t have some level of self loathing. My understanding of the psychology is that being hit on the head as opposed to being punched in the face means that there aren’t natural instincts in place to block a hand coming from the side or back. This psychologically causes not just self-loathing, but loathing for the person hitting you. Can I even tell you how big that light bulb shone as I heard that. *Hand in Glove*

Continuing to over-share, because self esteem is one of the “things” I’m fascinated by; how could I possibly like my appearance if:
1. I think I don’t look like the “me” I know
2. I think I look like my dad
and
3. I was continually hit on the head as a child

And… you know what else? I’m not unique. This story is not unique. Countless people have this same issue. I’m not the only kid that got hit.

So what do we do? Frankly I’d love advice because I’ve come up with a few things to remember.
1. Know your insides ARE visible to others.
2. Avoid things that add to a detrimental self view.
3. (And probably the biggest) Know that it is impossible for anyone to see you the way YOU see you.

I ended up in a self-perception discussion recently with someone I went to high school with. That’s almost not the best way to describe him because I spent a lot of time at his house. I met him around the age of 16 or 17 when his family moved into my neighborhood. It was an extra large family because the parents got married each already having many kids. I became friends with his siblings and step-siblings. I was at their house often, and sometimes 4-5 of them would hang out with me laughing and having fun. We created numerous inside jokes, and when I was over, even some of the little ones enjoyed my company. It was like I was “a family friend” since there were so many ages often in the room. “Going to High school” with him is almost the best way to describe my association with him, because although I was continually at his house, he kept his distance. He was in my year of school, and all of the siblings and step-siblings I hung out with were younger than us. Over time I accepted he didn’t want to have anything to do with me because—he didn’t. We never spoke. This guy even avoided the room I was in whether it was the kitchen, the family room, or anybody’s bedroom. And what made it worse, was the fact he was so beautiful. Me with my hyper-poor self esteem feeling ugly already, was avoided and ignored by the most beautiful person in the house. And it wasn’t just once or twice, it was always.

After high school I continued to hang out with his sisters and step sisters, even regularly hanging out with the two brothers closest in age, and then I left the country. He too left the country, then around 20 years later I saw him again. And guess what? He still didn’t speak to me. He still silently told me with his beautiful face and absent words that I was ugly. This was long after I started tackling my self esteem problem, so as you can imagine, for me to STILL have a deep held belief attached to a person that I’m ugly, I developed a slight “fuck you” attitude toward him. His being in the room when I would cross paths with his sisters now and again was a cruel reminder of an even cruller attitude toward me; I was to forever be ignored. The “not good enough” unspoken words ringing loudly in my ears.

So when we crossed paths more at local events, I was actually bothered when I saw him. On occasion he had no choice but to acknowledge me, so I did get “hello”. But I let his silence be mean words toward me that equated to something like “You aren’t good/interesting/attractive/cool enough.” He was only a reminder I was ugly. (If he reads these words I will be horrified.)

Me having tackled so much of my self esteem issues I turned his example into a lesson I now happily preach: Not everyone is going to like you. Fact. You might be unable to gel with many people in this world. Even ones you find beautiful. He never actually did or said anything for me to confirm what he thought of me, so fact was, his outsides remained beautiful. You know when someone shows you how shitty they are as a human and they then become extra ugly on the outside?
*cough cough*
*my dad*
*cough*
Well, Beautiful Man never did show me his insides, so annoyingly, he remained beautiful. I couldn’t turn his outsides ugly simply because of my perception of what his silence meant.

Then one day I crossed paths with him again and it had just been his birthday. So with all normalcy and familiarity I went up to him and said “Happy recent Birthday”. He turned and hugged me thanking me the way an old friend would, and just started talking. Was I surprised? Damn straight! This was my first contact with him feeling like I was a friend DESPITE my long held closeness as a friend to the majority of his family. If I’m honest with myself, and my math is accurate, we are talking somewhere around 25 years of potentially applicable friendship that was never applied. It was at this point (by my view) we became friends. So really, he is a new friend. The only elements I knew of him that I would have if we had been actual friends all these years were connected to either his siblings instagram accounts or his. And looking through his photos, I did find it funny that someone so beautiful would put up You Are Beautiful stickers in random places, sharing that attitude of love, because those were MY words TO HIM for so long. A beautiful person telling people they are beautiful, when what I felt all these years was You Are Ugly. It was almost funny. Not because he had anything to do with it, hell, he had nothing to do with it… literally. He just ignored me. I decided what his silence meant. It was me that had him giving me YAU stickers instead.

As we have become better friends I’ve learned he is someone with perspective I want to hear. So when we would cross paths, we would have great conversation, sometimes short, sometimes long; always topics up my alley. THEN recently two things happened. I had opportunity to tell him while in a discussion on self esteem that his unwillingness to have anything to do with me as a teenager had me sure I wasn’t good enough for him. His response to that was very soft and kind. He said he needed to mourn that, and explained that his teens were full of hardship for him wrapping his head around the merger of these two families and leaving his life and mom behind. His teens were full of HIS woes, and he related a story of someone else in high school calling him arrogant. His silence and introverted needs were labeled by others including me as him being too good for us. And why was this? I can’t speak for others but I know it’s because I found him so beautiful.

So back to where this started. I installed Marco Polo on my phone and the whole reason I’m writing this has everything to do with this App. Because guess who messages me?
Beautiful Man.
And guess who I have to see replying to him?
Ugly Girl.
Remember what I know I need to avoid to keep a healthy self esteem? Don’t see myself on video. This is also why I’m so willing to snapchat. I can filter my face to look nothing like me, and THERE I am safe. I can watch it and I don’t feel worse or as though I’ve damaged my self image. Because remember I’m fully aware I’m the only one that sees what I see.

So in the sending messages with Beautiful Man, I get on the subject of how hard I find it to have the camera on me, and then we get on a discussion about Self Perception. In that discussion I admit finding his sharing of the YAB sticker ironic because he’s the beautiful one. And then he tells me that he has never considered himself beautiful. It wouldn’t even be in the list of words he’d use to describe himself. Which then made me admit the word beautiful is the first word I’ve always used to describe him. (Can you even believe I’m being so honest?)

With a perfectly humble and sincere response he says thank you and laughs that he’s glad my perceptions of him are no longer a barrier to our friendship.

Did you hear that? Did you just catch what happened?

I have been the wall. There was no point where I set down my self perception and my judgment  of him to step up and even slightly get to know him. I let my self view (which is specific to ME) dictate everything, including what he thought. Are you kidding me? Am I kidding me? It’s taken me THIS LONG to get this? And an app that makes me uncomfortable taught me this by giving rise to a self perception conversation. Damn.

And as it turns out, he’s more beautiful on the inside than the external version I saw. Neither of which match his views on himself. I say it all the time, perspective is everything. Why do we find it so hard to consider that not only do we decide how to see something, we COULD change it, and there are plenty of ways to see it anew. Will you be forced, or will you make a choice?

What facts do I take away with this fascinating lesson?
1. Beautiful Man is only beautiful.
2. Nobody sees me the way I do.
3. If you think you know a person and you’ve never talked, you know nothing.