I have a story for you. A story about a little girl who grew into a woman. A story about me.
When I was on the playground in second grade, Sammy Sanchez threw a worm at my jumper (a jumper which my mom had made me). The worm pooped on the pink ruffled lapel. The stain refused to wash out. I was devastated. Little did Sammy know, at that point in time, everything in my life had to be perfect. Worm poop on my jumper didn’t fall into my realm of acceptable dilemmas.
Years later, in high school, I got extremely sick with a colon disease. In order to get well, I had to GET OVER my desire for everything to be perfect. (I wrote about that in a book called Finding Miss Sunshine, which you can order at www.HeidiTankersley.com/books.)
Swing forward to present day. I haven’t seen Sammy since second grade, but I still work on making sure I don’t get wrapped up in being perfect.
Little did I know, trouble was brewing …
A few years ago, in a conference room, at a design and manufacturing company, a group of people gathered. They brainstormed and they schemed, until they’d concocted a way to throw another proverbial “worm” at my jumper. They hoped the worm was going to poop on me. They hoped I would show my second-grade self. They hoped I’d be tormented by the worm poop.
The company devised their plan, and they put it into action. They implemented design upgrades on their product. They put it out on shelves. And unknowingly, I bought it. I bought lots of them.
“What? What is it?” you ask.
Well, I’ll tell you.
But not just any sport socks. Sport socks with “L” and “R” stitched into the fabric at the toes or inside the ankle.
The. Worm. Had. Just. Pooped.
On my jumper.
See, here’s my laundry reality: I’m lucky to come out with an even number of socks. After every load of wash, if there’s not a solo straggler, I do a silent victory dance. It’s a good day when corresponding colors get matched.
Today, as I pull that giant pile of socks out of the dryer, I prepare myself to face the worm poop. I refuse to return to my second-grade self. Oh yes, my hands start to shake, and my chin quivers a little. But I square my shoulders, clench my jaw, and look away.
And then, I pair an “L” with an “L.”
Yes, that's right. "Left" with a "Left." And a "right foot sock" with a "right foot sock." I refuse to give in. I’m determined. I WILL NOT give in.
I’m sure some of you out there revel in the idea of knowing your left big toe is going to position itself exactly where your left big toe was last time in that sock. Admittedly, years ago, I would have jumped for joy at this inventive idea.
Now, I only think of worm poop.
And I take a deep breath. And I pair those same-letter socks, and then, I...
Well, I let it go …
Do your children go to school with “L” and “L” socks? Does your husband wear “R” and “R” socks to work? Let’s support each other. Let’s make a stand together. Here’s to being perfect no longer. Here’s to wearing worm poop proudly on our lapels.
We have enough things we can’t get “quite right” in life. We already judge and critique ourselves far too much. I refuse to allow matching our “L” and “R” socks to position itself on my whiteboard of to-do’s. I won’t give myself any “star stickers” for doing that.
Above all, let’s remember our blessings. We have little people we get to put those socks on. We have running water, toilets, and WASHING MACHINES! We live in a day and age where my biggest complaint I can think of (seriously) is “L” and “R’s” on socks, and worm poop on my jumper lapel. Wow. What a beautiful time in the world to grow up and be alive.
Quick, right now, name five things you have to be grateful for.
I’m grateful for sport socks.
Love to all,
Late at night a few weeks ago, with my bedside light glowing, and my husband sleeping soundly beside me, I finished the book The World According to Mister Rogers. In the middle of my reading, my mind launched into its familiar deep-thought, journal mode.
This is something I wrote in my journal that night:
“Sometimes as parents, because we want to protect our children from the pain of societal rejection, we make a habit of focusing on the things that need “fixing” in them—the stuff we want to help them grow out of, the places we want to see them do better. What we don’t realize is our very picking and calculating and fixing is what can make our children feel the most inadequate and insufficient of all. What if we focused on all they’re good at? Everything lovely about them? And ignore the rest? Perhaps, we’d see all the inconsistences fall by the wayside, and we’d watch our children truly shine.”
This morning, over coffee at my kitchen table, I sat back and really reflected on this quote. My words kind of give me chills.
What if I stopped protecting my kids from what I think might cause them pain? What if I stopped assuming they care about what I care about?
What if I stopped thinking about how Andrew’s tongue gets caught between his teeth on his s’s when he talks fast? What if I stopped fretting about how Joely’s hair will look on mornings she wants to just “do it herself!”?
What if I stopped thinking about what other people were thinking about my kids, and instead, focused on the way my children face the world? The way they reach out to people? What if I focused on how they interacted with others? How they treat others in moments when it's not easy to be kind? What if I focused on their strengths? How would they feel if, every time they walked into a room, my face lit up, simply because I’m happy to see them and am joyful because I have their presence close by?
How would my children respond?
Ms. Morrison, author of The Bluest Eye, said this in an interview on the Oprah show decades ago:
“When my children used to walk in the room when they were little, I looked at them to see if they had buckled their trousers, or if their hair was combed, or if their socks were up … [As a mom] you think your affection and your deep love is on display because you’re caring for them. It’s not. When they see you, they see the critical face. ‘What’s wrong now?’ they think. So, let your face speak what’s in your heart. When they walk into the room, my face says I’m glad to see them. It’s just as small as that, you see?”
I’m challenged by Ms. Morrison.
Let my children see me loving them.
Of all the people in the world, let ME be the person that continually looks beyond their imperfections and sees the bright spirits inside them.
Let me be the one who opens their eyes to their own magnificence.
Let me be the one who lets them know their gifts are unique.
Let me be the one who tells them that, one day, they’ll change the world.
I’ll end with a quote by Mister Rogers himself:
“If the day ever came when we were able to accept ourselves and our children exactly as we and they are, then, I believe, we would come very close to an ultimate understanding of what 'good' parenting means. It’s part of being human to fall short of that total acceptance—and often far short. But one of the most important gifts a parent can give a child is the gift of accepting that child’s uniqueness.”
I’m challenged today to accept myself, and my children, just as we are.
I'm challenged today to be a better Mom, to love my children without the "picking."
Happy Thursday everybody!
And special big hugs to every mother out there. Our commission is great, indeed.
Seriously. It’s NEVER about you.
Let me elaborate.
We would save ourselves a LOT of heartache if we could regularly remember that people responses to us say more about THEM than they do about US.
There’s no greater example of this than in elementary school. If my kids ever mention that a fellow student was unkind to them, my immediate response is ALWAYS, “Hmm, I wonder if they’re hurting. I wonder what’s going on in their life that is making them unhappy, or that would make them treat you in a way that was unkind. Remember, their response is not about you.”
Now. Obviously, there are rare exceptions to this rule. If you run a key down the side of someone’s car (please don’t), they are very likely going to be upset. At YOU. For good reason. In moments like this, please don’t repeat to yourself “It’s never about me! Heidi told me it’s never about me!” Because that would be ludicrous. So please, use your discretion. (My second favorite mantra is “I AM RESPONSIBLE. I AM RESPONSIBLE for everything that happens in my life.” So, this blog has nothing to do with ignoring issues you’ve created.)
My blog for today is on embracing, loving, and accepting that, most all of the time, responses you get from other people say more about THEM, than they do about YOU.
Think about it. If your spouse is having a particularly awesome day, how is he/she going to treat you?
A blog on getting to the heart of the matter.
I was talking to a dear friend on the phone a few weeks ago. (Jane, I’ll call her in this post.) We’d already discussed the world’s dilemmas and had moved on to more personal conversations about family. Over the past year or two, Jane’s mother had started experiencing beginning stages of dementia.
Jane spoke to me, her voice light: “On Sunday, I was explaining mom’s birthday gift to her. I finished telling her, and then, just a few minutes later, Mom said ‘Sometime you’ll have to show me how to use this.’
I heard Jane’s voice waiver slightly but she continued with the same lightness as before. “It was the first time she hadn’t remembered something in the same conversation, and it hit me just how bad this is getting.”
I was at a crossroads.
I had two ways I could respond to Jane.
I like the number 4.
It's how many people are in my family.
It's the number of legs on my dog.
It's the second part of my birthday date. (August 14th)
It divides evenly in half. And quarters.
It's a good number.
The stories Jacob and I hear from people of all walks of life, with all types of experiences, are as varied as the people who are telling the stories to us.
Some people loved their childhood; some wouldn’t go back in a million years. Ultimately, it’s at least good to know where you fall, so you can understand yourself better and realize how your earlier experiences are shaping you today.
Partially, you may have decided to be who you are today because you wanted nothing to do with the way your parents raised you. Or, partially, you may have chosen to model many aspects of your mother and/or father because, looking back, hey, your parents did a pretty good job and you’ve consciously adopted some of their practices. OR—and this is the clincher and the point of this blog—you may look at yourself and say, “Oh no! I’m exactly like my mother/father, how did that happen and how do I change it immediately?!”
Here’s the secret to make you live longer, feel better, and age well: Smile.
Now, before you scroll down this page and move on, wait a minute. There are a few things about a smile that you need to hear:
1) Change Your Perspective: A smile requires the use of 40+ muscles in your face. When these muscles produce a smile, messages are sent to the brain to release hormones into your body. These hormones have the ability to make you feel better, bring you to a calmer state, and alter the way your brain processes incoming information—how you look at situations. Smiling can actually improve your decision-making skills for the better.
2) Help with Depression: A “Smile Trial” was run on a group of manic depressives that were not responding well to drug treatment for their disease. Over half of the test subjects found that
“A man cannot leave a better legacy to the world than a well-educated family.”
We were eating out the other night, Jacob, the kids and I. On the television at our booth played a show following the lives of a pack of wolves, which Andrew and Joely were enthralled with. Actually, we were all intrigued.
We got to watching, and half-way through our meal, something really interesting happened with the wolves.
The wolf-pack was out hunting for buffalo and was chasing down a herd, trying to find a calf to attack. The young wolf pups were hungry. Many wolf-pups die of starvation in their first year of life. They needed food. It didn’t look like there were many calves in the herd of buffalo that these wolves could attack.
Then, suddenly, the alpha male pulled completely out of the hunt and started sprinting in an opposite direction.
It's interesting. I have heard more lately on the power of your thoughts than I have at any other time in my life. Perhaps I am searching it out more, perhaps as a society we are finding out more about the brain more during this period of existence than ever before. I think both are true.
Did you know you literally have the capability to make your hair fall out just by the power of your mind? Don't believe me? Read on. Below is information I have come across in a sundry of reading materials about the power of the mind. I thought you might be as intrigued as I.
- We all know the idea behind the placebo effect. The following is one of the most amazing examples I have heard in regards to it. A group of patients were included in a study and all were told they would be given a pill for their common ailment. They were told that one of the side effects of the pill was that they would be losing their hair. The pill was distributed, half were given a placebo, a sugar pill. The amazing thing? Half of the placebo group still lost their hair. Nothing but sheer power of the mind created the side effect. Incredible.
- In another study, the participants were divided in half, one half of the group was given a sedative, the other half a stimulant. Everyone in both groups was told they were given the opposite of what they were administered. Participants who were given sedatives were told they would actually feel hyperactive, and the group who was given stimulants was told they would feel extremely fatigued. The results? 1/2 of each group had the reaction they were told they would have. It was the exact opposite reaction that the drug in their body should have been physiologically causing them to feel.