Let Go of Trying to Be Noticed

Less of Me

Today, I’m reblogging a reblog from a blog I love.

Can I do that?  Are there rules?

Well, I am.  It’s just too good to not share with as many people as I can. It’s a topic of concern with my own self and I’m hearing nudges from other like-minded souls that it’s theirs, too.  I will write more on it later, but for now, savor the words of Heather and Mark Nepo.

From Heather at soberboots.com:

This morning I read this and thought I heard God say, “This is better than any blog post you could write today. Post this and go jog instead.”

I harrumphed, and then agreed. Yet another way to quit deeper, right? I hope you get as much from this as I did.

Much of our anxiety and inner turmoil comes from living in a global culture whose values drive us from the essence of what matters. At the heart of this is the conflict between the outer definition of success and the inner value of peace.

Unfortunately, we are encouraged, even trained, to get attention when the renewing secret of life is to give attention. From performing well on tests to positioning ourselves for promotions, we are schooled to believe that to succeed we must get attention and be recognized as special, when the threshold to all that is extraordinary in life opens only when we devote ourselves to giving attention, not getting it. Things come alive for us only when we dare to see and recognize everything as special.

The longer we try to get attention instead of giving it, the deeper our unhappiness. It leads us to move through the world dreaming of greatness, needing to be verified at every turn, when feelings of oneness grace us only when we verify the life around us. It makes us desperate to be loved, when we sorely need the medicine of being loving.

One reason so many of us are lonely in our dream of success is that instead of looking for what is clear and true, we learn to covet what is great and powerful. One reason we live so far from peace is that instead of loving our way into the nameless joy of spirit, we think fame will soothe us. And while we are busy dreaming of being a celebrity, we stifle our need to see and give and love, all of which opens us to the true health of celebration.

It leaves us with these choices: fame or peace, be a celebrity or celebrate being, work all our days to be seen or devote ourselves to seeing, build our identity on the attention we can get or find our place in the beauty of things by the attention we can give–Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

Mark Nepo is a cancer survivor, a poet, and philosopher. He’s not a Christian, nor is he in recovery that I’m aware of. But God speaks to me a lot through his writings.

BAM:  When we feel the need to BE noticed, turn it around and instead, BE the NOTICER.

Please God,

Show more of yourself, so there will be Less of Me.

Let that marinate.

Shari 🙂

 

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Being Reminded of Bad Decisions Hurts Our Brains


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“You need to clear.  Now.  Today.”

 I keep hearing it.  Seeing it.  And, feeling it.

I take this knowingness to my notebook and try to write out EXACTLY what needs to be cleared.

“What?  What needs to be cleared?”  I question, “Is it energy clearing?  I feel okay.  I don’t need that today.  Is it subconscious blocks that I need to let go of?  Fear?  Obsessions?  Old stuff?  What?  Tell me, so I can take care of it!”

A smell lingers up into my writing room.  My candle can’t even mask the smell.  Being one of those highly sensitive nose type people, smells really trip me up.

“What IS that?”  I croak.

Ugh.  I can’t even focus on my thoughts to write with this intrusion.  I shut my computer and investigate.  I know this smell.  It’s a moldy, old garbage, combined with wet dog, chicken coop and baby kitties born on the couch kinda smell (that happened when I was a young girl and I still remember the smell).  I really don’t even want to know what it is.  There have been whiffs of this odor over the last week and I’ve tried to ignore it.  But, I can’t any longer.  It’s become overbearing.  The thought of what it could be is giving me the willies.  Moving might become necessary.

I scan the garage.  My skin shivers at how visually toxic to my well-being this room is.  The school year is done and summer is here and I know I NEED to clean this.

Forget the garage. . . it’s not even my junk.

But, then, I know the answer to my knowingness.

“Oh, you mean REAL clearing!  ACTUAL PHYSICAL REAL CLUTTER!”  I shake my head because I really do not want to tackle this. I’ve been avoiding it altogether.  I have other things to do!  Stuff I actually WANT to do!  It’s summer!!  The sun outside wants me to sit in it and just read!

The message is affirmed in everywhere I go.  The yard, the shed, the playhouse.  There is not a space in my house that does not need some TLC:

A Total-Lot-of-Cleaning.

 Yes, I’ve neglected it.  It’s time.

“Whether it be your closet or office desk, excess things in your surroundings can have a negative impact on your ability to focus and process information. That’s exactly what neuroscientists at Princeton University found when they looked at people’s task performance in an organized versus disorganized environment. The results of the study showed that physical clutter in your surroundings competes for your attention, resulting in decreased performance and increased stress.”     ~nourishment3.com

Well, I knew I was having a focusing issue, but I didn’t know it was because of my clutter.  And my stuff.

I announce to my husband that I’m on a de-cluttering mission.  His eyes begin to squint like the sun’s hurting him and his entire face scrunches up.  He knows he is going to either have to get involved or risk losing some stuff.  He also knows he has more stuff to de-clutter than I do.  The two boys find other stuff to do.

The bathroom is first, as it’s the room that bothers me the most.  Items from the shelves are purged, used once or twice and never to be noticed again, covered in dust and gunk.  Old vitamins, prescriptions, bath salts and lotions.  Yuck.  Then. . . way in the back, I discover some old boxes of Frownies I purchased a few years ago.

Oh dang.  The memory comes flooding back.

These stick on patches were going to be the ticket for those wrinkles on my forehead.  The internet said.  So, I bought 2 packages, not just one.  On my first day’s trial of stretching my forehead before applying the sticky patches to my skin, and then sleeping with it on, I awoke  to an even more dented forehead than my original one.  Apparently, I had not flattened my skin smooth enough before I stuck that baby on.  Instead of smoothing my forehead, I made NEW wrinkles.  They lasted all day.  I should have sent the Frownies back for a refund, but I attributed the problem to operator error and vowed to give it another shot.  I never did.  A reminder of another bad decision and money wasted for vanity.

Why is it so painful to get rid of this stuff?

Apparently, there is research that gives us the answer to this question.  (I found it on the internet.)

We tell ourselves we are hanging onto this stuff for a number of reasons:

1.  We are saving it for just the right occasion.

2.  We spent a lot of money on it and we might use it one day.

3.  We have sentimental value.

But,  the biggest reason we hang on to stuff is because we probably made a mistake buying it and it literally hurts our brain to come to terms with that fact.

Yup, there is.  The truth.  It’s painful to admit that we screwed up.   Bad decisions.  Money wasted.

As in the case of my Frownies.

Tossing them in the trash really DOES hurt.  But really, I know I won’t try them again.  Even sticking all those patches to my face now and going to bed that way seems absurd.  And, I run the risk of that scene be the topic of conversation and my husband’s office the next day.

I could see if my sister wants to try them.  That would feel better than junking them.  But, then, I’d have to hold on to them longer until I see them. Should I walk them over to my neighbor?  I could tell her that if she doesn’t want to try them, she could just toss them and I wouldn’t have to know about it.  Maybe that’s the ticket.  Yeah.  That’s what I’ll do.

Then, I won’t have to feel the pain quite so much.

Unless, the next time I see her, she has more wrinkles.

Now, moving on to the kitchen. . .

What is painful for your brain to let go of?

Reflection: Why Should I Blog?

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The other day, it took me 3 hours to write/revise/edit/publish a blog post on my Literate Mind blog.  It was only a book review, for Pete’s Sake.   I DID have some internet issues and my typical distraction problems.  Seriously, though.  I’m spending way too much time trying to create some words and put them out there for the world.  I have dishes to wash. Laundry.  Rooms to declutter.

So, I got out my notebook and did some serious reflecting.  I asked myself the question that I have began to ask myself with every blog post.

“Why am I doing this?  Why should I blog? What are the benefits of this?  Am I nuts?”

Boy, did my pen have something to say.  Words began to flood onto the page.

Here are 5 reasons (of the many) of why I blog:

1.  I am a teacher.

Not only do I teach kids how to write, but I work with teachers in guiding them to be teachers of writing.  The first must of a writing teacher is that the writing teacher must be a writer.  A pilot instructor would have to know how to fly planes, right?

I’ve always scribbled words in notebooks, diaries, and journals.  I’ve written in front of kids to model writing workshop lessons.  I wrote.  But, still, I did not call myself a writer.  Only real authors could declare themselves a writer and wear that title. Here I was, a teacher for 20+ years and a literacy coach and still, I could not call myself a writer.  Was I worried this was vain?  Did I fear others would think I was lying?  They would surely ask me what I had written if I said I was a writer. And then, judge it, of course.  Ugh.  All of this was just too risky.

What a hypocrite, I was.

Then, in 2012, I signed up for a free e-course by Jeff Goins, called  YOU ARE A WRITER.  Jeff taught me how to say these words:

 

“You are a writer.”

 

“Say them out loud,” he said.

“Write them down.”

” Tell someone.”

So I did.

And, so I was.

The blog was born as a result of claiming I was a writer.  Jeff said that if you are a writer, you have to start acting like one. This meant sharing your writing and building a community.

I guess I had to follow through if I was going to say I was a writer.

 

2.  More valuable that any writing program, I have curriculum to draw from within my own experiences.

I’m in the trenches with the kids and other teachers of writing when I blog.

Mem Fox, in her book, Radical Reflections, writes:

“Teachers of writing who have been soldiers themselves, engaged in a writing battle, are able to empathize more closely with the comrades in their classrooms than teachers who are merely war correspondents at the hotel bar, as it were, watching the battle from a safe distance, declining to get in there themselves and write.”

I didn’t want to be a teacher who sat at the bar, too afraid to practice what I was preaching.

I now know what kids and teachers go through when they try to write.  The fear.  The frustration.  The battle.  This battle can not come when we keep our writing hidden from others, in a notebook.  Notebook writing is easy, as this is first draft writing or jotting down ideas.  It becomes real when we know we are writing for someone other than ourselves.  Then, we have roll up our sleeves, get dirty and then,  clean it up.

I can teach how I find ideas to write by sharing what I do:   noticing what’s happening around me, the words others’ say, topics I deeply care about.  I can teach how to write that perfect lead, because I wrestle with it and have a few tools for this along with some favorite leads from mentor texts.   I can draw from my toolbox, a lesson that teaches others how to edit for themselves and I can model my methods for this, because I’ve done it myself.

I stand on the shoulders of writing teachers; Donald Murray, Donald Graves, Lucy Calkins and Katie Wood Ray.  They are my guides. Basically, nothing I teach is my own idea – these methods came from someone before me.

I’ve used their methods, tried them out and have internalized them as my own methods now.  Will they work for every writer?  No.  I read, listen to other writers and to the kids of how they write and their methods get thrown in my toolbox, as well.

My own toolbox is more valuable that any writing curriculum.  No writing curriculum is perfect as it leaves out the most important factor:  the kids.  If it’s all you have to follow in the teaching of writing, you will be frustrated.   And, I can draw from my own toolbox at anytime, anywhere.  If one tool doesn’t work, I try another.  I’ve tried them all, so they are etched in who I am as a writer.

3.  I’m starting to live my life differently because of my blog.

I notice things with meaning and get it down.  I take time to reflect on, not only events, but on my response to them.  I nudge myself to reflect deeper, to get to the other side, to allow new learning to bubble up, something of significance and to make it clear for me to understand.  I do this for me, but more so, for my audience (even if it is only my mother – thanks, Mom).

A car trip, a walk in the woods, shopping at the grocery store, sitting at the lake, and visiting with people are all free fodder for writing. I find myself thinking not only, “I’ve got to write this down,” but also, “Oh my, I need to write this for ______.”

If I need to write clearly for an audience to understand my thinking, I’d better be pretty clear of it myself.

I could not have done this without a blog.

4.  Blogging has been an avenue in which to use the tool of writing to serve my higher purpose.

I don’t think that writing is a  purpose or a calling.  It’s just a tool to use.  If you are called to teach?  Write.  Called to heal?  Write.  Called to inspire?  Write.  Called to serve, help others, beautify the world, create, coach, energize, collaborate?  Then, write, write, write.  There is no better tool that can reach more people than writing.  But, only if you put it out there for the world.

5.  It just feels good.

There is a sense of accomplishment and surge of satisfaction I feel every time I hit publish.  I am jolted with a little shot of dopamine upon seeing those words,   “Your post has been published.”

And, then, I do a little happy dance.

Getting it down is the easy part.  Revision and editing is hard work.  Never, would I revise and edit in my notebooks.  Blogging makes you do this.

I’ve had to learn to choose timely topics and ones that matter.  I’ve had to figure out how to stick to a topic and focus.  I tend to stray in my notebooks, but I can’t do that on a blog.

I strive to find ways to improve in my craft by reading books about writing, joining some writing groups online and taking classes about writing.  I know what I struggle with in my writing and have learned to appreciate criticism.  Always, I can get better at this.

When we know more, we do better and we gain confidence.

And, this just feels good.

 

Okay ~ I guess the rewards are worth the battle.  Whew.

The only drawbacks are that my house is a mess.  But, it was a mess before I started blogging, so I guess I can’t use that as an excuse.

Maybe I should blog about that.

What are the reasons you blog?  Please, let me know.

 

Shari 🙂

 

 

 

 

What Does It Mean To “Just Be”?

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“You need to Just Be.”

I’m hearing this voice over and over lately.  It’s summer time and people are trying to Just Be and take time off from their busy lives.  Emails in my inbox from spiritual writers encourage the world to Just Be.  My body tends to want to Just Be.

Just be.

But, what does this really mean?  To Just Be?

I was telling a friend about my plans for summer and possibly next year in my work.  I get excited about my work sometimes when I begin to think of all the possibilities. Every year, in education, is an opportunity for renewal.  My mind spins at all of the things I’d like to do differently next year.  I can always do better, I know.

This person listened compassionately and then said,

“Shari, my hope for you is to Just Be for awhile.”

These words are still ringing in my brain.  Now, I know this person has my well being in mind, not wanting me to take on too much, or really, just wanting me to slow down and not think about school for awhile.  I honestly believe my work supports my purpose in life, so I don’t always think of it as work. For some, work is work and life outside of work is, well. . . life. We teachers are in a different category, as they we always thinking about our profession.

I had to ponder on these words long and hard.  Because, I consider myself much more of a BE-er than a DO-er.

I let the words, Just Be,  marinate in my brain for awhile and decided that Just Be has different meanings for different people.  Not only this, but for the same person, it means different things at different times depending upon what they are doing and their understanding of the depths of Just Be.

Here are some of the ways I think we define Just Be:

Definition #1:  I’m taking a break from work or doing anything that involves a lot of work.  That break might be for a moment, it might be for a week, or a vacation or a summer.  It might mean vegging out in front of the tv, conversing on facebook, or doing anything that takes them away for the stressful lives they live.  Don’t start any big projects or do any planning at this time.   I did a lot of this kind of Just Being after my daughter’s wedding.  Actually, I slept and read books instead of any fall work in the yard.  I used Just Being as my excuse to not do the stuff I was supposed to do.

Definition #2:   Leave me alone.  When my daughters used to go through those teenage hormonal weeks, they would often say, “I want to Just Be!”  Really, this meant to get out of their space.  Leave me alone.

Definition #3:  Be content. Stop seeking.  Accept what is and be happy with that.

Definition #4:  To be present in every moment of your life.  If someone is speaking to you, stop what you are doing and fully listen.  BE in the moment.  If you are watching tv or a movie, BE there to feel the characters/people you are watching, connect to them.  If you are eating, savor your food, eat slow, be grateful for the nourishment.  This means shutting off your phone just to Just Be with the act of what you are doing.

It means to look for opportunities to JUST BE in your day.  An interruption in your drive to stop at the railroad tracks for a train is just this. Rather than being annoyed about a delay in your plan or to occupy the few minutes reaching to check your phone, you have an opportunity to take deep breaths and listen, look around you, pay attention to the world.  Say a prayer.  Think of a friend in need and send her your loving energy.  Just take some long deep breaths and quiet the mind.  Listen to and focus on your breath.  Stop the rampant thoughts.  Always, waiting for trains is just this chance to do this.   Waiting can be a gift if you look at it that way.

It means to slow down your pace.  Take small snippets of time to be grateful.  Write something down in your journal.  Send a note of “You Matter” to someone who needs to be reminded.  Stop living at the speed of a to-do list that only Superman could accomplish.  Glorifying busyness is not a healthy state of mind to live in.   We can so easily become  a victim of busyness.  This is ego who needs this.

It means to take time every day for listening.  This may mean meditation.  It may be prayer.  It might be yoga.  It could be sitting on the front porch with coffee watching the hummingbirds.  It’s a silencing of the mind.  Be mindful.  Be conscious of your thoughts.  The only way I can hear what God wants me to do is if I silence Bernice.  It takes daily work and constant practice.

It means living the life of who you truly are.  It’s Being authentic.  If I spend all day writing and reading, it’s because I love it and it’s who I am.  If I strive to train for a marathon, it will take time and dedication, but it will be because that’s a dream and it’s who I am (you would not really find me doing this though).

It means to follow your dreams.  God’s plan for us is way bigger than what our little minds tell us.  Ego keeps us small.  Dreams mean work.  To make dreams happen, you have to DO.

Be – Do – Be – Do – Be – Do – Be – Do

In Just Being, we listen.  We hear what our heart and soul intends for us to do.  Then, we Do.  Without the Doing, we are not following through with our listening that comes from Just Being.  And, I’m not talking about our mind telling us we should scrub the floor, although, sometimes when we are Just Being, we hear a voice that says to clear, de-clutter, clean.

It’s Being Present in whatever we are doing.  It’s a way of life.

Do we ever master it.  I don’t think so. Maybe if you are a Zen Master.  Not I.  The need for me to constantly be conscious of my thoughts and bring myself back to a place of being will be my life’s work.

I’d like to be able to live Definition #4.

What do you think?  What is your definition of Just Being?

Shari 🙂

 

 

To Push Through The Pain? Or Not

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It’s 2:20 am and the biffy is calling my name.  Sadly. . . I can’t get out of bed. Every muscle in my body hurts; abs, thighs, arms, neck, you name it.  I was not in a serious car accident, no.  I did not run a triathlon.  Nor, did I do hard physical labor all day.

I worked out this week. . . not once, but TWICE!

About every other month, I decide I need to get in better shape, ummmm. . . I mean, in shape.  I usually only walk a few of times a week during the school year otherwise, so when these urgent calls from my body tell me to pay attention and strengthen up, I tend to jump right in and try to fix it.  Too much, too soon, too much pain.  Then, what do you think finishes off the cycle?  Yep, I rest and kinda quit.  And, the cycle continues.  Been goin on fer years now.

I wasn’t always this way.  Throughout my first 40 some years of life, I was obsessed with exercise, my eating, weight, and perfection.  Then,  a surgery that put me down.  I softened.  In a good way.  And, I started liking who I was becoming.

So, now, almost 50, I’m listening more to my body and she’s telling me I have zero core strength, I’m pretty weak and my flexibility is nadda.  But, keep up the walking – daily, Lady.  Oh and by the way, your arms are starting to look pasty and, well. . . whatever, you are almost 50.

Well, that kind of talk gets me riled.  I become driven to fight back, so I pop in those DVD’s and do everything that perky young thing tells me to do.  Push-ups? Sure.  Squats?  You got it.

Here’s the rub.  Now, my body is cuuuuu-rying!  First, she wants it, then she doesn’t.  She says to push through it and then she says to rest, it’s too much.

My daughter Lauren, who is 25 and a wellness coach, scolds me, “No pain, no gain, Mom. Push through it.  You gotta keep it up or you won’t see any results.”

“Yeah, yeah,” I tell her.  I’m her worst client.  But, I can be that way to her.  I’m her mother.  She rolls her eyes.  I’m sure I frustrate her. She says these words with love, but it’s my own voice that I hear in the background. Yes, that’s her in the photo above.

My friend who is my age consoles me, “Shar, we aren’t 25.  We’ve been down that road.  Accept who you are.  We are ok.”

I love my friend because she understands me and where I’ve been, and my daughter IS only 25.  I should rest.

But, the whole world screams, “NO EXCUSES! YOU ARE ONLY AS OLD AS YOU FEEL.”

It bothers me that I even spend time thinking about this when I could be doing something constructive, like writing or reading.  It all seems so ego-driven.

Bernice. (said like Seinfield says Newman)

I’ve grown wiser with age and have learned to not strive for the perfect anything anymore.  I just want to feel good; mind, body, heart and soul.  If any of these “friends” is left out, the others suffer.  It’s a constant state of mindfulness I need to be in, always checking in with each.  Wait, I hear a small voice of reason. . .

“Just move your body, Shar.  It doesn’t matter what you do.  Move.”

Aw, somebody with sense.  Heart and Soul are speaking up for Joy, my body.

I think I’ll just go for a walk today and do a little yoga. 🙂

Who do you listen to?  Do you push through and work through the pain?  Or, do you rest – and forget what you started?

(And, this doesn’t just pertain to exercise, you know. . . )

Shari 🙂

Settling Into A New Writing Space

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It’s officially summer.  This means that I make the move from my “in-the-house” writing space, (which is really the bedroom of my daughter who is at college) to my sanctuary, a studio room above the garage. We do not heat the room above the garage, so every fall I migrate to the indoors to write and create.  It’s always a sad move saying goodbye to my own personal sanctuary, but the move back to this space in the summer is a filling of my heart and soul as I greet my home.  I feel the layers of the winter’s old energies melt off of me once I am back to the studio.

Stacey Shubitz shared her writing area at Two Writing Teachers a couple of weeks ago and this inspired me to share mine.  Seeing others’ sacred space is a visual inspiration that gets juices flowing to clean up our own spaces.  Or, move to another one.

Let me tell you about my space.  It’s not fancy, but it works for me.

The table is one of those $35.00 tables you can buy at Walmart.  It’s white and we have several that we’ve used for graduations.  I’ve draped it with a small quilt I made years ago.  I love the softness of it.  The quilt also is a reminder to me to slow down (examining the small stitches around each Log Cabin block does this).  When my kids were small, I did a lot of hand quilting ~ for therapy mostly.  Hand quilting calmed me and was my creative outlet.

The chair is a lawn chair.  A comfy one because I sit on a pillow and cover the arms with a fleece blanket.  Again, cozy cozy.  Comfort, a priority if I’m going to sit myself down to write.

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A writing alter sits before me, each object having significance in my space.  Always, a candle is lit.  A lit candle is a reminder that my own light shine through in my writing.  I prefer sage candles as they tend to clear any negative energy as well, but right now, my sage candle is spent.  My back up candle here is creamy vanilla and it makes me hungry for cake.  Not a good thing when you are trying to write.  Note to self:  buy more sage candles.

Also here, is my writing angel.  I call her in and she sits by my side. Archangel Gabrielle is the angel of communication.  If I ask, she helps me to quiet Bernice (my mind) and all of the insecurities that hold me back.

You will also see a heart with wings, made from clay, sit upon my alter.  I am a touchy-feely person and holding this heart and saying a prayer to God to allow me to speak from the heart is so important.  If I know I am speaking from the heart, I do not worry so much about what others think of my words on the page.


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There are inspirational messages tacked up on my walls of my writing space and tissues for when tears penetrate through my writing (love it when that happens).  A small notebook is handy as it holds some snippets of words from other writers that caught my eye.  These words find their way into my writing.

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Of course, I get stuck when not knowing what to write about. Collecting tidbits for ideas is an obsession for me.  I tack them on my bulletin board, toss them into a flower pot and save newspaper clippings in an envelope.  Most of the time, I write about something pressing on my mind at the time, but quite often, I need to just pick something and see where it takes me.

There are two other spaces that I need to get set up in my sanctuary. One is for art journaling/painting and the other for sewing.  I tend to have to jump between these creative outlets.  When I’m stuck in one, I navigate over to the other.  But most of my time is here, writing.

I’m anxious for the words that will come from this space this summer. (smile)

Shari 🙂