Saturday, September 28, 2013

#5 - When A Grandma Reads Your Book...

Hippo Challenge #5 (read the challenge here)

So people are getting my book in the mail from amazon!  It finally belongs to people!  You Should You Should is in the homes of families, a part of their book collection, and being read aloud to children all over!  I'm getting text messages/facebook messages/emails/phone calls everyday about someone who received my book and wanted me to know they love it or their kids love it! (y'all are the best)

I'm soaking it in.  I'm loving every minute.  I'm feeling happy with my hard work (I worked HARD) and I feel like there is cause to celebrate!  Even if I'm not having a party, I'm allowing myself to feel glad and very grateful!

Today was the best so far though...
(this is not the actual grandma/3 year old)

Today I sat back while a dear sweet old Grandma read my book to her three-year-old grandson.  She has been a Kindergarten teacher, and it showed.  Oh my goodness.  She read every single word exactly as I pictured when I wrote it.  Exactly how I hoped it to be read.  She was so expressive, she even acted out some of the parts, and she stopped to giggle and point out some humorous scenes.  She slowed down in the right places and paused for effect perfectly.  It was the best 5 minutes ever.  I sat and just... loved every second, wishing for time to slow down.

In the development of "self,", sometimes (as often as possible) it's important for us to stop and take it in, soak it in, recognize what we have that's good, and allow ourselves to feel.  Pay attention to all the senses.  Stop thinking/analyzing, and just feel.  Sometimes we may feel stuck at very numb stages in our lives -- we can see a gorgeous sunset, get a big hug, or hold a baby... and feel absolutely nothing.  At all.  This usually happens because our lives dealt us a situation in which we didn't feel like our feelings mattered, and we stopped paying attention to them/listening to them/attending to them.  So they went away.

What can we do then?  Well, we must make conscious efforts to listen again, sometimes reminding ourselves twenty times a day, pushing ourselves through the motions.  "What am I feeling?"  We give our brains time to heal and teach them how to feel again.  Eventually it will come back.  I promise - I know.  :)  It just started happening for me again as of the past few months!  Just in time too, to enjoy the beauty of fall - my favorite season.  The leaves turn, the weather cools down, there's that smell in the air, even that first frost just warms my heart as the holidays approach.  There was a time I really wondered if I'd ever feel that again.  But now I can.  :)

I have found that turning to a higher power (in my case, it is my Savior Jesus Christ) is essential.

Sooooo... yay!  Time to celebrate!!

Thanks everyone for your help and support and for buying my book and especially for reading it with a child!!!  I cannot express my gratitude, thank you everyone.  I've been so blessed with wonderful people who want to help share this book and all that it represents.  Thanks.  :)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

#4 - Allow Me To Inconvenience You...

"I just... really... want that!"
* * *

Hippo Challenge #4 (read the challenge here)

So I was meeting up with some friends for "institute" the other night.  Which is basically like a Sunday School during the weekday, or I guess like I large bible study.  I asked them to save me a seat and I'd come later, seein how I had some laundry to finish up.

I knew this would mean I'm the awkward person that opens the door which triggers a large wave of head turns, and I get to be center of attention for a brief awkward moment.  Yay.

So I finally arrive half way through the class, take a deep breath, and turn the handle.  It's not a noisy, phew!!  Now to push the door open.  I brace myself for a creek and... it's not just a creek.  It's a creek mixed with 'excited animal squeal.'  Lovely.  At first I push the door open slowly, (creeeeee - ) but finally say, "Oh whatever," embrace it, and just pull it open.  I walk inside.  Whoosh with the head turns!  Hi . . . hi everyone.  I'm sorry I distracted your learning.  Teacher, I'm sorry I distracted your students.  You all may all return to the learning now.  I'm searching searching searching where are my roommates not there not there... oh perfect they're in the back!  Thanks roommates.  :)  Buuuut, they're in the middle of the row.  There are about 4 backpacks and two purses and 7 people Ima have to climb over, and everyone's legs are real sprawled out.  There's no room for climbing.  Panic...

First, let me explain.  There was a time, which may have lasted most my life, when I would have NOT walked through that row of people.  I would have rather eaten worms than inconvenience a whole row of people and bring that type attention to myself- the type where I do something that benefits me, that fulfills my wants, my needs, and feels like burdening others.

In my moment of freak-out, I gestured to my roommates that I would find another seat somewhere else, somewhere easier.  They shook their head and gestured/mouthed "No come sit by us!"  I really really wanted to by them too.  Finally, in my mind I just said, 'Oh why not!'  At that moment, I made the decision not to care.  To let go of whatever I was worried about.  I leaned close, pointed down the isle and whispered to the row, "I'm just gonna sneak past you real quick."  Everyone immediately jumped up and in less than 2.8 seconds the way was clear for me, backpacks feet and all.  Whoa, cool.  I really was kinda stunned at how easy and simple and fast it happened, how quickly everyone moved.  And how unburdened they seemed!  Seriously that was way too easy.

I walked through the row, sat down, and was filled with this feeling of ... well, really big happiness!  Next to my friends, here to listen and learn about my creator, Savior, and friend, just where I wanted to be in the seat I wanted to sit in.

We're important.  We deserve good things.  We can get our needs met.  And we can be happy.  It's our decision.

One time in high school, my friend told me her college-age-older-brother was on a date with this one girl, and he didn't ask her out again.  Why?  One reason - she neglected to tell him that while they were dancing, his belt kept smacking her in the face and hurting her.  All night long.  And she never said anything.  She didn't want to bother him, or inconvenience him, by making her needs known, and he preferred dating a girl who felt important enough to say, "Hey dude, that hurts me.  Can you stop swooshing your belt around please?"  I remember dying a little inside, because I knew I was that girl.  And I feared I would never learn to be anything else.

Well guess what people?  I CAN be that girl who believes she's important, who can have what she wants, and I'm becoming that girl now!  It takes practice.  Lots of it.  I've changed quite a bit in the past 2 years.  Like a lot.  I still have looots more to do, and at this point, after seeing the changes already made, I'm excited for 2 more years down the road.  To those who feel hopeless as I once did... I can get better, I promise.  It really can.

Okay, I'm tired.  Good night y'all!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

#3 - "Fine, Don't Have Some Gum!"

Hippo Challenge #3 (read the challenge here)

Today I was at a movie, sitting next to my friend.  About half way through the movie, I pulled out a piece of gum to chew.  I considered offering her a piece, but a sudden fear of rejection ensued so I kept the gum to myself.  Later, when I found more courage, (yes... I know... my life is so thrilling that I conquer the great fears such as offering pieces of gum) I leaned over and whispered, "Want some gum?"

"Yes," she whispered, paused a moment, then changed her mind and said, "no, I'm okay."  I figured she was being polite - she did say yes at first.

I calculated how many times she's turned me down for a piece of gum.  Never.  Odds are she wants it.  No big, I'll just hand it over.  I pulled out a piece and set it on her lap, "There you go."

"No no, I'm okay."  She held out her palm, gesturing she really didn't want it.  "I'm okay."

Already prepared for rejection, I swiped it back and shoved it in my pocket, feeling embarrassed and rejected, and my eyes began to well.  Yes.  Over a piece of gum.  For the record, I was already feeling extra sensitive today - this happens when I don't get enough sleep, much like a three year old without their nap.

Then the invasion of negative assumptions.  She must be so annoyed by me, trying to offer gum.  She's probably trying to be more polite and adult by not chewing gum, and she probably thinks I'm super immature.  She's probably looking at me in disgrace, sitting here chawin' my gum like some cow.  Okay so those may not have been my real assumptions, but they were fairly similar.

I told myself to let it go, forget about it, it's not a big deal, it's gum.  Just focus on the movie, Gin.  Focuuus.  I was semi successful.

Later as we were leaving the movie, she said, "By the way I'm sorry I turned you down when you offered me some gum.  I forgot that chewing gum on an empty stomach makes me nauseous.  So, I'm sorry.  Thanks for offering though!"

"Oh it's not a big deal at all," I said, playing it cool.  Inside I bust up laughing at myself.  Oh Ginny!  Really?  lol

When will I learn to just assume the best.  How much energy could have been saved if I had just been like, "She probably has a tooth that hurts," or something like that, and moved on.  Really.  Why not assume the best?  I have no good reason not to.

Almost 100% of the time, people's behavior isn't what we think, and it definitely hardly ever, if ever, has anything to do with us.  Everyone has a billion things going on in their lives which we have no idea about.  Might as well assume the best of people, in every situation, because odds are that our most imaginative positive assumptions are much closer to the truth.  Even if a positive assumption might actually be wrong - life is so much smoother, happier, and far less stressful when assuming the best.  So why not??

By dismissing the worrisome and destructive assumptions about what others are thinking, and minding our own business, we allow our confidence and self-worth a chance to grow without distraction or hinderance, and give ourselves more freedom to develop and become our unique individual selves, with courage to be who we are.  

To be the kind of person who stands tall and strong as they offer pieces of gum, without fear!!  Yeah!

So remember - always assume the best.  :)

Monday, September 23, 2013

#2 - "I Need You To Fight With Me!"

"I Need You To Fight With Me!"
Hippo Challenge #2 (read the challenge here)

So, here's what I learned about boundaries the other day when I was in a heated argument (the type where you ball like a baby, which by the way is not a pretty site - I have an uncontrollable lip-quiver, it basically looks like it's trying to do hip-hop on my face):

Have you ever had people in your life who, over the years, over and over and OVER, conducted themselves in ways which crossed your line and caused you hurt and anger from head to toe?  You felt stepped on, disrespected, and belittled?  And you hoped they'd get a clue, realize how rude they are, and knock it off?  But they don't, so you continue in your life, over and over, and over, to experience the repeated mistreatment.  You repeatedly stuff your feelings, wear so many fake smiles to sustain the Chesire Cat beyond his nine lives, and return home venting the same problem to your friend - a story they've heard hundreds of times.

Well this happens to me a lot.  One day my friend after listening quietly, who had heard similar stories a few lots of times, suddenly spoke the hard truth.

Friend:  "If you don't like it, tell them to stop.  If you don't tell them, then that makes it your fault!"  
Me:  Silence.

She was right.  I knew it.  It's been on my mind ever since.

So, two days ago, a couple weeks after I'd finally made my feelings known to one of these people in my life after many years, I was in the midst of the ongoing argument that followed.  Something that rarely happens in my life - I usually play things safe.  

As we began our discussion, I told this person what I didn't like, what I didn't want her to do, and why it hurts me.  Hip-hop went my lip.  Her response proved my friend's point exactly. "Gin, I need you to tell me sooner!  I don't WANT to hurt you.  Now I'm afraid to say anything to you because I can't trust you to put me in my place.  You gotta tell me to shut my mouth!  I need you to fight with me Gin!"  Although I don't really want to fight per se, she was pleading with me to tell her to shut up when I felt the need, to give her boundaries so she feel safer knowing that I'm helping her keep me safe.  I was so surprised, though I really shouldn't have been.  I had nothing else to say at that point except, "I know.  You're right."  She was right.

She then asked how to know what she can/cant say.  I responded with a clear rule/boundary, of how she is allowed to treat me from here.  And do you know what she said?  With great relief in her voice, "Thank you.  Okay.  Good.  Thanks Gin.  That helps me, thank you!"

And that was that.  That's all it took?  Really?  All this time??  lol  Oh Ginny Ginny Ginny....

Hard lesson to learn!  All these years, all the pain I've experienced... is because I didn't give myself boundaries.  I took the victim role.  Really I had every ability to accept kindness and respect from someone who cares about me very much.  My feelings were my responsibility and I bailed on myself, I didn't speak up, and that is nobody else's fault.  

Imagine how Hippo's experience could have been different had he set boundaries for himself in the beginning.  Boundaries such as, "Nobody can come into my physical space and jerk me around even if they hate my spot so much they want to yank it off.  And if they try, I will tell them not to touch me and I'll walk away."

That's what boundaries are.  A clear definition for yourself which defines the respect/treatment you expect from others, and also includes something specific you will do if someone attempts to cross the boundary.

So.  That's what I learned.  Embarrassing, again, but a promise is a promise!

Tomorrow Ima tell y'all about . . . uuum I don't know yet actually.  Guess it'll be a surprise.  :)

Sunday, September 22, 2013

#1 - Halloween Decorations Drama

First story of how I'm learning to be like Hippo (read "You Should You Should" here)


Halloween Decorations Drama
Hippo Challenge #1 (read the challenge here)

I just put up all my Halloween decorations right now, after my roommates went to bed!  Ha.

I've been avoiding putting them up since I brought them from my parents' house.  They've been sitting in a bag, on the floor, in the living room, for days.  Why did I wait til tonight AFTER everyone went to bed, even though I have to get up early tomorrow, to do one of my very favorite annual activities??  Because my mind decided something else was more important - fear of what my roommates think.

They might hate it.

They're very interested in our apartment looking CUTE.  And it does!  One recently went shopping for really really nice home decorations at Hobby Lobby and my other roommate has a set of cute decorations she carries with her from apartment to apartment.  Our place is neat and tidy and trendy and real cute right now.  Which I quite enjoy.  Point is, right now our apt's appearance is very important to my roommates - they've recently invested both time and money.  Which for me, right now, means pressure!

I, on the other hand, have the mind of a 7 year old when it comes to holidays.  Clear up until I moved out of my parents' house, I use to build a fake man with my dad's old clothes, stuffed him with crumpled newspaper, and put him outside on an old chair with a hidden sensor that talked when people walked past.  I hung up little ghosts all over our house that i made out of paper towels and string.  I smothered our living room and front door with that gross spiderweb mesh, and hid spiders everywhere.  I'm all about what's fun!

Once all the bedroom doors closed, I began the festivity.  I doubt they'll love the super green skeleton I hung on the wall, or the purple spidery swirls hanging from the ceiling, or the plastic shiny pumpkin string falling in a swoop from our blinds, and the orange and ghost strings of lights might be a little much.  They're also not perfectly aligned along the furniture, at all.  But... I love them.  I love them all, and I love them a lot.  Pretty much looks like a party in my living room, and I'm so excited about Halloween right now.  I'm typing at this moment in the eerie orange glow of Halloween lights.  Bliss.

Now.  We'll see how long I can stand having it up.  Which will win? - My worry or my will?  My worry and fear of what my roommates will think?  OR my decision to not worry, and to realize it's just halloween decorations!!  To realize if they hate them, it's only for a month.  To realize that just because they don't love my decorations doesn't mean they don't love me.  To realize that if I end up needing to take some down it is O.K.  Not the end of the world.  Again, it doesn't mean they don't want ME.

To realize that I'm jumping SUPER FAST to negative conclusions, and to realize that there's also a chance they'll LIKE them!

Now, stepping out of my dramaqueen brain, let's look at real life.  Reality is ... it's not even a big deal.  Like, really.

But that is not the point I'm trying to make.  My point is this - if I let anxiety win, I will be going to bed afraid afraid afraid of the morning.  When we awaken, I'll spend every minute waiting for someone to say something negative, wondering what they're thinking, and trying to read their mind.  I'll avoid eye contact, and assume hidden meanings behind every word, or even silence, believing it definitely has to do with my surprise midnight halloween attack.  If someone clears their throat, I'll die inside because I'll just know it's their secret language translating into, "I hate it, what were you thinking, why did you think you could decorate, you should have let someone help you, you child."  (my wonderful roommates would never ever say anything like that)  If we do talk about it, I'll probably make them tell me 10 times over that they're SURE they like it.  And then I'll continue to worry all day at work and then the next day and the next day, and up until the time I take them down, and that type of worry isn't worth it, which is why I might have to take them down in the next 5 minutes!


If anxiety does not win (which doesn't mean it's not still there, it just means I kicked it out of the driver's seat), then it means I am practicing the arts of risk, trust, letting go.

Letting go of what others think.

Letting go of assuming I know what others are thinking.

Letting go of depending on acceptance and constant reassurance in order to feel at peace.

Letting go of trying to control what others think of me by being someone I'm not, or hiding who I am.

Letting go of worry and letting things and people, including myself, to just be what they are, and feel what they feel, without inserting unnecessary meanings about me.  (how self-centered is that?)

Letting go is an art I'm still learning.  We can talk more about that another time.

(cue worry about my roommates reading this blog post!....)


A couple days later:

Well, they're still up.  I haven't asked anyone what they think, because I'm practicing letting go (and I'm still a little scared of the answer).  Nobody has told me what they think, and I'm trying not to care/worry/analyze/overthink it because I'm practicing letting go!  Random people from other apartments have come over and said, "Cool decorations," and still no roommate comment, at all.  Except:  "Hey Gin you should turn on your halloween lights for dinner when our friends come over."  And "Ginny your skeleton scared me this morning, haha!"  Cool.  I'll take what I can get, assume the best (they probably love them so much they are speechless, haha - ooor more realistically, they have other things on their mind and haven't thought to say anything), and let the rest go.  :)  I'm feeling MUCH more at peace today, and I think I can get through the rest of the month just enjoying them.  Take THAT anxiety, take THAT dependent personality!

Two years ago this would have played out much differently.  I wouldn't have even brought my decorations to my apartment at all.  So, yay!

Well, that was kind of embarrassing to share, but oh well.  Come back tomorrow to read about a heated in-person-argument I had yesterday (a huge step for me) in which I learned a very valuable lesson.

If you have similar experiences to share, would love to hear in a comment!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Hippo Challenge

Every day, until my book ("You Should, You Should" - read it herephysically comes out on the book-store-shelves, I'll be blogging a daily blurb where I learned the same thing Hippo learned.  Cuz it's a lesson I'm still learning, every day.  It's no secret that Hippo represents me.  To those who have been close to me, it's no secret that I have been a bit of a people-pleaser for most my past life.

Real Life Example:

Friend 1:  So what did you think of World War Z?  I am NOT a fan of those types of movies.
Me:  Oh, me neither.  Total waste of time, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.

(20 minutes later)

Friend 2:  Gin, World War Z was so intense and awesome!  Wow!  What did you think?
Me:  Oh, yeah, I know right?  I was on the edge of my seat!  It was so good!!

Yeah, that happens sometimes, even still.  The above example was just this summer.  BUT, this is great progress.  How?  Because I'm to the point where I feel literally surprised and uncomfortable with myself when this comes out of my mouth.  Like, it doesn't feel as natural anymore.  Which is awesome!!  And way more progress than when I was just learning to simply even recognize this happening.

Recognize what happening?  People pleasing.  In mental health speak, we can refer to it as a symptom of codependency.  In this case, it's saying and doing things that we assume others want us to say and do, in order to keep/maintain our relationships, and ultimately our feelings of self worth.  This happens when we're absolutely dependent upon what others think about us.  It's a sad and miserable way of life, really.  Always hiding, always pretending, always lying, always believing we're less than, and always afraid.

I mentally face this on a daily basis, and work to deal with it healthily.  I'll share my moments and what I gain from them with you every few days til my book comes out, in honor of Hippo and his special debut!!!  Hippo, here's to you.  :)

I already have tomorrow's post written... so come back to read about my Halloween Decorations Drama.

P.S.  To those who subscribed to my blog a long time ago and won a free ebook, it's coming to you soon!  Be excited.  And thanks for subscribing.

P.P.S.  If you have similar stories to share in the following days/weeks/however long this lasts, I invite you to comment.  :)

Monday, September 16, 2013

Where Did Ginny Go?

Um... (Ginny peeks shyly from around corner and waves)... hi...

I'm sorry.  I know it's been a while!  I know, I haven't been very blogful lately.  Truth is, my Creative Juice has been on low for the past year, but I still had to make art, meet deadlines, gain a crowd, finish this book which has been born of sweat, blood, tears, and more than anything, hours and hours and hours of my life.  I don't know what this book was made of, or where I found energy to create anything else besides, because I've been on near empty for a WHILE.

I needed a break.  So I took one.  I neglected my fb page, my blog, my pencils, my sketch books, and I don't think I've even doodled at church in a long, long time.  I played with friends, watched movies, read books, went to Disneyland, camped.  So nice.

But, whether I'm ready or not, it's time to come back!  Hippo and friends are counting on me now!  My hopes and dreams that lived over a year ago when I began writing are counting on me now!  My current self that wants everyone to know about the important lessons I've learned lately, and put into this book, and my future self who will write more books with similar important lessons.... is counting on me now!!!

So.  Now that I'm all moved in to my new place, been working at my new full time job for about a month, my vacationing has come to an end, and I'm starting to feel settled and back to a routine, and now that I don't have homework at night (no homework!!) . . . . . it's time to come back.

I have some ideas for how this blog will work from here on.  They still be brewin' in my head.  More on that laters.  Right nows, I goes to bed.  I's exhausteeed.