The Tale of Three Annoying People

Now, you may have imagined that after the story from last time I would be riding off into the sunset on a float comprised of colorful flowers, holding a bouquet of roses, wearing a bright blue ribbon, and waving to my many admirers proudly…

That is not what happened.

What happened is this: October kicked off with LOTS of talk about money. About budgets. About timelines. And, there were ongoing conversations between three annoying people. The first two annoying people were the ones that used their best salesman-like behavior to get me to do what THEY wanted: they complimented me, they minimized my level of education, they complimented me, they reminded me how good they have it without me, they complimented me, eluded to how much I should appreciate what they were “doing” for me, we laughed, they made an offer, and this offer had no room for negotiation. Fun times.

It got even more stressful as calls and texts rolled in quickly, urging me to come to an agreement. I felt harassed. I felt pressured. And even more important, I felt small.

I had given them too much power. I suddenly felt vulnerable, nauseated, and insignificant. My ego was bruised and battered from our last conversation. And, instead of just being real, I conjured up my best salesman-like persona and wanted to get even.

So…(drumroll please)…award to the third annoying person in this scenario goes to….

ME!!!!!!!

I was the third annoying person!

I became prickly and stand-offish at their relentless requests to quickly respond to their offer. I barked at others around me. I lost patience. I thought I was having panic-attacks. Crying in hysterics. Probably growing some ulcer somewhere. Folks…it was not pretty.

In fact, from that week alone, I earned the reputation at the 24Hour Fitness in Omaha for being quite “difficult” to assist as I was purchasing a membership. They actually told me later (when I was being a bit more pleasant) that they had discussed this as a staff when I left! What!?!?

So, here is me…trying my best to be all peaceful and loving, and reminding others to do the same. And this is what became me: bitter, quick, curt, hardened, physically ill, and “difficult.”

I made a decision.

I would not let them have this power over me. It is our choice to determine this. We can let others “make” us feel small and insignificant, or we can choose to work/laugh/play with others who lift us up and celebrate our skills, talents, and unique being.

The truth is, no one can “make” you feel anything. They are not powerful enough. Not ever. Like an ugly Christmas sweater, you have the freedom to observe whether or not you deem it ugly AND whether or not to wear it.

I decided NOT to wear the ugly Christmas sweater in this situation. I determined that, ultimately, it wasn’t about the money. Two annoying people became three annoying people, and this wasn’t the person I wanted to be. It was a hit-me-over-the-head life lesson in determining the kind of relationships I want to have in my life. And, that no matter what, I did not need to interact with others who minimized me, my education, or my professional or personal worth.

This is a choice. We have the power to make this choice.

Thus, the tale of three annoying people comes to a close. You can imagine what three annoying people were able to inevitably accomplish in this negotiation.

They can’t agree.
No one wins.
Because they’re annoying.

Be loving to yourself and those around you. Choose wisely who has the privilege to work with, live, and be in your presence.
You are a gift.
Love,
Alysondra

On Being Your Own Witness.

Over the last month or so I have been facing some of my greatest fears. Putting myself out there as a professional, trying to prove my worth, and engaging in dialogue about topics such as (big words here): budget, timeline, and pay.

Whew! Hard stuff for a gal with a struggling ego.

This story is twofold (the second act comes later this week): So, I had this moment…after the negotiations, difficult conversations, and (dramatic) airline booking to consult for this large organization, when I really noticed what I had done. I had worked very hard to get to a place where I had wanted to be as a new professional…and, sky-high and looking down from the 50th floor of a hotel tower, here was my view (a visual for all I had accomplished):

This seemed a testament to me of how far I had come. From relentlessly poor, to kinda poor, to a completely new (literally) view of life and all of it’s prospects. I was SO excited…I had negotiated my fees, they agreed to pay, I was going to be a consultant, they sought out my knowledge, they were paying to talk to ME, and in the dizziness of it all…I found JOY.

Joy was in the accomplishment, knowing my life had changed with all certainty from how it first began. I was SO elated, I forgot to need someone else to be proud of me. I’ll say that again, just to be sure you caught it: I forgot to NEED someone else to be proud of me. I was proud of me. And, for quite possibly the very first time in my life, this was enough.

While having others around to serve as a witness to our accomplishments is lovely and validating, it needn’t be the only way. Sometimes we bear witness to our own actions, with no one else there to bestow their congratulations upon us. Three months ago, this idea would have plagued me. Friends, I have needed external validation for a VERY long time. But, this time around I was enough.

How lovely.

How lovely to finally feel like I am enough.

Be your own loving, compassionate, joyful witness.
Be Love,
Alysondra

She’s off to a good start.

My BFF gave birth to a sweet baby girl last night. It didn’t go as planned. Like any manner in which a child comes into this world, it was not like the romantic version of what we see on TV. Instead it was a scary surprise for my BFF and her husband who were only expecting the highlight of their night to be some chicken wings from TGIFriday’s.

When I heard the news, I could not contain the tears that flowed. For myriad reasons (some of which she had listed that very day), she did not want it to go this way. And, I didn’t want it for her. I wanted things lovely and smooth. A beautiful transition into a new chapter of their lives as a gorgeous family of three. I wanted pretty. I wanted easy. I wanted some control.

That being said, here is the quick and dirty version of a hard lesson learned (that I continue to learn over and over again): we have no control. We spend our lives planning, worrying, ruminating, problem-solving, only to do more planning, worrying, ruminating and give another try at solving whatever problem has presented itself to us.

This sweet baby girl decided for us that it was time. And even bigger than her, the Universe decided it was time. And even more than this, there was power in the circumstance and my BFF had the medical help she needed. THIS is a gift.

Our power is in the radical acceptance that we truly can control very little. Our power is in honoring this time, this life, and those around us by coming to each situation palms open. Ready to receive the gifts, the aches, the challenges, and the beauty that life has opted to bestow upon us in that moment.

There is immense power in the letting go. And, in the breathing and acceptance that there is no other way this “should” have gone. She came into this life as a pure miracle. And, little does she know, “miracle” is her official nickname around the hospital. She’s already off to a good start with that reputation. ;) There is no “should” about that. A miracle can’t help herself but be fabulous, completely unexpected, and a sweet reminder for us to just. let. go.

Take a deep breath…
Now give someone a hug for me,
Alysondra

On Why I Can’t Kill Hope

A wise woman said to me yesterday: “hope is hard to kill…if not impossible.” I found this statement profound at the time, as I so often think about instilling hope in others rather than trying to KILL it. But, what I realized is that there are areas in which I am very much trying to euthanize my sweet, beloved, hope, and it just won’t die.

It has now been a little over two years since my relationship ended with my partner of six years. My ex now has an anniversary with someone else that happens to share an overlap of when we ended and they began. They have been together now for over two years. This fact still mystifies me. It leaves me in utter shock and awe. An awful end to a beautiful movie you simultaneously did NOT see coming, seemed unnecessarily cruel, and completely devoid of any reason for all of the bloodshed that ensued. And, still I find myself sitting in this metaphoric theatre yelling at the screen and shouting demands for a different ending.

This hope does not dance around wishing to be together again. Rather, this hope wishes for a fight. A fight that makes the statement, “I should have fought harder to keep you in my life. That was a stupid mistake. We were best friends. I am sorry. Let’s work through this so that we can be in one another’s lives because not doing so makes no sense.” It’s like holding your breath for no reason. Or, how we don’t understand why Ryan Adams and Mandy Moore are married. It’s a ridiculous hope, I know, but I can’t kill it. I envision a simple note on my door. A small gesture that indicates the foolishness is over and we can move on. Hope, my friends, is hard to kill.

This wise woman also said that having this hope was commendable. That the easy thing to do would be to say, “I don’t care anymore, I have moved on, and I never think about this person.” But, to do so would be a farce. To do so would be to deny this inner truth. The genuine self who wishes to be loved, to be chosen, sought after, fought for, and treated gently.

Although this hope may fade and diminish over time as we realize what we think we want is simply not in the cards, we simply cannot kill it. This light shines in all of us. So, in this interest of no longer wishing to attack my dear sweet friend, hope, I am instead attempting to acknowledge, respect, and honor this light. This is a part of who I am, too. And, this situation exemplifies one of thousands for me.

It is okay to miss people.
It is okay to love people.
It is okay to have hope that things will change.
It is okay to have wished things would have turned out differently.
It is okay to cry about the fact that they turned out the way they did.
It is okay to hope for more.
It is okay to hope.
It is okay.
It is okay.
It is okay.

Wishing you love,
Alysondra

Play nice!

I am currently in the three-week-end-of-summer-kill-me-now graduate student time of year. This is when we have time off (similar to winter break), but are not being paid (similar to winter break), and so everything becomes a bit tricky to navigate.

My bank account pleads with me to be filled, but is continuously depleted no matter how often replenishment is attempted. Every office I have ever visited would now like to be paid. And, why was it again that I initially registered my car at this time so that renewal is annually due precisely at this dreadful moment?

This story is not unique. It is not profound. I understand it is a powerful privilege to even have a car or be in grad school…all of this I get. However, it does not assuage the feelings of fear, shakiness, feeling alone, and ultimately…vulnerable…to everything and everyone. I am at the mercy of it all.

You may ask what I would like most right now? Money would be nice, yes. But even more, I would like some COMPASSION. After handing over EVERY dollar I had earned the night before to the university to lift a hold on my account, they notified me I still had a hold from the library. THE LIBRARY.

I called them. They were sharp and abrupt. To them I was just another neglectful and confused student. The price I needed to pay had gone up $10 magically. She had no explanation for that. Her voice was prickly and unkind.

I headed to the library. No eye contact. Monotone requests for name and money darted out quickly and impatiently. I drained the remainder of a credit card with a cash advance and handed it over. I wanted to cry. I wanted a hug. Even more, I wanted some compassion. This was the library after all, not the bankruptcy courthouse (although they suddenly felt quite similar).

I walked away feeling defeated and depleted in so many ways…monetarily, emotionally, and spiritually. What was is about this day/the jobs of the individuals at the circulation desk/my predicament that allowed for such coldness? Where was the patience and compassion? Why does it become so easy to become completely uncaring of others? Why? When we are all SO human.

This is my plea for you to be KIND. To check yourself when you are feeling impatient with others (even when it’s hot out and you could use a hug, too). Everyone is carrying a burden, a heartbreak, a struggle, a failure. Be kind. BE goodness. Approach others palms open. Just be nice!!
Xo,
A.

On being human…

Being human is hard. It is accompanied by magnificent loss, glorious disappointment, belief in utter failure, and sometimes…if we’re lucky…some shimmery gorgeous hope along the way.

Upon ending my most recent relationship and feeling disappointed, deflated, and completely defeated, I was lamenting about how kind this person had been to me. A close friend listened closely, smiled and said, “well, at least you’re getting closer.” I could have kicked him. But, he was right. With each rejection, loss, disappointment, and humiliation comes growth…growth AND one step closer to being where you would like to be.

I recently heard Alan Cohen speak about “rejection” and thus, not feeling like we are “good enough.” This notion of being good enough refers to many things…relationships, jobs, professional risks, creative endeavors, friendships, etc. One of the most profound points I thought he made on this particular day was “rejection is protection.” Although it feels ratty and awful to be rejected by others, the universe/life/God/whatever works for you is offering you protection from what may otherwise be a negative situation for you. Perhaps a year down the road, that “ideal” relationship would have become abusive. Maybe getting published in that journal would have led to some type of strange career strife. Or, the friend you had hoped would be your new best friend would somehow become disloyal. We just don’t know. But, the idea of rejection as protection has become a new and comforting friend for me.

With this in mind, we lessen our ability to “fail.” We loosen our grip on the notion that we have taken a giant leap into the abyss of failure each time something does not work out the way we envisioned it should. Instead, we open our hearts to the idea that there is something greater planned for us. And, stand strong in the idea that although we must let go of one particular hope, we may begin to nourish and care for a new one. Being human can be painfully difficult, but if we continue our journey with an open heart, it can also be tremendously beautiful.

Rumi wrote this, and I return to it daily:

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
Some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
Who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be cleaning you out
for some new delight.

The dark thoughts, the shame, the malice,
Meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
Because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Until next time,
Alysondra

Extreme Makeover: Good Enough Edition

Hey there strangers…
journey to good enough is going through a bit of a makeover (and is still a work in progress). This is happening for several reasons a) I am experiencing a time of profound growth, change, and understanding in my own life, b) I should be working on other “more important” things (e.g., returning e-mails, writing, etc.) and this presents a wonderful opportunity to NOT do that, and c) I have a new outlook on “good enough” that I want to begin sharing.

I had contemplated changing the theme of the blog and starting fresh. My habitual way of thinking is to RUN! and begin a new identity somewhere else. Then I began to think…what if I just stayed right where I am and decided to grow some roots. Thus, I am renewing my commitment here. For me, for the four people who read this blog, and for all who seek the peace in feeling good enough.
What I have been seriously contemplating is that I have changed the way I think about being good enough. The fact is, we already are. I think in part we all sort of know this. So, is it still a journey then? Is all this reaching out and writing still worthwhile? The answer is yes. Yes, because the journey is finally BELIEVING you are ALREADY good enough!!

I was reminded of a text I read some time ago entitled, The Four Agreements. Apparently a fifth agreement has been added, but just ignore that for now! In this book, the author explains we enter into these agreements or contracts with others based on what they think of us. So, if someone were to tell us we were no good at ballet at an early age and would never be a ballerina, we enter that contract obligingly and believe this about ourselves for the rest of our lives!! And, that didn’t even have to do with us!! This unwarranted criticism was this individual’s issue with themselves, their own life, or their need to put others down on order to feel superior.

How many contracts like these have you entered? Ones where you have unknowingly accepted the criticism of someone else and worn it like a badge throughout your life? Adding it to the collection of things you will never be, never be good at doing, never achieve…?
What contracts like these can you decide to break at this time in your life?

You ARE good enough. Just as you are. Right now.
I apologize for my absence. I am back.
Love upon love,
Alysondra

Bagels and Kindness

The other day I was working (i.e., writing frantically to meet a deadline) at my favorite local bagel shop. I love this bagel store for a couple of reasons: the staff is ALWAYS friendly, they serve coffee from Vermont, and there is always sunlight through their windows (when Nebraska decides to be polite and offer sunshine).

I have been in this frenzy of academic work lately. Feeling self-absorbed and over-loaded with thought, criticism, thought, criticism about the thought, writing, criticism about the writing, and more thought. Oh, and more criticism.

At this bagel shop, I stood behind a woman paying for her freshly toasted bagel and hot coffee. I was waiting to refill my coffee (they have free refills, too! Love it.), and became lost for a moment in my own thought once more…only to be brought back to overhearing, “your card was declined.” I know these words well…except this time, they weren’t for me. The woman, obviously yearning to quickly depart from this situation, asked the cashier to please run it once more. The cashier agreed politely. The words, “it was declined” came once again.

The woman began to look around the room swiftly, visibly confused, and frantically searching through her wallet for some other method of payment. She began to string together words that indicated she believed she had enough money, and didn’t know why this was happening. These words flowed from her slowly, as her voice quivered with (what seemed to be) nervousness. People were watching. Waiting impatiently. It was only a bagel and coffee…or was it?

Your card was declined. YOU were declined. And, everyone saw it. My thoughts quickly shifted from academic strife, and wandered into the many times I have heard these words, “you have been declined.” I recalled the shame I felt, the embarrassment of others knowing I had somehow failed in this manner, and that these private failings had quickly become public.

I thought of all of the times I surveyed the room, mortified, having to put back groceries, refrain from taking the food home I had just ordered, or hand over the clothing or other multiple items I needed at the time to a snarky cashier who now pretended to “know something” about me. The underlying, subconscious, reason behind my surveillance of the room (upon rejection) was often due to a desperate, silent, plea for help.

Although this woman’s experience was not my own, I recognized “the plea.” I could feel it in my being. I projected upon her the feeling of public humiliation, the feeding of the thought that perhaps I have failed in this life, and again, the “proof” of not being good enough. Something needed to happen here.

I pulled out my debit card. To not only pay for her, but to let her off the metaphoric hook while everyone was watching. It was a bagel and coffee. I could do this. I could do this for both of us. It was my offering of kindness, to this woman and to myself. The woman’s affect brightened, her eyes widened, and she slowly spoke, “thank you.”

Let us not be alone in this life that can sometimes be a big, lonely struggle. One act of kindness begets kindness begets kindness. And, denying a woman her bagel and coffee is just unacceptable.

The cashier looked at me, smiled, and said, “that was very cool of you.”

Cool.

Pass on the kindness.
And, throw in some compassion while you’re at it,
Alysondra

From the shower to the dress

I have a presentation tomorrow night. The aspect of the event I am dreading most is not the questions from left-field from overly educated researchers, or presenting my data in a professional manner, or even tripping over myself in front of a flurry of PhDs, MDs, MAs, MSs, and other notable letterings behind a name that could evoke anxiety.
Oh, no…the aspect of the event I am dreading most is what to wear. This is not the Oh-my-I-have-so-many-choices dilemma, or the I-hate-all-of-my-clothes-and-life-is-horrible curse. This is the worst one of all: the dreaded none-of-my-dresses-fit-me-anymore-because-they’re-too-small-and-parts-of-me-no-longer-fit-into-parts-of-them (deep breath) and these-are-even-the-dresses-I-bought-after-I-had-already-outgrown-my-other-dresses HORROR!!

Suddenly, in the mirror I transform from being myself into a complete failure. The clouds darken and the ominous thoughts roll in. Why did you let this happen? How could I be this size? I am such a loser. I can’t do anything. Why did I even bother eating all of that fruit when I could have just had an enchilada instead since, apparently, it doesn’t make a difference? Why can’t I just be thin? Why can’t this just be easy? Why am I struggling again…and on…and on…and on.

My innocent gesture of deciding what to wear has become an indictment. A punishment. A clear measure of my inadequacy.
And, there is nothing that changed about who I am between the moment I hopped out of that shower and the moment I fought to get the first dress on. I am the same. But, I swiftly become this new less-shiny version of myself, war-torn by an array of emotional slander.

My typical course of action would be to cry, eat copious amounts of mashed potatoes, and continue to denigrate my entire character until I finally fall asleep. But, I am choosing a new course of action. One road takes me down the road of never being good enough, and the other offers options. I choose options.

We may not have choice in a variety of life’s challenges, but we do have a choice in how we respond to what has been presented to us. The path of not good enough is old and tired. Instead, I am going to purchase something on my way to the conference that fits me NOW. Just as I am. Not something I can “aim for,” or something I begrudgingly buy as a consolation gift while I mourn the loss of smaller sizes.

Nope, I am doing this different. I am still me. I am still good. I have the same heart, the same generosity, and the same love for those around me. And, slowly, I am growing in that love for me, too. I want to be good enough. I want to be more than good enough. I want to be GREAT. And, to believe that I am worthy AND great no matter the size, no matter the day, and no matter if those thoughts attempt to come rolling in. I am trying on good enough. And, for me right now, that means a bigger dress size.

Sending love,
Alysondra

Letting Go

There is this remarkable transition in saying “good-bye.” I’m not speaking of the everyday, mundane, hello-how-are-you-I’m-alright-I’m-happy-the-weather-is-better-good-bye, I am thinking of the final Good-Bye. The point at which a relationship or friendship has reached a crossroads and there can be no further stretching of the heart or of the self.

I think people reach as far as they can with such conviction and devotion, and still, the best thing to do may be to truly let go. This important notion is something I think we often take for granted. We think the people who love us most in our lives will never betray us, change into someone we no longer recognize, or want to leave what we have built together. Sometimes they do. And, sometimes you must invite them to go. Some relationships are no longer serving us well, and it simply becomes time to muster the courage to say good-bye. However, one thing must be said here: This does not take away from the time shared…from the openheartedness you felt…from the love you offered. This, my friends, will always be there.

As we walk along this path of life, along spiritual journeys, or simply working to live a more authentic existence, let us honor the grace in saying good-bye. Honor what this person has brought into your life, the many ways they have changed you, and silently thank them. Those who bring adversity into our lives are a great and powerful gift. There is love and strength in the letting go.

Wishing you love,
Alysondra