Lessons from “Calm Down”

I have been watching Inside Out with my toddler girl–or, as she has renamed it: Calm Down–for the past few days and I am finding that, while I am trying to teach my daughter lessons about emotions and feelings, I am learning and relearning some important ones myself. While one can learn to be emotionally awake and mature, I believe that there are always lessons worth revisiting as we grow through life.

*It’s okay to not be okay, even when people ask or want you to be okay.

*Just because you’re sad about something, it doesn’t mean your feelings are wrong.

*Just because you forget something or don’t think about it anymore, it doesn’t mean that it wasn’t beneficial or important or that it didn’t do you any good at the time.

*It is entirely possible to feel two things at once and have both of them be “right”.

*Crying is OKAY! Sometimes we just need to cry, and it really does help.

*It’s all right to not have all the answers.

*It’s all right to be scared and sad when what we have loved ends for whatever reason.

*It’s perfectly okay to look for the fun and to try to find the joy in situations if that is what you need to do in order to cope.

*There is no shame in your personality, interests, hobbies, etc., changing as your life goes on. It’s part of growing.

*It’s also okay to not be willing to look for the fun and the joy in a situation for a time. We need to feel sadness, too.

*It is all right to need someone just to be there.

*We can sit on the bench with someone and not try to fix things or make things better. Sometimes someone just needs their sadness to be heard and felt and their tears shared.

There is so much that we as human beings are still learning about ourselves, our feelings, reactions, relationships, and growth, even as adults. Our personalities shift and expand and deepen. Our interests vary. Who we are and who we choose to be may change and that is all right. The truth is that we never stop growing, learning, feeling, or changing. And that is okay. We are okay. YOU are okay.


(Disclaimer: Inside Out and its images are the creation and property of Disney/Pixar. None of it belongs to me.)


A Long Way from Home – Day 1: Bumping My Happy

Back again in my childhood home. Haven’t even been here 24 hours and already someone in my family has commented that I look like I’ve gained weight. Not “You look nice” or “It’s good to see your face”. Heck, I would have even taken a “You look absolutely exhausted”  after twelve hours of traveling today. But, no, I get “But it looks like you’ve put on some weight.” Thanks. Really, thanks a lot. Sufficed it to say, coming back to my childhood home is almost never good for my self-esteem and, unfortunately, I don’t think it’s ever going to change. It’s always been this way. It doesn’t make it kind or right but it’s been happening for as long as I can remember. People who really have no business  commenting on others’ bodies (and often no leg to stand on) make snide comments that are really expected to be taken as a joke when, at best, they are assuming and dismissive and, at worst, can be emotionally devastating.

I have told the story of how a favorite dress (a gorgeous maroon and black cheongsam) was left to fade away into obscurity in my closet because someone thought it was their place and job to thoughtlessly inform me that I looked fat in it. What I will never forget is how confused he seemed when I told him not to speak to me anymore and to go away. As if he just couldn’t grasp why I was so upset. I know I spoke to that young man briefly at least one other time after that, when I was in grad school. This time, he expressed his surprise that I had a boyfriend but wouldn’t explain just why it was surprising. I will admit that I most definitely unfriended, deleted, and/or blocked him on all levels and platforms after that. That was an energy and presence that I just didn’t need.
Energy. I hadn’t thought of it that way but it’s an almost perfect example. It’s very, very hard when you expend such energy on your life, on doing what’s good for your family, for your child, for your friends, and for yourself, only to have the only thing remarked on to be your physical weight. Your particular form’s relationships with gravity. Just as you pour your energy out, others pour their energy into you, and deciding what to do with it–to use it to make bricks to add to my path or to sit in it and let it suck me down further–is really hard sometimes. The struggle is so very real when my happy-with-myself gets bumped. I do my best to either reply nicely or not reply at all. This seems like a prime opportunity to practice grace, as well as salting my words and reminding myself of my glorious.

I Choose…

Today has been a bit of a sucky day. It’s rare that I want to admit that in public because, to me, it sounds suspiciously like complaining, whether it actually is or not. But today has been one of those days. I haven’t had the motivation (though I have had the desire) to do any substantial writing (even journaling) over the past few days. I know that, sometimes, you just have to treat things like a job: do it, get it done, get off your desk. But even that couldn’t persuade me to put fingers to keys or pen to paper the past few days or encourage me when what I did try to write fell flat and lifeless. Add into it that I haven’t felt my best the past few days, and it sends the rest of me spiraling down.

I’m weary, unmotivated to do the housework that needs doing. I want to be sleeping but can’t bring myself to climb into bed alone. I want time to myself but, at the same time, I am lonely. I want to be cuddled and comforted, but I cringe to have my daughter right at my hip or using me as a tumbling mat as she did all morning. I want to sit in a quiet, dark room, but I feel like, if I do, I’ll burst into tears.

And yet, in all of this and sundry other things that have gone on this week, I find myself brought back again and again to the idea represented by these quotes:

“Feelings are an indicator of where we might be in a moment but they DO NOT need to dictate our actions.” – Lysa TerKeurst

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” – Viktor Frankl

I can choose my next moment. I can choose what I do next, and I can choose the attitude with which I react to the moments that threaten to unglue me. I might feel low to the ground right now, but I do not have to act like it. I might feel sucky and lonely and irritable, but it doesn’t mean that I have to lash out and be vitriolic to those around me. I have been blessed by friends and dear ones who have endeavored to give me smiles and encourage me today, even amidst their own lives and difficult moments, and, for that, I am extremely grateful. Thank you, friends.

No, today is not the best day. It’s tiring and hard. I want to do something good for my soul, however, so I am going to go and find what that is and do it. Thank you for reading.