Saturday, October 10, 2015

Semantics

I found this quote on Pinterest:

I am strong because I've been weak.
I am fearless because I've been afraid.
I am wise because I've been foolish.

Three little sentences that lead me to want more.  Why?  Because I have been weak.  I have been afraid.  I have been foolish.

I have been so many things.  And now I am so many other things.

I know the words strong and fearless and wise are listed in this quote.  They are there.  They are there to make me feel better. 

I am strong.  I am (almost) fearless.  I am wise.  And I am so much more. 

It's all about the phrasing.  I'm not some kind of English or psychology major.  It just seems to me that your strongest points should be what you leave your audiences with.  Your thoughts of what could be, the thoughts you wish to convey should be what your reader is left with.

What if we looked at the quote like this:


Because I was weak, I am now strong.
Because I was afraid, I am (almost) fearless.
Because I was foolish, I am wise.

The list could continue:

Because I was unaware, I am awake.
Because I was unsure, I am confident.
Because I was dependent, I am self-sufficient.
Because I was unhappy, I am happy.
Because I wasn't me for so many years, I am finally me.

Semantics.  To most it is semantics.  I'm saying the same thing as the original.  But to me, it's a huge difference.

The original sentences.  They end with the thoughts of the past.  Of who I used to be.

My sentences.  They recognize the past, but end with who I am today.  They show my progress.

Simple phrasing.  Simply switching the order of words we put on the page. 

It's your choice.  Do you want to remind your audience of their past?  Or do you want to remind your audience of where they are now?  It's possible that both approaches will help your audience.  But one approach ends with the past.  The other approach shows a beginning of what could be.  Never under estimate the power of your "final" words.

The choice is yours.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Dreams

I've always had dreams at night.  Vivid dreams.  Dreams that I remember and try to replay in the morning.  Dreams that import portions of dreams I've had before.  Dreams that I've acted out in my sleep.  Dreams where my conscious and subconscious mind are both present.

And I've always believed in dreams.  I've believed in the need for dreams.  I am convinced that my subconscious mind is creating all of these vivid images to work through what I need my brain to release just so I can survive the next day. 

But I've started having death dreams.  It's scary when you watch yourself being submerged into a fiery inferno of a car crash.  It's scarier still when you see death in your dreams three nights in a row.  My conscious mind surfaced in everyone of those dreams and told me it wasn't real.  It eased the fear, but I was still there.

So curiosity (fear?) got the best of me.  I looked up what these dreams could mean.  So many options and choices, but I think I found my reasons--a desire to escape from day to day life and the feeling of taking care the needs of others and neglecting the needs of myself.

I know both of these are true.  I love my life.  I love my job.  But it's a (self imposed) challenging time.  It's challenging because I can't settle.  I have to keep reaching to do better, be better.  What else can you do when you work with kids?  It's not like you can have a bad day and just do the minimum to get by.  During this time of year, I have over 100 kids who are depending on me every day.  How do you say "No, not today."

The truth is you don't.  You push through.  You do more.  You try to be more.  You plan the week in advance, but you go through it one moment at a time adjusting those plans as you go.  Because someone is going to need a hug.  Someone is going to need a smile.  Someone is going to need extra support.  Someone is going to need something from you.  And you have to be there in that moment.

So I'm willing to release it all in my dreams.  I'm willing to let my brain go on overdrive and do whatever it needs to do at night to allow me to be there for those that need me.

And in a few weeks, when things have settled down a bit, my dreams and I will both relax a bit...I hope.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Grandma Mac

I lost her.  I knew the moment would come, but I wasn't ready for the most important grandma to go.

The grandmother who didn't know me, but would tell me the stories of her "Kasey."

The grandmother who didn't remember my face but could sense I was a safe person.

The grandmother who sat at my side as I slept, sick with the mumps.  And the grandmother who made my request of a hot fudge sundae and French fries happen when I woke up.

The grandmother who allowed me to buy the tackiest Christmas decorations for my very own Christmas tree year after year.

The grandmother who gave me a cast iron skillet when she heard about my first "serious" boyfriend just in case he got out of line.

The grandmother who gave me my "wedding afghan" ten years ago because she didn't think she would live long enough to see me get married.  (Ok, so she was right.)

The grandmother who reminded me there is a fine line between spunky and obnoxious.  (Still not sure which side of the line I'm on most days.)

The grandmother who didn't complain when I changed my mind at the last minute and needed a custom dress for the school dance.

The grandmother whose eyes smile as she saw some of her memories in my house the first time she came to visit.

The grandmother who came to the first ever thanksgiving dinner in my home and parked herself in the middle of my kitchen full of praise and advice.

The grandmother who made me countless dresses, blankets,, and other pieces of clothing.

The grandmother I am most alike.  The grandmother who was strong.  I received so much strength from her.  Somehow she was able transfer that to me without me noticing.  My mother did the same.  But with the strength of both these women behind me, I had no choice but to "succeed" whatever that definition was to me.

The grandmother who taught me so much.  Being close to her and my grandfather geographically allowed me to interact with them on a regular basis.   There were so many lessons learned, so many gifts passed, and so many ice cream cones eaten.  Every one of my cousins were loved just as much.  That was evident in the stories we heard after a trip.  But those weekly interaction were priceless. 

This post could go on and on.  Grandma and Grandpa Mac were formative people in my life.  What I owe them can not be expressed. I'm beyond grateful for what they did for me.  I only hope I can pay it forward in some way.

Years ago, I packed away Grandpa's last pair of overalls.  I don't know what I will ever do with them, but they are there in my office closet.

This week, I added Grandma's knitted gloves.  The ones she created.  The ones she wore.  Again, I don't know what I will ever do with them.  But there they are.  In my office closet.  In a box with Grandpa's overalls.

There is no ending to this post.  Just a peaceful smile. One that is humbled by the love and lessons I received from two amazing people.  To the rest of the world, they were a quiet farm couple.  To me, they were, and always will be, two people who helped to shape who I am today. 

My only goal is to make them proud.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Renovations

Sometimes, I wonder about my mind.  It goes to these crazy places and makes these strange connections. 

This time, the connection is renovations.

My house is almost the same age a I am.  I haven't been in it that long.  Others lived here and they made their changes.  But now it's mine.  There are changes to be made.  Over time, I will make those changes.

Last week, I joined a "get healthy" challenge.  As I was on the treadmill at the gym today, my mind took over.  I'm not doing a challenge.  I'm undergoing renovations.

Life is tough.  It doesn't matter who you are or what your circumstances are, life is just hard.  Much like time takes its toll on a house, life takes its toll on our bodies.  Some of us have been better with the routine up keep.  Some of us have been too busy to see what is happening around us.

I have fallen into the latter category.  No, that's not true.  I knew what was happening, but I was in denial.  But now it's time to face the truth.

So now, I am under renovation.  I working to make the foundation of my body more stable.  I'm trying to make the utilities of my body work better and more efficiently.  And maybe, just maybe, there will be some cosmetic changes too.

But I also need to remember.  Everyone is excited about renovations in the beginning.  Then they realize how hard it is.  You want to give up, but you don't.  Renovations always have set backs and unexpected challenges.  You want to give up, but you don't.  And there may be times when you are so frustrated that you cry.  You want to give up, but you don't.

Any renovation is a lot of work.  But if you keep going, keep trying, and face every challenge head on, there will come a day.  A day when you look around you and realize you did it.

So here's to my personal renovation.  May I have the strength to keep going no matter what the challenge.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

I Didn't Know

A year ago, I didn't know. 

I didn't know I had a syndrome.  Syndrome.  A scary word that describes a variety of symptoms.  Great if you are the one with the syndrome.  But those that don't.  They just don't understand.  I get it.  A syndrome is usually just a combination of odd symptom.  How can anyone really understand.

This time last year, I didn't know.  I didn't know that this syndrome was in my body. I knew something was wrong.  I knew it years ago.  I went to my doctor years ago with my concerns.  She and her nurse literally laughed at me.  I dismissed it.  Ten years later, another doctor that I was seeing for a different reason said my concerns were valid.  She wanted to investigate further.

She did investigate.  She did describe a syndrome that explained, well, most of my adult life.  My constant weight gain no matter what I did.  The constant feeling of fatigue.  Mood swings.  Embarrassing hair where it shouldn't be.  Slight (or not so slight) depression.  Tummy issues. The list goes on. 

She saw it.  It really hasn't changed much.  And at the same time, it has changed everything,  All those moments where I hated my appearance, where I didn't like myself, where I didn't understand why all my work was in vain.  Suddenly, I had an excuse.  It wasn't it an excuse to stop.  It was an excuse to explain why everything I tried didn't work.

A year ago, I didn't know.  I  hated everything.  I had all but given up.  Nothing I tried had worked. Why keep trying?

But someone saw it. First, someone saw that I needed meds to help control the mood swings. Oh how I fought it. Those meds somehow equaled defeat in my mind.  I was so wrong.  That doctor suggested without pushing.  She made me feel in control.  And I finally agreed she was right all along.

And someone else saw it.  She saw that my body was fighting against itself.   She let me know that all my efforts of the past hadn't been in vain.  My body just didn't operate like it should.  It was hard to hear, but freeing at the same time.  Suddenly things made since.

A year ago, I didn't know.  I didn't know that I had been living with a syndrome that caused my body to react to even the most basic of food in a different way.  I didn't know that my moodiness that some times drove people away could be a result of this syndrome.  I didn't know that the anxiety that kept me up at night was a part of this syndrome.

But I can't blame everything on a syndrome.  I made some decisions and accepted some choices that still effected my life a year ago.  Let's face it.  I thought I was a strong person a year ago.  Really, I was a weak person who was trying to be strong.  It was all a fa├žade.

This year, things are different.  Not drastically different, but different all the same.  Yes.  I have this syndrome.  People can choose to believe it or not, but I have it.  I can't fix it, but I can work to control it.  More importantly, I can work to effect the control this syndrome has over my body.  I take my meds.  I try to make smart choices.  I try to focus on the good.  I also try on just accepting myself as is.  I may never meet society's version of acceptable, but I'm willing to be the best me I can be.

And that person is stronger than she has ever been.  She faced a lot of challenges, issues, and hurt from the past.  That will always be a part of me, but it no longer defines me.  This year, I plan on being my own person.