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AUTHENTICALLY BOLD: REBECCA

BETTER, NOT BITTER

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September 2014

911-memorial-quote

“No Day Shall Erase You From The Memory of Time”

In honor of the fallen of September 11, 2001

#Never Forget

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Word Of The Year: Refine (A Report Card)

Back during the New Year and with the ever present resolutions circling rampant, my friend Candace of Lucky Scarf and I were talking about what word we needed to focus on for the year ahead. Candace blogged about it here: Refine.

refine

From the Merriam-Webster dictionary, it means “to improve something by small changes”.

Easy peasy, right?

Not so fast cowboy.

cowboy

I had great intentions of starting off strong and using the word refine in all aspects of my life: personal relationships, in my career, at home, in my health, and more. Recently, as I began to feel a bit bogged down again, I chose to reflect and circle back to the beginning of the year and my ideas of filtering my life. Two-thirds of the year 2014 is now in the past, how did I fare?
Hmph. Depends on who you ask; I, for one, am not impressed with my level of cleansing my life. However, I am also that person who has sky-high expectations for myself so how do I calibrate a reasonable refinement?

My home is Clutter-City, USA. I have great intentions of clearing the Great Wall of Clothes in my bedroom. I do! Not a day goes by that I do not wish for a peaceful bedroom without mounds of clean laundry strewn about. I wash. I dry. I try to fold. I try to re-fold. I try to put away. Time is of the essence, people. Yes! I had grandiose plans of purchasing more plastic tubs to put LAST winter’s clothes away for good. No! I never got it done. (But we live in New England where summer was barely an eight week reprieve and lookie here: the cooler 50 degree mornings of late require some of those clothes that never got put the eff away. I saved myself of that time! <insert my typical eyeball roll here>.

Source: Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Source: Tina Fey, 30 Rock

Let’s not talk about my basement. Please. What you do not see will not hurt you! (Right?)
My career has been a bit better. Sure, I have refined my ways to provide more efficient work and I have zero clutter on my desk. My mind remains cluttered as I still navigate a post-cancer career path. I over-analyze each day: WHAT am I doing with my professional life? WHAT path should I be on? WHAT career move is best suited for my uber-Type A personality but extremely important life-balance needs (aka checking out of work at 3 pm to head to job number two as Momma).
Should I be engrossed in a life of charity and advocating for those that struggle; particularly in the world of cancer? Absolutely, but then how do my bills get paid? Should I abandon the charity route as maybe, just maybe, my time is “up” riding this path?

Should I make the sacrifices necessary to pursue a life of health and fitness by working out and possibly coaching others to do the same, all while spending hours in my kitchen cooking wheelbarrows of delicious and healthy food? You know, does it *really* matter if MY kids eat?
Should I be focusing on writing that book I dream about? Am I living a pipe dream? Who would be interested in reading about how many times I have fallen and yet, somehow managed to get back up and persevere? I am not the only one who was abused as a child. I am not the only one who has a profound hearing loss. I am not the only one who was pregnant while battling breast cancer. I am not the only one who has had ups and downs in marriage. I am not the only one who finds the parenting thing to be supremely challenging. I am not the only one to have lost her parents young. Who would read that? <insert another typical eyeball roll>.

Source: Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Source: Tina Fey, 30 Rock

My personal relationships have felt a little bit cluttered. I promised myself in January to refine those relationships that are bogging me down. If someone is not allowing me to be the best version of me, I challenged myself to make better choices about that person’s spot in my life. How did I do? Eh. I removed two half-siblings from my life as they were toxic. Simply put. Maintaining some type of relationship with these two seemed the *right* thing to do, but *right* by whom? The value add of their presence in my life was nil, zero, nada and once our shared mother passed away last year, I determined there was no positive contribution to my life, or my family’s life, by having them in it. As I learned with my relationship with my mother, simply sharing a bloodline (albeit a partial bloodline in this regard) does not mandate a forced relationship.

REFINED.

Friends. I have whittled away at some of the relationships that were one-sided or simply non-existent. I made it a directive of mine to purge of the relationships that were not worthy of my time investment. Does that sound harsh? Selfish? Perhaps, yes, however, justification ran rampant in my mind as I used the time otherwise in helping support the weekly conversations I engage in with breast cancer survivors.
As I struggled greatly this summer with some very deep personal problems that are inappropriate to be shared here, I isolated a bit and found that some friends were none the wiser. In fact, some friends seemed somewhat disappointed or angry with me that I did not find the time to engage with them. Ah, had they only checked in on a more personal level versus just assuming I had no time for them. Alas. Do I just do a good enough job of keeping my personal life private and putting on the smiley face that I fool the outside world? Perhaps certain people are not in-tune enough or made the choice to assume that my pulling back was just me being me, too busy for them instead? Food for thought on what further refinement is necessary or not. <Sigh, eyeball roll.>

Source: Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Source: Tina Fey, 30 Rock

One area that I made refining strides in is my health. Yes! Post-marathon injury and recovery set me back to June; however, as an outlet to my personal life, I continued to focus on ensuring I found time for me at the gym. Burpee after burpee I sweated out the tears. Deadlift after deadlift, I dropped the monstrous weight. WOD after WOD, I challenged myself to push the limits and let go: see how far I could push myself to new heights. I refined myself from wanting to do it all (i.e. run races, seek PRs at Crossfit, hike, bike, and more). My body, the one vehicle that houses my very being – the body that I sometimes feel betrayed me by having cancer is really pretty amazing. Once I refined my goals, my body has been rewarding me ever since and I am confident I have much more in the tank.
My nutrition continues to be an area of tweaking and modification. In addition to my workout modification, I recently challenged myself for twenty-four days: I came out bearing less weight and several inches smaller. The particular challenge I did has been life changing and stay tuned as I blog about that in the very near future. Next week brings yet another new challenge for optimal health for this gal, more refinement and I am super excited to share that along the way. I am nervous, but refine has been a pretty good word for me this year.
Perhaps the lesson is right here in front of my too-busy rolling eyeballs! Is it a monumental effort to hone all areas of my life in one year? Sure, there are 365 days to allocate to the mission! Should I have further over-analyzed and set mini-goals for each quarter of the year to accomplish? Should I take that forsaken chill pill and *feel* accomplished with the strides that I have made?
My thoughts have runneth over.
About face and recall the definition of refine itself: to improve something by small changes. Literally, I have made small changes in all aspects – so yes, yes, I have had success in improving my life this year. Perhaps, for 2015 the word of the year shall be persistence or perseverance, so that I can continue to chip away and chisel out the very best version of me in all aspects.
What about you? Have you chosen to enhance yourself in some way (i.e. career, personal relationships, health, or other)? Where are you in your refinement? Do you over-analyze or get bogged down my high expectations? What should you do to de-clutter your life?

tell me

Not All Mothers Are Created Alike

Reprinted from “Confessions Of A Curvy Girl”

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Not All Mothers Are Created Alike

mommy dearest 
Not all mothers are created alike.  No, no, they simply are not. 
 
You have heard the phrase, “Anyone can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a daddy.”  The same rings true for mothers.  Sure, mothers give birth to us all….but a laborous trip down the birth canal does not qualify someone as a Momma.
 
All of us Mommas have our quirks, our habits, and our comforting ways of soothing even the worst of boo-boos or the scariest of nightmares.  Some of us discipline with the master of a pursed-up face in the STARE of DEATH; whereas, some of us chide our littles and get right back to what we were doing (while the littles get away with mischief and mayhem).
 
Most of us will tell you we learned our “tricks of the trade” from our mothers before us.  Not me.  Instead, I learned precisely what I did not want to be as a Momma.  Yes, you read that right.  My mother taught me invaluable lessons;  lessons of what I would NOT do in my children’s lives – EVER.
 
Because this is not my memoir, I will spare you many of the details from my young life.  However, as I roll into the latter half of my thirties, I have come to realize that it is really okay if you do not have a good Momma.  Sure, I long for a relationship with my Mother; a relationship between mother and daughter than many of my peers have in place.  I want a Momma to call with good news, or bad….I want to share my parenting strifes with one who has been there before me…..I want someone to remind me I am her child and that everything will be alright.  However, what I want and what I have are not in alignment and simply not meant to be.  That is OKAY.
 
You see, despite being beaten with a wooden Dr. Scholl sandal (circa 1980) until bloodied and welted; I loved my Mother deeply.  Despite being the subject of her near-manic rages and having Club brand cast iron pots thrown at my cowering little body, this was MY Mother.  Wasn’t I supposed to love her unconditionally? 
 
The mental illness of my Mother displayed itself in various forms of anger – on me, because I was there and I was a powerless child.  Countless times, I felt the wrath of 1/2″ wooden dowels (she learned they did not break as easily as the weaker kitchen wooden spoons) across my limbs.  On many occasions, I felt the immense sting of skin on skin from her large hand connecting with my backside, or even the backhanded knuckles making their mark on my face. 
 
Contrary to what you may be assuming, I was a good child – I was obedient, I was a great student earning praise and top honors, and I was outgoing and friendly.  I hid the welts, the bruises and the emotional pain of my Mother’s misplaced anger.  Only ONCE was my mother questioned for her behavior towards me; as I had blood on my tee-ball uniform.  Social services was brought in, upon which my mother apologized and cried for hurting me – saying simply that she did not realize she hit me so hard.  I was then punished and sent to bed without dinner; why on earth would I answer a question from an inquring adult as to the why I had blood on my shirt?
 
I vividly recall  my little brain telling myself back then –  I would never, ever, ever, ever hit my child.  NEVER.  I would not subject any of my children to the fear, the pain and the shame that goes along with your Mother hitting you.  NEVER.
 
Now, as a mother of three, I will not lie – I have had THOSE moments; those rare moments where in disciplining my child(ren) –  the only thing I felt was an intense, burning desire to rip my child’s face off!  What Momma has NOT felt that fleeting feeling of  losing control?  Who hasn’t had that momentarily lapse in rational judgment when a stubborn child is pushing every button?  Guess what?  I refrained.  Yes, I did.  I did NOT hit my child.  I did not want to be my Mother.
 
As I entered adulthood, I still loved my mother.  I somehow believed that we should always respect our elders; and because they are not perfect, we should still provide them with care.  With a two and a half year old and a one week old nursing newborn, I traveled to my Mother’s house daily after she had a quadruple by-pass surgery.  I am a Momma; the ability to tend to a high-energy toddler and a brand new baby, all while caring for my Mother was somewhat of a feat, but not impossible. 
 
After this surgery, my Mother became a different person!  We had a good two years with as normal a relationship as we would ever have.  Shortly thereafter, my father became severly ill and with that, my Mother’s mental illness intensified and re-emerged with it’s head uglier than ever.  My Mother did not like competing with my father for attention.  Somehow, I managed to have them move into my home, with my young family – as I still believed it was my duty to care for my elderly parents and I loved them both.  I only wished for them to live out their golden years and be grandparents to my children.
 
Flash forward four years and I was suddenly fighting for MY life.  For those of you who know me, I was also pregnant with my third child.  In all of the chaos and the fear of death flashing before my eyes, my mother still needed attention; a lot of it.  She somehow could not dig deep and be MY Mother, at the very moment when I needed my Mother most.  At first, I was crushed.  How could my own Mother not step up and be a Mother in MY time of need?  I needed her most, right now this moment!  Then, I was angry.  I was quite possibly the most murderous I have ever felt in my entire life.  However, I awakened…..and I realized that not all of  us are treated equally and given the parents we hope for.  Sometimes, we just do not have the parents we need during our times of tribulation.  I did not have a Momma.
 
Sadly, I do not feel love for the woman who calls herself my Mother.  I am okay with that.  We have a relationship enough so that my children can retain their relationships with their grandmother.  Yes, she gave birth to me.  Yes, she is my Mother.  Yes, I have some better memories of her.  However, after much guilt and after harboring many bad feelings about doing the “right” thing by her – I have learned that I will never change her.  I can only change ME and how I cope.  I do not have to have a relationship with her simply because she is my Mother; especially when it is not healthy for me.
 
I have taken many mental notes out of my life experiences, and I use every one of these invaluable tools to make myself the best possible Momma to MY children. 

With that, I promise my children that: 

  • I will be there for them in ALL of their times of need.
  • I will hug and kiss their boo-boos from now in their childhood to that when they are adults on their own. 
  • I will be that voice of reason. 
  • I will be the pushover when they bat their eyelashes at me. 
  • I will love them unconditionally and despite possible disappointments to come, I will reassure them they are mine and I will help them move forward.
  • I will love them with a passion that runs so firmly and deeply embedded into my very core and within every single cell of my body. 
After all, I am their Momma. 
crazy kids and me
 
Note:  My mother passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on April 17, 2013 and you can read more about that here:  “RIP Mom”

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