Quirky Me: Honoring My 4’s!

The truth is: Belonging starts with self-acceptance. Your level of belonging, in fact, can never be greater than your level of self-acceptance, because believing that you’re enough is what gives you the courage to be authentic, vulnerable and imperfect. When we don’t have that, we shape-shift and turn into chameleons; we hustle for the worthiness we already possess. — Badass Researcher and Philosopher Brene Brown-

Today is my 44th birthday and if you know me personally, you know just how much I love this day! My birthday is a time when I can reflect on my past and set new intentions for the year ahead. On my 43rd birthday,  I set my sights on making it a year of transformation, beginning with my incredible trip to Curacao in January. On January 6, 2016, I posted the following Facebook photo with this message:

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So very grateful for all of the bumps and bruises and every test (and person sent to test) that I have had to endure along the way. I have Over-come and I have Be-come because and despite! See, I know my own strength, but can also embrace my vulnerabilities…I choose to LOVE myself flaws and all! I am the Tyra you have always known yet I am in constant transformation! Show me and watch me; teach me and learn from me; Inspire and be inspired by what you see in me (even when it drives you a little nuts!); lean in and stand back: Watch the way I Capricorn!!! #2016yearofthe9s#onepluseightplus2016 #43in2days

As I predicted, 2016 was indeed a whirlwind of change. Not all of the change was easy but every bit of it has been valuable: Necessary and productive toward me living a more authentic life. Shape-shifting is overrated and quite frankly, it exhausted my mind and body to the extent where it became difficult to move.

Ironically, though, NOT moving was crucial to my transformation. There is power in being still. It enables me to allow life’s “matter” to land wherever it will. It affords me the opportunity to assess, collect, clarify and strategize. In doing so, my actions are less susceptible to the pressures of being defined by any given situation. This gives me room to make decisions that are congruent to living life as the vulnerable, beautiful soul that I know myself to be.

 

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2017 is the year I allow myself to be settle into the comfort and security of being STILL.

2017 is my year of 4’s–my off-season, if you will. I am not anticipating a  year full of heavy change or life-altering realizations. Instead, I set my intentions on learning to settle into the comfort and security that my new life holds. This year, I want to just be happy and surround myself with others who want the same thing for themselves and me. I’m convinced that this is NOT an impossible dream. The reason why is because in my year of 4’s, I commit myself to the following 4 truths:

1) I am not in control of all things at all times: Relinquishing the need to be in total control gives me the freedom to allow God to move in my life. I cannot tell you how many times I have messed around and blocked my own blessings by thinking I knew a better, quicker, more instantly gratifying way. Now, when I begin to feel like I am not in control, I don’t give in to the anxiety and fear that goes along with it. Instead, I honor that feeling and step out of my own way.

2) I have faith that the The Universe is on my side (and is conspiring in my favor): The message between the lines of this truth is GRACE. I believe in and have benefited from this sort of favor. In times when I have made terrible choices, a power that is greater than me often steps in to reshape the situation so that it works to my benefit. Grace is not earned or deserved. It is something that just is given and, in my belief, is closely connected to the truth I will speak of next: Purpose.

imag17973) I believe that my life has a greater purpose: There is more to life than meets the eye. If I am not mindful, I might be tempted to think that going to work Monday through Friday, paying bills and getting a new pair of shoes or jewelry is the definition of living. It might be easy to confuse my ability to love and be loved with happiness and purpose. There has to be more. For me, that purpose is lived more fully when I write. When I deny myself the necessity of creating, I am denying my soul the opportunity to live with the greater purpose for which I was intended.

4) Once I acknowledge my quirks, then I can laugh and live freely:  While I am indeed a flawed individual, I have learned to better distinguish between an actual flaw and what might be better described as a quirk. In my view, a self-proclaimed flaw is a negative attribute that I work hard to change or outgrow at some point. A quirk, on the other hand, is an attribute that may seem peculiar to others (and even myself) but will not likely disappear. I have a list of quirky things about myself that I have decided to embrace. And yes…I will share just 4 of the many:

Quirk #1: Ringtones and notifications startle me!  Seriously, I have been known to physically hold my heart and gasp or jump whenever my phone (or anyone else’s) rings or dings or whistles or otherwise makes a loud, sudden noise. As a result, I am that person who will rarely answer the phone when you call. Not because I don’t want to but because my ringer is perpetually silenced and I cannot hear it ring.  My voicemail notification icon is disabled on my phone, so for the same reason, if you leave a message when I don’t answer, I probably won’t get around to hearing it until at least a month later. 

Quirk #2: I wear socks to bed every night. It does not matter if my feet are hot or cold. Yet somehow, I manage to wake up sock-less each morning. The weekly rescue of the multiple pairs of socks stuck in the tuck between the top sheet and the fitted one is an ongoing source of amusement in my house!

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Quirk #3: While I am obviously NOT not a 65-year-old man who has worked in the corn field his entire life, my rough ass hands have obviously not gotten that memo! For that reason, I avoid holding hands…at all costs! This used to make me anxious whenever I began dating someone new, (which is why when I met my husband, I lead with the story of these rough hands. More on that in another post!). This could also be the reason why going to church has always been somewhat of a nightmare for me. It never fails, by the end of the sermon, someone always wants to hold hands to pray.  In my defense, some of the phobia about holding hands has to do with witnessing folks sashay directly from the toilet to bathroom door without stopping at the sink to wash. 

Quirk # 4: Large groups of people with matching outfits that are NOT uniforms…Yeah, that weirds me out! I am not a person who gets excited about a white-out or black-out event. I take an exception to being told what color to wear and unless we are all planning to take a group photo, I cannot understand why everyone must have on the same color.  So yeah, I’m that girl at the event with a splash of pink or yellow or red …just to be certain that I am not conforming to the dress code that exists for no real reason.  

I guess what I am saying with this last truth is that embracing my quirkiness has been made easier by my ability to laugh at myself. I recognize that my quirks are part of what make ME uniquely ME!  The ability to shake my head in a manner that is somewhere between annoyed and slightly amused, comes from the fact that I know I am well worth that smile– even when it shows up while admitting how beautifully messed up I am! Laughter makes me more comfortable with being vulnerable and authenticity resides in the creases of vulnerability.

My journey toward self-acceptance is paved with faith, grace, purpose and laughter.  May you all be encouraged to consider the things that you believe in, acknowledge your own grace, recognize and honor your greater purpose and by all means…LAUGH YOUR ASSES OFF while doing it!

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An Open Letter to My Sister…

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“Will I Ever Leave You? The Answer is No, No, No…”-Original Painting by SalkisRe

In August of 2012, I posted the blog, Come on! Let’s Play Cards.  At the time, I was contemplating  forgiveness and how key my siblings (and birth order) were in the way that I learned to forgive.

Recently, my thoughts about forgiveness have forced me to dig deeper. Lately, I have been forced to consider: What happens when forgiveness does not heal a fractured relationship and your only other option is to let it go?

Letting go reaches a greater level of complexity when the relationship with the person you must let go is one that you have known your entire life. The following open letter to my sister is my attempt at unpacking some of the emotions involved with this difficult (but necessary) release.

Dear Sister,

It has been over a year since you abandoned our sisterhood. After opening my home to you when you  moved back to the Midwest, you packed your things and left a mess of my home and my heart. Shortly after you left, I fell into a bit of a depression that no one, including me, could understand. I sought therapy to help me through and to numb the sadness of knowing that our sisterhood could not withstand what I believed was a basic disagreement.

It has taken some time for me to get to this point but I know…it is time! I have to release the need and desire for a bond with you and can no longer seek answers from you. I want to engage in dialogue with you, but instead I will write this letter to say goodbye to what has been a lopsided and largely unhealthy relationship.

A part of me is tempted to say that writing this goodbye letter comes as a surprise: something I never imagined I would want or need to do. I wish I could say that your unwillingness to forgive or talk through a disagreement is new to me. It is not.

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Christmas, 2014: I had to beg you to take this picture with me. So typical.

Growing up, I remember paying you money (or candy and Doritos) to end your days or week-long silent treatments for reasons that, once they ended, not even you could  recall.

When we talked about this as adults, your response was, “Well, you were stupid to pay up. Nobody made you do it!” In fact, to the Come on! Let’s Play Cards post,  you commented, “No apologies here…lol.”

That comment spoke volumes. For as long as I can remember, my pain has been a source of amusement for you. And when, in a rare act of courage on my part, I stood up and said, No! Not this time!, your default act of revenge has always been to shut me out and punish me with your silence.

When your children were young, you knew the best way to get me to do exactly what you wanted me to do (when and how you wanted me to do it) was to threaten to keep my nieces from me for weeks or months on end. You knew how much I loved your girls and how badly it hurt me every time you took them away.

Sister, I bring up these examples to make this point: You have never seemed to be able to understand or respect my desire to love or be loved. You have classified my transparency of these human traits as a sign of weakness, while choosing to see your own manipulation of me (and others) as a source of strength and control. Looking back, it dawns on me that perhaps you’ve spent your entire life confusing control with love and acceptance.

Regardless, a part of me has always known that this exact moment would come. When we were in our 30’s and I was still dealing with your occasional episodes of the silent-treatment,  something inside me feared that you may never outgrow the need to be right and to be in control. Yet, I was relatively certain that, one day, I would outgrow that pesky little sister desire of mine to gain your approval.

I have to admit that it bothers me to witness you carry yourself in the community with the persona of a big sister and friend to all: A woman who knows and embraces the value of unity in her community. Yet you treat me as your enemy and do not show any willingness to heal whatever has been broken between us. Where is our unity? Where is our sisterhood? Where is the forgiveness when it comes to me?

These are questions to which I can no longer hope to gain answers.

The more I show you that your silence bothers me, the more  you persist. No more. From now on, I declare that your silence against me is your loss, not mine. I will be 44 in less than a week, and while I still feel young, I know that life is short. Too short to allow you (or anyone else for that matter) to steal even one more ounce of my energy. I no longer give you the power to rob me of my joy by mistreating and disregarding me or my efforts to communicate and forgive.

So, for that reason, I am not only saying goodbye, but I am saying good riddance!

While these emotions may not have happened in the proper order, I have mourned the loss of you as my big sister and now I will bury the hope of ever rekindling that relationship again!

Instead, I will learn to live with the void of my #3 sister until (and unless) you are willing to embrace a dynamic that will offer enough space for us to be equals.

With more love and respect for myself than ever,

Tyra