Here Stands Linda

rockypathEach of us has the job of knowing ourselves. I always thought I did that job quite well. In fact, in knowing myself, I knew I did pretty much any job quite well. That’s me. My tombstone will say Here Lies Linda. She was Capable.

For most of my adult life, and maybe longer, I could handle things. I could solve problems. People depended on me. I stepped up. I always stepped up.

But for the past few years, I haven’t been able to get out of my own way.  I had some problems I couldn’t seem to solve despite my best efforts. And then a poison seeped into my bloodstream, one that didn’t quite kill me but crippled me with self-doubt. My capability – and my cope-ability – were broken.

Self-doubt is an evil force. It whispers lies. You think there is no remedy. Even worse, you think you don’t deserve one.

Back in 2013, I talked to my counselor. “Everything is crushing down. How do I do a root-cause-analysis? How do I know what is cause and what is effect? How do I triage the problems to focus on the right one first?”

“Linda,” she said. “You can’t approach this with some logical, cut-and-dry formula. You are standing on a path that is strewn with rocks. You just need to start moving rocks.”

She said once I started moving rocks, I would eventually be able to see the way forward on my path.

Some of you might read this and think I’m talking about my marriage. Or my job. Or maybe something else altogether. You’d be wrong. Or maybe you’d be right. I’m talking about all of it. I’m talking about how I got paralyzed by self-doubt on a path littered with rocks.

Here’s the thing about moving rocks: it’s hard work. You start off feeling like you can’t clear that path and the truth is, you really can’t. Not alone.

But this is your path and you are responsible for the work of moving these rocks. You can’t ask others to move them. What you learn once you roll up your sleeves and start is this: when you’re standing there, scared and exhausted, crying, muscles quivering with fatigue, your people will show up. They’ll just show up. It doesn’t matter that you didn’t ask them to come or tell them you needed them. You might not have even known you needed them. Regardless, they will show up. They will be there for you, for whatever you need.

They will stay there with you, by you, while you clear that path, one rock at a time. They will help you by doing things you didn’t even know you needed them to do.

And you will be blown away by the kindness you are shown.

Then one day, you’ll wake up and think “I’m better. I am strong. I can solve problems. I can do what needs doing. I can cope. I am the person I was meant to be.”

Here Stands Linda, She is Capable.

I’m walking a smoother path these days and I am grateful down to the core of my being for the immense kindness and support I have received along the way, from family, from friends, and from people in the workplace. For your words, for your actions, for your understanding, for your patience.

Thank you.

By |August 27th, 2016|Not even a little funny|Comments Off on Here Stands Linda

The Middle Child

f507A lot has been written about the middle child. Unfortunately I can’t be bothered to go look it up because, pffft, who cares?

Actually, that’s not true. I, myself, am a Jan Brady of sorts. Not the oldest, not the youngest, not the only boy. I’m as middle as it gets in a family with four kids.

In my own brood, it’s a little more complicated. Back in the 80s, I had two. So there was an oldest and a youngest. Eleven years later, I had another one. So she became the youngest and the previous youngest became the middle. But no, because of the huge gap between them, the first two remain apart from this third one who, while definitely still the baby, is really more like an only child in every way.

And then five years pass, and in fairly rapid succession, there are two more. (NB: What the heck was I thinking??)

Now that third one is no longer the baby. She’s also no longer an only. Mathematically, she’s a middle child, but is she?  Because she’s pretty bossy with the younger two, lording her seniority over them, so she’s kind of an oldest, but there is a big gap between her and the older ones and another big gap between her and the younger ones.

So, let’s review, shall we? The girl who is precisely a middle child has fulfilled the roles of youngest, oldest, middle, and only child.

Well, no wonder she’s got that slightly dazed look on her face so often!

Today is July 12th and my middle daughter, Sarah “Rose” (that’s her fake middle name because she didn’t like the one her dad and I gave her) is 20 years old. TWENTY! How did that happen?

Here’s what I know about middle daughters:

  1. Sometimes they feel like they don’t have much in common with their mothers when, in fact, they do. More than they realize now, but they will over time. All the good parts, none of the bad. Well, except that volume-control thing. Let’s work on that, OK?
  2. For about 3 years, they made their mothers watch them do cartwheels. Constant cartwheels. All cartwheels, all the time. “Wait, I messed that one up. Let me try again. Hold on, one more time. That one was bad. Watch this one!” For a long period of time, their mothers never wanted to see another cartwheel again, but…. some would love to see one more now just for the sheer comedic value of it. In fact, some really do have fond memories of all the cartwheels.
  3. They are bossy as can be with their little sisters, but they are wonderful to them, too. Involved, caring, honest, helpful.
  4. They feel things deeply and are always trying to help one side see the point of view of the other side. They are diplomatic. They are mediators. They collaborate well and bring people together. They get along.
  5. They may think I’ve forgotten about The Incident from early 2015 but, no, I have not. (I just slipped this one in so you’d know you’re not off the hook.)
  6. They work hard. They work hard at school and at work and at home. They may think their mothers and others don’t notice or appreciate this but they’d be wrong. (Also? See point #1.  Yeah.)
  7. They try their best to do the right thing. That doesn’t mean they don’t make mistakes sometimes (See point #5) but mostly they care about being a good person.
  8. They will go far in life. It won’t always be easy but they will never give up.
  9. They are loved and admired.
  10. They like lists that end with a nice, even 10 entries. (See point #1.) (I might have made this one up. I really don’t know if you’re as weird as me in this regard.)

One last thing – middle daughters never get blog posts written about them. Well, hardly ever.  😉

Happy birthday, Sarah Noelle.  Let’s go have some Red Lobster (and here we are back to point #1 again) to celebrate what I know will be a great year for you!

SarahNov06_3

By |July 12th, 2016|Indiscriminate Drivel|Comments Off on The Middle Child

Don’t Look Down

Fear-of-HeightsI’m not afraid of heights. Not really. I mean, I can easily do Ferris wheels and tall buildings. I’ve stood on the thick plexi-glass floor on the top level of the Sears tower. I’ve been to the top of the Space Needle. Had drinks at the Metropolitan Museum rooftop bar in New York.

I’m not afraid.

But watching my children maneuver when they are somewhere high up where they could possibly fall? That terrifies me.

It’s a good metaphor for life, I guess.

The general advice for people afraid of heights is don’t look down.  Of course you know down is there but if you look, you could get dizzy and that increases the risk of the very thing you fear, stumbling, falling, jumping.

Life isn’t a vertical journey, though. We have what’s up ahead and we have what is behind us. Often people will tell you not to look back, leave the past in the past, soldier on, move forward. That’s all good and fine but I have a different view. I think the equivalent to the person afraid of heights looking down is the person unsure about the future looking ahead. It can cause dizziness and fear.

And looking back doesn’t have to mean holding onto that which you must move past. You can look in the rear-view mirror simply to see the progress you’ve made.

Back when I had a team of people reporting into me, this was a mantra of mine. Often, we were so busy, spending so much time seemingly banging our heads against the wall, feeling like it was impossible to get anything done, I would often say “Look back and see what we did.” Because your progress is easily visible when you look back. And if we can look back and see progress we’ve already made, even in tough circumstances, then it’s logical that we can expect more progress in our futures, even if it seems impossible in the moment, dizzying, head-bangingly frustrating.

That’s my life right now. I get dizzy looking ahead. Things still have not settled down. I have that horizontal fear of heights regarding my future. I’m anxious for everything to be orderly, and yet right now I’m still unsure of how it will all come out. But when I look in my rear-view mirror, I know there is progress. Adjusting, adapting, coming to terms with the new reality of my life. I’m working. I’m sleeping at night. I go out socially with good friends. I grocery shop on Wednesdays. I have a routine, a brand new routine that now includes mowing the lawn and repairing lamps. I bought a drill. And if I have an occasional day where I barely get out of bed (ahem, yesterday I binge-watched The Newsroom all day), it’s because I choose not to, not because I just can’t.

If looking forward makes you dizzy, just don’t. Don’t look down.  Look back to see how far you’ve come and let that give you assurance that you will continue to move forward, even if things are still unsettled. Even if you’re still trying to work out some really big stuff. It’ll be OK. You’ll get through it. Life’s gravity will pull you forward.  Just do your best, it’s almost always good enough.

Signed,

Talking to Myself

 

By |July 11th, 2016|Indiscriminate Drivel, Not even a little funny|Comments Off on Don’t Look Down