Posted in Introvert Lounge

Stand Tall

I’m a woman.  As a young girl I was always encouraged to be “lady-like”.  I was told to sit with my knees together and if I were to cross my legs, I could only cross them at the ankle.  I was told to sit up straight and practice great posture.  My mother told me all of these things not to conform to some idea of what it meant to be feminine, but for my health.  She always said these things were lady-like and good for me.  She told me sitting up straight would train me to have good posture and that crossing my legs only at the ankle would ensure proper blood flow.  She also said these things showed everyone else that I cared about myself.  She was right.  In addition to these things being good for my health, they also put out a message.

My mother also taught me to let myself be heard, and not to cower in fear of what others may think.  This is a lesson that took a while to learn, but it wasn’t hard.  I realized I project a certain confidence that I often found lacking in myself.  I have been told that I “carry myself” well, or that I look like the type of woman who “don’t take no mess”.  I have taken my share of messes in the past.   It often puzzled me that people at first meeting found me intimidating.  It was not until I saw a video of myself walking to my car shot by a friend of mine.  I was standing talk, back straight, chest out and thought to myself “Who is that?”  I could not believe my eyes.  I could now see what everyone else was talking about.  I looked more confident than I was.  This video was a game-changer for me.  That day I decided I was going to be the woman I had trained my body to be.

I was never a push-over, but I wouldn’t say that I was the most assertive woman either.  It took a lot for me to step up and make myself heard. I knew that part of me needed some work so I used the antiquated term of being “lady-like” to my advantage.  I took a page from my mother’s book.  She described the confident posture and demeanor that I now possess as “lady-like” because, I feel that she subconsciously believed that to be a less threatening term for a woman.  What she was teaching me was to convey confidence in a non-threatening way.  I had to learn to be assertive.

Being assertive for an introvert has its challenges, but it also has its advantages.  As an introvert, I tend to sit back and observe.  We introverts make lots of mental notes in our heads and tend to not act on impulse, thus making our assertion more effective.   We can be calculating and often let all the dust clear before sweeping up the pieces and putting them in order.  I use the “lady-like” approach.  I wait my turn, smile, and never raise my voice.  This is not a sign of weakness, but of control.  I can maintain my composure while making myself heard and commanding respect.  I have been amazed at how well this works.  I believe once you lose control of your emotions, you being to crack the shell of your defense.  I was able to convey a confidence and even intimidation just in the way I walked.  It wasn’t because of anything I said.  It was because I was in control of my body.  I learned that I also had to get that same control over my emotions.

 

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Posted in Uncategorized, Write On Wednesday

Write on Wednesday #37

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My grandmother told me so many interesting stories.  She and I had a wonderful relationship. I often wondered what it would have been like to see what she saw and do some of the things she did.  I also wondered what it would have been like if we were the same age and I was able to experience what it would have been like to grow up with her as my friend.  We had so many of the same interests and I am sure we would have had a great time.

Today’s Writing Prompt:  Take a journey back and time and write a story from the perspective of one of your grandparents’ friends. Create adventures, experiences based on what you know of your grandparents or how you imagined them to be.

Posted in Think About it Thursday, Uncategorized

Keeping Things in Check

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Like I have mentioned before, I have been a stay-at-home mom for over 7 years.  I must stay that the rewards are endless, but for me, the lifestyle of a stay-at-home mom has had some challenging aspects as well.  I let a lot of things slide including my personal well-being.  I gained weight and chose to spend the majority of my time catering to my son and his activities while neglecting my own.  Just as I see all the benefits of choosing not to work outside the home until my son was younger, I am also aware of the the things I didn’t keep in check.

Now I am in the process of doing the things for myself that I had put off for so many years.  I am aware that others may be in my same position for various reasons.  Some may be taking care of an aging parent, a recuperating spouse, or settling into retirement.  All of these things are honorable and good, but one must take care to not neglect oneself.  Taking care of yourself takes nothing away from the good that you do  for others. I have realized that now that I am working to put myself back in the shape I was in prior to being a wife and mother.  I would like to share some of the things I have learned from my past mistakes.

Your health is priority

You would think that your stress level drops dramatically after you quit your 9 to 5.  For me it didn’t.  Being responsible for another human being can be very stressful.  There were so many things I had to plan and to plan around.  I didn’t have a scheduled lunch break so oftentimes lunch did not happen for me.  It no longer became part of my routine.  I made sure that my son was fed and dry and well rested, but I didn’t schedule that same thing for myself.  Sometimes I only ate once a day.  Usually my meal was fast food eaten in the car while my son was napping in his car seat.  I felt that I was being a good mother because I was placing my needs above my son’s.  Eventually the pounds started to pile on, my blood pressure began to rise, and when I looked in the mirror I didn’t recognize myself.

Maintain a connection to the outside world and also make frequent ventures into it

I didn’t realize how much structure my job outside of home added to my life.  I had scheduled meetings, lunches, presentations, and most importantly social interaction with adults.  These social interactions were vital to my life.  These connections were not only important for my work, but also for me as a person.  I did not realize how important they were until I no longer had them.  I also didn’t realize that my social skills needed to be exercised.  After a while I began to shy away from any social interaction.  I stopped going to church, I stopped going out with friends, and I spent most of my time at home.  Had I continued to to maintain some form of social interaction I may have been able to keep some of the things in check that I had let go.  I could have had the encouragement and fellowship of other people to aid me in that transition.

Accept help when it is offered

I can’t tell you how many times I turned down offers of babysitting just because I felt I didn’t deserve a break.  I felt that it would be selfish of me to accept help for something I had quit work to do myself.  What I failed to realize is that parenting is work.  And just like with any other job breaks are not only deserved, but should be mandatory.  If you are a caregiver in any capacity you must give yourself a break.  Accept the extended hand that is offered to you.  If you aren’t offered help there is nothing wrong with asking for it.

Don’t compare yourself to others

I am still struggling with wondering if I am a good enough mother.  My I breastfed my son for 10 months.  He began to ween himself I had very little choice in the matter.  If it were up to me I would have done it for longer.  I was envious of the women who were still nursing their children.  I also wondered if my son was involved in enough activities, if I was feeding him the best possible food, if I was capable of providing him with enough intellectual stimulation, etc.  Every time another mother mentions something they were doing for their children I would feel bad if I wasn’t doing the same.  In reality nothing is perfect an we are not going to do things perfectly right all the time.  All we can do is our bests.

It wasn’t until 2 miscarriages and several hospitalizations that I, who had always been very healthy, realized that I was seriously harming myself.  The altruistic behavior that I had placed so high on a pedestal was killing me.  I could not do my best if I was making myself sick.  I am so glad I learned my lesson before it was too late.  I would encourage all of us to do the same.  There are enough hours in a day to get what you need done.  Take full advantage of them, but most importantly, use some of that time for yourself.