I have some thoughts on intentions that I wanted to share!
One evening, about six years ago, I took dinner to my friend and her family. They had just welcomed a new baby into their family. I really wanted to help in some way, and bringing dinner seemed just the thing. Now picture this: a pregnant Jacquie walking up the stairs to their house, carrying a heavy tray filled with homemade spaghetti sauce, meatballs, pasta, veggies and dessert.
Did I mention I was pregnant and emotional and stressed? Making dinner was something I wanted to do for others, but it was always a stressful to-do. I would worry if the dinner would be tasty, or if I made enough. And at this stage of my life six years ago, I’d worry about the timing of dinner delivery because I had a one year old boy who had an inconvenient tendency to fall asleep on drives in the evenings. If he slept for even five minutes, it would affect his bedtime and he wouldn’t fall asleep until close to 10 pm. Thus, affecting my quiet time in the evenings, and I think we all understand the sacred nature of adult time sans children. Plus, I knew the mess that was awaiting me in the kitchen. I didn’t clean up as I went, like I do now. All these little worries added up and I wouldn’t be the kindest or calmest person to my family. But I digress.
Somehow, while walking with a tray in hand, I tripped up the stairs, fell down, causing the food to go flying. The spaghetti and meatballs painted my neighbour’s light coloured stairs and their gray stucco exterior. Did I mention they lived in a newly built home? It was a disaster! I felt awful, both physically and emotionally and I started to cry. Like really. I tried to do something nice for this family and I ended up not only ruining the dinner, but I was convinced I ruined their house, too. Plus, I still needed to feed my kids. And I had that worry that my baby fell asleep amidst this “quick” meal delivery.
My friend came out because she heard the ruckus. She was so gracious, and even found the humour in it all. I sure didn’t. I profusely apologized about the mess and for the lack of dirt-free dinner. Between tears, I was able to call my husband Keegan and tell him what happened. I was a hot mess and wasn’t thinking clearly. Keegan was also gracious to his irrational wife and said he’d leave work early and grab some pizzas on the way home. Could I have ordered pizza from a restaurant in the town I live and have them deliver? Absolutely. Did I see that as an option amidst my whole world crashing down around me? Nope. I was trapped in a glass case of emotion. (Name that quote.)
The end result wasn’t what any of us expected, but I knew my friend still felt of my love. She knew of my intentions. However, even with my good intentions, the whole ordeal was an inconvenience for all parties involved, especially for my friend’s husband, who insisted he’d clean off the mess instead of me or Keegan doing it. And before it all froze. I’m so grateful for people being able to see what’s in my heart and not necessarily what’s in the finished product.
Now onto the next story. I went to Costco last week and saw the Lite Brite toy on sale. I loved that toy when I was a kid! Seeing it transported me back to when I bought the Lite Brite for my nephew Jack when he was around 5. (He is now 21.) I was so excited to give it as a gift! I loved it, so I assumed he would, too. Jim, who is Jack’s dad and my brother, told me years later the truth about that gift. At the time of this particular gift-giving, Jack was at the age where commercials were still a thing. None of this streaming or PVR business where you can bypass commercials. You had to watch them the old fashioned way. Apparently, every time Jack saw a toy commercial during the Christmas season, he’d mention how he wanted that advertised toy for Christmas. But when the Lite Brite commercial came on, he didn’t make a sound. Not a peep. It was pretty much the one toy he didn’t have interest in. My intentions were good; I wanted to give a gift to my nephew. After learning the truth about my beloved Lite Brite, I felt disappointed and a tad embarrassed. I can laugh about it now, and see how my good intentions didn’t have the outcome I thought they would. But hopefully, my nephew still felt of my love!
When I saw a whole pallet of Lite Brites at Costco last week, I was still drawn to them. I wanted one. Surprisingly, my kids did, too. I didn’t end up buying one, but maybe they’ll get one for Christmas. Then I’ll be able to relive more glory days!
There will be instances in our lives when we have good intentions but do not act on them. I’ve been trying harder than ever to act on my first impression to do something. (Read about that HERE.) But I’m not perfect. I really missed the boat in this next story I’ll share. It’s a tender topic, but I still want to share.
Henry (not his real name) was a senior gentleman in my town who walked miles every day. He fascinated me. No matter the weather, he was walking. Throughout the duration of a few years, I got to know him a little better. Whenever I’d see him around town, we’d chat a little. I learned that he was a widower and walked so much to fill up his days.
I felt the impression quite a few times to invite Henry over to our house for dinner. I finally decided to take action and called my sister to get his number. He was in her ward (a church congregation). I was ready to invite him over. I got excited thinking about where we’d go from there. Would he be receptive to our invitation? Would he eventually become like an adoptive grandpa? I didn’t expect my sister’s response at all. She told me that Henry had died just a few days earlier. My heart was so sad for lots of reasons. One reason was for the missed opportunity. I put those nudges to the back burner for years. And now it was too late. I had a good cry for his family, our community and for me and my family. For the “what ifs”. I eventually realized that he was reunited with his sweetheart and that he wasn’t alone anymore. That offered me some comfort, but didn’t take away my guilt. This experience taught a valuable lesson: act on those good intentions. Even if the end result isn’t what you intended! In this case, even if the end result wasn’t what I wanted, and he didn’t accept my invitation, at least Henry would have known that he mattered to me.
I’m not trying to be all doom and gloom with this last story. I just wanted to share this hard lesson I learned. Sometimes there are expiration dates to our opportunities. The good news is that, for the most part, regardless of the end result, people can see the intentions of our heart. I’m so grateful for that. Thank heavens, literally, for a loving father in heaven who ALWAYS sees our intentions, no matter the finished product. Sometimes I feel so misunderstood, but God always gets me. (I have some stories to share about that HERE.) Hopefully, we can all give a little more grace to ourselves and to those people in our lives when our/their end result leaves much to be desired.
P.S. I still enjoy taking dinner to people when it’s helpful, but I started to realize the stress it sometimes puts on me, and inadvertently my family. When I am mindful and know that a homemade meal wouldn’t be conducive to a peaceful evening, I’ll buy dinner for the family. Gasp! You read that right. Rotisserie chicken, buns, bagged salad and a treat. Boom. Done. Everyone wins. I’ve also been on a chicken pot pie kick lately because of how symbolic it is to me. Read about that HERE.)
We all tend to have strong beliefs, notions or opinions about things. Or even people. But sometimes we change our minds. It might be due to maturation and life experiences, our quest for learning and healing, the season we are in, just because it’s the right thing to do/divine inspiration. Sometimes I feel almost hypocritical when I change my mind. I shouldn’t feel that way, though, because life is fluid and always changing. Life gives us so many opportunities to learn and grow. Doesn’t it make sense that we are fluid and always learning, growing and changing, too? If we stay stagnant, that’s on us. I think it makes sense, but why does it sometimes feel like I’m eating crow if I change my mind?I will say this again for whoever needs to hear it: it’s okay to change your mind. (Me. It’s me who needed to hear it.)
*Edit: Oopsie daisy!!! I forgot that I wrote this previously and didn’t end up including it in yesterday’s blog post. I feel I needed to share this, too. Especially since it references Julia Roberts. Haha!
My kids were building with wooden blocks one day. Bennett told Evie he was building something and then he changed his mind once the finished product looked like something else. Evie thought he lied because he didn’t do what he said he would. It was a good opportunity to talk about how changing your mind isn’t the same as lying.
I have sometimes wondered if I am a hypocrite because I have felt strongly about some things in the past and no longer feel that same way now. Does that make me a hypocrite? No! What it makes me is human. (But I am obviously a hypocrite sometimes.) We are fluid, always changing. Well, hopefully we achieve balance in how we change and who we allow to influence us to make changes. We don’t want to be like Julia Robert’s character on Runaway Bride. Remember how she always changed what her favourite eggs were based on who she was dating? She didn’t know for herself, so she changed her preference to her newest fiancé’s preference.
I would like to share a few examples of my mind-changing ways.
I remember when I once thought boys had cooties and were gross. I also thought mushrooms and tomatoes were ‘bisgusting’, as my kids used to say. I have changed my mind since then, on all fronts. I married Keegan, and he does not have cooties, and is the farthest thing from gross. I am drooling thinking about a tender steak with sauteed mushrooms, and a perfectly toasted BLT.
I can recall countless stories of people from my church sharing the same story; boy meets girl, boy takes girl on a few dates, boy and girl get engaged. (Side example: I used to think the traditional-style of boy proposing to girl was the thing to do. Who is to say that is the only way? As the morbid idiom goes, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. My kids will tell you all about how it’s perfectly normal for men or women to propose.) To be honest, I was a bit judgey about the whole super short courtship and engagement trend. Well, I ate a big ol’ slice of humble pie because I knew I loved Keegan before we even started dating. It wasn’t puppy love, either. Or lust. Don’t get me wrong, there were lustful feelings, but the love was real and right. But because of my strong beliefs, okay…judgements, I didn’t want a short courtship. We dated for about 10 months by the time we were married. (In the culture I grew up in, that is a long time. Haha!) In humbled hindsight, I truly wish we would’ve just got married quickly and not drawn it all out. I’m really sorry if you felt judged by me. I was a real cotton-headed ninny muggins, and I am so glad I changed my mind about it now. No judgement coming from me. I now understand how you could love someone in such a short time. When it’s right, it’s right, especially when God is involved in the process.
Traditions. When I think of that word, I immediately hear Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof belting out the song, “Tradition!” Sometimes we automatically do things because of the deep-rooted tradition of it all. It’s okay to change your mind on these things, too. I just spoke with a friend who broke tradition this year and ordered Chinese food for their Canadian Thanksgiving. Lightning didn’t strike with the lack of turkey, stuffing and all the fixings. Everyone loved it!!! In fact, my friend told me this is going to be their new tradition! My husband and I have only made one turkey dinner in our 14 years of marriage. I was dog-tired (a little foreshadowing for you) after the preparation, cooking, hosting and cleaning. Even though we loved gathering family together, it was exhausting. I have a new appreciation for all the effort and work that goes into it. And I think if I was in charge of Thanksgiving dinner every year, I’d opt for Chinese food, too. Genius idea, really. As long as there was still pie involved.
When Keegan and I were pregnant with our first full-term pregnancy, we went to a prenatal class. Co-sleeping was discouraged, so we decided against it. We both planned to have our baby girl sleep in her own room, in her own crib. That sure didn’t happen with her. Or for baby number 2 or 3. We became co-sleepers, and we (mostly) loved it! I breastfed and it was more convenient to have the baby with me in bed. That helped me get more sleep. One time, Evie had a fever seizure in our bed. It was so scary. Everything was fine after, but we were so grateful we were with her. Co-sleeping helped both me and Keegan with having a peace of mind. (If he wasn’t on board, we wouldn’t have been co-sleepers.) We had lots of quality time and so many tender moments together as a family as a result, and I will never regret that. I know co-sleeping is not for everyone, but it worked for us. I’m so grateful we changed our minds.
When we first meet someone, I think it’s natural to draw conclusions about him or her. In general, I tend to get positive first impressions of people. Sometimes, however, I have been ‘rubbed the wrong way’. It makes me so happy when I meet that same person later on, and changes are made to that first impression! What often helps instigate change in this situation is putting in the time. Everyone has a story and sometimes the chapters in their story have made them build up walls. Putting in time, helps you see through the chinks, and you get a glimpse of who they really are! I’m sure I have rubbed people wrong. I use humour as a defense mechanism, I’m a silence-filler and I’m sure I’m too ‘big’ for some people upon the first time meeting me. Insert awkward laugh. I’m a recovering people pleaser and it hurts when people don’t like me at first. I should carry around a business card that says something like, “Give me another chance. I’ll grow on you like fungus.”
In our little family, we do not own any video game consoles. Our kids do not play video games at home, but they do enjoy playing at other people’s houses. We don’t give our kids much screen time, either. Will it always be this way? I hope so, but at some point, we may have to reevaluate our kids’ ages, stages and interests. We might change our mind. And if we do, that’s okay.
I have two very recent mind-changing experiences. One is in regards to homeschooling, and the other is having a pet. For the record, I NEVER wanted to homeschool my kids. And I NEVER wanted to own a dog post-kids.
I love learning. I love teaching. I love connecting with people. I love kids. I love creating. I always have, and I suspect I always will. It seemed only natural that I would become a certified teacher. I loved the class setting. I loved all my students and busted my butt to help them feel safe and welcome, to learn, grow, believe in themselves, and to take risks. I loved going to school as a student, and I continued to love it as a teacher. I kind of expected people to feel the same way about school. Naive, I know. When I was a teacher, but before I had kids, I had some (uninformed) opinions about homeschooling. I thought homeschooling was odd. I just didn’t get it. I loved school so much and had a positive experience, that I assumed most parents would want their kids in public school. Confession: I may have even generalized homeschooled kids as being socially awkward and a bit on the weird side. I had heard other people talk like that, too, and had met a few odd ducks who fit that mold. In other words, I had no real data to back it up, but I generalized. After I had kids, I was humbled. I changed my tune and realized that parents have insights into their children that no one else does, and that fuels their decisions to make. I still didn’t get the whole homeschool thing, but I got the whole parents-know-best thing. And I respected that. Did it mean that I ever wanted to homeschool my kids? That’s a negatory, my good buddy! Negatory with a capital N!
My kids love school. Covid school was hard on them. And on me. As soon as it was announced this summer that school was back on, the kids couldn’t wait to go school supply shopping! They were thrilled to be going back to school! They had amazing teachers who I trusted and respected. We went school supply shopping as soon as our local pharmacy was fully stocked up. The kids were so excited, that they labelled everything and put it all in their backpacks. Even their Kleenex boxes. And to be honest, I was thrilled that I was going to have two mornings a week to myself. Even though I had mixed emotions that my baby would be in preschool, his excitement trumped my mourning.
So, imagine my surprise when mid-August, I felt a Divine Nudge to homeschool for the 2020/21 school year. Say what???? Why? Who, what, where, when, why and HOW? I had the skills and I didn’t work outside of the home, but did I have the patience? What about the alone time I was supposed to get because I had paid my dues? I had a taste of Covid school for over 3 months and didn’t want to do that again. No sir! Keegan, had mentioned homeschooling years ago, but I shut that down real quick. I didn’t want to. And I trusted our school division, and the terrific staff at our schools! I wanted to shut this prompting down real quick, too. I battled it for a bit, but between talking to God and my husband, I realized I could do it. With God, all things are possible. And I realized homeschooling wouldn’t be like Covid school. Even though I felt peace with this decision, I still had a million questions. Through talking with friends and family, I felt a surge of courage and support. I could do this. We could do this. And the kids will thrive! Did I feel judged? Yep. Did I have bouts of insecurity? Yep. Do my kids mainly play with each other? Indeed, but we make sure to socialize with other families! Do I get lots of time by myself? Nope, but we are finding our groove and I am finding ways to get what I need.
Homeschooling is not without its challenges, but the kids and I are loving it. There is so much to say about all of the positives we are seeing. And I need to say something to all the homeschool moms out there that I never ‘got’: we are only a month and a half in, and I’m just a newbie, but I am starting to get it now. I don’t know what the next year will look like, but for this year, I am all in. Thank you to all the homeschool pioneers who were so brave to do something with very little resources available and/or support from the public. Thank you for paving the way! I know that it was not without sacrifice. Also, I am sorry for being close-minded about it before. I feel like you are Sam I Am, homeschool is green eggs and ham and I am the grumpy close-minded dude refusing to try it. He finally got a taste and so did I! We both like the green eggs and ham!
I will share more about our homeschool adventure on another blog post. Stay tuned!
Man’s best friend. We consistently had a dog in my growing up years and I’ll never forget them, or their names: Muffy, Binky, Lassie and Shelby. I adored each and every one! (We had cats, too, but this isn’t about them, regardless of what they think. Haha!) I was what you’d call a ‘pet person’ when I was younger. As an adult, though, I just didn’t want to be a pet owner. Keegan felt the same way. We knew it was a big responsibility and didn’t want that on top of our other responsibilities (work, community, church callings etc.). And we didn’t think it was fair to be away all day long. Then we had kids, and definitely did not want a pet. Keeping humans alive and happy was enough for us! Plus, we didn’t want the mess. Having a pet, other than a fish (and even then, no thanks), was not in the cards.
While the kids were trick-or-treating last year (2019), I got the strongest impression that our family was supposed to get a puppy. I immediately told Keegan. He had a look of shock on his face, and then told me he had the exact same thought at the exact same time. Insert awkward laugh and shifty eyes here. Did I mention that our daughter has a phobia of dogs? We have been taking her to our doctor of natural medicine, as well as for talk therapy, and there is progress, but it still is a very real issue. We did not want a puppy, but that prompting was one we couldn’t ignore. Within a few months of that prompting, our kids met and fell in love with their cousins’ puppy. Then a few months after that, they fell in love with one of our dearest friend’s puppy. Our kids started asking if we could get a puppy. The phobia was still there for Evie, but we were thrilled with the baby steps made. The prompting from Halloween night was definitely still on our minds, but we weren’t ready to take action. In April of 2020, that prompting came again, so we took action. (I don’t even know who I am anymore.)We got on a waiting list to get a female poodle!!! Once our puppy was born, we let the cat out of the bag. The kids were thrilled when we finally told them! And we decided to name our puppy Libby, which was going to be Lachlan’s name if he was a girl.
Fast forward to October 2020. We picked our Libby girl up!!! (Check out our breeder, Justine, if you’re in the market for a poodle! She’s wonderful.) Libby was so darn cute, calm and snuggly! We were so excited to have her join our family! The honeymoon phase abruptly ended though. Evie’s phobia was wreaking havoc on her. Bennett was having allergic reactions to a “hypoallergenic” dog. Lachlan was scared of her, too, and I had often had to carry him around so she couldn’t get him. Libby was so hyper and bitey and unpredictable. I couldn’t turn my back without her peeing and pooping somewhere in the house. She was a stage five clinger with me, which is equal parts adorable and annoying. She was up throughout the night and whimpered and barked all night, despite the fact her kennel is in our room. I felt like I had a newborn baby again. The only difference is that my nipples weren’t hurting. Haha! I expected things to be challenging with a puppy, but I was not expecting all of this. It gets better every day, but oh my goodness!!!! It feels like life will never be the same again. And there are so many resources out there on how to train your puppy, that it has made me question myself at every turn. That’s overwhelming, too. I ended up reaching out to Evelyn with Perfect Pooches for some in-home puppy training. Evelyn is amazing, and just what we needed. We are glad we changed our minds on the whole pet thing. We don’t regret getting our Libby Lou and we love her so much already. (That doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally dream of our pre-puppy life.)
Mary had a little lamb…I get such a kick out of this picture!
Pardon my short story long. I just had so much to say on this whole mind-changing business. If you read this far, congratulations!!! You win something! You win this reminder: it’s okay to change your mind.
I don’t want there to be any false pretenses about my
healing journey that I’ve been on these past few years. I haven’t done this on my own. Like at all. Sure, I soul searched and dug deep, and I
recognized the need to rip off the bandaids and truly clean out my wounds once
and for all. But for that last part, I
needed outside help. I knew I for sure needed God in this process, because
without Him, how could I heal and make real changes? I also knew I needed to
take it one step further: I needed professional help. Husbands, friends, and family
are amazing to talk to and gain perspective from. Don’t get me wrong, because I
need those wonderful people in my life. But I needed someone who was a trained
professional. Someone who would have courage to call a spade a spade. Sometimes family and friends don’t feel they
can tell you when you’re out of line or need a kick in the pants. A
professional can, and in a professional way. I needed a neutral place, one of
zero judgement or strings attached. I needed wisdom and truth. I needed to feel
I was blessed to get an appointment with a very busy family
medical doctor/therapist. Let’s call him Dr. Smith. He’s pretty hard to get in
to see, but I squeaked on in! (I feel like that’s just me. Somehow I always end
up worming my way into people’s lives. Haha!) After my first appointment, I
wanted to quit. Ripping off bandaids and cleaning out deep wounds sucked. And
it HURT! My husband encouraged me and reminded me that this is what I wanted.
And that I shouldn’t give up. I’m extremely glad I listened to him, because
let’s face it, I can be a brat and do the opposite of listening.
I told Dr Smith how there are people I know and love who
have at times withdrawn and closed themselves off from relationships. I never
understood why, but after pondering it, I questioned if I should just quit and
withdraw. It’s my tendency to put a lot of effort into my relationships (inside
and outside of my own family) and how I sometimes feel like it’s not
reciprocated. I will end up hurt or disappointed because I feel that my friends
and family don’t care about me and my family like I do about them. I feel like sometimes it’s one-sided. If I
don’t make the effort and reach out or plan things, then my kids and I lose
out. I told my therapist that maybe I should just focus on my own little family
and kind of pump the brakes with everyone else. It’s safer that way, isn’t it?
In response to the tangent I went off on, Dr Smith calmly asked me, “How many
ways are there to do the dishes?” I didn’t know what in tarnation he was
talking about. And what in tarnation did that have to do with my tangent?
Dr Smith answered for me because he saw my deer in the
headlights look. He said that are two ways to do the dishes. He told me that I
could “do the dishes” out of guilt, anger, hurt, retaliation or frustration. I
could mutter under my breath that my family is always making messes and that I
ALWAYS have to clean up after them. I could do it begrudgingly and resent my
family for not helping. Or, I could see it as an opportunity to bless and serve
my family. Doing the dishes is giving my family a gift. It’s giving my love.
I loved this analogy.
I work well with analogies and in this instance, this analogy could be literal.
How do you actually do the dishes? This helped me rethink how I bless my family
with keeping my house clean and free of “noise”. I don’t love doing the actual
dishes, but I do love how the end result of a clean kitchen positively effects
To take it further than the literal question, he had me thinking about my motives of withdrawing. Would I be withdrawing out of hurt and disappointment? Would I do it to punish other people? Or would I be pumping the brakes out of a healthy desire to regroup (hello expectations!) and reprioritize what truly matters? I had to think of what was best for us! My own little family truly matters most, but I can get a little distracted at times. This was a perfect reminder for me.
This analogy also helped me think of my “why”. Why am I
saying yes to so many things? Is it out of obligation or guilt? Or is it
because I genuinely want to say yes?
I had an epiphany one day that goes along with this analogy. I must give a little back story first. My husband and I have very different languages of love. (Fun fact: I’ve never actually read the book The 5 Love Languages cover to cover, but I want/need to!) I’m more of a Words of Affirmation and Physical Touch kind of girl. Keegan is more of an Acts of Service and Quality Time Together kind of guy. We tend to give our love in the way we want to receive. This can cause complications. And it has. I communicate my love to Keegan in the way that’s meaningful to me, but unfortunately not as meaningful to him. And vice versa. Sometimes, I’ve focused on what I’m not getting, instead of focusing on what’s in front of me. Keegan wasn’t always telling me he loved me with his words, but he absolutely showed me with his actions.
One day, as I looked around our house, something hit me hard. I saw evidence of Keegan’s love EVERYWHERE! It was a real humbling experience for me! I was able to see through a different lens. I saw that Keegan truly serves me and our family and it was humbling. He’s a finishing carpenter, and he did the finishing work on our house. Literally, I could see his love everywhere. I looked at the garbage can that was put outside for the garbage truck to pick up. He takes it out every Wednesday. I looked at our manicured lawn (or was it a shoveled driveway? I can’t remember because weather is crazy here.) I saw my van parked in the garage. Keegan makes sure the garage is cleared out on my side so I can park inside. Meanwhile, he parks outside and contends with rain or snowy and icy windows to clear off. I saw our full fridge and pantry and recognized that Keegan was the reason I could keep our family fed. The list goes on. He does so much for me and my family. I just needed to open my eyes a little more to see it in a different light. I try to show gratitude, but this taught me something different.
When the magnitude of Keegan’s love and service hit me, I
got pretty emotional. I texted him, and said, “You do love me so much.
Sometimes I don’t see all the ways you show me you love me. I’m trying way
harder to recognize it. And I’m seeing it everywhere. You’re kind of obsessed
with me.” (I actually searched our text history for this quote. It’s kind of weird
to quote myself.)
I’m telling you, this was paramount in our relationship!!!
It completely changed how I was being filled up. Because I could finally
recognize Keegan’s love language, I could feel how much he loves me. Keegan has
always been so devoted to me. It took me many moons to see it. Heck, even in
his dreams he’s devoted to me. (In real life I’m devoted, but not in my dreams.
Insert shifty eyes and awkward laugh.)
Fast forward. I look for ways I can show Keegan I love him,
in his love language. Sure, I still give words of affirmation and affection,
but I’m trying more than ever to SHOW him. I’m trying to teach our kids that,
too. For Father’s Day this year, their present to their dad was decluttering
their toys. Then I helped them sell their toys. With that money, they took him
out for ice cream. Now that was meaningful to Keegan.
I am forever grateful for God’s help along the way. I was
able to give my burdens to Him. There’s so much more I could say about that and
all the tender mercies. For the time being, I’ll add my gratitude for how He
helped me recognize the need to go to a therapist. I’m forever grateful for Dr
Smith and his insights. I’m grateful that he called a spade a spade and
wouldn’t let me get away with an easy out. The decision to seek out
professional help is sometimes not supported by family members, for whatever
reason. I’m forever grateful for a
husband who supported and encouraged me to see Dr Smith.
I know that it’s okay to not be okay. After my mom died, my
world was shattered. I wasn’t okay. But I took time to feel everything I needed
to. I didn’t rush through my stages of grief. (Have I mentioned that anger was
a stage I lingered at for a while?) I didn’t suppress anything. And after that,
I was able to take charge of my healing and seek spiritual, physical, emotional
and mental help. I’m forever grateful for that. Nuggets I’ve learned along the
way, like the two ways to do the dishes, have truly given me a chance to change.
The ability to change is a true gift.
When I took one of my children for counselling, something
magical happened that I was not expecting. We each had our own counsellor. (It
meant that for a while, I had two therapists. Double or nothing. It was a
gift.) This counsellor, whose official title is Child Life Specialist, had a
way about her. She was insightful, wise, professional, funny, safe, relatable
and completely nonjudgmental. I truly felt like she was my cheerleader. It felt
so natural to be honest and vulnerable with her. She helped me more than she
probably knows. Her official title should be changed to Life-Changer.
I know not everyone can go see her, so I feel the
responsibility to share her powerful wisdom. The gist of it is this: when we
are missing information, our brain fills in the blanks, making up a story. The
story isn’t necessarily accurate, but our brain sticks with it. Our perception becomes
Wow! This was paramount! So powerful. It caused me to reflect my “stories”. What is actually true? What is made up? This has helped me question my narrative and seek for the truth. It’s helped me talk myself down from that proverbial ledge.
Dang technology is the root of many of my stories and it
shouldn’t be. I should have the skills to call a person on the phone or see
them in person in order to ask a question. Instead, I resort to the convenient
text or Facebook message. Sometimes even the lack of punctuation causes me to
fill in the blanks. If I wrote some meaningful text and the only response is
“yep” or “okay” without an exclamation mark, period or even an emoji, I question
if the person is upset with me.
I can recall a time
when I reached out to a friend through text. (This was our main avenue for
communication and she was usually so prompt with responding.) I never received
a response. I thought maybe there was a tech problem, so I reached out via
Facebook Messenger with the same content as the text. The message was time
stamped as “read”. Still no response. I felt slighted. I felt dismissed. As
days passed and I still didn’t get a response, I filled in the blanks. I
convinced myself she was mad at me. I went through every possible scenario of
WHY she would be mad at me. I couldn’t think of one. Then, I remembered another
similar story. The difference was this other friend who slighted me was friends
with someone who not only unfriended me on Facebook for reasons unbeknownst to
me, but then went as far to block me. (That hurt.) Both of these incidences had
me thinking that something was fundamentally wrong with me. That there must be
a group of women who talk about me and now they all hate me. I then started to
feel insecure. Does everyone just tolerate me, at best? I started to question
my social skills. I started to question my personality. I totally went down the
rabbit hole of self-doubt and shame.
Guess what happened? The friend eventually reached out to
me, apologizing profusely for not responding sooner. Her kids were on her phone
and happened to open Facebook Messenger, marking my message as read. She never
got the text, either. Boy was I relieved! This friend was not the Vice
President of the We Hate Jacquie Club.
Honestly, I despise the feelings that follow when I go down
the paranoid and suspicious path. Whenever I hear the word suspicious, it makes
me think of Elvis’ song Suspicious Minds. (The first time I saw Dwight Yoakam’s
music video of Suspicious Minds, I was ‘caught in a trap’. I couldn’t stop
looking at Dwight in his cowboy hat and tight jeans. Maybe this is when my
bizarre crushes started? Oh, wait. Nope. My first bizarre crush was David Bowie
as Jareth the Goblin King in the movie Labyrinth. That’s for a for another
I can now identify a bit better when my brain is filling in
the blanks. It doesn’t make the stories less real, but now I have tools to
shorten the movie into a trailer. No more extended versions for me!
I was taught by my Child Life Specialist to ask myself
Is this true? How do you know it’s true? Is it absolutely
true? Be a detective. Where’s the evidence?
So, was there evidence of a We Hate Jacquie Club? No. That
was just paranoia. Are there some people who aren’t my biggest fans? I’m sure
there are. Does this diminish my value or worth? No one has that power, unless I
give it to them. I am a recovering people-pleaser, and I have definitely handed
over the power to others. I’m aware of it now and I’m trying to shift my
mindset. (If you are a Labyrinth fan, you’ll remember when Sarah yells to
Jareth, “YOU HAVE NO POWER OVER ME!” This is what I need to keep telling
This leads me to daily affirmations. I have embraced these personal positive repetitions. Because of this, I view myself differently. I’ve changed the way I speak to myself. Sure, I felt awkward to begin with. It felt very Stuart Smalley from Saturday Night Live. I am here to tell you that positive self-talk is effective!
For a while, I practiced power poses. I should start it up again. If you aren’t sure what the H I’m talking about, and you have 21 minutes, watch Amy Cuddy’s Ted Talk. There are so many things we can do to help ourselves. We live in a remarkable and open-minded time!
The other things I learned while seeing my Child Life Specialist all have to do with helping ourselves. She told me, “If you need that compliment, give it to yourself.” So let’s say I wrote a blog post where crickets chirped, and I wasn’t ever validated by anyone. I can validate myself!!! I can look no further than myself! (For the record, I definitely have validation-seeking tendencies, but that’s for another blog post.) I was also told that I have the ability to filter out negativity. I can use my voice. And I will be heard, even if it’s only heard by me. The language I was given for this is, “No. I’m not letting that in.” So so simple, yet so so powerful and effective.
The cool thing is, I don’t feel overwhelmed with what I need
to change. I used to feel so bogged down with ALL I had to to. I have a long
way to go, but I’m filled with such hope!
I’m the little engine that could and I think I can keep making
these positive changes. No, I KNOW I can. And you can, too. Believe me when I
say that if I can change, anyone can change! You’re the little engine that