“There is something infantile
in the presumption that somebody else
has a responsibility to give your life meaning and point…
The truly adult view, by contrast,
is that our life is as meaningful, as full and as wonderful
as we choose to make it.” ― Richard Dawkins,
My friend Sundi Jo Graham has released a new e-book today called Liar Liar, which is a passionately written and honest short read. Sundi Jo covers so many of the lies we hear, tell ourselves and even sometimes believe about ourselves. Her manifesto takes readers from the beginnings of doubt and self-hatred to the solutions found in Christ and the Bible. While there are parts that are a bit in your face, her brutal honesty and lack of sugar-coating is actually refreshing. I think it’s a nice little read for newer Christians who struggle with their identity in Christ.
Taken from Amazon — If the words ugly, fat, stupid, and unlovable sound familiar to you, you are not alone. We let the world tell us who we are. We let family and friends speak lies over us that we start to believe. We let expectations of ourselves and others fill our minds so much that we believe the end will result in failure regardless of what we do.
I would rather be naked than let you see me learn the banjo. That says a lot. I don’t do naked well. (Think Bob the tomato). Learning something new while people watch is apparently worse.
I call it being an introvert.
My husband calls it being a perfectionist.
Either way, I don’t like people seeing me or hearing me try something new until I master it.
The problem with that?
Life isn’t meant to be lived in a vacuum.
Truth is, I’ll let my husband see me naked, but I won’t let him sit out on the porch while I practice my banjo. For some reason I feel more vulnerable playing the banjo than I do in the nude.
Refusing to let my husband (he’s a professional musician on weekends) hear me play robs him of the joy of music.
I knew my anxiety level had reached an all time high when not only did I not want my husband to hear me play the banjo, I couldn’t play for my teacher either.
When we first started out with lessons — in May, I’d get so nervous that I made my instructor nervous.
My husband finally offered me his great wisdom.
“This isn’t the Opry, it’s our back porch. Now lighten up and have fun already.”
I’ve been having a lot of fun since he said that. When I get frustrated (like I am tonight) I remind myself that I started playing the banjo on May 25 2012 and I missed three lessons in June because of traveling. So really, I’ve only been playing for four weeks. In those four weeks, I have learned chords, how to tune a banjo, how to read tabs, four basic rolls and now I’m learning slides.
My husband does not think less of me because I haven’t mastered this yet.
My instructor (who has been playing guitar for 40 and banjo for 3 years) does not think less of me because I’m not as good as he is.
Fact: I sing in the chorus of the second longest running presentation of Handel’s Messiah in the US. Have since 2000. I cannot read a lick of music. I’ve memorized the entire piece. That takes talent.
Learning how to create music brings me joy and will help me become a better songwriter.
Hating myself because I have the unrealistic expectation of mastering something over night (like slides) is ridiculous.
This isn’t the Opry.
It’s my back porch.
I hereby give myself permission to not be great while I learn with the knowledge that every time I try, I will get better.
What new thing are you trying to learn right now?
Are you willing to be kind to yourself while you learn?
My first banjo lesson was last Friday. I learned how to hold it while sitting down which involved a brief lesson on the difference between boys and girls. I learned how to use the picks they gave me, and how to read a tabulature, a pick roll and three new chords (G, C, and D7). I’ve been playing until my fingers want to fall off. Seriously it hurts to type. I’m happy to report though that C no longer buzzes. yeah me!
Houston, we have music.
Fear and desire are two sides to the same coin. – Vis-a-vis my stupid fortune cookie.
We ordered take-out tonight. I love fortune cookies if for no other reason than they make me laugh. (Not that I believe in them, just to clarify they are for fun) And I love Chinese food. double bonus. I do not love the ” fortune” I got tonight and offered to trade. Until I read his anyway. Do you know what his said?
“Engage in group activities that further transformation.”
He chuckled when he read it and then he asked me the rudest question, “So how’s the cycling thing going?”
I didn’t see the trap and lit up like the 4th July. For 1o minutes this man, my soul mate, listened to me talk about this blog and that book and this group and that ride. He stopped me at rides.
“So when are you going?”
“That group ride you’re talking about. When are you going to ride with a group?”
“Oh I’m not ready to ride with a group, there’s too much to learn.”
“Sounds to me you got the right fortune, but you want mine. You can’t have it. “
“Because you’ll never find what you are looking for in a book. You want the experience without actually having the experience. It can’t happen. Put down the books and just ride. It’s the right next step.”
Busted. He’s right and I know he’s right. The only way I’m going to learn how to ride with a group is by riding with a group. Books aren’t going to teach me that.
My question to you , Do you remember a time where you desired something but were afraid of it at the same time? What did you do?
When it comes to learning new things, I am like a two-year-old with a “me do it myself” attitude, only with better resources. Blame it on my DNA if you must, or the fact that I was raised by a boomer to be independent. Who knows. Either way, I’m a book nerd through and through, and have spent most of my 46 years believing if I can’t find it in a book – fake it. Pulling my nose out of the books and interacting with – gasp – humans while I learn, stumble, fall, and learn some more is a HUGE growing experience. The whole everything is better in community stuff. Getting over the whole I-hate-to-look-stupid mindset is a trip and a half down a dark alley. Fortunately my close friends know this about me and love me anyway.
I’m learning a lot of things right now. All of them on purpose. Most of these new adventures do not affect my ego really. Not much anyway. I used to design ss7 switching protocol for a living, complete with electronic and geographic diversity for a major player in telecommunications. (SS7 is, or perhaps was, to telecom what the central nervous system is to the human body.) While that isn’t exactly rocket science, it isn’t easy either. I remind myself of this fact rather frequently these days while I stumble through my new adventures.
Jo is teaching me how to ride horses –– We practiced jumping this week and while I fell off Cowboy during a jump last week, I didn’t die and we were right back at it the following week. We literally raised the bar and the speed and I am having a blast. I’ve known Jo for almost ten years. Having her teach me how to ride, race, and jump does not bother me. This is my escape from the testosterone around me. Nothing against the guys, but being the lone female in a house full of men can get overwhelming sometimes and I need a break. There is a coolness factor involved here to be sure. There is no way I could simply saddle up a horse and start jumping all on my own. I needed someone to step me through it.
Ruth is teaching me how to make a quilt. I cannot presently sew to save my life. I was raised by a woman’s rights baby boomer. My never learning how to sew is no big deal. My mother wanted more for my life than to be domestic slave. I mean housewife. – I am a housewife today. This kills her. That status is changing ever so rapidly, but I digress. I’m learning how to quilt because my grandmother was a blue ribbon quilter. She cut small squares, pieced everything by hand, and even quilted by hand. That’s a strong legacy. My mother also quilts, but uses a sewing machine. My mother is dying and does not have the time left to finish all of the quilts she had in mind. Mom gave me two boxes of material when I was home last summer. I’m learning how to quilt as a way to honor both her and my grandmother. Ruth is taking our small class through every baby step imaginable. This too is fun and does not bother me.
Soccer Mom meets Hipsters and Racers – oh yeah this one bothers me a little. – Broomfield this is for you. Riding bikes with the kids on our Mom bikes is NOT the same thing as wanting to go the distance with adults. I’m just sayin. There is a learning curve so curvy that it makes Dolly Parton look like an A-Cup.
My Bicycle evolution: (do not be fooled by the photos, owning bikes and knowing what to do with them – are not the same thing.)
I bought a new bike last fall because I wanted to get back in shape – easy peasy. It’s just a new bike, how much is there to know? Apparently a lot. I learned this week that leaving the sporting goods store behind and going to a local bike shop is fun, exciting, and scary. Scary because I’m a soccer mom. They are well, not soccer mom’s. They are mostly grown men (save for one nice gal that helped me pick out my bike) who get to work on gears, chains, frames etc in what I will call an oversized garage – only much cooler looking. — If I could pick a dream job for my youngest son, it would be this. They also race and I hear there is beer involved at the end of the day. — Testosterone heaven, minus the pin up calendar.
For some strange reason, I find myself slightly intimidated at this point. I love this store and I really like the staff. Yet walking in with my questions, I feel like Velma from Scooby Doo walking in to a surf shop wanting a boogie board. I could swear there were moments when I could see the backs of people’s heads through their eyeballs. — My first attempt at picking out a new bike last fall met with some quiet smirks and a few giggles. It seems I picked out a rather expensive trick bike that was primarily for “hipsters.” I wanted to know what a hipster was, but decided it was one of those words that if you don’t know, don’t ask. We landed on a just my size Giant and I’m very happy with it.
Not a whole lot of humility has been required at this point. I order a bike, I pick it up. I notice the tires are thin and bald, but I don’t ask why. It doesn’t have a kick stand either but I don’t notice that until I get home. — I later learn that street bikes come that way. OH! — I try my new bike out for two months and keep falling over because of the death straps on the pedals. I get a post card in the mail reminding me the shop will tune up the bike for free after 30 days and to bring it in. They lure me with the promise of 15% off any one accessory.
I get to accessorize? OOH! I’m there.
I wasn’t feeling intimidated when I dropped off my bike for its check up, I did however feel intimidated when I had to pick it up. Dropping off was easy, the store was empty. Picking it up, the store was full — of pros. Racers et al. Some nice fellow puts my bike back on the rack because whoever worked on it forgot to remove the death grips. While talking about those little buggers that want to kill me, I did learn that they are called “toe clips.” OH! — I can hang any hope for cool points out the window. This is Walmart meets Lance Armstrong all the way. Part of me was secretly wishing for my soccer van back.
Watching him work on my bike, I am suddenly transported back to Chicago, 1987. My car is in the shop, running badly, and the mechanic is little lady this, little lady that – trying to convince me that my sweet pinto is on it’s deathbed but for $500 he can hook it up to machines and bring it back ala Frankenstein. I grab my keys, turn the motor, and the car shakes like crazy so I pop the hood. I jiggle the spark plugs, reconnect the loose wire that wasn’t loose when I dropped it off for the oil change, and viola my car is resurrected from the soon to be dead. hmm. Jerkface was trying to rip me off.
Truth is, I knew more about cars at 22 than I know about bikes at 46. I also paid more for this street bike than I did for my first three cars. I am completely at the mercy of these guys. These men who probably have other jobs, but maybe not. Who race, sweat, get covered in grime, wipe out, drink beer and live to ride another day. If you really want to know, I’m not a mercy rule kind of gal, unless I am the one dealing the mercy cards anyway. I’m more often than not the two-year old who insists “I do it myself.” sigh.
Thankfully, none of them laughed at my questions – at least not to my face. I needed a “kit” and helmet. Having no clue what either entailed I had to rely on the guys. The kit I learned is made up of an inner tube, tire repair kit, bag that fits under the seat, some blue plastic sticks and a CO2 Cartridge. The look on the guys face when I asked what the sticks were for was priceless. Yes I’m sure I saw the back of his head through that one. He then walked over to the bike on the rack and mimed how one would use them to pry off a flat tire. That was nice of him. A real mountain biker walked in at that point and needed his expertise and so Mr Mechanic dude took over after that.
He seemed far more well, amused? Empathetic? Tolerant? Closer to my age – yes that would be it right there. He got me a CO2 kit that was “idiot proof, no offense.” none taken I assured him, put the kit bag together, double checked everything on my bike, and helped me size my first helmet. A simple grey deal which I consider my starter helmet.
Being helped to pick out a helmet that fits by a total stranger, that kinda bugged me. Dear lord, you’d think he helped me pick out a training bra or something. I’ve never worn a helmet in all my 46 years, there is no way I would instinctively know anything about sizing, so why it bugged me I don’t know. Must be my EGO pure and simple. It’s not like I put my first pick on backwards or anything, I just happened to pick up a kids helmet. Yep – I needed help with sizing. It only killed me a little bit. You know?
So now I have my re-tuned bike, a road kit, and a helmet. I’m ready to step up the challenge and learn to ride with a group. Maybe. That is my eventual goal I know. Can’t ride the MS150 by myself. I’m thinking I should try the trails on my own first, maybe? That way I know them and I”m not learning group etiquette and geography all at the same time. Baby steps and all that jazz.
I know I said I was going to post miles each week, but I can’t figure out how to gauge that. Probably another toy or something. I’ll figure it out eventually that or I’ll ask someone. Just not today.
Have a great weekend you guys.
Random thoughts from my journal…(Because confidence is needed to ride a horse, I’m been journalling a lot lately on what assertive looks like and how it differs from control. This is a just a random selection of those thoughts. I realize they aren’t complete yet and is here more as a reflection of where I need to grow as a person than as absolute conclusion.)
You need to use your assertive voice when telling the horse what to do.
My assertive voice? Really? Uhm.. I guess a squeaky “please trot” just isn’t going to cut it with Cowboy, huhn?
Nope. When you are assertive, the horse will trust you. If you are passive, the horse with jack with you. Your choice. Oh and visually focus on where you want cowboy to go, or he’ll pick his own path.
I thought I was just signing up for a fun escapist kind of hobby. I was wrong. She wasn’t kidding about Cowboy either. If I’m the least bit uncertain about what I want to do, he’ll totally jack with me. I love riding Cowboy.
This isn’t what I expected when I signed up for riding lessons. I really just wanted to escape the testosterone around me. Don’t get me wrong, I love my guys. Even so, being the only female in a house full of men gets overwhelming some days
Instead of just horseback riding, I’m learning about assertive vision. Which brings me to a bigger question really. What is the difference between being assertive and being controlling?
Not a gentle response to be sure.
Self destructive rebellion is not the answer.
Three months of riding lessons later, Cowboy and I get along really well. I prefer not to use stirrups when I ride and next week, I get to ride Prince bare back. I don’t have to go big when being assertive with the horses, just consistent. Consistency breeds confidence, confidence breeds a quiet assertiveness..
That or Cowboy is still jacking with me.
I’m not sure.
Added: June 22, 2011 — I’ve now ridden Prince (another horse at Jo’s barn) bareback twice. We even galloped yesterday, which I’ve decided rocks more than anything.
This post written by Deana O’Hara for Redemption’s Heart. All rights reserved, June 8, 2011