Guilt & Forgiveness, Mom Humor, Self Love, Uncategorized

Authentically Inauthentic: Discovering Your Authentic Self

‘Authentic:’ genuine, real, bona fide, true, valid, legitimate.

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I used to loathe the sound of my recorded voice, wait, no, I cringed at the sound of my voice on a voicemail, video, recording, or anything else that delivered me a harsh dose of, ‘Is that what I sound like?’ I was so apt to cringe at my voice replayed to me because I felt like it lacked authenticity. Now, when I was leaving said voicemail, or goofy ‘Hudson’s first outside poo poo!’ video commentary, I felt very authentic, I was being true to my eccentric, imperfect, cheesy self, so why was I interpreting myself as so authentically inauthentic?

Me thinks this stemmed from the identify crisis that comes along with becoming a mamasita; or at least the identity crisis I experienced after giving birth to a human. I went from being that lady, to this mama, who now encompasses that lady. Ahh! Who am I? And who is that high-pitched goo goo gag gag lady on that video? Me. It’s me. Hello, my name is Bailey, and I am a high-pitched baby talk addict, please help me.

As irritating as I found that voice on the recording, I’ve come to terms with the fact that that’s me, at least a part of ‘me.’ The clear and concise (low toned) voice recording I left on my client’s voicemail was also me, at least a version of me. The odd voice I’m using as I type this sentence, (which is a muddled mix of a bad Scottish, Southern, and Baby accent,) to entertain my antsy toddler, is also a version of myself, albeit one I attempt to keep hidden behind closed doors. I’m extremely grateful that I have multiple versions to draw from, because if Scottish-Southern-Baby was my only option, I would probably be unemployed with a very odd (yet likely very entertaining,) group of friends.

I’m starting to come to the realization that we all (more than likely) have many versions of ourselves, and are able to tap in to that elusive ‘authenticity’ when all our versions bloom from our core principles. Okay, well that sounds good, but how do we tap into our authentic core? I’m still working that out, and will likely continue to attempt to work that out for many lifetimes; but, for now, here are a few of the first bricks I’ve laid out in my yellow brick road to authentic-core-self-discovery, that likely ends in a place much more bizarre than Emerald City.

Free-Flow Writing

Free-flow writing is the most effective free-therapy I’ve ever stumbled across. There is something profoundly liberating about scribbling out your wild (and sometimes mundane) thoughts as they meander (and sometimes steamroll) through the mind. Another beautifully messy aspect of free-flow writing is that you’re not turning it in for a grade, or perusal from an editor, so you can write as illegibly as you would like. My free-flow handwriting is frightening, and I love it, no one will be able to decipher the peculiar outward expression of my inner mind, even if they wanted to.

When you’re free to let it all flow, without any judgment, you’re unencumbered, independent, on the loose; you’re capable of tapping into your authentic core. I’ve “received” the answers to some real zingers while free-flow writing, it’s as if the fairly wise creature I (for some reason) keep caged up within me, is able to come out and play, while laying some wisdom on me in the process. My logic was, the more I free-flow write, the more comfortable this wise free-flow creature will feel in venturing forth; I named my creature (who has no gender,) ‘Authentic.’

How To: Grab a notebook, some paper, a free spot on the wall, or any other writable surface, a writing utensil, and set a timer for 30 minutes. Now, write. Don’t pause even for a moment to consider what to write, and don’t pause, even for a moment, to look back, analyze, or judge anything that you’ve written. Let it all out; be free. Even if you just write, ‘I don’t know what to write, I don’t know what to write, I don’t know what to write,’ for the first 5 minutes, you’re doing great, you’re tuning in to you.

Self-Description

One lovely afternoon, when my lovely toddler, was taking a lovely abnormally long nap, I had time to spare after my 30 minutes of free-flow writing. I was feeling footloose and fancy-free and decided to do something terrifyingly raw, continue writing, but write a ‘self-description’ of myself. Who does my creature ‘Authentic,’ think I am? I dove in, I wrote, and wrote, and wrote, and cried at little. Because I knew no one else was looking, I told myself what I really thought of myself. Some of it was good, some of it was questionable, and a lot of it was quite crude; but I sensed that it was authentic, and it felt AH-mazing.

How To: Grab your writing surface, utensil, and trusty timer (set for 15 minutes,) and GO! Much like the free-flow writing, you’re not analyzing or judging what you’re writing, you’re just writing; the only difference is that you have a set topic, ‘you.’

Being Naked

(In an attempt to keep this post PG, I left out the photo intended for this paragraph.)

Nothing like the naked body to give you a solid dose of authenticity. With the exception of my forgotten naked streak, during my toddler years, I used to have the desire to wear a bathing suit while showering (I didn’t, but I wanted to,) because I was so uncomfortable with my true self; mind, body, and spirit. My naked body didn’t have any protection; it was raw, exposed, and scared. As I slowly peeled back the layers (literally and figuratively,) on my journey to authenticity, I found it to be quite liberating to just be naked every once in awhile. People at the grocery store looked at me differently, but at least I was being authentic, just kidding 😉 When you’re naked, you’re no one but ‘you,’ you’re not wearing the ‘hippie’ skirt, ‘girl next door’ cut offs, ‘professional’ blazer, ‘stoner’ hemp stuff, or ‘sex kitten’ strip of uncomfortable lace, you’re just ‘you.’ When you partake in enough nakedness, besides the benefit of honing in on your authenticity, you also begin to develop a true reverence for your body; cellulite, full thighs, stretch marks and all; which is like a thick layer of cream cheese icing on your authentic cake.

How To: Take off your clothes. And no, you can’t leave your socks and underwear on. Hair ties are okay. Oh, and don’t forgot to put on your invisible cloak of self-love.

Watching and/or Listening to Your Recorded Self

SO HARD FOR ME TO DO. As you may have gathered from my opening paragraphs, I don’t like listening to my own voice. So, I figured the best way for me to get over this was to lock myself in a dark room, and play my most irritating voicemail on loop. Because I’m not always one to choose the “best way,” I instead opted for sitting in my living room, and spending 10 minutes, once a week, listening to these voicemails, watching home videos, or recording myself while I talked to Hudson, and then playing it back. My ego took quite a beating the first few times I subjected myself to this torture, but then, the proverbial light at the end of the voicemail began to shine through, and I actually developed a kind-of-sort-of healthy respect for my voice. My ego also shrunk a considerable amount, which was quite nice, as it had been growing fairly weighty and unmanageable. Be gone heavy ego. This self-torture helped me realize that that voice, along with its’ various versions, was me, authentically. It may still be a bit irritating to me, and maybe a few other people, but hey, that’s okay.

How-To: Gather up some home videos, and/or other items that have the honor of containing your voice, countenance, or both, and then listen and/or watch them, multiple times if possible. Go into the experience with an open mind and heart, and above all, compassion. You may love what you hear/see, or you may get a bit queasy, but move through it, you can do it.

Meditating

I’m still trying to figure how to meditate; our society doesn’t quite foster an environment of stillness. Yet every meditation attempt I’ve made has been deliciously fruitful, even if I’m not always doing it “right.” For me, the main purpose of meditation has been to connect with my consciousness, and the universal now. The Earth does not shift every time I meditate, but my awareness, and appreciation for, well, everything, does shift every time I meditate. Meditation forces me to stop being ‘mom,’ or ‘dishwasher,’ or ‘daughter,’ or ‘short order cook,’ or even ‘female,’ and throws me into being me, just me. It’s scary, and amazing.

How To: Take care of your basic needs (make sure you’re fed, watered, free of a full bladder, and not running from a lion,) and sit in a quiet and comfortable space. I prefer to mediate in a cool environment, with low lighting, and loose comfortable clothing, but a deep state of meditation is possible anywhere, all you need is your mind. Once you’ve made it to your special physical space, close your eyes and allow yourself to travel to your special internal space. In the beginning, to avoid looking at the clock every 27 seconds, I found it helpful to set a timer for 5 to 10 minutes. As you become more comfortable in your practice, try upping your time. May the internal peace be with you!

Staring Contest with Yourself

If I look at myself in the mirror long enough, I start to hallucinate, really. Sometimes my nose grows, my hair gets fuzzy, my eyes bug out, my skin pales, or darkens; weird stuff happens. Who am I? And who is that strange lady staring back at me? It is wonderfully disconcerting to have a staring contest with yourself. Ever heard that ‘the eyes are the windows to the soul?’ You’ll believe it after losing a staring contest with yourself. Looking into your own eyes can be so uncomfortable because you’re exposing your soul; your soul becomes naked when it’s being examined by itself, and it prefers to wear a bathing suit in the shower. Staring at, and into, yourself, is a sure way to feel uncomfortably authentic, until you don’t feel uncomfortable anymore. I usually experience the passing of the ‘uncomfortable’ like a warm wave of acceptance and love washing over me. I’m standing there, feeling odd staring at myself, wondering who is going to blink first, wanting to look away, and then suddenly the wave hits, and it’s all good.

How To: If you have some makeup on, wash your face. If you don’t have any makeup on, wash your face, it’s refreshing. Now, find a clean mirror, turn on the light, find your eyes, and stare into them until you no longer feel uncomfortable.

To have a cosmically cool moment with a loved them, engage them in a staring contest; and you can’t laugh 😉

Free-Flow Writing

Yes, I’ve already mentioned this, but it’s so great it’s worth repeating. Go do some free flow writing.

I’m currently in the process of discovering and rediscovering my authentic self and would love to hear how you learned (or are learning) to love your voice emanating from the speakerphone. At this moment, I have an authentic desire for my son to fall asleep so I can enjoy the pint of vegan mint chip “ice cream” waiting for me in the freezer. Here’s wishing you an abundance of happy authentic-core-self-discovery!

Guilt & Forgiveness, Mom Humor, Self Love

Releasing Mother’s (and Other) Guilt with Forgiveness

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I feel emotions physically. If I’m verbally insulted, I feel like I’ve been shoved in the chest. When I fail, I feel like I’ve been kicked in the butt. If I make a mistake (and I make many,) I feel like I’ve been punched in the gut. But, the worst of them all, is walking away from my screaming child as I go to do any “grown up” activity that is too difficult to accomplish with a toddler in tow; when this occurs I literally feel like my heart is being ripped out of my chest. As I frantically text the babysitter, moments after I say my farewell, as my guilt laden tears plop on my phone, I quickly receive a photo of my smiling tot, who was shrieking those heart wrenching wails just thirty seconds prior. He’s fine; but me?I’m a teary guilt laden mess, with an aching heart.

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The more I subjected myself to the above mentioned scenario, the easier it became to ‘cut the cord’ for a few hours, and the wails were downgraded from ‘Code Red Heart Wrenchers,’ to ‘Code Yellow Heart Tuggers.’ A tug is much less painful than a wrench.

Regardless of the severity of my emotionally charged physical pangs of guilt, I always questioned whether or not I was making a mistake, partaking in whatever “grown up” activity required I leave my offspring behind that day. The addition of the possible ‘mistake’ served to add a gut punch to my heart wrench.

Because I’m a modern day mama who has loaded way too many awesome goodies on my plate, I make mistakes, a lot of mistakes; parenting mistakes, occupational mistakes, relationship mistakes, birth control mistakes (kidding! hopefully.) The mistakes are bountiful, and they too come with wrenching and tugging.

In the past, when these mistakes have occurred, I’ve either a) Frantically acted to do anything possible to rectify the mistake as soon as possible, ASAP, go go go, now now now. Or, b) Stuck my head in the sand and willed myself to forget about the problem until “tomorrow.” This usually consisted of a big brownie and a dose of too much television after I had coaxed my mistake-distracting-small-diaper-wearing-human to sleep; only because we had not yet set up our sand box.

 

The problem with “solution” a) was that so many stress hormones were released in my body as I panicked through my hurried problem solving, that it took hours after the problem was resolved for me to recover my equilibrium.

The problem with “solution” b) was that my butt would get sunburned, and my guilt and need to rectify my mistake would still be there tomorrow.

These were not solutions. Because I’m as far from perfect as polar bears are from Texas (with the exception of zoos,) all my non-perfect mistakes cast me into an almost constant state of sunburned butt panic. Because the aloe vera and chill pills began to get expensive, I had to find a better answer.

Enter, c) Forgiveness and reconciliation.

When a big ole perfectly un-perfect mistake would make itself known, I began to methodically go through the following steps:

1.) Take a deep breathe. Set an alarm for three minutes and focus on nothing but breathing. This quick yet effective meditation would balance me, and prevent me from getting sucked into a nauseating tailspin. Finding this state of calm would allow me to logically analyze my mistake, and resulting problem, without convincing myself that the world would surely end because I accidentally sent that photo of my naked baby with a diaper on his head to a client.

2.) Ask, ‘Is there a logical action I can take to resolve this problem?’ ‘When is an appropriate time to act to resolve this problem?’ Are there steps that can be done to resolve the problem? If so, is this an appropriate time to act? For example, in the case of my accidental email to a client, I noticed my snafu at 1am, not an appropriate time to call or email a client. Because I wasn’t in a glazed-eye crazy ‘I must act now’ state, I wrote myself a note to call the client in the morning, and went to sleep.

Mistakes and resulting problems have varying degrees of complexity, so my advice to myself (and you, if you’re looking for advice,) is to write out a plan, which covers the steps that need to be taken to resolve your problem, and when these steps should be completed. Make a commitment to yourself to act on these steps when planned. The gut wrench of a mistake is child’s play compared to the severity of a delayed-mistake-resolution gut wrench. Center yourself, create a logical plan for resolving the mistake (if one is possible,) and do it. I’ll be trite and say, ‘Just do it.’ 

3.) If there are no steps that can be taken to resolve the mistake, what can I do to release the problem, and move on? Sometimes I/we make mistakes that only screw over one person, me/ourselves. Or, sometimes we make mistakes that have no problem-solving steps that can be taken. In these situations, we definitely want to take stock of where we went wrong, determine what we could have done differently, and file it in our mental ‘Next Time, I’ll do a, b, and f Differently’ section. Beyond “learning our lesson,” in the case of the solo-screw-up, or no problem-solving-steps-slip-up, where there is no one to apologize to, or take to the hospital, we just have to make peace with ourselves, which leads me to…..

4.) Forgive. Whether or not I had to take action to resolve a mistake, or just had to learn my lesson from my solo-screw-over, I often had lingering guilt and personal resentment about my (usually not so massive) MASSIVE mistake. Even after filing away my ‘lesson,’ or receiving the ‘It’s no big deal! You’re baby is adorable and REALLY chubby’ email from the client, I would still feel guilt for not being ‘on top of it,’ ‘ahead of the game,’ or dare I say it, “perfect.” Something had to give, so I decided to forgive.

The non-naked version.
The non-naked version.

When I first set out on learning how to forgive myself, I was convinced it would be a long tough trail of peaks and valleys, taking months of dedication to learn the ‘art of forgiveness.’ But, what I learned, after a good run, and a ‘jolt-from-the-universe Ah-ha! moment,’ was that the ability to forgive was just a choice, just like the choice to me happy. I can be happy or not be happy; I can forgive myself or not forgive myself. It’s all my choice; no one else will make the decision for me. I choose to forgive. I make this decision on a daily, and sometimes hourly basis; it’s not always easy, but it’s always liberating. Oh, and if you have the inclination to blame someone else for the mistake, forgive them too.

When I first began this practice, I had this list typed up (or down) in my phone, and I would immediately pull it up before acting on an impulse, crying, or allowing my inner-voice to tongue lash me. At this point, after making 134,789 plus mistakes, I pretty much have it memorized, but still keep it handy. If it strikes a chord with you, write it down, try it out, and let me know how it works for you.

If you have your own tips, tricks, and techniques for working through mistakes, and forgiveness, please share them with them, I need all the help I can get.

can be taken to resolve the mistake, what can I do        to release the problem, and move on? 4.) Forgive. Forgive. Just do it.