I have been fascinated by the work of author and researcher Brene Brown. I discovered her on Oprah’s Life Class and have been intrigued every since. I recently bought her book “The Gifts of Imperfection.” The timing seemed impeccable because I’ve been struggling with perfectionism, shame, and vulnerability for a long time and I’m ready to move past them.
I’m happy to report that I’ve been in a healthy, loving relationship with a great guy for a little over a year now. Given my past, vulnerability has been tough to overcome. Vulnerability, as Brown defines it, means to “show up and be seen. To ask for what you need.” Wow, if this wasn’t an a-ha moment. And with my boyfriend’s help, I’ve been able to see that I struggle with this even outside of romantic relationships.
Many people grew up to believe that to be vulnerable meant to be weak. I wasn’t raised this way but I have discovered that as a child I determined on my own that being totally open and emotionally naked could lead to disaster. As a defense mechanism, I have built up walls and it wasn’t until recently that I discovered how much this was hindering my life.
Brown doesn’t believe that we should be vulnerable with everyone. Not everyone has earned the right to “hear our story.” But everyone, in our most primitive state, craves for love and belonging. And without vulnerability, we’ll never quite experience the love we seek.
So how did I move past my fear of vulnerability? It’s something a fight with everyday but each day gets better. I keep telling myself that the only way to have a true, authentic relationship is to show up with my whole-hearted, imperfect self. I’m beginning to have more of the hard conversations and talk about how I really feel. And trust me, these new changes have not always been met with love and support. Some people resist. But I’m learning that it’s ok. It just lets me know that you’re not the person that’ll hear my story again. I move on.
It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged. I’ve been thinking about it though. I started (didn’t finish) watching a movie called “Julia and Julia” and was sort of inspired by the modern-day Julia and her quest to blog about all the recipes she’d made from a Julia Childs’ cookbook. I thought, “wow I want to be passionate about something again!”Truth is I’ve been in a funk. I need some inspiration and some motivation.
I’ve been thinking of trying some new things: online dating, salsa lessons, or maybe even scuba diving. I was really into swingout dancing and have been doing that for about 2 1/2 years. But over time, I stopped feeling challenged by it. Plus, I am growing tired of seeing the same people all the time. Time for some new hobbies and some new friends.
I did fall back into one of my old hobbies this past weekend though. I went to a wine tasting for a friend’s birthday yesterday. I used to really be into wine when I was back in my hometown. The winery we went to was quite lovely. Plus, I found out some things I didn’t know about the wine-making process. Interesting stuff. Maybe I should join a wine club. Now there’s a thought…
So I recently came across a vlog by Dr. Alduan Tartt that really resonated with me. In his video “Relationship Advice for the Total Package Woman” (which I happen to be, lol), his third tip is “Know Your Brand.” I work in advertising so I immediately had an a-ha moment.
Sometimes when I present at workshops or advise clients, I get asked what “branding” really means. The first thing I say is that branding is more than just a logo! It’s what a company stands for, their image, their look and feel. Have you ever caught the middle or the tail end of a TV or radio commercial and subconsciously knew who the advertiser was? Or, have you every picked up a catalog or sales paper without its cover and still knew who was selling what? That’s the result of branding.
So how, you may ask, does this relate to me, dating and relationships? Well, each of us has a “brand.” We have an image that we portray to the world, which is a reflection about how we really feel about ourselves internally. Our outward appearance and our actions say to someone, “I’m a high-quality product” or “I’m made of the cheap stuff.” This image will attract a certain person or a certain customer, if you will.
In the video Dr. Tartt gives an example of BMW. He says the BMW brand is targeted to a certain type of audience or target market and they portray class, money, and the elite. These two questions come to mind:
1) What does our personal brand say about us? We can’t expect to have a low self esteem and attract a successful, confident man. That man will want to align himself with a brand that reflects who he is. In turn, if we genuinely know our worth, we will attract those that have something wonderful to offer us in return.
2) What kind of customers are we attracting? If our branding is off, we are going to get the wrong clientele. For instance, if we say to men (whether verbally or non verbally) that we have little to offer, than we will attract and accept “less than” men.
Often companies re-brand or reposition themselves. Look at J.C. Penny, for example. (Ok, maybe not a good example, lol.) And we can, too! Let’s take an inventory of what we’re selling and how we are selling it to the world. I know I have. In just a short period of time, I’ve noticed that with a change in my attitude about myself and a change in my outward appearance, more men have approached me recently. Have all of them been on my level…no. But a few are who I would consider as dating material. Once I’ve met these guys, it’s up to me to remember what I stand for and to decide whether or not I want to co-brand with them.
You can thank me later for the marketing lesson! 😉 Please view Dr. Tartt’s video for more insight:
Hey peeps. Well, I’m on day 3. Yeah, it kinda sucks. But then again I don’t really miss it tremendously. I had to log in to Facebook to grant access to another site for something and I peeked. I had 4 measly notifications. Whoopee! See, I’m not missing out on much. But I do miss looking at photos and there are some random thoughts of mine that I’d like to share from time to time. But as I mentioned, my head is clearer and I’m getting more things done. (Now, if I could only stop obsessively checking my email. Hmm, maybe there are deeper issues here. lol!) Perhaps once the fast is over, I’ll just wait to check fb in the evenings.
So why am I doing this again, you ask? Well, to get clear on some things. I needed to remove some distractions from my life to be able to hear God speaking to me. I have definitely lost touch with him. I told my s/o that I no longer knew God. Truth is, I know Him but it’s me that’s become distant. I’ve let all sorts of things get in the way: my work, dancing, relationships, hobbies and whatever else comes along. But I’ve been feeling lost for awhile now, not really knowing what to do and where to go. I need direction and I need to be plugged into THE source. If I want to do what’s best for me, I need to be in a relationship with the one who wants best for me.
Stop the presses! I’m on a Facebook fast. Yes, you heard right. Yesterday, I happened to stop by a church in my hometown on the way back to Dallas. I’d been to the church a few times before but it had been awhile. I had missed the evening worship but was invited into one of their life group meetings. I didn’t know what to expect but I was open to anything. I had been praying on the way there for God to reveal some things to me.
The group leader started the discussion about fasting and about how we should take this week to remove something from our lives to have a more productive prayer life. It could be food, smoking, TV or whatever. He spoke of members of the group whose child was undergoing genetic testing and how they needed the prayers and support of the group. So in order to focus on them, he suggested that we fast and pray. Well, I don’t know the couple, but I definitely wanted to participate in the fast along with the rest of the group. While I’ll be praying for the couple, I definitely need to pray for myself for a few things.
Why Facebook? Simply put: it’s a distraction and it takes up too much of my time! A distraction to my work life and prayer life. And honestly, I think it increases my anxiety. (There have actually been studies on this.) And frankly, some of the stuff I read and see aren’t exactly positive or spiritually uplifting.
So, I disabled my facebook app (except for the messenger app to get Facebook inbox messages from family and others on some pressing issues), removed it from my toolbar, and signed out. Wow, it’s amazing how many times I clicked on a tab or typed the url before I even knew it. It was like a reflex. But later in the day, it became less important. I actually got a lot done today and my mind was clearer.
I actually felt a breakthrough on some things today, thanks to my significant other. I’m not calling him my boyfriend because…well, it’s complicated. Hence, why I need prayer!
On to day 2…
As you guys may know, I tend to talk about themes in my life. In other words, I write about lessons learned that inexplicably come from different places all at the same time. I don’t think these happenings are coincidences but God reaching out to me. Over the last few days, I’ve read something or people have said something about the spirit of discernment. I’d like to share what I’ve been hearing.
Trust begins and ends with God.
This statement was in an email my mom sent me a few years ago about trust. How true it is. But this is something I had to learn over time. I’ve seen myself and my friends struggle with the ability to trust men in relationships. And if you’ve been lied to, cheated on or deceived in some way, you know how hard it is to trust someone in relationships that follow. How many times have we thought “Where is he?”, “I wonder who he’s with?”, “Is he lying about xyz.” And this goes for guys AND girls.
But the thing that’s helped me the most, is my ability to trust in God to show me the things I need to see. Some people call it intuition, I call it the Holy Spirit. It’s amazing, if we just let it guide us and allow it to open our eyes, what we will see. Like Jill Scott says, “…everything comes to the light.” Many times the answers are right in front of us. I’m a living witness to this! God equips us but it’s up to us to use it. Many times we don’t want to accept what we see and we go on worrying, suspecting and accusing.
Here’s an exerpt from that email.
Trust grows over time. People are complex, broken beings therefore, previous hurts, fears or losses can impede their determination to trust and/or be truthful in a relationship. But, people have the capacity to grow in trust and truthfulness.
You and God can help build trust into your relationships.
Faith comes from God. Our faith is in God. God is the only One who is truly faithful. He is the giver of faith and the object of faith. Because of those facts, we need a new understanding of what it means to trust people.
Just thought I’d share…
To be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness. – Bertrand Russell
So I guess you’re wondering how I’m doing on spending. Here’s an update:
I’ve bought some snacks and grabbed fast food a few times this past week. I’d like blame it on my busy schedule but I know that I still lack some control. I’m also realizing that I’m somewhat of an emotional eater. I never thought so because when I’m really stressed, I don’t eat and lose weight. But I’ve noticed that when I’m mildly irritated or slightly stressed, I feel the urge to want to “reward” myself with a meal out.
I have some victories too though. Even when I’ve eaten out or snacked, I’ve chosen cheaper alternatives. Instead of a fancy hot chocolate and a muffin from the campus coffee shop (over $5), I settled for a pre-made Starbucks frapp and made my own oatmeal (about $2.50). And there were a pair of Tommy Hilfiger jeans at the Macy’s where I work part time on sale for about $18! Man, that would have been a steal. I didn’t even go and try them on. Plus, there was a Facebook deal for a local steam room spa that I’ve been wanting to try for only $10. I passed that up, too.
I’ve also withdrawn cash to use for this week to avoid using my debit card.
The good thing is that I’m not feeling like I’m depriving myself. I have to ask myself, “Do I really need this?” Most times, the answer is no. I’m glad to see where I’m not wasting away money, even though it may only be a small amount at this point.
This past week I’ve created a new budget by using a new format. This format helps you determine if you are overspending in certain categories. For example, according to this budget, you should only be spending around 26 – 36% for your housing (rent, mortgage) or no more than 10% for debt (credit cards, loans). I’ve budgeted before but this is something new for me and I’m able to determine where I need to find more balance…my debt.
The book also has caused me to revisit the idea of tithing. It’s something that I’ve never done before. I thought I was doing it before but a true tithe is 10% of your gross income, not your net. Anything other than that is an offering. This is a challenging concept for me right now and is something like I’m praying about at present.
14 more days to go…
“Times are hard.” You don’t know how many times I’ve heard that lately. And yes, I’ve been saying it, too. With gas at almost $4 a gallon, no cost of living raise in the last few year, and those unexpected expenses that pop up (locking my keys in the car), my pocketbook has taken a beating. But while I’d like to blame it on all things external, I’ve had to come to the realization that I need to take personal responsibility for not managing my money the way that I should. So, some changes will be made. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. I know that I’ve got to do something different!
I’ve already made some changes: I got a roommate a year and half ago and I got a part-time job at Macy’s back in November. But despite those major changes, I still find myself strapped for cash. I’ve got to go a step further. A friend recently mentioned a book that he and his wife were reading called “The Power to Prosper: 21 Days to Financial Freedom” by Michelle Singletary. He had some pretty good things to say about it and he mentioned the 21 day fast. He let me borrow the book and the fast is something I’m going to try. Basically, the book calls for 21 days of refraining from spending on anything other than necessities, eliminating using credit and debit cards, avoiding shopping or even window shopping, and more. And during this process, the book will help you to develop a budget and gain other tools, both practical and spiritual.
I’ll be chronicling my progress along the way right here on Emo Idiot. I’ve already read the first chapter and here’s my first assignment:
Make a list of any potential obstacles that may prevent you from sticking to the fast and then decide how to eliminate them.
I know that my biggest obstacle will be eating out. Most days when I get off from work, I don’t feel like cooking. Or, I may not have time to cook when going from my full-time job to my part-time gig. I’d usually just grab some fast food. And, I’m gonna have a hard time not buying snacks at the bookstore or coffee shop at my job or at the mall where I work. I’m going to have to plan, plan, plan! I’m going to need to make food on the weekends so that I can have it during the week. I’m going to have to carry my lunch including snacks everyday! Ugh, this is going to be tough! I’ve already started doing some of this but not everyday. At first I thought that I would just build some lunch money into my budget during this 21 days but eating out is forbidden during the fast plus I need to face my biggest financial challenge and that’s spending too much money on food! I’m gonna need prayer! lol
Someone sent this to me over the weekend. It couldn’t have been more timely. You see, I have a BAD habit of doing the things that she speaks of: trying to establish a healthy relationship with someone who is clearly not right for me instead of waiting patiently for what God has for me. Yep, I do it and have done it often. But a recent experience with someone I’ve dated on- and off-again for 9 years has led me to say “ENOUGH!”
I think it’s hard for us to walk away from relationships or friendships even though we know they are detrimental because it makes us feel like failures. We feel like we aren’t good enough or competent. Sometimes we just have to throw our hands up and say “There’s nothing more I can do to make this work. It’s time to give up.” Man, that’s a hard thing to say, especially if you still love someone. But love shouldn’t hurt.
I can’t blame everyone else for my failed relationships. I am owning up to the ways in which I’ve sabotaged my own life. I haven’t made the best choices when it comes to relationships. It’s a hard thing to admit.
Iyanla Vanzant says this in her book Acts of Faith:
You can do the same old things in just so many ways until you lose track of what you are doing. How many ways can you cry? How many ways can you hurt? How many ways can you convince yourself that you can make this work? When a relationship is over, you must learn to let go.
It’s time I let go….