Yes, YOU are “Good Enough”

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Olivia recently attended a friend’s birthday party.  However, when I asked her how the party was, she did not mention whether the cake was vanilla or chocolate, whether or not her friend liked her presents, or whether she had fun during the sleepover or not.

Instead, she told me how she felt judged as not “Asian enough”.  Somehow being half Chinese/ half Filipino, not able to speak either Chinese or Filipino, and not been to China or the Philippines are black marks against her. “White-washed”, she called herself.  

She was measured and she came up short. 

I find this subject really tiresome since this feeling of not being “enough” is really based on other people’s prejudices and biases…but here we are.

But wait.  I know exactly where Olivia is coming from.  In my mind’s eye, I remember the crippling thoughts just because someone said something and I latched on to their biases…

“I am…

        not smart enough…

                  NOT pretty enough…

                             NOT worthy ENOUGH…

                                                  NOT ENOUGH.”

Just not enough.

Yet, I wanted to yell at her.

“You are smarter than this!  Why would it matter if you are half Chinese, half Filipino, whether you speak the language or not, or whether you’ve gone back to countries where we no longer have family ties?”

But before I could say a word, Olivia said,

“Nah, I’m good. Doesn’t matter what people say.  Totally irrelevant.”

That’s my girl.

So, my dear friends, when you start feeling insecure and doubts start creeping in, ask yourself, as Michelle Obama did at one point in her life,

“Am I good enough?  YES, I AM.”

Have a good week ahead, everyone!

Debbie.

 

 

 

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S.T.O.P. –A refresher…

 

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I had a little argument with Olivia on our way to school this morning.

I didn’t have time to make her lunch and I was a feeling a little vulnerable since I knew I have not been a model parent these past few days. I was on a training course and we were off our usual routine.  Although I get home earlier than usual, I do not seem to have enough time to do laundry, put away the dishes, or go for a run.

Although…I seem to have time for two glasses of wine and cheese, check the Raptors game, do some Amazon surfing for some retail therapy, sleep later than usual, etc…

At any rate, some consequences have certainly been felt the mornings after….I’ve been oversleeping, Olivia scrambling for clean jeans, no time to sit down and have breakfast (or even packing lunch), and both of us grumpy and testy in the morning.

I knew she was going through a rough patch too…she was worried she didn’t study enough for her Spanish test, she has a history project to work on, a finance test for DECA Ontario (an extracurricular finance club for young and upcoming junior executives), a math test to study for  (trigonometry, as I recall) and she was having some trouble prioritizing which one to deal with first….

Anyway, she said, “I’m hungry.”

For some reason, I took this negatively.  I immediately responded that we should really do better at planning our mornings or even consider laying out our clothes the night before and she should give me some ideas on what she would want for breakfast or lunch instead of relying on me to read her mind…and how late did she stay up last night that maybe she should be waking up earlier in the morning?

…all in my “pissed off” and “accusing” tone.

Silence on the passenger side.

Then I realized that with all the mindfulness practice and mantras I have in my arsenal, there are still times when I fall off the wagon and I revert back to old habits of mindlessness.

Anyway, I dropped her off and said, “Have a good day, honey”.  At this point, I was hoping that she had forgiven me for my outburst.  As I was waiting for the train heading downtown, I remembered one of the simplest techniques in my arsenal that I should have done:

S.T.O.P.

S–stop and take a time out; pause

T–take a slow breath in and out. Take another one, for good measure.

O-observe what is happening inside you. Were you holding your breath? How about your shoulders–were they tense and up? Just notice. No judging.

P-proceed; having checked into what is happening, continue with whatever you were doing.  Maybe, just maybe…you are feeling calmer and clearer to deal with the present situation.

Anyway, as I write this blog on the train on the way home (the course finished early! yay!), I remind myself that there will be times when I will fall off the wagon, but it is okay.

I can always begin again.

Next time, I hope that I remember to STOP… before I blow things out of proportion.

Hopefully, you will too….

Have a good rest of the week, everyone!

Debbie.

 

 

 

It’s a nice sunny morning…

I missed my 8:17 am train to work today….

As I climbed the stairs to the platform, I thought “It’s okay if I miss the train. It’s a nice sunny morning and I will find a sunny spot on the platform and drink the coffee I made at home.”

As I felt a blur of people rushing past me, I thought “It’s okay to miss the train. It’s a nice sunny morning and I wouldn’t want to be stumbling on the stairs…”

As I reached the top of the stairs, I saw some people were not as fortunate as the sprinters…

As I caught the eye of a lady who seemed out of place with such a heavy coat on such a nice morning, I said out loud “It’s okay, it’s a nice sunny morning and…the next train is in 10 minutes.”

As I saw her pause, I realized that somehow she didn’t realize how rare these mornings are after our brutal ice storm just last week. She replied happily “You are right! It IS a nice sunny morning! It’s okay to miss this train. There is always the next train.”

As I walked away to find my sunny spot and enjoy my coffee, I thought “What a beautiful sunny day….maybe tomorrow, I’ll miss my train again…”

Have a wonderful sunny day, everyone!!

Debbie.

Birthday wishes

It was my birthday a few days ago.

Another year older.

One year closer to retirement.

I didn’t get a lot of birthday well wishes and even my mother forgot. She’s 86 so I couldn’t really blame her.

My sister almost forgot and she admitted it on a text at 8:30 that night while I was getting ready for bed. She asked me what I did for my birthday and I replied, “Nothing. Just went to work. Had dinner at home. Cheaper.” I had a smiley face somewhere in those sentences for added effect.

My brother forgot and tried to cover it up by sending me a text the next afternoon asking nonchalantly “What did you do for your birthday?”

My reply was the same.

Then we talked about one year closer to retirement and what I need to do to make it a reality. We are both accountants after all and investment strategies are infinitely more important than whether I had a birthday cake and whether it was chocolate or vanilla…

If I sound a little disappointed that my birthday was really nothing special, not really. It’s just that I seem to have come to a point in my life where birthdays have become just another mundane day of the week. I don’t expect any special treatment or presents or even a day off….

Is that sad?

Actually, I don’t think so. I quite enjoyed not having to dress up and think about where to go or even consider what to eat since a birthday dinner must somehow be more special than any other meal.

Too much effort.

Have I become lazy in my old age?

Actually, I don’t think so either. I think I have just realized how much more I enjoy a glass of wine at home than going out to a bar and having decide whether one glass of wine is enough or should I get the bottle instead…and who will be the designated driver.

Too much effort.

At any rate, I quite enjoyed my birthday–I had a quiet dinner at home with two glasses of my favourite wine and had combination of chocolate and vanilla ice cream cake with little icing flowers.

I got a hugs and a kisses from my daughter and hubby…and that is the greatest birthday gifts I could have!

So, for all September birthday celebrants out there…happy birthday!

Hope you had a fabulous birthday too!

Debbie

Being taken for granted …

I let someone into my lane this morning. It was 7:30 am and I was trying to catch my train to work. But traffic was unusually bad this morning and everyone seemed on edge.

I see a car signal go off on my right and I thought to myself:

“Self, someone wants to go into our lane.  Do we let them in or not?”

“Perhaps we can just ignore it and let the car behind us deal with it…”

“But, good deed for the day, you know? What do we have to lose?  A few seconds? A minute?”

“Fine. Just one car.”

So I slowed down to let the little white Honda Fit in…and waited…

….and waited…

…for the obligatory wave.

No wave.

“That’s gratitude for you”, I mumbled.

Was it selfish of me to expect a little wave of thanks or even a small acknowledgment?

At 7:31 am, I was already in a terrible mood.

The good thing about my mindfulness journey is that I am getting better at not getting carried away.

I knew I had to pause and take stock of what I was feeling.

I noticed that my shoulders were tense and had started to hunch up…so, I took a deep breath and at the exhale, relaxed my shoulders.

I noticed that even my face felt tense…deep breath and massaged my brows a bit.

I noticed my hands were clenched almost into fists…deep breath and shook my hands and fingers.

When I got to the parking lot, I put on my headphones and put on Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off”.

By the time I got on the train, my internal grey sky was starting to clear….and my day was back in balance.

It is really unnerving that one little thing such as a wave for letting one into my lane can matter so much…but for me, it just does.

It is probably because I always give a little wave when someone actually lets me in because it shows that I am not taking them for granted and that I really appreciate the gesture, however small.

I’m hoping tomorrow starts off better and if someone wants to go into my lane again, I get that small little wave…

…or maybe I should leave the house by 7 am…

Have a good rest of the week, everyone!

Debbie.

Going back to basics…

I think I got lost along the way….

It was recently pointed out to me that what I thought was slowing down was really just checking things off of my mental list.

  1. meditate everyday–check!
  2. exercise everyday–check!
  3. pause–yep, done that
  4. breathe–yep, that too.

Check, check, check!

I realize that once I have checked it off the list, I move on…not really realizing that I was really focusing on the result…not the “journey”.

It’s like another saying goes…quality versus quantity.

Mindfulness was supposed to be a huge part of that journey.  Made me rethink whether I was practicing mindfulness correctly or not…or was I merely checking it off my mental list?

Perhaps.

….but it shouldn’t matter, should it? My practice is what it is.  I once complained to my first mindfulness teacher that I was trying to find the “perfect” posture when I meditate and I spent most of my time thinking about my posture instead of my breath.

He had told me that we are on a “Path of Non-Striving”…. at that moment, there is nothing to fix, nothing is broken…it is what it is.  Of course, at that time, the “perfectionist” part of me was rebelling at the thought of not doing anything! However, I remember thinking…”Okay, I’ll play along…let’s see what happens.”

Somehow, over time, I realized that he was right.  The critical part was to be in the “moment”.  Noticing this moment, and the moment after that, and after that, IS the journey.

For instance, at this moment, as I am sitting in my kitchen and typing these words…I hear the clinking of the keys as I type, I notice smoothness of my computer keys and the breaks and the pauses when I stop.  The birds are singing and sunshine is trying to break though the blinds. I can still smell a whiff of the cinnamon that I used last night when I baked Peter a paleo apple pie.  At this moment, it is what it is.

There is nothing to change–I will not change my computer even though it struggles to keep up when I type too fast, or fix the blinds as the air conditioner has to work a little harder, or clean the kitchen. Nor will I focus on the result of finishing this post so I can move on to do other errands of the day….

At any rate, this is my “journey” as I finish writing on this sunny Wednesday morning….

As for that mental list, yeah, I still have it in my head, being updated each new day…sometimes is it short, sometimes it is long …but always there. However, this time, I know that noticing the “journey ” in getting the list done is just as important as getting to the finish line.

Maybe I was not lost after all…..just taking a little detour.

Now, I just have to make sure that I don’t end up putting “#5 Notice the Journey” on my mental list….

Debbie.