Enough

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 This is a post I published on Facebook last fall. It was a piece written very much from my heart, and it resonated for a few of you. Since this blog is one of the ways I am pushing myself past my own fear of not being “enough”, I think it’s appropriate to post it here as well. 

At what age do we begin to feel “not enough”? Not tall enough, fast enough, thin enough, pretty enough, smart enough, rich enough…I could go on, but you get it. Where do we develop that idea, that we are somehow deficient? Do we innately begin to compare ourselves when we reach a certain age, or is there something bigger in our culture that feeds us the message that we are somehow not enough?

My son shared with me last night that he worries that he isn’t “guy” enough. He doesn’t like to use his body aggressively. Not in soccer, and not otherwise. He flinches when the ball whizzes by his head, he avoids charging other players in a game. And off the field, he’s never been a rough-houser. He wasn’t the kid that tackled his uncles or beat up his sister. He’s a little afraid to climb too high, or go too fast.

I told him the story, again, of when he was three, and he stood on the side of a carnival bounce house yelling at some older kids he didn’t know to “take it easy, Guys! You’re getting a little rough!”

I knew then he had more courage in his little outstretched index finger than a lot of those kids had in their whole bodies. And I figured he’d either grow up to be class president or get his ass kicked a lot.

It takes more courage to lead than to follow. It’s not easy to stand up and do your own thing when what the crowd is doing doesn’t feel right to you. That little three year old boy didn’t even know he was being courageous, and he didn’t know to feel somehow “not enough” because he didn’t want to bounce rough like a dude.

But now, my son, more class president than punching bag, doesn’t feel “man enough”.

I’m well versed in the ways in which my daughter may come to feel inadequate, naturally. I fight my own feelings of not being enough this or that. But in a culture where men are shooting people because they aren’t “man enough” and want to prove something to the world, I’m particularly interested in what we are doing in our society to breed this feeling in our boys.

One thing I know those shooters lack is courage. They are afraid to lead. They are afraid of all the things they lack, and this “epidemic” of shooting is simply another way of following, isn’t it?

So I told my son to think about that little 3 year old boy, and to recognize that one of his strengths is that he is not a follower. He didn’t “join” in the bouncing just because everyone else did. He stood up to a bunch of kids he didn’t even know, and told them to calm their shit down. He held up that little index finger and demanded that they pay attention to him.

As parents, how do we teach our kids to strive to be their best, while also accepting that we can’t all be superstars at everything? How do we teach them to work hard, but not to hold themselves to anyone else’s best? How do we encourage them to find worth in who they are, to understand that sometimes, good enough is just that? It’s enough.

Can my son push himself more as an athlete? Definitely.

Am I glad he has a strong tuning fork for potential danger? Duh. I’m a MOM, People.

Does he need to ram into things with his head to feel like he’s guy enough? It’s not for everyone. So I’m going with no.

More than anything, I want to teach my children that they are ENOUGH. As they are. I think all parents “want” that, but we might need to consider the ways in which we push our kids as a society. And the ways we push ourselves. And maybe that needs to be part of this bigger conversation…

ENOUGH.

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Naked

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Absence by Patrick Palmer

 

My dear friend sent me an article from Elephant Journal called “Are You a Naked Person?” ( Read the Elephant Journal article here). The article posits that we are, all of us, either “naked people” or “not-naked people”, and that we display certain characteristics depending upon into which category we fall. Your comfort with your literal nudity hints at your comfort with metaphorical nudity – or the exposure of your inner self.

“Naked” people tend to be, as you might guess, a little less concerned with what others think of them. This isn’t to say “Nakeds” are running off to join a nudist colony, but they probably walk around the house naked, and don’t cover up in embarrassment if a close family member or friend walks in on them. Being comfortable in your nakedness equates to being easygoing, extroverted and open. “Not-Naked” people, on the other hand, worry more about being judged as “reckless”, or inappropriate. They tend to be more cautious, and don’t fly by the seat of their pants – which they are absolutely wearing in your presence. They cover up in front of their spouses, their children, their siblings. The article is careful to say that “Naked” peeps aren’t any better than the  “Non-Naked” variety. It’s just a different way of approaching life.

So I got to thinking. Am I a “Naked”? Or a “Not”?

I remember a time when I was very little, maybe 6 or 7. My brother and I had these big, green bean bags we’d sit in to watch TV with my parents. It was time to get ready for bed, but we didn’t want to miss whatever we were watching, so mom brought us our jammies to change into. I got undressed, but then I just sat there, naked in my bean bag, watching the rest of the program. I think it was my brother who said, “What the heck are you doing?”, and all of us cracked up.

When I got a little older, I covered up the important bits around my dad and brother, but I still walked around the house mostly naked. When I had roommates in college, I think I made an effort to cover up, but didn’t freak out about sharing a bathroom with 3 other girls. And when I got married, I did a lot of naked walking around.

When you have kids, and when they are little, you don’t have a lot of choice because you don’t have a lot of privacy. They walk in on you when you’re in the shower, when you’re getting dressed, when you’re on the toilet…And as they have grown older, I have not covered up because I decidedly want them to see what a real woman’s body looks like (as opposed to unrealistic images they are exposed to in the media). As my son has gotten older, I have been conscientious to, again, cover up the essential bits, but generally bra and panties = covered.

Metaphorically speaking, I would say that I fit most of the “Naked” characteristics in the EJ article – I’m outgoing, I’m open, I’ll share my food with you, sure. Yet…I also have some “Not-Naked” qualities, too. I like my ducks in a row. I don’t want to be viewed as “reckless” and I do care about others’ opinion about me. I certainly don’t want to be seen as “inappropriate” (Really, who does?).

But, literally speaking, I am only a partial naked person because I care too much about how my body looks. And I don’t love all of it. And I am afraid of being judged by others the way I judge myself, which frankly, isn’t always that nice. I would never judge anyone as harshly as I judge myself, and I think most of us are probably that way. It’s hard to silence that inner voice that critiques all your flaws mercilessly, and most women probably battle that bitch every day.

For me, personally, I stopped walking around naked in front of my husband (ex) when I no longer felt safe and loved. I probably stopped being metaphorically naked with him about the same time. And can’t honestly say that I have felt safe enough in any relationship since my divorce to cruise around in the raw, but then again, I haven’t gotten metaphorically naked either. I haven’t gotten close enough to anyone to feel that safe.

I have a very dear friend who shares a special ritual with her husband where they sip bourbon in the buff. They don’t do it every week, but either one can declare a Buff Bourbon Night at any time. What a beautiful way to stay connected. And that, my friends, is what I want. I want to be so wrapped up in love that I don’t think twice about being naked on Tuesday on my couch with my man and some tiny bubbles.

My friend who shared the article with me pointed out that he thinks I am a “Naked” at heart, and that some wounds of the past have made me less willing to expose my vulnerabilities, literally and metaphorically. I think he’s probably right, and isn’t it interesting how Naked = Vulnerable. Something to think about – what hurts in the past cause you to cover up, close off, protect yourself? What makes you feel safe enough to be exposed? Which one are you? Naked? Or Not-Naked?

And which do you want to be?

 

*Art Credit, Patrick Palmer (link below)

http://www.patrickpalmer.co.uk/

 

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The Beginning…

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I have had this blog site for almost a year now. I purchased the domain last February, and my intention was to blog at least once a week. I wanted to practice the craft of writing, as well as build a readership because I would like to start doing some freelance writing. I’m also working on a book, and the best way to get good at anything is to practice. This blog is supposed to be my practice.

But, here sits the blog, with nothing posted. I haven’t looked at it for so long, that I forgot how to log in. I had to contact support in order to get into my own blog page.

I have had all sorts of excuses for why my blog sits empty almost one year later. Most of them start with “But…” or “And then…”

PROCRASTINATION is how we typically describe this inaction. But actually, PROCRASTINATION is just a big word we use to hide the real reason we put things off:

FEAR.

Yep, plain old fear.

What, you may ask, could I be afraid of? Lots of people have blogs. Lots of people write and post all sorts of crap all over the inter-webs. So what’s so scary?

I’m (perhaps irrationally) terrified that “people will think it’s crap”, or “people will say mean shit”, or it won’t make sense, or that I will be judged for my writing or my life or my feelings.

And the truth is, each of those things will probably happen at one point or another. So, why do this? Why write? Why tell stories? Why write a ghost story that maybe no one will ever read? Why muse and ponder and create an essay called In Defense of Taylor Swift?

Because:  Writing makes me happy. Thinking about things and pondering aloud or on paper, makes me HAPPY. Creating stories and getting to tell them MAKES ME HAPPY.

And, maybe the cost of NOT putting my work out there is too high, at the end of the day. The price for stifling my creativity (out of fear) is a price I no longer want to pay. I have played it relatively safe for most of my life. I stuck close to home for college, I didn’t pursue the dream I really wanted to pursue in favor of the “safe” choice. I limited myself -and I knew I was doing it- but I didn’t have the courage to live a bigger life.

I don’t think I can afford to do that anymore. I think this little step of putting out a blog, sharing my words, my stories, my life is one I need to take towards living a creative life. I want to show my kids that the safe choice is not always the best choice…you have to stick your neck out and be willing to fall on your face, because that is usually when you learn and grow the most. The best rewards often come out of our greatest risks.

Time to be brave.

I can not promise you what I write will always be great. I know it won’t be perfect. Sometimes, it might absolutely suck. But I can promise you that it will be from my heart. And that’s the best I can offer. Isn’t that the best any of us can offer?

So, this is the beginning.  Dear Readers, thank you for joining me on this journey. If you read one word, or a thousand, I love you for it. I hope you will find something you can relate to here in these pages, and that you will find a reason to come back and share this journey with me. It may not be pretty, but I made it. 🙂

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Practice Makes Prefect…I mean, Perfect. Whatever. Fuck it.

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IMG_6959

I’m Dayna. I’m a mom, a runner, a teacher, a writer, and I wanted a place to practice my writing, so here I am. This is a work in progress. I am a work in progress. The things I post here are mostly just my thoughts and ideas about life and love, being single, being a mom, being content, and also longing for more.

I was afraid to share my writing because I was afraid to put something “out there” that wasn’t perfect. And if you are here looking for perfectly written prose, you are in the wrong place, my friend. I have made a promise to myself that I will just write. And that I will stop trying to make it perfect. And I will stop worrying about whether or not everyone “gets it”, but that I’m just going to say what I think here. And if you like it, and it resonates? Awesome. And if not, that’s ok too. Just don’t be a dick.

One thing I’ve learned as an imperfect human is that when I reach out to other imperfect humans, I usually find that we are all just trying to figure this shit out. And I am often grateful to others for sharing their experiences, their words, their fears, their hopes, their ideas…because I find hope and connection and sometimes, a lifeline in what someone else has shared. I hope that in these pages you will find something that you relate to or that makes you feel connected. I hope it just makes you think, and maybe encourages you to embrace your own duality. I’d love to hear if you find something you like here.

Here’s to being imperfect. Yeah!

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