This is a place of ME. This is a place where I will let the walls down and be honest. Joys and stories or tears and heartbreaks, they will all be here. Devotionals to poems, my heart is open to you. I will love well. I will love you and honor you by allowing you into my brokenness and the truth that God has reviled to me. This is a place of Me.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Journal #4

Prompt: Week 4 Journal Entry: Exploring Retroactive Imagined Interactions
For your only journal this week, you need to examine one of your Imagined Interactions from this week, a recurring Imagined Interaction that you have, or an Imagined Interaction that you mull/ruminate/brood on and answer the following questions for this journal:
" Which II did you choose? Is it a one-time II, or is it a recurring II? Describe the imagined interaction.
" How does/did the II play out? It is overall a positive II or a negative II?
" How do you portray yourself in this II? For example: Are you bolder in the II than in real life? Why do you portray yourself this way in the II?
" How is the II different than you in real life? How is it the same?
" Do you see evidence of your mindset in this imagined interaction?

One of my recurring Imagined Interactions is of the next time I get to see my friends in Afghanistan. I have been trying to learn Dari so that I can more easily communicate with my friends there, but also with the families and kids I come in contact with there. Language is not something I have a gift for. I've been over the material almost twice now and still struggle to make it stick, so I am nervous to try it out with native speakers I respect. On one hand I know that they will love me and appreciate the effort, but on the other, I would hate to offend them by saying something silly like, "Your grandma is an elephant who eats spaghetti" when I'm really trying to say, "It's so nice to see you!"

In this II, I arrive at the guest house where my Afghan friends are waiting. I walk in and we great each other with an embrace and kisses on the cheeks. We continue to hold hands (very normal in this culture) and look into each other's eyes, most likely getting emotional because it has been so so long since we have seen each other (I started to cry, just thinking about it as I write this). My heart has missed them so deeply and for a moment we just stand there so grateful to be together again, then I venture my first statement, "Salam, chetor hastin? (Hi, how are you?)." At this my friend's eyes brighten both with appreciation and humor, since this is my II and I'm sure I've miss pronounced something. They respond in Dari asking when I learned to speak the language I tell them in a mixture of English and Dari that David and I have been working on it for a while now and reiterating multiple times that I only know a very little bit of Dari, but I hope they will help me learn more. The II takes many turns from there and I try my skills bartering in a store, or with a child I'm working with, the kids I talk to are always much more forgiving than the store keeper when I mess something up.

Even though I feel some shame and embarrassment only knowing a few phrases, stumbling over words, and having to say "mebakhshen, nafamidam" (Excuse me, I don't understand) over and over again, this over all a positive II. I am defiantly bolder in the II than I expect to be in real life with my friends right off the bat and especially the shop keeper. I think I'm more willing to take risks in my II because I feel safe in my own head and I can control the other's responses to my fumbling's. I tend to be decently bold and willing to take risks in real life, but often in my II's I take that to a whole new level of cool confidence and willingness to put myself out there. I think in many ways I feel like if I practice in my head enough times I will somehow have that same confidence in real life. This points to the growth part of my mindset unlike many of my II's. I chose this one because it's reoccurring, and it is positive unlike so many II's that are negative and point to the fixed-mindset I can so often be in. The willingness to work to learn a new language in the first place points to the growth-mindset, but also the willingness to take a risk to communicate for the first time with native speakers who I respect also points to the growth-mindset. I also chose this II because I am actively trying to shift my mindset into the growth-mindset as the primary mindset. My hope in this is to focus on things that show me that I can actually grow and change and improve. In this II my motivation is to be able to better understand a people and culture I love, and to be able to hear their stories and share my own to continue to bridge the language and cultural gap. In doing this I want us all to realize more and more that we are all people who desire hope, security, and connection. I'm starting to think that finding more things that motivate me like this, while utilizing more Imagined Interactions in my processing, will help me shift more into the growth mindset.

Friday, March 9, 2018

The Whirlwind of Life (written in 2017)

Hope and bitterness,
Strength and fear,
Wisdom and pain,
Trust and hurt.

Why can't emotions be logical?
Can't the story emotions tell be true?
Why is it one or the other?
Can't it just be what it is?

Spinning and clarity,
Hopelessness and peace,
Anger and joy,
Control and abandon.

Where is the grace in this truth?
Will I ever truly be safe?
Where will the tornado drop me?
Will I ever truly find hope in love?

Warm and numb,
Rooted and lost,
Souring and crashing,
Living and disappearing.

When will it all make sense?
How will the pieces fit together?
When will I feel strong again?
How will I continue to trust?

War and adventure,
Empty and fulfilled,
Afraid and safe,
Confused and solid.

None of this is logical.
None of this is approved.
None of this is easy.
None of this is loveable.

I need warmth.
I need acceptance.
I need support.
I need love.

I'm left out here on my own.
No one cares to understand.
I just need to figure it out.
Let it go.

Easy for you to say.
Nearly impossible for me to do.

Dancing and paralyzed,
Progress and stagnation,
Right and left,
Up and down.

Who cares to hold my heart?
What does unconditional look like?
Who wants me for me?
What does it mean to clean up this mess?

Body and heart,
Shame and confidante,
Broken and playful,
Shackled and free.

This is where I will sit,
At war with the logic and emotions.
Waiting for understanding,
Waiting for peace.

Journal #3

Which mindset do you have? Answer these questions about intelligence. Read each statement and decide whether you mostly agree with it or disagree with it:
1. Your intelligence is something very basic about you that you can't change very much. Mostly Disagree
2. You can learn new things, but you can't really change how intelligent you are. Mostly Disagree
3. No matter how much intelligence you have, you can always change it quite a lot. Mostly Agree
4. You can always substantially change how intelligent you are. Mostly agree
Also answer these questions about personality using the same "mostly agree" or "mostly disagree" answers:
1. You are a certain kind of person, and there is not much that can be done to really change that. Mostly Disagree
2. No matter what kind of person you are, you can always change substantially. Mostly Agree
3. You can do things differently, but the important parts of who you are can't really be changed. Mostly Disagree
4. You can always change basic things about the kind of person you are. Mostly Agree
(Re-read the short explanations of what your answers mean on pages 12-13 in the book)
Now that you've answered each of these questions about your intelligence and personality, take some time to reflect by answering the following prompt for this journal:
Which mindset do your answers to these questions point to? Do you have a fixed or a growth mindset? How do you feel about this? What evidence of your mindset do you see in your intrapersonal communication? How can you take what we're learning about intrapersonal communication to either change or maintain your mindset long-term?

My answers to these questions point mostly to a growth mindset. For the most part I agree with this assessment. If I didn't think hard and intentional work would change anything I would have stopped when life got hard and accepted my "intelligence" for what it was. Instead, I pushed through the hard things, the things that told me I was not good enough or stupid and found a way to overcome those obstacles. I am proud of myself for this mindset. I can often be very hard on myself, but this mindset has given me hope even when I feel like a failure because it means that I can improve. I do struggle to fully agree with the more drastic statements like, "You can always substantially change how intelligent you are." I look at my husband who is literally a genius and I feel like everything just comes so much easier to him. I work so hard to get good grades, he goofs off and does things last minute and rarely gets anything but an A. I work hard learning a new language going over the material multiple times, and he has it nearly mastered in the same amount of time. Things like this I struggle not to chalk up to our intelligence levels being drastically different. The fact of the matter is, that I can learn anything I put my mind to, it just might take me a bit longer.

I have also learned to look at intelligence differently than our culture. The culture tells me that David is highly intelligent, and I am not. The book does a very good job of explaining intelligence in a way that honors its intent, not what it has been shaped into. It talks about the IQ test, it wasn't designed to test our fixed intelligence, but to test if the way schools were teaching was effective for that particular student. If a student scored low on the IQ test, it simply meant that they weren't learning in the same way they were being taught. (Mindset, p. 5)
As I continue to learn in this class about how each of us process information (both internally and externally) it has given me hope. Even though I can so easily get caught up in moments of frustration and feeling stupid when I'm not learning something as quickly as those around me, I'm hopeful that I can continue to grow and learn. I am lucky to have parents who told me I could do anything, be anything I wanted if I was willing to work hard. I knew their love wasn't conditional on my success (even though there were many days I forgot that truth), because they stood beside me in success and failure. I want to figure out how to take that mindset and truth into my self-talk. If at the end of this class I can figure out how to encourage myself, not determine my value by success or failure, and give myself the unconditional love that I show others, day to day life will look very different. Thinking that I can improve is one thing, but there is something about the science behind the theories in this book that help me be more confidant in my growth-abilities. Knowing that I actually can change is very different than trying hard and hoping it works. I feel hopeful that as I shift my self-talk and my mindset that I will be able to allow myself to grow and change without trying so hard all the time.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Journal #2

Prompt: While we will have ups and downs over the course of time, think about whether or not your self-talk has been predominantly negative or positive over the course of your life. Really reflect on what you can recall of your self talk in the past, and think about the self talk you have with yourself on a daily basis now to answer this question. Once you've got an idea of if you're more positive or negative in your self-talk, think about why it's that way. Can you identify any influences or contributing factors that make you more positive/negative? What are they and how did they specifically impact your self talk? Identify two or three significant life experiences that you think may have impacted your self-talk and made it what it is today. MAKE SURE TO LINK TO AT LEAST 3 CONCEPTS FROM THE MATERIAL ON SELF-TALK IN THE SCREEN-CASTS & POWERPOINT FOR THIS WEEK! Consider what voices in your past and present have impacted your inner voice. Use this journal to capture a snapshot of your self talk.

I've been processing this question for several days and it has been hard to come up with a definite decision on whether my self-talk is more positive or more negative. I have always had a lot of self-awareness, even when I was little the conversations in my head were constant. My dialogical nature was often silent, but I remember trying to talk myself out of being scared of the dark or dreaming of what I would do and be when I grew up. Depending on the situation my-self talk can look very different. I have often felt like some of my deepest-rooted flaws are pride and self-hatred. I don't often find a balance, either I'm feeling great about something or I'm beating myself up over it. I haven't always been this way though.
Looking back on my childhood, my self-talk was full of positivity and dreaming. Things like, "I can be whatever I want to be", "I am loved", and "I am creative" out weighed much of the negative feelings of, "I don't matter" and "I'm loved because I'm useful". Of course, I had moments where the negativity got to me, but over all I KNEW I was loved by my parents, brothers, friends, and God. As a child developing in the understanding of "the self" the environment around us has a huge impact on how we see and communicate with ourselves, and I was lucky enough to have a pretty darn good one. Beyond the relational influences in my life, I LOVED books. I would spend hours reading books like The Secret Garden, where a boy learns to walk again and a girl finds kindness and compassion. Books like A Wrinkle In Time, where a brother and sister go on an adventure where the outcome will impact the universe and they learn that, "We can't take any credit for our talents. It's how we use them that counts." Another book that had a huge impact on me was Pride and Prejudice. Lizzy Bennet pushed back against the cultural constraints of her time in order to explore her independence, love people well, and settle into her own skin. As a young girl reading these books and so many others, their messages seeped into my self-talk creating my little reality as a girl who could do anything, be who she wanted to be, and change the world. And then I grew up.
I'm not sure when it happened. When the big ideas and dreams broke into a million pieces, but it did. Maybe it was the first boy who broke my heart, my family's financial problems crashing down in bankruptcy, or someone I looked up to who continually told me that who I was wasn't good enough. Somewhere in high school my self-talk shifted to, "You have to keep it all together", "no one wants you unless you do something for them", "You are stupid", and "You aren't good enough, try harder". I felt like the world around me was falling apart and I felt like a failure every time I couldn't fix my family's financial needs or a friend would self-harm or threaten suicide yet again. There was some positive self-talk in those years too like, "I am unique", "God put me on this earth for a reason", and I still held onto the notion that "someday I'll change the world". However, often these positive voices got lost in 2 things: 1, I desperately wanted to make and keep people happy and 2, I wanted to "prove all the haters wrong". I poured myself into work, school, volunteering, and spending almost every spare moment on call for the 10-15 friends in emotional crisis. Every time I let a ball drop or didn't get top marks on something that negative self-talk dug deeper roots into how I saw myself. And yet I would put on the smile of the popular girl who had it all together and love people the best I knew how. All of the negative self-talk seemed to truly take root when an important relationship ended. All of the voices that told me that my value is in what I can do for others, seemed to prove true. I learned to use my self-talk to regulate my behavior in order to get the behavior from others that I was craving, i.e. approval, appreciation, admiration, etc. I became very good at getting people to see much more of the good in me than the struggles that I faced.
As an adult I have learned to recognize that all of my self-talk is creating and assigning meaning, and therefore value, to myself and my view of the world. I'm in the process of rewriting my self-talk from, "I am stupid" to "Everyone struggles with something, this is my thing to work harder at. I can do this." There are many days that the negative self-talk, that I now have named "lies", still sneaks up and takes hold. I feel like I am constantly at war with the little girl who believed in endless possibilities and the teenager who believed that her only worth came from what she did for others. I think that is where the pride and self-hatred dilemma comes in.
After processing on paper, I have to say that in day to day life I have more negative self-talk than positive. As life continues to throw curve balls I go through the motions of telling myself the right things. The voice of "I can do this!" often gets shut down with the "why the hell did you think you could do this?" voice. When this happens, I can so easily fall into the grips of anxiety and depression… and I think I just figured out why it's so hard to dig back out. It's not me or even the people around me that I feel like I'm letting down, it's that little girl. The girl who believed that kindness could cure hate, the one that loved the skin she was in, and the one that knew without a shadow of a doubt that she would change the world for the better. Every time I fail, she is the one that I'm letting down, and I don't know how to forgive myself for that.
Somehow, I forget that the messages in books and the love felt in my childhood that had so much impact on me was matched, and in some ways surpassed, by some really hard things too like bankruptcy, heartbreak, and being tossed aside once I was no longer useful. All of these things impacted me and shaped me into who I am today, the good and the bad parts. I think my hope is that I can go back to using self-talk like I did when I was little, not in naivety, but opening myself up to a world of possibilities once again. Finding joy in the small things and hope in the unknown. I'm not there yet, but that's where I want to go!

Friday, February 23, 2018

Journal #1

PROMPT: Reflect on the ways that your communication produces, maintains, transforms and repairs your reality. How does thinking about communication in this way change the way you view your everyday communicative interactions with yourself and with others? Does this introduce an ethical component into our understanding of communication, since yours and others reality is at stake?

Most of the time when we communicate we do it without a whole lot of thought. When we see a friend we ask them how they are, when we are eating dinner we comment on how good the food is, or when there is snow on the ground we tell our friends to drive safe. These are things that we naturally do without thinking much about it because they are what our culture has thought us to do, and there is nothing wrong with that! As much as I hate small talk I have learned that nearly every relationship starts with small talk. From the moment we begin interacting with someone we are communicating something and therefore adjusting our reality and theirs. At the beginning this can seem like a small adjustment to each person's reality, but as we start to think about it, even those small interactions can create a significant change in our realities. I was grumpy at the store one day with my husband, we had been picking at each other (like everyone in a relationship does) while we were in the store. When we got to the check-out counter the older gentleman who was checking us out started to intentionally engage with us, laughing about what we were buying, sharing a story about his wife, and then commenting on how David and I just seemed to fit together as a couple. We walked out of the store holding hands and laughing when five minutes before we were more than a little annoyed with one another. An interaction that lasted less than 5 minutes with someone we had never met before completely changed our realities (both our shared reality and individual realities). If a simple conversation was able to do this, how much more could intentionally communicating under the understanding of this definition shift how we choose to interact with others and ourselves? I think the impact could be significant.

There are days I wake up feeling grumpy and angry about the things I know my day has in store for me. By the time I get to work I have already worked myself up into feeling like a failure before I walk through the door. This rings true if I'm working myself up about a big meeting and I walk in with the attitude of a challenger, or if I there is something I'm looking forward to I can walk in with lots of joy and high expectations. When we stop and think about it the power we have over our own reality and perception of the world is significant. It can be used as a really good thing (positive self-talk) or a negative thing (negative self talk or trying to plan the outcome of every little thing). One of the best things I have gotten out of counseling is the idea of being "faithfully present" in every moment. When I can do this, my inner dialog slows down and I am able to process the world (both internal and external) in a way that better lines up with a (R)eality.

I have always felt like EVERYTHING in life as an ethical component, and communication is no different. The weight of an ethical obligation in communication is a heavy one. When we are in charge of producing, maintaining, transforming, and repairing others realities as well as our own we need to understand the impact that can have. If Martin Luther King Jr. had different communication going on around him when he was a child, or if his negative self-talk got in the way as an adult, he may never have fought like he did for equality and our modern world may look very different than it does now. That is an extreme example, but the little things in everyday life have the opportunity to compound into a big impact. What do I think when I look in the mirror every morning? What do I communicate to my husband about what kind of man he is with my words and actions? How much impact do I allow other's words have on me? Every single interaction we have has an ethical component, and that includes the interactions we have with ourselves. It feels like a lot of pressure, but I believe the first step to communicating effectively and ethically is simply to be aware of how we show up in the world and what impact that has on ourselves and others.

IntrApersonal Communication

I've been doing a lot of work on myself lately. I've been in counseling for over 2 years, through a weekend that was designed to shift my individual reality, have started taking medication for anxiety and am now a part of a Soul Group with other women trying to figure themselves out. Now one of the required classes for my degree is an IntrApersonal Communications class... a class on how we communicate with ourselves.

It's been a long time since I have blogged consistently, but this class requires a journal entry type of refection every week and I thought that this would be a good opportunity to allow you (whoever you are reading this) back into the inner-workings of my life. So for the next 10 weeks I plan to post my processing and ramblings here each week. I'm also in the process of moving...again (but this time we bought our house!) so you might also get some random poems or notes I find through the moving process. My hope is that I walk this journey someone out there will be able to read these posts and relate and somehow feel less alone in that.

So here it goes!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Onion

On the surface,
Confidently moving forward.
A life of purpose and direction.

A little deeper,
Smiles freely given.
Laughter and encouragement flow.

Deeper again,
Struggling to add one more ball.
Stress and exhaustion bleeding through.

Digging deeper,
Struggling to let go of hurt.
Anger and pain suppressed.

Even deeper,
Confusion bounces around.
Right and wrong argue.

Deeper once more,
The torment of emotions burn.
Fear and furry pushing through.

Deeper still,
Good is never good enough.
Guilt and darkness all consuming.

Dare to go deeper,
Failure obvious.
Self hatred and disappointment take grip.

Strength, Peace, Juggling, Frustration, Tension, Confusion, Fire, Shame, Loathing,
and Darkness.
All blotting out the Son Of Hope.
Tears of hopeless dreams tear at the soul.
Looking up from the void.
A small glint of Light.
Hope reborn.

Psalm 62:8
Trust in Him at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us.

Galatians 2:20
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.