Saturday, August 28, 2010

I Should Have Said No.

 Setting limits is one of the best things we can do for ourselves and each other. It is an act of love. Setting limits means saying, no. No is a complete sentence. Try that on for size. “No.”  But, I’m a woman and that means that sometimes I don’t say no when I should.  I say “No, because____”  I say, “Fine,” with an exasperated sigh.  I say all the things women say when they want to say no, when they should say no and don’t.
  I’m pretty good at saying no. Sometimes I say it just to say and because it makes my students laugh.
 “Can we go to recess?” 
“Can we sit on the rug?”
“Can we do math?”
“Can we do our homework?”
  A few minutes of this and we all laugh and then we go to the rug and out to recess and they do math.  Anything for a cheap laugh, it’s the secret to my success, that and a song for any occasion.
      I don’t say no when I should some times because I’m tired, have had too much sugar, am lazy, or afraid.  When I don’t use my no muscle nothing good happens. I get pissed off, usually at the wrong person and I take it out on someone, usually the wrong person. Before I know it I’ve lost my temper and am looking for a gunslinger, preferably one from Montana who’s toting a guitar.
  My dad used to say, “A snake will bite, Deb.”  It was his way of telling me not to expect people to be different than they are. I know that a drummer is going to be fun for a while then break my heart. I know that Joe is going to say something rude and piss me off and I know that Donna can’t be trusted to provide information that is reliable and consistent because she always has a personal agenda. I know that. I wasn't always a good girl but I loved my dad and I did listen to him.  A snake will bite. I got bit this week. I lost my temper and hollered and yelled and cried until I felt better. That was then. 
This is now. Now, I’m putting on a low cut, red dress, dangling earrings and going to a party. I’m going to drink too much, laugh too loud and flirt my ass off.  After all there’s not a mad that a good dress and a little flirt won’t fix.  My dad didn’t tell me that. I figured that out all by myself...  with a  little help from a drummer.            
   What can I say, it takes what it takes. This week it took me getting mad to remember that setting limits is an act of love and the best time to set a limit is before you need it. I'm outta here, don't wait up.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Tilting at Windmills

    I work with a number of women who are ten and twenty years younger than me.  They add a nice counterpoint to my life, a sweet to my salty.  They keep me honest and make me laugh.  They also remind me why I have a refrigerator magnet that reads, “Honey, you couldn’t pay me to be twenty again.”   Some times they make me crazy, all I can do is shake my head and bite my tongue.  Occasionally their lack of respect makes me want to smack them into next week.  When that happens I throttle back and regroup because I know that my irritation says more about me than them. 
  Mostly I like their perspective of things even when you can’t tell them a dang thing. The biggest difference I see between our generations is that they aren’t fighting anything. They aren’t tilting at windmills. Women of my generation were the generation of change.  We were part of the woman’s movement, the peace moment and the civil rights movement.  Our generation fought for the right to be more than a stereotype. We fought for the right to chase our dreams and live life on our own terms. Some of us are still fighting. 
   We fight shadows on the wall with a wooden sword because it’s what we know. It’s how we define ourselves. Choose your label sister, survivor, renegade, rebel, outcast, trendsetter. They aren’t the truth of who we are.  They aren’t even the truth of who we were and yet we cling to them like a child clinging to a ratty teddy for security.  We fought to remove limits yet, we limit ourselves the most when we cling to labels of who we think we are or were. Consider the irony of that for a minute.  How much value have we invested in being righters of wrongs and slayers of dragons?
    When I sit in the stillness of now I am none of the things that I think I am or am afraid to be. I simply am, a child of God, whole and enough.  There are no dragons to slay, no wrongs  to be righted, no windmills to tilt at. There are no enemies.
    I like the sound of that, no enemies.  I am putting down my sword and turning away from windmills. I am done creating enemies so that I can be who I think I am rather than be the being that God created me to be.  

 Marianne Williamson wrote, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”