I have had a really busy few weeks, and I tell you getting everything in that I want to, PLUS doing all the things that I have to, is sometimes a daunting task. Sometimes, I get so overwhelmed I fall face first into a bag of chocolate and play stupid Candy Soda Crush (shhhhhhh, I do not, that is a rumor) until I run out of lives and then sit glassy-eyed staring at my not-free TV stations. THAT has been my week. Some weeks are like that, and that is actually fine for a few days. I shook myself loose last night and did some things that might be deemed "constructive" to other members of the household, but I am not overly concerned about that either. HAHA!!
I have managed to get in 3 gym sessions and a walk this week, plus, had a fantastic live tweeting session with my tweeter friend over an episode of Project Runway. And half of that conversation is on the IM section of it; we are hilarious on Thursday nights, even if only to each other.... So anyway, I do eke out some time for reading as well, as my internet habits, along with said weight lifting sessions (I am getting so close to regaining all of my past strength- crushing those weights. I am so pleased that my muscle memory is coming back, just like I have been reminded again and again.... lol) have reignited the carpal tunnel thing, that also seems to be manifesting itself in some extreme fatigue in my injured tendons of certain areas of my limbs that were smushed at one point. So yes, my hand is numb in the morning, so I need to do some heavy duty resting of it!
So (bear with me, I am connecting these dots in my circuitous way) I belong to an internet book club that is hosted by my life coach- Anne-Sophie- and we are reading Brené Brown's book: The Gifts of Imperfection. The book's subtitle is: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. It is about Wholehearted living, which really is sort of my gig these days, you know? This book makes sense to me on a soul level. In preparation for a group call, we were reading the next set of guideposts- Cultivating gratitude and joy, Cultivating Intuition and Cultivating Creativity- so SO up my alley. :)
The thing is, as I am wont to do, I skipped a bunch of things, read what I was supposed to and then started going backwards (now, no one is surprised by this, right?) through the book (this is not a very long book, short chapters and packs a powerful message and things to consider in each section) to the previous chapter entitled Cultivating a Resilient Spirit. Now I do consider myself resilient, and there were emboldened subtitles that caught my interest, yet I "paged" backwards on the kindle app to the beginning of the chapter where they began with a discussion of hope and hopelessness. And it begins by saying hope is not an emotion.... wut?
Now raise your hand if you thought that hope was an emotion- I would have probably raised my hand tentatively. When you start thinking about it, it makes sense that it is not. You know what you feel like inside when you are experiencing either of these, hope or hopelessess, but it isn't really an emotion. I do agree. It is a learned behavior (this is research based), a way of thinking and has a simple framework for how it works. People who have hope have the ability to set realistic goals, are able to figure out how to attain the goals, using flexibility and alternatives if necessary, and believe in themselves and that they can do it. What ever it is.
This is certainly a way that I think and a context that I understand. I am almost always able to accomplish things that I want, except when I attempt something that I knew darn well I shouldn't. Like when I was going through my period of killing myself with exercise and I imagined myself a "runner" when my heart of hearts knew I was not. Yeah, so one totally messed up knee later, I did not achieve that goal, though I did once run almost 6 miles..... and it almost wrecked my trip to the boundary waters, so not smart. I really REALLY need to always trust my intuition (which is indeed in the book) and it (intuition) was trying hard to remind me that I am not of that body type.
Anyway, while I was reading this about hope and hopelessness, in the context of resilience, I had these flashes of recognition of truths about me and my family. In this case, the family I grew up in. Let me preface this by saying I am not trying to either denigrate nor commend either of my sets of grandparents or my parents. It just IS the way things were as I see it. These moments of comprehension came to me so fast and in a way I felt before I could put it into words.
I am an optimistic person by nature, and sometimes I feel the need to apologize. Which is totally insane, but I sometimes feel that way. This world seems to be less than optimistic except for the occasional inspirational meme on a kitty picture. I come by this honestly, as my mom was (and may still be on good days) one of the most positive people I know. She always just looked for the good in things and really didn't try to bring a person down. Now I do recognize that she was avoiding confrontation, which I also inherited from her, and while this is good sometimes, it does add a lot of unnecessary angst and self doubt into life. My father, on the other hand, while not horrible, was decidedly not so optimistic. I look at the personalities of my mom and dad and wonder how the heck that ever happened. I think my dad needed the love for life my mom had and my mom needed my dad to get her out of her parent's house. Again, no judgements are being made here. My mom chafed under the religious household of her parents and she needed out. My dad needed someone who was reliable and upbeat. So it was.
I look at the parents of my parents and it is so interesting to see the differences as I know them and to, I think, correctly translate their overall outlooks on life through the lens of hope. I can not and do not imagine myself to have insight into what their life was really like, but I can make a solid guess. First off, I loved my grandparents on both sides, but in different ways. My Grandma Kutz (Grandpa died when I was 4) loved me in a powerful way and she lived nearby. I saw her a lot and saw her whole personality for good and bad. My dad's mom was not necessarily a hopeful person. I know there were a lot of struggles in her life, and I can see her influence on the personality of my father. He tended to be gruff (and who knows what made that true) and not particularly overtly affectionate. We knew he loved us, but sometimes it was hard to prove. I, as a girl, had a bit of an easier time than the boys did as he proved to be difficult to deal with as they got older.
My mom came from a quite religious family and Grandma and Grandpa Oberley were people I only saw once or twice a year. They lived 9 hours away from us and it just wasn't something we did much was visit them- except for that glorious summer vacation time. OH I loved being there and being with them. They were not super huggy, but definitely more outwardly affectonate than the other side of the family. And as a kid I saw the best of them during that time. Even though mom didn't appreciate the restrictions of their religion, the basic feeling of belonging and the family structure was much more hopeful and accepting. They knew the Lord would provide and all that, so they were more settled. I had the vibe that all was well, where my Grandma Kutz was a bit more volatile and a tad more self centered.
Again, I am not judging, that is what they all knew and the circumstances were they way they were and all that. As much as I adored my mom's mom and dad, my Grandma, who was quite a trip so to speak, was uniquely and unabashedly herself. She was Grandma, she didn't try to change and that was that.... I miss her so much.
Anyway, I think that is a grandparent thing that is separate from this discussion. Back to book club, I told Anne-Sophie about these revelations about hope. I am ,in retrospect, so happy that the majority of time I spent in childhood was with a parent who had hope. While I do not dislike the time spent with my dad, and in fact the short times he was around (he was a farmer) were pretty fun. But as fast as the fun began, it could also end. You just never knew what was going to happen, when he would retreat into himself. Like he couldn't allow too much levity to take place without losing himself. The man suffered from a bipolar type of personality, I truly believe, and fought depression (well, no, he didn't fight the depression, it engulfed him) as well. So my mom, though she had a tough way to live when we were little as far as being pretty damn dirt poor, and having 4 little kids less than 5 years apart from beginning to end, and I can't imagine how she kept that overall optimistic outlook on life when she was living with a man who had not a lot of hope. He set goals, but could not imagine how to reach them if things didn't go the way he planned. My father was neither particularly resilient and absolutely not flexible. He got a lot of shit done, though, man. It's just if life threw him some curve balls, he was a broken soul.
Why am I writing about this? As I write about this I realize that there is a lot of contradiction in people and in situations and I know little about my mom and dads childhood. I can just see how through nature, nurture or both I have ended up with what it turns out is a resilient self. A self that has the tools to be hopeful. And the background to appreciate the people who are not. The difficulties my father faced internally must have been paralyzing at times, and in fact I know that they were. But that is for another time. But I can see the affect they had on him, and I recognize it in others. And I have so so much empathy. I want to give those people some of my hope.
I see hope and resilience in my children too. Their father can be a bit on the pessimistic side at times, but generally the MA can see the bright side, especially if I hold it in front of his face and insist that he look at it. Lol. Doesn't always work, but he has a mind open enough to consider it, even if I am "wrong". hahaha which I am not. I see the boys as people who wake up and expect things in general to go well, to not imagine that every woe in the world will befall them any time soon, or that everyone is out to get them. I am so glad that hope, a learned behavior, has been passed along. And I think that is one of the greatest things I could have taught or modeled for them. Even if I didn't know I was doing it. I have no lesson, no moral, nothing except seeing how in my situation how learning or not learning about being hopeful has affected my small group of people. A definite aha moment that was meant for me. And maybe you can see this in you too....
And that is one joyful thing I have discovered about myself this very busy week! And now where is the chocolate?? ;)