Celebrating Our Gifts

Celebrating Our Gifts

A fellow blogger, Cymbria Wood who writes “Blank Canvas Living”, brought my previous article, “Weaknesses Equal Strengths” into a whole new context for me with an example of her own personal application.  She cited an “extreme” trait, once considered a hindrance, as being a blessing on the flipside.  She was then able to generalize the concept to another “extreme”, which provided her with an additional strength.  It is proof positive that throughout the execution of altering one thought, the practice generalizes and builds upon itself into a whole new skill set.

What she related also had a significant tone of acceptance.  There was an understanding that some of her traits could be considered to be “extremes”.  The value, “Everything in moderation” cited in “Brave New Mind” is applicable to actions, not to personality in general.  We are who we are, with both deficits and abundances.  In “Weaknesses Equal Strengths”, we explored the flipside of both.  In this article, we seek to celebrate that flipside!

Terming something as an “extreme” brings many negative connotations to mind.  “Extremism” is seemingly synonymous with fanatical, immoderate, uncompromising, excessive, or even violent.  It begs the question, “Extreme, so why can’t you dial it back?”  That’s the same as saying, “You’re extremely tall, so why can’t you shrink a little?” or even, “You’re extremely short, so why can’t you grow a little?”  Again, we are who we are, short, tall, big, small, pale, dark, etc, etc.  We have long since stopped discriminating against those who are physically different.  Why should we continue to discriminate “extremes” of a mental nature?

Instead, we could think of the extremes as abundances, even if others have defined some as “deficits”For instance, I am not great at advanced mathematical concepts, such as algebra and statistics.  We can flip the same “math” coin to see the advantages I have with simpler and more tangible math.  My husband can churn out equations at a genius level.  But, I have the advantage over him in computation of simple percentages and geometric measurements.  The difference between us is his grasp of complex, interdependent relationships and my grasp of more concrete concepts.

There exists a common societal ideal that we cannot be well-rounded individuals unless we shift our efforts from refining our abundances toward “improving” on our shortcomings.  It’s a rigid principle that encourages us to classify traits and abilities into strict bins of “successes” and “failures”.  It’s not that black and white.  I’ve written it before, and I’ll reiterate, “As long as I’m trying, I’m succeeding.”  With that value, we can move toward redefining our own self-image so we can celebrate ourselves and our abundances!

A great launching point is in the primary philosophy of education strategies with developmentally delayed children.  Instead of zeroing in on the delay, professionals and parents are encouraged to identify their abundances, usually termed as “gifts”.  Then, those gifts are nurtured until they can be applied to other developmental areas.  Once generalized, we can begin to see a globalized growth across all domains.  Truly, it’s a brilliant strategy that I feel is underutilized.

Just as each child has a gift, we all have our own aptitudes.  Personally, I excel in artistic areas.  Creative pursuits have always come naturally to me.  A little effort really went a long way.  I went on to develop skill sets in music, writing, crafting, and graphic arts.  However, because my “shortcomings” had been defined for me in other areas, I was discouraged from attempting to develop them through my own means.

It was only when I started to notice my own aptitude in martial arts that my own ideas changed.  At one time, I really only viewed it as being dependent on a physical skill, of which I was under the impression that I was sorely lacking.  However, it is so much more.  It requires a certain amount of creativity to translate technical skill into practical application.  For instance, I’m small, so some of the techniques learned in the curriculum wouldn’t be effective in a real situation.  Therefore, I have to get creative on how to modify them for my own body type.

If an abundance of one skill / trait can generalize to develop a skillset considered to be belonging to an opposing activity / trait, what else can it be applied to?

Let’s celebrate our gifts!

I am determined, and I’m proud!

I feel deeply, and I’m proud!

I think abstractly, and I’m proud!

I am detailed, and I’m proud!

I am involved, and I’m proud!

I try hard, and I’m proud!

I care abundantly, and I’m proud!

I am generous, and I’m proud!

I am very aware of my physical existence, and I’m proud!

I freely express ideas, and I’m proud!

What are you proud of today?

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Exercises to build self-esteem: #5. Write a gratitude list

It’s too easy…

to lose sight of the things that are really important.  When I’m entangled in my laundry list of woes, I tend to get tunnel vision, all centric to problem solving things that maybe really don’t need fixed.

It’s important to take a time-out.  Step back, and breathe.  Life can get a little easier to manage when I take the time to stop and smell the roses.  I appreciate the little things, though it’s too easy to take the for granted when they remain constants in my life.

Therefore, I am creating a gratitude list to be referenced when I start to lose sight of what is really important in my life.

 

Writing your gratitude list

1. Take a clean sheet of paper (or brand spanking new blog post) and get comfortable.

2. Write down as many things as you can think of that you are grateful for about your life (no matter how insignificant it may be.)

3. When you have finished, read the list aloud and allow yourself to feel the gratitude.

4. Keep your list somewhere safe so you can add to it in the future when new things you are grateful for come to mind.

 

  • Xan
  • Beast
  • Blogs
  • Bloggers
  • Blogging Friends
  • Friends
  • Internet
  • Email friends
  • Family
  • Lilly
  • The Ocean
  • Pittsburgh
  • Clear night sky
  • My home
  • My in-laws
  • Xan’s job
  • Our income
  • My marriage
  • Fridays
  • Saturdays
  • Sundays
  • Uplifting television
  • Inspirational blogs
  • Good people
  • The life I was gifted
  • The medicine that keeps me going
  • Doctors that treat me
  • Kind nurses
  • Contacts
  • Androids and smartphones
  • Email
  • The ability to buy necessities
  • Showers
  • Forgiveness
  • Noise reducing earbuds
  • Journals
  • Places of solace

All that I am, all that I ever was...

That will never happen to me!

There was a point in my life where I took things for granted. I had a relationship, friends, a reasonable income, relatively stable mental health and no physical ailments to worry about. My life was full off laughter, smiles, regular sex, all the hugs you could imagine and a future that anyone would be proud of.

If you had told me six years ago what was about to happen to me I wouldn’t have believed you, in fact, I would probably have paraphrased Spike and asked if you were stoned!

Like the vast majority of us, I took my life for granted. Like most I thought ‘it would never happen to me’.

Today, and for many years now, I am eternally grateful for everything I have.

Most have heard the phrase you don’t realise what you have until it’s gone because it is 100%…

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Ten inspirational self-esteem quotes

All that I am, all that I ever was...

It’s time you had a time out

Contemporary life can, at times, be somewhat stressful.

We fill our lives with Twitter, Facebook, the need for twenty-four hour a day contact and blogging. There’s traffic congestion, inbox congestion, nasal congestion and artery congestion. The eternal quest to eradicate wrinkles, lines, body hair and blemishes. Does my bum look big in this? Does my cleavage look too small in this? Does my toe look like it has a fungal infection in this? There’s the endless balance between work, home, family, friends and random strangers. Electricity, food, medication, gas, water, rates, taxes…those bloody taxes! Every day of our lives is an endless stream of stress and tension, relieved only when we chance upon some time for sex, cuddles, massages and cunnilingus. But only if we’re lucky enough to have them.

And then there’s physical health, and mental health, and emotional health, and at…

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Exercises to Build Self Esteem: #1. Pleasure and Happiness

Writing your Pleasure List

1. Take a clean sheet of paper and head somewhere you feel safe and relaxed.

2. Divide the paper into four sections:

– Section 01: People and Pets (who bring me pleasure when I think of them)
– Section 02: Places (that bring me pleasure when I think of them)
– Section 03: Things (that bring me pleasure when I think of them)
– Section 04: Things I like to do (that bring me pleasure)

3. Then write as many examples as you can under each section.
4. Remember to allow yourself to feel happy!

Section 01: People and Pets

  • Xan, my husband.
  • Beast, my son
  • Dill, my friend
  • Zen, my cat that passed on last year
  • Rees, my friend.
  • Ruby, my friend
  • Carla, my friend
  • Monday, my friend
  • My MIL
  • My FIL

Section 02: Places

  • Myrtle Beach, South Carolina:   It is absolutely, hands down, my favorite vacation spot.  The beaches are huge and sandy.  The local, southern food is amazing, and the local people are very friendly.  I have some of my most fond memories there.  When I was sixteen, it was my first taste of freedom.  It was the only town I was ever allowed to wander around in unsupervised.  I was free to go wherever I wanted within a certain 15 block radius in either direction.  For Myrtle Beach, that’s a lot of territory.  I spent my honeymoon there with Xan.  It was the first time I had ever gone on vacation as an adult.  We just had the most lovely time, I recall.  Good food, peaceful setting, and a lovely beach.  I got to wake up every single morning to go out on the patio and watch the sunrise.  It was magical.
  • Virginia Beach, Virginia:  I recall Virginia Beach having one of the most impressive boardwalks I had ever been on.  Anything you could ever want was on that board walk.  I was thirteen years old, and I’d sneak out to my very own balcony in the middle of the night just to watch the moon rise on the ocean.  It was one of the most beautiful sights I had ever seen.  It was fairly close by car, so I wasn’t stuck in the car forever with my parents.  And, since I had my own room in our suite, I had a huge amount of privacy.  It was the best vacation I can remember from my childhood.
  • The Fountains in Pittsburgh:   There’s something about those fountains.  Pittsburgh has plenty of them, because we are so close to the river.  There was one in particular that I loved, and I took a photo of it right before my surgical consultation the August before last.  Something about it was calming, and settled me down to think about the beautiful things in life.  I even wrote a post called, “All the Pretty Things”.
  • The Trestle:   By my old house, in the same neighborhood I grew up in, there was this old, abandoned railroad trestle.  My best friend showed it to me when we were in our early teens.  We used to hang out there to drink and smoke pot.  Then, we’d have these deep conversations about our thoughts and feelings.  Those were very intimate moments.When Beck, my ex, and I became secret lovers behind her back, we used to frequent the trestle.  It was the place that I had my first kiss with a boy.  And he and I would sit there for hours, holding each other, talking about our dreams, and making plans for our future together.  And after Beck and I broke up, I didn’t go back again.

    Until there was Xan, three years later.  At the time, we were living with my ex, Avi.  I felt a bond with Xan that I couldn’t quite explain.  So, I took him there, so that we could be alone.  We hung out and we drank.  It was a beautiful alone place, even if it was a rusted trestle.  You could see the creek below, and it was surrounded by trees, a rarity in that neighborhood.

    It was the place where Xan and I spent our first night together as a couple.  We sat up all night and talked.  I don’t recall what about.  The past.  The present.  Maybe even the future.  I know we went through the story of our developing relationship, and how we got to this point.  And I remember we held each other in the rain until the morning light.

Section 03: Things:

  • My computer
  • My Samsung Captivate Glide
  • Pandora
  • My stuffed animal from when I was a kid
  • Coffee
  • Pizza
  • New clothes
  • Cigarettes
  • Overhead Lighting
  • WordPress
  • Facebook
  • Bejeweled Blitz
  • Bed
  • My blue coffee cup
  • My brown skirt
  • The Internet
  • Wikipedia
  • WebMD
  • Medscape
  • Google
  • Craigslist
  • My blue blanket
  • My journals
  • Inkjoy pens
  • G2 Gel Pens
  • All no bleed Sharpies
  • Office supplies
  • Caffeine
  • My medication
  • My contacts

Section 04: Things I like to do:

  • Go for long car rides
  • Eat at this little mom and pop diner a few towns over
  • Shop
  • Get dressed up (sometimes)
  • Take hot showers
  • Visit my in-laws
  • Craft
  • Take on a new project
  • Crochet
  • Write
  • Read
  • Write on WordPress
  • Read on WordPress
  • Do selfless acts
  • Practice Tang Soo Do
  • Play computer games
  • Watch my favorite TV shows
  • Create things
  • Play with my son
  • Spend time with my husband

All that I am, all that I ever was...

“Pleasure is the only thing one should live for, nothing ages like happiness.”
~ Oscar Wilde ~

Accentuate the positives

The first exercise toward building better self-esteem is to focus on the positives. Now, I’m not a convert into the positive thinking movement, in fact I find books that proclaim all we need to do is think positively and everything we want will magically appear out of thin air complete crap. I don’t believe someone can ‘pretend away depression’ nor do I believe thinking positively will cure you of cancer or the myriad of other illnesses that people suffer from.

However, thinking positive thoughts about ourselves can bring about an attitude change toward better self-perception.

Once upon a time I was in a counselling session. I had seen this counsellor for several sessions and in each one he noted how stressed and tense I was; how I sat in a…

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Exercises to build self-esteem: #3. Personal positive experiences

Personal positive experiences…

1. Take out a clean sheet of paper and a pen of your choice.

2. Divide the paper into eight sections: Courage, Kindness, Selflessness, Love, Sacrifice, Wisdom, Happiness, Determination.

3. Under each section write about positive personal experiences that come under that category.

4. You don’t have to limit yourself to one example for each, the more you can think of the better!

5. Keep the paper somewhere handy so that (a) you can read it frequently and (b) you can add to it whenever you fancy.

 

  • I fought cervical cancer for four years, and I’ve hopefully won.
  • I underwent two surgeries for the cancer.
  • I underwent four biopsies.
  • I am going public with Lulu Stark.  I’m going to be courageous here and put my name out there.  I am actually Tiffany.  But, I prefer Tiff.  Please keep calling me Lulu though.  I like it.  I think it represents something in me.
  • In June 2011, I started As The Pendulum Swings, my first mental health blog.
  • I co-founded A Canvas of the Minds, a community mental health blogging site.
  • I supported Occupy Pittsburgh when they were camping in town.
  • In 2006, I lived without basic utilities in a dilapidated house.
  • I recently moved away from my hometown.
  • I had the courage to finally break ties with my extended family and put my parents at a distance.
  • I’ve finally accepted my son’s diagnosis of Pervasive Development Disorder.
  • In 2009, I sought treatment for bipolar disorder.
  • Before my surgery in 2011, I chose to live by my own hand.

  • I take late night phone calls for friends in need.
  • I used to volunteer for my family’s church.
  • I am fiercely loyal to friends, even if they don’t deserve it.
  • I occasionally give to charities, especially those for children.
  • I taught music in a youth program for underprivileged children.
  • I make it a point to comment on people’s blogs at least once a day.
  • I encourage online friends to email me when they are having a hard time.
  • I help my husband finish his work at home.
  • I leave love notes for my husband.
  • I once made a blanket for a child I was a nanny for.
  • I was a summertime nanny for two children plus my own.

  • I get up an hour and a half before my husband each day to get him off to work.
  • I always do without for my child.
  • I always make sure that my husband gets the big piece of chicken at dinner.
  • I cook, although I don’t often feel like it.
  • I take classes that my husband is very enthusiastic about me taking.
  • I make sure my child’s needs come first.
  • I am staying at home instead of working to take care of my son.
  • I am working hard to get my son services for his special needs.
  • I am always able to put my own stuff aside for a friend in crisis.
  • Over the last year, I have put off numerous appointments in order to accommodate my husband’s climb up the career ladder.  I still am.
  • Sometimes, as a result of my husband’s work, I find that I end up being the sole parent for most days.  I rarely ask for anything in return.
  • I lay my husband’s clothes out every morning because he’s colorblind.
  • I have forgone getting a new pair of glasses for two years because it’s not in the budget.
  • Sometimes, I make my medicine stretch just a little longer so that I can see everyone else is taken care of first.
  • I mentioned I help my husband finish his work at home.  I do so unpaid.
  • During Summer Semester 2011, I pushed a little girl around the wheelchair at the zoo.  If you knew the Pittsburgh zoo, then you know it’s very hilly.

  • I have never abandoned someone because they were “too much work”.
  • I put everything I have into my son.
  • One of the reasons we moved to the place we live in now is so we could take care of my husband’s family, all of whom are disabled now.
  • I write prose to my husband.  Sometimes, I stick cute notes in his work laptop.
  • I will do anything to immediately soothe my husband’s panic attacks.
  • I will hold my son for hours when he’s having an emotional day.
  • I am always telling my husband wonderful things about himself.
  • I am not hesitant to be affectionate with my husband, even when he is.

  • I recently passed up a job offer to stay at home with my son.
  • I have not pursued the last four credits of my Bachelors, because the money would come out of pocket.
  • In the summer of 2011, I taught summer semester while having undiagnosed walking pneumonia for over a month.  We needed the money.
  • In 2010, I had to surrender my dog Nikki.  She was too big for the house, setting off Beast’s allergies, and we didn’t have a big enough yard for her.
  • In 2006, I dropped out of college to work.  The man I was with at the time and I had some really wrecked finances.
  • In 2006 and then again in 2009, I took a job in a commercial bakery when I had two different Associate’s Degrees.  I was desperate for work.
  • Becoming a mother is sacrifice in itself.
  • I am holding off on having a second child for my husband’s sake.  I may not be able to have children as I grow older, and I take the risk that the cancer will return.

  • In 2012, I started Sunny with a Chance of Armageddon to help share my experience with others so they might not feel so alone.
  • I regularly give advice to friends and family.
  • Despite our rocky relationship, I counseled my mother while she had difficulty taking care of her own mother.
  • I know that I can only believe none of what I hear and only half of what I see.
  • Get me once, shame on you.  Get me twice, shame on me.
  • I realize that life is what happens when a person is busy making other plans.
  • There are some things that I can help, and there are some things I cannot.  It’s up to me to have the wisdom to determine which is which.  I am pretty good at that at this point.
  • I always remind others that you can’t change people.
  • I find that I always remind others that happiness and health are more important than anything else.  Money and duty sometimes have to take a backseat.

  • In 2008, I took a honeymoon to my favorite beach, Myrtle Beach.
  • Also in 2008, I gave birth to one of my sources of joy, my son, my Beast.
  • Also in 2008, I married the man of my dreams.  My other half, maybe my better half, Xan.
  • My family takes regular long drives through the country.
  • I adopted a kitten in 2011.
  • In 2007, my long time best friend, Xan (my now husband), got into our romantic relationship.  We had a whirlwind romance that ended up with us being married in less than a year.
  • I’ve had five wonderful years with my husband.
  • I have wonderful friends who would do anything for me.
  • I’m now living in the nicest house I’ve ever lived in.
  • I have so much land and I don’t live on a busy street anymore.
  • I’m in the best shape of my life.

  • I will finish my degree one day, and finish higher degrees.
  • I will find a good therapist and get on the right medication.
  • I will combat mental illness, and come out the other side better for it.
  • I will continue to get in shape and stay in shape.
  • I will belt up in Tang Soo Do.
  • I will continue to keep fighting cancer, even if the doctors are sure that it’s gone.
  • I will help my son catch up in his development.
  • I will help my husband be the best father, husband, and employee he can be.
  • I will never give up on myself, my goals, my dreams, and my friends and family.

 

All that I am, all that I ever was...

Send you negative thoughts to the naughty corner!

So far this week we have looked at what self-esteem is; the value we place on ourselves and how we see ourselves in general, what low self-esteem is; when we as individuals hold deep-seated negative beliefs about ourselves, and how we can work toward improving these beliefs through altering our perceptions of who we are.

First, by focussing on the things that bring us pleasure (rather than pain) and secondly, on how it isn’t narcissistic to love our individual gifts and talents.

Today, we look at our experiences.

As many people who suffer from low-esteem may relate to, I spend a lot of time living in the negative space of my life. All day, every day, I am constantly reminding myself of all the things I have done wrong; of when I let my friends down, of when I…

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Exercises to Build Self Esteem: #2. Love your talents and gifts

My singing voice.

My ability to articulate emotions.

My writing.

The way that I think (mostly).

The way I don’t do anything half-baked.

My motivation.

The way that I love.

All of the love I have to give.

All of the empathy I have for my fellow humans.

How I am able to pick up on people’s personalities.

My education in psychology.

The relationships I’m able to build, even if I have difficulty sustaining them.

My eyes.  They’re pretty.

My fashion taste.  I like pretty things.

All of my crafts and the pride it gives to me.

How I am a survivor, above all else.

My intellect.

Sometimes, my faulty logic!

My enthusiasm.

My passion.

My ability to willingly and lovingly play a support role in the lives of others.

My fierce loyalty to friends and family.

My forgetfulness.  It’s hard to hold a grudge that way.

My creativity.

My resolve.

My focus.

The way I’m able to be introspective.

My open-mindedness.

My chest.  I mean, come on now!

How I have the tendency to be honest to the point of bluntness.

How I am not able to lie.

My drive to keep going.

And my openness to exercises like this.

All that I am, all that I ever was...

Narcissism vs Gratitude

Since beginning this blog in 2007 I’ve spoken frequently of the importance of loving ourselves.

When I wrote this post I was worried it would make me look like a narcissist. When I recently reposted it as part of the Voice of the Past series this same fear of being viewed as arrogant and self-absorbed returned; resulting in several arguments with myself over whether I should post it, and after I did, whether I should remove it. To this day I still think it makes me look self-important, vain and narcissistic.

But does it? Aren’t those fears yet another example of the negative way I view myself?

If we do not love ourselves, we cannot expect other people to love us; and if we don’t believe in ourselves, then how can we expect anyone else to believe in us?

Learning to love yourself is not an…

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