:: WHY WE BE ::

Boo to false, self-imposed limits, we say. These champion oracles want to live enthusiastically. Follow our trip through projects that challenge, frustrate, and/or scare us. In the end (which is really the middle) we want to live like big bright free and authentically awesome people.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

COFFEE Post 9: Big Girl Undies… (Stephany)

The last couple of weeks have been “interesting.” So much going on around here… I’ve been frustrated and moaning and groaning (which, unfortunately for you, you’ve been witness to), and I’ve been a real pansy in general about life. Some of what’s happened around here has really made clear that my moaning and groaning and complaining and whining and pity-party-throwing is just ridiculous, frankly.

One, an extended family member, a young man my age, has been battling brain cancer for some time now. He’s done great, remarkably well, in fact, and he has a terrific wife and three fab kids. He went to the doctor this week and found out that his tumor is not only growing, but it’s inoperable if he wants to continue to be able to speak.

Two, another acquaintance, the mom of one of my son’s basketball teammates and the wife of a high school classmate, was diagnosed with breast cancer. She doesn’t know too much yet, as it’s very early, but still. She’s afraid for her life and for what this means to her hubby and kids.

Three, a student of mine is dealing with the imminent death of his father. Another is dealing with a mother who just left the family behind. Still another lost a childhood friend and love interest in a car wreck this week.

Four, a friend found out that her husband’s former military commander’s children were murdered by their own mother this week. (Yeah, absorb that one for a minute…)
In light of those things and so many others, I just have to question myself and my motivation. I’m healthy. My kids are healthy. My parents are here still, healthy and supportive. My brother just got a very coveted and much-deserved promotion in the Army. I have friends and love and lots to be thankful for and am dealing with nothing that is life or death. Time to pull up the big girl panties and keep living life… and time to start thinking about someone other than ME. You may have detected this: I can be quite self-absorbed, and I usually find that I’m in a funk when I’ve been most self-absorbed.


Focusing too much on ME magnifies my problems and diminishes the blessings that are all around me. It also diminishes the stuff other people are struggling with, stuff that I should care about and be actively working to fix or help with. Time to get over myself.

Don’t hesitate to call me on this one, please.

So, in light of this reality check and the acquisition of a new pack of big girl undies (thanks, Mom – yeah, literally, she gave me a pack of underwear this weekend. I knew there was a reason for this. I adore my practical, wonderful Mom!), here is the update on my COFFEE goals:

1. U 2.0 – Still plugging along… can’t wait to go into more detail about this “situation,” but it’ll have to wait just a bit longer. Doggone it.

2. Training for the Half – Still coughing a bit, but I’m getting better. Thanks to the 9” of snow we already have on the ground and the 9-15” more we’re projected to get, I’m a little worried about my training schedule. Yeah, I can head to they gym and put miles in on the treadmill, but with almost a foot of snow on the ground, I doubt I’m driving anywhere today. Crap! No excuses here, this is for real! I’m so frustrated… April 17 isn’t going to wait on me to get my butt in gear. Would be nice, but that’s just not gonna happen. Here’s hoping the road crews rock it, and I can get back to work tomorrow. In the meantime, though, I’ll be doing a core workout along with some tae-bo or kickboxing here at home.

3. Book project – Fire’s lit. Trying to keep up. Have much to do… exhausted and excited just thinking about it. Whew.

4. Pondering studenthood – Have scheduled a couple of online “visits” to complete in the next couple of weeks, so I should know what I’m going to do (or at least what my options are) very soon. Scary poop, ya’ll! Scary poop.

5. Co-parenting – I’m not sure this is ever going to get easier, but like other things in my life right now, it’s gotta be an hour at a time, a day at a time, a week at a time. I also have to keep in mind that this is what the kids have asked for right now. They may get whiplash from all the back and forth stuff eventually, but this is what they’re asking for right now… that means I can survive this. I can. I will.

And I’m adding a #6: Awareness of Others – I don’t know if I need to focus on one particular “other,” or what. I just know I need to keep the focus off of my own poop and focus my energy on other people. I really do think my time would be better spent, and I’m almost completely positive that this will keep me from slipping back into such a nasty funk! Suck it, self-absorbed Steph.

Well, ladies, it’s time to go get into a pair of those new big-girl panties & get my butt downstairs for my workout… and I wish all of my COFFEE chicks a big-girl britches kinda week!

(Hope everyone is warm & safe & out of this stupid blizzard!!! And P, kickin’ mojo & all my love are comin’ your way for Thursday night!!! ROCK IT, girl. Work it, own it! LOL!)


Holly said...

Steph, Steph, Steph.....honey....I feel your pain. You've had a rough year (or I don't even know how long?). I know you're not struggling with anything life or death right now, but please don't beat yourself up too much about being "self absorbed". I understand that you need to do something to get out of a funk, but might I suggest being gentle with yourself. There will always be somebody that has it worse than we do. Always. Honor your feelings and be gentle with them. Learn from them. The Pema Chodron book that I was quoting from in my last blog was "When things fall apart". I would highly recommend grabbing a copy.
Don't get me wrong-I have a very similar attitude of pulling myself up by my boot straps, and wearing big girl panties (hopefully they're sexy???)! And, I think in many cases this is the only option. However, it runs the risk of whatever it is that's got a hold of us returning. If we don't have time or energy to deal with it now, when will we?
You are rocking it girl! Keep on keepin on but get a massage, take hot baths, and read self help books along the way! Love, Your COFFEE SISTA with a lot in common

Wendy said...

Stephany, It's so weird that you posted this, because it's a subject I've been ruminating on myself, as of late. I sometimes become aware of the fact that the times where I am most secluded, most introspective, most inner-focused are the times that I am the most unhappy. You are SO RIGHT that genuine happiness comes from serving others.
But, like Holly said, it's okay to take care of yourself, too. Like the oxygen masks on an airplane, you have to make sure you can breathe before you assist others.

That said, I'm so sorry to hear about all the friends and family in your life that are going through soooo much. Wow.

You're definitely on track. Keeping your to-do list at the forefront and working steadily towards them...

I think I'm going to add "Awareness of Others" to my own list, too. Thanks for the kick in the tush, lady. Wise words.

Katie said...

Steph, I understand where you're coming from - truly I do. Any time I get annoyed at something, feel inconvenienced, unfairly treated or trod upon, I inevitably get a reality check by being confronted with someone whose life would make me despair. Usually by the at-risk kids I work with many of whom, at the very least, need the backpack buddies program we run because they don't have food at home and depend on the pitifully small backpacks donated to them for their family's weekend meals. I say this as I anticipate making a thick hearty beef stew on this cold and snowy day.

However, with that said, anguish is relative. So is pain, irritability, anger and most other emotions. You are allowed to feel what you feel without guilt - especially because you are fully aware you don't live in a bubble. Paris Hilton, no. You, yes. Most everyone is self-absorbed at some level, because we are the experts on our own lives. What made us lonely yesterday will probably make us lonely tomorrow, no matter how many times you visualize homeless kids or undeserving people with chronic illness.

Slipping into a funk is scary. Especially if you think it's brought on by life circumstances. It can be like watching a slow-motion train wreck. I was single for 6 years before I met Axel. And I mean single. Like desert wasteland single. I was slipping into a serious depression because I had no one and nothing to balance my thoughts against, even though I was surrounded by other people with their own troubles. And it was happening despite my best efforts. I'm not saying finding a life partner is the answer to all this (I'm DEFINITELY not saying that!!) but to say that I understand that going into a funk is like slipping off your axis a little, and the perspectives of others can help balance you some.

And for more perspective - as I read that you were going downstairs for a "core workout" I was shoveling brownies into my face. I put them down though, after I read that. And felt appropriately guilty.

amy said...

Stephany, Stephany! I soooo get you, girlfriend. There are many times I've been in the middle of crying about something not-that-scary, like having to sell my house and move in with my mother...which to ME is scary. But then I think about truly scary stuff, like people in war-torn areas or children starving or formerly successful people living out of their cars and I feel like such a big, spoiled poopy head.

But I also don't think it's that terrible to be a little self-absorbed occasionally. Self-absorption, when done right, can be kind of like a soul tune up--what's working? what needs adjusting? what needs an overhaul? Just checking on the psychic insides.

Now if you're, say, Camille Grammar of Real House Wives/Beverly Hills fame, your self-absorption tune ups may have gotten totally out of hand and somebody needs to do a psychic smack down on you. But you are not Camille, and your tune-ups seem totally fine, from where I'm sitting.

I'm also of the belief that God never ever sends people into situations he doesn't think they can handle. I can't handle having an inoperable brain tumor, and so I haven't been sent there yet, but I've received other problems to work through...ditto for you. And I also think whatever these problems we've been sent to work through are , are getting all situations psychically prepping us all the other learning experiences waiting us up the road. Which could be scary things like living out of our cars, in a war-torn country.

I do know it is really hard to watch other people go through painful things, because there's only so much we can do to make it better and we can feel so helpless in really bad situations--but those are their experiences that they're learning from, and I've come to believe there's a reason they've been brought to our attention.

Basically, I think we don't cross paths with anyone we weren't meant to cross paths with, and our experiences here are all getting us to where we need to land eventually. Your experiences may seem kind of small compared to someone who's been diagonsed with terminal cancer, but it doesn't mean your experiences are any less important; they're shaping who you are meant to become.

In a way, we're all learning not just from our own experiences but also from watching other people learn from theirs...if that makes sense? We're all children of God, and so we're all in this together, no matter how big or small our celebrations and disappointments or scary experiences are.

(Cue the chorus of "Kumbaya" here.)

So even when you're blubbering over stuff that in a few years you'll back on and go: THAT was a problem?? God sees the goodness in your heart--don't ever feel bad about taking a moment to have a pity party.

I do insist, though, that I be invited to this pity party. And that there be fruity drinks with little umbrellas available. And Barry Manilow songs. And after we are done, we will put on big girl panties and go out and help make the world a better place. Okay, Stephany C.?

(Cue "This Little Light of Mine, I'm Gonna Let It Shine.")

And many, many heart prayers from me to all of these hurting people you know...so deeply sad. :-(

Steph said...

I'm humbled, my fellow COFFEE chicas... ya'll rock. The mirrors that you provide are THE best "side-effects" of being a part of this project. I've only met two of you IRL; but because we have gotten to "do life" together in this limited way, a deep respect and appreciation for each of you has developed. To hear your comments is to get that breath of fresh air - life gets so stuffy sometimes. Fresh air is satisfying and, well, refreshing. Thank you all...
I'm in for some Kumbaya, especially if it's followed with brownies & fruity drinks served with colorful umbrellas, drunk sporting our uber-sexy big girl panties... Heck yes!
P.S. Thank you for the prayers and sentiments for my friends, students, and family... love ya'll!!!

Steph said...

P.S. I'm offended, Amy... are you sayin' I'm not as cool as Camille from RH??? Dude. I am SOOO much cooler than her! :)

patresa said...

oh wow. you know, i just can't imagine struggle like that. just can't.

i relate to the guilt you feel about seemingly trite worries. totally. i wrestle with that, too--the "what right do i have to bitch about such piddly crap?" yes. holy cow, yes. and then, even as i'm aware of the hierarchy of struggle, i still feel what i feel. man. i don't know how to fix this. i really don't. sometimes i wonder if we're necessarily supposed to.

i periodically have this thought that if i felt every misery on the planet, i would never be able to get out of bed. so that makes me think that being so into my own life serves an important survival function. for me, it seems to work best with an even distribution of self-focus and other-awareness.

amy said perfectly a lot of what i was thinking -- especially about everyone getting the experiences they need in order to learn what they need to learn. i like that a lot.

and i like you a lot. for the record, i have never, not one single time, gotten anything remotely similar to "self-absorption" from you. thoughtful, big-hearted, and strong, yes. self-absorbed, no.

blj said...

My prolific sisters have really covered the bases here, Steph. They are wise and expressive. You have all given me amazing things to think about, such as: "Slipping into a funk is scary. It can be like watching a slow-motion train wreck. I was slipping into a serious depression because I had no one and nothing to balance my thoughts against, even though I was surrounded by other people with their own troubles. And it was happening despite my best efforts."

And: "Focusing too much on ME magnifies my problems and diminishes the blessings that are all around me." This is a tough one, because as Holly and Wendy pointed out, you have to know yourself to improve yourself and that really seems to be at the core of this project. So where's the line between excessive navel-gazing and listening to your soul? I imagine it moves around a lot.
Hang in there, Steph! You're a long way towards having it all figured out!

Tanner May (Tanya) said...

I hadn't heard! Oh I am so sad to read this, and so sad to read about all this tragedy. Ah man.... just hate hearing all that. Life is so very precious.

You are one of the most tender hearted people I have ever known, and seriously, you being self absorbed sounds like opposite world to me. I do understand funks.... they are awful, and I just can't send you enough virtual and mental hugs. All the COFFEE ladies have said it all so well. You are just the potato and the beans girlie. Really, you are.

Hang in there. Big girl undies are a great idea but I suggest getting them with cartoon characters on them. :)

Love ya Steph COFFEE.

amy said...

You are WAY cooler than Camille from RHOBH, Stephany. To the 100th power x 1 million times cooler.

Also, you don't garble your sentences several times while writing blog posts or comments. And that automatically makes you infinity more awesome.

Boo Camille! Woo Stephany!

T-Free said...

Oh, Stephany. I could so relate to this blog. I have actually threatened myself to get the word "perspective" tattooed on my wrist to remind myself to keep mine. There is always someone who's had it worse than me, or has it worse presently. Whenever I get mired down in the Poor Mes, I see something on the news or hear a sad story from a friend like the ones you've written about here, and I feel so silly for sweating the small stuff. So I applaud your decision to embrace and remember to keep your perspective, because it is so hard for us to do sometimes. Life is full of petty distractions, but ultimately, if we have our health, the rest is mostly attainable, isn't it?

Yay for you and your big girl britches! And thank you for reminding me to wear mine, too! Haha. Great writing, great thoughts... rock on, Stephany! :)