The title of the blog is Breaking the Selfish Bone is it not? I mean isn’t that really what I have been after since the get-go? A less selfish life? On a mission towards selflessness. So, why am I not posting about that? How is it that things have shifted a bit to posts about gratitude and I am enough? If I stop to evaluate the whole thing–I can come up with a few good reasons. Reasons I want to share with you? Not really…not all of them. I will give you what I can–you decide if they hold any weight.
One reason is that I really do think we have to be completely immersed in grateful-living in order to do any and all parts of living justice. For it to be real, authentic, the best living must be centered around gratitude. It’s really the only way you can be sure your motives are pure and that we are doing what we are doing for the right reasons. Secondly and no less important, I really want you to know, believe, understand, and function from a place of “You are Enough” because you ARE. I see all that you are and celebrate it. You don’t have to be chasing and/or in possession of an ideal you in order to be considered worthy or of value. Was not the ultimate sacrifice given for you already a heck of a long time ago, how in the world could you not be of value? I like those two reasons–it’s important for you to know you are enough and to keep working on having a grateful heart. From gratitude, comes compassion and from compassion, comes kindness. We will keep talking about that “stuff”. Those reasons…I can share fairly easily. Well,those I can share.
To be completely forthcoming, on the why’s or why-not’s selflessness has been temporarily shelved, is going to require something I am more than a little afraid to let out. I mean that’s a cat that might claw a few eyes out once the tie is cut and she comes a’flying out of the bag. How do I share without losing all respectability? How do I be open and not look like a world class chump? Simply put, I don’t. So–while it may be in my best interest to be totally honest on this topic, I am not strong enough. In some weird way, I am a people pleaser to the nth degree and I just can’t risk being less than pleasing in your eyes. Because of that, I will hold back the actual evidence and simply lay it out as this regarding my journey towards selflessness…
I am failing.
Dang. I am failing and I am so very sad about that fact. I can’t write to you about being less selfish because to do so would be fraudulent. And that’s one thing I am not good at. I just don’t do it well. I can fool myself for a little while but then something pulls my head back out of the clouds and I clearly see the forest for the trees laid out in front of me. I guess I am lucky that way although it doesn’t feel so lucky all the time. My ultimate goals were/are to be a better wife and mother. Please do NOT go to the targeted subjects for a progress check–just don’t alright? Do that and I am guessing the next step will consist of you throwing fake blood all over my coveted fur coat from Burlington (any Office superfans?)–I’d do my best to convince you it’s faux fur but by that time, we will both know the truth and it will be too late. Talking the talk has to eventually become walking the walk doesn’t it–otherwise what good is it?
This sounds a bit silly but I firmly believe one of the steps necessary in living a more selfless life involves taking care of your physical being. I think (and not all will agree) to give your most-effective self to others, it’s in your best interests to eat “right” and exercise routinely. The better you feel, the better you are. My junior-high sweetheart and I crossed paths not too long ago. It happened to be in our kitchen because at some point, we decided it might be a good idea to just keep on keeping on with the whole romance thing. I would have to say it is working out pretty well for us so far twenty plus years into it–a gamble that paid off much better than the decade of perms I kept trying–perms on a gal with naturally curly hair in the 80’s bore a strong resemblance to a jacked up poodle with a mullet (a.k.a…big mistake). Anyway, the outcome of that clandestine kitchen meeting wasn’t just the usual “you take this kid here” and “I will get that one there” but on a whim we threw in a “hey, let’s go gluten, dairy and soy free and see if we survive”. We like to live dangerously that way. Other than the fact we seem to be starving most of the time, it’s actually going fairly well. The reasoning behind it was basically we have both been feeling physically yucky (had to dig deep into my extensive vocabulary for that descriptive adjective) for quite some time. And straight up, we are sick of feeling sick. So, why not try something different? A complete 180-degree difference. We are easy like that.
Eating counter-culture requires a bit of planning and a LOT of time. I was hoping this was because it was new for us but five months into it and the time thing is still a factor. It is tricky to figure out “on-the-go” foods for a family who is not only on-the-go but pretty much has already gone most of the time. We are feeling better though, slowly but surely, so we will keep working on it. I don’t really think lifestyle changes are meant to be quick and easy–undoing years of anything is more of a process consisting of forward and back again progress. What’s my point? I think I have to ask that in every post I write just so you don’t get nervous and assume I have totally forgotten where I started or where I am heading. I can always get back to it, I just prefer to take the long way around.
I found a really good cookbook I have been doing most of my cooking from. It’s Danielle Walker’s Against All Grain Meals Made Simple ( Against All Grain). LOOOOOVE it. Everything I have made from this book has tasted great (honest) and has been well received by my family. Maybe in another post I will let you know what I have made and critique the process but for now, I think it’s time to reveal the truth. The truth about my kitchen and about selflessness.
The truth is, I am a mess. I am trying a new way of life and some days it goes really well but a whole lot of days it doesn’t. One day I plan ahead. I make my list, I go to the three different grocery stores (where are you Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, curse you and your prejudices against small cities lacking adequate centrally located land for building a new facility, curse you), spend hours in my kitchen, cooking and cooking and cooking and twice that many hours cleaning up the resultant mess. The very next day I chuck a box of Frosted Flakes (narrowly missing someone’s head because I have really bad aim) in their general direction and call us even. I mean, look at all this effort I put forth for YOU today–that should give me a pass for at least the next three days shouldn’t it? I am tired, give me a pass. Where is my pass?
I am pretty sure as I venture down this path towards selflessness, the only way to find a pass is to turn around and head in exactly the opposite direction. In other words, I don’t think walking the walk along the selflessness path is going to yield too many passes. At some point, if selfless is who you want to be (or get as close to it as possible) when you finally arrive at your destination, maybe it’s time to quit looking for the pass and just do the dang work. And by YOU, I mean ME she shouted with rising panic and despair in her voice (not really, just being dramatic plus my kids are still in bed so, no way I am risking waking those sleeping giants on a vacation day).
Back in the day, when I was a charge nurse on a super-busy unit (aren’t they all?), I did quite a bit of delegating, you had to in order to get the work done. But my nurse manager was such a great example, she was a “delegating do-er” and I tried to follow that lead. She was telling you what to do at the same time she was pitching in and running her scrubs right off helping whoever needed it. Where is she now? I need to search Facebook for her and try to let her know she was a wonderful example to many of us–I’ll let you know if I find her. I have to be honest and say, you could spot the work-averse (hate to say the l-a-z-y word) nurse from a mile away–or at least from the end of the hallway to the nurse’s station. There weren’t many but once in a while one would pop up. He/she was the one you delegated a task to and they would then expend more time and energy looking for someone else to do the job for them (most likely candidate was the nurse’s aide–I was one of those once too so I speak from experience) than if they just did it themselves. Now, before anyone thinks any differently of me, I totally get there are times when finding help is very necessary, when you just can’t get to all that needs to be done, when if you can’t find that aide–the task is going to set you back way longer than you can allow, when someone else needs something of a higher priority–it’s all there and I get it. I lived it.
Just as I am living this whole wife and mom thing–not to mention daughter, sister, friend, cousin, niece, aunt thingy as well. And maybe, just maybe, I am on to something with this whole example deal. When you really think about it, any time you are doing something that affects others (uhm…I think that would be always), you are setting an example–good or not-so-good. I have had many, many really good–great in fact–examples given to me: my grandmother, my parents, my in-laws, my husband, my dearest friend of thirty plus years. JUST to name a few so don’t get all riled up thinking I don’t see what a great example of selflessness, of working hard, of giving it your best you are–I see you. I appreciate you. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I really do. Bottom line, I think it means I am not and don’t have to walk this selflessness path alone. I can take all those great examples right along with me for inspiration and motivation. Much less lonely that way.
My parents gave me some great advice along the way and some not so good stuff too–although that was mostly from my dad and went something along the lines of “go play in the street but wait for some traffic”. Nice. The greatest advice though I took from them really boiled down to “a job worth doing is worth doing right…the first time” and here’s the thing–they LIVED it (and still do). They don’t just do it right, they give their best effort as well. There was no doing it half-way, doing just enough, or taking a pass for them and while that might have driven me a little batty as a kid, I fully appreciate the example now.
So…here is what I want you to see when you think of me…
This is my kitchen. I love it here, their are views from all three sides. I can stand at the sink washing dishes (not at the time these were taken because it was VERY late and thus…dark) looking out in every direction except behind me which makes sense considering I am not an owl and cannot turn my head 360 degrees. Technically, neither can owls. Only 270 degrees but apparently, it’s in both directions so I guess I will give the 360-thing to them. Anyway, I love the views. In the spring when all the trees have budded, it feels like I am living in a tree house designed by Treehouse Masters from the Discovery Channel. But here, it was night–no views and I was still in a state of bliss because it was all so clean. Ahhhhh. Perfect. This is the kitchen I want you to see. And this is what my kitchen looks like exactly three percent of the time.
Here is what it looked liked three hours before the above photos and what it looks like after spending ALL day cooking these new recipes and what it looks like a WHOLE lot of days…
A mess on every inch of counter space. A mess ninety-seven percent of the time.
A mess, but real. Or a real mess. However you want to say it. What it really is I guess, is it’s just me. Messy ninety-seven percent of the time. I have had my head in the clouds for a while but something recently pulled me back and I can now see the counter for the dishes. I don’t think that sentence really works but decided to try it anyway as I don’t really get the whole forest for the trees saying. Sometimes I use cliches and phrases I am not too certain of and silently hope no one on the other end is thinking “what in the world is she talking about?” So, to lay it all out–this post isn’t officially about our gluten-dairy-soy free lifestyle change (I refuse to call it a diet) and it’s not really about my kitchen either although I would say it was a spot-on analogy of my selflessness journey. Clean kitchen = the me I want people to think I am. Mess of kitchen = the me I really am. I guess if I am having to explain the analogy again, maybe it wasn’t spot on…just sayin’.
The real reason you haven’t been hearing much about the actual breaking of the selfish part of me is I am not really doing it. Maybe I am afraid I am going to hurt myself? Or maybe-gasp-I have been so busy looking in every nook and cranny for the aide to get Mr. So-and-So out of bed for a walk, I completely missed the fact I could do it myself. Way to tie in the whole nursing thing Kelly. I know right? I am not who I want to be and to get there is going to take hard work and maybe some time with a bedpan or two (second nursing reference-wow). I had and HAVE great, great examples of what it means to not only work hard but of what selfless looks like. I would really like to get to the place where I can share some of my progress or maybe that’s not really what this is supposed to be about–I don’t know. We’ll see how it feels when we get there.
I had a moment yesterday when this all came crashing in on me. I was overwhelmed by the feeling that I want my kids to turn out a certain way but I am not modeling that for them. I am thankful it went down the way it did even though I was crying in the middle of my favorite coffee shop (see previous post somethin’ or other about some music). And I am thankful to my dear sweet friend who listened, understood and didn’t try to make it better for me in an inauthentic way. She just made it better for me because she loves me. It’s so great to have people like that in your life. Who trust your gut in this and offer you support but not excuses–who love you even when you are choosing to show them the mess on your countertops instead of the magazine-ready version of you.
There you go…confessions and a clean kitchen (three percent of the time). Thanks for sticking with it. I will leave you with a song as I am prone to do. I did google to see if the wedding crashing was legit and apparently it was–it is so fun to see how everyone responded and can I just say–not with every single resource known to man could I have looked even half as good as those brides on my wedding day–wow! So much fun. Warning–one swear word–I think–but my hearing is not so great anymore maybe because I listen to Maroon 5 way too loud so there may be more. And on that note, crank it up!
Sugar by Maroon 5 (courtesy of youTube)
Have a wonderful week and know that whatever you are trying to do that means anything–lead a more selfless life, center yourself on gratitude, believe You Are Enough, make a lifestyle change–it won’t always be easy. It WILL take hard work and perseverance but there are examples of success all around you to follow. Look for them. Research them. Thank them. Get to know them. You don’t have to go it alone. And, please let me know if I can help in anyway. With love, Kelly
p.s. Thank you mom and dad (not for the instructions on how to get the most out of my playtime but for the other stuff).