30 Days of Truth: A letter to yourself, tell yourself EVERYTHING you love about yourself

Dear Self,

How do I love you? Let me count all the ways. This is a difficult but important task, assigned to me in the past by a therapist, but I never completed it. I started writing things down and then felt funny about saying good things to myself. Since this question has come up again in my life, and I am working on keeping a mental list on this subject, perhaps it would be helpful for me to finally put some words together about it.

Self, I have never met anybody like you. You are unique. You’re not like most people for some reason, and sometimes you think this quality works against you, but I think all in all it works in your favor. I love that you are different and have reasons for being different and are learning to become comfortable in your own albeit different skin.

I love that you love learning. You study math just for fun when nobody makes you. You take guitar lessons so you can play along with the songs you like. You’re even learning how to solo and about music theory, and that’s not easy stuff.

I love that you reflect on yourself in an effort to understand yourself, your actions, and your effects on others around you. Sometimes you can come across as confrontational and opinionated, but deep down inside, I know you are looking for common ground and the opportunity to share information and debate and discuss ideas.

I love that you are a free thinker and don’t take what people tell you at face value. You question things, and you search for your own answers, even if you never find them. You’re ok with saying, “I don’t know, but I know where to look for that answer.”

You are kind and loving. You are friendly and can be funny. You can be authoritative and you aren’t afraid to speak in front of crowds. You aren’t afraid to video yourself playing guitar and singing even though you know your performance isn’t perfect. You express yourself and seek connections with others even if they are different than you are.

Don’t get me wrong self, I know you have experienced a lot of things in your lifetime, both positive and negative. You’ve had to bounce back several times from obstacles thrown your way. Even though you can get frustated and upset, you try to find the positives in the negatives, and you try to see problems as opportunities for growth. I love your resiliency. Your parents got divorced while you were a baby and your dad did not take a very active role in your upbringing, but you became a strong, self-sufficient woman anyway.

You edited and self-published your dad’s book for him after passed away.

You were a single mom for four years and handled it with grace. You worked hard on your master’s degree (earned a 4.0 GPA) and got yourself into a professional position as a teacher.

You tutor kids in math and pass on your enthusiasm for the subject and for education in general.

You inspire people.

You care about health and fitness and make healthy choices as much as possible day to day. You educate your kids about the benefits of good nutrition and exercise

You prioritize family, and you’ve built your life step by step with your husband. You are goal oriented and know how to take steps to reach your goals. You’re reliable. When you say you’re going to do something, you do it. You can be counted on when a friend needs support.

I love that you are both tough on your kids and loving with them at the same time. They know they have high expectations, but they also know they have your help in achieving them. You express love freely and love hugging. You think ahead for your kids and do what you can do today to get them to where they want to be in the future.

I love that you care about the Earth and all its inhabitants.  I love that you spent 95 days outdoors. I love that you put your life on the line to speak out for the environment. I love that you notice all the little things like pretty skies, sunsets, wildlife, and flowers around you. I love that you are interested in space.

I love that you are committed to working on different areas of yourself. You aim to be the best you can be and work on being a well-rounded person. Take this blog for example. Your mom read your diary and you got in trouble for it when you were a teenager. Ever since then, you’ve had writer’s block when it comes to writing about yourself. I’m proud of you for blogging, even if you don’t get to it every day, and no matter how many ‘likes’ it gets you on facebook.

I think the thing I love the most about you is that you get along with pretty much anybody. Keep being you self. There’s nobody better qualified!

Love,

Susanne

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30 Days of Truth: Day 29 Something You Hope to Change About Yourself and Why?

The Passage of Time

The Passage of Time (Photo credit: ToniVC)

I run late, and I would like to change that about myself because it makes other people irritated with me.  I don’t mean to run late, and I try to be on time.  But, frequently I either underestimate the time it takes to get ready or to get some place.

I understand the importance of being on time. I understand it makes a bad impression to be late.  Sometimes I just can’t help it.

At least I will fall on the sword and say sorry and admit this is probably my biggest fault.  I’m ok with identifying my strengths and weaknesses, and I do see running late as a weakness (mainly because it bothers other people).

30 Days of Truth: Day 28-What if You Were Pregnant? What Would You Do?

Oh boy, pregnancy?  At my age?  I’m turning 45 this year, so it would not be a positive thing at all if I got pregnant (especially because my husband has a vasectomy).  If I got pregnant right now, I’d be in a whole lot of trouble and would need professional help from a psychiatrist I think!  If I was younger (in my childbearing years) I would welcome a new baby into the world.  At my age, I don’t know what I would do.  Thank goodness I don’t really have to worry about it.

30 Days of Truth: Day 27-What’s the Best Thing Going for You Right Now?

My family is the best thing going for me right now.  I’m in a really great spot. My husband has a great job as a health care attorney, and he recently made partner. My twenty year old stepson is in the Army stationed in NY. My nineteen year old daughter is a sophomore at Texas Tech and involved in her sorority (ZTA).  My twelve year old daughter is doing well in her seventh grade classes and dancing eleven hours a week. And my eight year old son is also doing well at school in second grade and amazes me every day with his intelligence and insight.

I’ve achieved the perfect balance of being a person, a wife, a mother, and a professional.  The house is quiet during the day, and I use the time to workout, to learn guitar, to write, to learn math, and to do all the work associated with running a household including the finances.  Once the kids get home, I’m busy with them, and I also tutor math part time. I love that I can use my education and still be a full time mom.  I don’t have any of the stress that comes with being a classroom teacher. Instead, I get to experience the enjoyment and fulfillment of working one on one with students on math-a subject I am passionate about.

I feel very blessed to be in my position, and I’m grateful because my husband and I envisioned this life and built it step by step together.

30 Days of Truth: Day 26-Have You Ever Thought About Giving Up on Life? If so, when and why?

This one is easy because NO I have never thought about giving up on life. I love my life, and no matter how hard it gets, there is always a reason to live. Especially now that I have children, I can’t imagine being selfish enough to give up on my own life.

I’ve known friends who have committed suicide, and while they may have found peace, it’s so hard for the people they leave behind.

Life is a precious gift, and I intend to use mine to the fullest!

30 Days of Truth: Day 25-The Reason You Believe You’re Still Alive Today

Honestly I have no idea why I’m still alive today. It’s kind of a weird question.  It makes me think about the difference between determinism and free will.  If our lives are pre-determined, I supposed I’m still alive because I haven’t reached the end of my path yet.  If our lives and deaths are created by our free will, then I’m alive because I haven’t killed myself, and so far I’ve been successful in taking the necessary precautions to escape death.

I’m not really sure which theory is the actual truth, and I’m pretty sure nobody else knows either.  I tend not to believe in determinism, but who knows?  If it’s in my power, then I do what I can to avoid death by avoiding disease and unsafe situations.  If it’s not in my power, then I guess my efforts are futile, and whatever will be will be.

Every action we take creates a ripple effect that leads us down another path.  I read a book once that was all about this topic and whether or not it was possible to have parallel realities (each being different depending on the different choices we make and on the paths those choices lead us down).  It’s called One by Richard Bach.

I can only remember one time in my life when I actually thought I was going to die. It was when I hung from the Triboro Bridge in NYC for Greenpeace to protest ocean dumping of toxic sludge. I need to write a separate entry about my experiences while working for Greenpeace. But during that action, we were suspended from climbing ropes above the East River for about nine hours. The police shut down the bridge and there were police cars all over the bridge and police boats in the water. A special operations helicopter flew underneath us with its lights off, which easily could have killed us. That was scary. I also remember when the police at the top of my rope threatened to cut my rope and put frog men in the water to fish me out. I looked up and saw police alongside my support people, and I looked down and saw divers in suits with inflatable boats. I started doing the math in my head, falling close to 150 ft. with climbing rope all around me into “hell’s gate” of the East River. I wondered if I would die on impact or drown in the river coiled up in rope as the current sucked me down and spit me out downstream. The action coordinators on the ground handled things perfectly, communicating over radio that we were receiving live international news coverage, and if they cut our ropes they would be killing up to thirteen activists on live television. The police did the right thing, didn’t cut our ropes, instead they gave us each an extra safety rope! So, in that instance I owe my life to Dave Hollister who coordinated and managed the entire action and to Scott Stoodley who protected my ropes and anchors and dealt with the police. Thank you Dave and Scott! Here is a picture (I’m the climber farthest to the right):

In hindsight, there were other times I was very vulnerable and could have been killed, but wasn’t.  I lived outdoors in Colorado for a year and a half, and when I was in college I camped outdoors all the time.  Luckily, no crazy killers found me.

As an adult, I strive to take care of my health and stay fit to prevent disease. I firmly believe you are what you eat, and I have a weird relationship with foods because of all my allergies/intolerances.  I avoid wheat, corn, sugar, and eggs.  Although it’s difficult to eat so clean in our society, it’s worth it because I feel better and when I go to the doctor they tell me they never see numbers so healthy in my age group.  And then they ask me what’s my secret. And I tell them, I eat right and exercise. Duh!  It seems so simple, but it’s difficult to sustain on a day to day basis.

I believe I’m still alive because I take care of myself and make safe choices in my adult life.  I believe I’m still alive because I’ve gotten lucky in averting death in the past when there was an opportunity.  I hope to live to be one hundred years old, and I hope to have a long healthy live with my family! My kids sure need their mommy, so I’m thankful for having the most important job in the whole world.

30 Days of Truth: Make a playlist to someone, and explain why you chose all the songs. (Just post the titles and artists and letter

To my husband:

1.  Can I get a? by Jay-Z because it was popular when we started dating, and it was frequently playing at the club where we went dancing on the weekends.
2.  Love Like This by Faith Evans because it’s one of my original songs for my husband. I really never knew there was a love like this before.
3.  What’s Simple is True by Jewel because it was on the first mixed tape I made for him and it speaks volumes about how pure our love was and how I took a leap of faith to be with him when he wasn’t done with school yet or employed on a full-time basis.
4.  God Blessed the Broken Road by Rascal Flatts because it describes how I feel about my journey in finding the love of my life.
5.  Still the One by Shania Twain because after 13 years together he is still the one.
6.  Dreamlover by Mariah Carey because he is the one who made my dreams come true.
7.  Baby Boy by Sean Paul featuring Beyonce because it describes how I feel about him.
8.Forever by Chris Brown because I want to be with him forever.
9.  Heaven by Bryan Adams because once in your life you find someone..
10.  I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You by UB40 because we did kind of rush into things, but I couldn’t help it.
11. I Got You Babe by UB40 because I got him!
12.  Nothing Fails by Madonna because I’m not religious, but I feel such love, it makes me want to pray, pray that he will always be here.

30 Days of Truth: Day 23-Something You Wish You Had Done in Your Life

I wish I went to Korea with my dad and brother when they went. I wasn’t invited, and I didn’t find out they went until after my dad died in 1997.  I wish I could have gone for several reasons.  First, he had four brothers, and they had wives and children. That means although my Korean grandparents, father, and uncle are no longer with us, there are living relatives in Korea that I’ve never met.  I’m told they don’t speak English, and neither my brother nor my step-mom keep in touch with any of them.

I wish I could have gone to Korea while my father was still alive so I could have met his family in person, see their culture, and see and hear about his experiences there first hand.  He wrote a manuscript about his experiences in South Korea during the Korean war.  He went to college in Seoul and struggled to stay alive in South Korea during the Korean war.

Here is a link to his book on amazon.com  http://www.amazon.com/Into-Vortex-War-Interpreters-Encounter/dp/1434322610/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1253797943&sr=1-1

I  never met my Korean grandparents, but I heard they both lived to be over one hundred years old.  Both of those things (going to Korea and living to be one hundred) are on my bucket list.  Thankfully, genetics are on my side.

Isn’t it freaky how much I look like my Korean grandmother in these pictures?

I do love my life and am thankful for exactly where I am in my life, so I don’t really regret anything from the past.  It’s hard to say what would have been different now if I had done anything differently.  But for the sake of the exercise, if I could go back and do everything again, I would have somehow invited myself to join them on a trip to Korea to get in touch with my heritage.

30 Days of Truth: Day 22-What is something you wish you hadn’t done in your life?

I moved to Texas in 2006.  A year later, my daughter’s soccer coach, a very likeable friend, talked me into playing with her on a women’s over 40 league.  Despite my husband’s warnings, I played one season in the fall of 2007.  Now, I wish I never did that.

I started playing soccer in fourth grade and continued through my freshman year in college when I played center halfback for Hollins College.  In 1989, I started rock climbing and spent my twenties adventuring outdoors.  I never hurt myself playing soccer back in the day, but I do remember having sore feet and that the trainers used to tape my feet and ankles before games.  I thought I’d be able to play again and just be careful not to get hurt.

During one of the games, I rolled my right ankle running full speed, heard and felt a crack, and fell to the ground in pain.  I put on someone else’s ankle brace and tried to finish the game but couldn’t.  I limped around for a few weeks and then saw a doctor who put me in a brace and then a boot.  An MRI showed a partial tear, but it healed on its own after a few months.

BUT, that injury led to a cascade of other injuries that have changed my life completely.
*tore cartilege in my right knee December 2007 while in the walking boot for the torn ankle (had surgery to fix that)
*rolled my right ankle again in April 2009 doing high kicks with my then high school aged daughter who was trying out for varsity drill team
*two surgeries on the right ankle to fix the torn ATFL (all the way off the bone) and tendons in the back on both sides) in August and December 2009 (and in the December surgery, they also fixed my torn cartilege again in my right knee because it tore again from walking around in the walking boot).
*tore cartilege again in my right knee putting on shoes (had another surgery to fix that in September 2011).

The first and last time I tore my knee, it was the kind of tear where my leg was locked in the bent position until they could get me in for surgery.  I never had lower back pain until I hurt my ankle the first time playing that one season of adult soccer.  As soon as I hurt my ankle, it was a chain of events, one after the next, and now I have had two ankle surgeries and five knee surgeries on my right leg.  I still walk with a little limp and have a handicapped parking sticker because I can’t walk very far without pain.  I don’t do any more outdoor sports or ball sports. I don’t run anymore, and I don’t jump anymore.  I miss being more active, but I am still thankful I can get around and am in relatively good health.

But I sure wish I didn’t play that one season of soccer because I was able to do a whole lot more activities before I hurt myself.

left side

 

right side

30 Days of Truth: Day 20-Your Views on Drugs and Alcohol

My views on drugs and alcohol…I think they are things people use to make themselves feel different. They alter our moods, physiology, and psychology. People use them to escape stress and to celebrate happy times. People use them recreationally and the effects are as broad ranging as the products.

Alcohol:  I love my wine, chardonnay with heavy oak to be specific.  I no longer drink beer or liquor (except for the occasional tequila shot) because they are all distilled through grains, and I am intolerant of wheat and corn.  I also avoid sugar, so anything mixed with liquor is a no-no.  I will stick with wine thanks.  I associate drinking chardonnay with time with my girlfriends.  It’s so fun to hang out with a group of friends and unwind while the kids play and eat snacks.  I started a happy hour tradition in Virginia with some other mom-friends, and since we’ve moved to Texas, it’s morphed into neighborhood parties occasionally.

Medicinal use of drugs is one thing. People take prescriptions for various physical ailments and conditions. Medicinal marijuana is legal in some states and helps people cope with debilitating symptoms.   I don’t see anything wrong with medicinal use of drugs.  In fact, I keep a few pharmaceutical companies in business with all the prescriptions I take for chronic conditions.

Using hard drugs sucks.  Drugs like heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, and meth are addictive and deadly.  As a parent and educator, I would tell young people to stay away from them at all costs.   I’ll never forget the first funeral I took my teenage daughter to in 2007.  The big brother of one of her friends OD’d by accident during his senior year of high school.  It was heartbreaking to see him lying there in his coffin, knowing it was an awful mistake that could never be taken back.  His entire future was lost because of doing drugs.  Not worth it, in my humble opinion.