What Are Ten Wonderful Things About You? Gratitude Wants To Know.

Happy Monday fraands, hope everyone’s weekend was good, decent, and uneventful in the best way. This moring’s blog is going to be quick because I forgot to write it last night and I’ve got twenty minutes before I really need to get ready for work. This might be my best blog yet because I won’t (can’t) allow myself to overthink each sentence and thought.

It isn’t always easy to remember our strengths or the good things about ourselves. Personally, I find it a helluva lot easier to call out my negatives than praise myself when this question is asked: What do you love about yourself?

When asked my hands usually go dry, heart palpitations increase and my brain literally freezes. The world goes in slow motion and I begin to stutter. My mind repeating one phrase, “what do I like about myself? What do I like about myself? What do I like about myself?”

Nothing ever comes to mind.

But this morning my gratitude journal asked me to name 10 wonderful things about myself and something about using the word wonderful helped me consider what I do think is wonderful about myself.

The word love is confusing for me so it throws off my way of understanding the question. So for the first time ever, I tried to consider 10 whole things I thought was wonderful about myself.

We each have personality traits that are really awesome, so I challenge you to answer the same question. I’ll share mine but I double-dog dare you to share your own answers in the comments.

Let’s do this together!

Ten wonderful things about me:

  1. My laugh is loudly sincere and wholeheartedly expressive of the joy I’m feeling in the moment.
  2. I’m a seeker of knowledge. I want to truly understand the why, meaning and perspective of any and all given situations, a.k.a staying curious.
  3. My want to be the change I wish to see in the world, nothing excites me more than giving back and helping make this world a better place.
  4. I love to cook and trying new recipes. A gift passed down to me from my Pops.
  5. Despite being armored up on the outside, any kind of unnecessary suffering truly bothers me.
  6. I am brave.
  7. I’m creative.
  8. Book smart and street smart.
  9. Incredibly strong, especially in the face of adversity.
  10. Fearlessly authentic.

This did me more good than I thought it would. It felt ridiculous and absurd when I spent (what I felt) too much time contemplating my wonderful parts, and then physically having to write them down.

There’s something solidifying to writing them down. I actually believe what I wrote, so I encourage you to write yours down and share them with me in the comments. This might be the best way to start off your Monday.

Don’t worry, it’ll feel silly at first, but I promise you it’s more rewarding than not.

Now to keep up with my promise to practice gratitude to fight my tendency to forbode joy: Currently feeling gratitude for my spin class tonight. It’s going to kick my ass back into taking care of myself. 

Cultivate it.

I play better on Instagram than Facebook but regardless, be my friend online. RamblinRandol is my quest for true belonging. 

What Do You Want & What Do You Need

Have you ever asked yourself what do you want people to know about you and what do you need from them? I’ve never asked myself outright but my friend Brené Brown asked me in Chapter Six: Disruptive Engagement. So here we go, friends…

Q: What do you want people to know about you? 

A1: I want people to know that respect is extremely important to me and that I firmly believe its something earned and not given. And because it’s so important to me, I strive to show the same respect I’m given. Respect is a two-way street, like I said, it’s earned not given.

To answer Aretha Franklin’s burning “R-E-S-P-E-C-T find out what it means to me” question, to me respect means you care enough about me that you’re not going to disrespect my boundaries after I took the time to voice them to you.

Respect means a lot to me personally and professionally. If I don’t respect you it’s incredibly difficult to deal with or connecting with you.

It’s also why I give Momma’s out there a shit ton of credit because I don’t know how you all do it with as much ‘free advice’ that’s given or blatant disregard for your wishes when it comes to your kid(s). My least favorite statement from folks is, “ya know what you should be doing” or “what you ‘outta do is..”

It’s not that I think I know everything or that I can’t learn from my elders, but ninety percent of the time it’s coming from someone who is speaking to me as if I’m the child and they’re the parents, which leads me to my next point…

A2: Do not speak to me like I am less than or as if I’m a child. My second least favorite activity is when people try to speak to me like a child because let me tell you, I haven’t been a child for a long time and I could probably argue I never got to be a child.

The person who has been taking care of me the longest is myself. I’ve had a lot of life for the short amount of time I’ve been around, so show me some respect and speak to me as an equal, not a youngin’ who doesn’t know her ass from her anus.

I’m smart, strong, and enough.

Q: What do you need from people?

A1: I need to be heard. There is nothing more frustrating to me than not being heard, and I mean actually heard. Not what you think I meant, what you were saying to yourself while I was talking, or what you think is better for me.

When I take the time out to communicate, I need you to actually listen and understand my perspective.

“When people talk, completley listen.” — Ernest Hemingway

Here’s a handy-dandy listening flowchart if you’re confused what I mean by listening wholeheartedly. Thanks, Hubspot! 

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So how’d ya do on the flowchart?

If I am heard, then I feel respected.

Now, ask yourself (and possibly leave it in the comment section below. Sharing is caring!), what do you want people to know about you and what do you need from those people?

Now to keep up with my promise to practice gratitude to fight my tendency to forbode joy: Currently feeling grateful for the time I had with my Husband this weekend. We saw A Quiet Place on Friday, Saturday he took me out for Date Night and Sunday we did a few air museum tours and cuddled on the couch. What are you grateful for today?

Cultivate it.

I play better on Instagram than Facebook but regardless, come be my friend online. RamblinRandol is my personal journey about understanding myself more with the hopes it’ll help someone else in the twenty-something/pushing thirty struggles.

Starved for Joy and Hungry for Gratitude

If you starve yourself of joy, the best way to combat this tendency is to practice gratitude. Here’s what I learned in chapter 4: The Vulnerability Armor of Daring Greatly.

In a culture of deep scarcity–of never feeling safe, certain, and sure enough–joy can feel like a setup. Everyone in the family is healthy. No major crises are happening. The house is still standing. i’m working out and feeling good, Oh, shit. This is bad, disaster is right around the corner. 

Hold the phone. Other people do this, too? You mean my secret (subconscious?) way of dealing with the too good vibes isn’t an original plan? You’re telling me this is one of the three ways people evade vulnerability and I fit into one of those damn boxes!?

To be honest, I don’t know if I’m more annoyed that a STRANGER is calling my shit out or that I’m becoming an annoying Brene Brown Superfan. Ooh! Or that I’m not as original or skilled at dodging emotions as I thought an hour ago.

So here are the three types of ways people shield vulnerability.

  1. Foreboding Joy – never allowing yourself to feel joyful because you’re waiting for the other shoe to drop.
  2. Perfectionism – the belief that if you look and act perfectly it will help you avoid pain and /or shame.
  3. Numbing – dulling our emotions, personal feelings, and being a busy-holic to avoid what’s at the root of your own personal problems.

Apparently, I’m not the only one who has figured out how to shield vulnerability by foreboding joy.  Except I didn’t know that’s what I was doing until page 119 in Daring Greatly. #smdh

Do you do this, too? The second you feel too happy, too joyful, or too good, you immediately stop, drop, and let your imagination run to all the worst possible scenarios that could jeopardize the joy your feeling moments before your head takes over?

You can’t see me, but I’m raising my hand in solidarity (actually I’m raising both damn hands) because I’m so suspect of good vibes I believe I’m actually un-jinxing it by worrying about all the potential bad.

Never do I ever want to be unprepared for ‘what’s the worst that could happen?” Hands down my number one fear. Well, it’s tied for first apparently. Vulnerability is trying to take the trophy.

What makes you feel vulnerable? Give yourself a second to think about it…then scroll to hear mine.

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Photo by Sven Scheuermeier

Love makes me feel vulnerable. I don’t want to love anyone or anyone to love me, that way if something bad happens (divorce, death) it’s easier to recover.

Being pregnant. You’re not out running danger or anyone trying to harm you while 8-months preggers. And it’s quite obvious you’re vulnerable, no hiding it.

Too many good occurrences happening all at once or systematically. Shit like that doesn’t happen to me, the shoe always drops so don’t enjoy it for too long because when it does hit the fan, it’ll be harder to recover.

I used to think the best way to go through life was to expect the worst. That way, if it happened, you were prepared, and if it didn’t happen, you were pleasantly surprised. Then I was in a car accident and my wife was killed. Needless to say, ecpecting the worst didn’t repare me at all. And worse, I still grieve for all those wonderful moments we shared, that I didn’t fully enjoy.

– A man in his early sixties, Daring Greatly pg. 120

I don’t want to starve myself of joy and according to my boo Brown, the best way to turn the tables on foreboding joy is by practicing gratitude.

When I first read the bolded title, I snorted. Like, I am grateful. I don’t live on the streets, in a third-world country or in Russia, so how the hell else am I’m going to be grateful?

Nope, missed the point.

This is how I interpreted it: Yes, there are others in worse situations than you, but you are ENOUGH and deserve to feel gratitude for your own life. She recommends keeping a gratitude journal and making an entry once a day. This way you practice appreciating all of life’s big and small moments.

There are only two days in my entire life that I can whole-heartily say nothing could touch me because I was on cloud nine and truly enjoying the joy. Those two days were my wedding day and when I graduated college.

I don’t want to die and only be able to actually feel only two days of joy out of my entire life. So as ridiculous as it sounds to me, I’m going to start a gratitude journal (better than a food journal, right?) and acknowledge gratitude at the end of each blog.

Keep me accountable 😉

Currently feeling grateful for: the hot tub at my apartment. 
It's the only place the Hubs and I can communicate effectively 
with no distractions.

What are you grateful for today?

Cultivate it.

I play better on Instagram than Facebook but regardless, come be my friend online. 

Shame. What Is It Good For? Absolutely​ Nothing.

Do you have shame? Apparently, we all do according to Brene Brown. Here’s what I learned after reading Brown’s chapter about shame and how to combat those nasty gremlins talkin’ nonsense inside your head. Sharing in case it helps one of you, too. 

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Do I have shame? “Well, I don’t know,” was my first thought after reading the question. On the surface level, I’m not ashamed of who I am, how I got here or where I want to go. There’s a chip on my shoulder I’m a bit proud of and have a deep inner strength that propels me to keep pushing forward–no matter what. All characteristics I’m proud to own.

Shannon in a nutshell; moved out at a young age and paid all her own bills without EVER having to ask for help, got herself through college and graduated with a Bachelor’s despite having to take a year and a half off to deal with the joys of being a Navy wife. It took longer than everyone else, but I paid my way through junior college and figured out how to manage University with loans, internships and a solid year with no day off to get me in the position I am now.

Point blank, nobody thought I could do it and nobody paid my damn rent or filled my refrigerator with groceries, or gave me daily pep talks to counter-act all the other shit that life was flinging at me in those years.

I did it, and then me and my man did it, together. And I’m proud of those years, proud to say we did it alone. The flame that burned deep in the pit of my gut kept me pushing, climbing and propelling myself to the finish line, is what I’m truly proud of about myself because not everyone gets the guts and glory.

But wait, one simple question breaks all that internal strength and leaves me fumbling for words. So, where’s your family? Boom. Instant shame. Well, instant shame mixed with anger, let me explain.

When people find out I’m not from around here (or wherever I’m living at the time) they immediately want to know how I got to the patch of grass we’re now sharing, which is great because I’ve gotten extremely good at giving the watered down ‘me in a nutshell’ version to people.

I’ll get to the end and without fail, the first question is, “so, where’s your family.” Cue anger. “Wtf do they have anything to do with this conversation,” is what I want to say, instead it’s, “oh, we’re spread out. Some live back in New York while others have planted in Florida.”

People are curious, I get it. But can I just control the conversation and only talk about what I want to talk about? Of course not, and this is where I begin to understand shame.

My family couldn’t pay for my college tuition, or give me the movie ‘going away to college’ experience. No dorms. No sororities. No college keggers. I had to pick (what I say in my mind) lower end schools because I couldn’t afford the fancy four-year state universities my friends got to attend. I had to work, pay bills AND try to finish school.

That’s shame.

It sounds silly to write down, but it’s true. The shame gremlins (what Brown calls the nasty voices in our heads) tell me I’m not smart or good enough because I didn’t go to a state university with a competitive football team, which leads to the circumstance of my parents not being able to provide that luxury.

On one hand I’m proud to have hoofed it myself, but on the other hand, I’m ashamed of why I had to hoof it. The reason I’m proud of myself for making it through is the same reason I’m ashamed, strange right?

I don’t want to be labeled, ‘less than’ because of circumstances out of my control i.e. finances. So when somebody asks me about my family after learning of my life’s journey, I assume it’s because they want to know where the hell my family has been through all of this and I instantly feel shame, not because I’m ashamed of them but because the person doing the asking is probably judging them for ‘not being around,’ and that makes me angry, too.

Brown says, “shame is universal and one of the most primitive human emotions we experience. The people who don’t have it lack the capacity for empathy and human connection. Here’s your choice: Fess up to experiencing shame or admit that you’re a sociopath. Quick note: This is the only time that shame seems like a good option.” 

Okay, Okay, I admit it, I have shame.

According to her definition, shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging, and that there are 12 shame categories that’ve emerged from her research.

  1. Appearance and body image
  2. Money and work
  3. Motherhood/fatherhood
  4. Family
  5. Parenting
  6. Mental and physical health
  7. Addiction
  8. Sex
  9. Aging
  10. religion
  11. Surviving trauma
  12. Being stereotyped or labeled

Sidebar: There’s a difference between shame and humiliation (yup, apparently they’re not the same thing even though they sound pretty mutually exclusive). Shame is thinking “I am bad” while humiliation or guilt is “I did something bad.”

Shame holds us back and keeps us from being our best self. My best guess is that because I think less of myself I limit myself to opportunities that seem “too grandiose,” and possibly in other ways I can’t even see because I’m still operating out of shame, fear, AND guilt. WOOF.

How do you combat shame? Talk about it. Give it a name. The more you talk about it the less control it has over your life.

Cheers to hoping that Texan Brene Brown is right, because my damn gremlins are telling me this whole post was a waste of time and it’s not helping anyone, and that I just want to bable about myself…

Cultivate it.

I play better on Instagram than Facebook but regardless, come be my friend online. 

10 Ways to Dare Greatly According to Brene Brown – How Many Are You Doing?

Hey, it’s Monday and my eyes and nose are so swollen I have to keep my eyebrows raised in order to see through my eyelids. No really. I tried this new face cream by Loreal and it blew my face up like a balloon. It has collagen in it and I don’t think you’re supposed to carelessly rub it all over your face, which I did because patience is not my strong suit.

Anyways, I hope everyone reading is having a good start to their week and if you’re not…at least you don’t look like this….

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Last night I started reading my first (and I’m assuming the first of many) Brene Brown book titled Daring Greatly and within the first damn page had me pegged. The fact she nailed down one of my biggest flaws regarding relationships almost sent me slamming the book shut out of pure stubbornness and refusal to believe some random stranger could know me. As if!

The line that got me was this, “keep people at a safe distance and always have an exit strategy,” and the first thing I thought was, “No! Other people do this, too? This isn’t a problem!”

For as long as I can remember, having an exit strategy has always been super important to my own mental survival and not just when it relates to relationships or connecting with others.

Whenever I’m surrounded by large crowds (parades, movie theaters, restaurants) I make sure to note where the exits are in case of an emergency. Even when I get stopped waiting for a train to pass, I leave a car length spot in front of me just in case I have to be able to maneuver out of the line of cars to safety.

Being trapped and not being able to get out is my number one fear. It’s what my nightmares depict, so it only makes sense I keep people at a safe distance paired with an equally safe (for me) exit strategy.

What’s equally as interesting is that for the past two decades I have spent a good chunk of time getting myself out of sticky, tricky, and sometimes life-threatening situations. So how come I still fear it? Do I lack self-confidence in myself or am I paranoid?

I struggle with self-confidence but not in this aspect of the word, protecting myself and staying safe has consistently been my strong suit and it’s possible I’m too good at it. So much so that I know I don’t technically need anyone to help me make big decisions or guide me through life. I’ve proved it true numerous times, so it reinforces the thought “relationships are a burden.”

This safe distance blockade I’ve built was invisible to me up until a year ago. I didn’t even know I was doing it, or aware/curious that this might be why I struggle with every relationship I’ve ever tried to have, and recently realized my technique for protection didn’t avoid my marriage.

It sucks to have to write this sentence, but it’s true. I feel like we all know marriages these days don’t last, and while I love my husband like no other and would kill for him if need be, I still have an exit strategy just in case it doesn’t work out between us in the end, because I don’t want to be unprepared for the worst and depending on someone else to get me through.

The thought of asking for help is still widely unpopular with me. I’d rather have a couple root-canals and do leg day every day of the week than ask for help.

In short, reading this book is going to be interesting. There’s a part of me who’s really excited to see where this journey of self-discovery is going to lead, with a high hope me sharing will help someone else reading.

But I’m also afraid I might recognize a few traits I’ll need to alter that will be easier said than done.

Brene Brown also gives a list of guidelines to wholehearted living that I want you to ponder, as I’ve been mentally digesting it for 24-hours now and is also what Daring Greatly helps get its readers to do.

  1. Cultivating Authenticity: Letting Go of What People Think
  2. Cultivating Self-Compassion: Letting Go of Perfectionism
  3. Cultivating a Resilient Spirit: Letting Go of Numbing and Powerlessness
  4. Cultivating Gratitude and Joy: Letting Go of Scarcity and Fear of the Dark
  5. Cultivating intuition and trusting faith: Letting Go of the Need for Certainty
  6. Cultivating Creativity: Letting Go of Comparison
  7. Cultivating Play and Rest: Letting go of Exhaustion As A Status Symbol and Productivity As Self-Worth
  8. Cultivating Calm and Stillness: Letting Go of Anxiety As a Lifestyle
  9. Cultivating Meaningful Work: Letting Go of Self-Doubt and ‘Supposed To”
  10. Cultivating Laughter, Song, and Dance: Letting Go of Being Cool and ‘Always in Control”

How many are you actively doing? I can only say two or three, possibly. I’ve never struggled with perfectionism and exhaustion as a lifestyle doesn’t seem like a thing I do, who knows, I might get to that chapter and choke on my own words.

So, to all my ladies out there still reading this long ass post—download Audible and create an account if you don’t have one because you get one FREE book as a thank you for signing up, so go read this damn book and join in on the convo with me.

Cultivate it.