Posts tagged life lessons
I have a Secret
Quotes about Self Worth | Self Respect | Self Affirmations | Knowing your Value | Winston-Salem Photographer | Jasper & Fern | Boutique portraits | fern | Nature | inspirational quotes for women | www.jasperandfern.com

I have a secret. I'm a recovering people pleaser. Yup. I used to bend over backwards and even circle back around to make people happy. I would constantly sacrifice myself and sacrifice my family. I wanted to make everyone happy and have everyone to like me.

I ruined myself being a "people pleaser." I also damaged my relationships that mattered. The people who were repeatedly taking from me weren't my true friends and family. These people may have seemed like friends before I realized what was truly happening, the lack of balance of give and take in our relationship, and my true friends and family suffered.

I learned my lesson the hard way when I put my family in a tight spot. I realized what I was doing to them. That I wasn't nurturing our relationships as I should because I was draining myself into other people, people who didn't care if I ran dry. I realized that it wasn't okay to allow my family to be treated that way and, therefore, it wasn't okay for me to be treated that way either. So, I quit the trait.

It's quite an adjustment, stepping away and setting boundaries. I've struggled with the guilt of saying "no." I feel ashamed and selfish and can get down on myself. Then, I remind myself to look at the situation from someone else's perspective. If I substitute someone in my place and play out the same scenario and come to the same conclusion that "no" is an okay answer, I can tell my self-doubting-insecurities that I'm not wrong. If it truly turns out to be a selfish situation, I change my attitude and my answer.

I use this same tactic of building my self respect and self value when it comes to people's approval of me. There are definitely people I desire to have approval from - family, friends and peers. That's just the people-pleaser nature in me. There have been times that I've questioned my value because someone else doesn't acknowledge it. I've let their "disapproval" swallow me and deter me.

My biggest realization? That's on me. It's my job to always do my best, no matter if it's noticed or acknowledged. It's my responsibility to know and build my worth. It's my responsibility to set boundaries, keep them and react properly when they are pushed.  Most importantly, it's my responsibility to harbor love in my heart, always, for others and myself.

So, you know that specific affirmation you're looking for from that one person or group? You don't need it. Would it be nice to have? Yes. Would you appreciate and treasure it? Of course. Would that affirmation make you any more valuable? NO. You are already valuable. If you're thinking about and seeking that affirmation it's because some part of you already knows and believes you deserve it. Don't rely on someone else to confirm your value. 

#embracingme

Uprooted

It was dark outside. The type of dark that hangs over you, not the peaceful dark that lulls you to sleep with a chorus of crickets. It was a darkness that seeped through the windows, a silence. I lay staring at the ceiling. My brain was white noise; my thoughts were there but I wasn't really participating with them. It had been a painful day.

When I was younger, if I wasn't at school or playing sports, I was traipsing around the woods until the sun went down, sometimes even after the sun was long gone. I'm pretty sure I spent most of my adolescence in the woods. The woods were my solace, my resting place. I would memorize the mushrooms along the paths I took and watch their lifespan from birth to completion. I knew where and when to find the family of deer that frequented the area I visited. I knew which patch of wheat held the most privacy to lay and watch their stalks sway and talk in the wind. I also knew which wheat patches to avoid when the geese began their nesting. I knew which trees were most comfortable to accompany me for my homework, or my favorite tree from whose limbs I could dangle my feet just over the surface of the rippling water and the one that had the most comfortable limbs for napping. I felt at peace in the woods; understood and safe even in the darkness of twilight. I knew which path I wanted to take based on the day, the weather and the sunlight. I memorized each turn, each step I needed to take to get where I was going or to go back home. I knew exactly where every divot, root and hole existed along my path and the trees were my guide.

As I lay staring at the ceiling, the darkness hovering, I placed my thoughts in the limbs of those trees. I replayed the sunset and worked on sending myself to sleep. *pop* *POP* Two deep bursts alerted my ears accompanied by a few slow, deep cracking noises. Then, *crack* .... and flurry of snapping and crackling that seemed to increase in pitch as smaller and smaller branches of the tree snapped in succession. Finally, amongst the highest pitch, a muffled thud as the tree met the earth. The silence broke.

I'd heard the sound of trees falling many times before, as both the homes I'd known were surrounded by woods. I'd walked past, climbed over and through the map of broken limbs of newly fallen trees on many occasions. Occasionally, a tree would fall across one of my usual paths. This was nothing new but I anticipated finding the tree that had fallen. When I came home from school the next day, I set out to do just that.

I began out on my typical route and then headed in the direction I believed to have heard the tree fall. As I walked, sweating from the hot summer day, I thought about how odd it was that a tree should fall with no wind. It must have been an old tree, relenting to it's age and rot, finally giving in. It didn't take me long to come across the tree. I stopped in my tracks.

There it was. My beautiful tree; it's deeply riveted bark splayed with splashes of colorful moss and beautifully textured lichen. It's strong thick trunk now lay across the ground, limbs crippled and shattered, fresh sap oozing from its wounds. The dampness of fresh dirt met my nostrils, so strong I could taste it in my mouth. My tree had been uprooted. It's roots mangled, snarled and broken as it had tried desperately to remain where it had been planted - a place that it's seed had once found as welcoming and nurturing now rejected it. I was angry and hurt. Out of all the trees, why did it have to be this one? I sat down amongst the broken limbs, fresh dirt and sap and cried. I felt like I'd lost a friend, like someone important to me had been ripped away without my permission and I could never change it; things would never go back to being the same. That day the forest and I shared a similarity that I did not yet understand. Our landscapes had both changed.

Fifteen years have passed and I haven't thought about that tree in a very long time. I've moved, gone to college, gotten married, started my own business and, in between the peaks, I've experienced loss, death, betrayal; I've experienced pain and I've caused it. I've been an active participant in this whole "life" experience. Then, today, almost out of the blue I thought about my tree. 

Last week I attended a class on "Native Ferns of North Carolina." I partially went because "Fern" is part of my business name and I was geeking about it but, I mainly went because I wanted to learn how to better care for my ferns and keep them healthy and luscious. I've been learning more about ferns, digging into their care, their growth, the different types of ferns, sporing patterns, personalities and this was a great opportunity to be a bit more hands on.

The speaker was a jovial woman who is passionate about plants and conservation. She made the rather scientific terminology sound appealing and relatable and, as she spoke, I kept having these moments of parallel. "Ferns are pioneers in disturbed habitats," she said. My brain went into max absorption mode as she continued, "fern seeds seek bare earth, such as where a tree has been uprooted." My mind flooded as she began to talk about how ferns are hearty and adaptive, that they hybridize in order to survive and can exist in a variety of habitats, from rainforests to deserts; that fern seeds need fungi and "gross" dirt to nourish their growth and can often be found growing amongst other decaying plants. There it was, plain as day, these fern patterns reflected in our human journeys. 

How often it is that we find ourselves uprooted, painfully removing portions of our life which no longer fit. Sometimes we realize what's bogging us down and impeding our growth and sometimes we don't. They can be habits, people, places, emotions, memories, experiences. Whether we decide to remove these hinderances or whether they are removed for us, once they are gone, the soil of our lives is ready for new growth. In our growth, we may make decisions that don't make sense to anyone but ourselves, like a tree falling without wind or age. We may walk away from people, friendships or jobs which will instigate people to view us differently. Most importantly, we will begin to view ourselves differently. Just like the roots and branches of my tree, this removal can be painful and disrupting but it's part of expanding and becoming the stronger, better versions of ourselves.

I skipped an important part of the story about my tree. You see, my relationship with that tree didn't end when I found it broken. I spent time with it as it decomposed, breaking down into the soil and giving room for life. I watched birds carry it's leaves and small twigs to make their nests. I watched mushrooms and fungus take root and thrive, weaving themselves through the deep rivets of the bark creating beautiful patterns and homes for little bugs and creatures. I even watched as a tiny forest of ferns made a home in the fresh, open earth where my tree's roots used to live. Until the day I uprooted and moved from that house, I watched the tree that had once supported me, held me safe as I slept, given me a new perspective to see beauty, and been my confidante transform from it's pain and become breathtakingly beautiful in a way I could never have seen if it hadn't have fallen first.

We have the strength to adapt to our situations and surroundings, to survive and fight to live. We can create growth in our landscapes - whether they are deserts or forests. We can take a dark, gross situation - all covered in fungi and death - and cultivate flourishing beauty. Whether we made the decision for removal or not, we have the opportunity to create new growth, sustain our surroundings and create something that is beautiful. This growth is painful but it will be peaceful as we begin to recognize our true potential - our most beautiful selves.

Taking a Breath

I literally started this blog by taking a massive, slow, deep breath in followed by a slow breath out to get my mind in the right place. You see, seeing that my last blog post was back on the 30th of May made me slightly stressed. With my deep breath in though, and even as the continue deep breathing as I write, it's so much easier to focus on all of the good things that have happened and all of the progress that has been made in that 16 day gap. 

So often we get wrapped up in all of the ways we failed or in everything we've done wrong. We minimize our progress and growth because we aren't exactly where we want to be in this moment. By doing that, by letting ourselves be overwhelmed, we are also giving up our joy and strength. 

No matter what you've failed with, no matter the mistakes you've made, your shortcomings or your missteps - you don't have to live in them. You've been given the opportunity of grace and redemption. Just as we have been extended grace, we can give ourselves grace on occasion now too! 

It's so encouraging to breathe deep and know that I am more than my mistakes and short comings - even if they are as big as mistreating someone or as small as not blogging as often as I "should." And, yes, just like "with great strength comes great responsibility" the fact that we have the opportunity for grace and redemption doesn't give us the reasons to just act however we choose. We should always carry the integrity of our lives. 

In those moments of overwhelm where you feel yourself sinking into despair, shame and regret stop yourself. Take a few deep breaths and remember the good. Let yourself smile and sink into grace.

It's Okay