The Return of Book Give-Aways

In honor of bringing the blog back, I wanted to do a book give-away this week.  Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live by Martha Beck is a book that I bought and read last summer and LOVED.   I’m sure someone will benefit greatly from reading this gem, so I’m going to pass it on.

If you are interested in owning this book comment on this post between now and Wednesday night at 9pm (Eastern Standard Time).  I will announce the winner Thursday morning.

By the way, this is a used copy but in really good condition.

Now comment away!


Black Sheep

My new friend Julian, mentioned me in his blog post last Thursday.  It was a post about honesty and after being bestowed the honor of the mention, I am supposed to write ten honest things about myself.  Well, I told Julian that I could not write ten in one post because I didn’t want to use up so much material in one day, but it did spark something in my mind.  I had an Aha moment if you will.  I finally admitted something to myself and have decided to admit it to all of you.

In Martha Beck’s book “Finding Your Own North Star” she talks about how we all have our “everybody.”  These are the people whose standards we measure all of our decisions and behaviors by.  At first I wasn’t sure if I had an “everybody” and who they were.  But as I’ve been blogging I find myself quite often thinking things such as: Everybody will just hate this.  Everybody’s going to think I’m crazy.  Everybody’s going to be so offended.  Everybody’s going to be shocked.  Everybody is going to think I’m selfish.  Everybody will most definitely be praying for me.  Everybody will just stop reading now.

It was only today, after reading Julian’s honesty post that I faced the truth of who my “everybody” is.  They are Mom, Dad, and my sisters. I’m 34 years old and have been states away from them for 11 years, but still at the end of the day, they are the only people whose opinions of me matter.  Which leads me to the title of the post.

I am the black sheep of the family.  Mom denies it (she thinks of it as having negative connotations), but it’s true.  I was reminded of it on my last visit when I was gently nudged to put on make up.  It was made clear at the bar-b-que, when the only thing my vegetarian diet allowed me to eat was the chips, cheese dip, and coleslaw.  I see it when I discuss politics or voice my social and religious beliefs.  I am aware of it when I admit I do believe in reincarnation and don’t believe in “the devil.”  I knew it in 9th grade when the first boy I ever truly fell for happened to be black.  I recognized it in college when I’d arrive home after a night of drinking.  I was reminded when I got my first tattoo, and by the time this posts will probably be reminded after my second.  When I kindly decline an invitation to go to the Baptist church, I feel it.  I am certain it is true when I am asked if I am “saved” and told that none of the good I do matters unless I am.

I’d say to a degree I grew up feeling like an outcast, even though I wasn’t one in school.  I always had a group of friends that I belonged with, I just didn’t always seem to fit in with the group that was most important to me.  These days, I’m sure they pray for me everyday.  I’m also pretty sure that they pray that one day I’ll come around and be someone different, someone more like them.  What I pray for is that they will take the time to get to know ME and find themselves loving me instead of wishing I’d change.

As a final thought, I am sure that everybody’s going to get their feelings hurt, but I’m also pretty sure they’ll be learning something they didn’t know before.  What I’ve put here is my perception of things.  It may not be an accurate depiction, but it is mine and I needed to put it out there.

My Shopping Problem

Those of you who don’t know me well are probably going to read the title of this post and assume that the problem is too much shopping.  That does seem to be a common problem, I know plenty of people that suffer from it, but I am not one of them.  I can’t stand to shop or spend more money than I have to.  And despite the economic crisis going on in the world, I am actually trying to encourage myself to let go of that attitude a little.  It’s not as easy as it sounds since I am married to a “saver” and we tend to enable each other, all the while talking ourselves out of experiences that would surely benefit us.

Once again, while reading Martha Beck’s book, I realized this “problem” of mine goes way back.  You see my father was always “tight” with his money and my mother loves nice things.  Obviously, that didn’t make a great combination.  When we did go shopping and get nice things, there was definitely a black cloud of “daddy won’t approve” hanging over us.  It haunted me to the degree that even as a child I remember feeling sick with guilt when my mother bought me clothes.  I loved them and gratefully accepted them, but always felt at least a little bit wrong about it.  As I got older and had my own money to spend, I always found ways to get the most out of it.  I’d ride around town scoping out the cheapest gas station, even if the difference was just 1 or 2 cents.  I ended up quitting my job at The Gap because I just refused to buy new clothes and the ones I wore weren’t current enough for my employer. (The only time my dad ever encouraged me to quit a job was when The Gap sent me home for wearing an out of season outfit.) It was in college when I discovered the art of finding new clothes on sale for $10 or less.  With inflation it’s gone up to $15 or less, but I swear I only buy clothes that cost more than that if I have a gift card or Mark talks me into it because it’s something very flattering.  In fact if you click on my “about” page and notice the dress I am wearing…got it on sale for $14.99 marked down from $36.

This summer my cheapness has been brought to my attention more than usual.  I’m sure part of it is that everyone’s worried about money these days and we are all feeding off of each other’s fears about it, but I am just getting very tired of overanalyzing how I should spend it.  I keep reading things that encourage you to pamper yourself from time to time.  But I just can’t seem to do this.  It is difficult enough for me to pamper myself with time to do activities I enjoy and to be with friends, when you add money into the equation I just am overwhelmed.  I think that what you are willing to give and do for yourself says a lot about what you think you’re worth is.  Maybe this is why I’d really like to be able to indulge myself without the guilt…to prove to myself that I’m really worth it.

Essential Self

This would be post number 2 in the “Finding Your Own North Star” series.  In the book Martha Beck describes two sides of ourselves: the essential self and the social self.  Your essential self is your guidance system (I would also refer to it as your higher self), the part of you that directs you to your path and just seems to know where you are meant to go.  The social self is the side of you that conforms to the “rules” that are put upon you by your family, school, church, peer group, and society in general.  The social self can definitely work in your favor, but it can also hold you back and keep you in fear.  It tends to enjoy the path of least resistance.

For the most part I agreed with Beck’s description of essential self.  She did however lose me for just a bit by listing off a few not so nice things the essential self might want to do.  I can’t remember her exact examples but she included things equal to slapping the tyrannical boss when they criticize you or rear-ending the guy in traffic who cuts you off.  I interpreted those type situations as very negative and I believe that our essential selves are essentially good.  So to give the author the benefit of the doubt I will imagine for a minute that your essential self does scream at you to slap your boss.  (Now remember it is highly unlikely that your social self will let you do this.)  If you follow through on this action maybe it will have positive results for both of you, maybe you discover an amount of courage you never knew you had and maybe your boss learns that he/she cannot push people around.  In the end you are both better people because of it.

Last night I woke up at 2am thinking of more examples of the way our essential selves work.  Here are my two favorites.

Mark and I watched a PBS program about the TV show “60 Minutes” last night.  They interviewed a guy who now works for the program.  He was 12-years-old when he fell in love with “60 Minutes” and knew he wanted to work on the show one day.  He was probably in 7th grade when he had this revelation.  I’m sure his social self went on a rampage telling him he was not supposed to be crazy over a news show…he was supposed to be interested in girls (other than Leslie Stahl), sports, music, and action movies.  Obviously his essential self won in that argument and he is on the path that was meant for him.  He’s making his dreams come true and making news on the best show for interesting news stories.

Your essential self’s role in relationships is another interesting example.  Your essential self falls in love and wants to go dancing, stay up all night talking religion and politics, and spend days having wild sex.  Your social self says wait just a minute here…you don’t know how to dance, talking religion and politics is a no-no, and wild sex: NEVER!  Instead it decides you should take things slooowww, date, and get to know each other.  Your social self sees the other person as a means to living happily ever after, while your essential self realizes they’re purpose might be to simply show you how to happily live in that moment.  Your social self clings to relationships out of fear, while your essential self knows that if one foundation crumbles it is simply clearing the way for a new and stronger one to be built.

So I invite you to search your heart and figure out what your essential self wants you to do.  If it is something little like say taking a pole dancing class, go for it!  If it is something huge and life changing, ask for guidance on the right steps to get you there (I guarantee if you are open it will happen when the time is right).


While on vacation I read the book “Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live” by Martha Beck.  I randomly picked this book off the $5 shelf at my church bookstore and took it with me on the trip because I knew it would be easy to tote to and from the beach and wasn’t worried if it got sandy or wet.   This book turned out to be a gem!  It has made me think so much and has given me a lot of ideas for blog posts (that I may or may not remember to write).

There was a chapter in the book about emotional wounds.  In the chapter, there was a quiz with about 8 questions with 1 point and 2 point answers.  At the end of the quiz you were supposed to add up your 2 point answers and if you had more than 3 of them, you probably have some emotional wounds that you have buried deep down.  I almost didn’t take the quiz, thinking about people I know who’ve got real wounds…wounds that run deep and hurt in a way I can’t understand, but I decided to take it and surprisingly ended up with about 5 of those 2 point answers.  I started thinking about what it is I could possibly be sitting on.  I came up with 2 situations immediately, both of which happened during junior high school.  One I will definitely blog about another day and the other will probably go unmentioned.  I was also able to associate one of my “issues” with some childhood stuff.  But beyond those, I was unable to think of a real emotional wound….until today.

Today was Bella’s first day of school.  My friend and I walked to the elementary school with our little ones in strollers to pick up the big girls.  When we got back to our homes, my friend’s daughter and the little girl who lives behind us came inside to play.  I checked my email and started cleaning the kitchen and all the while I felt this amazing peace wash over me.  I can’t even really describe how good I felt, it was close to being wrapped up in a warm towel just out of the dryer.  All I could think was how grateful I was to be home with my girls and how I always want to be here for them when they come home from school.  I signed on to Facebook and wrote that I was feeling “wonderfully nostalgic.”  And that’s when it hit me…this had nothing to do with my work status and everything to do with one of my emotional wounds.

You see my mother stayed home with me until I was in 2nd grade.  I was completely addicted to having her around.  She was my world…everything!  But when I was 7 years old she went back to work.  During her first year of work I got off the school bus and stayed at the neighbor’s house.  They were and still are lovely people, but they didn’t fill my mommy’s shoes and what I was allowed to do while in their care wasn’t nearly as much fun as having my friends come over and play or biking through the neighborhood.  During my 3rd grade year, I became a latchkey kid (things are definitely different now-a-days) and I turned into a cookie-eating-couch-potato every afternoon as I waited for my sister to arrive home from junior high school.

So I realized today that the nostalgia I felt was for the days before 2nd grade, when I got off the school bus and found my mother home waiting for me.  I was reliving those moments from the other side and watching my daughters play with their friends in the same way I had so long ago.  At dinner I told Mark that I’d discovered one of my wounds.  I explained everything to him and he replied that I’d felt abandoned.  He was exactly right…

So who knows, maybe today is the day I start letting go of my abandonment issues.  And I also want to say for the record that I would not have wanted it to be any different!!  My mother was able to do so much for me (like pay for my college education) because she went back to work!!! There are all kinds of things that cause people’s emotional wounds.  It could be something huge like abuse or neglect, or a little something like losing your favorite teddy bear.  Just because this stuck with me doesn’t mean it would stick with someone else.  This is an issue that I was meant to work through in my life! (So if I haven’t made it clear enough, please don’t misinterpret this as a stay-at-home-mom versus working mom post.  I am totally supportive of both, I promise!!)