New Castle News

Lisa Madras

April 21, 2014

Lisa Madras: Want to feel more welcome? Just say ‘thank you’

NEW CASTLE — When was the last time you said, "thank you" to yourself?

I've been a busy, busy girl lately.  And by lately, I mean about the past several years or so.  I'm not whining when I tell you about all the things I've overcome and all the things I've had to handle on my own.  In fact, I'm rather proud of myself for it.  So maybe what I am doing is bragging — just a little bit.

It was a tough road.  It still is.  And we all cope with things in our own way.  My way of coping just happens to be throwing myself into new challenges.  Distraction goes a long way toward quieting the mind-monkeys, and in my estimation, it's a heck of a lot healthier than reaching for a bottle of Xanax or vodka.  It's definitely a lot healthier than dwelling on your problems, which is what I wasted way too many years doing.

So I picked a few new challenges, and I jumped.  Because it wasn't enough that I was single mom trying to do it all on my own.  My twisted logic brought me to the conclusion that I need MORE to do.  I don't know, maybe it was just that my normal, day-to-day tasks weren't enough to quiet the monkeys.  Or maybe it was because I could still hear that one sane voice (even over the maddening chatter and poo-flinging) that kept telling me not that I needed more to DO, but that I needed to BE more than I was.

Either way, it works for me, and that's what counts.  But again, it's not an easy road.  I mess up.  ALL the time.  I'm pulling a B in one of my classes, which doesn't sit well with me.  I miss workouts because I have days where there is JUST NOTHING LEFT.  I forget to turn in permission slips to my kids' school.  I make stupid errors at work because I don't listen closely enough or I'm thinking about something else.  I don't hear things my It's easy to get down on yourself when you fall short of your own expectations, especially when you've deliberately chosen to stretch yourself just a little too thin.  I don't beat myself up too often these days.  Not like I did in the past, anyway, and I'm sure that taking charge of my life has a lot to do with that.  But it did happen to me this week, and I wasn't a pleasant person to be around. 

It's days like those that the whining does kick in, and the monkeys keep me up at night with taunts like, "Face it, you're never going to be good enough," and "Why don't you just accept that you're a loser and take it easy?"  So add the lack of sleep to the mix, and trust me-- an unwitting act like coming between me and a chocolate chip cookie could end some unfortunate fool's life.  (Take my advice, people-- don't ever cut the line at the bakery.  You just don't know who you might be dealing with on any given day.)

But I digress.  The point is, it doesn't really matter what kind of lifestyle you lead.  You're going to disappoint other people, and worse, you're going to disappoint yourself.  But that's OK!  It happens to the best of us. There's no playbook in life that says you have be perfect all the time.  There's no rule 5, subsection C that outlines the ratio of victories to failures that constitutes a passing grade.  You don't wake up one morning, buy a skateboard, and sign up for the X Games.  Tony Hawk spent a lot of time getting road rash on his bum before they named a video game after him.

The spills and scrapes that we get along the way seem so obvious because, let's face it,  nobody points and claps when you pull a perfectly seasoned pot roast of the crock pot or manage to get the kids to bed with their teeth brushed AND their faces washed.  But they sure do notice when you type a 4 instead of a 5 when you're putting an order in the computer, or pour cat food instead of cereal into their breakfast bowl.  (Note to Child Protective Services: we have Meow Mix for breakfast NO MORE than once a week, I swear.)

I'm not trying to say we should all be peachy keen with making mistakes all the time.  I'm just saying that they're going to happen.  So how about, instead of beating yourself up when they do, try giving yourself a pat on the the back when they don't? You'll soon come to realize that for every one thing you manage to screw up, you've done about a billion other things just fine.

It would be nice if we all had our own personal team of cheerleaders to follow us around and give us a "rah rah, sis boom bah" every time we did something right.  But let's face it, that's not going to happen, and even if it did, we'd probably be stuffing pom-poms in their mouths by about the 15th, "Two, four, six, eight ... who do we APPRECIATE?!"

Just give yourself a little quiet acknowledgment, and take some time to tell yourself "thank you."  You're amazing, you deserve it, and nobody knows that better than you.  Go ahead, brag on yourself!


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