Of course as luck would have it, James had brought home a cold on Friday and was running a fever by Sunday night. I managed to stave it off until after my lecture, but then the headache hit as I was driving back to Shelby. I woke up this morning to find a totally stuffed up nose and scratchy, froggy sounding voice.
So I can't record my voice over the videos I'd edited for this week. I'm hoping I will sound better and maybe post a new design tomorrow.
Instead, today I want to talk about a new book I've been reading and a wonderful new insight into my life that it has allowed. Yep, this is a personal post so if you'd rather stay out of my personal musings, feel free to stop reading here!
The book is called "What Your Childhood Memories Say About You - And What You Can Do About It" by Kevin Leman. Talk about a loaded title!
First I must say that I don't agree with about 50% of what the author says. He doesn't have as good a handle on birth order dynamics as he could, and certainly doesn't have any idea what he's talking about when it comes to dysfunctional or abusive families.
But that being said, there is some valuable information in this book that has helped me identify with myself a bit better.
For one thing, Leman identifies several different personalities from Drivers - people who jump out of bed in the morning ready to get things done, to Controllers - people who take that drive and use it to control and manipulate others.
He also listed two that really hit a button with me: Pleasers - people whose self worth is entirely dependent on pleasing everyone else, and Marytrs - people who please others at the total expense of themselves.
Reading through that section of the book, I suddenly knew exactly who I have been since around the age of 3 years old: a big, giant Pleaser with occasional forays into Martyrdom.
Yes, there are times that I'm a driver - working extremely hard to get things done, but usually the work is being done to please someone else, not myself.
My self worth while growing up was entirely dependent upon how happy I could make everyone else. Whether it was being the cute and funny baby of the family or simply making myself nonexistent by playing for hours behind a chair, I constantly sought peace and contentment by trying to make everyone else happy.
But peace in a dysfunctional, hostile family is impossible. Essentially I grew up banging my head into a wall of family dynamics I was entirely powerless to evenly slightly affect.
This was unfortunately the way I grew up, and I can't do anything to change the dynamics or my memories of the past. Now that I'm an adult, however, I do have a choice about how I live and what aspects of my personality I allow to dominate.
Unfortunately I've already set myself up for a bad pattern. While this project certainly started with a terrific goal and challenge for myself, as it has grown I've found myself slowly pulling away from my original desire to create 365 designs and into the realms of creating books and dvds.
Don't get me wrong - I really like creating products that help to support my family!
But what I don't like is feeling like I have to slaughter myself in order to do it. I don't really even remember what August or September looked like - I was simply too busy working endless hours on the computer to get the book and DVD completed.
It was soul sucking endless hours of constant stress, and after it was all done and finished, I swore I would never, ever martyr myself for another book or DVD again.
I also saw a bad tendency of doing the exact same thing with my big quilts. As soon as I start the quilting process, I start rushing, rushing, rushing through it to get it done. There's no stopping to smell the roses! I'm hell bent on finishing that project just as fast as I can.
So after finishing From Daisy to Paisley, I decided to put on the brakes on all projects - books, DVDs, and new big quilts - until I could figure out a healthy, positive way to do them.
Because I know for a fact that if I continue working this way, I will give myself a heart attack one day. Or cancer, or something equally bad. There HAS to be a way to work moderately!
For that last 2 months, I've just focused on the project and finishing up small UFOs and what happened? My horrible inner negative voice (INV) cranked up into full gear saying terrible things like:
- Why are you wasting time??? You've got to get on that next book. Everyone will HATE you if you don't get it written by Christmas!
- Aren't you pathetic - can't even design a new version of The Duchess. Why do you even call yourself a professional quilter? You obviously suck.
- So when are you going to start the next DVD huh? huh? What? You're too BUSY? What a joke, you could easily stay up for 3 more hours and finish that stupid project you're working on.
I was pretty discouraged when my mind started to do this because much of the INV had been worked through during Shadow Self. Why was it so active now, chewing on my lack of activity?
And I realized the reason last night - that I think by over-working myself on a new book or DVD, or rushing through a quilt, I will make everyone happy.
It really comes as no surprise. I made everyone in my original family happy when I was busy and occupied and essentially nonexistent, why shouldn't it work now?
But here's the thing - it doesn't make ME happy and I'm tired of trying to fool myself into thinking that with the next big quilt or the next big book, I'll finally have the magic bullet to happiness and contentment.
If you've been following along with the blog for awhile, you'll know that I pieced a quilt called Sinkhole in September, but that I decided to wait to quilt it until 2011.
I'm so very happy I decided to wait to quilt this quilt because if I hadn't I might be continuing that cycle of rushing through it. And if I had done that I might not have realized one incredible truth: that all of my feelings about worth and self esteem are a lie.
Allow me to explain: I have many memories from between the ages of 3 and 7 years old, which is when most personality is being formed. Almost all of those memories involve some form of shame: getting in trouble, being yelled at, or being shamed by another family member.
This collective shame has led me to believe that I am intrinsically wrong, bad, and ugly for most of my life. When I would look into the mirror, I would expect to see something horrible and disfigured, like a zombie, because that's how I felt on the inside.
But all those memories were lies.
I'm not saying that the memories didn't happen - they certainly did! What I'm saying is that the emotion I took from them was never true.
I was made to feel stupid and ugly, both of which are very obviously not true. While those memories and emotions still exist, I can look back on them now and see them for what they were.
The truth is perception is everything.
I could write "I got some nasty emails today." and some people might perceive that I got a mean email and some people might assume I received porn!
As a child, I took every memory and experience and added it as another notch in the totem pole of Leah Sucks.
Had I had any ability to see and judge experiences through another lens, I might have been able to see things differently: that slap wasn't because of something intrinsically wrong with ME, but something wrong with my parents, maybe they had a bad day, or maybe I was being annoying, but they didn't know a positive way to tell me to shut up.
Whether this level of rationalization works for you or not, the fact of the matter is, I've finally found a lasting, positive solution for a problem that has crippled my life for far too long.
I've been asking for a lot of opinions lately simply because I haven't been able to make up my mind about what to do next. Write another book? Quilt another quilt? Create the printer friendly PDFs?
So finally I've decided to not decide to do anything. I'm going to stop making huge statements like LEAH IS WRITING A NEW BOOK! because these statements usually serve as the green light to go kill myself until the book is done.
I'm going to take things day by day. If I feel like working on a book, I'll work on a book. If I feel like working on a quilt, I'll work on a quilt.
I'm going to continue the project, no doubt about that, but what I do beyond that is going to be left wide open for the time being.
I'm going to work towards a common goal to find balance in my life which has never been balanced. To learn how to work and be productive in moderation.
I might get less done, but really I don't think so. Just like seeing how I speed up when I slow down, with less stress and pressure new books and DVDs and quilts may still be made each year, but without the gut wrenching slaughter fest that usually accompanies them.
So what I'm I off to do with my slight fever and head cold? Take a nap and play some video games!
Let's go quilt,