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Un-human.

perfect

I am a recovering perfectionist.

I basically have a gold medal in perfectionism.

Not that I’ve ever came close to being perfect, but I had an internal program that told me I should be.

My quest for perfection didn’t make me perfect, but it did bring me a whole lot of misery.

I recognize that I am not alone in this. Perfectionism is rampant in our image-obsessed, achievement-driven society. I have nothing against self-improvement, but when we don’t deprogram ourselves from perfectionism, it doesn’t matter how many improvements we make. It will never be enough.

Because perfect is not only impossible, it’s un-human.

Not only does perfectionism make us miserable on the inside, it also it makes it hard to live life on the outside.

How satisfying is it to be a student when nothing below an A is acceptable?

How hard is it to enjoy a hobby when nothing less than a perfect outcome will do?

And how hard is it to be in relationships when we are unable to receive feedback without crumbling or getting defensive?

Perfectionism only brings us misery, discomfort, constant feelings of inadequacy or incompetence. However, while our culture, families, teachers, or coaches might instill in us the need to be perfect, it is within our power to let go of that need. We hold the key.

You are good enough.

Let good enough be the new perfect.

Perfectionism is just an endless quest for the worst parts of ourselves.

It’s the part that keeps telling us that nothing we do will ever be good enough and we need to keep trying and trying and trying without ever reaching what we believe will make us good enough.

Perfectionism keeps moving the goal further and further away.

In The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, Brené Brown says,

“Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be your best. Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgment, and shame. It’s a shield. It’s a twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from flight.”

Perfection is a moving target. It’s an illusion.

Perfection is weighing us down.

Free yourself from perfectionism.

You are good enough.

Hi, I’m Brandy and I’m a recovering perfectionist.

Good vibrations.

energy

Like energy attracts like energy.

It’s physics.

What are you attracting?

I’ve spent an upwards of thirty years combating compliments, feeding myself doubt, and allowing myself to attract unwanted circumstances.

Like energy attracts like energy.

My negativity.

My depression.

My anger.

That energy I possessed attracted like energy.

I attracted people who pulled me deeper under.

I flunked out of classes even though I had all of the potential in the universe.

I had no future.

My car would break down.

My bills would be past due.

My energy attracted like energy.

And I just spiraled from there.

What are you attracting?

What is your vibrational energy level?

Mine has heightened.

My energy attracts like energy.

I succeed in school.

My mind is clearer.

I attract good, trustworthy friends.

My bills are paid on time. With extra tucked away.

I have a future.

People who are happy have good lives.

The vibration of your thoughts help create your life.

What are you feeding yourself?

How are you fueling your energy?

Are you exercising? Are you doing things you love? Are you keeping your house clean? Are you drinking water? Are you grateful for life?

Or are you angry? Depressed? Talking ugly to yourself?

Take care of yourself.

Put out good energy into the world.

Like energy attracts like energy.

It’s physics.

What are you attracting?

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Shame on me.

brandy

I grew up in a rickety house on Jackson Store Rd. in the middle of no where.

I didn’t come from money.

There were days I can remember eating a mayonnaise sandwich for dinner and longing to get to school the next day for breakfast.

The constant fear I lived in was sometimes overshadowed by my MaMa’s sweet tea or my Mom’s frozen grin as I sung on stage during a beauty pageant.

I used to hide in my closet in the dark until the shouting would stop.

Well into my adulthood, these memories sometimes flood me like a tidal wave.

I find myself thinking of the way things used to be and then the next thing I know I’m bobbing along a turbulent sea. Struggling to keep my head up above the water. Stopping myself from blurting out some narrative about a pageant interview where I talked about the dogs I used to have and how they were punished when they wouldn’t stop barking or if they got out of their cages. Stopping myself from telling people the cringeworthy shit of my childhood. The dark, black, nasty stories that no one wants to hear. The stories that bring me such great shame and embarrassment that I wish I couldn’t remember them.

Not long ago, I wouldn’t have considered writing about the shame and ugliness of my childhood.

I didn’t want anyone to know.

To judge me.

To judge my Mom.

To automatically slap a label on my family that would no longer be accurate.

To allow people to gossip about “why didn’t she leave”.

Shame is a corrosive emotion.

Oftentimes, we give shame too much power.

Brene Brown, researcher and social worker by trade, describes shame as:

“the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.”

No wonder we don’t want to talk about shame.

However, I feel that the less we talk about it the more power we give it.

Telling my story- my ugliness- my flawed self- allows me to have the power- I’m in control of this narrative.

So here it goes-

My name is Brandy Leigh Chalmers and I’ve spent upwards of 20 years feeling humiliated and embarrassed of my childhood.

I come from a broken family.

A broken home.

A large chunk of my childhood memories involve physical and emotional abuse.

I’m not ready to talk about the other kind.

We struggled financially and used a kerosene heater for warmth.

I can remember big sheets hanging to try and keep the warmth in around the doors in our home.

I mainly owned hand me downs from my friend, Polly. And I weaved in and out of feeling ashamed to wear them to ecstatic to own the newest barbie doll threads.

Not everything was dark and ugly.

I had a skating rink birthday party that was one of the greatest days of my life.

I was good at pageants. I loved being on stage.

I owned a sky dancer, an easy bake oven, and a polaroid camera.

I moved away from the violence when I turned 11.

Things really, really changed then.

For the better.

But then my Dad killed himself and I was back at square one.

My experiences left me, for a long time, feeling unworthy of love.

They led to self sabotaging behaviors and constant searching for additional experiences to validate that I, in fact, was unlovable.

But I’m done with that. I’m done with the shame.

I was seven years old the first time I realized my life at home was not normal. I had a sleepover at a friends house and it was magical. There was no shouting. There was no empty beer bottles. There was no tear streaked eyes. There was just love.

I was a child.

I didn’t ask for this baggage.

I didn’t ask for any of it.

But you know what I did do?

I allowed myself to feel ashamed. Unlovable. Not good enough.

For many, many years this is what I carried.

Embarrassment.

Humiliation.

Family secrets.

No more. I’m not doing it anymore. I’m not the same seven year old that begged to not come home after a sleepover. I’m a grown woman who chooses her future. I am in control of my own narrative.

Are you?

Don’t let shame hold you back. Be honest. Be vulnerable. Be you.

 

 

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I was drowning in my grief rather than sitting in it.

More and more each day I am realizing that our society is the cheer up society.

cheer up

The idea of sadness terrifies us.

Sadness is a hallmark symptom of grief. It is the ultimate consequence of losing something or someone we care about. I consider sadness and love ultimately linked.

“Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give, but cannot. All of that unspent love gathers in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in the hallow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.” -Jamie Anderson

Grief is love.

But yet, we spend a significant amount of time trying to cheer people up.

Because we consider that being sad is bad.

smile

However, I want to challenge you today to consider the idea that being sad isn’t bad.

It’s love.

I spent the first seven years of my grief drowning.

I was in the middle of an ocean of grief- desperately trying to keep my head above water.

My legs were concrete. My arms were large rocks.

I was tired.

Exhausted.

Consumed with my struggle.

I was drowning in my grief rather than sitting in it.

Everyone around me tried to comfort me. Tried to save me. Tried to cheer me up.

“He’s in a better place,”

“God will never give you more than you can handle,”

“He wouldn’t want you to be sad.”

These attempts to comfort me failed miserably. I didn’t need to be comforted. I needed to sit in my grief. I needed the permission to feel sad. I needed permission to feel.

In this clip from Inside Out you see Bing Bong lose something he loved.

Joy attempts to cheer him up. And fails.

Sadness sits with him. Sits with his grief. She empathizes with him.

This is what I needed. When I was drowning. I needed to sit in my grief.

If you know someone who has lost someone or something they love. Maybe something in their life has changed, sit with them. Sit with them even through the uncomfortableness of sadness. Encourage them to feel. Give them the permission they may need.

And remember- you are loved. And sad is not bad.

Grief is love with no place to go.

Grief lasts as long as love lasts- forever.

Somehow, I hope that love becomes light in all of our darknesses of grief.

 

 

Up, up, and Away

As a child, I was the kid in class with the highest Accelerated Reader (AR) points. My star on the bulletin board far surpassing all the other children in my class. I was also that nerdy girl who competed on a Battle of the Books team and read every single book on the list. Reading was one of the greatest joys of my childhood.

Reading transported me to another world.

A world far away from the violent screams of my ex-stepfather.

Far away from the home I lived in that was heated by a measly kerosene heater and sheets hung up in the doorways to keep every last bit of warmth from escaping.

Far away from my hand-me-down clothes from the girls I went to school with.

Far away from the nightmares that plagued me by day.

Far away from the panicked pleas of my mother to please not hurt her.

Far away from the world where my father took his own life.

Books were my escape.

In a different sense, they still are. Reading is my own version of self-care. When I want to make time for myself all I picture is a good read and a beverage (coffee or green tea preferred). As a new mother, reading time is scarce. Between my regular work and my two side jobs I stay busy, add my coursework in the mix and reading time is almost nonexistent. However, I know as well as anyone- you make time for the things you want to make time for.

So here I am, in 2018, making time for reading.

No excuses.

I decided to follow the Books-A-Million Book Club list for the non-fiction and literary selections.

bam

I started a bit late so I’m wrapping up January’s pick for the non-fiction category and will shortly be moving along to February’s selections. If you need a review just let me know and I will try to get to you.

 

 

This is one of my self-care strategies for Randy’s deployment and just for life in general.

Although I am no longer that 2nd grader with a time traveling machine that transported me as soon as I turned the page- I am a 29 year old woman who enjoys diving into another world.

Trauma may have been what facilitated my love of reading; but escaping reality is what maintained it.

Books help balance me. They ground me. They saved me as a child and they delight me as an adult.

What’s your escape?

That time I cried in Panda Express’s parking lot

There are some nice perks to being a military spouse- great health insurance, a stable income, and even discounts on subs from Firehouse. But there are unique struggles that those of us who share our lives with a military member.

Go ahead, say what you’re thinking: “you signed up for it.”

Cringe.

Okay, in a sense one may have an idea of what their life will resemble when you marry a military member. Deployments, separation from family and loved ones, the unavoidable moves.

Except there are moments you can not possibly prepare for.

Like crying in your car during your lunch break because you imagine your son eating “adult food” like a champ and your husband missing it. Missing it all. His inevitable first steps. First real words. Major developmental milestones.

tears

bug

Yes. I knew what I “signed up for” in a sense. But I couldn’t possibly see the hurt and pain and heartache I would struggle with in the future.

I thought military spouses were supposed to be strong. Resilient. Unbreakable.

I was wrong.

Some days I do feel strong. I push forward. I treat myself to face masks and happily work my side job editing papers after putting my son to sleep.

mask

Other nights, I cry myself to sleep.

And that’s okay.

With all this said, just remember that on your lunch break when the tears flow freely and your heart feels heavy and achy- this isn’t the end. You might wake up the following day renewed and ready to take on the world. You might do a face mask and binge watch Gossip Girl. You’ll never know if you don’t try.

Keep pushing through the tough days- the sun will rise tomorrow.