Friday, January 31, 2014

Sifting Through Life: People Say the Darnedest Things

This past week we took pictures of Finnley in Isabella's blessing dress.  She is so cute.

People, we are interesting creatures to say the least.

The older I get the more compassion and empathy I find myself offering to those around me.  I guess it may be because now that I am older I can relate to more people and more situations.  I find myself putting myself into their shoes.  It allows me to have mercy and charity for what I am seeing.  After all, I don't really know what they are thinking.  It is all based on outward appearances.

In the past few weeks I have had some interesting encounters with people.

A little bit of judging has been going on and it didn't sit too well on my busy mind.  I try to not let my feelings get hurt.  I try not to allow myself to be offended or unnerved by the silliest things people say.


I am human.

I do let my guard down and those simple worries and doubts creep inside my mind.

Look Mom--I am now as big as the cat, Baby.

I bought a Vitamix a few weeks ago.  Side note--THE BEST PIECE OF EQUIPMENT EVER.  As I was sitting and listening to the presentation by a very enthusiastic woman of middle aged years, she decided to point me out in the crowd.

So typical, I try to blend into the walls and people make eye contact and then they have me engaged in conversation and questions before I know what is happening.

Don't get me started about the kiosks at the mall.  It drives my daughter crazy because every time they try to stop me, hand me something or try to make eye contact--I respond with a "no thank you", "not today" or "next time".   Rye says that I should just ignore them.  That is so ridiculously hard for me!

Back to the Vitamix lady,  she was pretty witty and thought herself to be funny.  The first thing she says to me is, " oh, I see you are trying to eat healthy".

Trying?  Seriously.....what ever!

My basket was full of vegetables just like it is every time I shop at our local health food store.  We eat a wide variety of foods, mostly healthy with a few splurges thrown in for variety.

 I found her comments a weird thing to say to someone in a crowd.

Isabella started piano and loves it.  Here she is practicing on our piano.
First of all, she doesn't even know us. I think her comment was based on our outward appearances.  I have been a size 10-12 for the past 12 years.  It doesn't matter how hard I exercise or --I don't like this word--diet my shape does not change.  My bone structure is the same.  I have big boobs and wide hips.  I turn sideways and I look skinny, I turn forward and HOLY CRAP thats a wide landing strip.

Have I created a good visual image of my shape?  Of course, I am exaggerating to some degree and I don't scare people with my wide hips but I did not always think this way.  It has taken me a long time to be okay with my body and to find kind words and thoughts to say to myself.

Here is my news flash.....not everyone that shops at Whole Foods is a size 0, 2, 4 or 6.  Some of us are a bit "fluffier".   Does this mean I don't eat healthy?  Does this mean I am not aware of good eating habits?  I have lots of friends that fall into those small sizes and they have their own sets of struggles, so I know that size is irrelevant but we do judge others based on what we see.

I found myself reflecting on this conversation for over a week and having the best come backs. DAMN I hate when that happens.  LOL

Sisters.  Soon their feet will be close in size;  for now this shows us what stage they are in.
My second encounter was with this same woman, during the same visit, same presentation.  She alluded to the fact that I wanted to feed my baby the very best and nutritious meals possible once she started eating "real" food.

I agreed.  DUH!

Then in front of everyone, she says to me, "you are breastfeeding right?"

She is wearing a mic.

She is standing on a podium or stool.

The crowd is large.

All eyes are on me.

I, for about 10 seconds, had this conversation in my mind.

"What the hell lady?  Do I lie?  Do I leave?  Should I cry?  What to do?"

I smiled through clenched teeth and said, "No. I am not."  I made a joke that I was 2 for 4 with my kids and for a variety of reasons I was unable to continue breastfeeding.

In that moment I felt like a failure.  A. COMPLETE. FAILURE.  I felt that I was being judged for my appearance and now for the fact that I was not breastfeeding.

Believe me, I tried!  I cried many tears when the decision for me to not breastfeed needed to be made.  I could have been selfish and continued fighting the jaundice issues, the all night crying, the no-weight gain for my already 5.5 pound baby who did not gain a single ounce in 3 weeks.  I could have done a lot of things but when you are tired, stressed and concerned, you make a decision.

And, we did.

It took me 3 days before I could even talk about it.  Not to mention, if I did speak of it, it was with a whisper.  A freaking whisper.

These two particular situations had me thinking over the past few weeks.  I know how I felt being the one misjudged based on my appearance and a simple yes/no answer to a rather complicated question (at least in my case).

How could I learn from this experience?  Was it possible  that I , unknowingly, was doing the same thing to others through my looks, my questions or my reactions?  Have I ever put my foot in my mouth?   That is a silly question because the answer is "yes and who hasn't".

We got more snow. Is it ever going to end?  Snowball fight in progress.

Along with the above two examples of my experience with one person, I had a few others  that are funny when you actually think about them.

1.  We walked into this same store and took the escalator instead of the stairs.  These two things are right by each other and you do have the option of either one.  On this day we chose to take the escalator and a set of kids followed behind us only to be quickly grabbed and told, " we are a stair family. We don't ride escalators".

2.  I was in the cracker aisle and I went to grab a box of crackers for my kids.  In a cart near the crackers a couple of small kids, I would say 3-5, reached out and wanted crackers too.  There Mom looked right at me and said, " those are processed.  We don't eat crackers.".

These two examples put me into a position to judge.  It was my first reaction.  I had some outrageous thoughts, rolled my eyes and laughed.

I don't know their reasons for taking the stairs or not buying crackers--and why do I care what they do. Yeah, it felt awkward that they said things a little louder so that I would hear them or looked right at me;  but ultimately I should not put much care into what they think.

After all, I have my reasons for doing the things I do and they have theirs.

I read this quote:

“You can’t control what others think. The only thing you can control is yourself. Some people will look down on you for your choices in life, no matter what they are. You can’t do anything about that. The only thing you can do is decide how to live your own life. And to hell with everybody else”

― Marie Sexton

Then, I read this article that I thought was filled with some good advice.

I could share a few more stories of people saying the "darnedest things" to me or my family but I won't. I just wanted to share what was happening in my mind the last few weeks with several instances that happened to me and how it settled into my mind.

How the words of others caused me to pause, reflect and hopefully, change just a little bit for the better.

I don't want to be so quick to judge others.  I want to continue to have compassion for people of all kinds and not to be so critical of their decisions based on my beliefs.

My goal is to judge less.  To be more compassionate and understanding.

Isabella loves the snow and is so happy to see it this winter.  Last winter we had a mild and rainy season.

Written by Sherron Watson

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