Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Quotes That ALWAYS Inspire Me

Unless you count my Top Ten Posts of 2017 - which isn't technically a "Top Ten Tuesday" because it was posted on a Sunday - it's been a while since I wrote an official Top Ten here on the blog. So as the new year gets underway and I begin to implement my first-quarter goals for 2018 in order to build momentum in this new year, I thought this would be a great time to remind myself of my own power to grow and succeed.

It's no secret that I love music and that I find a truly special delight in the way it heals the wounds of my soul. Music gives me strength when I don't have any, reminds me of my confidence when it's shaky. It gives me encouragement when the world around me doesn't, and covers the gap when my sensitive nature needs just a little more affirmation in order to bloom.

But I don't always have the time (or the personal peace) to kick back and soak up a song. Sometimes my life or my kids or my mind is just too loud in the moment to even let my heart truly hear the song I'm trying to listen to - and it's specifically because of those moments that I have an entirely overgrown folder of motivational quotes saved on my phone.

They're images I've seen on Google, on Facebook, on other blogs, wherever. Most are images I loved enough to save, quotes that touched my heart in some way. Some are quotes that literally brought tears to my eyes the second I read them - some are images I created myself because I so loved the quote I had read.

Either way, they're the ones I go back to over and over when I need a little extra understanding or compassion, when I need to reminded of who I am and why that's a good thing, when I lose track of my own awesomeness and am too anxious/depressed/whatever to reach out to someone else.

These ten almost always work for me. And now, I'm sharing them with you.

(quotes listed in no particular order)
1. I spent the largest portion of my life as a people-pleaser. Maybe it was the violence I suffered as a child, maybe it was the burden of keeping inappropriate sexual attention a secret, maybe it was the constant sense that everything was my fault and the very solid reality that the adults around me didn't approve of who I was, what I looked like, the things that interested me. I don't know when it started or why it became so important ... but for the longest time it was all I wanted - to be approved of. To earn and keep the acceptance and approval of those around me. My parents, my grandmothers, aunts and uncles. My peers. Approval was like a drug.

Unfortunately, it was a drug I didn't seem to have access to. In a lot of ways, it didn't matter what I was doing or who I was doing it for - there would always be one thing certain, and it would be that I was doing it wrong. If by chance I did it right, it would usually be for the wrong reasons or the wrong person, at the wrong time.

"You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, but there's still going to be someone who hates peaches." -- Dita Von Teese

I love the way this quote takes me by the shoulders, looks me in the eyes, and reminds me that sometimes it's not me being wrong or doing wrong. Sometimes I'm not lacking in any way - I'm just a round peg sitting in a box of square pegs happy to fit into their square holes, and it's not my roundness that's the problem, nor is it the problem of the squareness around me. It's just that I need to open my heart and seek out other round pegs ... other peaches ... in order to find the people who can appreciate the things about me that are already beautiful even as they inspire me to beautify what's ugly.


2. Realizing that I don't have to cram my little peach-round self into the square hole allotted for me changed my life and allowed me to let go of people pleasing. Yes, I still make an effort to get along with people - even the difficult ones, even the ones who have nothing positive to say, who think bullying people is a great way of "having fun" by "joking" or "kidding around" - but I don't do it at the cost of who I am anymore.

You don't like the music I listen to? Fine, then don't listen to it with me - but you'd better accept that I'm going to like it and listen to it regardless of your disapproval. The same goes for the way I speak, the words I use, the strategies with which I parent my children, and the way I try to keep my chin high and my shoulders straight regardless of whatever I'm currently going through.

"I spent so many years walking on eggshells ... never doing or saying the right thing. One day I decided I'd had enough and stomped all over them. Those broken eggshells cut me deeply as I walked away ... but this ... was the most beautiful pain I had ever felt." -- S.I. Heaton

I won't tell the story here because the person who broke my tendency to people-please doesn't know how much pain I was in in that moment because of their actions. I have never confronted this person because I know from our history that they would likely react with anger, attacking me for feeling the way I did, invalidating not only how I felt but probably also the events in question. I also know that this would be a defense for this person - a mechanism to protect them from facing the situation.

Because in the end, it would probably be as hurtful for them to know they caused that kind of pain as it was for me to experience it. Nevertheless, it was knowing that I could never attain this person's approval - no matter how desperately I wanted and needed it - that made me give up the effort entirely. It hurt then, more painfully than perhaps anything else had ever hurt up until that point, but it became a blessing in the years to follow. The barrier wall built around me in those moments ended up protecting me from losing myself entirely as I struggled later on to maintain the pretense of a successful relationship with a toxic covert narcissist.


3. I've talked a lot here over the years about the importance of finding your own people, the people that love and accept you despite your flaws, despite your rough edges, despite the ugly things that live beneath the surface of what you try to show the world when you "put your best foot forward." I've talked about my family history, the differences between mom/mother and dad/father, and how incredibly deeply I value the support I receive from my current set of friendships. And that's because ...

"Family isn't always blood. It's the people in your life who want you in theirs. The ones who accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you smile, and who love you no matter what." -- Unknown

This quote speaks to me in so many ways, but most importantly in the reassurance that for a girl without a lot of close relationships with blood relatives, there's still a whole world out there from which I can choose and form a family of my own. Because for me, finding and connecting with the people who feel instantly like family is the best and most perfect way to create home.


4. This next one just happened to show up in my world at just the right time, when I was struggling to recover from an unexpected heartbreak. I had literally fallen in love with my best friend, with someone that felt like the perfect fit even though it took us several years to stumble upon the right timing. He balanced my rough edges, always had time to talk me off the ledge when I needed him, and trusted me enough to come to me with his problems and the things that made him vulnerable. He was the first - and only - man I ever felt comfortable enough to pray with. He called me his guardian angel, and he made me feel like one.

But he also used to always tell me I was intimidating because I was strong. That I was terrifying because I was so comfortably me. Obviously we didn't work out - and while I will always be grateful for the way he helped me see myself, the loss of his presence in my life back then tore a gaping hole in my spirit that I wasn't sure would ever heal. I was wrong though - I did heal.

"Dear women; Sometimes you'll just be too much woman. Too smart, too sexy, too strong. Too bold, too beautiful, too real. Too much of something that makes a man feel like less of a man - which will start making you feel like you have to be less of a women to be with that man. But one of the biggest mistakes you can make as a woman is removing jewels from your crown to make it easier for a man to carry. You do not need a smaller crown - you need a man with bigger hands." -- Unknown

I don't have any grudge against him, and I'm not resentful or placing blame anywhere. But this little passage is filled with actual things he used to tell me, so I like that when I'm lonesome and wondering if another love like that will ever come along again, this passage reminds me to keep my standards high and keep being the "too much" he always saw in me - so that I never settle again for the "not enough" I felt like when I dealt with my narcissist.


5. I've been through a lot in my life - more than most in some ways. But part of being human is being resilient, having a strong survival instinct - not because I choose to but because it's ingrained in my DNA, ingrained in YOUR DNA. Being willing to keep trying even when there doesn't seem to be anything worth trying for is what we do; it's why we can lay on our backs in the midst of our version of Rock Bottom and still look skyward with hope even when we still haven't totally recovered from the rough landing.

"Almost crumbling to the ground, she stopped. Looking at how far she had traveled and all it had taken to get there, she recognized her strength. The strengths she had inside of her, the strength she had gained along the way - her inner power. And so, she stood up. Standing tall, she faced forward and continued on." -- Terri St. Cloud

This quote reminds me to stay strong just like I always have. To face each new challenge with courage, remembering that each challenge behind me was once a seemingly insurmountable wall before me. I have been through a lot, but I am still standing, still strong. I may have been through a lot - but so far I have survived it all, and I am determined to continue to do so.


6. Finding my own sense of self apart from my tendency toward people-pleasing is what allowed me to realize how porous my boundaries were - and realizing that porousness inspired me to solidify my boundaries in a way that sometimes makes others terribly uncomfortable.

Ironically, it was the man I mentioned earlier in this post (at #4) who made me see how much I deserved to have my own boundaries and my own sense of comfort with myself - the very same comfort that he found so admirable and yet so intimidating. But it was through the course of that relationship that he helped me learn to look into mirrors appreciating the value of my effort to embody this concept:

"She is beautiful, but not only in the way she looks. She is beautiful in the way she speaks, in the way she loves, in the way she laughs, in the way she cries, in the way she feels, in the way she makes others feel. She is beautiful because she is strong, because she knows that vulnerability and honesty do not make her weak. She is beautiful because she does not fear being herself. She is beautiful because she gives others the courage to do the same." -- D.C.

He was a blessing while he was a part of my life, and now that he is gone in body, he remains in spirit as a lesson and a standard. Just as I have learned from lesser relationships about what I don't want, he taught me so very much about what I do want - to be looked at by my next partner the way Daren Colbert was looking at whoever he wrote "Beautiful" about.


7. Another quote that always reminds me of my strength (like the quote at #5) while reminding me of what I want in life and who I want to be as a person is this one. This one strike such truth so deep in my spirit that I've even spent the last several years searching for just the right tattoo idea to keep me mindful of it.

"Be like the single blade of grass. For she too, has been trampled on, mowed down, and hit with such bitterly cold stretches that she had to shut down to survive. Yes still she stands upright with dignity, knowing that she endures, and still she dances with the wind." -- Sandra King

It also sort of reminds me of a friend I once had who told me once that I was a "dandelion" for pretty much this same reason. Because, I have been trampled like grass, and I have been outright uprooted very much against my will like dandelions, and still I grow, dancing in the wind.


8. Just in case you hadn't noticed the self-empowerment themes running through these quotes, here's another one that always reminds me of how strong and resilient I can be - if only I am willing and able to acknowledge the God-given power coursing through my veins. I was created on purpose, for a purpose, nothing so strong as I am should ever be bowed by fear.

"You carry both lightning and thunder in the space between your bones and your soul. Become the storm you are hiding from. A hurricane does not run from the rain." -- Nikita Gill

What this post may not clarify is how often I have to look at quotes like this to inspire myself to be strong and keep trying. Good thing I have so many, huh?


9. Part of coming to terms with the idea of embracing myself as a decent human being with good intentions and a strong spirit has meant encountering people who are threatened by this sense of acceptance (or annoyed by it, especially when my accepting the awesomeness about me also means accepting the darkness in myself). Sometimes, like with the man mentioned in #4, this means having people walk away from you because even if they genuinely care about you and want you to succeed, they aren't comfortable enough with themselves to be comfortable with you. Intimidated isn't the same thing as threatened.

But there are also times when a person who is truly comfortable with themselves will encounter people who are not just intimidated; sometimes people who are not yet comfortable with themselves will feel downright threatened by those who are ... and I know this not only because I have encountered it, but because I have been it. It's hard being around people who genuinely know and love who they are, especially if you don't, and it took being truly comfortable with myself before I began to find and nurture my own acceptance of other peoples' comfort with themselves. But that's also why:

"If they don't contribute to your growth as a person in any way, cut them off. You can't blossom as a human if you have weeds all around you." -- Unknown

I don't take this to mean anything even close to the idea that you should dump negative friends or whatever. To me, it's more of a reminder to let go of people who are toxic to me, not because they're pessimistic or because they have too much going on in their lives or anything like that. I take this quote to mean people who are outright mean on purpose, who are looking for ways to pull other people down in order to feel better about themselves, who point out the negative in you not because they want you to grow, but because they want you to feel small. Which brings us to the last quote, which is ...


10. I heard this quote on a podcast several months ago, and I knew one day it would show up here on the blog. Since that first day I've listened to it several times, written it down word-for-word, and kept it close to my heart. I've read it and reread it, shared it with my kids, and even given it almost as a gift to people I knew who needed to see it

"When we are disconnected from our bigness, there is nothing more painful or challenging than being around somebody who is connected to theirs." -- Fabeku Fatunmise

The thing is, having gone through so much in my life means that I really have grown somewhat confident. I like to think that I'm still humble and grounded, that I'm realistic - and that I don't think highly enough of myself to have gone cocky. I have loads and loads of insecurities, anxieties, and fears. But I'm confident and comfortable in who I am, flaws and all, because there is no other way for me to be right now. I am who I am - and yes, I am trying to grow and mature and change with each new day, becoming slowly what I will someday be. But in this moment right now? I'm proud of this me - not only because I have survived so very much, and because I have worked hard to be who I am, but also because regardless of my flaws, I deserve to look at myself in the mirror with satisfaction.

And so do you. So:
  • when you encounter struggles in this new year (and in the rest of your life in general) ...
  • when you encounter the peach-haters of the world ...
  • when you are made to feel like you are "too much" or "too little" or anything other than perfectly "enough" ...
  • when you are lost in the storm of your own life ...
  • when you're weak and crumbling and so damn tired of walking on those eggshells ...
Connect to your bigness again. Remember your strength and your power and your inherent goodness. Stand up straight and face the challenge before you. Be inspired.

And Stay Undaunted.


Make sure you head over to The Single Dad's Guide To Life, where you can check out inspiring quotes from this BLOGuary's co-host, David Elliott. David is an amazingly funny blogger with just the right mix of serious, and his blog is filled with great content covering movies, food, parenting, dating, poetry, and more. If my ten quotes weren't enough to inspire you or if maybe you're just looking for a slightly different perspective, I'm betting David will have just what you need. His counter to this post was "Top Ten Quotes About Dads," and I loved the way he expressed his desire to do well as a role model and leader for his adorable daughter.

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