Confidence

Take up space.

You are worthy

Take up space.

You are valued.

Take up space.

Your life has meaning.

Take up space.

Listen to your gut.

Take up space.

Embrace who you are.

Take up space.

Love yourself because you are your own longest relationship.

Take up space, on repeat.

Take up space, what a phrase, what a world, and what a time to be alive right now. Who knew that in the year 2022 we would still be fighting this fight to have rights over our own selves?

Women are powerful.

How scary, how terrifying to see someone own their own space, and feel in awe of their glow. I guess when light shines too brightly, those who seek the shadows latch on and pull until their tug gives way. Here’s the thing though, light, seeks light.

Someone can always try to knock you down, or make you feel less than, or unworthy, but that speaks more about them than it does about you.

I was recently chatting with a friend and the topic of confidence came up. Where did my confidence come from? As an introverted extrovert, I recharge in alone time, but I light up like the fire sign that I am when I can channel my energy positively with others. Cue dance music, lights, I’m in the zone, and l.o.v.i.n.g. i.t.

Where does the idea of confidence derive from?

I believe that nurture has way more to do with us than we would like to admit. Finding ways to come face to face with the experiences you were raised with or the paths you have traversed will help you heal deep wounds that could potentially hinder your opportunities later in life. Here is what I mean by that. Take, for instance, a compliment, if you say, “Thank you, I appreciate that,” versus “Oh this, no, I’m not …..” kicking yourself and thinking you’re less than. Truths seep out in everything we do. If we allow ourselves to believe the floodgates of thoughts that pass by daily, one could really be paralyzed, run, or fight with everything and everyone including themselves. Nurture, the very word makes me think of blankets, comfort, food, hugs, and family, but that’s because of my upbringing and where I come from.

I do believe that confidence is rooted in a kind of chutzpah, a sense of gumption, audacity, who does she think she is?! I grew up feeling firmly rooted in the knowledge that I was one human in a massive world; however, my life had meaning. I knew that I was loved, I felt that I was valued, and my abilities did not define me, my actions were of value, not the way that I looked, but how I treated others, how I used my words, how I could potentially impact the world. I think a large part of this comes from my family, and also my idea of what faith means. I felt a sense of community in knowing I came from somewhere and that I wanted to be a person who had a story to share. I walked with a sense of knowing, but also felt outside of myself in public spaces. The introvert in me allowed me to process deeply, take time, and tread cautiously, but the extrovert in me held hands with the introvert and spoke up when she needed to. She said, “No,” firmly, and never allowed someone to squelch her fire. There were many, many times when water was thrown on the fire, but still, it simmered. There is something to be said about feeling that connection of value and worth and carrying it on your shoulders.

Confidence comes from within, but I believe it takes practice to look at yourself and truly believe in it.

Confidence and value are sisters running through your mind and needing direction. Channeling them in daily practice helps reinforce when those traits take center stage throughout moments in your life. Having the confidence to speak up for yourself is the first step to helping others. It’s the same example as “put on your safety mask first.” If you don’t help yourself, then how can you be of help to others?

I remember sitting in a meeting, taking notes, and being told by the admin, “Look at me.” I set my pen down, looked them dead in the eyes, and said, “I am listening to you. I learn best when I write things down. That’s my learning style, and if I cannot meet my own needs in a meeting, then how can I be of service to my students?”

It’s the knowledge of knowing how to use your chutzpah, channel your tact, and spin your plates accordingly that make all the difference. Life is never easy, but if you lean into who you are, it becomes much less complicated.

So, what is the takeaway from this stream of consciousness? Perhaps it lies in the following words:

Take up space.

You are worthy

Take up space.

You are valued.

Take up space.

Your life has meaning.

Take up space.

Listen to your gut.

Take up space.

Embrace who you are.

Take up space.

Love yourself because you are your own longest relationship.

Take up space, on repeat.

Photograph by K.Sciuto.

Spring Tidings

The turning of seasons always brings forth a renewal of the mind, the body, and the spirit. It is in the shadows we reveal our true characters. In the depths of winter’s despair I withered, but in the sunlit corners of spring, I can shake the cobwebs of the ego and step into the light of who I choose to become.

I always find it astonishing how change can truly set me reeling or is it realizing? In a fight, flight or freeze state of being I often choose freeze and breathe, and then internally I would like to flee. However, the ties that bind hold me firm and my heart knows what’s best, but my mind does not always follow.

Wading through the world in pandemonium and in the tides of postpartum has not been an easy task. As insurmountable as the mind may be, there are times when I have to face the truth which is exhaustion and fatigue are ill suited when you’re a parent, but they are none the less the cloaks handed out for free during the care of young children’s daily lives.

I saw a meme recently of parental sleep feeling like the following: baby is down for sleep, parent face plants on bed, an alarm or the baby calls and the parent jumps back up. That pretty much sums up how I felt on some days. Everything is magnified during this time, for every human being on the planet. Be it naysayer, be it believer, be it scientist, be it politician, nurse, teacher, or child care worker, everyone is tired. Tired being a relative term with a thousand layers of meaning. However, there is one thing that remains constant ticking by every moment of the day: time.

Time, that elusive shark, always showing itself on the surface and sliding back down beneath the waves. Just when I feel that sense of, “caught up,” I settle back in for a sure fire wash of reality. Often I find myself watching time slip by when I get caught up with my to do lists, or while playing a game of what if, but one things brings me back to reality and that is: love.

She’s that warm cloud of purple that bubbles up and fills my heart when I’m overwhelmed. Sometimes she helps shed tears that relinquish all of the feelings that have been simmering. Other times she makes me laugh uproariously at the hilarity that is a three year old ‘s mind. Most days I feel a warm kindling deep inside knowing that I am loved, and that I get to love others. Then I settle into the realization that in essence, that is truly everything. As Elton John said…to love and be loved in return.

So, when you find yourself being over or under whelmed, or awash with the current rules, regulations, and regularity of your days, stop and remember what love you get to feel and who you get to share it with.

We are in the midst of Pesach. The holiday that always makes me feel the sense of hope and loss intertwined as one. I cannot help but pause and think of what the past year has brought forth for those fellow humans who have loved and lost. I always go back to the voice of Debbie Friedman with her beautiful song, Mi Shebeirach. I included the lyrics below as a source of inspiration to those in need of healing. Spring is here, and with it a new opportunity for life. I hope it is one filled with love and a garden of possibility.  

I wanna hold your hand dada.
Colorful tulips, my favorite.
Filled with the promise of sunshine.
Beauty in the trees.
Tiny blooms for my babe.

Mi shebeirach avoteinu
M’kor hab’racha l’imoteinu
May the source of strength,
Who blessed the ones before us,
Help us find the courage to make our lives a blessing,and let us say, Amen.

Mi shebeirach imoteinu
M’kor habrachah l’avotein
u
Bless those in need of healing with r’fuah sh’leimah,
The renewal of body, the renewal of spirit, And let us say, Amen.”

-Debbie Friedman.

Perspective

How would your perspective change if I told you that you were picked for this life specifically. This moment, this time, this year, these people, your surroundings? How would that make you feel? Would you be startled? Would you shift or change? 

When I began to shift my mindset about the seeming, “hardships,” I experienced, my heart opened up. I’m not here to cast a stone and say that whatever it is that each of us is facing doesn’t feel how it feels. That’s not what I’m saying, but what I am trying to articulate is this: if you can take ownership of your feeling and harness it, then you can drive your ship.

Every moment is made up of these micro experiences. These experiences become your vision and a part of your memory. Which in turn, becomes the story that you tell yourself about your life. What if you paused and considered that you can harness those emotions and shift your perspective. 

In my current moment I am sitting on a bed, with a pillow table, earplugs in my ears, smoke covering my neighborhood, poor air quality, and thirty minutes of time to write. I asked for the time. I asked for this plate, this life, these people. When I look around me I could see: all of the things I think I should see, but if I stop skimming over the surface and look deeper I can see: all of the ways I affect those around me in turn. 

Outside of my house the smoke is so thick that I can barely see the trees in the neighborhood park. The beloved home state I live is literally burning and the world feels like it is upending upon itself. I realized when I woke up today, day three of smoke filled lungs that I had the opportunity to pause and truly ground myself. If I feel my head spinning, if I feel my heart wrenching, how is that in turn affecting those around me? My responses are powerful and they are directly driven by the effects of a mood. There is little else that I feel like I have control over right now. But I do have control over my mind, which, if I admit it: is everything. Your mind is the epicenter of everything you are capable of doing and have done. 

As Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” 

As I say to my two year old, “Feelings come and feelings go, feelings show, it’s alright to cry, it might make you feel better,” a mish-mash of quotes from, Free To Be You And Me. With all of this being said, I encourage myself, and you to to think about your perspective. Health is wealth, if I have that and my family, I have everything. That’s my perspective and I know that with endurance of mind and spirit I can lean into perseverance, which is key.