Posts Tagged ‘self-generating’

Watercolor painting by Barbie Dallmann

“Creation” a watercolor by Barbie Dallmann

November is Gratitude Month at Unity, and for the last several weeks, I have focused on things I appreciate about myself and my life. I surprised myself by how inspired I felt after making a list of things I was grateful for learning.

A couple of years ago, I found the courage to start art lessons. After half a century of believing I had no artistic talent whatsoever, I have learned to paint (see above).

I also learned to cook. Mom wasn’t very good at it. Dad was better, but he didn’t have the patience to teach me. So, over the years, I taught myself, watching friends, reading books, listening to TV shows. Heck, I even paid attention during seventh grade Home Ec. class! I like the fact that on most days I’d rather eat at home than go out. My home-cooked meals are better in every way (except for the cleaning-up part).

When I was in seventh grade, I learned to type on a manual typewriter with blank keys. I went to school an hour early most days to practice. After an entire year, my speed was barely 50 words per minute. I kept at it, though, thinking the skill would come in handy if I never made it to college. Come in handy, it did! Eventually averaging 120 wpm, I typed my own papers and made money typing for others. In 1984 I started my own secretarial service, which I’ve been successfully operating ever since. I’m so glad that my seventh grade self was willing to get up early to practice. What a great kid she was!

There’s another important skill I learned early in life, one I’ve taken for granted for a long, long time. As I was making this list, I remembered how much I struggled to learn to read, especially to read aloud. There were times I wanted to give up because I was bad at it, and I was embarrassed by my repeated failures. Thank you, six-year-old Barbie for sticking with it! My life is so incredibly rich because of all the billions of words I have read over the decades.

Of course, there are lots more things I’m grateful for learning, including how to take pictures, write blogs, and negotiate the Internet.

What about you? Are there things you’d like to thank yourself for right now? Where would you be without your own determination and tenacity? And where might you be tomorrow because today you took the time to be uplifted by your own, heartfelt acknowledgment and appreciation?

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From the viewpoint of an objective observer, I noticed some interesting things while reading my five-year diary (see “The Reunion, part 2″).

The first entry appeared on January 1, 1968, and continued until I graduated from high school in May 1972. I stopped on that day because I saw my diary as something from “my youth” that I no longer needed.

As I read entry after entry, I thought, “What kind of person writes every single day and fills every single line, beginning at age of 13? Disciplined? Focused? Organized? Intentional?” (Sounds a lot like me!)

By the time I accepted my high school diploma, I had already completed a semester of college and had worked for five months as a secretary at the Lincoln Fire Department. I was 17 years old.

There is simply no evidence for the labels I placed on myself: Unsure, Awkward, and Afraid. The person who wrote in that book was full of determination and vision. She boldly asked to graduate mid-term from high school, and then took a senior level college class, assuring her adviser that she didn’t need the prerequisites. She was right. She earned straight A’s that first semester in college.

Yes, she was a misfit in high school. She couldn’t wait to get on with her life. She didn’t like sporting events, pep rallies, dances or parties. All of that seemed so frivolous and unnecessary, a waste of time. She would rather debate philosophical topics with her teachers than hang out with kids her own age.

The more I read the diary, the more I liked the girl who wrote it. I found her delightfully energetic and hopeful. I smiled at her idealistic dreams and envied her self-assurance. Everything was so black-and-white for her. Little did she know the territory in between, the place I now so contentedly live my life.

As I placed the book aside, I realized how I had blamed my teenage self for all of my perceived shortcomings. She’s the reason I felt uncomfortable in crowds, had no fashion sense, and couldn’t dance.

Eureka! There are the red flags I was looking for! Blame and resentment! I love it when I see them clearly because I know what I need to do. I need to take responsibility. Period.

As a responsible, self-generating person, I acknowledge right here and now that if I wanted to learn to dance, I could. If I really cared about fashion, I have plenty of trendy friends who could teach me a thing or two. And as for crowds? I don’t mind one bit being the featured speaker at a conference, but when it comes to conversations, I’ll take a meaningful philosophical debate any day.

Thank you, Barbara Jane, you were the perfect teenager to lead me to who I am today. I honor your hard work, quirky ways, and serious outlook. Tomorrow night I’m headed to my 40th high school reunion with the memory of you tucked safely in my heart. You rock!

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