Ten Things of Thankful #3: Thankful In Spite of Myself

Sarah's Paint Party

This has been one of those weeks when I struggle to see my own reality. Whatever I touch seems to shift onto a precarious ledge, quivering in balance whether to fall into crashing defeat or settle down into place. My blog seems to be a black hole of meaningless words, floating into the ether  where they disappear without interacting with another human being. My heart hums with loneliness, in a world that (at least today) focuses on love. The lens of my internal eye is muddied with doubt and fear, rather than open to possibilities, and I call myself names: “you are such an idiot,” “dumb ass”, “failure”, “friendless loser.”

Something else is out there
Something else is out there, better than Mommy.




In an attempt to combat this negativity, I am going to turn it on its head and choose to be thankful for each and every negative thought that I have tortured myself with this week. I am going to acknowledge what I have achieved and push away the voices telling me it isn’t good enough. I am going to embrace myself with self-compassion.

“You are not a real writer!” I finished another manuscript for a novel last Sunday, but rather than celebrate I started worrying . . . is it worth trying to publish? who can I ask to be beta readers? why do I feel like I am bothering people when I ask them to read my work? what if I am a one hit wonder (and P.O.W.ER never really becomes a hit)? Meanwhile, I looked at the dirth of interaction on my blog, and felt like it was useless. Nobody would ever really have any interest in what I have to say.  ENOUGH!!! I am thankful that I can put stories on a page, whether or not anyone reads them. I did have a couple of people offer to read the manuscript, and I am grateful to them. I really do need to find some people who are willing to read with precise, editorial eyes, but I am thankful for any feedback that comes my way.

“You are the world worst  mother and wife.” Last week I wrote about the chaos of my daughter’s birthday party. It turned out to be a great success, but . . . my daughter is at an age when you have to remind her to be thankful, to say thank you. She didn’t seem to recognize how much work went into that little celebration.

Sarah's Paint Party

Sarah’s actual birthday is tomorrow. My husband’s birthday was Thursday. Today is Valentine’s Day. Many of the Mom’s I know would shine at this time . . . throwing fabulous parties, giving the perfect gift, celebrating their loved ones. I’ve done nothing. No gift for Nathan. No valentine’s for either of them. No present for Sarah. Sounds awful, doesn’t it? But, I have this philosophy about gifts–I give things when I see something that I know someone absolutely has to have, or something that makes me think of that person. I would rather give a meaningful gift at a surprise time, then a required gift on an expected time. So how do I turn my feelings of guilt into a thankful? By reminding myself that my husband loves me despite my quirks. By telling myself that my daughter knows that she has interesting parents who try to provide her with creative opportunities and an interesting life. By reminding myself that what I offer my family  may not resemble “the ideal” of the world, but is an offering of love on my own terms. By being truly grateful for Nathan (my best friend and a truly kind, caring person) and Sarah (who is growing up to be an amazing, talented, caring person).

“You can’t do anything right, and you are a failure.” This week I was plagued by students who want to get something for nothing. Misplaced computer power cord (my own–for the second time). Battles with a student over what constitutes plagiarism. Learning that a job that I applied for didn’t actually exist. Watching a theatrical production that was truly painful; and having to write up an evaluation of it even though I knew it would hurt. Doubting myself as a director, when I am trying to pick a show to direct in the fall. Realizing how dysfunctional and messed up the program is where I am currently teaching–and realizing that as a lowly adjunct I am powerless to fix it. Seeing job postings that, in a different time of my life, I may have been qualified for–but realizing that my path to “success” went topsy-turvy long ago. These are the weeks where I blame myself: for making choices that might have hurt my career; for not following traditional paths; for not publishing enough; for not being good enough. ENOUGH!!! I am truly thankful for the life I’ve had. I am now in a position to pick and choose how I want to participate in my life. Well, not financially, I still have to make some choices based purely on the need to help support my family. But my husband supports my goal to live life on my own terms, and for that I am truly grateful. I love the variety of options in my world, and I love that my career is so bizarre. Yesterday, the chair of my department asked us all for a list of accomplishments over the past three years (because the program is under review now). I sat down and made a list and realized I have done a lot of really interesting things . . . I just never realize that until I see them written down. I have no reason to complain when I live such an interesting life.

I have no idea if this is actually ten things of thankful, but I am going to end there with a reminder to myself that even negative thoughts can be a blessing. Negativity makes you reflect on life, and gives you a chance to see what you have as well as discover areas of change. The ability to change is something to be truly thankful for–and my life is an example of how change can sometimes be difficult but is always amazing. For this, I am thankful.

What are you thankful for?


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The Power of Self-Compassion

This woman is ENOUGH!

I am my own worst critic.

That is my reality and my truth.

I am the person who never quite feels like I’m “good enough”, “successful enough”, “enough enough.”

I have been working at changing this about myself.  But obviously it is an uphill battle, as I mentioned in a recent post. There are days when my secret fears creep into my dreams and whisper all the things I believe deep down inside. There are days when I look in the mirror and see every flaw. There are days when I haven’t achieved whatever lengthy list I’ve created in my mind, and all I can do is think “what is wrong with you?” There are days that I feel unworthy of interacting with other people who are all smarter, kinder, prettier, “more enough” than I am.

In response to that post lrconsiderer of Considerings: Life in Silver Linings  gave me a challenge:

“I think you should write a post about self-compassion, for those times when you have doubts, and about finding a way to forgive yourself for those insecurities and self-doubts rather than beat yourself up and undermine yourself further with them. :P”

I am taking the challenge, because I know she’s right. I have kind words and a big heart for everyone but myself. I hand out encouragement and pep talks like Halloween candy–whenever anyone needs them, with generous abandon–as long as that someone is not myself. But how can I honestly work toward empowering others, if I don’t live by example? How can I convince my daughter that she is enough, if I never believe that of myself?

So now I have a plan. Some steps I will take whenever my inner demons scream so loudly that only I can hear. These are things I have done, and things that I encourage others to do. They don’t always work, and I will be kind to myself on those days when I fail, but here are some of my goals:

  • On those days when I feel fat and like I will never achieve my health goals, I will look at myself in the mirror and say “You are beautiful just they way you are.” I will then take myself for a walk or turn some music on and dance, even if just for a moment.
  • On those days when the green-eyed monster whispers his jealous accusations, I will remind myself that someone else’s success does not diminish my own achievements. I will sit down and write a list of 5 things that I am proud of, large or small, and I will share that list with someone else. I once went to a parenting seminar, and the leader suggested the best question you could ask your child every day is “what did you do today that you are proud of?” I try to ask Sarah that regularly, even though she doesn’t always answer. Maybe it’s time to ask the same thing of myself.
  • On the days when the possibility of new dreams seems hopeless, I will try something different. I will take out crayons and color, I will Zentangle, I will sing. I will create something new, without worrying whether or not it is good enough. I will write a poem and then tear it up and let it float away on the wind. I will allow myself to try and fail as a reminder that even failure puts us on a different, and interesting path.
  • On those days when it all just seems like too much, I will give myself permission to stop. I will take a nap, listen to music, indulge in a bath. I will curl up with a good book, a warm blanket and my dogs. I will give myself permission to leave the mess, the grading, the writing, the worry. I will watch movies that make me laugh, or maybe movies that make me cry. I will say, “today this is what I need, tomorrow I will start again.” And then I will start again, but if I don’t I will forgive myself.
  • On the days where nothing seems to work, I will ask for help. I don’t do that often, because I don’t want to bother people. But, that makes me seem unworthy of having a good friend, unworthy of asking for help, unworthy of being loved. We are not put on this world to struggle alone, and we all deserve to ask for help once in a while. There is no shame in admitting you need a friend.

Overall, it is time for me to be kind to myself, and I plan on practicing that on a daily basis. I’m sure their will be days when I fall back into old habits; where I call myself names or feel like I’m a failure. But practice makes perfect, and someday I will be my own best supporter. From this day forward, I will celebrate my own unique abilities and forgive myself when that celebration is difficult.

This woman is ENOUGH!
This woman is ENOUGH!

What can you do to show yourself compassion? Where do you struggle in believing in your own powers and abilities?


If you would like to contribute to my Celebrating Our Unique Powers series (and perhaps remind yourself why you are enough), read this post and then contact me at lisaakramer@lisaakramer.com.

Read more about empowering yourself and others in P.O.W.ER.

For each book sold, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to causes that support women and children around the world.  

Learning Self Compassion

Lying around all day doing very little but blaming myself for my inability  to do anything  but lie around all day is an act of self defeat.  Despite the fact that my lethargy probably comes from a cycle of insomnia and nightmares that have been haunting me all week (and seem to be an epidemic as many peopleI … Read more…

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