Friday, May 31, 2013


I have been thinking a lot lately about confidence. Not only throughout the process of my training, but also within the context of my counseling, teaching, and volunteering work, I've seen so much how self-esteem, self-efficacy, and self-worth are immeasurably linked to our perception of self, others, life, happiness, value, accomplishment, etc.

So often I think most of our day-to-day conflicts and misunderstandings stem from an internal sense of frailty - a personal haziness that leads to interpersonal confusion and disconnect. My goal, lately, has been to be more mindful of my insecurities - which is linked to being mindful of my ego - because they are two halves of the same coin.

And so, I've been embracing my smallness while also acknowledging (or rather, learning to acknowledge) my greatness as well. Sort of a strange balance to strike, really. An odd little dance with lots of critical, self-chatter that has to be either ignored or redirected... whilst trying to give my sense of self-worth an ongoing pep talk like some sort of best friend or protective older sister.

This came up, in large part, due to the death of my cousin (more like an aunt) last fall. She was someone who made no apologies. She was a very genuine, honest, and strong female - her directness in striking contrast to her southern upbringing. I always had such admiration for the way in which she was true to herself - even if it meant bucking tradition or common perception. She was generous in the way she wanted to be. Loving and kind on her own terms. And patient with her own faults.

For whatever reason, poetry often helps me navigate my grief. And so this poem is for her:

Don't Call Me a Lady
For Pru

Girl, stop hunching your shoulders
as if you have to apologize for your existence.
Stand up tall, look them square in the face,
and if you want another cookie
damn well go ahead and take one.
Just remember to say please and
thank you (and smile only if you mean it).

Young lady, don't waste your time on
someone who can't treat you with kindness.
He may not fawn all over you, but he sure as hell
better know what he's got when he looks at you.
Hot shots are like dandelions: vexing yet plentiful.
A good man is more important than a pretty face,
and well worth the wait of a few broken hearts.

Little mama, I can tell you haven't slept.
Sit down and rest; you don't have to hover every second.
Your child won't know when to stop unless
you show her; won't understand limits
if you place none on yourself.
Wipe those tears, quit your whining, and remember:
Life moves at the pace you set.

World, don't call me a lady.
I have no interest in being pretty or refined...
in making nice and staying quiet.
I will kick up a fuss when it serves me to do so;
I will not bow my head to anyone.
Speak my name; throw back your shoulders.
I have no cause for regret.

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