Thursday, September 30, 2010

Manipulating Your Alter Ego

If life is a road, and the journey is in the car, my best self is always in the car.  If you've met me, you've met her.  She is the real Rosanna.  She can be pretty awesome.  The thing is, she is not always driving.  And in the car is also my alter ego, Rosetta, who sometimes takes the wheel.  (Yep, I named her.  It's more fun!  Try it.)

When I'm driving, I go where I want to go with joy and a strong capacity to be resilient no matter the circumstance.  When Rosetta drives, it's a bit of a different story.  She's quite the trouble maker, that Rosetta.  She wants to take me to Dairy Queen on lonely nights.  She wants to get the hell out of practice when we're only thirty minutes in.  And she definitely loves to slack off.

The thing is, I'm learning to mess with Rosetta.  I can push her buttons from the passenger side and get her to do what I want, to drive where I need to go.  And, so, I might be learning the art of manipulating my own self.

The other morning, I was having a hard time finishing our swim sprints with zeal.  Rosetta was preaching to me about how giving 90% on a 100% sprint was okay because it was the first week back at practice.  She was telling me that my coach needs to ease up a little.  Blablabla.

So, I played with her.

I told her that the hottest guy we've ever seen was on the pool deck, watching us, so we really needed to impress him.  Maybe he'd think we were so fast and take us on a date?  Maybe it would be the beginning of our love story, right then and there, because we were oh-so-fast!?

I knew in that moment that the real reason I wanted to swim fast--to make the most beautiful story out of the life God has given me--wasn't going to work.  Rosetta was driving.  So, I played some ball with her.

And we swam fast.

And I'm driving again!

If you can manipulate your alter ego without crossing any moral boundaries, I say go for it.  I know you feel that Dr. Octopus force inside of your head, convincing you that your existence is merely mediocre.  So, mess with it, play with it, dislodge it, love on it, and let it know that its spot in the driver seat will not last very long.

Rosanna and Rosetta, BFFs since 1948

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Sneaky Beauty

On the journey to becoming our best selves, there are painful seasons of recognizing and fixing our character flaws.  Sometimes realizations about ourselves are awful, other times we're not as bad as we think.

I have loads of strengths and flaws.  What I have been struggling with lately is the balance between self-promotion and self-absorption.  It's hard to know when you're crossing the line from a good thing to a bad thing.  I also have a history of being judgmental.  I've noticed incredible improvements from sixth grade to now, but I kid you not, I could give your Baptist gramma a run for her money.  And then there's vanity.  Who doesn't struggle with vanity?   

As much as it's painful, sometimes recognizing an ugly aspect of our character is intensely meaningful because a veil of ignorance is lifted. You recognize, cry, note, work to improve.  But yesterday I noticed that sometimes I think I am worse off than I really am.

This is what happened.

I was on the metro, coming home from practice.  People were looking at me for a bit longer than usual.  I wondered if I could actually look that good after practice.  I figured probably not and continued reading my book.

When I got home, I looked in the mirror and laughed at myself.  I had black under my eyes like human-meets-racoon!  Woops, I forgot to wash off my mascara before practice!  That's why people were looking at me, silly.

What I realized after laughing at myself, slightly embarrassed, was that I also must have forgotten to look in the mirror before leaving the pool.  For someone who thinks she's vain, as much as I still felt embarrassed, I was also proud of myself.  I didn't even look in the mirror before leaving the locker room!!!  I washed, conditioned and brushed my hair.  But I didn't even take a glance at this purty face in some reflective glass.  That's serious stuff.

So, I bet you're not as bad as you think, at least in certain areas.  Maybe embarrassing or forgetful moments allow beauty to sneak out from inside.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Wouldn't It Be Terrible?

Wouldn't it be terrible if you fell in love and suddenly didn't care for all the Curious George stuff you loved while you were single?  The skydiving, the vagabonding and the establishing of yourself were all ways you disguised your search for love.  And so once you found love, you lost a lustre for life because something inside you believed a lie that your lover would now fulfill you and provide all the needed excitement.

But then you become boring.  And slowly but surely you forget who you are because you've stored your identity in your lover loving you.

This doesn't work.

Romantic love turns out unable to fulfill you.  You expect it to, but it lets you down.  And this let-down drives you into a loss of self and a loss of lover.

Wouldn't it be terrible?


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Build Trust in Yourself

It's 1:04am, and I just got in from a jog.  Uhhh.
I committed to going for a run earlier today, and then the day went away with itself.  I had this and that planned, so I decided that I would run once I returned home tonight.
Well, it must be a full moon because I took the wrong metro twice in my own city and arrived home after 12:30am.  I really only inconvenienced myself about a half hour, but what was I thinking?!  I, first, took one metro in the wrong direction.  I, second, proceeded to fix my error.  I, third, forgot that I fixed my error and got off the metro at the wrong stop.  By the time I sat for my last ride, direction to destination finally figured out, I looked like I was high on something and seriously had to ask myself if I was dreaming.  I then thought that maybe I just needed to go straight to bed and save the run for tomorrow.  Jet lag, lack of sleep, who knows.
But then the better part of me argued back, imagining soldiers getting splashed with cold water in their sleepy faces to wake up for 3am drills.  Taking a 20 minute jog at 12:40am really can't be that bad, especially if I committed to it.
So, I went.  And it was dark and Fall out there.  I had a few twentysomethings whistle at me from their cars.  I listened to Alicia Keys' Superwoman (volume not to the max so I could be aware of nighttime creepers).  And it was done.
I'm home, and it wasn't too bad at all.  And I feel happy with myself.
You see, if we want people to trust us, we have to trust ourselves.  And the easiest way to trust yourself is to make a commitment to yourself and follow through with it.  Check.
Here's a great book on all this sort of stuff. It is very fantastic.


"There is absolutely nothing you can do that will increase integrity faster than learning how to make and keep commitments to yourself."

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Harper, The Riptide

I was in Hawai'i last week visiting my childhood best friend, Steph, who gave birth to her first baby ten months ago. Her daughter's name is Harper, and you'd smile as big as she does if you met her. She has dimples under both eyes that forewarn of the heartbreaks she'll cause, and the size of her cheeks almost convince you that her DNA transcribed something to the effect of squirrel-storing-nuts.

Harper does not sit still and explores with the curiosity of Steve Zissou. She picks up everything she finds, and in order to experience an object of discovery to its fullest, she puts it in her mouth. (Yes, Steph has already performed kiddie heimlich once.) She crawls in the dirt and sand, smears food all over like it’s a work of modern art and repeatedly practices the new sounds that she’s learned to make with her mouth.

The other day at the beach, Harper was living life large by raising both of her hands up as high as she could in the air and then pouncing them down onto the sand with an excited squeal. We were at shore, and she loved when the tide would come in to cool her off. She also had no idea that a riptide could suck her back into the ocean, which is why Steph was close by to swoop her up.

After watching Harper play at the beach, I realized that there is something so beautiful in her unawareness. Harper doesn’t notice everyday dangers, which is why motherhood really is a full-time job, but she also cannot grasp unimportant details that many of us tend to dwell on. Whether you’re outwardly beautiful, whether you have acne scars or cellulite and whether your teeth are straight or yellow, she only sees you as human (or creature?) and craves but your smile, love and attention. She has no idea that her beach bag is from Pottery Barn Kids, and her only interest in my trendy, Ray Ban Clubmasters is to grab them off my face and throw them in the sand. She doesn’t mull over what you’ll think about her when she makes ungainly, excited movements with her arms or unorthodox sounds with her mouth; she exists purely and messily, as Harper.
So I was thinking that as much as our biggest fear at the beach would be for the riptide to take her away, I feel like she is a bit of a riptide, herself. And she’s taking me, at least a few steps, away from the stuff that doesn’t matter. She has reminded me that hollow trappings of material North America, that all things physical and superficial, are cheap substitutes for some of the things that really matter: love, relationships, and unadulterated yet messy fun! And once again, I see why the wisest of the wise tell us to be more like children.