A Million Little Things

I’m a sucker for the emotional television dramas -( hello This Is Us and Downton Abbey!) Do any of you watch the show A Million Little Things? I do, and in episode 7 of season 4 there was one scene that felt like it was written just for me.


Can’t Take the Insecurities Out of the Girl

In this scene two characters are discussing how one of them recently met a woman he would like to ask on a date, but she did not know he uses a wheelchair because they met when they were both in a parking lot and sitting in their cars. The guy is nervous because he doesn’t know how to tell this woman that he is in a chair. He feels he must explain it to her so she can be prepared.

Let me tell you, I feel like I lived this scene in real life. Let me explain: At the beginning of the school year, I met another mom at the bus drop off. Of course, because of all things pandemic related, we were wearing our masks. Over the next few weeks of hanging out together every morning watching our kids get on the bus, we exchanged numbers and decided it would be fun to get together for coffee and chat elsewhere besides the cold of the bus stop.

That day, as soon as I left the bus stop, the thoughts started pinballing through my brain like well..a pinball. I thought “I met this mom while I was wearing a mask. She has no idea that I have a cleft. What is her reaction going to be? What will I say? Will I have to endure the inevitable look to my nose and mouth and then further endure the quick look away?”.


A Million Miles an Hour

My brain was going a million miles per hour thinking out all the awful situations that could occur, and I was paralyzed. I couldn’t think any further than my immediate reaction – which was..can you guess? Fear. I was feeling afraid of being rejected by this nice woman who I genuinely liked chatting with every morning. I was feeling anxious because before this woman, I haven’t met anyone new that couldn’t at least see what I looked like when they met me. Just the thought of “unveiling” myself was almost too much.

I may be 44 now, but all those insecurities that were there as a young girl born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate never really go away. They came roaring back with a vengeance. So much so that I contemplated trying to cancel our yet to be scheduled coffee hang out before it even was on the books.


A Million Little Anxieties

Fast forward to me watching this particular episode of A Million Little Things, and this scene comes on. It was just the wake up call I needed. As the main character is talking out his thoughts of should I call her and tell her that I am in a wheelchair”, the other character in the scene dropped some knowledge. He said “Sure, you can do that. While you’re at it do you want to tell her others things like your credit score?” It made me laugh out loud, not just because the actor’s delivery of that line was perfectly dead-pan, but because of how silly it would be if the guy really did that! The actor continued… “She liked you for you. And if the chair changes that, then it is her loss, not yours.”

The point that this scene so perfectly makes is that nothing other than who you are on the inside should determine whether or not someone likes you.


You Are More Than What Is On The Outside

So the next time you are feeling nervous, fearful, or anxious about meeting someone new, or going into a new situation, remember this –  nothing about your physical appearance needs to be explained away. Who you are is more than your physical appearance.  Who you are is a combination of a million little things. And if someone doesn’t take the time to get to know you just because of what they see on the outside, it is their loss, not yours.

~Vickie


It’s Ok to Ask “Why Me”.

Hello friends. It’s been a rough couple of weeks in my household. You may have noticed a lack of social media posts, YouTube videos, and a delay in everything Dragonfly Paradigm. While we weathered the weeklong return to remote learning for my daughter, we did not fair so well since then, because our household was hit hard by COVID-19. Not only did I and my husband test positive, but our daughter did as well. Luckily, we are moving through with relatively mild symptoms, except for fatigue. The COVID fatigue is no joke.

We know our symptoms could have been much worse and are thankful that both my husband and I were vaccinated so we did not have severe reactions. It nevertheless didn’t stop me from asking “why me” after I initially got my positive test result.


Asking Why..

It’s completely normal to have feelings like this and ask questions like this when unfortunate events befall us. I know from my involvement in various parent groups of cleft children that once receiving a cleft diagnosis for their child, they often ask these kinds of questions. “Why did this happen”, “What did I do wrong”, “How could this happen”. There were times in my youth that I also asked “why me”. All these feelings are completely NORMAL.


It’s Normal to Wonder Why..

My family knew that by putting our daughter back in public school we could most likely all contract COVID. It was a risk we discussed and worked through as a family – weighing all the pros and cons. But that didn’t stop the feelings of trying to figure out why this would happen to us.


What is the “Why”..

In contrast to the known ways one can come down with COVID, there is still no clear reason as to why babies are born with a cleft. Although 1 in 700 babies worldwide are born with a cleft, the cause has yet to be definitively identified. There was no case of a cleft at all in my family – either on my mother or fathers’ side – prior to my birth. My mother’s doctor told her that a cleft can be both biologically passed on or can be caused through environmental issues. My daughter was not born with a cleft but has the chance of having a child of her own that will, since I do. There are many families that have clefts prominently in their families and could have 2 out of 3 children born with a cleft.

This “no rhyme nor reason” is the cause of much frustration when it comes to trying to answer the “why me” questions. For both parents, and cleft affected individuals themselves, we always want to know the “why”. But no matter if we find out the “why” or not, it doesn’t change the result. And constantly beating our heads against the wall trying to find out the “why”, will only drive us crazy and distract us form dealing with the situation at hand.


The Sage Advice Never Fails..

If you saw my last blog post where I talked about the sage advice my mom gave me long ago, I put it good use again during these past two weeks. I took my day (more like two) and had a good mope and wallow. Then I slowly began to work on shifting my perspective form “why me”, to “what can I do about it.” This small shift in perspective made all the difference, not just for my recent COVID situation, but for my journey through accepting my cleft and learning the lessons I have been taught me because of it.

So, when you feel yourself asking “why me”, go ahead and give yourself permission to feel your emotions, because it is ok. But then shift that question from “why me”, to “what can I do about it”. Shift your perspective. Start working with what you have around you to better your situation, instead of railing against the injustice and unfairness of it all.


I Love a List..

Not sure where to start? Do what I do. Make a list. (I love a list). What do you have available right now that you can use to help you move forward? Even the smallest thing can make a huge difference in how you view your situation. And putting that one small thing into action will pay huge dividends in the long run.

~Vickie



Pageant Dream: The Spirit of Miss Teen

Would you believe me if I told you that a young girl who was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate entered herself into a pageant and actually won an award? Well, back in August of 1993 at the age of 15, that’s exactly what I did!

Pageant Photo Flashback..

My mother found some old photos recently and sent them my way. This one not only surprised me, but brought back so many emotions and thoughts about that time. The main thought being “how did I ever feel so confident to do this at such a young age?”

From The Outside In..

Looking back, I can pinpoint one major factor in how I became confident enough to not only enter this pageant, but to try so many other things throughout my life that I may have otherwise been too afraid to because of feeling fearful of how others may look at me, react to me, or what they may say to me.

I found activities that I enjoyed and could hone and become proficient in. Being able to develop skills and talents that had absolutely nothing to do with how I looked gave me the boost of confidence that I needed. The first and foremost being piano. I started playing piano at age 6. From that age, all the way through high school, I took lessons. I performed at recitals, talent shows, and even at the Miss Teen of Oregon pageant where this picture was taken.

They Can’t Take That Away..

Learning piano and becoming proficient left no room for anyone’s opinion on my ability. Whereas beauty is subjective and as they say “in the eye of the beholder”, my musical ability was not up for debate. I didn’t have to try to explain it away or justify that I could play. The fact was that I could.

I had something that I could do and that I was proud of. I could receive praise for my ability, which had nothing to do with my outward appearance. It was liberating.

Aristotle Was Right..

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts”. Aristotle was on to something with these words.   It is so easy to look at someone as separate parts. How they look, how they sound, how they dress, etc. However, they can become so much more because of how those parts of put together. Although my talent for piano is a part of who I am, the effect it had on my ability to see my worth was life changing. I knew from the inside out that I was more than my parts, because when put all together I am a person worthy of love, respect, and have value and gifts to share just like anyone else. And so are you.

It’s Your Turn..

So now it’s your turn. Look back and reminisce on all that you are. Celebrate not only the fact that you have overcome challenges, but celebrate what you enjoy and have a talent for. You are worthy of this adoration. The gifts you have are unique to you because there is no one else like you on this Earth.

~Vickie



Investing: If Not Now, Then When?

I was having a conversation with a friend a few days ago, and as we were talking about all sorts of things, she said something that struck me. She said that women rarely invest in themselves before investing in others.  

There is truth to this..

Think about yourself right now. When an opportunity arises to take a class, go to a retreat, or participate in a workshop that you know will be a benefit to you personally and emotionally, what do you feel in your gut? Hesitation? Fear? If you let that feeling grow, what comes next? I’m guessing a myriad of excuses as to why you cannot attend. Not to mention creation of imaginary scenarios that “could” arise that end up making you say no to the current opportunity. Believe me, I have heard them all, because I have told them all to myself countless times.

Investing does not mean money..

There is plenty of research and articles out there that talk about just this specific issue and try to get down to the root of WHY women tend to put their personal growth aside for the sake of others.  So, what is the WHY? Time? Money? Nope, it is neither of those. Even though they both play a part, they are not the root cause of why women continue to put themselves down. The number one reason? LACK OF CONFIDENCE. If you are interested in reading more details, there was a well written article in The Atlantic several years back that still holds up. Click the link here to check it out.

It all comes back to this..

Confidence is key to just about everything we do in life. If that makes you cringe a bit because you feel that you are lacking in confidence, then try thinking of it this way. Your attitude determines how well you function in the midst of all of life’s challenges. Do you have a positive outlook or negative? When presented with an opportunity for personal growth and challenge, do you see it as a way of investing in yourself or do you see it as something else you don’t have the time or money for. As one of my favorite spiritual motivational speakers used to say “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” Dr. Dyer is right on with that, and it really is that simple.

So, is there something you want to learn? A workshop you want to attend? Is there a skill you want to hone? Do not let the immediate fear of “I’m not worthy” stop you from doing what you want.

Confront the fear..

Are you still consumed with all the excuses? Use my Brain Dump Worksheet (link to download below) and write down all of the excuses you can come up with. Next, go line by line and right a T or F by each one. Is that excuse true or false? Is it your fear talking or a legitimate reason? Be honest with yourself and if by the time you get to the end of your list you have realized that most of your excuses are false, then my friend, there is your answer.

If you do not invest now, then when..

Invest in yourself. You are the greatest gift you have to give to others, so nurture yourself. Love yourself. Take the time to show yourself that you believe you are worthy of your own time and energy. As Robin Sharma says, “Investing in yourself is the best investment you will ever make. It will not only improve your life, it will improve the lives of all those around you.”

~Vickie


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Mirror Mirror: You Can’t Run, and You Can’t Hide.

Reflections

The tyranny of the blank page is second only to the tyranny of a mirror. At least for me it is. Having been born with a facial deformity, I tend to not spend all that much time in front of mirrors, outside of my usual morning routine.  All mirrors have ever done for me is reflect the indisputable evidence of my birth defect.

Just the Facts, Ma’am..

Breaking it down, my image is simply a collection of facts. I have hazel eyes and brown hair. I have olive skin and dark brown eyebrows. My nose is uneven on both sides and flat on top. My upper lip dips down on one side, and my bottom lip is full and pouty. I have a smile that has been shaped through years of orthodontia, surgeries, and false teeth.

These are the facts of my face. The mirror does nothing but reflect what is in front of it. So, where does my problem with what I see come from? It has to do with the THOUGHTS I THINK about what I am seeing. 

Those Facts Are Defintely Not Rose Colored..

My hair is brown, but I choose to color it because my hair is going grey faster than I like to admit. My dark brown eyebrows are uneven because the two sides of my nose are not shaped the same, so the point of reference for keeping them maintained is unequal. I have always liked my smile because when I do, it makes the downward slope of my upper lip less noticeable.

Are these the same facts as listed before? Technically yes, but they are colored by how I THINK about them. These colored thoughts then lead me to develop feelings about how I look. I feel annoyed about the fact that my eyebrows are unequal because my nose is uneven. When I am not smiling, I feel ashamed that my upper lip slopes down severely on one side. I feel vulnerable when I have to have orthodontia work well into my 40’s because I do not have my own teeth at the front of my mouth.

These feelings lead me to take action by avoiding mirrors. I avoid being on camera if not completely prepared. Or not participating in events because I might have to speak on camera and my pronunciation of some words can be difficult to hear clearly in recordings.

Think Feel Act

A mirror is an inanimate object. It simply reflects what is in front of it and is incapable of causing pain. But it has been the source of pain and self-doubt for me for as long as I can remember. The reason? It is not the mirror. The pain is self-inflicted. Self-inflicted by the THOUGHTS I THINK that lead to the EMOTIONS I FEEL when I look at my reflection.

So, what broke me out of the pattern of self-doubt? Learning about the Think Feel Act Cycle. Essentially it is the process by which our thoughts create our feelings, and therefore lead to the actions we take.

That is a clunky way of summing up the cycle, but if you want to learn more, listen to the Take A Break Podcast by Rachel Hart. She explains the Think Feel Act Cycle in such a way that when I heard it for the first time, I actually said out loud “Holy Crap!”.

A lightbulb went on for me and changed my approach entirely to my own personal development. Her show is built for helping people take a break from drinking, but the discussions are applicable to every aspect of life. It is absolutely wonderful, and I highly recommend it. Here is the link to an episode devoted entirely to the Think Feel Act Cycle.

Self-Reflect, not Self-Inflict

So what do I see when I look in the mirror now? The facts of my face are still the same, but now my thoughts are different. Yes, I have dark eyebrows that are not equidistant due to the uneven shape of my nose, but you know what those dark eyebrows do? They set off my hazel eyes that I inherited from my father. Yes, my top lip droops down on one side, but when I laugh and smile you can’t even tell. And you know what? I love laughing and smiling. I have a great laugh and a nice smile. Breaking the pattern of self-inflicted pain from the thougths I was choosing to think about myself has made a huge impact on maintaining my self-confidence.

I hope you can take some time and examine some of the thoughts you have when something has you feeling down about yourself or some aspect of your life. The thoughts we think influence EVERYTHING we experience in our lives and doing the hard work of recognizing those thoughts will pay dividends. Knowledge is power, and it can be truly eye opening when you are able to get down to the bottom of WHY you are feeling down, or lacking self-confidence. Get those thoughts down on paper and see for yourself. Do the work. It will be worth it. Take it from the girl who used to do everything possible to avoid speaking on camera. I just did my first ever Facebook live video this past week and lived to tell the tale!

~Vickie


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