We are all hypocrites and drama queens

There is a difference between a catastrophe and an inconvenience. While some of us are happy that President Obama won a second term, many are unhappy and are reacting as though this were an earth shattering catastrophe.  Let me make myself clear here — Hurricane Sandy and the destruction to lower Manhattan and other parts of the East coast is a catastrophe – Mitt Romney losing the election is an inconvenience at best. Some  of us need to get a grip.

No matter who you voted for yesterday, today we breathe in, we put one foot in front of the other and we live. Hopefully we live for something outside of ourselves. I voted, and those who know me best know who I voted for and why. Granted if you follow me on Twitter, you already know who I voted for and if you are still reading my blog you either agree with me or came to see if God struck me dead with lightning yet.

So for all of my Christian readers who believe I’m in a hand basket headed straight for hell, sorry. I’m still here. And being black-listed for either being a Christian or being a Democrat does not hurt my feelings. I needed time off anyway and now that my entire month of November is free, I can write my book.

I say that a little tongue in cheek in all honesty. Are we really that petty? Hollywood black lists Christians and Christians black list each other over trivial things. Drama queens abound on either side and yet somewhere in the middle is our tribe.

I’ll admit trying to give up anger during an election year has not been easy. I might as well as tried to give up chocolate while working in a candy store. So many things can make my skull split in half, the word “Koolaid” being the most recent thing that brings out my alter-ego “home-girl.” I try to placate her with cookies, but sometimes she comes out and she is U-G-L-Y.

I have an IQ of over 145, I don’t drink koolaid and neither does anyone else I know. I hear that word on both sides of the spectrum. Not only does the far right use it to describe Democrats, I have several atheist friends do the same thing to describe anyone who dares believe in a God.  My writers group is loaded with atheists and progressive Christians. I fall somewhere in the middle I’m sure.

I love my friends dearly, and I know I am a bit of a conundrum to them. I’m a Christian female who gave up my career to raise my family. No regrets. I choose to submit to my husband out of love and respect (not fear or koolaid brainwashing), and yet I am a Democrat. I believe in helping those less fortunate. I believe that women have equal value to men. I believe in a lot of things actually. If I’ve learned nothing from this election season, I’ve learned this: In the final analysis, be us believers of God or not, we’re all hypocrites and drama queens.   

That’s good news to me. Knowing we are all hypocrites means we can let go of our masks and just be ourselves and hopefully learn to love each other.

Now let us put one foot in front of the other, breathe in and out, stop awefullizing everything, quit being a victim and LIVE.

The Shaky Life of the Nearly Courageous

“You are afraid to admit that you need me if I don’t feel the same way.” – The Proposal, Alternate Ending. (Can be seen on Youtube)

I am one of those people who jumps ahead to the last chapter of a book in order to decide if it is worth reading. I like to make sure the story has a happy ending before I invest my time. Ruins it for me in all honesty and I’m learning I can’t do that with life, even though I try.

I love the movie The Proposal.  I wanted to be that woman when I grew up. Not the needy one, but the one who had it all together and ran the world or at least a major corporation. Yep, never happened. Didn’t stop me from wanting it though. I can still remember being 22 and riding the train in Chicago wearing a navy blue pinstripe suit and reading the Wall Street Journal looking down on the people my age sitting around me in jeans and sneakers wondering when they were going to start being adults. I wasn’t an adult, I was a terrified kid living on my own in a big city for the first time, playing dress up and hoping no one noticed. Truth is, if it hadn’t been for the two people I let befriend me, I’m not sure how I would have survived. Even though I didn’t fully realize it myself, I needed them I just didn’t trust them enough to tell them that.

Everyone has trust issues of some kind, it’s just that some of us are better at hiding them than others. Mine happen to be glaringly obvious. If I’m not trying to read your mind and tell you what I think you want to hear, I’m being cute, trying to make you laugh, shaking like a leaf, or running for the hills. I used to think I had the whole world fooled until a friend pointed them out a few years ago. I am not amused, I mean it’s bad enough that I have trust issues, do they have to be so obvious?

Going from a mommy/garden blogger to a woman who writes about over coming fear, while still shaking in my boots, is an interesting journey. I’d rather learn in a closet, and then show the world how brilliant I am than learn in front of an audience. The only thing worse than my glaringly obvious trust issues is my pride.

Will you really like me and the things I’m doing if you know I am terrified every step of the way? That is a legitimate question for a recovering approval junkie like myself. That’s where my pride really takes a kick in the proverbial teeth. In the final assessment, I just want to be liked, by everyone, all the time even if it kills us both. Talk about an unrealistic expectation. I don’t even like myself all the time.

My journey as a Christian writer has had more starts, stops, skinned knees and bruised pride than I ever expected when I started back in 2002. My original post-children plans back then included being a deaconess or a women’s ministry leader, and when that didn’t turn out the way I expected I found myself doing a lot of soul-searching and sifting through a junk yard of need. I erroneously believed that if I could prove I belong than I can stop apologizing for breathing air. If I prove I belong, I can stop being afraid. That’s a lie by the way. The only way I can stop being afraid is to do the things that scare me the most.

I threw out everything, including my original blog during my soul-searching snit fit and started over from scratch.  No great loss I assure you. My original writings are nothing more than a mask. They are things I thought people would want to hear; 12 steps to this seven steps to that. You know the drill: How to be a better Christian, how to be a better wife, how to keep pretending.  Then I started reading books by people like Donald Miller and Anne Lamott and I discovered a whole new world. I discovered Christians who were willing to be transparent without apologizing. Their courage fueled mine. Granted, my original transparency contained more of what is wrong with my tradition and this world as I see it today than anything else, but it was a start.

I no longer cared if you liked me or not, I just wanted to be heard. Know anybody like that? People like that are really difficult to be around for too long.  One of my comedy friends remembers my porcupine self back then. I had a bite as she says.  I was sarcastic and nasty and ready to pick a fight with anyone and I picked a lot of fights. And if I wasn’t picking fights, I was stirring pots.  Once I started meeting people who loved me back instead of fighting with me, I really freaked out. Anger is a voice that I used for too long. Anger is also a mask for fear, did you know that?

“The hardest thing about loving someone is having the courage to let them love you back.” – The Wedding Date

Masks can be admired, but never fully loved.  Rather than covering up my fears with anger or over achieving, I decided to start owning them and writing about them. I had to unlearn everything I thought I knew about life and start over. Learning something new is awkward and challenging to say the least. I had to learn how to admit I need someone without being sure they felt the same way. I also had to find the courage to start letting people love me back. I’m not fully there yet, but I’m working on it.

Instead of passing on conferences that intimidated me, I started attending them. Instead of distancing myself from the people there, or faking my way through it to prove I belong, I owned my fears out loud and jumped in and risked letting myself be known. “I’m here and I’m terrified, but I’m here.” I did an open mic at a comedy conference and told a room full of professional comics, I’m scared to death but let’s do this. At which point I started hyperventilating and had to start over. I will admit that weirded people out a bit at first but then someone whispered in my ear later that night, “I’m scared too, nice to meet you.” and I made a new friend.

I used to believe people would think less of me if they knew how afraid I really was, then I realized that I’m not the only one who is afraid. Whether we admit it or not, there is something out there that scares all of us a little and that’s okay. Maybe that’s why my readership picked up so much once I started admitting, “I’m scared too, nice to meet you.”

Life lived under the covers of your bed isn’t life and it isn’t living. Don’t just write in a way that scares you a little, live in a way that scares you a little even if your fears and trust issues are so glaringly obvious that you have to shake. Even if your pride makes you want to run for the hills, hold fast. Shake until you stop shaking, close your eyes and breathe.

“You are safe. Let go of the past and remember what a wonderful woman you are.” Also from The Wedding Date (Hands down my favorite scene of the whole movie). 

Making Peace With my Inner Child Again

My inner child has been screaming at me all summer. Have you ever been there? Every once in a while she needs positive attention and words of love and forgiveness and acceptance. – Think The Ring only far less creepy. She will not leave me alone until I listen to her. If I don’t listen to her, she’ll act out.

I went to Nashville in June with a few of my comic friends.  Christian comics from all over the country converged on a small church for three days where we loved on each other, laughed and cried with each other and helped each other as best we could. Several of us wish we were still there. Re-entry into the real world was a little rough.

One night, a group of us were sitting around the table talking about using humor to help convey certain truths.  We also spoke about the importance of telling the truth. That caused a few people to shrink in their chairs. Yours truly included. Being the new kid on the block, I assure you that did not go unnoticed.

“Tell me one thing you’ve done in your life that you don’t want me to know.”

HELL TO THE NO! I’m here to tell jokes, not play truth or dare.

I’ll let you in on a little secret, if I want to throw people off the scent of my personal fear and shame, I throw them the Johnny Cole bone.. “I went to a concert when I was 21. We stalked the band and beat them back to their hotel. I met Johnny and he invited me to the after party. It’s okay though because I didn’t go. Huey spotted me and sent me home because he didn’t believe I was over 18.” The end.

Nothing wakes up my inner child like being lied about. She wanted to know why I didn’t answer his question honestly. I don’t care who knows about Johnny, I do care who knows about Plano and she knows that.

Now, I’m a Christian. We’re supposed to believe that our past has been forgiven and redeemed of God. I have no reason to shrink down, blush, or look at the ground. Right?

We should believe that. We should be able to hold our heads up and not be afraid or filled with shame. And usually we are until something reminds us of that one story —

You know the one I mean.

The one that if anyone found out I’d die a thousand deaths because I just know that I’ll be abandoned, branded, and left for dead by the side of the road.

THAT story.

I have one of those.

Or two or three.

Mostly the one though.

Having been in a 12 step program before I have shared my life story all over the United States. And I’ve never told this one – to anyone ever. Which is a problem really. Things fester in the dark. It’s getting moldy and stinks to high heaven.

Which is probably why that one story has come back to me time and time again all summer.

Being as I can’t shake it and since I have menopause induced insomnia, I’ve been writing about it all summer. My journal begins with

“The statute of limitations on my personal rights to be a dumb a$$ expired the night I found myself….”

Thought I was gonna tell you, didn’t you?

Nope.

I’m not going to tell you, because you have your stories and if you see mine, you’ll weigh it and decide – for better or worse – how yours matches up. I don’t want you to do that. I want you to own your own stories and learn how to release them as well.

I will admit there is just something about getting it down on black and white that takes the power out of the sting. I had to do some grieving and some owning up to my part. This is a 23-year-old secret. That is a looong time to be buried. I needed to let the woman I used to be cry and heal.

I’ve already talked to God about it and He’s already forgiven it. The problem is, I haven’t forgiven myself so I added a letter to that young girl and mothered her like I wish someone had mothered me then. I gave her permission to be human, to make bad choices and good choices (she did the right thing in the end) and I gave her permission to forgive herself because the woman I am today forgives her.

Forgiving her has been wonderful and for some reason my menopause induced insomnia is gone.

HMMMM

This weekend we are at our cabin. Hopefully fishing and jamming out on the guitar and banjo. If the burn ban is lifted, I’ll be placing that journal in a kettle and burning it. My last step in letting it go. Hopefully now I can get back to the fun stuff of writing jokes.

Have a great weekend you guys.

Friday Funny: Southern Women Make Great Evangelists

I had a chance to meet one of my favorite Christian singers a few years back,  but I was too busy evangelizing one of the volunteers and I missed the meet and greet.

You see, I had taken my family to see this man perform at a local church and when I walked in with my boys a gentlemen stepped in front of me and shoved a flier in my hands. I read it when I sat down and discovered it was an invitation to this singer’s senior citizens cruise later that fall. I didn’t make anything of it, figuring he had to give them to everyone. I was after all only 43 at the time.

Then my husband arrived. He tried to take a flier out of this man’s hand and do you know he said?

“I’m sorry sir, these fliers are for senior citizens only and you don’t look old enough.”

Have you ever seen a Southern woman throw a wall-eyed hissy with a red rubber tail? Something like that will turn even the deepest of atheists in to a man of prayer. I can guarantee you if that man wasn’t saved before he gave me the flier, he is now.

Be Blessed Y’all.

Isaiah 43:1 But now, this is what the LORD says— he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” 

Blue Like Jazz The Movie is Coming to Your Town!

I’ve been talking about this movie for a while. 1. Because I’m a Donald Miller fan and 2. Because it is not only a great book (saved my hide about 8 years back), it is also a great movie. Blue Like Jazz opened in select cities last weekend and the list has been expanded this week. It’s even playing in Tulsa at Southroads 20 on 41st Street for you local readers.

I believe this is a must see movie for anyone grappling with life, fitting in, and finding who you are.  Christian or not.

Disclaimer:

From Steve — 

I made it clear to all our potential investors and/or heads of media companies, the vast majority of whom were fellow Christians, that this was not going to be a family movie. The reason was simple: How do you tell the story of a college kid who flees his Southern Baptist upbringing in suburban Houston to attend the ‘most godless campus in America’ without showing what that environment is like? And how can that environment be portrayed realistically in the context of a ‘family’ movie? Doesn’t have to be rated R, but it’s probably going to be PG-13, right?

– Director Steve Taylor

Blue Like Jazz is a semi-autobiographical look at Donald Miller’s search for life, meaning, and God. I already know the end of the story because I read his books and his blog. While this isn’t a warm fuzzy family movie, it is real and it is a great movie for any of us who have ever searched for answers. Check out the trailer then CLICK HERE FOR TICKET INFORMATION.

This blog post written by Deana O’Hara for Redemption’s Heart. FCC full disclosure requires that I inform you that while no goods or services were received for this recommendation, I am an Associate Producer of Blue Like Jazz. (loosely translated – I and a bunch of other people, invested financially in the production of this film. I will not receive royalties but my name is in the credits and I  have a really cool BLJ t-shirt now. I supported the movie because I believe in it. ) 

Tim Hawkins and John Branyan are Coming to Broken Arrow

The screaming you heard on Saturday afternoon was my 18-year-old son finding out that I have purchased tickets to see his all time favorite comic, Tim Hawkins. I totally rock as a mom sometimes.

When: Sunday, April 1, 2012 7:00 pm

Where: Grace Fellowship on Garnet and 91st Street in Broken Arrow

 

If you’ve never heard of Tim, check out his video clip. After that go thee to HERE and order your tickets today before they sell out. I pretty much guarantee these guys will having you laughing so hard you’ll have tears running down your legs.

John Branyan on Adam and Eve

And guys and dolls, as always no goods or services were given to me in exchange for this endorsement. I’m just taking my kid someplace cool and wanted to share it with you before time runs out.

Have a great Monday and remember – There is no kill switch for awesome!

Love ya!

Voice: Who Speaks For You?

Photo from istock.

You can’t find your voice if you only let others speak for you.

I love the photo from istock. The person in the middle standing out in red with their arms in the air seems so freeing. A visual “ME! I’m here!” in a sea of beige. It speaks to me and so does the quote about letting others speak for me. I think I’ve spent most of my life handing off personal power and pieces of my identity for peace.

I’m only on week two of my voice studies and my brain is already overflowing with Ah Ha moments and inspiration. The assignments have been relatively simple really and yet scary at the same time. I have an Associates Degree while everyone else appears to have a Masters in Lit or higher – heck yes I’m comparing. It scares me.

It’s no coincidence that I would find a writers voice class in the same season that I am questioning my own beliefs about life in general and wondering whose voice really transfers over. Is it my voice people hear or is my version of someone’s expectations? Since I don’t know the answer, I believe that is a question worth exploring.

My journaling goes beyond the lessons these days as I look at why I choose certain phrases and where opinions come from. Am I being rebellious? Am I being afraid? Am I being a parrot? or Am I being me?

Writing has become enjoyable again.  They don’t know me. There are no expectations of specific character and behavior. I have the freedom and permission to try on voices like a teenager tries on clothes. There’s no box to fit into.

This class is as freeing as the day I learned how to do stand up — granted I hope and pray writing produces better results.  Or maybe the fruit that seed planted *is* growing. Maybe stand-up is just another part of the path of finding myself again. Once I learned how to tell jokes on stage – kill or die trying – other things (like going back to being a Democrat) don’t seem nearly as formidable. I’m eyeball deep in Republicans, trust me when I say that changing back is a bit formidable. Other questions do arise however:

  • Just because I’m a Christian does that mean I *have* to talk about God all the time?
  • Can I have opinions that are left of center rather than right?
  • Can I talk about something else like how hard being middle-aged is sometimes?
  • Can I talk about love or nature or even sex.
  • Can I talk about the really sexy artist/poet that makes me melt?
  • I’m a Mom but do I have to talk about my kids?

Can I swear?

Anne Lamott does.

I remember the first time I read Traveling Mercies and I saw the F-word. It knocked my sensibilities right out of my socks and caused me to double-check the jacket. Yep, she’s a Christian.  My eyes lit up, I giggled and looked around wondering if anyone had heard what I just read. Then something magical happened, my soul settled deep into my reading chair and by the end of the book – I wanted dreadlocks too.

Wanting them and actually getting them are not the same thing. Trying them on for size? Totally worth it.  I just didn’t know how I was going to do that. I finally had my chance while on a cruise with some new artist friends and had my hair braided on the beach in Costa Maya last Spring. They lasted all of 12 hours. Dreadlocks  aren’t me after all — the wires kept poking me. I finally sat straight up in bed at 2 in the morning and spent two hours taking them out.

I don’t have to copy someone’s look or voice or opinion to fit in. And if I do then they aren’t my tribe.

I don’t have to be Anne Lamott or ee cummings or CS Lewis to be a writer. I don’t have to live off of someone else’s faith to be a Christian either.  I just have to be wholly me whatever that entails.

This post written by Deana O’Hara for Redemption’s Heart. October 26, 2011. All rights reserved.