Don’t be Flour

dont be flour

Math is not my strong suit.

At all.

Algebra 2 brought down my GPA in high school, and I couldn’t really care less about why x+y=z, but here’s one equation that I know is true and (should be) proven by some complicated math theory that begins with the letter “P”:

Labels = expectations = disappointment. 

(I know. Not technically an equation. I told you I suck at math.)

Labels are okay for things like boxes in the garage, medications, and containers of food. But one place labels definitely don’t belong is on people.

My top three most loathsome labels right now are vegan, mentally ill, and millennial. I’ve been labeled as all three. Yes, I do my best to live a compassionate lifestyle that does the least harm to our planet and to other beings. Yes, I suffer from anxiety and depression. And, yes, I was born in 1985. But, I do not feel like I fit the grossly stereotyped labels of vegan, mentally ill, and millennial.

As you open a bag labeled “flour,” you expect to see flour. And you do. If you look at a person labeled “gay,” you expect (insert your expectation here). And that’s where the problem lies. My expectation of a “gay” person is different from my grandmother’s expectation of a “gay” person, and her expectation of a “gay” person is different from my boss’s. There’s a lot of room for interpretation, expectation, and ultimately, disappointment.

To me, my grandmother, and my boss, though, expectations of flour are all the same: White. Powdery. Used to make bread, pancakes, muffins, and other foods. Simple, straight-forward, and without much room for the possibility of anything else. There’s nothing exciting about flour. It’s always been flour and it will always be flour. It’s boring, and we may even be disappointed that it’s not chocolate, instead.

Imagine for a moment, that you’re ruffling through your cupboard looking for the bottle of vanilla to make cupcakes for your kid’s birthday party. During the search, you come across a brown paper sack shoved in the corner of the cabinet, labeled “FLOUR.” You don’t remember buying flour in that type of sack. And whose writing is that — you never write in all caps like that? But, you shrug it off. It says flour, so it must be flour. But, what if inside that sack labeled “FLOUR” is really a stash of chocolate candy, disguised by your clever husband as flour, to keep you, his choco-holic wife, from eating his finest Belgian treats? I bet you’d be pretty stoked if you decided to take a peek in that bag, after all, wouldn’t you?

Here’s the thing about people: We’re not flour. We don’t stay the same. We can and do grow and change. That’s what makes us human.

When you pass up the “FLOUR” because it’s not what you think you were looking for, you miss out on the chocolate.

Let’s try to stop putting labels on ourselves and each other.

Don’t be flour. Just be you.

 

What have you been labeled? What are some of your least favorite labels we give to each other?

Don’t Ignore The Voice Inside

Ever hear a little voice inside of you?

No, not the kind of voice that tells you to go do something awful/dumb/that could land you in jail. I’m talking about the kind of voice that comes from the heart — your heart. The voice that tells you to choose the purple sweater over the blue sweater. The one that makes you reach for the Strawberry ice cream instead of the boring vanilla. This is the voice that has made you dog-obsessed since you were a kid or has made you gag at the smell of lavender for as long as you can remember. It’s your heart voice and it helps you decide which car to buy, which movie to see, which friends to keep. Your heart voice makes you who you are and it’s the one voice you should never ignore. (Okay, maybe it’s the only voice, aside from your mother’s, that you should never ignore. Always listen to your mom. Moms are always right.)

If your heart voice is telling you that you need to have art in your life, figure out a way to make it happen. Does this mean you should drop your career as an accountant and pursue art as a profession? No. It means you should stop by the craft store on your way home from work and buy yourself a watercolor set, a paintbrush and some paper, and see what happens when you let that voice be heard. Maybe you’ll find that you really suck at painting, but love it anyway. You don’t have to be good at something to enjoy it. Or, maybe you’ll discover that painting really didn’t do it for you, and decide to try jewelry-making, instead — leading to a new found passion and side gig!

Have you always been drawn to the kitchen, but never seem to be able to make anything edible? Sign up for a meal kit subscription, watch some YouTube videos, or practice getting creative with your morning bowl of cereal. Go wild and throw cherries and pistachios into your bowl of corn flakes, instead of your usual go-to, raisins.

Really feeling like you need to work with kids (or animals, or the handicapped)? There are countless organizations that work with children (or animals, or the handicapped) that are in desperate need of volunteers. Find an hour each week or each month that you’d be willing to devote to helping someone else. If you’re looking to become a volunteer, check out Idealist. It’s a great resource and one of my go-to sites.

I think you’re starting to get my drift. Whatever it is that you find yourself drawn to, be sure to allow yourself to feed that need. Just be careful not to overdo it, though — because an overfed heart voice is almost as bad as a starving one. I learned this the hard way. Like most things in life, it’s about balance.

I’m starting to blog again because my heart voice is always telling me to write, and write publicly. I haven’t yet been able to turn it into a lucrative career, but maybe I will, someday (a girl can dream, right?!). For now, I’m okay writing here, for whoever stumbles upon it. And even if that means that my mom and grandmom are my number one readers, I’m okay with that. 🙂 After all, my heart voice is mine — not anyone else’s — and I listen to it to make myself feel fulfilled —  not someone else.

Your heart tells you things because it knows you best. Please don’t ignore what it has to say.

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When did you last listen to your heart voice? What did it lead you to do?