Worthiness – Is it worth the cost?

“Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are.” Malcolm S. Forbes

Worthy. It’s a word we don’t use often in common everyday conversations. Is it because we don’t have a reason, or because it’s not something we feel. Almost a taboo to discuss. We might think it a little rude to ask someone, “What’s it worth to you?” or “How much is it worth?”. People typically only talk about worth in terms relative to things, not ourselves.

Isn’t that often the case, though? Generally, we can only feel comfortable discussing things or actions, but we have a hard time talking about the things that make us intrinsically human. Talking about our spirit is a bit trickier. Discuss the condition of our mind? No, just no. A bigger challenge is to talk about our own worth! No one ever says, “So, whatdya think you’re worth?”, do they? Of course, we would never respond with dollar amounts, or specifics, or even abstracts. Is there a right answer? A wrong answer?

“A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.” Mark Twain

Today, I am asking myself that very question. What am I worth? Can it be enough to just say I am worthy? If I say it over and over, but can’t believe it, it’s a powerless statement. Being empowered is a big deal to me, so if I can’t put the power behind it, I need to delve deeper.
I set out to put words to my “worth”. Maybe it will resonate with some of you.

Defining it

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines worth as:
1. a. Monetary value.
b. The equivalent of a specified amount or figure.
2. The value of something measured by its qualities or by the esteem in which it held
3. a. Moral or personal value
b. Merit, excellence

So, if worth is the value placed on one’s self, as in definition 1, how can we determine it? Does a dollar amount suffice?

A quick search on the internet reveals that the human body is worth about $120,000USD on the black market. Body parts on the “red market”, or the place where one can legally sell their living parts could be worth much more over the lifespan, up to several million dollars, if selling blood, a kidney, bone marrow, even hair, ovum, semen, and so on.

Everyone knows our worth is not determined by the value placed on our body parts…don’t they?
A super model can make upwards of $30,000,000USD from print ads to catwalks to other related interests. A not-so-super model can make a few thousand per year, barely enough to independently support her/himself. A professional, award winning athlete can make $100,000,000 or more between sports and endorsement contracts. A non-award winner will be lucky to have mention in the weekly small town newspaper sports section in a score roundup.

Maybe definitions 2 and 3 are more applicable. Then, if I am measured by my qualities, what are they? Have I determined what qualities will make me valuable?

How amazing it is to me that I have gone much of my life determining what qualities in clothing, shoes, cars, homes, music and jobs make them worth my money or time, but I have not put much effort into determining what makes me valuable, or of worth.

Maybe we consider what we’re looking for in a spouse or partner – some of us may have even made a list of what we find attractive or want in a mate. What qualities make your friends valuable? That’s not so hard to answer. Perhaps my friend is funny, smart, has common interests, or is non-judgmental. All of those are great qualities.

The truth is, we don’t consider the qualities that make us worthy of our time, because we are afraid. What if I don’t measure up to my own standards? What if I am a failure and everyone but me knows it? All of the “what if’s” are killing us! We have driven ourselves into the ground, over-burdened ourselves with “what if” and used that as our excuse to not take a real look at what being worthy really means!

The Truth

“Just because people throw it out and don’t have any use for it, doesn’t mean it’s garbage.” Andy Warhol

So, then is it really about the body? No, and it’s not about the qualities, either. It’s all a big lie. We’ve been duped.

Our worth isn’t determined by our body image. It isn’t even determined by our ability to throw a ball, how fast we run, our smile, our niceness, our charm.

Maybe you didn’t know it, but by being born, having a spirit and mind, you are priceless. How this could logically be proven wrong? Thoughts cannot be seen by another, feelings cannot be felt by anyone else in the same manner. Fingerprints are unique, and so is the mind. Hair has its own unique growth pattern, and so do hearts.

A Masterpiece

The fact is, you were born priceless. There are some caveats, though. A masterpiece can be priceless because of its beauty and uniqueness, but if left in the rain, it will deteriorate and lose its priceless condition. In like, if no one can ever see the masterpiece, it cannot be priceless, for it is unknown and its beauty becomes irrelevant and unappreciated.

You and I are a masterpieces. If we leave ourselves open to bad conditions, we can deteriorate and become in need of serious repair. A priceless portrait with chipped paint must be attended to. If no one ever experiences our beauty and uniqueness, it is as if we don’t exist, and our priceless status becomes null. Where is the value in an undiscovered masterpiece? Who can appreciate the unseen and unknown?

My point is, we must live our lives as if we are masterpieces – the most beautiful piece of art imaginable – on display at the most important gallery in the existence! We must live as though we know that we are priceless and stop considering our worth and value. Let us attend to protecting and enhancing the things which have made us priceless.

We must ensure that we live a life that reflects that priceless distinction. Make sure that your paint – the color of your character and personality – isn’t chipped and in need of repair. If it is, repair it! Contribute to the world – the gallery – and protect the condition of the place where you are displayed. A masterpiece doesn’t detract from its surrounding, it enhances them. At the same time, why not display your masterpiece in a place that is in good condition, that highlights the contribution of beauty you bring to the world.

“The diamond does not need to prove its worth. It is, in fact, the person who must teach him/herself to recognize the worth of real diamonds. A person must study this in school. A diamond does not go to school to learn how to prove its worth. It is a person who must recognize the worth of a diamond. Dear diamonds everywhere, stop trying to go to school. The worthy will recognize your worth.” C. JoyBell C.

Other people may judge your “worthiness”, but the truth is that they don’t appreciate your beauty. Just go and be. Maintain your condition, do the upkeep. Contribute to your surroundings. Make your life a masterpiece and those who recognize your beauty will know that you are priceless – keep them around! They are contributing to the gallery of our world, too. Let those who can’t see that your true value go their own way. They are likely in need of some repair. That’s okay. Just don’t let their disrepair chip away at your paint!
Make your life a masterpiece! You were born for it!

A Terrible Parent Discovers People…

The Caveman Clan

The Caveman Clan

I really didn’t do the math to foresee that I would have 4 teenagers at a time. Having a flock of teens, most of whom have some form of behavioural challenge as a direct result of prenatal drug/alcohol exposure, was also not given any forethought. Not that it would have changed anything except that a lot more thinking and planning would have been involved!

I have never been one to consider that all teens suffer from a sort of sickness, or that parenting teens should evoke dread because of the perceived attitude issues, or disinterest or whatever malady of this day are attributed to young adults. I believe everyone is a unique individual, and while some struggles are often considered as being the “norm” for kids these days, there is no “norm” that applies for The Caveman Clan. I think some of the things that are challenges for our family are just as real for other families, even those families that haven’t been affected by drug abuse, neglect, eating disorders, or just plain ol’ wierdness. Here is a little insight my reality…

I have often considered myself a terrible parent. I have not been patient enough, devoted enough, understanding enough, gentle enough…just not enough. I have awakened of a morn with cheerful good humour and a devotion that TODAY, I will be gentler, kinder, and all things that signify more, or enough. As the day progressed, I became discouraged as I reacted to situations with the usual “not enough” behaviour I had come to despise in myself.

I think many parents can relate. The beautiful thing is that we can change. As I get the hang of things, I think I am learning some valuable lessons. Sometimes, the lessons that are really simple are the hardest to learn and apply. I want to share one experience that has been a life changer for me and for my Clan.

I have always felt that the Clan was about as democratic as could be – we voted on things that affected all and had family meetings to discuss plans, events, challenges, disputes, large purchases, etc. so that everyone could have “a voice and a choice”. I wanted everyone to be an active participant in life, not just a bystander. We have done this weekly, more often if needed, for years. Sounds great, right? It would go like this:
I would offer the obligatory opening, “Would anyone like to start”, followed by silence, then I might mention something that needed attending to, or something that bothered me, then the floor was open again and usually someone would say something…

The problem was that these turned into the weekly bitchfest! There was no end to the complaints against one another, the unrest that was unleashed, the dissatisfaction that could be released. Then, one day, I said that I had had enough, for what was the point in releasing pent up frustrations when no solutions were offered? No one objected. So, we were meetingless for sometime.

But I grew dissatisfied with the state of our Clan. There was arguing, retaliation for perceived hurts, daily distresses that just sucked the life out of me and the fun out of everything. Pouting and sullenness became routine for a few of my cavemen and I decided that we needed some change. I thought I needed to reevaluate, reorganize, reinvigorate, and specifically, to rethink, my parenting skills.

The Fox in contemplation.

The Fox in contemplation.

I began to study and devour parenting books, psychology books, FASD and adoptive parent blogs, etc., day and night. To be truthful, I did learn a lot, but didn’t feel confident that I had struck the “motherlode” of parenting gold. Why couldn’t I find any answers to the tough stuff?

Then it occurred to me that I couldn’t find answers to fit our needs because no one has ever had a family like ours and parented my kids before! We are unique, just by the very nature of our existence. We are so unique, yet our needs are so similar to the rest of humanity. Ahhh, considering humanity led me to consider human nature. It dawned on me that it wasn’t parenting skills that I needed to devote so much energy to learning, but human behaviour and leadership skills that needed understanding and developing.

I changed tactics and started learning more about people, rather than parents. For what are these creatures entrusted to me to raise up, but at their very core, just people. Little and frail and needy, but just people. Have I ever learned! I thought I knew people – whole ones, broken ones, weak ones, strong ones – but I was, as usual, so wrong. I learned about needs, desires, self confidence, relationships, communication, body language, and so much more. One thing that I truly treasure is how to effectively lead and gently influence my family, without pushing, pleading, stubborning, misunderstanding or shouting. It not only applies to my family, but all of the people in my world.

In all of this, I discovered that as I understood humans and people (not just my children), I found more of my purpose and calling, my relationship with God became more and developed. As I began to apply these new found ideas, my children began to respond, not in profound or earth shattering ways, but immediately and positively. They began to be active participants, sharing ideas, encouragement, challenges – and solutions! – things that had been difficult for them to express before. That’s not to say that everyday is a daisy, but life is good…really good!

As I changed my behaviour, they responded in kind. We put our heads together to develop practices that not only addresses all of our wants and needs, but offers empowerment, problem solving opportunities, and encourages self esteem building, as well.

The Caveman Clan studying Shakespeare

The Caveman Clan studying Shakespeare

One of our practices is to have a daily “Think Tank”. We address a need, a behaviour, or a situation and find real solutions. Occasionally, we share goals or desires in our think tank and everyone takes a turn at finding ways to help each other attain those goals, or consider the dangers or drawbacks. It may require us to divide and research and think in alternative ways. This has been a huge help in fostering communication. Is it still a family meeting? Well, yes, sort of, but everyone had a hand at developing the Think Tank and the boundaries that we felt were important. The focus is on solutions, discussion and encouragement, rather than just vomiting up more complaints and arguing.

I’ll share some other resources and practices that we have found helpful in another post….