Shelley Widhalm

Archive for July, 2011|Monthly archive page

Setting Boundaries

In Uncategorized on July 31, 2011 at 7:00 am

In an effort to be a nice person, I forgot about my boundaries.

It started when I increased my niceness factor after hanging out with Zoey, my miniature dachshund who is teaching me a lesson about the homeless people who live in my downtown neighborhood.

Sometimes I take Zoey with me to get my daily caffeine fix. I plop her on a patio table, a vantage point that makes it easier for her to scan the area for passersby who might stop and pet her. She doesn’t care if their clothes are ripped or if they don’t have a job, a house or a car.

She just cares about getting greetings.

I end up talking to her pet-me suckers, even if I feel wary about their bedraggled looks and slouched demeanors, indications of a tough life.

A few weeks ago, I let a couple of guys pet her, then join me at my table, even though I didn’t feel comfortable and wanted to get my own stuff done. Trying hard to be polite, I forgot that I could have said “no.” They continued joining me almost every time I came out for coffee.

I looked up boundaries on the Internet and saw that feeling bad when you tell someone “no” is a sign of an unhealthy boundary.

I learned that boundaries are necessary for maintaining a positive self image and are a way to define yourself without letting others do the defining.

Boundaries are the physical and emotional limits you need to protect yourself from being used and from people who drain your energy or take up your time without your permission.

I also learned that we are responsible for how others treat us.

A few days ago, I told the two guys “hello,” let them pet Zoey and said I had work to do. I didn’t tell them that my work was this blog. I didn’t tell them that after I said “no,” I was glad that I had stood up for myself.


Poetry on Stage

In Poetry reading, Shyness on July 24, 2011 at 12:18 pm

I hit the stage again this week, my shyness in tow. My friend Tim Byrnes, a multi-talented musician who writes his own songs and plays the guitar, let me have a few minutes of his stage time Wednesday night at the Mandolin Café in downtown Loveland.

After Tim introduced me to the dozen or so people at the coffee shop, I read three poems, including “Leaves, Me,” which I memorized and performed last week in a fashion show competition.

I told myself that I wasn’t nervous and that I’ve done this before.

First, I threw in some humor, comparing myself with Emily Dickinson, because we both have written 1,000 poems, well except for one difference: most of mine remain unpublished.

I told the story behind each poem.

And I used gestures and expressions to act out some of the lines.

Despite a rapid heartbeat and the printouts gripped in my hands, I tried to look up at the individual audience members. I was surprised to see that they had stopped what they were doing to hear my reading. I expected them to talk, put in orders and ignore me.

Again, I eased into the spotlight. By the second poem, I engaged my serious poem reading voice, using the right cadence and tone to capture the meaning of my words. In other words, I got into what I was doing.

My heart calmed. My hands stilled. And again I fell in love with the stage.

I am starting to see that this label I put on myself, that of shyness, does not apply to every situation. I didn’t feel shy on stage. Maybe a little nervous and scared that I would make a mistake. But that’s different.

I guess I have to get rid of the baggage of my past, which includes calling myself shy, socially awkward and last pick, and step into the rest of my life, not as if I’m on stage, but as if I am in the now, being real and living, breathing and doing.

Runway Walk

In Body image, Modeling, Runway, Shyness on July 17, 2011 at 5:36 pm

I am doing a model pose during the fashion shoot.

I found a new love, or as my mother put it, I got the bug: I love the runway, the stage, the bright lights and the call, “Ready? Go!”

On Saturday, I participated in the fashion show for the American Mall Model Search after making the first cut.

I tried out last Sunday at the Foothills Mall inFort Collinswith a runway walk and monologue, or short commercial skit. As I staggered down the runway in four-inch heels, I pretended to be on a balance beam and in a bad mood to emulate runway models. For the lines, I pretended the staging area was empty and I was in drama club.

I got these marks on my evaluation: weak delivery, too low of a voice volume, stiff body language and, get this, shy and timid. (They knew!!! And I had thought I was trying not to be shy.). There were some positive marks, too, like beautiful eyes and model figure (that’s thanks to my five-foot, 11-inch frame).

I made it to the second round (I find out in three weeks if I’m going to nationals or receive a contract). I had to do another runway walk (I researched just how to do a pivot turn, hold a stance and show attitude) and present a talent: I memorized one of my poems that compared the dance of leaves tapping across cement with a woman’s dance in the streets. I wrote “Leaves, Me,” in fall 2011.

For some reason, my confidence crashed.

I began (or really continued) thinking I was fat, ugly and a boyfriend-detractor.

By Saturday morning, I saw that I had a choice: continue beating myself up or be the one to lift up my mood and go for an old dream from my teenage years when friends and relatives told me I should be a model. I. Am. Too. Shy, I had thought then, letting it continue as my motto and serve as a roadblock to being Who I Am – poet, dancer, writer and dreamer.

I went for the mood lift and told myself to have fun. It’s just a tryout. It’s not a judgment of my worth. I acted out my poem, and I walked the runway to the announcer’s comment, “She’s sassy.”

I felt good. I felt free. I was being me, or that internal core that got dumped on by layers of hurt, insecurities, shyness and fear. I’m going to look into other modeling opportunities, along with places where I can recite my poetry. I had that glimpse that I love the stage, a place where shyness certainly does not belong.


Reaching for the Next Bar

In Challenge delay, Shyness on July 10, 2011 at 7:00 am

I took my not-so-broken heart to another bar to try out my challenge for this week.

The barometer for my heart status, to my surprise, was that I didn’t care about A’s newest Facebook photo (A is for, you know). Okay, I take that back, it’s not his fault that he finds me boring, or whatever he thought.

Maybe it’s mine, or at least in part. After A went back to the really boring state where he lives (it’s not New York or California, let’s say), I realized that I wasn’t exactly having fun reading books all of the time to avoid life.

So to defibrillate my heart, I went to a bar a week or so ago. The handsome man that I wanted to approach me didn’t, though plenty of drunks did. I went to another bar on Friday night, researched the premises for top handsome man and passed by my chance for conversation when he stood next to me at the bar top to order a draft.

I did my usual self-talk of, oh he probably has a girlfriend, or he’ll think I’m boring (see Mr. A above), or I won’t be his type. The rejection will be just awful, and I’ll have to put my face on some wall of rejected women of shame.

Over the course of an hour, I saw him with guys a few times, and then with a woman, and I did the mental self-kick for letting another opportunity pass me by. Not that I expected this handsome unknown to become my next drool, because I was in a bar after all. I’m just disappointed that even with the excuse of my blog to go ahead and do something outside of my shy zone, I couldn’t find the courage to do it.

I’ll have to try again.

But I don’t want to keep going to the bars, particularly by myself.

For one, I like to be in bed by 10 or 11. Plus, I don’t like what alcohol does the next morning. Granted that on Friday, I had my one drink, scanned the room, talked to a few people I know from my job as a reporter and slinked across the street back to my apartment.

So my challenge for next week is to do that one thing I want without the inner negative dialogue preventing me from taking action.

Bar Hopping it Alone

In Going out, Rejection, Shyness, Talking on July 3, 2011 at 7:00 am

I took my broken heart to the bar on Friday night.

A few months ago, I begged out of my challenge to go to a bar by myself, believing it would make me extremely uncomfortable to stand around alone with my rum and Coke.

What led me to go it alone is my big disappointment a week ago. I had reconnected with an old boyfriend, or whatever he was at the time. But when he came to visit a decade-plus later, he made it quite obvious that in his eyes, I was very, very boring and not very fun to look at – he kept wearing his stupid sunglasses and if not, he’d look everywhere but at me.

But enough about him, because I don’t want to go on and on about what is not.

Anyway, I gave my bar visit one hour.

I bought a drink at this big-city ultralounge in the small city where I live. Tad, the owner of the bar, was at the deejay booth, so I put in a request for Lady Gaga.

I knew Tad from a work-related interview about his new bar concept, so I felt comfortable enough to tell him about my blog challenge. He introduced me to three twenty-something men playing pool. I said “hi” and stood there, waiting to be overcome by brilliant conversation on theirs or my part.

When it didn’t happen, I scurried across the dance floor and up a flight of steps to a sitting area with box-shaped chairs with no backs. I felt like a dork sitting ergonomically correct with my drink. I looked at my glow stick-lighted watch. I had made it 20 whole minutes.

“I can do this,” I said to myself. I took a tour of the bar, though I already knew what it looked like from the interview, and returned to the deejay booth to request another song by Lords of Acid.

And then a drunk but handsome man offered to buy me a drink. I accepted and tried to hold a conversation with him as he swayed and slurred. Drunk number 2, short but cute, came and chatted me up. I started to feel like the drunk guy magnet. Come and talk to the shy girl. And they did.

Between chatting up drunks and talking to Tad, I ended up staying at the bar for 3 ½ hours until close. I guess it was because I was having fun. I had done something I hadn’t wanted to do (go to a big, scary bar all by myself) and I got through it. Plus, I got complimented enough that it started to negate my awful weekend with Mr. Wishy Washy.

Next challenge: start a conversation with a handsome man (sans ring) in a bar. However, if I get the sense that I’m boring him like I did Mr. WW, then I can take a tour of the bar and not let me ego get trampled on along the way.