Present Tense

What is your soft, gooey center?

My parents have decided to downsize….now that they’re 93.  Whenever I visit them, my mom sends me home with something from my past.

About a month ago, she handed me an overstuffed accordion file that she had kept of my school days.  Report cards, notes, awards, small art projects, etc, from kindergarten through 12th grade.

I threw it into a bag and was going to throw it away when I got home.  I have a problem looking at things from my past.  I’m not sure why and have not had the energy or will to explore that any further.  Were it not for my mother’s insistence on giving me these things, I would pretend they didn’t exist.

On the drive home, I pulled it out and began to browse.  I began with 12th grade, going back to kindergarten.  I was a kindergarten drop out.  I started when I was 4, but they pulled me after a few days and started over the next year.  I was extremely shy and had no use for a classroom full of strangers.

Here is what I took away from going over 12 years of school:  my kindergarten teacher wrote on one of my assessments, “Jane is a very serious child”.

Yes.  And now Jane is a very serious adult.  Despite being voted “Class Clown” in high school, being described by many longtime friends as “the funny one” and a 30 year career being funny on the radio, I am at my core, serious.  Or sensitive or spiritual or…something.

Any amateur psychologist can peg this one.  Humor is the armor we put on to defend us from feeling inadequate, shy, insecure, unworthy, ugly, unloved, blah, blah, blah.

What’s your armor?  Are you a ‘yes’ person?  Do you put everyone else’s needs ahead of yours?  Do you use humor to deflect the slings and arrows of life?  Do you play the victim?  Are you in control of every situation and emotion?  Are you the ‘take charge’ type?

When I can’t sleep due to worries or anxiety, I often try and go back to my childhood and feel what I felt as a kid.  I try and remember what brought me joy or made me fearful; an attempt to get in touch with the real me because I’m fascinated at how we morph through our lives, often away from our genuine selves.

The older I get, the less I care about the persona that I’ve developed over the years.  There is a soft, gooey center in there somewhere, but I’m having a hell of a time finding it and releasing it.

How do I get in touch with that very serious inner child and embrace her?  Allowing that sensitivity to see the light of day is seen as weakness by many.  How many times have you heard someone called ‘overly serious’ as if it’s a fault?  I’ve said it myself, usually when that person isn’t amused by my snarky attempts at humor.  We often criticize the things we see in ourselves.

I realize that I often make life harder than it needs to be.  It’s my nature and apparently has been since I was born.  We are who we are, but embracing that can be quite a battle.  What’s in your soft, gooey center?

November 9, 2013 - Posted by | Musings


  1. I wish you didn’t say, “hell of a time.” I was into your blog right up until then. I like sharing stuff that makes me think, but I can’t that one.

    Comment by Teresa trotter | November 9, 2013 | Reply

    • Teresa:
      I’m sorry that you can’t take the whole of the message, if it speaks to you. I guess you could share with a disclaimer.
      Thanks for reading and taking the time to write.

      Comment by janelondon | November 9, 2013 | Reply

    • Seriously, Teresa?

      Comment by Gabriele | November 9, 2013 | Reply

  2. Hi Jane, excellent! One sentence in particular stood out for me. “We often criticize the things we see in ourselves”. I have always believed this but it’s so darn hard to face the truth. We all wear some sort of armor you are definitely right about that, and many people don’t even reallize it. We moved constantly (like Dom-but not because of the military). I had to develop a way to cope with being the new kid. So I was the tough talking smart alec (Rizzo in Grease?). My gooey center? Do any of us really know? My friends would say I’m the happy party girl who seems to have fun wherever I go. Honestly, I crave my alone time too. there’s a need for balance really. Perhaps why you chose your career was for that same balance. I think we find that “other half” of ourselves in a spouse and our circle of friends. I enjoy sharing your continuing path to self discovery. That’s what life is all about!

    Comment by Stephanie | November 9, 2013 | Reply

  3. After reading your blog I understand why I am having a difficult time going through the items my Mother gave me a 8 years ago when they downsized. Those days are behind me and my parents are no longer here to share those days with. I don’t want to accept the passing of my parents. They would have celebrated 65 years of marriage but Dad died January 25, 2011 and Mom April 9, 2011. They always said who ever went first they would come for the other. That is what Dad did and I’m so happy he did, Mom was lonely and sad.

    What is my soft gooey center, knowing they gave me their creative side, I can tell a story and leave people wondering if it’s true or not-thank you Dad. Mom gave me her crafty side, making my own greeting cards, and just last month I finished my first canvas.

    It still hurts and the waves are still coming as the day they left us; they are, getting softer but it still hurts like hell.

    Thank you Jane.

    Comment by Dianna Marquez | November 9, 2013 | Reply

  4. Still digging to find out what’s at the center. Not sure its necessary to go all the way any more. I used to think I had to unearth it all to be healed but its exhausting instead of liberating. Probably just needs to step away for perspective. Thanks for your candor. Always love your insights Jane.

    Comment by Margie | November 9, 2013 | Reply

  5. Heh. My kindergarten teacher wrote on my first report card: Jimmy is too serious. He should smile more.

    So I’m serious! She gave bad advice; I’ve been happiest when I’ve embraced that about myself.

    Comment by Jim Grey | November 9, 2013 | Reply

  6. You had me at “Help”. That is my deflector. I am so in tuned to what others needs are that I neglect what I need. Wow. Did I just write that? When I think of you I think of serious. I think ” you better be on point or she will ….. What? I have not answer for that. You have always been kind. It is more of an aura. “Mess with the bull, you get the horns” type of response. You see, this is what your blogs create. Thoughts. Hope all is well.

    Comment by Tim Lankerd, Ann Arbor, Mi. | November 9, 2013 | Reply

  7. Not just our childhood shapes who we are as we age. Experiences as we move along in life influence who we become at any given moment in time. I was a shy child, a bit fearful due to things happening in the household.Once I was on my own and had more control over my environment those traits moved into the background. They still pop up from time to time and I let them be. For me the best way to be in touch with myself is to just feel what is happening in the now, then let it move on when it is time.

    Comment by Peggy | November 10, 2013 | Reply

  8. Landmark has taught me that 3 things over the course of our early years of life shape who we are. The first is in the first few years of life (ages 3 -6 or so). The 2nd is in the teens and the 3rd in the late teens early twenties. Because of these events, we find our strong suits and being funny was the one you created on kindergarten. You have two more to discover. Your strong suits allow you to survive so I challenge you to discover the other two strong suits and their origin . Only then will you be truly free to move past survival mode and in to living a life you fully love. Keep searching by identifying your other two strong suits and where they originated. It could have been as little as 1 word or reaction to something that one person said or did that they would not think twice about, but that you took as being the absolute truth and fought the rest of your life to not be like that. The truth will set you fee! Your mother handing you that packet was a blessing as you have now been able to identify where one strong suit came from. Two more to go…

    I only recently (in the past month) discovered that I have played the victim role my entire life. I fought it hard, didn’t want to admit it, but once I did…oh man has my life and my attitude changed! The very next day after the discovery I must have identified 5 situations in that day alone when I played that role. What an eye opener! When you open your eyes and see what you didn’t know existed. I didn’t know what I didn’t know, it was in my blind spot. It took someone who cares about me to sit with me 1 evening when there were many other important things to do to take the time and help me see what I could not. Funny how the rest of the world can see, but we are blinded! I haven’t yet determined the origination of this trait but now knowing this I have determined this is the role my mother plays as if her life depends on it! It is my understanding some things are inherited generation after generation and I think this might be the case for me in regard to playing the victim role. I now am not only able to recognize those moment, but can shut them down immediately.

    I know I have one more BIG hurdle to climb (and many other smaller ones too) and as of yet, I don’t know exactly what the origination is, but know it has something to do with not allowing my true love to come in to my life. Currently working on that one. .Stay tuned…it will happen, because I am actively searching.

    Great blog as always Jane! I have a suggestion, quit stating you make your life harder and that it is your nature. How about switching that up and saying just the opposite. You’ve heard it before, what we resist persists. You are resisting having an easy life. I challenge you to accept it is NOT in your nature and your actions will soon follow. I promise. Change the mindset and the game changes. You then can live the life you love with ease and your true nature will be free to be 100% present each and every day. Nope, I am not yet there, but I know that is direction I am heading as are you. Take the time to figure those things out you have not yet wanted to explore. It will be worthwhile! May we never stop searching…

    Have an awesome week Jane, you so deserve it! In fact, have an awesome rest of your life…that is your destiny!

    Comment by Carol | November 10, 2013 | Reply

    • Carol:
      I will take your challenge. I always apologize for the way that I handle life; that I am ‘overly serious’ and that I have a tendency to over think. From now on, I will own it and as per your suggestion begin to look for the easier road. Not sure how to get there, but I will explore that possibility.
      Thanks for the comment. I appreciate it greatly.

      Comment by janelondon | November 10, 2013 | Reply

  9. You bet Jane, my pleasure! Accept who you are and who you are not and apologize to no one! As you said, own who you are and embrace it! You are an awesome caring, loving woman! Embrace YOU! I am out to transform the lives of everyone around me, especially those I love and adore! Life was meant to be enjoyed and not for suffer or live in a world of survival.. Babies come in to the world baggage free and as we age, we add layers of baggage on top of layers. Mine started at the age of 3,from an event that happened and I have trusted NO ONE as a result of what I told myself then. I have never even trusted my family, or my now deceased husband or my kids or my parents…no one ever since! Sad isn’t it! I identified and came to realize this in the forum and now I am doing something about that! That’s the beauty of Landmark, they help us discover what has been holding us back. Amazing education and amazing insightful leaders available to all who are willing to work and do the hard work. I am so appreciative of my sister who introduced me to landmark. I am alive for the first time ever in ,my Life as a result of taking that first step and registering for the Forum. Consider it…if not today, one day in the not too distant future.

    Happy Anniversary Jane and PC!

    Comment by Carol | November 10, 2013 | Reply

  10. Wow I admire how real you are on your blog. I share on my blog but I could learn a lot from you. Nice post this one. I was the shy one who needed to come out of my shell. Now that a whole lifetime has passed, I realize that being an introvert is okay and I am okay.

    Comment by Kelly @Try New Things | November 10, 2013 | Reply

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