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Hating on Barbara Sher – WishCraft (Part 2)

December 26, 2008

I told you months ago that I would reveal why I cried over Sweet Potato Souffle.  Sorry it took so long.

In Chapter 5 of “WishCraft”, Barbara Sher shares that at some point, preferably while working and growing through her book, you will find yourself hating her for opening this door to your dreams again.

I dismissed it.

As I said in Part 1, I happened to be on a road trip, driving my cousin to college out of state.  I love road trips but hadn’t allowed myself one since 1998 and had I not been reading Wish Craft, I doubt I would have allowed myself to take this one.

Day two started with a junk food breakfast, consisting of a vegan pumpkin spice cookie (which was really good I wish I had the name or web address of the maker), a snack bag of Terra Chips, topped off by a Starbucks Grande Chai Latte.  I was a little wired up on sugar and lacking a lot of sleep.  It was hot, we’d been lost and everyone was getting rather irritable.  I wasn’t acknowledging my own thunderstorm warnings.  I fobbed them off and chalked it all up to a sugar coma and lack of sleep.

It took us all morning to deal with orientation, degree counselling and registration.

We all agreed, resting somewhere was more important than lunch.  We decided to have a very early dinner.  No one was talking much.  Resting at the hotel was out.  It smelled funny and wasn’t inviting by any stretch of the imagination.

My aunt tells us she wants her, “veg-e-ta-bles, good ones southern style, for supper.  Find me some place like that to eat, ’cause I am not eating fast food.” (For you non-southern folks, lunch or dinner can be called supper.  Don’t ask, I don’t have a clue about the origins.)

Since my cousin has a friend at one of the other colleges in the city, we decide to go there.  It’s nearby and close enough to the resident housing my cousin will stay in that we can take a tour and get her lease signed and still have time for some napping.

The friends dorm room has free internet so I search for and locate a restaurant meeting my aunts requirement.  I confirm the directions via MapQuest.

Do I even think about my own nutritional requirements?  No.  Do I search for a place that can meet all of our requirements or at least meet somewhere in the middle of her requirements and my own?  No. I decide on this restaurant specifically because I know both my aunt and cousin will enjoy it.  Everyone, except me, will be happy.

We make it to the restaurant without getting lost.  Head inside and a white board greets us with the days specials, catfish or oxtails.  Also, since this is a southern style restaurant I won’t be eating any collard greens, green beans or other green vegetable because ham hocks or turkey necks have been used to prepare them.

I assume they will have macaroni and cheese and if I can find a salad, I’ll be eating.  It’s not an ideal meal, but I do love homemade mac and cheese.  We start through the line.  As we get near the steam tables, I hear, “That’s the last of the mac and cheese for at least a coupla hours, maybe all day.”

My heart sinks.  I want to scream.  I survey my remaining options, white rice and/or sweet potato souffle.

I’m crushed.  I’m angry.  I’m speechless.  The injustice of it all.  No comfort food.  No salad.  Rice and/or sweet potato souffle.

“What all can I get you?” asks the woman on the other side of the steam table behind the meat dishes.
“Sweet potato souffle,” I say quietly seething.
“You don’t want any meat?” she asks expectantly.
“No,” I say, gritting my teeth and holding back tears.
“That’s all you gonna eat?” says the next woman behind the steam table as the first woman hands her my plate.
I don’t say another word.  I just look her dead in the eye and reach for my meager portion of Sweet Potato Souffle.  Then of course I notice the marshmellows.

I. Don’t. Do. Marshmellows.

I’m seething and I want to cry in private, yet there is nowhere to hide.

We get drinks, pay, find a booth and sit down.  I pick up my fork and with the first and only bite of the sweet potato souffle, the tears start to flow.

Now my cousin and aunt are asking what’s wrong.  I want to say the food but in reality I’m bumping heads with my desire, my need to be liked by everyone which has constantly frustrated my attempts to be who I need to be for me.  I am fighting with a conditioned weakness of learned timidity.

What I really want to do is go somewhere else, right then.  Leave them, enjoying the meals they’ve chosen and go do something for me.  I can’t or rather I won’t.  I can’t think clearly.  I catch myself before I start beating up on myself.  I realize I don’t want to cry in front of them because that shatters my image of who I think, they think, I am.

And right there, in that moment, I realized, I believed my needs were not that important compared to theirs.  I know now that I wasn’t being true to them by not being true to myself.  I thought speaking up would get me shunned.  I thought crying in front of them would make me weaker. I thought doing what I need to do for me would alienate me.

I realized as I cried into my Sweet Potato Suffle that this anger and frustration had been swimming under the surface for a long time. I realized I had the right to be mad.

A few minutes later my cousin starts singing some pop song about it being okay to cry.  (She can’t sing but I still love her.)

Then it’s done.  I feel better but I’m still hungry.

That’s when I remember Barbara said, “you may start to hate me.”  And for just a few minutes I do.

What she actually says is “you may start to hate me for conning you into believing your most extravagant dreams could happen.  That’s OK. In fact, if you’re down, I’m glad to hear about it. Not because I’m a sadist–but because if you aren’t having some of those feelings now, I promise you they are going to hit you a day or a week after you close this book. And that would be worse, because then you’d have to cope with them alone. So this is the moment to confront “hard reality” and find out just what’s making it so hard.” pg 92

I’m sure I had feelings while reading the book but didn’t allow them to surface.  It was only as I was confronted the ‘hard reality’ of how I was continuing to waste my time and how easy it had become for me to subjugate my needs to the needs of others.  Barbara has a name for those of us like that – “mama’s”.

Road trips are one of the things I love but had stopped doing.  I’m still working on “Wish Craft” and I’ll share more as I learn more.

Still haven’t read “Wish Craft”?  It’s free and it’s freeing and you can find it at

Enjoy Dreaming, Planning and Doing

  1. January 29, 2009 8:06 am

    I love that book! I had an apartment fire and was so happy that my beloved copy of if survived the blaze (water stained and stinky). It took me a while before I got angry too. Then I got so mad that I had given up on my life for SO long.

    The good news is that that book was the beginning of a great life that has been unfolding! I hope it proves the same for you.

  2. February 1, 2009 1:18 am

    Wow. Your story, and the story of Rachel, who made the comment, are really important for people to hear. I wish you both would tell them on video so I can put them up on YouTube for Wishcraft’s 30th birthday in March. You can email me from my websites. I’d love to hear from you.

  3. February 2, 2009 5:13 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story. I can relate more than I’d care to admit. Only yesterday, I told a dear friend “I’m not getting any younger and I’d like to have some happiness, too.” and she replied: “If you don’t give yourself what you need, I wouldn’t want to be you on the last day of your life.” I think it’s time we “mamas” all got a little selfish. The world will not stop spinning. To be honest, I doubt it will even notice. Go forth. Eat yer veggies. Be happy, kiddo. You deserve it.
    P.S. Barbara Sher is one smart lady.

  4. Ria Ludy permalink*
    February 3, 2009 10:22 am

    Rachel – yes even water stained and stinky Wishcraft is still the best book to help guide us back to ourselves and our dreams. It’s the first one I keep going back to, consistently and that says a lot.

    Barbara – Thank you for stopping by and for the offer and for writing this book and the others I have yet to read. Thank you for allowing me to hate on you (which I’m totally over by the way and smiling thinking about you as I type this. 🙂 )

    Jennifer – The realization that we “mama’s” even have a story has been the best and the most heart wrenching realization. I’m still grieving that lost time and thank goodness the world won’t stop spinning while we get a little selfish.

  5. February 4, 2009 5:45 pm

    Re-parenting people – I resemble that remark too. The books that I used the most and loved are gone because of my having loaned them out or given them away as gifts. I must have bought at least ten copies each of every one of Barbara Sher’s books! The most transforming book Barbara wrote for me was “I Could Do Anything”, but Wishcraft was the first permission to be myself. I even went to the trouble of outlining and writing a synopsis of each chapter of Wishcraft for my success team in that era!

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