Monday, November 23, 2009

Newspaper Picks Up My Blog

Just two and a half weeks after launching What It's Like For Me: Coming To Terms With Humanness, I received word that the Naples Daily News has picked it up for publication in both the on-line and in-print versions of the newspaper.

My first post, "Mindful of Things," appeared on-line at the Naples Daily News last Thursday, November 19, 2009, then again today, in print, Monday, November 23. That same Thursday-on-line/Monday-in-print schedule will repeat every other week from now on at the newspaper.

So that my postings here at are in sync with the Naples Daily News publishing schedule of every other week, I am putting this site on pause until Monday, January 4, 2010, at which time I will post a new essay--the same day it appears in print in the Naples Daily News.

That means my essays here at will then post every other week--for at least the time being.

To check out my work at the Naples Daily News, go to, and type in Janis Lyn Johnson on their site's search bar.

Thank you for your support and patience--and see you in the New Year!

Lovableness, Not So Easy for Some of Us

I admit it. I search the Internet for peculiar things, like the answer to an exasperating issue of mine: How to stop feeling uptight around people I think may think I don't measure up.

I know: It's none of my business what people think of me, if they believe I'm not smart, funny, or good enough. If I am doing all I can to be the best person I can be, all that matters is what I think.

As I said, I know all that. Intellectually. But it must be true that the longest journey is from the head to the heart, because just when I think I have beaten this thing it sneaks back in like crabgrass.

I am sure of something, though: When I carry a question inside me, a power greater than I am knows it. It's like a secret prayer, and the universe has a way of answering in the most unlikely places. Of course, it may not be in the form I expect. It could be a 15 year old named Pumpkin Soup.

I don't know Pumpkin's real name, only that she tossed her message, "How To Be More Lovable", into the Internet sometime during December 2008. I discovered her when I typed "uptight and uncomfortable in the world" into my Yahoo search bar. Maybe that sounds sort of desperate, but I probably was at the time—and Pumpkin seemed like she was, too.

Pumpkin described her friends as "huggy, touchy-feely people," who had given up on hugging her--to say goodbye, hello, and congratulations--because, she thought, she was stiff and awkward.

"My failure to be lovable and huggy and la di da about the world," she wrote, "also is probably the reason I have never had a boyfriend…since I am not hideous looking or anything."

I, too, am not hideous looking or anything, at least not on the outside. Inside can feel like a whole different story. I'm also not as rigid as I was a decade ago--"as tightly strung as piano wire," somebody said—but I can still feel uncomfortable when it comes to hugging people. The first time a stranger attempted to wrap her arms around me I was as receptive as a two-by-four.

Intellectually of course, I understand the root of my up-tightness: It's about not feeling safe. To be with someone, holding hands, hugging or even talking, I need to know that person won't hurt me, physically or emotionally. It's natural to feel uptight around someone who's verbally abusive or has the flu. It's my insecurity mechanism kicking in, warning me of unhealthy situations.

The trouble is, that same mechanism kicks in when I'm with someone I think thinks I don't measure up. I know it's my instinct trying to remind me the fittest of a species survives—which a thousand years ago was a useful tool but obviously isn't necessary today. I'm not going to lose my food and shelter because somebody thinks I'm not “enough”. But what I could lose—and this is what keeps me in the prehistoric ages with gut-clutching discomfort—is a friendship I really want.

So this lingering, low-grade up-tightness—this feeling, as Pumpkin says, of being unlovable—must be fear. Fear that others can't accept my imperfectness—which in my twisted little brain translates into total solitude (if, that is, I am unlucky enough to outlive my husband). And since I happen to be allergic to cats, dogs and basically anything furry with two or four legs I mean really alone.

But all humans are imperfect; even Mother Theresa and Gandhi were imperfect. So if people will not, cannot, do not accept me the way I am—especially when I continue to devour self-improvement meetings and books like M&Ms to try to be “better”--then I have to let them go. Because if they can't accept me, they can't accept humanness; they can't even accept themselves.

And this I do know deep where it counts (I just forgot for awhile): Everyone is worthy of being loved because the Great Spirit of all Things doesn't make mistakes.

How to be more Lovable?

Pumpkin, bless your sweet little uptight heart, we're already lovable enough.

QUESTION: The last time you felt uptight around someone, were you consciously aware of why?

(Not sure how to leave your name or pseudonym with your comment?  See the post above left.)