My Confidence Tool Kit

What is a confidence tool kit?

Not all of my tool kits are made to fix visible tasks.

Sometimes problems are unseen, hidden away in our hearts.

Which is why I have a much needed albeit somewhat hidden, confidence tool kit.

With our ever-changing world doing crazy things these days, I find I have to pull out my confidence tool kit more often.  There was a time when I didn’t need it as much, but right now, I do.

I’ve always used tool kits. My Dad had several for all kinds of jobs around the house and yard.  There was one for indoor house and maintenance tasks, an outside one for gardening.  My Dad was a bowler, so he had his tool kit for his sport and any injuries, ball polishing needs, shoe repair, and the like. Mom had her makeup kit, her kit for dying her hair (sorry Mom), and my sister and I had tote bags for our school stuff.

To me, it made sense, even when I was a little kid, to have a tool kit of things that made me feel better when I was sad or felt bad. When I was 4 it was my teddy bear, a big blanket, my skunk plushie named Perfume ( I doused her regularly in my Mom’s fancy cologne, so she wouldn’t have that skunk smell), and my dog (a real one), named Hilda.

As I grew into adolescence, one of my go-to items was a bright yellow poncho. The color of it lifted my mood, and it’s flowing nature hid my changing body, I thought anyway.  In high school, when wanting to find confidence and strength with our peers, we all wore our hair the same, guys and girls, long and parted down the middle. We were a sea of sameness, united in our lack of individuality and finding comfort in it.

There were other things that I would pack in my little kit, some tangible and some in my heart. Hugs from my family, souvenir keepsakes from camping trips with my best friend, Reese’s Peanut Butter cups (I mean who doesn’t feel a little calmer after having one of those?), and a pretty necklace that I made for myself. I filled my confidence kit with things that brought me peace, hope, and strength.

As the years went on, the contents of my kit changed. Because we grow and evolve, the items that impact us change, as well.  When my parents and my sister died, I clung to sentimental items, a lot of them.  My tool kit was packed with anything I could find that held even the vaguest family feeling. I was hurting it boosted my confidence to wrap myself in their memories.

Gradually though, I grew stronger, and needed less. I also learned how to draw quickly on my confidence items and pull myself up faster, when it was needed. I’ve learned that most of the time, I have what I need in my heart to boost my feelings, and I’ve let go of the material end of my confidence kit.  My biggest change was digitizing all of my family pictures. I curated them first, saving only the most meaningful. Seeing my family crossing my screen is nice and brings back happy memories at random times.

What’s in my tool kit is probably different than what you might want in yours. But for me, it’s whatever I need to renew my inner strength, or my faith in humanity, or my hope in the future. It’s when I have to do something totally out of my realm of experience, and I realize I have to just step out and wing it, that I need it the most. In those times having a tangible thing to hold, helps me.

When I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2019, I was clueless as to what would happen next. I knew I was scared, worried, and my life was an unknown. What I wanted to do was go back to my childhood confidence kit; wrapping myself in a blanket and hang on to my dog, and my plushies. Since that wasn’t really feasible, I looked for small things I could put in my pocket or my purse, so that when I was nervous I could reach for it and hold it in my hand.  I found a heart shaped gem stone that felt smooth and perfect my hand, I also made a bracelet with the words “Just Breathe” on it. I brought both to my doctor’s office and rubbed them during the visit. I still wear the bracelet on tough days, but I’ve passed the touchstone on to someone else.

When I was going through my chemo treatments, I made a chemo party bag. It had snacks, drinks, headphones, a cozy mystery, a puzzle book and a craft project. It had everything I felt I needed to get through 8 hours of infusion treatments.It was another tool kit. As we do with other toll kits we no longer need, when I finished my series of chemo treatments, I disassembled the bag and donated it.

During one of those first treatments, a fellow infusion patient gave me a blanket.  It was warm, soft, and a lovely purple gray color. At the end of the treatment, I tried to give it back. She asked me to keep it and absorb the love from it, when I needed it.

I have used it steadily for the last year and a half. But lately, I’ve been realizing that it’s time to let it go, and pass it on with love. It’s getting a little worn now, so I’m thinking about making blankets for the animal shelter out of it, as a way of sharing the hope it gave me.

It’s time.

Do you have a confidence tool kit or item that gets you through the dark times? I’d love to hear about what it is and how it helps you out.

Take care. Till next time,

Bev

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