Enough: Failing at Multiple Choice

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If you are like your sister…
 …you’ll be fine
      …I’ll be disappointed
            …you’ll be in trouble

Can you believe your friend…
…gets away with acting like that
      …has been so successful
           …is so beautiful

Girls can’t be…
…accountants
     …in the military
          …professors
                …preachers

Fat/Skinny/Tall/Short/Black/Asian/White/Lesbian/Trans girls can’t be…
 …dancers
       …sexy
             …successful
                  …loved

If you dress like that you’l be…
   …too slutty
         …too boring
               …too ugly
                     …too pretty to be taken seriously

When you are communicating try not to be too…
  …aggressive because it makes people uncomfortable
        …stupid because people will think you are an airhead
              …sweet because people will take advantage of you
                    …direct because people don’t like it when a woman is so sure of herself

Every woman can identify with failing one of these multiple choice tests. Every woman can probably also identify times when she’s given one of these tests to a mother, daughter, sister, friend, coworker, boss, employee, or stranger.

And yet…we all get the same grade when we take this test.

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The next time you start to give yourself the test…STOP! Remind yourself that you are imperfect…but you are Enough

The next time you start to pass judgment on another woman…KNOCK IT OFF! Offer some grace and remember that she is Enough!

And I know people won’t like this but, the next time you run across a female movie star, musician, writer, artists, politician, etc. that you decide deserves your cynical assessment of her looks, actions, words simply because “she put them out there”, remember that (a) she is a human being made in the image of the Divine and (b) others are listening to your choice of words in passing judgment and shrinking back from placing their trust in you…be Enough of a friend, fan, human, woman to extend mercy

Instead of failure…hurt…comparison…fear…and judgement receiving the failing grade, offer a better grade:

Letter E - flower alphabet isolated on white

One Word Resolution: Enough!

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I say this every year… I love New Years! It’s one of my favorite holidays.

I love the fresh start of a new year. I love the night of fun before. I love that there is one more holiday after Christmas (and before the grind begins again) that doesn’t involve me having to buy anything but drinks.

And I have always LOVED making resolutions. I could go pull any of the journals since I was 12 and find a list of resolutions. I love lists. I love planning to make positive changes in my life. I love the introspection and hope of it all. I love measuring successes against my plan.

Then comes March. Or work. Or a death. Or a move. Life happens and my resolutions get worked on here and there…sporadically…and some happen and others don’t. In some cases I feel good about the progress over the year. While in other cases I look back and realize that my goal was…
too ambitious…
or not in alignment with the season of my life…
or someone else’s goal that I was trying to live up  to…
or that my life changed after it was made  and I didn’t adjust the resolution.

This year I’ve decided to follow the OneWord365 principle (see http://www.oneword365.com). Choose just one word that sums up who I am and/or how I want to live. One word that I can focus on every day, all year long. Then watch it shape both my year and me.

So with that in mind I have come to the conclusion that my word has been picking me for months!

First I took an online e-course where I had to write this on my hand:

Brene

Then one of my dear best friends Chad bought me this lovely bracelet for Christmas: 1504045_10151980059531107_103147232_n

So it seems obvious to me now that my One Word for the next 365 is:

Enough

I am enough!
There is enough love, joy, talent, success, peace, work, value, respect, and grace to go around for everyone…including me
When things get out of hand…I can stop the world from spinning by saying “Enough”
When others offer me love and friendship…I will gladly accept, return what I have to offer, and  it will be enough
When I have successes…the joy will overflow with enough
And when I fail…the sadness will reach its end and be enough
Through it all…I AM ENOUGH!

“Jesus Feminist” by Sarah Bessey

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Sat down and read “Jesus Feminist” by Sarah Bessey in one sitting tonight. My main take-aways are as follows:

1. I think so many people would be surprised to find the soft voice of this lovely lady behind the title of “Jesus Feminist”. The title is stirring and I imagine so many will ignore or turn away despite what is in the beautiful prose of this lady.

2. The prose…it is lovely. Almost poetic. I can hear her voice and it is friendly, loving, honest, and kind. Grateful for that.

3. Despite being a women who has chosen not to have children, I am so grateful for the chapter on motherhood and the chapter on Church Ladies. So beautiful and touching!

4. If you are looking for a fierce proponent of women claiming their place in the pulpit, this isn’t it. I am both glad and sad at this.

5. The commission..Lordy Lordy…the commission! I wept over this. Probably because I needed to hear it. Probably because it is rare that women are given a commission in this manner. Probably because it is full of love, grace, and generosity.

I’ve made a list of people I’m buying this book for…it numbers at least 13 so far…including my dad. He is a coC preacher. He will hate it. But my hope is that he will understand ME a bit more. Me…the daughter of whom he said “It’s a shame that despite having two sons, the preacher in the bunch was a daughter.

The Gifts of Imperfection: Week 3–Saturday

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This week was all about letting go of perfection…ugh!

“Perfectionism is a self-desctructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: If I look perfect, live perfectly, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgement and blame.” –Dr. Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection page 57

Perfectionism was my weapon against shame as a young person. It sounds so silly because I was so perfectly imperfect even then…but oh did I go through emotional and mental gymnastics trying to GET perfect. It was my attempt to keep fear at bay and it worked…now and then.

This week’s assignment was to find pictures of times when we were trying to be perfect but could have used some self compassion.

My first pic is me at about 8 at summer church camp. Contrary to everything I ever said to anyone…I hated summer camp. I didn’t feel like I fit in. I felt awkward. I didn’t know the kids. To top it all off these were the years when I’d started putting on weight during my abuse. I felt gross…ugly…and just generally like I wanted to be anywhere else in the world. And yet there I was. When I look at this picture now I wish I could whisper in her ear…”Just join in the fun. You won’t break if you play a little. Real life is so serious at home right now. Just use this time to laugh.” She was a very sweet and smart kid…and terrified to have fun because she was too grown up…too serious…too afraid of looking foolish…to afraid of most everything.
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My second picture is MUCH later. I’m about 27. I’m thinner than I’d been in a long time. On the surface the picture is beautiful. But I know what was going on in that woman’s head. I was angry. I was unhappy. I was lonely. And I was faking that smile more that day than I had in quite some time. Given the chance I’d lean in, pull that LONG mane of hair back and say “Soon. Someday soon your smile will come back. Your real…natural…joyful smile. You will be loved. You will FEEL loved. You will be whole. Soon.”
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The Gifts of Imperfection: Week 2, Saturday

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Note: I wrote part of this post yesterday (Saturday) and finished it today (Sunday)

This week we worked on cultivating authenticity and used an exercise where we had to pick a picture of ourself where we feel our true essence shines through. We then had to answer a few sentences about the version of ourselves in the picture we selected.

Here is my picture: photo

About this pic: I am about 3 years old and my family was living in Honduras. The Monkey is Monito and is my very best friend in all the world. (He is currently downstairs on a shelf in the guest room by the way.) I love this picture because it is me before the damage was done and the brokenness came. It is me when I was fearless and when sassy was easy. It is me when my smile betrayed just how spectacular I felt about myself. It is me comfortable in my own skin…healthy…innocent…and whole.

The years since this picture have been both good and bad. And as the old hymn goes “I wouldn’t trade nothin’ for my journey now.”

I haven’t done it all perfectly…but what I have done is get to today. And today I feel…

Happy

Hopeful

Loved

Gorgeous

Able

Smart

Kind

Generous

Loving

ENOUGH!!!

And if tomorrow should come and steal any of those mercies, I will look to the rainbow and hope for help from the Divine…from the hearts of my friends….and from the smile on the face of that 3 year old version of me. I will find courage in my time of fear. I will find remember that a whole person can be made up of mended broken pieces.

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The Gifts of Imperfection–Week 2, Sunday

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au·then·tic

 adjective \ə-ˈthen-tik, ȯ-\

: real or genuine : not copied or false

: true and accurate

Week two of “The Gifts of Imperfection” course by Dr. Brene Brown is all about Authenticity. People who know me know that authenticity and integrity are big deals for me. I believe strongly in not wearing a mask, in being honest about who you are, in telling your story, and not being fake. I don’t find it easy to respect the inauthentic or those who tell one story to the world and then live a different way. I am particularly hard on myself when I’ve done this in the past and I choose to take the risk and the hurt that can come with being authentic. I am eager to get this week underway and see where it leads.

In the meantime here are some really great quotes from this week’s reading in “The Gifts of Imperfection”

“Other people attempt to live their lives backwards: they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more what they want so that they will be happier. The way it actually works is the reverse. You must first be who you really are, then do what you really need to do, in order to have what you want.” –Margaret Young

“Authenticity is not something we have or don’t have. It’s a practice–a conscious choice of how we want to live. Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” –Dr. Brene Brown

“The thing is…authenticity isn’t always the safe option. Sometimes choosing being real over being liked is all about playing it unsafe. it means stepping out of our comfort zone. And trust me, as someone who has stepped out on  many occasions, it’s easy to get knocked around when you’re wandering through new territory.” –Dr. Brene Brown

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The Gifts of Imperfection–Week 1, Saturday

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Here’s what is truly at the heart of wholeheartedness: Worthy now, not if, not when, we’re worthy of love and belonging now. Right this minute. As is.– Dr. Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection

Now.

As is.

Right this minute.

Worthy now, as is, and right this minute.

Whoosh <head spinning>

Do I believe this about my loved ones? Oh yes. When I think about Zachary or Jacob or Sierra, there is nothing they are lacking that they need in order for me to believe that they are worthy of my love. They just have it. I can also apply this to my friends. I am strangely surrounded by people who are just plain worthy of love..right now…as is…right this minute. I even believe this to be true of some people that I don’t like or who I believe have bad motives and wounded hearts.

And yet…I am always hustling (to use Brene’s word) for worthiness. I often think of the “one more thing” I could do so that I’d feel worthy or be worthy of love, acceptance, and belonging.

But what a complete crock of horseshit (said with the Georgia twang my sister and I use when we say this word a la Jessica Lang in that scary movie where she is Gwyneth Paltrow’s insane mother-in-law).

Not only am I WORTHY of love, acceptance, and belonging…I AM loved, accepted, and belong.

Sure it’s harder to feel that way day in and day out in Seattle. But guess what…I have friends here…people who invite me to things. People who like me. People who go out of their way to include me. And almost daily someone makes sure I feel like I belong. I am blessed beyond measure to have drawn some lovely people to me and to have been drawn to lovely people in return.

I’m remembering…and being reminded specifically by Martha Beck…about some people’s power to draw others to them. Those of us with this crazy mystical ability draw the bad and the good. We draw those who would try (and sometimes succeed) to victimize us and put us low. And we draw hearts of purity, love, devotion, friendship, and spiritual depth to us over and over if we stay open.

Yes…I’ve done the former. I’ve drawn the assholes, the abusers, and the haters (funny a former boss’ face just popped into my mind after years of not thinking of her)…because they desire to overtake and control someone with this sort of energy.

But even more frequently we draw (and are drawn) those who can be healing friends (Nicole, Jhana, Carol, etc.) and those who need us to help them heal or press through something holding them back and those who are just curious about us in a “I like the animals at the zoo” kind of way. All of those people are harmless and have good intent. And I’m fortunate to have them in my life.

So guess what…I am imperfect…and I am enough. And also I am worthy now…right this minute…as is. And I am also grateful now…right this minute…as is.

xoxoxo to you Lovelies

The Gifts of Imperfection–Week 1, Tuesday

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“The Wholehearted journey is not the path of least resistance. It’s a path of consciousness and choice. And, to be honest, it’s a little counterculture. The willingness to tell our stories, feel the pain of others, and stay genuinely connected in this disconnected world is not something we can do halfheartedly.” — Dr. Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection, page 21

I am an old pro at “the path of least resistance.” Kids who are abused statistically do one of two things: (1) act out (i.e. fight, get pregnant, runaway, etc.) or (2) fly under the radar (i.e. get good grades, overachieve, and stuff stuff STUFF their feelings). I was far too terrified of both God and my parents to do #1…so I became excellent at #2.

I became so good at it that I was practically invisible. Inside I’ve always been this bubbling cauldron of spirit, angst, fear, creativity, excitement, intuition, and courage. But I could stuff that shit down better than anyone I know and show up with a smile, a joke, and an answer to how we would solve the next school, team, or business problem. “I’ll do it” is practically synonymous with my name. Meanwhile, each ridiculously boring assignment, paper, or project I’ve taken on has chipped away at my soul…bit by bit…until the only thing I could live for was a compliment or a scrap of encouragement from the table of whomever I’d made important that day/week/year.

By comparison, it’s not been a bad life. My bills get paid. I have a nice circle of people around me who like me and who I like in return. I am often respected in my social, spiritual, and professional circles. There is something to be said for being someone who can grasp complex problems and go to work fixing them for others. And there is more to be said for the sense of satisfaction I’ve felt over the years when I’ve untangled some big problem at work or church. I honestly can’t complain about how the “path of least resistance” has worked out for me.

Except I hear that “Comparison in the theif of happiness” (Dr. Brene Brown)…so now what?

HOMEWORK:
The three assignments for Week 1 of this course have really made me think…long and hard…about “the path” I’ve been on and what I want for the next 37 years. 1384310_10151837227781107_818438866_n

Assignment 1–Permission Slips
This assignment was really hard for me. I knew I wanted to do it justice and I knew that it would be important to post what I wrote…not because it’s anyone’s business but because I’ve learned that I need to share the things that most need to be put into the light for healing. Each of the things I wrote are deeply embedded areas of shame for me. Giving myself permission and posting it on social media (and now here on my blog), causes a physical response. I literally feel some of the ropes constricting my heart loosen up…giving me just a little more breathing space to dwell in.

Assignment 2–Perfection Pledge
Ahhhhh…the perfection pledge. I wrote the words “I’m imperfect and I’m enough” in black sharpie on my left hand before I left the house on Tuesday. I had to laugh at the number of people trying to read my hand as I led a discussion, ran a meeting, or just plain talked. I often gesture wildly when speaking and a hand with sharpie written on it is very distracting to whatever audience is being held in my thrall. But each and every time I caught a glimpse of it, something relaxed deep in my 1375710_10151837229131107_1720488170_ncerebral cortex. All those little squiggles of brain matter shifted and said “Ahhhh…there it is. There is the knowledge that all true intuitives know. She is neither perfect nor a problem. She is enough.”

Assignment 3–Heart Word
Dr. Brene says that Courage is a heart word. And she is so very right. Just this week I had to find the courage to tell a friend that I really really want something to work out. Something that I haven’t wanted to admit for fear of the shame or sadness or heartache when it doesn’t. But I sent my dear friend a text, told her the situation, then waited to hear her response. She told me my desire was a good one, a risky one, and that I was brave. Then I took a deep breath and remembered what it means to have friends who let you be you, love the best AND worst of you, and stand with you through it all. My picture has 6 names written in the heart…2 men, 4 women, 1 I met in church, 4 I met in the workplace, 6 older than me (though it’s impossible to tell!) 1 former 1382797_10151837237301107_1470392787_nboss, 1 gay, 2 single, 5 divorced, 3 mothers, 1 retired and old enough to be my mother, 1 foreign born, 3 in New Mexico, 1 on the east coast, and not a curly headed one in the bunch! But more important than ANY of those facts, all 6 are trustworthy, lovely, beautiful souls who make my heart, mind, spirit, and body feel safe, secure, and just plan relaxed with. I’m so so so blessed and grateful.

BLESSINGS TO THOSE ON THE JOURNEY…or on any journey!
xoxo

The Gifts of Imperfection–Week 1 Monday

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photo (6)I paid for this course weeks ago. Dusted off my copy of “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brene Brown that I had read, marked up, and was moved by earlier this year. My art supplies (required class materials) are sitting waiting to be used.

Then I had that moment…

The “whatifthisdoesn’tchangeanythingandistaystuckinmyfear” moment.

I wish this was a new crazy brain moment. But it’s not. For at least 32 of my 37 years I’ve been afraid to fail. Afraid to get to close to “THE DREAM”. Afraid to fuck it up Breneroyally…again.

The voice in my head is a pain in the ass.

The voice of my heart is a trooper for putting up with her all these years.

Heart Voice is going to win this one!

“Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, ‘No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough.’ It’s going to bed at night thinking, ‘Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.‘” –The Gifts of Imperfection, page 1, Dr. Brene Brown