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

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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

Oh that’s what that is!

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Several times last week and this week…including today…I’ve had these moments where my stomach starts to hurt out of nowhere. I wouldn’t exactly describe it as pain. It’s the dull ache. It’s a feeling that seems to dissipate when I’m distracted but come back with a vengeance when I’m thinking. Drinking water doesn’t help. Eating doesn’t help…or make it any worse.

Today’s stomach pain lasted most of the morning and then went away this afternoon.

It felt like I’d been hit with a lightening bolt when it suddenly occurred to me that my stomach ache today was based on anxiety because of a difficult email I needed to send. I rode a wave of anxiety in writing the email followed by a second wave waiting for the response. Not surprisingly the stomach ache went away when I receive a kind word in response to my moment of vulnerability.

As I thought about this throughout the afternoon it occurred to me that at 37 I should have had gut-wrenching anxiety before right? I’ve read it described in books and heard my friends talk about it. So why on earth do I not remember experiencing it?

Then I had this thought…”OH! That’s what that is!”

As a child I lived anxious a lot of the time. I was anxious about making my parents angry. I was anxious about disappointing God and going to hell. I was anxious about the next opportunity my abuser(s) was/were going to take to hurt me. I was anxious about my grades. I was anxious when my siblings upset my parents. I was anxious about random things that in hindsight didn’t make sense for a child to care about, much less be anxious about.

I’ve often described myself through the years as “tightly wound.” I wonder if all those years of being “tightly wound” were really long bouts of stomach pain and constant muscle clenching?

And more importantly…I wonder if the fact that I had genuine stomach pain about an anxiety inducing conversation is actually a sign of healing? My ability to FEEL the real emotion of anxiety is a beautiful thing if the alternative is to always be either so uptight or so numb that the physical reaction doesn’t register with discomfort. I do believe I have good coping skills these days…meditation, journaling, reaching out to others, yoga, etc. I now say “I used to be wound pretty tight” in the past tense.

To this I say…THREE CHEERS FOR HEALING…in all its forms. 🙂

I think he meant Woman…

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If

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

–Rudyard Kipling

Chicken Little…

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imagesI’m a fraud.

Oh sure…I find peace in yoga, meditation, prayer, and reading. I love the life of an enlightened prophetess who is certain of her spiritual gifting of leadership and teaching from God. I have a prayer closet and prayer beads and prayer candles and a firm belief in “quiet time” and silence.

I read and read and read…and I espouse peace, freedom, mercy, and compassion.

I believe in the tangible blessings of God on all people. I believe that each of us is called to be an agent of grace no matter what our religious education or spiritual path. And I believe wholeheartedly that God…in all her/his glorious forms…has gone with me every single step, every hair, every mile, every word, every pound of this journey.

And still…I’m a fraud.

Because despite all that I know to be true about how to seek and find peace, one piece of bad news can throw me for a loop.

A leaky roof (this weekends extra special good news)
A diagnosis of cancer for the kindest man alive (he’s fine by the way)
A lost job (yup…I survived that too)
A cat with a little bit of a cold that I’m certain will be dying and I won’t be able to go on (What? I got back from vacation and Mal had gunky eyes so of course I’m certain he’s got leukemia or some other obscure kitty disease)
A hard conversation (How can something I do so often be so joy stealing?)
…and on and on and on…

We all have our triggers. Things that can bring fear front and center and make our minds careen off the cliff of sanity into a pit of fear, worry, doubt, and disaster.

Yesterday I found out I might need a new roof on my cute little cottage in New Mexico. By yesterday afternoon, I’d gone down the path of who I could ask to let me live with them when I’d lost it all. Sure…could a huge expense be my financial ruin? YES. Am I likely to need to live on the streets? Well…probably not this week.

If there is a REAL crisis, my calm nature kicks in and I’m all business and problem solver. People are impressed. Lives are transformed by my peaceful nature.

If there is an IMAGINED crisis, I’m Chicken Little and the sky is indeed falling!

With that being said…this needs saying

Dear Jesus,
Thanks for giving me friends who talk me off ledges..specifically Jelisa, Linda, and Julie.
Thank you for hearing prayers from a girl who doesn’t believe in praying to you like you are Santa but in a pinch practically leaves out cookies at night in hopes of convincing you to take action on her behalf.
Thank you for knowing my heart…and for understanding that I’m angry and annoyed about the stupid leak.
And thank you for the confirmation of your presence when I claimed aloud this morning that I refuse to fall back to the religion of my childhood that would say that I’d somehow screwed things up and this was my punishment. I mean you and I both know I’m an excellent screw up and if you start dolling things out based on checks & balances, I’m in deep shit. But I will not believe you are out to get me…or that I’m the butt of your cosmic joke…or that you or your Father or the Spirit Lady takes pleasure for one moment in my fear or panic. Nope…Will. Not. Go. Back. There! 
I love you for being you. And I love that you love me for being me.
And in my fear I will open my hands…again and again…every few minutes if necessary…and I will dig deep into the well of faith, even when I’m not sure if I’m sure.
Love,
Me 

Eyeballs…

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I got on an elevator this morning…I glanced around trying to find someone to smile at. Instead 5 heads where staring at their smart phones. images

I went to a meeting today where I presented the status of a major project since the last time we met…I looked up and 4 out of 5 people had their heads buried in their laptops. The only person making eye contact was the other person who could have given the status because she’s been working with me on this the entire time.

I went to a happy hour tonight…and I sent a text to the lady across the table about one of the women who was being obnoxious. Moments later I conveyed the exact same message without words with my eyes to another one of the ladies.

A couple weeks ago I went on a date…and the guy answered a text every couple of minutes during our conversation.

EYEBALLS PEOPLE…EYEBALLS!

I’m big into eye contact. I believe part of the reason why we can sit back and criticize Miley Cyrus and Beyonce and Ben Affleck and <insert whoever is your favorite annoying celebrity of the moment> is that we spend too many damn moments of our lives connected.

I am just as much to blame. I’m connected ALL DAY. It has taken me many years to get out of bed and head straight to work out and/or meditate without first checking my email and other social media. I have answered work email at 3 AM from hotels. I admit that when I wake up in the middle of the night I often reach for my phone. I get annoyed when the WiFi isn’t free or when I can’t get a signal.

But can I get an AMEN that for the 22 seconds I am on the elevator with you, at least look up for a second and look me in the eye.

I get a lot of comments (and some flack) for not having a poker face. For having a face that shows every emotion and thought that crosses my pretty little head.

But guess what…people miss a LOT of what happens on my face because they are NEVER looking at the other people in the room, at the table, in the elevator, on the bus, etc.

I think I get complimented on how friendly I am simply because I look people in the eye, smile, and acknowledge that they are a living, breathing, humanoid.

EYEBALLS PEOPLE…EYEBALLS!

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