I have plenty of hardship and heartache. I have plenty of doubt and unanswered questions. I see plenty of injustice and plight, and I deeply care about all of that. And yet I am free… I am free because I refuse to be bound to any negative interpretation that involves my life or my past. I am free because I choose to see every challenging, difficult, or grievous situation as an opportunity for growth, deepening, and learning. I am free because; instead of bearing a grudge, I choose to take giant bolt cutters and cut the chain that binds me to the negative parts of the person or situation – sometimes again and again. I am free because I choose love instead of hate. I am free because I choose when, where, and how to give. I am free because I choose to remain open to the good that can come along at any moment, even when I don’t see it coming. I am not always happy, and yet it feels wonderful to know I am free!
People sometimes wonder aloud what it would be like to see the face of God. I think I have an idea of what that would be like. I think I see that when I sit across from people every day who hurt and struggle and are full of love and hope and gratitude. I think I see God in the faces of my vulnerable children. I see God in my friends faces when they tell me about something that is happening in their life – the triumph that comes from tragedy or when we laugh together in a funny moment. I see God when I am able to look at myself in the mirror and feel love instead of hate. I see God when I have wronged someone and they forgive me. I see God when there is a thick fog clinging to the foothills, just as the brilliant rays of light shoot up with the sunrise. I see God when I use my last faithful breath to utter a desperate prayer and receive an answer just minutes or hours later. Maybe it is prideful to say I think I know, but I really think I do, and it’s magnificent!
I carry the shoes down the hallway
I drop one
I lean over to pick it up and kick the decoration resting by my foot
I fix the decoration
I grab the shoe and start to stand
The lace has planted itself under my foot
The shoe is ripped from my hand as I begin the ascent
Down I go again, grasping the shoe, lifting my foot at the same time
Finally, I rise – the victor
I have beat life once again, at it’s own game.
Food for thought:
I wonder what it would be like if we had a national “inner child” day, where we all went around with a picture of our young selves on our lapels? We could all have the opportunity to observe the vulnerable, young selves that each other was. And perhaps, to know that those young, more tender selves are still in there somewhere. I wonder if we would treat each other differently on that day – perhaps more graciously, playfully, patiently…
Today, I will remember that my fellow humans are more than they appear.
In a witty Ted Talk, Dr. Brian Little explains how we are more than “just a bunch of traits.” He shares how, when it comes to personality, we are often categorized along 5 main traits – openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. But not to worry, no matter where we fall along those traits, our “personal [or] core projects” say a lot more about who we are than those 5 traits: for example, what things light us up, what we will fight for, what we care about, and what our personal struggles are. Yay! We are more than the sum of our traits! Enjoy being you today.
Can I accept myself fully, all of who I am? It’s a bit of a scary question. When I dig deep, when I catch glimpses of those parts of myself from which I sometimes hide – can I really and truly draw in and embrace those parts of me? Can I say that, no matter what, I won’t reject myself? I won’t turn on myself. I won’t leave myself lonely, out in the cold, and hurting without comfort? I haven’t, all of my life, understood that kind of love. The love I understood was far more conditional – I feel loved if I perform this way or look that way or say the right things. In my young, underdeveloped brain that’s how I understood the world. Over time and lots of healing, adapting, and creating flexibility, I have come to understand that I really can practice unconditional love with myself. That no matter how someone else is frustrated with me, not understanding me, or even attacking me I can hold onto myself. And when the voices of my own past, that reverberate inside me, seek to attack me – even then, I can hold onto myself. I can love those parts of myself too. It all comes from pain. And if I hold on, and refuse to let go, I can heal the pain. Today, I will practice awareness of the most ashamed and hurt parts of myself and I will hold them.
What can we do but trust? What choice do we have? Things in life will come along – struggles, problems, choices, good times. All of these things will come and go regardless of how “good” we are or how “bad” we’ve been, regardless of how successful, rich, beautiful, motivated we are or aren’t. The control we have in life is to trust that all is happening as it should be and to choose how we respond. We can kick and scream and drag our heals as a two year old does, or we can open our hearts to love, support, and the connections that come through struggle and relax into the ride. We will still have emotions. We will still feel the sting of life. That is ok. Having emotions isn’t what determines our response or how we move through. Trust is one practice that helps us move through life in a way that builds us up instead of tearing us down. Trust helps us maintain our optimism about knowing that whatever we are experiencing is here to make us deeper and ultimately, our lives richer. Today, I will trust that whatever is happening is meant to be – just for me and for others. I will trust that, ultimately, it is far better than what I could have planned for myself. I will say out loud – “I trust that this is for the best. I may not see how yet, but someday I will.”
Embrace failure as a part of life’s important journeys. Failure is an important part of success. It is how each of us, who knows how to walk, learned to do it. It is how each of us, who knows how to ride a bike, learned to do it. We failed and we failed and we succeeded just a little and we kept on, and then we had success. Failure means that you have tried something, and learned from it. Failure means that you have set your sights higher. Sometimes, when we set our sights high, we get afraid. We may be overcome by “what ifs” – e.g. What if I fail? So what do we do? How do we adults, who forgot we learned to walk, get ourselves to face those fears? One thing we can do is reward failure! When you try something and fail, you deserve to pat yourself on the back and say, “good job, you took that as far as you could, way to go! Nice work, you found the edge of that idea”. You also can say to yourself, “well, you did a poor job at (fill in the blank), now you have an opportunity to make a connection by apologizing and finding out how that could go differently”, whoopee! What if we really valued and praised our failures – think of all the potential things we might try. Not all failures are alike – some failures will be painful for a long time. That’s ok. Usually, those bring about really important deepening and knowledge. But there are many possibilities, that we face everyday, that seem more doable when we embrace failure. Today I will try something in a new or different way, and embrace my failure joyfully.
I thought that you might enjoy this Ted Talk that I watched. I hope it is inspiring and encouraging.
I hope that you find some meaning in today. I hope you find a way to enjoy yourself today – to connect with someone you love, to breathe in and breathe out a bit of goodness that is right in front of you. For the past is only stored, and the future is only imagined. Hold on loosely to them. Yes, we remember. Yes, we plan. And yes, we need to remain open to the possibilities unfolding right here, right now. Today I will go easy on myself. I will breathe in and breathe out and know that I am ok in this moment right now. I have what I need to get through this moment and I allow myself to experience pleasure and enjoyment in that.