The Weight of the World

Standard

atlas-woman

I’ve been feeling pensive of late. Restless, as the days begin and end, begin and end, over and over and over again.   I go about my daily activities, do my errands, brushing shoulders with others doing the same.  And too often, we barely make eye contact, let alone speak.

I feel it most often when I take the bus.  Over and over, people get on and get off, staring straight ahead, careful not to stare, or upset the monotone.  And I do it, too.  I get on, sit down, stare straight ahead till I reach my destination, get off, walk away.  Barely any connection is ever made when riding the bus.  I’ve taken the bus for years, on and off, and mostly it’s the same.  The same.  And more of the same.

There is one man I keep meeting on my journeys on the bus who cheerfully says hello to each person he meets.  He has this big voice and a happy smile and he’s..well..kind of like Santa Claus without the red suit.  And you know what? Most people look away.  Like he’s pathetic. No, people! Don’t you see? We’re the pathetic ones, for not returning his happy smile and wishing him a boisterously happy day!

It makes me sad, because it feels like so many people are just DEAD inside.

There’s definitely something rustling inside me to make a change in my corner of the world.  I didn’t make any ‘resolutions’ this year at all, which is not like me.  Usually I spend New Years eve or New Year’s day writing in my journal, looking both forward and back, and creating a plan for the following year. But not this year.  This year I did not put pen to paper at all.

Let’s face it. Our hearts are heavy with war, and fear, and terror, and money problems, and worries of thousands of misplaced families – to name only a few things!  We grow tired of greedy corporations wanting to kill our earth and put garbage in our food and make us believe that their way is the only way and that there is no better way for us.  Technology, while promising connection, causes us to bury ourselves in the pathetic devices we carry around EVERYWHERE with us – causing more alienation than connection.

Perhaps it’s this heaviness of heart that is causing my restlessness.  Lately, that little voice inside me is telling me that I must be the one to reach out.  To extend my hand.  To offer a smile, a helping hand, even a touch.  Sometimes I have these silly ideas.  I think, what if I brought a package of candy onto the bus and passed it around?  Would that make people smile? Or at least, respond in some way?  Or I get this strong desire to be one of those people who take a sign into their downtown core offering FREE HUGS.  Because Lord knows that no one gets enough healing hugs these days. Or to write little notes of encouragement and leave them in random places that I go…

What IS growing inside me is the firm belief that we are connected, and that every time we hurt others, every time we hate and despise and treat badly – we hurt ourselves, too.  And we hurt the world at large.  So, if I am making a belated resolution at all, this year – it’s to find ways to bring more joy. For myself, I need some kind of deeper connection with the world around me.  I need to bring some light to other’s faces, even if for only a moment.  I’m going in search of more ways to do these things this year.

Now, I’m off to create that FREE HUGS sign.  Anybody with me? 🙂

 

 

 

Advertisements

The Perils of Perfection

Standard

 

perfectionism

 

I’ve written about perfection before.  I’ve lived with trying to gain power over my need to be perfect in all things for longer than I can remember.  The agony this need causes in me can be devastating.  It causes me, sometimes, to go past the point of no return.  The point where my energy is depleted, my body is sore, and my emotions are raw.

This topic of perfection has been in forefront for me recently as I began to notice it happening again in my every day life.  In the little things.  Like in cleaning my house.  Or helping out my daughter around her home when I’m with the kids.  Or taking care of the administration for the society that I volunteer for. My thought process goes something like this…

I will have already done more than enough. More than I have energy for.  More than I NEED to!  Yet I hear myself thinking – ‘if only’ I can do just this one more thing, then I will be happy/content/feel good about things.  “If only” I can just do this one more job (dishes, laundry, vacuuming, creating the perfect spreadsheet, replying to someone’s Society question with the perfect email – this list is endless)  And all this after I’ve spent more than enough time, more than enough energy, on something to make it Just Right.

The problem with this way of thinking is…it’s never right! It’s never enough.  No. Matter. What.

And in the process, I’m only making myself more tired and grumpy. And angry.  At myself and at others.  I’m only making the need I have, which feels just like desperation, BIGGER.  Is it worth it? Absolutely not.

In a time when I need to stay conscious of how my body is feeling, and how much energy I have or do not have, and where my emotions are taking me – I cannot afford to allow these crazed thoughts to overwhelm me.

But that need to feel I have done things perfectly wraps its ugly tendrils of agony around my brain and drives me slowly back into that place of  desperation.  That’s the danger for me.  That’s where  I go slowly crazy.

I’m writing this today to remind myself that it’s ok to just do enough, and that’s all.  The world will not implode in on itself.  (Actually, that’s pretty much already happening without my help, anyway, so I don’t think it needs me to add any more craziness)!

What I ‘need’ is, to give myself a really big break.  And tell myself it’s ok if some things don’t get done.  I don’t have to make myself crazy. I ‘need’ to remind myself to let go, once again. To remind myself that I will still be safe, even if things aren’t ‘perfect’.  To remember that perfect is not something that’s possible, no matter how hard I try.

So I will take a few deep breaths.  And relax my mind and heart.  I will be ok.  I AM ok.  Right now, sitting here in my imperfect home.  Living my imperfect life, in this imperfect world. Writing in my blog.  Imperfectly.

Sailing Into 2016

Standard

new-year

Here we are standing on the doorstep of a brand New Year.  I always feel excited when the new year begins.  It is, I think, that anticipation of something new – even though there are no assurances it’s going to be wonderful.  Lord knows 2015 has had it’s challenges, for sure, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if there are people out there that are terrified of what’s to come.  There are so many, many uncertainties in our world today.  Crazy, unpredictable weather, terrorists, wars, refugees by the thousands – it is an uncertain world, for sure.

I recently joined  a group on facebook that claimed to be a supportive group for sufferers of Osteoarthritis, which I have, to some degree.  I joined because I am always on the lookout for more natural ways to treat, and to heal, if they can be found.  But what I found on this particular group was, that most people only wanted to come in and complain about how difficult their lives were, how many drugs they had to take, and how frustrated and angry they were.  On the few occasions someone shared something that actually worked for them, the responses were “they’re just trying to sell us something” or “doesn’t that seem like an advertisement to you?”  The responses surprised me, actually, and I realized this was not the group for me at all.

So, I left.  Why?  Because, while I live with chronic pain, and sometimes so much so that I can’t function in a day, I just can’t look at life through the negative lenses that they seemed to be using.  I just can’t!  It’s not who I am.  I need and want to find what is positive in my life – pain or no pain.  I recently spent my last 5 days in bed because of pain from a back injury.  Granted, there were some tears of frustration.  But I used the time to rest, to read, to meditate, to pray and write, and to colour in my new colouring book. (It’s been said that colouring is the new meditation! 🙂

That is the way I choose to look at life as a whole.  While there are always, challenges and uncertainties, I cannot live in fear of the future.  I cannot go about my day grumbling about how bad my life is or how sorry for myself I feel.  I cannot give in to the many fears that might overcome me – if I let them. I will not let them.

So, as 2016 approaches, and I (think) I’m back on my feet again (yay!)  I feel….excited.  What will the new year bring?  What will I bring to the new year?  Even with all the many, many great challenges we face, I believe we can still find joy.  We can still contribute joy.  I Choose Joy for 2016. Despite the challenges, and I know there will be, because they are always there.

My deepest hope for this year is that those who (I see) as asleep – that is, those who’s greatest needs are to hate, to kill, to despise, to destroy, and to fear – will begin to awaken to a world that is filled with miracles every single second of the day.  That this dark time that we live in will begin, even just a tiny little  bit, to grow toward the Light.

My prayer for 2016 is that more and more of us will become alive to the possibilities that we do not have to live in fear; we do not have to reject others to stay safe ourselves; and we do not have to kill and destroy our earth (or each other!) so that we can be rich and powerful.  I pray that these big corporations, these money hungry leaders who lead by fear-mongering, would somehow be exposed to the light of the increasing number of people in this world who are realizing that there is another, more beautiful, more peaceful way to exist together in this great world of ours. A world in which we realize that we are all one, and that when we do harm to one person or one nation, we are doing harm to the world at large.

I love this quote from Chief Oren Lyons of the Onandaga Nation:

“Although we are in different boats you in your boat and we in our canoe we share the same river of life”.

I for one look forward with expectation to this coming year. I truly believe that 2016 will be what we ourselves decide to make it.

Wishing you all a truly blessed 2016.  May you be granted the grace and patience to get through the bad and scary times as well as the happy and loving times.

xo

Chere

Blessed 2015

Standard

 

Butterfly 01

Blessed 2015

Here we are on the ‘other’ side of Christmas.  How are you feeling?

Christmas has not always been the most looked-forward to event in my life.  When I went through a deep healing journey many years ago, Christmas caused me a lot of depression and I struggled to stay positive.  It reminded me of all that I had lost – which was pretty much everything from my marriage to the home our kids grew up in, to my ability to work because of emotional illness, to the estrangement of my extended family for many years.  It was not a good time in my life.

I’m happy to say I lived through all that and stand here on the flip side with a whole lot of different ways of thinking.  Christmas has become a joyous time again for me.  And it’s not about what I can ‘buy’ for Christmas.  Some years I have a little more money.  Some years I have none! Being happy, content and joyful has little to do with money, and everything to do with loving and being loved…

Today I feel…peaceful and joy-full.  We had such a lovely time yesterday – and for the first time in about six years my daughter Jayne was with us!  We laughed, loved and yes, ate!  At the end of the day we dispersed to our various homes, and I felt blessed to have been together.

Family is EVERYTHING to me.  One of the reasons I feel I’ve been put on this earth is to support my children and grandkids and I do so with pure joy.  There is nothing more fulfilling to me to see their happy faces, hear their laughter, and take pride in who they’ve become despite the painful years we went through together.

And I wish to take this time to thank each of my kids.  They are the ones who kept me going when I was in a dark place – they were my motivation to get well when I could find no other reason to try.  I love  them so deeply – as well as the  wonderful mates they have chosen and of course my beyond beautiful grandbabies!

One more gift I have been given is the restoration of relationship with many of my siblings – and for that I am truly blessed.  I had to find peace in thinking that we may not speak again until we were all together  in the next life.  But God saw fit to restore many of those relationships and I am beyond ecstatic that they are back in my life again.  (I’m realizing now that much of my angst around those relationships I thought were lost, was my own angst – and that quite possibly I never did lose them – but took myself out of the equation for many years).  For that, I feel sorry – but happy to know that there has been healing between us.

God has restored to me what I have lost.  If I didn’t have my faith in God, I truly don’t know how I would have made it. If I had no belief that, even in the darkness, God still had my best interests at heart, I would have been swallowed up entirely.  I truly don’t know how others make it when they have no faith in anything but themselves.  While I believe having faith in oneself is very important – I’ve come to know from these dark experiences in my life that having faith in oneself only can be a very lonely and scary way to live.  I stand in awe of God’s mercy and faithfulness to me, and although many of my beliefs have changed from the beliefs I was taught as a child – my relationship with God has never been closer.

Thankfully, this Christmas has left me feeling fulfilled and blessed.  But I know also what it’s like to not be able to bear holidays like this one.  I hope and pray that for those of you that feel this way, this year, that you can hold on to the hope that our entire life ebbs and flows.  Good and bad are inevitable in this life.  If we can hold on in the bad, lonely, scary times and never give up – the good, better, and best times will follow.

 

 

 

 

 

When Did I Lose My Words?

Standard

In the last two months, I’ve been coming in here, to this blog of mine, and just staring at it.  Looking through past posts and wondering, did that cat get my tongue?  I wrote only two posts this past year.  What happened?

So, I’ve been thinking I should just delete my little corner of the internet – but somehow – I  can’t do it.

I’ve started and stopped probably 5 blogs over the past 5 years or so.  I’ve written posts that people have loved and commented on….and then gone back and deleted them.  A friend, who is also an author herself, has told me that I’ve written enough good stuff to write a book – little did she know I deleted most of it.

In the past year, my concentration has been elsewhere.  My growing family, mostly, and my health – working to become healthier and spending more and more time trying to figure out ever increasing pain in my body.  I think, honestly, I’ve had little to no desire to write anything.

That’s not the whole problem, though.  For ALL of my life I have struggled to find my voice.  So I believe that I find it for awhile – and then lose it again.  I think to myself – in this age of information, why would anyone want to hear what I have to say?  And so I hit the delete button, again and again and again…

I’ve been given a gift, though.  I believe that right down into my toes.  I have always believed that my ability to write is a gift to me.  If only I could figure out how to use this gift – but so far, the figuring out part has escaped me.

If you’re here, reading this, thank you!  I’m going to try my darnedest to come here more often.  Because in my heart of hearts, I don’t believe that I can afford to hit the delete button any more.  Somehow, I’m going to become brave enough to let my work, simple as it might be, remain. It’s time to get past this belief that I still seem to hold onto that my voice is small and not worth anything.  Because that’s just nonsense, after all.  With everyone in the world  brave enough to let others know what they think through social media nowadays – well – I have a place here, too. 🙂

 

Loving Yourself – Can You? Do You?

Standard

Loving-ourselves

 

A friend recently asked me why I had stopped writing in my blog.  I told her, because sometimes I feel like I have nothing to say, that’s all.   Sometimes I feel I have words that the world needs to hear. (And wow, doesn’t that sound boastful?)  But so does everyone and their brother nowadays! Other times I think, with all the people who are trying to get their words across on the internet these days, why on earth would anyone want to hear what I have to say?

Perhaps it’s just that I’ve been trying to learn something important.   You see, for as far back as I can remember, I’ve tried (and tried and tried and tried!) to be better in some way.  As if who I’ve been has never been enough.  I’ve read books (oh-so-many-books) on how to be this or that, or how do this or that even better.  I’ve read articles, I’ve watched videos, I’ve gone to support groups and women’s groups and prayer groups and church groups – because my belief has been that I must always strive to be better.  But I’m tired of striving!  I’m tired of reading, watching, and attending!  For the first time in my entire life I’ve been asking myself – what’s so wrong with me that I need to change everything all the time?

And the answer that I’ve come up with is…..nothing.  Nothing is wrong with me.  I AM good enough, just the way I am.  I don’t need to be fixed. I don’t need to constantly be berating myself because of some random thought that I had that I felt wasn’t appropriate. I don’t need to continually be chastising myself because I ate something (or did something or thought something) some vague person or article said wasn’t good for me.  Who gets to say what’s good for me – or not good for me?  Shouldn’t that be ME, after all?

More and more I’ve come to believe that I no longer need to search for answers outside myself.  I believe I’ve talked about this before somewhere here, but this is becoming clear to me in a brand new way. I believe, now, that the constance with which I berate myself for the way I feel I’m never doing it right (whatever IT is) – that this way of being is a complete disconnect to myself – body, mind and spirit.  I’m coming to believe that if I constantly hate on myself for what I’m not, then I’ll never, ever achieve a true sense of being ok with who I am, right now, warts and all.

And believe me, I have warts – BIG ones.  I worry and fret way too much over things I cannot control.  I spend too much time regretting things in my past that I cannot change. I procrastinate.  I don’t have a body that is – how shall we say – acceptable – in today’s society.  I sometimes over-mother my kids and grandbabies.  I perhaps spend too much time alone.  I am what I like to call myself – a reluctant servant in the work that I believe I’m called to do in my little corner of the world – meaning, I don’t always do what I know I have to do willingly, but instead go kicking and screaming.  I often relate to the story of Jonah, in the Bible, who kicked and screamed (and ran away and spent 3 days in the belly of a whale!) Yikes! Hopefully that will not be my destiny -cause, ya know, I don’t like fish! 🙂

With all of these not-so-positive ways of being, these days I’m still choosing to be ok with who/what I am.  To have compassion for myself.  To stop reaching for ways to do it all better, and just love myself for who I am.  And I’m beginning to believe that once I can reach that place of real love for myself in all my ways of being – well, that will be a peaceful state in which to live.

Can I love myself through all of that – and more?  Can I quiet the frenzied self talk that goes on and on, day and night?  All I know is that I must stop pushing and pulling at myself, sending myself in a thousand different directions.  It’s not good for me, in any way.  And so, I’ve stopped reading so many articles. I’ve unsubscribed from newsletters whose owners promise the next big change if only you do it this way. I’ve stopped following gurus’ and men and women who are claiming to be leading the way in health and wellness.  It’s all become tiresome.  It makes me wonder what kind of world we might live in if we all really and truly loved ourselves from within?  I believe that entails getting to know oneself inside and out.  Hearing what our inner voices tell us. Listening to what our bodies say (because I believe our bodies speak to us daily).  Becoming able to hear our own self – and drown out the cacophony around us.

There are a million more voices ‘out there’ that tell us to try this new way or tell us this is the way we should eat nowadays, this is the way our bodies ‘should’ look, or this is the car, house, education, vacation that we need to have.  But what does our inner self tell us? If we can listen and hear that inner voice, perhaps we might stop getting caught up in the millions of voices we hear chattering all around us that tell us we will Never Be Enough.

So, perhaps this is the reason I have stopped writing.  I have been learning something new – something important to me, something deep within myself that maybe I need to authenticate before I can write again.  I make promises that I wish I could keep, but I don’t keep.  And I’m going to be ok with that for now, and I’m going to say that I will write when I feel I really there’s something on my heart I wish to share.  And I will  try to write, not as someone who needs the world to know something, but perhaps as someone who is learning instead, and who is wanting to share that learning experience.

Perhaps getting to know/love myself just as I am has been why I have not been writing just now.  Perhaps it’s just not been the time to write, no matter what my ‘intentions’ were.  Can I be ok with that? Can you?

Namaste

 

 

The Problem With Perfection…

Standard

perfectionist

The Problem With Perfection…

I recently learned a great new phrase.  Wabi sabi.  Ever heard it?  Wabi sabi is “the Japanese worldview or aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection.  The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete”.  Or, a simpler definition is ‘finding beauty in roughness and irregularity”.
For as long as I can remember, the need for perfection has plagued me.  My mantra was “IF ONLY” I could be perfect in everything I do…..the perfect little girl, the perfect student, the perfect child who never makes waves or causes problems…..perfectly invisible.  Because all around me was chaos, I equated perfection with staying safe.
I didn’t recognize that need to be perfect, however, until much later in my life, when one day, my counselor tried to remind me that “I don’t need to be perfect”. I still remember the earnestness with which I looked at her and said….YES.  YES, I Do!  And I remember believing that with all of my heart and soul.
I used to think, as well, that perfection was an awesome quality to have!  Who didn’t want someone working for them that strove for perfection in all things?  What I didn’t see was how my need for perfection was playing out in my life in a very unhealthy way…
I began to see that my need to be perfect in all things was paralyzing me!  I never felt free to try anything new, because if I couldn’t get it right right from the start, it wasn’t worth trying. And learning something new, for example a new job, was painstaking!  I would so terrified to make mistakes that I found myself making mistakes ALL the time….and beating myself up, over and over.  It was a never ending cycle, and learning  a new job, or learning in school, exhausted and discouraged me.
As someone who has had to teach themselves about self care, I have had to learn to let that need for being perfect go.  Because trying to do anything new without my inner critic beating me up was near impossible.  That inner critic was a force to be reckoned with in my life, and I had to learn  to remind myself that I cannot be perfect, no matter how hard I try. Perfection is NOT possible in this world we live in.  And killing myself trying was sucking the life out of me….

Perfectionism can be great – in some things.  We want to do our work well.  We want to get good grades.  We like being ‘best’ at something!  But, when perfectionist tendencies get in the way of us living our lives, as they did with me, then we’re in trouble.  If having to be perfect is stealing our joy in simple things – or is holding us back from doing things we’d really like to do, or is causing our inner critic to make us feel horrible about ourselves….then we might need/want to reconsider just how perfect we think we need to be. For me, I will never again see perfectionism as something to aspire to.  Doing my best is good enough for me.  I’m satisfied with being perfectly imperfect nowadays!
I must admit something – I’m sure not there yet.  I STILL have a very strong wish to be perfect – I still have to talk myself down from those places sometimes.  But in working to remind myself that perfection is not needed, not even possible, in this life, and is detrimental to my emotional health, I have been able to learn how to ‘just BE’ – a lot more often.
So, I was excited to hear of this Japanese phrase “Wabi sabi”, and to become open to the concept that there may just be beauty in our roughness or irregularity. It helped me to stop and think that maybe there IS beauty in the imperfect – we just have to look for it!