Today in a meeting that I attended, someone was asked why that they had written so many questions in a paper that they had submitted, stating that all the questions took away from the writer and what they were trying to share. The individual responded that they had noticed some time ago that when they were presenting if they asked questions they received more responses to their presentation. But is this really true? If we do not receive an immediate response or a tangible response given to ourselves to something that we have said or done, does that really mean there was no response?
I don’t know about you but most of my life I have judged myself based on how others respond to my actions or something that I have said. Given others the power to make me feel good, happy, frustrated or sad. What I have finally gotten is that others typically react or not based on their own expectations. Those reactions have nothing to do with me. I am not saying that we don’t need to be conscious of how what we do and what we say affects others. When we act in good faith, I am saying that how others react or their lack of reaction should NOT determine our own self-value. Nor should it determine whether we share or take action.
No response is a response. Have you heard that saying before? I used to think that was a negative comment about a lack of response. I have come to know quite the opposite. How many times have you read a poem, book, Bible passage, heard a song, listened to a lecturer etc. that many times later popped into your head and you related that to the circumstance that you were in currently in a way that helped you better understand and/or act within that situation? I have many times. Actions and words or lack of either, are experiences which have a lasting affect. As my children have gone through childhood into young adulthood I have learned many times over that the things that I have shared, the actions that I have taken did get a response. Even if at the time I could have sworn that I was banging my head against the wall. Toilet seats do get put down, snotty noses do get wiped on tissues instead of shirt sleeves, the door does now get held open acknowledging others behind them, dirty laundry does make it to the clothes hamper, salads and fruit have become a staple in their diet, and the list goes on. Grant it, in the scheme of life, those things are trivial. The point being, those things said and those actions taken do get a response. It may not be the response or in the timeframe that we envision but the response of others is not our journey, that is part of their journey.
I do think questions are important though. As a child, questioning things was not encouraged and this left me thinking in much of a black and white, judgemental way. Ultimately taking away from myself. This way of thinking has been a block to me in relationships with others, myself and the world around me. I found myself trapped inside yearning to be outside, free. Like a dog standing on the inside of a storm door peering outside at the sunshine and the action, whining to join in. Questions expand the mind allowing for growth, knowledge, understanding, confidence and the development of discernment and decision-making skills. All of which is vital to finding and maintaining some sort of balance in ones life.
Don’t judge yourself on others reactions to you. Kindly give yourself credit for the good that you are doing and the good in what you are contributing. Knowing that we all have a place in this world with a plethora to contribute and having faith that whosever ears were meant to hear your words will. Either from your mouth or someone who has heard your words spoken repeating them to another who needs your words. Your words are meant to be spoken. Your actions are meant to happen. By first believing in you, together we will achieve.
Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Proverbs 3:3
Ever since I can remember when it has come time for the clock to change, fall backward or spring forward, I almost frown upon the change. Yet, I cannot place the exact reason why. The change is not that significant. As a child, I would focus more on the loss or gain of an hours sleep, the early onset of an evenings darkness or the abundance of play that could develop in the extended brightness of the day. Today, I drink my morning coffee an hour later and my dog Bear and I can enjoy one more long walk under the light of the day. I believe more than anything it is simply because it is a change. One of the sayings that I remember my Dad telling myself and my siblings was that “there will always be someone telling you what to do.” While I am certain I may have rolled my eyes a few times when that hit my ears as a child, he was right. Laws, rules, and time change to name a few.
I think life is that way at times too. Sometimes changes we do not instigate are the most difficult to manage. Mostly because of perception. I have found myself recently feeling wary at the realization that change, again, is necessary. Stepping into the unknown is scary for some of us. Even when we know that is the only way to help ourselves and those around us. For me, it isn’t so much the idea’s that are difficult it is knowing and filling the call to action. If someone would tell me what is the right action to take, right? But we all know that is not how it works, nor is it how we should want it to work. Confidence comes from taking action and gaining results. So from past actions. Therefore if one has lived following orders and instruction within their jobs and lives, the confidence to take solid actions has not been well established. Over a time of change, learning discernment and taking action, we build that confidence level. All part of harnessing our authentic self. I have learned that once we quiet ourselves, put away the outside forces and listen from within, we know what action we need to take. Typically then, once we act, the weight of the inaction and question of how to take action passes because we have acted in accordance with our true selves.
One of the things that I have struggled with recently in moving forward in my own creative way is questioning the reason. If I am not moving forward in the way of the status quo, am I doing the wrong thing? Am I forging this path for my own selfish pleasure or honing my gift from God? Why is it that I am questioning how God would view me being creative? Mostly because I do want to be pleasing to him but I also want to do good works. But mostly fear. In growing into myself, an excuse to stay where I am comfortable even if it is uncomfortable. Learning to truly walk your own path is challenging. In my heart, I know taking actions via the gift he gave me in kindness, wisdom, and love IS honoring God and myself. In realizing that, making plans and taking action, we put into motion our inner belief that God has a plan for us. That is pleasing to him as we are acting on our belief in faith! Kary Oberbrunner once said God gave us each a gift, it is up to us to use it.
This week, may each of us take a solid step, with all of our heart and all of our might, from within.
I have been thinking about shadows lately. Maybe because the weather has been a little on the gloomy side, the old me …. darker, doubting and questioning towards self…. like a turtle has poked its head outside its hard, protective shell. A kind reminder to self that these thoughts and emotions were designed by prior self as a way of protection. A means to keep me in my comfort zone, albeit uncomfortable and unfruitful, familiar territory. A reminder of how those dark thoughts take over a day and block the ongoing joy that surrounds us. A reminder that beauty is available to each of us as nutrients for our soul when we are peaceful and aware, internally.
In these instances, I am tempted to stay inside the comfort of my home but studies show that going outside on gloomy days exposes us to UV rays and helps to elevate our moods. The same can be said about exposure to new ideas, concepts and general ways of thinking. Most of my life I lived based on belief patterns established as a growing child and young adult. On autopilot, as I suspect others do too. Inclined to color within the lines that I had drawn and adopted from society as boundaries over time, exposing myself to new experiences and information which summons learning, growth, and expansion was not part of my norm. Therefore limiting the potential for a more healthy lifestyle, change in a point of view or a more resounding, this is how I have always viewed this circumstance and in light of this new information, my view is solidified. Unchallenged, we get stagnant and bored with ourselves which can lead to poor decisions for and denial of self. ie: Alcohol, flings, alienation, divorce, self-doubt resulting in denied dreams.
I remember saying to my siblings once that it felt as if I was experiencing a crucifixion of self. The universe had started a chain of circumstances that served up a smorgasbord of shadow self like a bowl of flawed hot beef stew. Always priding myself in being humble and uplifting to others, a new humbleness and humility scripted and shown as a movie on the big screen. Selfishness, control, pleasing, following, judging, anger, envy. Self-discovery has at times been painfully difficult to navigate. Acknowledging in myself, what we refer to as the uglies, initially was not easy as it felt as though I was continuing the pattern of low self-esteem and low self-worth. However, accepting those shadow qualities, the fact that we each have them and learning to put them in context has been and continues to bring a source of authenticating peace.
The internalization and repression of those qualities were indeed to appear put together, an attempt to keep from a feeling of personal exposure and hurt to myself and others and a plead to be accepted and worthy. A byproduct of guilt and shame. Once these qualities were acknowledged I could then develop an appreciation, compassion, and love of self which has enhanced my appreciation, compassion, and love for those around me. Allowed me to recognize and accept the gifts and beauty that God has given to me without comparison to the gifts and beauty with which God has blessed another. An assurance in who I am without the need to be a quality that I admire in someone else. It is essential to remember, a shadow is a darkness produced by a body coming between rays of light. Therefore, we ARE light, the shadow self is just a part of our whole. A part, which when put in context, provides meaning and direction as untainted.
Recent liturgy has challenged my Biblical viewpoints. I am pointing this out to share that in times past, I would have either just taken the information as it was and followed suit or hidden from the information given, head in the sand. Today, I choose to go into my cocoon of safety, only to further educate myself and grow in my own thoughts and stance, prior to being comfortable in wearing that stance wherever I go. The difference being, immediately following for the sake of avoidance of conflict vs educating myself to form my own point of view based on my values and education, despite the risk of conflict. Utilizing parts of my shadow self to enhance who I am in my environment and being comfortable with that. Another great example of how I am applying knowledge of my shadow self is by acknowledging how pleasing others and doing things for them that helps ease their day is a part of who I am. I do get a sense of pleasure in doing that. However, when those instances of pleasing have become expectations of others or a responsibility I am taking upon myself which dims my light, I am finding balance in giving myself permission to say no or not to offer of myself.
We are all united in the questions and mysteries of this journey called our life. Even though we tend to feel alone and secluded when facing lives challenges and complexities ( alone and secluded does have its time, place and value) we indeed are not. In that knowledge alone, we provide to ourselves the tools and resources available in one another and in God/Divine/Universe, if we humbly ask. Our environment and what we take in is vital.
I am reminded of an HL Menken quote introduced to me by a friend. “For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.” Another version of that quote published in 1921 Prejudices: The Second Series reads as follows: “Explanations exist; they have existed for all time; there is always a well-known solution to every human problem neat, plausible and wrong.”
Keep working on you, finding your answers; for it is there that you will illuminate and we as a whole will reap the benefits of your light shining undiminished and true.
The morning coolness greets silky skin Refreshing vigor after a cocooned rest Supporting joints coming alive with movement Paving the way towards the days path to tread.
Deep breaths pull life force inward Blood begins to pulsate and traverse Winding thru a vast highway of veins Courier of the ultimate machines song and verse.
A hungry soul peers thru mine eyes At the radiance of the rising sun In awe, soaking up the vast beauty and light Garnishing energy and inspiration to the day that has begun.
White feathers drifting across the endless heavenly sea Calm and comfort from a presence of loved ones past Invoke within, thankful, heartfelt words in prayer and plea Inspiration for a pure heart to bear
In the distance, Rolling hills meander Sweeping panoramic reminders to peaks and valleys Endured In pain, glory and humble candor Eased by the refreshing, clear flowing creeks water.
Nature surrounds in strokes of serene hues of jade Rustling in the soothing gentle breeze Humble strides taken thru a nourishing cascade Allied in blessings from the Universe display.
For sometime now while walking my dog Bear, I have looked at the imprint of the leaves in the concrete sidewalk shown above in marvel. The beautifully perfect unchangeable representation of what those leaves looked like in a given moment of time and how that innate beauty drives a smile from me and creates a feeling of thankfulness and happiness everytime that I walk by.
Today, that vision invited me to ponder how in ways that concrete imprint represents me. I suppose that thought process was pushed by where I have been and where I currently am on my path of personal growth, development and the continuing emersion of self. The general fact for me is that in years past I would have still been delighted at the sight, as things in nature have always brought out a peaceful happiness in me, but at those times no additional thought or correlation would have transpired. In my journey I have transversed through darkened tunnels, over swinging bridges, hurried barefoot on hot sand, ventured slowly thru dense fog, addressed a beehive with calming smoke and basked in the warmth of the sun. All metaphors, of course, but circumstances that have together brought me to a true awareness and mindfulness that everything is connected and supported in a way that when we open ourselves up to it, and relinquish some of the control that we cling to for a sense of stability, provides to us useful connection, insight, comfort, direction, opportunity and solution.
The core of the leaf is often how we identify the tree that the leaf is associated with just as our personal characteristics are how others identify us and how we identify ourselves. The outline blade, solid midrib, distinct main veins and interweaving netted veins. The midriff allows the leaf to hold its shape ( remember the phrase “get a backbone” ) and the veins provide structure and support. Much like us as individuals and our core values. Those qualities that are essential to who we are as a person and those that we surround ourselves with that are in alignment with those same core values is that which allows us to function at our highest, contribute in the brightest light and bloom in the way our soul was meant to. Interweaving netted veins that transport our “sap” from the hearts of one person to another providing the structure and support necessary to blossom within a society of multiple different core values.
Although we are a work in progress, hopefully we are making ongoing adaptations based on what we learn about ourselves. Changes towards living a life that is one with our own core values. I look at us as the concrete that held the imprint. That concrete is made up of a mixture of fine particles and coarse particles that together are solid in form. In us, the fine particles are things that we like or enjoy such as knitting, watching TV or eating salads. Those are things that over time may or maynot change but does not change the core of who we are. The coarse particles are things that we as an individual value that are a constant necessity for us to be content and happy. For example loyalty, appearance, acknowledgement or adventure. When I attempt to fit into an environment or conform instead of choosing to navigate towards and network with those of same or similar core values, that is when I have experienced feelings of depression, frustration, stress and being stuck. The result of what is referred to as social contagion; unconsciously mimicking others in our environment. While we cannot be around people all the time that have like core values, you see why it is important to be clear on our own values and surround ourselves as much as possible with those of the same. If not, we then unconsciously are conforming and therefore go against our very own nature which causes the distressed feelings. We are sailing our boat against the wind. Not many can shine the brightest light when conforming as you are then struggling against and stifling your true self by living a life around things and values that others have decided is important.
Just to clarify, those with same or similar core values by appearances can be totally different individuals. Just because someone may share the core value of the importance of family they may choose to honor that in a totally different way than you would. Someone who shares your core value of independence may honor that by choosing to live life as a single adult while you may honor that by being an entrepreneur. Those are all subtle differences that make us each who we are. So I am not saying that spending a majority of your time with people just like you is the way to shine. Quite the opposite. For me, exposure to those subtle differences initiates growth while still in an environment that is supportive to me. That will be different for everyone, as we each have our own core values.
I experienced this recently myself. I was working from my home with the office being located some 73 miles away when I was notified that come early December 2018 that home position would no longer be available and that I would be instead working at the actual office. My heart sank but I soon found myself rallying around the idea in support of myself and others whose positions would as well be moving to that same office. All in an attempt to make the transition for myself and others be felt in a more positive way. To make it ok. I have since then, thru my journey, recognized those actions, albeit positive were those of avoidance. A behavior that I had learned as a child and carried over into my adult life. As the move date drew nearer, I became more and more unsettled about the the consequences the move would have on me and my family. Approximately 3 hours drive time daily as well as other personal factors. Already well into the journey of self development which had started a couple years prior, I began cautiously listening to my feelings about the situation and eventually, with a peaceful heart, tendered my resignation effective prior to the move. No new job to go to, no other source of income as a sole provider in my home and no “valid” reason to give to inquisitive minds who didn’t quite understand my decision. Understanding their concern as, lets face it, without an income in many ways life can become a challenge. If I am vulnerable, I admit to my desires being what led to that final decision to resign. But in retrospect, I am confident that God and the Universe was working for me, forcing me to learn to listen to myself and what was best for me. How many times have we heard it said that we cannot control what happens to us but we can control how we react? Believing and positivity goes a long way in outcomes. Ephesians 4:23 states “to be made new in the attitude of your minds”.
Although I still have not secured a new job, my heart is amazingly at peace. I have not been without tears or trying moments, but thru it my heart has remained peaceful and I am now living a life closer to my core values than I ever have before. I had been searching for what “felt” like my place in life and with this decision and the time it has afforded me, I have found some of those places. I now attend an amazing, non-judgemental and supportive church community which no matter what each of the members interests are, share the same core value of faith. A couple writers groups which I now attend is fostering my long lost love of writing and share my value of time, expression and non-structure. I am developing a relationship with my two young adult son’s in an integrated form that did not exist before. Supporting my value of family. Even in the midst of the trials that have ensued, the peace in my heart and mind are to me, almost unbelievable.
As you look at your life today, what foliage are you displaying? Is the community with which you are a part of “your” tree? Are you honoring the tree within? What are your core values? What are the feelings that you are experiencing today? Are any of those negative feelings attributed to an area(s) where you are not living in sync with your core values? If so, list some possible solutions and how you can take action. Can you attribute your positive feelings to ways that you are living in sync with your core values?
Until next time, Blessings!
“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are”, Carl Gustav Jung.
I have been thinking alot today about games. Trivia, Monopoly, UNO, Clue, Checkers, Connect Four; The list goes on. A couple Christmases ago my family and I were sitting around the kitchen table playing Imagine If and I was asked if I were a shoe, which shoe would I be? to which I answered ….. a flip flop. At the first hint of warmth I eagerly slide into my flip flops and by the time i reluctantly tuck them away for the winter the air has more than a slight chill to it. But what a leading question.
I spent many years juggling shoes. This pair for this environment, that pair for this situation and always under the premise that I felt that I was doing that which I was supposed to do. Who defined “what” I was “supposed” to do? What pair of shoes I felt most comfortable in? Which pair of shoes allowed me to walked with a bounce in my step? Which pair of shoes afforded me the best traction? Those are things that I never asked myself until a few years back.
As I was reminded a couple years ago, knowing thyself is essential to a healthy, loving life. Now in my mid-forties I have struggled to define who I am, what I like and dislike and what I want and do not want. All things that I needed to recognize in myself in order to practice the act of discernment. I am not talking about making choices that society see’s as good or bad decisions. I am talking about making choices that are in line with who I am, what feeds my soul and makes me flourish and encouraging the same in those around me.
For years, I played a role in my life but I did not actively participate. I now know that and realize that hurt myself and those around me. How can we fully bloom when we are comparing ourselves to others? How can we expect happiness when we are filling roles not living our gifts? How can we truly trust others when we haven’t entrusted ourselves?
Let me clarify in saying that I do not regret my prior years. Those years gifted me two wonderful sons and a flood of memories. Yet, those years were much harder than necessary. Almost a burden at times due to me unknowingly going against my grain. I tried my hardest to grade an A in the roles of mom and wife and I am proud of that. But when I was upset, angry, less than …. I choose to be angry, upset and less than instead of recognizing my soul was telling me something and adjusting.
I am a firm believer that we each have beauty within and the only way to truly release that is to recognize that gem and polish it. In doing so, it will gleam! As for me, I am kicking my shoes to the ceiling (thanks Hazel). I am going to get comfortable in my flip flops, I am going to drink coffee and I am going to write. I am going to feed my soul.
Do you know what makes you gleam? What have you done today that makes you truly smile from the inside out?