“Embrace the glorious mess that you are.” Elizabeth Gilbert
“Doggone It, People Like Me” Jack Handey
I spent a lot of my younger years thinking that I was crazy, a mess, not that bright… very negative self talk. It took me many years to realize that everyone is a ‘hot mess’. That being a gloppy, bumpy, goofy, awkward human means that I am alive. That I am taking risks, putting myself out there, getting my hands dirty.
And that’s how it should be.
Change Your Self-Talk
So if you think of yourself as a mess, you’re probably doing it right. Work on changing your negative self talk to something positive:
- Lighten up
- It’s all good
- I am enough (I used this affirmation for years)
- Other people feel as awkward as I do (believe me, 95% of people do)
- Easy does it
- How important is it?
These days, I say, “it’s all good” nearly every day. The things I used to spend hours worrying about either never happened or whatever DID happen, I never could have predicted or prepared for. Sure there are lots of things that happen in the world that are not “all good”- e.g. war, abuse and hunger. Today, I work to figure out what can I do something about and then do it. The rest of my awkward, weird, silly, ridiculous, lazy, lame and ludicrous self… I give her a pass.
Image credit: Enjoying the cake Hoyasmeg
Ugh, it’s hard to be gentle and graceful when the world makes me mad. And it’s especially hard to let go of things that I think I want or keep me comfortable.
- For me, it means, walking and talking softly. I have a very loud voice. I talk fast and with enthusiasm. I overwhelm some people. So I work on slowing down, quieting down, think of my edges as being rounded not square.
- I try not to accumulate a lot of ‘stuff’; I prefer experiences.
- Reacting to other people’s perceptions of me is a waste of time. The core of who I am is (I hope) unassailable.
Let Go Gracefully
Really? This is not my strong suit. If you’ve come into the orbit of my life then I think it’s my job to help you. But many people come and go and don’t need anything from me. They need a smile, maybe a kind word.
- If I am struggling with something or someone, that’s because I have not accepted “it” as it is. I want to change it, shape it or fix it.
- I have had particular struggles letting go at work. When money is concerned, I tend to be rigid, fearful. This comes from growing up poor.
- Change is hard. If I can create the change, then it’s easier for me to accept (I’m more graceful?) But when it is imposed on me, my back goes up. Letting go of what I know or believe is like bleeding. I’m right; when in truth, I may be wrong.
In the search for serenity (note: as distinct from happiness), walking softly and letting go gracefully are key.
Image Credit: Buddha Quotes
Oh, Oh… I Got Fired
If you’ve been fired in the past year or two and it was your first time, you might still feel bad about it. I was fired 3 times (well, technically fired twice and laid off once). The first time, I worked in a shoe store in high school. They wanted me to recommend other stuff when people bought shoes. Couldn’t do it. So, I was fired. The next time, I had been promised by my boss’s boss that things would change in the workplace…they didn’t change, I was insubordinate. The third time, I had pre-negotiated a leave date so technically it was a lay off. (I was never fired for cause!)
The first time I was devastated. The second time I thought the world would end. The third time was, no big deal. Every time I left a job involuntarily, something better turned up next.
I’m In Good Company
For inspiration, glance at this article, “21 Great Successes Who Got Fired.” The list is pretty impressive …
- Abraham Lincoln
- Oprah Winfrey
- Walt Disney
- Truman Capote
- Lady Gaga
The list of athletes who failed is long but one stands out… Michael Jordan. He was cut from his high school basketball team. Think about Jennifer Hudson. An American Idol loser who went on to win Oscar.
Whatever is happening with you right now, know that good things are going to happen for you. Hold on for one more day. I believe in you.
Image credit: Getting Fired: A Blessing
It’s Not Beautiful, It’s Dead
In the middle of winter, we think about the green of summer, the abundance of the garden, the color of the flowers and wish that things were different. We forget to look at the garden as beautiful. If we take a few minutes and look carefully, we’ll see many unexpected things. First, we’ll see more shades of white, black and gray than we thought possible. We’ll see the outline of things that are blocked by the leaves and greenery. We might notice the hardiness of the evergreen or the way grasses turn brown and yet still blow in the wind. But we must pay attention to see these things.
It’s Dead and It’s Beautiful
Just like in life, we might dismiss a person who doesn’t seem to ‘fit’ the way we think they should or we might miss the importance of kindness in everyday life. If kindness is the stem and roots, then it will be present no matter the season. The joy of appreciating the winter garden is that it teaches us to appreciate our days in all their phases – happy, sad, structured, confusing, etc. . Think about how the winter garden shows us how to accept wherever we are and even find joy and beauty there.
Photo credit: Winter Garden Ms. Lea
Let’s Get Comfortable
Here in America, we spend a lot of our time, energy and money on getting, being and staying “comfortable.” Think about it.
If we’re hungry – we eat, if we’re cold – we turn up the heat. I’m not suggesting that we sit around hungry in the freezing cold; but I am suggesting that we live with and appreciate discomfort. This may sound counter intuitive. How could a person possibly appreciate discomfort?
The Power of Discomfort
When the baby is learning to talk or walk, they have to garble words and trip over their own feet. They aren’t “comfortable,” they are learning. When we are learning, we are uncomfortable. When we are growing, we are uncomfortable. When we are stagnant… we seek comfort more and more.
This isn’t a complicated idea…it’s pretty simple. Pay attention to how comfortable you are. On a scale from 1 to 10, right now, how comfortable are you? Are you warm/cool enough? are you under pressure? is the pressure self-imposed? Are you learning new things? Or are you just complaining? I’m not suggesting that you run yourself ragged in order to be uncomfortable so you can learn and grow. I’m suggesting that you look at your discomfort. Is it teaching you something?
It’s good to be a little cold, a little hungry – to think a little more about putting ourselves in situations where we can learn versus staying a safe warm cocoon where nothing changes. Go ahead, embrace the discomfort. Let me know how it goes.
Image credit: Louis CK – Why we must learn to embrace discomfort
I Hate Asking for Help
I HATE asking for help. In my world, asking for help is not only a sign of weakness, but, as I learned from an early age, asking for help often means I won’t get any. My family tried, but they just were not in a position to be there for me. So as a result, I’m lousy at figuring out what I need and then asking other people to help me.
Independence Is Overrated
The problem with thinking that I have to do everything myself is that:
- It’s tiring
- I’m not that good at a lot of stuff
- It’s lonely
- Other people resent it
- I don’t give people a chance to show their support and love for me
Is It My Ego Talking?
There’s also an element of ego in “not asking.” As if, when I reveal a need and someone helps me, I might owe them something and then I can’t do whatever I want. Ego is very bad reason not to ask for help and tricky to recognize.
Balance Is The Goal
Being too dependent is equally bad. Not stepping up, getting too comfortable, manipulating others to do my work, etc. This is very bad also. This, however, isn’t my problem. I try to solve my problems and everyone else’s. Even if people don’t want my help. So now I work on paying attention to what I need and help others in a way that I can (when asked).
While it’s painful for me to ask for help, I have to keep trying. It takes more confidence to request help than it does to ‘go it alone.’ Arrggghhh. I hate it!
Image credit: Asking for help
Everyday people tell me, you gotta try this. You’ll LOVE this. Watch this, wear this, smell this, read this, blah blah blah.
I don’t have to do anything except breathe. And you know, for a human being, I think I do a rather poor job of it. Check this out from the always wonderful Chris Brogan.
“I had a quick chat with the Universe. It was in a rush but it wanted me to share something important with you. ‘You would do well to breathe deeper. In general. Take deeper breaths. In fact,’ said the Universe, ‘did you know that learning how to master slow, deep, controlled breaths is one way to master anxiety, fear, frustration, and many more feelings and emotions?'”
For today, you and I don’t need to master anything. But what I can do is remember the joy and release from just breathing. So right now, wherever you are, stop everything. Take a breath. Now take another. Just feel yourself breathing. Feels good doesn’t it? I’m trying to figure out a way to remind myself several times a day. Got any hints?
Chris Brogan quote is from his weekly newsletter that he sends out on Sunday. You can subscribe here.
Photo credit: ellephysio
What I Learned
My grandmother used to say, if someone offers you something and you don’t want it… say, “not today, try me tomorrow.” I thought she was nuts (well, she was, but not for saying that.) Women are taught to say yes. We are rewarded for saying yes… “Yes, I’ll make dinner and do the dishes.” Yes, I’ll volunteer at the school. Yes, I’ll run those errands, put a band aid on that cut, work that extra shift and on and on. I never learned to say no. I learned to try to please people, even at the expense of my own well being.
Why I Can’t Just Say Yes All The Time
So I had to learn to say no. One “no” at a time. It was hard. Every time I said no, I felt like I was disappointing everyone. Then it began to dawn on me. I’m not the only person who can do whatever needs to get done. Often, I wasn’t even the best person to do it. When I said no, it gave someone else a chance to give, to help, to learn, to show they cared. Who knew?
The Power of No
Who knew I could say no, feel better about myself and provide someone else with an opportunity? I didn’t know it then but I know it now. If you are one of the lucky people who learned to say no early in life, I envy you. I’m going to be watching you, to see how you do it.
Image Credit: No is a complete sentence
Why We Judge Others
Did you judge someone today? Maybe you’re not even aware of it. It’s a habit and way of thinking in modern society. Anytime we think we know what someone “should” do, we are judging. In the quote above, Einstein gives us an idea of how to check if we are being judgmental.
Judgement is a problem because it makes others feel “less than” and doesn’t give room for live and let live.
There is a difference between stating your position and putting someone else down. My aunt Dorothy (b. 1899 d. 1998) taught me by example that judging people is not only a waste of time, but also, doesn’t contribute to one’s overall well being. Here’s an example.
Don’t Try Harder, Try Different
Let’s talk about the rights of gay Americans. Whether you like it or believe it’s ‘natural’ is beside the point. Let’s talk about the right to carry a gun. Whether you like it or think its good for society is beside the point.
The point is to listen not judge. If I judge the person who is gay or who wants to carry a gun everywhere, then I miss the opportunity to grow, to see the world from someone else’s point of view. I miss the opportunity to keep an open mind, to learn, to change, to adjust. I just dig my heels in and build walls. I judge that fish by it’s ability to climb a tree. Not. relevant.
There Is No Grapefruit at the Hardware Store
You can’t get grapefruit at the hardware store. If I am always mad when I leave the hardware store (for it’s lack of ANY fruit) – whose fault is that?
The point is to find a balance between having an opinion/belief and being open minded enough to get along, go along and help make things better. The key word is compromise. Lighten up a little. Pay attention to when you “judge”. What are you afraid of that makes you dig your heels in?
Image credit: You’re a genius all the time.
What does love look like?
Let’s talk about how we show people that we care. Do we buy things for them? Do we cook for them? Clean up after them? Provide a home? All of these things take a lot of time… and energy.
Attention, the rarest of commodities
What is one of the most important (and ‘cheapest’) things we can do for our children, spouse, friends, relatives, employees?
We can listen to them. Look them in the eye and give them our full attention. Try to do it for one full minute. Is it difficult? Do you feel like you ‘should’ be doing something else? email, texts, reading, exercising, paperwork, etc.
Giving someone our full attention isn’t easy in the age of distraction. Check out this terrific post by the wonderful Beth Kanter on improving focus (simple ideas to practice) when there’s too much going on.
Just for today, pick one person. Turn everything off. Sit down with them and ask them a question and then listen to the answer. Can you repeat back to them what they said? Did you really hear them? Were you able to ask follow up questions? Did you understand how they felt, whether they told you or not? Be generous with your ATTENTION, with the people who mean the most to you. Let me know how it goes.
Image credit: Listen closely photographer credit: 20 questions
Quote credit: Simone Weil Image credit: Quotesville.net