Life beats us up pretty good. We get pushed around by it. We’re told by people we trust that somehow…
we’re not enough.
that we’re somehow broken.
that if we only did more, did better, morph ourselves into something or someone else – we’ll be more
But the gift is that you are simply wonderful, amazing, perfect as you are.
Very simply – you are the gift.
You. Are the gift.
Meant to bring your gifts forward and share them with the world. Meant to make a difference to your people. Meant to make the world better in your own special way – using your own unique gifts.
You are the gift.
When I was a teenager, I remember looking at older women and feeling a variety of feelings:
- Mild Annoyance
- Slight Contempt
Now that I am that older woman and I live with a teenager, it’s SO delightful to have the shoe on the other foot. (There might be some sarcasm in here…but honestly I really look at this as fertile ground.)
Yesterday, we were driving home from school. I peeked in my rearview mirror and looked at the face of my teenager. It was closed and pinched tight. (This pic is of my pre-teen, but same concept…)
I looked at my own face and I was smiling at the world in the sunshine. My face was annoyingly open and I was loving the world around me.
When we are in restaurants, on the street…anywhere really I look people in the eye and try and SEE them. “Hello.” “Good morning.” “How are you?”
My teenager furtively looks at people – seemingly as uncomfortable with looking them in the eye them as being seen. She’s slightly embarrassed by my chatting with people so openly.
BTW – she has read this and approved it, so I’m not gossiping about her. She wanted to clarify that she isn’t uncomfortable with looking at people on the street…but looking people in the eye is harder.
I dance in my car, in my home, truth be told…I dance anywhere. (Black Sheep, “The Choice is Yours” xo)
My child used to join me in my dancing. It ended last year or so. No more family dance parties…
It seems like there is this time in the middle when we get super self-conscious for a REALLY LONG TIME. When we worry SO MUCH what the world thinks of us. Where we don’t know ourselves and are unsure of our place in it all.
And then apparently (at least in my case) you come out the other side standing in your 40’s and don’t give a flying f(&k. You stand in your power, your big S Self. It’s like coming out of a deep sleep…you wake up and look around and you SEE other people…you SEE your Self. You SEE how we’re ALL connected.
Is this just me? I don’t think so.
I look around and I see other women my age DOING SOME SERIOUSLY COOL SH&T. They are standing firmly in their power, looking other people in the eye, and saying, “HELLO.”
Maybe what I can’t figure out is if I feel a little bad for the young me, my teenager, other young people. I wish they could fast forward a bit…
Because let me tell you…this feels glorious.
(Any other middle-aged women feeling this???)
At a small rural church in Northwestern Michigan, there are piles of knitted yarn. They’re separated into stacks – small, medium, large.
When I saw them, I thought maybe blankets?? But wasn’t sure.
My dad, the priest, said, “They’re prayer shawls. The ladies of the church knit them and give them to people who need comfort and prayer.”
People who need comfort and prayer.
It made me think to myself, “Don’t we ALL need comfort and prayer?”
Don’t we all need to be wrapped in a soft shawl, knitted with loving hands, blessed, then wrapped around our shoulders with love and prayer?
It touched me so deeply – the whole idea of this exchange.
Then, I saw it…on the bottom shelf. A small, grey shawl. I reached out and touched it. It was soft and it soothed me.
I asked the ladies, “Could I make a donation and have a prayer shawl please?” Maybe I don’t look like who they imagine would need their shawls, but they generously agreed.
And as I sit in meditation and prayer today, I felt the hands of all who had touched it…and am comforted and blessed.
May we all be comforted and blessed.
So much gratitude to Saint Mary’s Episcopal in Cadillac, Michigan.
It’s New Year’s Eve. A time for reflecting. As I was looking at the lines on my face and the marks of age in this light up mirror…I thought, “I get two choices here.”
I could condemn, hate, be disgusted with this process of aging. Raging against the fates that steal away my youth. I could stick needles in my forehead and pull the skin up surgically. I could…pretend for awhile that it’s not happening.
To what end I wonder?
As I look at my face, I could be tender…smiling at the lines that life has given me. The beautiful imperfections that amplify with each year. I could chuckle at gravity and be grateful for the grounding it offers. I could look lovingly at my familiar face, look deep into my own eyes and say, “Hey. You’re alright. You’re perfect as you are. I love you.”
On this day, December 31, 2017…I’m going with the latter.
Yesterday I was at the grocery store checkout. I had a full cart of groceries.
A woman was walking from aisle to aisle with two items in her hands looking angry. She seemed agitated and in a hurry.
I said to her, “Excuse me, why don’t you cut in front of me.”
She gave me a dirty look and said something in a rude tone but it was unintelligible and proceeded to stand behind someone else with a full cart.
Ok, there’s a lot to unpack here.
But I’m not going to…
There was a time that this woman’s behavior would have pissed me off. Ask anyone and you’ll know that I am happy to speak my mind. I would have popped off on her and been rude back. (Nice. I know.) I would have likely carried with me this exchange for a while and there may have been some expletives.
So here’s the deal. This was all her stuff and none of it had anything to do with me.
I tell you this story not because I’m carrying it; I’m not. And THAT my friends is the gift.
When my kids were little I read them the story of the two monks from the book Zen Shorts by Jon J. Muth. In it, a woman is extraordinarily rude to the old monk making him carry her across a mud puddle. The young monk is irritated on behalf of his friend…all day. At the end of the day, he says to the old monk, “Can you BELIEVE that lady? She was SO RUDE!!” The old monk replies, “I set that woman down hours ago, why haven’t you?”
We get to choose how we react in any situation. We get to decide in every moment if we’re going to get hooked or if we’re not.
Jill Bolte Taylor writes in her book “My Stroke of Insight” (which is an outstanding read btw) that after our limbic (emotional) system is triggered, it takes only 90 seconds for the trigger, the surge of emotion to flow through our body, and then physiologically IT.IS.DONE.
After 90 seconds? You get to choose to keep that trigger, or let it go out of your body and OUT OF YOUR MIND and OUT OF YOUR SPIRIT.
You get to choose to hold on to irritation, anger, frustration, agitation OR you get to choose to let it go after you feel it for 90 seconds.
What Taylor does is set her watch for :90 and then when the feeling is done, she’s done.
Another tool that I use is that I ask myself, “Is this my stuff or is this your stuff?” You can quickly start to discern what’s yours and what is someone else’s and detach or unhook from it.
Let me know what you think.
As someone who has been depressed, I know the feeling of depression intimately. I also know that when it lifts – that depression is not my natural state. Joy is my natural state.
So I started to ask what can I do to support my own JOY? There is a ton of research around the topic of cultivating joy. I really enjoy the work of researcher Emma Seppala who wrote an article in Psychology Today about sharing your joy. I break down the article here:
The thing to add into your life to cultivate joy is to SHARE YOUR JOY WITH OTHERS. Here’s are three ways I do this:
1) Three Things and Hi/Lo at the family dinner table. Come together and share 3 things that happened throughout your day. Then one highpoint and then one lowpoint.
2) Gratitude Journal. At the end of your day, bullet point 3-5 things that happened during your day.
3) Share your positive experiences of your day with a trusted person.
Give it a shot.