Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Thank You

Do you ever come across songs that seem to say what is in your head so perfectly it's weird?
I do. 
Like this song. 

For a few weeks now I have realized that I have been writing blog posts about courage and kindness and love and strength and personal growth but that I had forgotten to thank my teachers. I forgot to thank my friends and family and all the people I come in contact with for teaching me so much. I am taught everyday by this world and my loved ones.
I have learned to love by being loved. I have learned of kindness by being treated kindly.
I have learned strength and courage and hope by being trusted by others and learning to trust in others. I have learned of respect and graciousness and gentleness by seeing my tired friends struggle and realizing they need rest like I do. And to do what I can to help them feel peaceful. 
I have learned awareness and empathy by being invited into my friend's and family's worlds. 
The light and dark parts of them.
And by inviting others into my world.
The light and dark parts of it.
I have learned to forgive myself and others by being forgiven by others.
I have learned perseverance by continuing to actively and sincerely get to know my loved ones so I can know how to help when I can and just be there for them when I cannot help them.
 I have learned of peace and happiness by learning to give just to give, without a thought to receiving anything in return, because so many have given to me without ever asking to be repaid in kind.
I have learned to let go gently of things that do not work out because my friends and family have taught me that there is so much beauty in this life it is not worth it to dwell on all the bad that happens. 
That even though a dandelion is a weed, it someday can turn into a "wish-flower." 
That weakness can become strength and fear can be replaced with trust and hopefulness.
That tears can become laughter. And laughter can turn to tears. 
And not to be afraid of the possibility of either happening. 
To be there for all of it.
To celebrate with them.
To mourn with them.
To sit in quiet comfortable silence with them.
Just because.

I am so grateful to have found myself among such excellent and admirable hobbits human beings.
I know a blog post is an insufficient way to thank those I love so I have been doing other things here and there to try to show my love and gratitude for all of them in real life.
Whether that be with little notes, or spending time with them, or talking with them, or laughing with them or struggling with them or working through things with them or any number of other ways to show my love. 

I know I cannot take away the pains or burdens from my friends when they struggle, even though I really wish I could, but I can sure try to be a Samwise Gamgee and carry them when need be.
I cannot say I'll be perfect.
I cannot say that I will always succeed.
I cannot say I will never let you down.
But I can say that I will always do my best to be a good friend. 
An honest friend.
A courageous friend.
A faithful friend.
A loyal friend.
A kind friend.
A gentle friend.
An open-hearted friend.
A loving friend.
A hopeful friend.
A grateful friend.

So Thank you for all you have done for me.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Be Kind Unwind

Lately I have been trying to live more fearlessly. But while I have been trying to do this I keep reminding myself that living more courageously does not mean that I should become insensitive to others or their comfort and peace. I do not think that living more courageously means living less kindly. I do not think it means becoming indifferent and careless.
I have been trying to live more courageously because I want to be more kind. 
Because I want to live a more meaningful life.

 So I have been trying to find balance. 

And so I picked up and began re-reading one of my favorite books, The Heart is Noble, because I felt like it might help me find ways to become more balanced. 

And I came across this while reading it:

"The trick is to strike the right balance between what you want for yourself and what you want for others. To achieve that balance from the outset what you want for yourself must be well-thought-out. By this I mean that if what you want for yourself is strongly self-centered, you will find no real balance. This is because you are just one part of your life. Since that is so, you must necessarily take others into consideration. Your own interests and your own life will only be balanced when they include both the well being of yourself and others. Any wholesome undertaking necessarily includes a desire to benefit others. You need to care for yourself, of course, but not to the total disregard for others. Your accomplishments cannot come at the expense of others." 

I do not want to regret NOT doing things I want to do in my life. 
And I think that the "you will regret the things you didn't do more than the things you did do" approach to life is often highlighted.

 It is true. Being entombed in "what-ifs" can be excruciatingly painful. 

But I also think that there are times when patience instead of action is a very thoughtful and wise approach to living a full life.

I've been realizing that sometimes having patience and waiting can be an active way of achieving my goals, however ironic it may seem.

I do not mean this in "the hunter waits quietly for his/her prey" kind of way.

I am speaking more in terms of the whole, "The line between bravery and stupidity is very thin" way of thinking.

I am talking about my need to remember others walking along with me through this life. 

Remembering that what I do affects others and I need to remain aware of that. 

But I also know that it is okay to be introspective and focus on myself at times too.
Because I need to take time to recenter myself to feel more peaceful and balanced.

"Love and emotional well-being rest within us, not outside of us. therefore,in order to develop real love and to have healthy relationships, there is no way out of it: we need to probe our own heart and mind." *

So I have been taking time out of my day to quietly reflect on the things and people I love, my goals, things I am grateful for, things I am working on, the progress I have made, ways I can be more kind, finding ways to be more patient, enjoying a good cup of coffee or tea, going on picnics, going on walks, looking up and around and just enjoying my life as it is now.

One of the things I have been working on over the years is being kinder to myself. I have been working on not only being more kind to myself but also trusting in my strength and more readily forgiving myself. This has also helped me work on remembering and recognizing the strength and goodness of all those around me and more readily forgiving them and letting things go. And because of that I now approach people more openly and find that I am bothered by and hurt by far less than I used to be. 

I have tried my best to use all the context and experiences in my life, good and bad, to seek out and become aware of my hopes, aspirations and priorities so that working towards them becomes more fulfilling because I am working towards accomplishing things that make me truly happy while also lovingly letting go of other's expectations of me.

But I also recognize that how I go about accomplishing these things is just as important as what I am trying to accomplish.

"I have many hopes for the world, but I try not to have any expectations. Whether I can actually fulfill my aspirations or not, I wish to let them shape me and guide my actions in the world. Focusing on achieving results can make us too attached to our goals. Our dreams do not necessarily have to be fulfilled in order for us to be happy. Nurturing hopes is meaningful in and of itself. It is worth working towards them, regardless of the outcome. When we make this shift away from results, we will find greater courage to act on our aspirations for the world. We will find our nobility of heart."*

Change will happen no matter what.
And I'm learning not to be afraid of it, but to see it as an adventure.
I have a lot to do. I am very far from perfect. I'm still working on things. I mess up. I move too quickly sometimes. I move too slowly sometimes. I still lose patience with myself.

But I'm learning to see wonder and happiness in the steps I have taken and am taking towards my goals rather than focusing on all the steps I have yet to take. 
I also find great joy in witnessing my loved ones grow and work towards their own goals. And I feel honored and loved when we find quiet moments connect and to share our progress and set-backs with each other. And I feel honored and loved when we find time for just laughter and fun too. 

I can now take in compliments and helpful uplifting words peacefully and gratefully rather than taking them as the sharp sound of the ball and chain of expectation clicking shut around my ankle.
I can find joy in the good qualities that I have within me but I also know I do not have to fear confronting my faults.

I have found it is becoming easier to feel peaceful in the midst of this crazy-demanding life because I am less crazy-demanding on myself these days.

And I have learned that this approach is not complacent. 
It is patient. 
It is kind.
It is loving.

And it's all gonna be alright.


Monday, February 1, 2016