Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Sons and Daughters

I have given away a lot of things this year. I have sorted through not only my belongings but also my priorities. And I have whittled down a lot of the noise in my life and now I look at my shelves and see empty space where there was clutter before. I have hung most of my clothes where I can see them all more clearly rather than having clothes piling up and things becoming hidden. I'm trying to do the same with my good and bad qualities. So I can see myself more clearly. So I can work on things more effectively by utilizing all that I have.
I have more free time now. And I can fill it up with the things I truly enjoy. And it makes me happy to know I now have a lot more time for new things and a lot more time for my favorite things.
Or a lot more room for new plants. Those are cool too.

Lately I've been given a lot of verbal encouragement. It has affected me greatly. I never used to think words of affirmation meant much to me. But they do. I think about the words that are said to me very, very often. I think about my encounters with people often. I think about what I have said to others often. I think about the words I say to myself often. And I try my best to put them to good use.

People are so interesting to me. They have history. I have history. A multitude of circumstances and events and thoughts and actions have led us to where we are and I know and respect that I cannot know a person in one conversation or even in a thousand. And they cannot know me in that time either. And that doesn't have to be a painful thought. Truly connecting with someone is not a one time thing. It's not always an "aha" moment and then everything is smooth sailing. Often it is wading through awkwardness and miscommunication over and over again until connecting with that person becomes easier and easier as you become more familiar with the other person. It involves asking a lot of questions with an open heart and mind. It often involves a lot of trying. It often involves a lot of time. And I feel very loved when someone offers me their time and their words and their thoughts. Because I know it is hard to do because free time is often scarce. So it seems to me that when someone gives me their time and their words they have given me something very valuable to them and I am so grateful for it.

Because free time can be hard to come by I enjoy writing nice notes to friends and family and texting them excitedly about things I find amazing.  But I also have been trying to actually say more words to my friends and family. And it is hard. I have always felt like I'm being cheesy when I offer sincere words of encouragement or compliments to friends or anyone really. I don't know why. Maybe because it is a hard thing to be that kind of vulnerable. I wish I could communicate how purely and deeply I feel things to the people I love. But it is hard for me. Mostly, I think, because I am unsure if they even want to hear it. Or maybe they just simply do not want it. It is one of the most hurtful things to offer some piece of yourself to someone and see in their face they don't want it. I cannot say I can accept everyone's invitations all the time but I will always do what I can to listen and share to the best of my ability and try my best to never shut them down.
I have always valued being invited. And that includes being invited into another person's world. I feel honored and loved and safe when I am invited in. Because I struggle with feeling like a burden. I try very hard not to intrude or impose on others. And it can come off as my being distant or uninterested. But it's the opposite. I'm trying to be kind. I'm trying to be gentle and safe and open.  But I will forever be understudied in compassion. I will always try to learn how to be kind and compassionate and understanding but I need help. I have insecurities I deal with and it affects how I communicate. I acknowledge them as they arise and I am working on them fervently. But I'm not perfect so my communication is not perfect. My kindness is not perfect. I will never do everything perfectly. I can only ever try my best to do everything honestly. Earnestly.

In regards to working on being more kind to myself and speaking more kindly to myself I have come a long way from the woefully stressed out, hypercritical self-improver I used to be. I've learned to take time to make the deep changes. And also I'm learning to enjoy that time. Not wish it away. I'm not just addressing the symptoms of my sufferings but trying to heal them at their source. And it takes painful honesty, loving kindness and a really good sense of humor. But there are still a lot of times that I still have to stop and look in the mirror or out the window and tell myself I am more than what I look like. I am more than what someone might perceive me as. I am more than my job. I am more than how well or how often I cook. I am more than what shows or music I grew up listening to or watching, I am more than what book I'm reading or not reading. I am more than what I have planned. I am more than all of it.
And so are others.
And maybe that seems like a vague and cliche way of thinking about things but I suppose I consider it to also be hopeful way of thinking.
And it sure beats defeatism.

Instead of the unknowns in life constantly frightening me they now feel more like the turning of a page in a really interesting and often suspenseful book.
I know that the unknowns matter. But I also know that the past and present matter too.
I know there is a balance.
I know that I am going to make mistakes.
And I know that as long as I don't submit to the, "Well, I guess this is just the way I am or the way it is." or the, "I can't change. I won't change." way of thinking then life will continue to feel more like an open book rather than just a game of Bloody Knuckles.

Life isn't a game with winners and losers or a game of avoidance and apprehension but an adventure full of valiant heroes, dragons, battles, healing, mystery, invitations, picnics, road-trips, laughter, tall-tales, hardships, construction, bridges, sailing, camping, hugging, handshakes, high-fives, talking quietly, asking questions, listening for answers, painting, running, loud music, symphonies, ballets, movies, walking, smelling flowers, gardening, coffee, tea, cooking, tasting, eating chocolate, eating cereal, eating, deep breathing, trying, listening, seeing, helping, asking for help, wholesomeness, good intentions, patience, gentleness, remembering, acknowledging, encouraging, understanding, learning and so many other things.

I've learned that Life is loving.

(And it is also full of music. So here are some songs I've been playing on repeat.)

Sunday, March 6, 2016

When Girl Meets World

"You're always so happy."

I get that one a lot. 
And I don't want to say it's not true. 
But it's not true.
True, I do tend to be wildly optimistic.
True, I love a lot of things in life.
True, I'm enthusiastic and I love people and I love learning and laughing and all that stuff.
True, I'm very grateful for my life in all of it's context.
But it isn't true that I'm always happy.

When I was younger, hearing, "you're always so happy" actually stressed me out massively. 
Because I felt like I had to put myself in the "happy box" and stay there.
Because it seemed like there were individuals in my life that, if I showed a less than happy side of myself, reacted negatively towards me. Like they became angry with me for not being "consistent."
Back then it seemed like being myself or showing my true feelings made me a "burden" and pushed people away.
So I just decided that I needed to be or at least pretend to be "always happy."
So, into the "happy box" I went.
But a box made of eggshells is not easy to move around in.
And it's very lonely in that little box.

Now I realize that it wasn't "my inconsistency" they would become angry with. Either they were just angry about other things or they were just angry with instability or "inconsistency" in general. 
It had nothing to do with me.
And now when most people say the "you're always so happy" type things to me I know they are probably just saying it to say something.
Those kind of things no longer sting when people say them to me now. 
They feel more like a breeze that ruffles through my hair. Kindly meant and pleasant in their passing.
 But something similar to this was said to me recently and was a bit of a catalyst for my wanting to becoming more aware of and more comfortable with the natural and ever changing nature of the world and of the human beings we all are.

It also allowed me to see that maybe I, however unintentionally, still confine myself and others to "boxes."
So I'm now trying my best to not confine myself or others to a "box."
The optimist box.
The introvert box.
The funny box.
The intellectual box.
The mom box.
The dad box.
The friend box.
The nerdy box.
The sassy box.
And so on.

It is convenient and more realistic to use descriptors.
 I'm not trying to say that using things to describe yourself to others or yourself is a bad thing.

But people are so many things, in so many varying degrees, at any given time.
Even if the changes and shifts are too subtle to notice, change is still happening.
But being ever changing doesn't mean being unstable.

The world revolves around the sun, on an axis, spinning all the time.
 But I don't really notice a difference except for signs of it in the height of the tide or shape of the moon or time of day or the seasons and so on.
And those things are beautiful.
And natural.
And normal.
There is gravity and there is movement.
 And so far it seems like they work together fabulously. 

So it seems unfair of me to try to compartmentalize myself or others into "boxes."

I just found out it was a lot easier for me to be more forgiving of myself and others when I placed myself and others into a big empty space and allowed myself and others to be many things and ever changing rather than expect them or myself to adhere to predetermined behaviors based on what and who I presume myself or them to be.
"Being present" and "appreciating" things has become much easier.
And it's been really nice.

It's one thing to acknowledge and take into account instinct and intuition and quite another to fabricate a hypothetical world that eventually becomes hard to separate from reality.
There is a difference between trying to empathize and being presumptuous.
There is a difference between trying to truly understand and superimposing.
There is a difference between being hopeful and being naive.

I've been trying my best to realize that while I may have a "rich inner life"and I am pretty imaginative  and whatnot I need to learn to separate it from my reality so I don't stress out so much.

It's both heartbreaking and liberating to realize one day that the world you created is just an illusory chalk drawing on a concrete sidewalk.

Maybe some things you thought and hoped had been real end up washing away. 
But maybe all of the imaginary holes and empty spaces you thought you might fall through have washed away too.
And you are left looking down on solid grey stone.
No imaginary pitfalls in sight.
And you look up to find that you've just been standing there fretting over things that don't actually exist.
And the world is still spinning.
And you are still on solid ground.
And now is as good a time as any to set off on another adventure.