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.)