Friday, August 31, 2012

Stressing the Limits

This year has been one of discovery, sometimes wrapped in beautiful-colored wrapping, and some of it plainly sitting there staring up at me, as a pile of poo. The ugly truth.

I've learned a lot about myself, and continue to break down the lies I've told myself every day. I've come to discover that ultimately, I've been living life SCARED. And that's...well, disappointing. I was aiming for SACRED. (You know, making every moment count, honoring myself and all things in this life). Oops.

Having been given enough experiences in the past few years to make me realize that I'm a perfectionist, things now makes a lot more sense. I had just never delved this deep into who I am. I've always considered  other people's opinions of me very important. When someone was angry or disappointed in me, I tried to do everything I could to make up for it. I never realized until this year, that people's judgments of me are about them, and not me at all. Others are judging me through their own experience/belief-tinted glasses. There are so many times I tried to please people who just couldn't be pleased, because they themselves were so unhappy. I just didn't know it at the time.

Let's face it: I'm a typical Libra. I want harmony in all things, especially relationships. I strive to be loved and please others all the time, and try to make others feel loved and happy as well. When life doesn't go that way, I feel awful. When conflict occurs, I feel it in my core, and it hurts. It doesn't matter whether that conflict is between myself and others, or between others that don't involve me at all.  I ache. I feel it. I never understood why some people just didn't like me or actually worked against me in certain jobs or volunteer groups. I'm a good person, and despite that, there have been times that I've felt worthless, because I allowed other people to make me feel that way. There have been too many times that I didn't recognize my own worth and I trusted other people's advice instead of following my own gut. Let's just say that there have been a few setbacks due to these types of things.

Here's what I've learned: life is all about perceptions. I was taught that when I earned by BA in Psychology, but life has been the real teacher for me. We all interpret life through our own experiences, and make judgments about the world based on our own perceptions. The beauty of that is two things. One, we can breathe, and realize that not only do we not need to validate our life by anyone else's standard, but we actually are born to live our life guided by our own instincts and passions for what gifts we bring to this world. Two, because every belief we've ever had is what we've chosen to accept, we can choose at any time to re-define our beliefs, and thus change our perceptions and actions. This is a powerful place to stand!

As I sat this afternoon and was visioning what I wanted to do next in my life that resonated with me and my family, I felt myself tense up and start worrying about how we would pay for things, how much time would stuff take, where would I get the resources to do what I wanted, what if/when/where/how, etc., and all those other negative thoughts that creep in when we take on something new and big and we're scared. I suddenly realized that I had worried myself right into a tension headache, when really, the stuff I'm concerned about is probably fairly simple to manage. The stress? I would have to think and behave differently, and I was concerned about the worse-case scenarios. Sigh.

So now instead of letting limits stress me out, I'm gonna stress those limits till they break, and see what amazing new things are out there are awaiting for me, and for everyone. We're really good at getting in our own way and thinking the worst of ourselves and everyone else out there. It's time to see how great we each really are, and allow ourselves to just be who we are, doing what we do best. There's no stress in that at all, once we let go of those limits.

Love and luck to all...

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Speaking Our Truth

 A wise minister once said something that stuck with me, "Speak the truth with love".

Speaking our truth with love is expressing our needs, thoughts, beliefs, and feelings in a way that is honest and respectful to ourselves and others. The words we say and how we choose to say them makes a huge difference in how they're received by others.

When we find ourselves in a situation that feels out of place for us, we need to be able to step away and say, "no thank you". We shouldn't judge or be offensive in expressing ourselves, but we do have the right and responsibility to withdraw our support and energy from things that are not right for us or harm us and others. When we stay with things that we know don't fit us, we become miserable. Sometimes we fail to act until the pain of staying in a place that we don't belong is worse than the fear of speaking our truth. And then we speak our truth in an explosion, and not usually with love.

"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom” ~Anais Nin

Speaking the truth with love is not easy. I've heard plenty of people speaking their truth, but it often comes out in a blaring-in-your-face kind of way. That feels offensive and is ultimately ineffective, because no one wants to be spoken to in that manner and people stop listening. If we find ourselves shouting our truth, we need to step back and review it, because when we explode like that, it usually means we're being defensive and it might not be truth at all.

Speaking our truth with love takes courage and consideration. It requires raw honesty with ourselves, defining our needs well enough to stand firm in them, and then actively working to find a way to lovingly and respectfully express them. Speaking our truth in love means change will follow because we've come to something in our life that doesn't resonate with who we are and what we believe is right. If we mustered up the courage to speak it, we have gotten to the point where change is needed.

And when we start making changes, there will be resistance. Change is uncomfortable. Most of us would rather suffer silently in the comfort zone than make waves and disrupt the peace, even when we know at our core that something is wrong and that there really was no peace in the first place.

And there are times that despite how clearly and lovingly we phrase something, we can still feel like we're not being truly heard and we're greeted with a harsh response. It can leave us reeling and questioning what we could have done or said differently.

Every person has a different experience on this planet. When we communicate with one another, we operate under the assumption that someone can understand exactly what we mean. We are each unique genetically, mentally, emotionally, and most importantly, experientially. No two of us understand life in the exact same way, because of our individual experiences and perceptions. And frankly, at times, words are woefully inadequate to express what we mean.

So someone can speak their truth in love, and we can still receive it in offense, because our life experiences define our interpretation of what they said. In other words, we filter it through our ego, which is quite the opposite of love. We seem to take the stance that if someone decides to walk away from something, we assume that they think we're idiots for sticking around. Our egos get in there and make us hear that "they think they're better than us" or, "they're saying my way/thoughts/beliefs/feelings are wrong", even though that's not what they said nor meant at all. We receive through our egos, a lot. And way too often. I've done it plenty of times myself.

The only thing I truly have control over is me - my thoughts, my words, and my actions. I can't control how other people receive those. I can only make my best effort to express myself lovingly, and then I need to let go of it and move forward. It's none of my business what other people think of me. If I know in my heart that I have done the best I can to think, speak, and act in love whenever possible, then I have lived authentically and have no regrets. What someone else thinks of me is truly about them, and not me at all. They are judging through the lenses of their own life and not mine.

Someone who is stuck in fear and uncertainty will not be able to receive in love, no matter how tenderly something is said or done. We can express ourselves openly and clearly and with as much love as we can, and sometimes, people still can't truly hear us. And we'll need to keep moving forward anyway, because when we realize that continuing to do the same thing over and over doesn't serve us, or worse, is harmful to us or others, we have to make a change.

We are diverse, logical, and creative thinkers, and it behooves us as a species to listen to one another, especially when we differ. No one of us can come up with a solution to the world's problems. We need to do it together. If we shut down every time someone offers a different idea or opinion, we all lose.

Lies and pretending do not serve us. We are each unique beings, with our own experiences, beliefs, knowledge, and gifts. We will clash over opinions and decisions at times, and we will make a lot of mistakes. We need to be open to receiving someone else's truth and be able to speak our own truth without doing the aerobic miscommunications we are so good at: jumping to conclusions, hurling insults and judgments, and tossing out the baby with the bathwater.

Maybe we could try something new: speak to one another in honesty and love, and more importantly, open up with our hearts and listen in return. I think we can put the "kind" back in humankind. It's in there, just below our egos. If we can push ego aside for a few minutes, we can hear a lot better.

Love & Light,

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Rooting Where We Stand

It's been an intense few weeks. It's summer and things are hot and burning - wildfires in the west, drought conditions in much of the country, and chicken empire CEO's.

The whole Chick-fil-A thing has been a comedy of errors. Businesses do have a right to operate their business based on their values, so long as they're not violating current law. Cities should not have the right to disallow businesses because of the owner's religious beliefs. Consumers have the right to patronize businesses they like and agree with, and those who disagree with a business owner's practices and policies have the right to take their business elsewhere.

I acknowledge and honor and agree that we have religious freedom in this country, and the Chick-fil-A CEO has the right to say he doesn't believe in same-sex marriage. I read an article that talked about business owners needing to stand on two feet in their values. Bravo, Mr. Cathy. You've done just that.

That being said, personally, I think Chick-fil-A food is terrible. But I wouldn't eat there now even if I liked it, because I won't stand behind a company that funnels money to groups that are actively working against other people. It's discrimination. You can't hide under the umbrella of religious freedom and actively discriminate against other people and expect things to be hunky-dory. Especially when the religion you're hiding behind is supposedly based on the teachings of Jesus Christ. Do not call yourself a Christian if you cannot emanate the actions of Jesus, especially the hard ones where you have to love your neighbor. There was no "except".

Jesus sat with the lepers and prostitutes. He said judge not and love one another. If you can't do that, please don't call yourself a Christian. Jesus spoke one another.

I believe in Jesus' teachings. I was raised a Christian, but don't refer by that moniker anymore because it's been tainted. Tainted by alleged holy men, leaders of various religious organizations, doing terrible things to children and women, stealing money from their parishioners and cheating on their wives. Fortunately, I know some wonderful, good Christians who DO live and love like Jesus did, and some of them are gay. I'll hang with them. Those of you hanging out at Chick-fil-A because you think that's where Jesus is, you've been mislead.

Jesus is in the streets with the homeless, working with the social workers and in schools and daycares, he's with children and animals and women who've been neglected and abused, with kids who are being bullied, the mentally ill, the indigenous people, working with teachers who are made to teach without adequate resources, the environmentalists who are trying to keep this planet functional, and with every person who has been discriminated against for being poor, or the wrong skin color, weight, height, and every other thing that we persecute one other for. 

Jesus hangs with the lowest of the low. He's not been in the board room lately, because no one there is listening.

We root where we stand. If we stand still long enough, we become fed by those around us rather than choosing for ourselves, whether it's nutritive or not. Some ideas and beliefs are poisonous, and that leaves us standing in muck. The concept that any one person or religion or thought or opinion is the only way and is more valuable than others is a fallacy. Every person and every living thing on this planet is connected and important. Every one. And for those who believe in the concept of Intelligent Design, what does the Creator think about the harsh judgment of his creations?

The strength of humans is in our diversity. When we choose to see the differences as bad, we separate ourselves from all the possibilities of the good we could have had and the good that we could have done, together.

Every human being has the right to food, clean water and air, shelter, medical care, and love. Every other living thing on this planet has the right to those things too. When one of us suffers, we all suffer. We can't drown the suffering in money or hide it under religion and try to pretend it doesn't exist. We're better than that. We're intelligent, creative beings, and we can solve this. There's no need to point fingers, we all had a part in this creation. Let's try again.

Jesus got down in the muck and suffered with all those suffering. He gave up his life in the hopes that we would notice where he had chosen to stand, so that we could see what still needed to be fixed after he left, leaving his life as an example. Even if you're not a Christian, he left a message that is good for everyone...Love.