Monthly Archives: October 2015

Week 63 – Little Bits of Insecurity

Happy Monday, Celebrationists. I hope it’s been a happy one.

  1. I am grateful for the kind, generous, and very caring chiropractor who is making my day-to-day life immeasurably more comfortable
  2. I am grateful for clean laundry that smells vaguely of a moonlit path
  3. I am grateful for short wait times, medium length books that can be devoured in an hour, and long phone calls with friends who I miss very much

I recently had breakfast with a talented, kind, beautiful dear friend who asked me, over our plates of morning deliciousness (mine drenched in hot sauce, naturally), what I thought my biggest flaw was. Immediately ruffled by the question, I went through a frazzled mental scan of all the possibilities, and, quite honestly, whipping through which felt the most appropriate to say aloud. At this point our coffee was getting cold (and not in a good way), so I gave my customary and controlled Libra response of, “Hmmm. Let me think about it. What would you say that yours is?” Without skipping a beat, my friend responded with “My insecurity.” My eyes probably bugged out of my head, a la – a Tom and Jerry cartoon of my youth:  mouse-cleaning-c2a9-mgm

If you were to ask me what I most admire about said friend, confidence would undoubtedly be in the top three. This response of theirs was thoroughly honest and vulnerable, and was in no way given to prompt any compliments or reassurance.

Later in the week I had a phone date with another lovely friend who is unquestionably considered a gorgeous success of a person in their given line of work, life, and community. We too had a conversation about insecurity, and how this person feels like they are never “doing enough”. For a follow-up on THAT idea, check out THIS piece of glory and brilliance by none other than the insurmountable Elizabeth Gilbert.  Again, shocking. A person who I think – “Wow. If I were them, I would be so confident you’d have to squeeze my head into a standard sized doorway for it to fit, I bet! Because they are the definition of awesome!”

These conversations felt timely this week as I’ve been battling the part of myself that has a deep envy of those elusive “cool kids” who don’t care what other people think about them. Because the thing is, I do care. I care a lot. And no number of self-help books has completely quashed this out of me yet. So far there is no perfect number of affirmations that penetrates deeply enough to a place where I am feeling like “Yeah, what this or that person (might) think of me has no effect on the way I feel about myself (insert optional hair toss)!” on a consistent basis. I PREACH this idea to myself and others (with sincerity and passion), in an aspirational sort of way, and believe it whole-heartedly on an intellectual level. I have moments where I graze hands with this feeling, and then it races away from me like a French Bulldog puppy you are trying to stuff into a Halloween “taco” costume. This is not a cool or attractive quality. I’ve learned not to give this aspect of myself a prominent place in the fabric of who I am – namely because it is a boring and exhausting way to live. And I find other people much more interesting than my own neurosis. However improved, this part of me is still present, and in ways I’m sure I’m not even totally conscious of. I don’t share any of this to be a downer. I like me. I know the two friends mentioned above also like themselves. But isn’t it crazy what we do to ourselves sometimes? Like, actually crazy.

For instance. I’ve worked to form habits of grace (and gentle self-deprecation, which I realize is not exactly a virtue) but the truth is that even when I do something lame but inconsequential – like ruin a batch of poorly executed vegan chocolate chip cookies that had to be gingerly renamed “Kelly’s Succulent Squares”  (please note, they are in no way succulent, and I have no intention of eating them…), or don’t know the answer to a trivia question that I “should” know… I feel sensitive about it. I’ll make myself laugh and joke when I can muster it, but I don’t mean it. There’s a part of me that has an actual negative physical response to such things. So you can imagine when something of greater weight occurs. Isn’t that beyond silly?

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(WHAT are the pores in this “cookie?” I will never know how this happened…)

But speaking with these two good friends this week made me consider the fact that maybe there are no cool kids, not really. I’m willing to say that there are probably people who care far LESS than you or I do about certain things, but maybe the desire to be untouchable in this way…to truly “not care” and feel 100% secure in our own skin, just as we are…maybe that’s chasing something that just doesn’t exist. What if we’re all just undercover, sensitive little nerds at heart – in one way or another?

Facebook constantly brings us into contact with our most beautiful, fabulous, successful, enviable friends, providing ample opportunity for comparison and self-judgement. But think of the person you idealize most on your newsfeed. I wonder what their biggest insecurity is – I bet they have one. I bet they have many.  I don’t say this to encourage Shadenfreude. I say this so maybe you’ll give yourself a break.

I guess what this all boils down to is, if it’s true that we are all fairly insecure beings (about SOMETHING, at least) – then what can be learned from this insecurity? If we’re going to live with it, fight with it sometimes, or let it be part of us and just relegate it to its own little spot in the quiet backseat – how can we also demand that it give us something in return? How can we perhaps find Little Bits of Good in our moments (or years) of insecurity?

I think we can remember this part of our nature when we are dealing with people who seem to us to be:

  • Rude
  • Bossy
  • Needy
  • Over-confident
  • Annoying
  • Overtly judgemental
  • Super controlling
  • Quick and loud about broadcasting their opinions in a pushy way
  • The people who, consciously or unconsciously demand to be the center of attention at all times
  • The people who hide – literally or metaphorically
  • The person whose posts drive us the most crazy on social media
  • Exaggeration stations
  • People whose fuses we deem to be “too short” or “too long”
  • Etc, etc. etc.

What I mean is, maybe our own insecurities, irritating and demoralizing as they can be – maybe they are also a source of our well of compassion for others. Or if they aren’t now, maybe they can be. What if we could increase our awareness when dealing with others? What if we found recognition in that forced laugh, overly confident claim, baggy sweater and downward glance, or that aggressive attempt to be liked? What if we tuned up our ability to really listen to what’s going on and be pointed in our mission to support each other? To give honest and sincere compliments when we feel compelled to? To lift each other up in ways that are authentic? To give positive feedback instead of being withholding for reasons of control or our own “stuff?” What if, as we work to become more secure with our own sweet beings, we can support our fellow humans as they work to do the same? What if we can gently encourage each other to find the humor and levity in our shared ridiculousness?

Want to join me this week on a mission of patience, acceptance, humor, and love?

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Kris Carr always nails it : )

Have a great one, Celebrationists. You are wonderful, unique, and important to this world. Now go write out 10 things that you legitimately enjoy about yourself. You deserve it : )

Week 62 – Little Bits of Accidents

Hello friends, hope your Monday is going great.

  1. I am grateful for a lovely evening seeing Crimson Peak last night, with some incredible people
  2. I am grateful for today’s road trip to Miami, to hear Elizabeth Gilbert speak! Not to mention the signed copy of Big Magic, and wonderful, inspiring company : ) (More about this trip in another post!)IMG_3214
  3. I am continually grateful for my current job, life, and surroundings. This gratitude seems to deepen daily, with the anticipation of things ahead becoming only more and more exciting

Today I want to talk about accidents.

Having accidents seems to be a great opportunity for us to note the following about ourselves:

  • Where we tend to place the blame (on ourselves, on “the other,” on fate/the universe)
  • What our own penchant for, and process of forgiveness is like (of ourselves, of others, etc.)
  • How our bodies cope with challenging and emotional situations
  • What habitual thought patterns kick into gear (what are our core beliefs about ourselves/the world when “our plan” gets rocked?)
  • What our personal process of healing is like
  • How and when we move forward after the fact

I’m a big believer in mining for meaning. That even the most mundane tasks or crap-tastic situations can have weight and value if we really listen, get curious, and pay attention. That something as miserable as a (insert type of, here) mistake, car accident, etc. can be an opportunity for examination, learning, and growth.

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(Isn’t that great?)

I think there is definite wisdom to be gained from the fact that sometimes we try really hard, do our best to be responsible, hard-working, conscientious, integrity filled humans…and sometimes we mess up anyway. Sometimes despite our best efforts, we still knock stuff over, get in wrecks, hurt people, make bad choices, and do dumb things.  Not one of us is alone in this. Despite our best intentions, sometimes we still have accidents.

I don’t have any amazing answers for the best way to deal with accidents. To be totally honest, my initial response is mostly to cry a lot. But after we do that (or scream, or curse, or shake our fists, or whatever your go-to might be), I do think it’s important that no matter what kind of guilt and shame creep into our minds, that we do our best to be gentle with ourselves. Our silly, human selves.

Being gentle does not mean avoiding our mistakesletting ourselves off the hook, or not holding ourselves accountable for our actions. Being gentle with ourselves means dealing with the situation head-on, but doing so with kindness and compassion – owning the situation and then doing our best to move forward with grace. As much as we may feel inclined to wallow in our own self-disappointment, I think it’s important that we view these moments of our lives through the lens of courage, openness, and humility.

I think it’s important to remind ourselves that we can choose to learn from any situation and gain a treasure of wisdom for ourselves. Even if the only wisdom is “I am human. I am not perfect. And I can choose to love and accept myself anyway.”  That we challenge ourselves to observe our own issues about making mistakes with curiosity and non-judgement. That we do our best to treat ourselves the way we would treat a friend. To remember that one mistake – that one accident does not define who we are. And that most of the time, other people will never be as hard on us as we are hard on ourselves.

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Sending lots of love your way today, Celebrationists. Let’s all remember – we are not defined by our accidents. But we can choose to learn from them : )

Week 61 – Little Bits of Malala

  1.  I am grateful for Mindy Kaling’s new book, Why Not Me?  – reading her words feels like having a new friend : )
  2. I am grateful for a glorious day off, filled with chiropractic wonders, coffee dates, Trader Joes, meditative cleaning, yoga, line learning, a fantastic movie, and a delicious roommate family dinner
  3. I am grateful that I get to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, tomorrow!

Friends. Welcome to another beautiful Monday. You must go see the film He Named Me Malala. I feel strongly about this. I don’t use “must” very much at all, and I’m not about telling people what to do – but this documentary is inspiring and heartbreakingly beautiful. I think I could write ten different blog posts detailing aspects of why this film, and this young woman are spreading Little Bits of Good (she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 after all – check out her riveting speech here) through the world. But for today, I just want to share with you one moment of this film (of many) that touched me deeply – and what I think we can all learn from it.

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To begin with, He Named Me Malala follows the life of young Malala Yousafzai, who was targeted by the Taliban for advocating publicly for girls’ education. She survived a severe gunshot wound to the head, bounced back with incredibly resiliency of spirit, and is now an ardent activist for girls’ education, worldwide. The film is a gorgeous blend of present-day family interviews, animated artwork, stirring footage, and (by my estimation) hits just about every emotional note on one’s personal instrument. You can read more about Malala and her story here.

This intimate film is chock-full of beautiful lessons in forgiveness, grace, humility, service, and passion. Throughout the film we get to know Malala’s family, and most especially her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai.  Kindness, gentleness, and love seem to emanate from his twinkling eyes as he accompanies Malala to each press conference, interview, and outing. His support for her is clear, and their bond is unmistakable – though Malala is quick to discern – he may have named her Malala (after the Afghan national folk hero) , but it was she who forged her own path, and created the life she is now living.

At one point in the film, Malala addresses her father’s stutter, and explains with quiet pride that sometimes when a person with a stutter struggles with a certain word, they might choose a new word instead, but her father never does – he tries that same word again, and then continues on through his struggle. We learn that as a child, Malala’s father was greatly influenced by his own father – a prolific speaker whose words came out like beautiful beams of impassioned fire. As a small boy, Ziauddin asks if his father will write a speech for him to give. His father asks something to the effect of “Who will listen to you with this stutter of yours? How will you speak in front of a crowd when you can’t speak eloquently at home?” But he writes his son the speech, which Ziauddin gives with great passion. There are a few stutters, but he overcomes, and his words come out like beautiful beams of light and fire – just like his father.

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This is the first moment in the film that made me openly weep. After this initial experience speaking publicly as child, Malala’s father went on to raise his voice whenever and wherever possible. He opened schools where children could grow up empowered to speak their truth and raise their own voices.

I think about how often in my own life I may choose not do something because I’m afraid that I’m not:

  • intelligent enough
  • qualified enough
  • talented enough
  • *insert whatever you like* enough

But this simple boy with his stutter and humble situation gave what he had. He gave all of who he was, and what he stood for. There was no “I’ll wait until I’m more…” or “I’ll speak out when I can….” He just reached out any way. And it was enough. So much more than enough.

Malala discovered this principle years later, in her own life. She felt incredibly passionate about her right to an education, and about the right that every girl has. It didn’t matter to her that she was fifteen years old. And a girl. And living in Pakistan. And under the threat of the Taliban. She gave of herself anyway. She gave because of these things. At one point in the film she mentions that she knows her story “isn’t unique,” but that perhaps, that’s an even better reason to reach out.

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It reminded me that we all have this power. The power to affect change by virtue of who we are already. That we all have so much to give, just as we are. That sometimes the things we view as limitations, like our

  • Social status
  • Financial state
  • Age/gender/sex/physical appearance
  • Education or lack thereof
  • Particular talents/skills

may be vehicles for good, as well as our perceived strengths may be. That we can still do an awful lot of good when we tap into our “why” – our purpose, our mission, our fire. How can we use who we are, what we have, and where we are at to reach out NOW? To serve? To make a difference?

Also.

While spending time on Malala’s website, I came across these stats – do they blow your mind as much as they do mine?

Over 60 million girls are missing out on education

31 million primary school girls are still out of school around the world

32 million more girls are missing out on the first 3 years of secondary school education 

Go here to see how you can help!

Have an empowered week, Celebrationists! And let me know if you see He Named Me Malala!

Week 60 – Little Bits of Wonder

Hello Celebrationists!

1.) I am grateful for a wonderful opening weekend of The Importance of Being Earnest with Zombies

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2.) I am grateful for a lovely evening at the Theatre Tampa Bay awards with some incredible people

3.) I am grateful for Hamilton, the musical. Wildly inspiring.

Do you ever think about how you got to where you are at in this moment?

Take that any way you like – consider

  • your current job
  • relationship situation
  • physical location on the planet
  • etc.

Do you ever have moments of – “Wow! If I hadn’t done that one random thing that didn’t seem like anything at the time, I never would have met _____, which never would have led me to ________, and I wouldn’t be at all where I am right now!” Have you had this experience of wonderment about the shape your life has taken?

I’ve been thinking about this idea a lot lately as I consider my current surroundings, and how I got so lucky to be here. I never planned for, or thoughtfully dreamed up the specifics of what my life looks like right now, and I’m incredibly happy. I think of how often we try to micro-manage and hyper-plan our lives, and sometimes…life just has other ideas, and they are better than ours.  Whether it’s some version of God, the universe, fate…whatever it is that you believe in, it fascinates me to consider how we end up where we do. Is it just random, or were we always going to end up right where we are?

I believe the answer is somehow a combination of the day to day choices that we make, our openness and attentiveness, and something “other.”

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I bring this up to maybe instill some hope, Celebrationists. Hope for the times when you feel like you are spinning your wheels, doing pointless things, are surrounded by toxic people, or aren’t engaged in soul-satisfying endeavors. It just may be that those challenging times are setting the stage for something much greater, later. It’s nearly impossible to see while it’s happening, but think of all the times you look back on your life in wonder. I don’t think that just stops happening.

So for those moments where your current situation leaves you in a cold and sweaty panic, in a state of “what am I DOING with my life???” Here are a few mantras you might consider repeating to yourself…

  • I am RIGHT where I need to be
  • This moment is exactly what’s best for me
  • I am learning and growing stronger every day
  • I am forging a beautiful path, every day
  • I am open, receptive, and ready to listen to what the universe has to tell me
  • I am grateful for what life is putting in front of my at this moment, whether I like it or not
  • My life is unfolding just as it should

The more we believe these things, the more I really believe they will come true. And when life begins to unfold in a way that is in alignment with who we are and what we dream about…we appreciate it so much more. Then we can offer our gratitude, drink it all in, and smile in wonder :  )