Monthly Archives: December 2015

Week 72 – Little Bits of Loving Anyway

Happy Monday! I hope your holiday season is going splendidly, and that your Christmas was restful and lovely (if you celebrate it)!

  1. I am grateful to launch into Our Town rehearsals tomorrow
  2. I am grateful for my sister, who continues to impress me every time I see her – with her grace, wisdom, intelligence, hilarity, and general badassery
  3. I am grateful for lovely Christmas surprises, and one of my favorites is this incredible tote bag from http://www.litographs.com   that has the entire text of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan on it – you just have to look really closely : )

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Lately I’ve been thinking about the following:

  • How much we complain about people
  • How we can’t actually change people, but how badly we want to
  • How to (attempt to) negotiate the difficult relationships in our lives with grace, and without driving ourselves insane.

Think for a moment about the person in your life who you just wish was different. Maybe because:

  • they cause you pain
  • they cause others pain
  • they cause themselves pain
  • they seem (to us) inconsiderate and selfish
  • they seem (to us) uncaring
  • they seem (to us) rude
  • they “get your goat” in a multitude of other ways that I’ll let you list for yourself

I think about how often (the collective) we complain about each other. How reactive we are when we feel wounded. I know I get this way. We wish we could just change X, Y, or Z about a certain person in our lives. We’ve all got that person. Or people.

By nature, I think I’m a helper. (I want to be) A healer. A fixer. Let me be clear, it doesn’t work a lot of the time, and sometimes I overstep – but those three words jump out in so many circumstances when I’m with people who are struggling. Over the years I’ve also discovered how this can sometimes be unintentionally self-important – thinking that I actually CAN help. CAN heal. CAN fix. The intention might be pure, but the reality is that most of the time, the change I’m able to affect is quite small (which is not to say that I stop trying).  And frankly, it may also not be my place to.

Think about the most difficult person in your life at the moment. Maybe it’s

  • A family member who won’t acknowledge the growth/change that’s taken place with you, in an affirmative way
  • A toxic friend
  • A withholding, conditional friend
  • A close-minded friend or relative who doesn’t seem to listen
  • A destructive family member or friend – in whatever manner of ways
  • Etc, etc etc.

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There’s this idea I’ve read about in so many books, as you may have – how we can’t change people, we can only change our reaction to them. This is a really nice idea to let wash over you while paging through a beautifully crafted New York Times best-seller, but in the moment, when you want to rip your (and possibly another person’s) hair out, it can quickly feel a little simplistic. But I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and here’s where I’m at…

We actually can’t change people. No perfectly organized collection of heartfelt words will reach a person who isn’t ready to receive. I still believe in reaching out. I still believe in trying. But doing so with the knowledge that our ideas/whole-hearted sentiments may be rejected, and that rejection has little to do with us.

We really can control our reaction to people.  In every moment of our lives we get to decide things. Let’s say that someone makes a simple comment like “Thank you for being on time.” A person could react with inner commentary like,

“Um, were you expecting me NOT to be on time? What have I ever done to make you think I wouldn’t be on time??” Or…

– “Oh my goodness, thank you for appreciating that – I had to work really hard to get here on time, and it’s great to have that be recognized and valued!” Or…

– “This person is picking at me for that one time I wasn’t on time, and they are clearly holding a grudge. That is so unbelievably rude, I can’t even.” Or…

– “Oh my goodness this poor person has experienced a lot of people who aren’t usually on time. That would be so difficult! Maybe I should hug them….” 

These are 4 totally different responses, each filtered through the lens of our own personal experiences. When a thought comes on, we always have the choice to pause, reflect on our own possible projections, and make the choice not to take anything personally. This isn’t easy work. But it’s possible. By choosing to not react in a negative way, we are also giving people the benefit of the doubt. And I think on some level, that’s something we all crave. Now sometimes there is behavior that is verbally abusive or plainly intended to maim our insides.  And then we can do our best to choose thoughts like “Wow. This person is in a lot of pain. This harmful language is a reflection of their experience, and I just happen to be here in this moment. Now I’m going to go spend time with people who will value me as I value them. I’m going to go where it’s safe, and let this person work out this challenge they are experiencing, but it’s not mine to fix.” 

Who are we to think that changing them would be what is best for them? For us? For their growth? For ours? This is tricky and requires a heavy injection of humility, but I’ve been trying to make myself consider this. When I have moments of “GAH, I just wish this person would see that….” I’ve been trying to stop myself and consider the possibility – what if this behavior that I see as difficult or destructive is actually part of a larger picture of growth that I just don’t have the perspective/ability to see? Just part of their path. Of my path.  None of our views of anyone’s life are complete. It’s totally impossible for us to have a full picture of what another person is dealing with. We may think we know, but we just can’t. The next time we feel strongly that someone else should change – maybe see what happens if we ask ourselves why we think they should. Usually the answer is related to comfort – to making us feel more comfortable, making someone else more comfortable..but maybe this moment was never supposed to be comfortable.  Again, there is also abuse, there are serious cases, and that’s when we cut our ties and do what we need to do to stay safe. But in other instances, maybe we can see what happens if we put our egos aside and accept the moment as it is, and just let it go.  I think it’s possible to stand up for ourselves and also let the moment be what it is. To let go of our need to control the situation. Because we can’t, anyway.

We’re all difficult sometimes, to someone See the blog post Little Bits of Mirroring.

Love Anyway. This can be tough tough tough. But I really feel like the answer is always to love anyway. And sometimes this feels miserable and thankless. But it’s important to note the difference between loving anyway and becoming an exhausted doormat.

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Sometimes the kindest way to “love anyway” back off. Protect ourselves and give them the space they need for discovery or healing. And sometimes it’s something more present and immediate than that. But I genuinely don’t believe that adding aggression to the cocktail of the moment is ever the best choice. That said, I still mess up.  All the time. But at the end of the day, it’s usually the most difficult people who are the most in need of our patience. Of our acceptance. Our grace. Our forgiveness. It’s a process. But we can practice.

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Want to join me? What would happen if you decide to do something really thoughtful for a “difficult person” in your life? Or consider taking on the experiment of practicing awareness when conflict arises, and making the decision to love anyway. Onward, Celebrationists – with cautious minds and open hearts : )

Have a great week, dear ones – see you in the new year!

Week 71 – Little Bits of Holiday Aggression

Happy Holidays, Celebrationists!

1.) I am grateful for the kindhearted cast of Peter and the Starcatcher, all of whom I am going to miss terribly after we close on Christmas Eve

2.) I am grateful for my sister, who I cannot WAIT to see, super soon

3.) I am grateful for holiday festivities, like vegan Gingerbread cookie making!

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As the holidays race towards us, I’m sure I’m not the only person who has had the following interaction (or something like it), lately:

Person A: Hey! How are you?

You/Me/the Collective “We”: Feeling pretty behind!

Conversation continues about how person A is also totally behind, because it’s the holidays and everyone kind of is. Maybe you still have…

  • Shopping to do
  • Cards to write
  • Treats to bake
  • Presents to wrap
  • Crafty projects to complete. Or start.
  • Travel to finalize
  • Holiday events to organize or attend
  • All manner of work to finish so that you can even get to the things above
  • Personal life situations to sort out so you can focus on your WORK and then maybe have a shot at getting to the list above

Today I was delighted to have a whole day off (as much as I also love NOT having days off), and grateful for the opportunity to knock out a bunch of items on my holiday and personal to-do lists. As I moved through the day, at one point I became conscious of the fact that my thought-stream was going something like this:

Ok, Pekar – let’s crush this! How long is it going to take to get through these first three items on the list? And let’s figure out how to get to all these points in a timely manner, without spending a fortune. Ok, so I’m not actually listening to this podcast right now while I wrap gifts, but I probably should because it’s educational and really important content. Why am I not being more present? Ok, focus. I need to schedule out this day, and stick to it. Ugh, nothing I’m working on is exactly right yet, and I still haven’t started these other things I meant do do by noon. NO I’m not answering that phone call right now. Ok, I’m answering this phone call, but I wish I hadn’t, because I was a totally not-present jerk-face. Why am I being such a jerk-face? It’s CHRISTMAS for goodness sakes!  Why am I complaining so much? I should probably be listening to Christmas music while I do this, right? Why is this Christmas music making me feel grumpy? Maybe I just don’t like Jingle Bell Rock. Does that make me Un-American? Oh my gosh, how is it 3:30pm already? Why do I still have seventeen things left to do? Why am I not having fun? I should be having fun. Why am I un-fun?

Ridiculous.

I usually catch myself before I fall too far down a rabbit hole of senseless negativity. Particularly when said rabbit hole is a pretty silly one like this, and about things that don’t matter in the grand scheme. But for whatever reason, I totally marched through a portion of today with an inner groan…and I knew better. I caught myself red-handed, but then didn’t really do anything about it. Also interesting because nearly everything on my list was something I wanted to do. I chose to do. I ordinarily would be excited to do.Things that will bring other people joy. Things that bring me joy to execute. So why was I being such a grump?  Then I came across this little treasure:

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It almost seems trite to write about these kinds of experiences. I mean, this is the stuff that Hallmark Christmas movies are made of – remembering the real reason for the season, and not letting the hustle and bustle of the holidays eclipse what matters most – spending time with the people we love. But I suppose these sentiments become trite for a reason. And that Mr. Nhat Hanh really does have a great point – it was the kick in the pants that I needed.

I think about how sometimes, season after season we get caught up in the doing, the prepping, the creating, the working, the buying – the aggression of making a perfect holiday. And I think at the root of it, this aggression comes from a totally well-intended place. I think we get nutsy with these intense doing-verbs because we care. We want to create a lovely experience for the people who bring our lives meaning.  But like Thich Nhat Hanh says, we could stand to be better at just enjoying. What better time to encourage ourselves to be as present as we can be, than the holidays?

Also I think it’s easy to get lost in the preparing, the working, because it all gets compounded, right? It’s never just the holidays. It’s what’s happening in the midst of them. I think about people who are, right now…

  • Moving into a new home
  • Dealing with a break-up or new relationship
  • Dealing with family illness or loss
  • Starting a new job
  • Working extra jobs to make a little extra for the holidays
  • Preparing to end one experience and begin another
  • Working overtime
  • Undergoing treatment for an illness
  • Doing their best to be present for someone who has just experienced a loss
  • Dealing with their kids coming home for the 1-3 times a year they do, and wanting it to be perfect
  • Transitioning in any number of ways

I’m sure there’s quite a bit we could all add to that list – there’s always “stuff.” And when one of the above scenarios (or sometimes multiple) serve as our base, and then we mix in the onslaught of activities of the season, and factor in the garnish that not a single person I can think of ever feels like they “have enough time”…in some ways it seems almost natural that we would end up with a well-shaken cocktail of occasional holiday aggression. And I don’t know…I think the holidays, by virtue of being themselves…maybe increase our desire for things to be a little sparkly. A little magical. A little brighter. And why not? But if we’re making ourselves crazy,  we won’t be able to see the magic that’s already right in front of us.

So what do we do with our moments of holiday aggression? I don’t know for sure. But here’s what I’m going to be experimenting with, this week:

  • Ego Check/Perspective: Reminding myself that my “plight” is that of every other human that I know, during this time of year. Everyone feels behind right now. Everyone is busy. Everyone has “stuff” – to do, to handle, to cope with, to finish. And there are people in this world who would love the luxury of worrying about if they’ll choose the perfect Christmas gift or articulate all the right sentiments in a Christmas card. There are people who would love to receive a Christmas card
  • A Sense of Humor:  Because it helps.
  • Editing:  When there are tasks on your to-do list that are ruled by that hateful “should,” take them off, or dial them down, if you can.  Prioritize, and simplify when possible. Create time for enjoying things. For eating gingerbread and watching Christmas movies with friends, and laying on the floor drinking coconut “eggnog” and talking about celebrity crushes. For playing games (if you like them), taking those phone calls and putting everything else aside.  For marveling at everything in your life that you have to be grateful for. There will always be craziness. But there will always be light, too. Bathe in it : )
  • Let it Go: When the holidays put you in a weird place, remind yourself that you are a human. And that the holidays can be a vulnerable time for a variety of reasons. When you disappoint yourself for letting your toes (or whole body) dip into the well of holiday aggression, let it go. It happens. And then get back to enjoying the moment : )

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Have a wonderful and JOY-FILLED holiday, Celebrationists!

Week 70 – Little Bits of Lion-ing

Hi there, Celebrationists! Hope your week is off to an excellent start : )

  1. I am grateful for another creative, exhilarating, wonderful week of performances
  2. I am grateful a lovely visit with my mom, and for her generosity and thoughtfulness
  3. I am grateful to be working with some wonderful kiddos this week, and am excited to help them cultivate the stories they are most eager to share, in the form of original short plays!

This week, I thought I was going to write a post about courage. About fortitude, about bravery. But then I didn’t.

I kind of love when my blogging plans go awry and things don’t end up quite as I intended – which is most of the time, if I’m being honest…

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Did you happen to catch The Wiz Live!? If you aren’t familiar – for the past three years around this time, a giant musical theatre production is broadcast live, on NBC. These broadcasts can be fairly polarizing for those in the theatre community, for a variety of reasons. But for my part, I’m excited by the fact that something that has changed my life so dramatically for the better is being made available to people (many of them young people) who may have never seen a play or musical before. These broadcasts employ so many artists, have the ability to inspire a great deal of joy and inspiration, and share iconic pieces of musical theatre with enormous audiences.

So anyway. This year’s broadcast was The Wiz, Live, and a group of us from the cast of Peter and the Starcatcher made a plan to get together and watch it. We weren’t able to view it live exactly because we had a performance that evening, but watching a newly recorded version is practically the same thing. I admit that I was actually looking forward to the social aspect of the evening more than the actual broadcast – I’d only heard a song or two from the musical The Wiz, and otherwise had no exposure to it. I was tired after a long week, and part of me wanted to stay home alone and read. Imagine my surprise when I not only enjoyed the broadcast enormously, but found myself moved to a rather misty-eyed state by two of the songs, most notably “Be a Lion,” which I’d never heard before. If you don’t know it either, you can listen here!

As Dorothy and the lion finished this stirring number, I instantly thought (and I think I exclaimed quietly aloud, something like) “OH. THIS is a blog post, the lyrics to this song!” As if reading my mind, my room mate shared that he’d had a similar impulse as he experienced the song (thinking I could write a blog post about it). Hence, I felt compelled to explore some thoughts about courage, and how each of us has the power to rise up from within ourselves and become the hero who is buried beneath our fear.  That courage is available to all of us, when we just get out of our own way. But then something pretty interesting happened, about two hours ago when I started developing this post.

I googled/pulled up the lyrics to “Be a Lion,” so I could reference them as I write. And I read them. And read them again. Confused, I found myself feeling…frankly, a little cold – and thinking “Huh. These lyrics somehow aren’t grabbing me, now. They are simple and sweet…but not at all the gut-stirring experience I remembered.”  I hopped onto the YouTubes and listened to a couple of versions, ultimately finding myself back at the recording of Shanice Williams (the young lady who played Dorothy) and David Alan Grier (the gentleman who played the lion), in the live broadcast. (Side note: the above is not intended to criticize the lyrics to this song. They are lovely). But it brings me to the following thought:

Sometimes it’s not necessarily what we say, but how we say it, that counts the most. In retrospect, I think what I responded to most about this song was:

  • the context
  • the warmth, generosity, open-ness, and passion of both actors
  • The look in Dorothy’s eyes when she tells him that “in his own way” he can “be a lion”
  • The look in the lion’s eyes when he receives her message in a deep way
  • The musical life, power, and intensity/build of the song
  • The intention – to empower and inspire, and executed with purity and genuine goodness
  • The relationship between these two new friends
  • The completeness of the journey that happens in 3 minutes and 20 seconds. Someone is downtrodden and fearful. A friend inspires them to reach inside and access the power and majesty that was always within them to begin with. They listen and receive, then celebrate the truth that we can all rise above our fear. How great is that?

I think a lot about the power words. The power of tone. The power of intention. And the (potential) power all of that has to make a person’s day, change their life, or destroy some part of them. Yes – ultimately we can control our reaction to the information we hear, or feel. We have choices about how we allow outside stimulus to affect us, and what we take to heart. But even so, there are some things that just stick with us. Can you remember:

  • A specific, intuitive, sincere compliment that someone gave you that changed your day for the better and illuminated something inside of you that you didn’t think anyone else (maybe even yourself) noticed?
  • A destructive, unkind statement that took possibly years to work out of your system, or still may haunt your thoughts from time to time? A statement that stroked your personal fire of self-doubt in a way that may have even changed you?
  • Negative energy that you were on the receiving end of – there may not have even been words involved. The person may not even know that their energy affected you at all – but it did
  • Positive energy that you were on the receiving end of – there may not have even been words involved. The person may not even know that their energy affected you at all – but it did

I can think of quite a few examples of this in my own life.  Do you also remember (maybe with even more clarity):

  • the way the person looked you in the eye when they said ___________________.
  • the tenderness and sincerity (or condescending tone) in their voice
  • the way the energy in the room, and your body changed
  • the way you re-played the conversation/statement over and over again, because it provided you with something you felt like you needed to turn over a bunch

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Make no mistake – I’m not saying that we’re victims to language and energy. But I’m saying that for as much as we all talk, and put out there energetically, we would do well to be aware of the kind of impact we may have. And to look at the beauty of that power, and harness it for good. It’s kind of exciting, when you think about it. Maybe another way to “be a lion” is to be brave enough to reach out and help others see the good in themselves, using the power of language, intention, energy and heart. The next time you find yourself feeling down, or cynical, or caught up in your own drama, maybe try…

  • Reaching out to a friend who you care about deeply and reflecting to them a deep, sincere, kind-hearted truth that you think may help them to hear. Tell them what you love or appreciate most about them, and the specific light they bring to your life
  • Give yourself the challenge of expressing sincere and specific, heart-felt statement of gratitude to one person a day, for a week. Look them in the eye, take their hand (if you’re in the same space, and can), and tell thank them whole-heartedly
  • Tune in to a friend who is struggling with self-doubt, negative or critical beliefs about some aspect of who they are, and tell them what you find most beautiful about them, and just how much it shines
  • Be attentive to the different opportunities life grants us to lift up the people around us, friends or not – and then act! : )
  • Notice your energy, and be as mindful as you can be about the energetic trail you leave behind

This week I’m going to pay extra attention to what I say, how I say it, and the impact it has on those around me. I’m going to encourage myself to be vulnerable enough to use my words and intentions for good.  I’m going to try, “in my own way” to “be a lion.”  Want to join me? : )

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Week 69 – Little Bits of Mirroring

Happy December, friends!

  1. I am grateful for an exquisite opening weekend of Peter and the Starcatcher. This one is incredibly special, and I intend to enjoy every single moment : )
  2. I am grateful that my MOM is coming to visit this weekend. Over. The. Moon.
  3. I am grateful to be surrounded by some of the kindest and most genuine people. Both old-ish and new friends…it’s a beautiful feeling that I don’t take for granted for one second.

    Photo Credit: Mike Wood

    Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about how certain people seem to come into our lives at just the right time.  Actually, how all of the people we meet are exactly who we need to be connecting with at any given moment, if we are willing to be open to that possibility. And I’d love to chat a bit about why I think this is the case.

As I’ve mentioned before, the book that has had the most significant impact on my life is Jen Sincero’s You are a Badass. I cannot recommend this book highly enough to EVERYONE (it makes a fantastic holiday gift!). There’s a chapter called Millions of Mirrors, which deals with the idea that our response to every person we interact with is in some way a projection of ourselves. I’ll give you Jen’s words, to start with. They are just so good:

“We’re all attracted to, as well as turned off by, various things about other people. And the things that stand out the most to us are the things that remind us the most of ourselves.  This is because other people are like mirrors for us: If somebody bugs you, you’re projecting onto them something that you don’t like about yourself, and if you think they’re awesome, they’re reflecting back something you see in yourself that you like (even if it’s not developed yet). Your reality is created by what you focus on, and how you choose to interpret it. This goes for everything, including the things you focus on about other people in your world.”

She later goes on to say:

“We attract people into our lives for a reason, just as they attract us into theirs. We all help each other grow and figure out our issues – if we seize the opportunity to learn from, instead of just react to (by getting defensive or justifying our actions, or whining about), the highly irritating things that other people do.”

One of the basic points of this chapter is that we can learn something from everyone – even the most difficult people. And that maybe what we are responding negatively to actually has NOTHING to do with them. And I think this is a legit and awesome point worth pondering. But I also feel inspired to run with this idea of people-as-mirrors in another way, too…

I’m not sure if something is in the air, but I’m noticing that many people in my life right now are experiencing/have recently experienced:

  • a breakup with their romantic partner
  • a change in their marriage dynamic
  • the loss of a friendship
  • a dramatic shift in a friendship
  • an immediate and close bond with someone new

It’s so easy for us to get caught up in the intense (and sensibly so!) emotions that come with such experiences. But perhaps in addition to naming and dealing (in whatever way we need to) with such changes in our circle of close humans, it might also be worth considering – what if these shifts have more to do with the fact that we are changing, and it’s time for the universe to teach/reflect to us something new about ourselves, and the world? As much as some relationships in our lives are with people I would call “lifers,” what if other relationships are only ever meant to last for a time? I think there’s real beauty in that. And there can be definite sadness too, of course.

But I’m saying – what if even the relationships that end badly/sady could also be viewed through the lens of “I can release this (insert whatever word – negative, toxic, stagnant, comfortable-in-not-a-great-way) relationship with joy (and sadness, if you feel it) because it’s a sign that I am ready to claim the love, respect, and kind of relationship/friendship that I deserve.” Even if you don’t feel ready. Even if you feel broken. Even if some part of you still doesn’t feel worthy on some subconscious level of a friend or a lover who treats you with unconditional love and respect. Get this. What if the times in our lives where relationships are in crazy flux are actually a sign that we are GROWING, that things are MOVING? Change is tough for all of us, especially when it comes to people, because they are so precious – even when they make us nutsy, but what if some of these difficult changes are a sign that something positively thrilling is already on its way to you?  That what you see when you look in the mirror is changing – or ready to?

Jen says that when we value and respect ourselves in a deep way, “You start attracting the kinds of things, people, and opportunities that are in alignment with who you truly are, which is way more fun than hanging out with a bunch of irritating energy suckers. And by declining to participate in other people’s drama, you not only raise your own frequency, but you offer the drama queens the chance to rise up too, instead of everyone continuing to play a low, lame game.” PREACH. *Snaps*

In the past three or so years, I’ve felt a fairly dramatic improvement in the area of self-respect and self-love, in my life.  It’s been a series of ups and downs, of course, and I still have days where I’m mucking through the shame-swamp, but I’m finally in a place where I can honestly say that I have more good days than bad ones. And that’s something that’s taken real work. I don’t know if it’s a coincidence, but in that time I’ve noticed a pretty dramatic shift in the people I’ve attracted into my life/who have attracted me into theirs. I’m not even talking about immediate friendships, I’m talking about EVERYONE I meet. I  can say with a fair amount of certainty that when I was in a more negative place about myself, I was spending a great deal of time around, and meeting a lot of people who, (to me) seemed:

  • Highly critical, of themselves and others
  • Good at finding fault with almost anything
  • Flakey/frequently disrespectful of my time
  • Witholding
  • Conditional
  • Weren’t as invested in the friendship/relationship as I was
  • Had some quality of enabling – of either my personal bad habits, or appreciated me being an enabler of theirs

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Let me be clear, I don’t mean that any of the above people were even at fault, ultimately. It’s hard now to say what was my own projection. But I think that struggling people often seek out, attract, and negatively bond to struggling people. When I look at the people I’m experiencing on the most frequent basis now, the first qualities that come to mind are:

  • Open-hearted
  • Creative
  • Encouraging
  • Listeners
  • Empaths
  • Playful
  • Considerate
  • Call me out on my own BS in a loving way

And again, not talking about some breed of “perfect person” here – we all have our moments of jerk-facery, I know I do. But I have to say – that both of these lists, meant to be about “other people” are pretty much an exact reflection of where I was at at the time, and in the case of the latter list, a fairly accurate look at the way I feel now.

I’m also writing this post for the people who are in-between, in all of this. Who are feeling lonely. You’ve created some distance from the Negative Nancys and Toxic Tonys, and are making room for new activities, places, and people who align with your innermost truth – but you haven’t found them yet. Or you have, but sabotage it all because you still don’t feel worthy. Or you worry that such people don’t exist. But I’m here to tell you that the kind of unconditional kindness you crave is available to you. It’s there, right at your fingertips, and you deserve it. Be gentle as you let yourself crack a little wider open every day. Listen. Keep your eyes open. Look in the mirror, and trust that there is a great deal of goodness there, even when you don’t feel that way.

Here are a few little ideas for the days when you feel like you’re attracting negativity from all orifices:

  1. Write out ten things you like about yourself. I know. You’ll feel guilty and weird and bury it in a drawer so no one knows you wrote such a thing. You’ll feel self-important in a bad way, and like it’s a waste of time. But try it. What have you got to lose?
  2. Think about the three people you respect the most in the world. What do you respect and value most about them? Chances are, these qualities exist somewhere in you, too – or you might not even recognize them.
  3. The next time you have a strong emotional response to a person, try looking at it more closely than you typically might. If you’re experiencing a strong negative reaction, break it down and see if that quality is something you fear about yourself. If it’s a positive reaction, allow yourself to celebrate the part of that positive quality that you share with that person. This is helpful for the days when we can’t think of much good about ourselves, at all.

Let’s all celebrate what wonderful teachers we can be for each other : ) And when that feels hard, try looking in the mirror and saying “Hey you. I am enough.” You are so, so enough.

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Have a beautiful week, Celebrationists!

Week 68 – Little Bits of Self-Editing

Happy Monday, Celebrationists!

  1. I am grateful for a delicious and thoughtful meal created by someone who could have used that time to do (probably literally) a hundred other things, but chose instead to do something kind (and yummy!) out of the goodness of his heart
  2. I am grateful for clean laundry
  3. I am grateful to be working on such an inventive, creative, moving piece of theatre, with a cast and team I respect, admire, and adore so very much. I’ve said versions of this before, but it only becomes increasingly true by the day, so I have to say it again!

I had a conversation this past week with a friend who was teasing me about my penchant for self-editing.

Side note: I dislike being teased. I promise I’m (sort of) working on this, and will never hold it against you. But I don’t ever enjoy it or find it funny. I know it’s never meant to cause harm. But I still hate it. Sometimes, however, there is real value in whatever I’m being teased about – like in this instance. But I digress. 

Side note 2: When I talk about self-editing, for the purposes of this blog post,

Here’s what I do mean: Excessive re-thinking, rephrasing of, or obliteration of certain thoughts/feelings

And what I don’t mean: The sensible thing we all must do so we don’t injure people on a daily basis

So. Be it in the form of text message, email, or unscripted spoken word, I’ll admit that I almost never put my first draft of an idea out into the universe for others to experience. On this particular evening, when responding to said teasing, I (defensively) explained that I just like to be clear. I like to be sure I’m saying what I mean. I have a deep respect for the power of words, and the ability they have to dramatically affect people (positively or negatively) – and that isn’t something I take lightly. Also I enjoy language, and like to use it thoughtfully. All of these statements are true. I stand by these feelings wholeheartedly.

But it also got me to thinking about all the ways we edit ourselves (to our detriment), hardly noticing, and what this habit might do to us over time.

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We might edit our ideas and thoughts because we are:

  • afraid of hurting someone’s feelings
  • afraid of sharing too much
  • afraid of rejection
  • afraid of judgement
  • afraid of being perceived as something we’re not…or something we are
  • afraid of our feelings being too much or too big
  • afraid of saying something embarrassing
  • afraid of being seen

You’ll notice that all of these have one thing in common. We’re afraid.

Here’s an example of one type of editing. Do you use any of these phrases as much as I do?

  • “I don’t mind!”
  • “Oh it’s fine!”
  • “I don’t care”
  • “That’s no problem!”

I mean here’s the thing – sometimes I don’t mind! Sometimes “it” really is fine, and I don’t care, and there’s no problem. But sometimes that’s not the case, and I say it anyway.

Why would I do that? Why would you do that? Why would we edit our actual feelings? It isn’t because we’re all lying, deceitful, door-mat jerk-faces, I don’t think.  It’s because habits are powerful. The way we regard our desires is powerful. The level at which we respect our feelings, is powerful.

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I think that after years of being a human, years of experiencing the things we fear most – shame, embarrassment, rejection, etc. we begin to develop an intimate relationship with an idea that encourages us to edit our thoughts and feelings on the regular. An idea that aims to “protect” us from experiencing these hateful sensations in the future. This relationship is with a little word called

Should. (Shouldn’t also applies)

After reading Louise Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life several years ago, I began to agree that these 6 little letters might be some of the most dangerous to our sanity and well-being. To me, “should” is a guilt word, a shame word. It implies that there is a right way of doing or feeling something, and we either choose to do it the correct way, or not. If we don’t do something that we “should,” we are constantly stuck in the shame-swamp. For instance:

  • Someone invites us out somewhere, and we feel we should go
  • We have feelings for someone but feel like we shouldn’t
  • We could choose this (job, food, way to spend our time) and feel like we should do something else that’s more (practical, safe, reputable, admirable, etc)
  • We feel sad, angry, mad, bossy, resistant, in love, exhausted, etc. but feel like we shouldn’t 
  • We feel compelled to speak up about an issue but feel like we should stay quiet

Think about that for a minute. Honestly. How much do “should” and “shouldn’t” call the shots in our lives? And I wonder – who makes up the “right” way? Who decides what is the right thing to feel, want, or do? Of course I’m not talking about moral issues here. I’m talking about things like the fact that you…

  • want waffles for dinner
  • have feelings for someone
  • feel like watching Netflix all night instead of reading a book
  • want to stand up for yourself
  • don’t want to go out because you’re tired
  • don’t want to go out because you need an alone night
  • want to go out and have fun
  • want to take a job that no one understands you taking
  • want to follow the rules
  • want to break the rules
  • feel angry or sad or sassy. Or happy or relieved or silly

Would you tell your best friend that him/her feeling any of those things is wrong? It might not be what you would do, but is it wrong?

So why do we deny ourselves potential pleasures, happiness, joy, and the beauty of exploring all of our emotions? I believe whole-heartedly in discipline and moderation, but why on earth do we guilt ourselves – how we act is another choice to make, but when we deny our desires and ideas…once, fifteen, 115 times…what starts to happen? When we get in a routine of editing ourselves to the point of living in the shame swamp 24/7, and our main goal becomes pleasing other people, we aren’t doing anyone in this world a service, and most especially ourselves. And if we aren’t kind to ourselves, how can we possibly get out there and make a difference?

I’ve always had enormous admiration for people who are direct, and say exactly what they mean. I’m not talking about folks who are blunt, harsh or demanding – I’m talking about kind people who set boundaries clearly, ask for what they need, express when something bothers them, celebrate when something delights them, and generally claim the truth of their story. So why not be that person?  The choice is ours, every day. Obviously we want to be mindful of what we’re putting out into the universe, too. But the next time we feel compelled to edit – what if we take a moment to check in with ourselves and ask if it’s worth it. To consider what might happen if we allow ourselves to be seen, exactly as we are?

Wishing you an incredible week, Celebrationists. One where you feel free to…

Love deeply

Dare Greatly

Wish whole-heartedly

Respect all of your feelings and desires without judgement

Claim the narrative of your life with kindness and courage

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