When I was a kid, I’d cry when people sang happy birthday to me. Every year my immediate family and one or two of my childhood friends would gather around my parent’s kitchen table (the same one they have today) and sing happy birthday. The trick candles would be flickering, the Carvel cake would be melting, and me — the birthday girl– I’d be crying my little eyes out.
To this day I can’t articulate why: it was something about everyone looking at me that made it unbearable. I felt embarrassed and overwhelmed. Something about the praise made me want to run and hide.
Maybe, even then, I had an intrinsic sense of unworthiness.
Don’t feel too bad for me: the compromise was that they could sing to me, but I’d stand in another room where I could hear them, but couldn’t see them. The wall between us made it a little easier to deal with.
I’ve never been good at receiving.
In most interactions I feel I’m really good at giving. I show up and act as the problem-solver and the motivator; however, I get very uncomfortable when it’s time for me to receive. I bristle at compliments and deflect kind words with self-deprecation and sarcasm. I’m not in love with criticism, but at least I can deal with that. Criticism is somehow easier to swallow than praise.
I’m not good at standing in the vibration of other people’s love. It feels like an obligation. I find myself thinking that if they see this wonderful thing in me, it’s only a matter of time before I somehow eff the whole thing up. Praise automatically feels like obligation/pressure.
At first I thought this was okay. I figured that my deflections were just keeping my ego in check — I don’t want to become one of those people who suck up all the attention in the room. If I started accepting praise, I might become addicted! I might need it to be happy. Yep, best to avoid it all together.
As I’ve gotten older (and done some inner work) I realize I was kind of working against myself. Not owning the goodness keeps me feeling small. It keeps me hiding, covering myself. It keeps me from living my loudest, brightest and best life.
It can be really hard when what we think is humility/modesty/positivity is actually our egos working against us. Most ego trappings are like blind spots — we don’t seem em until we accidently crash….
So, for me, blogging is a revolutionary act. Teaching is a practice in radical expansion. Being seen, sharing myself with others and allowing others to receive me…allowing others to appreciate the experience of knowing me is something that might be the work of my life.
Everyone wants to be loved, but some of us have to learn how to receive it.
What are you working on learning today? Let me know…
Almost a year ago to the day, I started this blog because an agent told me I needed a platform to sell my book.
I was fully committed to this theory that how a man sees god will help inform us about his romantic relationships. I still believe that. I still feel fascinated by that.
But lately I feel that there’s something else I should be writing.
When I was working I my thesis, I actually slashed 90 pages so that I could write the book that really wanted to come out, and boy was that an arduous process. Writing a book-length project is like giving birth (I imagine). It feels like there’s a living thing inside of you that you have to literally push out. You try Deep breathing, you type one word at a time, but the labor pains persist.
And then, when you’re done, you have this thing — this amazing tangible evidence that you exist in the world.
So here I am, almost 3 years pregnant with this book, and I’m suddenly not sure that it’s truly the book I’m called to write. It begs the aged old question: how do you know when to let go?
I’m asking the universe to give me a sign. Perhaps Tim Tebow can jump out of a cake and miraculously become available for a God interview with me. Or maybe it will be something more subtle, but I do know that there’s a work inside of me. I also know that this blog is an important part of uncovering the book inside.
I’ll just keep breathing and pushing out these words. Clarity will come. It always does…
Ironically, I completely fudged my posting schedule and released today’s post yesterday. This mistake seems to fit with today’s topic…
Lately I’ve been over myself. I’ve been praying and meditating and forgiving and writing AND, although I do see a marked difference in my life, I still get kind of irritated when the same issues crop up over and over…
It didn’t hit me that this was problematic until I was talking to one of my friends about self-awareness. She mentioned that she was struggling with her meditation practice, her diet, and her own sense of discipline. The level or frustration in her voice was making me tense, and I blurted out, “you’re so self-aware, but you are too hard on yourself. Maybe you should work on cultivating compassion before trying to make big changes in your life.”
And there it was: my own big statement smacking me in the face; Beckoning me to take my own advice…
“without compassion,” I added, “self-awareness is abuse…”
Can we truly be self-aware without compassion? Without the ability to be gentle with ourselves, to love and massage our sore spots — self-awareness (knowing oneself) is nothing more than another way to stunt and sabotage our growth. Our strict “commitment” to self-awareness unwittingly pushes us into a police state where we are criticizing our behavior and berating ourselves for missing some imaginary spiritual mark.
We might know ourselves, but what good does it do us if we hate/berate the person we know? That intense/aggressive energy radiates outward, and before we know it, we’re no longer living from our center. We’re going thru the motions — eating the veggies and reading the books –but we’re not connected to Source.
Compassionate self-awareness leaves room for humanity. It gives us space to falter, to fail, and to eventually grow. Often, on the spiritual journey, folks fall into the trap of perfection, but the goal of self-awarness, as I see it, is to embrace our humanity — to get down in the mud and find beauty in the dirt underneath our fingernails.
So today, as familiar anxieties crop up and procrastination rears its head, I am trying to understand that compassion is a key element of my spiritual journey. Much like I find ways to be firm but loving with my students, I must be firm yet loving with myself.
Everyday I become intuitively more aware that compassion, unconditional self-love, and lavish non-judgmental attention and are the only ways to enlightenment. Everything else — the meditation, the Ayurvedic diet, the yoga and reiki — are tools that can easily be misused to perpetuate basic unconsciousness if we don’t stay lovingly present to our humanity.
And even when we fall short, meditation teaches us that the power is in the moment of course-correction. The power isn’t really about staying on course, it’s about coming back to the breath, the source. It’s about returning to the energy of compassionate self love.
Hope you enjoy my extra post this week! How do you cultivate compassion for yourself? Share your secrets!
It’s true. I admit it. Love is in my movements. It’s where I’m most comfortable.
Some people can date and maintain relationships that don’t mean anything to them. I’ve always envied those people. They can flirt and connect with numerous people without ever really having that overwhelming sense of love or devotion. Some people can even have “serious” romantic partnerships, long term boos, without ever feeling any love-like feelings.
I’m not built that way.
I have this heart – a poet’s heart – and it has two switches: love and indifference. If I am connected to you, if I spend time with you, chances are I’m completely in love with you. This isn’t limited to romantic relationships – this includes friendships as well. I will do anything for you. I will listen and offer anything I can to make sure you are happy. I will put my own needs ahead of yours. I have trouble NOT giving you what you ask for. I kick myself when I fall short of your expectations.
I’m not saying it’s always healthy, but I love hard. That’s what I do.
Its funny, people don’t often notice this about me – I can be sarcastic, snarky and a bit guarded, but those who know me know this to be true. I am in love with the people in my life. I fall in love so easily and so frequently that it’s confusing….but I’m coming to realize that’s okay.
As I dougie dance out of my mid-twenties, I am coming to the realization that staying in love is A-okay. It’s weird when I think about it, but when I don’t think about it – it’s one of my favorite things about myself.
In the past, these love feelings would creep up in my heart and I’d struggle to “make them fit.” This behavior, this urge to act on my love, has led me into relationships with people whom, though loveable, were not the correct match for me. I’ve stayed in relationships that I’ve known were just plain wrong – because if I love this person, then I’m supposed to want this kind of label. I have found hard to acknowledge deep profound love for someone while standing in your truth that, maybe, this amazing member of your soul tribe isn’t meant to be “yours forever.”
And that’s the thing – when I love you, it’s with my soul. You become a member of my tribe. A member of my pack. It’s really hard for me to not to confuse love with obligations and commitment because
I’ve struggled with this, especially with romantic relationships, but I’m learning that love doesn’t have to automatically equate to monogamy. Love doesn’t have to equal ownership or labels or obligations. At it’s best, love is freedom. It’s the choice to show up and stand next to someone because there’s nowhere else you’d rather be. Anything short of that, while valid, is something other than love.
And by that standard, all we ever do is love. We love as we move. We love when we laugh at someone’s jokes, when we open the door for a stranger, when we call a friend out of the blue. Love always exists. It doesn’t have to be contained, or quantified, or labeled. It doesn’t have a specific genus or classification.
It just is.
And I’m learning to dance happily in that space.
I haven’t been to the 9-11 memorial. I remember going on the website and discovering that I needed to schedule my visit almost two months in advance.
I’m not sure if that’s still the case, but ,at the time, it required to much planning.
So I didn’t go.
That said, the design of the memorial seems so fitting — it, like most things these days, reminds me of forgiveness.
I’m a few days shy of my forgiveness challenge (a final post will follow soon, I swear), and I’m about a week late on the obligatory 9-11 post, but something about the memorial strikes me as so apropos on my final week of forgiveness that I decided to hold off on posting about it until now.
So, the memorial is this huge inverse fountain — this means that the water flows into this hole, cascading down into another smaller hole and then finally cascading down into darkness.
I don’t know what forgiveness looks like, but I imagine it looks something like that. A cool, clean, healing, cleansing, burst of water rushing to fill up a gash, a wound, a void that may never be filled.
See, forgiveness is not about forgetting or rebuilding in a bigger better way – though all of those things are valid responses- its about learning how to heal and maybe…in the process…turning the affliction into something beautiful.
My final thoughts on my forgiveness challenge are coming soon. Then I swear I’ll move on to other topics! Lol
“People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”
― Mother Teresa
I was doing some last minute planning before class. In an effort to find a reading, I was frantically pulling books from my bookshelf when the entire unit collapsed. One shelf fell into the one below it and the entire thing crumbled. A few flying books knocked over my tv, and the contents of my piggy bank spilled all over the floor.
I had about an hour before class started. I didn’t have time to clean up the mess…my roommates were showing my room to a potential inhabitant and they’d be mortified by this mess.
Sometimes, things fall apart.
Sometimes things fall apart at the worst effing times: bookshelves collapse, relationships fail, friendships change…things fall apart and suddenly we’re left with a choice: do we rebuild or walk away?
I’m moving in a week or two. My entire book collection lives on the floor and my cheap bookshelf is now in useless pieces. While part of me is irritated by this occurrence, and another part of me wanted to cry (I’m pms-ing) there was a part of me that knew it was time to start taking those books off of the shelf and putting them in boxes.
Things fall apart to remind us that nothing stays the same forever….sometimes things fall apart because we weren’t doing enough to make a less dramatic change.
So as I pack boxes and relive some of the memories in this room, I can’t help but smile at the realization that while things around me fall apart, I find a way to adjust — I find a way to keep myself together.
What gifts can you find in the things that are falling apart?
As my 30 day forgiveness challenge comes to a close, I find myself looking forward — toward new opportunities and new love relationships.
As a result of this feeling (and a recent post), I’ve been toying with the idea of writing a Faith Manifesto – a document that outlines my unique view of God. I think, as I let go of the past and embrace the future, I need to understand where my faith resides and how that faith plays out in the context of a relationship.
In short: I need to answer the questions that I’ve asked so many men.
I feel and live my faith soo deeply, it informs my movements in this world, but, because I don’t have a specific denomination, I find it hard articulate my beliefs. I also find it hard to have clear expectations for my partner. So I don’t touch the subject — a subject that’s such a huge part of my identity.
And so, as I wind up the 30 day pray challenge, I’m going to start a new challenge for myself..expect to see the evolution of my faith manifesto over the next few week.
What do y’all believe about God? Do you have a manifesto?
Something about the chill in the air lets me know that the lazy days of summer are over. Winter is just around the corner – somehow I equate cooler weather with a call to get more serious. This year, though, I’ve been grieving the impending Fall more than usual. Maybe it’s because there are big changes afoot: post-grad teaching, new apartment, new job, new goals. Or maybe it’s because Labor Day reminds me that all things have cycles — all things come to an end.
This transition makes me think about closure. Does it exist? Does one need it? How does one go about getting it?
Closure, I guess, is like Labor day. It’s that definitive moment – that beautiful moment where the end and the beginning merge. Granted, its not the official first day of Fall, but it could be, we all know the white shoes and white parties are tucked away until next year. So, like closure, Labor Day is a vessel for sadness. It’s that moment we can pin-point for the intrinsic understanding that, although good things are ahead, awesome things have slipped away yet again.
I should mention that my Labor Day was pretty lazy. I found myself with no parties to attend, no getaways to get to, and no barbeques to crash. The pressure to find plans was pretty intense, and it was hard not to kick myself for being unprepared. Why do I build up these holidays? Why do I place so much emphasis on these moments? Much like we might build up our Labor Day weekend plans, I think sometimes we have unrealistic expectations about what closure looks like: will it make the feelings stop? Will we regret less, or stop feeling anger? Will there be fireworks followed immediately by a hot new romance?
I don’t know.
Ultimately, I think closure is less of an event and more of a quiet resignation. It’s the intrinsic knowing that there is nothing left to say. You take a deep breath, savor the last of the barbecue smell, lick your fingers, and pull your sweater a littler closer to your chest. The season has changed; moments are now memories.
There is nothing left to do but move forward…