Making waves

When I picked fierce as my word for this year, I had no idea that the Universe would so quickly and eagerly leap to answer my invitation!

The idea of being fierce was to be clear in walking my path. To be 100% fully me in my life.  Fierce, as defined by the Urban Dictionary –

the combination of a positive mental spirit, bold words and unapologetic actions used collectively.

I think I should have also ordered a large dose of bravery to go with that fierceness.

Because here’s what I’m learning in just the first few weeks of my word.  I have a pretty good idea of what I want to do and how I want to be in this life. So deciding *what* to do isn’t the issue. The issue is in putting it into action. In stating my truth and then letting the chips fall where they may.

There is a terrifying moment when you state your truth and it hangs there in the air in frozen silence and you wait to see how it will be received.

I am afraid of the falling chips. Of disappointing my friends and loved ones. Of letting people down. Of making anyone feel sad. Or angry. Of being anything less than perfect. Of not being what others want me to be. What I am “supposed” to be.

In this integrated, intertwined world of mine, decisions have ripples. I am afraid that they will become waves.

I’ve already made some hard decisions, taken some firm actions and drawn some boundaries. I’m not sure how they’ll be received. But, even in just these first few forays into being fierce, I already know what has been holding me back.

My fear.

So, I guess I’ll see how the waves are this year. I hope that true friends, who know the real me, will support me and celebrate in my journey. Those who don’t can be forgiven for not knowing the real me. After all, what have I shown them?

Already the Universe has brought some amazing new possibilities into my life. And, I am more excited for this year than I have been in a long time. Especially in a cold, dark and rainy January.

I guess I’ll see how many friends I have left at the end of the year!

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Finding a perfect purpose

So I have this growing pile of glass beads that I’ve made that I call “reject” beads.

My teacher calls them “learning” beads.

You can easily see the difference between me and her.

Anyhow ….

We have a very small Christmas tree at work. Desk sized. Which had one garland and a bow for decoration.

It was looking, uh, a little sad. And not so festive.

So I took my “learning” beads and attached them to some earring hooks. Turns out, they are the perfect size for the tiny Christmas tree ornaments.

Rejects or learning beads, they have found their destiny.

They may not be perfect but they are perfect for this.

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Hollow Victories

Things I’ve learned from making hollow beads –

  1. Don’t panic. Even when things are wobbly and out of control and look like they’re about to fall apart just stay calm. Take deep breaths, work slowly and with love and it’ll be okay.
  2. When two sides start from far apart, it takes a lot of time and effort to get them to meet in the middle. At first, it looks impossible. But, when they do, it’s a wonderful thing.
  3. When you give something a bit of space, you allow the light in and it will shine.
  4. When you ignore the important parts, they cool and crack and fall to pieces. Sometimes, they can be fixed. Sometimes, they can’t.
  5. Even when things don’t go the way you planned, they can still turn out beautiful.
  6. There is no failure, just learning. So keep trying.

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Days that help me be myself

I think it was Ralph Waldo Emerson who said

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.

I completely agree. Sometimes, it seems like each day is a struggle to figure out who I am, to remember it and to live and breathe it in my actions, my words and my choices. Days when self-doubt is the demon that requires repeated slaying.

And then there are the other times. Those all-to-rare days when I feel completely myself and completely at ease. Days when I know that despite the hard decisions, my heart and my life are in alignment. Days which replenish my soul and re-stoke my fires.

Days like this past weekend.

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Days away with amazing women who listen and support and never doubt for a minute that I am perfect just the way I am.

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Days spent exploring the beach, listening to birdsong and attuning with nature.

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Days spent listening, reading and eating good food made with love. Days of quiet solitude and burst of laughter. Days of story-telling, sharing wisdom and  confiding secrets.

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Days when I have time to stop, slow down, notice the little things. Time to consider things from another perspective.

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Days where all the worries leave me and I know that everything will be okay. That I will be okay.

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Days that help me be myself. Not just for the weekend but hopefully for all the days to come.

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The balance of my day

Yesterday was the vernal equinox and the Universe sent me a message.

It’s coming on Spring here in the northern hemisphere and yesterday was the day of equal parts light and dark. And the Universe decided that I needed this message really driven home.

It started off in the darkness of an early morning dentist appointment to fix my first ever cavity. Apparently, I have sticky grooves. (aside – wouldn’t that be an awesome name for a band?!)

So, my first ever filling. And my first time with freezing. Sigh. The end of a perfect streak.

I have long loved the fact that I have made it into my 40s without a cavity. I completely realize that this is just a fluke of genetics and not anything to do with my superior brushing and flossing technique (NOT). But it was that thing I could always cite whenever I had to answer “what’s the one thing no one knows about you” or some such nonsense of an ice-breaker exercise.

But then, an unexpected light in the dark. No freezing, no filling. Just a little scraping and a sealant and I was all done. And, a bonus of fixing my slightly jagged-edge bottom front teeth to smooth perfection. Nicely balanced, Universe!

Not so fast, said the Universe. You may technically be cavity free but the day is just starting!

Stopped for a coffee on the way to work and coming out of the coffee shop I spectacularly wiped out on the grassy boulevard that separated me from my car. Well, I should call it the giant muddy boulevard although I think most of the mud ended up all up my pants and back. Not content to drive home it’s point, the Universe had to choose right in front of the coffee shop for my muddy demise. You know, where EVERYONE could watch me do a slow slide into the swamp of no return.

And then the balance turned when a very nice stranger stopped to see if I was okay. And told me a joke that made me laugh. I don’t know who that guy was but I’m thanking the Universe for sending him my way. After a mad dash home and a change of clothes all the way down to my muddy underwear I raced into work and made it just in time for my first meeting. And, I won a free coffee.

And so the day went. It poured rain and then was gloriously sunny. I am swamped with work to the point of chucking the whole thing in when I am unexpectedly headhunted for another job, making me realize how much I love my work and that (apparently) someone noticed. Physio is increasing to twice a week but I somehow managed not to add injury to my knee with my mudslide.

LIfe in balance. The good with the bad. The things that make me so frustrated and the things that make me shake my head and laugh. The hard work and the random rewards. The anger and the gratitude.

I get it, Universe. And I will strive to remember it. Even when I’m lying in the mud.

Now, off to find the other members of Sticky Grooves.

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7 things I’m giving up on

As a perfectionist, giving up on anything is near impossible for me. That’s like … quitting!!!

Give me dead horse and I’ll beat that thing til it gets up and walks. Which is kind of a horrific expression for which I don’t even want to know the origin. So, maybe it’s more like beating my head against a wall. Yeah, much better.

In the spirit of THAT much nicer image, I figure it’s gotta feel a whole heck of a lot better once I stop.

A friend recently sent me this great article in the Huffington Post called 7 Things I Refuse to Stress About. I think that part of refusing to stress about something is giving up on the expectation of that thing. Or, giving up the expectation of me being something I’m just not!

So, in an attempt to save whatever is left of my forehead and my sanity, here is my list of the 7 things I am okay with giving up on –

1. Getting to work early
I am not a morning person. Well, to be exact, I am not a “jump out of bed and hit the day running” kind of person. I need time to ease into the day. A cup of coffee, lying in bed for a bit, browsing social media for news, tidbits and a check in on the world I’m about to head out into. I figure being asleep is the equivalent of dispersing my entity into the Unconscious for awhile. In the morning, I need some time to piece myself back together. To assemble my parts into a recognizable whole again and set my intent for the day. I used to carpool with a morning person and it was always the gentle tug-of-war. How about 6:30am? How about 6:45am? How about 6:35am and a stop for coffee along the way? When my carpool ended, I just decided to give up on the “early to work” industrious person that I kept expecting myself to be. Now, I sleep longer, wake with the sun and get to work by 9am. No one cares as long as my work gets done. I stay longer in the afternoon ’cause I don’t need to be home for kids or a family dinner. The rest of the office is gone by 4pm. And then it’s quiet and I have as much time as I need for all the productivity that my day requires.

2. Fitting in
Dr. Seuss said, “Why fit in when you were born to stand out?” I know we all need that sense of tribe and a connectedness to other people. But, for years I always felt like I just didn’t quite fit in. I didn’t dress right, eat right, listen to the right music, watch the right TV shows, want to buy the right things. Once I gave up on trying to figure all that out, it’s amazing how much less stressful things got. I still probably don’t do all those things right, I just don’t really care any more.

3. Dressing in corporate clothing
I have kind of a corporate career. But I’ve never been comfortable in corporate women’s clothing. The pantsuits and pinstripe tops. Pencil skirts that end just below the knee. The blouses with that weird kind-of-bow, kind-of-tie thing that drags in your food. I look at women CEOs and I think, “I could probably pull off that job but I’d never be able pull off the wardrobe!”. In an effort to figure out what I was doing wrong, I hired an image consultant who immediately started extolling my curves and encouraged me to dress for the “abundant” shape I have. Once I got over the trauma of that experience and followed her guidelines, I actually found that dressing for work isn’t as much of an ordeal as it used to be. Turns out curvy bodies turn stripes into, well, curves! I’m a lot more comfortable with my clothes now. And, hopefully there is room at the top for an abundantly curvy CEO with fun shoes.

4. Eating dinner foods at dinner
I grew up in a household where dinner was a meat portion, a vegetable portion and a potato portion. Occasionally, there was lasagna or spaghetti but there were always dinner foods at dinner. As a single person, I cook dinner for one. Well, okay, when I don’t eat out, I cook dinner for one. And a meat portion, a vegetable portion and a potato portion is a lot of effort for one person. And before I get inundated with “30 minute recipes for the single person” I’ll just tell you right now that I hate cooking. And everything to do with planning to cook. But, I do love breakfast foods. So I’ve given up on dinner food at dinner. I have eggs and bacon or a bagel with pb+j. When I do have veggies I don’t cook them cause I prefer them raw and it’s less work. Who defined breakfast food as breakfast and dinner food as dinner anyway! I’m recategorizing.

5. Washing my hair every day
I have curly hair. Those of you who also have curly hair will understand that curly hair has a personality of its very own. An unpredictable personality that changes with the weather. Literally. It has good days and bad days. It has fun days full of bounce and grumpy days where it pouts into a limp mess. But mostly, it needs a little oil to grease the wheels. I’m sure it was the clever shampoo advertisers who convinced us that we had to wash our hair every day (lather, rinse, repeat). Not true for my curly hair. My hair looks best on about day 3. Before you get too grossed out, be assured that I wash my body almost every day. Just not my hair. I’ve given in to the ringlet-leader.

6. Understanding nutrition
I think I kind of understood the food pyramid when I was a kid. Since then, it’s been all downhill. Good fats, bad fats, leafy veggies, starchy veggies, whole grains, low fat, high protein, no gluten, protein shakes with flax oil, Atkins, South Beach, paleo, blood type, wheat belly … I officially throw in the tea towel. Trying to follow these conversations, let alone figure out what is all means is stressing me out. And as someone with food issues, the very last thing I need is for my food to take up any more space or energy in my day. So, here’s my nutrition plan. Eat when I’m hungry. Don’t eat when I’m not hungry. Make sure what I’m feeling is hunger and not some emotion like fear, loneliness, joy or boredom. Eat food that is closest to it’s natural state and that doesn’t have too many ingredients I don’t understand. Buy local and organic, if I can. Try to drink lots of water. And, when I screw up any of the above (which I do), don’t freak out and find inventive ways to punish myself. Be gentle and just keep trying. That’s it.

7. Olives
I have tried to like olives. I really have. A few years ago, I went on a vacation to Greece and I was determined to learn to like olives so I could enjoy them in their native land. I followed that saying, “you have to eat seven olives before you like them”. Nope. I tried different kinds. Nope. Stuffed with feta. Nope. In a martini. Nope. In seven martinis! Nope. I do not like olives. I do not like them in my bread, I do not like them as a spread. I do not like them on a slice, I do not like them in my life.

So, if you’re looking for someone who gets up early, washes her hair and has a nutritious breakfast that includes olives, I am clearly not your girl. But, if you’re looking for an imperfect curly haired quitter who has pancakes for dinner, I’m here. Giving up one day at a time.

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A letter to my 12-year old self

Dear 12-year old me –

It is going to be okay. You are on the right path and you are doing great. You are beautiful; not because of your physical looks but because you have a light that shines in you and pours forth in your smile and your energy. That is attractive. You have a fire that ignites your mind and burns brightly in your heart. And, when your fire gets dampened by hurt and rejection, which it will, remember you are surrounded by people who will reignite that fire. Cry, talk to them, be open and honest and vulnerable. They will help and it’s okay to need and accept help. We all do.

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Keep doing the things in your life that you love – sing, run, dance, feed your intellect – and be yourself. Don’t worry about trying to be what society tells you to be. When you are yourself, you are happy. And you will know that the people around you truly see you, not a fake you, and they like you.  Don’t waste your time and energy on people who don’t like you. It’s better to let them go or to walk away from them.

Take risks, especially when you love because it’s worth it. Even when you get hurt. And, you will.  But, when that happens, when you’re sad or angry or scared or feeling rejected or insecure, try to accept these feelings. Don’t try to make them go away by eating or pretending you don’t care. That won’t work and the feelings will end up festering inside you and affecting your ability to connect with others and to heal. Give the feelings some space, acknowledge them, and then focus your energy on the positive things in your life and they will pass, leaving you with valuable lessons in their wake. To help process these emotions, prioritize your self-care. Self-care means spending time doing the things that are most important to you.

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Feelings do not define you or your life. You can have a sad day without it meaning your life is sad. You can fail at something without it meaning you are a failure.  Failing and making mistakes is a key part of the learning process. No one hits the bullseye the first time they shoot an arrow. You get closer with each “failed” shot.

You can be rejected without it meaning you are unworthy of being loved. It just means the fit wasn’t right. Learn from that and try again.

You can be imperfect without it meaning you are a less-than disappointment. When you feel imperfect, accept that we are all imperfect; it’s part of being human.

There is no such thing as controlled perfectionism, where if you do everything right than everything will be okay.  Life will happen. You only have control over how you react to events, not the events themselves. And, when you let go of the control you create the space for wonderful unexpected things to happen.  Better than you could ever pick for yourself.

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Don’t worry about being anxious. Pay attention to your body but don’t let feeling anxious stop you from living your life the way you want and doing the things you really want to do.

So, keep being you. Allow yourself to be seen and don’t hide. Keep being fierce about following your joy.

Keep up the good work. You are doing great!

with love always,
43-year old you/me

PS – you will get to see lava someday!!

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