I’m supposed to be WHAT?!

The other day my awesome sister sent me a link to a blog post by a woman who was celebrating her eighth year blogging anniversary. She had a list of “things she thought was supposed to be” eight years ago.

I thought that was pretty interesting so I quickly jotted down my list of “things I’m supposed to be”. I did it really quickly because for an over-thinker like me, doing these kind of exercises quickly doesn’t give the self-editing filters that “protect me from the truth” time to snap into place.

Here is my list –

I am supposed to be married
I am supposed to be thin
I am supposed to wear high heels and dress stylishly
I am supposed to be desirable to men
I am supposed to be moving up the corporate ladder and managing a team of people
I am supposed to have enough money to pay off my mortgage, have nice things and travel several times a year
I am supposed to be happy and attractive all the time
I am supposed to be independent and not need anyone

Holy crap!! Literally!!

Where did all that come from?!

Add to the list that I must do all these things perfectly and it’s no wonder that some days I don’t feel like I’m enough. That I struggle with feeling like a failure. That I want to hide before someone calls me out as a fraud at life.

Some of these messages clearly come from our culture – movies, TV, advertising. Who knows where I picked up the others – childhood, irrational emotional self-defense, other people.

And, while I imagine I probably have things in common with other people’s lists, there are also things that don’t appear on the list that could easily do so – supposed to have children (not in the cards and that’s okay), supposed to own a house (no, thanks, too much work), supposed to be a good cook (ugh, the kitchen). And, none of those things bother me or make me feel like a failure.

So maybe today is a good day to call bullshit on my list. To take the weight of it off my heart and my spirit. To accept that I am what I am supposed to be as I am right now and that it’s perfectly okay to strive imperfectly to be the kind of person I want to be in the world.

The kind of person I want to be; not the kind of person I think the world or my inner gremlins are telling me I should be.

I’d be interested to hear other people’s lists, if anyone wants to share. And, I think I’ll check back in next year at this time and see if my list has changed. I’m hoping it’s at least smaller.

20121110-133205.jpg

A growing vision

Last night I finally completed a task that I have been struggling to get around to all summer. Well, since last Fall really. I finally hauled all of the planters with dead plants and weeds from my rooftop patio down 5 flights of stairs and to the garbage. By myself. It was hot, tiring, sweaty and dirty and I am proud of myself.

I have lived in my condo for 6 years and I have never managed to get the rooftop patio in a state I am happy with. I live in a rainforest. For 3 months of the year it is hot as Hades on the roof and there is no shade. The rest of the time it is cool and the rain pours down until even the moss grows moss. I’m not sure what kind of plants grow in that kind of environment but nothing I have ever planted has survived.

I have never been able to really get a vision of what the space could be. Plus, the patio is in bad shape – the railing is rusty and the decking needs replacing. But, as the decision on what to do with the rooftop patios is linked to what to do about the aging roof which means the whole building gets to vote, it’s taking time to sort out. I kept thinking that when I get a new patio, I’ll have a vision of how to pull off this tiny rooftop Garden of Eden.

Each year I spend money on new plants, soil and planters, drag everything up there and hope I can pull off the kind of rooftop garden that you see in magazines or on Pinterest. Each year, I try to remember to water each day and usually when I go on holidays everything is dead by the time I get back. I don’t spend much time up there despite the wonderful view. It’s hard to sit up there and relax on a nice summer evening surrounded by all that death and failure.

Last fall, after another summer of wasted money and greenery-turning-brown, I decided I was done. It is my space and if I don’t want to grow stuff in planters, then I don’t have to.  If I am a life-giving gardening failure then so be it. Growing plants may be what I’m supposed to do but I am not having fun. And life is too short and comes with enough un-funness on its own that I don’t need to add to it.

Lo and behold, as soon as I mentally swept all the plants and expectations away I suddenly could feel a vision for the space start to emerge. What about some outdoor art? Or sculpture? A stone fountain? Some lanterns or fairy lights? A pile of beach treasures clearly designed by Mother Nature to revel in the sun and the water?  I started to find and buy artwork I liked. I started seeing things indoors in my condo that would be perfect outdoors. But first, I had to get rid of all those heavy planters and soil and dead things. By myself.

They say many hands make light work. I’m not sure if that’s true but at least it gives you someone to complain with. Subconsciously, I kept hoping someone would come along to help me with this annoying and difficult task. But, I have company coming this weekend and it’s hot here so if I want a nice space to sit on a summer evening then I had to accept that this task was going to be a one-woman job.

And so, I pulled on my big girl boots and got to work. It took many trips but it got done. And, afterwards I hung some of the art and placed a few items where I think they should be. There is still a lot to do. But, my vision is well on its way to becoming real. I sat up there last night, in its stripped down and clean state, watching the sun set and the stars come out. I saw a few falling stars since the Perseid meteor shower is happening in the night sky here right now. It was peaceful and wonderful and I was happy.

Turns out, all I needed to do was sweep aside what I thought was expected of me so that I could see my own vision. And then put in some of my own hard work to realize it. I’ve got a long way to go still but I’m excited about what the future space will hold.

Outdoor art by Lori Dee of Inside Out Art –

Table with shells and a sky spirit –

Dragon in the sun –

Beach treasures –