A Drop in the Ocean.

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Since fairly early in my life, I have had a desire to save the world. I have believed in the most heartfelt way, that I wanted to offer something of myself to others in a way that would be beneficial to them. I have also believed in a world that could, and would, change for the better through my efforts.

Over the years, I have done various jobs and work in the world in order to help facilitate that change, and to save the world, and the people in it, from themselves. I have worked with at risk children in foster care. I have been support to elderly persons who were ill. I have been an advocate for women who were in abusive relationships. And, most recently, I have been assisting in putting a personal face to the names of people with mental health issues, and the treatment that they seek. And, all of those jobs have been daunting ones. There are a lot of people out there who need help and support. A LOT.

There are days when I feel really ineffective, and frustrated with getting people what they need, or frustrated that they don’t want the assistance. I feel like what I have to offer seems like so much, yet what it brings to that person, or the system, is merely a drop in the ocean. It doesn’t make a bit of difference in the whole, big scheme of things.

Then, I remember a couple of key beliefs for me that help. The first one is, that in order to have the world around me change, I only need change myself. For me, that means to be present and in the moment, as often as possible. For me, that means choosing love and peace, rather than fear and disconnect, in every relationship in my life, including those with whom I work.

It also means that I remember what being a drop in the ocean really means. I can look at it as a way to feel really small, and even insignificant, in a world that feels so massive and unreachable. Or, I can remember that we are all that drop in the ocean. We are all unique and universal at the same time. So, that drop in the ocean, IS the ocean.

I don’t know what is going to happen in this world on a big scale. But I do know that I am changing it, by who I am and what I do, in every moment.

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Conditional Love.

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Throughout the majority of my life, I have considered myself to be a lover. I have most often seen myself as remaining in a feeling of love with those around me. I often find myself feeling open, and responsive to people, whether they are close to me or I am just getting to know them. However, if I am being fully honest, I would say that the love that I hold for just about everyone in my life is conditional in some way.

Now, it doesn’t mean that I don’t love people as they are, or accept their unique qualities. But my love for others comes with expectations, with a demand of sorts of how I want things to be. So, therefore having conditions to it. Even when I thought about this post, and trying to find an exception to this in my life, I couldn’t do it.

Even in my most fulfilling relationships of love, with my family in particular, I have expectations that are deeply conscious, and some that are further below the surface, when I am interacting with them. The expectations are always centered around what I want of their time, attention, or approval. Expectations that I feel entitled to, in order to feel secure and fully loved by the person.

I don’t belittle myself for feeling this way, and I don’t feel funny about the fact that I believe that we are all this way. As humans, it is difficult, if not impossible, to unconditionally love anyone. Even our children who we would give anything for. Along with that love comes expectations that things need to be a certain way. And, mind you, some of those expectations, whether of our children, parents, coworkers, or friends, are not always completely self centered or unreasonable.

Still, we do have expectations, and at the worst of times, we beat ourselves up for having them, and even though we hate to admit it, at times withholding our love for when those expectations are most consistently met.

I am so grateful for awareness! As a human being, I know that I have conditions and expectations of others, but I always get to be in tune with what those expectations are, am I being honest about them with the other person, and if they are reasonable at all. And, I also get to keep reminding myself, that just because a person in our lives does not meet our expectations, even if they are reasonable, does not mean that we and the other person shouldn’t still be loved for who they are.

The truth is, when we have expectations in place, without regard for who the people we love are as unique beings, we don’t allow any room for our humanness. We don’t give ourselves the opportunity to truly accept other people where they are at, and love them in all of their forms and behaviors. The truth is, even if we love on a conditional basis, we still get to simply love.

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The Face of Innocence.

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I went to Hershey Park this week with my little family. We had a great time, riding rides and screaming at the water park going down water slides, eating ice cream and kettle corn and pizza. It was a full vacation for us all crammed into 14 hours of fun. And, the whole day that I was there, I was so present my little kid that is always inside of me.

That little girl that is always with me is hard to forget. She is silly, kind, full of heart and spunk. She goes out to the store in her pajama bottoms to make a fun breakfast, or dances in the street when she is happy. She is hard to forget, that is, until I forget her.

I forget her on the days when I most want to give myself a hard time about something. My triggers are usually around my body. When I want to really hate on myself, and not look upon myself with eyes of love, I forget about my little girl inside. I forget the beautiful, timeless, sweet innocence that resides inside of me, in every moment of my life.

As I have grown up, I have gotten really good at being a grownup. Consumed with all things adult, such as earning a living, choosing a career, and settling down. And, amongst those adult responsibilities and duties, I have remembered that my little girl was so close, and laughed out loud, or acted silly for no particular reason. But, more often than not, I would forget about that innocence, even neglect it, by pretending that it could no longer exist.

In some of those moments of adulthood, what seemed more worthy to me at any given moment, was to give myself over to being serious and intense, and forgetting about the joy of the moment. I would start to doubt myself, berate myself, and give myself a hard time for being me, for being a human in this world just trying to do her best.

Then, last week, after a particularly rough few days of self hatred, Brenda suggested that I put a picture of my little self on my dresser, and on my desk at work. After all, it is pretty hard to look upon that cute face above and find something to hate about it. Even for me.

So, I did just that. The picture is from New Year’s Day, probably when I was three or four years old. That smile is enough to beat the band. I am wearing a dress, on my tricycle, and feeling like a party is in the works. I am happy, and open, and free. And, the kicker is, whether I am looking at the photo or not on any given day, I ALWAYS get to choose to remember my child inside, my own sweet innocence. That beautiful face.

So, this week at Hershey reminded me that I can capture those moments as a grown up too, and still capture that little girl within. Today, I am so happy to remember that I always have a face of innocence. I just have to be willing to see it.

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The Illusion of Perfection.

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For much of my life I have been striving for perfection. Whether I wanted to be the perfect student, perfect daughter, perfect mother or citizen, it was always a goal for me. And, even though I knew on some intellectual, realistic level that perfection is impossible, I still tried to become perfect in all ways.

And somehow, I don’t believe that I am alone in this pursuit. I believe that most of the persons that I have met in my life, and have had some sort of relationship with, were trying to aspire to be perfect in one or more areas of their lives. And the truth is, it is a totally lost cause.

We may be able to tell ourselves that from time to time. But the reality of it all is that we keep trying to be the most perfect human we can be. And, the real reality is, is that by nature of being human, it is impossible to be perfect.

So we keep trying, and trying and trying, to do it anyway. And, then we become so sick of our inability to be perfect at something, we decide to perfect the art of self loathing, self hatred, shame about who it is that we are. We berate ourselves incessantly about not being the perfect size, weight, age or social status.

For the last week, I have done the deed with sheer beauty, of telling myself just how gross I am. Because I weigh more than I did three years ago, because I feel like my shorts are a bit tighter after a few July 4th celebrations, I give myself permission to be a hater, a hater of myself. It is awful. It is painful. And, the truth is, I choose it. Until the time that I don’t.

When I am not busy doing this, I am in the realm of knowing that I am imperfect and flawed, and pretending to others that I am perfect on the outside. I act like I have it all under control, while on the inside I am a complete mess. Am I alone in this pursuit? I think not.

What is the answer? One way to handle it is to continue to live a dual life, being imperfect but pretending otherwise, and struggling with that angst through most of your waking, and maybe even, sleeping moments. However, there is another option. One that brings more peace and balance.

Embrace your imperfections. Now, as I say this to you, believe me, I am saying it to myself as well, because I need to keep hearing it, keep believing it. We as a human grouping are deliciously and beautifully flawed, unique in our imperfections, quirks and behaviors. Yet, that is what makes us lovely, and relatable, and balanced and free. For when we remember that we don’t have to be anything, except who we really are, on the inside and outside, to everyone, we can breathe a sigh of relief that we don’t have to hide anything anymore.

Are you ready? I know I am!!!

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True Freedom.

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Think about a time recently when you have been around children, or at least been able to observe their behavior. What we often observe when watching children is their ability to laugh, play, and explore their world, particularly if they are toddlers. Toddlers, once able to move about freely in their world, are on a mission to discover everything and have a high level of curiosity.

I love being around children, and up until just a few weeks ago, I never had a full understanding of why that is. I always knew that I found them fun and entertaining, and I enjoy that they often want to be physically close to us, by being held or sitting nearby. Yet I discovered another important aspect of the source of my joy around them.

In the Four Agreements, Dom Miguel Ruiz speaks about the process of domestication which he believes all humans are subject to. Over the course of our lives, we grow more apart from the joys of the world, and instead, begin to follow the rules and structure of the world around us, through a process of repetition and influence of those in our world. Over time, many of us become sad, tired, irritable, hopeless, and more like robots than living. We go through the motions of our lives and forget that there is joy waiting for us.

Small children have not yet been subjected to our human domestication, at least not an intensely as it will be a bit later in life. They are still full of hope, promise and magic. They believe in things unseen and then find wonder in every object that they put their hands on. They love freely, they embrace others without judgment, and they are not self conscious about getting dirty or having a meltdown.

So, when I am around children, I remember that part of my self that still lives in me, the magical, funny, silly self that shows my uniqueness without shyness, and expresses my emotions without shame. I remember that only in this moment is their pure beauty, and in this moment is when I can feel closest to my Higher Being. I remember that unless I am purely my self in this world, then I am not free.

And, freedom is what it is all about.

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