Monthly Archives: December 2013

I’m Not Perfect. But…….

ID-100178753

But there have been many times in my life that I thought that I should be, or even thought that I was. The silly version of this that I like to imagine saying to someone is: “I’m not a perfect human, but I do play one on tv.” Years ago, I remember television spots where actors that portray certain occupations on shows, say a disclaimer of how they are not REALLY a doctor, lawyer, etc., but they play one on television.

For years, I played the perfect role. I would aspire to do everything just right. If I made a mistake, I would immediately try to resolve it, or at least, obsess about resolving it. I wanted to be the perfect partner, parent, worker, daughter, sibling and friend. Nothing short of perfection would be okay with me.

When I would fall short in my own mind, and not be as perfect as I believed I should be, I would fill myself up with guilt. Guilt was not just some passive result that happened to me, although I would have defined it that way years ago. Guilt was something that I intentionally and methodically would pile upon myself, when I didn’t think that I measured up. When I made a mistake. When I fell short of the expectation that I had of myself, and that I believed others had of me.

The other way that I would attempt to emulate perfection, is by believing that I was perfect, in comparison to everyone else. Gross, but true. I would compare myself to others around me, and feel like such a model human being because I was: sober, skinny, educated, partnered, or healthy. I would use this as a way to hold myself in a superior position to others around me, even with those that I had deep love and respect for.

The results of seeking a life of perfection were all disastrous. For one, I would feel immense guilt, which looked to me like the ultimate self deprecation. I would tell myself what a jerk I was, how insensitive and lame I was. I would take a big opportunity to judge myself for being a failure in my own eyes.

Another result was my desire to judge all of the people around me. When I would make myself perfect, and others around me imperfect, I gave myself permission to judge everyone around me. If I saw myself as different from others around me, I thought that meant I could put myself at the top of the heap.

The biggest result and impact of my quest for perfection, was that it completely disconnected me from those around me, and from deepening my relationships with them. Although I did not see that result at the time, I have come to understand that my deepest fear all of those years was related to connecting more deeply with my loved ones. As long as I could see myself as differently from them, I could stay separated and not have to be vulnerable.

Today, I love my imperfect self. I see how when I shine how beautifully unique and human I am, I get to really connect with my world, and the people in it. I find the commonality among us as human beings, rather than how different I am from everyone.

In embracing my imperfect nature, I have truly set myself free.

woman breathing

A Grown Up Kid Christmas.

ID-10023256

I love Christmas. I love the bustle, the shopping, the cooking and seeing family and friends. I love getting a tree and decorating the house. I love the feeling of warmth, love and goodwill that feels especially present this type of year.

Since I was a small child, I would look forward to Christmas for weeks in anticipation. Whether I was going through the Sears Christmas Wish catalog, bending each page that had a desired gift on it; or planning a special surprise gift for someone in my family; or eating Velveeta fondue with slightly stale french bread cubes on Christmas Eve, it was all magical. I always got excited about the arrival of Santa that evening, and what treasures would be waiting for me when I woke up on Christmas Day.

As I get older, I still enjoy the aspects of Christmas that remind me of being little, that excitement and joy. Yet, there are parts of me that are growing up, and getting more soulful about the holiday. I don’t mean religiously, although that is good for some people. And, I still have a fond recollection that Christmas represents the birth of Jesus, and that feels powerful in my heart to this day. What has grown up for me is the perspective of what, and why, to give gifts to one another.

I love giving gifts to the children in my life especially at this time of year. Toys, clothes, and other items that they most love to receive. For the grownups in my life, though, I find each year to want to make it more simple, and more meaningful. I have spent many years, buying for many people, and enjoying the process, but going way overboard and not really considering what the gift giving is all about for me.

ID-10042717

This year, most of the gifts that I will be giving to the grown ups in my life are homemade gifts. Ones that took care to put together, and have a personal touch for me. And, next year, I want to expand it more and more. I keep deepening into the realization that if I am going to give something to someone, I want it to say something about me, as well as be something that I believe they will enjoy.

I still love putting out the cookies for Santa, carrots for the reindeer, and waking up on Christmas morning with an excitement to see what is in my stocking and underneath the tree. But, what becomes more clear every year, is that I receive so much more, in the gifts that I give to others.

ID-10064767

Change Your Seat.

ID-100139258

Earlier this week, we returned from a weekend trip to Florida, to visit my parents. We had fun, and sun, and many moments’ worth of love and warmth. And, I thought a lot about life, and living a life that I enjoy.

It got me further thinking about how so often in this life, we all at one time or another feel like we are a victim in this world. I have been the victim many times in life, at least in my own mind. Times in my life when I believed that I was powerless to the events and circumstances of my life, and that the world and all of its aspects were out to get me. Sounds paranoid, and dramatic?

That was me being the victim, plain and simple.

I thought a lot of my own history of being the victim, not being made the victim mind you. Making myself a victim in my life. I thought of all of the people in my life that I have known that have done the same at one time or another. As our plane was leaving the ground for Florida last weekend, I thought of the simplicity of my response to victim status:

If you don’t like the view from where you are sitting, change your seat.

ID-10051403

This is not a flip, uncaring response. Think about it. In flight, if someone is afraid of flying, such as me, they may prefer to sit in an aisle seat; others prefer the window. Some of us enjoy sitting in a comfy, cozy chair, while others prefer the hard, stable seating at a kitchen table. Just like we have a choice in where we sit, we have a choice in our perspective about our lives and our circumstances.

When it comes to flying, and my fear of it, the plane, the air, and the elements around me are no more to blame for my fear of flying, than people or situations in my life are responsible for my unhappiness. If I am to build a happy, full life, then that is on me to do. Sure, there have been times when choosing happiness for myself seemed difficult, even impossible, in my own mind. Yet, it only ever takes a simple step, just one step at a time, to change what I am not happy with. To change my seat, my perspective.

It can seem easier at times for me to blame other people around me for not having what it is that I want in my world. I can even feel justified in blaming them. All of us can feel like a “worthy” victim once in a while, because of our childhood, our spouses, or some type of life circumstance that is, or was difficult.

Yet, that is nothing but a trap. The only way that we can ever be happy, and a warrior in our lives, is to take the steps toward the light, and to not blame others because we don’t want to move. Any steps that we do, or do not take, is all up to us.

Life is here, waiting for any one of us to jump in and take part. We just have to sit where we can enjoy the view.

ID-100145863

My Defenses.

ID-10044009

Our daughter had her sixteenth birthday party this weekend, with several friends, lots of food, and teenaged fun. The party was held at our home, the home of my fiancee and I. As the plans were being made for the party, there had been a lot of discussion around whether or not my ex partner would be here. I let her know that she was welcome to come, to help set up, and to stay as long as she liked. She was unclear as to how long she would come for, so I was prepared for whatever her decision was.

When she first arrived with our daughter, it felt a bit awkward. I mean, we rarely sit for any great length of time in each others’ company anymore. Part of that is because we live different lives from one another, and are involved in different activities from one another. The other part is because even when we are both attending activities for our daughter, we sit separately from one another, and we interact, but not much.

It was new territory for me.

What ended up happening is that she arrived early, she helped to set up, she even ran back to her house to take care of some details for the party. She came back, and stayed until the end. She and I helped keep the party going, we talked a lot, and had a meal together. It was an amazing evening. She even had some conversation with my fiancee, and it seemed open and honest. The evening ended with her giving me a big hug before she left.

I have thought about that evening quite a bit since then. What I believe brought such openness to the experience was that I had laid down my defenses, probably for the first time since we have broken up. I have been putting them down, little by little, since we broke up, but more intentionally in the last few months. I have been breaking away my need to control, compare or defend myself when it comes to my ex partner. I have been seeing her with more open, loving eyes. I have been accepting her for who she is more than I even did when we were together.

When I put my defenses down, and stop believing that there is something TO defend, I get to live in the truth of the present moment. I get to speak to her about life, about what is happening with her, and I get to be myself fully without explanation or apology. When I am open, I get to just view her, and myself, as two people in the world that are sharing space for a time, and knowing one another in a different way.

I don’t know if a moment like that will happen again, in the near or far future. And, it really doesn’t matter if it does happen again. Just knowing that I always have a choice, a choice to be open and in truth, is plenty enough for me.

ID-10019673

Being Afraid.

ID-100174490

I got a call from my doctor’s office last week, an unexpected call. They were trying to reach me about some test results. Immediately, even before I spoke with the office, I was filled with complete terror.

I became immediately and desperately afraid of dying.

Now, there was nothing indicating that my death was imminent, mind you. However, I put my faith and trust in what they were telling me as the full story, and that I had to stop what I was doing, pay attention, and do whatever it is that they told me to do, if I wanted to survive and be healthy.

I have been involved with the Western tradition of medical care for most of my adult life, and have agreed to and asked for testing and diagnostic screenings of every kind. In those various tests, issues and concerns have been discovered that might not otherwise have been known about. For that, I am grateful.

However, I also took this opportunity, this most recent time of diagnostic fear, to really look at it and think about what it is that grips me so. It isn’t the idea of being ill: if for some reason, I were to be facing a major health challenge at this point in my life, I feel completely confident that I could fix whatever was ill, and live a long life. I have faith in my own ability to be well, and that I would use whatever means were at my disposal to do so, Eastern and Western alike.

No, it was deeper than that. What gripped me that day of the phone call from my doctor was the fear of the unknown, and more specifically, the fear of death. In my wildest imaginings at that point, I feared dying right now at this point in my life. My life is full, and happy and healthy and full of love. I enjoy being in this body, and being in this world, even if it might be an illusion or a dream. I love living this dream right now. I don’t feel ready or willing to go to what comes next, even if it is more brilliant than I could ever imagine.

That was what being afraid represented to me that day. Yet, what was so calming and amazing to me, is that the fear was short lived. I felt gripped, and powerless and small, and then, I found my deep sense of peace. No matter what happens, no matter what my body has in store for me, or doesn’t, I will be well. As long as I can always come back to a place of peace, no matter what is going on in my outside, or inside world, then all will be well.

No matter what, I can always choose peace.

ID-10072839