Tag Archives: being judgmental

The lines that we draw.

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I have been thinking a lot lately about boundaries, rules, and ways in which we decide what is right and wrong for us. In our society, there are rules, laws, and structures that are in place that guide the way that we drive; make money; raise our children; and take care of our property. In our workplace, the policies and procedures that exist let us know what is okay, in the eyes of our employer, and what is not. If we go to church or follow some religious affiliation or practice, there are definite expectations of what is allowed, and what is forbidden.

However, we all have lines that we draw also in our internal world. They exist for us around food, drugs, alcohol, weight, and appearance. They dictate within ourselves whether we want to have that cheesecake, or do those extra 100 sit ups. Our internal lines let us know when we are in sync with where we most want to be and when we are falling out of step with what we expect from ourselves.

And, my thoughts around these lines that we draw within ourselves is that they can create real conflict for us. For example, when I stopped drinking alcohol for two years, living a sober life seemed like the right choice for me. The line in my mind was that alcohol, and other drugs, were not for me, because they created chaos in my life and I didn’t need them. When I made a conscious decision one year ago to have a drink, and many times since then, I often wondered where my new line would be. Would I restrict my drinking to only once a week? Only one glass at any given time? Would I limit it to wine, or would I allow myself liquor also? Does that mean that marijuana was okay now?

The conflict was not in establishing a new line; as human beings, we all are able to change our minds and we all have the capacity for change. However, the need for me to create that line gives me permission to judge myself when I fall short. So, if I have that second glass of wine, I am a bad person that can’t handle her liquor. That is what my first instinct is to tell myself, anyway. And, if I am willing to judge myself about the lines that I have drawn for myself, you can be darned sure that I am giving myself permission to judge others as well.

The truth is, there are rules, regulations and structures in place for a reason in our society, to keep us and those that we love and live in community with safe and sound. However, when it comes to the lines that we draw within ourselves, they are often an opportunity to judge and berate ourselves for just being human, just being in the presence of living our lives. And, when we draw those lines, we most likely not only keep ourselves inside of them, we keep other people OUT as well. We distinguish ourselves from those around us as if we are on this journey all on our own. Or, as if our needs, fears, and insecurities are unique only to us.

So, the best that I can do on any given day, is to make choices in the moment, that feel most loving and in sync within myself, and that enable me to continue to connect with my world and those around me. I want to continue to build a life that is free of regret, guilt, and shame, simply for being the flawed, unique, and beautiful human being that I am.

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Passion.

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Ever since I wrote a career paper in high school, or maybe even junior high school, I have wanted to be a social worker. When I was fourteen, that meant helping other people that needed my help, because they couldn’t do it for themselves. When I was in my undergraduate classes, I learned that social work meant to assist others in learning how to help themselves, empowering them to do it on their own. Since that time, right up to now, I have believed on and off that I have the answers for someone else, and that I want them to be able to sustain themselves, without my assistance.

The one thing that was always present, however, has been passion. Passion for the work, and passion for the right for persons to be able to live a life that is happy, free and secure. My passion has taught me how to be a fierce advocate; an open spokesperson; and a person committed to justice and equity. It has meant many nights crying about what I was not able to do; about what didn’t turn out the way that I had hoped. It has also meant moments of tremendous joy, and promise, and above all, hope for a better life for persons that I was helping, and a better world for all of us.

Today, it was no exception. I arrived at my job, full of promise of a new day; ready to take on any situation that I might face whether it be a challenge or one that came with ease. Just as I was ready to leave for the day, I got a phone call, from a parent that was distraught over something that she had been told about her child. I listened. I explained. I empathized and offered encouragement, and assured her that I would get her the answers that she needed. And, when I hung up, I felt spent. Tired. Discouraged. I felt like no one was listening to this person in the “system” that she saw herself up against, and I was her voice.

I love being an advocate. I love being the voice for those that aren’t ready to speak for themselves. I desire truth and demand it of myself and others. Yet, I get tired. I get judgmental. Not too long ago, I would have been judging that parent for not taking “proper” care of her child, rather than today, judging the system that was giving her bad information. So, today I judged the system instead. I cried. I learned some valuable lessons about the persons that I serve, that I support, and that no one of them, whether they are in the system, or a family, or a co worker, are no different than myself. We are all trying to figure it out, asking the questions, getting the answers, fighting the good fight. Today, I understand yet again, how important it is for me to speak up, but also to remember that we are all in this. Whether we are representing the person who is oppressed, the oppressor, or a bystander, we are all learning. We are all trying. We are all only ever putting forth our best effort.

And tomorrow, I will wake up, ready for the day, and full of passion to go at it all again. And, if the day comes that the passion is gone, then I know it is time for me to go.

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Just Ask.

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I am travelling for my job this week, and while I enjoy the trips, and the opportunity to see new places, eating when I am away from home can be a challenge. Besides being tempted to snack constantly in the car on the way from and back home, and the necessity to eat less freshly prepared food as I would have at home, I had a new challenge this trip. I have recently adopted eating a mostly vegan way of life, and that has been an interesting transition.

I did the basics, right? I looked up on the internet the places that are vegan, or at least, vegetarian friendly, and pretty local to where I am staying. Sounds simple, but the options, although there were a few, were limited for an area that appears to be a larger city than where I live. So, I knew that if I didn’t want to go far from my hotel, and also not be so limited in my choices, I would need to go to a place local to the hotel, and ask for what I wanted, and needed.

ASK FOR WHAT I WANT. What a concept.

I am not making light of this, believe me. I know how difficult we can make it, particularly myself, in this case, to ask for what I want. I recall a time when I was a college student, and was going through the lunch line. I had asked for a cheeseburger, and I was given a hamburger. Although my friend who was with me insisted that I go back and get what I asked for, I didn’t want to bother anyone. I didn’t want to be uncomfortable, to stand up and ask for what I really wanted.

That theme has continued throughout my life, in many different scenarios. It was easy in situations when I got what I wanted to begin with; then I never had to speak up. But in those in which I had to specifically ask for what I wanted, or needed, I would often, instead of that, go along with whatever was offered to me. I would be happy with that, but not completely satisfied.

The place where it got most tricky for me though, is that then I would blame the other person, for one reason or another, for not giving me what I wanted. Either I thought that they could literally read my mind; or that they must have been able to tell from the “signals” I was giving them what I really wanted. I always found a way to make it about the other person, rather than myself and what I needed to do differently.

Today, I know deeply what I can do differently, and what I want to do differently. I know that I want to not only not blame other people for me not getting what I want. Bigger than that, is that I want to ASK for what I want, with a feeling of self assuredness and humility. Will I always get what I want as a result of that? Who knows. What I do know, though, is that having my voice, and using it in a way that is loving and respectful, to myself and others, is the only way to be my true self in the world.

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The Swan.

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Today, the medicine card that I drew for myself was the swan card. Grace. Beauty.

The way the story goes is that the ugly duckling turns into a beautiful swan. Transformation. The growth process of going from ugly, underdeveloped and awkward to beautiful, graceful, lovely.

I have chosen this card many times before. I have read something different in it each time. Today, what was so amazing for me about it, is that I finally took full accountability for what it is the real meaning is for me.

For me, it is definitely about transformation; the process of transforming from ugly to beautiful. However, today it hit me full force that the transformation that I believed in previously, was one in which I become beautiful.

The real truth is, I have ALWAYS been beautiful.

There was no need for me to learn, grow, evolve or become something or someone different. Sure, all that is happening, and I feel the better for every bit of it. However, the beauty has always been inside of me. The perfection exists in this vessel of a human.

The transformation, is in the opening of my own eyes to realize this. Not just to see it, but to have the faith and belief that it has been there all along.

I have done, said, and been involved in many things in my life, for which I may not have felt regret, but I have certainly felt sorry for, and even at times, ashamed of. I have judged myself numerous times for decisions made that I wish had been different at the time; or ways that I have disconnected from those that I love rather than join with them.

Today, if I am to be impeccable, I need to move beyond that. I can take responsibility for my actions, without berating myself for it, or judging myself harshly. I no longer have to tell myself that I am fat, or stupid, or mean. I don’t have to say that I am too proud or too scared to try something new.

I don’t have to rush through my life.

My self that exists right now, has always been, and always will be, sheer perfection and utter uniqueness. It seems that I am finally ready to see the swan that has been there all the time.

Whimsy!

I bought myself a new vacuum cleaner recently. And, just for fun, I have decided to name it.

My new vacuum is named Calliope. The Greek muse of heroic poetry.

Naming of my vacuum, seems silly, right? I am viewing it a bit differently, as in, I am being whimsical, looking to find fancy and delight in my every day occurrences. Enjoying the moments and creating fun in them whenever possible. Being light instead of heavy.

Leaving drama behind and having a sense of humor about it all.

For so much of my adult existence, even my child years for that matter, I have taken myself, and the world, so seriously. Taken on the ills of the world into my own being; listened to the struggles of others and made them my own; been dramatic and reactive about situations in my life that were truly manageable and not so serious.

Today, I am freeing myself up. I want to enjoy my life, and I want to keep it in perspective. Instead of worrying about how often I am vacuuming my living room, how about just giving it a name, like Calliope, enjoying the color it adds to my home, and having fun with it all?

When I would take in the problems of the world, or the issues of others, I always felt so noble, so heroic.

So better than.

Today, I can listen, empathize, and support those around me that are struggling with one life issue or another. I can advocate and stand for those that cannot stand for themselves. However, I don’t have to make all of that which occurs about myself. It really has little to do with me. When I make it about me, I stop being there for the other person. I become selfish and self absorbed about it, rather than loving and giving to them.

I also stop having fun with life when I do this. I go to dramatic, rather than whimsical, fun and adventurous.

So, today, I am enjoying my Saturday, by eating french toast and bacon at 2:30 PM; walking a wooded trail; having a bubble bath; and saying words like whimsy and Calliope.

It is a great day.