Thursday, May 21, 2009

"Belief makes things real...makes me feel...feel allright. Belief, makes things true, things like and I"
Gavin DeGraw
I am truly shocked every time that I watch the Titanic and it sinks. I know we all know the story, but I am earnestly bowled over every time it ends in disaster. Somehow I believe, each time, that they will miss hitting the iceberg and that the authorities will come and save the day. So there I stand on the deck certain that the ship won't sink. Believing to the point where the water is coming up over the deck and the boat is creaking with the sound of the great impending break...believing that there will be a happy ending.

I used to get mad at myself for being so daft and childish...why can't I be more mature like other adults and give up when the odds are stacked against me? When the story looks over? When I can still walk away with my ego intact not looking like a fool while I am seen believing for the impossible. Other people walk away before they look foolish to everyone. Other people walk away way before the dreams in their pockets are exposed...and they look silly for having them in the first place. For whatever reason, I have been unable to lay claim to this pragmatic approach that says, "this is going down...bale". But when I really look at it objectively, what's wrong with believing in the impossible, the fantastic, the unimaginable? Nothing. Dreams keep me alive. Dreams keep me waking up every morning trusting that it is with purpose I arise...or was even born. I would die without the ability to dream and believe in the ether of their substance. When I step back far enough, I see that dreams are the foundation of everything: this computer I type on was a dream in the heart of somebody, somewhere, at some point. The car I so appreciate, that gets me to where I want to go, began as a dream. But not just a dream, but dreaming in the face of the impossible. Dreaming when it didn't make sense. Dreaming when what you have conceived in your soul has never even been processed by the masses...dreaming when what you dream only exists within you! So I say to myself, my adult self, that seeks at times to fit in and look all mature and together and nothing like peter pan...SO WHAT!! What's the joy or the point of looking like everyone else. What power is there in limiting what I can conceive so that it looks believable, plausible and neat to all the other adults? What joy is there for ME to stop dreaming? So what if I look like a fool with dreams in my pockets that I won't and can't let go of! It seems to me, the things that have inspired the heart of humanity and have lived beyond the life of the dreamer were the dreams! So I may never be able to appropriate the correct mask of indifference or the middle ground of half hearted belief and stand knowing I will not look foolish. But I will keep the energy and zest for life that dreams bring me. Someone has to believe dreams do come true. Why can't it be me...why won't they be mine?
Yes, the Titanic sank (even though I am shocked every time). It still sinks, while I believe it will float off to safety. What's the point of believing since it didn't change the ending? What's the point in believing against an already known outcome? Maybe the outcome doesn't always change...but I change. I tap into that well spring of hope that created the world and am transformed a little at a time. Every time I believe against belief, I get lifted. I get strengthened in this place within that makes it harder to destroy me when things don't turn out like I planned. My mother is like this, she is unmovable in the face of adversity. She actually thrives. I mean thrives. So maybe, this is the change that is taking place within me. I am learning to be a builder of inspiration to myself and others. I am learning how to lift humanity up in my own way. So believing when belief has exited, makes me better.
So maybe, just maybe it's not a weakness of mine to believe against all hope. Maybe it's a see something with my eyes and know the natural limitations set forth and to bend that limitation with my heart and...believe. Yeah, cha, maybe it's a strength...keep dreaming.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Sometimes I feel all I have are dreams...all the things that I want are way off in the distance. So hard to find a way to stand still and not fidget with life in my hands as I try to believe God for the unspoken well-wished plan for my days...praying that it won't all go away and shrivel up into dust and leave me with years and fears that pile up to mean nothing.
Sometimes I feel that all I do is hope...has hope tired of me calling on her and holding her hand freakishly tight?
Sometimes I feel that everything I am doing has no meaning...that I am just sauntering through my days. I am doing my best, but I thought that my best would look a bit different: like lions and tigers and bears or a wardrobe that takes you into Narnia, or like chariots of fire, or dead poets society or like...I'm not sure what...just different. Am I the only one who is building her life with the best she can with her fingers in the sand and clay of her days and who hopes that hope will make her life have meaning? I can't be the only one.
The deepest quest of man's heart is to make meaning of his days. To live and to know that this living is fruitful and precious. That this living far extends beyond the days that you occupy space on this earth. That this world would not be the same without you. So with a dexterity I possess in my dreams in the moment where I am wowed by the presence of God in my breath and my soul...I make beauty. The trick is that I have to remind myself, that is what I am doing when it feels like I am just getting by...making breakfast, grocery shopping, writing, exercising, eating, wishing and hoping and...creating. I AM making beauty with my life.
The thing about making something fantastical with one's life is that it often feels So here's to living! Here's to dreaming and hoping and wishing and doing and wandering while you're hoping and wishing!

Friday, May 08, 2009

True self-esteem comes not from knowing you are pretty, smart or beautiful...true self-esteem comes from knowing you have something that no one else has...that you have something special!
Rabbi Shmuley

Look we have all heard that saying, "it's not what's on the outside that counts but what's on the inside that matters". Yeah, yeah, yeah...we have heard this a thousand times. We have told others this same thing to make them feel better about themselves. Hell, we have tossed this back and forth in our own minds trying to lift our selves up! But what we really want, if we are honest, is to look great in a bikini, look hot in a summer dress, wear our jeans so well it causes us to faint, and look at our naked bodies thinking, "if I weren't so modest, this body should be in Play Boy". What we want is to look and feel beautiful and desired. What we want is to feel so good about ourselves that our imperfections don't distract us from the truth of who we are. The question is, how do we get there? How do we really arrive at the place where we feel so great about ourselves and are not just bandaging our esteem up with quip phrases that sound good but mean NOTHING?!

It obviously is not in the 30 pounds we have to lose. It is not in the beauty of our faces or bodies. Nor is it in the brilliance of our minds. There are strikingly gorgeous models who need to inject themselves with drugs, just to get on the run way in order to swagger with a contrived sense of esteem and confidence. There are people who are more beautiful than I could ever hope to be, who still hate themselves and feel worthless. There are those who are smarter than any IQ test would ever qualify me as, who still feel without value. So, what I have learned is that no matter the scenario that I can paint that is perfect and shinny...even there, if I have not assessed my sense of self-esteem correctly...I will lack it. I will still feel less than beautiful, smart or sexy.

We all know that comparing ourselves to one another is damaging and fruitless...but, we DO IT. We all know that when we compare only one of two things occurs, 1) we find ourselves better than what we are comparing ourselves to or 2) we find ourselves less that what we are comparing ourselves to...both are bad. We compare ourselves in attempt to derive a sense of where we are on the spectrum of value. This is inane and fruitless. Instead of looking outward to see my value, maybe I should look within at my unique parts and revel in them. After all, they are mine and mine alone. For some reason the moment I heard Rabbi Shmuley say, "that true self esteem is derived from knowing you have something that no one else had", I could access that and revel in this truth. I. Am. Me. No one else can be me. You. Are. You. No one else can be you!

I found myself walking into rooms with my head held a bit higher knowing that I was the only ME in the room and therefore had something special to bring. And, everyone else in the room had something unique about them as well...nothing I needed to compare myself to...just enjoy. Look, I still want to look smoking in a bikini and divine in a pair of True Religions...but I no longer have to live in limbo waiting to achieve these things before I feel good about myself right now; before I esteem me, CHA! And, I don't have to feel bad about myself, because you look so much better than I in your jeans...besides, I got this little special pill called, CHA-NESS. So what's your pill? And, are you taking it regularly? I know I am...

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Strong women of the Y, strut your tail feathers...
YMCA t-shirt

Yesterday I cried my eyes out. For nothing in particular...just, a general, "I need to cry". I have a lot going on within me: I miss my mom, I want to go home and curl up in the bed with her, I want to smell the ocean and play in the sand, I want a cold beer on the beach, I want to hear the sound of freedom and youth in the palm tree branches as they dance in the trade winds, I feel fat, My skin looks bad (like I am 15 years old and in the middle of a break out), I want a new dress to make me feel pretty, I want my thighs to shrink overnight, I have a lot of hopes and dreams and fears and wishes period is about to start.

So I started thinking about this t-shirt slogan, "strong women of the Y, strut your tail feathers", and wondering what a strong woman looks like. What is the landscape of a soul that is "strong"? When I think of strong, I think of immovable and stoic and untouchable spirit and strength. I think of the kind of person that says, "hah" to danger or to mean people. The kind of people that climb mountains each day and wake up with vigor to climb some more! When I envision a strong woman, I see her bringing home the bacon and frying it up in a pan, changing diapers, wearing heels, looking oh so good, make-up perfect, hair flawless, running in the park after her 3 golden retrievers, training for a marathon while working and parenting full time, writing her memoirs in her spare time (what spare time you ask? I have no idea but she finds it), she is never unruffled, she is on every board, taking every conference call, at every game, her husband thinks she is amazing (as well as everyone who meets her), she knows what she wants when she wants it, she decorates her home in one clean line of decision making, she's doing what she always wanted to do since conception, she always knows the right thing to say and when to say it, she bakes fantastic chocolate chip cookies, does the laundry on time all while hosting the best cocktail parties.

So, you see my dilemma...I am nothing like this. I have only now just figured out what I want to be when I grow up. I am sensitive and sporadic. I am creative and honest. I cry in public if the feeling hits me. I struggle for recipes to make my family dinner. I wash the laundry and wish that it would find its way into drawers in an organized fashion. I think out loud (often talking to myself). I play a song I like over and over again, and again and again. I put on workout clothes and never make it to the gym. I have to wear Spanx to keep all my stuff in place. I have a few wayward chin hairs that seem to always pop up. I mean to do things that I never get to (or get to so much later it hurts). I create art in a flash. I am moved by images. I speak from truth. I encourage others to be who they are and shine. I hold my daughter and feel the urge to eat her whole (her entire being is delicious to me). I write every day...something. I am always excited when something goes well for another. I still dream (the kind of dreams you dream before you started believing dreams don't come true). I put my eye on something and I go all out for it (sometimes falling flat on my face). I don't take compliments well and often try to deflect it with humor. I love heels, but they hurt me after a while. I hate talking on the phone and no one ever wants a conference call with me (whew!). I love making people feel better about themselves ( makes me feel better about myself). I love stories (telling them and hearing them). I think of a new thing to be when I grow up almost daily. I sing in the shower (it's the only place where I think I sound good~even if I don't). I love thinking. I pee with the bathroom door open. I don't own proper pajamas because I sleep naked. And, I am more comfortable with being me than I have ever been (this has snuck up on me...and, I am totally enjoying it).

So, as I contemplate strong women and who they are, and who I am, I am overcome with this possibility: I too may be a strong woman. Oh, I look nothing like how I originally pictured her to be. I am so much more "not together" than she. I still feel awkward in so many of my "adult" moments where I want to say the right thing with the right inflection in my voice (but don't quite cut it). But living has taught me one thing, I am never alone in how I feel. So if these are my assumptions of a strong woman and the realities of my being...maybe she too has parts to her that are not as together as perceived by all who know her. Maybe she feels similarly displaced (maybe not). Maybe it has nothing to do with what you do that makes you a strong woman. Maybe it has nothing to do with how you look. Maybe it has nothing to do with "bringing home the bacon and frying it up in a pan". Maybe it has nothing to do with how many pots you have on the many burners of your life. Maybe it has nothing to do with how many organizations you lead and how much respect you command from the generals and presidents. Maybe...just maybe, it has nothing to do with running the world (all before 5pm)...being everything to everyone. No one can do it all. Even when it looks like they can, they can't. This expectation, this picture I have constructed of a strong woman is the stuff of myths and fables. No one can live a myth and to put that charge over myself is ridiculous.

All I can do is be me, commit to growing and work with the limitations of my being...while honoring me. So, maybe being a strong woman has nothing to do with doing and everything to do with being: being who you ARE and loving her. Thus, every strong woman looks different...she has different habits, different items on her to do lists, different commitments, different desires...none more important than the others, just different. Some are quirky (like me), some are corporate, some have tans, some are pale, some have long flowy hair and look fantastic all the time, some have a bit of a rat's nest atop, some are bald, some walk, some sit, some cook, some order out, some drink wine, some eat chocolate (who am I kidding, we all eat chocolate), some bake, some taste, some are single, some are married, some want kids, some want to visit with yours, some write, some talk, some dance, some swing...
Some do many different things, but we ALL are endeavoring to be who we were born to be. To. Be!

As long as I am being me...I. Am. Strong ~no matter how weak I feel. So, I guess the t-shirt was talking about me...