I’m Not Perfect and I Love Me That Way

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We created this universe so we get to decide our preferences
It seems we created it in such a way that anything goes
And why not?
How uninteresting would it be if we were all living up to some ideal?
Especially one created by someone other than ourselves
Besides being uninteresting, perfection does not exist
At least, not in the way we are led to believe it does

Clouds are perfect
Animals are perfect
Nature is perfect
As part of creation, and as the creator, we are perfect

We are intended to have flaws
To make mistakes
To learn and grow
We are intended to be something other than “perfect”
Not less than “perfect” but other than perfect
And that is where our perfection lies
In just being exactly as we are intended to be
Accepting ourselves, “imperfections” and all, is the best way (maybe the ONLY way) to give ourselves the perspective of Spirit so we can start changing the aspects of ourselves that we truly desire to change

You’re perfectly imperfect and I love you that way.
You can too.

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It’s not about how LONG you spend, it’s about HOW you spend

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How you spend your time in this body
On this world
Whoever planted the idea in our heads that we can and should all change the world, on a global scale, did us all a serious disservice
If you can, and you do, then that’s amazing. Keep it up and thank you!
But when you put an, for most people, unrealistic expectation on a person
An expectation they know they can’t live up to
The tendency is to shut out the possibity completely
Or risk breaking our psyche over feeling useless on this planet

What about the fact that we all DO have the potential and PRIVILEGE to change the world?
Our world
On a local or even intimate level
By spending our time expressing kindness
Expressing gratitude
By sharing LIFE
By being in this moment, as often as possible
In this moment, we don’t have the option to doubt each other or each other’s intentions
Overthinking has no place in this moment
When we live right here, right now, we can take life at face value and enjoy it for what it is
Which can be really incredibly lovely

Why Did I Leave Me Here?

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What’s the struggle?
Why the struggle?
Because it’s what you think you deserve.
You struggle with money, with substance abuse, with body image . . . most of all with wanting someone to love you when you have not yet decided to love yourself.
All things of this world.
You are not of this world. You are of ALL worlds.
You are of all galaxies, all stars, all energy.
THE energy.

So why keep focusing on these things that don’t determine you?
Because someone taught you to?
So what?
You know better now.
You understand in a way you never thought you could.
You are open to all of LIFE now.

Embrace it.

When will you decide to love yourself?
When will you decide to have compassion on yourself?
When will you decide to scoop up all the love that is available to you and share it with everyone you come in contact with?

You have access to all of the LOVE that has ever existed.
You have access to THE LOVE that created existence.
When will you allow that to be the love that you crave and accept?
When will you understand that is the ONLY LOVE THAT EXISTS.
And, therefore, the ONLY LOVE THAT MATTERS.

YOU are NOT tortured
Your mind only thinks it is
Spend less time in your thoughts and more time enjoying this existence that was created FOR YOU
That was created BY YOU
Especially spend time in nature
None of life is good and none of it is bad.

It JUST IS

Enjoy every moment of it for what it is
Enjoy as many moments of it with those you love
No matter how long or short of a time you are here, in this form, on this planet
No matter if you have one life partner or many people you share your being with
Enjoy life with those you have been fortunate enough to be set into existence with
To be placed in this moment with
You placed yourself here with them
They placed themselves here with you
You are in each other’s lives to share LOVE between each other, to fully embrace this life together
That looks like nothing except LOVE
It looks like GOD
Being GOD together

Just Believe for Twenty Minutes

I was recently watching an episode of Doctor Who that I had not yet seen. For any fans, it’s the episode titled, “The Eleventh Hour.” The first episode after Matt Smith has taken over as The Doctor and Amelia Pond is meeting him for the second time, having first met him when she was a child. The world is ending in twenty minutes and The Doctor, as usual, is trying to save it. However, Amelia thinks that The Doctor may just be a figment of her imagination. She’s convinced she’s losing her mind so, in an attempt to give herself more time to sort it out, she closes The Doctor’s tie in a car door and locks it, essentially holding him captive. The Doctor, urgently trying to free himself, tells Amelia, “Just believe me for twenty minutes.” And it works. She lets him go and (spoiler) they save the earth, once again.

Just believe for twenty minutes. That phrase really stood out to me and I found myself imagining the different ways in which I could apply it to my own life.

Self doubt comes to mind first. In any situation where we are unsure of our abilities, couldn’t we choose to believe in ourselves for just a short time? To believe for even just twenty minutes? Just long enough to avoid 20 minutes of anxiety or to get the ball rolling on a new way of viewing ourselves.

I don’t recall where I learned it but, somewhere along the way, someone taught me to break up large tasks into smaller ones to make them more manageable. One way to do this is with time. Tell yourself you’re going to spend just 30 minutes (or 20 or 60) on a task, rather than committing to the entire task, just to get yourself started. More often than not, once you’ve started, you keep going and you get a lot more done than you would have had you avoided the task altogether. The worst case scenario being that you worked on the task for the amount of time you committed to, which is still not a bad scenario.

Couldn’t we apply this same concept to how we feel about ourselves or feel about our abilities to give us just enough empowerment to take action? What if instead of avoiding creating that budget, starting that business you’ve been dreaming of, writing that blog post, or asking out that friendly barista, we told ourselves that we are capable and we are worthy for just a short time. Maybe it’s not possible to believe in ourselves all of the time but pretty much anything can be believed for a short time. When we watch sci-fi or fantasy movies (most movies really), we suspend our disbelief for 90 minutes on average. Why not suspend our disbelief in ourselves for just 20 minutes at a time? Over time, getting used to what it feels like to trust ourselves, we would then have the ability to suspend our disbelief for longer and longer periods of time. Maybe even believing in ourselves more often than doubting ourselves.

Envision what a different life we’d lead if we imagined ourselves into doing things we would normally visualize ourselves too shy or unintelligent or too old or too fat to do. We would start to challenge our long held beliefs about ourselves and about our place in the world just through sheer imagination. If we can imagine or believe ourselves into NOT taking charge of our lives, into staying in our current, inhibiting patterns, routines and habits, then we can most definitely imagine ourselves into DOING what we have always wanted rather than just wishing for it. We hear over and over again that it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. That trying and failing is still success versus not trying at all. But so many things still seem out of reach for many of us. We hold ourselves back. We procrastinate. We tell ourselves, even if in subtle subconscious ways, that we don’t know what we’re doing. We convince ourselves that we will always struggle with money, that we will always struggle with weight/health or with relationships or with all of the above. Yet, for many of us, there are no physical barriers holding us back, only mental ones. So if we can imagine ourselves into a life that we don’t fully love, that means we can CHOOSE to imagine ourselves into a life that we WANT to live. We can imagine ourselves taking first steps without knowing the outcome and imagine ourselves being healthy enough to cope with failures or setbacks, being able to continue on. If we believe for even just a short time that we are capable of anything then that becomes our new reality. We’ve created the life we currently live and the person living it. We can choose to create another life, another us.

“What you do in life chooses you. You can choose not to do it. You can choose to try do something safer. Your vocation chooses you.” – Jim Carrey

“[Peak experience] involves a renunciation of the notion of the perfectibility of man.  Man can be perfect – but for five minutes . . . in a peak experience. Some great moment. It’s possible. But we just can’t stay perfect. You must give up the notion of the permanent heaven. We can get into heaven – but for five minutes. Then you have to come back to the world again.” – Abraham H. Maslow

 

Wholeness

I’ve struggled with the idea of wholeness pretty much my entire life. I’m almost certain that most of us do. It starts out as a subconscious struggle for most. It did for me. I was raised religiously and the whole foundation of religion is based on the premise that a person is not whole without something that exists outside of themselves (god) or, seemingly outside of themselves, at the very least. This is obviously due to misinterpretation of what god is and where it resides or doesn’t reside.

Being raised religiously, among other things, like being indoctrinated with the idea of romance or a soul mate, like pretty much all of Western civilization, and the wellspring of marketable insecurities taken advantage of by those willing and able to line their pockets with our tears and fears, you basically enter this world being told that you need something beyond yourself to give you worth, to justify your existence. That someone is going to swoop down and save you; god, adoptive parents, a best friend, a lover, Santa Clause, Superman, you name it. The illusion has many faces and goes by many names.

I’ve been a first time dog owner (my first dog as an adult that is all mine) all of two months. I’ve had cats for years and I’m an awesome cat mom, if I do say so myself. We definitely share a bond and a vibe. I’ve always wanted to have a dog but never felt I could because I’m gone a lot, traveling to another city for work and enjoyment (I promise this is going somewhere relevant). Once I realized I could get a small dog that enjoyed car rides and didn’t require hours of exercise each day, I decided it was okay to FINALLY adopt a dog. So I did. She’s about 6 years old, I’m told. A small Poodle breed. She was not spayed when I got her and it looks like she may have possibly been popping out puppies for someone at some point, unfortunately. I have since had her spayed, of course. I am told that her owner passed away and the family surrendered her to the shelter. I found her through a rescue. I call her Leeloo. If you know the reference, you get bonus points.

Leeloo was attacked by an off-leash dog this past Friday. Not only an off-leash dog but a homeless man’s off-leash dog. I only mention that part because part of my frustration about the situation is a total lack of accountability. Not because the owner doesn’t WANT to be accountable. He seemed like a nice guy, genuinely upset, and had possibly newly taken possession of the dog so they may not have been very familiar with each other yet.

I’ve had very few violent encounters in my life. This one was, by far, the worst. The dog latched on to Leeloo two different times, the second time latching on to her lower jaw, which she ended up losing a portion of.

As a new dog owner, I had been doing TONS of research about how to deal with a situation like this. I have lots of off leash dogs in the neighborhood where I live. In this case, I was walking in my sister’s neighborhood, which we thought, incorrectly, was safer. Despite my research and efforts, I walked away from the situation feeling completely inadequate. I’ve been replaying the scenario over and over again in my mind, trying to figure out what I could have done differently to prevent it or to lessen the impact.

After beating myself up as much as possible while still trying to be logical, I’ve come to the conclusion that not all traumatic experiences are preventable. Some are. Drinking and driving and killing someone; preventable. Have a designated driver, use a shared ride service. You get the idea.

However, in a situation like this where your options are to trust the world enough where you can walk to the park and back with your dog or to stay inside and make both your dog and yourself miserable, the thing to do is to go outside. Get fresh air, get exercise, feel good. Your dog will thank you. In the rare circumstance where something horrible does happen, like it did to Leeloo, you might start questioning your decisions, like I did.

So then it comes down to this; what did you really lose or gain in that moment? The moment itself was incredibly stressful, for sure. But what about beyond that? They say that dogs have the special talent of always living in the moment and, after that, they look to you, their pack leader, for an indication of how they should feel and what they should do; who they should fear or who they should protect you from. I have to say, after it was all over, Leeloo’s little jaw hanging from her face, she seemed to have no idea that anything was wrong. I was definitely more traumatized by the experience than she was. I am taking a lesson from her; if you live intentionally in the moment, there will be such rare instances when you wish you were somewhere or some time else.

My guilt eating away at me, of course, I couldn’t help but think about the difference it would have made if I had taken a different route, perhaps reacted a different way or fought smarter to free Leeloo from the other dog’s bite. But I kept finding myself at the same place; how could anyone predict what was going to happen, how it was going to happen and how a domesticated wild animal would have reacted to any of it? They couldn’t. And that’s finally what I’m allowing myself to believe.

So now that we’ve gotten through the blame game, what do we have left? Loss and experience. Leeloo lost part of her lower jaw and she’s in pain, which we are relieving with pain medication from the vet. I was also slightly physically injured in the scuffle, which I’m reminded of daily, but my physical pain and suffering is much less severe than Leeloo’s. More than anything, I lost any fleeting sense of security I may have once had when walking a dog. Just owning a dog feels like I have invited chaos into my life.

So what does that mean? Did security from dog attacks ever exist? Absolutely not. Instead my outdoor walks in neighborhoods where dogs reside, some off leash, increased significantly. Therefore increasing my chances of meeting an off leash dog. Not to mention the fact that I now own a dog, which makes those chances even greater since dogs are generally dog aggressive rather than people aggressive. So this was not a sign to tell me what a shitty dog parent I am. This was simply a numbers game stacked against me. Leeloo and I were just in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong dog.

As far as experience, for my entire life I’ve been holding onto this notion that I’m preserving something. Almost like preserving youth or innocence. Part of my guilt over Leeloo was feeling that I should have better protected her. That I could have done more and she would have lost less. She’s back home with me now. She’s on medication so she stumbles around a bit but she’s eating food, drinking water and doing dog things just fine. She needs a bit of help right now but she doesn’t seem to have lost anything. And, if dogs truly live in the moment, like dog experts say they do, then she has no cause for alarm. Her world is exactly as it was and will be even more so in a week or two when she is completely healed up and doesn’t have to take any more medication, which she hates.

The situation has gotten me thinking; are we really anything without our experiences? If we can straight up live in the moment like dogs do then more power to us; we will rarely suffer. But, most people I know can’t or won’t live in the moment, at least not for every moment of their lives. So their next best option is to strive for understanding. Understanding that we are not here to protect anything. We are not here to make anything whole or to be made whole. We are already whole. Any perceived loss we experience only enlightens us to who we are at our core, what we truly have faith in and what we’re capable of. No one ever found out just how capable of surviving they were without at least feeling heat from the flames. Or without fighting off the aggressive dog. A moment of intense loss or pain tells us more about ourselves than any happy, carefree or even peaceful moment ever could.

Edit Sunday 11/26/2017:

I’ve had several people approach me about assisting with Leeloo’s vet bill. I’ve decided to set up a Go Fund Me Campaign. If you would like to donate or share, the link is https://www.gofundme.com/help-vet-bill-leeloo Any and all help is very much appreciated.

Mean Grandma

One of my childhood memories, that stands out to me most, is a visit to my grandparents’  home when I was probably somewhere between four and six years old. We were there for Thanksgiving, I believe, so it would have been fall and the sun would have been setting early so we arrived after dark.  I remember taking a paper bag full of toys out of the car and attempting to walk into the house with it only to be stopped short by my grandma who was blocking the entrance to the house with her body. We called her Grandma but you’d think she would have insisted on being called Grandmother. She was that kind of stern. She promptly told me that there was no way I was bringing those toys into her home and informed me that we would actually be sleeping in the barn. Ouch.

Sleeping in the barn isn’t as terrible as it sounds. Or maybe it was. We weren’t sleeping on hay or anything. It’s a huge barn with a finished floor and normal beds but open to the natural barn ceiling where bats flew back and forth all night. At this stage in my life, I mostly played with one of my older brothers so I was of the mindset that I was much tougher than I actually was (you have to be if you want to hang with older brothers). So I convinced myself that I was not afraid of the bats, or the dark. . . and that I was totally okay without my mom, who was sleeping in the main house with one of my sisters, still a baby at the time.

I wasn’t alone. I had four of my siblings with me. But more than the bats, the thing that haunted me the most was how unkind my grandma seemed to be, even to me, a little kid. I thought grandmas were supposed to LOVE little kids. My best friend had the perfect grandma. She was short and stocky which made her an excellent hugger. She was a great cook and always cooked huge breakfasts with tons of choices. She smiled a lot and made you feel welcome. She even sent my best friend money in a card for her birthday! How come I couldn’t have gotten a grandma like THAT?!

My grandma was standoffish and private. She seemed to speak only directly to my mom. If she did speak to us, it was to enlist us to help with chores. That was about the extent of our interaction. Even though we only lived a couple hours away, we didn’t visit very often and, when we did, I made it a point to spend most of my time outdoors where I wouldn’t have to encounter her. I spent my entire childhood calling my grandma “Mean Grandma” to my friends. It seems that mean grandmas are indeed pretty rare as I have yet to meet anyone who shared this experience.

As an adult, looking back, I see that my grandma is just kind of reserved and not necessarily a great communicator with children or adults. And that’s totally okay. Everyone communicates differently and not everyone is in tune with the needs of children.

A few years ago, my grandma had a stroke and lost most of the mobility on her left side. My parents take care of her in her home so that she doesn’t have to stay in a facility with strangers. Although the few times she has had to stay when recovering from an injury, the people that take care of her in the facility are really great, loving people. I’m not convinced it would be that terrible but she misses home when she’s there. The home she lives in is the home she spent most of her growing-up years in. It’s also the home she took care of her own mother in, until her mother’s death. It’s been in the family for over 70 years. She feels safe there. Which is extra important because she also has dementia. That feeling of security is vital for those living with dementia because so much of their world can seem out of place and confusing at times.

Just a few months ago, my mom was diagnosed with cancer. She is going through treatments and doing well. She’s tired sometimes but her spirits are always high. The cancer did attack her bones in her hip area so, while the bone strengthening treatments are working and enabling her to walk without support, she is still not quite able to do everything she was able to do before. Which is why, and how, I have come to be the one that showers my grandma.

If you would have asked me even five years ago, I would not have been able to predict that showering my mean grandma would be on my to-do list.

Almost exactly four years ago, I was fortunate enough that the company I work for agreed to allow me to work from home. I was living in Austin, TX at the time, as I had followed my job there but, since I was now able to work from home, I was also able to move anywhere in the U.S. that I desired. I had been living in Austin for five years and felt I was missing out on time with my parents, now in their 60’s, so I decided to move about ten minutes away from where my parents (and grandma) live. When I first moved back, Grandma was a little more mobile than she is now so we were able to, not so easily, take her out to eat and on little adventures in the area, like to one of the local historical homes that they treat as a museum. I’m pretty sure my grandma actually KNEW the people that had lived there when it was still occupied. Through these adventures, I was able to connect with my grandma, not as who she had been, but who she was right now. While those who had been close to her most of their life felt they were losing her to dementia, I, on the other hand, was developing a relationship with her for the first time.

Over time though, of course, our bodies decline and Grandma, almost 88 years old now, is not as able as she was even four years ago so our adventures are now turned more toward watching old movies, coloring and reading books about Thomas Jefferson establishing the world (according to Grandma). Our newest adventure, of course, being shower time.

Shower time is not easy. Shower time involves lots of bending, scrubbing, lifting, sweating and splashing water on the wood floor (to both my parents’ and Grandma’s dismay – Maybe you shouldn’t put wood floors in a bathroom, just sayin’).

But there’s also something really special about shower time. It’s our quiet bonding time. We talk very little but communicate so much. It’s gentle and safe and, right now, it’s just ours.

No one jumps for joy when selected to be the one to give their elderly loved one a shower but experiences like this can often be great revealers of truth and I’ve found that I’m learning quite a bit. I’m learning about caring, selflessly, for another person. About helping that person feel supported and safe. About feeling closeness without words. About doing something for someone else with absolutely no expectation of receiving some kind of award or acknowledgement. My grandma does acknowledge me though. She simply looks me in the eyes and whispers, “thank you,” when it’s just me and her. It brings tears to my eyes every time. I can see what this means to her.

One of the best things I’ve learned through spending this time with my grandma, I learned through repetition. I started noticing that she was calling me her “little baby granddaughter” to all of the hospital staff during her appointments. At first I didn’t think much of it. She’s old, she has dementia, this is probably just something she says. Besides, I have two sisters. They are also her little baby granddaughters, surely. But then eventually she expanded on it. She went on to tell me about the first time my mom brought me to visit after I was born. How my great grandma, her mother, had made a special dress for me. She even described the dress. She described how excited she was to meet me and how tiny I was. So when she was describing me to the hospital staff, she was describing me as a literal baby. The baby she remembers meeting, vividly it seems, for the first time. Then it hit me, that I am the eldest granddaughter and what a treat that must have been for her and her mother, as it was for my own parents. This is not something she is saying without meaning. This is a special moment in her life that she is looking back on and cherishing. She’s cherishing ME. And she’s been cherishing me since that day, back in 1981, when we first met.

What the Woodpecker Knows

The Woodpecker knows his role, his purpose, his talents

He goes about his day, without hesitation, drilling his way into trees, finding his dinner

He never doubts what his beak is designed for

He doesn’t doubt any of the actions he takes; flying, drilling, drumming on trees

He doesn’t think, he just does

He never worries if other birds or animals are judging his methods or if he’s making too much noise

He never once questions the outcome of his actions

He knows instinctively that his actions will result in what he intends because the actions are ingrained in him as truth, they are who he is

Trees and grass don’t think, they just grow

They do what they are designed to do

They exist in their truth

Nature’s intuition?

We must take cues from nature

She is here to remind and instruct

Do what you are intended to do

Share the gifts you have been entrusted with

The people who are destined to benefit from your gifts and experiences depend on you to know what the Woodpecker knows

To know that you can do no wrong, but that you can do SO MUCH GOOD, when you are doing what you are designed to do

Be who you are. Exist in your truth.