Gentleness. Grace. Broken. Heart. Sharp. Bleeding. Dreams. Life. These words (and many more) describe the unbelievably courageous women in my life.
"She had blue skin.
And so did he.
He kept it hid
And so did she.
They searched for blue
Their whole life through,
Then passed right by —
And never knew."
If anyone tells you that they have never worn a mask, I'm not sure I would believe them. As humans, we are trained by our culture in infancy to adapt to situations and people, and our primitive instincts tell us to become who we need to be in order to have the best possible outcome for having our emotional and physical needs met. When we are young, we learn to pretend. Imagination is the beautiful side of pretending. Masks are the tragic side, because they whisper "Who I am isn't ok."
Whatever the reason we once put on a mask, I would like to ask you one question. Do you still need it?
Surround yourself with people with whom you don't need a mask in order to survive. Because who you are, raw and vulnerable and mask-less, is exactly who your world needs. There has never been, and never will be, any other YOU. Let that sink in. Let your blue shine!
“Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I'll try again tomorrow.”
- Mary Anne Radmacher
In working with clients, speaking with friends and family, and even within my intrapersonal dialogue, I notice the struggle to acknowledge all we are doing well. For me, it can be honoring the strength it takes to manage the chaos of family life, along with the demands and rewards of work, and caring for myself in small, yet meaningful ways. It takes courage to face each day and tackle ongoing challenges.
What areas of your life are you showing courage? In what ways do you continue to persevere and refuse to give up?
"Our greatest gifts and our deepest wounds reside in the same area"
- Michael Meade
Both gifts and wounds are matters of the heart. This makes me think about resiliency. Resiliency is born of struggle, pain, and difficulty. It is impossible to see a person's resiliency if they have not been through something that tests it. Resiliency is what allows us to not just survive wounding events, but to overcome and even thrive.
When you take a moment and look inside the place that holds your gifts and your wounds, what do you see?
Which gifts have even been born of your wounding? For me, my gift of being a safe person to hear, and lovingly hold, someone's story, comes partly from wounds in my heart.
What about you?
Alicia and I started our group this week. We had ten brave women show up in force because they want to learn to be kinder and more compassionate towards themselves. It promises to be a powerful intersection of 12 hearts (including ours), all working towards the same goal. Because let's face it, we struggle with self-compassion as much as anyone does. Given that it is International Women's Day, we wanted to give honor to the ten women who began their journey with us this week, and celebrate women worldwide. Let us dig deeper into what it means to love and support on another, and most of all ourselves. When you can experience it on the inside, you'll have even more to share with others, flowing from a place of abundance.
“If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.”
- Jack Kornfield
Imagine if you were able speak to yourself in a way that mirrored the language you use with a beloved friend. How much different would you feel if you treated yourself with as much care as you do those you love and respect?
Self-compassion is an attribute that heals your soul and allows you to move forward from mistakes with loving forgiveness. It is not always easy, yet it is always worth the effort. As you practice creating a better relationship with yourself, you are bound to notice an improved outlook in all facets of your life.
“When I loved myself enough, I began leaving whatever wasn’t healthy. This meant people, jobs, my own beliefs, and habits – anything that kept me small. Now I see it as self-loving.”
- Kim McMillen
Do you ever stumble upon a thought or quote that seems directly related to you and your unique experiences? Because I have been working at giving myself permission to say no to things that are not fulfilling and working for me, I am finding opportunities to pursue things that are of more intrinsic worth. And while difficult, I recognize as a I leave things that are not working, I feel more self-compassion and have more space in my heart to accept myself and honor the person I am striving to become.
Give yourself permission to decline an invitation, to walk away from a draining relationship, to turn away from what is not working in your life. In the process, you might give yourself more time and freedom to care for yourself.
"You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out, and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."
- Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit
Becoming. Being. Words that sound either peaceful or frightening, depending on where you are in your life and in your acceptance of yourself. I have heard the inability to "be" described as a spiritual crisis - as in, it is a fundamental rejection of and break from our authentic, raw, messy self. Which is the ME we are meant to be. When we cannot Be, we cannot Become. And if we listen to the wisdom held in this children's book (one of my favorites!), if we cannot Become, we cannot be Real.
I want to be Real, even if it means that my fur is loved off and my joints are loose, because my heart will be rid of the shame of being seen, and filled with a compassionate love for myself. THEN I can offer Real love to those I love most.