Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Worn Thin

I feel like there is a lot I need to get out but I'm not sure what it all is. I am so utterly and totally exhausted from moving. And so very glad it's over! It's been the hardest job I've ever had to do. Being a single mom and trying to move a pack-ratted two bedroom into a cute little one bedroom is a task of magic for sure. The hardest part (I think) has been the emotional drain of too many opinions around me. I know that we all judge one another. It's automatic. Something is different from our own experience and therefore we think it's "wrong" or should be changed. The unfamiliar makes us uncomfortable. I know that I judge other people and I am trying to learn not to but like I said, it's automatic. We really have to work hard to let go that response. What's just as hard as not judging is being judged and not letting it get to you. In my heart of hearts, I know that what other people think of me is not important. If I start to really care what 'they' think, I'm sunk. It only pushes me further away from myself. I can't fit into the box that others think will be acceptable. I have to be very adamant about being who I am or I'll become just like everyone else. I need to be the strange, crazy, indefinable person I am in order to fulfill my life's purpose. We all have what we consider to be negative or less-desirable qualities or habits. I think (or I hope) we all are aware of the changes we need to make in order to feel healthy and whole. What people don't always realize is that their idea of healthy and whole and someone else's may look totally different. Of course if we're striving for something, we assume it is what anyone would want because we find it so desirable. It's like food, though. If several people go out to dinner together and they all order their favorite meal, each person gets something different. We all have somewhere we're going or someone we're striving to be. I have a very clear picture in my mind of the me I'm becoming. When I get too many friendly suggestions, that picture gets foggy or faded. I start to question the things I value and my methods. I second-guess myself and wonder about the validity of my choices verses what other people would do or think I should do. Meanwhile I'm straying further and further from the path I need to be on to get to the me I want to be. I read recently that often when people give advice, it's something they need to hear themselves. If something about my life bothers someone else, why? It is my life after all. They don't have to deal with it. They have their own life and hopefully they're living it the way they want to. So why give other people grief about their stuff? I feel like I'm wandering in mental circles here but maybe I'll eventually get somewhere with this. Because this is my process. Sometimes I have to let my brain chase its tail for a bit before things become clear. So if it bothers someone that I have so much 'stuff' or I own 'too many books', why? I'm not putting it in their space. It doesn't change the person I am. We do the things we do for a reason. Life is a process and we need different things at different times. There is no clear-cut formula that will work for anyone who tries it. We're all out here on our own doing the best we can with what we're given. We're all in progress. Another Ani DiFranco quote I have to share: * "I am a work in progress dressed in the fabric of a world unfolding offering me intricate patterns of questions rhythms that never come clean and strengths that you still haven't seen." * And what some people would consider a burden or a weakness, to others is a strength. Every obstacle is a teacher, every sticky situation is a classroom. When we spend our time and energy wondering or worrying at someone else and their life, we're not really living our own. I guess the final point is that I need be relentlessly myself. I need to stand up for myself when I don't have the energy to listen to opinions and tell people that. I need to be more sensitive to my own emotional state so that I can protect myself and not become overburdened with guilt or frustration or judgment that is coming from outside me. In the end, I know that I'm on the right track and that's all that counts. I need to make changes in my own time. I will not put myself through changes that other people think will be good for me. Only I know what I need and frankly, even that is guess-work. So if we don't have our own lives figured out, what right do we have to tell others how to live theirs? I guess none at all. I'm going to dig in my heels and live the way I need to and I'm going to think twice the next time I feel like giving someone advice.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Little House

I am so profoundly tired and so immeasurably happy! I can't express how much I love my little house! Just the freedom of being able to sing- really sing- in my own home is priceless. I already feel such a distinct difference in my energy level. I'm just full of joy whenever I'm there. After living in an apartment for four years that never felt like home, this is a breath of fresh air. My neighbors are all very kind and it's a beautiful property. The house has so much personality. I'm really enjoying unpacking and slowly starting to decorate. The effect of being in a place that I love is going to be huge. It's hard to heal when you're in a place where you wish you weren't. I feel really able to relax here. That's a big difference from when I walked into that apartment and all I wanted to do was sleep. I feel so blessed. This is what home really means.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

How we hold ourselves back

I'm a huge fan of Ani DiFranco and some lines from one of her songs keep circling in my head so I thought I'd put them down here and explore. The song is "Joyful Girl". * "Everything I do is judged and they mostly get it wrong, but oh well the bathroom mirror has not budged and the woman who lives there can tell the truth from the stuff they say and she looks me in the eye says, "would you prefer the easy way? no? well okay, then don't cry." * First of all I have to say that Ani DiFranco is a super genus. Not simply for these great lyrics but for her whole mind-blowingly prolific career. Goddess bless her!! I love these lines because I feel so mis-understood so often. I don't have the energy or time to explain to the people around me why I think or act the way I do but I don't think we should have to. I had a conversation recently about how shocking it can be when people are blatantly rude or cruel. It really throws me- like I have no idea where these people are coming from that they would treat another person so unkindly. I think that's cultural, to some extent. That doesn't excuse it, but we have been raised and taught to do for ourselves. It takes a lot to un-learn that type of programming. So I really don't excuse that but it underscores the fact that we really can't understand where other people are coming from. They have had life experiences that we haven't and the collection of those experiences is what has brought them to this moment- in whatever state they may be. Aside from cruelty and downright bad behavior, I love how strange we can seem to one another just in how we do ordinary things. I saw someone parallel parking yesterday and there were no cars in the spots behind where he was parking but rather than just drive straight into the spot (which is what I would've done because I fear parallel parking) he drove past the spot and proceeded to back in, making it much more difficult than it needed to be. I drove by, thinking, "that's amazing!". Then I wondered why. Maybe this person is so used to parallel parking that it wasn't more difficult to do it this way. Maybe this person was practicing in a space without a car behind it to get more confidence. (Maybe I should try that.) Whatever the reason, it was one of those moments where I realized that we truly do not understand one another as individuals. (and that I am fascinated by people because who thinks of these things?) There is some freedom in that. If we could just be amazed at the different ways people do things, rather than railing that they 'should have' done it this way, who knows what we would learn? On the flip side of that, if we all did what we felt was right for ourselves (as long as it didn't harm ourselves or others) without even a hint of a thought to how other people would perceive our actions... Wow! What a world! If a business man suddenly started skipping down the sidewalk, because he felt like it, and nobody stared, or if they did, it just made them smile rather than thinking he'd gone mad. If we felt less uncomfortable with eye contact. If we could smile at strangers and say hello, instead of staring at the ground. If we could sing in public, because we want to and it feels good. If the word 'normal' was relegated to science labs because there is no such thing when it comes to living beings. If we didn't feel self-conscious after laughing too loudly because laughs should be loud and full. If we re-membered the freedom we felt as children. If we became more inquisitive and patient. If we let the world take on the mystery that is innate in everything, forgetting that we think we have it all figured out. If we were spontaneous and followed our instincts. If we danced down the street to the music coming out of stores, or to no music at all. If we appreciated the little moments and our own uniqueness. If being different didn't ever make anyone feel alone. If we could comfort strangers because we can see they need it. If we learned to use our talents to help all the rest. If freedom was not an idea or something for vacations, but the truth that we lived and breathed every day. If we knew that we were not going to be judged, how brave would we become?