Whenever I’m in school or taking classes creativity becomes like one of those baseball pitching machines. It hurls so many ideas at me that my head spins. Today, rather than knocking, procrastination kicked in the door and creativity set one those machines in the doorway and cornered me. I drank coffee, I thought, I texted, I read, I wrote, I drew, I colored, I daydreamed, I researched, I listened to music, I cuddled the cats…annnnd I finished nothing. I had so many ideas for things that I couldn’t stay focused on any one thing before something else popped in my head. So much for my poor math homework. On the plus side, I was reminded that I can actually draw pretty well — even if is only half a face. I told you, a bunch of half thoughts, but with lots of gusto! Not too bad considering I haven’t sketched anything for probably 5 years. That is all. Carry on.
Month: January 2016
Failure is like a mentor teaching you to succeed
I showed a video in my music class today (because I kind of fell into this class and can’t, for the life of me, play an instrument) so the class ends up essentially becoming critical thinking. At the school we are practicing failure with our students and this tied in pretty well with our class meeting material. I went to class intending to teach about the power of music. How it can be more moving, cathartic and therapeutic than the spoken word. My classes never turn out how I expect. What it turned into was a lesson about failure. Whether or not they are allowed to fail when learning something new at home and whether or not it affects their retention. The students that had overbearing parents or were judged harshly for failing didn’t take as many risks at our school to try new things as students that had more freedom to fail. It was illuminating. Another student recognized that he was allowed to fail at school but not home, so after 7 years in our tiny magical school, he has learned a different code: he can fail, and that’s not just ok it’s encouraged and celebrated.
As adults we can be brutally harsh on ourselves. We have high expectations and some hold themselves to a level of perfectionism that I find exhausting. When we try to lose weight, try to keep our New Years resolutions or maybe try to learn a new language we can be so critical about not following through. Or, it takes longer to learn, so we judge how we should have tried when we were younger and it’s just too late. Maybe we take a big leap on something, like start a business, fall in love or write a book…and it fails. That can be heartbreaking. But it’s totally okay.
When I asked our students at class meeting today, “what does failure mean to you?”, one of them said “failure is like a mentor teaching you how to succeed.”
Wow!! He was 1-trillion percent correct! This 9yr old just schooled me!
There’s this great improv group I occasionally attend where the moderators always open the class with a short speech about how this is simply a place to play, free of judgement. They prefer we fail than get things right, because things can be way funnier when you screw it up. The first time I went I was terribly nervous but was on-point with my one liners. The second time I was much more confident and got a whole lot of tumbleweeds. I wasn’t very funny and it was totally okay.
–Right here my post, that creativity so inspired me to write, was secretly given to the abyss of the universe, never to be seen again. Soooooooo, hey there failure, let’s dance —
When I was growing up my mom would over-sympathize the smallest things. and make it seem way more intense. I began questioning if I was under-estimating the severity, which would spiral quickly into “I’m worthless, why do I bother”. I believed that I just overanalyzed everything and my reaction was supposed to be victimhood and self-pity. I really didn’t know any better.
“When we know better, we do better.” ~Maya Angelou
When we learn to fail, we grow. When we judge ourselves less negatively for failing, we grow. But it doesn’t stop there. You MUST deconstruct it. Here’s an outline:
STEP 1. Yup, you screwed that up. It’s okay. Personally, I enjoy making fun of the mistake. It’s a great coping skill. Celebrate and realize this is an opportunity to learn. If you stop with step 1, it sounds like: “I messed that up but that’s because x,y,z. Accept it, that’s who I am”
STEP 2: What happened and why was it a failure? Was it because you didn’t get an outcome you anticipated or another reason? What was your expectation?
STEP 3: Do I need to change my expectation or the strategy I’m using for my desired outcome? Learn from it
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. ~Albert Einstein
A friend of mine liken’s this process to the scientific method. You form a hypothesis and test it out until you get the desired outcome. It may seem dry and scientific but this particular friend is anything but that. She has taught me that I was never wrong to want to wade through uncomfortable failures while examining the species that survive in the swamps. She has taught me that it can be funny if your layered in moss covered leaches, because “hey look! You’re still alive, even the leeches want to suck your blood!” That’s how failure can feel. You’re not alone and that is simply the messy middle of any story. To get to the endings you have to fail a lot. Allow failure to mentor you, to show you that it’s okay to make mistakes as long as you promise to learn from them. Go fail brilliantly!
I’m gonna love you, hug you, kiss you like you might walk out the door
What if we all loved our partners like they might leave? I don’t mean desperately or from a place of neediness. I mean from a glittery platform of gratitude, respect, adoration and compassion. Where we genuinely understand where they’re coming from, as if they are an extension of ourselves and you might disconnect from that part of yourself if you don’t embrace it and understand it. Where you kiss them after work like you haven’t seen them in months. They listen to your stories and interests with patient eyes and a genuine desire for what you have to say. They serve you questions with childlike eagerness that reminds you they do care. You leave them notes of appreciation on little scraps of paper, on the bathroom mirror or on their pillow. They make you breakfast so you’re not late to work. You consider each other and embrace them every chance you get. When we hug each other, oxytocin, “the cuddle hormone”, is released, making us feel all warm, connected and bonded. Their are physical and neurological shifts happening in our body when we simply hug.
So often we forget to love with our whole heart. Life can change so rapidly. Two years ago I went to bed thinking about building a family with my husband and woke up to cheating, divorce, and turning 30. I wish I paid attention more. I wish I read the wobbly-head-Bob comics that he was into or learned how to set up a router. I wish he kissed me like he could lose me or atleast left before it had to go the way it did. I wish it was the social norm to love ferociously without the judgment that you want something which doesn’t exist. It does exist but you have to search every hidden cavern and crevasse and appreciate every moment. You have to give more than you expect to receive. You have to let go of the strings you attach to your love and gratitude, knowing that you may not get anything back but it was always your choice to hand it out. That’s a good thing. It doesn’t make you weak, foolish or childish. It makes you whole and brave. You have to be able to confront the dark evil gremlins that are always in the bleachers throwing tomatoes at you. You have to start with you, the one staring back at you in the mirror. Because, that is the person that will love you always, unconditionally. ❤️
Don’t let one bad apple ruin the bunch
I was walking out of a grocery store recently and saw a gentleman in a wheelchair getting in his van. He was trouble getting his chair to go up the ramp…I walked right by him and thought, “what the hell am I doing?! This is so unlike me!” I ran back once he was settled in his van and peeked in his window. ” I’m so sorry, I was going to offer to help! It looked like you’ve been doing this a while and I didn’t want to offend you by offering. I’ve offered help to people before only to be yelled at, so I’m sorry I didn’t offer.” With his calm, genuine smile he said “no worries, don’t ever let a few bad apples spoil the bunch. I appreciate the offer, don’t ever be worried to offer help.” Still smiling, he thanked me for the offer, even though it was late, and drove off.
I could have felt awful. I could have not gone back. I could have judged myself for telling him “I meant to offer”. But I didn’t, neither did he, and I was grateful. Next time I will offer to help right when I feel the urge and not take it personal if I “offend” anyone for offering a helping hand.
He said he would come.
To me, this post is so creatively representative of the emotions women feel when we are waiting for a lover to engage. I am a “hopeless romantic” and have recently graduated to a courageous warrior. As a self-reflective, self-aware woman I want a partner that “shows-up” to be seen, that chooses to love me everyday, that comes to our special place…just the way this post so vividly describes. I make choices everyday and when your choosing to show up emotionally and your partner keeps standing you up in the rain, eventually you have to accept that your alone. I keep waiting for him to show up.
She stood there. The sky howling as the wind whipped at her. Though the heavens wept, her heart glowed. Today was the day he said he would come. Today was the day she would meet him after years of being waiting.
“Wait for me at our special place” he had whispered in her ear as he left. She had smiled through the tears that were streaming down her face as he left, for she knew he would come, and she would wait until he did.
Today was the day, at any moment now, she would see him. Tall frame, messy black hair, twinkling eyes and grinning lips. She could imagine him so clearly in her head, it was a wonder she thought, even after all this time, the memories hadn’t faded.
She felt jitters as she thought of what would be. A heady mix of longing and fear. She closed…
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You are beautiful just the way you are.
Did you look in the mirror today and tell yourself “I love you…exactly as you are”? Try it. At the very least say it to yourself in your head.Is it followed by a feeling of empowerment or an inner evil gremlin that says”Who do you think you are? You have so much to work on.” Just fake it ’til you make it. It may feel a bit half-hearted at first if you aren’t used to it but if you allow yourself to beat back the gremlins you will become more confident in your ability to fill yourself with all the love you need to feel whole. On the other hand, if it feels powerful and self affirming then soak it up. If you did it today-good for you! Loving yourself is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. Happiness starts internally.
Spoiler alert-once you stave off the evil gremlins you will find people judging you … from selfish and arrogant to foolish, irresponsible or childish. Others may comment on how warm you feel or happy you seem.They are simply labels that you can decide if you agree with or not. At the end of the day, it’s not the critic that counts, not the evil gremlin inside you and definitely not other people’s judgements. Over time time you will find, it’s you that counts, how you speak to yourself on the deepest internal levels. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you should do whatever you want and walk all over people. Quite the opposite. When you learn to love yourself unconditionally, without judgement of how much you need to do or how much you haven’t done, your life will become so much more fulfilling, whole-hearted and authentic. You can give more, you can love bigger, you will blame less and forgive more often. When you learn to be easier, gentler and more loving with yourself you will naturally begin to be that way more with others. It transfers. All the bigger, more complex communication stems from loving yourself first and often. Start there. More to come…Sending out big, warm hugs and lots of love.
Learning the ways of the Warrior
I have always felt like a survivor but strive to be a warrior. How could I be the latter without knowing what that means? To me, a survivor is when you’ve “seen some shit” and managed to not kill anyone or earn yourself a jail sentence. A warrior, I have discovered, is a survivor that owns and shares their story, practices resiliency, always gets back up, doesn’t blame others and doesn’t apologize for things that are not their fault. A warrior stands up for their values with composure and dignity, they never attack someone’s personal character and they are a pillar of strength in the midst of emotional turmoil. The truest warriors know their weaknesses and insecurities, they call their shadows out into the light and they challenge old, limiting beliefs.
The best warriors know fear. They acknowledge it and use it when it’s useful but don’t allow it to make all the decisions. Fear reminds you that as a single woman it can be dangerous to allow a strange man into your home when your alone. Fear tells you not to call the girl you like because you might get rejected or not to apply for a job because you don’t have a degree. It can save your life or limit your potential.
To me a warrior is a zen master, a leader, a teacher, a survivor, a fighter and 100% human being that is totally fallible. But most importantly, the warrior knows their power and their value. It doesn’t matter to them what the critics, or evil minions think or say because they know they are doing their best, that they aren’t perfect and they are only truly done learning when their life is over. This is who I strive to be every.single.day. Who do you strive to become?