…AND THAT’S OKAY…WORDS THAT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE!

If you are like me, being non-judgmental towards yourself has probably been next to impossible for most of your life. If you are like me, I suspect you were often unable to rid yourself of those pesky “transgressions” that go unnoticed by others but somehow managed to become a spotlight on your “perceived” flaws…all 1,137 of them!

In the past, it didn’t seem to matter how full my day was, somehow I would find that the one thing I didn’t accomplish and it would rise to the top of my “why I am such a loser” list.. and once discovered…I would hang it out on the line for the world to see and judge. Unfortunately, for many of us, we fail to be kind and cut ourselves just a little slack.

So that’s why, when I saw this idea online, I swooned. Finally, a way out of my self-imposed “SHOULD’S” and onto a more carefree way of thinking.

It is my hope that you benefit from this wonderful phrase as much as I have. It might even be my next tattoo.

Empathy and Tattoos

 

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Letting Yourself Alone Or Self-Acceptance

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I sometimes wonder why it takes so long for most of us to get to the place where we just let ourselves alone in peace. Finally, we get to the place were we no longer pick ourselves apart, engage in negative self-talk, worry so much about what others think, or put so much emphasis on “what we should be” but instead accept ourselves for just what/who we really are.

I don’t know if it takes age to know you are tired of feeling crappy about yourself or if it is finally coming to an understanding that you are done with letting others treat you in ways that you don’t deserve. I am unsure if it is a greater self awareness or just the desire to experience positive change that finally allows us to say ENOUGH! I WANT MORE! I DESERVE MORE! But I do know that as I get closer to 60 that I have come to realize exactly that…that accepting myself is one of the most important things that I can do before I punch out on life’s time clock for the final time.

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Acceptance. It’s easy to say we should accept ourselves…yet it’s hard to put that belief into practice. But I am finally learning that self acceptance involves being realistic about my good qualities and playing them up. It means giving those best parts of me the respect that they deserve. By honoring them and giving these positive attributes the opportunity to expand and grow, it is making me a better friend to myself and a better person in general.

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Acceptance also means that I reexamine my “flaws” by asking myself how they have helped me in the past. Then I look for ways to challenge my old notions and accept those parts of myself that I am less than comfortable with by giving them the opportunity to change and not by regulating them to a distant corner of my life. I let these “fixers” out so that others can see them and help me find the good in them too. Just like I accept my friends good and bad qualities it was wonderful when I began to grant that same grace to myself. Sometimes I find it helps to ask myself “Would I say to a friend what I am saying to myself? ” If the answer is no, I try to gently remind myself that negativity directed inward is not helpful, and then I find something positive to focus on instead. This is exactly how a good friend would act… they would talk you up not down. I deserve nothing less.

Another thing that has come to the forefront for me is that the concept that “Trying” to accept myself will not work. That is like “trying” to diet…I will fail miserably. It is only when I practice “seeing” myself with kindness and compassion that self acceptance can occur. And then, finally, one day I suddenly realized that my “bad” parts were okay and I finally embraced them.

Rituals can help promote self acceptance. Every morning I have taken to looking in the mirror and saying out loud, “You are wonderful just the way you are.” Somehow putting those words out in the universe makes me accountable to them and encourages me to find small ways throughout the day that make that statement true.

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I wish self acceptance came easier. I wish it came earlier. I envy those for whom self acceptance is just a natural part of their being. Yet, I am glad that this feeling of acceptance is working itself into my life now. I enjoy the freedom it brings. Freedom from pain. Freedom from so many worries. Freedom to be myself. But instead of concentrating on the “I should haves” I am now just being thankful for the “better late than nevers” no matter when they are discovered and put into practice in my life.

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Exchange-A 10 Minute Poem Challenge

Sometimes I wonder

What it will be like

For you to be away

Knowing that you are

Never coming back

Except for that special necktie

You wore at your father’s funeral

Which lies at the back of our old closet

Not being thought of until now

When you want something

From home

And nothing from me

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Will I miss you?

Wishing you were coming back for me

Instead of that old tie

Or will I feel free?

Without the encumbrance of your expectations

Which I never seem to be able to live up to

Anyways

Will I miss laying my head on your chest

In bed as we exchanged nighttime pleasantries

Before that last kiss when we turned away

From one another

Each heading off to our private dreamlands

Yours which features new lovers

With better everythings

Than I will ever again have

And mine in which I follow my heart

To a vast and empty wasteland

Where nothing grows ever again

Because of the poison that you have spread

All over me

Wishing I was

Younger

Thinner

Prettier

Quieter

Move Loving

Less Loving

A Better Mom

Funnier

Less Demanding

A Better Housekeeper

Instead of just accepting me

For who I am

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Someday soon I suspect

I will know the answer to these questions

And will, most likely, not like what I discover

Because I know I will miss you

Terribly

Hurtfully

Absurdly

Uncomfortably

And will have to endure

All this sadness and pain

Until I find Alice

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Who will lead me through

That oddly shaped door

Drinking the Kool-aid

In order to grow enough

To reach that handle

And turn the knob

That will bring me home to myself

To that place that I want to be

Safe and secure

Within myself and with myself

Appreciating all that I am

Which you could never do

And when I finally arrive

I will give myself a hug

Like you do

When meeting an old friend

And I will no longer

Be missing you

Because I will have found myself

Once again

I may be alone

But I’ll never again be lonely

Because now I am my own

Best Friend

Not beaten down

Not dismissed

 

But treasured for all that I have

And all that I am

Left to give to myself

And the world

All the gifts I possess

Which you returned to Macy’s

In exchange for fireworks

And a pink negligee

Size 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Accepting Yourself

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As I work on learning to love myself again; I realize just how much effort it takes. Frankly, it shouldn’t. I am a good person, loving parent and partner, pay my taxes and volunteer. I don’t kick the dog, I praise little kids, and treat people pretty darn well. Yet, somehow, whatever I do or what I say is never enough to erase the tape it my head that says I am not “good enough.” The “maybe divorce” doesn’t help either. My husband’s questionable love for me taunts me with the false belief that if I was really “good enough” I wouldn’t be going through two years of marriage hell when in fact it may have everything to do with him and nothing with me. His fears, his disappointments with himself, his worries that he could die tomorrow and his wondering if this is all there is?

Sometimes I think it was easier to love myself when I was younger. I was naive, granted myself grace because of my youth, and I didn’t have a lot of living and experiences under my belt. With age comes plenty of time to look back over the past and see all that you “should” have done better. All you could have done differently. And as you get closer to death you start thinking about how you want to be remembered and shudder to think of some of the ways you might be.

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As human beings we spend years cultivating relationships. We spend inordinate amounts of our time pleasing others and trying to prove our worth. We nurture those we love and spend time working on issues we feel are important because there are people who are involved that we respect and love. Yet, often we neglect to cultivate the most important relationship that there is…the one with ourself. We forget to take care of our needs, seek out those things that sooth our soul, and refuse to give ourselves the breaks that we grant our friends and loved ones. Finally, I am realizing that the internal relationship we have with ourselves must be maintained, nurtured, and worked on just like the external relationships that we share with others. In fact, we must put more into building the relationship have we with ourself simply because we are 100 times harder on our soul than anyone else. Most often, we are our own worst critics and that criticism that we direct inwards does more damage than anything anyone else could say or do to us.

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When we are in love we love in hopes that it will last forever. When we cultivate friendships we hope that those relationships will be satisfying for each other until our last breath. We accept the flaws that we see in others so willingly; why can’t we do the same with ourselves?

I think it is because we resist acceptance of ourselves because there is nothing we have to do when we truly accept who we are and what is going on in our lives. We think that acceptance is too easy so we attempt to make it harder by telling ourselves we have to change and be something “better.” We have to make ourselves a new and improved version of our old selves to love ourselves and have others love us back. And while change may do us good we still need to just learn to accept ourselves with compassion and love no matter where we are in our journey. No more self criticism and no more beating ourselves up because we should be different than who we find ourselves to be or because we should have behaved differently than we have. If we accept ourselves we don’t have to fix, improve, or do it right all the time. We just have to focus on the here and now and who we are at this moment in time while accepting that we are doing the best we can within the confines of where we find ourselves today. It doesn’t mean that we won’t change it only means that we don’t have to in order to be lovable to ourselves and others.

Of course it is much easier to write all of this rather than live in a way in which acceptance of ourselves is the name of the game. It is hard work. But as we set aside uninterrupted time to spend with ourselves each day concentrating on who we are instead of who we are not; acceptance will creep in slowly until one day we finally understand that we are enough. Period.

So be it!

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Voices In My Head

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Okay, I know this will sound kind of psychotic, like I am hearing “voices” in my head. But lets face it, we all do. Whether we call it our conscious,ego or intuition; there is something in our heads that from time to time influences and directs us. Usually, listening to this voice can be a good thing except when what we are hearing is negative self-talk about ourselves.

When I first started this “maybe divorce” journey I immediately took steps to change my attitude and my outlook on life. And it helped a lot and for quite a while. But lately I have realized I am slipping back into the negative self talk and decided that I needed to revisit those practices that I began which quieted this negativity. So I am back to “CANCEL, CANCEL, CANCEL”  when I hear negative self-talk, followed by the exact opposite of the negative said three times. It might look like this.

“He doesn’t love you”

“CANCEL, CANCEL, CANCEL”

“HE DOES LOVE YOU, HE DOES LOVE YOU, HE DOES LOVE YOU” or instead I just stop and look around taking note of what I see around me.

“OH THE CLOUDS ARE BIG AND FLUFFY WHITE TODAY. LOOK AT THOSE BIRDS SITTING ON THE TELEPHONE WIRE. MUST BE 20 OF THEM”

I refuse to give this negative self-talk the time of day.

So far this correction of my negativity has been helping to decrease it. By paying attention of what my inner dialogue is saying to me; I am aware of how negativity begets negativity and how negative internal dialogue influences your external life. Once again, I am reminded that living with negativity is such a caustic way in which to live on a daily basis.

As I contemplated this a few weeks ago it occurred to me that I am my worst critic. The “Constructive Criticism” or negative self-talk I indulge in is often cruel or mis-guided. It seems strange that I so readily accept it of/for myself. Because, frankly, if another person treated me the way I treat myself… if that person said the words to me that I say to myself… well, I wouldn’t put up with it. In fact I would probably tell that mean gurl:

“SEE YAH. DON’T LET THE DOOR HIT YOU IN THE ASS ON THE WAY OUT!”

Yet, for some reason, many of us give this negative person who dwells within us too much power. We believe that THEY are on our side and have something valuable to say when in fact they don’t. We treat THEM like they are some sort of expert on how we should live our day-to-day lives. We give THEM the power to guide us regarding how we react to most everything we encounter during our day, when, this type of negativity does not need to be in charge of ANYTHING in our lives. In fact, when we hear it speaking, unless it is doing so with kindness and compassion, we should ignore it. We should refuse to believe anything it is telling us.  And we should “CANCEL, CANCEL, CANCEL” until we cannot hear it anymore.

Why? Because it is only natural that when we talk to ourselves with loving kindness that is how we will treat others. And if we can’t be nice to ourselves it is doubtful others will be either.

So today, be mindful of what you are saying to yourself. Listen and figure out if what is being said is coming from a place of compassion or one of self-loathing. And if it is not coming from a place of gentleness then walk away and leave those words behind. For there is only one you and you deserve to hear about the best of you and not the worst.

So be it.

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Rekindle Your Inner Spirit

 

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If you are like me everyday there are a million things to do. The list of things to do seems to get longer by the day. On those days where I am feeling bogged down by life, sometimes I feel a little sorry for Santa and his list of “wants” from all the little girls and boys on this earth. So many expectations, so little time. This is life today.

It is unfortunate that in this age we live in a society that values things over people, success over integrity and being busy over making time for ourselves. It is sad that we live in a world in which taking the time to commune with ourselves is pushed aside for things that are less meaningful and valuable to our spirit and our soul. Way too often we neglect the ” inner being” or “spirit” within us to our own detriment and ignore that place inside to whom we are suppose to go for answers, inspiration, and to just sit with while listening for those things that will bring us a deep sense of happiness. Too often we ask others for advice; trusting their “wisdom” over our own and forgetting to appreciate all that our inner being will share with us if we will just listen. Sadly, we also neglect to feed our inner spirit with those things that delight it.

I have been practicing taking the time to listen to my spirit for nearly a year now. It can be a hard thing to do. But I find when I take the time to commune with myself that often things are revealed to me that are greatly needed which causes my stress level to drop and a sense of peace to inch into those pieces of me that are run down and tired. I also find that I trust myself more because I know that I can count on my spirit to do what is best for me and to provide answers that will comfort and provide reassurance to the parts of my soul that are open and seeking. I find if I listen I discover that I am traveling the path I am meant to be on.

So today do yourself a favor. Make some quiet time for yourself and listen to what your inner spirit is trying to tell you. Then act on it and look for ways throughout the day that answers are put directly in front of you confirming what you have been told. For there is nothing more beautiful in this world than a woman who can trust in her inner being to guide her gently to her true and authentic self.

Amen!

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What If You Could Start Over?

 

I am at my favorite place in the world. As I look out my window I see the marine layer starting to retreat back to its place on the horizon. A deer is outside nibbling on the tender shoots of wild grasses that dot the yard while the sun illuminates the tall pine trees producing a golden glow. I hear my grandkids their voices filled with excitement and wonder playing on the deck while my  daughter tries in vain to keep the sound down to a dull roar, “Shhh…It’s Grandma’s birthday and all she wants for her birthday is to sleep in.” All this beauty and new life before me and I have only been awake for five minutes. Sometimes life is just perfect. I think today is one of those days.

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But what if I could start over? Wave a wand and magically start again. Be someone different, live somewhere different, and do something different. Would I do it? Yes. Most definitely.

I would laugh more. A throw-your-head-back-full-throttle-other-people-be-damned laugh with a few snorts and tears thrown in for good measure. This new person would worry less, have the patience of a saint, criticize others less and help others see all they did have instead of the few things that they didn’t. I would let others make their own mistakes instead of trying to control the outcomes that they were meant to experience for themselves. And I would have started consciously living in the present moment while stopping the negative self-talk much earlier in life. Yes, this would be the someone different that I would be.

If I could start over again I would live on an island slapping mosquitos at dusk while waving at everyone who passed by because I knew them all. Where I lived would have a strong sense of community and respect for the earth with magnificent sun rises to start your day with equally spectacular sun sets to settle your soul from the business of the day. A place that makes its own rum…lots of it.

If I could start over again I would do work that was meaningful to me. Work that provided my soul with a sense of purpose. An advocate of some sort perhaps. A researcher studying dolphins or an archeologist digging up the island’s past. Or maybe the person everyone came to talk with and share their troubles because I was seen as a wise old crone.

Yes, I would love to try this life on. See how it fits. Does is feel warm and inviting like a baby cooing on a snuggly blanket? Or does it itch because the seams are supposed to fit someone else’s ideal life?

And as I contemplate all of the “what if’s” the phone rings and my husband and children yell out “Happy Birthday!” and that “other life” drifts away like the fog outside my window and everything suddenly becomes clear. I feel joy deep joy and satisfaction. I have people who love me and I am beginning to truly love and appreciate who I am at this stage in my life. I have all that really matters to me… all things precious that feed my soul and renew my life on a daily basis. I am completely and utterly blessed.

Happy Birthday to me!

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Weight’s Burden

*This has been an incredibly hard piece for me to write because it puts a lot of my own faults and flaws out there but I believe in being honest in my writings and telling my story through my lens whether it be right or wrong*

 

My weight has always been a sore subject with me. When I was a child I was average, not overweight nor underweight.I was just right.Yet, it was never enough. I wanted to look like the popular skinny girls. The ones with legs up to their elbows. The ones you could almost see through because they were so paper thin.

In my early 20’s I was underweight weighing in at 111 while being over 5’7″ tall. Of course, everyone thought I looked fabulous, myself included, with my bones sticking out the way the media says that women are suppose to look; when in reality my health was suffering. But I had a lot of attention paid to me by the opposite sex so it appeared to be a fair tradeoff as far as I was concerned. Like=skinny. Love=skinny. Sex=skinny, so that is what I would be. Only it didn’t last.

Then several years later, I became pregnant and gained 60 pounds and B told me that he didn’t really find me attractive. He made it clear that overweight women did nothing for him. I remember thinking even then how fucked up this was. I remember thinking whatever happened to loving a person for who they were and not what they looked like. I remember feeling that I had to look like some centerfold to be loved by him. I felt resentful and angry which lead to over eating which lead to being over weight which lead to a fucked up thoughts of him having to prove he loved me because I was heavy.Do you love me now? became the challenge. Do you accept me now? became my battle cry. And no matter how much he tried to prove his love/acceptance I wouldn’t believe it because I knew how he felt about fat women and, well, I didn’t love and accept myself either…so how could he?

For years I dieted “for him” and for years I was in a never ending cycle of gain/lost. And when I lost I was mad at B because he paid more attention to me than when I was heavier and I was wounded because of it.  How screwed up is that! Yes, I know… pretty screwed up! Why can’t you just love me for who I am? Yet, he did but I couldn’t believe it because with those few words said years ago about not finding me attractive created a pit from which I chose not to climb out of. A pit that I gave up and into. Wrapping my body around it like a blanket to keep me warm. Anger and resentment piled up and so did the pounds. I was miserable. So was he. Making love in the day light soon changed to making love with the curtains drawn so no light could enter the room.

Finally, I decided that I was tired of looking the way I did. Feeling the way I felt. Joints aching due to the excess poundage, surgery too. I had admired women who felt good about themselves no matter what their size and wished I had confidence in my body and myself. I wished that was like that too. But I was not no matter how I tried. So I slowly began to lose weight but I still wasn’t very serious about it. Until I saw this scan:

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A scan of a 250 woman vs a 120 pound woman. And I could see how the bones of the leg were being impacted. The white fat around the heart, intestines, and in the brain. And that was all it took…with one look at that picture I realized that being overweight was no longer an option. And this time I have lost weight ONLY for me, myself, and I.

In the past 8 months I have lost 30 pounds. And over several years prior to that I had lost 30 pounds. I now set little realistic goals for myself and today I reached the one I had set to reach before I turned 56. Yeah for me!

In retrospect, it is sad to me that I wasted all those years being unhappy with my weight and not doing enough about it. It is one thing if you are accepting of yourself it is another if you flog yourself because acceptance is not in your vocabulary. I wish that society just celebrated all women for who they are instead of what they look like, perhaps, I would have internalized that and loved myself despite of my weight. But I will never know. What I do know is that being miserable about my weight made me miserable about many parts of my life in general. That it is not B’s fault that I chose to overeat and that punishing him and myself for words spoken so long ago was harsh and unnecessary. And that something that was solely under my control was put back on him many times over our 30 years history. And if I am totally honest I am not sure that I would find my obese spouse sexually attractive either.

This unwanted “I might want a divorce” journey has forced me to examine all areas of my life. This work to discover the authentic me has proved humbling, exhausting, painful and eye opening. I have discovered some things that I really didn’t like and needed to change and some things that are pretty terrific about me. And I am still journeying…to where…I am unsure. But one thing I know is that I feel better about myself in all areas of my life because I have finally internalized the fact that the only person I have to impress or lose weight for is ME. It’s all for ME. ME. ME. ME. Finding my own importance has somehow flipped the switch and finally allowed me to reach my goals both in regards to my weight and in other parts of my life.