Just Be Yourself

My mom always says that lessons are taught until they are learned.  This one keeps coming up so I guess I’m still learning it…

The way that I perceive myself and the way that others perceive me is not the same.  My friend always tells me to just be my authentic self and that every good thing and good person that is meant to be in my life will come along… drawn like a moth to a flame.  Just be yourself.  Yourself is amazing he says.  Sometimes, when I’m alone and thinking through things, I remember what he says about being my authentic self… and I over think it… I was saying to my counsellor yesterday that sometimes I wonder what ‘self’ that I’m supposed to be to get the best response from people.

Well this morning I was reminded again, that the ‘self’ that I am when I’m not overthinking it is the self that my friend is talking about.  

Be you.  Be silly.  Be friendly.  Be crazy and goofy and loving and happy and joyous.  Let your real, authentic personality come out and play and the people that don’t like it aren’t people that you want around you anyway… 

This morning I was taught (again) that being all those things above pay off.

I missed my regular bus by about 30 seconds… however, not being in the mood (or with the energy… damn this ridiculous fatigue) to run a block or so, I decided to just wait the ten minutes for the next one… So I stood outside in the cold, playing on my iphone… freezing my digits off.  And then a bus arrived.  ‘Not in Service’ said the flashing sign on the front of the bus. But then the door opened and the driver invited me aboard and said that he’d take me as far as he could down my route and try and catch up with the bus I missed.  He said that he remembered me from when he drove my route in the summer. 

Now… think that through… That’s someone who remembered me from six months ago… someone who has seen easily thousands of people in the last six months and he remembered me enough to know that he wanted to stop and do something kind for me.  We chatted and laughed all the way until we did catch up with the bus that I had missed earlier and my Not in Service Hero pulled in front of that bus so that it would have to stop and then wished me a happy day (in French I think… it was definitely not in English) and I got off his bus and walked back to the one I’d missed.  And then something else incredible happened.  The driver of the bus I missed saw me… 50 blocks from my usual stop and looked surprised and confused.  Opened the door and asked how I got ahead of him and all the way down here…. So I told him I’d missed him by seconds but that I didn’t have the energy to run and then my NIS Hero picked me up and brought me this far.  And you know what he said? ‘I looked for you when I went past your stop and I thought about waiting a second but I didn’t see you so I had to keep going.’.  I was so touched that he knew I should have been there and he actually looked for me… what a kind sentiment!

When I got to work I went to the coffee shop I always go to and saw my young barista friend… our faces mutually light up when we see eachother and we always share a chat and a smile before going about our days.  Today we laughed about taking over the world and then that’s when the events of the morning sort of hit me.  I’ve left a lasting impression on these people just by being me. 

Sometimes our self-perception gets in the way of being able to see how others perceive us… I can say for certain that I need to be reminded constantly that the ‘real me’… the ‘self’ that my friend encourages… she’s the key to my happiness.  At no time am I more joyous and friendly and silly and loving and happy as when I am being shown that being those things consistently start a perpetual circle.  Being joyous and happy and silly and loving makes me feel those… which make me want to be those… It takes practice to let ‘real me’ out of the dark because it hurts more when ‘real me’ is rejected or wounded, but oh my… the rewards when ‘real me’ is welcomed by the world with open arms and good deeds and smiles and the kind of human love that boosts my spirit! 

It’s difficult to not bring all of this back around to health and fitness.  When your body is quiet and content, it’s just enormously easier to hear the other things going on.  I remember my sister saying that when she switched her diet to the paleo/primal way of eating, she could hear her own thoughts easier… it was difficult to understand and I’m sure it was difficult for her to explain, but boy, she wasn’t wrong.  When Body is taken care of and not a massive urgent concern to Mind, then Mind gets to focus on other things. Mind gets to have epiphanies and process ideas and information in a pure uninterrupted way that is not feasible when Mind is too busy worrying that Body is a train wreck. 

So I’ll go through the rest of my day… week… month… trying to remember that being authentic is the key and I will be duly rewarded in my life by authentic people and experiences.  And the rest will just fall away like dust in the wind…

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Just let go

Last week we went to the lake in Squamish.  It was amazing… I swam and sunned and ate and laughed… really an amazing time.  And yet the one thing that has stuck out more than any of that is a moment that didn’t even happen.  There was a rope swing on the shore… way high up in the trees and I believe I declared as we were discussing the swing that there was no way on this earth I would ever partake in that activity.  No.  Nope.  Nu uh! 

I did picture myself doing it tho… I pictured climbing up to the top, grabbing on to the rope swing and in some feat of heroism, actually jumping off the platform and swinging out over the water.  And then swinging back, too frozen by fear to let go and smashing back into the platform… Once you jump, you just HAVE to let go of the rope… you have no choice… because not letting go of that rope means certain and epic injury. 

If you were holding a million dollars in your hands and someone said if you gave it up and trusted that they’d replace it with two million, would you do it?  What if you trusted the person with your life?  Would you give up the million and your control to momentarily have nothing before they provided for you and came through on their promise? 

I used to wonder what it sounded like when God spoke to you… is it a voice?  A feeling?  How do you know?  Maybe for everyone it’s different… I assume so.  I’ve realized that for me, it’s the sound of my own voice… but wise and impactful. It’s in my own head, saying the things I need to hear… I argue with it… It makes me cry… because that voice… that sounds like me but smarter and wiser and divinely blessed… that’s God.  And He’s telling me to let go…Let go of that which I know is holding me back from something better.  I need to let go of something… of someone.  

This voice in my head… this divine message from God… 

Just let go.  I promise I’ll give you something better to hold on to.

You can’t have what I want to give you while your hands are full.

Just let go… I promise it won’t hurt…

Just.  Let.  Go. 

I’m standing on the platform… arguing… saying I can’t.  Knowing I have to… It’s so obvious that what I’m holding on to is not right… not meant for me… not the plan… It’s so obvious… and yet, I’m standing on the platform, refusing to make the jump because the second you jump… the second you trust that the rope will hold you, you HAVE to let go… 

I’m moved to tears grateful that my God is patient.  Oh boy, am I ever.  I know that this is important… to let go of what I’m holding on to and trust that something better is in store for me.  My fear, keeping me on the platform… keeping me from letting go is that that better thing is still a ways off… and I’m so weary of being alone.  To be honest, I’m mostly alone now… Just to mix analogies… instead of being covered by a big thick and fluffy blanket to keep me warm… I’m holding on to a threadbare tatter of a blanket that is doing nothing for me but getting in the way of the big thick fluffy one.  I’m still as cold as if I had nothing… 

As I’m writing this… I can hear the Voice of God… in my own head… in my own voice… Stand up there for as long as you need to… hold on to that threadbare tatter for as long as you need to.  I’m patient… but you’ll eventually have to let go… you know you do.  And when you do, I promise there’s something better for you. 

I’m not a trusting person… I’ve known this about myself for a long time now… I used to be… I’d put my trust in anyone that even hinted around at it… but I’ve been burned here in this mortal world and it’s hampered my ability to trust at all… 

As I sit here… with tears in my eyes and the most giant lump of what can only be grief in my chest, these are the words repeating in my head… 

Just let go.  I promise I won’t let you fall. 

I’m going to have to find a way to trust that.  Soon.

How do you push back the fear, let go of your own control and trust?

The Hummingbird Coin

One day last year in the middle of my struggle for sanity and a firm grip on my life, my dad came down to visit. We took the bus down to Granville Island and while he was talking to a sales clerk, I was digging through a dish of small pewter coins…. On the front each one had a Northwest Coast Native animal symbol and on the back an inspirational word. I found one that said Peace on the back with the depiction of a hummingbird on the front. The sign on the front of the dish said ‘Pocket Spirits’ and while I’m not much for the idea of items being ‘spirits’, I felt compelled to buy it. I thought if I didn’t have any peace of my own, maybe I could at least have this… I carried it around in my wallet for a year… every time I went into my wallet I saw my small bit of peace.

The Hummingbird Coin

I was pretty far from being peaceful and it would take me an additional six months to actually find peace, but still this little coin I held on to… the only peace I had at the time. It was a small reminder that peace was out there and that it was something that I could have. Something that I wanted. I didn’t know what it felt like but I was sure that when I had it, I would know.

I’ve mentioned how I found my peace in December. The calm peaceful feeling that I now have is one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received. I don’t know if you can identify the feeling of peace if you haven’t had the feeling of being not peaceful. It’s hard to describe… the immense sense of calm that I feel now. I still have my moments of course and I still have bad days, but I’m peaceful overall.

About three weeks ago I found the coin on my desk. I don’t know how it got out of my wallet but when I saw it on my desk I knew I didn’t need it anymore. I’d found my peace and it was stronger and more powerful than the piece of pewter I was holding. I sat, rubbing the coin for a long time… playing with it… contemplating it… and at that moment I knew that I needed to give this very important piece of my healing away. I have a friend that could certainly use some peace and so I said goodbye to my coin and put it back in my wallet so it was with me the next time I saw him.

I’m an incredibly sentimental and romantic type of person.

(Romantic:  defined as marked by the imaginative or emotional appeal of what is heroic, adventurous, remote, mysterious, or idealized).

Most people in my life don’t meet me there… my sentimentality is oft regarded as cheesy or ridiculous. My ability to remember tiny, seemingly insignificant details about people I care about, and my innate ability to understand someone more than they can ever know has been labelled as crazy. I assure you, it’s not crazy and it’s not something I can control. For those that I care a great deal about, it’s a built in operating system (to steal a phrase from a friend) function to care about and recall these small details… things that seem insignificant rarely are. I’ve spent a lot of time in my life hiding it… laughing along when my sentimental side is dissed… pretending that it doesn’t bother me that instead of appreciating who I am at my core, I’m mocked for it. Truth be told, it does bother me… of course it does!  It’s a side of me that is integral to my character and no one feels good to be mocked on about something that is innate to who they are.

I took a chance giving my coin away to my friend. In the ongoing effort I’ve been making to be true to who I am, I knew I was going to say what I wanted to say, regardless of how my sentimentality had been received in the past. I was pretty sure that this time would be different.

I took the coin out of my wallet and held it tightly in my hand. I told the story of how I ended up with this coin and then, pressing it into his hand, said ‘I’ve found my peace. Now maybe you’ll find yours’.

The gift was received in just the way I gave it. That it was just an object at one point but that it had meaning to me and I was passing it along. I was told that it was a true gesture of love and trust. And I wasn’t mocked as being sentimental or cheesy… I was met where I am with an understanding of who I am and why something like this would be important to me. The gesture wasn’t cast off, but accepted and embraced in the pure way it was given.

There are some ‘things’ that we have and hold on to that cease to become things… they assume a life and a power of their own and while to the naked eye this is just a $2 piece of metal, to myself and to my friend, it’s a powerful piece of love and friendship and powerful love and powerful friendship can change our worlds. When we change ourselves, we change the world… and when we find our peace, we find that the world around us has more peace.

My hope for my friend is that every time he reaches into his pocket and his hand grazes this coin, that he feels the power in the care of another. That he knows that if I can find my peace (and Lord knows, it was a hard road!) then he can find his peace and he will forever have a friend to walk down that road with him.  We are only alone on difficult roads if we choose to be… and those in my care… those who gain access to the core of who I am… they will never be alone.

Laugh at Me

So a long time ago I was sitting in a coffee shop giggling with a girlfriend.  Well…. Giggling… not really… full out, hold my sides, don’t care who hears/sees laughing.  The owner of the coffee shop is also a friend of mine and after a while he came over and sat down with us… Did you see those people sitting across from you that just left he asked… Yep.  Well, he said, the guy that was with them came up to me and asked me if I knew you… he’s in the film industry and he said your laugh was awesome and he wished that there was a way to bottle it. 

Of course that made me laugh even more… some out of nervousness and some because when people talk about laughing it makes you laugh… well, me anyway! 

It’s a memory that pops into my head every once in a while and it came screaming back to me this morning.

It’s a beautiful… BEAUTIFUL day here in Vancouver and I was with my same girlfriend waiting in line at Whole Foods to get a coffee.  We were being ridiculous and making eachother laugh, as usual and a bubble of unfiltered laughter burst out of me and caused the guy in the line in front of us to turn around… Sorry I said… thinking that I was being a bit obnoxious so early in the morning.  No, no was his response.  I love your laugh!  (which makes me laugh…).  He smiled at me, this huge, joyful, completely open smile and said that my laugh made him laugh and that it was awesome.  About 20 seconds later a girlfriend of mine came up to me and said she had just been walking out the door but that she’d heard my laugh and had to come and say hi and give me a hug.  That made me laugh even more and I said it was funny that her comment was the 2nd one in about 30 seconds about the sound of my laughter… the guy in front of me, beaming from ear to ear said it wasn’t even 30 seconds… 

The entire encounter was brilliant and fills me to this moment with a bubbly mirth that fills my body and soul with the endorphins of joy.

It also reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend the other day. How just the act of being ourselves can be a gift we don’t even know we are giving to another.  Our trusting nature, a caring touch, a bubble of laughter… our society frowns on the mere act of interacting with a stranger so we almost never have these conversations with another, but it’s likely that while you go about your daily business, you’re touching other people… just as they are touching you… giving you a gift they may not know they’re giving.   Someone told me yesterday that the thing they liked about me was that I was true…I believe the quote was ‘You’re honest about who you are. You are not some crackerjack bullshit flavor of the month.  You are true.’ The experience today with the guy at the coffee shop and the statement from my friend last night just underlines that being true to who I am… something that is very important to me is not a wasted effort.  In this world of fake and social media and doing whatever you want with no consequences, it’s a good reminder that the power in being true is always worth the investment to learn who you are and then live that life.

Something a little different

Image

I’m in a black hole of writers block! I have about a dozen half written posts… processing, learning, growing… and they all come out sounding like such a bunch of garbage that I can’t hit the publish button. I envy people to whom writing comes easily. I’ve been told I’m a good writer quite a few times now and for sure I have a distinct style and can sometimes put words together in a poetic or inspiring or entertaining way. But when the words are flying around in my head like a mile wide tornado, it’s frustrating to no end. They won’t come out in any meaningful order… so I decided to do a little experiment and I made a word cloud. If I had all the time and talent in the world (which I have very little of either), I would get out a sketch pad and make my own word cloud. But since I don’t have either of those things, this was the next best thing… and it gets the words out of my head and onto the screen/paper in a more organic and creative order. I think it’s pretty clear from the image where my head is at lately…

trust... person...influence... lie

trust… person…influence… lie