Change, Choice, Growth, lov, Love, Relationships, self love

It is Not About Them, It Never Was

This week I have been on vacation.  I have had a lot of time to myself to relax my mind and do some self reflection.  A few days ago I was sitting out by some water doing a guided meditation on self love. It took me down some paths I did not see coming.  As I was letting the words stay in the background I was thinking about a couple of circumstances in my life now.  Both of these things have given me much stress and angst. On the surface they are appear different, but I looked for a common thread.

I realized I have looking for validation in both places.  Looking outward, saying prove how much you want me, prove I am valuable to you.  Won’t you sacrifice this or that for me?  Aren’t  I worth it?  Oh my gosh, this is not about them and what they have been doing, this is about me. Okay then, that doesn’t feel as good.  Where did this start?

Was it my ex husband?  We were married for 20 years.  During that time his drinking took him over.  My story has been that he choose alcohol over me.  But that is just my story, what I have told myself, and then the world.  I don’t know that to be true.  I don’t know what it is like to be an alcoholic. I don’t know that even he had a choice. And if he did, the choice is his to live with. It is time to let my story go and have a new thought about it.  I don’t know how that looks yet, but I know something shifted.  Maybe I choose happiness, sanity, a better life over living with an alcoholic.

I kept on with the meditation letting the voice fall into the background as I dug deeper.  Could this go back farther?  You know, my mom was not easy.  I could write story after story about her.  At my moms core she did not feel loved.  I know my mom loved me as best she could, but there were lots of lessons around that. So if I can just look at that I can see she had a lot of “prove your love” in her.  Love wasn’t given freely, it had to be earned.  You had to be “worth” it.  I saw that in how she moved through the world.  I saw that in her relationships.  I saw that in how she taught me about being in love.  She never loved herself, she felt unlovable and these were my first lessons.

And I took those lessons out in the world.  I had a dad who balanced much of my mom.  I knew I was loved, my family loved me.  I was not ignored or abused.  One thing my mom always said is ” I want my children to have a dad that loves them, I never had that”.  That was important to her, that we felt loved. Still I was little girl learning about life and love from my moms example.  And I think I might be finally sorting out these lessons.

Keeping on with my meditation I had a moment of ‘I will remove this person from my life’.  And at the same time the podcast said ” you can’t reject any part of you, you have to love everything”.  At that moment I saw that removing a person only left room for the same thing to happen over again.  It didn’t really fix anything.  Because it is not about them, it never was.  Both of these circumstances that are playing out have happened multiple times before.  It really is  a here we go again feeling. Okay, who is creating this?  Me, I am. Everything around me has been by choice, my invitation. I can consciously accept that and start to make a change.

Because it seems at the core of all of this is me saying if you love me, if you value me, prove it.  I want you to sacrifice for me.  I choose men who would have to give up something to be with me.  This last one, he would have to move 500 miles, giving up living by his family, his children, in a community he has grown up in. He would have to give up his job, basically everything to be with me.  If he is not willing to that , well then what, he didn’t love me enough?  I wasn’t worth it?  And this is just the last one, this is a pattern.  Because shutting him out,  deleting him, I will just replace him with something similar.  Someone who has to make some kind of sacrifice to prove they love me.  Love should not be this hard.

It is not just relationships.  I see this played out in other ways throughout my life.  It comes up in employment a lot.  I  end up frustrated and feeling devalued.  It will take years, but it happens.  Then I make a change, and end up years later in a similar situation.  Sometimes with long time friends, I see them move on to different friends, lifestyles and I feel rejected.  I am better with that now, but it has played out in the past.  It seems when I have time and an emotional investment in something or someone I have set it up so that at some point I need them to choose me. Prove they love me.  It seems I am needy that way,  I have to let that go.

So this was never about them,  it is always about me.  About my growth, my lessons, my being willing to look at things differently and have a different story.  I am not unworthy of love, I am not unlovable, I am not my mother. I don’t have to keep repeating those lessons.  She never learned differently, she never really trusted love.   I don’t have to draw circumstances into my life where I feel like being loved is a win. I can let go of the need to prove myself through others that I am lovable.  I can let this go.  Maybe not overnight, these lessons are almost hard wired in, but I control my thoughts and I can have a different thought.  I can say I am ready to be loved just as I am.  I don’t have to earn your love and you do not have to prove you love me. We can let be easy, we can let it flow. I can start here, in my 3rd act, ready to be open and learn a new truth about myself.

Because it is not about them, it never was.

Namaste

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Change, Daily Life, Growth, life, Self, strength

The River Flows as Does Life

Yesterday I walked along a river and noting all the different ways the river flowed.  From its source to the natural end,  it goes through many different incarnations. There are calm pools, there are rapids, there are easily flowing streams, there are waterfalls, it widens, it narrows.  Sometimes it is a trickle and sometimes a flood.  There are twists and turns, over rocks, under branches. So many times life has been likened to a river, I am remembering that now.

Could we not look at the above paragraph and substitute life for river?  From the beginning of our lives we cannot see where it is going to take us.  And though we have conscious thought, choice and control within our lives we cannot always see how we got to where we are.  Life will respond to our unspoken words, our true beliefs and the thoughts we fill our minds with. So even when I say, well this is not what I wanted, is it not what I believed I could have?  Of course it is. My thoughts, my desires, my belief in what I truly can accept is what makes up the river of my life.

I think I have to have all the parts of the river to be whole.  I need the rapids. The rapids make me strong.  I can look back and say I survived that.  I survived that loss, that divorce, that growth, that disappointment.  I build emotional muscle when I run the rapids.  And the waterfalls,  they build my faith.  When I am falling with no idea how this will end, I step into faith. And trust. Let go and let God, or let Life, however you look it.  These are the waterfalls of my life.  This is when I stand up and know whatever happens I can survive.  The rapids have made strong and faith takes me though it.

At times the river is narrow and twisty.  I can only see a small piece of my world.  Perhaps I am focused on one area.  Usually there are rocks underneath and branches above.   At those times my world feels shrunken and tight. I have to work hard to move through it. Maybe there are dangers, things I need to raise my attention to.  These are the times I step carefully, working my way to smoother waters.

At times in narrowness the river dries.  Never completely empty, but pooled and stagnant.  These times are dark.  In those moments of life, it is easy to get stuck. It is muddy and I get bogged down. I feel the stillness instead of movement. In those times I learn what I really want and need in my life. And I call to it, I reach out.  This stretch of the river teaches me patience and strengthens my faith. To know I will make it out of the muck, to know there is movement beyond this moment, this time. Life always returns, and me with it.

There are pools in the river, places to rest.  These times give me peace, and serenity.  To know that I will be back in the river, but for this moment, I get to rest.  I get to be still.  I get to stop look around and make a choice.  For me this is a time of reflection, a deepening. Even though the movement of the river takes me forward,  the pool gives me a moment to breathe and reflect.  I need that in my life to keep my direction.

The tinkling brook, the sounds of the water flowing freely over the rocks.  There is joy, there is ease. It is a busy time, with much movement in my life. I think this part of my life is one of my favorite times.  I feel alive, engaged, happy.  Yes there is work, but in the way that frees me to move forward.  The river sparkles with light, and I sparkle with life.

Sometimes the river is wide and calm and peaceful.  I move from the busy brook to wide river knowing my soul needs rest. I feel full during these times.  I am reaping my harvest from the busy times. I am moving forward, but a pace that affords me rest.  These times fill me with expansiveness and love.  I feel the breadth of my life.  I see my rewards, I feel my peace.  My soul cries out for these times.  To rest, rejuvenate,  and gather myself for the next  piece of the river.

Because I need all of the pieces of the river.  Just as the river is not whole without each facet, neither am I. I am a sparkly brook, a wide peaceful stream.  I am also a waterfall, a rapid and a pool.  All of this makes up the fabric of my life.  Each pieces teaches something about myself.  Each piece brings its own gift.  Each piece makes me whole. And wholeness, well that is Life.  So I am going to love each and every moment of the river. I am going to love the rapids, the falls, the mud, just as much as I love the sparkling brook,  the deep pools and the wideness of my life. It is all me,  this river of my life.  A crazy, twisted, calm, wide, narrow, sparkling ride.  I wish you safe journey down your river, see you at the end.

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Choice, Daily Life, daily practice, Growth, Honesty, Love, Relationships

Loving Myself is a Daily Practice

Yesterday I was having lunch with a friend and she was talking about how she is overworked at her job.  She has been working 6 days a week for months now and is feeling the strain in her body.  Here is the deal, although there must be some kind of pay off it is not financial and she is not trying to advance in her job. So why then?  Only she can answer that, but it got me to thinking…..

“self-development is a higher duty than self-sacrifice.”
― Elizabeth Cady Stanton

My response to her it that I will not do for my job.  Maybe a different job at a different time, but not this one. I am clear on my boundaries with my job and I am comfortable with how clean my side of the street is.  But that is just my employment and there is a whole bunch more to my life.  And I do get sucked in.  And why is that?  I guess it changes according to the situation.  In a crisis I step up, no question about that, especially when it is my family. I will set aside my life to help them. If my son called I would set this aside, jump in my truck and go. That is a given.  But I will reclaim my life as soon as possible.

Right now my grandmother is in a convalescent home.  She is improving and right now they say she is going home this week.  I know she would like me to be there every day visiting her.  Not going to happen. She has visitors every day, it does not have to be me.  I love my grandmother so much, but my life is important too.  And I get to take care of myself also.  I think it took me being in my fifties before I could say that comfortably.

Before that I was all about self sacrifice.  I stayed in a marriage too long thinking It was better for him and my son (wrong by the way). I would become over involved in my employment only to see at the end of the day I didn’t own the businesses and everyone can be replaced.  I hung on to friendships past their expiration date thinking I could save something that was over. Even over involvement in volunteering or community becomes draining, stealing the joy from the original intention.  Men, on my gosh, I gave up my life, making theirs the focal point of our relationships. The list goes on…..  If I just loved more, worked harder,  gave everything, well then I would be important, I would be loved, appreciated,  no one would leave me.  It didn’t really work out that way. And now I have learned some lessons from that.

the buddha

At the end of the day no one can bring me happiness beyond myself.  Loving and caring for myself must be first on my list.  To move through life with a full heart, means I have to fill it.  And this is not easy.  It is almost a reflex to say “yes”.  It is how I was raised. My impulse is to set myself aside and take care of you. But is that what is best for me, and in the end you, perhaps not. So I need to be mindful of when and why I say yes.  I need to listen to my body and my heart when it starts saying no. I need to be okay with putting myself first.  And that means unlearning behavior that is years ingrained. Loving myself needs to be a daily practice.

Yes, if you love me, that can make me feel good.  But if you love me and I don’t love myself, I won’t believe you. I won’t trust that love. Because how could you love what I believe to be unlovable?  When I do not value myself what value can you put on me?  If I am so willing to set aside my wants, desires, dreams, time and energy why would you respect them? I want to engage with those people who have a healthy self respect for themselves and their lives.  I want them to love themselves so I can love them back.  Please don’t sacrifice yourself for me, I cannot carry the weight of both of our lives.

This is not about those times when I need help or you need help.  Those are teaching moments in our lives.  Those are moments that give us connection and a sense of belonging outside of ourselves. Those are times when we can almost touch love. It becomes tangible. But to do that without resentment or expecting a return we have to come from a place of love.  And love starts within.  It all comes back to loving yourself.  To loving yourself so much you have love to give others.  You have filled your time and spent your energy so well, you have it to share.

So it is not selfish to say “I love myself first”. It is not wrong to be wise with your time and your energy.  It is okay to say no when something is draining you, taking more than you have to give.  You can put yourself first. This is your day, this is your life. You get to choose how you spend, where you spend and who you spend it with.  Life moves fast and time is precious. Be sure to have time well spent.  And spend that time loving yourself.

Namaste

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Choice, Daily Life, Growth, Inspiration, Self, time

You Can’t Buy Time

“All I need is time, and  you can’t buy time.”  This was said to me today in my grandmothers hospital room.  She is 94 and well aware that time is precious for her.  We want to believe that she has many more years, and maybe she does, but maybe she doesn’t. It is harder to believe you do when you are 94 and looking at major changes in health and lifestyle.  So we smiled a little, but the moment was bittersweet, because there was such honesty behind it.

  • It is so easy to waste our lives: our days, our hours, our minutes. It is so easy to take for granted the pale new growth on an evergreen, the sheen of the limestone on Fifth Avenue, the color of our kids’ eyes, the way the melody in a symphony rises and falls and disappears and rises again. It is so easy to exist instead of live. Unless you know there is a clock ticking.–Anna Quindlen (A Short Guide to a Happy Life)

We have all watched time slip away on something.  A child growing up and moving out on their own.  We watch those precious days of them under our roof, knowing that will end.  We have been in school knowing graduation was coming and life would change.  We have watched marriages end, the clock ticking as we made our plans.  We have watched friends move away, each day bringing them closer to being gone.  We have watched loved ones die, each moment precious and never to be recovered. We have lain in bed with our lover on a cold morning knowing the world was calling and the moment of separation was at hand. We have watched time slip away over and over again. That is the way of life. Time moves forward.

So what could be more precious than the moment at hand?  Never to be recovered or to be repeated.  How am I honoring these moments, these hours, these days? Am I spending them as well as I can.  Am I throwing away time? Do I recognize its value?

I have a job that I do not love, I also do not hate it. But 40 hours of every week are assigned to being there.  What I know is the job is honorable, productive and serves a greater purpose in the world. It also affords me the means to be independent and self sufficient. Since I have to be there I can look for the good in how spend my time.  I am surrounded by co workers and each one is an opportunity to make a connection.  To see a greater truth about why we are there.  To find some joy and laughter in the day.  To be of support when someone needs a shoulder. Is this easy?  No.  Do I fail? Yes.  Do I keep trying? Yes.  Because I am spending my time there and my time is valuable and I don’t want to waste my days. I cannot replace them.

Beyond that, how am spending my time?  Can I lay down at night and feel I had a good day, a worthwhile day?  Can I look back at last week and think I spent my time with those I love?  Can I see that I spend time in joy?  Did I learn, did I grow?  Did I give back as much as I received?

Can I recognize what does not feed my soul and leave it behind?  Can I say to myself this person, this situation, does not honor my time and let it go?  Can I do that without guilt?  Can I honest and gentle and still put myself and my time first?  Time is too valuable, I need to choose wisely. Not one moment can ever be given back.

Because for me time wasted is not about a Netflix marathon.  If I am happy and enjoying myself whatever I am doing is not time wasted.  Time wasted is spending my time in distress, in unhappiness, being uncomfortable.  Those are the conditions I do not want to lay down with at night.  Those are the things where I can say “this is not bringing value to my life” and move away from them.  I know it is easier said than done.  But I can try, I can start the process. I can refuse to support situations that are not for my greater good.

Because I want to be 94 and still looking for more time.  I want time to have time served me so well that I am greedy for more.  I want a life well lived, and I know that is up to me.  Everyday when I awaken I get to choose how I spend my time.  Maybe not where I spend my time, but how.  Because whether I am at work, lounging around, sharing time with loved ones, stuck in traffic or standing in line at the store I still get to choose the quality of that time.  Those are still my moments and they are equal in value.  Some are teaching moments, some are learning moments, some are simply bliss, and they are all mine.  And sometimes it is as simple I am choosing to be happy in this moment.

So all of our clocks are ticking.  I am trusting I have a grandmother clock which will last a long time. But if I have not spent my time well it doesn’t matter how long I have.  And if I have, I guess it doesn’t really matter either.  At the end of the day time is kind of an illusion we use to mark our days.  The truth what we really have is right now, this moment. The past is gone, the future an unknown, but this moment, this moment is here. You have this time right now…..spend it wisely.

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