Well, I’d promised to share how I was going to have more of what worked for me in 2018 in 2019… but as usual, life had other plans. (I will get to the other, I promise… just not today, not right now, not as of this writing.) Because I am on another plane, off to another city, again… for another interview, with another of the heavy-hitters of this day and age.
I bring that up not for bragging rights, but as a reminder to myself of where I am in life, what I do, what I’m capable of… and even more so, the idea that it’s not all in my head… these other people (and companies) see it too, or they wouldn’t be flying me out, putting me up in a nice hotel, so they could spend an entire day talking to me and for the most part, having seven different people check under the hood and kick the tires. And sometimes, I really do need to remember that… because, as we all know, some days it neither looks of feels like any of that is possible.
Today is not one of those days… I neither feel less than what I am nor more than what I am. Today I feel exactly like me, exactly where I am…and it feels incredibly good. It was a long time and a long journey to get here, and I’m not sure I ever believed that I would really make it, but here I am. And I can tell you this, every single piece of the mosaic that made up every single step of the path I took to get here was both necessary and worth it. There were several stops along the way when I would’ve thought that an impossible and a downright cruel statement… but it’s true, it is absolutely true.
I’ve spent the majority of my life, up to the last year or so, trying to peel away and discard everything that wasn’t truly “me.” You know, all that junk we get told as children about how and who we are “supposed” to be… that may or may not have anything to do with how and who we actually are. Or the things we see as we grow up and make decisions about how the world is and our role in it. Then we find ourselves as adults still living according to the rules set up by a child, or an adolescent. Even more mind blowing are the realizations of how much we are boxed in by things handed down through the generations of our families or even just the people we encounter along the way.
Admittedly, this is not easy work, and it’s not for the faint of heart. But being fully in the NOW, completely in my own body, my own skin, and being truly comfortable here is beyond worth it. These days I am able to be fully present, both with myself and with others that I choose to share my life with. Which is a world away from the years spent surviving on scraps of the attention or affections of others, doled out solely as reward for “being” or “behaving” as they saw fit. No matter if it violated my integrity, my self-image, my sense of right and wrong, or simply my innate sensibilities or how I wanted to be in the world.
So, how did I get from there to here? I have followed so many paths, learned so many tools, and frankly, gotten so much help, and I believe every bit of it was necessary for whatever I was dealing with at the time. (And just to be crystal clear here… I don’t believe that I am done. Or that I will ever be completely done… at least until the day I die… if I’m lucky. I am constantly learning, evolving, growing… and with each new area comes new opportunities to be even more myself. If I am willing.)
If it was easy, or we could do it on our own, then all of us would be totally fulfilled, spiritual beings, of love and light 100% of the time. I don’t know about you, but I sure as hell am not there yet! But if you think you may be, try this test… bumper to bumper traffic on the way to the airport to catch an important flight. Or this one, you have everything figured out exactly as you want it to go down, and someone that you love or really care about says “no.” So, how did you do? Anything but absolute undisturbed peace and serenity means we both still have something to look at!
And that’s what all of this amounts to. Being willing to ask ourselves some hard questions. Being willing to give ourselves honest answers. Why do I react the way I do to things? Why do certain things set me off and I can’t seem to stop myself? What makes me feel less than, or more than, someone else? How do I act when that happens? Do I regret or dislike any of these feelings or behaviors? Are they even really mine? Did I decide this was true? How? When? Or was this given (told) to me by someone else? How? When? Does it fit who I am (or more importantly) or who I want to be? And finally, being willing to let go of what doesn’t fit, and replace it with what does… even if that means learning and discovering completely new things to figure out what does fit for the life we want to have. That is the biggest adventure in all of life, as far as I am concerned at least.
Here is an example of how this has played out in my life. It’s a really small one, and probably the first time I was really conscious of this happening. (And at the moment I can’t for sure remember if I’ve shared this already, but if I have forgive me…. But it is still valid!) I was out shopping for interview clothes after a seriously substantial transition in my life… I was still try to reconcile who “me” was in this new context, much less how to dress her. A multicolored skirt caught my eye, and as I looked at it I heard a voice in my head saying “Oh, that would make you look slutty. You couldn’t pull that off. That’s not professional at all. Oh geez…” and on it went. I was just taking a closer look at the pretty colors on this very long skirt… “slutty?!?” Where the hell did that come from?!?
I noticed for the first time ever that the voice in my head saying those things to me wasn’t my own. (Now hold on for a minute, because this is where it gets a little bit weird.) I focused a little more, dug a little deeper, and I realized that the voice saying those things was my sister’s. This is particularly strange because although we were born the same day (three years apart) we are not twins, but we do look a lot alike (except for coloring) and we share many similarities that are almost identical. One of those being (at that time at least) our voices. So realizing that the voice in my head wasn’t mine was doubly powerful… these weren’t my ideas, or what I thought or how I felt about me… but I also saw how easily I had taken them on because of the authority granted them being in my “native tongue”, if you will, and the words of my older sister… who was supposed to know more of the world and look out for me.
As I stood there, stunned by these realizations, I also wondered why I granted my sister that supremacy in my life? She’d never shown that she had my best interests at heart, or even given me any support through the great changes I’d just been through.
At that moment I asked myself something that I am not sure I’d ever asked (or been asked by anyone else.) “What do I think?” I thought the long skirt was beautiful, and with a long sleeve shirt and granny boots (Hey, it was a long time ago!) not the least bit slutty. Different, maybe… but different was okay by me.
Since that day I have had an easier time picking out the things I tell myself that are not mine. Then I learned how to do it with things that were just no longer true for me… and on it went. Also since that day, I have rarely listened to anyone else’s opinions about what I wear or how I dress. My clothes are an expression of me and I am comfortable with that.
That is where the peace and the centeredness comes from for me… that no matter what is going on, or what happens, I will be ok. Nothing is beyond me because I can show up wholly, from the heart, even if I am afraid or anxious, doubtful or sad. I can own all of that, knowing that I am just another human being and I will find my way through anything to better ground. Nothing I feel or think is permanent. I am not stuck in concrete, tied to a way of being that no longer fits me or gets in my way. That is how I have spent the last 30 years of my life becoming… well, me.
Now here comes the big one… what do you think? About you? About where you are in your life versus where you want to be? How do you feel about it all? How do you want to feel about it all? And what do you need to close that gap? Please feel free to share with me in the comments or message me if you have questions or need clarification on anything. How can you put this into play in your own life?
I just realized your blog this morning. I love all that you wrote! My journey lately has been a theme of emptying that which is harmful or blocks me – the things, even after what I consider careful examination, I did not even know were there. So it’s true, we’re never finished and thus, the journey.
Halfway through I was reminded of one of Paulo Coelho’s quotes (and you probably know which before I write it) – “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it.”
One conclusion (in short), is that you and I are from the same tribe, and I cannot sufficiently express the comfort of that knowledge. Thank you for writing this, Toni. – Siobhan Ponce