Month: March 2017

THE PERFECT STYLE OF YOU #WednesdayWisdom

THE PERFECT STYLE OF YOU #WednesdayWisdom

style
This is a portrait of JEANNE LOUISE CALMENT (1875-1997) who was the darling of the media, back in 1995, when she reached her 120th birthday and became the oldest known person in the world – she would further become, by another year, the oldest documented person ever to have lived.

Online quizzes attract me like a kid to a cookie jar. Their popularity is a good indication that I’m not alone. Modern humans seem fascinated with the subtleties of their personalities and figuring out who they are, really. We want to know our hidden gifts and most attractive qualities. I’m no different. Many days I feel like a giant Rubik’s cube.

WHAT’S YOUR STYLE?

Over the weekend, the women in the Aging Abundantly Circle Meet UP group on Facebook had a lively conversation about our wardrobes, what we like to wear and why. Most had a pretty solid idea of where they stood on the subject. Unfortunately, I flip-flop from one style to another and am rarely consistent about anything I buy or wear.

Consistency confounds me in all areas of my life. My clothes are no exception. Some days I gravitate to free-flowing and colorful. Other days I want nothing more than the comfort of jeans and a sweater, figuratively and metaphorically.  It makes shopping difficult and having what I need available when I need it challenging. I whine to any of the Gods who are listening to please help me find a single, unmistakable style that I can embrace. I want to be me 24/7, and what I’m wearing is important! (Silence.)

My frustration was met by this  answer from one of the participants in the conversation: “You’re a mood dresser!” She seemed excited by her declaration, but what I heard was that I was moody and there’s no denying that. It just makes matters worse. I said such and she laughed and responded, “No! Not moody“, she said, “you dress according to your mood! That’s who you are!”

FINDING OUR COMFORT ZONE

styleBINGO! The unsettled blocks in my brain went click, click, click and my sense of identity fell into a new comfort zone. She was absolutely right! I want clothes that match my mood. Just like I want a coffee mug that matches my mood at any given time. But, could I embrace this about myself?

It’s not that we don’t know who we are, we just want someone to tell us its okay to be ourselves. We spent a half a lifetime, if not more, living according to other’s definitions of who we are and our essential self has seemed wrong for so long, that we could use a little reinforcement. So we take quizzes.

As I reflected on clothing styles and personality quizzes it occurred to me that what lies beneath the surface of both are one and the same. On the surface, what we learn is interesting if true, but so what? Beneath the surface the question remains, “what are we really looking for? What are we hoping to learn? Why do we need so desperately to know the answers?

If you look for the truth outside yourself, 
It gets farther and farther away. 
Today walking alone, I meet it everywhere I step. 
It is the same as me, yet I am not it. 
Only if you understand it in this way 
Will you merge with the way things are.
~ Tung-Shan

SELF-APPRECIATION IS HEALTHY

Most of the time I believe we are looking for one or two very fundamental things. We are looking for self-acceptance and/or affirmation of something we already intuitively know to be true about ourselves. We really don’t need the quizzes to tell us what we already know, we just want someone out there to say “yes, you are this”, isn’t it wonderful? In other words, we want permission to be who we already know ourselves to be.

My search for a style of clothes all my own is one of the least important things on the planet to me. What I believe I really want is to be okay with being me; to be okay with my idiosyncrasies and out-of-stepness. We all want affirmation, for someone or something to say, “hey, you got it goin’ on”, I like you!

We need this more than we might because a “mean girl chorus” hounds us to be like everyone else and to not dare be who we are. This very vocal and personal collection of people, made up of mom, sister and great-aunt Betty, has been with us for a lifetime. To send them packing is to open up a whole lot of space in our head that in the beginning feels really strange. As we begin to embrace the void, however, and fill the space with our own thoughts, appreciation and enjoyment of who we are, it gets a whole lot happier in there.


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WRITING FOR CONNECTION – #WednesdayWisdom #AshWednesday

WRITING FOR CONNECTION – #WednesdayWisdom #AshWednesday

JournalingToday, I need to write, to lay out in words on a page the cacophony that has taken up residence within me.  Not writing too often leads me to bouts of irritability, depression or sleepless nights. I used to write in a journal every night before I went to bed. That was years ago, before kids, before I married. I lived alone. No TV, no phone, no close friends.

PATHWAYS

Writing in a journal led me down such interesting paths in those days. Each night, I grabbed my notebook and pen and climbed into bed, eager for a conversation with a caring friend. I began with whatever came to mind, often with no particular forethought. The process of writing loosened my unconscious thoughts and opened the floodgates that kept me locked within myself. The more I wrote the lighter I became and I eventually flowed into exhortation and prayer. When I put down the pen I felt stronger, a bit more whole, my spirit solidified.

‘the world will never starve for want of wonders;
but only for want of wonder’

I believed the Divine was alive in me then, as I do now, alive in all of us. We simply need to find our point of entry.  Writing became my vehicle of communication, a daily dialogue with the great beyond. I was not clear where the two worlds met other than in that very private and personal space. It didn’t matter. Inner peace is worth a few unanswered questions.

I set down my pen for years. Lost in the world of doing and becoming. The connection weakened. The communication severed.  I could not find a way for the two realities to meet. I experienced this great divide for the first time after returning home from church camp. Longing to share my experiences I reached out to the one person I thought would understand, my mother. She was unable to cross the bridge from her world to mine and the wall between my experiences and the “real” world thickened. Eventually I gave up trying to talk about it. Doing so only made me feel more alone than I already did.

THE GREAT DIVIDE

This great divide ultimately led me into a very dark place. A psychiatrist named it Clinical Depression and gave me medication. The pain dulled and once again I reclaimed my place in the world. This world. Dwelling here in finitude my focus shifted to more mundane matters, a career, a marriage, children. My connection with myself and with the Divine lay in a closet somewhere out of sight.

Many years later, a mighty swing of the hand of God put the pen back in my hand. Even now I stray and wander as I always have, but with each passing year I come to understand more deeply the connection between my soul and the written word. It is my life blood, my vehicle for expression and connection with myself, with others and with the world of Spirit.

I still choose not to question too deeply and instead choose to rest in gratitude for all that lives within each of us. The spiritual path is a practice that requires leaning into, embracing and accepting our yearning, our sense of incompleteness as a fundamental human drive for a deeper connection with all that is.  The strength of the longing and the fact that it exists in all of us is proof enough to me that it is a path that we all must travel in our own way.

“In my life, writing has been an important exercise to clarify what I believe, what I see, what I care about, what my deepest values are. The process of converting a jumble of thoughts into coherent sentences makes you ask tougher questions.”  ~ Barack Obama, 44th President of the U.S. 

 


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