Tag: Wednesday wisdom

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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Be Useful – What Do You Do Best – What Are Your Gifts?

Be Useful – What Do You Do Best – What Are Your Gifts?

Be Useful
ARTIST: Bessie Pease Gutmann

I never felt like I knew how to be useful as a child. My skills were limited. The youngest of five, my siblings had little use for me and more often than not I was a burden not an aid. They were useful! They taught me things. My sister taught me how to fix my hair, my brother gave me rides in his Messerschmitt. My parents were useful. My mother cooked, cleaned, baked cakes for the sick and the elderly. My father, worked to put food on the table and when he was not working outside of the home he was working on the car, or the garden, or the house. My family members were all very busy people! I, on the other hand did not see my usefulness.

One day, my sister sat down at the piano and started playing O Holy Night while I stood by her side to turn the pages. Sing! she said. I loved the song so I began to sing. I worked very hard to get the notes just right. We had to practice a bit, but we got better and better. We laughed together and enjoyed what we had created. I realized, I felt useful! It was not a usefulness that was like baking cookies for the elderly or changing the oil in the car, but it filled my heart with joy and lifted my spirits. I was being useful to my sister.

I have been taking a series of Spiritual Direction classes with Caroline Myss via her CMED Institute over the past year. In her most recent class she talked about this idea of being useful and I began to think about how my perspective in this regard has impacted my life.

BE USEFUL – IT’S ESSENTIAL TO YOUR SELF-ESTEEM

Being useful is essential to our self-esteem. Mine suffered because I could not see my use. It was the underlying cause of my depression. I see that now. It made my heart-sick and my soul pine for something more.

In later years, working and motherhood gave me a sense of usefulness. Being a good mother mattered deeply to me. It gave me a sense of purpose in life. It made drudgery doable. And with work, one can always find something useful to do. When my job as a mother began to wind down, the restlessness reappeared. I felt a void. An emptiness. A longing for something more. I needed to be useful. Now, however, it would have to be something different.

One of the problems I faced with seeing myself as useful was that in spite of the fact that my parents both led very “useful” lives, they seemed to still carry a restlessness with them to their grave. Neither one felt as though they had done enough, had been useful enough. I didn’t want to be like that. I wanted not “to die with my music still in me”.

[tweetthis display_mode=”box”]”Don’t die with your music still inside of you.”Wayne Dyer #quote[/tweetthis]

It is important to be useful. It’s equally important to take a step back when deciding how to be useful and look at what comes naturally to us. What do we do best? What do we enjoy doing? Checking out customers in a retail store is useful. I can do that. I have done that. But, it rarely makes my heart sing. It makes my feet hurt. Standing on a ladder forty feet in the air painting someone’s house is useful. I have done that as well. Trust me, it didn’t make my heart sing for long. There was a sense of empowerment from defeating my fear and accomplishing a task, but been there, done that happened real fast.

My first job as a writer made my heart sing. I was hired to blog for a website for women over fifty – when the internet was barely up and running. The Universe had called me out of motherhood retirement, and I’ve never looked back. I still question my usefulness, particularly when my words fall flat. I know now, however, that it is necessary to re-focus my attention when that happens. When I feel useless or despondent, I know it’s because I need to do something that makes me feel useful and keep on doing so until my heart sings.

[tweetthis]What makes your heart sing?[/tweetthis]


 

MORE ARTICLES you might enjoy:

Beneath the Mask of Depression

Depression – Fighting the Battle

Life Under the Cloud

The Masks We Wear

Meditations on Peace – Wednesday Wisdom

Meditations on Peace – Wednesday Wisdom

In these trouble times, when hope is hard to find, I like to go to meditations on peace and the inspiration of writers such as those I’ve included here. These are but a drop in the vast ocean of hope filled authors that have guided humanity, and continue to guide humanity through turbulent times. Let us all take time each day to reflect on all that is good and right and true in this world. I will always believe that if enough of us join forces for good, for truth, for love and honor … it will make a difference. I believe …

meditations on peace

The Oppressor and the Oppressed Must Both be Liberated..”  ~Nelson Mandela

“I always knew that deep down in every human heart, there is mercy and generosity. No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite. Even in the grimmest times in prison, when my comrades and I were pushed to our limits, I would see a glimmer of humanity in one of the guards, perhaps just for a second, but it was enough to reassure me and keep me going. Man’s goodness is a flame that can be hidden but never extinguished.

It was during those long and lonely years that my hunger for the freedom of my own people became a hunger for the freedom of all people, white and black. I knew as well as I knew anything that the oppressor must be liberated just as surely as the oppressed. A man who takes away another man’s freedom is a prisoner of hatred, he is locked behind the bars of prejudice and narrow-mindedness. I am not truly free if I am taking away someone else’s freedom, just as surely as I am not free when my freedom is taken from me. The oppressed and the oppressor alike are robbed of their humanity.

When I walked out of prison, that was my mission, to liberate the oppressed and the oppressor both. Some say that has now been achieved. But I know that is not the case… We have not taken the final step of our journey, but the first step on a longer and even more difficult road. For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others. The true test of our devotion to freedom is just beginning.”

From Nelson Mandela’s autobiography: Long Walk to Freedom.

When we take the time to think about, contemplate and meditate on peace, or love, or hope we not only take a step toward the restoration of all that is good in our own lives, but our choice to do so spills over into the world. Take time. Even just a moment now and again. Return to hope. 

FOR LOVE IN THE TIME OF CONFLICT

When the gentleness between you hardens
And you fall out of your belonging with each other,
May the depths you have reached hold you still.

When no true word can be said, or heard,
And you mirror each other in the script of hurt,
When even the silence has become raw and torn,
May you hear again an echo of your first music.

When the weave of affection starts to unravel
And anger begins to sear the group between you,
Before this weather of grief invites
The black seed of bitterness to find root.,
May your souls come to kiss.

Now is the time for one of you to be gracious,
To allow a kindness beyond thought and hurt,
Reach out with sure hands
To take the chalice of your love,
And carry it carefully through this echo-less waste
Until this winter pilgrimage leads you
Towards the gateway to spring.

John O’Donohue

(From Benedictus A Book of Blessings, John O’Donohue)


Meditations on Peace

More Meditations on Peace