Friday’s Focus—There’s One on Every Corner

My father-in-law used to say, “Opinions are like assholes, everyone’s got them.” And they do. Whether it’s good or bad depends on what side of the opinion you’re on. Sometimes it’s neither but there’s still a comment that didn’t have to be made. I’ve let people’s opinions knock me off my course and hurt me. I believed what they said because I thought they knew better, had more experience = knowledge and I’m sorry now. It’s hard to stay true to your own compass at any age but especially when you’re a teenager or young adult.

One such person was a professor I had in college. I was an art major and he was not only my professor but also Chair of the Department. I knew his reputation early on, but he taught many of the classes I had to take and so there was no way around escaping his classes or attention.  Soon enough, he showed himself the tyrant that I was warned of. One afternoon, he went around the room critiquing each student’s assignment from the previous week. He stopped in front of mine and completely tore it apart telling me I had no idea what art was and I had no talent. This was the latest in a series of derogatory and humiliating criticisms I heard from him.

His comments of my work and  my abilities was particularly harsh, and I decided I was done. That was my last art class and I changed my major the next day. Reading that, you may feel I was weak to have done so, or just not passionate enough to stay with my art. Trust me, I thought the same things about myself then.

And so do the kids who are told they are stupid and can’t learn anything; the young adults that are told they’ll never make anything of themselves if they don’t have a job; the girl who’s told she’s not pretty enough until she loses weight; the boy who won’t grow up to be a “real” man because he doesn’t like sports.

I didn’t believe in myself enough to stick with it. It’s not about pride—it’s about believing that you can do something and if not now, then one day. This can be taught to us only so far by our peers but there’s also something within each one of us that needs to recognize it and own it. Sometimes we do, but it’s not until much later in our lives.

It’s never too late or too early to believe in yourself and what you can do. I bet there is something each one of us was told we couldn’t do or be, which changed the directions in our lives.

Every day, every hour, every conversation, every argument, every person you meet, every relationship you’re in and every situation that presents itself is an opportunity and a chance. Take it, run with it and believe in yourself.

#takingitdeeper

IMG_0048

Advertisement

Friday’s Focus—Getting Up, Showing Up, and Doing It All Over Again

This week has left me feeling more stressed than usual and I found myself sitting down to my computer every morning filled with dread and ending the day feeling completely drained to the point of answering my husband’s questions in one-syllabic grunts. But then this morning I finished reading a book by Michael Singer called, The Surrender Experiment in which he talks about surrendering to what life is asking each one of us and to look at our lives not as what we want out of life, but rather what is life asking of us.

Near the end of the book, he says “It was not my responsibility to find out what is binding me; that was life’s job. My responsibility was to willingly let go of whatever was brought up within me.”

Wow.

This week in particular had been a struggle for me as a new level of challenges popped up at every turn. Stress begat stress and by the end of Thursday evening, I found myself feeling feverish, achy, and with a sore throat. I was stressing myself into illness.

I already knew from early in the day Monday, that this week wasn’t going to be easy but I tried to keep in mind  Singer’s words about questioning what it was that life wanted from me and not what I wanted out of life. Though it wasn’t always easy, there was a freshness to the approach that appealed to me and my curiosity of where things  could go.

Each day, I showed up and did the best that I could give and knew how to do, and in that I could take solace in and pride. My job is not brain surgery and no one’s life is at stake but I have a high ethic in everything I do and what is expected of me as an employee, daughter, and even my personal expectations of myself. In hindsight to this past week though, it turned out to be more than I could give. Was I seeking perfection? Maybe, as I tend to lean toward that, but it took my body to feel like it was breaking down to really bring it home the stress that I had put on myself. Instead of building on yesterdays gains, I was building upon yesterdays fears and losses as I perceived them. This is how disease and depression grows giving way to a loss of hope.

“My responsibility was to willingly let go of whatever was brought up within me.”

Yes.

Every day I get up, show up, and do it over again the next day. But today was different. Today I showed up with a renewed determination and focus of letting go of whatever is being brought up in me from what’s going on in my life. Surrender. This act, in of itself, is asked of me and each of us every day. It’s not something you do once and you’re done.  Life is continually upping the ante and asking for us to do things that oftentimes we don’t feel we can handle. We can fight life and our situations or we can surrender.

But doesn’t surrendering mean giving up? Giving up what we think we want, yes. Giving up on opportunities that life presents to us, no. It’s surrendering to the energy of the flow of allowing ourselves to end up wherever we need to be. In other words, getting out of our own way. The only control we really have is over our own reactions and so all we can do—the best thing that we can do—is to surrender. Again and again and again and again. Singer calls this the journey beyond ourselves, and what a ride it is.

I don’t know for sure what life is asking from me, but I do know, that at the very minimum, it’s asking me for an open heart, a curious soul, a creative mind, and a clean body. And that, my friends, is what today’s Friday’s Focus is about and what every day hereafter is about, not just for me but for each of us.

Taking it deeper…