Sunday, December 30, 2012

A New Year: A Reset Button?

Another new year is upon us. Ready for us whether we're ready for it or not. I hear people say they're glad 2012 is almost over almost as if closing the door on 2012 will magically erase all the challenges they faced. Well, it's a nice thought, but really whatever plagued you in 2012 will still be there in 2013.

The only way challenges disappear is when we face them, embrace them, and finally conquer them. I wish I could close my eyes tomorrow night and wake up to discover all my problems were solved. Well, actually, that's a lie. I have fleeting moments when I feel that way, but what would I learn if that happened?

The challenges in our lives are opportunities to grow into our best selves, to find our paths in life, to rise up and touch others with our journeys. So, while my 2012 was filled with challenges and had some very rocky and unsettling moments, I learned a lot and I grew a lot. Do I wish these things hadn't happened? Sometimes, because I think mistakes were made and people, including me, got hurt, but I wouldn't have found the direction I needed to go if these things hadn't happened. Mostly, I discovered I'm a lot stronger than I tend to give myself credit for, and I've learned it's okay to stand in my strength even if no one likes it when I do.

So, as I face 2013, and I lament unfinished projects and unmet goals and changed relationships, I'm also extremely grateful. I have people in my life who love me unconditionally, who will catch me when I fall off life's cliff, who will hold me together when I feel I'm coming apart at the seams. And, I've also learned to do all those things for myself as well as that some people won't or can't be there for me when I need them.

I've readjusted some relationships not because I love the people any less, but because I realized I have to take care of me. Relationships just can't remain unchanged when life changes around them. The changes either bring people closer or send them in different directions. This is part of life.

I learned that if I don't value myself, I can't see when others do value me. Even worse I send others the message that it's okay to devalue me. The thing that stunned me was the realization that I've told other people this numerous times about their own lives and never realized I was doing it in my own.

I went into 2012 feeling confident about my future, and that remains as 2012 ends, but I also feel confident about my present now. Today offers me choices, and those choices determine how tomorrow turns out. When I remember that, I'm empowered to move forward without fear or hesitation.

So, I'm neither excited about nor scared of 2013. I simply don't believe the clock striking midnight tomorrow night will magically reset anything. Frankly, I'm thrilled about that idea. It means I get to keep moving forward, setting goals, adjusting plans, building the life I want, and growing into my best self, whoever she may be...

And so do you...

Happy New Year!!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Happy Holidays

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Finding Strength in Vulnerability

Last night I listened to Brene Brown on TEDTalks. She discussed vulnerability. I listened as she explained several things I discovered in 2010 when I did an experiment in making myself more vulnerable. Her discoveries about herself so mirrored what I discovered about myself, it scared me. After it was over, I fought back the tear that slid down my cheek.

I read a blog post I wrote in early 2011 about my experiment in being more vulnerable, Vulnerability, I Once Considered You a Curse Word this morning, and realized three things. 1) I haven't come quite as far as I'd planned in the past few years, 2) I sure do like me more today than I did when I started my experiment, and 3) I find much more strength than weakness in allowing myself to be vulnerable.

I still struggle with allowing myself to be vulnerable. I fall back into old patterns of protecting myself and lose sight of the benefits of opening my truth to other people. I still have moments of intense fear that people will use my vulnerabilities against me, and sometimes they do. But, more often, I find that when I express my truth including both my strength and my vulnerabilities to people, they respond with love and acceptance. I'm getting better. I'm not sure it'll ever be easy for me to be truly vulnerable, but I can express and embrace my vulnerabilities much more readily today than I could at the beginning of 2010.

The realization that I like myself better now came as a complete surprise. Mainly because I didn't realize I didn't like myself before. Oddly, I always thought I liked myself, and in some ways I did. I just like me better now. I enjoy my own company. I've learned that my imperfections are wonderful parts of me. I've learned that I have a lot to offer the world, and that I'm responsible to offer all that to the world even when it makes me feel vulnerable.

When I take down my defenses and allow my vulnerabilities out to play, I become stronger. I'm not expending energy keeping up a facade. I'm not trying to make people like me. I stop fearing people's rejection. When I discover that the display of my vulnerabilities helps someone else, I grow as a person. When the revelation of my vulnerabilities takes away the ability of others to control me because I don't fear their judgment, I grow stronger. When I first decided to force myself to become more vulnerable, I never expected to find strength in my vulnerabilities. That has, perhaps, been the most pleasant surprise I've experienced from opening my truth to the world for reaction whether that reaction be acceptance, judgment, love, or hate. In the end, I've discovered my inner strength grows with each and every vulnerability I reveal and release...

So last night when I listened to Brene Brown, I transported back into my own journey to and through vulnerability. I cried as I realized just how much stronger and more resilient I feel today than on that rather ordinary January day when I decided to force myself to be vulnerable to see if I could find the answers to all the questions and fears in my head.

Take a listen, maybe just maybe, Brene's words will touch your life...

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Embracing Challenges

I decided to participate in a 30-day Poem-a-Day challenge sponsored by Writer's Digest during the month of November because I was in a strange place and needed the creative structure to re-establish my writing routine which suffered greatly after I injured my knee in August requiring surgery in September. Between recovery time, the pain medication I hated taking, the pain when I didn't take the medication, and then hours of physical therapy each day, I just couldn't get my creativity focused long enough to write much.

So, when my friend, Ariel, posted the first PAD challenge, I decided to take the challenge. If all I accomplished was a single poem for thirty days, at least it would be something written every day for thirty days.

When I say I normally don't participate in these challenges, I mean I hate to be told what to write or what to write about or when to write. For those reasons, I tend to shy away from challenges like this PAD challenge and the famous NaNoWriMo or whatever challenge. I think these challenges are great ideas and do wonderful things for many writers. I just generally find them more restricting than inspiring.

This time, however, I embraced the Poem-a-Day challenge with great results. Not only did I write a poem for each and every challenge on the day of the challenge, but I also wrote several other poems and managed to work a little on some other writing projects that needed my attention. In fact, I wrote or edited 56 poems in November, so I would say the Poem-a-Day challenge inspired my inner poetess a whole bunch!

Most importantly, though, I began to feel productive and creative again!

And, that's what I most needed!

I so wanted to come to the end of the challenge and be able to dismiss it as just something completed, but it stretched my poetic muscles and reminded me I need to rise to the challenges I set for myself and to embrace new challenges in order to continue my growth whether writing or living.