Be Seen

Today is a wonderful day: International Women’s Day. Women all over the world are speaking up, speaking out about where work still needs to be done to foster equal representation and to encourage courage in the face of those who wish to make us small.

The idea that to change the world we must change ourselves rings very true to me. How can we bring peace into the world if we ourselves are not peaceful? How can we encourage loving relations in the world if we are not loving toward ourselves? Initially, this idea of changing ourselves can seem more manageable than changing the world. Physically, of course, the world is enormous, and it is indescribably complex. Yet, as we are with ourselves continuously, there is always an opportunity to change ourselves, any moment. However, women’s inner worlds are also complex. If you are like me, it can be difficult to look inside. It can feel overwhelming to unearth all the emotions, fears, preconceived notions, and anger. I believe that’s why we can spend quite a bit of energy trying to change other people, other situations, other modes of thought. Yet if we have hatred, how can we expect others to release their hatred? If we judge and discriminate against some others, how can we demand others to not judge and discriminate against some other others? It takes courage to change the world, but it might take more courage to change ourselves.

This year’s IWD theme: Be Bold for Change. Be bold for change in the world, be bold for change in yourself.

I’ve been spending a good deal of time this semester feeling small, not wanting to be noticed. I believe this is because I am in a new relationship, and I’m being noticed, and there is an excellent chance this person will notice aspects of my personality or habit patterns that I am not proud of, or that are holding me back, or that are contradictory, or maybe even harmful to myself or others. This is ironic, because I spent a good deal of time last semester desiring that someone would notice me, that someone would see me. What I realize now is that I wanted someone to see my good, but not my not-so-good. So I’ve been slowly shrinking myself in hopes that I just won’t be noticed.

But what an opportunity. There is someone who sees me, who is seeing me more and more deeply. I can show someone who I am, I can share with someone how I think, I can tell someone my fears, I can mess up and be afraid and trip over myself and that person can be a witness to all of that living. Someone seeing me so closely is really, really scary for me. But what can I do but to keep showing up, keep refusing to get small, keep encouraging the courage in myself? It hurts to be seen, it hurts not to be seen. Which do you choose?

Happy International Women’s Day. Remember not to focus only on how far we have yet to go, but also on how far we’ve come. Remember the freedoms that you experience every day in addition to where your freedom is restricted. Remember that you are not alone, and women all over the world experience heartache, jealousy, self-criticism, rage, and fear. Remember that we all want to be seen, we all want to be loved, we all want to feel safe, we all want to feel justified.

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. – Anais Nin

Two-thirty am; or, after much wine

My friend Sara Rose took me (Sara May) out for a birthday dinner on Monday eve. I’ve always been a lightweight (One-Shot Wonder, they (my little brother) call(s) me), so when Sara suggested we split a bottle of wine, I knew she didn’t know what I knew: that that was a lot for me.

I came home four hours later full of life and smiles, fries and cab sauv. SR and I had been getting deep into philosophy as we swirled the dregs in our glasses. She ended the dinner conversation with something like, “Sara, we just have to tap into the heartbeat of the universe and live there fiercely.” And the way she said it, I was just, yes!

And so after Ian and I said goodnight I went into my little room and read some of my Osho book before falling asleep and, lo and behold, good ol’ Osho is going on about, you guessed it, the heartbeat of the universe. How we have the ability to connect our humble heartbeat to that of the entire UNIVERSE! The night was getting more profound by the minute!

watercolor_human_heart_by_taylorpentonart-d8pgcum

At two-thirty in the morning I woke up to pee because, naturally, I had drunk more wine that evening than the total amount of wine I had consumed in my entire 27th year. I was in and out of sleep until 7:49 am, experiencing monumental insights. In one of my more lucid moments I turned on my red lamp, found my pen and paper that I always keep right by my bed/head, and wrote:

Growing up is making decisions not based on fear or the possibility of mistake but out of love and wisdom.

The freedom in that is beautiful and can be terrifying.

Think about that!

Good night! May your dreams be beautiful blankets of warm, universal love.

Heart by Taylor Penton.
Universe photo.

SH.

“SH” stands for Self-Hate.

df4e0e86047465ca8cdf1cb5a19f8270SH is like death to your naturally vibrant flowery self.

SH is extremely prevalent in our world. Nearly everyone you meet or see runs on SH to some degree. Just watch your mind for one day, or perhaps even five minutes. How many thoughts that traipse across the expanse of your mind are criticism-based? Or, how often do you hear your friends put themselves down? Tell themselves they’re stupid? That they don’t deserve this or that?

You might discover, like I’ve been the past few weeks, that my actions are mostly based around self-criticism, either set up in my past or more recently created. From how I dress to how I eat to how I structure my day, I feel like I ride a train fueled by SH that has, up until now, had plenty of dirty coal to run on until I die.

Yet, as I investigate all of this, I’m beginning to recognize deeper and more cleverly buried voices of SH and I know I have the ability to air this all out and begin a life of self-love (SL).

Imagine living just one day without criticizing ANYTHING you choose to do. You might, like me, find that you are indulging quite a bit. You might, like me, feel floaty and a bit scared at the freedom and expansiveness of a life without SH. You might, like me, find sadness that you and so many you know are operating through SH.

SH can look like this:

Guilt. Like when you go to your favorite coffeeshop and get coffee and a cookie even though sugar is poison and coffee is death to your adrenals and so instead of enjoying your morning treat you guilt your way through eat bite/sip. As if a healthy dose of guilt makes up for it.

Making yourself do anything. Like when you get home from an incredible day of backcountry skiing and you’re exhausted yet you try and be productive because all these obligations are coming up and you need to be prepared. And so you…

…blame yourself for not being productive enough and that’s why your life isn’t what it could be so you feel guilty.

Play the comparison game. Like when you’re at work and your beautiful coworker with flawless skin and no unusual body hair talks about all of her dates and how is she ever going to choose between all these men and you think, well, it’s easy to have lots of dates if you don’t have pimples and unusual body hair.

Self-love can look like this:

Acceptance of your decisions, no matter whatLike when you, for the millionth time, get second helpings of whatever even though you’re full and everyone else at the dinner table served themselves these really acceptable, manageable portions and second helpings is like a light year from their imaginings and then you eat your second helping and feel a little sick afterward.

Greeting yourself with love. Like when you wake up in the morning and the first thing you do is definitely not meditate even though you know it’s like cool, healing water to the soul and instead you make coffee immediately and feel your adrenals cringe.

Do nothing when you should be doing everything. Like when you’ve committed to yourself that you should practice violin more to be a more reliable section leader to your symphony mates and the last thing you want to do in the universe is practice even though you have a totally free evening so instead you make a big bowl of popcorn and eat it like a ravenous wolf and go to bed at 9:00.

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It takes immense amounts of courage to practice SL and identify and banish SH. The courage it takes to be yourself in a world that is almost completely saturated on hiding our true faces almost seems otherworldly. Yet you may realize that a life lived completely in SL is the only sane way to live one’s life. It will all still happen: all of your dreams will still come true, you will still be beautiful, all the love you could ever need will arrive, all of the happiness you never imagined will infuse your life, in the absence of SH. This is all very radical.

Take the risk. Can you consistently ask yourself the question, “Can I love even this?” Challenge yourself.

Choices

In every situation you are blessed with the ability to make a choice. You have been given free will to make decisions to express your true self in any given moment. This is a great gift, your greatest gift, choosing in each moment how to live your life.

When the misguided notions of “wrong” and “right” are gently laid aside, the world becomes your oyster. Naturally, you will begin to make decisions that feel harmonious and clear. Outcomes of your decisions will present themselves and you can use these as tools to make the same, or different, choices down the road. There is no condemnation, there are no pats on the back. Your life is exactly the way it is, or is not, because of all the choices you have made along the way.

Better to believe it: you are the creator of your life. Are you courageous enough to live a life of utmost integrity, grace, and authenticity?

The race is in one week from today. I’ve spent the past nine months preparing for this! The last three weeks spent at high altitude have been great for my training. This week I plan on staying hydrated, rested, well-fed, stretched, and positive. Marathon!