This morning I was on the phone with my sister Jan, asking her about a pattern I noticed in both of our lives. We grew up in a home overflowing with love, support, fun, creativity, physical affection and nurturing. We were raised with the idea that we could do or be whatever we set our hearts and minds to….and yet, here we are, two seasoned women who are excessively hard on ourselves, at times, lacking in self compassion and acceptance. Where the heck did that idea come from? We both pondered the question, coming up empty for an answer; except that our father used to say, in an effort to create resilient daughters who could face challenges, “If that’s the worst thing that happens to you, you’ll be ok.” It could apply to anything from a skinned knee to an emotional boo-boo like a relationship breakup. He hadn’t intended to minimize our feelings, but the umbilical cord was connected to HIM long after it had been cut at our births that he couldn’t stand to see us hurting.
We both carry the idea that we need to be the go-to people, the Ms. Fixits, the rocks on which others can lean. I told her that I felt badly, venting to her about a challenging situation in my life, when she is facing more daunting issues in her own life. She said something that surprised me; quite the sage she can be at times. She replied that my issues were my central focus and deserved attention too. There are times when I minimize my ‘right’ to receive time and focus from others, since “after all, my life is pretty darn good and what the heck do I have to complain about? Oy vay!.” I am uncomfortable with the sense of vulnerability it implies (to me, at least), letting the cat out of the bag that I am not always feeling chippery and cheerful and can whip a walloping internal temper tantrum that would be the envy of a two year old.
There is a poster I saw that said “The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves Around Here”. So often I (and perhaps you) harass and abuse myself with incessant choruses of criticism, as if somehow it will make us better people. It has a parodoxical effect and we end up feeling badly about ourselves, which in turn, has us spinning our wheels faster and with greater fervor, as if somehow that will make a difference. It only makes us exhausted, resentful and feeling as if we will never be able to catch up. Or then, maybe that’s just me. Nah.
I offer classes that focus on self love and compassion because, as the adage goes, we teach what we need to learn. I was speaking with someone tonight on that subject and was amazed how some of what this other person shared so mirrored some of my entrenched beliefs that I thought I had sent packing. Apparently not.
My friend Scott Kalechstein Grace waxes humorous about Critiholism which is perfect for those of us with over active inner critics. www.youtube.com/watch?v=VxuYQqR1IScwww.youtube.com/watch?v=VxuYQqR1ISc
I saw a question recently that asked what faith meant. For those of us raised in homes in which religion played a prominent role, as it did in my Jewish household, it called for an acceptance of what might not be seen, but rather, felt fervently. Most of the time it was about an abiding connection with the Divine Source of all life. God was not just a guest in our home at 123 Pheasant Lane in the suburban South Jersey town of Willingboro, but a permanent household member. God-essence permeated every nook and cranny, rode with us on our bikes, swam beside us in the pool during practice, read over our shoulders in class, sat next to us in Hebrew school, wasn’t just a presence in synagogue. I am grateful to my parents for instilling in me a relationship with God that was inclusive and expansive, not fear based and constricted. Each night before bed, we recited the shema; a signature prayer, which I say to this day prior to closing my eyes.
I came up with an acronym for FAITH
So, what if I fully accepted that as truth? If I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was holy, of the One, in harmony with all life; is there anything that could ever make me less than holy and whole? Taken a step further, is there truly anything I couldn’t do if aligned with that energy? Tonight I had a conversation with my editor and dear friend Pamela Maliniak in which she reminded me to put down the self flagellating whip that has seemingly been attached to my hand for eons. I have held that belief that I ‘should’ be above petty emotions and persistent petulant thoughts. Feeling quite the hypocrite at times, since I profess this to those who read my work or hear me speak. We do indeed teach what we need to learn.
Another friend, Karen Drucker has a song called The Call of Something More that speaks so vividly of what I am feeling at the moment. The line attributed to Rev. Michael Beckwith “pain pushes til the vision pulls” could have been written for a decision I am in the process of making. The vision is pulling me to a new stage in my life, while old patterns and messages about what is expected of me; or rather, what I am expecting of myself, seem to fiercely be battling for my attention, disturbing my own peace.
There’s been a storm brewing inside of me, clouds moving around my heart.
Something’s changing that I can’t see.
I’m stuck in what I know is safe but not yet where I’m supposed to be.
Chorus: I feel the call of something more.
I feel the call of something that I’ve never felt before.
(Done before. Been before)
I feel the call of something more.
I feel the call, asking, what am I here for?
What am I here for? What am I here for?
They say that pain pushes till the vision pulls.
It feels like my safety nets have fallen down.
I wish I had a map of where to go.
I’ve got this feeling deep inside that when I get there I will know.
I want to make a move right now though I don’t know when or how.
When I trust and know the truth, my heart will point the way.
There is more of me to share, so today I do declare,
that I will take that step in faith and let my light shine.
©TayToones Music BMI 2011
To hear this song, click on this link and then pull up The Call
As sure as the sun rises and sets, I AM FAITH and so are you.
I wrote this entry on my facebook page recently and it must have resonated with folks, since many responded with support and encouragement.
“Confession time(: Realizing more fully how much energy it takes to be ON so much of the time; in high performance Tigger mode at my day job in a psychiatric hospital, my writing and speaking, promotion, regular workouts, being an emotional cheerleader by inclination. Feeling wiped at the moment, needing something restorative this weekend. Giving myself permission to feel whatever, instead of smiling all the time, when I don’t feel like it. I tell myself that pissing and moaning over what doesn’t feel so good, is a waste of time and energy and not a whole lotta fun. And yet…if I am fully human, then comes with the package…what we resist persists ?”
As a veteran caregiver, zoomer, type A, Wonder Woman, helium handed helper whose ‘savior behavior’ gets way out of control at times, I need some off duty ‘me time.’ With an unusually nothing scheduled weekend, I find myself sitting at my favorite gathering spot in suburban Philly, beautiful Bucks County, Doylestown, PA, called The Zen Den. Comfortably ensconced on a cushy sofy, backed up by pillows, facing a dormant fireplace, topped by a trickling water over stone fountain, I am in zen zone emotionally as well. One of my favorite delights; soy chai latte settled on the rough hewn wood bench/coffee table in front of me, I was just serenaded by Elton John ….Bennie and The Jets and before that, David Gates and Bread… Baby I’m A Want You; both harkening back to my teen years.
For the moment at least, my mind is not spinning out of control contemplating my growing list of things to get accomplished….passport details for a trip to Canada this summer, scheduling and promo for ongoing book tour events, a radio show to plan and host, weddings to officiate, cleaning to do, gardening to engage in….. I can just allow them to roll on past me, like leaves atop a flowing creek.
As I am typing these words, the song I Can See Clearly is now permeating the airwaves. These zen hands that have gotten accustomed to taking care of so much, are, for the moment, taking care of me.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=gIqLsGT2wbQ I Can See Clearly Jimmy Cliff
http://youtu.be/e0m0_0bkdxY David Gates and Bread… Baby I’m A Want You
www.youtube.com/watch?v=QjUk3Bp16zs Bennie and The Jets by Elton John
What does it mean to be an artist? For some, the image of paint splattered hands and canvas comes to mind, hours spent holding a brush whose job it is to take ideas from the mind of the one in whose fingers it is grasped and translate it to visual input. For others, it echoes with the sound of resplendent and transcendent sound waves that waft over air currents. And yet, for others, it is about tappings and typings, scratchings and scrawls on paper.
I have long surrounded myself with creative types, since I find that they experience richer, juicier lives; sometimes in their heads, sometimes out in the world. A rich inner life can translate magically to a gorgeous outer life. The energy is palpable and contagious. These folks are not ‘starving artists’, but are, as my friend Ruthanne Wood claims for herself and those she attracts; ‘thriving artists’. They (and I see myself as one of them) observe the world with a child’s imagination and through the eyes of awe and wonder. “How can I translate this into a message for the viewer/listener/reader?” is often the motivation. It certainly is for this wordsmith who paints word pictures. I had not ever seen myself as a graphic artist, although my talented son is. He is able to pull ideas out of his vivid imagination and draw Japanese anime characters, flowers, animals and last year sketched a fashion design for an outfit he thought I oughta be wearing. A creative cook with an eye toward culinary school, his pastries are a work of art as well.
In March, I spent a few relaxing days with friends in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. One of our Goddess Sistahs is artist and art teacher Liz Wright, who led us in creating mandala drawings. She provided us with small pieces of colored cardboard, a drawing compass, a ruler and colored pencils and markers. We were then left to allow our imaginations to run wild….and that they did. I am used to coloring outside the lines in most areas of my life, but in this case, the initial structure was linear and then circular and then free form; an apt way to view our existence. All are important components. I was pleased with the results which was coincidentally matched the colors I was wearing that day.
These folks have their own ideas of what art is: