Archive for the 'choice' Category

28
Jan
15

Get out of your way!

Get out of your wayDo you find that most of the time the thing that stops you from pursuing your dreams or reaching your fullest potential is yourself?

It’s that one voice inside that tends to drown out all the others with words like can’t, don’t , shouldn’t, wouldn’t.  It tells us not to do it.  What is “it”?  Well, think back…when was the last time you wanted to do something that would help you grow or take risk (that wasn’t about being practical and responsible) and you didn’t do it?  Whatever it was, that was the “it.”  It could have been signing up for a class, starting a business or simply choosing to spend time or money investing in your own personal growth.

There are so many things that I want to do and experience in my life that I fear I won’t have the time to do them all.  I certainly don’t need to put another obstacle in my way, but it continues to be a battle to drown out that inner voice of doubt and judgment.  However, I recognize that I am not alone.  The universal power of this conflict was once again brought to my attention while reading a book about women in the mid 1960’s.  The overriding struggle of the women in the book was with that voice, but for them the voice was also more externally pronounced.  In the time during and after the Cold War, many women felt trapped by prescribed social roles and didn’t pursue their dreams for fear of looking like a bad mother, doing something at the expense of their family’s well-being or seeming unfeminine.  Does this still sound familiar?

Despite the fact that that way of thinking was over fifty years ago, it was still only fifty years ago.  In other words, it takes time to change the thinking and/or perception of a society’s gender norms.  And that change begins and ends with us.  We must be the first to believe and say “no” to that voice from the past which tells us no!  It’s a constant battle to retrain the brain.  Why does it seem easier to tell others what they should think or do?  Most times we can see things more clearly from the outside of a situation which is why it is vital to have trusted friends who can encourage us to combat old patterns of thinking.

We can’t erase the past, but we can recognize and identify our mistakes and learn from them.  Sometimes it can be easier and safer to listen to that inner voice.  However, if we do, we not only deny  our true selves, but we perpetuate a false social philosophy which prevents us from obtaining the freedom which we all deserve.  If we are torn within ourselves, we will not be unified outwardly with others.

So let’s get out of our own way!

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08
Jan
15

Let’s get busy!

let's get busyMake any New Year’s resolutions?  I did.  Actually, I’ve been thinking of it for quite some time and began it with my last post made in December.  “What was it?” you may ask.  It was to get busy!

The book and motion picture “Wild,” has been getting a lot of attention.   Society’s response to a strong female and her journey through grief to self-discovery has been encouraging.  It’s also been an awakening to the media for the need for more pivotal female roles on the page, stage and screen.  During a radio interview with Reese Witherspoon, the star and producer of the film adaptation of Cheryl Strayed’s book, “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail,” Witherspoon referenced the lack of complex roles for women and responded by not only saying, but putting into action her comment:  “…nobody is doing this work.  I might as well get busy and do it myself.”

Obviously we don’t all have the resources like Witherspoon, but we do share the same perspective.  As a result, instead of expecting others to address the needs which have already been identified, I have decided to join Witherspoon and “get busy.”  What does this mean?  I believe that in each of our lives in our own way, we can make a difference to bring about change for gender equality.  From standing up for ourselves or others when confronted by sexism or working to make more opportunities for women available, we all contribute to society’s transformation.  No action is too small, so we must not minimize our efforts.  It’s changing our very way of thinking as a community; embracing our egalitarianism.

Awareness, education and recognition are vital.  However, without following that up with action in our daily lives, our society tends to find contentment with labeling gender discrimination as simply one of many issues which need addressing.  “Issues” tend not to have the same concern as crisis.  Why is it not a national crisis that women do not receive equal pay for equal work?  Why is it not a global crisis that women are surrounded and trapped by violence, rape and sex trafficking?  When perceived as an issue, it weakens the urgency of our condition.   This is nothing less than a crisis which demands action.

So let’s get busy!

Read interview with Reese Witherspoon

 

Support women artists by buying the book “Wild:  From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail” by Cheryl Strayed and see the movie.

17
Nov
14

the right to be you

the right to be youI have been on a hiatus of sorts.  It’s not because I haven’t had any thoughts, concerns or opinions about life.  I guess I just found myself coming up against the same roadblocks, questioning the source, perhaps a common one, of these consistent struggles.

Just the other night I was out with a beautiful artist.  I have seen her work many times and she is a kind-hearted, loving individual.  Yet I hear her say the very words which plague my own heart: can I do it?  Do I have any talent?  Am I beautiful?  I know the answer to all of these questions, but when we are alone with ourselves, we tend to create a comparison which always leaves us feeling less than.  Our society, especially American society, thrives on doing and results.  The expectations placed on us, especially women, make it almost impossible to find satisfaction and pride in oneself.

Society tells women that they must achieve an idyllic beauty which requires youth.  Obviously, this is impossible as we all age, but because so many others strive to reach this imposed rule, we do everything in our power to fulfill it.  Countless, beautiful, brilliant women of all ages with whom I’ve had the pleasure to know, have shared their fear of aging and remaining physically attractive.  The constant fear of gaining even a few pounds or showing signs of a wrinkle plagues their existence.

Then there’s the expectation that women should have it all; if they don’t have both a successful career and children, they disappoint someone.  Many women work hard to obtain an education and use it to compete in an unequal marketplace which not only expects them to give as much, but for less compensation.  Simultaneously, society also places pressure on women to have children whilst making it virtually impossible to maintain the same level of job performance.  Meanwhile, if they do give attention to their work, they may feel guilt or anxiety over their parental role.

As a result, society continues to place women in positions which inevitably cause them to seemingly fall short of its expectations in one area or another.  Personally, I’m tired of never feeling like enough.  No matter how much personal fulfillment I may find apart from society, as soon as I step off my island, I am reminded of my failures.

So how do we break this pattern?  How do we defy these expectations and create ones which build us up rather than tear each other down?  It is hard to walk this path against the grain alone and I don’t believe we are meant to go it alone.  Life is short.  Can we come together and simply claim the right to be ourselves?

21
Jun
14

everything happens for a reason?

everything happens for a reasonDo things happen for a reason or do we just say that once we’ve reached an acceptance of them?

Regret is usually something no one wants to talk about it.  We avoid it at all costs, finding at times that by running away from it, we end up running into it whatever path we take.  But if we could learn from our regret; see that it is never too late to follow our dreams, ask for forgiveness, give forgiveness, say “I love you” and even say goodbye – then maybe we could use regret to transform us.  To help us make choices that will help us to truly live life to the fullest.

All this is easier said than done.  Regret is a hard pill to swallow.  It seems to stick in your gut for years, never dissolving, only making your stomach sour and fill you with bitterness.  So how do we let go?  Maybe we don’t.  I’m finding that because I have a difficult time letting go, that it’s healthier for me to process or digest the regret and let it feed something positive.  Not that it is necessarily nurturing me, but if it’s going to be there anyway, I might as well make it work for me.  One of my biggest regrets is feeling like I’ve wasted time: not following my dreams, not asking for forgiveness or giving it, withholding my “I love yous” and either waiting too long or being forced to say goodbye before I was ready.

Well, no one can turn back time (yet).  But I refuse to believe that it’s too late.  It’s never too late.  Time is so precious as it is, I’m not going to keep wasting it on wondering or pining or doubting .  I’m just gonna do it.  Do and try to be all the things that I’ve regretted not doing or being.  And not out of a sense of guilt, but a renewed energy to live my life with a new awareness of what is really important to me; what, in the big picture, really matters.  For many, including myself, this could turn into a huge turn to self-denial and self-martyrdom.  But I’ve already been down that path and it does not lead to a good place for anyone.  Instead, I’ve found that the more I allow regret to influence my choices, including taking risks and investing in myself, the more it feeds myself and others.

So perhaps all those things that have happened that we regret do happen for a reason.  But even if we cannot accept that they do, we can still find acceptance and move forward with a new energy from the past; launching us into an unknown, but intentional future.

31
May
14

time for patience

time for patienceWhy is it so difficult to have patience?  Or is it just me?

I’m a strange one.  This is no new news I’m sure to you all.  But I guess I’m finding that I’m one of those people who likes to make plans and know what’s coming while also enjoying the mystery of the unknown adventures that lie ahead.  I don’t need security enough that I want to live in the same place all of my life, but I also need a safe, stable place to return to in order to re-energize and renew.   It’s a balancing act I suppose.  Part of me wants the extreme while the other detests it.  And then there’s the practical side of me that just says to be responsible.

So I’m in a transitioning period of my life.  In my head I know this should be a beautiful time; it is a gift really.  A time of anticipation, reflection, rejuvenation; but it can also be one of anxiety, doubt and grief.  If I allow myself to believe that the best or even the worst is behind me I surely deceive myself.  I merely need to be present.  Use the time not to pressure myself into doing for the sake of doing.  To give myself time and make wise investments and choices; understanding that things that are worth doing take time.

It sounds as though I’m going in circles in my head, and I probably am, but I think it’s that I’m just not accustom to doing things I actually like to do.  I’ve always equated work with something I don’t want to do but need to do for someone else.  Now I’ve been given an opportunity, a time to do with what I please.  I’m still working towards something, but because it’s what I am passionate about, it doesn’t feel like work.  Hence the guilt.  Strange to be wired in such a way, but it’s what I’ve known for most of my life.  Perhaps what most of us have known.

So how do we make a society in which more people can work without feeling like they’re working?  How can we make jobs that fit people instead of people fitting a job?  Isn’t that the kind of society we want to live in?   Perhaps there would be initial compromises which would cause some financial loss, but I would think that in the long run it would be an investment worth making; not only in humanity but for capitalism if that’s what we also want to preserve.  But how do we get there?  Maybe we make some plans while also leaving things open ended and flexible for change; forcing us to become better problem solvers and more compassionate human beings.  Maybe we need more patience.  With others.  And with ourselves.

28
May
14

it’s a big world after all

it's a big world after allIt’s a small world when we consider our degrees of separation shrinking as a result of technology.  However, despite all of the information and communication highways, it can be easy to remain enclosed in a community without allowing anything beyond to penetrate it.

Then all of a sudden the doors of reality burst open multiplying the size of the world.  For the past four years I’ve been consumed by a place which simultaneously opened the world to me.  In many ways it introduced me to new ideas and possibilities while at the same time directing all of the stimulated energy back into that same community.   Now, peering beyond, I find the world not so small after all.  Wondering how can I, one small person make a difference on a planet where people kidnap hundreds of little girls and threaten the life of a woman for being greeted by an elderly gentleman with an innocent kiss on the cheek.

It would be much easier to turn back inward to that safe community which makes more sense than this big, challenging world.  But upon launching from the society I’ve been part of for the past several years, I was given one last lesson which prepared me more than anything for which I’ve been tested.  The final lecture did not overwhelm with numerous facts or outline clear cut instructions for success.  Instead, it posed a question: what do I believe?  An inquiry not in the religious sense, though that could be influential in the answer, but one that digs deeply into our souls in order to uncover our true identities: not simply what we do, but who we imagine ourselves to be-the vision of the future.  The bottom line: what does one believe is possible?  For ourselves, for our community/society, for the world?

If we can’t even believe that something is conceivable, do we even have a chance?  I’m beginning to understand that what I believe is just as important as what I do.  And I don’t even know if the truth has anything to do with it.  For so long I pursued the truth, finding that the reality of the truth can be more painful and discouraging of hope than choosing to believe a falsehood.  Not that I condone lying to anyone, especially oneself, but how does one learn to dream and see beyond the surface if not to believe in something that may be perceived by others as impossible?  Things like world peace and an end to starvation and inequality-we’re working towards this end but it is not our current reality.  So how long will it take for it to become a reality?  Never?   What would happen if we stopped believing it was possible?

Are we shutting out possibilities with our lack of belief, hope or possibility?  Is it what you do as important as what you believe?  Isn’t one an outflow of another?  So what do you believe?

24
Apr
14

plowing through life

plowing through life“This is just for a short time.  It’s not forever.  You’ll get through this.”

These are words that I tell myself often, but today I heard myself saying them to a friend.  A friend who begins her first chemo treatment tomorrow.  The words felt empty.  I’m a complete fraud.  As if I have the first idea what she’s going through and how she feels.  “Just a short time.”  Sounds logical, but when that time involves suffering, suffering which is inevitable, it can feel like forever.

She’s so brave, my friend.  Though she wouldn’t admit it.  Her strength comes in her ability to face and confront reality.  It can be easy to deny the truth.   To deny her illness and the battle she’s facing.  Even to allow herself to go to some of the most dark places our minds can take us.  But in moderation, she deals.  In short spurts she tries to process this reality that seems to be so cruel and illogical.  And she does this with grace and acceptance.

“I need to live my life,” she said.  She doesn’t want this to prevent her from traveling or making plans or finding other ways to do the things she loves while she fights.  These words apply to us all.  Are we merely surviving, or really living our lives?  In the face of something that can take that life, it can be easier to see things more clearly.  But in the everyday doldrums, we tend to just try to “get through this.”

So perhaps my advice was not good at all.  Because every day is another chance for life, not just something to plow through; even if that day involves a fight for that life.