Monday, June 25, 2012

Weight of the World

“In the scenery of spring, there is nothing superior, nothing inferior. 
Flowering branches are by nature some short, some long”. – Zen Proverb

There are five mirrors in my tiny studio apartment, not counting the reflective surfaces of the windows and my computer monitor. At work, I openly pause in front of framed posters or the microwave to adjust my hair, face, and clothes. I am aware of how I look and feel in my clothing, how my body carries its weight on my hips and my chest, how my cross bite makes my jaw hang little crooked. I poke and prod and squeeze and breathe shallow. 

When I was 22, my first “real” boyfriend broke up with me because I had gained a little weight. I don’t exaggerate when I say a “little,” it was literally 5 pounds. But he could tell, told me I didn’t have any respect for myself, and ended our relationship. I lost 10 pounds in two weeks to get him back. (He ended up breaking up with me again three months later, but that’s a different story.)

Since then, I have struggled with the surface. Because my weight dictated my first and one of my more significant relationships, my mind was wired to believe that my weight dictates my happiness. Gaining a little weight made something that I treasured disappear so quickly. What if it happened again, or never begins in the first place, because of my weight?

This isn’t a constant mantra, but it is a familiar one. The fear ebbs and flows, always whispering around holidays, or when the sun disappears for months and my activity slows. But the whispering is getting quieter, softer, weak. The more I treat myself with respect, the more love I put into the world, the more will I have to quiet the voice. It will take time, and it may never go away completely. I am unraveling the thread with my fingernails, using my hands to clear away knots, softly and gently and slowly.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

When Should Revenge be a Motivator?

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters
 compared with what lies within us. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I've had a fantasy recently of proving someone terribly and horribly wrong. In this dream scenario, I receive some kind of accolade, and I dedicate it solely to that person who actively and vocally considers my work to be "awful" and "embarrassing." And I let the world know that this person never believed in me, and I invite them to join me in pointing out their foolishness.

While it is nice to escape into this fantasy every once in a while, it cannot be the sole motivator in my work. Motivation borne out of negativity will poison and sour, drive my work to need to be lauded and applauded by external approvers. Authenticity will be replaced by a rabid hunger to win. 

However, I cannot ignore my renewed drive and focus. So where is the balance? I can channel that energy I have seething under my skin away from revenge, away from the imagined satisfaction that the person comes to their senses (a fantasy in itself), and toward gratitude. Thank you for the motivation, I say. Thank you for the inspiration. Thank you for reminding me what it is that I love and live and breathe.

And then, I get to work.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

It's Okay to Exist in the Gray

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything,
That's how the light gets in. – Leonard Cohen

As I have said before, I struggle with perfectionism and living within other people's definition of success. The self-imposed pressure, the constant berating narrative, the disconnect from the present moment.

Opening myself up to my own definition of success, however, has yielded results. It's a tactile existence, recognizing resonances as they hit my chest and feel empowering and wholesome, but also those that don't hit in the right way. I am exploring my world, and realizing very quickly that it is not the black and white universe of haves and have-nots, ares and are-nots, I thought it was before. There is a gray fluidity.

And it is okay to exist in the gray. There are areas in my life in which I revel and celebrate, and there are others that inspire me to work and learn and grow. This is a joyous place to be. 

How do you celebrate the light that you let in? 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Waking Up

If every day is an awakening, you will never grow old. You will just keep growing. – Gail Sheehy

I feel as though I am waking up. I am stretching my limbs wide, reaching fingers and toes outward like an animal. The comfort of darkness and depth, the low hum of sadness that had been following me, still whispers its promise of isolation and loneliness, of going blank. Forget the world for a bit, it hisses.

But the morning breaks, the cool light of dawn washes over me. I let the glow raise the hairs on my arms. It it cautious, slow, waiting to see how I will respond. Will you allow yourself this happiness? it asks.

I can't help but enjoy this newness, this reprieve, even if this too shall pass. And there is an acceptance that this shall pass. Our darkest and our brightest moments all do. How does it feel when the edges of light creep into your vision? What are your experiences with waking up?