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Posts Tagged ‘personal growth’

Lately I have been spending altogether too much time thinking about all of the things I wish I could change about myself. Not necessarily physical things (although there are a few of those) but mostly “inside” things.

I’ve been thinking that if I had a magic wand, I would wish to be more patient, less likely to hurry everyone through life. I would wish to be the kind of person who encouraged my kids to try to tie their own shoes even though it takes three times as long and we’re already late.

I wish I was one of those people who exudes friendly; someone who welcomes everyone in, friends, acquaintances, strangers. Everyone.

I wish I was less critical, less likely to find fault and more likely to point out the positive. ‎I’ve always snickered at people who spend all their time on the bright side, it seemed like such a boring place to be. But maybe they’ve figured out something I haven’t? After all, they do seem to smile a lot more than I do.

I wish I spoke more softly, laughed more softly, expressed my opinions more softly. I always seem to be so loud, inside my head and out there in the world.

And because I don’t have a magic wand, and I can’t just wave it around in the air and “poof” become the person I think I’m supposed to be, I’ve been trying to change the old fashioned way. I’ve been taking deep breaths and biting my lips. I’ve choked back the “we’re running lates” and the “did you see what she’s wearings” and put a smile on my face even when I didn’t feel at all like smiling.

I thought if I tried hard enough I could turn into her. Her, that woman over there, the one who seems to have it all together and figured out. Her, the woman who seems so happy.

Until I realized that if I get rid of all of those things, I don’t know who that woman is anymore. The things I don’t like about myself are just as much a part of me as the things I do. They’re all pieces of the same puzzle, and without them the picture doesn’t make any sense.

So I have slowly come to the understanding that improving doesn’t always mean changing. Rather, maybe it just means softening the sharp corners, turning the volume down one notch but not the whole way, smiling extra big when I feel like it but still letting a frown slip in when I’m feeling broken. ‎Maybe improvement is done in small degrees, not broad strokes.

Because no matter how hard I try, I don’t know how to be her.

I just know how to be me.

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Last year when I sat down to write my “end of one year / beginning of another year” post, I just couldn’t find it anywhere inside me to make resolutions. I’ve never been a resolution person. Not because I don’t want to be, rather because I’ve done it a few times in the past and by about February I either can’t remember what any of my resolutions were, or they are no longer things I want to spend the next 11 months trying to accomplish. Either way, my resolutions never happen. They get made and broken, made and forgotten, made and ignored.

So last year I decided I’m done with resolutions. What I did instead was come up with a list of realizations. Rather than looking forward to what I want to accomplish in the coming year, I looked back on what I had learned from the year just past; things that I needed to come to terms with, things that I needed to realize and let go of so I could start the new year fresh, unencumbered. So last year I wrote a post entitled “new year’s resolutions” and I was pretty happy with it so I thought maybe I would make a tradition of it.

And so, without further ado, here are my 2012 new year’s realizations:

1) fear the known, not the unknown – doing something new and different is scary but the idea of never trying anything, of living a life spent doing the same things over and over again, is even scarier.

2) do the work – dreaming is great, nothing in life can start without a dream, but a dream is just a beginning. If you want to make that dream into something more than just a beginning, you have to be willing to do the work. Dreams don’t come true just because you dream them, they need some good old fashioned hard work to push them across the finish line.

3) signs are suggestions, not directions – I spent much of 2012 waiting for ‘signs’ to show me the paths I should take and confirm that the decisions and changes I was planning to make were the right ones. And sometimes I found the signs and became confident that it meant I was moving in the right direction. But then I realized that although the sign may be confirming my choice, it did nothing to show me how to get where I wanted to go. I saw the sign and was still lost. The universe can provide the signs, I still need to come up with the map.

4) worrying about everything doesn’t protect you from anything – enough said.

5) if you have all the answers, you’re not asking the right questions – I seek answers in life, just as we all do, answers to all of the questions that run around in my head, big ones, little ones, a million different questions. I used to think life would be better if I could just get answers for all of those questions. Then I realized how awful it would be to run out of questions.

6) it’s okay to do things for no reason – self-reflection and contemplation are good things. Incessant knit-picking and analyzing are not. Sometimes I do things for no reason and it’s okay, I don’t need to take a pause and reflect on ‘why’ – I just need to chalk it up to me being me and move on.

7) leave space for the surprises – if everything is planned out, every minute of every day and every month of every year, there’s no room for the unexpected. No time left for those pockets of wonder that make life worth living. The plan will always be there but the pockets are fleeting.

So there they are, my realizations and lessons learned when looking back at 2012. I have absolutely no idea what 2013 is going to have in store for me but I’m excited for the ride, and hopeful for what may come my way.

Happy New Year.

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For the past year I have been struggling to find a new path. Well, if I’m being totally honest, it’s probably been more like the last three or four years. I have felt lost, uncertain, professionally unchallenged and creatively unfulfilled.

I bought into the idea that if I’m not growing then I’m just withering; if I’m not striving for something, then I’m just standing still. And for some reason I have convinced myself that standing still is a bad thing. Standing still means I’m wasting time, doing nothing instead of doing something, anything other than what I’m doing right now. Standing still means I’m not moving forward which, I had grown to believe, is just as bad as moving backwards.

I have read dozens of books about finding your passion, finding your calling, finding the right path. I have read stories of people who claimed to be fulfilled, shook my head at their seemingly simplistic advice – follow your heart, live your dreams, listen to your own voice.

I’ve spent the last few years listening, I promise. I just don’t hear anything.

This journey to find a journey has been exhausting, which is kind of ironic considering my journey hasn’t actually taken me anywhere. I have grown frustrated. My search for fulfillment has left me feeling anything but.

And then suddenly, a few weeks ago, something funny happened. I stopped spending all of my time looking, and instead started seeing. I stopped constantly searching, and instead discovered that perhaps I already found what I’ve been looking so hard for.

I have been so afraid that if I stop and take a moment to just accept where I am that it will mean that I’ve resigned myself, given in, given up on the idea of a life different than this one. But slowly, day by day, the idea of acceptance began to grow and it began to lose its negative connotation. I loosened my grip on the perfection that only comes through change and instead started to contemplate contentment.

What if I could accept being content not as a consolation prize but as the goal I’ve actually been searching for all along?

Even just saying the word ‘content’ started to make me relax. It seems so easy; accepting and finding fulfillment with what I already have, rather than constantly feeling the need for more.

More.

More experiences, more places, more people, more things. More. Always feeling like I’m falling short, coming up empty when really everything is already so full. What if instead of getting ‘more’ I could realize and accept when it is ‘enough.’

I saw a quote once that said, to paraphrase, “I do enough, I have enough, I am enough” and lately it has become my mantra. Enough. The word now whispers in my head like a sigh. It brings everything down a notch and gives me a minute to focus.

I am enough.

I am open to change and the new adventures that come, but what I have experienced is enough. Enough for now.

I will continue to learn and grow but I will also be content that the knowledge and wisdom I have already found is enough. Enough for now.

There will be time for more, but right now there is enough.

And I am content with that.

Finally.

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