Feeling Unworthy

{Etsy print by: Lori Portka}

{Etsy print by: Lori Portka}

It happened again.

I was feeling at peace with my life. The speeding ticket far behind me. The illness starting to heal itself. Acceptance was beginning to melt like chocolate, thick, rich and beautiful and seeping into anything hard and open.

And then it happened.

Life. It’s the person who’s doing better than you. The mom who seems to be perfect. The family with the bigger house. The friend with a better job. Suddenly, nothing you’re doing is good enough. And that’s not the end point.

The worse thing is when your child looks at you, when you’re staring straight in the face of your husband or your beautiful family, your home, your beautiful body, it’s not good enough. If it’s not good enough, you’re not good enough.

It’s a wretched feeling.

It starts with envy, but it’s an uncomfortable gnawing like the sound of nails on a chalkboard or a turtleneck choking your neck.

You know you should feel happy or use it to motivate you. But there you are.

How do you quell the critical voices in your head?

You keep telling yourself like I did:

“You are good enough.”

“Your life is perfectly imperfect, just the way it should be.”

Your fortune is in your ability to see it. Your happiness is dependent on imbuing the moment with gratitude. What you accomplish is not in direct proportion to your happiness or your worth.

Some people’s life from afar seem shiny and beautiful. They could be. It has nothing to do with you. It has nothing to do with your life.

Don’t wish for their life.

Wish for your life being as grand, as alive, as heartbreakingly profound as it can be.

Don’t skim the surface.

Dig in deep.

Stop throwing away the good things you do for the amazing things someone else did. Stop putting your life alongside another. Stop making what you do who you are.

And embrace it all: your flaws, your contributions, your moodiness, your beautifulness. Pretend you are an outsider looking into your own life. And be envious of yourself…

*I’m busy writing nonfiction articles (like this heartwarming story of an old-time local store in the business of serving people and their pets), an essay and a few fiction pieces. These mini lessons are a slice of soul I hope will inspire you. 

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It’s Not About Finding Your Purpose

Accepting who you are warts and all

When I started this blogging journey, it was all about my writing. I wanted a place to pursue my passion. I wanted an arena to showcase my work and a venting spot to unleash my unexpressed writing dream. Since then, I’ve moved to Hawaii, bought a house, suffered from a few chronic illnesses and had a baby. Through it all, I realized the journey has molded my intention rather than the other way around. Instead of a place to inspire creativity and to get more writing gigs, it opened up my soul. It’s not just about finding our purpose or living our dreams. It’s about loving your life and finding a way to accept wherever we are in the process. It’s about self-acceptance. Patience. Faith. And courage.

I realized this because I found myself getting too attached to external circumstances. How many people were viewing my blog? How many freelance writing jobs was I getting? Was my work good enough?

Understandable questions to ask when striving for freelance writing success. But it was the meaning I placed on professional achievement and positive feedback that was wonky. Success, attention, like Lady Gaga’s new song, Applause, should not equal self-worth.

Doing well in your profession is important. Never giving up on your dreams is important. But more than anything else, our goal in life should be to find ways to love our self.

Basing who you are and your value on feedback from others or from success will inevitably deplete you. What nourishes our soul, what we’re really looking for, isn’t temporary validation through external sources. What lasts longer than a complement is the belief that regardless of what we accomplish, our lives mean something.

And that doesn’t have to mean BIG, grand, dramatic things. Just because your neighbor, a Facebook friend or a relative has done something so fabulous it leaves your life seem boring and worthless in comparison, doesn’t mean your less valuable than them. Just because you haven’t found “it” yet (great job, relationship, etc.), doesn’t mean you should walk around with your head down and your voice squelched.

It’s not about what you do that matters. You matter because you are here.

The secret is not in uncovering what will make us shine. The secret is that we don’t know we’re worthy of shining.

If we could all take that in on a deep level, the world would be a kinder, more loving, compassionate place to live. When we’re not trying to convince others of our worthiness, we’re ourselves. Being authentically you and feeling good in your own skin are the ways to happiness.

And your true calling?

It will find you on that path.

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The Importance of Play in Inspiration

{Etsy art by spunkyfluff}

{Etsy art by spunkyfluff}

Many people get caught up with words like, “progress,” “certainty,” and “maturity.” They worry when they don’t know what they want to be when they grow up. They beat themselves up when two steps forward leads to one step back. They are self-critical and ashamed when they are “acting immature.”

But it’s all part of the process. According to Care of the Soul author Thomas Moore, it’s neglecting the complexities of our inner child (the part of us that is playful, creative and spontaneous) that hurts us most. He says progress and growth are prioritized in our society, but they are not always necessary or relevant. Sometimes in order to grow or heal we need to take a step back. Sometimes in order to know what we want, we need to honor the child. To go forward, it’s imperative that we look back. He believes that taking care of your soul requires that you accept, nurture and pay attention to all aspects of yourself. And in fact, ignoring or attempting to deny your childhood desires, your inner joy, spontaneity, and your creativity can cause significant suffering.

Who you are right at this moment is a conglomeration of who you were, who you are and who you are about to become. To neglect any part of your soul in disgust, distaste or disdain will work against you. It’s like a critical and demanding parent who controls you into being the person they want you to be. You will never know your true purpose or calling if you continue on that path. The only way to awaken the part of you that asks the following:

Who am I?

What do I really want in life?

What do I want to be when I grow up?

…is to listen.

This means prioritizing play in your life. Respect the time you devote to reading, playing, creating and protect it as well as you protect time spent working. Embrace your inner child’s wants without judgment, criticism and reprimand. You’ve had enough of that in your life and that’s the reason why you are where you are in this moment. I’m afraid the only way you can free yourself from the hold of a stifling past is to release your fears and finally respond to the part of you that you’ve been hiding for so long.

It’s a frightening, but worthy cause.

For today, let yourself be immature,

open your eyes to life as if you’ve never explored it before,

and be okay, just for this moment, with not knowing what’s through that unopened door…

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Loving What You Got

{flickr photo by QuinnDombrowski}

{flickr photo by QuinnDombrowski}

It’s not always easy to look down at your cracked shoes, your too light wallet, your larger-than-life thighs and say to yourself, “Gee, I love my life!”

But I’m going to tell you why it’s hard not to.

Even though you could list hundreds of things you don’t like about yourself, your situation, your life, there is within every single person so many GOOD reasons to legitimately say, “Thank you!” And it’s all the things you think you hate about your life that actually make it so.

It’s me when I’m being too vocal, expressing my distaste for a certain food or dislike for a restaurant. In afterthought, I cringe wishing that I could have swallowed my voice instead of spoke up. It makes me feel too diva-ish, too brash, too much. But it’s also the thing I love most about myself if only I allowed myself to embrace it.

You might find that same conflict within yourself. The thing you criticize about someone else-they’re too judgmental, complain-y, immature, etc.-are the very shadows that you try to hide within yourself. There’s a fear that if you were to let that aspects of your self out, you would be teased or worse hated. In Care of the Soul (a book that found me in Glen Ellen, California, in a “keep-a-book, give-a-book library”), Thomas Moore says:

“It appears to me that as we open ourselves to see what our soul is made of and who we really are, we always find some material that is a profound challenge.”

And oftentimes what makes us feel ugly and weird are actually just reasons for celebration. Why? It provides evidence of our uniqueness, our individuality, what makes us different. And sometimes that can be the answers to our life purpose.

Maybe I’m not supposed to stay small and quiet, but to be bold and expressive. And letting that side out is the only way I can release my fears and express my soul’s purpose.

That isn’t to say every bad habit or behavior is justified. But it’s also not about repressing or hating them either. In silencing our inner complainer, for example, we may be neglecting ourselves. Moore says the way toward healing is through love. And that means loving even the so-called hard parts and then listening to why they are there.

Holocaust survivor, Nobel Laureate, and writer Elie Wiesel said on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday:

“Whatever you do in life remember, think higher and feel deeper.”

I believe it’s only in completely surrendering to who we are in this moment that we can completely live and love our life. If we do anything less than that, we will miss our calling. We miss our purpose for being here. We become disconnected from our truth because we’re too wrapped up into what we don’t have, what we never got, and why so-and-so is so much better than us.

Thinking higher means we grasp onto an elevated way of thinking of our lives and our self. Feeling deeper means that we don’t hold back. We feel the highest of highs and lowest of lows and know that if we stay true to who we are, we will always land on our feet.

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Why It’s Great to Be Imperfect

{flickr photo}

“Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing.”
~ Harriet Braiker

It could be hilarious that I’m the one to write this post. After all, I’ve been known to discard drawings and crumple up grade school art projects because it wasn’t good enough.

But I also may be one of the best people to talk about it because I continually grapple with perfectionism and have found ways to release its hold on my life.

It’s easy to get stuck on a broken record of perfectionism. Because we never get there, it can lead to eventual burnout and depression.

How do we get ourselves off of this insidious path?

Walk right into your fear. You say you’re afraid of making a mistake, screwing up, letting people find out how flawed you really are? I dare you to do something that will force you to face that fear. Infamous The Artist’s Way author Julia Cameron says:

“Sometimes I will write badly, draw badly, paint badly, perform badly. I have a right to do that to get to the other side. Creativity is its own reward.”

Isn’t that quote so freeing?

It allows you the permission to be bad, to unleash your rebellious side, to quell the inner micro-manager that says everything must be perfect in order for you to create it. Not only that, but as Cameron says, it’s your right to do so. There is nothing shameful about being imperfect. There is nothing wrong about being flawed.

Here’s a secret: we’re all born that way. Why not embrace it?

A few times a month I release my inner bad boy and create just for the sake of it. Sometimes what comes out is beautiful, other times I need to try again. But exercising my imperfection muscle is always worth it. It reminds me not to take myself so seriously. And to remember that feeling scared, uncertain and being a beginner are the keys to self-growth and to being human.

If you have been feeling bored, discouraged or depressed lately, check in with yourself. Are you on a hamster wheel of perfectionism? Have you allowed yourself the time and space for error? When was the last time you tried something new or did something without adding a disclaimer such as, “I’m really not good at this,” or “I can’t do it?”

If you want to free yourself from perfectionism…

{Click here to find out how to reinvigorate your life sans perfectionism…}

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Forgive Me Fellow Friends…

while I sit down and sleep.

{found on pinterest}

Lately, I’ve been having dreams that tell me things like, “Slow down. Savor more.” No joke. But the irony is that I can’t sleep. I take this as a sign that my health’s wonky again so I probably need to take it down a notch.

This also means checking Facebook and Twitter may be excruciating these days because it’s an energy sucker that reminds me of all the things I won’t be doing in the next few days.

Forgive me while I take a slumber and take care of myself.

Have you done that lately?

Have you been running the never-ending treadmill because you’re “dying” to catch up with the rest of the world? Or have you been shutting down early these days in favor of sweet slumber and family QT (quality time)? I hope you’ve been choosing the latter. And you don’t need a blog wake up call to remind you that walking on the wild side isn’t meant to be a permanent thing. Unless you want to wake up with an irreversible disease. Not fun.

But if you do need a wake up call, I’m happy to offer it. Read day 1 of my Get More by Doing Less Challenge to start.

We’re barely gracing the surface of 2012, let’s keep trudging on. But can we do it at a turtle pace? Can we walk quietly for the sake of feeling the dirt beneath our feet instead of running quick to get to the end of the road?

Valentine’s for You

And while I’m at it, I’m vowing to make February the month of self-love. Anyone else with me?

Instead of paper hearts and sweet chocolates, I’m devoting the short month to taking care of myself. (P.S. Part of my self-care was getting crafty so I made both in a DIY Valentine for family members. Will share those soon.)

This means:

  • you have permission to make a dent on your couch for a whole day watching bad TV and catching up on never read, but meant to read magazines.
  • it’s okay if the laundry isn’t done, the dishes are piled up and the floor needs sweeping.
  • saying, “No” is not only an option, but that it may be necessary.
  • saying, “Yes” to yourself is mandatory.
  • that you will for one hour a week (at least) put yourself first.
  • that it’s okay to spoil yourself and forgive those that see it as selfish and don’t see the value of doing so. {they’re just jealous}

For me, this means a haircut I’ve been meaning to get, more time lying doing nothing, meditating and feeling okay with missing the gym every once in awhile. I vow to take care of myself before I get sick. I don’t want to get a double dose of sickies again (I caught the flu and a cold in one month recently).

If you’re in and want to celebrate with me, let me know what you’re going to vow to do this February.

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