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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Where’s the Love On Valentine’s Day?

{Etsy photo print by CacophonyCreations}

{Etsy photo print by CacophonyCreations}

Valentine’s Day. It’s the day singles dread and couples forget about. The holiday that seems to do more for the economy than it does for our hearts. Yet, its impending date fills us with anxiety and fear. It’s the fear of being alone as much as the worry about getting the “right” gift. It’s the reason most of us hunkered down in coupledom stick our heads in the sand once we’re taken. No more agony over that dreaded V-Day!

For me, it brings up disappointing yesteryears filled with store bought roses that never met my own hands. Adolescence was a strange and heartbreaking period and one I’d never want to revisit. But it’s also a time writers like me are secretly grateful for. Sadly, the more angst, the more fuel for the typewriter.

It’s something that I regret. All those wasted years, I had been neglecting the greatest gift on Valentine’s Day. The gift of self-love.

{flickr photo by karindalziel}

{flickr photo by karindalziel}

This February has been one of those months that crush all the winter holiday months combined. Busy, chaotic, stressed out, overwhelmed. Adjectives that poured out in a sea of hopelessness. It sounds dramatic, but it feels that way. And it felt like my own craziness was causing a wave of disasters all around me. Almost everyone I’ve spoked to lately seemed to be as or more frazzled than me.

It seems trite or maybe a tad bit sentimental, but I mean it genuinely, taking care of yourself is the best gift you can give and get whether it’s the 14th or any day of the year. So if you’re feeling down and out, lonely, frazzled, and dreading the big V-Day, I hope you’ll gather a few ideas here. And if you have more, share it with me won’t you? I’m always looking for new ways to raise my spirits!

1. Get that hair cut, or massage, or manicure!

I was trying to go without getting another haircut. I used to go once a year and then twice at the most. But I had already got a haircut two times and I was hoping to ride out the unruly waves that had started to take over my mane. But looking like Cousin Itt from Adam’s Family wasn’t doing anything for my self-confidence. After one of those daily coupons came out for a haircut, I decided to take a plunge. A short clean bob confidence restored minus a migraine later, I thought, “Gee, indulgence is really worth it!”

2. Take a breath between bus(y)iness.

As a freelance writer, I always feel eons behind everyone else. It doesn’t matter that I’ve gotten things published or that I got a new project or that I’m searching relentlessly daily for more work. I’ll never be like the neighbor who’s yard is greener than Ireland next to me. I know this intuitively, but sometimes I need a reminder to just breathe.

3. It’s okay to fool around.

It’s Valentine’s Day so what’s the point if you’re not fooling around right? In this case, I mean taking a break to do something fun just for the sake of it. I’m lucky that I have a bunny that reminds me to not take life too seriously. But I also regularly engage in time wasting activities. What’s the point? It takes me out of my monkey mind in order to be in the present moment. Speaking of which…

4. Remember where you are right now.

I sometimes forget that I’m not fighting with someone, in pain, or shopping for a gift. I’m sitting here writing, or thinking or daydreaming. It feels real. My body thinks it’s gearing up for battle or escape, but really I’m just ruminating. When I realize that I’m not in my head, I feel safe. Nothing bad is happening. I can make my present situation chaotic or peaceful. Slowing down to realize this helps me to get back to a state of calm.

5. Make a sacrifice for yourself.

We sacrifice things for others every day. If you’re a people-pleaser, you might do it more than once a day. But how many times do you turn down an event or responsibility, just for you? It might make you feel like a horrible person to do so. But your health, family, and loving friends will thank you. As my husband once told me, “You think you’re doing something nice for other people. But you’re not helping anyone when you’re not being nice to yourself.”

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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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You Have Permission to Just Be

{flickr photo}

Like reptiles we shed our soft baby skins and soft, playful spirits when we leave childhood. We embrace a tougher skin and more brittle insides that we think come with adulthood.

“We’re grown-ups now,” we say to ourselves. That means no more lounging around, letting our souls dream, and watching the day roll on by the way we used to as kids.

We allow ourselves to harden the way flowers do when they’re on the their way to die. And we forget that life is about growing, not sinking into ourselves.

And why shouldn’t we?

Life gives us more than enough reason to. It takes away our loved ones, our dreams, our hope. And it does so in such an insidious, unexpected way, how can we not relinquish the playfulness and whimsy that characterized our youth, and grab onto what’s left: fear, discouragement, disappointment?

It is, but a choice.

{The rest of my post can be read on my Beliefnet Health column, “Happy Haven.”}


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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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