Monday, September 27, 2010

The Perfect Protest

Where in the world did September go? The last few weeks have whizzed by as we've re-acclimated ourselves to the school-year routines. At the beginning of the month I shared how I was breaking free from some "stuff" in my life. Now, at the end of the month, Brene has inspired me once more as she declares this week "The Perfect Protest."

My quest for perfection began on February 17, 1970. Ok. Not really on the day I was born, but I'm sure it was only a couple years after that (when I could walk and talk) that I decided I needed to be perfect at just about everything. Most of my life I've spent searching for perfection--but mostly in relationships. And my appearance.

Then, this past February I turned 40. I honestly cannot describe it, but something shifted inside of me. I became less likely to compare myself to someone else and more likely to embrace who I am. The mom who yells, gives in, cries, and never finishes the laundry. The friend who never makes the initial phone call. Cellulite, hormonal acne, and all.

Guess what? The world didn't stop. The sun still shone. I could still breathe. In fact...I began to breathe more deeply. More peacefully.

I took this shot after Brene encouraged her blog readers to join the "perfect protest." It was after a strenuous workout, and I momentarily thought to myself, "Oh, I'll jump in the shower and spruce up before taking the blog picture." But, then I giggled and remembered that doing so would be totally going against the whole idea. So. Here is me. Sweaty from exercise. Hair matted down. Make-up-less. Dark circles under the ideas (aahhh, the magic of eye concealer). And I'm holding the first sign I wrote (although I so desperately wanted to re-write with different colors....). I admit that this isn't the first picture I took of myself because my head was cut off in that one. But, maybe I should have? Because that picture was certainly less than perfect.

Oh, OK. Here it is.

Brene's new book is on my nightstand and calling my name. I'm excited to read it and internalize all of the gifts that MY imperfections have to offer me. And others.

I think one of the biggest blessings in embracing my own imperfections is that it's helped me accept others for the way they are, too. This is not to say that I have to be BFFs with everyone, or that separating myself from potentially harmful behaviors is a wrong thing to do. But, I'm able to see others in a more flattering light when they stumble, hurt me, or make mistakes. Most of the time. Not all of the time.

Hey, I'm not perfect.

"Nobody's perfect. That's why pencils have erasers."
Author Unknown

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Breaking Free in September

Saturday was the Sheryl Crow/Colbie Caillat concert, and hands down it was the best show I've ever been to. Vanessa and I danced the night away under the stars with a few thousand of our not-so-closest friends. The ages ranged from probably 60-20...Colbie and Sheryl truly appeal to many generations.

It's now September. Summer is unofficially over, school routines have been (somewhat) established, and homework for the kids have begun. Homework has started for me, too, in the form of a new bible study I started a few weeks ago called "Breaking Free."

"So often time it happens, we all live our life in chains,
and we never even know we have the key."
~The Eagles, "Already Gone"

When I mentioned to two girlfriends I was feeling called to delve into this reluctant topic about breaking free, I was so thrilled when they said they'd join me. I thought I was going to go this alone...that maybe I needed to work through some stuff all by myself...but I should know better than to think God wouldn't call amazing friends to journey with me. The bible study is all about breaking free from every type of bondage that keeps us from being who God has called us to be. This includes obvious bondage like lying, cheating, and stealing. But, what's really speaking to me this wicked thing known as captivity of the mind. This means that anyTHING (such as a situation or object) or anyONE who consumes our thoughts constantly (can you say obsession?) can be identified as a stronghold or something that has us in bondage.

"Every thought is a seed.
If you plant crab apples,
don't count on harvesting
Golden Delicious."

~Bill Meyer

For me, this was a life-altering realization. I'd never thought of negative thought-processes as "ball and chains"...something we needed to break free from in order to be all we can be.

This first week of study has seriously prompted me to break free from two situations and several thought patterns that could have been destructive. It's hard to believe, but our thoughts alone can send us careening towards disaster, for it is those thoughts that propel us into negative action...causing hurt and pain for ourselves and others.

As I was driving home yesterday I thought about what it takes to break free from the negative stuff in our lives. That negative stuff that we're unwilling to rid ourselves of because it's familiar. Comfortable. That negative stuff that appears to make us feel secure. And one word came to mind. Courage. Ironically enough I then stumbled upon one of the most inspiring blogs I read. She had this on her daily post:


I love being creative! Little did I know I was extending my creativity by being courageous.....

And then when I thought of being courageous I was reminded of my daily authenticity practice...and that it takes real courage to love our imperfect selves.

My 40th birthday was a real turning point for me as far as practicing authenticity. For the most part I have genuinely let go of who I think (and who others think) I am supposed to be. It is so freeing! I think I'm pretty good at embracing my completely imperfect self. It gets a little trickier when others' expectations of me exceed my capabilities, but that's when communication becomes the key, being honest and sharing these pressure-inducing thoughts with them. Sometimes they're receptive...sometimes not-so-much. But at least I've put it out there.

Yep, today was definitely the day for deep thoughts. Powerful epiphanies, I tell ya. I know I can definitely use this stuff.

And, I know a lot of women who could, too.