December 17, 2012

34 Years of Life Lessons

This holiday season, I'm just feeling incredibly blessed.  I have amazing friends & family. I have a job where I get to be the boss of a whole host of people that I enjoy and life is full of crazy possibility. 

I was recently reminded how much my life has changed in the past ten years-- how much I have changed in the past ten years. I couldn't be more thankful for this truth or the various nutso life lessons I've had to experience to get me to grow.  Being so full of gratitude, I decided to put these lessons into words as a reminder to myself to never forget their impact.

1)  God Wants My Happiness

Being raised by two great parents as a non-denominational Christian, I was taught to always be kind to people.  I was absolutely a very sincere Christian that really wanted to be 'set apart' in a good way from the dark world to be a loving example to others.  However, what I heard in church (whether or not it was my own doing) was that I was never good enough.  I spent a majority of my early years in tears feeling guilty & unworthy and always striving for this mountain-top communion with God that I knew would never happen due to my sinful humanity. 

All I can say is that I don't believe in that unworthiness anymore- for myself or for anyone.  I believe God wants nothing more than my happiness. I believe that all He wants from me is to live my life in fearless, loving abandon.  At birth, I was created perfectly and I was blessed with various strengths and talents.  In my world,  all He wants, being a loving Creator, is to see me sparkle and shine-- using these gifts for good rather than evil.  Ultimate love-- for myself, for the world.  If God were on the love menu at Taco Bell, he would be the Supreme Burrito.  Other than that, I just don't care about denominations, opinions, politics, what my parents could say... It's this inspiring faith that is entirely mine and I'm stickin' to it. 

2) Love Always Wins

Especially after the shootings this year, it's so easy to be reminded of the pain & darkness in the world. It's hard to believe as a society-- as a human race, that we could ever get past our humanity enough to conspire as a people to do great things. But that 'realistic' thinking is just the mind and those thoughts need to change into love being possible.  When Voldemort (totally real) and other dark forces are at play, I believe that's when we need to up our love ante-- doing even more ridiculously good deeds, speaking even more kindly to each other, being kind to ourselves.  When we're at peace with ourselves, we're not expecting to be attacked.  So we walk around in love expecting great things and rather than be on the defensive, we've got the ability to be on a loving offense. When I hear these things happen, I double down (somebody is missing Vegas!) on my mental checklist of ways to make someone's day.  "Today I'll make a tea run for everyone at work.  I'm going to rub my pregnant Supervisor's belly and ask her questions about her baby girl until she's radiant, I'm going to be incredibly weird to make all of my baby chicks at work laugh." Suffocate the darkness with ooey gooey magical dancing marshmallows and baby kitten Christmas sweater love.  Pile that shit ON. 

3)  Love Vs. Fear

In the same vain, one of the smartest things I've ever read was from Marianne Williamson.  In her book 'A Return To Love' she basically says you're given two options every moment of the day:  to choose love or to choose fear.  Love= joy, hope, gratitude, etc.... Fear= anger, anxiety, bitterness, resentment, loneliness, etc.  Because if you think about it any negative response or emotion really goes back to being fear based-- Fear that you're not accepted, fear that someone will hurt you, fear that you're really not as good as anyone else, etc.  It's just a good quick check-in question when I find myself faltering:  "Is this love or fear, homegirl?" 

This great lady also has another idea that we were created with love: perfect, whole and complete.  Fear is what we learned here through our environment and experiences growing up.  Those fearful thoughts become habit which therefore becomes our reality because most of us don't know any better.  "Hey man, this is just the way I am. Can't change it."  With that in mind, our unworthiness, lack of love for ourselves is all a lie.  It's stuff people told us out of their own fear and it we let it stick.  If we truly love ourselves and go back to that baby fresh palette of awesomeness we don't hide in our heads but instead live lovingly.  And even more so, we have the awareness to recognize that fear in others & are able to sluff it off when they get prickly.  YOU'RE AWESOME.  AND SPECIAL.  AND FULL OF MAGICAL BABY GIGGLES.  I'm gonna tell you right now.  :)

4)  Do What Makes You Come Alive

One of my favorite all time quotes is by Howard Thurman.  "Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."  So  many people waste those special gifts they've been created with because they're too busy being realistic.  Imagine if we all did what we were created to do... The world would be so inspired!?  Sounds impossible but...  "At the moment of commitment, the universe conspires to assist you."- Goethe.  If you take even the smallest steps putting energy into something, the universe plays you like a board game and you get to jump to the next level.  "Oh that's where you want to go?  Why didn't you say so?  Look at this ladder right here... Go get 'em, Tiger!"

5) Impossibility Is Not Possible

Also in the same vain... I've learned not to use the word impossible.  When you have a 'make it happen' mentality and live in possibility I've learned you become solutions oriented rather than hopeless.  You have to believe we can get to outer space to land on Mars- knowwhatImean,Vern?  I've done things I thought were walk-on-water impossible and it blew the doors of my version of reality.  A life of hopelessness is soooo sad and tiring-- I know firsthand.   A life of possibility, however, is exciting and surprising-- like winning a secret prize every day. (Fra-gee-lee-- Must be Italian!)  And when I find myself meandering toward life being impossible again? I audibly say, "Everything radically changes today!" with some cahones behind it.  Some power.  And then I do jumping jacks, high five myself and shake it out.  ;)

6) Fearlessness Is Essential

I believe God also blesses our fearlessness.  When we get out of our comfort zones, leave the house, meet the guy, go to the audition-- we strengthen our weaknesses and put energy into what we really want.  We go back to that person at birth we were created to be-- and I think God LOVES that like someone's dusted off the cobwebs of His COOLEST painting.  "There it is!!!  That's how it's supposed to be!!!"  And then God puts on his MC Hammer pants, lights the stage and makes the angels do the running man.

7) Faith & Belief Vs. Desperation & Avoidance

This is one of the toughest lessons I've learned that I'm still figuring out!  Sometimes it's really hard to understand or know when you've stepped out of faith and into avoidance.  "I trust the universe with this-- it's just gonna happen."  That mentality is awesome but if that belief even has a WHIFF of desperation to it, things don't line up.  Sometimes we think we're stepping out in faith when really we're just throwing up our hands like a Southern belle & declaring, "I'll deal with it tomarra'!" 

And THEN sometimes we step out in faith & change STILL takes so damn long!  I remember being out of job & feeling like I really trusted that everything would work itself out. It took FOREVER.  (Y'all remember?)  I think when things don't happen for us immediately we begin to feel a bit antsy, a bit  desperate.  That belief we had becomes slightly marred and rubs off on us... When we're out and about, people can see it.  (People see our entire lives on our bodies).  So rather than bring some really great stuff into your life, you're not getting the good stuff.  You're getting the slightly marred version.

And sometimes, it's just a blessing for things to not work out the way we want.  The universe looking out for us, stretching us into awesomeness a bit further even...  "Yeah, yeah, yeah... You believe.  We've done this one before.  How about if thiiiis goes into the mix?... Wow- you hate that.  Ha!!  Oooh, she's a biter. You'll thank me later. Dang-- You kiss your mother with that mouth!?" 

8)  The ultimate lesson:  I KNOW NOTHING.

And theeeeeeeeeeeeeeeen, as soon as I think I know shit... Utterly, totally humbled.  Ha!  :) 

These lessons make me happy.  They've helped me, stretched me and grown me.  They've given me the courage to live life, to step into a faith I actually believe in and have inspired my hope in all things.  These were huge game changers for me in the first 34 years of my life.  I can only imagine what transpires at 68.  (Do you think God will still wear MC Hammer pants?  *sigh* Heaven's always 20 years behind).

I'd be interested to hear what lessons YOU'VE learned?  :)

Even MORE love than usual (it's on the checklist),  :)