Saturday, July 24, 2010

And now, for something a little more direct on abandonment . . .

Several weeks ago, I read a statement about losing our sense of beauty and loveliness somewhere along the way on this journey in life. (It may have been on one of my favorite blogs, Ivy League Insecurities.) It really struck a cord with me. I have been given many chances in this life to fully accept my beauty, but have I really? Sadly, the answer for me would be no.

And your answer is this moment? Have you lost your sense of your own beauty and loveliness somewhere along the way? Has it been left behind in some mud puddle somewhere, only to be trampled upon by passersby? Or perhaps you left it in a summer meadow, where the grass is sweet and the wind whispers gently to it, but you left it there nonetheless. Abandoned.

Chances are, if you have abandoned your own beauty and loveliness, you've abandoned the beauty and loveliness of others as well. Perhaps you are very much like me, and it is easier to see the beauty and loveliness of everyone else--whether we are speaking of physical beauty or inner beauty. But, what if, in abandoning my own beauty and loveliness, it has made me blind to the fullness of beauty and loveliness in others? What if I can only see them in a glass dimly because I left behind my own loveliness somewhere along the way?

I had a vision this past week, in which I was shown the time and the place where I chose to abandon my own beauty and loveliness. I was all of seven years old, and I had not been chosen to play the lead, Miss Spring, in the second grade play. Instead, I was chosen as the much more prosaic Miss Apple Tree. I still remember my deep disappointment at not being chosen. You see, deep inside me at seven years old, I knew I was Miss Spring. I embodied springtime exuberance and blossoming, the grace of soft sunshine and gentle flowers and the whisper of reawakening. And, oh, how very much I embodied the sun! The friend chosen to be Miss Spring was, of course, a blond and she was oh, so lovely! Through my seven-year-old eyes, I could see her beauty and loveliness. I could see the glow of grace around her. And, for the first time that I can remember, I knew that beauty and loveliness could be judged and found wanting. I felt that my own beauty had been judged and found wanting. There was no glow of grace surrounding me.

And so, I abandoned it right then and there. I decided I was neither beautiful nor lovely like the springtime. I was not, and never would be, Miss Spring. I was not the very embodiment of the Sun itself. I, instead, was practical and prosaic. I was someone to go unnoticed by the world. I was brown. I was Miss Apple Tree. I judged my own beauty and found it wanting.

It's funny how the little decisions we make as children can follow us throughout our lives. Little people making little decisions with far reaching implications.

In the vision, I was shown that while spring is the promise of beauty, the summer and fall is beauty fulfilled. It is in the summer and fall that the promise of beauty contained in the springtime flowers becomes the fruit that gives and sustains life. Miss Apple Tree, I was shown, was the very embodiment of beauty and loveliness fulfilled. Not just the promise of it--the complete fulfillment of it. The kind of beauty and loveliness that sustains. Can I embrace that kind of beauty and loveliness? Can I see my beauty and loveliness as the kind that gives to others and sustains them? I choose for my answer this time to be, "Yes!"

Can you find where you may have abandoned your beauty and loveliness? Did you abandon it all, or just part of it? Can your answer to the call of your own beauty and loveliness now be yes? I do hope so! For your sake, and for the sake of us all, I do hope so!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

No Judgment Here--Not!

Several days ago, I decided to take up a suggestion from the book, The Seven Levels of Intimacy, and attempt to go twenty-four hours without judging anything--that's right, ANYTHING--either good or bad. I knew it would definitely be a challenge, but I considered myself a relatively non-judgmental person. How bad could it be? Well, pretty bad actually(Warning: Judgment!). The first day was horrible (see the judgment?). Ok, let's back up. The first day was . . .the first day. See, this is harder than it looks on the surface. A number of insights have surfaced for me from this challenge already, and I want to share them with you.

One of the first things I decided was that swearing off judgment is like swearing off chocolate or bread and pasta or (insert your favorite poison here--and I use the word deliberately). All of a sudden, all you can think about is chocolate or pasta. The first day for me was truly eye-opening, and perhaps I-opening, too, as I realized just how much I judged. I judged my thoughts, my actions, things that happened or didn't happen, other people. Landmines everywhere. What a horrible, terrible, no-good, very bad day! Or, was it? First lesson in non-judgment: check!

I was mentally and emotionally exhausted from Day 1, and waited a day before wading back into judgment-free waters. On Day 2, I woke up and my first thought, the very first one!, was a judgment. I could have chosen to throw in the towel on the day right then and there, but decided to persevere. It was on Day 2 that I realized just how much I judged my own emotions. I felt very sad on Day 1 and Day 2. I don't like feeling sad. In fact, I dislike it very much. Sad, I have concluded over the years, is bad. Wow! I wondered on Day 2 just how much I have judged my own emotions over the years. I'm afraid to even guess. Recovering control freak that I am, I can only imagine how I have attempted to control my emotions over the years through judging them. Hmmmmm. Judging as a means of control. Second major lesson in non-judgment: check!

I also realized on Day 2 that there is such a thing as anticipatory judging. You might think anticipatory judging is the same thing as worrying, but it's not. With anticipatory judging, you are not worried about the upcoming event or situation. You know you can handle it. You've just already decided how it will be, or, to be more precise, how your experience of it will be. In this case, I had decided as I was getting ready for work that an anticipated situation would be bad--something I wouldn't like. When I realized that I had made this judgment, I was able to release it, and consciously made a choice to allow the experience to be whatever it needed to be. In other words, I became open. I-open. I hopped in shower, and when I checked the time on my phone as I was drying off, there was a text message. The anticipated event which I had predetermined would be bad had been called off while I was in the shower. Hmmmmmmm. Openness as a means of control. So counter-intuitive. Third major lesson in non-judgment: check!

I have more insights to share, but I think I will save them for tomorrow's post. I have a few strategies to share as well. Thanks for dropping by! Thoughts, anyone?