Embracing Imperfection

buddhaEmbracing imperfection is easy when you feel like you’re doing a pretty good job of keeping your imperfections at bay and you’re feeling nearly perfect. But this seems counterintuitive. Kind of like when people say they place little value on money when they have never struggled financially or had to cash in their loose change for milk or bread.

But no one’s perfect and we should be acutely (and constantly) aware of that if we truly want to be accepting of who we are, warts and all.

Shame is the birthplace of perfectionism.

~Brene’ Brown

What will people think of me? I wasn’t as kind as I could have been, I didn’t cover my mouth when I sneezed, I used foul language, I didn’t get around to talk to everyone, and on and on and on, the shame storm goes.

I know someone who always uses the quote, “If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backwards.” I think it’s a sports reference. It always irks me when he says it, since I think we’re allowed to take a little break and appreciate how far we’ve come. It doesn’t mean we are backsliding. Sometimes we just need a rest.

Thank goodness I never reacted to him one of the many times he’s used this quote like I was tempted to with, “I completely disagree and here’s why!” I actually see the value in it now and, while we can feel good at how far we’ve come, we can’t rest for too long.

If we know what makes us feel healthy and balanced and we stop doing these things, then we may not feel so healthy and balanced.

I know what makes me feel good. I love to be out in nature, hiking, walking or gardening. I feel more balanced with meditation and yoga. These things make me feel strong and self-confident. Perhaps if I didn’t lose sight of them, if I continued to “move forward,” I wouldn’t worry so much about what someone thought about me when I didn’t cover my mouth when I sneezed.

Don’t lose sight of what you need to give yourself to be your best and keep doing these things. If you fall out of practice, get back into your self-care routine as soon as you can because you never know when you will be knocked off-balance and feel as if you are “moving backwards.”

If you train hard, you’ll not only be hard, you’ll be hard to beat.

~Herschel Walker

Advertisements

Dear Mom

Pink Rose in the sun

Now I know why you didn’t like to get your picture taken. Sometimes I don’t recognize myself in pictures. I take them anyway, since looking at them brings me joy and reminds me that I have a great life!

I know why you spent all of your time with your family at the expense of outside friendships. I want to focus on the people who are most important to me. Some of my friends are like family to me.

Now I know why you always preferred to work in an office where you were the only woman. Relationships, particularly with other women,  can be difficult. They can be complicated and painful, and at the same time they can be joyful and loving. I have learned a lot about myself through the lens of my relationships with others.

I understand how it annoyed you when dad made a mess of your kitchen when he cooked. I’m glad that familial roles have blurred and aren’t as clearly defined anymore. I think that this has made us relate in a different, more intimate way as a family.

I know that you loved me equally as much as my older brother and sisters, even if you didn’t exactly plan to have a fourth child. I couldn’t imagine how I would possibly love another child as much as my first-born son. My heart found a way when my daughter was born.

I know how happy it made you when all of your children got along with each other (we still do)! I love that mine do and take comfort that they will always have each other.

Now I realize how much your happiness was tied to ours, when my kids are happy, I’m happy.

Now I understand why you were so upset when I moved to another state, even though it was only an hour away. It meant that we wouldn’t see each other as often. I feel the most full when I’m with my kids and miss them whenever we’re apart.

I know how difficult it must have been when your mom passed away and how much you missed her every single day. I know how many times you must have wanted to pick up the phone to talk about your day, hear words of encouragement, share some happy or sad news or just to hear her voice. I know how important that unconditional love was to you and how, with your mom, no matter how old you were, she would always make you feel loved and protected.

I miss you terribly and it’s not the same without you.

But now I realize that I was always capable of loving myself just like you always had.

Life Imitates Nature

I really enjoy being outdoors-hiking, walking, gardening and just observing. So often I’m able to make sense of things that I’m thinking and feeling when I take a cue from nature.

I think we all strive to be the best we can be. We all have room for growth and it makes us feel good to learn new things about ourselves. When we know better, we do better, and when we do better, we feel better.

Perhaps you are working on simplifying your life, focusing more on a healthy lifestyle, improving your relationships, having more patience or compassion, sticking to a self-care routine or stepping out of your comfort zone.

Let’s face it, growth and change is work, and we all have our days, and even weeks, when we just don’t have the energy to move forward. There are some days when, rather than meditate, go for a walk, prepare a healthy meal or catch up on some reading for a great e-course on how we can be more self-aware, we may just opt to eat a bag of chips and take a long nap. Sound familiar?

magnola3

I think we all need a restorative break from time to time. Maybe we had a particularly difficult day or it has just been one of those weeks (or months)! Although we may feel as if we had a minor setback in reaching our personal goals, it doesn’t mean that we are any less committed, courageous or enlightened.

We can move on and pick up where we left off when we’re ready and continue on our path.

It’s been a rough Spring for my majestic Magnolia tree. Its sweet-smelling, pink flowers just started to open up when we had a hard frost. The buds never fully opened, they just shriveled up and turned brown.

I reflected on how I’d been feeling the past few weeks as I looked at the brown leaves. My tree wasn’t at its best and I didn’t feel I was either. I felt like I didn’t have much energy or motivation, and I wasn’t making the most healthy choices. I hadn’t meditated in weeks and just couldn’t get moving. Whatever I was experiencing had thrown off my momentum, just like the hard frost had done to the tree.

After a few weeks of observing the shriveled up brown leaves, I noticed a change in my tree! The beautiful, bright green leaves had started to sprout and open up to the warmth and sunshine!

And just like that, the journey continues. I think I’ll go for a walk.

magnolia2

A Lesson in Perspective From a Veggie Wrap

I’ve been thinking a lot about perspective lately. I was recently in a new (to me) little place nearby that served a variety of veggie wraps (and had almond milk for coffee), so I was super excited! A few minutes after placing my order, I heard four very sobering words: “I have bad news.”

Since I had been daydreaming while I was waiting, and not thinking about my lunch order, these words caught my attention and I thought the worst. I’ve heard “bad news” before and, quite frankly, I didn’t want any. My panic turned to relief, once I heard, “We are all out of arugula,” and I was quickly brought back to my happy little lunch experience. I replied with, “No worries, the arugula mix is fine,” and added, “THAT’S not bad news.

But this got me thinking about how much our perspectives influence our lives.

“Some people see the glass half full. Others see it half empty.
I see a glass that’s twice as big as it needs to be.”

-George Carlin

As we all wade into the waters of the human experience, let us not forget that we ARE all human with very different experiences, and therefore, perspectives. To the person making my wrap, at that moment in time, and from his experience working with people in a food service industry, not having what someone ordered WAS bad news. To me, it was no big deal, since, at that moment, bad news conjured up some really dark times in my life.

I wrote about Don Miguel’s Four Agreements in my last post, which you can find here: https://beallthere.net/2015/09/13/love-light-and-positivity-mostly/

Agreement Number Three states, “Don’t make assumptions.” Practicing this agreement has really helped me stay balanced, confident and present, and has avoided a few trips to  Funkytown (https://beallthere.net/2015/08/22/funkytown-just-passing-through/).

With the added understanding that we all have our own unique perspectives, this really rings true! How can we begin to understand how someone feels about themselves or us, unless we ask or clarify?

Moreover, perspective cannot only influence how we relate to others, it can also impact our emotional well-being. As you may know, I have made a few lifestyle changes which have helped my mild depression and anxiety. You can read more about these changes in detail here:

https://beallthere.net/2015/06/20/be-all-there/

https://beallthere.net/2015/07/08/minimalism-101/

https://beallthere.net/2015/08/03/easy-guided-meditation/

A very big trigger for me, and others, which can distract me from being present is the cooler weather and WINTER.

I’ve been dreading it for several weeks now, fighting the current, not wanting to get pulled down by negative thought patterns. I’ve worked really hard to get where I am today and want to be able to feel good year round.

So I’ve decided to use the power of perspective to change my thought patterns this year! Instead of the cold, the shorter days, and the decreased time I can spend outside (and the lions and tigers and bears, eek, I didn’t say this was going to be easy), what if I looked for the opportunity and beauty of the season? What if I focused on what experiences I can have now that I’m not able to have on an 80 degree sunny day?

The dried hydrangeas I brought inside and the spectacular fall colors are looking pretty good. Who doesn’t like to sit by a good fire? Maybe this will be the year that I try out snowshoeing or cross county skiing?

perspective

To say that I’m EXCITED about winter would be an overstatement, however, I’m hopeful that this year will be different, and it’s all thanks to a veggie wrap!

I hope you are able to gain a new perspective this year, as well.

xox

Jeanne

Lighten Up

to lighten up means to relax, to become less serious or less angry (urbandictionary.com).

Happy New Year! Besides authenticity and self-love, this year I’m going to focus on fun!

I’m not quite sure when I became so serious. Perhaps it’s when I became a parent and  felt the tremendous responsibility of impressionable hearts, minds and souls. Or, it could have been when I became a teacher and developed my unwavering professional persona. I think I always had a serious side, but my youth kept it in check. What I do know is that it’s time for me to lighten up!

I recently went through some old pictures that my parents had and was instantly transported back in time to a feeling of disappointment and heartache. As I held the pictures and looked at myself as a preteen cheerleader, these emotions were replaced by gratitude and acceptance. The perspective that I have as a mature adult processed a heavy emotion from my past in a new way which wasn’t haunting anymore.

JF Cheerleading

I tried out for cheerleading in high school and I didn’t make it. I certainly didn’t go into tryouts unprepared. I practiced my cheer routines, my cheerleader voice and my cheerleader look, over and over again. I was obsessed. I even practiced when I wasn’t supposed to be practicing and can still remember my gym teacher, Mrs. Farina, yelling (when I was practicing my splits during PE), “Fornarotto, if you do one more split, I’m going to make sure you don’t even try out for cheerleading!”

I was pretty excited about the whole idea of being on the high school cheerleading squad. It meant being on the big high school stadium field in front of a crowd and representing my school. I knew how exciting that could be since one of my sisters twirled and the other cheered on that big field when they were in high school.

But, it wasn’t meant to be, I didn’t make it and I was crushed. I felt humiliated and heartbroken. I was lacking something that the other girls had, some of whom were my good friends. I had done all I could to prepare for tryouts and my best wasn’t good enough.

Looking at these old pictures reminded me that I used to really enjoy playing and being part of a team. I played softball and did gymnastics for many years. I was even on these varsity teams! I was also reminded that I cheered for several years for recreational teams, that I WAS a cheerleader. It may not have been on the big field in front of a huge crowd, but  I had fun doing it.  I also did other things that my sisters and my friends didn’t do, like play softball and do gymnastics.

JF Softball

JF Gymnastics

As I look to the future and focus on lightening up, I realize that I need to let go of the heavy feelings that I harbor from the past. However, I think that glancing back and not dwelling on the past can be healing when experienced through the lens of a new perspective.

I have to do things that bring me joy regardless of how others may judge me. In Brene’ Brown’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection, she talks about living a “wholehearted life.”

“Let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are. Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.”

JF Lighten Up

I’m more of a softball kind of girl.

 

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to Into My Fifties, comment  & share.

Honoring Myself

I’ve been working on paying attention to my feelings and not dismissing them. It’s one thing to be sensitive, yet it takes some courage to really feel what’s going on, in an investigative sort of way, rather than just label and dismiss strong emotions.

While on this emotional journey I realized that I was ignoring how was feeling physically, as well: MY KNEES HURT. Rather than push through these feelings, I needed to honor these feelings and take some of my own advice.

In one of my previous posts, “Rock It!” I discussed the fact that sometimes we have to readjust our goals, yet they can be fulfilling, nonetheless. I reached my goal of becoming a runner (by my standards) and I was not even entertaining the thought of stopping.

I’ve been running for a few months now, consistently, 2 miles, every other day. I even ran in California during my vacation. I am particularly proud of a run I took a few weeks ago with my daughter and her boyfriend, since I was able to keep up with them! It also felt good to be able to bond with them through this activity.

Honoring myself 1

I worked so hard to be able to run for an extended time that I was determined not to lose my momentum. I feared that if I took too much time off in between runs, that I would have to start all over again. So when my knees started to hurt  I pushed through the pain and continued my regime.

After a few weeks of constant pain, I grew concerned. I didn’t want to cause irreversible damage or do anything to my knees that would require surgery.

I bought new sneakers. My knees still hurt. I spaced out my runs more and more and my knees still hurt. Today marks one week since my last run and my knees are finally starting to feel better. Instead of going on a run, I went on my elliptical machine.

By identifying what I was feeling and honoring that feeling, I created a space for another activity.

I ran less, so I had more time to get into yoga, something I always wanted to do. Once again, my original goal (running) was redefined (fitness) and the end result was just as satisfying, perhaps even more.

If I Can Do It, So Can You!

And if I can do it in one aspect of my life, I can do it in another. As I transition my next phase, I am redefining my life, my relationships and my goals. I seemed to have way more goals, dreams, and ideas for how I can make an impact in some small way, that it all became overwhelming to me and I didn’t even know where to start.

I began to get a little more clarity and success when I decided not to do too much at once. In addition to simplifying my life, finding my purpose (see Courtney Carver’s, bemorewithless.com for some great tips) and working on my writing, one of my goals is fitness, so I decided to try something I have always wanted to do, but NEVER attempted: RUNNING.

I began very, very slowly, running for 1 minute, and then walking for as long as it took to catch my breath (and get up the nerve to continue). As I shared my method with others I encountered, they told me this sounded like the Couch to 5k Running Plan (coolrunning.com). I just did what felt right.

Each time I run, I try to increase the amount of time that I run and decrease the amount of time I walk. Since my daughter recently started running, I would check in with her from time to time for encouragement.

Over the course of about 4 weeks, I went from running for 1 minute, to 2 minutes, to 4 minutes (I was stuck here for a while), to 7 minutes, etc. I stuck with this method of gradually increasing my running time and I run/walk every other day for 2 miles, running about 1.5 miles of that distance (about 20 minutes).

Me, tired, but feeling good after my run

Me, tired, but feeling good after my run

This method of building endurance is really a good metaphor for how I can target some of my other goals. Start off small, remain focused, work at it consistently (even when stuck at some level), ask for support when needed and share successes with others.

There may even be some added bonuses along the way. This morning, as I was running by a man crouched over weeding his front lawn I said, “They never end, do they?” He replied with an unlit cigarette in his smile, “No, and thank goodness, this is my therapy!” I got a good laugh and a warm feeling from this interaction with a stranger. As I continued running, I reflected on the fact that running has been therapy for me, as well.

What have you been meaning to do, to work on, or to finish? Do you have so many things on your plate that you feel overwhelmed and exhausted before you even begin? If so, pick one task, one that is doable and perhaps seems the easiest to complete. Focus on this one goal and write down each day (or every other day, etc.) what you will do to see it through. Small steps are OK and you will build momentum and confidence as you check them off!

Be consistent and share your journey with a supportive friend (or me). This creates a feeling of accountability and it’s nice to have a cheering section.

Good luck and feel free to comment and share your successes here!