“How hard is it to decide to be in a good mood and be in a good mood once in a while?” ~Say Anything
Believing in happiness and magic, and believing that they are one and the same, is a choice. And it’s a choice I’ve decided to make. In the last few weeks, I’ve felt a heavy cloud lifting a little bit every day. I’m exploring more, reaching out more, experiencing more in a fuller and more complete way than I have in a long time.
The rain is tough to trudge through, but it does clear away the grime that weighs us down. So if you’re in the midst of trudging, please know that I’m cheering you on to the other side. I know the road is long and difficult, but it can be traversed. You got this.
There is a lot of pressure all around us to be someone other than who we are. The desire and need to be accepted and loved is powerful. We sometimes conform to someone else’s mold to capture that love.
What I’ve learned is that true love and acceptance in any form doesn’t ask us to change. It embraces who we fully are – the light and the dark, the beautiful and the ugly, the perfect and the imperfect. And if someone can’t take in all that you are, then they don’t get any part of you at all.
So don’t get in line. Flip yourself upside down and live out loud. All we have is a one-way ticket, and we need to make the most of the ride. Be who you are.
“Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.”
I’m now digging into the next phase of the editing process for my novel, Where the Light Enters. I thought it would be easier than the first draft and the first set of edits, but the refinement process carries its own gnarly tasks. I’m now getting into critical detail where research and intense imagination are critical, when self-doubt is around every corner making it easy to throw in the towel. Self-doubt is really starting to get ticked off that I’m not giving up, and so its voice grows louder and its criticism more biting.
Quotes like the one above remind me that every process, every experience contains a certain amount of beautiful and terrible, light and darkness, frustration and ease. It’s a difficult and dicey balance to negotiate, but if we want to build anything of value and substance, whether it’s a piece of art, a relationship, or a book, we have to be willing to take the good with the bad. There will be times that we never want to end and times that all we want to do is give up. That seesaw is part and parcel to the creation process.
When giving up on anything feels especially enticing, I remind myself that I’m not perfect, that no one’s perfect, and so if something truly comes from my heart and gut then it will carry imperfection, too. That helps me keep going. It calms the small voice of self-doubt that is always present and wants me to abandon ship. I understand its fear and concern, and I also know that this same fear and concern is what helps me do the very best I can at any moment.
Letting go is a choice rooted in the desire to be free from emotions that do us more harm than good, and the circumstances that cause those emotions. They’re often deeply entrenched within us and that familiarity, no matter if those emotions are positive or negative, breeds a certain level of comfort. We’re sure of those emotions, even if we don’t necessarily like them. To release them is to drift out into the unknown. Here’s what I’m learning: when you let go, you don’t sink. You float.
“In a society that profits from your self-doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act.” ~ public transit poster
This is a short week for me because of the holiday so on Friday I’m giving myself a day of intensive self-care: my first ever acupuncture treatment, a new haircut, a delicious lunch, and some time going to a museum or an indie film at my favorite movie theater in D.C. The best way to give your best to others is to take care of yourself. Be a rebel; like yourself.
There’s nothing wrong with taking the high road, even when someone hasn’t earned that amount of kindness and courtesy from you. After all, you’ll have a better view from up there and that perspective will help you avoid the people who choose to make the low road their home.
Life doesn’t always give us what we want. We strive for something (or someone) only to find we’ll never be able to reach it, fix it, heal it, or save it, try as we might.
This has happened to me several times in the past few months, and I have to be honest: I felt crushed. Confused and beat up. Even unsteady at times. And then I read this: “Sometimes life doesn’t give you what you want, not because you don’t deserve it, but because you deserve more.” And I’m reminded that life isn’t so much about what we want; it’s about what we need. We don’t always know what we need until we look back on our trail of broken dreams and realize they had to break so that something more beautiful could take its place.
Like me, you might be going through some things right now. Things that hurt. Things that make you feel sad, afraid, or angry. You might be asking yourself, “why me? Why is this happening now? How did I get to this point? Where did I go wrong?” I get it. I really do.
Cry it out. Dance it out. Talk it out. Rid yourself of that thing that just didn’t go the way you wanted, secure in the fact that it went the way that it needed to go so that you could live your best life and be your best self. That idea keeps me going, and I hope it will keep you going, too.
The world is full of possibilities. What no one tells us is that not every one of them is meant for us. The only work we ever really have to do is to find the doors that are ours to open. And no one can make that choice for you except you. Other people will try to push you down one path or another. They will try to tell you that this or that opportunity is too good to pass up. What matters is whether or not that opportunity is something you want and leads to a place you want to go.
Sometimes your only choice is to break the rules. I’ve spent a lot of time building a rule book for my life, and last week I felt the need to break with my own conventions to go outside the bounds and boundaries I had set. I can’t say why that impulse took over. I knew in my gut that the right thing to do was exactly the opposite of what I’d always done before.
The chance I took paid off in spades, and continues to pay off. It was a risk I’m glad I took. And I’m certain it won’t be the last. Sometimes the strongest move we can make is to let all of our vulnerability show. The reward is in the risk.
“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” ~W.B. Yeats
Sometimes we pray for signs—an insight, hint, or direction of what to do next when we can’t see our way out of where we are. The very thing we want—the guidance, love, and concern from the Universe—is already here. It’s everywhere. Around every corner, in every step we take.
I noticed it last week in the morning doves in Rock Creek Park. I felt it in smiles from the people in my neighborhood whom I see every day as I come and go from home. I found it in the light and the sky and the breeze. It was a quiet but still strong whisper. “Keep going. This is the way for you.”
The trail of magic is always there for us to pick up and follow. We just need to open our eyes, and heart, and ears, and let go of the many fears and doubts that keep us down. Sharpen your senses. Attune and align yourself with magic. It’s waiting for you. It’s a choice.