Shelter

The skin that I wear
has layers of years
molded to remind me
of the detours
I took long ago.

This body,
this shield,
is here to clothe
the very essence of
my being.

It isn’t a reflection
of what you see.
It is the comfort,
a home,
for you to find
and rest upon
with each word,
touch, and
embrace.

I am all,
and more,
less the masquerades,
of what others
expect.

I am me…
I am spirit…
I am.

Stop Thinking Big

11310914_10153328688688739_103847743_nA guest looked at my fingernails and noticed that they were all different colors yesterday.  She laughed and said, “I wish I could do that!”  I looked at her with bewilderment.  “Why can’t you?  At least do your toes, no one can see them!”  She said she just “wasn’t so bold.”  I laughed so hard I almost peed in my pants as she said, “Someday when I retire…..”  There lies the anticipated expectation of the future changing everything when one cannot accept that time is an illusion and all we have is NOW.

What are you waiting for?  What’s stopping you from moving forward?  Sometimes the obstacle is the problem.  Your mind will create just about anything to stop you from letting go.  Most of us have an all-or-nothing attitude.  So we wait for a loved one to move out.  We dream of the moment we retire or hit the lotto. We won’t take time here and there to block for ourselves.  We don’t make a plan to start saving for a big trip therefore we don’t even think about it. What’s stopping you from taking a 2 hour adventure to another city near you?  STOP thinking so darn BIG.  Start small!  I used to say, “Oh, when the last child moves out I am running away to the mountains and writing.”  The way I collect kids I would never move.  Lord!  I would be 90 years old living in a giant shoe.

This afternoon, while on a day off with my fiance, I asked him if he thought I was eccentric? He laughed and said that my picture was next to the word, and that’s why he loves me. He loves and admires the goofy side of being a hippie-carefree-unicorn-riding woman who dances to her own music. He truly cheers me on when I leave any form of normal living.  I am blessed because of this freedom to tap into my creative genes and play…truly laugh at myself.  I wasn’t always like this. It has taken years of re-programming and deleting old self-worth issues.  So, in my mind I don’t see the eccentricity but I do declare the joy of living in the moment.  I am truly spontaneous.

Start tiny in your thoughts and carve out your precious time.  Don’t wait till Someday.  Someday is a fairytale.  Don’t wait for tomorrow.  Start now.  You know 906766_608957632496432_91115726_owhat keeps a person young?  You don’t?  Well, that should be your first order of business…go search for the fountain of youth in you!  Be courageous with your truth.  Speak it.  Taste it. Smell it….and go do what makes you happy.  There is no excuse but the one you continue to tell yourself.  Go get coffee alone today.  Wear an outrageous tutu and tiara.  Get that small tattoo you have desired for years.  Check out the local Humane Society and visit the puppies. Tomorrow paint your nails in different colors.  Take a scenic road you’ve never taken. Learn an exotic word a day.  Go play in the dirt.  Get some crayons and a coloring book. GO HAVE FUN TODAY or Tomorrow!!!!!  Don’t wait for another person to fill your needs. Forgive yourself for not putting your own self in first place.  Your happiness is priority! YOU GOT THIS! Make life count for you.  The time is NOW!

Self-Deception

forgiveness

I am a liar.  I have lied to myself for the greater part of my adult life.  But the reality is that sometimes you have to find the lie to learn the truth.  The stories I have tied to me are insane.  Nothing is ever what it seems: to me is one way; to the world another.  And, then the truth of what is…is never what it seems.  Napoleon said that “history is a set of lies agreed upon.”  That’s how I’ve dealt with all the unknown and unaccepted truths.  I’ve created a version of lies told and accepted by Ego.  We all do this.  I am not alone on this path.  The lies we tell the world are nothing in comparison to the lies we tell ourselves…and believe.

Half-truths, omissions, and negativity have consistently been guiding me through my life.  I believed I couldn’t paint any longer since I was a teenager.  I stopped altogether when my mother didn’t let me go to Paris to study art after high school.  I told myself that I wasn’t good enough to pick up a brush.  I wasn’t worthy of splashing color on a canvas.  This might be a small detail to someone but to me it has been a living lie.  And, in that omission of creativity I have stopped a part of my spirit and passion.  I am reminded:

“The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to such a pass that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love, and in order to occupy and distract himself without love he gives way to passions and coarse pleasures, and sinks to bestiality in his vices, all from continual lying to other men and to himself.” – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

We all find a place in between spaces where lies manipulate our identities.  “You aren’t good enough!  You aren’t pretty or handsome.  You aren’t worthy enough because you lack intelligence. You suck at being a parent.  You are this.  You are that.  You are….”  There are millions of ways we listen to others and rarely speak of beauty to ourselves.  From the time I was a child my sister and others in my family always said I had the ugliest feet.  Until I was well into my twenties I didn’t wear sandals or open-toe shoes.  I had grown to believe my feet were hideous.  And this was a small lie.  Now imagine the larger ones in respect to our intelligence, sexuality, personality, spirituality and such that we believe from others and then make it part of our reality.

We are always seeing ourselves through others’ eyes.  Everyone’s opinion determines our identities and personalities.  We change hair color to fit with society.  We use wrinkle creams and diet excessively to fit the expectations others project.  What would actually happen if we began to speak gentler and lovingly with ourselves?  What would the voice of our spirit finally say in pride?  It’s easier to believe the lies than the truth.  What would happen if we told the truth of our desires, passion, intimacy and dreams?  Our humanness is created to learn from pain and disappointment.  Anytime we are forced to move forward it isn’t via comfort.  It is by going out into the unknown and battling the lies.  Truth is Spirit.  Truth is divine order, compassion, forgiveness, and love.  We believe the lies to be truer than any truth.  It’s time to stop!

I woke this morning to a beautiful email from a friend reminding me of what’s important.  She always expresses her concerns.  In a few words each day we return love and small sentences sharing the day’s events.  I have a tremendous support system in my life.  I have to remind myself of truth:  I am not alone in this.  The lies I’ve told myself for so long about having to do it alone have taken a toll on me.  I am not alone.  My toes aren’t disastrous.  My gray hair doesn’t make me look like an old lady.  My weight doesn’t determine my energy.  I am not the lies my Ego has chosen to tell me excessively.  I am a beautiful-vibrant soul shining my own light.  And together, you and I, can learn to be more loving, respectful, and gentler with ourselves while forgiving the self-sabotage of a lifetime.  It really isn’t any of my business what anyone thinks of me, BUT it is all of my truth what I think of myself.  Let’s stop the self-deceit…it isn’t worth it!

“No man was ever so much deceived by another as by himself.” ~ Fulke Greville

I’m Sorry Syndrome

I had a dream in the early hours of morning about a visit to a therapist.  Dr. Carl Jung sat across from me with a giant desk in between us.  I remember asking, “Dr.Carl, this is very impersonal.  Is there a way we can sit next to each other without this desk in the way?”  We moved to the area where I sat on the sofa and he sat on a comfy chair across from me.  I began with apologizing for my brokenness.  It was a long dream.  I was woken by my boyfriend while crying.  The details aren’t important.  What is relevant is my sense of apologizing for my emotions.

I have always had the “I’m Sorry Syndrome.”  And when someone asks me to stop apologizing I apologize for it again.  I know where and how it stems from.  There has to be a barricade to this agonizing need to please others.  As women we tend to do it more frequently than men.  Childhood traumas, abusive relationships and just pure self-esteem issues cause us to immediately sneak in the apology to smooth things over with another person.  But, sitting across from Carl Jung I realized it wasn’t necessary.

We tend to apologize for everything.  I apologize for interrupting, for feeling a certain way, for being early to an appointment, etc.  Heck, I apologize just for laughing or crying while thinking I am making the other person feel uncomfortable.  And, let’s not even discuss the apologies I shell out when the other person has done me wrong and I end up apologizing for them.

The word “sorry” is magical.  It opens hearts and allows for forgiveness.  However, that same word can be a crutch in not allowing self-worth to grow in a positive manner.  We apologize for our parenting skills, professional choices, schooling, loving too deeply or not loving enough.  We apologize for not wearing the right clothes, not having enough money, and having a bad hair day.  We apologize for so many senseless acts based on our emotions.  When do we stop this self-sabotage outrage of losing our self onto another?  Why do we apologize when we find our voice and want to express it?  Each time an apology is dished out we are serving a part of our worth and letting that person hold the key to our emotions.

I remember my ex never apologized…ever.  So, I spent years apologizing every time he did something wrong or hurtful to me.  I would end up apologizing for a fight or disagreement.  The common answer from him was, “If you weren’t the way you are then you wouldn’t push me to act this way.  I accept your apology.”  Typical narcissism personality disorder to the oomph degree!  In these moments an apology is like white-out.  It is covered up but always still underneath it all.  When you’ve wronged or hurt someone an apology is a must!

Some of the questions I asked Dr. Carl (as I kept calling him) were: “What is my purpose here?  What do I do with myself from here on?  What can I bring to this life?”  I believe I had a few more universal questions in regards to my existence.  I can’t remember right now.  What I do remember is the feelings of shame and displacement.  I recall the brokenness of remorse and guilt. In the middle of the conversation I can still feel the sense of self-criticism and judgment while apologizing for the past and the lessons that I’ve learned from such traumas.

As a child I wasn’t heard.  My mother had me at 44 years of age.  She was too busy going through menopause when I was just starting middle school.  Puberty was something you did and never discussed.  I apologized for my mood swings, for wanting to be with friends, and for needing to just be left alone without her around.  I apologize for my ultra sensitivity, my need to be perfect in school, and anything that she could not relate to as a teenager in the 80’s.  I was expected to be seen and not heard.  This was most people of my generation.  Now that I am my mother’s age I see the difference the generation gap created.  The need to apologize is a weakness rather than a healthy characteristic when the resentment is for wanting to honor your feelings.

When do we stop this nonsense of putting everyone else in front of our own needs?  When and how do we break the pattern of justifying what we want with an apology?  When do we start to live authentically…now or the day we are dying?

I believe that a dream with an archetypical world famous psychologist was exactly what I needed to reflect and cease those things I keep struggling to fix.  I cannot continue to be sorry for the person I am or continue to become.  If I happen to ruffle a few feathers along the way I have to accept it is a reflection or projection of that other person.  We must stop apologizing for evolving and wanting to live authentically.  Let’s put the word “sorry” back to its real context once and for all.

“The only correct actions are those that demand no explanation and no apology.”  ~Red Auerbach

No more superficial…

At the beginning of the year I decided to strip a lot of superficial depthless behavior.  I needed to take my own advice about letting things go. This included the constant dying of my hair.  Since I was in my early 20’s I have had premature gray.  I hid it like if it was something shameful.  I covered it up like a dirty secret.  As it was growing out I cut my long hair to make the transition quicker.  It was a tough few months.  I wanted to hide the roots and everything else.  I felt exposed.   I was constantly second guessing myself.  Thank goodness for wonderful friends who supported the process.

Now, after so many months, I get to admire the real color of my hair.  I also get to be me.  I stopped worrying about what others would think.  I earned each gray hair.  And, yes, some people did not care for this process.  They think I am still too young to “let it all hang out like that.”  But, I’ve learned a few things about myself this year: The color of my hair doesn’t determine who I am.  It is the colors I carry in my heart.

At 44 years young I am finally happy with the person staring back from the mirror.  It was exhausting to be coloring my hair every two weeks because the gray was so prominent.  I truly did not want to know who I was behind that mask.  That’s the thing about superficial outward appearances: we use them to hide the traumas, low self-esteem, and so many other secrets.  Shedding the dark hair also allowed weight to come off.  Things started to diminish and fade away in the background.  It is funny how letting go of pretenses helps shed the many things we hang on to for security.

So many times we keep upholding a totally different extension of ourselves to fit in society.  We want to make others happy by looking a certain way, acting a certain manner, while all along being exhausted from the façade.  I am learning to never take myself serious.  I am finally loving myself in a way I never imagined.

This is a recent picture of my son, Patrick, and I hiking last month.  I also believe that people approach me now with some gentleness.  Is it that I look old?  I don’t think it’s that.  I believe it is the lack of pretentiousness.  Oh, who knows!  I am finally able to dance in the rain and sing out loud and have little filtering.  Life is too short to be battling with what people think.  Life is all about loving the journey and yourself in the process!

Your Inner Child

I was observing our neighbor’s little girl, Sophia, during dinner the other night.  She’s become our town’s little princess.  At six years old she has the charisma and intelligence of an old soul.  I remember being six.  I remember it vaguely.  I wish I could speak to that little chubby girl, Mildred, and assure her of so many things.  I would let her know that by no means she is to give her power, self-esteem, her voice, or anything else other than love to anyone else.

I have few memories of me witnessing the progress of life at that age and marveling at things.  The world seemed so magically grand.  It was even more magical when my father would show up after long absences.  He was my prince charming, never once criticizing anything I did.  Then again, how can he be negative if he was rarely around?

The hardest part of being a human is living without losing yourself in it.  We are born just for the lessons, struggles and challenges.  As children we don’t fear dreaming.  There are unlimited possibilities for the future.  We can be anything and have everything.  Observing little Sophia and her spunk, her lack of reservations and her refreshing innocence I wondered what I would say to myself as a child if I could go back in time.  I also wondered where those wonderful tributes vanish to from childhood.  During the night I dreamt of that little girl, returning to a specific memory of childhood, standing by the dining room table of an old house in Puerto Rico.  The dream turned into this story:

“We spoke briefly last night as I watched her tip-toeing, balancing her chubby body staring at the liquor bottle with the dancer in it that her dad brought home after months of his disappearing act. I laughed at her rhythm trying to be graceful at six years of age and I wanted to tell her to keep trying but I didn’t. I smiled. I laughed. I sat back knowing what I know, speaking short sentences that an intelligent child disregarded as she became enthralled in the dancer and her parents arguing in the kitchen while the French melody from the music box under the bottle muffled the background words. I knelt down to her height staring at the golden bottle while she moved it so the music continued and we shared an intimate moment without words as we knew the outcome of the bottle. We anticipated another Houdini act from the father; another tearful night for the mother. The gifts he always brought were to fill his guilt. I wanted to hold her. I wanted to tell her to let go, to be playful, to not be so responsible; that life has a way of working out.  I wanted to let her know she could trust another but to not loose herself in that dependency.  I held my breath, touched her long brown hair, caressed her round cheeks and said nothing of the sort.  I wanted to let her know that this moment would be implanted in her mind forever — that the dancer will seem like a dream; that she will strive at perfectionism and fail and hurt and despair because she wants to be that perfect, graceful dancer.  She will search for the bottle all her life, searching for prince charming to sweep her away.  I wanted to let her know she could play hard and long and be a great artist and a wonderful and kind woman one day.  I wanted her to hear me say it but I didn’t because those are not her lessons at six years of age.  She will find empty bottles with empty dreams and will work her faith to the core to gather strength to continue on her own.  I wanted her to know that she will be loved and admired; that all the disappointments will bring goodness.  I wanted to warn her about remorse and regrets and not to let them take over her heart; that she will need to forgive many times. I wanted her to understand that life is what you give it not what it gives you; that rules are abstract and cannot be touched but easily broken and to watch her step when breaking one.  Everything is a ripple of lessons weaving into another.  I wanted to tell her with assurance to truly enjoy the journey, to laugh every day and embrace all diversities.  Most of all I wanted to tattoo the light of divinity in her chest.  I sat back on the chair and stared harder at the child who was me.  I smiled at her beautiful brown eyes and winked in certainty that we will be fine. We will meet again and again as I stare at my own children.  I wanted to stay longer and hold her until her deceptions disappeared because I know that she will fight against everything with stubbornness for the rest of our lives.  But, I left her there in my dream, in my memory, in my childhood. I left her there where I will love her always; where I can come and go and tip toe as the dancer back to me.”

 

What would you tell your inner child if you could go back in time?  Please share.  I would love to hear.  May you allow your inner child to stand up and dance today in joy.  Love and light always…Millie