To Run

Wild horse above Campo Imperatore

Wild horse above Campo Imperatore (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pushing forward.
like the thoroughbred being squeezed into the starting stall.
Trying to coax this wild horse to go through an unnaturally small
opening.
To do what? To run?
To do what is natural, you must do what feels unnatural?

NO. NO. NO.

STOP!

You must not think about domestication.
You must not even try to run on the track that is set for you,
for another’s pleasure.

You must run free.
You are NOT a tamed & bred & fed thoroughbred
but a wild one.
A wild horse, feral, free.
No, not feral even,
wild, wild, wild.
You are not from this place.
You are pure wilderness,
condensed.

Do NOT go back into captivity!
You must RUN.
Run free.
Be free.

Be free & wild & natural.
Release the cage clasp
held tight
in your tight grasp.

Release the need
to need
another,
even one other
to feed the ego chip.
The chip carved deep
into shoulder & neck & shoulder.

“IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN DIFFERENT!”
You shout.
But, seriously,
let it out
already.
You are trapped & caged
now by your own hand.

So let loose your reins,
it is time to reign.
Time to claim
your rightful
reign
over your own crop & field & wild reel.

Run.

Just run.

Let loose & run.
run, run, run, run…

Us runners share
the nuchal ligament
a strong filament
to reach the firmament
of Earth & Stars.

To have my foot
touch & stomp & stride & step
and have small swirls of dust
rise around my instep.

foot
fall
& off and gone
off, gone
up & gone
a step & stride
stride, swing, step, move
arch, move, foot
move, leg
swing, swing, swing…

Graceful ease
fills each track
& where soft dust
swirls & swirls & swirls
Eyes are filled with visions
of swirls & swirls & swirls
of stars & galaxies
and stars &

endless black

endless night

eternal light.

Making People Happy 101

English: Classroom in SIM University.
Image via Wikipedia

The first thing to know in this class is that you will fail it. Sorry.You have signed up for a semester of learning pleasing conversation, wearing fashionable clothes and picking that perfect gift. All of which will do diddly squat. Yes. I said diddly.

You could have taken a class in something useful, like Spanish, or mind expanding, like Physics, or even just plain fun, like Painting. Instead, you are here, in this dingy classroom, sitting in a chipped desk, under the only fluorescent bulb that is flicking. Thumbs up.

Perhaps you may learn something in this class that could help you yet. Maybe you could learn to make only one person happy. Pick someone close to you. No. closer. Yes, that’s right. You.

If I had renamed this class Making Yourself Happy 101, you might have had a chance of passing. Except, if you stuck around to get a grade then you would fail. Nice choice.

So do yourself a favor, drop this class. Pick another. Take training in something that means something special to you. Travel to wonderful places. Hey, you could even just go get a nice coffee from a local shop and sit there sipping from an actual mug; and not letting your seat go a moment before you are finished (even if you are getting the hover/glare from other patrons). Just do anything, other than this. Then, you would have made just one important person happy, YOU.

I Love Myself Exactly as I am

All too often, ‘beauty’ magazines do their best to make us feel ugly, fat, and completely undesirable. Probably because they are driven by advertising dollars for products that we don’t really need (22 shades of pink lipstick), don’t even work (wrinkle cream), or only look good if you look more like a skeleton than a woman. So, it is refreshing that Glamour magazine in the U.K. actually published a picture of a woman who actually looks like a woman.

Lizzie Miller’s Glamour magazine shoot: How one model’s picture shook the world (flabby tummy and all)

This is a step in the right direction, to be sure, but there is a giant chasm still to cross. The beauty industry has systematically undermined women’s confidence for decades. All in the name of pushing products that will somehow magically restore our confidence (that was shamelessly robbed from us in the first place). We now live in a world where even the models don’t look as good as their photos in magazines. We are chasing an impossible ‘ideal’ that not one person can achieve.

So, clearly the system is outdated and not working. Rather than push against it, we can do something far more powerful. We can repair our collective self-esteem as women. How do we do this? Well, we start small. You can start by finding something to admire in yourself and others every single day. When you start looking for what you like, you find more things to like. You can also start a program of radical self acceptance. Repeat this affirmation:

“I Love Myself Exactly as I am.”

How does that feel? A little odd? Crazy? Outrageous? Good! Start wherever you are and embrace it. Just keep saying this little gem of a phrase until you begin to feel a shift. Basically, fake it till you make it. Eventually you will begin to believe that you are a worthwhile person without needing to drop 20 pounds or have perfect boobs or have flawless skin. Soon, you will find that ‘beauty’ is on the inside.

Beauty lives in the twinkling eye and the easy smile. It lives in the genuine ‘Thank you’ and the generous ‘Please’. Beauty is found in the warm hug of love and the hand that helps you up. Beauty is found in the tear that is shed over a stranger’s sorrow and the grassroots campaign to help change lives. Beauty shows her fine self in the careful kick-in-the-butt a friend gives us when we have lost our way. She flexes her muscles when she protects all the children, and all the homeless, and all the lost ones. She stands over the gate between life and death, she brings  babies into the world and she midwifes us back into the eternal Love. Beauty is reflected in the eyes of our grandmothers as they hold our small children. Beauty is found when we look at our sisters and see all that she does, all that she gives, all that she lives. Beauty, you see, is already in you… and me… she is just waiting for us to see her.

Perfection Illusion

brain

Image by TZA via Flickr

When are things perfect? How long do they stay that way? Who decides what perfect is anyway? If you have Virgo rising like me, or are just a natural perfectionist then these are some key questions to ask yourself. Perfectionism, or if we are being generous, detail orientation, is the crushing drive to make all experiences, actions, events, and people conform to a narrow, rigid definition of perfect.

There are some benefits to high standards, for sure, but when a person’s self-esteem and relationships with others begin to suffer, it has been taken too far. Some signs that we have crossed from high standards to perfectionism are: anxiety and depression when faced with a situation that can’t be ‘fixed’; procrastination when faced with potential critics; compulsive fixing of minor details (that ultimately mar or delay the work being done); people you love tell you they feel they will never be good enough for you. These are just a few examples.

So back to our questions. Who decides what perfect is? The short answer is: you do. Your own inner critic is ultimately the one who holds up the yardstick to all that you do. The inner critic is that part of you that pummels you for saying or doing the ‘wrong’ thing. The inner critic, if it is let free reign, is fueled by the comments of the ‘outer’ critics and meticulously keeps score of all your failures. It is one-sided and unfair, because it promptly forgets your wins. Left unchecked, a strong inner critic can destroy self-esteem. Often we hear far more criticism than praise from, usually, well-meaning people. Unfortunately, the negative stuff tends to be stickier than the positive stuff. The inner critic works hard to convince us that we need everyone to like us, all the time, in every situation, no exceptions. As long as we are looking for an external source of approval our inner critic is happy, because you start depending on something that you have no power over. At its worst, the inner critic grows so strong that even if highly respected authorities heap glowing compliments on us, we never believe them.

We can defeat the inner critic by nourishing our inner ally, the part of us who really knows that we are a piece of the Divine. Affirmations, complimenting others, and stopping all verbal criticism of ourselves and others are good first steps at undermining  the inner critic. Test this out. Practice “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all” for a week. Our subconscious mind cannot tell the difference between something mean we say about someone else and something mean we say about ourselves. So go on a thought diet, no more mean things. You could also couple this with making an effort to say nice things about yourself (affirmations) and nice things about others (compliments). If this is new territory for you, start small with things you really believe and work your way up to more difficult levels of niceness.

When are things perfect and how long do they stay that way? Short answer: never, or hardly ever, and that is a good thing. Abraham often tells us that the negative things in our physical world are the starting point of new creations. Whenever we encounter something we don’t like, we immediately cause the Universe to start creating what we do want. We purposely chose a life situation that would give us the contrast we would need to grow and develop. The problem is never the unpleasant event, the problem is always staying stuck on what you don’t want and not focusing on what you do want.

As soon as you focus on the solution to a problem, the whole thing gets easier. You could never fix a car by examining the broken fuel pump over and over; you can only fix a car by finding a working part and replacing it. We often examine our problems too closely and completely forget to step back and see the big picture. It is often in that big picture view that we find our solutions. When we let go and embrace the whole of our lives, we gain perspective on the small little details we are worrying over. Ask yourself, is this really important? Is getting this thing I’m doing perfect worth the anxiety and restlessness? A small world view will always say ‘Yes, this is life or death.’, a big world view will usually say ‘No, this is pretty minor, just let it be.’

Perfection and criticism go hand in hand, like two best friends. They team up to convince you that you are less than you really are. So practise letting them go, and embrace being your own best friend.

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