WARTS AND ALL - JANUARY 25

“May God…let me strive for attainable things.”—Pindar


THE PLIMSOLL LINE


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 There comes a time when we have to accept that we can only do so much, that we can’t do it all, that we are limited in our energy, our time, our resources or our physical strength or all of the above.

There also comes a time when we may have to realize that we can’t do all that we once did, the things that at one time when we were young and vibrant were easy peasy, like falling off a log or a piece of cake. Times change and things change with them and one of those things is likely to be that we’re not as agile, as strong or as capable as we once were. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but it’s real and it happens.

 One of the problems with accepting that we can’t do it all is that for some of us we don’t know how to not do it all. Do any of these sound familiar?

·       “Yes, I’d be happy to do that.”
·       “Not a problem.”
·       “I think I can fit it in.”
·       “I’ll try.”
·       “That should work.”
·       “Thank you for asking me.”

     What is missing here?  The word “no”. It’s just a small word, but it comes in very handy when it’s time to assess your situation and decide whether or not you should take on one more thing to your already over-crowded and demanding schedule.

    I once heard a story about a man called Samuel J. Plimsoll. He lived in England in the mid 1800’s. As the story goes, he become disturbed and upset when he stood on the docks in Liverpool and watched the huge cargo ships sail out to sea and many times just as they reached the farthest point on the horizon, they sunk. He determined to find out why and discovered that there were no restrictions or limitations on the amount of cargo that these ships could carry. This, he thought, was unacceptable and so he went to the English Parliament and had a law passed wherein all British cargo ships would not hold any more cargo they could safely carry. And so, every cargo ship had a black line painted around the inside of the cargo hold which was called the “Plimsoll Line” and no cargo was ever to go above this line. Inspectors were put on the ships to make sure this law was obeyed and as a result, no more ships that were loaded with cargo were known to sink as a result of being overloaded.


Do you have a “Plimsoll Line”? Do you know just how much you can take on, how many times you can ‘yes’ before it’s time to say ‘no’? It’s not a sign of weakness to know that you have limits and to stand up for yourself and protect your emotional equilibrium by making sure you don’t exceed those limits. The plus side is that you won’t need to worry about the danger of sinking as a result of overloading yourself with too many things. You can stay afloat and keep paddling towards your goals with enough energy in reserve to draw from should you need it.  It’s worth thinking about.

WARTS AND ALL - JANUARY 24

THE HAPPINESS FACTOR

Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”—Abraham Lincoln

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One of the little-known secrets of happiness is that it is part of our birthright. We were born to be happy.  We have the right to happiness.  To deny ourselves happiness is to deny a part of who we are. We were put here on earth to experience joy.  We all know that not everything that happens brings happiness. (This is probably the understatement of the year!) There are sorrows as well as joys, but the sorrows only make the joys that much sweeter and better. Choosing misery over happiness doesn’t make it any less possible. It only makes it less possible for us. I do believe that there are some people who prefer the certainty of misery over the possibility of happiness.

“Man is that he might have joy.” (2 Nephi 2:27) Notice the word might rather than will. “Might have joy” doesn’t guarantee that we will have joy, only that joy is a possibility if we accept that it is there for us if we will seek to find it in the fabric of our daily lives. It isn’t found in big things, but in the small and simple ones that are so easy to bypass and overlook.

Accepting that happiness is our natural state is an essential part of self-acceptance. It is the key that unlocks the door to finding real joy. We can make all sorts of excuses about why we aren’t as happy as someone else who seems to be happy no matter what happens.  This “someone else” has simply learned that it’s possible to be happy in spite of what happens and not because of it.

If you are having a hard time accepting that you were meant to be happy and you can’t think of anything right now to be happy about, here is an idea: Make a list of all the things you can think of that make you happy.
 Some of mine are:
·       The sound of the wind when it blows through the pine trees in my front yard.
·       Watching my grandchildren playing with each other.
·       The smell of bread baking in the oven.
·       The sound of the front door opening at night when my husband comes home from work.
·       The birds singing outside my bedroom window in the mornings.
·       Going out to lunch with someone I love.
·       Listening to beautiful music.
·       Sitting by the fire on a freezing cold night.
·       Making soft and delicious cookies that turn out perfectly.
·       Finding a bargain when I go shopping.
·       Remembering something funny and sharing it with someone who also thinks it’s funny.
·       Being together as a family and listening to the laughter.
·       Watching someone open my gift and seeing the look of happiness on their face when they see what’s inside.
·       Going on picnics in the summertime.
·       Sitting by a waterfall and feeling the fine spray of water on my face.


I could continue on, but you can see from my list that there is nothing earth-shattering here. These are only the very simplest of things, but they truly do bring me happiness. When you can accept that you are meant to be happy and that happiness is a part of who you are, you have found one of the rarest things in life which is true joy. 


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WARTS AND ALL - JANUARY 23

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

Believing in our hearts that who we are is enough is the key to a more satisfying and balanced life.”—Ellen Sue Stern


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I’m short. No, not as short as Helen Hayes; in fact, I’m 1 ¾ inches taller than she was, but that isn’t a lot. I’m very familiar with the feeling of standing in front of a tall cupboard and trying to reach something down from the top shelf and I can’t quite make it. I can go get a step ladder or ask someone to get it down for me, but trying to do it on my own is so frustrating. I keep wishing for that extra two or three inches that would make it possible for me to get whatever it is that I want that is just out of reach, not quite possible—so close and yet so far.

It’s the same feeling when we want something in life that we can’t have or that isn’t possible for us to attain. Not that there aren’t miracles and not that impossible dreams don’t come true because I know that they do. I have had some of them myself so I am a true believer in such things.  The frustration comes from wishing and wanting to be more than we are so we could have what is just out of reach—there but not there, in sight but not possible. That’s when the self-defeating thoughts begin such as: “If only I were smarter or better or stronger. If only I had more opportunities or fewer limitations.” And on and on it goes. Not only is it frustrating, it’s debilitating when these thoughts are there. They drown out all the other, self-affirming thoughts that bring peace and contentment with yourself just as you are.

The next time you want get something down from a high shelf, be grateful you can do it without having to complain about your lack of height or needing a step ladder or help from a tall person if you are a tall person yourself. But also be grateful for all the other things you can do and all the wonderful things you are that are enough for you to be the person you want to be and are right now at this moment in time. 

WARTS AND ALL - JANUARY 22

LIFE CHOICES


“Self-acceptance means living the life you choose to live without worrying what others think about you. It doesn’t matter what someone else thinks about you. What matters is what you think about yourself. Life is about choices—your life choices, not someone else’s choice about how you should live.” –Sadiqua Hamdan, Happy Am I, Holy Am I, Healthy Am I


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If everything we did in life depended on and revolved around how we think that others perceive us, I wonder if any of us would ever do anything at all. Nothing is more paralyzing than believing that other people’s opinions matter more than our own.

One of the most liberating concepts is that it doesn’t really matter what people think because we can’t control what they think any more than we can control what they do or where they go or who they spend their time with. In fact, what people think is really of no concern to us.

Conforming to the norm used to be the name of the game but now the game has changed and so have the rules. Now there is no norm, only the way we choose to live and the things we hope to accomplish in our lifetime. What matters now is finding that happily ever after that most of us always dreamed of, and it isn’t that easy to find, either.The first place to look isn’t in the eyes of others or their concept of who we are. It all begins with looking in the mirror and seeing a person who is wise, smart, amazing and determined to make it through even the toughest times and come out a winner.  

WARTS AND ALL - JANUARY 21

LEARN SOMETHING

“Let go of certainty. The opposite isn't uncertainty. It's openness, curiosity and a willingness to embrace paradox, rather than choose up sides. The ultimate challenge is to accept ourselves exactly as we are, but never stop trying to learn and grow.” –Tony Schwartz

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How many classes have you taken just because you wanted to know more about something? How many books have you read? Are you good at asking questions just because you want to learn more, get all the details and find out things you don’t already know?

I’ve taken classes in digital photography, cooking, writing (of course), web page design, outdoor survival, synchronized swimming, French conversation, computer basics, calligraphy, and many others. I’ve read biographies of famous people, travel books and books that tell a about everyday life in other countries, mysteries of all kinds and spiritual books that make me feel closer to God. I’ve learned to ask the kinds of questions I asked when I was a child such as: Why? and How come? And What does this do? and How does that work? Plus many more and have been enlightened many times over just because I was curious enough to want to find out.

Accepting yourself “warts and all” need not take away the incentive or motivation to change and become better. In fact, it’s just the opposite. If you are always worried about things that are “wrong” with you or that you think need fixing, then you don’t have any time to think about all the other wonderful and marvelous things out there just waiting for you to discover and learn more about.

In the movie “Camelot” when King Arthur as a boy is talking to Merlin the magician he asks him, “What is the best thing for being sad?”  Merlin then replies, “The best thing for being sad is to learn something.”

Learning something is also the best thing for being happy; in fact, it’s the best thing for just about everything. It’s the best way for making you feel smart. It's the best thing for giving you information you can use at some unknown time in the future. It's the best thing for reaching out and discovering new worlds while at the same time trying to better understand the world that you live in. Expanding your knowledge and understanding also expands your capacity to accept things about yourself that you may not otherwise do. 

I once read a book called Your Inner Child of the Past by W. Hugh Missildine and it helped me to realize some things about my early childhood that greatly influenced the way I am as an adult. Once I understood the reasons why I was doing some of the things I did, such as my obstinacy and habit of procrastination (yes, it's true--I can't deny it), then I could better accept them and then make the necessary changes to correct them.

WARTS AND ALL - JANUARY 20

BE GENTLE WITH YOURSELF

“Of all afflictions, the worst is self-contempt.”—Berthold Auerbach

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 If someone was to write a book called “How To Be Your Own Worst Enemy”, the first chapter and, indeed, the whole book could be about self-criticism.  Thumper, the rabbit in the movie Snow White, is famous for saying, “If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all.” Never could this statement be truer or more applicable than when it comes to the things we say to ourselves when we have fallen short or disappointed ourselves in some way.


It may not seem as important as solving the world’s problems or being the next big and upcoming rock star, but saying critical and angry words to ourselves does make a difference. Since we are the only person that we can never leave or separate ourselves from, then it makes sense that we would want to have as good a relationship with ourselves as we possibly can. Why spend an entire lifetime with someone you can’t stand? In my mind that would be the worst kind of torture.

Here are some words that need to be stricken from our self-talk starting today: 

"Stupid"
"Idiot"
"Dummy"
"Doofus"
"Klutz"
"Crazy"

Thee are plenty of others that could be added to the list, but you get the general idea. Maybe these are words that you grew up hearing about yourself and you just naturally keep using them. If so, it’s time to stop and give yourself a break from negative labels that make you feel exactly what these words imply.  Give it up. Let it go. Decide right now this moment that you will cease and desist from criticizing yourself. If you can’t do it all at once, then do it one day at a time. That’s how this life is meant to be lived, anyway, or so it seems. At least that's how it has been for me thus far.  

WARTS AND ALL - JANUARY 19

 HOW IT WORKS

“Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.” – BrenĂ© Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms The Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead

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We all want to belong. It is inherent in our natures to be accepted as an integral part of a group, but the problem becomes wanting this belonging so much that we are willing to sacrifice who we really are to become what we think others want us to be so we can have their acceptance.

The truth is that the only person we ever need to belong to is ourselves. If we reject ourselves or even just a small part of who we are, then we deny ourselves that wonderful feeling of belonging, of being whole and complete. This sense of belonging is when we can say, “I’m okay with who I am. I may not be prefect or be everything I would like to be, but I’m okay just as I am.

 One of the truly remarkable things about self-acceptance is that it is reciprocal; when we can accept ourselves as a "work in progress" then others, in turn, are also more likely to  accept us. But, amazingly,  it goes even beyond that: When we can accept who we are, imperfect though we may be, we can also be more patient, more accepting and also more forgiving of others.  So, to put it in other words, when I think I'm okay, then you think I'm okay, as well.  And to top it off, I think you're okay, too. Now, that is a bargain if ever there was one and it certain makes it a worthwhile endeavor to practice becoming more accepting of ourselves.

It takes courage to be who we are when we fear that in doing so it will set us apart and take away that feeling of belonging we so long for. Each of us has been given a lifetime of experiences which has produced a boatload of wisdom and understanding. However, when we think none of this is as important or as worthwhile as the wisdom and understanding that someone else might have who has had different life experiences, then we are shortchanging ourselves of all that we are. When we can say that we are good enough right now just as we are, with the possibility of becoming better with all the future experiences waiting for us, then we truly belong to ourselves and to the world.