January 15, 2015

No Mud. No Lotus.

 Thich Nhat Hanh

Each petal opens one by one.

Flowers need dirt to grow.

I started this blog because I needed a place where I could be messy and honest and real and disheveled. Because that's who I really am and the complexity of life intrigues me. Because I was tired of trying so hard to be bright and clean all the time but inside feeling dirty. Waiting to be found a fraud, my imperfections revealed. I decided to own up to all my insecurities and passions and bad habits and stand tall in them.

I haven't had a clean and clear and uncomplicated life (who has?) and I wanted to be free to express the effects of that. Sometimes I need to shut people out. I'm not always smiling and shiny and easy breezy. But I am still a source of joy and light even when I'm in the mud. Digging things up, finding treasures. I feel beautiful when my hair is messy and my truth is unsettling and my eyes look a little crazy. I have opened my heart and made space for the dark and the heavy. And that's why I am free now. At home with all the shades of my nature.

We are programmed to seek perfection and make everything look easy.

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You should be blemish-free. You should never make a bad decision. You should be happy all the time. You should be free from pain. You should, you should, you should. And if you are falling short on any of these shoulds then you should cover it up. That's right. Hide it. Avoid it. Sweep your dirt under the rug and pretend it's not there. Don't get caught with dirt on your sleeve.

These are the messages we are bombarded with. Sometimes they boom. Sometimes they whisper. But they persistently demand perfection. Leaving us feeling unsatisfied and trying to pray our problems away. We want God to fix us. Take away our tendencies. Make us better. Quickly, please. Before someone notices our struggles and our shadows.

Don't fight it. Take root in the mud.

Instead of asking for everything to be swept away, how about asking for the strength to grow in the mud. The trials. The challenges and stormy days. The issues that have followed you through adulthood that you fear you will never overcome. The deep down stuff of your journey.

Instead of asking God to change you, how about asking for understanding and patience. Because the magical disappearance of problems doesn't teach us anything. We are human and it is our inherent path to have puzzles and problems. When we resist this truth, we miss the core of the human experience.

How about recognizing the voices in your head, the ones that echo the messages from the world that tell you something is wrong with your life and who you are: You should be free from problems and pain. You should have this figured out. You should know better. You should do better. You should pretend that everything is perfect.

Once you recognize this conditioned thinking, change the message. Sit with your struggles and ask yourself: What is this discomfort? Why does it bother me so much? Is this pain going to kill me or is it temporary? What can I learn from it? How can I grow from it? Who am I really, beyond this thing that I don't want to deal with? How am I letting it define me? How am I letting it steal my joy and confidence?

Constantly remind yourself that you are more than how you look, your status, your past, your credit score, your family dynamics, your belongings, your bank account, your last accomplishment or your last compliment. Underneath the desire for perfection is really the desire to feel beautiful and confident and loved. As you bloom in spite of and because of your circumstances, that is when you truly embody those qualities.

Honor your soul and its many dimensions. Treasure this life experience. Open your heart to everything life has to offer, so you can in turn offer up everything that you have been put here to give.

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