When I first started these weekly inspiration posts, 20 weeks ago, I wanted a weekly writing anchor, something that I could commit to creating a posting rhythm around, as well as a place to share some of the wonderful things that make up my week, both online and off. It’s part gratitude for my wonderful life, part journal and part sharing.
In the beginning I would wonder if it was worthwhile, but every week I kept coming back to it, for the simple reason that I received so much joy out of the process. Week by week though, as more and more people come and visit, read, watch and comment, both here and on twitter and facebook, it becomes apparent that my effort brings other people joy as well…and that’s just the best thing ever. So, thank you!
Joy is a big signpost for me, and it’s something I have learned to focus on instead of productivity, achievement and status. Some of the big lessons I am learning are patience, perseverance and building things gradually, block by block.
Okay, no kidding – as soon as I wrote that, I looked out of my window and saw two beautiful grey herons, one of them with a stick in its mouth. They walked up and down outside my window for about 5 minutes, just to make sure I saw them. And then vanished, presumably to build that goddamned nest, stick by stick. 🙂
I have to do my time, and as Justine Musk says:
Everybody needs her period of apprenticeship, and it will be longer and tougher and harder than you expect or want it.
Over the years I have learned about commitment and grown to embrace it – 11 years of motherhood, a 15 year relationship, 11 years living in the same house, 6 years as P&C secretary, friendships dating back to my childhood – all of which paints a picture of someone who is very stable. And it’s true, I am.
What I had trouble with was committing to myself.
The thing about people like me is that we want everything now, or better still, yesterday; we want things to be easy and we like to take shortcuts to success. That can work for some, for sure, but not me :). The first time I really committed to myself was when I did 40 days of yoga. That was the first time I did something I loved regularly, in my adult life, just for myself. It felt really uncomfortable and strange, and I had a lot of awful dialogue in my mind about being selfish and unproductive. Still, I persevered. Writing, both in this blog and out of it is like that too – I love writing, I love yoga, so I just keep coming back, day after day, on the mat, at the desk. I keep showing up, even when the voice in my head spins webs of doubt and anxiety.
This committing to ourselves – it is sacred work. It is how we uncover our purpose, what we have come here to do:
Everyone has a purpose in life…a unique gift or special talent to give to others.
And when we blend this unique talent with service to others, we experience the ecstasy and exultation of our own spirit, which is the ultimate goal of all goals.
– Deepak Chopra (The Seven Spiritual laws of Success)
How do you commit to yourself? What brings you joy?
Best Short Read
Elizabeth Gilbert. Again. She just keeps coming up with the goods – and while she’s channeling so much goodness, I’m going to keep drinking it in and sharing it with you guys. Here is a piece she wrote on her Facebook blog the other day:
IN PRAISE OF THE INNER CRONE!
Dear Ones –
OK, we all know about the “inner child”, right? The innocent being who still lives inside of us, who needs and deserves love and care, and whom we sometimes have to channel in order to learn self-compassion?
I’m a big fan of the notion of the inner child. It can be a really healing construct. Once, when I was going through a particularly dark season of self-loathing, I taped a sweet photo of myself (age 2) on my mirror, and taught myself that any harm I did to me, I also did to HER. It made me kinder and more tender to myself. Imagining other people’s inner children makes me kinder and more tender to them.
So the Inner Child is a good thing.
These days, though, I find myself spending less time thinking about my Inner Child, and more time focused on my INNER CRONE — the old lady who lives inside me, whom I hope to someday be.
Because she’s a serious bad-ass.
The really old ladies always are bad-asses. I’m talking about the real survivors. The women who have been through everything already, so nothing scares them anymore. The ones who have already watched the world fight itself nearly to death a dozen times over. The ones who have buried their dreams and their loved ones and lived through it. The ones who have suffered pain and lived through it, and who have had their innocence challenged by ten thousand appalling assaults…and who lived through all of it.
The world is a frightening place. But you simply cannot frighten The True Crone.
Some might consider the word “crone” to be derogatory, but I don’t in the least. I honor it. The crone is a classic character from myth and folklore, and she is often the bearer of great wisdom and supernatural power. She is sometimes a guardian to the underworld. She has tremendous vision, even if she is blind. She has no fear of death, which means: NO FEAR.
I keep a wall of photos of some of my favorite crones, for inspiration. The photo below is of a Ukrainian babushka named Hanna Zavorotnya who lives in (get this) Chernobyl. There are a group of about 250 such women — all tough elderly peasants — who have all recently moved back to the radioactive area around Chernobyl.
You know why they live there? Because they like it.
They like Chernobyl because that’s where they came from. They are natural-born farmers, who got kicked off their farms when disaster struck. They hated being refugees.They resented being shunted off their land after the catastrophe. They hated living in the shabby and crime-infiltrated and stress-inducing government housing in the city, and much prefer the independence of living off the land.
So they moved back home — illegally — to the most contaminated nuclear site on earth. They have formed a stupendously resilient retirement community there, in what some would call the world’s most terrifying landscape.
Is it safe? Of course not. Or, whatever. After 90 years of hard living, what does “safe” even mean? (If you survived World War II and Stalin and famine and communism’s ravages, how worried can you be about “safe”?) They drink the water. These women plant vegetables in that radioactive soil and eat them. They butcher the wild pigs that scavenge around the old nuclear power plant, and eat them, too. Their point is: “We are old. What do have to fear from radioactivity? At this age? Who cares?”
All they want is their freedom. So they take care of themselves and each other. They cut and haul their own wood. They make their own vodka. They get together and drink and laugh about the hardships of their lives. They laugh about everything, then they go outside and butcher another radioactive boar and make sausage out of him.
They are living longer and healthier lives than their peers who stayed behind in refugee housing in the cities.
I would put these women in a Bad-Ass Contest against any cocky young alleged Bad Ass you’ve got going, and I guarantee you — the Chernobyl crones would win, hands down. Put the lady in this picture in a survival contest against any Navy SEAL; she will endure longer.
We live in a society that romanticizes youth. We live in a culture where youth is considered a real accomplishment. But when you look at a seriously powerful classic crone like the woman in this photo, you see how foolish we are to obsess over youth — to imagine that the young offer much for us to aspire to, or learn from.
No wisdom like the wisdom of survival. No equanimity like the equanimity of somebody who plants a garden right on top of a nuclear disaster and gets on with it.
So these days, when my Inner Child gets all fluttery with the panic of living, I just ask myself: ” WWMICD?”
“What Would My Inner Crone Do?”
Ask yourself that same question. See what she tells you.
One thing I can promise you she will never say? She will never say: “WORRY.
She will more likely tell you this: “ENDURE.”
So listen to her, and get on with it — get on with the powerful act of LIVING.
Hang in there, all you future awesome crones!
The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success – a practical guide to the fulfillment of your dreams. – Deepak Chopra
Okay, now you might have read this book – it’s 20 years old and a phenomenal best seller so odds are that you have. This is the first time I have read this book, and it is the first Deepak Chopra book I have ever read. Why? Because…I had formed some sort of half baked judgement on him and his work some time in my distant past and had never thought to revise it! There you go, you can’t say I’m not honest :). Ill-advised, judgmental and stubborn, yes, but dishonest, no.
Anyway, a fellow blogger recommended this book to me a few months ago, and in the context of the conversation we were having, I resolved to read it. I also keep my promises :). To cut to the chase, I loved it. Each law resonated deeply with me, and I discovered that these are the very laws I strive to live my life by – beautifully and succinctly expressed in an easy to understand, readable way. Note the word practical in the title – not only does he explain each law to you, but tells you how to apply each law in your own life. I love that 🙂
I found this book deeply true, helpful and affirming of my own spiritual practice – and, it’s short. At just over 100 pages, there is no room for repetition or for filler. There are no wasted words, and I love that too.
A friend posted this on my wall last week. Funny? Yes. Cynical? Yes. Maybe you will watch it, and like me, snort with derision – and then wonder if this is how other people see you. Using humor to illuminate our flaws makes it less painful, yes?
My friends, that is all from me this week. Have a beautiful week.