Lead Me Not Into False Expectations

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end” -Semisonic

It’s another New Year, another time for new beginnings, resolutions (if you’re into that sort of thing) and a blank page in a yet unwritten book. I am wary of making resolutions due to the fact they are usually slightly unrealistic. If I were to make a resolution that I wouldn’t go all Hulk-like in traffic, but I had done nothing to change my frame of mind or manage my emotions, then I’m fairly certain my effort would be met with failure, or at the very least an inability to magically transform my commute from December 31, 2016 to January 1, 2017. When you think about it, it’s really just a change from one calendar to another; from a Sunday to a Monday. If my resolution is to not drink but I have a full cupboard of alcohol that I see every time I reach for a glass, it will be more difficult to not grab that bottle and have “just one” drink. If I haven’t dug deep to find out the “why” behind the drinking then my resolution is dependent upon my mood; if my mood goes dark and dangerous and I haven’t developed any healthy coping skills, then guess what? Chug-a-lug. Another great reason for my resolutions to fail is that I make them based on what I think I should do, not what I really want to do. Making a resolution to lose weight, so that the hot guy I have a huge crush on will notice (and hopefully fall in love with) me. Making a resolution to start attending mass on a regular basis because my parents (God rest their souls) would be pleased, as they look down upon me from Heaven. Or even better, so that I can get in God’s good grace and therefore avoid the fiery alternative. These are all great resolutions, as great as resolutions can be, but they are doomed to be unsuccessful if I haven’t invested in them long before January 1st.

I prefer to set intentions rather than resolutions. They are much more forgiving, loosely defined and honestly, give me an out if things don’t go according to plan.

in·ten·tion
inˈten(t)SH(ə)n/
noun
1.
a thing intended; an aim or plan.
“she was full of good intentions”
2.
MEDICINE
the healing process of a wound.

– Google Search

I love the second definition because the majority of my intentions do involve the healing and recovering from wounds, be it physical or emotional. My intention is to forgive those who have wounded me, but that may take not days, but years. My intention is to forgive myself for the wounds I have inflicted on others. My intention is to accept my faults and failures and love myself unconditionally, which will be my intention for every New Year until my Last Year.

I feel the danger in resolutions is that they lead us into false expectations; by changing my physical appearance, I will find love. By doing things for others, I will be accepted and loved. It’s not the resolution so much as it is the expected outcome. Realistically losing weight will not guarantee that the hot guy falls in love with me, especially if he’s gay, married or simply not interested. Not drinking alcohol is a great resolution, but there is much more involved than just not raising a glass to my lips. Forgiving others is a great idea, but that means letting go of old hurts and grudges. If they have been your constant companion for years and help you to feel righteous in your belief that they are in the wrong, then it will take much more effort than simply thinking you forgive them. One must take personally responsibility for their role in what happened and own up to it. My dad used to say, “It’s not the making of a mistake that should embarrass a person, so much as their failure to benefit from it.”

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Learning from mistakes so that we don’t make the same ones over and over is more helpful (in my experience) than making a resolution that is unrealistic.

So, Happy New Year to one and all! May this year bring you comfort when you’re distressed, company when you’re lonely, a hand to hold when you’re frightened and a safe harbor during Life’s many storms; the courage to face your fears, the strength to slay your dragons and the faith to believe that there is more to Life than just crossing days off the calendar and making unrealistic expectations. Peace and love to you all!

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Dear Future Me

Dear Future Me,

By the time you read this, you may be really, really old. I hope you are and I hope you are taking good care of us. I am writing to remind you of a few things I hope you haven’t forgotten, but fear you may have. Remember when you promised to be grateful and not take things for granted? All of those aches and pains and moments of forgetfulness you may have been experiencing belong in your attitude of gratitude, your prayer of thanksgiving. For having grown old enough to have those aches and pains is a gift and must been seen as such. If you are to lament each and every time a petal of youth falls from the rose that we are, you will miss the beauty of the rose entirely, for your attention is on that single petal.

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The rose began as a bud, taking time to open fully; once that has happened, it is inevitable that it will slowly begin to die. For with each life there is a death, for each sunrise there is a sunset. Age is no different and therefore it is my hope that you are celebrating each and every morning that you wake up, see the beauty in the trees, the skies that create the masterpiece that is nature. That you hold the hand of the one you love and tell him so, a hundred times a day for a hundred lifetimes, should you be so lucky. That each ache and pain is testament to a life well lived, a milestone reached, challenges met and a host of obstacles overcome.

So, if you are wishing for a younger body or yearning for a day long past, please don’t. We have lived that part of our life and we are now entering yet another new phase, new chapter and new adventure. It will be unlike any we’ve experienced before (an ongoing mission to seek out life after A Certain Age) and just like a carton of ice cream, it’s the last few spoonfuls that are the tastiest because you know after that, it’s all gone. Live that life, love it without fear or agenda, just with pure love for the experience of being. Be the change you seek, continue searching, traveling and exploring. Be ever the student, asking questions and gaining understanding. Never say you’re too old, it’s too late; say yes and then take it on faith that things will work out. (Well, faith and a reasonable plan of action, of course). Let faith rule over fear and believe, truly believe, then go for it.

Just a gentle reminder in case we’ve forgotten or gotten distracted by The Ways of the World. Focus, grasshopper!! This is the best part!

Love,
Past Me

 

Knowledge is Power

I just had my final exam in my Geology class and considering that I thought the final was next Saturday, I think I passed, at least. Now I have next Saturday off and I can’t begin to decide what to do with that free day.

When I started this program, I thought I was doing it to just prove to myself that I could actually finish something I’d started (haven’t had much luck in that particular area in a long time) but as I celebrated my first year, I realized I was learning more about me, my relationship with my “cohorts”, how I work with other people in a group setting and how I handle time management, stress, deadlines and difficult content. The second year of the program I lost my focus, started feeling like I just couldn’t do it, it was too much, etc. You know, those negative thoughts and irrational fears that strike when you are least prepared to fight it off. I am now looking back to find where I went off track and regroup to meet the challenge of my third year. I love learning, I love meeting new people and I love finding out that I am smarter than I give myself credit for, more dedicated and willing to do the hard work to get the reward.

As I look beyond this program and into what I will do with all of this knowledge, I see endless possibilities of travel, teaching and trying to realize my potential. I believe that the greatest reward one can have is to serve others; not just in the personal service of say, a waitress or butler; but to help someone learn, grow and be relieved of their burdens, to educate themselves about their demons (everyone has them, be it mental health issues, gambling, depression, alcohol and drug abuse, physical/emotional abuse and neglect). In this regard, I feel that I have much to offer, simply from my personal experiences. I am eager to proceed into the next year of my education, with a renewed sense of purpose and much gratitude for my cohorts who have helped me, encouraged me, given me a hug when I was close to tears and above all else, believed in me.

Friendly Fear

I have been trying to get a handle on some serious anxiety I have around returning to work next week and in the process, I have come to realize just how powerful fear can truly be. In feeling my feelings, I have had the most difficulty with fear/anxiety; for whatever reason, it’s the one feeling that I cannot intellectualize or rationalize my way out of. It is the one emotion that has driven me most of my life. Fear of rejection led me to avoid relationships; fear of failure kept me from following my dreams and fear of judgement kept me from sharing those dreams and even most of my thoughts. Fear of feeling my feelings led me to my addictions, which led me to despair and a great deal of self-loathing.

I wish I could say that I have learned to embrace my fear, but that is not the case; at least not yet. I have come to understand that fear is not the enemy. Rather, fear is the first step on the journey to personal enlightenment and inner strength. If I can work through the fear and learn what is the driving force behind it, then I may potentially be able to develop the skills to see the lesson that it is trying to teach me. For instance, within my fear of rejection, there exists a perfectionist view of what a successful relationship consists of; if I am not perfect, then I cannot have a successful relationship (this is my flawed logic) so the lesson is that nothing is perfect, all relationships have their own challenges and the end of a relationship is not necessarily a failure. Understanding that all successful relationships have at their core the desire of both parties to hear the other out, be willing to be flexible, forgiving and most of all, honest. Not to mention being respectful of the other person, their feelings, insecurities and of course, fears. There is more than one lesson to be learned inside that particular fear. If I run away or close my mind to the possibility of having a relationship, I will never learn and as a result, not grow. But the fear will.

Hence, the title of Friendly Fear. I am learning that Life is a series of lessons and I am the eternal student. I will be a student for the whole of my life here on Earth and perhaps even beyond that. I will return to work with my friendly fear, a plan of action and a whole lot of deep breathing and centering. It will be interesting to discover what lesson is to be learned this time.

Breathe, breathe deeply, breathe out and breathe in. Fear please leave me, hope please come in. Lesson to be learned, show yourself to me; strength to learn and faith to see.