Sunday, July 19, 2015

My Only Goal

I love Brene Brown and I especially love her TED Talk onVulnerability. I’ve watched it several times and always hear something new.

But the other day I was lurking on a couple of Facebook threads about how we value ourselves and what makes a good parent. I realized something—I’m not comfortable saying, as Dr. Brown recommends, “I am enough.”

It took me a lot of driving and showering and washing dishes (my thinking times) to figure out why. Luckily, I was spending two hours a day in the car getting S. to and from circus camp that week, so I had some GOOD thinking time. Here’s what I came up with.

If anyone, even me, says, “I am enough”—if I give them (or me) the authority, the power, the position, the measuring stick, to say that I am enough—then I also give them (or me) the power to say, “I am not enough.”

I’m a recovering perfectionist, as I’ve mentioned, and I’m really pursuing being vulnerable in my relationships these days. My kids know it all, so I’m constantly practicing humility with them. Here’s an example.

Me (cheerfully): “It’s 8:15. Time to get in the car!”
Kid (appalled): “Mo-om! It’s 8:14!!!”
Me (learning humility): “You’re right. I’m wrong. Let’s get in the car.”

Notice I just put “kid” and not an initial—they both do this. Constantly. And, yes, I’m slowly and gently teaching them that’s not really the way we adults approach polite interaction. I’m also practicing saying that I did, in fact, have the time wrong by one minute. Baby steps!

I’m working on deeper things, too, like saying no to commitments that will be too much for me. That hurts for someone who has always valued herself based on a full resume and calendar. And I’m also working on feeling my emotions in the moment and expressing them to my husband, whether they’re fully formed, well-articulated, justifiable, or not. That one’s SCARY. It’s amazing how long I’ve lived without being able to do that.

Anyway, so as a recovering perfectionist, I can give you LOTS of ways that I am NOT ENOUGH. For example, I’m still flippin’ recovering—not recovered. Right? How is that enough?

So here’s what I’d rather say: I am.

Right or wrong, enough or not—these are future driven ideas. We’ll only find out if we are right or enough when…well, in the future. Not now. Right now, all I know is that I am.

Okay, so if you’re as argumentative as I am—or as my kids are; I wonder where they get it?—you might say, “Hey! So if all I know is that I am, how do I make decisions? How do I decide?” Good question, oh Argumentative One! (And I mean that in the most loving way possible.)

Oprah does this “things I know for sure” part of her magazine. (I may have read it once.) I’ve always wondered what I know for sure. And every single time, I come up with only one thing: Love or fear. Every single human decision in this world boils down to acting out of love or acting out of fear. I’ve yet to find an exception.

And I find that when I am and when I choose fear, I do some crazy stuff—stuff that does NOT tend to work out in the long run. When I am and I choose love…wow. Even if everything goes to heck, I’m still happy with my choice. How does THAT happen? I don’t know. But the trick is choosing love in the moment, without thinking of the future. And no, I don't mean tell your kid to have that third brownie because you're in the moment and don't need to think about stomachaches. No. Love, in that moment, is the difficult answer. Enough brownies.

So I’d like to say that I am. And I’m choosing love whenever I can manage it. And I have to recognize that Jonathan Larson figured it all out, all the wisdom of our modern era, and put it into one song. Be. Choose love over fear.

There's only us
There's only this
Forget regret or
Life is yours to miss
No other road, no other way
No day but today

I can't control                                      Will I lose my dignity
My destiny                                          Will someone care
I trust my soul                                     Will I wake tomorrow
My only goal                                       From this nightmare?

Is just to be

So there you go. Be. Love. Listen to Rent.

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