I was raised to be a Good Girl. You know, the kind of girl who is always polite, never argues. The kind of girl who always obeys her elders and plays by the rules. The girl who rarely stands up for herself and when she does she is punished, scorned, ridiculed. The girl who never questions the status quo and lives in the little box that others created for her.
I was raised to be a Revolutionary. You know, the kind of person who doesn’t care what others think, who follows her heart, does what she wants. The kind of girl who rebels against all the norms that don’t fit in her skin. The girl who stands up for herself and debates and fights back, with or without the support of those who surround her. The girl who brings the status quo to it’s knees, changing the world, one small piece at a time through her own strength and vulnerability.
My maternal grandmother raised me to be a Good Girl. My mom and dad raised me to be a Revolutionary. The irony being, the more of a revolutionary I became, the more my maternal grandmother approved of me and the less my parents did.
One of the lessons taught by both my grandma and my parents was to not hurt other’s feelings. To be kind. To understand the other’s perspective. And depending on if it was my gram or my parents, I should then either bow to the whim of the other or stand my own ground regardless. Ultimately though, I should be kind and thoughtful.
What I’m learning now, is that being kind and thoughtful IS revolutionary. That thinking of others, considering their points of view, being open and willing to bend or change my own mind is revolutionary. To seek out my own opportunities for growth, release and healing is revolutionary. That caring for others, their thoughts, their feelings and guiding them to growth and change is revolutionary.
However what has really been coming home to me this last week, is that it is only revolutionary if we do all this while holding true to who we are. It is only revolutionary if we listen to and follow our Soul’s calling. It is only revolutionary when we understand that sometimes the only way to be kind to another is to stand firm in who we are, to defend ourselves, to open the space for the Other to step outside his or her own box and grow to become the person he or she is truly called to be.
Let me repeat that:
Sometimes the only way to be kind to another is to stand firm in who we are, to defend ourselves, to open the space for the Other to step outside his or her own box and grow to become the person he or she is truly called to be.
This is a tough one for me, to be honest. It’s Truth resonates through my entire being, however I truly struggle with conflict. I don’t actually like making people I know and interact with regularly uncomfortable. I have often thought that this is because I am a highly sensitive person, and when others are in discomfort I feel it as my own. What I come to realize is that the Truth is not actually the other’s discomfort that has me in a state of discomfort — it that I was given a double message about standing up for myself and being True to who I am and to my own values. The discomfort I feel isn’t about the Other, it is about owning who I am, accepting and loving who I am, and knowing deep in my soul that I am truly a good and kind person and that a kind person is also strong in who she is.
When we feel discomfort it means there is a lesson there for us to learn about ourselves. I have been triggered, pretty severely, this week by people in my world. They have tried to silence me, not allow me the expression of who I truly am. They have done this in such a way that my first response was to disregard who I am to make a situation easier on these other people, actually creating more stress and work for myself. However after this initial betrayal to my Self, the others demanded that I betray myself even more. My physical response was shaking and nausea and conflicting fight-and-flight reaction. I could not betray who I was any further, I needed to step back into my own Truth and values, to stand firm in who I am and what is right for both me and my family.
I struggled with this, standing firm in who I am. I believe in being open to change, to growth. To finding the opportunities to dig deep when another triggers us and to figure out the whys and hows of it all and to grow. I always focus on my own growth in this respect. I see my growth from the events this week to be that of calmly and comfortably standing firm in who I am. My growth is to be comfortable with another’s discomfort. My growth is to be who I am so that space can open for the others to go deep, to grow, to adapt, to explore their own discomforts and disappointments, to let go of desperate attempts to control and to find ways to simply Be. Be their own Selves, be part of a community, be in the world with others.
I wrote about adaptation the other day. The importance of my own ability to adapt, my own ability to spin my internal messages around to a more peaceful and loving way of being. I am being revolutionary in opening the space for others to find their own way towards adaptation, by not “fixing” things for them, by allowing them to sit in their own discomfort and find their own inner growth.
It is an act of kindness to act as a rebel, a revolutionary, to open the space for myself and others to find growth, adaptation and liberation. It is an act of kindness to stand in my own strength, my own truth, to Be fully me, as my soul is called to be.
And of course, Green Day says it best.
Those of us who stand in our Truth, our Strength, our Vulnerability are rebels. We are saints. We are dangerous. Dangerous to the status quo. Dangerous to stagnation. Dangerous to dormacy and inactivity. Dangerous to those who do not want to own their own stuff, who want others to bend to their will and not be questioned. Dangerous to those who are afraid of their own growth, their potential, their own healing.
Let’s embrace our rebelliousness. Let’s embrace our sainthood. Let’s be dangerous and let’s bring forth liberation, for our selves, for each other, for the world.
Sitting on my deck, looking out into the green of the fairy forest and our yard, the sun starts to fade from view and the light behind my screen dims. I still hear the creek gurgling along its way and tonight my neighbors are on their deck enjoying the beauty that is our shared backyard. I hear her grandchildren giggle and laugh while the adults talk.
When they first came out onto their deck I felt annoyed. I had been enjoying the quiet gurgling of the creek and the last tweets and chirps of the birds who live in our little forest. I debated moving inside and being grumpy because now I couldn’t enjoy my deck and yard, now I couldn’t concentrate on my writing. My body felt out of sorts. My brain too full.
I did go inside, however I left the laptop and my books on the table. I got a glass of water and went pee. I grabbed a cup of cherries to nibble on. I put on a pair of cozy socks. I took a deep, slow breath and literally shook my body, releasing the annoyance, the tension that had been building up and opening the space for the Truth that my neighbor and I can both enjoy our decks, our shared yard at the same time.
When I came back to my chair outside I felt lighter. I smiled at the children giggling. I breathed in the night air and started to write.
Then she came.
Each night I’ve been out here writing, I get a visitor. A red-breasted robin hops and runs along our yard, pecking and digging for food. When I see her, I feel the smile that grows on my face fill my entire body. She’s my friend. I stay quiet and watch her and then I try to get a picture of her, to share her with you, but she flies away into the trees.
I smile and accept that today is not the day to share her. Today I get to savor her for myself.
Then my daughter yells down from her bedroom “MOM!!! I saw your robin!!!”
Okay, maybe I do get to share her a little.
This is how life goes isn’t it? When we start to get comfortable, something happens to force a shift, to move us into discomfort even if only momentarily, as my neighbors did. My neighbors had done nothing wrong, they had no malice towards me, they were simply enjoying the beauty that we live in. And yet I internalized some message, that was never spoken or meant, that now I couldn’t enjoy our yard. Taking those moments to get some water and take time to breathe opened back up the space for both of us to exist, to share in the beauty of our space, separately.
And my friend the robin. She makes me laugh with the reminder she gave of how quickly one moment moves into the next and when we think an opportunity is lost, it is found.
Adaptation. Opening the space for things not to be exactly as we had planned or hoped and allowing what is to be. Rejoicing and relishing the moments, even when they bring annoyance or frustration. Breathing into the beauty of the now, knowing it will soon pass into the next now-moment, and the next.
I’m sitting out on my deck, working. Writing blog posts, responding to emails, connecting with my tribe. It’s almost 9pm at the moment, and I’m feeling refreshed as the breeze gently blows across my skin, I hear the creek softly gurgling, a few last birds chirping. As I look into our little fairy forest beyond our backyard I breathe a sigh of content.
We’ve lived in this home for almost three years now. This is our third summer here. We have a gorgeous creek that runs through our backyard and a little fairy forest, full of trees and green. Our actual yard is the home to both The Mudpit of Pure Joy and some lovely green ground cover as well as a large covered deck. It’s a peaceful and grounding place to be. This summer is the first time I have started to fully take advantage of it.
In fact, it’s only been in the last couple weeks that I’ve started inviting my girl to play with me in the creek (as opposed to her begging me to go down there and me saying no). It’s only been the last couple weeks that I have started sitting out on our deck after dinner to work. I’m finding the space so deeply grounding and peaceful and I’m feeling a shift within me as I connect to our home, our backyard, to nature.
I’ve always known the beauty of this space, from the first moment I walked into this yard to look at it as a potential new home for us. The first thing I saw was our backyard, hearing the creek and I fell in-love – I didn’t care what the inside of the townhouse looked like, I knew in those first few moments this was our new home. I sighed a huge breath of release and grounding in those first moments of meeting our new home, as I surrendered to the changes in our life at the time, as I surrendered to the Universe, as I surrendered to the knowledge that everything was going to work out just fine.
I haven’t savored our back yard since those first moments almost three years ago. I haven’t allowed myself to step into its beauty and let it ground me. I haven’t allowed myself this peace, this joy. Not regularly, not more than two or three times over the last almost three years.
I wasn’t ready before now. I haven’t allowed this peace, this beauty into my daily life before now because I was still wrapped in a cloak of unworthiness and a sense of lack. Sitting here on my deck, there is no way I can not see the beauty of our home, of my life. There is no way I cannot feel gratitude for every gift our home gives us.
It can be overwhelming, the beauty. It can be blinding. Stepping into the abundance that we are each graced with, the absolute gorgeousness that surrounds us, that is us, can feel like drowning. It is so different from everything we are ever told our life would be, our life could be, this beauty.
We get lost in feeling undeserving. We get lost in fear of losing it. We get lost in wondering why me? We get lost over and over and find ourselves constantly searching outside, beyond the present moment.
When we slow down and breathe, we find ourselves, we find the beauty. When we release the shame, the fear, we open the space for the beauty, the peace, the joy to enter.
Coming to this place in my life, finding this beauty, accepting this absolute gorgeousness of the present moment and slowing down to savor it has taken time. It’s taken deep introspection. It’s taken acceptance of my imperfections and my humanity. It’s taken stepping into both vulnerability and humility and staying there, releasing defenses and excuses and fear.
I’m seeing the beauty that is my home, that is my life because I’m ready to see it now. Because I have done the work, gotten to the other side of the pain and trauma. I have peeled enough layers, gone deep enough into myself to see the glow from within and it’s reflection in my world.
The work is life long. It has felt like almost daily for the past few weeks, new triggers have cropped up, new opportunities for growth have shown themselves. It isn’t ironic that as I step into the beauty of my life I also have stepped deeper into understanding how the pain of my past has manifested and is still manifesting.
I’m now in the place to explore these deeper layers. I’m now in the place to not only notice, but to also accept and release. It’s an amazing place to be.