I don’t know if it’s 2020 or the stage of life that I have entered, but there hasn’t been a shortage of reality checks in my life this year. There is a heaviness in my chest that lingers because the most difficult moments haven’t been served directly to me, but so close to my center of gravity that they shake my foundation and leave me with the question: Why them and not me? It’s not a useful question, but it is a human one. From birthdays and sunsets one moment to cancer and car accidents the next, life has a way of being brilliant and then back handing you so fast your head spins.
If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know I spend a lot of time sorting out the big questions that life asks us if we listen. I look for beauty in the mundane and the joy in the simplicity of life. But I also look for patterns in my actions, in relationships, and choices that I make, it’s a habit that has come naturally to me since I was the quiet kid who preferred to observe from a distance rather than be the center of attention. I’m thankful for this habit today because I understand in a deeper sense that wisdom is pattern recognition (thanks to this interview with Chip Conley on Finding Mastery back in March) and these patterns are not just something I can learn from but use to reach the next generation.
Nothing teaches us more about life than our own experience if we are willing to wrestle with it, rather than run from it. That comes with learning to befriend our nervous systems and stay in the uncomfortable moments that come to build our resilience. Our stories are full of patterns, and I wonder if we could sit back and observe them, rather than judge them and feel shame, how much easier it would be to learn and change course when we need to. Some patterns are amazing, like Christmas traditions that light up our homes, make us laugh, and bring us together. But the ones that keep me thinking are the ones I want to see change, like the generational patterns that come with alcoholism or cynicism that leave us feeling like we aren’t enough.
What I know today, and I think of it especially when an unexplainable challenge of life hits, is that growth itself is our gift, both to receive and give back to the world. We are blessed to even be able to approach the point in life where we get to ask the bigger questions and choose to move forward in health when we are confronted with the dark side of life. We don’t get to know why our story is what it is to date, but we do get to decide where we go from this moment forward, and I want to honor that privilege with every sunrise, knowing that the only guarantee we have is the present moment and it’s up to us what we are going to make of it. My prayer this holiday season is for these things:
that we can learn to meet each story that comes through our day with curiosity instead of judgment and know that we are all fighting more battles than we show as we walk down the street and buy our coffee at Starbucks.
that we would all have the courage to look inward and be honest with ourselves about who we want to be…imagine the collective healing that would happen.
It may feel scary but honesty is what releases us from the shame we feel about where we have been or why we do some of the things we do that aren’t serving us or moving us forward. We drink, work, scroll, judge, and complain, rather than releasing our burden with a come to Jesus moment of this is where I am today...and it’s ok. Change happens easier when we lock into the potential of what could be, rather than feeling broken because of where we have been.
To become the fullest expression of ourselves, we have to come to a point where we don’t compare ourselves to anyone, don’t assign blame, and do our best to maximize what we have been given. Struggle isn’t something to be ashamed of, it is the depth of our experience that helps us heal, as well as the people we have the courage to share it with. There is not another person on this earth with your unique story. How cool is that? It’s an invitation to do something big from wherever you are standing today.
It’s true that what we are afraid to reveal, we cannot heal. When we find the courage to step out of our own shadow, we will find people who will meet us with a “me too” instead of a “how could you”. Pain is universal, but so is the growth that comes from staring down the difficult moments, leaning into the people that care about us, and deciding that we can do things differently and better. Who do you want to be? Ask the question, and then answer it with tiny changes everyday that will help you get there. The key is to remember that we can forgive ourselves and others, and do better with every moment where we choose to show up present and honest.
Here’s to an optimistic and inspiring 2021, no matter what it brings our way. Sending so much love, enjoy the holidays and being together. Thanks for reading and see you in the New Year!
With Love and Optimism,
My song this week comes the joy I got from the live Christmas performance I got to see in Utah. The human spirit is elevated by live music…these were my first chills of the Christmas season and for that I am so thankful.
Photo Credit: @brendacashphotography - Brenda just happened to be taking pictures on the cliff on my birthday, captured this gem, and had the kindness to send it to me. Thank you!!