Monthly Archives: October 2011

Open Doors

Over the last couple of years, a big part of my journey has been about letting go of the need to always see the ‘big picture’ and learning to enjoy the journey.  I realized today that my focus in certain areas of my life has been on the big picture.  On Monday, God brought up an unexpected topic that I needed to deal with.  My initial response was, “That’s what you want to talk about?!?  You could have given me a heads up so I could prepare…”.  His response was, “I’ve been trying for a while now…”.  Let’s just say that I didn’t really have a response for that.

Through a very rough morning of processing, I realized a few things.  First, I am the only person stopping me from doing what I want to do.  Growing up, I was taught a lot of things, and a lot of things were expected of me that prevented me from being who I really am and pursuing what I wanted.  But, now…I have a solid family presence, and some great support.  There is no one placing unreasonable expectations on me (except for maybe, me…).  Actually, I have people in my life who are helping me realize who I really am – whether they know it or not.  If I am not where I want to be, it is only because I am stopping myself.

The second thing is that I have things that I desire in my heart, and God has been asking me why I’m waiting to pursue them.  He let me hide behind my fears for a little while, but then challenged me this morning to be honest with myself.  Not only am I allowing fear to dictate my choices, but I am choosing to not go through open doors because I don’t see how they will get me to where I want to go.  That was a big part of what I learned when I left my job last year – to take action, even when it doesn’t make sense.  I’ve apparently, temporarily, forgotten that lesson.

God has been showing me open doors in certain areas of my life for a while now.  I’ve been saying, “But I want ‘this’.  How is going through that door going to help?”  Today, He said, “Go through the door and find out.  Maybe it takes you a step closer to where you want to be.  Maybe it shows you something you didn’t know you wanted or needed.  Or, maybe, it will be something enjoyable.  Not everything has to have a purpose or take you closer to your destination.  Enjoy the journey.”

So…I am consciously choosing to go through the doors that are currently open.  At least one of them is a door that I have been wanting to go through for a while now.  I just wouldn’t allow myself because I didn’t think I should want to go through that door.  But the door is wide open, and God is asking why I’m choosing not to go through it.  It has taken some wrestling to get past some of my initial fears, but I am choosing to go through the door.  I have no expectations.  I am going to enjoy the journey.

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Addicted To Fear

I’ve been hearing two questions for a while now…

What do you want?

What’s stopping you?

I’ve spent my life trying to live up to everyone’s expectations.  If you asked me, ‘What do you want (to do)?’, my response would be something along the lines of, ‘Whatever you want (to do).’  I was sometimes called a ‘people pleaser’, but that never felt like it truly fit.  I’m starting to realize that doing and being what everyone else expected was completely based in fear.  I’ve been afraid that who I truly am is not good enough.  I thought that who everyone else expected me to be had to be better than who I really was.  I’ve thought that for a very long time – as long as I can remember.  Now, I’m 36, and I’m trying to strip away all of those expectations so I can see who I really am.  That’s the first answer to the first question – I want to be myself.  The answer to the second question – Fear.  There is still fear that who I really am is not good enough.

In so many areas of my life, I’m being asked, ‘What do you want?’  It is my first instinct to do what will make things easier for everyone else.  I tend to ask, ‘What do other people want/need?’  I tend to put myself last.  Sometimes, that’s a good quality, but sometimes the motivation behind it makes it a weakness.  I often put myself last because I don’t believe that I deserve what I want.

There are two main areas in which these questions and fears are showing themselves in pronounced ways.  One is work, and the other is relationships.  I won’t go into to detail, but I have a very strong desire in both areas, and fear is playing a big role in how I am responding to those desires.

I don’t believe I deserve what I want.  I am afraid to believe otherwise.  I’m afraid to hope.  I’m afraid to trust – myself or anyone else.  I’m afraid of being hurt.

I wonder what it would be like to not be driven by fear.  I actually fear what that might look like.  I am captivated by and, at times, addicted to fear.

I think that might be what ‘jumping in’ is about.  I don’t think that fear will just disappear, but I think the more that I ‘jump in’, the less fear will control me.  So I want to look for opportunities to ‘jump in’.  And maybe that starts with defining and expressing what I want and taking steps toward those things, realizing that it may not look like I expect.  And accepting that I don’t have to take on the expectations and judgments of others.

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Shall We Dance

I’m sitting at the Seahorse exhibit at the aquarium.  I walked around the aquarium this morning, taking everything in.  After seeing each exhibit, I left to have lunch and walk around Cannery Row.  Now I’m back at the aquarium and completely drawn to the seahorses.  I’m sure people think I’m strange as I sit and write in front of the little screen that’s playing a short little vignette of the seahorse mating dance.  But I’m used to that assessment – and usually agree.  I suppose I could say that this was one of the few places I could sit comfortably for long enough to write (wooden benches are not the best choice for my back), but I know that something else has brought me back to this spot.

Each display in this section talks about the dance of the seahorse.  As a dancer, it is very cool to just watch the graceful movements of the seahorse.  It is calming, comfortable, recognizable, relational – all conducive to creativity and processing.  When I process through things, it can bring together the two sides of myself that, at times, can (and have) seem polar opposites – the creative and the analytical sides of me.  I have only recently learned that the two can coexist, and am even more recently learning how to utilize both sides.  I came back here to write because writing allows me to creatively analyze what’s going on in my head.

What do I need to remember?  What do I need to understand, to know?  What do I need to let go of so I can fully trust – myself, God, and others?

Dance has always been a huge part of my life – of who I am.  There has always been a part of me that only shows up when I dance – a vulnerability, a freedom, a knowledge/belief in who I am and that I’m ok.  As I watch the seahorses dance, I know that I need to allow that part of me to show up more often – to not hide that part away.  This trip has not been exactly what I expected, but I’m getting used to that.  Instead of trying to stick to what I wanted or thought this trip would be, I’m going to go wherever I feel led and explore – myself and the world around me.

What would it look like to be free more than just when I am dancing?  What would it look like to do what I want and/or need without taking on the expectations and judgments of others?  It’s amazing how many areas of my life those questions pertain to.  So as I watch the seahorses dance, I contemplate how I can ‘dance’ in my everyday life.

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Next Lesson

Life has been crazy in the last few months.  Work was really busy, and little things would come up in the evenings and weekends.  It was all good, and I’ve enjoyed where I’ve been and what I’ve been learning, but I’ve found myself in survival mode.  I haven’t been taking much time to recharge and tend to my introverted side – or process through what has been coming up in my head.  So, I’m sitting on a bench next to the beach in Monterey – technically Seaside – about a block and a half from my hotel thinking, “What better place could there be to think about one of the bigger thoughts running through my head?  The fresh air, the awesome view, the perfect weather, the…water.”  Yes, the water.  As I look back over the last few months, I realize that in what felt like survival mode, I never pulled myself out of the water – and I haven’t drown.  I can’t say that I learned to float – relaxing is still a concept outside the boundaries of my conscious mind – but I haven’t drown, and I let myself stay in the water.  That is a huge win for me.  Of course, as I sit and think about that victory, I simultaneously think about the next lesson.  Are you ready to jump in?  If you read In Over My Head, you know how I feel about ‘jumping in’.  I have some ideas of what ‘jumping in’ might look like – where that might come into play in my life in the near future.  But as I look out at the water, I know that figuring out how, when, where, or why I’ll be jumping in is not what’s important right now.  I’m being asked, first, to remember, and then to prepare – which mostly means trust.

I can look back in my life and see times that I ‘jumped in’ – some small, some not so small.  But they all seemed ‘safe’ because I trusted that I was not jumping in alone.  I’m being asked to remember – to recognize – those times and allow that trust to permeate more of my life.  Those times of jumping in have come fairly spread out throughout my life.  The in between time has been filled with fear and anxiety.  My goal is more trust and less anxiety.  As I look back over the last year, I see how much progress I’ve made toward that goal.  From leaving my job, to going back to the same job, to having very little anxiety regarding my living situation when the people I rent from put the house up for sale.  I have recognized the absence of anxiety, who has had me in a stranglehold most of my life – a stranglehold that I’ve come to accept, expect, and even rely upon as stability and known.  Even something that seems so simple as my three and a half hour drive here is a step toward my goal.  Usually, a drive like that would cause me a huge amount of anxiety.  I don’t really like to drive, I have a fear of getting lost, and my back hurts when I drive longer than about 45 minutes (on a good day).  But I printed the directions, loaded up my car, and started driving yesterday.  Normally, with all the anxiety, I’d be trashed by the time I got to where I was going.  This drive, however, was different.  I had a couple of quick bouts with anxiety, but when I got to my room, I got settled and then took a nice walk.  I was totally relaxed and ready to go exploring.  If you don’t know me well, it’s very hard to explain what a big deal that was.  I finally feel like I might be winning the battle.  I think that’s a big part of why I needed to take this trip – to recognize how far I’ve come and trust that I have everything I need to continue to fight – and to win – this battle.  So I will remember in order to prepare for what may be coming…

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