Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Asking For -- And Accepting -- Help

It has only recently occurred to me how hard I have made my life by refusing to accept help when it is offered to me.  I have realized that over the years I usually take the hard, uncompromising road of doing it all by myself. Whether it was moving everything I owned alone – I have dragged a 100-pound handle-less trunk countless times across lawns on a blanket because I can’t lift it – or refusing the gift of a paid dinner from a friend, I have been ungrateful for the gifts that were offered to me in favor of being independent.
Don’t get me wrong; there’s a lot to be said for being able to do things on my own. At the same time, there is a lot more to be said about not holding myself back. Often, independence becomes a guise for shooting myself in the foot. If the answer comes to me in the form of someone offering me a break, there is no need to run the other direction.

Not only would I refuse help, I would run away from it. It’s not only ok to need help, it’s important to take it when it’s offered to me, because it shows I'm grateful for what I’m receiving. 

I am grateful for what I’ve received. I have found that the more I profess my gratitude, the more I realize I have to be grateful for. I am immensely grateful for the lessons learned, especially the ones that include being offered help, and taking it. Acceptance is worth a thousand words. Admitting that I am worth the help being offered – that I don’t actually have to do it alone – is worth a lot. 

I am not alone. I am surrounded by people who love and support me, and they are the ones I need to focus on, instead of the ones that I’ve let into my head to tell me that I’m doing everything wrong. Although those people are actual people I know, the conversations I have with them have never actually taken place. Instead, I have begun inviting in the actual conversations I’ve had: the ones where people tell me that I’m not alone, that I’m an inspiration even when I don’t feel like one; that I am unique, loved and that my dreams can become a reality. When I focus on those words, the entire world opens up to me. 

I will no longer leave the tools I find along the way behind, insisting that I must build them myself. I will no longer forgo shelter in the name of independence. I am grateful for the friends and family that have shown me such kindness, and I am ready to use it, just like any other tool, to make my path that much easier to forge.

Love and grateful kisses

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Self Acceptance and Enjoying Life's Adventures

On the surface, this past year has seemed to be one of the hardest of my life. On the surface, I have never felt that I looked more lost. On the surface, I have often felt that I have little to recommend me. On the surface that may be true, but perhaps just to me.

Almost every day, I catch myself thinking that I should be something else that I’m not: more settled, more secure, more mature maybe? I have friends around me that are married, having children, in good jobs. I see these things, and I think, “I am doing something wrong because I don’t have these things.” From somewhere deep inside comes something else, a faint voice that is nevertheless fully audible: “Says who?”

There is no one that tells me to my face that I am doing something wrong – that my erratic path doesn’t seem to be the right one; that I had better knock it off and get down to business. No one says that to me, but I find myself imagining that there are plenty of people thinking it. I am finally tired of making room for these people in my head, when none of them have actually asked to be there, and none were consciously invited in.

I was recently at a dinner where a woman was lamenting her son-in-law following his dream of being a musician. He builds houses, but hasn’t been able to find much work in the recession, so he took advantage of the situation and has started putting his energy into his music. He’s no small-time player, either: he’s been touring the country, opening for Bon Jovi and other well-known bands. With investments and other sources of income, he is still providing for his family financially. The problem is, however, that while he’s touring, his wife is working a full-time job and raising their three children at home. Although he is aware of how hard this is on her, the fact of the matter is that he’s not there.

When I first heard this story, I wanted to take his side. The courage to get up and follow your dream is hard to gather, and I found myself angry at his wife (and mother-in-law) for not understanding. Then I thought about how hard it has to be for her to still be married but essentially raising the children by herself. I have decided that I don’t need to pick sides in this situation, because there is no right answer: both people have their reasons, and both are right. Fortunately, I don’t even know them, and even if I did, it’s not my problem to fix.

I am lucky enough not to have this problem. I have many, many dreams, but one big one: to write a book about the life I have led over the past four years: all its trials and tribulations and what I have learned. Although I feel a need to write this to process it for myself, I also hope that what I have to say might somehow help others in similar situations.

I do not have to worry about taking care of my family while I strive for my goal; I do not have to worry about the selfishness of making a decision that might negatively affect those around me. Although my friends may miss me when I disappear for months or years at a time, none of them need me to feed them while I’m gone, and none of them rely on me alone for emotional support.

I have often wondered at the way my life has turned out up to this point. In my low moments, I have wondered why I’m so unlovable, so unable to make a commitment that, when seemingly everyone else is in a relationship, I am alone. Often I have wondered why I can't settle into the lives that other people have, even when a part of me knows that I don't necessarily want that kind of existence; that I am not capable of enjoying it. Instead of worrying about this, I am making a decision to accept that it happened for a reason: so that I would have the time, space and freedom to create what I need to create.

So, in rewriting my inner dialogue to better accept this plan, here are the things I have accomplished this last year, on my very unique and adventurous journey:

I finished and published a second cookbook! Savoring Leavenworth introduced me to many amazing people, some fantastic food, and has taught me even more about publishing, marketing and the satisfaction of creating a product that people enjoy.

I am infinitely healthier than I was at this time last year, when I couldn’t eat anything, and was trying to recover from four different stomach problems. I have learned what my body does and doesn’t want to eat, and when I listen to it (which is happening much more often than previously) I live an amazing and active life.

I spent the summer at an yoga retreat center in British Columbia, and learned a lot about myself…a lot more than I expected I would learn, for that matter. Not only did I gather courage to show parts of myself that I used to hide, I also learned a ton of new and delicious vegan and vegetarian recipes, and many alternatives to wheat. 

I have made many friends that I share great conversations, experiences and laughs with in Wenatchee and Leavenworth and beyond.

I have learned how to say no when it will be better for me, and yes when it makes my heart sing.

Related to the last one, I have learned that almost any problem can be solved with solid, healthy communication, where I state what I want instead of wondering why the people around me can’t read my mind.

I have learned the power of positive thinking, of reaching out to the people who can support me in times of crisis, and that burying my feelings and emotions in a dark hole just means that they start to rot and stink and eventually must be dug up and allowed to air out.

Most of all, I have learned what unconditional love looks like, and that I have to love myself unconditionally, despite all the fears and doubts I have, in order to step forward with confidence and pursue my dreams.

So there you have it, invisible audience. I am going to continue on my merry way of living the adventurous life I have to live, and I thank you for your support. I wish you the best of luck on your own journey, and please know that I support it, whatever it is, whether I say it out loud or not.

Love and adventure kisses