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There’s Something Happening Here

 

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness
That most frightens us.

We ask ourselves
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.

Your playing small
Does not serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking
So that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine,
As children do.
We were born to make manifest
The glory of God that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us;
It’s in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine,
We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we’re liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.

-Marianne Williamson

Grand Design - Colleen Friesen

 

I’ve been known to make the odd joke about my Mennonite heritage; the genetic predisposition to being nearsighted, wearing black and loving anything dough-ball-ish made from flour and lard.

But sometimes this Mennonite thing just isn’t that funny.

Take, for instance, this past week.

Please.

I had a plethora of good things happen: unexpected assignments from two major magazines and a large newspaper. Dream trips confirmed. Signing an agreement on a fabulous new art studio to share with two other amazing artists.

This is all great stuff right?

Then, to top it all off, I found out that my last year’s grant application to the Canada Council was approved.  They believe in my book project! Now we’re in the realm of off-the-chart amazing good news.

And you know what my reaction was?

Shit.

This is where that no-fun religion of my childhood (the one that declared dancing, drinking and anything that remotely looked like fun, as a great big ol’ sin) reared up its black-cloaked self and did most mightily smite me down.

Because here’s the deal… one must never commit the sin of pride.

If it’s all going this great, well…something big and dark and horrible is bound to come and squash me and put me back in my place. Back in the dark, where I belong. Because who exactly do I think I am?

As my wise and kind friend said when I told her about my inability to be happy about all this, “You realize this is dysfunctional wiring, right?”

Yes. Yes I do. This is messed up. I know that. And I don’t really know if this is a religious thing or just a totally whacked genetic predisposition. But I also know that it’s not normal to walk along the Cambie bridge crying to another friend about my good fortune. I look at my reaction, or more correctly, non-reaction and inability to enjoy my success and see that it’s ridiculous.

This knowledge, however, does not change the result.

I am hoping, that by putting this out into the world, I can reduce its hold. I can then see it for what it is and perhaps be okay with letting myself actually enjoy these moments.

I want to own this. I want to celebrate. I don’t want to apologise for it.

So. I am not going to let these squirrelly thoughts hide and loom large in my head.

Look! They’re already reduced to tiny little fonts on a cyberpage. Ha! Take that.

Get thee behind me. You heard me. Get back!

 

Menno Simons

 

I wrote those previous sentences yesterday morning.

Since then, I have spent a lot of time meditating, walking, writing, and talking to good friends and to my husband. God bless my patient husband.

I’ve sat with the emotions and named the fears. I rode that crazy-train that says I’m not able or good enough or worthy enough or whatever other bullshite I’m so good at feeding myself.

I’ve tried on those ill-fitting-too-tight-and-very-ugly-what’s-the-worst-case-scenario-outfits and then…finally…this morning, when I was once again walking over the Cambie bridge, I realized I was getting excited about these latest challenges.

I felt a fizzy thing that was strangely akin to happiness.

Lord help us.

 

 

 

 

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Grow Up!

 

Saturday in Brisbane Mall-14=

 

‘I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don’t let anybody tell you different.’

-Kurt Vonnegut

Grow up!

Can you remember when you first heard that?  Did a parent or teacher say, “Quit goofing around and get serious!” Did someone admonish you and tell you to quit acting like such a child? Did adolescent self-consciousness prevent you from trying anything new and looking like a fool?

I’ve been thinking about kids and old people lately. Maybe because I’ve been in a few elementary schools for the first time in ages and probably because I’m visiting my father in the decidedly unhomey-home every week.

What I’ve noticed is that we love to get our kids to try new things. Take piano lessons, go to circus school, try painting, play the drums and ride the pony. Parents and other adults toss them a lump of clay, some Crayolas and blunt scissors and tell them, “You don’t know what you’ll like – so try everything!”

And then…much later, we send seniors on outings or they take continuing education courses, harmonica lessons and engaging trips and, if they’re in a seniors home, the activity director has them singing while playing goofy games.

But somewhere between that kid-zone and the senior-zone of life,can be the burdensome middle ground of serious living. So what happened? Or, as my good friend likes to say, “Quelle de hell?”

When did it stop?  Why aren’t we still trying new things? How do we really know for sure what we like or don’t like if we haven’t given it a go?

 

Eeek!

 

A year ago I would have told you in no uncertain terms that I would never ride a bike in a velodrome or bungee-jump into a South African gorge. I would have thought you completely mad to suggest that jumping into the Irish Sea while coasteering might be fun. But a year ago, I would have been wrong. Turns out I loved each of those things and everything else that I found frightening and uncomfortable (as an aside, like Tracy Johnston in her book Shooting the Boh, my motivations are eerily similar. Johnston says, ”I am by nature a passive person who likes excitement; a person with no magnificent obsessions who loves to participate in them.”  Not to mention, that because she was writing about the Borneo rafting experience,  her trip was (Menno-Alert!) free).

But back to the topic of mid-life management…

There are all sorts of very good reasons why we quit exploring.  Let’s face it. We’re tired.

It’s easier to flop on the sofa at the end of the day and let the television bathe us in its mindless blue haze.  Besides, why embarrass ourselves? We know what we like and what we don’t, because surely we’ve already done it all?

Last night was a prime example. It was slopping buckets of rain and I wanted to stay home in the worst way. Instead, I met three girlfriends for a drop-in BellyFit class.  We were, let us say, the more mature ones in a crowded room of twenty-somethings. We punched and swung and stepped our way into a sweat and then – quite wisely – went out for beer, chicken wings and most importantly, laughter.

I don’t think my knees will have me going back to that class (which was a little too reminiscent of those heady Flashdance-inspired aerobics classes from the 80′s – Where are my leg warmers!?)  Still, I’m glad I tried it and surprise, surprise…I was no longer tired.

And so.

I’ve signed up for a collage course that starts this Saturday at Emily Carr. I’m also looking for other courses in video-making and heaven help us, I’m joining a Knit-Along (if you’ve ever seen my attempts at knitting, you’d know I’m truly pushing my boundaries!). I have my new weekly find-a-new-trail plan and we’ve booked a new walking holiday in England.

No one says I need to split any atoms. But as the dowager Countess Crawley said to Edith, “You must keep busy. You’re a woman with a brain and reasonable ability. Stop whining and find something to do.”

 

 

All I’m talking about here is stretching the parameters of the known boundaries. Something as simple as signing up for a community class or finding a YouTube video that inspires. Juggling perhaps? A new cooking trick?

Let’s take back that long-ago admonition to grow up and redefine it as something elastic and stretchy, pushing ourselves in new and expansive directions. Shake it up. Shake it out.  Whatever you do…shake something!

Whether you learn to bake bread or stand on your head, the important thing is to grow up.

 

“The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions.”

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

 

 

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