is for Wisdom whoops...Willingness
When I wrote “T is for Trust” I explained where my words came from and how I hadn’t changed any of them—until now, and I think it’s appropriate that my W word became “Willingness” because I needed to be willing to be flexible when it came to changing my word.
I was having trouble writing for Wisdom. I had an idea of what I wanted to share but it just wasn’t working. I was discussing my list and my W woes with my new friend and co-worker, Eric. Out of 72 computers in a room I was lucky enough to get the assigned seat next to Eric. My row of 6 people are wonderful, but to end up next to a person who is a Reiki practitioner and who offers monthly guided meditation circles can’t be any better sign from the Universe that I’m on the right track. He and his wife own Transformative Balance, LLC in Columbus, Ohio. I'm glad to have found this resource.
So Eric asks me, “Does it have to be wisdom?”
“Well...I wrote down my list of words months and months ago, and I’ve never changed one…but I guess it doesn’t have to be.” I could feel myself getting all bristly at the thought of changing a word--my word. I had already been so prideful about my list assuming each word had something to teach me.
“How about willingness?”
Ding, ding, ding, we have a winner. I knew he was right the moment he said it, but I sort of felt interior resistance for a moment about changing my word. It was a fast realignment inside and I realized that I had to be willing to change. Duh. Maybe this was Wisdom’s lesson for me after all. Stop being so frickin’ rigid, let others in, let someone else help, and for Pete’s sake be willing to do all of the above.
So keyboard and virtual paper in hand I will make a list of willingness with the BIG ONE first:
Willingness is the key to having any new experiences at all, or to making any changes whatsoever in the way things are going. I can feel it in my belly when I am unwilling—sometimes that’s a good thing; it’s a warning that I need to pay attention, but sometimes it’s just regular run-of-the-mill fear trying to keep me in my rut. Fear knows that getting out my rut would require a change, perhaps a new me, with new friends, and new ways of seeing the world, and that might make my old friends very uncomfortable, but I am not responsible for how they feel about me.
I am excited about my list and need to take some time with each of them, but all I really need to do for the traction to start getting out of my rut is to start using this phrase, “I’m willing to consider that,” and then see where it takes me.
is for Trust
The idea for 26 Days to Practice Peace came to me months ago as a list of 26 words flew through my fingertips onto a page in my notebook. I thought what a great idea to create something for people to work their way through for 26 days in the hopes that at the end there would be a subtle shift in their life from one place, maybe isolation, maybe stagnation, maybe scattered feelings to a place of comfort, focus, and confidence.
I made the list of 26 words in a matter of moments not really thinking about them at all. Then the list sat and sat and sat for a few months until now. I have never changed one of the words corresponding to its letter. I think the word that popped for me is a word that I myself need to spend a day with and spend some time getting to know and understand why it came to me on the list.
Trust is very much one of those words that needs some serious work on my part.
Lately I have given up the need to feel in control of my life and the direction it is taking. I tell myself that I trust the Universe to point me in the right direction to learn all that I need to learn. I just need to consistently show up each day dedicated to being the best version of myself, take what life offers, learn the lessons presented, and keep the faith so to speak. Trusting the Universe is a piece of cake for me; trusting my fellow man is where I am struggling.
Like everyone I’m sure, I’ve been let down by the people I know, the people I love, the people I trust. My problem is that after a few let downs I have chosen to withdraw and stop investing myself in trusting others. When people say they will do something for me my typical reply is “No thank you, that’s not necessary.” Why do I do that? Because over the years people I loved and depended on to deliver on their promises did not. It occurred to me that it was safer to stop asking for things—like help—because if I never asked I could never feel let down and disappointed by others.
A small example of this is a story I tell to demonstrate that “let down” feeling. It happened about 20 years ago around Valentine’s Day. I was asked by my significant other (at the time) what I wanted for Valentine’s Day. I said that if he really wanted to do anything at all for me it would be to take the dogs to get groomed. Not very romantic on my part, but it was a luxury I wanted to give my dogs and myself because this way I would have to bathe them. I reiterated how desperately I wanted this; I said I didn’t want any Victoria’s Secret (the typical gift) and if he really wanted to be my hero he would take the dogs to the groomers for me. When I got home from work on February 14th I found two lovely pink boxes from Victoria’s Secret on my bed.
These types of events are what I started to notice was a pattern of me asking for A and getting B in return. So I ultimately have stopped asking because I don’t trust people anymore. This is a dangerous place to live—not trusting others. My dog/under garment example is not a huge betrayal or let down in the grand scheme of things, but my loss of trust in others is a result of a series of these tiny events along with much larger and more painful series of abuses both emotional and physical, that have made me perhaps a little too stubborn and resistant to seek help or kindnesses offered by others.
I have decided to use this day to continue to trust that the lessons I need to learn will present themselves to me in ways that I can understand and resolve with little pain. I will work on learning to take people at their word and more importantly to not feel as though I am somehow to blame if they don’t follow through, and to not determine I wasn’t worthy of their follow through if they are unable to deliver, and to stop assuming that just because I may ask for a certain type of help in the form of A that perhaps B can’t be useful too.
It is okay to ask for help and to trust the people in your life, but if other people don’t behave in ways that we perhaps expect them too, well duh…that’s not really realistic in the first place is it? The only person I can control is me; I need to re-enter the world of trusting my fellow man and letting go of my expectations.
I will enter my day with a sense of trust that things will go exactly as they should, and if someone offers something I will trust that they mean it and hold only good intentions for me.
is for Service
A 24 hour period to be of service to anything and anyone in need is where today will take us. Look around to see where it is you can lend a hand. It’s true that helping others is really helping ourselves. Whether or not I get acknowledged for providing a little extra help has become completely unnecessary. I admit I used to want a little bit of praise for how wonderful I was to do this or that for you, but the more help I gave the less I wanted any attention. I grew out of it I guess you could say.
It is easier than you may think to find little ways to be of service. Picking up bits of paper as you walk the halls at work, throwing away the trash on the sidewalk you find as you make it from point A to point B. Opening a door for someone, sweeping the sidewalk, mowing the side yard shared with a neighbor, or letting some frazzled looking person ahead of you in line.
Simple things that might impact someone else’s day are acts of service. Exploring the extra things that need help getting finished around you might lead to exploring the larger things around you where you can lend a hand. Finding the time within your life to take part in larger service projects like neighborhood clean up, food banks, or animal shelters can seem overwhelming because of how busy your life feels. Finding that elusive time starts with finding the small bits of time within your current day that you can fit in some extra help. Start small perhaps by picking up a few extra things at the store when you’re shopping and dropping them into an extra box that you keep in your pantry, closet, or under a desk and when it gets full move it to the trunk of your car and when your trunk gets full of boxes drop them all at a shelter or food bank. Maybe look around your house and find a few belongings that sit and stare at you unused and longing to be useful to someone else.
You never have to leap into the deep end first thing if you don’t want to. Being of service to others becomes a habit if you start small and introduce the mindset to yourself with the little things. Remember that just because it’s a small act of service doesn’t mean it isn’t filling a giant need for someone else.
is for Quiet
In the not so distant past when I was busy being a stay-at-home/work-at-home Mom, I noticed a shift as I was working at—but not really succeeding in my business endeavors. I noticed that I would get nervous as Sunday would end and Monday would begin.
All the noise and activity from the weekend would end as I would send my daughter off to school and close the back door. The peace and quiet I had wished for mid-Saturday had finally arrived and because I’m an introvert I desperately needed this time because I love to be re-energized by some good old fashioned alone time, but during this past year Monday mornings started to feel different to me. The house was so quiet it hurt my ears. Really. The silence was so loud it seemed to echo a noiselessness in my head that was a little scary. I had never been afraid of the quiet before. I had never dreaded alone time before.
I had to make friends with this new quiet or I was certain I would go crazy. Some people love to turn on music or the T.V. to drown out the silence, but I really do appreciate the quiet. I love it when it’s quiet, but it had started to feel different and I found myself turning on the T.V. to avoid dealing with the constant noise of my quiet.
I think my “new quiet” was holding a mirror to me and my life. I had to face some pretty big truths about my life. The biggest one was probably the fact that I was hiding. I had been hiding from admitting that I needed to make some major changes in my business and my life. I was hiding from the truth that I wanted to be writing but I wasn’t writing. I was hiding from the truth that I was angry about several things that had recently occurred and instead of admitting I was just plain pissed off I wanted to “behave” and put a forgiving face on it for others. I was hiding from the truth that I needed help but was afraid to reach out to friends for fear of refusal.
This new quiet was so damn loud that there were moments when I would walk through the house and scream to drown it out as I moved from task to task. I had to start talking to it, asking it what the hell it wanted from me. There were moments of self-loathing that I had to get through in order to find out all the things in my life I had been hiding from, and thanks to this quiet I realized that there wasn't anything I couldn't handle, nothing was really going to hurt me, and most of all I wasn’t going to be able to hide anymore. The quiet wasn't going to shut up until I learned all this.
I finally forced myself to face it and make it my friend. It helped me start writing again, it kept me company while job hunting, it supported me through some self-exploration, and I am happy to say that my quiet time is once again quiet. My entire life I have never been afraid of silence and didn’t understand other people’s need to fill the void, but now I know the fear that comes with silence.
My only advice here is that silence is not fatal. The fear you feel during the quiet is perhaps trying to teach you something, and if you take the leap of faith to talk to the quiet I’m sure there are lessons there for you too. Try to take a day without the music and T.V. to see if there is anything the quiet is trying to tell you. Trust me, you won’t have to work at it, if your quiet wants to tell you something it will be crazy LOUD!
is for Open
Be open. Be open to trying new things.
That sentence makes me chuckle inside because I don’t think I would consider myself particularly adventurous and open to new things anymore, so my suggesting to you that you should be open to new experiences seems a bit ridiculous. But I know it’s correct; I tell it to you because I need to tell it to me.
For me if my regular lunch table is already full and I have to sit somewhere else with new people I can get a little twitchy and off my game. I guess I like routine maybe a little too much. I don’t go out. I don’t dress up anymore. I don’t travel much. So maybe I’m in a rut.
I have a million excuses for why I don’t do any of these things anymore, but no more excuses. For one day I can be open.
It has been a long time since I’ve opened myself up to others because being closed off feels safer and more comfortable. It’s spring so I should be opening the doors and windows inside of me and outside of me and let the fresh new breezes blow through. And if you’re listening Breeze, feel free to take all the dog hair and dust with you, thanks.
Grab a pencil and paper and start to make a list of phrases that start with, “I will be open to…” and just keep going until you stop. I was amazed at some of the things that came through me onto my list, and I feel better now because I am also open to learning new things about myself.
is for Faith
Faith can be difficult; I should say faith is difficult for me. To trust, rely, and believe with unwavering conviction challenges me—but not if I'm trying for just a single day.
If for just one day I focus on trusting the day to take me where it goes safely, then I can smile through the day. My goal will be to link a bunch of these single days together and create a confident, trusting life filled with trustworthy friends, loyal confidants, and faith in the beauty and madness of it all.
For one day focus on faith. Believe in yourself first and foremost before you put your faith in another. Those empty spaces inside you that don’t contain faith in yourself that you can handle it, can do it, can accomplish it are the exact spaces that get taken over by others to be used as they please. These people may be wonderfully kind and full of good intentions wanting to help you in your hour of need, but then again why not believe in your own ability first, and then call upon others to assist you.
Unfortunately for me the people that took over those empty spaces in my life were not especially kind with good intentions. The opposite has been my experience more often than not, and my faith has been shaken, but I refuse to give up. I see faith, confidence, and trust working for others so the way I see it my day has to be coming!
For some, like me, it is difficult to ask for help because it is difficult to trust. Other times it is difficult to ask for help because you don’t know what to ask for. Having faith in yourself first leads you to the right questions to ask, the specific needs you have for seeking help. Faith that you can handle what comes no matter what—be it a job loss, a death in the family, a broken bone, a car accident, a broken heart, an addiction, an assault, whatever life throws at you, believe first that you can handle it, then sort out those pieces of help you will need.
Have faith that you will always be able to handle what comes your way today. Don’t give your crisis away to someone else to handle for you. If you do you have just given away life’s greatest opportunity to learn exactly how strong you really are. You can earn yourself another new badge of supreme courage if you like to imagine yourself in a decorated coat of armor--or maybe that's just me. Have faith that you are never alone, never isolated, never not capable—you are able to own your crisis or problem, and once you believe that you're able to learn from it is the moment you know exactly how to seek help and guidance without giving away your opportunity to learn. I always like to say, "Feeling alone is a human experience; being alone is a spiritual impossibility."
Today try saying this, “I have faith in ME today. If it rains let it pour; this I can handle.”