Monday, December 31, 2012

in pursuit of a life that matters

 

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Random notes to myself

(instead of New Year’s resolutions) 

I’m not big on New Year’s Resolutions.

Mostly because I’m wary of waking up under the guise of a new year and expecting myself to be instantly different, as in better. That mind-set feels uncomfortably close to the kind of black and white thinking that used to dominate my other life; the one I lived when I was an eating disorder therapist.

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Back then, the black and white thinking was with regards to food. If an anorexic took a bite out of something she considered “bad” (i.e. fattening) it could immediately send her into the gym for three hours. Or, a brief relapse with a bag of chips might cause a bulimic to fall into the “I blew it already so what’s the point” mind-set that leads to a frenzied eating binge, with the demoralizing purge and shame that follows. 

So I’m skittish on the ‘expectations’ part of setting New Year’s Resolutions…

because I’ve learned that Change doesn’t work very well when we expect clean-pointed endings and beginnings.

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However.

I absolutely love the act of creating resolutions in my head. Of asking myself questions that might lead me someplace new. And uncomfortable.

Note to self: Am I growing as a person?

For me, this is the joyful part; the luxurious, slowing-down of my mind while I sit inside a steamy, crowded coffee shop and doodle on my paper napkin.

I like to sit at old wooden tables that are etched with deep scratches because these are the secret language of other people’s thoughts. And when I look at old dates and pen marks carved into a table, it makes me curious about that person. And it reminds me of those long ago stories I used to hear inside the session room, with women who floored me with their courage.

I know I’m repeating myself, but I used to be a therapist in another life and it felt wonderfully purposeful.

And sometimes I miss that feeling.

Note to self: Am I taking risks?

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Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s that it takes amazing courage to seek answers for one’s inner confusion. To change things. To try to go deeper. To not be fooled by the glorification of perfection. And these women whose stories I once was a part of, made me silently swear that someday I’d honor them by writing with an authentic voice.

Only the other day I read THIS amazing post about being stuck in a rut. And the shame of it all.

And the raw honesty of her words and the beauty of her sentiments was staggering. Really.

And it made me wonder…

Am I challenging myself as a writer?

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Because I still haven’t wrote about my own experience with shame. And Dr. Shinde. And the real meaning of “being curious” which would explain my blog’s tag-line.

And on Christmas Eve day, when I stumbled on THIS poignant blog post, I was left wondering why I hadn’t yet wrote about Jack, and those months of floundering sadness,

and those dark days that finally resulted in my meaningful “ah-ha” moment.

I wondered why I never mentioned my Mom’s recent tears over Grandma; it was her first Christmas without her. And I really had intended on writing a post about coping with loss over the holidays. Why didn’t I?

Because in the dead of winter I often think about the people who are depressed. I remember those emergency sessions I used to have during the holidays. Those sudden calls from patients who were dreading the loneliness or the toxic family dinners or those who were simply sad over the loss of someone they loved.

I have deep well of tenderness for someone struggling with depression. Because there are some things you never forget.

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via Catherine Robinson

"Its unfortunate and I really wish I wouldn't have to say this, but I really like human beings who have suffered. They're kinder." ~ Emma Thompson

 

And I think about those pages written by Anne Morrow Lindbergh that had given me so much comfort. Wise words about grief that I still have bookmarked. And I’m curious why I haven’t shared this in a post yet. Was I worried it might be too serious for the readers of those beautiful design blogs… the same ones I enjoy so much?

Note to self: listen to your inner voice

 

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via pretty stuff tumblr

It’s not that I’m so wise. Or that I think I’m “all that

Or even that I think I have so much to say.

It’s just this blogging thing. There are days when I wonder why I’m doing this. Is anyone reading? Am I writing anything that really matters?

 

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Living a life that matters, do you think about such things?

I realize that a life that matters might look different for each person, but for me, it includes risks to be real and authentic and unafraid. Right now. Not just in my life, but even in this blog.

Note to self: no masks allowed

I thought about this when I was asked to visit someone’s blog the other day and I stumbled on THIS particular post.  I could see the pain behind the words and it made me think of Janet and Gayle and all those women –old and young- who told me similar stories about hurtful nicknames that began in their family as ticklish jokes. Nicknames that ended up shaping their body image. And causing endless insecurity about their looks. And there are times when I read something like this that I want to immediately write.

I want to go to my keyboard and be driven by a sense of indignation on the behalf of females everywhere, who had to endure dumb nicknames about their body parts when they were kids. I want to say something helpful to parents so they won’t inadvertently wound the blooming self image of a young girl.

Because I believe there are some experiences that are quintessentially female. That there are certain kinds of experiences we’ve all brushed up against, as girls and women.

A scalding comment from a “mean girl.”

The hurtful realization that we’ve been excluded.

Comparing ourselves and feeling down

These are wounding experiences that can transform us into more empathic, stronger women, and leave us with something substantive to say. Because when it comes down to it, it’s our struggles that expose our deeper selves, and our imperfections that help us connect with others.

Here’s an experience I had that left a lasting impression. And taught me something important. It was really a brief, fleeting memory but it’s seared in my mind because it was a uniquely female experience. I had it because I was a woman therapist working with eating disorders (which are predominately women).

It goes like this.

  I’m inside the session room for what seemed like hours of anguish. I remember the person I was with, and the slow-motion pace of the words that were being whispered quietly in the room. And me, listening. Being right there, huddled close inside the dark, obsessive calorie-counting world of a very sick anorexic…minutes ticking away. While we examined her fears about getting fat.

And then it was over.

And I was walking outside into the brilliant sunshine

and almost immediately into a conversation with women friends. In a small group. Healthy, laughing women who seemed miles away from the dark hole of depression that was behind me. And here I was, now with ‘regular’ women who were talking. And also engrossed in a conversation about

…what else?

losing weight and working out. And talking about their diet. And calories.

So much so, that I shook my head and felt a dizzying sense of déjà vu. And afterwards, I was struck by the slippery slope that can take us from wanting to look better into a downright obsession. But most powerful about this experience was the realization that we are all really… not so different.

In fact, it’s downright humbling how quickly we can be brought to our knees.

Yes, there are so many moments that deserve reflection. And words.

 

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Words offer such amazing possibilities to inspire and help others grow.

With words, we can create something beautiful.

So with this in mind I ask myself, is my blog what I want it to be?

and the answer is,

not really

but

Note to self: it’s all about the journey.

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Wishing you a happy and safe transition into 2013! 

It’s going to be an amazing year, I really think so.

Thank you for being here, my friend.

love and peace,

Leslie

 

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19 comments:

simone antoniazzi said...

Leslie....this is amazing piece of writing and you are an exceptional writer. Truly.

I hope you understand what I mean when I say that there such a wealth of wisdom in what you have written & shared that I know I am going to have to come back & read & re-read.

This is the perfect end of year/start of the New Year post....some really wonderful & powerful thoughts and feelings. I think that you have really tapped into & connected to the thoughts of so many women here.

I have a million thoughts going around my mind today as we head towards 2013, this was just what I needed to read right now.

I am sure I will think of many more things that I would have liked to say in response to this post....I will be back!!

I really appreciate all the kindness, support & wisdom you have shown towards me & my blog this year....to me they reflect the absolute best part of blogging - connections with people we may never meet but who just seem to "get" it and who take the time & trouble to communicate just that.

Very best wishes,
Simone X

Catherine Robinson said...

Dear Leslie...this is such a powerful and truly wonderful post...I am blown away by the way you write; I will read and re-read this post and take something different from it each time...I am so very pleased and happy to have found you.
Thank you for your very kind message on my blog I am very touched. Here's to 2013 let us continue to enjoy this amazing world of blogging.
Wishing you a very Happy New Year, Leslie.
With my love,
Catherine
xx

Sherry @ No Minimalist Here said...

Beautiful post, Leslie. I am always inspired when I visit you.
I wish you all the best in 2013.
xx, Sherry

TriGirl said...

So much to think about. It's always so hard to *not* compare yourself to others, to *not* think you should be doing more. Hopefully this year it will be easier to live our truths.

My Half Assed Life said...

This really is a lovely post. Thank you for sharing.

Gia said...

Good reflects, lady! Happy New Year!

lissajane said...

truly a glorious read, thankyou so much!!!!!

Lady Goo Goo Gaga said...

I absolutely love this....thanks for the inspiration!!!

Bee said...

I really like the quote about not having to be like everyone else. Thank you for writing this.

Samantha Brinn Merel said...

"I like to sit at old wooden tables that are etched with deep scratches because these are the secret language of other people’s thoughts"

I love this idea. Great visual.

Cathi said...

Oh, Leslie - this is such a powerful read. I will truly be reading this over and over like a few others have stated. Your posts are so very thought provoking that I read and think I will come back and comment when I absorb it all, but alas life happens and I don't. I just want you to know that you are so very inspiring and I look forward to seeing what you will write about next! You have given me alot of food for thought with this post and I thank you so much! Have a fabulous week! Happy New Year! xxoo

Christie Tate said...

gorgeous post...so much food for thought. I love this. I can't wait to read more from you.

IASoupMama said...

"I am my words." I love this quote and try to live it, too.

Maybe it's because I feel most authentic through writing. I dunno...

Happy New Year!

Stacie Snapsandbits said...

I love the idea of asking questions and reflecting more than setting resolutions. Great idea!

Azara said...

I love that Emma Thompson quote - so true. Good luck on your journey with your blog.

mutterschwester said...

Wonderful collection - love the feel of a collage here. It's inspiring and a gift.

And because I sometimes must be contrary: I have to disagree with Emma Thompson's quotation though. I know a lot of very giving and kind people who haven't suffered (more than most, anyway), and I like to count myself as one of them. And I've known too many folks who have suffered and have yet to let go of the bitterness - and that makes them extremely angry and unkind. I am afraid I have to admit I'd be one of those angry people had I experienced intense levels of suffering in my life. And knowing that, and feeling lucky, helps to make me as kind as I can be.

Kianwi said...

This was fabulous. Like bookmark and come back and ponder fabulous! Very inspiring.

Christina at I Gotta Create! said...

Beautifully written and full of the most meaningful questions we can ask ourselves. Bravo!

<3 Christina at I Gotta Create!

Tamera Beardsley said...

... I am enamored with your writings ..

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