a new year's wish
Photo: Vinh Pham

Photo: Vinh Pham

In this new year I wish you peace, and solace, and comfort, and compassion - for yourself as well as others.  If you set resolutions, I wish you loving-kindness.  This is the time of great hopes and dreams; and several weeks from now is very often the time of disappointment and fading willpower.  This is a time of magic; soon the time of reality will be upon us.  My wish for you is guidance through it all, and forgiveness, and self-respect.

In a recent piece on body image in the new year, poetic and activist Sonya Renee wrote, "We stop waiting to become as soon as we realize we already are."

We stop waiting to become as soon as we realize we already are.

Take that into your heart, into your bones, and allow yourself the decadent freedom to rest in the understanding that you, right now, are enough.

And if you don't feel ready or able to reach that place, allow yourself to be in a place of simply working towards it.  That's a noble and sacred place, too.

In the year to come, starting right now, in this moment, allow yourself to rest and to be wherever you are in your journey.

Close your eyes.  Take a deep breath.  That's all it takes to abide in the present moment, to practice acceptance and kindness and patience toward yourself.  And that, in my firm belief, is the best resolution of all.

Peace and love and light to you in the new year, and always.

navigating back to your truth

Inevitably, there are times when your focus shifts to a different source of guidance: an external search for validation that drains you with its desperation and silences the inner wisdom that's taken you so far.

So you recognize.  You become aware.  And you mourn your time spent wandering lost, away from your path.  You think it was a waste.  Nothing is.  You learned something from this journey, even if it seemed the path went sideways - even backward - instead of the helpful forward motion that tells you you're enough.  You're still enough.  Everything that has happened has happened to equip you with whatever you need to continue to grow.  You may never realize that you learned something, or some years later the meaning of it may sparkle back at you like the flash of a gemstone.  And you'll find the treasure in it.

In the meantime, you recognize, and you give yourself a break, and you give yourself a road map back to your truth.  It might be a totem that brings you back to a memory of yourself: a seashell from that transformative summer on the beach, a photo of your childhood self nestled in the safety and homeliness of your favorite place, your great-grandmother's handkerchief spritzed with your grandmother's favorite perfume to remind you of the line of strong women who share your bloodline.  You excavate the foundations of your experience, and you find your key back into yourself.  You might store a poem or an affirmation in your mind or your heart, a simple sentence that becomes your own personal prayer.  And you hold fast again, like Dorothy's prayer to the rhythm of clicking ruby slippers.

And you come home.  You dust yourself off, you begin again. You know you've been somewhere important. 

 

resting in the imperfect spaces
Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash (blog)

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash (blog)

Somewhere on the journey of learning to live fully as someone with social anxiety, there's a new hurdle: learning to keep up emotionally with the newly active social part of yourself.  As you grow more comfortable in the situations that previously provoked fear or avoidance a surprising thing can happen: you can find yourself becoming more social, more outgoing than your emotional self is prepared for.  This is especially true of socially anxious folks who lean toward the introverted end of the spectrum.  Suddenly there's a new, rather bombastic voice in the mix that wants to go on all those fabulous adventures the fearful self had been so good at talking you out of.  And before you know it, you're burned out with trying to keep up with this newly-freed sense of creative living.

As I started driving again - contentedly, for the first time in my life - I found myself at a stopping point at my therapist's office, the farthest I'd yet driven.  I didn't have an appointment, or any commitments; it was just for practice.  Yet, as I sat in the parking lot, exuberant at the achievement and my comfort level with it, my adrenaline started to kick in, and I found myself antsy to go to the next destination - whatever whim might make it to be.  I asked myself: can I just rest in this space for a minute?  The answer, frankly, proved to be no.  I couldn't.

Sometimes rest doesn't happen on command, and sometimes the treasured tools become obsolete.  The affirmations are simply words once again, the resonance of your truth is frail, and your experience is imperfectly uncomfortable.  But the achievement in that moment is that you can sit amid rising anxiety and just observe it.  In moments like these it's frustrating, truly, because this big life outside of the comfort zone isn't as flawless or peaceful as you'd hoped.  The illusion of living without anxiety fizzles into the reality of living with anxiety.  But there's the living, and that's cause for a celebration even if it doesn't feel as comfortable as you expected.

There's a place between rest and action.  I call it allowing.  In our best-is-better world it's hard to be content with something so mediocre as acceptance, but mediocrity is the result of comparison, and comparison is, as they say, the thief of joy; comparison is an act of aggression against presence.

Can you make a home for yourself in acceptance, in allowing yourself to be valiantly imperfect?  Can you stop comparing your experience with what could have been, even just for a moment?  And can you finally, amid the noise and even the sorrow of this flawed place, give yourself permission to rest in the knowledge that this, too, is an achievement?  That this, too, is a manifestation of peace?  As the luminous Sue Monk Kidd once said, "Just to be is holy, and just to live is a gift."