I want to be upfront.
I’m really bad at the life basics.
I get lost coming out of public restrooms. I have to use a GPS to guide me on the same route I’ve driven at least a hundred times. I have quotes, instructions, and images posted on my mirror, refrigerator, inside the cupboards, and they act as my spiritual and emotional GPS. Every morning I need to be reminded of my due north and which direction I want to go.
It has taken me thirty plus years to learn the difference between ‘discernment’ and ‘judgment’ when it comes to opening my heart to others. I’ve learned the hard way that not everyone wants to play with me on the playground and that it’s okay. It’s not personal.
Even though I ‘understand’ my body can’t handle corn and wheat, I try to negotiate the reality of my understanding. I alternate between being the queen of magical thinking, “Oh, sure, I’ll eat that comfort food with the hidden corn product, and it’s okay, I won’t notice the brain fog because we’ll be having wine with dinner…and I’ll guzzle an energy drink…and I’ll keep moving.” I disregard the consequences to my immune system. I wake up with aches and fatigue and blink my eyes, confused, “Wait? How did this happen?!”
Over the years, I’ve gone from magical thinking around my health to becoming an austere taskmaster. I spent most of my twenties living a monkish existence in an attempt to heal my chronic fatigue. I cleansed. I exercised. I meditated. I took supplements. I tried to perfect my thoughts and actions.
And now I’m learning that kindness doesn’t exist in extremes. It means, as Mary Oliver writes, I “only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.”
This week, my acts of being ‘fearlessly kind’ can be summarized as the following:
1) I took a ride on a catamaran and after watching my daughter stand, hands raised in the air, hollering with joy, I let myself rest. I dragged my hands through the turquoise waters and watched the ghostly shapes of jellyfish pass beneath me.
2) My husband and I’ve joined forces to make one commitment every month to let go of something that isn’t furthering our health. Instead of making this hard for myself (my commitment was cardio every day and staying away from corn/wheat), I’ve been exercising to scary movies and doing the minimal of free weights training. I let myself have wine every night so long as I’ve met my exercise goal.
4) I’m learning to relax in the presence of my friends. To believe that I don’t have to audition or prove myself; the house doesn’t need to be clean. My hair doesn’t need to be brushed. I just need to be. Here I am. Take me or leave me.
And, I contacted the tattoo artist about the shark connecting my instincts to protect my heart. I then promptly had a panic attack, “What the hell are you thinking?”
The answer, “You’re investing in the belief that you’re worth being protected. You’re being fearless.”
What does it mean to invest in ourselves and how do we do this?
Photo credit: Untitled by andriux-uk is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.