Words

Words mean so much.

I’m in a graduate counseling class in which we are learning to lead different types of groups.  The experiential component of this course involves us both leading and being a member of a group throughout the term.  It has been a wonderful and eye-opening experience.  I have learned about myself and about how others approach the world and themselves.  The sense of safety and belonging of a trusting group of peers is hard to match.

At the end of class each week, the classmates that were observing the group chime in on what they observed and give feedback.  Tonight, and on other occasions, the sweet souls in my class have said such meaningful and kind things about what they observe me doing and saying as a group member and leader.

It has taken over three decades, but I am now able to take a compliment…and actually believe it.  I’m also more accepting of constructive criticism.  Perhaps it comes from years of tempering my perfectionist tendencies, or from arduous self-work and diligent mindfulness exercises.  Whatever the impetus, goodness it feels good to hear the sweet words of another human and accept them–without reservation, without judgement, just acceptance.

I will eternally be indebted to this group of classmates for their kind words, generous disclosure of their feelings, and their shared participation in this journey towards something greater.  We are expanding as professionals and individuals, but none of it is done in isolation.

And that my friends is the lesson I have learned.  True self-work, for me, cannot be accomplished in isolation.  My soul yearns for connection–to be seen, to be heard.  Anxiety and self-doubt cannot win.

In my life, I have stumbled upon the inner beast of self-doubt, calling it out of the shadows and exposing it to the examining light of non-judgemental inquiry–and what have I found?  That beast I have been careful to avoid is no beast at all, he is a child, he is Me, and he only wants to be seen. Heard. Known.  Fear is an illusion, it is only the lack of awareness of the ever-present Love that is available inside, often pushed into the shadows of our subconscious and neglected.  Love is a child, and this child is waiting to play.

 

Day #80: Tread Lightly, and Laugh Loudly

Another day of skiing, another wonderful adventure…it was a bit windier today which kept things more…”interesting”…and cold.

We both only fell once today. Him while standing perfectly still, and me when the lift chair decided to give me an extra push… we laughed both times till we cried…

On the way back down the mountain, we stopped at the overlook and took some pictures. The aspens were breathtaking… they stood so white, so stately… so unassuming in their pale nakedness… and I could feel their energy… their whispering… as I stood there…

I am not generally a mystical person but I felt so drawn to these trees… I felt compelled to touch them, to take them into me… a reminder… “but for what,” I wondered… and then it sang in my heart…“tread lightly.”

Smiling brunette woman wearing heart-shaped glasses, purple beanie, and wearing pigtails.
I spent the rest of the day contemplating this… my mind took it all over… to Theodore Roosevelt’s similar advice to “speak softly, but carry a big stick” to thinking about the footprint I leave on this earth and what we can continue to minimize that we haven’t (we currently recycle and compost).

But it took on a completely different meaning for me that night at dinner… we met up with an acquaintance from my hometown and her significant sweetheart. She is a couple years older than me, so growing up she was a grade or two ahead of me. She was super popular, wealthy, and a cheerleader. She was beautiful and outgoing and smart. And to me, growing up knowing of her, she had it all. So I was nervous as I got out of the truck and headed in for dinner. I could have never dreamed or hoped for the shared connection that transpired. She is going into the same field I am in and we have similar interests. She is still beautiful, and outgoing, and smart… but as she shared her journey with me… the good, the bad, and the ugly, I listened in awe of how perception and reality are often so contradictory… and it reminded me of how we see people two-dimensionally and think we see it all.

We forget the depth, the shadows, the corners of a person that actually gives them sustenance.

It was a beautiful reminder to tread lightly because it’s so much easier to not know than to know… 

Smiling man woman bundled up on top of a ski slope.