Sunday, February 10, 2019

A change of Heart

My mother used to say to me, "What happened to my sweet little girl?" I was in my thirties; a very driven, single, working mom with no time to think of the past. I would shrug it off, telling her I didn't know what she was talking about. Then, one day, while looking at old, family photos, I saw her... the little girl from my mother's memory. She had this incredible softness in her face and eyes; sweet was the right word, and I suddenly realized how much I had changed. I really wanted to feel that part of me again; I wanted to be "sweet."

So I went on a quest to find the real me and somewhere along this twenty-year journey, I discovered that life's trauma, drama, hurt, and woes can permanently alter us. Underneath the person we have become, there is another part of our persona that is untouched by our history. It is who we are without the tough exterior, pain, fear, guilt, and old belief systems.

The truth is we all come into the world as awesome beings full of love and potential, but so many of us are terrified to go back to that genuine state of being once we've been hurt. We are afraid because it was that vulnerable part of ourselves that unwittingly 'allowed' for all the pain and trouble in the first place. Instead, we use our memories to build armor; layering every hardship like a sheet of steel that covers our hearts and protects us from any painful impact the future might hold. Then one day we realize how well our strategy worked. We are tougher now, and the pain is gone but, unfortunately, many of our other emotions went with it.

My quandary: To continue to feel numb but stronger for having created my tough exterior, or to let go and feel 'weak' without it...? I realized that being sweet was my goal, not stupid, so I set out to gain some clarity. My reasoning: if I was going to remove the armor I spent so many years fortifying, I needed to understand the word "vulnerability."

Years later, I'm still coming into awareness about the energetic prowess of this state of being. Apparently, when it comes to self-protection, we humans have it all wrong. Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable is not a weakness; it's our greatest strength! And we aren't children anymore; that past we have been using as a shield has also fortified us with wisdom and awareness. We are smarter and more in tune with what is good, bad, right, and wrong. If we could allow ourselves to be as loving and vulnerable as a child while using our adult ability to soulfully discern... well, that is when we tap into ethereal power and acquire the greatest spiritual order of protection we can possibly achieve!

About being sweet... perhaps the most profound realization that came from my mother's question to me was that we don't journey to authenticity; we journey back. What we all seem to be looking for is not in our future; it can be obtained right now! It is not out there; it is in here--in our hearts--the organ we have been protecting for so long. This knowingness comforts me because our transition only relies on one decision: to believe more in the power of our love than we do in the power of our fear.

Nowadays I carry a sword of truth and a shield of love, walking into my days feeling fully protected from everything, including myself. I wonder, though, why any of us would ever come to doubt the power of love. Even crazier, I wonder why we spend so much time changing into someone else when all we really have to do to live our lives beautifully is to just be ourselves.

Friday, February 8, 2019

A Starfish Enterprise

Sunday, my son Matt came over to help with my kitchen renovation. Our goal that morning was to build a narrow base cabinet for a gliding spice rack. I expected he was going to do most of the measuring and cutting, and I would be his assistant. That was our usual mode of operation, but he had other plans.

"What's first," I asked, and he responded, "Well, I can build the cabinet myself, Mom, so I was wondering if you would build something for Kayla." (His 5-year-old daughter.) He took out his phone and showed me a picture of a desk with a matching stool they just received as a hand-me-down. Matt thought Kayla would have more support and comfort with a chair, though, so he said, "I want you to make a seat and back to go on these legs." He looked at me and waited for a response. I looked at him trying not to show panic. The truth is I've painted and refurbished plenty of furniture in my day; I've used a jigsaw and router to make all sorts of things but never actually designed and created something a person could sit on! Not wanting to disappoint my child, especially after all the hours he put into my kitchen, I said okay. Then, without skipping a beat, he added, "Oh, and we'd like it to have a starfish cut-out on the back."

The last remark put a clammy sweat on my back, but he acted like all of this was no big deal, so I suggested he cut me two pieces of plywood an inch bigger than the overall dimensions. "I'll draw some designs," I said to him, "and you can tell me how you want to proceed." "No mom," he responded. "I'll cut the wood, but it's your project. You got this."

Now, I have to explain his nonchalant approach and the energy of trust behind that last sentence... He didn't even flinch. He had so much resolve, I felt a sense of calm come over me. I started thinking, 'Well he knows my skill level; we've built numerous projects together; if he thinks I can do it, why should I doubt myself?' So I dove in, and the result is an adorable starfish chair. It took me an inordinate amount of time to draw, cut out, and sand that creature, but it actually came out better than we imagined.

A feeling of accomplishment stayed with me all week as I filled and sanded all the imperfections and then primed the chair for paint. I kept hearing my son's words, "You got this," and knew there was more to the story. I came to realize that I literally used the love I had for him to push myself out of my discomfort. It would seem, too, that I used his belief in me to overcome my own self-doubt and fear. This was a powerful realization because, honestly, I've been praying for months to overcome fear and gain the confidence I need to take on the truly inspired work I know I'm being led to do right now. And the request to take on this work is coming from a Source much higher than my kid!

It was becoming clear to me that the chair was not just a mother/son building experience; it was a Father/daughter trust building, for sure! My prayers were answered with a gift... a way to instantly stoke my bravado whenever fear and doubt creep in.

This statement, "You got this!"... when we hear it coming from God, it's like a direct spiritual order mixed with an "Atta girl!" (or boy!), and we need to start trusting and believing it. After all, the mere fact that we are being spiritually led and guided to take on a task should tell us that we are already qualified to do that task! Allowing ourselves to believe differently would mean we are actually arguing with infinite power and wisdom. How inane and unproductive is that? :-)

So you know, as I finished typing that last sentence, I suddenly felt the urge to google the spiritual meaning of a starfish. I see the words "infinite Divine love" on my computer screen and smile big at the validation. My mind wandered back to how this story all started with my son wanting to support his daughter... He had her back, so to speak, and now I am reminded that my Father has mine. How awesome is our God?