Be Patient while you Relax

A dear friend of mine shared this thought with me earlier this week “Be patient with yourself while you relax.” It was almost as though my left-brain did not know what to do with such an instruction. It took some deliberate pausing on my part, to let it sink in. I felt that this recommendation was challenging on multiple fronts. The first being the concept of patience in general, as it would appear to be a long lost skill within our culture at large. The second being the concept of patience with one’s self. Perhaps there are many of you far more developed than I, however in my honest disclosure, patience with myself is a not a strong suit. Lastly, the concept of relaxing is one which awakens my curiosity while simultaneously invoking shock and awe.

I do not relax easily nor do I relax often. Let alone have the ability to be patient with myself while I relax. The concept feels all together foreign that one could be patient while simultaneously experiencing relaxation.

Relaxing is one of those luxuries that I have not been able to afford, or so I have believed for the majority of my life. I am a goal oriented, focus driven, and type A woman. These are some of my greatest strengths and coinciding weakest points of character.

I love to read. I wish that I had more time to read and I guilt myself often. I judge for my lack of discipline in many areas of my life, noting how much time I waste on the internet, browsing articles, facebook, pinterest, craiglist, TED talks, NPR updates and the weather. The irony is that I am always reading something, start a new book multiple times a month and attend professional seminars and lectures and go after certifications quarterly. I am voracious in my search for knowledge. Some have even said that I do not have an off button.

I am a multi-tasker at heart. On a day off I often listen to a podcast while doing the dishes. I start a load of laundry, vacuum my floors, then write a paragraph for a blog post or email, then change the sheets on my daughters bed, then close the windows to avoid afternoon heat. Sometimes I step outside to water a couple plants only to return inside and transfer a load of laundry and start another, then mop my floors and eventually sit down to read half a chapter in a book I’m really interested in. It is very natural for me to be in motion.

If you could watch a video of my buzzing around my house like a bee pollinating all the plants in a yard, you would think “wow, she’s so busy,” and indeed I am. I get a lot done and I am continuously striving for something. Professionally and personally I know how to apply my foot to the gas. The problem is that I struggle with utilizing my brake. It appears that I easily get into my routine and start moving and the momentum carries itself and I simply don’t stop until I collapse at the end of the day, too exhausted to do even one more item on the to do list. Then wake to do it all over again the next day.

“Be patient with yourself while you relax.” It echoes through my mind, it resonates in my soul. What could the practice of patience give me? How could a daily dose of acceptance and practicing patience change my way of living? If I were to make the conscious choice to pause, to insert moments of stillness into my days, into my weeks, into my months, how would it change me? Could I become someone who was patient? Could I become someone content with what is, and what is not? Could I become a softer, more relaxed me, and still maintain the courage and drive and endurance I want? These questions, these ponderings, are what fill my quietest moments.

My moments of quiet are few and far between. I have a 2.3 year old daughter. I am told that she is “busy.” She just started Montessori school this past week and already I am hearing comments of “she’s so well adapted, talkative, engaging and such a busy little girl.” I smile at them. She is my daughter. They may not know me, But I know enough to know that she comes by these traits pretty honestly. Those who know her better and feel comfortable sharing will say “she is very strong willed” or “wow, she has a lot of personality” and “that girl is a force to be reckoned with.” Again, I smile. I nod in agreement. This girl has been blessed and cursed with a passion for living life to its fullest, never missing a beat and going about it with a strong sense of self. I have already begun to prepare myself for pre-teens. Visions of lengthy and emotion filled conversations dance in my head… “a force to be reckoned with…” A beautiful, unique, intelligent, vivacious, full of life vessel, just waiting for guidance and acceptance as she grows.

Words cannot adequately express how imperative it is to me that I discover a way to be patient with myself while I relax. In the rare moments where I am able to be still and sink into my own skin, my own thoughts, and feel a sense of peace about it all, I am awe struck and immediately begin to craft in my mind how to create more of this in my life. This is a gift that I will seek to not only exemplify for my daughter, but also seek to instill as a need and ultimately a survival skill, not a frivolous luxury.

I will seek peace. I will seek stillness. I will create space for relaxing. I will practice patience. I will cultivate this life giving, life sustaining practice. It will be my lifeline. And I will be patient with myself in this process.

Letting go

I have been struck over the past few weeks of the number of relationships I have witness show signs of vulnerability. Some ultimately revealing that they are in a fragile state. Some fading, some struggling under pressures and beginning to fall apart. Some incredibly lost in a sea of feeling unknown, unheard and misunderstood. I have seen the looks on countless faces. I have felt the pain and deep sense of loss. I had heard the deafening sounds of loneliness.

Today it is on my mind to write a genuine heartfelt letter, personal yet universally applicable. I seek to encourage, to instill hope where it is absent and to challenge the impossibility notions of a relationship that lasts.

To those of you are hurting right now, whether all alone, in a troubled relationship and considering your options, on your way out of one that is empty, or considering making a commitment to someone despite your fear of the unknown, I am expressing solidarity. I will attest that attaching to another human being, committing to be there through it all, opening up and sharing ones whole self, is the scariest, hardest, most emotion laden experience one will ever come across. I will simultaneously express a profound belief that attachment can be the most rewarding, eye opening, heart engaging journey. If we allow it will expand us beyond what we ever felt we were capable of.

Committed relationships are not for the faint of heart. They are messy. They are complicated. They are confusing. They are painful. They can be filled with joy and laughter at times and at others they can cause the most intense hurt one will ever feel. Coming together with another person, expressing your whole self, the good and the bad and everything in between is terrifying. You are more vulnerable than you will ever be any other time in your life when the vulnerability involves a committed relationship to another human being. You are subject to shame. You are subject to being misunderstood, misrepresented, even disrespected.

You also will open yourself to love, which sounds cliche, but if you ever actually have the privilege of experiencing this kind of love, you will understand in your bones that it awakens life within. You will see yourself as if you were looking in a mirror, which means you will see wrinkles, dimples, an occasional rash, squishy parts, soft parts, angry parts… and you will also see the purest joy, the sweetest smile, innocent eyes and moments of flawless, effortless beauty. Perhaps even inquisitive exploration, hope and passion.

One thing that I know is the utterly exhaustive amount of effort and real life presence that it takes, to truly be there for another soul. You will think at times that you have nothing left, yet somehow you will find more as you dig deep within. You will discover that you are capable of more than you ever could have imagined. That if you are mindful, you will create a space within the very soul of yourself for this other being, to tend to and care for in a way that you never knew possible. You will be shaken. You will be rattled. You will be perplexed and on many levels you will be broken, however it will be the kind of broken that has the ability to make you even stronger once reinforced. You will learn what it truly means to sacrifice yourself and you will be surprised by how breathtaking that can feel, in an expansive kind of way.

If you find yourself in a relationship where you have not experienced any of such things, perhaps ask yourself what is missing, what has been left behind, cast aside or simply cannot exist within this person, this space or time. If you are longing for this kind of love, of being known and understood and having someone with whom you would give it all for, my greatest advice is to not give up.

Do not settle, do not convince yourself it does not exist. This is the kind of love worth fighting for. Whether doubting the relationship you’re currently in, or pondering the hard and desperate truth that what this is will never be what you once hoped, don’t give up. I mean no advice about staying or leaving. I simply encourage you to fight for what is real, substantive and sacrificial. Anything less will always be just that, less.

Sometimes the wisest thing we can do is let go. If fear causes us to hold tight, to cling and to anxiously grasp, then my hope is that you will reach for peace and the ability to be still and let go. If whatever it is you cling to is worth it, then it will still be there when you let go. Do not convince yourself for one more minute that you are worth less, that you deserve to live a life of less. I simply cannot buy into the notion that we are created to live lives that do not stir us to the core and require that we get a little uncomfortable once in a while, and that we dive in head first every now and again, that we push toward the unknown without fear holding us back. We must pursue that which we are most passionate about, or an inherent part of ourself will die. Seek the kind of inspiration you aspire to be.

To give the all of you, to lay naked that which uniquely pieces together to make you, you, is a gift and it is a gift that is earned through the painstaking time and effort of another human being doing the absolute same for you, and nothing less, no holds bar. No regrets. No shame.

May you hold desperately to this if you have found it. May you let go of whomever you need to if you have not. May you seek it out with all you have in whatever way you can. May you be blessed along the way!