Sometimes in life it is the smallest gestures of self-compassion that make the greatest impact on your life. JG
She says, “I chose the color pink because it reminds me of love. I made a sculpture of a good heart because it is like a stone in the ripples of a beautiful life.”
The Appleton Compassion Project http://www.appletoncompassion.org
Yes, that was me skipping.
If you were in Manhattan somewhere near 77th street on the east side you might have seen me (red cowboy boots, black coat and hat) step-hopping like a six year old.
Smiling too. Really, how can you skip down the street without a goofy grin?
Someday I may reach the level of freedom where I can skip for absolutely no reason at all, however today, I had reasons:
(in no specific order)
- It’s fun to be me.
- I spent the day working with uncommon, courageous, and clever people – my clients.
- The sun is shining.
- A man sitting on the corner liked my boots.
- A Buddhist monk, bowed to me, put a bracelet on my wrist and wished me peace.
- I get to help people identify what is essential in themselves and give them tools they did not have before (or had but didn’t know how to use) to make that gift their compass.
And, I made my train.
If you’re the type of person who can skip in public, will you share, here, those things that inspire your skippy self?
If you aren’t into that kind of thing, what makes your heart (if not your body) leap for joy?
“Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.” –The Wizard of Oz
It turns out that The All Powerful Oz, revealed to be a mere mortal, was actually a whiz at understanding human nature.
Recognizing that the deficits we perceive in ourselves are often fictions we hold as Truths (not smart, loving or brave), and the imperfections we hide are sources of strength, the Wiz’s gift to Dorothy and the gang was first, his unmasking, and second, the wisdom he had gained but hadn’t trusted to be “enough.”
Contrary to our cultural conditioning, there is power in showing and acknowledging imperfections. That power is authenticity.
It’s the Wabi-Sabi approach to life.
If you haven’t run across the term before, Wabi -Sabi is the Japanese aesthetic that deems only those artworks that are imperfect and incomplete as truly beautiful.
Wabi-Sabi embraces visible mistakes as part of craft and essential for expression.
If I had access to Google Images, there’d be a picture of a gorgeous Raku vase (mit cracks) right here.
I’ll leave it to you to make the connection between the art of being human and Wabi-Sabi in art.
Which brings me to expertise.
It’s really easy to get hung up on the word “expert,” especially when we apply it to ourselves. This was true for my client Liza.
She asked the question, “How can I think about innovating in my department, if I’m not really an expert?”
As is almost always true, there’s the question that Liza is asking and then there’s the question that is in the question. In this case, since I’ve been working with Liza awhile, I sense Liza is asking more than two questions, but for the sake of concision let’s start with, “How do I know I’m an expert?”
How many of us know this doubt? I do – all too well. It can stop us in our tracks, making the ground beneath us feel shaky- our voices weak, and timid.
Turns out Liza’s definition of expert is pretty narrow. For her, an expert is someone whose job is directly related to the exact training or schooling (certification/degree) this person received. And for her, years of practice don’t really count unless it is also in the area for which one was originally trained.
So, with this line of thinking, a 22 year-old who just graduated from college with a degree in marketing would be more of an expert than someone who got a degree in writing but worked her way up in marketing firms through jobs that eventually led to an Account Executive position.
Liza tells herself that because she didn’t get her degree in the field in which she has been working for years, she can’t possibly be an expert. She had never thought to look at her experience as having actually learned. Like many of us, she was conditioned to look only for external indicators of achievement and knowledge.
Liza had never thought to question her definition of “expert,” nor to think about how much she had learned on the job (we made a pages long list of all the useful things she knows related to her current job) that contribute to her…well, expertise.
She fell for the expert-tease.
Understandable. I recognize in Liza my own tendency to listen to the inner “critter’ who tells me that experts know it all already. People who are experts don’t feel unsure because they don’t have anything to be unsure about – ever. Right?
And, I recognize in Liza my own tendency to believe the critter that tells me not having learned something yet, not knowing something, and my mistakes, are absolute proof that I’m not an expert. Ouch.
Using Focusing and Critter-sizing (a fun way to talk to the animals, I mean, inner critters), Liza re-defined expertise to be this
* Expertise means being able to call upon my accumulated knowledge (no matter where or how I got it) and understanding with increasing ease and agility; applying that knowledge with precision and flexibility, recognizing what’s missing or needed faster, and recovering from mistakes more quickly
* It’s an ongoing process of learning at higher and higher levels of mastery in a field where I choose to practice.
Here’s what happens.
I listen to clients; in-person, on the phone, via email and in the strange land of Skype. I love listening to clients and I’m learning to love Skype -kinda. In all this listening I hear questions: interesting questions. Questions that are asked in different ways but are essentially the same question, or fall into a category of question. This reminds me that if one person is struggling or curious then it’s likely that others will benefit from knowing about it. This includes me.
So in AskJudy, I’m going to post a question from a client, blog commenter or random person who emails me with one (a question)- Don’t worry, I won’t use your name without asking permission, that would be wrong. And then I’ll answer it as best I can.
Bring on the questions!
Today’s question: “Why can’t I carve a pathway to the thing I desire?”
Wow, this is a pretty sophisticated question with many different answers depending on the context. The context here is that this wonderful person is hard at work on a big project. She really wants to do something for herself that would be fun, get her out of her home to meet people and which would contribute to her physical health and overall well-being. Substitute anything you want from your life in here.
She notices that even though she’s clear about what she wants, can see it and practically taste it; and even though she has great reasons for doing this thing, is really excited about it, she’s been here before and has not been able to follow through on “things that give me pleasure.”
Another way I’ve heard this question asked is, “Why don’t I do the things I know I want?”
Well,there’s a lot here to, be sure, and I’m not going to get to all of it (some of it being specific to individuals) but let’s start with this : If you ask anyone, anyone, how to get good at something like painting, baseball, reading, or building boats inside tiny bottles, they’ll tell you …1,2,3 all together now — PRACTICE.
While we know this, and can often apply it to things like painting, baseball, reading etc., we don’t often think about practicing BEING US, our most authentic selves. Let’s face it, most of us weren’t conditioned to value wholehearted commitment to ourselves (can you hear the voice saying, “That’s selfish?”) We were told that, what others think of us, or want for us was much more important. So no wonder we don’t have a sense of how to go about it.
The first step, the one we have the most control over, is to commit to figuring out how to be ourselves. That means learning more about how I do “me” and how you do “you.”
And, that takes practice. Practice carves pathways – literally, metaphorically, and biologically.
These are some words that come to me when I muse about who I am, what I do, why I do it and who might need what I’ve got. They have specific meanings for me.
What about you? What feelings come up when you look at them; excitement… judgement… curiosity… fear… apathy… anticipation… expansion… resistance… Which ones resonate? How?
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