Friday, November 21

Gimme a hug.

I’ve accepted a “truth” for me in my life, which is I never stop changing. I hope I never do either, because I can’t think of anything less fun than being stagnant. Whether it’s work, ideas, life, friends, anything, I am embracing continual change.

I went through a huge chunk of life where nothing changed, and I often found myself telling people who asked how life was: “Same old, same old.” And I saw that lack of change as a good thing at the time.

Now I’m on the other side of that “same old” I think I’m super cool with change, and it is cool with me. One of the changes I’ve experienced is related to hugs. While I was married, I never hugged anyone but my husband. It actually felt odd when people wanted to be touchy or huggy, and I decided I was not a physically affectionate person, except to him.

Two and a half years out of marriage, being single, I am super secure with myself, who I am, and I’m seeing I’ve BECOME an affectionate individual. This has been a slow process, but a few key individuals have been an example of easy affection, and how harmless AND beneficial it is. Harmless meaning it doesn’t need to be uncomfortable or have motive, and beneficial because it allows you to let people know you care about them.

I think I have to elaborate… In my job I supervise people younger than me. I’m continually telling/asking them what to do, and in my quest to be a supervisor who is respected, AND enjoyed, I’ve learned that people need to know you care about them and appreciate the work they do, especially when you keep asking them to do things. (It’s not that I’m bossy, the job requires lots of flexing.) So, a hand on arm or shoulder either in passing or in conversation is an extra way to convey I see them as important, I respect the work they do, and I genuinely care about them. This also means that they know where I’m coming from and if at any time they need to express themselves through touch or a hug, they know I will be receptive.

Key here is hearing that the majority of the people I work with are young. Young people aren’t so threatened by touch, they aren’t so shut off to affection, and for some reason they “hear” touch the way it’s meant to be heard. As we get older, it becomes stranger, less comfortable, and as I said earlier “odd”.

One of my biggest teachers in this physical affection lesson I have written about before in Energy Givers.  I talked about her energy in that post, but not the sweet way she touches your back when she walks past, just to say, “I’m walking behind you, and I care”. It’s the most simple and beautiful thing the way she does it, and there couldn’t be a person in the world who could find her way of doing this “odd”. I sometimes feel like my mind stands open mouthed when I learn lessons from young people, and truly, her physical-ness has made her one of the most influential people in my lesson on affection. Since I mention her, and I started with hugs, I have to say she is one of the best huggers I’ve ever met. She should give classes. Her hugs are free from expectation and all you feel when she hugs you is that she is genuine. I have hugged her when she was happily just married, and when she was struggling on the anniversary of the death of her two sisters, and all I ever feel from her is her genuineness. Her affection has no motive, it is part of her in a way that I think most people don’t have. I didn’t have it, I’m still trying to learn it, and for some reason, she makes me more aware of hugs being as unique as individuals.

The funny lesson I’ve learned in all this, is the best huggers always have been.

Tuesday, November 11

Children are the Strongest

A lesson I started to learn at 19, has proven true still today. Today I turn 42, and I’m reminded how bad I wanted to grow up when I was 19. Not that I wanted to be treated differently by anyone, but I wanted to know more, to be less naive, to be able to carry on a conversation with anyone over anything, and since I knew so little, I longed for the day I was “grown up”.

At 19 I spent a year in Romania volunteering in a couple orphanages. I wrote about the experience at 23, and I made a realization while I was writing. That realization has proven to be true many times in my life, and that is: the older I get the weaker emotionally I become. When I went to Romania I was so young I was strong enough to handle the sadness I was seeing. Don’t get me wrong, it was hard at 19 too, but I think it would be impossible for me to experience the same now.

The not having grown up yet was what saved me. As the year came to an end I was feeling very weak, very old, very worn out. After that year of living alone, ya I was more “grown up”, I could carry on a conversation better, but it really meant I was weaker. I was wiser to what happens in the world. I’d seen things, sad things, and things that hurt my emotional and physical heart.

Children don’t know how strong they are, they don’t know what it is to be weak, so it is in their getting older that they stop being so strong. Their ignorance of strength keeps them strong. They also don’t live in an overly emotionally world because they don’t tend to over-think things. All that comes with age and experience.

I have a book, well, a few books about health problems being related to emotional problems and that fixing the emotions fix the body. This is an idea we want to resist because we can’t be responsible for our physical problems. Our emotions are too hurt by the thought they are at fault. But we are only ONE body: completely connected. One of the reasons this connection of emotional and physical health rings true to me is because I already know that I am weaker emotionally as I get older and I am more physically challenged as I get older. Age = weak, so if older equals weaker, what can I do about this?

Because I’m not ok finding everything harder in life, here’s my only plan: face everything. Insist I’m not a wimp. Work on emotional strength, Analyze what emotions I'm feeling and face them. Decide to keep moving forward, and pay attention to thoughts that sound like I’m not capable or not enough. It has to be possible to stop aging in this weak way. (at least a little) I see and feel if I'm conscious of this, I can alter the speed of my emotional age, slowing down the rate of losing strength and the depth of those emotional wrinkles.

Because it’s my birthday, I’m going to share one of the most beautiful parts of my day.
This song: Don’t Fade Away by Dead Can Dance

Monday, November 3

"Worry about yourself!"

About a year ago, in an attempt to communicate with a co-worker who suddenly started having attitude toward me, she said: “Worry about yourself”. At the time I was confused, since I was trying to discuss her recent rudeness and wondering what went wrong. So, hearing “worry about yourself” seemed out of place. I thought I was. I wanted to know why I was being treated so poorly by her alone, and I was even left wondering: “What does that even mean?” I don’t think anybody has ever said that to me since I’m not nosey, and I was questioning the way I was being treated.

Her words rang in my mind for weeks. It was like a mantra, the way I kept repeating them. In doing so I made sense of it. I started seeing examples all around me of people who needed to do their own thing, and I… I should worry about myself.

This took on bigger and better meaning the more I repeated it. I need to feed me, I need to clothe me, I am really the only person who completely cares about everything in my life, my sanity, my need to sleep, and I only should be worrying about myself. AS SHOULD everyone else only be worrying about themselves.

In consciously putting effort into not worrying about others, I had new perspective when people would come to me acting like their problem was my problem, or it was my responsibility to fix an internal struggle for them. I realized that I had some people in my life actually expecting me to worry about them. As though their happiness was my responsibility, and they owned having the right to expect me to be available in any moment.

In the realizing what “worry about yourself” means for me, and how much I have benefited by realizing this is amazing advice, it is now advice I want to share with others.

The co-worker who said it to me happened to be in a time of healing herself, and although I thought I was getting more of her attitude than I would like to have, she also was worrying about herself at the time.

Most great advice comes in longer sentences, thicker books, and I struggle to immediately acknowledge better advice in my life than those three words.

A couple of months ago I let her know that she gave me one of the most profound lessons of my life. (I have not done the explanation of this fact justice in this post.) And I asked her if she minded that I share this story. To my surprise, she didn’t even remember telling me to “worry about yourself” all those months back.

Well there you go… proof that we are taught what we need when we need it. Glad I listened and didn’t have to learn that lesson a harder way. I think we should all worry about ourselves, stop worrying about others, and make sure we are who we should be, living a life we are proud to live, and being a “top quality human” to put in another way. If we each did this, our interactions would improve, our lives would be easier, and happiness would increase.

Shame so many don’t want to look at themselves, consider what they are doing, how they are treating people, and not worrying about themselves, but pointing fingers instead.

What we have to do, is say we are (each of us) ok with worrying about ourselves, and expect others to worry about themselves. We shouldn’t put more on our plate for no reason what-so-ever. Other people and their choices are not your worry. They have their own life to live, let them live it, let them be a pessimist or an optimist, let them do their thing, and you do yours.

Someone who was born knowing this lesson... I had to learn it after 40.