Wednesday, May 30, 2012

trip down memory lane - seesaw shes

i bookmarked this older piece of my writing, written on a now defunct blog, written on July 30, 2004. funny how some things change and some things stay the same.

seesaw shes.

she is cold and unfeeling. her smile is forced and not much can break across her face. emotion is void here. her laughter is lost in echoes of nothingness. i cannot stand to be in the company of her and soon i will be bidding her adieu.

the other she is like a she puppy, nipping at your feet, constantly wanting to jump into your lap and be loved. she will do and say anything to ensure that she is loved but i see right through her. she plays favourites and i am not a chew toy to be gummed. i cannot stand to be in the company of her and soon i will be bidding her adieu.

the other other she is on her life journey, asking for directions all the time, even to take small steps to her cornerstore. she is afraid of getting lost, even though she has several maps in her hand. they all have the same roads marked on them, but oh which to choose? that is a decision for her and she does not do well with decisions. she needs a navigator but i am tired of driving. i cannot stand to be in the company of her and soon i will be bidding her adieu.

she who visits brings me laughter and love as we sit on our swing, sipping expresso in the dawn of morning light. she brings me safety and comfort in our exchange of dialogue, of love and love lost and love to come. she travels the world and brings it to me, in snips and snaps of her mind and eyes. her friendship is enduring, and when i am down she lifts me up. i help her as we see-saw our lives. mostly, she tells me what i need to hear. i can stand her company and she stands beside me. i will not be bidding her adieu.

another she is good for me but sometimes even she wears down my head. she prods me incessantly, as if i am one of those sheep, doe-eyed and smacked silly. i have a memory and it retains many things including simple directions to make mac and cheese. surely i can remember to do small things suggested by her. mostly, she tells me what i need to hear. i can stand her company and she stands beside me. i will not be bidding her adieu.

spiritual she lifts me when i am down. distanced only by the hum of techology, of thousands of kilometres of wire apart, we convene weekly meetings to discuss how close we are. she helps me reclaim my heart and head, and this will go on for years. sometimes i shake my head at her, but mostly i nod in agreement. mostly, she tells me what i need to hear. i can stand her company and she stands beside me. i will not be bidding her adieu.

i am fortunate to be in the company of many a good she. even the shes that i must bid adieu to have taught me much about myself. to laugh and be merry, to love sincerely and to be firm and confident in my life decisions. a balance of shes in my life. soon there will be a void of the shes that i bid adieu but that is part of the seesaw.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

In defense of failure (Finding the Beauty in Failure)

Sometimes I feel like I'm failing at life. Yes, me, a professional life coach who is passionate about seeing other people reach their dreams and destinies. Fellow coaches would jump all over that statement of "failing at life" and tell me that is my saboteur or inner critic at work. They may be right. But as I come up on 35 in two days time, I can't help but look around at my friends and acquaintances and see if I'm meeting the benchmark.

There are:
  • friends younger than me who own a home and have a great network of friends and family nearby
  • friends who seem to have mastered the corporate ladder more successfully
  • friends who are well regarded in their field
  • friends who have real vacations at least once a year (my last real holiday was in 2006!)
  • friends that seem to have mastered the balance of hobbies, work and relationships
  • friends who have thousands of twitter followers 
  • fellow coaches who have clients paying them gobs of money
We're a society of comparison and perfection. It would be so easy to look at someone's life at face value and make all sorts of assumptions that everything is peachy keen in someone else's life. That's just the surface story. Maybe the truth is you're a homeowner and overwhelmed with renovations that never seem to end or you were promoted to a higher position with added responsibilities you don't want but you don't want to turn down the pay increase. Maybe you have thousands of online admirers but are a total neurotic wreck in real life and you live in constant fear of being found out. Maybe you're hiding your credit card statements from your partner because you're racking up huge bills paying for escapist tendencies. What I'm trying to say is, the only person that can really measure your success is you, and comparing yourself to someone else is like comparing apples to doorknobs. 

The latin word,comparationem, ends up translating into "make equal with, liken, bring together for a contest." There are people who live their lives competing against one another. This happens among siblings, coworkers, friends. I'm not interested in competition and I never have been (unless you get me playing Settlers of Catan or any other awesome board game).

I've done some pretty extraordinary things for my 35 years. I've run a half marathon and never gave up on myself. I've faced cynical audiences as a stand up comedian and made them laugh. I'm navigating my identity as a child of deaf adults and what that means to me in the bigger picture of my life. I've invested in my ongoing education, to continually expand my world view and challenge myself. I've packed up on short notice and moved to a new country. Twice (because, let's be real, Texas is kind of like its own country). I left a job with great pay, benefits and great coworkers to go on an adventure and trust that the universe will sort it all out. I've stuck by my husband for sixteen years through thick and thin, for richer or poorer, and in sickness and health.

So yes, there are things I don't have and experiences I have yet to have, and maybe in someone else's eyes (and mine, occasionally) that makes me a failure. Sometimes not having all of that drives me, motivates me, to be better... but then I look at who I am. I look wholeheartedly at myself in the mirror and I know that I am defined by who I am. Where I have come from. Where I am going. If I can stay in that place, of fully, truly appreciating all that I am, standing in full integrity of myself, I know I cannot be anything else but truly successful.

I don't feel "better" having written this (I'm still a little bit sad), but I do know it is the truth. And when I can express my truth, the sadness will lift. And there will be many days of joy that follow. Days of appreciation and gratitude. Likely, the sad days will return here and there. But I, and you also, can choose to stand in the integrity of who we are. And no one can take that away from you.

My planned failures for this summer include: failing to make the New York Times best seller list; failing to make 200 people laugh; failing at making homemade pasta and ice cream; failing to perfect a new website for my coaching, writing and comedy; failing to have more paying clients. I'm gonna go full steam ahead and flail my arms failing. If there's anything my friends know about me, is when I get knocked down, I get up again. Never gonna keep me down.

P.S. Found this amazing TedTalk on Vulnerability and Shame, thanks to the anonymous comment left below. I feel like I found home today.