From the archives: What do we do?

[While I’m on creative sabbatical through the end of the year, I’m pulling some of the most popular posts from the archives and sharing them again. I wrote this post almost exactly a year ago. I could have written it again today.]

I woke up this morning with the image of a dead wolf seared onto the backs of my eyelids. It arrived in my inbox yesterday and broke my heart. From there my thoughts went to starving children, the mass rape of women and girls as an instrument of war, and the little boy at the table next to us last night whose mother used subtle shame in a misguided attempt to have him meet her needs.

What do we do when our world feels upside down and we want to do something – anything everything – to make it a better place?

I’ve driven my car on a snow covered highway and watched a wolf trot alongside me, her beauty and majesty taking my breath away. I want to save wolves.

I have friends who’ve been raped and I’ve seen the effects on their bodies, souls and psyches. I can’t imagine the horrors being inflicted in other parts of the world. I want to end the brutality.

I’ve known adults who cannot free themselves from shame and I’ve seen the positive effects of respectful parenting on the spirits of little ones. I want our children to thrive.

As pleas for year-end donations fill my mailbox and inbox, as stories of man’s inhumanity run alongside photos of Santa in the news, as my heart is tugged in a thousand directions, I can feel myself spinning, flailing to find my footing. I want to be rich so I can throw money at everyone who asks and I know that’s not the answer.

The answer is inside.

It’s slowing down so I can hear my own voice. It’s simplifying and letting go and staying open to what feels right. It’s knowing that I can’t save anyone else and I’m not supposed to.

But I can be a force for good in the world. I can show up as love, without fear, hatred or judgment, as often as possible. I can give my time, my energy, my money in ways that align with my values, trusting that others will do the same.

I have found that to do this, sustainably, I need to love and accept my beautifully imperfect, messy self. It’s unbelievably hard some days but I’m getting better at it. Forgiveness and a sense of humor help.

Today I’m forgiving myself for the office reorganization that’s taking so long the cat has mistaken my to-be-filed bin for a litter box. I’m loving myself in spite of my inability to get a few daunting tasks done. I’m accepting that I can’t see around the next corner and I am needing to trust, once again, that I am exactly where I need to be.

And I’m celebrating the heck out of all of it. Because life is ephemeral and there is joy to be danced with.

How about you? What are you forgiving yourself for today? What are you celebrating?

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2 Responses to From the archives: What do we do?

  1. Lauren says:

    I am forgiving myself for not losing the last 10 lbs. I have had 18 month since my daughter was born. 18 months since she died. 18 months and it is now time for the office Christmas party. Time to buy a festive “fat” dress. Time to forgive me. Time to love me.
    I am celebrating that I’m on my way to modeling Truth/real/genuine/sincere/secure to my five year old daughter. I am celebrating that though I feel the pangs of imperfection, I am no longer in denial that I have achieved perfection or fooled others into thinking I have. I celebrate the peace found in the presence of so much good instead of the anxiety of the chase of perfection.

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