Sunday, January 30, 2011

Mojo Monday ~ The Gifts of Imperfection

I am unable to count how many times I have come to learn that a woman who I find to be amazing, beautiful, fabulous, inspirational and talented, will underneath all her obvious strengths, find fault with herself and thinks she is “not enough” in one way or another.

When I recently read a poem by Patricia Lynn Reilly I felt she so amazingly captured in her writing what we go through when we question “What’s Wrong with Me?”

What’s Wrong with Me?

We frequent the therapist’s office,
Hoping the past holds an answer within it.

We fill the churches,
Maybe God knows the answer.

We attend self-help meetings, assured an answer is encoded within the Twelve Steps.

We write “Dear Abby” and every other expert,
Certain that they must know the answer.

We sit at the feet of spirituality gurus,
Believing they will show us the way to an answer.

We buy every self-help book that hits the market,
Confident that a new project will quiet the question.

We consent to outrageous measures
To guarantee our fertility or our attractability,
Convinced that the presence of a child
Or a love in our arms will dissolve the question.

We sign up for diet clubs and plans and spas,
Convinced that our bodies are at the core of the answer,
Whatever it turns out to be.

We spend hundreds of dollars
On new outfits to hide the question
And on new body parts to eradicate the question.

And then at night after the day’s search is over,
We binge on a quart of ice cream or a bottle of wine,
Or we spend hours on the Internet or telephone
In tormented conversations trying to figure out
Why the relationship isn’t working,
Hoping that when we reach the bottom of the quart or bottle,
Or the far reaches of the internet or conversation,
Things will have shifted deep within us
And once and for all we will know the answer
And what to do about it.

Yet no matter what we do in search of an answer:
No matter how much we lose or how slimming the dress,
No matter how expensive or authoritative the expert,
No matter how many babies, relationships,
Possessions we have or don’t’ have,
No matter how spiritual, therapeutic, or recovered we become
We are left with the same question over and over again
As we look into the mirror horrified
That the restructuring of our relationship, our womb,
Or our breasts did not quiet the question
There it is in the morning whispering from the mirror,
“What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with me?’
A mantra that accompanies us the length of our days.

Why are we so critical of ourselves? Why do so many of us attempt to attain some sort of perfection, and perfection being unreachable, then flagellate ourselves for failing.

I am reading a book entitled The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are that has the best definition of perfection I have ever read. According to author Brené Brown, Phd, LMSW, “Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgment, and shame.” Embracing perfectionism is about adopting a belief system that “I am what I accomplish and how well I accomplish it. Please. Perform. Perfect. Healthy striving is self-focused – How can I improve? Perfectionism is other-focused – What will they think?”

Brown also shares that “Research shows that perfectionism hampers success. In fact, it’s often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction, and life–paralysis. Life-paralysis refers to all of the opportunities we miss because we’re too afraid to put anything out in the world that could be imperfect. It’s also all of the dreams that we don’t follow because of our deep fear of failing, making mistakes, and disappointing others. It’s terrifying to risk when you’re a perfectionist; your self-worth is on the line.”

Prior to writing this book the author had been a self-described “shame researcher.” She shares incredible wisdom in every point she hits in her book. For example she touches on worthiness. Here is a taste of what she shares: “The greatest challenge for most of us is believing that we are worthy now, right this minute. Worthiness doesn’t have prerequisites. So many of us have knowingly created/unknowingly allowed/been handed down a long list of worthiness prerequisites:

I’ll be worthy when I lose twenty pounds.
I’ll be worthy if I can get pregnant.
I’ll be worthy if I get/stay sober.
I’ll be worthy if everyone thinks I’m a good parent.
I’ll be worthy when I can make a living selling my art.
I’ll be worthy if I can hold my marriage together.
I’ll be worthy when I make partner.
I’ll be worthy when my parents finally approve.
I’ll be worthy if he calls back and asks me out.
I’ll be worthy when I can do it all and look like I’m not even trying.

Here’s what is truly at the heart of Wholeheartedness: Worthy now. Not if. Not when. We are worthy of love and belonging now. Right this minute. As is.”

As we sit at the campfire together consider what opportunity you are missing because you are too afraid to put something out in the world because it isn’t perfect.

Consider what you hold over your own head in order to feel worthy.

Share with us at least one such situation in which you hold back because you are seeking perfection.

Share with us if there are ways that questioning your own self-worth holds you back.

After considering the downfalls of perfectionism what might you do differently now?

After hearing that you are worthy now, right this minute, as you are, can you embrace this truth? Can you live it? Does it change anything for you?

The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself. ~ Anna Quindlen

If you have a little more time on your hand here is a video of author Brené Brown appearing on a televised PBS interview and she talks about Shame and Perfection. Prior to the actual interview with the author is some information on the class she teaches and how creating art is included in the program, as well as how other organizations are using her research to help women who have spent time incarcerated to relearn how to accept and love themselves.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Mojo Monday ~ Wild Women

"La Loba, the old one, The One Who Knows, is within us.  She thrives in the deepest soul-psyche of women, the ancient and vital Wild Woman.  The La Loba story describes her home as that place in time where the spirit of women and the spirit of wolf meet--the place where her mind and her instincts mingle, where a woman's deep life funds her mundane life.  It is the point where the I and the Thou kiss, the place where women run with the wolves.

This old woman stands between the worlds of rationality and mythos.  She is the knuckle bone on which these two worlds turn.  This land between the worlds is that inexplicable place we all recognize once we experience it, but its nuances slip away and shape-change if one tries to pin them down, except when we use poetry, music, dance... or story."

Excerpt from Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, PhD

Just in case you are not aware there is a most wonderful reading group called Wild Women Story Gathering.  Beginning in January of this year the group began reading Women Who Run With the Wolves.  Cosmic Cowgirls Jenafer Joy and Steph Cowling are our wild women leaders. If have not read this amazing book yet, or even if you have, consider joining us over at the reading site: (It is free for Cosmic Cowgirls)

We all have the wild woman within us.  Sometimes the challenge lies in recognizing her or allowing her freedom of expression. 

How do you keep in touch with your wild woman?

How does she like to express herself?

If she could do anything she wanted what would it be?

As you consider your responses check out this gorgeous print and an amazing piece of writing by Shiloh McCloud all about Wild Women.

We Are Wild Wonderful Women

We are women of complex deep juicy mystery
We are women learning to love and forgive ourselves
We are builders of dreams and seekers of justice
We are creators of new life and bringers of light
We are lovers and warriors, healers and truth tellers
We are marvelously tender and fiercely compassionate
We are whole even when the past has been too much
We are abundant beings, full of celebration and vitality
We are wild… We are wonderful… We are women!!!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Mojo Monday ~ I Have A Dream

a vision voluntarily indulged in while awake;
daydream; reverie; an aspiration; goal; aim

One of the most famous dreams ever shared was by Martin Luther King, Jr. He publicly declared his dreams in front of thousands in Washington, DC on August 28, 1963, as part of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. King's appearance was the last of the event and his closing speech was carried live on major television networks. On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, King evoked the name of Lincoln in his "I Have a Dream" speech, which is credited with mobilizing supporters of desegregation and prompted the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The next year, King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Here are the following lines from the speech that focused on the phrase “I have a dream.”

“I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.”

Declaring your dreams in front of thousands of people at the Linolcn Memorial could sound a bit intimidating. Or perhaps you are feeling totally rarin’ to go and say “Bring on the throngs of humanity and hear me roar!” All the more power to you I say! Go wild woman!

No matter where you fall in the spectrum of loving or fearing public speaking we all have dreams. Dreams that keep us going on the most difficult of days. Dreams that quietly inspire us. Dreams that excite us and make us want to dance and jump up and down. Dreams that make some of us get on a stage to make people laugh or perhaps even make them cry. Dreams that make us better people. Dreams that make the world a better place.

Imagine if Martin Luther King, Jr. had never shared his dream. What if he had been to shy? Or too scared?  Thank goodness that wasn't the case or he wouldn't have had such an amazing impact on our nation, on our world and most importantly he would not have impacted the hearts of his fellow man and woman.

What are your dreams?

Do you have many or is there one overarching dream above them all?

Consider the ways in which you can begin to share your dreams.

Consider the ways in which you can act on your dreams.

If you need a little help just start it this way “I have a dream that one day…”

While you contemplate your dreams and prepare to share them here at the campfire listen and watch this inspiring video set to BeBe Winans song I Have A Dream (featuring Martin Luther King, Jr.)

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Self-Worth Project

Photographer Tommy Corey

"The Self-Worth Project is a photo documentation of people expressing their deepest and most vulnerable fears and insecurities.  Through this project and our insecuritites, we hope to bring people together by showing you that YOU ARE NOT ALONE."

"We are all human, we all have insecurities, and through those we can start to form an understanding of one another, despite our race, gender, orientations, backgrounds and affiliations."
"Specifically, the Self-Worth Project looks to open up conversations with young people about the increasingly hostile environment in schools today. Whether young people have felt bullied, ostracized, or ridiculed, SWP would like to recognize that this kind of derisive—and sometimes violent—behavior amongst youth is a growing problem. And while ending bullying would be ideal, the important message of finding help, feeling supported, and not being alone is imperative."

A special showing of the Self Worth Project will take place on Thursday, February 10th, 2011 in Redding, California at the Cascade Theater.  Click here for theater information.

More photos from the project:

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Mojo Monday ~ Permission Slips for 2011

Cosmic Cowgirl Kathryn Elliott (aka Sparkling Wisdom Warrior) was one of the keepers of the Spark flame in December. One of Kathryn’s inspirational posts was called Permissions at Play. She shared how giving ourselves permission can free us from constraints we place on ourselves and free us to create. She asked us to contemplate what permissions might help us in achieving our focus desire that month.

Here we are at the beginning of a brand new spankin’ year and it is the perfect time to consider what permission slips we want to grant ourselves in 2011. For example one of your goals might include completing an art or writing project. One of your permission slips might therefore be “I give myself permission to devote at least one uninterrupted hour every evening to writing my book.” If you have a spouse and children you might need to add another permission slip to accompany this one that states “I give myself permission to selfishly pursue my creative goals.”

Writer Marianne Williamson expresses beautifully the added benefits of giving ourselves permission to be ourselves and pursue our dream, “As we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence actually liberates others.”

As you start contemplating your own list of permission slips watch this sweet video that was made to go along to a song called Permission to Shine by a band called Bachelor Girl.

I’d love to read your permission slip list so be sure to share it here at the campfire.

I'd also love to hear how you plan to SHINE in 2011!