Day 292/365 Dot to Dot

This morning I got a call from school – actually directly from my eight year old daughter, Ruby, who said in very sad and pleading voice that she didn’t feel well and wanted to be picked up. I hate getting this call because my work is a solid 45 minutes’ drive from my children’s school. Between the drive and the wrapping up of what I’m doing at work, it’ll take me an hour to get to her, at best. That just doesn’t feel good, even when I suspect she may be playing me.

So I left work hurriedly, and of course my gas light was on…so I “stopped” for gas.

Sort of.

I pulled into the gas station feeling a bit frazzled. I had efficiently taken a moment at a red light to arm myself with my credit card, ready to burst into action upon arriving at the gas station. I pulled up to the pump and began to hop out…except I had neglected to actually put the car in park. Halfway out of the car as it began to roll, I oh-so-gracefully scrambled to get my foot on the brake to stop the car from leaving without me. Laughing to myself (and of course looking around to see if anyone else caught my swift maneuver) I couldn’t help but think of a comment made to me a few months ago by a toll booth attendant.

I had pulled up to the bridge toll and, although I have an EZ Pass, the bar didn’t lift for me to pass through. The attendant, a man in his sixties, came out of the booth and said to me, “I think you were too close to the car in front of you…” and then, with a wink…

“Sometimes the faster we go, the longer it takes to get there.”

Hmmm.

Recalling this bit of wisdom made me ponder my recent runaway thoughts.

Yesterday I had a real attack of the What Ifs. 

Have you ever noticed that the What Ifs are RARELY positive thoughts?

Instead of…

What if I write a book…and it gets picked up by a publisher? What if it becomes a Best Seller? What if people love it….and I feel fulfilled and validated like never before? What if I actually make money at writing!?

Nooooooo….of course not. The What Ifs are more like this….

What if I try to write a book and I just can’t? What if I write a book and no one wants to publish it? What if it gets published and no one wants to read it? What if I am left feeling humiliated? What if I’m not good enough?

And instead of…

What if I allow myself to be completely vulnerable with a man in a way I never have before? What if he allows himself to be that way too? What if we fall in love? What if we are happy and content in each other’s company? What if we have amazing sex, too!?

It’s more like…

What if I choose the wrong man…again? What if I allow myself to be completely vulnerable with a man…and it’s a huge disaster? What if I lean in too far? What if I fall in love? What if I wind up disappointed…or worse – heartbroken? What if he sees all of me – really SEES ME – and he decides I’m not good enough? 

Yes, I know it’s all about fear and vulnerability…and whoa, isn’t it some twisted irony that I am afraid of my own dreams?

The What If’s are not my friends. I bet they aren’t your friends, either.

The truth is even if our What If’s are positive thoughts, they still would not be all that helpful, because…

Sometimes the faster we go, the longer it takes to get there. 

It’s like trying to complete a Dot to Dot, but instead of connecting it in the order in which it was intended – 1, 2, 3….the What If’s have us counting by twos…or threes…or tens! We might think we know how things will turn out…but if we project too far ahead, we’ll inevitably end up with the wrong answer…or with a complete mess.

Of course, this is where mindfulness comes in…taking a breath...checking in with reality and an awareness of what is actually happening right now (which may very well be absolutely nothing).

Or maybe we are simply on the first dot...and we must mindfully make our way to the second dot, and then the third….

Listen, the What If’s are shit at Dot to Dots.

Don’t let them take over your picture.

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Day 221/365 My Dear, You Had the Power All Along

One of the qualities I appreciate most about myself is vulnerability. It is also the quality that causes me the most emotional disharmony within myself.

It is both my superpower and my kryptonite.

I would define vulnerability as a willingness to authentically share one’s thoughts and feelings.

When I risk being seen as I really am; when I am honest about how I really feel and what I really want…I feel empowered. When I allow myself to be completely vulnerable to others…sometimes I even feel a high. 

The shadow side of it is…

Sometimes, after that barefoot rush of vulnerability…I feel foolish…or even ashamed. There’s nowhere to hide once I’ve pulled back the curtain.

Did I go too far?

Did I reveal too much?

Am I unlovable?

These dual edges of vulnerability are challenging…and also, fascinating. I aspire to get to a place from which I can be and say whatever I want, and never feel the sting of insecurity.

OZ, perhaps? Shall I ask the wizard for vulnerability without remorse?

{My Dear, you had the power all along…}

Oh, to be able to stand in my vulnerability and to have the strength to not hold my breath in anticipation of the repercussions, reactions, and self-doubt.

To place my offering of truth before you and to know that it is worthy.

Period.

I recognize this is hard work. Perhaps the hardest work. For the actual definition of vulnerability is this….

1 : easily hurt or harmed physically, mentally, or emotionally

2 : open to attack, harm, or damage

Who would choose this as a way to exist in the world?

No wonder I’m exhausted.

Here’s the truth…

The reason it is so hard to be authentically vulnerable is because it is terrifying. There’s no doubt that is why I get a high from it – like cliff jumping or sky diving – it feels dangerous to be honest…to put myself out there and to risk that I will be rejected.

BUT…

The freedom in that sweet spot of truth is powerful, and addicting…despite the risks.

Because…

That is where we truly connect…within our center of vulnerability…within our hearts.

The more we reveal our true selves, the more we understand each other.

It really is that simple.

With special thanks to Monica Rodgers, who always helps me see the light when I feel overwhelmed by the shadows, and for always seeing the best in me, especially when I cannot.