Unique and wonderful you

Bodhi checking out 2 of my favorite Christmas decorations (characters from The Land of Misfit Toys).

Bodhi checking out 2 of my favorite Christmas decorations (characters from The Land of Misfit Toys).

Jack and I were watching a documentary last week called, Advanced Style; a wonderful film that showcases women over 60 who love fashion and seem to embrace not only far-out and fabulous clothing, but life as well. I feel like it would inspire anyone to get outside of their comfort zone as far as fashion goes, and it did this for me, but it also made me feel braver and more open.

I cannot even count the times when I’ve been shopping and an unusual piece of clothing would catch my eye, I’d try it on, love the colors, textures, and feel, only to return it to the rack because it seemed too “out there”. I know that the source of my apprehension was fear of rejection…fear that someone would look at me with raised eyebrows, a scowl, a frown, or god-forbid a sneer. The words, “Tone it down, Mary” still echo from somewhere in my past.

I wish that I could eradicate my fears by understanding where they came from, and I spent years trying to do that. Was it my parents, teachers, friends, an unfriendly priest or nun, who first implanted the idea in my subconscious that I was somehow too much and at the same time not good enough? Probably all of these people did some of that and the big question is not, “Why?” but, “So what?” Mine is not a unique story. I’d even venture to say that everyone I’ve ever talked to, no matter how successful, seemingly together, serene, or happy, could say that at some point in their lives they have felt unacceptable, not OK, not loveable, capable, or full of joy at being themselves. And I think if we were being honest with ourselves, most of us would have to admit that we still have moments, or hours, when we feel like this. I know that I do.

We cannot think our way out of our irrational fears, we must walk through them. I’m not taking about ignoring guidance that says things like, “Don’t walk down that dark street” or “This person is not right for you” (no matter how much you want them to be). I’m talking about the feelings that say, “I’d LOVE to do this, but I’m afraid I’ll be rejected, criticized, or ridiculed” so I’ll just stay small, shut my mouth, watch from the sidelines, put the silk multi-colored shawl with the beaded fringe down and buy the brown scarf instead because I’m not really a “shawl person”. What does that even mean?

Who am I really?

I don’t think that is a question that can be answered. I heard a lecture by Alan Watts where he was taking about Bodhidharma who was asked that question and he replied, “I don’t know who I am. Planting flowers for the butterflies”, which seemed to say, “Do what brings you unspeakable joy. Don’t try to figure out the unhappy past. Do what you love now, and life will make sense.”

 

“If you use your mind to study reality, you won’t understand either your mind or reality. If you study reality without using your mind, you’ll understand both.” Bodhidharma

 

26 thoughts on “Unique and wonderful you

  1. Wonderful post Mary…one day it dawned on me coming from a violent alcoholic home I always tried to be invisible … still doing it still at 62… once and awhile I dare to don red and twirl with abandon….

  2. So uplifting, Mary ~ thank you for sharing this powerful message. You always seem to speak directly to me!
    Love and hugs to you! ❤️ Marian

  3. What wonderful quote, Mary…one I will keep. I’ve just posted to a quilt forum I belong to about my feelings around Christmas and because of two deaths in my life, both within three months of each other in the early ’70s, my husband and my father, late in that same year, was a game-changer for me and for my life. I couldn’t face Christmas that year, my mother and I were both widows. My son, aged six, got out all the Christmas decorations and decorated the tree and our home all by himself and Christmas to him still is important all these years later. For me, Christmas was tied into my church in the city and that church in my heart has not been replaced by a building but by the spiritual aspect of faith. As to Christmas, it was never the same for me, both deaths impacted on me in such a way that they are what the are, losses in my life which I accept is part of me. We move on with our lives but some things just are a part of what was and what is. Those two people I carry still in my heart.
    Sandy P in Canada

    • Dear Sandy, I hope this doesn’t sound trite to say, as losing a loved one is just the saddest of life events, but it may help to think of those losses as occurances that could have never happened had you not first “Gained” the years of love, sharing, living. We cannot lose what we did not first have, and in our lives, as we still live and breathe, we carry those spirits precious and yes, truly living still, in our hearts. They continue to nourish and nurture us but in a different way and realm of being. Thank you (and everyone) for being so vulnerable in sharing with us your expeirences and life wisdom. Love you you, Sandy!

      • Susan, thank you for your comments…and yes, you are right, although any death of someone you love is life-changing, the years of love that I grew up in, I am forever grateful. You see, I am an adopted child, from birth, the circumstances around how I was placed in my family allow me to believe in a higher power for I could have ended up anywhere and yet, I did land into a family with four uncles who ribbed me unmercifully, parents who loved and supported me…and yes, you’re right, the years of loving that were passed on to me, have nourished me throughout my life and I think, in stabilizing my family’s life. Another perspective…everything is really about how we see things, isn’t it. It’s good of you to point that out, Susan.
        Sandy P

  4. Dear Mary, thank you for this beautiful reminder today. That critical voice is, at times, my constant companion and struggle as I might to make sense of it, make friends with it, shoo it away, analyze it, reject it, think it to death……it really is all about letting it go and returning to love. And that’s not always easy! But in the end, the love, whether it be for myself or my situation or someone else, seems to melt away the other stuff and then life and my inner heart settles down and makes sense again. Perhaps life is all about this journey of returning to love, forgetting to do that and wondering off into critical-land, then returning to love again and again. Your post this morning helped me to once again return to love. Bless you and thank you!

    • Wow…Debra…one of my favorite quotes (not sure where I saw it) is “Life takes us to unexpected places. Love brings us Home.” I think you just so eloquently expanded upon that! Thanks!

    • and bless you, dearest Debra. For some reason, I’ve been waking up in the night with thoughts of conflict and have begun to say, “I love all of my thoughts”. It has been surprising to me how quickly this seems to bring feelings of inner peace and calm.

  5. This really spoke to me! A lifetime of searching and finding My way? It is a constant work in support of my self and those around me. Your messages are so enlightening, I can not thank you enough!

    • Thank you so much for this wonderful comment, Mia. It feels to me like the group gathered here at White Feather Farm have one thing in common; we are searchers, and I love this.

  6. Mary
    How did you get this film? When I followed links, it says they are not available in US and it looks like they have a lot of really great films.
    Thanks and the best of holidays to you and yours

  7. Oh Mary, after 55 we are all pretty much invisible, wear what you like. People might raise an eyebrow but likely they won’t even notice! I did not see the film but the book is available through the library and it was just delightful. Enjoy,

    • what I was really trying to say wasn’t so much about clothing but about the inner self and being authentic…the idea of being apprehensive about what I wore seemed to be more indicative of a feeling (at times) of not being OK with what and who I am/we are. But in the film, these women do get noticed and it is so much fun to watch.

  8. yes, “somehow too much and at the same time not good enough;” I have to agree here. I also love this, Mary, “don’t try to figure out the unhappy past, do what brings you unspeakable joy!”

    It’s a foggy-rather drippy day here in western Oregon; so calming and I love your snowflakes. thanks for the post and for putting out here the Self that you are. You are so loved by so many.

    • It never occured to me that I was “putting myself out here/there” on the blog….maybe somewhat in the way that the women in Advanced Style put themselves out there in their clothing choices. You’ve given me something very powerful to think about today, Virginia. Thank you. Love, Mary

  9. Yes Mary, yours is certainly not a unique story! I don’t have to think very hard or go back very far to recall my fear of rejection. And I still feel it once in a while…but…just yesterday, I pushed that fear aside and made a phonecall that I’ve wanted to make for a while…and even when the person didn’t answer, I left a message…for former work colleagues and friends (a husband and wife) whom we haven’t seen in 25 years. I’ve been feeling drawn to contact them…and thinking and hoping that perhaps we could see them when we were ‘back home’ for the few days around Christmas. But my mind/ego told me all the reasons why they would be unable to meet…after all we were only going to be visiting for two full days and one of them was Christmas! And short notice at that. But then I rationalized that if they didn’t WANT to meet for any reason, there would be a safe and legitimate reason for them to decline and one that wouldn’t make me feel as ‘rejected’. And we could all say ‘next time’. These are the conversations I had with myself! But I took a deep breath, dialed, left the message, blessed them, forgot about it and went to bed, feeling great and at peace about making the call, regardless of what happened. This morning the phone rang! I can not describe to you the incredible joy I felt when I heard his voice on the other end of the line. Yes! They would do whatever it takes to carve out time to meet, he said. There was just as much joy in his voice as I felt in my heart. So, we will meet them for brunch (and plan to eat and talk for as long as we want) on Christmas Eve day. Carving out a special time for old friends between visits with family and last minute holiday details! We can’t wait! When we said our goodbyes, till Wednesday, he ended with “Love ya, kid”…something he always used to end our conversations with long ago. I said “I love you too, Frank”. And just like that, the years melted away. What a Christmas gift! Lesson learned. As Abraham also suggests, ‘do whatever it takes to feel good NOW’. I’m so glad I made that call. And then to read your post this morning… I just smiled! Life does make sense…

  10. Loved reading all the wonderful comments…and wondering whether l should share the thoughts that came to my mind after reading Mary’s words. When we moved to Canada from Europe I was a self-assured 21 year old student who hadn’t paid attention to clothes or other societal norms (much to my mother’s horror who lives for what the neighbours say….notice the present tense!). Then l was confronted with a strange cultural ritual – women shaving! We didn’t even have a razor in the house, my husband cuts his beard with a pair of scissors, so this realisation that hair on a woman’s skin is not acceptable (yet the ads also said that you should have as much (long) hair on your head as possible!) became part of my culture shock experience. My husband asked me whether l didn’t like touching his hairy legs – no such thought had ever occurred to me, so he said well, he likes my skin exactly the way it was/is; that was the end of the story for him. For me, it ended in 4 years of only wearing long pants! But I have just lost the struggle against the shaving industry when l entered perimenopause and started growing facial hair. I can’t stand having these things sprout away on my chin, l feel everybody is looking at them, so a few months ago l bought my first razor – have already managed to cut myself a few times, and will be looking into these hair removal creams next…so l am wondering what that says about the almost 56 year old who is now becoming self-conscious again??? I still wear what l feel like and the more colours the better, but only after l’ve shaved my chin…sigh…

  11. Hi Marysolomon, they truly are, but l’m told that in southern Italy mature women display them with pride! Go figure…hmmm, always wanted to visit Sicily…

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