Know Thyself, Live With Your Rhythm

know thyselfKnow Thyself.

Be Authentically You.

We strive to know ourselves, right?  To be authentic.  I strive for that.  In the Scorpion and Frog fable I wrote about once upon a time, the scorpion ended up stinging the frog, despite his promises not to.  He was being his authentic self.  When the frog asked the scorpion why he did it, he simply responded, “I’m a scorpion;  it’s in my nature.”

Hmm…maybe for a scorpion, yes, but for humans?  Surely not.  That would mean whatever I say is my “nature,” I am pre-programmed to repeat, no matter how ardently I try to change.  If that were true, why bother?  I mean really, what a great excuse for never changing, for giving up, for not being accountable for anything.  And what a sham!  (Not to mention depressing.)

Let’s briefly look at the human brain, basic anatomy and physiology stuff:  neurons that fire together, wire together.  For those who are rusty on their A&P, what that means is the more we train our brains to learn a specific task (think: ride a bike, learn a new language, etc.), the more those neurons will fire.  And the more they fire, the more they wire together, hence, a task becomes easier the more we do it.  (Donna, are you horrified by my explanation?  Yours was MUCH better and more thorough in class!)

Luckily, You Are More Than Your Brain

Human brain aside, now enter Spirit.  Enter will.  Enter pride.  Enter determination — perhaps the determination to NOT be just like your dad, or to BE just like your older brother, or the class clown, or fill in the blank.  Enter one of thousands of factors.  After considering the infinite possibilities of why we are the way we are, ‘Know thyself’ sounds both complex and nebulous, all at the same time.  When I think about it like that, I get lost.

But I don’t like being lost.  What I like are words.  And I like listening to others’ words, especially when they come bearing beautiful phrases, like my friend Bay often does.  So when she said to me, “Leslie, live with your rhythm,” my heart immediately smiled.  And in the inner warmth I felt, I knew that a meaningful exchange had just taken place;  I had just received a gift.

After my friend and I hung up the phone, I allowed her words to roll around in my head for a few minutes while they made their way to my heart.  Live with my rhythm.  Live with my rhythm.  It felt similar to a heartbeat.  Or an inhale, exhale.  Strong, steady, and effortless.  Like a life force.

Living With My Rhythm has become a personal mantra.  It is synonymous with being my authentic self, with knowing myself, and ultimately, loving myself.  If my rhythm is sad, so it is.  If my rhythm is excited, so it is.  If my rhythm is tired, contemplative, hyper, so it is.  By living with my rhythm, I take my brain (left brain at least), out of the equation and allow myself to Be.  And in being, I feel an intimate connection with self.  I feel Trust on a God level that feels like pure love.

What is your rhythm?  Close your eyes, breathe in deeply.  Inhale.  Exhale.  Again.  Now, slowly, what do you feel?  Honor your feelings and breathe through each one as you live your rhythm.

know thyself

“Intimacy is being seen and known as the person you truly are.” ~ Amy Bloom

(especially, when being seen by yourself)

Love, Leslie

When Life Appears Tasteless

Tasteless food

Have you ever had a really bad cold?  The kind that leaves all food utterly bland, and in fact, tasteless?  It’s only after blowing your nose, that you’re able to glimpse a hint of pepper maybe, or the remnants of salt or a bit of lemon.

With a cold that bad, like the one I have now, you can’t hope for much more than that, can you?

Although I do.  And I did this morning.

My husband cooked sausage and biscuits today, welcoming us home after being out of town for several days.  I could barely smell the freshly baked bread as it came out of the oven.  But the fact is, I could smell it… just a little.  So maybe, just maybe I could taste the sausage.

With mouth salivating (because, really, who doesn’t like warm biscuits and sausage?), I bit into the sausage.

Nothing.

Absolutely nothing.

From a taste perspective, there was no reason to continue.

Yet I did.  Again… maybe, just maybe the second bite would be different.  Maybe my head had cleared up in the past six seconds and I could now taste.

Again nothing.

But with each bite, I was hopeful.  Not because I really, really love the taste of sausage.  Yeah, it’s okay, and definitely a treat — not something I eat every morning — but it wasn’t so much about the sausage as it was about being hopeful.  Maybe this next bite….

So What Is Hope?

I believe hope is how our Spirit reaches for what it seeks.

Let’s magnify the situation, blow it up much bigger.  How does experiencing tasteless food relate to living a tasteless life?

We can all imagine what a tasteless life looks like.  Same ol’ same, day in and day out.  No new excitement or experiences.  For some, this is what they prefer.  However, for most of us, once we become aware of this daily monotony, we strive to shake it up.

Shaking it up doesn’t have to look like a mid-life crisis, complete with a fast, hot car.  Pick up a new hobby, eat at different restaurants, go dancing when you never go dancing (and especially if you don’t like dancing — go anyway!).  These things, and many others, will add flavor to your life.

There’s no excuse for a tasteless life, unless you choose one.  Left to my own devices, I’d stay in my house all the time, only leaving to walk the dog.  I would tell myself that I prefer my little cocoon, all by myself.  I’d relish the alone time and sit with my cuppa, enjoying every sip, as I smugly think of how lovely and quiet my life is.

Tasteless food, cup of tea

Until it’s not.  Because I’d miss the flavor other people bring, even if the flavor happens to be drama.  And I’d miss the flavor new experiences bring, even when they’re here to teach me something difficult.

So for this week, I’ll sit with my cold, knowing it will soon go away.  And with its disappearance, will reemerge the tastes that typically delight me.

Life is full of flavor.

Seek the flavor Life has to offer.  And drink it in, as you feel the hope of your Spirit begin to rise.

The book hope for the flowers, by Trina Paulus is a wonderful story for all ages on the beauty of hope.  I highly recommend it!

If you enjoyed this post, please tweet or share it on Facebook.  You never know — it may end up being read by precisely the person who is seeking it….

Love, Leslie

The Joy of a Bra! Frivolity or Spirit?

Very seldom do I come up with a subject to write about, choose a title, have a pretty good idea of how the content will be presented, then end up writing a completely different piece.

Welcome to today’s post.

Based on Monday’s article, “Botox! Vanity or Spirit?”, I thought I’d continue on that path, but this time with a cheeky article on Bras — Frivolity or Spirit….

See, for most women I know they don’t actually like wearing a bra.  I’ve heard numerous reports from friends who come home after a long day, kicking off shoes, and ditching the bra almost as fast.

Not me.  When my plastic surgeon told me last week that I could finally wear a bra, a real bra, I leapt for joy.

Yes, J-O-Y.

For TWO HUNDRED AND TWENTY-ONE DAYS STRAIGHT I’ve worn either a lovely hospital-issue bra or a sports bra.  And during that time period, it’s been on all 24 hours, day and night (minus showers).

After that time frame, you might think I’d be ready to ditch the whole idea of wearing a bra.  No, my sports bras have become like a security blanket of sorts.  However, it was time to pretty them up a bit.

So, as soon as the doctor gave me the go-ahead, I knew I’d want to share the good news with you.

I imagined myself going to Nordstrom, Victoria’s Secret, and Soma, getting fitted for these beautiful, sexy bras that would support and envelop my new girls.  These bras would be such prizes that I’d tell you how I *double-forgot* about the scars that lie hidden underneath.  I’d share how although I recently wrote about not liking a lot of fuss, keeping things simple, this frivolity of buying such sexy little numbers was all worth it.  Frivolity AND Spirit — the irony of those working together.

As I drove home from my doctor’s appointment, I just knew how this whole thing was going to play out, and I thought: Yes, this is a natural next article to follow the Botox one.

The problem with writing something in my head before I experience it is this:  it didn’t go down like that.  At all.

I got to the mall, excited, thinking, Let the Games Begin — my first real bra in eons.  Stopped off at Soma first.  Got fitted.  Had several styles brought to me.  Tried them all on.  Hmm… not impressed.  Next stop, Nordstrom.  Before even getting fitted, I found myself becoming overwhelmed with the ‘process’ as it was being described to me.  Victoria’s Secret?  Nope, skipped it.  I made a beeline to GAP Body (which wasn’t even on my mental list), where I purchased several of the exact same bra I wore pre-mastectomy… just in a different size.  ;-)

Ha!  Here’s what I learned:  No frivolity here.  No big Spirit Ah-ha either.  Just a reinforcement that yes, I do indeed know what works for me (even if I had thoughts of bra-grandiose that fell short).

After the Botox decision, after the bra shopping, I remain me.  The me who Trusts herself to make choices based on what feels right.  Heart choices, not head choices.  (Regardless if I’ve already written a post in my head that’s a total flop.)

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Botox! Vanity or Spirit?

When I was a teenager, my mom took me to the Clinique counter at Dillard’s and asked the salesclerk to teach me how to put on make-up.  Actually, I think Mom had set up the appointment in advance — Mari does not play around when it comes to make-up application.  No, this is serious business.

Except, I didn’t think it was serious.  I didn’t even think it was necessary.  I remember nodding my head a lot and saying, “Yes, ma’am.”  Wondering the whole time:  When is she going to be done? — this seems like an awful lot of steps.  Followed by, When can I go home and wash my face?

Over the years I’ve observed that it’s not that I don’t like make-up, it’s that I prefer simple.  I don’t like a lot of fuss.

I admire people who creatively apply their make-up, who are able to fix their hair in numerous styles, who can combine clothes in such a way I would never dream of.  I very much enjoy gazing at the finished product.

I used to wonder if I was too much of a tomboy to care about such things for myself.  Or, if somehow, I was above it, like a had some chip on my shoulder or something.

Later, as I got older, I decided frankly, there wasn’t much to think about on this subject.  It’s just not me.  It’s not what I prefer.  Period.

  • When it comes to make-up, I prefer a tinted moisturizer, not foundation.  With an SPF included.  (One stop shop.)
  • Eyeliner?  No, thank you.  Too much effort.  So I had my upper eyeliner tattooed on exactly 10 years ago.
  • Eye shadow?  Swipe some blush over my eyelids after I finish my cheeks and call it a day.
  • My hair?  Air dry (unless I’m at the salon).  Otherwise, my arms will FALL OFF.
  • Shave my legs?  Well, whenever I happen to notice AND have the shower time…. (TMI here??)
  • Lipstick or Burt’s Bee’s tinted lip color?  Always.

In each of these examples, and probably plenty more, my choices are based on what feels right.  And what feels right, to me, is a Spirit thing.

Here’s what I mean.  Wearing lipstick feels right all over — up, down, and side to side.  In other words, I do it for me.  Because I feel like more of Me when I have it on.

I have firm beliefs on what works for me.  And what doesn’t.

A few years ago, I take that back, many years ago (2004 I’m pretty sure), I was in to see the physician’s assistant at my dermatologist’s office.  She was treating me for Rosacea at the time.  Stacy was her name.  Stacy asked me if I’d like to see the actual doctor.  She said that I’d been coming there for years, and never seen the doctor.  “Wouldn’t you like to see her, just to see what she has to say?”

“Sure, why not?”

The doctor comes in, doesn’t look at my chart, so has no idea what I’m being treated for.  She’s a real close talker, like most dermatologists I know, examining every inch of my face up close.  After about 10 seconds, she announces, “Yes, I think Botox is an excellent option for you.”

“What?  Botox?  Option for what?  I come here for Rosacea.”

“Well, Honey.  These crow’s feet aren’t going to get any better.  Think about it.”

Exit Doctor so-and-so with her lovely bedside manner.

So, what did I do?  I thought about it.  FOR EIGHT YEARS I’VE THOUGHT ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT TO GET BOTOX.

Not that I hadn’t thought about my crow’s feet before.  They’ve been around ever since high school.  And as Rodney, with a last name I can’t recall, pointed out on our first, and last, date in college, “Damn, those are some serious wrinkles around your eyes!”  While attempting to back-pedal, he threw in, “Oh, but only when you laugh.”

“Thanks, Shithead.  I’ll make sure NOT to laugh at any more of your stupid jokes for the rest of the evening.  Check please.”

Now remember, I know what works for me and what doesn’t.  And Botox doesn’t work for me.  All natural, half-granola girl that I am.  Nope.  Not here.

Until it did.  Work for me, that is.  Botox and everything it represents didn’t mesh with who I saw myself to be.  At one time.  But as I’ve grown, I’ve changed in many ways.  I’ve evolved.  When it came to contemplating Botox over the recent years, I realized I was giving too much power to an image of this ‘natural girl’.  To the girl who refused her pain meds after some major surgeries, because of this whole natural thing I got goin’.

Then I connected to Spirit.  For me, I wasn’t resisting the pain meds.  They truly didn’t feel right to me.  And at one point, not choosing Botox felt right.  But now it feels like I’m working against Spirit.  Working against something that is FOR ME and no one else.

It took writing this text in the parking lot of my plastic surgeon’s office before I realized how Spirit was at the core of my decision:

Me:  Now that I’ve made the decision, I’m very excited.  And it feels like the right decision, whereas before it felt like lots of other things: vanity, waste of $, etc. NOW I feel that it’s not only necessary on the outside, but also on the inside (Spirit).

In response, Jessica texted me Five Red Hearts.

And with that, I walked in to my 1:00 appointment.  Feeling content, solid, head held high.  Ready.

Listening to Spirit is what made the decision feel right.  It was a feeling thing, not a thinking thing.  Listening to Spirit, Feeling what’s right for me, those things all reside in the neighborhood of Trust.

What beliefs do not sit well with the new, evolved, self that you are today?  When you sit quietly and connect with Spirit, what things do you Trust?  Do you know are True?

Go there….

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Click below to Share this example of discovering Spirit in an unlikely place.  May it spark an inner Truth inside all who read it.  Love, Leslie