I Am Profoundly…Enough

If we were not so single-minded

About keeping our lives moving,

And for once could do nothing,

Perhaps a huge silence

Might interrupt this sadness

Of never understanding ourselves

And of threatening ourselves with death.

Now I’ll count up to twelve

And you keep quiet and I will go.

“Keeping Quiet” by Pablo Neruda

Stop for a moment, will you? Just wait a moment and listen.  Can’t do it, can you?  Me neither.  It’s akin to ‘mission impossible’.  Unless I’m stricken by an illness, struck by lightening, stuck in traffic or waiting in line at Disneyland for another ride on the Matterhorn, I’m on the move.  In all honesty, I think I’ve become addicted to being busy.  I’ve come down with some viral bug that’s taken over my body and made me chronically OTG (on the go).  I’ve become a speed freak of sorts; main lining speed, productivity and busyness as if my life depended upon it daily and habitually.

In my continual pursuit of authenticity I am going to own up and share with you an insight of sorts that has rocked my world.  One moment, please, as we pause, that’s right, we are doing nothing but waiting for the brass band to trumpet my ‘a ha’ moment…

The busy pursuit of “being” has become my primary vocation, and it sucks.  I quit!

I quit trying to justify my worth to myself and to others.  I am no longer interested in seeking the ‘always on the move,’ ever elusive approval from my mother, my family – be they blood or adopted — my friends, my neighbors and any and all strangers.  I’m officially letting go of the fear that I Am not good enough, nor that I have not accomplished enough so that I could be deemed acceptable.

Here’s the deal.  I accept me for who I Am right now in this moment of time.  I Am all there is, nothing more and nothing less.  I’m smart enough, skinny enough, worthy enough, kind enough, funny enough, happy enough and loving enough.  I Am simply, profoundly enough.  Sufficient, Adequate and Ample.  That’s me.

“Be still,” says the psalmist, “and know that I am God.”

So, take a moment and look for me.  I’m the woman sitting very, very still listening to the voice of my heart, teaching me what is true, what is necessary, what is healing, and what is loving.

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Sticks and Stones…

"Speech is the mirror of the soul; as a man speaks, so he is." Publillus Syrus

The other day I almost drowned in a ravage sea of verbal abuse.  It’s not important to review the specifics of the assault, but believe me, I felt attacked — punched so hard that it literally took my breath away. In those ensuing three minutes of verbal violence, those horribly negative, angry, filth infested words thrown at me had a life of their own.  Honestly, they were like some virulent organism, capable of growing, expanding, transforming, impacting my thoughts and feelings, effecting my entire day.  It felt as if their seething energy crossed the barrier of my skin, gained entry into my cells, and advanced straight towards my ego with rapid precision.  Before I knew it, those loathsome words began to sing harmony with antiquated hurtful rhetoric, carbon dated verbal assaults and innuendoes spoken by elementary school teachers, classmates, my mother, ex lovers, strangers, co-workers, and last but definitely not least, my very own self negating speak.

For several moments I actually took in the vicious words as if they were true and then I had an epiphany of sorts and realized I was no longer that wounded child of long ago who had to listen to negative speak hurled my way believing it was true, taking it in, owning it, and apologizing so that I would be loved once again.  Nope!  In that moment, I remembered that I was an adult woman learning to accept myself just as I Am, without judgment or violence.  At an early age, I experienced the sting of emotional pain, and internalized a lot of that judgment and cruelty in my heart.  But as an adult, I am dedicated to a practice of non-violence to others and myself.  I realize now that I, and most everyone I meet, share a tender need for self-mercy and care.  (And that includes the maniac screaming obscenities at me earlier!)

Every person and every situation that I encounter in my life holds some teaching for me and is always a huge opening to grow and awaken spiritually. Let me be honest here.  It took me several days to shake off this experience.  It took an entire session with my spiritual teacher, hours and hours of Kundalini yoga, much ‘processing’ with my husband and several friends before I understood the ‘illumination’ of that attack, and here it is:

Any and all violence we commit against ourselves simply feeds the violence all around us and perpetuates the very suffering we experienced as children.  When we are hurtful to ourselves or to others, the sticky remains of that violence stays in our bodies and our hearts like some shape-shifting virus, cutting us off from our healing, and separating us from our divinity.

The Sufis say that real truth is always spoken with love, and that every single word we utter must pass through three gates:

At the first gate we ask ourselves, “Are these words TRUE?”  If so, we let them pass on.  At the second gate we ask, “Are they NECESSARY?”   And finally, at the last gate, we ask ourselves, “Are they KIND?”

If they are not, kindly remain silent!

Could it be that the greatest perfection is…imperfection?

Shouldn’t your baby be a Gerber baby?

Since my blog is titled, rantings from a recovering perfectionist, I thought I’d speak about perfectionism.  I’ve spent many a decade perfecting my perfectionism.  I carry the genes of perfectionism, thank you mother, and I grew up in an environment of perfectionism, thank you mother and father.  My perfectionism is a nature, nurture honed diamond – no flaws in that baby.

The “aha” moment of not only becoming keenly aware of my perfectionistic tendencies but staring them straight in the eyes and owning them occurred when I was trying to stop my three month old son, Jacob, from drooling.  His drool leaked onto everything and everyone within a four-mile radius; I’m not kidding.  Exaggerating to make my point, but I am serious.  Finally, I took him to our pediatrician who I trusted with not only my son’s life, but mine as well — for reasons I won’t bore you with.  He explained to me that there was nothing to be done; Jacob was teething which stimulates drooling, which is often worse with some babies than others.  I began to study other babies in my mommy and me group.  Nobody, I mean nobody, was bringing forth copious amounts of that slimy, silvery, non-odorous ticky, tacky drool like my boy.  Here’s when the ‘aha moment’ hit.  I was breast feeding Jacob late one night, and I thought about trading him in for a non-drooler.  Seriously.  At three months I loved him, but there was a lot of things that I hadn’t signed on for.  One, he had a lot of hair on his head and he was long and skinny.  Gerber babies were bald babies who had chubby cheeks, and were pudgy.  Two, he was colicky and the only person who could quiet him seemed to be me.  Gerber babies gurgle and coo and are easily held by anyone with two arms!  Three, he peed and pooped bountiful amounts and the stench, quite frankly, was embarrassing.  Gerber babies pee and poop maybe three, four times a day sans stink.  Last but not least, Gerber babies sleep through the night and take nice long naps in the afternoon.  My baby slept in the early hours of the morning, napped a little, and never, ever slept through the night.  Which means, guess who else didn’t sleep through the night!

I shared the swapping-my-baby-for-another-non drooler-baby with my perfectionistic parents.  I was sure they’d understand, especially my mother.  She used to iron my twin brothers diapers and tiny t shirts.  They thought I was crazy.  My mother yelled at me and my father quietly slipped me the name of a psychiatrist he had taken my mother to see many years ago.  That night, as Jacob breast fed, his tiny, perfect fingers curled around my perfectly manicured pointer finger, I realized I had a serious problem.  I was considering a baby exchange program for this sweet, wonderful son whom I fought very long and hard to birth.  (I have an incompetent cervix but that’s another story.)

The next day, after another sleepless night in Sherman Oaks, I looked for the perfect Perfectionist Anonymous chapter.  Not only does the perfect Perfectionist Anon. chapter not exist, no chapter for perfectionists exists.  I was shocked.  Personally, I would have absolutely no problem standing up in front of a rather large group of people saying, “Hi, my name is Brauna and I’m a recovering perfectionist.”  Of course, I’d be wearing the perfect outfit, something casual but elegant, matching shoes, not sensible, but not come-f-me either, and for sure I’d have my hair done at my favorite salon.  Instead, I went to a therapist and started a recovery program for perfectionism.

Twenty odd years later, I think I understand perfectionism.  I can actually embrace it, be with it, but not let it take control of me.

Let me begin by defining ‘perfectionism’ in my language.

Perfectionism is a limiting belief that perfection is not only possible but achievable.  Anything less than perfect is, well, unacceptable.  And who deems what is perfect?  The hard-core judge (her name is Judy, and to be honest, she’s perfectly intelligent, perfectly righteous, and never, ever a hair out of place) and her hand picked jury (like an exquisite strand of pearls, are they) that lurks within the shadows of my soul.

After many, many years of therapy, spiritual workshops, churches, temples, yoga, near death experiences, healing and healers of all shapes and sizes, fasts, cleanses, colonics, bad hair days, I have had an awakening…

Let me digress a quick moment here.   In my world, an awakening is an, oh so very good thing, because it’s that moment when the demon EGO which works diligently to control and manipulate you, is quiet and the hushed wisdom of your soul, that divine spark inside us all, speaks.  (You can find it when you breathe; in between the inhale and the exhale, but that’s another blog, for another time.)

Back to the awakening…drum roll, if you please:

The fundamental reason I strive for perfection is because I have had a tremendous need to feel in control of everything at all times so that I could protect myself and feel safe.  (That overwhelming feeling of not being safe carbon dates back to my childhood, but that’s a whole different blog).  In the past, feeling vulnerable was unacceptable.  Now I know, that if I’m not feeling vulnerable, I’m not living.  I may be existing, but I Am definitely not living life.  There’s only one thing for certain in this life, and it’s not death and taxes.  Life is about change.  And change is transformational.  Norman Mailer once said, “Every moment of one’s existence one is growing into more or retreating into less.  One is always living a little more or dying a little bit.”

It’s taken me over five decades, and not one but two near death experiences to let go of my need to control life, to simply accept each and every moment that comes to me without judgment, and live this beautiful gift called life, a little more…

Now that’s perfection!  (I said I was a “recovering” perfectionist,  right?)