My 2014 Word of the Year ~ LOVE

Photo on 2013-12-28 at 22.27 #5

It’s almost time to say goodbye to January. Not that I’m hangin’ on to it, by any means.  It’s been a month of wind, snow and frigid cold here in northern Minnesota.  We’ve had so many late starts and snow days that it’s beginning to feel like one long extension of our holiday break.  The upside is that a forcing to retreat indoors means time to reflect, read, be still, and to get it all on the page.  Yeah, yeah, I could take down the Christmas tree, clean the college kids’ bedrooms (ugh) or start taxes, but to me, this is FREE TIME!  The house is quiet and not a soul is here, so I will do whatever my heart desires.

I’ve chosen my 2014 Word of the Year, after much contemplation during the month of December.  My 2012 word of CREATIVE and 2013 word of COURAGE are pretty tough to beat.  Living with intent through the lens of those two words, I accomplished goals that I would have never been able to do otherwise.  The words still resonate with me and are etched into my being ~ well, they were before, I just had to reactivate them.  I will carry them forth with me to 2014.

But, I’m living out 2014 with a new word.  It’s a biggie.  MASSIVE.  I know. . . you’re feeling the suspense.

My word is LOVE.

Yes, LOVE.

“Oh.  That’s it?” is what you are thinking.

But really, I know that LOVE seems like such a cliched word.  We throw it around loosely, so it’s a word one would not think of choosing to toss into the universe because, from an outsiders perspective, we are “love-ing” all the time.  “I love chocolate. I love my family.  I love Christmas.  I love puppies.”  LOVE encompasses so much.  There are no boundaries.

My main focus with my word is SELF-LOVE.  Yes, I said it, SELF-LOVE.

Ugh.  It’s even hard for me to write that.

This is how I know I need it.  Here is my issue with it:

SELF-LOVE and SELFISH-LOVE are two terms that dance around each other.  Yet, they are each very different terms.  I’ve treated them both the same for most of my life, thinking that SELF-LOVE might be a form of egoism, narcissism, arrogance or self-promotion.  Really though, that is SELFISH-LOVE.

BUT, LOVING MYSELF?  SERIOUSLY?  WHO DOES THAT?????

I believed that others needs should always be  before my own.  (That’s what good wives, mothers and teachers do.) I believed that true humility meant to be modest and to talk down of yourself. (We learn this from everyone around us and a girl has to fit in!)  My truth was that I should never feel content with who or what I was because then, what would I work towards? (You gotta have goals and they should be based on what I need to be better at, right?) But even worse than that, I believed in my heart, that I truly was never good enough. . .in almost every area of my life.

SOMETHING always felt missing.

So, I tried to find it.  In so many ways.

Even when I knew others loved me, I still tried to fill a void in my heart.  I thought that if I could only be more perfect or find what I was missing, that void would be filled.  My 30 some years of trying to be perfect and seeking for more are over.  I’m learning to love myself just as I am.

And this is not going to be an easy road.

I’m hardwired with repeated “self-talk” that tells me I should BE better.  DO better.  LOOK better.

HERE’S THE NITTY GRITTY ~ THE SHIFT OF WHAT IT MEANS TO LOVE YOURSELF ~

Loving yourself means to open your heart to your own self, to accept yourself unconditionally for who you are, for what you look like, feel like, and think like with all of your differences, flaws (it’s only a flaw if your mind tells you it is), and unique characteristics of who you are.  Loving yourself means to treat yourself as you would a helpless infant.  It means to be a tender loving mother to yourself.  It means to use loving words when talking to yourself or about yourself.  If your mind tells you you are not good enough, then you are not loving yourself.  Loving yourself also means setting boundaries for yourself and being assertive enough to speak your truth.

I’m starting small.  And, I’m beginning with wiping out negative self talk.  Just being aware that my mind is telling me these lies is a start.  I would not say these negative words to another human being, why do I continue repeating them to myself?

For heaven’s sake.

Now. . . going to pour my glorious self a cup of tea.  Well, lookie here – my Yogi tea message. . .

“Appreciate yourself and honor your soul.”

I’ve put LOVE out there and it’s already coming back at me.

I’m loving this word already.

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She Loves to Run. . . That Sandy

A weird thing happened today.  After reading Jeff Goins post on writing about topics that we fear to deeply touch readers enough to shatter their frozen seas, I spent most of my morning looking for the perfect frozen sea breaking topic.  I’ve got gazillions of topics of what I’d like to write about, but I’m bent on finding this perfect one.

I decided to take a  break and go throw some balls for Sandy to fetch.

Our lab, Sandy, is insanely  fast.  I’m not bragging either.  Seriously, why would I brag about something like this?  When you throw her a stick, or a ball or a frisbee, she actually leaves “dog divots”  when she takes off to fetch it.  Yup, divots of grass and dirt right up into your lap.

When Sandy treks over to the neighbors (when we aren’t around and she hears voices over there because she’s such a people dog), our neighbor, Linda, likes to throw things for her and their two labs to race to.  Linda confesses that she often has to fake Sandy out first and give the other dogs a head start to give them a chance.

Sandy still wins.

She is unbeatable in dog running.

“We should enter her in races!” my kids say.

She has this gift, this uncanny freakish speed talent. . . and nothing to do with it but chase balls and hunt in the fall.

Here’s the crazy thing.  I really don’t think she gives a rip if she’s fast or not.  She just loves to run.  She doesn’t care if she’s winning contests or competing with any other dog.  She is just so dang happy to be running.

And then. . . my message sang to me.

Like writing should be, Shari.

I was the frozen sea today.  Stuck in finding perfect writing instead of just writing.

Julia Cameron writes,

“I love when good writing comes out – but mostly, I just love writing.”

And we shouldn’t do it for fame or be “be published” or to get lots of followers or likes. We should do it because it’s like breathing.  It’s being true to our essence and it’s who we are.

Like Sandy has to run.

Shari 🙂

Remembering My Childhood

I’ve been working on some art for Mindy Lacefield’s Neat Stuff E-Workshop and having sooooooooo much fun exploring my creative experiences from my childhood.  Neat Stuff is an art journaling class in which Mindy is taking us on  nostalgic adventures into our past.  We are exploring those creative nuggets that have maybe been laying dormant for awhile and then bring that into our art.

I used to love to draw as a child.  I spent hours replicating other drawings, especially the Peanuts gang.  I had forgotten about this and have not drawn Snoopy for probably 30 years.  I got out my journal and pens and whipped the above Peanuts characters out in about 15 minutes.  It was still there.  How cool is that?  (I think I always loved drawing Pig Pen the most because there was so much room for error.)

Another drawing that made it’s way into my memory was Winky.

I remember painstakingly drawing these little creatures from advertisements.  First, I’d trace, then I’d do my own, over and over again.  It had to be perfect as the ad said that winners would get scholarships to art school.  Well, I never made it in.  But, at least I could draw Winky.

I don’t think I drew much creatively of my own.  The images always came from elsewhere, cartoons, photos and other’s work. This made me think about my need for perfectionism and fear.

One of our writing journal prompts for Neat Stuff was “When I was little, I was never afraid to. . . ”  I had trouble with this prompt.  Not because I couldn’t not think of anything to write, but because I think I was afraid of everything! (maybe not afraid of climbing trees – I could use that.)

I will keep digging into “fear” later on, but my hope through some of the online art courses I’m taking, is to develop my own creative style.  I don’t think I’ve discovered this yet.  I know every artist takes a bit from here and a bit from here and makes it their own.  No one wants to be a “copy” of another artist.  I know I don’t.

We’ll see what evolves.

At least I’m in bliss when I’m trying to get there. 🙂

Shari