Monday, February 09, 2009
Many years ago when I was traveling in Turkey, I encountered a good luck charm I had never seen before: It was a blue and white sphere shaped to look like an eyeball, and everybody had one. A Turkish friend told me that it was the "evil eye." I came to understand that it was not actually the evil eye, but rather a form of protection from the Evil Eye. The Evil Eye is a bad intent that can do you harm, especially if someone sees your goodness or your good fortune and, out of envy, wishes you harm. When my son was born, several Turkish friends sent me evil eye charms attached to fancy gold pieces to pin to my new baby's clothes to protect him from the Evil Eye.
I can't say that that little charm actually offers real protection, for my son has grown up with his own share of the the world's troubles. What I do know for sure is that it is a universal fear that something bad will happen if we relish in our own good fortune or achievements.
One irritating quality of my otherwise perfect best friend is that she always downplays anything good that she does or any good luck that comes to her. It is definitely an example of not owning her goodness out of fear that others will seek to destroy what they see. How often do we sabotage our own success and fail to celebrate our own strengths because we are afraid of attracting the attention of the Evil Eye?
Have you ever made a good grade on a test and hidden that A from your friends who didn't do as well? Have you ever had a tremendously successful week losing weight but kept mum because your spark buddy struggled and didn't lose an ounce? This quality of hiding one's light to protect the feelings of others has an admirable intent, but maybe it diminishes all of us by making our goals look unachievable and rewarding misery or failure. We tend to believe it's an effective way to keep the Evil Eye at bay.
Marianne Williamson has a very valid point about the value of owning our good: "As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
This philosophy also implies the responsibility of allowing ourselves to be liberated by others' success, rather than resenting their achievement or using their success to reinforce our fears about ourselves. Just as my success can help another person see that they are capable of the same, another's good fortune or achievement can pave the way for me.
Wouldn't it be something if all our little sparks could join together and shine so bright that no evil eye would ever have a chance?
Monday, February 02, 2009
"Joy is the best make-up."
When I was younger, I rarely wore makeup. It wasn't because I didn't need it; it was because I thought, "What's the use?" I was so overweight that it seemed to me like an exercise in futility to try to look better by drawing, sprinking, spreading, patting all kinds of lotions, potions, creams, and chemicals on my face.
When I lost a bunch of weight, I realized with delight that a tad of color here or a swipe of concealer there could make a huge difference in how I perceived myself in the world. It's great that women, in particular, have the option of putting on their best face to "greet their public."
But it's burdensome too. Some days I'm so pressed for time, I think to myself, "Today I'm definitely going without makeup; I did it for years, and I can do it now!" Then as I'm walking out the door, I notice in the mirror my cheeks look a little pale, and I dab on some blush. Then I think my eyes need a little mascara to balance the cheeks. Then maybe I should cover up my red nose a little so I won't look like Rudolf. The next thing I know, I've done it again...
Now don't get the wrong impression--I don't wear a lot of makeup or even take a lot of time compared to many people. But I have somehow developed the burden of thinking I need to wear some, or I don't feel presentable. My friends from high school and my mother, were she alive, would all be surprised at this evolution.
Yet I do agree with Anne Lamott that "Joy is the best makeup." The truth is, it's hard to maintain the kind of joy that puts color in your cheeks and a sparkle in your eyes, imparting the glow of self confidence we all yearn for and the world expects.
If I could find a way to capture joy, it would save me a lot of time in my morning routine!
Thursday, January 22, 2009
If my mind were as creative with problem solving as it is with coming up with excuses, I'd be set.
I remember some of the excuses I used to use for not exercising: people would make fun of how I looked, my feet hurt, it's too hot/too cold, I don't have anyone to work out with, etc., etc., etc.
I'm pretty good now about exercise, and I can recognize when I'm just making an excuse, rather than making a valid point.
But lately I realize I still have some remnants of my old, excuse-driven self that affect my daily life. My biggest excuses these days are that I'm afraid I might look stupid, I'm too old, I don't know enough, I might fail...
These sound familiar even though I am applying them to school (particularly to the clinical part of my school program), instead of exercise or losing weight.
I have a lot of patience for other people not being perfect, taking a long time to learn something, looking stupid as a novice, or even failing. But I have no patience for myself. A part of me wants to give up before I start in order to avoid the discomfort.
This attitude is not serving me well, and I am frustrated with myself. In many areas, I have great confidence and feel I have something significant to contribute. How is it that in this particular area, I allow myself to shrink away from the very experiences that I need to develop confidence?
The good thing here is that I blame no one but myself. My teachers and clinical supervisors are excellent and supportive. I take full responsibility for the choices that I am making to perpetuate my problem.
Ironically, I receive positive evaluations from those who supervise me. Inside, I dismiss their comments because I am ridiculously committed to my self-perception of incompetence.
How would my world be different if I felt just as competent as anyone else? I would have to leave my tiny shelter of being "just a learner," "not as experienced," "too old," "incapable."
Claiming one's competence requires accepting the responsibility that comes with confidence. Other people will depend on me and my skills. My mistakes or inattentiveness can have a major effect on others. My demeanor can affect the attitudes of those around me. When other students see my confidence, they know they can do it too. When patients see my confidence, they believe the doctor will get credible results from my work and be able to help them. When my supervisors see my confidence, they will know that I have something worthwhile to contribute and consider me for job openings.
I have every reason to give up my death-grip on my excuses and start believing in myself.
Today I commit to "fake it 'til I make it" because underneath my excuses, I really do know I have what it takes.
I CAN DO IT!
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
"Relaxation is the best strategy when you don't have time for it."
Do you remember in "The Little Engine that Could" there is big old steam engine that just can't get up the hill? The tired old steamer cries, "I need to rest my weary wheels." I, too, wish I could rest my weary wheels.
But it's a new day, full of the busy-ness, pressures, and commitments of life. I am just this side of being overwhelmed. I am going to suck it up one more day and move forward with a positive attitude. But the truth is, I would like to step off the merry-go-round, regroup, even get some exercise, take a nap, go to an upbeat movie (are there any out there?), escape.
I still don't have my Christmas decorations taken down (Is it socially unacceptable to have your wreath on the door come Valentine's Day?), thank you notes completed, phone calls returned, tires rotated, teeth cleaned...
Oops--it's 5:45 a.m.! Gotta go! Jump in the shower, pull on the scrubs, grab my books-pen-notebook-reading glasses-cell phone-salad for lunch-clinical forms-exercise clothes--appointment calendar-phone numbers for calls to return--lipstick--positive attitude--and get a move on! Ready. Set. ACTION!
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
I know Oprah is a smart cookie and that she carefully considered the consequences of baring her soul on national television. But I couldn't help feeling protective of her because she was opening herself up to a host of criticism.
And I was right.
I've read posts in the SP message boards putting her down because she is "still complaining about her weight when she has the advantage of personal chefs, trainers, etc." It's true. She does have access to resources that are beyond the reach of many, but you can't pay someone to take away weight issues or do exercise for you.
Thinking that Oprah's weight problems are easy to solve because of her resources may be a subtle excuse for not handling one's own food/weight issues. How many people say, "If I had a personal trainer and a personal chef, I would be totally fit!"?
I may not be able to afford a chef or trainer, but I realize I have access to resources that many others do not. For one thing, I have an incredible support system through SP as well as the luxury of others in my life who encourage me to be healthy. I have two legs and the ability to do many different kinds of exercise. I have enough money to buy vegetables and other healthy food (even if I have to plan and prepare my own meals!) I have the desire and the emotional capacity to visualize a goal and the perseverence to reach it. In spite of my personal hardships, I do, indeed, have many advantages.
I'm not sure what motivates Oprah to bare her soul while she is in the midst of struggling. I am comfortable talking about having weighed 280 pounds in the past, but I never in a million years would have revealed that at the time. In those days, I definitely would not have admitted to my inability to change my relationship with food or to control my weight--even though it was quite obvious to anyone who saw me.
So I'm putting my money on Oprah's success. It takes a lot of courage to face the demons of obesity and eating disorders in private. And it REALLY takes balls to do it in front of the whole world.
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