Tag Archives: acceptance

Finding Neverland within

I grew up in a fairly large family and from the viewpoint of my siblings was spoiled. As long as I can remember though, there was loneliness.  In my fantasies I’d be rescued to a life that was safe and calm. As I grew older and was married I longed to be a mother. I wanted to build my own family that would accept me for who I was and love me and who I could put my whole soul into loving. So was it really acceptance I longed for that was disguised as loneliness? I wonder. I also wonder if the acceptance I crave is of self.

Like the words in the song Lost Boys by Ruth B, “I promise that you’ll never be lonely,”  I suppose my kids then, were like my lost boys. We played and we imagined. We told stories and sailed on great adventures building a world of our own. Sometimes I think those things are lost but every once in a while they emerge in a laugh, a memory or the twinkle of an eye and my heart sings.  ”Run, run lost boys, they say to me, away from all of reality.” I admit Neverland holds so much draw for me. And my kids are my pixie dust that transports me to that place where I realized, ‘I finally had a family.’ Perhaps we are all just lost boys wanting to stay and play but knowing life and responsibility is calling. Torn between expectations, responsibilities and the memories of what it feels like to be immersed in play.

Are they still running? Am I? Is it Captain Hook I run from? Is Captain Hook my growing old? Am I like Wendy in Hook when she sadly turned towards Peter and said, “Peter, I’m ever so much more than twenty?” Or maybe it’s the crocodile with the ticking watch sending shivers down my spine as I consider the pace at which time passes. Has my story been told? In the end will I walk the plank or just evaporate? Am I living the greatest adventure or squandering opportunity?  Run, run lost boys… have I forgotten how to run? Has reality swallowed me up? Have I forgotten to play? Have my lost boys?

“Peacefully my feed hit the sand.”  I smell the fresh breeze as it escapes the woods. I breathe deeply. I close my eyes. My kids, myself, I remember. Was it ever real? Did we tell stories in tents? Did we have picnics on the living room floor? Were there ever crafts, giggles, pudgy fingers wrapped around my neck? Did we actually play hooky and take ‘unprofessional development days?’ Did we ever draw pictures and tell jokes? Was it ever real? Did they ever accept me as one of them or was it a grand illusion?

Sometimes now I feel like I’m on the outside, no longer enveloped in the acceptance I crave. Am I the kind of mother I wanted to be for my kids? Am I the woman I wish I could be? And is there still time to be whatever that is? Is it worth the effort? Is there really a Neverland?

I’m going to keep believing in Neverland and in the joy we can create for ourselves. I’m hoping I can believe in me too and believe that adventure is still possible and maybe it’s not just in Neverland that we can live the life we choose and be who and what we want to be.

Examining openness

Being open seems simple enough, not a strange concept, and probably one we all either assume we are or aspire to be. I’m noticing however, a pattern in my life where I think I’m a pretty open person – I tell the truth, I share almost anything (and some would say too much. I consider myself open to new ideas, changing customs and societal norms, lifestyles, cultures and viewpoints. But is that being open or is that simply acceptance?

Perhaps I’m only open to ideas, concepts, suggestions that fit within my existing beliefs and comforts. For example, many people over the past months and perhaps for years have told me that I should be in business for myself. My reaction is to scoff at that idea. I like the social interaction of a workplace, the benefits and steady paycheck and I don’t feel comfortable ‘selling myself’ or my skills. So that doesn’t appeal to me and I close the door.  However, I can’t help wondering why that message keeps coming to me and I’m asking myself how open am I if I discount it every time I hear it.  Reflecting on my life as a child, I can remember a defensive feeling rising up in me whenever I received suggestions that didn’t fit within my comfort and meeting those suggestions with, well you must not know me well, or sure that might work for you but I’ll continue to do things my way. I’m guessing I’m not alone in this position.

I have opened my mind and heart to things I’d been previously closed to over time, but is that because I’ve become more open or because something happened to make these things fit within my existing beliefs and comforts? It’s an interesting idea to explore. Am I growing as a person? Sure. But am I becoming more open or just more informed and accepting? Is acceptance the same as openness? Perhaps it’s all personal perspective but I have realized that if I can sense that defensive feeling rising up and identify that it might just be my ego getting in the way, I might just open myself up to new feelings, new joys, new knowledge and experiences.

What is our purpose in life? Today, I believe, our purpose is to learn, to feel, to love and to aspire to be wiser, kinder, more loving and more peace-filled than the day before. Forgiveness, gratitude, love and acceptance are the qualities I most embrace at this time as they lift me up, help me to see, to hope, to dream and to appreciate. They transform have-nots into haves and challenges into blessings and help me to remember that while I am so far from perfect, I am uniquely me, and here for a reason. I am Blessed.

Banyon Tree
Magnificent Growth

Learning to accept that which I have kept in the shadows

To define myself by my gender, age, physical appearance, talents, characteristics or any other measure can only express a part but not the whole of who I am. Wouldn’t it be great to only consider that which you are most proud of? I have a tattoo that says, Let Love Define Me. My ability and capacity to love is probably the quality I’m most comfortable with.

I love the line in the song Dress Rehearsal by Carolyn Dawn Johnson that says: When the show is over, And they lay me down, I wanna be remembered, For the love I spread around. 

The truth is that I have no control over how I’ll be remembered. It is funny how I’ve tried in certain circumstances to control how I’m seen by others but it rarely works. I often feel I’m misjudged or misinterpreted even when I think I’m being completely honest.

Perhaps a year or so ago, a friend of mine loaned me The Shadow Effect video and I really connected with it and told my friend at work all about it. She proceeded to purchase the book on which it was based. As with many of the self-help or self-reflection books I read the message tends to fade as time passes. In the late fall I asked if I could borrow the book and thoroughly enjoyed reading it. The book is divided into three sections, each by a different author. My favourite is the first section by Deepak Chopra. If you are interested in looking into this topic further, try this link: http://vimeo.com/10611853.

Upon reflection, I can clearly see how pointing out the faults of others allowed me to indulge in the “at least I’m not like that” mind set. Wayne Dyer says: when you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself. I see more clearly than ever the truth in that. How do I measure against that person? If I can see greater faults in them can I see value in myself? The sad truth for me is that old messages from childhood still sometimes play on loop in my head and my worth is hard to see.

Growing up in a home where I perceived vanity to be judged a critical fault, where celebrating my own wins or successes were labeled selfish or self-centred, it has been challenging to allow myself to see my own value. Even more difficult sometimes is to acknowledge those bits of myself I’d rather keep hidden in the shadows, those qualities or characteristics that when I recognize in others I have criticized and disliked.  Those shadowy bits of ourselves that we’d rather not see, haven’t we come by them quite honestly? The Shadow Effect helped me to look at those more negative qualities and see why they may have developed in myself and others – to protect or counter some injustice perhaps.  It has also helped me to see those qualities in others that I find so distasteful and to consider they may be compensating for some deep pain or insecurity.

Am I proud of all my traits? No, but like the grey hairs I hide with colour, they are part of me, part of my life experience. Instead of ignoring those qualities, I’m learning to accept them and realize they are a product of my life. When I see those qualities in others that make me uncomfortable, I’m learning to be more accepting and see them in a more empathetic light. There is a freedom; it seems, in not having to hide. It was as if I didn’t name those qualities I wouldn’t have to admit they existed. However, in accepting them I can bring them out of the shadows and they lose their grip. If I’m not hiding them then perhaps they won’t show up so intensely under stress or when they are least welcome.  Perhaps in accepting our shadowy qualities we are better able to accept them in others and for me, acceptance is love.