To thine own self be true

trueself

You’re unique, let’s face it. And, despite what the world may try to tell you with advertising, cliques, and trends, your individuality is your strength. There are so many ways we are alike as people, and that’s important to notice because it shows us that we are all one, interconnected and kin.

But the ways we each stand out from the crowd are important to highlight, too. We each have different gifts and talents, hopes and dreams, yearnings and accomplishments, history and life lessons, strengths and weaknesses, past and present, all rolled into a one-of-a-kind package. There is no being just like everybody else because no one else is exactly like you. Those differences define you and are your super power because you can offer the world something that no one else can give: you.

And always one more time.

mayalove

It takes courage to love, doesn’t it? Particularly after we’ve been hurt and know how vulnerable we can be. How much safer it would be to protect ourselves from being completely known, from loving wholeheartedly, from reaching out to others. But living behind a facade is a recipe for loneliness. Walling others out also walls us in. Going it alone directly contradicts the foundational truth that we are all interconnected whether we choose to be or not.

Love is the great adventure. It is the answer to the what, how, and why we are here. So have the courage to trust love one more time…and always one more time.

Consider the hummingbird

hummingdoyle

In his essay, Joyas Volardores, Brian Doyle begins with a very close look at a hummingbird, a creature whose heart makes up a good bit of its tiny body. They are remarkable creatures. We, too, are creatures whose hearts makes up a good bit of us, and Doyle ends his essay with a look at how our hearts, no matter how we protect ourselves and wall them off, are imminently fragile, with facades that can be shattered in an instant.

So much held in a heart in a lifetime. So much held in a heart in a day, an hour, a moment. We are utterly open with no one in the end—not mother and father, not wife or husband, not lover, not child, not friend. We open windows to each but we live alone in the house of the heart. Perhaps we must. Perhaps we could not bear to be so naked, for fear of a constantly harrowed heart. When young we think there will come one person who will savor and sustain us always; when we are older we know this is the dream of a child, that all hearts finally are bruised and scarred, scored and torn, repaired by time and will, patched by force of character, yet fragile and rickety forevermore, no matter how ferocious the defense and how many bricks you bring to the wall. You can brick up your heart as stout and tight and hard and cold and impregnable as you possibly can and down it comes in an instant, felled by a woman’s second glance, a child’s apple breath, the shatter of glass in the road, the words I have something to tell you, a cat with a broken spine dragging itself into the forest to die, the brush of your mother’s papery ancient hand in the thicket of your hair, the memory of your father’s voice early in the morning echoing from the kitchen where he is making pancakes for his children.

Today, consider the hummingbird. Let it fill us with wonder and appreciation for all of creation, but especially our own hearts, and let it remind us of how tender and fragile each of is really, truth be told.

 

So many things, so little time.

manythings

Have you ever noticed how one thing leads to the next when it comes to wanting things? Before long, the list of wanting is endless even when, maybe especially when, you’re doing a lot of getting. It won’t fill you up. But appreciating what you have? That will make you content.

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Yes, even me.

gies

Miep Gies was a young office worker when she hid and supported Anne Frank and her family, protecting them from Nazis and the danger of being sent to a concentration camp. After Anne and her family were betrayed and captured, Miep collected Anne’s diaries and eventually returned them to Anne’s father, Otto, who survived the war. That diary has been read by millions of people now, inspiring acts of heroism and showing, in a very intimate way, the horror of WWII as viewed through the eyes of an innocent, complex, lovely, vibrant girl, Anne.

Miep wasn’t famous or rich or particularly accomplished, yet she managed through her actions to shine a very bright light on hate and replace it with a more powerful portrait of love. Anne, too, wasn’t famous or rich or accomplished, although we can see now how she was a gifted author, but her words have been inspiring and a powerful force against evil in the world.

No matter our position or age or wealth or gender, we each can make a contribution that makes the world more bright.

What is the light you can turn on in a dark room?

 

Face the fear.

fearbridge

The monster’s threat in Frankenstein by Mary Shelley is chilling: “Beware, for I am fearless and therefore powerful.” What might the monster do to exact revenge if he is truly fearless? Yikes.

But the statement taken out of context can also apply to non-monsters, people hoping to do good but paralyzed by fear to reach out. Fear gets in our way, and sometimes that’s a good thing. Fear can keep us safe from danger– falling, catching diseases, getting broken bones. But fear can also keep us from speaking out against injustice, reaching out to help a neighbor, defending a bully victim, or any one of an endless list of situations where our fighting that fear will result in a greater good. These situations stir us to act and to lay the fear aside because deep down we know the right thing to do, and we know that we are the one who needs to do it.

We are far more powerful than we know.

Let it begin with me.

peace

We wish for peace but quarrel with our neighbor. We tremble from talk of war but allow ourselves to respond to others with hate, sarcasm, anger, and animosity. We expect leaders to be the adults in the room, but mock and deride them mercilessly. Peace, it seems, is something for other people out there to do and strive for because we are angry and fed up and impatient, and peace isn’t in our everyday lexicon at the moment.

But we can fight for peace, by controlling ourselves, treating each other respectfully, and speaking out against injustice. Take a minute to watch this beautiful video.

 

Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me
Let there be peace on earth
The peace that was meant to be
With God as our father
Brothers all are we
Let me walk with my brother
In perfect harmony
Let peace begin with me
Let this be the moment now
With every step I take
Let this be my solemn vow
To take each moment
And live each moment
To take each moment
And live each moment
To take each moment
And live each moment
In peace eternally
Let there be peace on earth
Let there be peace on earth
Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin
With me (me)
With me
Songwriters: Jill Jackson / Sy Miller

No worries.

halfface

It turns out artists make a lot of mistakes. We only think they are wonderfully talented, with perfect products immediately dripping off their paintbrushes or keyboards, because we see the finished product and not all of the drafts and abandoned projects along the way. So when we sit down to write or draw or craft or hum out a melody, we can set aside the worry that we aren’t up for the task if our first efforts are less than perfect. Mistakes are the training ground. The more the better because each teaches us what doesn’t work or how something could work better. It is all practice making us more perfect. What’s a failure is being scared to start.

Confidence boosters.

confidence

Maybe everything has always been easy for you, and that has given you confidence in itself. (This post may not be for you.) But for those of us who struggle, often we felt confidence bloom in us with the kind and encouraging word of a teacher, or a mentor who saw our potential even as we stumbled, or a friend willing to sit with us through the ugly lows because they believed we were capable of overcoming and rising up. Those people who helped us to believe in ourselves and reach for our potential are our heroes, and their words live and breathe in us encouraging us forward. Don’t you remember those comments or gestures as if they are a part of your very being? We have no control over when those heroes might come along and help us again, but we surely do have control over whether we can be that kind of hero to someone else.

Look around. Is someone you know in need of an encouraging word?

Love in the little things.

vangogh

It’s hard to miss the grand gestures of love–the dramatic proposals, flashy gifts, wining and dining. But love is also in the little invisible day-to-day things–making someone their favorite meal, putting gas in your partner’s car before their trip, folding laundry, wiping runny noses and tying little shoelaces, remembering someone’s birthday, keeping someone company in a hospital room. All those little silent, maybe unnoticed, labors of love are the glue in the fabric of our relationships.

What little thing has someone done for you today? Maybe there’s a little thing you can do in return…

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