Catherine Just is a friend I made when I took Hello Soul, Hello Business last year and it was a true pleasure to meet her in person this summer while she was in Portland for the World Domination Summit. Her Instagram account (@cjust) is a source of daily joy and inspiration to me. She is putting on her Soul*Full Summit right now, a series of video interviews with thought leaders on crafting your own greatness and living with more confidence and courage. Every day from Oct. 14-24, Catherine is releasing a selection of interviews and they are live for one day only (unless you purchase lifetime access, of which 50% of each purchase goes towards Down Syndrome Education International).
I want to share a little about my day yesterday as it all combined to lead up to the moment when I chose to watch don Miguel Ruiz Jr.'s interview. Yesterday was a particularly hard day for me. I had gone to physical therapy (for a shoulder injury from last summer) and I was quite sore. I have multiple projects going for my work, my computer is very outdated and a source of near constant frustration. I felt overwhelmed by my expectations of my household responsibilities, (the yard work alone this time of year, oy) and my son was pushing a certain limit for what feels like the umpteenth time. I lost my patience with him in a big way and then was mired in guilt, self-judgment and bad feelings that I chose to expand to include every role I play in my life. After going for a walk in the cold, dark evening, I remembered the Summit. I had very little time left to watch that day's episodes. I did not know this interview would break open my soul. And, of course, it was more than just yesterday that led up to the power of this interview, it was my entire life.
I had of course heard about The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz, and I had even spoken with my husband and son once about how our family could use some work on not taking things personally. Meanwhile, I continued to take all manner of things personally in my family, all the while knowing somewhere inside that I can only control myself. This I have learned so many times in my life, this is something I know. (I know, but still, I forget to practice.) Even bigger than taking things personally is my well-exercised muscle in judging myself. I had flexed the muscle in a big way only 45 minutes prior to hearing don Miguel Ruiz Jr. tell Catherine that everything in our lives is something we have said yes to being there. Everything, and most importantly, our thoughts. That's when my soul broke wide open to receive this information. It was divine timing from the Universe.
When I judge myself, or take things personally, I am saying yes to keeping these thoughts as evidence against ME. I am using these things to chip away at the very essence of my soul, and my spirit. When I look in the mirror, and judge; when I make a mistake as a mother, and judge; when I don't progress professionally at some expected pace, and judge; when I say no to things I am afraid of, and judge; when I eat organically or not, and judge myself either way.
It never ends with me, the judging.
When my son does A-B-C and I'm not interested in those activities but I turn it into something personal against me instead of seeing it for what it is: it is me saying no to those things instead of him saying no to me. If my husband wants to go rock climbing on Saturdays instead of purging the basement with me, that is not about me! If I tell myself over and over that I am not enough, I am not worthy, I am not successful, I am not an athlete, I don't know how to be a good mother because I didn't have mine around, I am breaking myself down and choosing to be those things.
Tonari no Totoro by Victor Vercesi
This illustration represents what I learned last night from don Miguel Ruiz Jr. and Catherine Just. I can fill my head with hurtful, painful, judging thoughts or I can free myself from those things and fill my head with beautiful, loving, empowering thoughts. Only I can set me free. Just as only I have limited myself, now I can expand myself. I have a lot to learn but I wept throughout the interview. My tears carried the wisdom straight into my heart.
I have not shared on this blog very much of my childhood. I have chosen quite actively to move forward always, and not look back. I want to share, and therefore remind myself, that my spirit and my soul have always mattered:
- even though I grew up without my mother,
- even though I was raised by my father in a toxic, violent environment at times,
- even though I struggled through college for 10 years,
- even though I married the wrong person the first time,
- even though I estranged myself from my father the year before he died,
- even though I got cancer,
- even though cancer gave me secondary infertility,
- even though cancer gave me early menopause,
- even though everything.
I have survived so many things in my years on this planet because I matter. I keep growing and learning about myself. I was ready for this lesson about how I think and that's why it came to me. I am ready to think anew. As Catherine says, "Don't leave before the miracle happens."