step seventeen

we can’t change the past, but we can be aware in the present.

whatever painful experiences shaped our way of thinking, it is never too late to revisit, and re-shape our thoughts today with mindfulness and gratitude.

imagine this scenario:

a person looks at another person.

this sounds simple, but it can be oh so complex if we assume anything other than innocence. person a is taking in their surroundings, scanning their environment and simply taking it all in. person b, however, has a much more layered experience. based on years of bullying and abuse since early childhood, the pure information of “person a is looking at me” is interpreted as “person a is giving me a funny look”, “the evil eye”, and even a potential threat “person a is going to attack me”.

before you dismiss this as an extreme example, check in with yourself – has this never happened to you? that you realized, you are assuming the worst, simply because it was that kind of a day?

a couple of years ago, my boyfriend-at-the-time and i were driving from toronto to niagara falls/on, when suddenly, the car started shaking uncontrollably – we had a flat tire. we were close to an off-ramp and parked on the muddy shoulder somewhere near hamilton. it was dark, a faint rain drizzling, and we had no tools to change the tire. while we were waiting for the canadian version of aaa, a small car pulled up beside us on the off-ramp, and a man got out and asked how he can help. a thought this was such a lovely ray of light, and when the man offered to run to tim hortons and get us some timbits, since he didn’t have a car jack to help us change the tire, i only declined because i had no clue what timbits were. the person i was with had a clearly different experience. he almost told the kind stranger to get lost, and later warned me not to take any of the baked goods since they could be poisoned.

“why would he first be so kind and stop for us, offering help, and then getting us some coffee and timbits, only to poison us!!??”  i was baffled.

“people are crazy here. you don’t know, this is toronto, everything can happen. Don’t ever accept anything from a stranger.”

to this day, i don’t know what caused my friend to react this way in this particular situation, but he clearly had a filter borne of previous, adverse experiences with which he judged everything happening around him today.   i am grateful for this stranger and for the hot coffee and donut holes (yes, he brought them anyway), because it ended up being a long night.

i also noticed that smiling is easier than being afraid, and that it feels absolutely amazing to accept a stranger’s kindness, because it made everyone feel good in the end. assuming innocence and giving the gift of accepting help (and timbits) shifts everyone’s energy upward.

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step nine

today’s step is all about the odds and the haters, loud ignorance and subtle sabotage when you go for your purpose in life, when you create a reality that matches your vision for yourself.

grit is something you either have, or something you create for yourself. it’s not about not caring, or selfishly steamrolling those around you. it’s about caring a lot less about what others think of you. care less about whether they like you or approve of your dreams and goals. care less about the labels they give you. do they support you? great. do they ridicule you? also great. both are more of a reflection of how they view the world, than of how you truly are. both reactions of others to what you are doing can work for you, if you have grit. grit is a choice. growth is a choice. resilience is a choice.

if how others react to you hurts, dig deeper. what hurts the most? what is this pain teaching you about yourself? what can you learn from it? what is really going on here?

if other people’s reaction to you is making you feel awesome, notice what it is that creates that feeling. a beautiful soul mentioned in conversation the other day how she was taught to “notice what you are noticing”. pay attention to what you see. if bliss is all you see, it is because your heart and mind are open to seeing. if hurt is all you feel, it is because your heart and mind are open to hurt more than to the gift that comes from the experience.

so what’s the worst that can happen? what’s the worst anyone can do if you wear something, say something, or do something others disapprove of? just think about it. sh!t happens to all of us. mistakes are made by everyone. so: get your grit on!

grow, regardless what others are saying or thinking. give what feels good to give.

be resilient through obstacles, resist ignorance. respect your experience and that of others. respect the life force in every thing, no matter what name you give it.

inculcate yourself with intelligence.  intelligence of the mind brings clarity of vision, intelligence of your heart feeds intuition.  honor what you know, honor what your elders know. intelligence will allow you to be creative with your dream, your goal, your purpose, tweak it, enhance it, re-design it.

t is for tenacious, trust and tender.  yes, grit has to have a soft belly of tenderness. otherwise, grit gets brittle and you’ll break the last teeth you’re left with on it. not worth it!  a tenacious you sticks to your goals. a tenacious you is loyal to your values. the tenacious you is determined, won’t be dispelled or disenchanted. the tenacious you will make it through!

trust that. trust the journey. trust the life force. trust the source energy. trust the laws of balance and of averages. the choice is yours.

lastly, be tender to your soul. gently embrace that original faith you came here with. the knowledge that you have a place here. you belong here. you will find your tribe. as grit keeps you going, lean into tenderness, lean into the soft belly of your vulnerability. tenderness and vulnerability keep you flexible. grit will protect you, and vulnerability will connect you.

now you go and shine!