You Don’t Need To Be Perfect

I loved this sentiment because the reality of life is that none of us are, nor ever will be, “perfect.” Bound to countless socially and personally imposed definitions, the word “perfect” encompasses far too much for any one person to attain. And to what end would we wish to achieve the title? To appease our inner critic and absolve ourselves of any future self-deprecation or doubt? To impress someone else in effort to quell the internal need for belonging…or to bathe in the external, social rewards?

It’s a tough path to travel, the one to “perfection.” The word itself is saturated with such infinite criteria – as defined by everyone in a different way – that it would be nigh impossible to satisfy all conditions.

 

We are, as human begins, all flawed and fragile. But, it is in imperfection that the world then becomes so beautifully diverse. Our quirks and eccentricities may in fact be what others can relate to. So too can our personal struggles and challenges be what brings others into our circle, or to look to us for advice. These things allow us to connect to others in the world, and therefore provide us an opportunity to inspire every day.

How do we handle adversity or when things that don’t go our way?

Can we be the bigger person and admit when we are wrong or say we are sorry when appropriate?

Can we treat others with respect and kindness, even when we disagree or are upset?

Do we approach the world – ourselves and others – with an attitude of acceptance and appreciation that we all have our “stuff”? (e.g.: we aren’t perfect, we are learning.)

Our behaviors and actions can inspire others to “rise above,” to find strength in tough times, and to do what they can to see the positives in each day. We don’t have to do those things perfectly ourselves, either – remember that others may be inspired because they see YOU trying your best. They see you struggling but still holding on to hope and working hard… They see you being the bigger person in the face of another’s poor behavior…

Those things might give others the support and strength they need – they see that it doesn’t HAVE to be executed perfectly to work (and that’s the whole point.) 

We will never be able to achieve the grandiose “perfection” because it is a word that has no single, defined definition. Perfection is many things to many people and it – by default – leaves no room for humanness, for growth, or for mistakes. Mistakes, however, are a huge part of life, as is a human vulnerability that we all possess. How we approach life on those terms, however imperfectly, can be even more inspiring than if we were the “ideal individual.” Why? Because if we can do it, in spite of a world that is ever-changing and challenging, then so can others – seeing the effort in the face of difficulty is why those actions ARE so inspiring.

So fear not if you falter, if you have flaws, or don’t make your mark every day. Because you are always working towards your goals in a positive and meaningful way in spite of your missteps, “mess-ups,” other people’s poor behaviors, you are inspiring others to do the same. You are inspiring others by being exactly who you are – unabashedly – and that in and of itself is empowering.

Planting The Seed And Letting Go

There is no contesting that an individual set firmly in his or her ways (and honestly, who isn’t after the age of 2!?), will not embrace change unless he or she chooses to. To change requires a process of self-reflection, of acceptance, and of a willingness to walk a new path – but looking in the mirror and choosing to face the truth of what we see isn’t always so easy. We are likely our harshest critic, and also at times guilty of self-delusion…so facing ourselves head on can be a frightening prospect! In this way, admitting that we even NEED a change can prove a challenge, forget someone else insisting we make one. 

It may be that we want to address something small, such as a relatively benign habit (hitting the snooze button more than we’d like to, leaving dishes around, getting sucked into social media until 2am…) or something more significant (wanting to alter a life habit or behavior that no longer serves us.) Whatever it is, those decisions begin internally – when we are ready, willing, and would like a change, that’s when change becomes possible. It will take work, but opening the door begins within.

All that said…planting a seed ought not be abandoned as an exercise in futility! While we may be resistant at first, there is always room to grow. Criticism is tough to handle for most of us – we have an innate need to belong (refer to Maslow for one theory) and therefore also to impress on some level. Most of us aren’t proud of our quirks or common foibles, and when they are engrained over the duration of our lives, they’re much harder to uproot. But, it can be done…and sometimes the repeated lessons or directions helps.

For example, there are things that I have done much of my life that just aren’t helpful any longer. I know they are habits born of some challenging times in my life – they served, at that time, as a way to cope and survive. So once upon a time, perhaps shutting down served me well – it protected me in that moment. But a deer-in-the-headlights way of operating doesn’t work when communication is required…so, I’ve been working on it. Finding one’s voice is a daunting task, especially when you weren’t really aware you had lost it, when you had lost it, or how the hell to get it back! 

For another thing, I’ve identified with, and hinged my worth on brightening others’ days, diffusing or patching fights between people, and putting others first. For a long time I thought that was a really noble quality – I sincerely wanted to fix people’s hardships and be as little of a burden as possible. But…I’ve learned that there are some not great byproducts of that. It isn’t my right or responsibility to help, fix, or otherwise brighten someone’s existence – maybe they don’t damn well want me to! (That was an immensely tough realization for me, though I’ve learned that not taking this on provides me a great deal of freedom.) And not wanting to be in the way can translate to indecisiveness or a selfless approach that leaves someone else wondering what I feel internally.

If it wasn’t pointed out, I suppose I’d just continue along as always – because why fix what isn’t really “broken?” Learning that perhaps my methods of operating aren’t serving me as well anymore, or those around me, that I don’t need certain defenses, that it’s okay to be selfish and forthright has had a positive impact. That doesn’t mean that I’m suddenly rid of habits – I have to work really hard to overcome conditioning (just as we all do!) But it means I have awareness – the seed was planted a while ago, I’ve allowed it to bloom taking the time it needs, and I’ve reached a point where I am able to see that change is possible. And, that I want it. 

So the point is that maybe a behavior or attitude we carry with us worked in past situations – maybe it was a way that we coped, or got things accomplished, or even the reason we survived in the end. But it’s possible that those methods would do well with a shift – time marches on, life changes, the people and places in our lives change… We don’t always need the same tools. If we are willing and able to take a hard look in the mirror, we may find ourselves opening to change and working for it. In some cases, though, we just aren’t ready. Criticism and constructive commentary may need to take place for some time… Maybe we need to hear the message a million times before we can really make sense of it…and only then are we ready to acknowledge a change would serve us well.

It takes time… We aren’t always open to altering ourselves – we’ve managed well enough as long as we’ve been around, right?! But the positive seeds others plant aren’t in vain because we may yet come to a fork in the road when suddenly those seeds find a way to flourish. 

So remember that it’s hard enough to change oneself – asking that of someone who isn’t ready for the message may well fall on deaf ears. Maybe even rightfully so. But…if it’s a message that might bring about positive change for that person, don’t give up on planting the idea. It may take time for that seed to find the daylight, but in time it may grow into something spectacular.

 

Never Regret Being A Good Person

There are certain tenants by which I live my life – though I may fall short of my own (somewhat lofty) standards at times, I know that gratitude, kindness, acceptance, patience, respect, honesty, and empathy will always be at the top of my list. 

I’d rather be kind to someone who isn’t in return than meet them on a lower playing field. The Universe has a way of righting paths without my intervention…so I allow it, and Karma, to do their thing.

I am 1,000% responsible for my behavior – good, bad, and otherwise. But I will never have to own anyone else’s. 

Autism Humor – Same Old

I have a profound compassion and respect for individuals with autism, their families, and their caregivers. The world in which they live is one that the majority will not only never understand, but one few make an effort to comprehend on a deeper level.

Though many of my own eccentricities and experiences pale in comparison to these individuals, I believe I am drawn to them because I do – on a minor scale – commiserate. There are certain tendencies or challenges that I deal with such as:

  1. Misophonia
  2. Intense preference for / sensitivity to certain sounds (therefore, at times, need for full silence…or music…or earplugs)
  3. Difficulty focusing or concentrating unless under certain conditions
  4. Sensitivity to light
  5. When I was younger, anxiety surrounding social interaction (I couldn’t even ask for food at a snack bar!)
  6. Need for a heavy blanket or pressure when I sleep, or the sense of being in an alcove in order to be comfortable 
  7. When I was younger, I also had trouble making friends – I’m still very much a lone wolf and need massive amounts of space and time to myself
  8. A tendency to take words very literally, and not forget them
  9. Too quiet and too chatty!

And…though I’m not ultra rigid to the point of breakdown, I have a strong preference for routine. When it comes to food, for example, I stick with the same (fortunately healthy) things. ALL the time. In part, its preference. In part, my body prefers it that way, not unlike some individuals with autism.

I used to feel badly about my “quirks” – embarrassed even! But I’ve realized that not only am I not alone in these traits, (and also not less of a person because of them!) but that they afford me the ability to help others who suffer greatly as a result of extreme variations of them. Certain sounds push me to the edge but then I think about the fact that understanding what that feels like gives me an edge in understanding the more extreme experience someone else is having. . .and that means more compassion. Compassion is something this community deserves in spades.

My “quirks” have also taught me the humor of it all. In life we all face challenges, both big and small. If we can find the humor in our situation, we can help others find the humor as well, not to mention keep ourselves on a healthy wavelength most of the time.

The community I have the great fortune to work with teaches me about not taking everything so seriously all the time…about finding the beauty in each of us in spite of some differences (and we ALL have “stuff!”)…and that a positive approach will help us see the gifts we’ve been given…even those born of adversity.

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Acceptance – An Autism Home Leads By Example

I loved this post from @autism_lovers – it demonstrates how much acceptance is part of daily life in a home with autism.

Living with autism means that differences are not just tolerated, but that they are appreciated.

It means being a top-notch detective and trouble-shooter.

Living with autism means learning to be flexible, patient, and – above all – incredibly creative. 

I feel blessed to have the opportunity to work with children with autism in the realm of physical activities – I make a point to take note of the parents when they drop their children off, and during any and all interactions they may have. Each child is different and I am ever astounded by how well parents navigate often choppy seas. I know that behind the scenes it isn’t always the smooth sailing we see…and I think that makes me appreciate, all the more, how much those parents do each day to ensure the best communication and opportunities possible. 

As someone on the outside, I want to commend those parents who live this daily. In a way that you may never realize, you touch others’ lives too. You teach the rest of us how important it is to accept one another as we are, to be patient, to love to the full, and to laugh (especially to laugh!) even in the face of adversity.

#doL ❤ VE”

 

Gothiness – In Love With Halloween

It is my favorite day, Halloween. I’ve said it more than Scheherazade (though admittedly not with my life – nor freedom – hanging in the balance.)  Still, the ardent affections burrowed deep enough within my heart to remain all this time later.  Halloween in the Northeast in particular is divine – The fragrances in the air intoxicate, the colors seduce, the sounds enchant the ears – there is no aspect of it – neither linearly, nor in the peripheral – that does not send me reeling.  

For many years I wrote an annual Halloween “poem” of sorts – my boss at the time anticipated it harkening the 31st with such eagerness that I would be asked in advance when the e-mail was coming…nevermind that looming Shoe Show deadline! I’d have a new “story” each year – sometimes reflections on a trip I’d taken that reminded me of the season, or the general atmosphere itself, and the command upon my senses. 

I love Hallow’s Eve so much that as a child I was certain it would be the only day on which I’d be married – no matter the calendar year may not oblige with a Hallowed Saturday… To me, there was nothing better than the idea of saying “I do” when I felt most in my element. 

For a while there – and, at this juncture, I will spare the novel – I settled on being solo.  Independence always suited me – I like my space, and neither have I necessarily wanted to be beholden to anyone, nor anyone to me.  But in 2015, the stars aligned in such a way as to change my journey forever.  I knew that moment – even before we spoke a word to one another – that I would rather live my Life with him in it.  I am both humbled and thankful those celestial orbs adhered to their errand so devoutly (lest love have traversed my path only but for a moment…or missed it entirely.)  

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There are countless reasons that I love, but one – no small detail – is that I am accepted and loved for precisely who I am.  That odd amalgamation of goth and glitter…the vampishness, vulnerabilities, empathetic heart, and unconventional predilections towards all things Ninja… 

When I said I wanted to be married on Halloween, I was not only not met with resistance but was asked “on which day does it fall?”  This year…a Monday, sad to say.  But the Saturday before?  Ahhh…

As anyone planning a wedding can attest to, venues book terribly far out.  With about seven months (a hair less), and a contract out on the day I desired, I am convinced the stars – once again – conspired in our favor.  When I was told the day was ours he said “I thought you might have fallen over when you heard him say we could have the 29th!”  I nearly did. 

Not everyone has the luxury of having the date they *may so desperately* want.  And though I am certain two hearts are in true love to be committing in marriage, not everyone is quite so open-minded.  I feel blessed beyond words that I am in a partnership where I – and all my curious conventions (and two black cats!) – are embraced fully.  No two human beings boast edges as smooth as puzzle pieces – what matters, though, is that there is respect, support, and love in spite of our eccentricities (and less than lovely moments.)  

I recognize that Halloween isn’t necessarily the most traditional, nuptially-flavored day…but it was the one I had my heart set on. That I could choose it – indeed as a celebratory time for each year going forward – is special gift in my mind.

For as long as I can recall, my go-to phrase (and story-end sentiment) was “haunt like you meant it.” Well…while you are at it, love like you mean it too – because it is on that precipice where the most profound things occur, and when you suddenly realize just how OKAY it is to be you. 

 

I’d Rather Be A Ninja

I have heard a lot of discussion lately about children and gender roles – I won’ delve into the topic so much (as it could quickly become a novel!), but what I will say I am particularly thankful for is the support I had growing up.

Yes, I wore light colors…even pink.  (My tendency towards all black would have those who know me in full ~gasp~ envisioning it!) I had dresses and bows, just like most little girls. And I still wear heels and get glam when the occasion calls for it – rather happily – being a woman is quite a lot of fun!  🙂

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But I was never a real “girle-girl.”  I enjoyed running and playing outside, having a big brother, watching He-Man and Thunder Cats.  I wanted to be a Ninja, with cat-like reflexes and the ability to escape without notice.  I wanted to be in all black, and to be athletic, above all – for me, all those things were real super powers.  

Skip ahead 30+ years, with a background in Ballet, Ballroom, Figure Skating, lifting…and exposure to countless other sports… I marched into a Dojang with nary a clue about what to expect, and zero experience in the arena.  I was nervous, and a bit shy…but Martial Arts felt like a natural progression for me, so I bit the bullet and signed up – Taekwondo, Hapkido, and Kumdo later on.

Off I went, white belt in tow, falling in love from first punch!  I’ve been at it for some years, and am as driven as day 1, if not more so!  

My parents have been incredibly supportive of my Martial Arts, even when I tore the first knee in two places, the hamstring in one, and contused the bones.  They supported me when I said I wanted to continue, a year later when I finally could walk up stairs…  And they supported me after tearing the second ACL, refusing surgery, and picking up new Arts along the way (Ninjutsu, JuJutsu, Brazilian JiuJitsu.)

For me, that support started early – I was embraced for who I was, and for the interests I had – I didn’t HAVE to be girlie.  We joke about it still today – I was the girl who wanted to go to the Armory in museums, and wanted to watch Martial Arts movies with my brother.  It was okay then, and it’s okay today.

We don’t have to fit a mold to be masculine or feminine.  In fact, I’d wager that not a single friend of mine would say I’m not “womanly.”  They’d more likely say, “she isn’t girly-girl, but there’s no question that she’s incredibly feminine.”  Yes, you CAN be both!

I love seeing parents who encourage and support their children no matter what – whether they fall into the traditional “girl pink” and “boy blue,” as much as when they are outside those lines.  That, to me, is real love – supporting what makes our loved ones’ happiest, whether it fits the scheme or not!