I am pondering splitting off my “stuff” into another branch. Times like today, when I want to write about the subject I am, make me think it’s time. Other times, I’m convinced it’s all interrelated and I should stay put, and throw everything I’ve got here, in one place.
I woke up yesterday morning with a series of images from my life in my head. There was a common theme to these images that I began to recognize. Throughout my life, I have created (yes created, me….I chose) situations that somehow made my life harder or set me apart in some way. I felt like I no longer “belonged” with everyone else. I was “other”.
The reason it stood out to me, is that I no longer feel that way. I haven’t in years. As I wrote about it, thought about it and shared it with a group of women who’ve known me for a long time, it finally came to me what the theme was; self worth. I am “worthy” of good things. The images that lined themselves up in my head showed me ways in the past that I treated myself and set up my life situation that enforced a sense of “unworthiness” inside me – even though I was not conscious of it at all. I just thought I was a hard worker, easy going, able to go with the flow. And, all of those things are true. But, I also created situations that burdened me unnecessarily. Pushed me to limits I didn’t have to reach for, sink to, put up with. It’s a fine line, I suppose.
So, what’s different now? The picture at the top of a page is of me and Alex. I’ve known Alex for 25+ years. We became friends when we were both married to other people and we socialized as couples. We “clicked” over books and ideas. We lost touch for years and reconnected about three years ago. He lives in Boston. I live in Denver. We aren’t romantically involved, but he is one of the dearest people in my life. He also created a pivotal moment in my life. One day he was on the phone with me and said, “You work too hard. You need to come to Boston for the weekend.” And, he made my flight reservations while I was still on the phone.
That weekend was all about good food, pampering, rest and beauty. The photo above was taken at dinner in downtown Boston the night he took me to see, “The Nutcracker” by the Boston Ballet at the Boston Opera House, tenth row center seating……To say I was “over the moon” is a gross understatement. Alex said I did not stop smiling the entire evening. I cried. I felt totally filled up. The photo at right, is the entrance to the opera house. Earlier in the day he had booked me for a facial and massage, leaving plenty of time for me to nap and “beautify” myself for our lovely evening. The day I flew back to Denver and got into my car, it had been sitting outside in a shuttle lot, in a snowstorm….I felt like Cinderella had just gotten back into her pumpkin.
The most important “take-away” from that weekend was the moment at dinner when he looked at me and said, “I’m raising the bar, Cindy. Any guy that’s going to take you out after this is going to have a pretty high standard to reach.” We laughed. I had no idea how prophetic his words were at the time. Exactly one week later I met a man I lovingly refer to as, Sir G, short for “Sir Galahad“, a name that popped into my head when we met. He’s a whole other story. Today, it’s about raising the bar and self worth. At that moment, when he said those words, everything began to change.
The significance of that weekend in Boston, to me, was that it reminded me of things I love. I enjoyed every moment of that weekend. Every single moment. It had been so long since I had the opportunity to dress up and go to a wonderful performance. That ballet has played a significant role in my life as a child ballerina who danced it for years. It means “Christmas” to me. It means dance. It represents years of my childhood that I loved. It had been so long since someone took the time to take care of me and treat me to something so wonderfully special, I was overjoyed.
For the previous 7 years or so, I had been a single mom focused on taking care of two boys with almost no support. I was in survival mode. A night at the ballet was the furthest thing from my mind. I didn’t care about dating. I didn’t think about new clothes. I didn’t think about nice restaurants. I didn’t think about things that made my heart sing. I was trying to survive. And, I began to settle without realizing it.
I began to think and act as though all things beautiful and heart filling were in the past. It was too expensive, too frivolous, I had enough, I could make do, etc… And, I started a relationship with a man who reinforced those feelings. It was all about living with as little as possible, nothing fancy, nothing really nice…. I began to feel guilty or spoiled suggesting anything beyond the bare necessities. The day he actually got angry that I have crystal and silver instead of plastic and paper plates, I knew I didn’t want that life forever.
I totally understand if there is no money and you have to be careful of every penny. I completely understand. I’ve been there. But, it wasn’t really about the money at that time, it was about the reinforcement of the feeling that being treated really well to something very nice was completely out of the question because it was too extravagant, when it really was not. I had lowered my expectations of everything and everyone around me because I had lost so much and I was getting used to it. The weekend with Alex reminded me of what I loved and what I was missing. I had almost forgotten that I could choose to bring those things back into my life, or at least work toward them. It’s easy to get lost in a world of work, caring for others, making sure everything is taken care of.
Living well is not about the money though, it’s the mindset. It’s how we care for ourselves and what we choose to surround ourselves with. I’m worthy of rest when I need it. I am worthy of being treated well. I am worthy of the gifts and blessings I was born with. I am worthy of all I am striving to be and create for myself. I am worthy of all this beautiful world has to offer.
After Alex made his “raising the bar” comment, I realized “this is what I love”, “this is what I miss”, etc…. And, miraculously, those things started flooding back into my life. It was as if when my mindset changed, everything else did too. I don’t need to go to the ballet every week, or every month. But, I so look forward to this holiday season when I will be sitting in the audience watching the Colorado Ballet perform The Nutcracker. It’s important to me. I will make it happen.
I needed reminding that these things, the things that make me feel so filled up, are possible, and there, and I can bring them into my life and enjoy them. I don’t have to act as if I’m standing outside in the cold, looking through the window at everyone else inside, warm, fed and dry while I freeze. I am worthy.
It isn’t frivolous to know what makes your heart sing and having those things in your life. I deserve to do the things and have the people and circumstances in my life that make me feel well cared for, enriched, good and loved. This can be small things, or big. The specifics aren’t important. It’s not about the opera house and a fancy dress. What does it for you is different than what does it for me. The point is, it’s important to realize you are worth it, whatever it is, and to make sure you bring those things into your life somehow.
You knew I was going to get around to food, right? Of course. That’s one of the things that makes my heart sing – cooking, good food, making it, eating it……On the most basic level, I am worthy of beautiful, healthy food that I grow in my garden and make with my hands. If there is anything that makes my heart sing on a daily basis, that would be one of them. What’s yours? What can you bring into your life that makes you feel like you are taking care of your soul? Take steps today to figure out what it is and do it.