In Patti Digh's book 37 Days, she encourages us to live life more aware, remember the little things, keep your heart open. The first step being Intensity - Say Yes. She writes, "It is Stuff that keeps us from participating fully, from saying yes." We get too bogged down in the details - the what ifs, the stuff that clutters our life to the point of suffocation sometimes.
She encourages us to live more freely - without judgement of ourselves or others. "We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance." - Japanese Proverb We need to "practice being curious, not judgemental."
This got me thinking. I'm a pretty eclectic person. I don't find judging others to be a pleasant or enriching activity, so I don't do it often (and I don't want to do it at all - but sometimes it happens). I'm sure that alot of people, who don't know me, might judge me for wearing my pajamas (comfy pants and sometimes my ladybug slippers) to the grocery store. Some people might judge me because I don't feel the need to wear makeup 24/7 (if I wear it at all its usually for a special occasion - so watch for it :).)
For instance, I just recently bought the new New Kids on The Block CD. I loves it! My son and I have listened to it for the last few days, dancing in our car - dancing around the house. It makes me smile. When I told my youngest sister that I bought it and I was rocking out to it, her response was, "Haha, You would." For whatever reason, that response made me smile and laugh. It made me happy to know that my sillyness and quirks are recognized and appreciated and yes, even laughed at.
There is a saying, "You laugh because I'm different. I laugh because you are all the same." That pretty much sums up my thoughts about it. I take pride in being different. I take pride in the fact that I really don't care what other's think of my preferences and quirks. Take me or leave me; but I am who I am. Those that understand and appreciate that are rewarded with a caring, loving and compassionate friend.
Another part of saying yes is finding wonder and happiness in the oddest of places. Digh calls this "Carry a Small Grape". I have my own version of a small grape. January of this year I was finally able to meet, in person, a wonderful woman who I'd built an online friendship with for about a year and a half. I'll call her Eeyore :) (I would call her Grumpy, another one of her favorites, but deep down I know she is just a flower ready to bloom). Anyway, I met her at the hotel she was staying at in Richmond, VA. I was going to be her date for her office Holiday party.
Seeing her for the first time and that first hug, was like I'd known this woman all my life. It wasn't awkward at all. We got signed in and went up to our room. We had been exchanging gifts for each other and the kids for a while at this point, but she had some leftover gifts for me. She ended up giving me a few books, a ladybug bag (loved it!), and some trinkets.
One of those trinkets was a small round pewter-looking disc. On one side was a red heart. On the other side the words "Thinking of You". Of all the gifts she gave me - that one touched me the most. I still carry it with me everywhere. When I'm sad - I just look at it and know that at any given time, at least one person is thinking of me and it makes me feel better.
The night couldn't have ended any better - we came back to the room, got into our comfy jammies, glasses on and read in bed. We were like two women 3x our actual age; but it was comfortable. There weren't any need for words. We were doing what we'd always talked about doing all those months before that would make us happy. Just being near each other - reading our books. I couldn't have imagined a better end to the perfect first face-to-face meeting.
Another facet of saying yes is that life is too short to always be safe. After all "the death rate for people who play it safe and for the people who live boldly is the same: 100 percent." How true is that?! That one line said it all. We sometimes, as a culture, are so worried about the next thing, that we can't enjoy the here and now. We shouldn't just be living life - we should be making choices that make the journey memorable. We get so wrapped up in successes or the lack thereof, that we forget to celebrate the little things.
When my son was born, we used to have monthly birthday parties for him. I think at times my husband felt it was a bit excessive; but this was my first child (who knows maybe my only child). I wanted to celebrate the little achievements. As parents, sometimes I think we like to highlight a job well done only when its done to perfection. What about when your child is struggling. Can we not celebrate their tenacity to learn and master something that may not come as easy to them as others?
Saying yes also means that we take back control of our happiness. Many times we put our happiness in the hands of others - "we give up our power to the very people that took it from us in the first place." Why do we do this? I know this is more common then any of us care to admit, but why or rather how do we get to that point? Ghandi said, "Nobody can hurt you without your permission." If we stop giving away our power, if we stop giving others license to hurt us - it will stop happening and we will become more empowered. Who knows what we could achieve then!
As children, we don't have the knowledge of the world that makes us feel like we are limited. Children feel they can do anything - and they can. Why is this taken from us as adults? We somehow learn to downplay our strengths, even if they aren't perfected. What we have to realize is we are perfect, whether its by the world's standards or not, simply because we are individuals.
So far this book has given me a lot to think about. Its also prompted me to start a project I've wanted to start since my son was born, which has resulted in my other blog under my profile called "Letters to my Son". From here on out, any entry tagged "37 days" will address my thoughts on what I've read along with excerpts from the book itself.
My diary is called "Constantly Evolving" for a reason - I never want to be static or stagnant in my life. I always want to be learning and growing and evolving into the best person I can be. Life isn't a destination, after all - its a journey!