I made myself a smoothie this morning. Banana, two strawberries, a handful of blueberries, a dollop of yogurt, 2 scoops of collagen, one nasty scoop of my “super” powder that gives my body probiotics and has alkaline properties… I turned the blender on and watched it all turn green and immediately fantasized about a peanut butter/chocolate banana smoothie.
I took a few sips of my drink and convinced myself it would keep me healthy and crossed my fingers it would keep me young. I made my way to a sofa chair in our living room, opened up my new cookbook, and gave this smoothie the side eye. A few minutes later, “Ah! I’m halfway finished. I could stop now? I did a good job!” and then a much harsher voice took over, “No, you have to finish it. You can’t give yourself credit for only drinking half.”
For as long as I can remember, I’ve struggled with grace and just being easy on myself. I’m a harsh, harsh critic and the worst part is that you’d never know it! I can be totally unconditional with others, and I rarely think anything you do isn’t amazing and perfect and outstanding. But with myself it’s a whole other standard. I can’t just be good, I have to be excellent. I can’t just do a little, I have to do the most. I can’t just… keep easy.
We moved out of our old house and into a new one because I wanted something a little bigger, somewhere we could stay and start a family when we decided it was time. We sold all of our furniture (cause it was old) and bought new… but the process of remodeling and decorating has been a killer for my self-esteem. Most people take a year or so to get fully settled in a new place, but I’ve given myself ONE month. Yikes. There are boxes everywhere from stuff we’ve ordered and haven’t put together. Three rooms are painted, the other ones still have that GOD AWFUL sand paint color, and only half of our living room furniture is here, and we have nothing for the dining room, and I don’t have any artwork for the walls because I’ve seen nothing I like… and so on until eternity. I will probably take longer than a month to get this place together, and I keep having to remind myself that it’s okay. I don’t have to be an expert decorator. I don’t have to be a super quick unpacker. I don’t have to have everything together… always (or even ever). I can just be if I want to be.
And when it’s not home decor first world problems, it’s the regular day to day: Am I pretty enough or pretty at all? I’m 108lbs, but am I skinny enough? Am I interesting enough? Am I simply enough? Or am I TOO much? Too strong-willed, sometimes too quiet. Too lazy, sometimes too busy-bodied. Too independent and closed-off and maybe too clingy to some. That one girl told that other girl I wasn’t cool. That other girl told those group of girls I was totally fake. Do people like me? Do I like me? and on and on until eternity.
I’ve had this conversation with several of my friends, and before I even finish my sentences they’re already nodding and aha-ing and just totally in agreement. I have YET to meet a woman who doesn’t struggle with grace and just letting things be. And if you’re the woman that doesn’t struggle with grace and self-acceptance, STAY. BLESSED.
A lot of you ask me if I work for a living: the short answer to that is BARELY (thanks to my husband) and I often feel ashamed of it. I spent so much of my childhood and early adulthood trying to get and achieve,.. all the awards and degrees I worked so hard to get, I often wonder if I’ve let myself down. But what I’m doing now… it’s what I want! Even though it’s not “extraordinary” and you know, wonder woman potential. I am SO happy and I feel like I’m ME… not the me I used to be: someone chaotically trying to prove everything to everyone.
so HOW to keep easy? In a world where we are taught to look to others as our standard, rather than look inward and get to know ourselves a little better. In a time when slow living is NOT praised and no achievement is ever quite good enough. And in a light that can cast quite an insecure shadow, how do we keep easy?
Here is my regular (and sometimes daily) rundown for myself. I mentally check these things off and it helps me feel aligned to my true self again.
- Don’t Compare (you’ve heard it before and I’ll say it again).
– Don’t compare. They say comparison will steal your joy, but I say comparison will steal everything from you. I gather a lot of inspiration from other people. Inspiration is good and totally necessary, but I let it stop there. We are all made to be incomparable and I’m learning not to tarnish myself by trying to become comparable.
- It’s Okay to only drink half of the disgusting smoothie.
– Whatever you’re doing. It’s okay to only do half (you did HALF), or to only do a little bit, it’s okay to stop when you’re done even before it’s completed. It’s okay to try something and fail. To do something and have done it wrong. To start the day and you have nothing good to show for it. To have a to-do list and have only done ONE thing off that list. Its okay. Its okay. ITS OKAY. And if we say that to ourselves long and often enough, we have begun to learn to celebrate our lives and to see ourselves in more than just a do or don’t machine. You’re a person on a journey. A little bit, can be a lot. Half can be ENOUGH. Why not?
- If It Makes You Happy – you’ve heard the ICONIC Sheryl Crow song… “If it makes you happy.” The lyrics are soundbite gold: “if it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad, if it makes you happy, then why the (*) are you so sad?” I think we HAVE to HAVE to get good at asking ourselves if things make us happy. We think they do, but then we find ourselves in these ruts… and just unhappy. In some ways, the goal isn’t always to be happy, because I’ve learned that sometimes doing what is right won’t make you immediately happy. But living a life that isn’t intentional is no life at all. Am I happy? Am I doing good for others? Am I doing good for myself?
- Be nice to yourself and be nice to everyone else… without reservation.
I think more often than not, it takes a lot of courage to have grace on yourself, it takes a lot of intention to keep easy, and it takes ALL of you to be happy. And I’m slowly learning that a life full of grace, intention, and happiness is not that hard. You just gotta slow down a bit and look inward often.
And maybe even, ironically, you have to fight a little to keep easy.