2014 – Year of Responsibility

A week into the new year and I hadn’t really thought about a new focus for it. Last year, Alex, Max and I dubbed it the “Year of Releasing Judgment.” It was huge. All three of us worked through it in our own way. I faced my depression, examined my disease to please, forced myself to go on the dating market, discovered I am a lesbian, came out of the closet as such, and faced my father. Oh, and I finally took control of my health, discovered I had cancer, and went through surgeries and treatment.

In no way have I mastered “releasing judgment,” but at least I am more self-aware. I still battle vulnerability. I hate opening myself up, being more authentic…but I also thrive in it. I have felt more joy and connection by doing so, even if it is still excruciating. I had trouble today just asking some neighbor kids to shovel my yard after having two feet of snow dumped on it. Admitting that you need help and seeking it takes vulnerability.

At the end of 2013, I was very satisfied with my growth and development. When you see how far you have come, it does motivate you to continue. I just didn’t know how. I am still working on saying what I believe, even if it differs from what someone else believes. Standing in your truth, accepting criticism, but not being defined by it is still immensely difficult. I have found that communication and super understanding friends help, but it takes practice. It is like developing a new muscle. It may hurt when you are working it out, but it gets stronger and easier each time you do it.

As we start the new year, I intend to keep “releasing judgment,” but it is time to step it up a notch. For inspiration, of course I lean on my buddies Alex and Max. We had been locked up in our homes for three days during this “polar vortex,” and finally had a chance to pow wow last night. After a lovely meal, Alex casually busts out, “I think I know what 2014 will be… the year of taking responsibility.”

Immediately, I felt a wave of horror. This is a girl who will go weeks without opening her mail, avoids answering the phone, is behind on most of her bills, and is beyond discipline. Most of this was a response from the days where I over scheduled myself. When I wasn’t working 80 hours a week, I volunteered, went without eating to pay bills, over extended myself with friends, and went to bed feeling used and miserable. I would take trips to see Alex and Max in Chicago and call them “vacations from responsibility.”

I am sure that I am not the only one with an immediate repulsion to “responsibility.” The dictionary defines it as: ”the state of being the person who caused something to happen; a duty or task that you are required or expected to do; and something that you should do because it is morally right, legally required, etc.” An appropriate synonym in my head is “obligation.”

Alex and Max agreed that this was a common way to view responsibility, but they had a new approach. “Responsibility,” in their view, “means simply, to respond. To take action and ownership of your life.” Instead of viewing it as doing something you don’t want to do for someone else, or to act because someone else feels you should, “responsibility” is about using your gifts and energy by responding with action. You act because you are owning who you are and fully exercising your passion to create and thrive. It is about shifting focus from being a passive passenger on the bus of life and taking the reins and owning your life by taking the wheel and making the decisions instead of just letting life happen to you.

An important disclaimer. For some people, there is a tendency to claim “responsibility” for things that aren’t theirs to own. I am guilty of this. I will often apologize when I have nothing to apologize for. I will feel guilty about things that I have no control over. I have used the label of “responsibility” to demonize or dehumanize me. I count my lack of responsibility with my level of self-worth. It is a great marker to abuse and bully one’s self with.

Redefining “responsibility” requires releasing judgment. It asks for us to take action on the things that are within our power and releasing things that are out of our sphere of influence or control. It is about empowerment. You can make a difference by responding to life in a way that is authentic and true to who you are and what you are meant to be.

Alex also made a great point that 2014 should be a year of “love.” Valentine’s Day is 2/14->2014 Also, releasing judgment helped us find and feel love; taking responsibility should help us respond to love and help it grow. God knows I need help in the love department.

I am indebted to Alex and Max for this brilliant idea. I accept the challenge a little more enthusiastically now that I have dispelled some of the myths of responsibility. I can’t say that I don’t feel intrepidation, but I also understand that this is a long overdue step in my maturation. In order to open the door for great things to happen in my life, I have to prove that I am willing to take enough responsibility to even just push the door open.

Looking for Love In All the Wrong Places

I had an interesting conversation with Alex and Max yesterday. They made mention that while they were with me, that there were two separate occasions where I talked about being nervous or fearful.  In all honesty, that used to describe me all the time. For years, I kept telling them when I had anxiety over the next days’ activities or when I was fearful about the possibility of something happening.

One would think that a diagnosis of cancer would excuse such behavior. Anyone might be afraid when a doctor’ tells you that you have some rebel cells threatening your life, but I have learned this year that the energy spent on worrying is just wasted.

I have come to terms at the beginning of this year that the Universe wants me to know that all life is about feeling good. There is no part of this human experience that was meant to be miserable for the purpose of being miserable. If you accept that as a truth, why do we sometimes fear what is good? You don’t. You sense fear when you feel that you are contrary to receiving or experiencing that which you think is good. You are feeling bad at being in the absence of what you want, what is good.

Knowing that, I still have trouble with the idea that I am worth the good. I have gotten better at recognizing what I want, because I feel good when I see it. When I don’t feel good, it is a sign that it isn’t what I want. Now that I have a slightly better idea of what I want, I need to contemplate what the disconnect is when it comes to receiving it.

For me, I believe it is totally related to love. Who we are as humans is love. I have been trained to not see my worth by people who looked at me with disappointment because I didn’t make their world complete.

I remember feeling better about myself, having lost weight in high school, and starting to go out and experience new activities. My grades were great. Even my parents gave some indication of pride, but I always felt like I just wasn’t good enough. I didn’t have enough polish. I didn’t say the right things. I was a little awkward. My presentation wasn’t as sharp as I had hoped. I actually remember people telling me in college that they couldn’t wait until I came into my own because I would surely be something. This made me feel like I wasn’t enough the way that I was.

In middle school, I died to have big, curly permed hair. I would rat it for hours and uses ton of hairspray. By the time I got to the middle school dance, I felt my hair went flat and wasn’t as pretty as the long, straight hair of the pretty girls with mall bangs. Last night, Alex played with my hair because it isn’t going to be around much longer. He teased it and scrunched it. The smell of Aqua Net sent me back to those pre-teen years. When he finished, my hair resembled my 7th grade self. The photo of the most awkward year of myself featured this hair. As he and Max commented on how nice it looked, I reflected on how I have spent so much of my life running in opposition to this look. Yet, it was the most natural. The most me.

I would say during my high school and college years I was the most me. The turning point was when I was 13 and my church held a surprise birthday party for me at the Vacation Bible School at church. They got me a cake and someone gave me a gift of a hand made loom. It meant so much to me because my family didn’t really do anything for me on that birthday.

This act gave me joy and self esteem that transitioned into natural weight loss. The more weight I loss, the more I felt like myself. As I lost the weight, I pursued new passions. I inherited art supplies and volunteered at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts for several summers. I began music lessons and joined a show choir. I studied Spanish and dreamed of studying abroad. I felt alive. I was super happy, and people would comment on how much energy I had.

During this time, you are bumping up against so many other people that are looking to get a piece of that source energy. You make them feel good, so they want to stick around. Then, they begin relying on you for their connection to source. Over time, it wears you down because you are unable to be that impossible thing they want you to be.

I used their feedback to train myself away from caring about my own alignment with who I am, with source. I became more concerned about their opinions than being true to whom I am.

When my mom was sick, all I wanted to be was the perfect daughter. I wanted to step up and martyr myself in order to make her well. This initially made her feel good, but she began to hold me accountable for when she wasn’t feeling good. No matter what I did, I couldn’t be what she wanted me to be.

After she died, I actually worked for the American Cancer Society. I really enjoyed the job and felt at times that I was my highest self when I was doing the work. It came with ease and I brought a lot of joy. When I started fearing that I needed to move up the corporate latter because I was fearful that my salary was lacking, I started heading into opposition. I became critiqued for not fitting into a box that they thought I needed to…and the discord poisoned the rest of my time there. This was completely compounded by the fact that some of the co-workers that I loved so much, were beginning to really rub me the wrong way.

The second that I thought my real problem was that I needed to be anything other than who I was, life became dark and bleak. Everything was harder. There was no ease and joy. I felt the more I martyred myself, the higher the rewards would be. I got sick. I was exhausted. I felt numb, and I became so depressed that I didn’t recognize who was starring back at me in the mirror. I have a series of pictures through my late 20s of myself in hairstyles that I don’t remember because I was so numb and self-hating.

Coming back to center means accepting that who I really am is love. When you love something, you align yourself with who you really are and align yourself with source energy.  If you think about an animal you love or see someone love deeply, they don’t really do anything specifically for it. A baby doesn’t come out of a womb doing a tap dance for your love. We love them because we are love, not because they are wonderful. It is natural to love.

When you are focused on someone and not loving them, your choice to push against them has you out of whack with your loving alignment. Jesus was to represent the love of the world. Even if we think we have a good reason, not loving something is actually hurting us, not them. If you are judging or limiting love from someone else, you are pinching off the supply of love to yourself. You are putting conditions on it, which means you are putting conditions on someone loving you.

We don’t say be loveable so I can love you. We love you. Be whomever you choose to be. Our love of you is not dependent on your behavior; our love of you is unconditional. It is delicious and natural in spite of what ever is going on.

A stumbling block to this is when someone feels the need to control this. When they see A and they feel love, then they see B and don’t, they believe that they have to kill situation B so they don’t feel the lack of love again. The idea that everyone has to do the same thing comes from people feeling better when they see one condition and worse when they see another. Believing if they could just control the conditions, they’ll feel better. The truth is that anyone who tries to control conditions to feel better always feels worse. You cannot control conditions; it is impossible.

It is in this flawed thinking that so often we are trained to just behave in a certain way, you will be loved. This keeps you distant from source; it keeps you from the spring of eternal truth. The whole time, you thought your inability to fit the mold was what was keeping you from being loved, but it was of you ignoring your own unique drum that was preventing you from feeling the love. The whole time you were soliciting others for their love, you could have easily changed to be singularly focused with much greater results.

How can you reverse this ship? The biggest lesson that I had to learn this year was how to take responsibility for how I feel. No one can make you feel bad, you do.  If we are source love, with the only real job in life to reach out and love others, start doing so. When you are having trouble loving, it doesn’t matter what your object of appreciation is, just that you have one. You can start loving things that are easy. Your favorite chair. Your animals. Your kids. The more you can focus on and be grateful for the things that you love, the easier it is to still remain in that loving place when you start looking at yourself.

Learning to feel this kind of love is like refueling your car. It connects you to all the energy you need to conquer what you want. It can almost make you feel invincible. When you feel like you get kicked off of the higher vibration of these thought patterns, you can take the responsibility for making yourself feel better. It is not filtered through anyone else. It doesn’t have an expiration date. The well of love is available at any time if you want to drink from it. It is ultimate well-being.

Another huge component to this is being able to release judgment when you or anyone else knocks you off of this high flying disk. I know I had relatives, friends, and co-workers who may have discouraged me or distracted me from being my best self. I have harbored great anger over this for years. What I have come to learn is that feeling hate or anger is rooted in my inability to feel like I can love fully.  I have had to really embrace the concept of forgiveness in order to release this. In the end, forgiveness is just withdrawing attention from that which is keeping you from being in the vortex.

Intention for today: Find objects with the intention to love.

Have you not checked out Abraham Hicks yet?