Day 27: Holy Mess

At the end of the day,

I come home and throw my coat on a chair.

Then I do the dishes.

I spill something on the rug.

Then I clean it up.

I roll around in my bed.

Then I straighten the sheets.

There is mess, there is chaos,

there is ease and spaciousness.

And soon after, there is order,

neatness, the scrape of a bristled brush on a dustpan.

Some days I decide to be sugar-free,

others I eat cake,

but most of the time those are the same days.

My body is a temple and my home,

so I want to treat it kindly and nourish it well.

It’s also God’s gift to me,

to do with as I please.

I was given that freedom.

Every workout, every lie-in,

every green juice or pizza,

it is all divine.

Born of my divine free will.

The intentions and the missteps

are the path to remembering

I am watched and protected,

and I feel that sheltering love

in every inch of my unhealthy

body.

 

 

 

P.S. If you like, check out my Etsy store and support The Humane League!

https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/SoftSpotAccessories?ref=l2-shopheader-name

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My Humble Little Christmas Gifts

19 shopping days left, and I’m beginning to feel the pressure that my gifts are not up to snuff this year. Instead of running up and down the length of several crowded malls, getting exasperated and finally settling for something I hope my loved ones will like, but will most likely sit in the living room for a few weeks before getting buried in the back of a closet, I decided to take a different route this year.

I made a small donation to a charity I thought each of my people would vibe with: animals, the environment, supporting local businesses, you get the idea. I felt really good about it at first, filling out online forms and waiting for the cards to be sent in the mail. Then I spoke with my best friend who is hand-making all her gifts this year. I saw my mum making homemade Christmas crackers with personalized treats inside, putting together string art cards, knitting gloves, and baking the first of many Christmas treats. And I started to wonder if my little cards were enough.

But what makes a gift “enough”? Is it making the recipient smile? Finding something they really wanted? Proving I care about them? What am I trying to accomplish in giving someone a gift? Is it a genuine desire to make them happy? Or is it the fulfillment of an obligation, an annual chore I have to get done?

I tried to talk my mum out of getting me gifts this year, because I didn’t want her spending a lot of money on stuff I don’t need. Yet when I see the glitter in her eye as she wraps our gifts or mixes icing for cakes, I see how much fun she’s having and it hits me: this is how she shows her love. In poring over gifts and food, my mum is saying “I love you” to all of us. And that’s what a gift should be, an expression of love.

I say “I love you” in hugs and poems and listening to peoples’ problems, which might explain why I often find it such a drag to go Christmas shopping. It doesn’t feel like love to me. Making someone a hot drink when they come in exhausted after a long day; that feels like love. Staying up to text someone at 2am while they work through a crisis; that feels like love. Sharing my blanket on the couch, letting someone have the first bite when we go to a restaurant, hearing their embarrassing stories and not judging them; that feels like love.

Elbowing my way through Black Friday crowds to get a DVD my dad probably won’t watch? Not so much.

Some people are fabulous gift givers, zeroing in on the perfect presents – something unique and unexpected that speaks to who the person is and what they love to do. It’s beautiful, and I envy these people. As much as I try, Christmas morning probably won’t be the time when I shine. That’s okay. It’s only natural and appropriate my mum takes centre stage then, and there’s no need for me to compete with her. I say “I love you” in other ways. And what Christmas is about to me, more than anything, is letting each other know that we’re loved.

So I don’t plan on getting stressed out over giving the right presents or the most expensive presents this year. I plan on showing the people around me how much I love them. And that will be more than enough.

No Wrong Way

I recently spent two months at an ashram in British Columbia, a life-changing experience where I practiced karma yoga, but also rediscovered my love for mantra, prayer, bhakti yoga, and met incredible people who have given me the courage to continue on my path.

When I arrived I was struggling with how I should do some good in the world. I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to do a bunch of volunteer work or donate all my money. I was searching for my way to serve, and had only a very narrow idea of service to build from. Because that idea didn’t feel right at this moment in my life, I’d feel stuck, then guilty I wasn’t doing enough, then I’d try to motivate myself to serve again – it was an increasingly frustrating cycle.

So in one of our workshops when we were asked to bring forward a concern, I asked:

How can I best help or show compassion to others?

To clear our minds, we chanted for a few minutes to Shiva (Om Namah Shivaya) and an answer formed itself in my mind, the mantra acting as a lens so I could focus on it:

Be humble, dedicate everything you do to Me, and be an example for others. Don’t be scared, I’m with you.

This answer came so insistently from my Internal Teacher I couldn’t ignore it. So let’s break this down.

Be humble – I’m not going to change the world. I am one tiny person. Chances are, no matter how much pressure I put on myself, I am not going to cure cancer, save the rainforest, or stop cruelty to animals in this lifetime. I can give my support and a little of my resources to these causes, but I don’t have to be up to my elbows in them all the time. It doesn’t hinge on me. Humility has kind of a bad rep these days in our hyper-competitive world, but to me it’s become very closely related to freedom. I don’t have to carry the world on my back: it’s not my job to save everyone, and I’m not capable of it anyway. It’s a relief, not an insult. God has given me my own tiny part to play and the rest I don’t have to take on. I can be concerned, I can be compassionate, I can be filled with indignation about what’s happening in the world, but I don’t need to bully myself into thinking I need to solve it all. My small contribution of light is enough. My presence is enough.

Dedicate everything you do to Me – When I act with the intention of serving Spirit instead of myself, I surrender the results. If my motivation is getting the paycheque, or the dream partner, or the vacation, I try to control the process. Instead, I strive to allow it to be. And so it unfolds with far less effort and suffering, and less stress for myself and those around me. When my actions are in service to the Divine, I hold them loosely, knowing they aren’t mine, and I’m better able to release them when the time comes. I trust that whatever happens is for my Highest Good.

Be an example for others – To me this means implementing my beliefs, showing outwardly what I’ve learnt through my practice. It’s trying every day for kindness, understanding, patience, all the things I value. It has so much more power than I give it credit for. I know in my life where a kind word has been a catalyst that took me down a different road, gave me faith in myself, or showed me a new perspective, but I discount my own power to do that for others. My ego likes to tell me it’s not enough, I’m not enough. But we are enough. We always have been. And there’s nothing we can ever do to lose that.

Don’t be scared, I’m with you – I’m not alone in anything I do. I am supported beyond what I can conceive, even when it doesn’t feel like it. God and fear can’t coexist in the same moment, because God is love. And love is the opposite of fear. Every time I am lost in fear (about a thousand times a day), the universe is patiently waiting for me to realize my unity with it again.

So for now I’m trying to stop pressuring myself to save the world, and just surrendering all my ideas of what I think I should be doing. Give it all away, so I’m hopefully left only with love, so whatever I do is putting light into my little corner of the world. It might be helping my mum with the groceries, it might be encouraging a friend through a rough day, or perhaps it might be through poems, love, and prayer.