I belong to a really wonderful women's singing group. We are a non-auditioned group of about 80 women who have been given the gift of song by our wonderful director. She has made music available to us, some of whom would have no other outlet for it, and she handpicks tunes that nourish our souls as well as the souls of our audience.
Last week we had our last rehearsal of the semester until the new year. It was an emotional time of goodbyes, and gratitudes. As we expressed to her our thanks for all that she gifts us with, she turned and gave it right back to us with the wish that we would each own our own beauty as we left rehearsal that night. That stayed with me. That, and her admonition that even if we spent Thanksgiving alone this season, we ought to be thankful for ourselves. That had never occurred to me, just as owning my own beauty had not.
So today I do the hard thing, to list the things in myself that I honor, love and appreciate. Why is it so much easier to list the things I dislike or wish to change? But this is an important list. I encourage you to join me in writing this list. What things about you are you grateful for? It might even be something you weren't aware of until someone pointed it out to you; or something you admire in others which makes you realize it is somewhere within you too -- which is why it resonated so deeply. What makes you special? I guarantee there are many more things than you will even think of.
On to my list:
*I have a sense of humor. Most of the time only my family gets it, but it does indeed exist! I also have a vast array of facial expressions much to most people's amusement. *I am self-aware. This is something I surely developed in years of therapy, mixed with being naturally introspective. I've come to see it as a real assett upon the discovery that the average person does not seem to display or develop this trait. What self-awwareness means, to me, is the conscious knowledge that you're 'doing it again' when you get stuck in a personality pattern that you are trying to leave behind. To be honest, even just knowing your patterns at all is an important step in self-awareness that many have not taken. When was the last time you told a friend that they "always do --- when --- happens" and they said "I DO?!" The self-aware person probably already knows, and if he/she doesn't, they will take your insight to heart and really listen to it, for it is a help, not an attack or a criticism. Self-awareness is the first step in self-correction, and is kindred spirits with thoughtfulness. *Which brings me to thoughtfulness. Thoughtfulness is self-awareness turned outwards. It is considering how your actions affect other people. I do this in many small ways: always leaving a decent tip; moving quickly across the road when a car so kindly stops to let me go, so as not to hold them up unnecessarily; not taking the last paper towel without replacing the roll. These sorts of things are small and perhaps unnoticed, but as I participate in them, they remind me how much I value human decency. And the best way to contribute to creating more of something in the world is by embodying it in any way you can. *I'm a writer, with killer language skills. I'm always getting asked to proofread things for other people. So that is a value I can add; but for myself, I appreciate my ability to express what is going on in my heart using the written word, because it is the simplest, most organic path to self-understanding that I have access to. *I don't bore easily! I am too interested in EVERYTHING! If anything, I am a scatter-brain for reading too many books at once, and obsessing over too many tv shows, ideas, or blogs. My sisters and I have dubbed ourselves "media junkies". Book stores are like drug dealers to us; ditto amazon.com. With Netflix' new straight-to-PC service now in beta for Mac, I watched four movies on my computer in two days! That in addition to a disc full of Battlestar Galactica Season 2 episodes. *I persevere. On the surface, a person might protest that I quit things all the time; however, when I do, it is because I am aware that the pursuit of the goal is not adding anything positive to my life. In the ways that I like to think it counts, I persevere. Life has handed me bunches of lemons over the years, and I know that is true of most people; I don't belong to a special 'club' of people who have been wronged. Sometimes perseverance to me is simply breathing, or simply getting out of bed. But I still believe in living, in a way that means thriving, not merely surviving.
I've far from perfect, and even this short list was a hard list to write, but knowing what I appreciate in myself gives me something really positive to build on. I hope you'll do this exercise and find the same true for you.
As a child she was a glorious Girl Queen of the Raven Haired, with skeins of light pulsating beneath her alabaster skin, and shining eyes. Once crimson red lips always curled in a smile to match her dancing eyes. Always she moved lithely across gardens and over plains of light and rainbows.
So it is no surprise that now she is an artist, photographer, writer, dancer. Tossed into the fire, she became what she has become, smoothed out by cascades of tears and the yoga of an authentic laugh. She believes in a world where we all remember joy is our birthright. And love is why we are here.