Tuesday, October 7, 2014

About the blazer

In my last post, I stirred up some confusion.  It's about the blazer.

I think it's worth exploring for a minute, because what we wear matters.  I mean on one level we know it doesn't matter; we are not what we wear.  And yet what we wear identifies us in the world--this is the purpose of uniforms, after all.  

So who was I being when I did that ten minute speed-shop?

I was running on instinct that day.  It was time for me to move and take action, and I had ten minutes.  So I stepped into a well-worn part of myself that had learned one way of being in the world.  That one way required a blazer, an ivy league education, and sterling achievements.  I was competent, trained to produce excellent work, in order to be called on to do more excellent work.  For ten minutes, I was that blazer wearing young woman who lived and died by the reviews again.

She pops up from time to time, because she still lives inside of me, that competent performer, who craves the good reviews.  She was the CEO of my mind for a good long time, and she did a fine job.  But motherhood ousted her from the position as the boss of me.   Looking back on the early days of parenting... the days when, "I wasn't trained for this," was the phrase that went through my head.  The days I resigned to walking around with spit up on my t-shirt because I just couldn't keep up with keeping myself in clean clothes.  The days when I took my rest standing up and sought refuge with other friends who were weathering the same transition... When I think about that time now, I give myself more space to feel into how hard that was.  I had no idea how much I was changing.

Motherhood taught me to be with myself without my achievements.  My children, my husband, my own parents, my struggle to get by from day to day, all insisted that I move on from seeking praise and laying blame.  I hate to say it but it was all very humiliating for me.  Our culture is not much into humility, and I know you'll probably cringe at the word, but humility was the antidote for for the blazer.  

Because I learned I was loved anyway.  Me without all the bells and whistles, me in a t-shirt with spit up on it, me totally incompetent, often unpleasant, a bit screwed up, I still mattered.  Not for what I could do, or how I was, but for the fact that I showed up at all.  Day by day I started to learn that showing up, just showing up and attending to what was necessary, mattered.  It mattered a lot, maybe it mattered the most of all.

Now, I want to be very clear here.  This is not some romanticization of motherhood, this is not some vaulting up of the domestic life, or argument for or against anything.  This is just a story, my story, about discovering what matters and shaking off expectations that get digested over a lifetime.  This can happen in your life anytime anywhere--a lost job, an illness, moving to a new city, it could be anything really--even winning the lottery.  

Motherhood is what did it for me.  It took me to the core of my life where I learned to love what I love without being driven by big expectations.  I know, you're probably going to cringe at that too--we live in a go big, or go home era--we just love that word big.  But giving up big expectations does not mean you end up with nothing.  

Giving up big expectations, especially externally driven ones, means you get to play again, you get to fall in love with what you love again, and just enjoy that.  

One thing I learned through that kind of play is that growth is our nature--and that is big.  Even when we sit still and do nothing, there is something. This is a core principal of zen practice, and the only way to learn it is by seeing for yourself.  The something that remains in meditation feels a lot like love.  Its been important to my writing, to the events that I've produced, and to becoming a coach.  The blazer girl thought all of those things weren't worth the time.  The outcome was too risky.  The projects were too small, too sweet, too nice, they didn't pack enough of a punch.  She was wrong, she didn't know about the something that feels like love, and so she had stopped playing at all. 

What do you wear when you're showing up simply, as someone in love, doing what is in her nature?  I'm not sure yet.   Come to the event with Tara Mohr on November 2nd, and you'll see for yourself!

For the record, here I am in my blazer:

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