Wednesday, August 10, 2011

To Thine Own Self Be True...Get 'er Done

From a Facebook blog I wrote in February 2009. It stands equally true today:

I hear and read a lot of colloquialisms as I meander down this road called life. I can’t think of any right now except “Get ‘er done.”

Well, that’s a lie. There have been OTHERS running through my head recently: “Be Rigorously Honest,” “To Each His Own” and “To Thine Own Self Be True.” (Strangely enough, “Get ‘er Done” fits right into the list.)

“Be Rigorously Honest” always makes me think of a cigar-chomping, red-faced, muscle-bound Drill Sergeant: “Be Rigorously Honest you *$ piece of @(@#0 mother (#)@##$ horse’s #$@ or I’ll stick this rifle up your @#$…now get down there and give me 300 while I sit on you!” Strong. Forceful. Direct.

“To Each his Own” is simply….meh. Fine. Whatev. With a little bit of snobbery in the mix. Like two dandies passing on the sidewalk of some schmancy city block, boutique bag in one hand, latte in the other, eyeing each and secretly scorning the other’s $300 designer jeans paired with THAT jacket. “Lord, what WAS that girl thinking? Hmmm. To each her own. Sniff.” Just keep walking.

I prefer “To Thine Own Self Be True.” I love language and history…”To Thine Own Self Be True” is beautiful. It’s romantic. Old-fashioned and flourish-y. Lots of swishes and swirls should adorn the letters. The phrase evokes the likes of Shakespeare, Byron...Robin Hood and Maid Marion. Somewhere in time there’s a knight brandishing a sword that has that sentence etched on the blade. The irony of being skewed with a weapon like that is not lost on me.

Brushing that floral crap aside, what does that phrase really mean? It appeals to me because it is clearly defined, rose-petals and all. As a person who believes in God (…Universe, Earth Energy, Creator, Jesus, Buddha, Joe down the street, no one…I’m not a religious freak…insert your own idea of a “spiritual mentor.” ), the philosophy is a wonderful gauge on how connected I am to God’s will versus my own. If I’m doing something that’s not in the “higher plan” of my existence, if my actions are not part of a bigger will in my life, I just feel wrong. And, I usually feel wrong in varying degrees and levels for something or other on a daily or even hour-to-hour basis. I firmly believe that when I sincerely ask for God’s help and direction in life, it will come. I believe this because it has happened over and over. On the flipside, the beauty (or irony) of being human is that I have free will. So it’s always a give and take deal. I’m striving more for the “handing over” part of the deal. It’s a daily…battle…no…struggle…no. Those aren't the right words. It’s a daily exercise.

For me there is a fine balance between exercising Faith and lack thereof. I choose to exist somewhere in the middle, like a mildly swinging pendulum. I like some free will. I am human after all. My spirit chose to be in this physical shell for a reason! I also like knowing that should I choose to do so, there are situations I can give over to God so that the burdens that often weigh me down when I don’t give up the fight are eased. The extent to which I’m willing to slow down, relax and hand over directly correlates to the amount of ease I feel. As a single mom going through a divorce, working full time, dealing with financial pressures and emotional wreckage and crazy people in my life, there’s a lot to try to carry alone. I’m a stubborn German-Irish redhead. I still have some things to hard-headedly prove. To whomever will listen, damnit. Keeping the pendulum fairly mellow is not always easy.

On one hand, if I believed that I had no free will I’d sit like a lump somewhere constantly waiting for God to do everything for me. Even the most spiritual and humblest monk on the remotest mountaintop has to lift his hand to his mouth to take a drink of water.

On the other hand, if I live only by self-control without belief that there are some miracles in this world that I had no hand in creating (really?) and that I have to severely maintain every aspect of my life as well as YOURS (you’re SO welcome), I’ll be spun so tight that I’ll become a red whirl of anger, angst and misery. The irony of free will is that once you get going in a really good streak, it becomes addictive. You get a little het up and you’re like butter…you’re on a roll. Can’t stop now. And don’t anyone try to stop the tornado either.

For instance, when I drive to work – late again because the girls will NOT wake up at a moment’s notice – I get on the toll-road with the fact of light traffic ahead of me. There’s a very short stretch of curved highway where the CHP doesn’t lie in wait. At this point of my early-morning commute, my speedometer often hits up to 100 mph because I LOVE speed. I may have been a racecar driver in another life. I KNOW it’s wrong. But there’s a thrill as I urge my dirt-laden, 10-year old little green weeniemobile to its limit…new tires help…and I fly past someone cruising at 80, thinking, “Get out of my way fool, I need coffee!” I embrace the control as my steering wheel reacts to the mechanisms of my car and the tension of the road rushes past the steel, through my hands and into my body. It’s power and it’s danger and it’s freedom. I push my and the car’s limits, always knowing in the back of my mind that 1) one small mistake and I’m dust – literally, 2) one small cop and my bank account is dust and 3) I’m going to have a speed hangover as soon as I see how much gas I really wasted in that 5 minute jaunt. DAMNIT! Environmental no-no girl strikes again! But I love the adrenaline – the rush. It’s SO WRONG and it feels so nasty good. Then I hit the speed-trap part of the commute, back off to 73 mph and cruise the rest of the trail to the office.

For those 5 minutes my will takes completely over and my God is sitting up there in his Barker lounge chair chuckling and thinking, “Girl you are one crazy #$@%%...if I was a Drill Sergeant I’d make you do 300. Hey, where’s my latte?” The knot in my stomach is small…almost negligible. It’s ignorable. Is that a word? It is now. If Shakespeare could make up words, so can I.

But what about the other areas of my life where the knot in my stomach can grow exponentially? The angst increases? The moroseness deepens? This is where the self-will gauge, much like the speedometer in my car, tells how far I have passed the point of danger and I’d better slow down or else kablam! Step back, before you turn to dust. Relax. “To Thine Own Self Be True.” If it hurts, stop doing it. Yeah…I know that other colloquialism “No Pain, No Gain.” Well said! I agree that if you have a bitchin’ workout in the gym, you will be in some very good pain – proof that your muscles are growing and getting stronger. Or if you lose a loved one, or end an important relationship, experiencing the mental anguish is an important way to grow spiritually and emotionally. Feeling feelings is human and necessary and God-given. But for the aspects of myself for which I choose free will and then experience unnecessary harm in the process, “To Thine Own Self Be True” is a thing of beauty.

Not happy in a relationship? Why? What can I do about it? “Adapt and Overcome?” (I must have a thing for the Marines.) That’s simply another way of saying accept what I can and somehow deal with the rest. If two people are willing to communicate and be honest with themselves and each other and can come to a compromise for the best of both, with or without counseling, then great. But if my focus is on everything that is bothering me about someone else and I try to manipulate the situation to incur change, do I honestly think I can force the hand of another human being to make them bend to my will? Hell no. Not if I’m rigorously honest with myself. It is physically impossible and morally wrong. Who am I as a simple body on this planet to think I can change anyone else? If I’m in a relationship and I’m not happy, adapt and overcome or get the hell out. I have to ask myself, “What hurts more, being lonely with someone or being alone? Do I like how I feel, respond, think and behave on a daily basis with this person? Am I flourishing in the light of love or floundering in the shadows of neediness? Am I the strong, self-loving, self-sufficient woman I want to be, or am I a puppy?” If the answers are not positive, then something is terribly wrong and some personal decisions need to be made.

I did that with my marriage. That decision emotionally pummeled me. I fell to my knees in tears and agony, praying to my God to please carry me through the pain because I couldn’t handle it alone. The fact was clear, however, that the decision was for my best chance at survival. I knew to my innermost being that a change had to be made because I couldn’t live the rest of my life in misery; all the “adapt and overcome” options had been used up. I’m growing emotionally and spiritually because of that decision. And it has helped me recognize sooner and more clearly when I’m in situations and relationships that are not good for me. Self-reflection and soul-searching and lesson-learning are finally beginning to cause a change in my physical and emotional make-up.

“To Thine Own Self Be True” must be involved in every aspect of my life, not just relationships. Want to achieve a personal goal? Set one and achieve it, Kristen. I’m not happy with the 5 pounds I’ve put BACK on my body? Get to the gym or walk at lunch. Go back to school, finish the Advanced Open Water Diver course, do the friggin’ dishes. Spend 15 extra minutes a day playing with the kids! Small, huge it doesn’t matter. I must be realistic in regards to my desires, time and resources and then get to into action. The trick for me on a daily basis is recognizing the need for a change and then becoming willing to make the change. My self-will will let me stew in a problem, but God’s will won’t let the knot go away. My self-will controls how big or little that knot becomes. God’s will will remove it if I put my harmful self-will aside. That recognition process can take a minute, a day, a year, depending on the situation and my comfort threshold.

Today the knot in my stomach doesn’t have to grow so large and the moroseness doesn’t have to delve quite so deeply into my psyche as I step through new stages of my life with Faith and friendship and self-awareness. I’m not perfect and never want to be. I don’t want to sit alone on a mountaintop. Nor do I want to bang my head in a rubber-walled room. I want to live, improve, make mistakes, learn and improve some more. I want to be found in my God. I want to love. I want to be loved. I want to be happy. I want excitement and tenderness and kindness and respect – and give those in return to others for whom I care. I have a choice to make each moment of the day: ignore the niggling little knot that says I’m not doing what I should be doing, or recognize, understand, believe and heed the knot.

Practicing living in my self-truth means good news for the world. I'm focusing on me, not you. Not your brother, CPA, dog or goldfish and everything and everyone else on the planet. When I practice self-truth I feel powerful. As God's will and my will align, I feel strong and confident. Thus happiness and positive thinking ensue.

Now that these words are laid out for the world and myself to see, the key is what action follows from this point forward. Get ‘er done Kris.



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