A real occasion

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Authenticity – when your beliefs, your words and your actions are aligned. Be real, that’s the common understanding. Simple, isn’t it?

I do my best to be honest with my children, including about Santa or the Easter Bunny. I am not a “truth” activist, out seeking to destroy fantasies but when they were old enough to ask me the Question, I told them my perspective. The same goes for Mother’s Day. In one view, it is a social construct that we have a day dedicated to mothers. This is not a judgment on whether it should be celebrated or not, or of its ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. To be fair, at the time when it first began (in the US in 1914), perhaps it was needed to raise awareness of this important and valuable role women play. Just as special Days are now being “proclaimed”.

So what happens when these same now-teenage children tell me they don’t see the sense in Mother’s Day, that it is an advertising hoax?

I could take offense and judge their reasons or worse, them, for saying so; or feel unappreciated or unloved; or be compelled to “forgive” them because “they are just being typical teenagers” and we would love them no matter what (even though we didn’t like them much that day); or I could be thrilled that they are perceptive and aware of the potential “fakery” of the world we live in, but with a lingering sense of loss for the occasion.

With our expectations, the emotional reactions when confronted with this will be varied, and so are the words and actions we use to make sense of it all.

And my response? A little hurt, initially. I bet not many positive thoughts were running through your minds reading this. Here is the thing – this ‘poor me’ feeling didn’t sit well. Something nagged at me and it dawned on me; this feeling was a “you should feel” feeling as a reaction to an expected narrative of what ought to happen. But should I?

What was real for me is this. This isn’t about what they do, but about me (after all, it is “Mother’s Day”). I who choose to be a mother, I who choose to love and guide them in the way I do. I who choose to see the reality of a young man who made time to spend his day with me, despite his many commitments and protestations of the commercialism of the day. No grand gestures of flowers, chocolates, breakfast in bed etc. I see a young woman contributing to the day in her usual sweet way, baking. I see these young persons who have been mindful and caring for my feelings, and not just on the day. And for these, I am loved and filled with gratitude.

Okay, the sense of occasion was still calling (I succumbed a little to the big hoo-haa after being bombarded by the media telling us the day had to be significant and “big”). The occasion I desired was to have a time of meaningful connection. Stepping into my authenticity and as any independent woman would, I asked for what I wanted. This was the result. I spent time with my family.

Ultimately, the motivation behind an occasion such as this matters. The real-ness is not about what prompted an occasion or how it is celebrated, it is in the ‘why’ of it. Why did you celebrate Mother’s Day, or any occasion? What feelings go with or into the occasion?

In a similar vein, why do we do any of the things we do each day? Does the doing match the values we hold and the words we expound?

Is what you do an authentic expression of who you are?

~ FlorenceT

 

© 2017 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

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A true conversation

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Conversation… what’s it about?

I have encountered ‘conversations’ a lot these past few days, and in many different contexts.

The conversation I promised another, when time permits for the both of us. The conversation I had with another which distilled much and created space for more imaginings. The conversations which signaled change and endings and beginnings. The conversations I referred to imbued with so much meaning and not enough time to explore.

I hope these conversations have been true.

No matter the context, true conversations have a common thread. True conversations are arrived at with a willingness to listen, an openness to receive and embrace, and where required a loving rebuke. True conversations happen with humility and love, supportive and encouraging growth. We hold conversations through engaging with each other authentically. Maybe that’s why we hold conversation – the conversation as a space, a safe space held which allows each conversation-holder to be vulnerable and to express who we are to each other. Otherwise the interaction becomes inter-reaction.

Idealistic? Perhaps. Nevertheless it does not detract me from trying my utmost to being such a holder of conversation. To ask a beautiful question that says ‘I have heard’, a beautiful question which touches another deeply, a beautiful question which invites a genuine answer.

How beautiful and uplifting our relationships can be when we hold true conversations.

A conversation is not the same as a friendly chat, a quick ‘how-are-you’ nor lengthy IMs. Nothing ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’ about these – each serves a purpose at different moments. Conversations I don’t think can be had all the time.

True conversations are always filled with meaning, meaning-full.

When did you last have a true conversation? And with whom?

Live meaningfully, I say. 🙂

~ FlorenceT

 

© 2016 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

Stop being nice

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That was a nice visit! The food was nice! It’s nice being here with you! Be nice!

‘Nice’ – a most overused word and ineffectual, I think. When applied to a person, it is also highly nuanced and culture-subjective. What is your imagery of a ‘nice’ person?

Ever wondered why we are nice? When others think us nice and we feel a flutter of gladness? Why do we bask in this reflected image of ourselves?

Is it a coveted approval for having conformed to the societal (our family, within our culture, in our community) expectations to ‘turn the other cheek’, to be kind, to avoid conflict, to eschew disharmony…?

Sometimes, I don’t want to be nice, in the ways expected of me.  Kind, yes. Respectful, yes. Compassionate, yes. Empathic, yes. Nice… maybe.

I grew up in a collectivist society which culture is to consider the impact or consequence of our words and behaviour on the collective before we speak or act. Being considerate, in my book, is a good thing, as this leads to greater relatedness and belonging. Research shows that an increase in relatedness leads to an increase in wellbeing. Yet there is a down side and that is when this consideration for others and how they may feel or do turns into self-consciousness, fear or a need for external approval or validation.

So there is a place for being considerate of others, and there is also a space for being for your self, being self-ish.

What happens when “being nice” becomes a mindless act, our default position, without conscious appreciation or assessment of merit?

What does nice even mean to you now? Do you know what you are being nice about? Do you know the consequences of your nice-ness? Does your nice-ness mask a reluctance to be assertive? A capitulation of your convictions so you won’t be in a place of ‘discomfort’ or ‘disharmony’? A belief that being assertive is unacceptable?

How do we rationalise our ‘nice-ness’? That it, whatever ‘it’ may be, doesn’t matter? That we can do without ‘it’? That ‘it’ has always been so? That we’ll be fine, no problem. And so we shift our ground, as standing our ground would be opinionated, stubborn, uncompromising, confrontational… It would be ‘not nice’ .

And it is here invariably we feel a dis-ease. We feel compromised, somehow cheated out of something… resentful and angry perhaps.

That was where I was, being asked to assist so someone else is not put in a difficult position, so another ‘someone else’ can continue with her manipulation. I went through the gamut of emotions –  sympathy, desire to avoid confrontation or tension, fear, anger… and several rationalisations revolving  around my perceived reactions of others if I didn’t act ‘nice’, my egoic view that I could do anything so why fight it, my desire to be adaptable and flexible, the guilt for seeming petty if I refused… then it hit me.

This conditioned response must cease. Taking a few mindful breaths, I still the tumultuous thoughts and emotions, so I could recognise my dis-ease. In that instant I saw myself – the young girl who rationalise away her desires, beliefs, in an attempt to please, to be ‘approved of’, to hide my voice.

Well, this time I didn’t. I figured, if I didn’t even know the purpose of why I am compelled to be ‘nice’ or the value in it, that it is not meaningful then I won’t.  And it felt damn good! And if you are wondering, I didn’t raise my voice nor did I swear… just politely say ‘no’.  See what ‘good girl’ I am? 😉

Be nice, but only when it is a deeply felt sense of being and a mindful act.

– FlorenceT

 

 

Who you truly are…

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“How will you serve the world? What do they need that your talent can provide? That’s all you have to figure out…

The effect you have on others is the most valuable currency there is…

Ultimately, we’re not the avatars we create. We’re not the pictures or the film stars. We are the light that shines through.  All else is smokes and mirrors, distracting but not truly compelling…

To find real peace, we have to let the armour go…

Risk being seen in all your glory… You’ll come up with your own style, that’s part of the fun…

The decision to be made in this moment can either be based on Love or Fear.”

~ Jim Carrey, ‘The Meaning’

 

#Haiku Challenge 69 @RonovanWrites

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RonovanWrites Haiku Challenge 69 with prompt word – haiku, mind

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In poetry’s depth
  Thoughts unearthed, moments revealed
  Don’t mind its nature.

– FlorenceT

 

 © 2015 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

Putting ‘me’ in writing

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Quill-pen

As everyone journeys each day through their lives, it does not surprise me that perhaps no one noticed my lack of writing (except for poetry) of late, except moi. But of course. Perhaps one day I will write about the reasons why but this article is not about the whys but the process itself – this process of not-writing.

I remember a conversation where I had expressed a feeling of guilt for not immersing in my work (my professional work of lawyer and educator), nor ‘taking care of all business’ at home and being with the family, instead choosing to dedicate time to the promotion of my therapy practice. My mentor, without skipping a beat, had asked “what is your therapy practice if not work?” and “is marketing not part of your therapy practice and thus work?” That was a moment of lightbulb switching on.

It has taken a while for me to own that I can write despite the desire to write. It has taken another long while for me to acknowledge the imperative to write and to treat writing as less of a hobby. Yet another long while before I was able to call myself a writer, thus making writing ‘work’.

So in the last few weeks of not-writing, I had contemplated pushing on with writing, quite confident that I can come up with something to post, for sure. But my heart is not in it. And this is the crux of the matter.

I can do a lawyer’s job even when my heart’s not in it. Analysing the case and applying the law of the land is mind matter. It need not require heart, though in my experience, a bit of heart makes a whole lot of difference to the job. 🙂 I can put my emotional state aside and be rather mechanical in the lawyering process. Between you and I, this has happened in some occasions in the past.

But the writing process… no, I have not found a state of writing without heart. A state of mechanistically stringing words and sentences together in order for them to mean something. If anyone has managed to do this, I would love to know your secret! For me, story-telling, particularly meaning making, is about putting myself into my writing. I, all of me, have to be present. My mind, my heart, my emotions… my spirit. And lately, they have been somewhat missing in some other actions :-).

I am present, but in another world which requires my attention. I am constantly looking over here to see this world beckoning, enticing, welcoming… My heart breaks a little each time I turn away, knowing that I cannot give it the attention or the ‘me’ that it deserves.

Perhaps guilt has compelled me here now, though unlikely. I do have something to say, prompted by the people who have liked and commented on my posts, and who have followed Meanings and Musings of late.

So for those of you who are new here on this blog, and to old friends who have dropped in, I hope you are here because you have found something here that touches something in you. I promise to visit you as soon as I can.

And in the meantime, to everyone, do explore my blog and I would love to get your comments/feedback of what attracted you here, or which post or which ‘topic’ resonates with you.

I am around here though not entirely mindful. Ouch!

Be well!

– FlorenceT

 

© 2015 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.