Saturday, July 22, 2006

So my sister showed my mother her blog, and my mother got her to email me to tell me to stop being so hard on myself. Excellent!

I actually quite like myself at the moment. I've been thinking on and off all week that it's quite amazing that we so often dislike ourselves. It's not that I don't like all of my various manifestations, just some of them. The difference now is that I can tell the useful beliefs I hold about myself from the ones that don't help me. I'm getting there...

The story I would like to tell about myself now is the one about the woman who has a good marriage and a successful career that she worked hard to get. This woman is fit and active, and has wonderful people around her. This woman would like more time to sing, and more time to pursue her spiritual side. This woman cares about people. She wants to give to the community she loves, and to the world in which she lives.

Last Monday I had a really good run. We ran for 45 minutes around a quite challenging hill circuit. I set out at a good pace from the start, and ended up running on my own, behind the really fast women but ahead of everyone else. I never felt like I needed to stop and reached the end feeling like I could have kept going. Afterwards I had the most amazing moment of clarity. I realised how far I had come and how much I had achieved. I realised that I was the woman I had always sought to be. I spent the next few days on a real high.

At the same time I was reading Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver. Barbara Kingsolver writes the way I would like to write. She writes beautifully redemptive novels about women and the environment. Animal dreams is the storie of Codie, who returns to her home town when it becomes clear that her doctor father is suffering from Alzeihmers.

Codie does not like herself. She feels out of place. She does not trust her memories, and appears to have forgotten large chunks of her childhood. Codie skims the surface of life because she is too afraid to live more deeply.

As I read the novel I felt that Codie's self-beliefs were just that, limiting self-beliefs. In actual fact she is loved and accepted by the people around her, even though she believes herself to be an outsider. Even when she is placed in an environment that is foreign to her, on an Indian reservation, to me it feels like that sense of alienation is forgiveable and reasonable, and that her expectations of herself are too high.

Codie learns to live deeply, and she does this partly through pursuing an environmental cause that saves her community. She learns to remember and to trust her memories, she stops running, and she allows herself to be loved.

I do not want to skim the surface of life, although doing so is very easy. It is too easy to go to work, come home, and go to bed, without making any commitments to myself or the world around me. I want to be authentic and I want to engage. I know that I worry to much about what other people think of me, and that it's often easier to shield myself away from everyone rather than do the hard yards. Once I started accepting responsibility for my actions this week I started feeling a lot better about myself.

Last night I was home on my own. I ran a bath, lit candles, used the lovely maple syrup body scrub Leonie bought for me from Canada (mmm, sugar and salt - tastes good). I played good music, read a good book, and took care of me. Then I made a few phone calls and worked on giving to everyone else. Now it's Friday night and there's hail or sleet outside. Hamish has left to set up for a party he's going visuals at tonight, and I'm sitting here blogging.

Tomorrow morning I will be taking a group of women out for a run then going to brunch to check out a photo exhibition by a woman I met some time ago and would like to get to know better. I'm thinking right now that I'm actually okay!

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