Do you truly understand the question? Because you’ve had the answer all along.

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I remember the test taking experiences of childhood, where sometimes I’d walk into the test confident, knowing that I knew the information regardless of whether the test was multiple choice or not.  Other times, I’d know some things, but not necessarily enough to promote complete confidence in whether I’d do well. Especially if I didn’t prepare.  If the test was multiple choice, then YES!  I could possibly use the process of elimination to guess the best answer.  If it was fill in the blank or write a paragraph form?  Cross my fingers and pray that in my rambling, somewhere was the right answer.  But what if we were given the answers, all we had to have done was paid attention to  and truly understood the material?

Think about it this way.  What if you didn’t study the topic, you didn’t understand the topic at all, and you were given the answer key.  All the answers, right in front of you, and you didn’t have to do anything.  All you had to do was know the questions associated with the answers.  Could you do it?

Guess what…we are the topic in life.  We are the question!

Jeopardy_title_card

I’m starting to think that life is kind of like Jeopardy!, where the answers are presented to us consistently, and it’s our job to figure out the question. I think that we are constantly bombarded with feel good little sayings, like “believe in yourself”, “love is a journey”, and “love your neighbor as yourself” without truly understanding the implications of what we’re hearing.  How can we understand that the answers are right in front of us if we haven’t even truly understood the question?  How can we even know what we’re seeing?

Answers are in front of us everyday.  What we need to understand is the question, which is ourselves.  Truly understanding and loving ourselves is understanding the question.

Can you relate to my pain?

I was inspired to write this post because after all, this is a blog about fearlessness.  I’ve often been afraid to show deeper, darker parts of myself for fear of being rejected, ridiculed, etc. Mostly though, I think it’s because I’ve been terrified to explore those parts of myself.  But I want to begin acknowledging those parts that are the most scary, and that’s okay.  I’m acknowledging my imperfection, and my own humanity.

How often do we look for the worst in others to validate our own existence?  Or secretly celebrate someone else’s pitfalls because it eases our own pain?  I’ve done that.  Often. Sometimes I’ll read gossip blogs and ridicule those who were seemingly at the top only to come crashing down.  Or I’ll read or hear about someone who’s having marriage trouble and place myself above them because my marriage is great at that particular time.  But I’m finding that all those things are simply ways to avoid facing the demons within myself.  There’s no such thing as perfect.  Nor is everything the same all the time.  What can happen to you today, can easily happen to me tomorrow.  No one is exempt from anything.  And no one knows everything.

And that’s okay, we’re human.  It’s okay to fear the unknown.

However, I make no excuses for those actions, because they are contrary to the very thing that I’m attracted to, which is true love and acceptance for myself and others.  I have to see the pain within myself, and the very thing that drives me to want to validate my existence through the pain of others.  It’s actually that pain that ties us, that binds us, and that makes us family.  That makes us one.

It’s impossible to be perfect all the time, especially if there’s a lack of acknowledgment of the pain that occurs in life, living in an ideal bubble of perspective that doesn’t really exist. We all experience pain.  Maybe what I do with my life can make someone else’s pain a little more bearable.  

Maybe that’s the point of life anyway.

 

Compassion is the key

Charter for compassion

I know that we all are guilty of putting ourselves first in our lives at some time or another.  It’s easy.  It protects us from hurt; we fear putting another before ourselves; we feel justified in doing so.  After all, if we don’t take care of ourselves, who will, right?

Wrong.

According to Karen Armstrong, author of Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life, compassion is the common thread linking all of the world’s religions.  If you didn’t catch Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday episode featuring her last week, go watch it if you have a chance!

And it makes sense.  If we treat others the way we want to be treated at all times, our personal worlds would be so beautiful, not to mention the effect on others’ lives as well.

Love yourself unconditionally

I don’t know if it’s just me, but it seems like the world is changing.   More and more, I hear about people shedding processed lifestyles, and trying to get back to more natural, authentic ways of living.  At first I thought it was just me.  I’m hearing about people switching to organic foods, organic creams and homemade butters for hair and skin; natural toothpastes and deodorants, drinking well water without fluoride and additives; etc, etc.  Something is happening, not sure what, but something big is happening.

In 2011, for a while after I got married, I battled a little with my weight.  At 5’10”, I’d always been used to being very thin; however, around the time I got married I easily put on almost 30 pounds.  I didn’t know what was going on, couldn’t figure it out.  People kept telling me that it was “marital bliss” weight.  I think it was emotional baggage trying to surface and telling me to finally deal with it.

I exercised, tried to curb my eating, but the weight seemed to be stubborn.  I didn’t know why it wouldn’t leave.  

2012 was a pivotal year for me.  To date, probably the hardest and most insightful year of my life.  I decided to take a bit of a breather from society, school, everything.  I became a bit overwhelmed with all the changes happening both in my personal life and career-wise, and I found it difficult emotionally to process.  But like I said, I believe something spiritually is happening in the world that we may collectively may not yet understand.  I believe I had to separate myself for a bit to start digging into unresolved issues that I had.  I started a renewed hair journey, where I started taking better care of my natural hair; I started eating only organic foods; I started to make my own hair and skin creams; I vastly reduced my alcohol consumption; I started becoming more in touch with myself and with nature, going on walks, growing and befriending plants (lol), etc.  Still don’t know what inspired all of these changes.  I know the people who know me best probably think I’m a little nuts, but I’m telling you, it’s one of the best things I’ve done for myself thus far.

After I made all those changes, the weight just came off.  Almost miraculously.  And now, no matter what I eat, it seems to stay off.  I believe in a way, weight gain and difficulties with weight loss are tied to emotional baggage.  As you release the baggage, you may be surprised how easily the weight begins to come off.  Spiritually speaking, I know I have a long way to go, but my first goal was to begin to love myself unconditionally.  I’m still a work in progress, but I do believe that beginning to love myself unconditionally, physically and emotionally, has served as a huge wakeup call for me.

There’s something happening spiritually in the world people.  Open your eyes to the signs, and believe that they are there, and you’ll start to see them.  And take care of yourself.  Love yourself.  You only have one body, and it loves you when you love it.

Brené Brown: How Vulnerability Holds the Key to Emotional Intimacy

I think life sort of works like this – the more we seek something, the more the universe finds ways to introduce and incorporate it into our lives.  Our life is the sum total of our focus – that’s it.  My spiritual journey has consisted of several epiphanies that seem to have gotten more specific as time goes on.

This article found its way into my life today, and it hit home in ways I can’t explain.  The journey to become more vulnerable is hard, and its beautiful.  A must read:

Brené Brown: How Vulnerability Holds the Key to Emotional Intimacy.

The PhD Journey – Part one

 

 

{Cue the horror movie music}

Nah, I’m kidding.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s been rough, but I’ve honestly learned more about myself during these past five years than I knew in a lifetime before I began.  So I’m thankful, because everything happens for a reason (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it).

This is going to be the first of several posts dealing with this subject, because it is an ongoing journey (I’m currently in the midst of my dissertation, setbacks and all) so as I continue I’ll keep posting.  I’m also going to try really really hard to not complain.  But I’m human,  so I’ll probably complain.

One thing I’ve learned about myself is, I do not like asking for help.  I have, in the past, had a serious struggle with imperfection. Which is pretty much shooting yourself in the foot when it comes to getting a doctorate, or life in general.  But, I’m learning that asking for help isn’t me being inadequate, or incapable.  It’s being human.  

I was raised in a very very strict household where what my parents said was what it was.  I learned not to question my parents early on because, well, that’s how peace was kept and that’s how you show respect as a child.  You must also understand that my parents are born and raised Togolese (a teeny tiny country on the African West Coast) so that’s how their families taught them and they didn’t know any differently.  I kind of appreciate it because they kept me on a relatively straight and narrow, private Catholic school path, (of course, I deviated every now and then, but we won’t tell anyone) and I wouldn’t be so driven to push beyond my own boundaries if it wasn’t for them.  They taught me that anything is possible and if I want to do something, be the best at it.  On the other hand, as so many things in life, it has been a double-edged sword.

Think of it like this.  What type of person hires someone to edit their manuscript, and pours over it before submitting it to make sure that it’s perfect?  Or, if something is not done in an absolutely perfect way, wanting to just give up?  Or, spending 12 continuous hours on one problem because I have to solve it?  Yeah, that’s me.  The tragic perfectionist.

I truly believe in the metaphysical principle of a spiritual realm, and coming to the Earth plane to learn tough lessons.  It’s pretty ironic that someone who is such a perfectionist would be on a journey like this that has been so perfectly imperfect.  I couldn’t even begin to describe all of the setbacks, disappointments, struggles, self criticism, and tears that have come with this journey.  But like I said, I’m thankful. I’m learning that perfection doesn’t exist.  To keep striving for an unattainable goal instead of finding contentment in the process, shifting perspective, and learning to appreciate the journey is setting yourself up for failure.  

I think that we face the exact challenges we need to go through, to let go of the traits in us that hold us back the most. Like Morgan Freeman said in Bruce Almighty, when you ask for something, does God give it to you or does he give you the opportunity to get it yourself?  I figure, I probably couldn’t learn to let go of my perfectionist habits any other way.

And I’m thankful.

 

7,000 Reasons Your Uniqueness May Be Plagiarism

NaturallyFearless123:

Was profoundly drawn to this post!! Synchronicity at its best – kinda creepy and cool at the same time.

Originally posted on Lark & Bloom:

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I live in America where there is a continual conversation about one’s individuality. We love to take tests to see what our strengths and skills are. Shelves are full of books to help us discover our unique composition and  how to capitalize on it.

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for self-awareness. According to Myers Briggs I am an ENTP, which pretty much nails me. Knowing who we are is essential to understanding what we were made to do and how we were made to do it, but it is also where the problem comes in.

What is the problem?

I think we are each put on this earth to accomplish a certain task. You can call it what you want – destiny, mission or calling. I believe that our being here serves a purpose and that we are each divinely made to see that accomplished. My own belief…

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