Don't let the peaches get you down

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At 6 a.m. this morning I was leaning over the sink with peach juice running down my chin. Not my best look. I don't eat a ton of fruit but I love fruit in season. And I have a flat of peaches on my counter right now. And apparently little self-control. But I was enjoying that pure innocent peach. A major shift from the way I felt about it earlier this week. 

I've been thinking about consumption and abundance. I've got about 15 books on my shelf to read, podcasts ready to go and a couple of audio books in the queue. There are people to see, places to go, things to do, and experiences to be had. And at times I feel overwhelmed. 

I actually found myself feeling a little bitchy about my list on Sunday. I was planning my week and thinking about everything I wanted to do and how I couldn't possibly squeeze it all in. I started feeling pressure and resentment. And at the same time I was beating myself up for being so whiny. My internal voice started mocking me, "Oh poor Sandy, she has too many people to see, a house to take care of, work to do, and fruit to process. And she said she would blog every day. Poor baby. Life is so hard."

I definitely needed to reframe things and so I started being intentional about practicing gratitude. I made a list of everything I needed AND wanted to do this week. And then I went through the list and reflected on how grateful I am for each one of those things. Visiting my father in LTC gives me a chance to be with him in this difficult season and driving there gives me 30 minutes to listen to a podcast. (As it turns out that podcast was just what I needed that day.)  I have a house to clean!  I love writing and I've got the opportunity to write every day! 

I've been reading Gratitude by Diana Butler Bass. She writes, "Practice takes time. But that is not the only relationship between time and gratitude. When gratitude becomes a habit of being, our capacity to see time --  past, present, and future --actually changes. Not only does gratitude open our hearts; it also give us new perspectives on our own lives. It stretches through our experiences -- past, present, and future -- creating a fabric of appreciaton and awareness that forms the story of our lives."

By the end of reviewing my list, I had a new perspective. Simple? Yes. Obvious? Yes. Automatic? No. Our lives can be overwhelming. And we need to make good choices about what we consume and I want to talk more about that this week. But let's start with gratitude. 

I disagree but that doesn't mean you are wrong

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I was just listening to a podcast today and they were discussing theological differences. The guest mentioned that when someone has beliefs we don't agree with we need to stop saying they are wrong. That makes sense to me. But then she said, "We need to just put our beliefs aside and continue being in community and working together." 

I'm not sure I agree. And that is awkward. For one thing, I don't know if we can put our beliefs aside. Or that it is necessary. There is a space between saying you are wrong and completely ignoring our differences. I think it would be great to be able to say I disagree and talk about our differences. Not to win or prove that we are right but because it is how we learn and expand our thinking. I've understood why others have their beliefs because we have talked about them. I can respect their position because they have articulated it to me.  As soon as someone wants to shut down the conversation completely and say we need to just focus on the things we can agree on I get concerned.

You might disagree. 

You will have regrets

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I am suspicious of people who declare they have no regrets. I don't believe them. Or I think they have no self-awareness at all. It sounds smug to me. I have regrets all the time. I regret having bacon for breakfast this morning. Even when I was eating the third slice I was pretty sure I could have made a better choice. I still ate it though.  

According to Wikipedia,  "Regret is a negative conscious and emotional reaction to one's personal decision-making, a choice resulting in action or inaction. Regret is related to perceived opportunity. Its intensity varies over time after the decision, in regard to action versus action, and in regard to self-control at a particular age. The self-recrimination which comes with regret is thought to spur corrective action and adaptation." 

Regrets are normal. They can even be productive if they result in you making better choices in the future. I may make a decision to eat less bacon. But sometimes regret can be destructive. Especially when it is tied into shame. When you feel like a loser because of past choices. Or you feel inadequate or worthless. Or you feel like you wasted a lot of time chasing something that you now see as toxic and destructive.

I've felt like that about a lot of stuff I used to believe. I mention on next week's podcast that I've played a game with friends called, "Shit we used to believe." We laugh about some of the absurd stuff that we bought into along with our membership in the evangelical church community.  We talked about the beliefs that we needed to protect our kids from Pokemon and Sailor Moon, the dangers of going out for Halloween, that there is a 'rapture', tattoos are sinful, yoga is opening your mind up to the occult,  or secular music is evil. We lived in a world full of taboos.

The truth is none of us really believed it. But we all played along or at least kept our books, tattoos, and records hidden. But there are other beliefs that were more damaging and that I deeply regret. I regret being part of a system that has a history of oppressing women, being racist and condemning of the LBGTQ community. Whether or not I agreed with these beliefs doesn't matter at the end of the day. What matters is that I never spoke up. Well, I did a few times but I was a people pleaser with a thin skin and so mostly I kept my mouth shut. Thankfully, I've seen the light, developed a thicker skin and care what very few people think. Thank you menopause!

Yes, you wll have regrets. but they may be the very thing that spurs you to change. They may be the catalyst for your spiritual crisis. They can be the place you begin a conversation with people you have hurt. I have talked to both my kids about my regrets about some of the restrictions we put on them because we were pressured by our faith community to conform to a certain standard. I take full responsibility for making the choice to conform. 

You might be reading this and thinking your community is different. It's possible but conformity and group think exist everywhere. And the longer you have been part of a community the more difficult it is  to see it. When I stopped going to church regularly I saw things so differently when I did go. 

I'm not suggesting you don't go to church - I am saying every community has operating values and they aren't always the same ones that are preached. And there will be pressue to conform. Don't stop questioning and don't lose your own voice. And if you are tired of the hypocrisy of playing nice then welcome your spiritual crisis and get ready to reclaim a healthy and vibrant faith. It will take a little courage but you won't regret it.  

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