Monday, 30 April 2012

april 29, 2012

i watched a two-minute video today called "beyond the timid middle", and it pretty much encompasses what i've been working on lately: reconnecting with my passion and purpose, making bolder decisions, claiming my desires, taking a stand when it's necessary or relevant, saying what's true, acting on it, and letting go of things that aren't working. essentially, it's about being actively decisive. living a life of passion and risk rather than timidity and mediocrity. if you're looking for some inspiration in any of these areas, take a look at the video. it's a great pick-me-up, and i'm hedging my bets that you won't regret watching it.

the reason this charming little video felt so relevant is because it spoke to an atrophied part of me that's in the midst of growing back: the part that knows and seeks out my wants and needs. the part that knows dreams are important and possible, and that they will probably come true (a little at a time) if i take the steps, do the work and listen to the road i'm walking on.

that said, there has definitely been some rockiness in claiming said wants, needs and dreams. especially the wants because a handful of people in my life have grown used to me being the one to make the sacrifice, be the listener, be the patient one, be friendly despite mistreatment, make the peace, let go of things, do something that's against my better judgment, be flexible, reschedule plans or meetings, be understanding no matter how something affects me, tolerate being interrupted mid-thought or having the topic of a conversation changed before i've said my peace even when the topic is really important to me. things like this become invisible when they're habitual, and it's difficult to break out of the patterns. i've done a lot of breathing through these moments in the last couple of years and called on myself for patience, but you know what? i'm done with that shit.

i'd like to underline, though, that i'm done with the shit, not the people. that's a distinction that has taken me years to articulate and apply, but i'm becoming fluent in it now. good boundaries often (not always, but often) get rid of the shit so you can keep the people. bad boundaries make space for the shit, which compromises the people. it's like mending a fence. everyone needs limits of some kind to have a healthy, happy life. this, of course, varies according to the circumstance: work, friendship, lovership, D/s dynamic, partnership, hook-up, creative collaboration, etc. there's lots of different kinds of healthy boundaries and, likewise, there's lots of different kinds of mending. for example, you wouldn't mend sudden damage from a lightning storm in the same way you would mend gradual, long-term wear. it requires different tactics and different tools. it requires thought and consideration of circumstance.

all this talk about boundaries reminds me of when i started working on this stuff. it was about a decade ago. i was living in montreal then, and i had an enthusiastic cheerleader-of-a-friend who helped me to practice saying what i wanted out loud. i know that might sound strange, but it was really amazing. i think everyone should have a coach that helps them grow out of their safe, limited bubble of experience. if i didn't have the energy to hang out with her on a particular day, i would say, "i'm going to cancel our plans today because i'm not in the mood to hang out. i don't want to." to me, this felt bratty and flakey and inconsiderate. (admittedly, as a beginner, my wording was often rough around the edges.), but she would always say, "that's a good reason, luna. why would i want to hang out if you don't want to?" it was a good starting cocoon. a semi-contained experiment. baby steps, right?

fast-forward to ten years later, and i find myself working to remember these things i already know. re-learning how to apply the knowledge i've earned. luckily, the awareness comes back more quickly each successive time i lose my way.

my mending today is patting myself on the back for all that work – for trying and re-trying and re-trying. it's so worth it. despite some backsliding in the past couple of years, i know i have a much better understanding of how and when to speak up. (at least most of the time!) these days, it's about honesty rather than pushing back against the past. it's less loaded. it's more integrated. i stand up for what i want and need and dream of so i can avoid the drama, pain, resentment and meaningless sacrifice that silence often induces.

i'd like to invite all of you to dump the bad boundary bullshit, too. because who wants to inhabit a wishy-washy-i-can-deal-with-it life? it chafes. except in very specific circumstances, there's a difficult, uncomfortable shame that sets in when you let go of things that are important to you...whether it's due to shyness or a lack of self-possession. this is especially true when it happens in little, everyday ways.

don't get me wrong...i don't think we should speak up in every circumstance about every aspect of every interaction or relationship. (sometimes it's not worth it, and sometimes there's no point. it takes discrimination.) nor do i think we should always expect to be indulged and get our way. that's not realistic or fair. but i do think it's important to speak up when the impulse to do so is strong. that's the backbone of integrity. it's a good way of nurturing and maintaining selfhood.

last week, while i was browsing through a bookstore, a sparkly fridge magnet caught my eye. (those of you who know me will not be surprised at this. glitter = a lifelong passion.) it's the one that's pictured at the beginning of this post. i liked it because it got right to the point with a fearless, unapologetic word: "begin."

it's good, simple advice: begin. begin small, perhaps, but begin. speak. speak up once a day about something that's important to you: a hateful joke, a desire, a dream, a whim. because wanting, needing and dreaming are the guts and brawn of a life. it's not about perfection; it's about process.

so begin!


  1. I feel weird about saying something like "I'm proud of you for doing this" -- mostly because it sounds kind of condescending, or like I'm assuming that you're doing this for the benefit of some observer rather than for your self.

    But I am.

    Maintaining boundaries - and doing so in a way that lets you keep the people, without having to deal with the crap - is really hard (particularly when there's push-back from The People in question).

    The uncomfortable shame that you mentioned... that's a really good way of putting it. Like "Shouldn't I feel good about self-sacrifice? If I feel crappy about this situation, does that mean I'm a selfish jerk? Oh, No!!!"

    Also: I love your description of wanting, needing, and dreaming - of striving and desiring - as being where strength comes from in life. Guts and brawn. It's true, and I like the way you said it. :-)

    Ms A.

  2. It's so easy to get caught up in everybody else and not realize that eventually, if you give too much of yourself away, there won't be anything left to help anybody. You are your own most important priority, and honoring our emotional and physical needs is such a key to moving forward positively in life. Standing up for yourself is scary, even if it's just to cancel plans, don't I know it.