Viewing entries tagged
Self-love

The Moon Really Could Not Be More Obvious About This

4 Comments

The Moon Really Could Not Be More Obvious About This

message-from-the-moon-long.png
message from the moon

message from the moon

Sometimes you lay awake thinking about all of the things.

It’s 1am and your eyes snap open because your brain simply could not wait one more second to tell you:  WHAT ABOUT THESE (MOSTLY IMAGINARY) PROBLEMS??

Had you thought about THOSE THINGS?

You kick the sheets, trying to kick the thoughts.  No go.

Night follows night.  You are no stranger to the darkness.

But then one night you lay awake thinking about none of the things.  Ambivalence—the most insidious emotion—skewers its claws into your ribcage.

It’s too exhausting to care.  What’s the point?

At 3:26am that night, just as you are finally drifting off to sleep, your three-year-old will come into the room because—well it doesn’t really matter why she *says* she comes in every night.  The real reason is that she wants to know that she is not alone in this world and you really can’t blame her for that now, can you?

Or maybe there is another reason she comes in.

You watch, Soldier.  Watch what happens.

After you stroke your daughter's cheek and tuck her back into bed, you will turn, and through the crack in the side of the room-darkening blinds, you will see it:  the moon.

Its brilliance will cut through the night and illuminate your face and cause physical reactions within you.

You’ll gasp, step backwards, and drop down onto the side of the bed with awe.

When was the last time something has cut through the darkness like this?

The white on black, the crisp points of the crescent moon…it’s hard to get that type of clarity in camera.

It’s hard to get that type of clarity in life.

Awe.

There.  There in your moon-trance, you will hear it.  You will finally hear what the moon has been trying to tell you all along.

It’s been trying to tell you this since the very first night that you landed here, but you haven’t had much time for things like moons, have you?

Moon doesn’t mind.

Moon says you were not ready to know then.

You are ready to know now.

Moon is beaming, “I know you think it is the dead of night right now, but that is only in your perception!”

Keep listening, Soldier.  Moon’s message is not only metaphorical but very very literal.

It’s both.

Moon says, “I know it appears to you that the sun has stopped shining but Sun has NEVER stopped shining—NOT EVEN ONCE!!

‘In fact,” Moon is telling you, “Sun is shining RIGHT THIS VERY MINUTE!  You do not see the sun from where you are standing so LOOK.  I will show her to you!”

And then moon pushes the light of the sun from all the way around the other side of the earth directly to hit your face.

Moon is telling you the light is still accessible, even in the darkest of nights.

“Hold on just a little longer,” says Moon, “and you will not have to try so hard to see the light.  In time you will be SWIMMING in it!  That time is JUST AROUND THE CORNER.  LOOK!”

When you receive this message, oh you-who-is-waking-up, you hug it in tight.  Tuck it into your belly and wrap your knees and clavicles around it and hold onto it for dear life.

Because that’s what’s going to pull you out of this.

Six months ago, I noticed the moon.

That’s when it hit me:  You will not get out of the darkness by laying on your back psycho-analyzing the darkness.  You will get out of the darkness by catching more and more light.

You will not get out by asking, “how did I get here?”  You will get out by asking, “What works?”

Light leads to more light.  Did a little light of mine in footy pajamas not take me by the hand to show me the moon?

So I started looking for more moons:  little slivers of light poking through dark moments.

One moon keeps leading to another.

Look around, Soldier.  Where do you see moons?

YOUR “moon” may not be THE moon, per se.  Maybe the thing that will remind you of your aliveness will be the high that comes after a long walk in the biting cold.  Or the soft nose of a horse.  Or the laugh of your niece.  Or the courage of a seedling reaching towards the sun from a cup on your windowsill.

Whatever your “moon” is, WHEN YOU SEE A SLIVER OF LIGHT, YOU NOTICE IT.  YOU HEAR ME, SOLDIER?

You pay attention to that thing that makes you feel good and alive.

That “moon” will take you to more light.

Which will take you to more light.

And one day soon—I am so sure of this—sooner than you can even imagine—you will belly-crawl onto that brighter shore, exhausted and gasping for air, and you will turn onto your back and sputter towards the sky, “By God, that night nearly killed me.”

But it will not kill you, dear Soldier.

Not if you let yourself be led by the light of the moons.

4 Comments

2 Comments

I Know This Much Is True

I know this much is true flowers

I know this much is true flowers

So many thoughts lately. I want to share all of them and I want to share none of them.

While I’m waiting to see where those balls land, a story for you.  One that is deeply simple and simply deep, like all the best stories are.

You may or may not know that I've been doin’ my fair share o' soul-searching lately.  Asking the deep questions, breathing the deep breaths.

When I last wrote, I was about to embark on a two week adventure in the woods wherein I, much like the Indigo Girls, went to see the doctor of philosophy.  “I went to do the doctor, I went to the mountains. I looked to the children, I drank from the fountains…”

I lost myself and I found myself.  Found more of me than I left with—the good parts that I had forgotten existed—the parts of me I most treasure.

I've since misplaced those parts again.

But I know they're not far from me now.  I just had them.  They'll turn up any day now.

More adventures have ensued.

I’m leaving no stone unturned, no demon unseen.

In some quiet moments amongst the chaos, I see that my teacher is right:  joy really does follow peace.

And peace is everywhere.

I feel that, and I remember it.

My peace.

Our peace.

The Peace.

Other moments suck the wind from my lungs as if I have croup.  I grab my seat--white knuckles squeezing for anything that will keep me here--I grab at my seat for dear life.

Awakening’s a bitch, I tell you.

My ego is not going down without one hell of a battle.

Luckily, neither is my heart.

Last Saturday I was on a hike with our five-year-old son and I was chewing on some deep thoughts about worthiness and worthlessness, self-love and self-loathing, when I remembered that kids are the very best teachers.  They probably know innately the keys to self-love and self-worth, I'm guessing.

So I asked him, “[Son] - what do you love about you?”

Without skipping a beat, because kids are wicked sharp like that, he said, “What I love about me is that when I ride my bike, I feel the wind in my face.”

Stay there.  That sentence brought you to your knees, yes?  Stay on your knees and chew on that.

Let it settle in.

“What I love about me is that when I ride my bike, I feel the wind in my face.”

I may still be struggling to put into words and into consciousness the truths that I have always known in my heart.  I may have travelled thousands of miles seeking answers when really the only distance I need to traverse is the vast and nonexistent space between my head and my heart.

But I do know that this much is true:

The answers we seek: we will find them by feeling the wind upon our cheeks.

More love than our tiny minds could ever possibly quantify is as real, as close, and as accessible as the breeze upon our faces.

Also I know this:

The fact that I, too, pause on occasion to feel that breeze tickling my nose...despite all the noise and all the shadows and all the "shoulds" and all the screens vying for my attention...

I love that about me.

That's really something.

That, maybe, is everything.

2 Comments

I Can See Clearly Now; the Pain Is Gone. - My Messy Beautiful

12 Comments

I Can See Clearly Now; the Pain Is Gone. - My Messy Beautiful

Bethany_O_for_Glennon_Melton's_Messy_Beautiful_Warriors_Project-592.jpg

Bethany_O_for_Glennon_Melton's_Messy_Beautiful_Warriors_Project-592.jpg

Our gym has mirrors in front of the cardio equipment and I like that.

Narcissist?  Doubtful.  If I have narcissistic qualities, they're probably more the "blogger" flavor than the "mirror" variety.

I like those mirrors at the gym because they remind me of my strength.

Sometimes I forget my own strength, you see.

But it wasn't strength I noticed in those mirrors last summer.  Last summer, I saw tears streaming down my cheeks while I ran.  My knees kicked high and my arms swung strong but what I saw in that mirror was that I was too sad to give a damn that I was crying on the cardio trainer.

Or maybe I thought I was actually a bit bad-ass, what with all that sprinting through tears and all.

Either way:  tears.

When Katy Perry yelled into my ear buds that, "this is the part of me that you're never gonna ever take away from me," I lost her in translation.

I was in the midst of a doozie of a battle with depression and I thought Katy meant that THAT was the part of me that you're never gonna ever take away from me.  That no matter how many tools I employed to keep my head above water in the sea of sadness, I would always be fighting the undertow.

What an awfully depressing thing to sing about, non?

But I just wasn't seeing things clearly.

I am remembering a moment of clarity that took place last fall.  I was not at the gym, I was…elsewhere…and someone really got my goat, which obviously led me to wordlessly ask her with my eyes and face only, "what the hell is YOUR problem?"

This, of course, was what caused my AH-HA moment, because it was neither the first nor the fourth time that morning that I had to use my face to ask someone that very question.

Could I really have encountered so many goat-getters in one morning?  Did EVERYONE wake up that day and put "Get Bethany's Goat" at the top of their to-do list?  Or was I GIVING the goats, per se?

Didn't yo momma teach you never to give goats, B???

Prepare yourself, Kind Reader, for now I shall push this goat-getting expression far beyond its intended threshold for the pushing.

It will be beautiful.

I had to catch a goat when I was 15.  The real kind.  I was babysitting on a farm and they said to make sure the goat didn't get out and wouldn't you know it but that goat got OUT. So I chased that kid (of the goat, not the child variety) around that farm, dove a few times to catch him, and when I finally grabbed his collar THAT was when the goat-catching process got DIFFICULT.

Goats do not like it when you grab their collars, you see.  They'll drag ya in the herbiest of jerkiest ways that they can think to drag ya.  They'll buck up and they'll jump up and they'll do their goat-iest to not be GOTTEN.

And so it is from real-life field work that I can tell you it is no easy task to "get" a goat.  In fact, I'd wager that if you were going to get someone's goat (of the literal, not the idiom variety), the goat owner would need to actually GIVE you her goat.  On a leash.  Inside a fence.  Surrounded by a moat.  By deeding you her land.

For that is the only-est way that a goat can be gotten.

Ya follow?  If someone "gets your goat," that's your work, not theirs.  

Or maybe it's their work too, but since you can only do the work of one, stick to yours.

So please consider my relevant field experience before the next time you go casually throwing around the "that person really got my goat" expression.

[So EN VOGUE you are with your expressions, you!  So FUNKY, so RAD!]

Listen.  Sometimes I grow weary of writing about DEPRESSION and STRUGGLES up in here.  I write about these things with the intention of helping anybody who feels scary-alone in their struggles, as I did for so very long, and also because NOT writing about these things feels a lot like I'd be HIDING (ashamed of) them again.

I REFUSE to stand any longer for the shaming of depression.

F*CK THAT.

But the word "self-sabotage" has been lobbed at me a couple times recently, and I am a smidge concerned that if I keep writing stories of sadnesses (which is actually EASIER than celebrating our victories, innit?) I may begin to IDENTIFY more with the messy part of me than with the part of me that really shines.

I may begin to cling to it.

So I'm navigating that.  I'm tweaking it.

BUT.  AND.  Every time I've done a swan-dive into the deep end of the sea of sadness, I've learned something.  MANY THINGS, really.  These things carry a heavy price-tag (payable only in grit, sweat, time and tears), so today I'm recording just one more of the bigger take-aways from The Great Swan Dive of 2013 before I go writing about The Great Strides Forward of 2014.

Here it is:

When we are not in our healthiest place mentally (whether due to clinical depression or to the occasional human condition of simply being "off"), we don't see things clearly.

The catch is:  we don't KNOW we're not seeing things clearly for the simple reason that WE ARE NOT SEEING THINGS CLEARLY.

SOit is imperative that we take it upon ourselves to watch for clues that our lens is dirty.

Here is one clue.  When we're not on our A-Game, we're more sensitive, more easily insulted, more quick to give goats.  

In my humble opinion, the concept of a "bad day" is [usually] less a statement about the day itself than it is about the person who is having it.

When we ask, "what the hell is HER problem?" we really should be asking, "what the love is MY problem?  What am I neglecting?"  

Likely answers:  Sleep and/or exercise and/or gratitude and/or vegetables and/or meditation and/or other self-love goodnesses of all varieties and whatnots and whathaveyous.

All of those activities clean our lenses.

[PSST!  When I say "we" here, really what I mean is, "I."  But really-est, I do actually mean "we."]

Stay with me, you.

When we/I/WE are slam-dunking the above whatnots and whathaveyous, we have very few goats for the taking.  The person who done-and-got-my-goat last fall could have made that same comment to me today, and because today I am in a great place [please--knock on ALL THE WOODS], my face would have only shown her love and concern.  And light.

My lens is clean.

When we give it time, our messy always has a way of showing us our beautiful.

Today, I went to the gym--the same messy, beautiful warrior I have always been--and I listened to that same Katy Perry song.

Today, I locked my black pupils on my own in the mirror as I sprinted hard and triumphantly, and today I saw my truth more accurately.

Today I saw that I am diligent--INSISTENT, even--about putting one foot in front of the other--not only on the cardio machine, but IN LIFE.

Today I saw that even on days when it feels too painful to get out of bed--when I'd rather lay prostrate, clawing at the earth because the world is moving so very SWIFTLY and the air is so very THIN for the BREATHING...even on those days, I get up.  I MOVE.  I do what needs to be done.

I sprint through tears.

This TENACITY?  This INDESTRUCTIBLE, ORIGINAL, FIERCE, KIND and LUMINOUS spirit?  THIS is the part of me that you're never gonna ever take away from me.

And when I say "me" here, I really-est mean "us."

Don't get it twisted.

*** 

Bethany O Momastery Messy Beautiful Warriors Project.png

Bethany O Momastery Messy Beautiful Warriors Project.png

Hello, sweet friends.

I wrote this in case your own lens is cloudy today.  I hope it helps.

Remember that post that went viral a few years ago called "Don't Carpe Diem?"  Glennon Melton wrote that.

I could not possibly say enough nice things about Glennon Melton, which is why I was tickled pink when I received the invitation to participate in her latest project.

This essay and I are part of Glennon's Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project - to learn more and join us, CLICK HERE!

And to learn about Glennon's New York Times Bestselling Memoir, "Carry On, Warrior:  the Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life" (just released in paperback), CLICK HERE!

I am not making this up when I say that "Carry On, Warrior" is my favorite go-to gift for ALL Mommas:  Brand New Mommas and Less-New Mommas too.  I keep a stack of these on hand because Lawd knows I do not ever think to buy gifts until the last minute.

Glennon's team has given me a copy of her beloved book to give to one of my beloved readers.  Because they are thoughtful and kind like that.  

To enter the raffle for the book (YOU WANT THIS BOOK, YOU DO), simply leave a comment below this post.  

All comments count as raffle entries.  If you're feeling short on words today, just write, "LOVE THIS!"  

That will do nicely.  :)

With so much love and light, Bethany

***

Bethany_O_for_Glennon_Melton's_Messy_Beautiful_Warriors_Project-591.jpg

Bethany_O_for_Glennon_Melton's_Messy_Beautiful_Warriors_Project-591.jpg

12 Comments

6 Comments

Beating the Opponent You May Not Know You Are Fighting.

Bethany New Year Resolution Video Screen Shot.jpg
Bethany New Year Resolution Video Screen Shot.jpg

I made a video for you a couple weeks ago.  It kind of stinks a lil bit.

The INTENTION behind it doesn't stink and even the IDEAS within it are non-stinky.  But the delivery and the technical aspects of the recording?  STANK.

You might notice that I'm helplessly long-winded, I miscommunicate a couple of points (especially the first one) and from the looks of how I shot this you might think I don't know a thing or three about light and shadows.

Also.  I love that I have big teeth but the angle of the camera here makes it appear as if my face is about 30% teeth, when really it is only 29% teeth.

Do you see what I'm doing here?

I'm burning the grass.

Legend has it that when Napoleon was once losing a battle, he retreated his troops through their own land, burning their OWN grass in their OWN fields as they retreated.

They did that to starve the advancing enemy.  So the enemy would not have any food or water to fuel them as they advanced back towards Napoleon's troops.  And Napoleon would be able to see the enemy coming.

No grass, no food, no power, no hiding.  Burning the grass.

A sales manager once taught me that sometimes you have to burn your own grass.  Mention shortcomings of your own product before the competitor can try to use those shortcomings against you.  Stay one step ahead of the competition so you can cut 'em out at the knees.

Le sigh.

...Le sigh again.

We hu-mans do this all the time.  But less in regards to our PRODUCTS and more in regards to our SELVES.

We speak badly about ourselves so as to disempower anybody who might try to speak badly about us.

As in:  "Oh, you want to say I'm long-winded?  That my video lighting is amateur?  Nope.  Can't say that.  I already said it.  Point disqualified.  Whatchya got now, suckaaaaahs???"

I protect myself from attack.

Let me be the one to come out and say that this "burning the grass" strategy of self-protection?  IT is what sucks.  We think that people are out to criticize us but in the end, the one who is most actively criticizing us is ourselves.

And our subconscious minds BELIEVE the things we tell ourselves, so it becomes self-fulfilling.

And the only opinion of us that really matters is our own.

So as soon as we burn the grass, we lose.

A couple days ago I stumbled upon a link to an article I had contributed to another website a year ago.  So I read it.  And I proceeded to want to vom-dot-com.

I was HORRIFIED.  As in:  itchy-sweat-I-wonder-who-I-can-pay-to-remove-this-from-the-interwebs horrified.  Burn-the-servers horrified.

"What was I thinking??"  I wondered.  "Why would I make myself so vulnerable in discussing such PERSONAL topics on the INTERNET?  How am I so AUDACIOUS as to think anybody would WANT to read my drivel??"

Then I got to the bottom of the post.  Many people had written to say that the post was HELPING them.  Shifting their perspectives.  They THANKED me for my vulnerability.  The post has been tweeted 2,432 times.

Not one criticism.

soulseeds screenshot
soulseeds screenshot

Which gets me thinking.  I'm thinking today about internal Resistance, with a capital "R" to recognize the foe for the powerful opponent that it is.

In spiritual communities, Resistance is the equivalent of Christianity's Devil.  It's the negative force in the world that tries to stop good things from happening.

But it's an INVISIBLE force.  People don't even see it coming.

Stephen Pressfield teaches that Resistance kicks in at its strongest right before we're about to do something good (which usually involves being vulnerable.)  That's when it whispers in our ear that we are not good enough, strong enough, ready enough. 

That's when it convinces us to stay small.

If there is one thing I cannot stand in life it is anybody telling me I am not good enough to do something.  I'll be damned in every sense of the expression if I ever let somebody stop ME from doing what it is I plan to do.

Resistance can go to hell.

So today, I am posting this video.  It may not be the best video any of us have ever seen, but it's a major victory over Resistance.

And that is good enough for me.

(Please note that I especially miscommunicated the advice Nick and my Dad relayed.  It sounded much more positive coming from them.  Oh well.)

***

People and things I mention in the video, for reference:

***

Want to chime in with some thoughts?  I always love to hear from you.

with love and light
with love and light

6 Comments

4 Comments

I Did Not Get Punched in the Face. (Also: Some Thoughts on Beauty.)

Nose1.JPG
Nose1.JPG

I did not get punched in the face.

I found it helpful to start most of my conversations with that sentence last week, answering the question that was inevitably in the pucker of everybody's lips.

At first I thought I was saying this as a way of breaking the ice for people, but then I realized I was saying it for ME because what I REALLY wanted was to answer the question that I was AFRAID was on peoples' minds.

That question, of course, being, "Did you get a nose job?"

Listen.  I got 99 insecurities, but my nose ain't one.

By telling people that I did not get sucker-punched, it opened the floor for me to say that I had a chunk of (non-scary) cancer removed from my nose, which, in my mind, translates directly to, "no, I did not get a nose job."

I'm going somewhere important with this post but hang on tight because we're going to take the back-way there.

Owen was out of town on the day of my surgery, and when he got home, I had just returned from a day at the office and a whole lotta errands looking exactly like I did in the above photo.

"I'm proud of you, Honey," said he.  "I think a lot of women [he surely meant 'people'] would have done anything to avoid going out in public like that.  You are ballsy.  I love that about you."

I did not take this as the backhanded compliment that it appears to be in print.  I took it as a fabulous compliment.

I puffed my chest like a rooster.  He is right.  In the best way possible, I've got metaphorical cajones when I need 'em.

I have the potential to be extraordinarily brave.  And I love that about me.

But I wasn't being brave when I went out in public looking like that.  I ENJOYED going out in public like that.  I was not scared, so it was not brave.

Let's look at three relevant points:

Fact #1:  I care a lot about what people think of me…as a person.  I care TOO MUCH about what people think of me as a person.  It an unhealthy sign of insecurity (and also of an unruly amount of kindness and empathy) how much I concern myself with what people think of me as a person.

Fact #2:  At this point in my life (key words "this point"), I truly do not give a sh*t whether people think I look pretty.  

Fact #3:  Rereading fact #2 is distressing to me because I typed it mindlessly, and when people say they "don't give a sh*t" about something, they usually in fact give many sh*ts about that thing, which explains the strong language.

Sh*t.

Let's figure this one out.  I haven't seen my therapist in a while, so I can think of no reason why I shouldn't hash this one out before a vast audience of peers and strangers, can you?

Let's begin, then.

The reason I was under the impression that #2 was a fact was because I enjoyed going out in public like that.  I enjoyed it for the same reason I sometimes enjoy dressing sloppily in public.  It's a good filtering process, you know?  Helps to remove anybody from my life who might think that my worth (or any person's worth) has anything to do with whether or not I or they dress pretty, for crying out loud.

It feels like a gentle way of flipping the birdy to the Judgy McShallowtons of the world.

Which is why I was under the impression that I don't care what people think of my appearance.

But if the opposite of love is not hate but indifference, then the opposite of vanity is not using sloppiness as a middle finger to the world.

The opposite of vanity might be indifference.  But more likely, the opposite of vanity is LOVING the McShallowtons and McChauvinists, who suffer because they can't see truth.

But definitely, the opposite of vanity is self-love.

nose2 copy.jpg
nose2 copy.jpg

I'm rolling my eyes at my own epiphany over here.  [For the love of all things holy, someone tell me--PLEASE--that we have not landed on the self-love card again!!]  After all the time and money and vulnerability I have invested in trying to learn self-love, how is it not yet instinctual for me to be loving towards me?  Why is there still anger there??

I guess I know where that subconscious passion about this topic--that quiet desire to flip off the world--comes from.

Some of it comes from knowing that for many years, my happiness in a given day had a lot to do with how much my thighs rubbed together that day, how voluminous my hair looked, or how many compliments I did or did not receive that day.

I'm angry that I gave my power away like that.

But this isn't about the past, is it?

I STILL give away my power.  I give it away every time I value someone else's opinion of me more than I value my OWN opinion of me.  I give it away whenever I concern myself with other peoples' perception of my business, my photos, my written words, my parenting, my decisions.

That's where the anger comes from.

It's not the WORLD I want to stick it to.  It's the critic inside of me that I want to flip off.

That's why I enjoyed walking around in public looking like I just stepped out of a boxing ring last week.

It was liberating.  And it made me look tougher than I felt.

I sat down to write a much different post than this today.  But when I let the words flow, I write--not what I plan to write--but what I need to write.

I think we all are maybe a little too concerned with how we are publicly perceived.  I think the success of social media is pretty much spawned by this fear.

When my kids grow up and inevitably become concerned with their appearance, I want them to know what I believe.  I believe that self-love and letting ourselves shine is the ONLY thing that will determine our "beauty."

I want my children to know that when they let themselves shine, NOTHING can stop them from being magnetically radiant…not even a punch in the nose.

I want you to know that, too.

And me.

With love and light.jpg
With love and light.jpg

4 Comments

16 Comments

Got to Get down to Get up: Things I Don't Want You to Know

Breaching is my favorite part of diving. As a kid in my family's pool, I loved the diving board but rarely chose the surface-skimming technique of speed swimmers.

Shallow dives are just so damn boring: that's all.

Instead, I'd catapult myself to the highest possible altitude, jackknife my body to touch my toes, flick my pointed legs skyward so I could enter the water at a 90 degree angle, and bee-line through eight feet of water to the pool's bottom.

16 Comments

Holy Shift:  Conversations with a Prostitute

13 Comments

Holy Shift: Conversations with a Prostitute

www.bethanylee.com-1.jpg
www.bethanylee.com-1.jpg

Paulo Coelho is the type of author who is referred to in professional literary terms as a "Gad-Dang Genius."  He's an artistic and uncommonly wise storyteller whose writing is so mentally delicious that I am sometimes tempted to nibble the pages of his books a little bit.

Yes.  I'd say that's a good introduction to Paulo Coehlo.

I have roughly 276.4 half-written posts swirling in the cauldron between my ears right now, but today I'm called to an unavoidable pile of behind-the-scenes business tasks, so, instead of waxing philosophical myself, I'm sharing a quick passage from Paulo Coehlo's "Eleven Minutes" which blew my hair back 90 degrees last night.

[Pssst.  We really must discuss this book in more detail at some point.  (Vlog, maybe?  Group teleconference?  You tell me.)]

"Eleven Minutes" is "an exploration of the potentially sacred nature of sex within the context of love."  It's a story about a prostitute and it's written by a devout Catholic, which makes it all the more intriguing.

(I don't claim to know much about Catholicism, but I was under the impression that classic "Catholic Guilt" required people to feel embarrassed and uncomfortable speaking about sex.)

In fact, my own discomforts on the subject have made me wonder whether I might possibly be Catholic.

But again:  the business tasks are a-callin' so I won't broach my own thoughts on sex, shame, guilt, power, love, and spirituality, today.  Instead, I'm just teasing you with those tantalizing topics and leaving you with an unrelated quote about suffering.

["Foxy!" says you.]

Context of this delicious morsel of wisdom:

Years after a Brazillian woman, Maria, becomes a prostitute in Geneva, she experiences pleasure during sex for the first time...while partaking in sado-masochism with a client.  Concerned for her, a friend tries to steer Maria away from S+M, but given the pleasure she experienced the previous night, she resists his advice.

[The hair-blowing power of this passage has less to do with what it says about about S+M (do what suits your fancies, friends) and more to do with the resounding truth it speaks about life.]

Here's the passage:  (I added the bold formatting.)

"You experienced pain yesterday and you discovered that it led to pleasure.  You experienced it today and found peace.  That's why I'm telling you:  don't get used to it, because it's very easy to become habituated; it's a very powerful drug.  It's in our daily lives, in our hidden suffering, in the sacrifices we make, blaming love for the destruction of our dreams.  Pain is frightening when it shows its real face, but it's seductive when it comes disguised as sacrifice or self-denial.  Or cowardice.  However much we may reject it, we human beings always find a way of being with pain, of flirting with it and making it part of our lives."

"I don't believe that.  No one wants to suffer."

"If you think you can live without suffering, that's a great step forward, but don't imagine that other people will understand you.  True, no one wants to suffer, and yet nearly everyone seeks out pain and sacrifice, and then they feel justified, pure, deserving of the respect of their children, husbands, neighbors, God.  Don't let's think about that now; all you need to know is that what makes the world go round is not the search for pleasure, but the renunciation of all that is important.  

"Does a soldier go to war in order to kill the enemy?  No, he goes in order to die for his country.  Does a wife want to show her husband how happy she is?  No, she wants him to see how devoted she is, how she suffers in order to make him happy.  Does the husband go to work thinking he will find personal fulfillment there?  No, he is giving the sweat and tears for the good of the family.  And so it goes on:  sons give up their dreams to please their parents; parents give up their lives in order to please their children; pain and suffering are used to justify the one thing that should bring only joy:  love."  (Click to tweet.)

Holy shift in perspective.

Holy "AH-HA" moment.

This ties directly into my previous post, where I was talking about soft addictions, and wondering why it's so hard to break bad habits.

We trap ourselves in activities that we know are not good for ourselves so that we can use pain and sacrifice to JUSTIFY the love and respect we receive from family, friends, and God.

We do that because we've forgotten that we are INHERENTLY good and deserving.  We don't need to DO anything to deserve these things.

Baby, we were born this way.

So again it all comes back to self-love and lettin' ourselves shine.

Gad-dang genius, no?

***

Any thoughts on this post?  I love to hear from you!  :)

***

13 Comments

15 Comments

VIDEO BLOG: What the Heck Is an Ego and What Do I Do with It?

www.bethanylee.com-1-55.jpg
www.bethanylee.com-1-55.jpg

Writing about our Oprah experience last week circled me back to some decade-old questions I've been pondering regarding whether I'm egotistical and if so, what I should do about it.

Here's what I do know:  I really like to be right.  By this I mean, when I take a stance on something, I'm pretty much willing to shed blood in defense of how right I am at any given moment.

What I don't know is:  does this mean I'm an egomaniac?

These ego questions tie into the Oprah thing because I keep asking myself:  WHY did I want to go on Oprah?  Was it REALLY to help people, as I said it was?  [Yes.]  Or was I seeking fame as a means of validation [yes, too], and if so, is it even POSSIBLE that I could STILL be sucking that badly at loving myself?  [No.]

In the public restroom at our local Newport Creamery last night, I had a major epiphany regarding how ego relates to service.  But I can't share my thoughts yet on why egos will save the world because first we need to make sure we're on the same page about what the heck an ego is.

Ergo, today's video:

In this V-Log, I explain:

  • How my perception of the "ego" has evolved through years of therapy and self-development
  • Why the popular idea that we need to "leggo" our egos is a crock of ships
  • One key trick for becoming an "ego whisperer" by taming your wild ego so that it works FOR you; not AGAINST you.

***

If you found today's video informative, please forward it to at least one person who might need to be reminded that having an ego is a good thing.

***

On a scale of 1-10, how healthy would you rate your ego (with 10 being "very healthy" and 1 being "Kanye West")?

Do you have any thoughts about ego that you'd like to share with other readers?

***

15 Comments

8 Comments

Right on Time to Break the Cycle.

www.bethanylee.com-1-32.jpg
www.bethanylee.com-1-32.jpg

At any random moment, my 16-month-old daughter is liable to throw her head back, laugh heartily at the sky, and run forward blindly with arms back and chest out until she collapses to the ground in a fit of laughter.

It's one of the most beautiful things I've ever witnessed.  And it happens (seemingly) unprovoked.

I've been thinking a lot about "Lettin' It Shine" lately, chewing on what I think that phrase actually means.  (Hint:  I DON'T think its application is limited to our positive, "shiny" emotions.)

One thing that is very clear to me from watching my kids is that "Lettin' It Shine" is not something we need to LEARN.  It's something we are BORN knowing.  It's something that we (tragically) UN-LEARN over time.

To put it more confusingly, in order to truly Let It Shine, we need to un-learn our un-learning.  [That's all!]

But how is it that we stop shining in the first place?  And WHY??

***[Cut to scene 2.]***

We're five minutes late for preschool already and I don't even have the kids in the car yet.  I'm carrying my son's bagel with cream cheese and jelly between my teeth while holding my toddler to my hip with one arm, dodging her attempts to grab the bagel by continuously flicking my head to the side, carrying two overflowing bags and two water bottles with the other arm, and attempting to open the car door.

My back is twitching again.

I stayed up later than I should have again last night, so I am (predictably) groggy this morning.  I'm not on my A-game.

I drop the two bags and water bottles on the ground, open the car door, put the bagel on the seat, and while I'm trying to wrestle my daughter into her car seat, I turn to see that my son is sauntering around our front yard with a long stick held to his nose, pretending to be an elephant.  I remind him (for the UMPteenth time) that we are late:   leave the stick here for later and get-in-the-CAR.

I wrestle a little more with wrestler-baby then glance at my son again.

"MmmmmMMMMMMMMMMPH!!!" he trumpets.  His head is hanging low, his weight sauntering from side to side, his feet plodding slowly…exactly like an elephant.

"LISTEN TO ME," I say.  I am firm and my voice is low and slow:  my best intimindating mom voice.  "I am taking that stick and you are getting in the car right now."

I grab the stick.

"BUT I WANT TO PUT IT IN THE CLOSET," he yells.  ["Garage," he means.  He's been keeping that stick in there every night since the hurricane.  It's thin, crooked in several places so as to take up maximum garage space (or, maybe, to make it look more like an elephant trunk), and it's at least ten feet long.]

"WE ARE LATE!" I say.  "THE STICK IS SAFE HERE IN THE DRIVEWAY.  WE CAN LEAVE IT HERE AND PLAY WITH IT WHEN YOU GET HOME.  NOW GET-IN-THE-CAR," I say.  (Not quite as low and slow that time.)

Now he is crying.  It's not the manipulative, I'm-trying-to-get-my-way cry.  It's his genuinely heart-broken and heart-breaking I-am-concerned-about-my-elephant-trunk cry.

And all of a sudden all of my recent reflections about why we humans forget how to "Let It Shine" smack me in the face--as if I just stepped on a rake.  WHAT AM I DOING?

I purse my lips into an "O" and blow:  a physical release of my disappointment in myself.  CAN'T I SEE WHAT'S HAPPENING?

My son is teaching me how beautiful that long and twisted dead stick is, and all I am thinking about is how much room it has been occupying in my recently-cleaned garage.

He is coaching me on how to enjoy the small things and I am hurrying him up so that we can--WHAT?--get to NURSERY SCHOOL??  Where they don't give a damn if you are late?  Where they sing and color and teach you to ENJOY THE SMALL THINGS??

My son is showing me how to let it shine and not only am I not taking the lesson in it, I am squashing HIS light.

Don't get me wrong:  I think kids need discipline and I think they need to learn to respect their parents.  If I make a rule, I need to follow through and teach my children to obey.

But why make the rule in this case?  How did we get here?  Do I not know that my son will take his splendid time noticing beauty on his way through the garage EVERY morning?

Why do I not plan time for that into our day?  Why must he adjust to MY pace, instead of me coming down to HIS pace more often?  Why do I not get myself to bed earlier at night so that I can have the PATIENCE to recognize what is and is not important in the morning?

This is how it happens, isn't it?  This is how we UN-LEARN how to shine.  Our parents are our teachers and if our parents do not take care of themselves and let themselves shine then when we grow to mirror them, we shine less, too.

It's time that we un-learn the un-learning, catchers of light.  It's time that we break the cycle by rocking our basic happiness fundamentals so that we can model--for our children, for ourselves, and for our peers--what it means to glow with an inner light.

This week, I'm committing to a 10:45pm lights-out time.  Every night.  No excuses.  I'm planning time into our morning for a toddler's pace (you should too, regardless of whether you have a toddler) and if we ARE "late" for something whose start-time doesn't matter, I'm going to relax and be laissez-faire about it.

Next time I think I am "late" for an appointment, I aught to pay attention because I might ACTUALLY be RIGHT ON TIME for the elephant parade.

8 Comments