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let it shine

The Moon Really Could Not Be More Obvious About This

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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.

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

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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

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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

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Something Good is Going to Happen Today.  (A Birthday Post.)

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Something Good is Going to Happen Today. (A Birthday Post.)

Bethany O Photography_0356.jpg
Bethany O Photography_0356.jpg

Something good is going to happen today.

You're going to be going about your day, minding your own business, and a thought is going to cross your mind.

A quiet one.  One born from (and filled with) light.

It's going to tell you to do something for someone.  Hug them, maybe.  Or to stop thinking about your to-do list and just listen to what they are trying to tell you.

Maybe the someone the voice is prodding you to celebrate is yourself.

Maybe the whisper will tell you to skip on your way to your car in the parking lot.

And then it will be gone, that whisper.  It will be quickly vetoed by "reason:" that idea is "silly" or "weird" or "impractical."

You'll blow out that light like a candle on a birthday cake.

You've got things to do.  A plan for your day.  Your plans don't include skipping, hugging, or listening.

I know because I do it too.  On my way out of the UPS store this morning, I wanted to turn around and shout exuberantly to their nice staff, "HEY!!!  IT'S MY BIRTHDAY!!!!"

I know my excitement would have made them smile.

But I didn't do it.  Because, you know:  weird.

But today, my friends.  As of today, January 7th, 2014, I have completed--I'm not even exaggerating--THIRTY THREE trips AROUND THE SUN.

I know!!  Wild, right??  What a long, strange, short and spectacular trip it has been.

Today I have one request.  One request to help me celebrate.  And I don't ask this lightly:  I request it with every fiber of my being.

Today, when that quiet little light-filled voice pops into your mind, could you please listen to it?  

If I knew that you did that in honor of my birthday, it would give me chills and teary eyes and it would be the very best birthday present ever in the history of forever times infinity.

Thank you, kind friend.

I love your light.

Happy My Birthday to you.

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It Will Be Simple. And It Will Be Beautiful. (So Help Me God.)

I wrote this in June. As you surely noticed, December immediately followed June this year.  This post was one of the many items that fell to the wayside during that rare calendar event.

With the holidays upon us, it could not have resurfaced at a better time for me.

***

Bethany O Photography_0354.jpg
Bethany O Photography_0354.jpg

September is the time of year when I think it is a good idea to sign the children up for all the things.  I register for classes, seek festivals, set play dates, and generally fill our calendar until its seams pop.

That's one of the requisites for being a "good mom," right?

In our case, we attend music classes, soccer, dance classes and the like, not because I have grandiose ideas of my children becoming the next Chopin or Pele or Paula Abdul, but because I find it is generally best for everybody involved if this stay-at-home-mom (SAHM) does not, in fact, stay at home.

June, though.  Now is the time of year when I realize that we are so busy ALWAYS GOING SOMEWHERE that we never get to just BE.

Essentially, we human beings are too busy being human doings to actually do any BEING.

Am I being clear?

June is when I become convinced that I will only be able to wrestle the kids into their car seats 3-7 more times before, so help me God, I lose my ever-loving mind.

June is when I want to SIMPLIFY.  SIMPLICITY, I tell you!  It is the "good moms" who keep things simple, is it not?

So last Saturday, we cleared the calendar for one plan and one plan only.  We would turn on the sprinkler.  The children would run in the grass.  Husband and I would observe how beautifully the sunlight back-lit the water drops dancing through their laughter.  We would sit.  We would just BE.

And it would be beautiful.

The only detail to address was that we didn't have a sprinkler.  No biggie:  we live five minutes from Benny's (our local hardware-and-more store.)  We would go get a sprinkler.  We'd come home and plug it in.  They would laugh, we would sit.

Simple.  Beautiful.

Except.

Upon entering Benny's, we walked straight into the toy aisle, which is positioned directly in front of the entrance.  (Well played, Benny's.  Well played.)

During our frolic down aisle 1, our almost-two-year-old daughter placed roughly 27 items into our shopping cart.  Since I was replacing them as quickly as she picked them, the whole thing seemed cute and innocent enough.

Until it didn't.

When we reached the beach pails, said daughter turned around to survey her bounty, and the earth dropped out from beneath us.

"NO!!!!!!!!!!!!," she screamed from the depths of her.  "DAS MIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINE BOAT!!!  DAS MIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINE DOLLY!!!  DAS MIIIIIIIIIINE EAR-O-PLANE!!!!"

When she launched herself face-first upon the floor, I picked her up, just as Beverly Cleaver would do.

But Beverly Cleaver never taught us the proper hold for a screaming child who has perfected the art of the horizontal open-and-close jackknife body buck.  While I struggled to 1) keep her from falling and 2) play it cool for the growing number of on-lookers, my just-turned-four-year-old son announced that he needed to use the potty.

Husband was running another errand.

I can handle situations like this.  I am strong, and not easily jostled, or at least that's what I like to think.

But THIS DAY was supposed to be simple.  THIS was FUN AND SIMPLE AND BEAUTIFUL DAY, for crying out loud.  There are NO TANTRUMS on fun and simple and beautiful day, DOESN'T EVERYBODY KNOW THAT??

I abandoned our cart and diverted the childrens' attention to the automobile aisle, where there was a well-placed rack of colorful women's sundresses for only $6.  (I KNOW!  Can you believe it???  Only $6!)  The kids--easily distracted--embraced the cave-like qualities of the clothing rack, so I seized my chance to try on the sundresses over my outfit.

My sense of personal style can be described as nothing if not "opportunistic."

The third time the store manager came to our giggling-and-shaking clothing rack to ask if he could help with anything, I recognized that he did not understand how fabulously CONTAINED my children were in there.

That was also when I realized that the terribly ripe diaper smell wafting from the rack was becoming an embarrassment, even for me, the woman trying on sun dresses in the automobile section of Benny's.

(I'll have you know that it was our diapered daughter--not our potty-trained son--who was responsible for the smell.  [Hashtag thankful.])

So, being the model parent that I am, I took one child's hand in each of mine and set out to find my husband, who should have surely, so help him God, finished his previous errand and arrived at Benny's by now.

Which is when things took a turn for the worse.

In an effort to prove that young children truly do not have any impulse control whatsoever, my son released my hand, grabbed a styrofoam bat, swung the way his college-baseball-star-father taught him, and whacked a hunched elderly man in the back of the legs as we passed.

WHY.  IS.  SIMPLE.  SO.  VERY.  HARD???????????

Husband (thank-you-Jesus) materialized just then to whisk the baby off for a diaper change, and I retreated to the lawn chair section to put our son--and myself--in Time Out.

Simplicity waits for us in Time Out, you know.

That's where I saw things more clearly.

I saw that, when I had been trying to distract the baby from her tantrum, I blew raspberries into her neck.  Until the day I die, I want to always remember the way my nose squishes into the soft-but-firm folds of that baby's neck.  I want to always remember the sweetness of her high-and-low pitched laughter tickling my ear canal.

Because that is simple.  And it is oh-so-beautiful.

How relieved was I to see my husband when he appeared?  How proud was I when our shy boy looked that elderly man in the eye to sincerely apologize?  How high did I feel when my heart skipped that beat?

Those moments - the in betweenmoments - they're so simple.  So beautiful.

The [very] elderly man emptied the contents of his pockets into my son's hand, which, once the life savers were removed, totaled six coins amounting to 19 cents.

Get a load of this.  That elderly man then thanked me for "raising [my] kids the right way."  I'm willing to overlook the fact that clearly he was either senile or had me confused with someone else, because--well--19 cents is 19 cents, you know?

That man told us he was especially thankful that my son made him smile that day, because his granddaughter had had to cancel their lunch date that day, and he was feeling a little lonely.

Which brings a happy tear and a sad one to my eye.  Simple and beautiful ones.

The best moment of all was when another tantrum erupted in the parking lot on the way back to the car.  In an effort to keep our flailing children from getting hit by traffic, husband and I released our hold on the too-many-items we had just purchased, and they spilled onto the pavement.

What caused that tantrum?

Oh, our son had grabbed my hand.  And our daughter, in her daddy's arms, became irate.

"NO!!!!!!!!" she yelled.  "DAS MIIIIIIIIIIINE MOMMY!!!!!!!!!"

So simple.

And oh, so beautiful.

***

Sending all of my readers so much love and appreciation today, and wishing you all a very simple, very beautiful holiday season.

In case of emergency, remember:  simplicity waits for us in time out and hides in the in-between moments.  

With love and light, B 

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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.

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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

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Not Only Silly. Also Wrong.

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Bethany O Photography_0104.jpg

"When am I going to see more of your PHOTOS?" my sister asked.  "You post a teaser to Facebook once in a while.  You make me want more.  And then...nothing."

"Aye aye aye," said I.  "I don't know how to handle this.  I want to post recent photo sessions to my blog, but many of my blog subscribers found me because they like my writing, not necessarily because they like my photos.  I don't want to inundate them with photography if they came to me for joyology.  I don't want to annoy people."

"That is not only silly," said she.  "It is also wrong."

I like her style.  And her opinion.

Segueing to my point-du-jour:  I am about to post a bunch of photography-related posts.  But I won't send them to you as seven separate emails; I will send them in one giant, conglomerative email.  Because I don't want to inundate you.

And apparently because I'm still learning to let myself shine.

If you signed up to receive my emails because you are primarily interested in my Joyology thoughts, fret not, mon ami.  I'll be back with more of those toute suite.  In fact, I've got a great one up my sleeve.

Love and light to ya, homefries.

Love,

B-Dizzle

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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.

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Brian Johnson Podcast: Personal Roadblocks and How to Overcome Them

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bethanyo.com_0062.jpg

This podcast with Brian Johnson is, like Brian himself,  *awesome sauce.*  Let me just start with that.

Also.  I don't know why I was so anxious before this call.  Yes I do.

Brian and Alexandra Johnson mean a lot to me.  They have been such a positive force in my life over the past year, and I am EXCITED to introduce you, my blog readers, to some of their well-practiced wisdom.

Excitement and anxiety are twinsies, almost.

I was also NERVOUS because this was such a treasured opportunity:  I was afraid I'd F it up.

[This is the fun dance we play with any blessing in our lives, isn't it?  Excitement for the Goodness vs Fear of Ruining/Losing Said Goodness.  Ironically, both sides of that battle make the opposing side stronger.  I can't decide if I think that's a good thing.]

Also.

You should know that I have a history of crying in professional situations.  This history gives me the heebie-jeebies, when I think about it.  For every professional position I've ever held, I can think of a time when I did not want to cry in that position but I cried anyway.  Usually in front of a boss who had no idea how to handle it.

[Psst!  My ego wants me to tell you that I was very good at those jobs despite the crying.]

During smalltalk before this podcast, Brian made the obtuse mistake of asking me how I was doing.  I mean, honestly!  The audacity on that guy.

I could have hidden my feelings this time.  I could have given him the standard "great thanks--you?" answer and started the podcast without tipping my hand about my anxiety.

At least I THINK I could have done that, this time.  Let's just say I could have.

But nowadays I know how poisonous it is for me to hide my truths and I surround myself with people who value and encourage those truths, so I named it.  I told Brian I was nervous and my voice shook and I had some uncomfortable pauses where I'm sure he knew I was wiping away tears and holding the receiver away from my mouth while gasping for breath, but it was okay.  I felt safe here.

For the first time in a professional-ish situation, instead of berating myself for my excitable anxious energy, I was proud of my willingness to be authentic because I know now that it takes a lot of courage to allow ourselves to be seen in this world.

And I'm grateful to Brian for creating that safe space.

I've been unsure how to introduce today's podcast to you.  Brian's resume is super-impressive, but I didn't want to copy/paste his bio, because pasting is boring and bios are impersonal.

It's tempting to tout the popularity of Brian's work, but that would be too ironic:  Brian discourages extrinsic goal-setting and sets me straight whenever I appear concerned about social media rankings, etc.

What I find most impressive about both Brian and Alexandra is not their accomplishments, but how they show up as people.  They open my eyes to the type of human being I aspire to be.

My husband, Owen, had a suggestion for me.

"You've mentioned how Brian holds space for people," he said.  "You've said that even when he is very busy, he still has a way of honoring the people around him.  You have said this inspires YOU to want to be the same way…to be present and to help people feel connected and safe in sharing themselves.  You should probably mention that in your intro."

Good idea, O.  Good idea.

[Cut back to scene 1:  Pre-Podcast Jitters.]  Of course Brian was helpful when I said I was nervous.  He related the tricks he uses to alchemize his own nervous energy back into enthusiasm, shared funny stories of past anxieties, and even Alexandra hopped on the phone to help a sistah out.  This is the type of people they are, the Johnsons.

But then I looked at the clock.  We were halfway through our allotted time, and we hadn't even begun recording.  Knowing that Brian's time is in high demand, I asked if it would be better for him that we reschedule.

"I have as much time as you need," he told me.

That sentence, my friends, tells you much more than any bio could tell you about Brian Johnson.

***

In today's podcast, Brian shares some roadblocks he has faced on his road to success, as well as the tools he has used to overcome them.

I think you'll love it!  Here it is!

[powerpress]

***

I'd love to hear one thing you're taking from today's post / podcast!

***

Please like image for bottom of posts
Please like image for bottom of posts

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Fabulous Roman Candles.  (How to Discover Your Inner Fire)

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Fabulous Roman Candles. (How to Discover Your Inner Fire)

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www.bethanylee.com-1-58.jpg

I've recently become aware of a deep craving in my soul.  It's a fire that burns, burns, burns "like fabulous roman candles exploding like spiders amongst the stars"--a craving so unquenchable that no vice could quench it.

Not chocolate, not wine, not work addiction, not late nights mindlessly surfing Facebook.

I'll dub this "the Jack Kerouac Condition" and classify it as being "desirous of everything [and nothing] at the same time."

The only people for me Jack Kerouac.jpg
The only people for me Jack Kerouac.jpg

Here's the thing.  You, appreciated reader?  [Yes--I'm talkin' to YOU!]  YOU are a person for Jack Kerouac too.  YOUR soul is a ball of unquenchable light that yearns to illuminate YOUR path.

If you can't see that, it's only because you're not allowing yourself to see it.

Allow me to explain...

I Can't Get No Satisfaction

I didn't know I had the Jack Kerouac Condition until I very rigidly decided to renovate my life a few months ago.  I've never been keen on the concept of New Years' Resolutions, but it seemed to me that 1/1/13 was as good a day as any to become the best self I'm meant to be.

So I committed to consistently rocking the habits that enable my best self to thrive.  Not just SOME of the habits.  ALL of 'em.  "Go big or go home":  that's my over-the-top motto.

So I've been going to bed earlier, waking up before the kids, starting every day with freshly juiced vegetables, not using my computer after dinner, limiting my sugar intake, getting rid of clutter, reading more books, exercising every day…yadda yadda yadda.  It's been a while since I've used television or alcohol to mindlessly pass my time, but if I still did, I'd'a nixed those suckers, too.

Pretty soon, I started to feel INSATIABLE.  I knew I was craving SOMETHING and I knew it wasn't any of my vices I craved.  I also DIDN'T KNOW HOW TO SATISFY MY CRAVING.

It was driving me crazy.

Testing a Solution

I posed this conundrum to my therapy [aka "accountability"] group recently.  I told 'em that I can't get no satisfaction.

A keen group member observed, "I don't wanna state the obvious, but you just said you've eliminated all your vices.  Maybe you're being too rigid.  Cut yourself a few breaks.  Live a little."

Rigidity IS one of my patterns, so I jumped on this advice.  Plus, I liked this suggestion much better than whatever my therapist ["coach," if you prefer] was talking about when she told me I'm forgetting my "why's."  Hogwash, that sounds like!

[For the record, I actually WAS forgetting my "why's," but that's neither here nor there now, is it?]

So I headed to the bar.  The candy bar, that is.

But not even a Snickers satisfied me.  That's when I knew I had it bad.

So I jumped to the big leagues and ate a lemon-filled, chocolate-glazed donut so fast that I literally searched the floor to see if I had dropped part of it.

That donut, my friends?  That donut came close to muffling the hunger of my soul.  It came awfully, deliciously, frighteningly close.

The Ah-Ha Moment

That's when I realized there are two ways that we can address our innermost cravings:

1)  Figure out what our soul desires and DO it - BE it - THRIVE from it - SHINE with it, or

2)  Muffle it with food or late-night Facebooking or wine or an overwhelming schedule and then wonder why we feel so damn unfulfilled all the time.

When I took away all of the strategies I normally use to mindlessly pass the time, it suddenly became obvious that I was never craving any of those things that I thought I had craved in the first place.

All of the times that I THOUGHT I wanted chocolate, it was actually something bigger that I wanted.  The chocolate just made the yearning more bearable.  It dulled the flame.

My point today is not to help you discover WHAT you burn for.  It's to awaken you to the awareness THAT you burn.

Because you DO burn, my friend.  Like a fabulous roman candle exploding like spiders amongst the stars.

***

Are you aware of the fire that burns in YOUR soul?

If not, try this:

1)  Brainstorm which activities you resort to when you're feeling overwhelmed.  (Popular answers = tv, internet, shopping, wine, frantic attack of to-do list, etc.)

2)  Dedicate one full weekend to doing none of those things.

3)  When you feel tempted to do one of those things, just ask yourself, "is that what I'm really craving right now?  Will [the vice you crave] FULFILL this yearning, or just muffle it?"

4)  Notice what comes up.

5)  Share your thoughts with me in the comments.  Writing down your observations will help you remember them next time you have a craving.

***

Synchronicity

The universe continues to delight and astound me with the incredible opportunities it puts in my path when I follow my truth.

Around the same time that I realized I've been masking my inner fire, a lovely reader told me that I have a lot in common with her boss, Dr Judith Wright, and that, if I'd like, she'd be happy to make an introduction (THANK YOU, MEGAN!!).

I quickly learned that, among Judith's MANY successes, she is widely renowned for coining the term "soft addiction," which refers to "those seemingly harmless habits like over-shopping, overeating, watching too much TV, endlessly surfing the internet, procrastinating - that actually keep us from the life we want."

Okay, so…THAT sounds familiar.

It gets better.  Judith (along with her husband, Bob) just released her third book, "Transformed!" which outlines the six scientific stages of personal transformation, teaching people how to become their "next most radiant self."  She devotes an entire CHAPTER to yearning.

What we have found here, folks, is a verified EXPERT in "Lettin' It Shine."  She is the perfect person to kick off the "Let It Shine" podcast series that I've been intending to start, and I'm so excited to speak with her tomorrow.

Our conversation will be recorded and downloadable in my next post, so keep an eye out for my "Let It Shine" podcast with Dr Judith Wright about the science of spectacular living!

***

Do you have any questions about your own journey with learning to allow yourself to shine that you'd like me to ask Judith?  

Let me know in the comments and I'll try to fit it into the podcast!

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I Want to Knock You Over (Practices in Avoiding Vulnerability)

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www.bethanylee.com-1-54.jpg

My boy and I?  Here's how we hug:

As soon as I sit on the floor, a glimmer hits his eye, eager anticipation lifting his eyebrows.  He collides into me and we tumble backwards, his heart landing on mine like a defibrillator charging my soul.  His delighted shrieks land warm on my neck and I laugh from a combination of feigned surprise and actual, verified soul bliss.

It's delicious.

On the rare occasion that I do NOT tumble to the floor when he hugs me [WHY, Self?], he steps back, looks into my eyes determinedly and says, "I want to knock you over."

Ahhhhhh yes, my little apple who has not fallen far from its tree.  I can SO relate.

Lately, I've been hesitant to make time for writing.  I've pointed an accusatory finger at my busy schedule, but let's face it:  blaming "busyness" always smells like avoidance and self-congratulations, does it not?

Whenever I hear someone say they can't do something that is good for them because they're "too busy," I wonder if they realize that they are somehow avoiding vulnerability.

Silly, silly humans.

But--oh, wait:  there I go calling the kettle black again.  Guess I should swan-dive into self analysis to figure out the real reason I haven't been writing.

It probably starts here:  knowing that your time is precious and that I want you to find time for my little blog, I asked myself, "Self.  What characterizes the things that I make time to read?  I read things that are inspirational.  Or funny.  Or authentic.  Or educational."

"I know the solution!" said I.  "I shall make every post informative and funny and authentic and inspirational!  And each post shall include a soulful professional-quality photo taken by moi!  That is all!"

There are three major troubles with that line of reasoning:

1)  It is insane

2)  Sometimes it is not possible to be funny and authentic at the same time, and

3)  The very suggestion that I would need to be anything more than authentic to "deserve" readership flies directly in the face of my "Let It Shine" mantra and message.

When we allow ourselves to shine, we find security in knowing that our ESSENCE is divine.  We are beautiful--not "in spite" of our "humanness"--but BECAUSE of it.  Our "imperfections," our mistakes, the parts of us that we feel inclined to hide from the world--those things CONTRIBUTE to our beauty.  

As I sit down this morning, pondering the real reason I haven't been writing so that I can find the lesson in it, the thing that keeps popping into my head is that my son wants to knock me over.

What he doesn't realize is that he knocks me over whether or not he tries to do so.

He knocks me over with love and pride and joy and tenderness when he colors quietly by himself in the corner.  He knocks me over with love and pride and joy and tenderness  when he dances like an elephant in music class.  He knocks me over with love and pride and joy and tenderness when he gets upset because his sister ruined the zoo he was building with blocks.

When he physically knocks me over, it's because I've allowed it.  It's ME who's different when we don't tumble backwards:  not him.

All he has to do to knock me over is be himself.  

And it's not his responsibility to knock me over anyway.

AH HA!  So there's the lesson.  I set out to be authentic here and immediately shielded my vulnerability by requiring that I also be funny and informative so as to merit readership, which sets the bar high and makes me reticent to write.  As if I'm afraid that my authentic self is not enough.

That insight, this morning?  It knocks me over.

***

Two updates for you, friends!

1)  I have a new writing commitment.  My only requirement for my posts is that they be authentic (which hopefully is intrinsically inspirational.)  I hope that funniness and informativeness slip in here frequently, as they are welcome guests at any party I throw, but the only way I can encourage people to allow themselves to shine is by modeling it, so I'll throw parties here even when Funny and Informative don't RSVP.

2)  I am indubitably grateful to have recently been featured in the en*theos daily Optimizer.  Check it out if you're feelin' it!  :)

***

Please say hello in the comments!  How are you doing?

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Right on Time to Break the Cycle.

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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.

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The Only People for Me.

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The Only People for Me.

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www.bethanylee.com-19.jpg

I have never laughed out loud so many times while culling photos as I did when I was sorting through these shots of my cousin, David, and his groomsmen.

I laugh because when I look at these photos, I can actually HEAR these guys.  And let me tell you, they are hilarious.  And passionate.  And downright, wall-to-wall INSPIRING.

I had the distinct pleasure of spending the day leading up to David and Beth's wedding with these men.  The opportunity to be a fly on the wall of their magnetic friendships and to repeatedly belly laugh in a 14-passenger van with them while bopping along the Pacific Coast Highway will keep me forever grateful that I am a photographer.

These guys work hard, they play hard, they love big, they dream huge.

That weekend in LA, Jack Kerouac kept popping into my head:

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The only people for me Jack Kerouac.jpg

I recognize that I run the risk of confusing some potential photography clients by posting these wedding-day photos (since I am a family portrait photographer, not a wedding photographer), but in the end, you know what I really am?

A happiness photographer.

A "Let-It-Shine" photographer.

And these guys:  They let it shine.  My oh MY, do they let it shine.

Like a thousand fabulous roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.

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I always love to hear from you, my friends!  Make sure to say hello in the comments below!

Also, in Tuesday's post about self confidence, I mentioned that I recently had an epiphany in understanding why I have been so concerned with what people think of me.  I decided to push that post until next week.  If you liked the post "Let It Shine.  (OR:  The Post in which I Tell My Fears to F--- Off)" then I think you'll really enjoy next week's post.

Lots more thoughts to come soon on the brilliance that my cousin David and the rest of the genii at en*theos are bringing to the world.  I'm talkin' 'bout the mothahload of wisdom, folks.

Don't want to bother with checking my site for updates?  Sign up to receive new posts via email, yo!  Keep scrolling down for the sign-up box.

Have a deLIGHTful day, mad ones!!!

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22 Comments

Think You Are Stupid?  Unworthy?  LISTEN UP.

8 Comments

Think You Are Stupid? Unworthy? LISTEN UP.

pepere brain comment beneath
pepere brain comment beneath

It is more than a teensy bit distressing to me that several of the most genuine, thought-provoking, downright incredible people I am lucky to know are of the opinion that they, personally, are "stupid."

Knowing the plentitude of brilliance and wisdom these fine humans contribute to our world, I ask myself where the stupidity belief comes from.  Do they think this because of comments from teachers or classmates when they were young?  Did their low grades in school make them think that they are unintelligent?  Is it because they didn't go to college?

OR do they (or did they once) actually recognize the brilliance that I see in them?  And are they afraid that if they OWN that brilliance, people will point fingers at their bad grades and informal educations, thereby exposing them to the world as frauds?   

IS IT SCARIER FOR PEOPLE TO OWN THEIR BRILLIANCE THAN IT IS FOR THEM TO LABEL THEMSELVES AS STUPID (OR [INSERT OTHER NEGATIVE LABEL HERE])?

[Sad sigh.]  Ahhhhh, friends.  I think these divine folks of whom I speak are subconsciously afraid to shine.

[I am no stranger to the fear of shining.  In fact, for a long time, I hesitated to launch this very website because I believed I did not deserve to model the "Let It Shine" mantra.  (More on that subject in my next post.)]

pepere 10 comment beneath
pepere 10 comment beneath

Want to know the worst part about the being afraid to shine?

Our eyes adjust to darkness.

After enough repetitions of telling ourselves that we are stupid (or undeserving or cowardly or ugly or whatever), we actually BELIEVE we ARE those things.

The more we smother out light, the more our pupils dilate.  We adjust to the environment of the dark cave that we built to "protect" us.

Before long, we get so lost in that dark place of misplaced brilliance that we forget what it was like to be bright.  We even IDENTIFY with the darkness.  This negative trait?  It's just who we are, we poor things.

Suddenly, this scary cave that we do know feels safer and more comfortable than the oppressively bright, now unfamiliar light outside.

So when someone notices our brilliance or our beauty or our courage, thereby shining a ray of light on our dilated pupils, we clamp our eyes shut in horror and throw our palms at them in protest.  [The audacity of those light-shiners!]

I mean, SURE, it would be NICE if the light-shiners were RIGHT about us, but can't they see?  We are cave dwellers.  Cave dwellers do not shine, silly light-shiners.  We hide.

Meant-to-shine.jpg
Meant-to-shine.jpg

By this point, we have forgotten that we once perceived this place of negative self-talk as being dark.

We have forgotten that we were never meant to be cave dwellers in the first place.

What I am trying to say is that hiding our strengths from others is DANGEROUS grounds.  When we modestly or fearfully hide our brilliance from others, we not only encourage them to do the same, but WE ALSO HIDE OUR BRILLIANCE FROM OURSELVES.

Here's the kicker.   Most of us build our lives around a fear of shining without ever even knowing it. 

We swipe the rug directly out from under our own feet and WE DO NOT EVEN KNOW WHAT HAPPENED.    We lay there in our cave corners, confused and depressed from a lack of Vitamin D, deliriously BELIEVING that we are actually stupid or weak or whatever.

I sad-sigh again because I know that some cave dwellers are SO deep in the cave (been there!) that they will read this post and think it does not apply to them.  (Don't let this be you, Sweet Reader!  I repeat:  Do NOT let this be you!!)

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Steven-Pressfield-the-biggest-bitch.jpg

It took me a good 17 years of therapy and radical self-analysis to realize that I was afraid to let it shine.  Now I see it all around me.

SO, my Brilliant, Gorgeous, Deserving of Goodness Reader:  what positive qualities are YOU not owning?  Perhaps you are willing to proclaim your intelligence, but do you discredit your COURAGE?  Do you downplay your WISDOM?  Do you trivialize your INNER BEAUTY?

WHY????

I do not ask you to demolish your Caves of Self-Sabotage right this minute.  I don't even ask you to know how.

All I ask is that you recognize that these negative things you think of yourself?  Maybe--just maybe--they are not true.

Maybe--just maybe--you made them up.

Maybe--just maybe--you did so because at one point in your life, you were afraid to shine.

Your willingness to take one brave baby step today by recognizing that?

That willingness shows that you are nothing short of brilliant.

rock smile with comment beneath
rock smile with comment beneath

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Want to worry less about what people think of you?  Tune in for my next post, and I'll hand you a key to unhinging that mind-trap.

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As always, I very much appreciate your comments and your willingness to share this!  (I want my posts to help as many people as possible...and I need your help to make that happen!)  :)

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8 Comments