Self-protection. Do we allow it to get in the way of progress? Does fear of harm or ridicule stunt our growth. Do we view outside forces as something to hide from? Or do we learn to adapt?
I watch the water form a river in the leaf of a plant. My mind wanders to the self-protective ability of a succulent to divert the harmful power of torrential rain from washing it away.
How much of our environment and its harsh elements helped create who we are today? The adaptation of our natures cannot be ignored as we learn to deflect the ominous, hurtful, degenerative, toxic messages that may have been forced upon us.
When the vicious prey on us, we have our cloaking devices. We do not have to expose ourselves to harmful situations to become more powerful. Power resides in the protection of the gift we are given. There is no need to flaunt or battle.
Deflecting criticism protects our tender roots. These roots ground us in a hostile yet beautiful terrain. The vast wilderness becomes manageable as we adapt by using our strengths. Our beings are created for survival and hope.
“Be gentle with yourself, learn to love yourself, to forgive yourself, for only as we have the right attitude toward ourselves can we have the right attitude toward others.” -Wilfred Peterson
Loving yourself is not narcissistic. Self-acceptance, self-awareness, and self-appreciation all build a stronger you. When you become stronger, you become more confident and more open to your purpose.
The last day of January 2019 has come and gone. Today is the first day of my favorite month of the year, February. Perhaps it is because my birthday falls in this month (not narcissism), but even more exciting, it is the month of love and hearts.
As I reflect over my hope journey, I realize that it is love that brought me to hope. Love from others brought me to be able to love myself, which in turn brought me to love others by sharing my writing openly.
The more I shared, the more I realized I loved my work. I was overcome with joy when I spoke of it and the warmth that surrounded me motivated me to share it publicly in a blog. Filled with trepidation, I forged forward with writtingfromthekitchen.com focusing on the motto, “Love is the main ingredient.”
The support I have received from my loved ones and dear friends over the past months has been amazing. In their busy lives, they have taken time to listen to and read my posts, critique me gently, and sometimes just simply tell me how much they love me.
Knowing that you, dear reader, also enjoy reading my posts adds to the love and generates hope for me every day.
Love and appreciation from others cannot be measured. And I have found it to be only part of the love equation.
I venture to explain. We enter the world fully dependent on love and support. Many argue that it is through those early experiences that our view of love is determined potentially shaping our destiny. Once we feel secure and loved, we venture out of the security of those arms and begin to explore, manipulating our environment for self-satisfaction, while still looking for affirmation. At that early stage of life, self-love may not even be questioned.
It is not until we begin to self-loathe that we absolutely need self-love. The question of when or why this happens, I can’t answer, since it is different for each person. But this love is necessary for growth. We need not fear to appear selfish by being gentle with ourselves during this process.
Loving ourselves allows the richness of love to flow in and upon acceptance of this love, our love flows out toward others. When we love others, we love ourselves. And the heart circle is created.
A door opens to tomorrow. What I hope for today may not be the same for tomorrow. Each day brings growth and change. As I unconsciously step through the doorway of today, a picture begins to materialize bringing me closer to a conscious choice, the next door.
A calling from deep within combined with enticing opportunities placed in front of me sets the stage for personal transformation, a process I cannot avoid but have learned to appreciate.
In the past, I found myself frustrated as I wavered between possibilities. I now welcome the flexibility and freedom of thought and feeling that it brings. There is comfort in knowing that I do not have to choose all the doors at once. And I lean on self-acceptance throughout the odyssey as I slowly regain my balance.
We cannot avoid the imbalance caused by sudden changes or obstacles set in our way, especially if we find instant decisions difficult. But, harnessing the power of hope and letting it lead us in the decisions of the day, while we regain our footing, can help guide us in choosing the right door for tomorrow.
What does it actually mean to prosper? If you start with the definition, you will read words like thrive, flourish, flower, bloom, blossom, burgeon, grow vigorously, expand, spread, improve, succeed, advance, get on in the world, go up in the world, arrive, fly high, make one’s mark, or become rich.
With those words, I not only want to prosper, I crave prospering.
The promise exists…with hope, we will prosper. We want to make it in this world. Whatever our personal goals or wishes for achievement are, we hope to reach them.
What we so often forget to consider is our current place and how we have already prospered. The riches are too great to count when we focus on what we possess outside of what money can buy. I once read, “If you want to find out how rich you are, count how many things you have in your life that money can’t buy.”
We all know the fleeting promises of material goods. The next best technology item brings us a momentary thrill until we move on to what really matters…the treasures of life as they surround us.
As I sit and consider the differences between the words used to define one word, I am moved by the power of subjectivity.
The hand of hope is at work in my life. I reach for the familiarity of its grasp and realize the promise is real. The “riches” surrounding me are too great to count, yet I know there is more in store in a future beyond what I see today.
Living in the moment does not prevent us from hoping. Appreciating the now only lays the groundwork for tomorrow. When we believe we can grow, expand, and improve there is always hope. It is in that very same hope, we prosper.
An event arises in my life as a lesson in resilience. Although it may seem like a small setback for some people, in my world, I saw it as tragic. The words I so lovingly inscribed on the computer screen with hours of painstaking editorial creation disappeared in a flash, in an electrical surge that lasted less than ten seconds.
The devastation cannot be described in a grammatically correct format. My poetic soul was reawakened with an intense raw pain. My newly formed art form had disappeared before it could even be introduced to this world. I searched for it for hours until I had nothing left but to helplessly admit it was gone forever.
Tears fell as torrents of hopeless waves shattered my calm satisfaction felt only after a good work is finished. Circumstances beyond my control had obliterated my work.
What can I learn from this unfortunate disaster? Best laid plans…No matter how hard you work, you will face futility in the face.
And it is here in this hopeless moment I recognize, in order to help others, you must learn how to help yourself. In order to learn how to help yourself, you must focus on helping others. Circles, unending connections that take us back to the beginning of the cycle, in everything we do.
This depth of reasoning is pouring out from my exhalations of surrender. My body shakes with sadness, and I feel foolishly revived.
The words keep replaying in my head, “attitudes of gratitude.” How do you find gratitude in a moment of dissolution? Why must we fall down to get up?
We all follow the same pattern of growth as we are unwittingly thrust into this world, forced to take the next step of humanness. And we start with one deep breath of oxygen, a chemical composition foreign to our tiny little lungs, yet so powerful that it sustains our life on this planet, for close to a century, among all the other humans that began their life the very same way. Who can control that mighty power?
The same power reminds me sternly and daily that I am ultimately not the one in control. Trusting myself as the guide and the only guide leads to a false sense of security. The rug of uncontrolled circumstances can be ripped out from underneath me at any given moment. So where is the encouragement? I will turn the table for you.
Growth, change, and resiliency have much in common. We physically grow and change often without our initial determination and yet great resiliency is required on our part at times. Babies grow stronger and advance from crawling to walking, and we’ve all watched the tedious process of falling to get back up. Teenagers mature and are faced with hormonal challenges that knock them back to toddlerhood to work through the adaptation to adulthood. The silent growth often goes unobserved, yet a process we undergo throughout our lives, requiring the greatest resiliency.
Because we don’t often volunteer for the hard lessons, outside circumstances force their way into our lives requiring mandatory submission. Our choice remains to choose resilience and change our attitude to gratitude.
The lesson of assigning too much importance to my own abilities, recognizing the wondrous source of my creative and curious mind, and surrendering to fateful circumstances rounds out my repertoire this past week.
The gifts of my soul are granted to me to share with you. Messages originating from my heart connect the dots. The message I lost was a good one, but I see now it clearly was missing the point. I spent hours crafting a message on intuitive guidance, focused on self-driven ambitions, rather than maintaining a trustful reliance on the direction of a great and almighty force, who guides my steps and makes them sure.
May you also find your way through the powerful surges of unexpected events by relying on, whomever you believe to be, the force of greatness.
Lifting my eyes up from staring at the floor in defeat, has brought me to you today.
-Erika K Rothwell
“When defeat comes, accept it as a signal that your plans are not sound, rebuild those plans, and set sail once more toward your coveted goal.”