On Strength and Sensitivity

I have been reflecting on this for the last couple of days and I wonder why it is
that so many people think of these two words as antonyms. Why is it that
sensitivity is often confused with weakness. Right here and right now, I want
to go on record as defending that, in fact, quite the opposite is true. You have to
be strong in order to be sensitive. “Sensitive” is not the easy way to go through
life.
When I was a kid, more than once I heard my “elders” say something along the
lines of, “Well, you know, she’s….. sensitive.” And it was always said just like
that, with a pause and almost a whisper. This was not a compliment! It was in
no way suggesting that I was “blessed”, but rather, more like “cursed”.
Mind you, I grew up in a keep-a-stiff-upper-lip kind of New England culture,
though I suspect it’s not confined to just New England. I suspect that there’s a
rather pervasive “veneration” of not expressing sensitivity, of hiding emotion,
and being “in the head”. Intellectual fortitude is highly valued in our society
and the emotional is all too often relegated to that kind of Pandora’s box that
we don’t open for fear of…. Of what? Seriously, what is it that we fear? Could it
be that we’re afraid of being vulnerable, of showing that chink in our armor?
Are we afraid also that others will see us as being less-than-perfect? Or, is it
perhaps more likely that we’re afraid of leaning into our emotion, for fear that
it reveals a perceived “imperfection” to ourselves.
Pleasing others is what we’re taught to do from a very, very young age. When
we please our parents, maybe we get a treat or a smile or some sign of the
approval we crave. While there are sound anthropological underpinnings to
this, we no longer live in caves and I hope that our society is “strong” enough to
accept and embrace sensitivity.

My declaration here and now is that Sensitivity = Strength!!!

My declaration her and now is that Sensitivity = Strength!!! Let’s not confuse the terms anymore. Those who can feel and not try to hide from their sensitivity are, in fact, those who truly embrace their humanity. They are the strong ones among us who make a difference and who, little by little, are transforming our society and our world.
Yes, I am sensitive — Yes! I am strong!!

A Fresh Start

Photograph by jackiebabe.

Don’t you just love the new year? For me, it’s very much like a promise — the promise of starting something fresh and clean. You get to choose what you want it to be about. It’s like wiping the slate clean. In New England, it’s not uncommon for the new year to begin with snow. I remember the hush and beauty of seeing a blanket of freshly fallen snow on the ground, before anyone had stepped on it – no footprints, no mud – just a quiet, serene, and silent promise.

Do you remember what it felt like on the first day of school each year? I don’t know about you, but I’ve always loved having a brand new notebook! All the pages clean, unwrinkled, unused, just waiting, inviting, enticing me to begin writing. And what about the new pencils and pens?? The pencils were sharp and the pens full of ink and ready for whatever I wanted to do with them — they, too, held the promise of new creations!

Remember when we were younger still and what having a brand, new box of crayons felt like?? OMG, that was just about the best thing in the world!!!! What would I colour and what colour would I choose to use for the “perfect” picture?!

And there it is — the curse!!! “Perfect”!!! This very word holds us to an impossible standard. We’re defeated before we’ve even begun. For me, the pursuit of perfection has plagued me my entire life and for some people the, “Shoot for the moon and you’ll always land among the stars!” is a fantastic approach to life and their pursuits, but for me (and, perhaps for you, too), the pursuit of “perfect” has paralysed me and kept me stuck when really, I have so much I want to put out in the world. Soooo…

I have declared this year to be a fresh start!!! I will start: I will take one step at a time toward being my “Perfectly Imperfect Self” because, after all, that’s what we’re really all called to be in this world: perfectly imperfect. I declare that I am “perfect” in my “imperfection” and invite you, too, to connect with and love your perfect imperfection. The way I see it, our “imperfections” are the spaces in our Selves where others can enter. They are the places where connections can take place and we can best love our Self, as well as others. In the spaces of our “imperfections”, we find healthy compassion for our Self and for others.

Hallelujah, I’m perfectly imperfect!!! Let the celebration begin!!!!