Poetry as Food for the Soul: Day 4

Today my mom sent me a copy of a poem written by infamous actor, writer and musician Charlie Chaplin. It really touched me and I wanted to share it with you.

Though in the last three posts I have talked about my struggle finding self worth, as I read through this poem I realized I am closer to accomplishing this then I thought. It is as Winnie the Pooh author A. A. Milne once said, quote, “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.

Charlie Chaplin wrote this poem when he was 70.

As I began to love myself
I found that anguish and emotional suffering
are only warning signs that I was living
against my own truth.
Today, I know, this is Authenticity.

As I began to love myself
I understood how much it can offend somebody
if I try to force my desires on this person,
even though I knew the time was not right
and the person was not ready for it,
and even though this person was me.
Today I call this Respect.

As I began to love myself
I stopped craving for a different life,
and I could see that everything
that surrounded me
was inviting me to grow.
Today I call this Maturity.

As I began to love myself
I understood that at any circumstance,
I am in the right place at the right time,
and everything happens at the exactly right moment.
So I could be calm.
Today I call this Self-Confidence.

As I began to love myself
I quit stealing my own time,
and I stopped designing huge projects
for the future.
Today, I only do what brings me joy and happiness,
things I love to do and that make my heart cheer,
and I do them in my own way
and in my own rhythm.
Today I call this Simplicity.

As I began to love myself
I freed myself of anything
that is no good for my health –
food, people, things, situations,
and everything that drew me down
and away from myself.
At first I called this attitude a healthy egoism.
Today I know it is Love of Oneself.

As I began to love myself
I quit trying to always be right,
and ever since
I was wrong less of the time.
Today I discovered that is Modesty.

As I began to love myself
I refused to go on living in the past
and worrying about the future.
Now, I only live for the moment,
where everything is happening.
Today I live each day,
day by day,
and I call it Fulfillment.

As I began to love myself
I recognized
that my mind can disturb me
and it can make me sick.
But as I connected it to my heart,
my mind became a valuable ally.
Today I call this connection Wisdom of the Heart.

We no longer need to fear arguments,
confrontations or any kind of problems
with ourselves or others.
Even stars collide,
and out of their crashing, new worlds are born.
Today I know: This is Life!

May we all with time find these truths for ourselves! For life is beautiful.

Comparison is the thief of joy: Day 3

(Me right after doing yoga!)

Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Thinking on this I have concluded several things.

First, there is a specific paragon, or model, of excellence or perfection which we all visualize. I do not know how it is for everyone, but for me it has always been difficult to see myself as something miraculous when my accomplishments always fell short of someone else. I had above average but never superior grades, I displayed sufficient physical ability but was never good enough for varsity, I was incredibly well read but always fell short in reading comprehension tests, etc. . ..

Honestly, I believed I was average and unspectacular because I never measured up to these ideals of excellence. But really, what was I comparing myself to? Others my age who felt just as insecure and unsure about their abilities as I did.

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Second, we treat meeting these standards like a race or competition. It is like the story “You are special” by Max Lucado. In it there are a people called the Wemmicks who daily give each other golden stickers for beauty and ability or gray dots for being uglier or less accomplished. For their society, whether one was completely covered in stars or dots, determined an individuals worth. Consequently, the marks made from these stickers caused many to doubt their worth or be consumed by pleasing others.

I believe it is a natural reaction to try and better ourselves, and even more so do measure by comparing our strengths and weaknesses to others. We compete and compete believing if we are the best at chess, can do a specific move, sing immaculately or dress the best we will be accepted. But thinking on it, is it really worth it? In the end, there will always be someone better than us at something.

Third, too often our worth stems from our strengths and if we have weaknesses we assume we have less worth. Elder Uchdorf said in his talk “Forget me Not”,

…we spend so much time and energy comparing ourselves to others—usually comparing our weaknesses to their strengths. This drives us to create expectations for ourselves that are impossible to meet. As a result, we never celebrate our good efforts because they seem to be less than what someone else does.

My mother often quoted Albert Einstein who is attributed to saying, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” I know for myself I often felt like that fish. As though I would never measure up because I couldn’t fit into my own expectations.

Fourth, most importantly the good we see in others they can also see in us. One day I sat and wondered, “Am I someones ideal? Do other people wish they were me?” In the moment it seemed ridiculous, but now I am not so sure.

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One of my favorite stories is Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya. Tohru, wondering how to help two boys who seem lost in their hatred and envy for each other, creates an analogy which I have kept with me for a long time.

If you think of someone’s good qualities as the umeboshi in an onigiri, it’s as if their qualities are stuck to their back! People around the world are like onigiri. Everyone has an umeboshi with a different shape and color and flavor. But because it’s stuck on their back, they might not be able to see their umeboshi. (They think) “There’s nothing special about me. I’m just white rice.” (And I think) That’s not true. There is an umeboshi — on your back. Maybe the reason people get jealous of each other, is because they can see so clearly the umeboshi on other people’s backs.

I often thought of this analogy in Russia, where the unspoken pressure to learn Russian and be “the perfect missionary” was an unfortunate driving force among us. Thinking back on my fears, despairs and silly expectations I wish I could tell myself everything would work out, that I would learn Russian and be able to help a lot of people because of who I was, not because of who I wasn’t. I wish I could say, “Aubrey, focus on your strengths and God will make your weaknesses become strong.”

Lastly, everyone is on the same journey and is experiencing the same things as we are. But despite this, everyone is different.Also from Fruits Basket, Takaya’s character Tohru surmised, “Mom taught me that people’s differences are something to celebrate.” Our path will be different than others, because we are different. Our weaknesses do not demean our worth and our strengths don’t determine who we really.

Thank you for reading my random thoughts. These posts and my goals to see myself better have really helped me and I hope I can help others who are struggling with these same insecurities.

To have Divine Worth: Day 2

(No glasses. now you all know what I look like without them.)

Whenever I find myself trying to understand self love, I reflect on earlier teachings from my childhood. For those who do not know, I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. One of the main teachings we learn since we are very young is that we are children of God, with a divine nature and incredible potential.
The definition of divine is, according to google dictionary, “of, from, or like God or a god”. Worth is “ the level at which someone or something deserves to be valued or rated.” Therefore, whenever I would hear I had divine worth, they meant I came from God. This is an incredible concept. It is as Elaine Cannon once said, “There are two important days in a woman’s life: The day she is born and the day she finds out why.” (SOURCE)
But as it happens, because I have heard this for so long and SO MANY TIMES I forget the magnitude this small truth has. This is because such beautiful truths tend to become lost amidst louder more persuasive voices. Since I was a teenager, this has been especially hard for me. It was hard to think of myself having divine worth when so many voices in and outside my head screamed the very opposite.

They tell me how to be beautiful, as if I am not already. They tell me how to talk, act, “fit in”, find love, become a successful adult, etc in order to become someone of value.

There is the key. One of the worst lies we tell ourselves, myself included, is there is so much we need to do in order to gain worth, to be something of value.

For myself, it has always been “I am not my ideal body size or image of beauty. And until I achieve it I am not good enough. . . for myself or others.”
Former President Thomas Monson said, “We are surrounded by persuasive voices, beguiling voices, belittling voices, sophisticated voices, and confusing voices. I might add that these are loud voices.” (source) I also think we are often one of the loudest voices putting ourselves down and limiting our perspective.

But the truth is this. As Rosemary Wixom said “Our divine nature has nothing to do with our personal accomplishments, the status we achieve, the number of marathons we run, or our popularity and self-esteem. Our divine nature comes from God. It was established in an existence that preceded our birth and will continue on into eternity.” (source)

We come from a God, who made us after his image, gave us this earth and loves us perfectly. THAT makes all the difference. At least, it does for me.

As Victor Hugo wrote, ““The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved; loved for ourselves—say rather, loved in spite of ourselves.”

For myself, I feel I should ponder deeper who I REALLY am and build myself up. What does give me strength is to know God and Jesus Christ love me and understand me. This means they know my weaknesses but it also means they know the goodness in me and the GREATNESS.

Facing Myself: Day 1

(Beautiful me on little sleep, long work hours and no makeup. . . awe the memories. )

Today I pondered a lot about how much my mindset concerning my health has changed. So many thoughts flitted through my head about my weight, age, makeup, sleep, personal skills and so on. All of these these thoughts which honestly have been building up since I was very young have been a burden for a great portion of my life.

I am probably not the first person to judge themselves harshly. When I was in middle school I did not feel beautiful because I did not fit the ideal “mold” of a skinny, athletic or smart girl which flitted in my mind so often.  I went from being a twig at eleven to a more vellumptious (did I spell this right?), curvy version of myself within two years.

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Did I want this? No. Though I did not voice it all the time, my ideal haunted me. I felt bitter and honestly I did not like myself.

These feelings stayed with me throughout college. And after.

Then something remarkable happened. I went on a mission to Russia and lost 40 pounds. How did it happen? Well. . . I got sick, my stomach shrank and I changed my eating habits. I switched to smaller portions, avoided sugar and studied hard how to eat in order TO TAKE CARE Of MY BODY.

I make it sound easy, but it wasn’t. I remember many heartfelt prayers wondering how I could change, lose weight, see myself as beautiful.

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And I am still there. As it happens, my body changed more when I came home from Russia. I gained muscle and before long I have once again fallen into old fears. Eating again became calorie counting and calculating how to lose weight. Exercise has become almost all about becoming that ideal once again,  counteracting eating and bad decisions.

All in all, unfortunately, FEAR has become the defining driving force in my diet and exercise.

So today I sat and wondered and realized what I lost; a true love for myself, which took me SO SO long to know in Russia.  With shock I realized I have stopped caring for my body and am trying to force it into the ideal mold I valued throughout my life.

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(Original Art by 9Jedit. Feel free to look up her blog!

So what to do now? Well, I have decided  to REMEMBER that feeling I had in Russia. Because for the first time in my life, while I was there, I had a glimpse into a higher law of love for myself. The truth of which is knowing our intrinsic value goes deeper than a weight or pant size.

Instead of focusing so much on what I WANT myself to look like, obsessing and counting. I want to believe in myself, that I have ability and am beautiful. In fact, that I have been beautiful all along, but had been to blind to see it.

Therefore, here are my goals.

  1. I will write my thoughts, feelings and discoveries spiritual and mental for the next 30 days.
  2. I will not count my calories.
  3. I will take a picture of myself everyday, each day a different face and setting. (I hate pictures of myself. So I will conquer my fear of it!)
  4. I will meditate and do yoga every day, at least five of those days will be in my studio.
  5. I will study the scriptures everyday.

 

Unlike the other lists I have started but not finished (I will do so eventually) I hope I follow through with this. Because, this will not only affect me. So, I look forward to writing more in the future.