Want to know something weird?
I often say that reality — the world — exists in a constant state of paradox. The most annoying thing your boyfriend does is also the thing you miss most when you’re apart. The beautifully emotional nature of many artists is what allows them to create their most moving work, yet can be their catalyst to disaster and self-destruction. I personally have often been known to run hot or cold: generally speaking, people tend to love or hate me. Sometimes people can get so caught up in perfectionism that they end up paralyzed and never get started in the first place, which is the least perfect result there possibly could be.
I went on a retreat last weekend from Saturday night until late Wednesday. This annual retreat is called Haven of Hope, and although it technically is a leadership retreat for my jewelry business team, it always has a profound impact on me spiritually.
What’s so magical about Haven is the fact that it is the perfect blend of serenity, scenery, and social stimulation. The grounds contain hills, a training lodge complete with 24/7 snacks (candy bars, chips, popcorn . . .) and all three hot meals, private cabins, a prayer garden, and my favorite ex-artist studio called The Womb (more on that soon).
The opportunity to unplug a bit from daily life is not to be underestimated — the nature that surrounds the cabins at Haven reconnect you to the Earth, not only through its greenery, but also through sightings of Texas’s infamous larger-than-life spiders, scorpions, and frogs.
I point out these details for a very important reason. My biggest takeaway from Haven this year had nothing to do with jewelry, nothing to do with Texas, or the infinite supply of Cheetos. It had everything to do with the integrity of the universe, that the whole of everything includes its best and its very worst.
What that means to me is that in order for me to truly be in integrity with myself, I must embrace the wholeness of me. That means I don’t need to shun or ignore my own darkness, wag a finger at my imperfections, or try to hide parts of me as though they didn’t exist.
I had flown in Saturday evening (a day before the retreat officially began) having already had a pretty humbling lesson in this the moment that I left.
We were supposed to leave home at 5.30pm to leave ample time for me to catch my 7pm flight. It wasn’t until I was in the car that my eyes bugged out at the sight of the clock: It was 6.06pm. And we were still 25 minutes away from the airport.
I was already hardcore admonishing myself for not thoroughly packing in time and for running late for the nth time in my life due to remembering this or that last-minute thing, spiraling into a vicious cycle I’m too familiar with. I wondered — could there be a way to change the pattern? Not be so hard on myself for what I no longer could control, and give myself a little grace and understanding?
That day, an awesome tank top with a watercolor drawing of Rafiki from The Lion King had arrived in the mail. I had been so excited to wear it that I had it on for my flight.
I turned to Anthony and I confessed, “This is one of those times when it’s really hard for me not to judge myself too harshly.” (He’s a bit of a stickler for time himself, so this helped remind him not to give me too much flak, and that I had not done this on purpose.) “I’m not really sure how to handle this.”
“Well, it’s a good idea to learn to prevent this in the future, and to focus on what we can control, right now,” Anthony replied.
So we came up with a game plan for the minute we arrived at the airport. We’d have to hit the ground running — grab a wheelchair as soon as we saw one (as calm and collected as I may seem in the everyday, there is no way I can, at this point in my recovery, efficiently catch a plane without help!), hop to a counter to check in with an actual human, and request immediate wheelchair assistance.
And in case of failure, I realized, too, that my stress levels were disproportionately high. What were the stakes? Worst case scenario?
I would miss my flight. My roomies at the hotel that evening might be upset their room might cost a bit more because I wasn’t there. I would have to catch a last-minute flight for Sunday instead.
That moment to put into perspective just how insignificant the potential worst-case scenario might be really grounded me. I looked down at the baboon on my tank top and repeated several times, out loud, to Anthony: “Asante sana, squash banana.”
And you know what? That silliness eased my anxiety just enough to allow me to just let go and let God take care of the rest.
It changed everything. Instead of biting a hole through my mouth, I managed to relax for the rest of the car ride. It honestly felt like it took only 10 minutes.
When we got to the airport (a half an hour to go before takeoff) the guys at the counter did us one better and printed Anthony a pass to allow him to personally take me through security and directly to the gate!
Boy, did Anthony rise to the challenge. You should have seen us — a blur flying through the airport and to the very last gate in the terminal.
I was the last one on the plane, but I made it.
My point isn’t to advocate for getting to the airport with 30 minutes to go. It’s to truly, deeply, maybe a little madly*, embrace what is, and not to make an enemy out of yourself when the going gets rough. We all make mistakes as human beings, and we’re stuck with ourselves for life.
Are you skilled at being your own worst enemy? I totes was.
How about being your own best friend instead?
Exercise a little grace. Especially when it feels like the world is against you.
Because darling, it isn’t.
You can Rafiki your way back to wholeness. Try it next time you’re pushing yourself too hard, or next time you’re overly attached to an outcome. What are the stakes? Can you break that pattern of disproportionate stress?
I’m thrilled that it is #SpiritSeptember again. (And equally as thrilled for the new site!) I have so much more to share with you, so keep checking in!
Will you begin Rafikiing your life? Has this message meant something to you? Leave a comment and we’ll continue the conversation there.
To our healing,