This has been quite the day for my practice of gratitude.
So, first of all, there's this particular envelope I've been waiting for. Moving is an expensive proposition, and in the course of my move, I bent, and then honestly broke my budget really hard. It caught me off guard. As I joked to some close friends, for the past two weeks or so I've been so broke I could barely pay attention.
That's a tough thing for me to admit, because I place a whole lot of self-worth in my ability to be self-sufficient. I had this narrative playing in my head that went something like this: "I'm a 45 year old technical professional, who makes a very good salary. This sort of financial hiccough is beneath me."
There's a word for what I was doing with that narrative. I was shaming myself.
So, cue today. First, the envelope I was waiting for arrived. It was the return of my security deposit from my old house. Well, most of it, anyhow. Just the budget broken bone band-aid bonanza I was waiting for! Plus, payday is right around the corner, too. Whew!
I actually called the tiny post-office in the rinky-dink town I now live in, to intercept the envelope in my meandering errand-doing today. It was my Big Errand, really. I showed up at the post office around the time they told me to, but they hadn't found the envelope yet. So they had me leave my phone number, and gave me that lovely small-southern-town-service of calling me to come get it when it was ready.
About two hours later I got the call, just before they were closing. I really needed to get it today. But the traffic was awful and I got there about 20 minutes after closing. On a whim, I knocked and someone inside who had waited just for me, because she knew I was close by answered and said she'd be right there!
Not five minutes later I was envelope-in-hand, heading to the bank.
In all this hustle and bustle of running errands, I also was listening to an amazing audiobook, Brené Brown's The Power of Vulnerability, which my friend Andrea had given to me.
The book is powerful. It's the sort of good, hard book that is as wonderful as it is unpleasant. It's about the relationship between vulnerability and shame in your life.
It made me cry, I mean real, out loud sobbing, at least four times today. I saw in it so many things about myself, my life, what motivates me, and my own demons. I am incredibly hard on myself. I can be a perfectionist, which has a very big relationship to shame. There's this part of the book where Brené talks about how she was super sick, amazingly, extremely like death's door sick, during a pregnancy, but wanted to bring work with her to the hospital, because "she doesn't get sick."
That sounded SO DAMN MUCH like my inner narrative about not making financial mistakes.
A bit later she was talking about how people experience a sort of foreboding joy. You are always waiting for that other shoe to drop. Sure, work is going well, but... you might get fired. Sure, your partner is spanking and diapering you, and told you how much they want to tie you up and tickle you like you've always wanted... but something bad is going to happen to them, or you. (By the way, I really don't like tickling, it's just an example.)
There is however, an antidote to this sort of automatic mode of waiting for that damn shoe. It's the actual, conscious practice of gratitude.
Let me say that again.
The way you lean into joy, the way you live without succumbing to shame and fear is to make a daily practice of gratitude.
The same practice I've been doing in my life for a long time. Sometimes I've been spot on with it, totally rocking it each day. Other times I've let it go, and even though I've observed my gratitude to myself, I haven't written it down.
I'm not going to ding myself for that. That's not what this is. (Besides, perfectionism is self-shaming, remember?) I'm just SO GRATEFUL that I'm aware of how healthy, life-affirming and good my practice of gratitude is, and once more, I'm all in on it.
Oh, I'm also kind of wrong about ageplay and community - but I'll get into that in another post, soon.