I feel like it was last week when the Sycamore trees on our street started to bedeck themselves with green. Time has been spinning faster and faster. The Sycamore leaves are yellow and brown now, drying up, ready to make their annual Autumn crunchy carpet on the street. I watch these stunning trees on my walks, in awe of their ability to change, to let go, to cycle through the years without protest, to give into aging and death with such grace and trust in renewal.
I look at the wrinkles reflecting back at me through the mirror – my own march toward Autumn. I see my babies growing while I make dinner. By the time we’re done eating we’ll be looking at colleges. If I told you I was gracefully embracing the flyby of life I would be lying. But wow! Watching these kids grow is an unbelievably stunning endeavour. And our conversations are becoming outrageously interesting. So my arms open up wide like Mother Earth’s, and I receive the new seeds that drop into my soil, and fall for the new ways that I get to experience life, and to love.
Nature’s cycles remind me to keep breaking out of the beauty boxes that keep me locked up. Boxes that contain only one way of experiencing my womanhood – a way that is simultaneously slowly and swiftly evaporating. I am called to move into a repatterning process, initiating new ways of being with beauty, changing perspectives, and forming a wider base of acceptance within myself.
I’ve recovered from severe eating disorder, only to fall into that abyss several times in my life, dealing with body dysmorphia that made living in my skin quite confusing. From the fourteen year old on the Kate Moss diet of Diet Coke and a pack of Marlboros to the twenty five year old Kombucha addict on the Master Cleanse. From ballet and counting every calorie to yoga, vegan, organic, California grown everything. Seeing and unseeing myself through the process, forgetting how miraculous embodied life is, and then breathing with remembrance and reverence. Rocking the self doubt thing like a Guns & Roses cut off T-shirt from the nineties. And trying on some confidence in boho babe garments. Not good enough. Perfectly imperfect. Not smart enough. Ok Hermione. Not successful enough. Who cares? Not enough. FUCK IT!
Oh! The long and winding road of self acceptance….
I’ve been on the road for a couple of decades now. It has taken me into deep, dark woods, where the sunlight barely reached, and my knowledge of myself grew stronger, immersed in moss and bark – one with the forest. It has walked me up steep mountain trails, where my breath became so thin, and my body still seemed fat to me.
Then there are the inner conversations of harsh self criticism for not being more accepting of myself, of life, of time, of aging, of struggle. Shit! Am I not an empowered woman? I put way too much emphasis on my skin. I care way too much about how I look. This is dumb! I should be smarter than this. I give way too much attention to my wrinkles. And while I don’t talk about it in front of the kids I’m probably harming them. They know. They can feel it. I should be a better role model. Those inner conversations…
Acceptance is the willingness to accept that there are things that are hard to accept.
It’s hard for me to accept that there are people that support Trump. It is. I feel like it’s completely unacceptable to support a lying, racist, misogynist piece of shit, authoritarian, fascist bully.
And there are things that we shouldn’t accept.
There’s that space where we need to accept that someone thinks differently from us. That wacko new agey friend who sounds like a QAnan member and looks like a “Karen” with her anti mask, anti science, anti society claims. Or that crazy uncle with the guns. Or the college student niece who is going to vote for the Green Party because she doesn’t like Biden. Or the neighbor with the SUV and the Trump stickers.
So how do we accept someone else’s perspective without normalizing an oppressive opinion? How do we stay open while fighting against horrific injustice? How do we respect points of view different from our own without legitimizing bigotry, racism, and the violation of human rights? How do we make room for the other when the other wants to take away someone else’s rights? How do we make room for the freedom of speech when the speech is hate speech? How do we make peace with someone’s way, when their way puts you and others in danger?
I accept that not accepting is a really important aspect of acceptance. There are things that we shouldn’t be ok with. And yet there’s that basic requirement to accept that there are people with opinions far from yours.
If you are an apple tree, you gotta accept that there’s a pomegranate tree nearby, and that the pomegranate experience is very different from yours. You will never understand the pomegranate experience, perspective, and taste. But you can’t deny the pomegranate’s right to breathe. Even though the pomegranate believes that you are a bad apple. And even though you can so clearly see that it’s made of bad seeds. That other tree is nourished by the same soil, energized by the same sun, rising from the same ground. And yet, would you not do whatever you can to try to stop those bad seeds from spreading, germinating, and becoming new trees?
It’s so complex. And there’s no simple answer. No simple way. Living with the intensity of our times calls for strength and softness, tenderness and toughness, vigilance and vulnerability, boundaries and receptivity, a willingness to listen and an ability to say: Will you shut up, man?
This year sure does teach us about accepting the hard edges of reality. Can we learn to accept, receive, and even love the darker, harder edges of ourselves? The unhinged, undone, not quite cooked, dried up, strange, eccentric unfinished business. Do you give yourself space to be a little fucked up? Work in progress, under construction, ever evolving piece of art?
As we allow what falls off the branches of our lives to be received by the earth, as she opens her arms and slowly lets it in, as she receives it as nourishment, and composts, she doesn’t turn her back on decay. Alchemy is the name of her game. She will turn death into food, into new life. We learn to let go a little. We make space for things to be what they are, for people to be who they are, for ourselves to be where we are. We make room for disappointment. We receive loss. We bless that which we learn when we accept darker times, and less appealing aspects of our own being. We allow ourselves to be blessed by all that they are here to teach us.
Wherever you are, breathe into your heart. Open it as the earth opens her arms to receive all that falls off the trees. Let your heart receive all that your life has dropped. Be with that which is hard to accept. Be with the parts of you that you tend to resist, ignore, or even beat up. Exhale to release that which is falling off. Inhale to receive the relief and the grief. Hold it softly. And let yourself be held in it.
And with the ferocity of Mother Nature, rise up and stand against that which should not be accepted. One bully at a time.
Hey, do you want/need to practice acceptance? I have a super yummy evening practice up on HOM – a digital home for the modern mom. We’ll breathe together and move gently on the floor, legs up on a chair or a couch, guided by this concept. I also have a little inspirational theme talk about this very topic waiting for you there. And a full length day time energizing class with the invitation to receptivity. Plus a bunch of other classes up and going, as well as offerings by other teachers and practitioners. Check it out here!
Much love to you,