Grateful for Bicycles, Cheetah-Print Flats, Spoons and My Barbie: A Remedy for Coping with Now
As I woke up, I could hear the sigh of cars on shuttling drivers on their way to their early morning commitments. A few birds chirped outside my window welcoming the rays of sun rising up into the sky. I stretched for a moment and gave thanks for the calm and I prayed that others can know this sense of peace.
There is a lot of struggle going on right now. As an empathic person, I can relate to the anger, sadness and fear. I have been walked in those shoes many times throughout my life. As a female child from a mixed-race marriage with a Korean-immigrant mother and an American-caucasion father, I am not new to the experience of racism, misogyny and exclusion.
My mother is a victim of a family-massacre during the Korean War. My father faced many battles including the Vietnam War to return to a country that initially did not appreciate the sacrifices he and many of other troops made. Since I was little, I recall rarely feeling that I fit in or belonged to this world. I used to work exceptionally hard to be liked or to be accepted.
Out of this striving effort, I made a lot of personal sacrifices just to feel connected. I learned to be quiet and not attract attention to myself and to avoid controversy. The sad part is that by playing the game in that way, I took a back seat to honoring others in the same boat and leaving them out in the cold if accepting them meant that I was threatening my chance of being included.
Eventually as an adult, I became very ill and realized I had misunderstood a fundamental truth of my existence. It’s a true for everyone: I always belonged by virtue of a greater power that placed me here. I learned to accept myself and give myself unconditional love. Next, I began to work on the grief and sadness and allow myself the space to heal not only my body but my soul. Once I did this, the need and the behaviors to fit in and belong faded away.
I don’t regret my past because so many gifts came from these experiences like empathy, diligence, courage, independence, and loyalty along with several others. Staying present, I know a love for humanity that expands my heart more and more each day, more than I can ever describe.
Now, I am doing well for myself and by my family and I experience a different kind of exclusion. There are people who will judge you and want to exclude you for this, living your truth. Thankfully, at this point in my life, I realize that I can’t please everyone. However, I realize that I can choose how I want to react to life. This has liberated me to live a joyous and peaceful life regardless of what is going on around me.
As a society that is constantly numbing its pain and discomfort, this overt emotional current seems scary. The good news is that these deeply held hurts are now on the surface more than ever before as a friend said, it’s good to know where the hurt is because that allows us to know what we need to heal. We all have a desire for a certain kind of life. I call it an “ideal life”.
What happens when one feels circumstances are threatening her ideal life and others around her? The ability to dig out of this is easier than we know because we each have these tools within us. Whether a person has been living an angry life and feeling frustrated with her/his life for many years or a person is recently saddened and afraid, having these tools makes each of us more powerful than the darkest day.
The first most powerful thing I can do is this: maintain my inner-peace. I have discovered that when I allow fear, hate or anger to hijack my focus, I can really get off-track. This is simply because I go where I am focused. Just like riding a bike, if I look away from where I want to be, I find my bike will naturally head off my course.
For me sometimes, it takes falling off my bike, skinning a knee and crying a bit before I can get back on and acknowledge that I am responsible for my own actions. I chose to get off course and my body and mind can’t help but go where my eyes are directed. If I run into an obstacle, I can choose to yell at it and curse at it. Even so, aside from a scratch on my bicycle, the obstacle will remain unmoved and my path sits there patiently waiting.
Often times in life, I can see situations, walls if you will, that I stubbornly chose to look at over and over only to find myself getting no where. It took awhile but I finally learned to stop looking at the walls or where others are going and to focus at my own path. It’s not a selfish path as my intent is to live a life that is mutually beneficial for me and those around me.
Speaking of walking in other’s shoes, I have this quote hanging on a wall next to my closet “Life is short, wear cute shoes.” In keeping with this quote, recently, I bought a pair of pointy-toed, leopard-print flats.
Here is another shoe quote that is credited to designer, Roger Vivier: “To wear dreams on one’s feet is to begin to give reality to one’s dreams.” It reminds me of gratitude.
Gratitude is a key component to the alchemy of creating your ideal life. When we stand in gratitude, we give attention to what we want in our lives. This attention acts as a navigation tool, allowing us to acknowledge the blessings to continue to flourish around us, even in dark times.
Gratitude keeps us grounded in our will to choose to see the good that in turn nourishes more goodness to flourish. Like Oprah says, “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”
And, I can personally attest that after a consistent practice of daily gratitude, life has become very rich for me. For example, I log in my journal at least ten things for which I am grateful before I go to bed. This does a couple of things for me; it helps me to rest in the knowledge that there is good in this world. It gives me the strength to get through situations that aren’t going well in my life. Kind a like a “spoonful of sugar.”
And now about that spoon. Recently, I travelled to California and ended up learning how to bend a spoon. I will get to that in a moment. I was there for attending a life coach training session with Martha Beck and some of her master coaches. One of my wise friends whom I met at the training conference, Jennifer S., decided with the recent outcome of the election that she was going to sit with the pain and anger from friends and acquaintances without trying to smooth things over even though it’s not comfortable.
This is an act of pure empathy. No judging, no shifting the focus, just accepting all viewpoints and not questioning any perspective. This acceptance is not to be confused with the act of condoning or supporting a view. It’s actually a powerful way to defuse anger, aggression and fear. In the art of Aikido, this is a powerful technique in which one can use to move around or redirect energy (ki) from an attacker.
So there I was, just north of San Luis Obispo in my life coach class and I was given a thick-handled spoon. First, I was instructed to just try and bend the spoon that was just handed to me. I was not able to bend the spoon. Then, Martha Beck instructed us to get really quiet. Next, I was invited to ask the spoon to play. When I felt the spoon say yes, I sat still (with my awesome cheetah-print flats) and called upon feelings of unconditional love (like what I feel when I hold my children or that giddy feeling of falling in love or finding a pair of dreamy shoes.) As I sat in this feeling, I transferred that feeling to the spoon. Before I knew it, I began to gently fold the spoon with out resistance, strain or effort. It was miraculous.
A miracle is what occurs when we are able to change our perspective about something. When we change our perspective, the manifestation or the outcome of our desires comes about so much easier. An example of this is my Barbie. When I was a little girl, I wanted so badly to have a doll that looked like me. I wanted that doll to validate my existence.
Well, imagine my thrill when my sister recently sent me a text with a picture of a doll with American-asian features, like me. To me, Amer-asian Barbie symbolizes more than Mattel simply trying to make a buck, this doll in a crazy way is a cathartic experience for me, once I recognized that I belong no matter what, she appeared before my eyes.
Fighting: hating, resisting, attacking: these are the ways of the weakest warriors. Fighting: loving, accepting, and embracing : these are the ways of the strongest warriors. Fear got us here. Fear will keep us here.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said it best: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” I am most powerful when I know that everyone, including me belongs here, when I keep my eyes trained on where I want to be, and I stand in gratitude of all that I have. My prayer is that we all can know the peace that one experiences in that place.