Self-Improvement on Our Own Terms
Though I haven’t been as diligent as I’d like, I truly enjoy my forays to the gym. I stick my earbuds in my ears, fire up one of my Pandora stations and go through my weight routine in the privacy of my own mind. Rarely if ever does anyone try to engage me in conversation. I guess my Leave me alone. This is MY time. message comes through loud and clear.
Discouraging engagement doesn’t mean I’m not aware, however. Quite often, I’ll watch someone who clearly knows what they’re doing to get ideas to improve my own routine. But occasionally my gaze (and mind) wanders to things which are for the benefit of nothing more than my appreciation of art.
At those times, my gaze strays to a well-toned body which happens to pass within my limited line of sight, not with lustful intent, but merely in open appreciation of the time and effort which went into a certain life-like sculpture.
Beauty is in the Eyes of the Beholder
I’m very particular about what catches my eye, however. The muscle-bound types who are unable to touch their own noses for their bulky triceps and shoulders do nothing for me. Even if I were inclined, I just don’t find them approachable.
Instead, my gaze (and OK, perhaps a little voyeurism too) is drawn to either the finely sculpted but reasonably sized or, more often, to the works-in-progress. I have a particular fondness for people, and non-gender specific, who are clearly making an effort to improve their health. They’re not frequenting the gym to attract attention or expand their social circle. They’re simply there to make a change in their own life, their own health. I have great admiration for the people who are there week in and week out, making small changes which eventually lead to huge improvements.
Our Flaws are Our True Perfection
As a diamond-in-the-rough myself, I know those long-term benefits come with the tiniest of steps in the right direction. They come with no small amount of back-sliding as well, but along with it, the drive to succeed even if they have to cover the same ground dozens of times before they begin to see obvious improvement.
The last few years has been a series of “two steps forward, one step back” events for me. In some cases, the backward progress has even outweighed the forward, yet I’m further along than when I began, and for that, I’m grateful. I realize there are times we need to re-cover old ground because we haven’t quite mastered the lesson. Or someone comes into our life who shows us a better way around a rather tenacious obstacle. Either way, once we’ve overcome the obstacle, we have an even more impressive array of tools at our disposal when we’re ready to climb the next mountain. The view from the top of our latest mountain and the road we need to travel to reach the valley below seems a little less daunting.
Learning from those Who Come Into Our Lives for a Reason
It isn’t only the tools we obtain along the way. It’s also the people. If we allow it, our team grows with many of our encounters, and we gain much-needed skills and knowledge in the people who become part of our expanding circle.
For many years, I believed to the depth of my soul that I had to make it on my own. I believed asking for help was a weakness. It took a lot of stumbles, long, lonely nights, and a failure to achieve my highest expectations to realize I was never meant to do it all alone. I was never meant to have every ounce of knowledge and every skill-set necessary to become my very best self.
In the years I’ve spent blogging, connecting with people online, reading self-help books, and delving further into my own spiritually, I’ve learned many long-overdue lessons. The biggest of those has to be that allowing people to see your vulnerabilities doesn’t make you weak at all.
I’ve learned instead that showing your vulnerabilities (within reason, of course) actually attracts people to you who have expertise in areas you don’t. They are there to reach that jar on the top shelf or help build the scaffolding that will support you in building my structure higher. Maybe they’re there to simply offer encouragement or hand you another nail. But without them, it would take me much longer to achieve your goals.
It took me spending a lot of time spinning my wheels to realize it’s OK to ask those around me for assistance and to accept the offers which might come unasked. Admitting I was better for their help came slowly, but it has come, and now I’m able to rejoice in recognizing what I traveled an overly hard, but self-inflicted road to learn.
When I look at those well-toned, sculpted bodies around me at the gym, I am, in part looking at what I could become if I stopped trying to go it alone and ask for help, maybe not with my physical efforts at the moment, but with so much of what I want to achieve; my writing, my eventual speaking, building my business. I’ve been struggling along for quite some time now, neither failing miserably nor succeeding remarkably. The small amounts of progress I see encourage me to continue trying even when the failures and their implications stare me in the face.
Balancing the Equation
I may not be world-class like Stephen King, Nora Roberts, or J.K. Rowling, but the operative word here has to be “yet”. That “yet” is predicated on my willingness to ask for and receive help, and in fact, I’ve seen more progress in the last few months because I’m no longer worried about appearing weak. Instead, I draw strength from those who find my words relate-able and who aren’t put off by a misguided illusion of perfection. As I said to my favorite mentor today, I’ve dropped the veil. What lies behind is neither as weak nor as scary as I’d let myself believe.
Dropping that veil has given me two gifts: the opportunity to give, and more important, the ability to receive. Some find the person behind that veil inspiring or helpful with some aspect of their lives. Others find her able to fulfill their own need to give back from their own well of experience. Contrary to my years of self-deception, we need to be on both sides of the equation. It’s called Balance, and like so many out there, I’m still working on finding mine. Sometimes I’ll find it for a little while, but then I start to wobble one way or the other and go sliding down into an extreme again.
The difference these days is I know when I’ve slid, and more, I know what balance feels like. Better still, I know I like what balance feels like and am better equipped to find my way back. I’ve learned the lesson from the people I’ve allowed into my life. Without them, I’d still be hanging off the edge of my personal cliff, struggling to climb back up on my own.
Barbra Streisand summed it up best: “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world.”
Remembering to Acknowledge and Appreciate the Help and Guidance
My gratitudes today are:
- I am grateful for my friends and how much they’ve taught me about being human.
- I am grateful for the times the Universe forces me to slow down; even if it’s another ear infection.
- I am grateful for work that keeps my mind alive and agile.
- I am grateful for the many lessons I’ve been and will be given. Each one makes me stronger in some way, even if some appear as a willingness to be vulnerable.
- I am grateful for abundance; lessons, love, friendship, joy, challenges, successes, visibility, encouragement, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.
Love and Light
Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She is available for article writing and ghost writing to help your website and the business it supports grow and thrive. Her specialties are finding and expressing your authentic self. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author