It seems lately women need to put it out there (on Facebook or a blog or simply in conversation) with some sense of defiance how we aren’t keeping up, with the attempt to communicate that we are ok with that. Like we need to be affirmed for giving up the unrealistic expectations when we really feel forced to. We are behind with the house, dammit, because by gawd, we are spending time with our family. Late with the Christmas cards again this year…(what the eff are Christmas cards, says this particular woman). I didn’t pull half my decorations out this year and don’t really even care. It’s as if we are somehow we are flipping our finger at the world by not checking Pinterest before we decorate our tree. Shit. What is this mess about?
There is a whisper of silent pressure to keep up some standard. It’s self imposed, mostly. I say mostly, because women so often (at least in my world) are each other’s best champions and advocates, yet we can slice each other down with a mere judging glance.
The reality is we are tired. Simply tired of trying to keep up in an ever hurried world. Achieving a perfect body, balanced life, an immaculately decorated and kept home, best dressed and highly achieving children and on and on. It seems the demand to accomplish more, be more, and do it faster and better swirls all around us at an astonishing rate. Absolutely everything is in front of us for our viewing pleasure, and there is a tutorial for every damned thing from fitness to sex to bow tying. So when we actually have the courage to or just get so tired we give something the heave-ho, it feels like a clandestine feat instead of a sweet grace of self-care and boundary setting.
My friend and I were talking about what fuels my guilt for all I don’t do that I think I should be getting done. I responded that it was driven by my stupid dance of performance and inadequacy issues. Always too much and never enough… the dance doesn’t stop. I lose sight of what I’m good at, successful at and winning in life at. I focus instead on all that is not, and certainly haven’t mastered holding the two in tandem. I suspect this is a common thread of all women, if not all of humanity.
Often we think of grace as an unmerited favor from God. However, in this case, I think one of Merriam-Webster’s definitions of grace a more appropriate definition of what we need to do for ourselves and others- “a disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency.” Right now I’m in the middle of a grace I offered myself tonight, sitting at a new coffee shop downtown. This felt like clandestine grace; this clemency I was secretly offering myself; but now it just feels perfect.
What would it look like to just be kind? Offering the gift of kindness to ourselves and each other, and find the beautiful in the moment before us… a simple act of love in the letting go of unrealistic expectations and being open to the withness of wherever we are. There is gift in my simple tree this year, in the conversation I just got to have with an unexpected guest at my table, acknowledging hurt and offering my presence to right now. Even the smile I offer is a gift- to pull me out of myself and see and acknowledge someone else for a moment.
How can you offer this gift to yourself today? Right now. In this season of mounting stress, what can you do to offer this unexpected kindness to yourself? It is a beautiful, holy gift.