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Monday, February 22, 2010

A Joyous Monday (Oxymoron?)

Hello, my lovelies! Thanks for staying tuned despite my haitus at the end of last week. It was a week of mixed blessings, which brings to mind something I often overheard my father say as I was growing up: "Perception is reality." I was totally confounded by this statement for the better part of nearly three decades. It made no sense to me; after all, even if I thought something was navy, that didn't change the fact that most of the people around me saw it as a deep purple. Or if I thought a bale of hay was a giant shredded wheat, that didn't make it so.

I get it now! Our individual perceptions of the world define our individual realities. This is so amazing! How wonderful is it that we are never damned to a certain fate! If we can find the means to alter our perceptions of the world, we are empowered transform our own realities!

You may be thinking at this point, "Sure, Holly, that's great, but there is still the actual reality to deal with; most people are facing real obstacles and not just an issue of perception." I completely agree! But I'm not claiming that one's perception of reality changes her immediate circumstances (i.e. reality), but simply that being aware of and consciously changing her perceptions of herself and her circumstances gives her more options for a future reality.

Of course this is easier said than done, and it requires that the individual be at a crossroads where she has nothing left to lose, knows she desperately needs a change, or is just open to considering new world-views. But the great thing is that, for most people, this doesn't require years of therapy! ;) My experiences in social work have shown me that even individuals with deeply embedded negative views of themselves and/or the world can begin to change these harmful perceptions within a period of months if constantly exposed to positive people and experiences, and administered regular doses of acknowldegement for their existing personal strengths.

Now I'm well aware that some people are as prickly as hedgehogs, making it hard for us to get close enough to ascertain any kind of positive personal qualities. However, sometimes even their tough exteriors can be complimented as a strength. For example, does that sharp-tongued lady in your office have a keen eye for detail or a quick wit? What about the tough teenager? Does she have good street smarts/common sense that have gotten her through this far? Is she a good judge of character? Is she a survivor? Is she a compassionate care-taker for small siblings or an ailing family member?

What about you? Are you a courageous woman who escaped years of abuse at the hands of an individual or group of individuals who tried to make her believe they were more powerful? Are you the girl who bravely peels back the facade of her 'perfect life' and shares her personal imperfections with others so they can gain insight and avoid the pitfalls she didn't? Maybe you're the strong mom who, despite all the challenges, does all she can to give ensure her children know they always have a warm bed and a warm embrace waiting for them.

We all have a perception in at least one area of our lives that is hindering our reality. I challenge you (as I do myself!) to identify just one, assess it, and resolve to actively change it by whatever means are best suited (counseling, a talk with your mother, a talk with a girlfriend, chatting with a group of women, or even going out and doing your own research online or in a library). For instance, if you grew up somehow disadvantaged, find a biography on a person with a similar disadvantage who overcame the disadvantage and attained their desired reality.

The challenge to immediately follow that one is to reach out to another woman who may need help finding new 'rose-colored glasses' through which to see and alter her reality. Do so with love, empathy, and tenderness. Perhaps the person you help can find a way to pay it forward; your one act could change many lives--just imagine!

The Angel of the Day is Barbara Johnson, beloved public speaker on the Women of Faith tour, founder of Spatula Ministries, and author of countless books to heal a woman's soul. Barbara is an angel because she has devoted her life to improving the lives of other women, to opening their hearts and minds so they may experience the 'bright hope for a future' we need. I highly recommend her book "God's Most Precious Jewels are Crystallized Tears." It includes short accounts of the lives of many women who have used the pain and sorrow in their lives as a catalyst to encourage and heal others. I hope you find it as inspiring as I did!

Live with gratitude & seize the day!


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