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Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Road trip lessons on being true to yourself

My family and I hit the road in our Dodge Caravan just before Christmas. We’d been promising our children and ourselves some travel and adventure, and it fell into the perfect time. It was one of those “go for it” moments, and luckily, as people who work online, we were able to jump at it.
What I love about traveling is how we are all together, in close proximity. Really close. Even our dog from his crate is readily involved.
2015 was a busy year. Between coaching, launching e-coaching packages and new groups, planning workshops and webinars and not counting home schooling, renovating and parenting new born kittens, it seemed like life was running full steam ahead. But, when we get into the car for a roadtrip, my whole family seems to land full on, in the moment. We sit, we talk, we sing, we think and ponder. It’s just meandering and I think it allows all of us to grow and get to know ourselves better.
Ironically, on this road trip, we’ve been sporadically staying with family and that adds such a different element to getting to know oneself. It sometimes feels like its seeing ourselves in a periscope... and I don’t mean the app.
Last summer, my husband and I both experimented with offering our work through video. We practiced being in front of the camera, and observed how we got new self awareness by simply watching ourselves. I got to know my facial expressions, my nervous ticks, but also my signs of feeling comfortable and how I sounded when I was confident in my favorite topics.
But when we stay with family whom we haven’t seen since we were younger, and then they meet our children, whom they barely know (but who look remarkably like we did when we were younger) then a few things get observed... and it can throw an interesting turn.
You know that feeling, the old school reunion feeling, when you wonder why the moment you see people who used to know you, you start acting in the same way that you used to. Suddenly, you act like the school clown, or the stylish fashionista. Suddenly, people are making assumptions and comments based on their old ideas of who you presented yourself to be. What’s funny, is that usually, when we were younger, we rarely presenting ourselves as who we really were!
Well, being with family is similar. Old habits, thought processes and reactions get stirred up. People expect you to present yourself as something you haven’t been in years, and somewhere in that, you rise to the expectation, and only show them that side they expect.
SO, first reaction, is to fight against it. We crave to show the new and improved version, we hunt out moments to show up as ourselves and to state new perspectives. But, because we’re trying too hard, it usually lands with a flop. The look crosses over a relatives’ faces... “there she goes again. She always was dramatic.” You hear their thoughts say.
But, we crave understanding right? We want to yell it from the rooftops... “Stop and get to know the real me!”... but, the more we push, the less authentic we feel. Push and pulling, we disconnect from the very core being of ourselves we’re so eager for everyone to meet.
So, in the long run, it’s finally a question of giving up. With a little meditation, a lot of breathing, and some skyward glances, we simply let everyone thing what they want, what they believe.
It’s more important to be happy than right anyway.
And yet, in that split second of release, that very moment when we decide to not care what people think and just be ourselves, we stop pushing against it, and allow ourselves to show up again, in all glory. We feel like ourselves again and, when we forget to notice, it radiates out from us. We are one again, in who we really are.
And through those eyes, we realize something. In all our concerns and self consciousness, those people who’s mind we were trying to change... were doing the same thing with us all along and we were doing the same to them.
Yes, I admit it. I sometimes remember people’s past when being in their present. I sometimes think of them as who they were, without allowing their new selves to shine through.
We are all on a journey of expansive growth. We live, learn, grow, explore and expand. Versions of ourselves come and go with new perspectives and it is a glorious ride. It’s not about proving where we are on the ride to anyone... there’s not a measuring stick or scale that we’re being held against. We know who we are, when we allow our thoughts to become quiet enough to hear it and when we allow it to flow from us, than we radiate it out for all the world to feel.
We have to trust our own journey, and know that other’s are on their own.
Their own journey... from a parent’s perspective that also means our children’s journey as well.
There’s the third step in all of this, the next generation. I can look at my daughters and assume they like the same thing they did two year ago, I can assume my son wants me to put him to sleep, rather than allow him that choice. We can keep anyone, including our children, imprisoned in the concepts we hold for them, based on the past or our perspective.

Or we can free ourselves of any concept of another, allowing them to show up as themselves this moment... and giving ourselves permission to do the same.

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