Earth School is hard.

That is what the magnet on my refrigerator says. I had it printed and placed it there to remember this wisdom. Don’t get me wrong. Life is beautiful! There is much joy to experience. But life is also hard. Just a few minutes of news reveals the depth of despair one can face.

Each of us will encounter difficult times.

Don points to the magnet with an impish smile. I am complaining how something isn’t to my liking. He doesn’t even say anything. He points. He doesn’t need to speak. I read it. My grumbling stop. I go back to chopping vegetables. He isn’t going along with my, ”Why is the world this way?”

Life should be a certain way, the way I envision it! “Expectation is the root of all heartache,” said William Shakespeare. Boy, do I have expectations.

Leading women’s circles for twenty plus years is an honor. These women show me how to encounter challenges, own our truth, lay claim to our gifts, suffer losses, celebrate wins, face disease, and to take time with grieving. They prove the power of creating an intention and using it as a guide for our actions.

Kindness is my chosen intention for this year. Can you imagine my disappointment when in a circle I don’t live up to my intention? For example, I comment in ways that interrupts the flow of energy? Or worse yet, I say something that leaves a woman feeling reluctant to share.

It happens.

It happened last month.

Having worthy intentions does not mean we won’t make mistakes. In fact, an intention brings our attention to the various ways we miss the mark.

Challenge of learning from mistakes:

• Realize what we have done.

• Acknowledge it to self.

• Make it right with others.

• Forgive ourselves.

Letting go and learning cannot happen until we name what it is we are releasing. In this interaction, it is my expectation of perfection. I should never speak thoughtlessly. EVER! Only gems of love and wisdom should fall from my mouth.

You see, I am a recovering perfectionist. My perfectionist always snuggles up close to me. She whispers shortcomings in my ear. She tries to help me avoid uncomfortable feelings. “If you do everything right you will never have to feel bad about yourself,” she promises.

I’ve been waiting to meet that promised mistake-free life. When will this elevated vision of me appear? Is there a version that never snaps at Don? Or, where is she who refrains from honking at texting drivers that don’t immediately move at green lights?

It is time to stop waiting for “perfect me” to appear. Messing up means I am human. Human beings are not perfect, they are perfectly themselves. Yet, these times can shake our sense of self. Some thing we have said or done does not fit with who we want to be.

We wonder, “Is this also me?”

In these moments, we can recalibrate who we wish we were for who we truly are. Everything can become an opportunity for learning in the laboratory of messing up. It can be a time for curiosity not shaming.

Old myths teach three ways to encounter the proverbial dragon.

• Run from it. Usually the dragon will catch you.

• Stop and fight it. Usually it will eat you.

• Ask the dragon what it wants.

It is like that with the rejected pieces of ourselves. We can run from them, fight them, or find out what they want. My perfectionist says she can keep me from feeling like a failure. Yet. she sets unattainable goals that insure failure.

What she wants is impossible.

Encouraging women to speak and feel safe is at the core of my work. I mess up and that becomes an example of how not to do something. Then they see how to let go and move on. This is what I can offer: how to be real not perfect.

We each need at least one person in our life who loves the raggedy person we are. People who make room for our missteps are priceless life companions. Earth school is hard. Kindness to others and ourself helps. It means realizing we are here to be raw and real.

Embrace don’t erase unwanted parts.

That is when real healing occurs.

                                                    Photo Credit: Nancy Hill