My Go-To Mid-Life Mantras
A mantra is a seed. A little thought or idea that you can plant in your head to clear out the weeds. Most people will receive a mantra from a guru or teacher, but I tend to find mine in odd places. Okay, I admit I found two of them on Facebook, but that is an odd place to find a mantra. I got another one from my best friend (who is also my guru and teacher). I found one in a jewelry store. And the other one popped into my head like a little gift from my Guardian Angel. A good mantra can help us get out of our own way or give us a step up out of a mental or spiritual rut.
If these are helpful to you, please take them and run with them. Make t-shirts. Sky-write. Whatever works for you. And, if you have mantras of your own that you want to share, please do. I'm always looking to add to the collection. If we get enough, I'll start a mid-life mantra manifesto page so we can all go mantra shopping (for free!) as needed.
Which means, "Flawed as Fuck and Fine." This isn't a graceful mantra. It's not meant to be. It's the stop, drop, and roll mantra. It's meant to stop me in my tracks before things get worse. It's the one I turn to when I find myself at the bottom of a tub of french onion dip. It says, "I love myself AND I’m a mess AND it’s okay. Take a breath and chill the fuck out. It's time to figure out what's really going on here.” The best thing I can do at this point is pick up my journal and write myself down.
My many beautiful and bizarre flaws are part of me. Even when I try not to inflict my them on myself or others, I still manage to flaw (<---verb) all over the place. It’s unavoidable. Actually, I think I’m more likely to flaw (<---verb) all over the place when I’m trying to be perfect - all lovely and smart and pleasant and well put together and on time everywhere I go. When I wake up from one of those perfectionist hazes (usually because I've created a minor disaster of some sort), I find that I'm sore all over - body, mind, and spirit. It's time to stop trying to be someone else. It's time to do the best I can, and just let myself be honest about what's going on inside me. Gawd, these moments can be a kick in the pants.
And, by the way, I have a question. What the hell does it mean to be “well put together”? That’s a really weird thing to aim for or to say about someone. “She’s well put together.” It sounds like we’re paper dolls who have to glue ourselves together each morning and, “Oh, look! All the parts of me are in the right order! It’s so nice I didn’t glue my right foot to my earlobe today! I’m well put together."
One of my flaws is to fly off on random tangents. Did you see how that just happened?
Shine Right On
This was is inspired by Jill Badonsky. Jill is an artist and author and I consider her to be one of the High Priestesses of Creativity. I follow her on FB where she does this super clever and fun thing. She’ll drop a prompt into her FB feed and scads of people will take it and run with it in the comments. Playing with words and ideas is fun! I don’t know where she comes up with these things and I don’t know what the schedule is, but whenever they show up in my feed I like to play along. Last week one of her prompts was: “Poetry Starter: Starlight doesn’t…”
To which I commented, “Starlight doesn’t give a flying rat’s #ss what you think about it. It’s gonna shine right on.” And so the mantra was born.
This is the authenticity mantra. Shine on. Be you. Dump the people pleasing and move on.
Be Kind, But Take No Shit
This one was born in the post-election haze of November 2016 when there was a bunch of hooey flying back and forth between the haters and the haters. I was one of the haters and I was getting all tied up in knots hating the other haters. This is when my bestie posted that her goal was to, "Be kind but take no shit." I said we needed to get t-shirts made because I love that. It was a transformational “Aha!” for me to understand that being kind to other people doesn’t mean you have to accept getting covered head to toe in the shit they fling around. We never got t-shirts, but she did give me a lovely engraved bracelet for Christmas. I wear it every day. It’s a good for a chronic people-pleasing, all or nothing, black and white thinking person to be reminded of each day.
I’m still learning, but, when I grow up, I hope to have mastered Be Kind, But Take No Shit.
More jewelry. I found this one in a jewelry store while we were on vacation in Holland, MI. I made it mine as soon as I saw it because I tend to over complicate almost everything. This is one of my favorite flaws and I like to exercise it often. I’m capable of taking a simple thing and over complicating it to the point that I’m completely overwhelmed and exhausted. I set up schedules and systems and checklists and they’re intertwined and multi-layered and they require all kinds of supplies and software systems. Eventually, they spiral completely out of control and I abandon them because I forgot why I was making the schedules and systems in the first place. Probably because I wanted to create something I’ve never created before, but I got too scared to actually create it so I decided to spend time planning to create that something rather than actually creating it. Relatable?
What if it’s easy?
This is similar to Uncomplicate. When I was warming up to the idea of giving up my daily bottle of wine, I spent a lot of time imagining how difficult and painful it would be. I felt like I was living in that painful place of knowing I needed to get out of an abusive relationship, but not wanting to leave because it was so familiar. I was afraid I wouldn’t know who I was without it. I thought about how difficult it would be to explain not drinking to my friends who are drinking. I would imagine multiple scenarios demonstrating to myself how absolutely difficult it would be to let go. I mean, I love my wine glass. What was I going to do with my favorite wine glass? I couldn’t throw it away. That would be wasteful and sad. What if I threw it away and then decided I wanted a glass of wine. What would I do then? So one day, while I was sitting on my sofa imagining how difficult it would be to give up drinking when a little voice popped into my head and asked, “What if it’s easy?”
I hadn’t thought about that before. It spun my perspective around and soon became my sobriety mantra. When dreaded the end of the work day because I thought it would be too hard to drive by the grocery store without stopping to buy a couple of bottles I would ask myself, “What if it’s easy to just drive by the store without stopping at all? What if it’s easy to just keep driving? What if it’s easy to walk into the house without a grocery bag full of wine? What if it’s easy to enjoy a different kind of beverage? What if it’s just as easy to drink pomegranate juice out of my wine glass as it is to drink wine out of my wine glass?”
I asked myself the same question every time a thought would pop into my head about how hard it would be to live as a non-drinker. We all accept - almost without question - that change is hard, but, “What if it’s easy?”