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Today I noticed something wondrous and almost strange- me being kind to myself.

It wasn’t just in noticing my healthy, beautiful body in the mirror with gratitude, or saying no to that diet soda or quick hit of sugar that would be a little moment of giving up on myself, or relaxing and enjoying the moment just watching tv with my sisters, not having to be productive, cozy and snowbound.

The past year was rough, mostly because I was rough on myself. I went to school, but it wasn’t the work that was hard. I faced a lot of challenges and overcame them. I got a full-time job in my field for the very first time. I said goodbye to someone I loved. But that wasn’t what made me sad and my life so difficult from the time I forced myself to wake up to the days I couldn’t focus or the evenings I just couldn’t sleep.

The main cause of my stress was me.

No one, nothing stressed me out quite so much as me.

I doubted myself, questioned all my beliefs, dredged up every decision I made in the past. I tortured myself thinking I’d never be a worthwhile person, no one would ever truly love me, and if I had any success it was just due to luck. I told myself I was spoiled and selfish, a silly, powerless dreamer, a clingy pathetic doormat of a person, a total imposter and joke to the people around me. Worse, a hypocrite, a liar, a villain.

Are any of those things true? NO, or rather, no one is perfect but there’s nothing wrong with me, besides being human. We only come in one way: flawed.

Wondering whether my flaws are bigger or smaller or bigger or better than “other people’s” or than they “should,” be was just he quickest way of going to Hell in a handbasket.

I didn’t need that or deserve that torture. It did tear me apart.

But I am not living like that anymore. I can’t say I’ll never have a moment of weakness, but I pray I won’t waste another minute on self-induced depressed. The Buddhists would say having a self is the cause of depression, and maybe they have a point. The truth is, I don’t want to hurt myself anymore.

No, I don’t really make sense all the time. I am not normal, but who is. I will never fulfill my own lofty ideals of perfection, unless I realize I already have perfection, the kingdom of God the size of a mustard seed, inside me.

Peace has come, harmony has come, not by forcing myself into alignment with some internal or external standard, but with accepting what is. That’s not to say I don’t have a lot of work to do, but it’s not the meaning of life.
The meaning of life is not attaining self-perfection.
The meaning of life is love- in all its many forms.
The meaning of life is to love life itself so much that you don’t even wonder about what life’s meaning is, because it is overflowing with goodness and meaning and vividness.

So when I think of my goals, it’s going to be more about what I want to do than how I should be.
It will be about going to Prague, and not about getting a promotion in x amount of months or years.
It will be about learning to ski or practicing yoga, and not about losing 20 lbs.
It will be ALL about being healthy and kind to myself and others, and not about getting married at a certain age or having a tight knit clique of friends “as seen on tv.”
And maybe underneath all the doing and seeing and loving and exploring and having fun and singing and dancing, eating and drinking, playing and making things, I’ll be content to just be.
That the essence of me, somehow, is simply enough.
Not to stop doing all the cool stuff, or being a better person than I was yesterday, but that the raw material is more precious than gold and finer than silk, and somehow, even if I don’t make the game winning shot and can’t in the moment call myself a winner, I’m still worth it. It’s still worth taking that shot, and win or lose doesn’t diminish my right to keep taking them, or keep on enjoying the game.