I have always loved the word grace. There is something about it that is so simple and yet makes my mind ponder and soak up all that it really means. Grace is a word that can have so many words to describe it and in some ways that makes it a vast and complex word and in other ways it makes it so simple. I know a lot of individuals that feel that grace is something they have to constantly track down as it ebbs and flows in their life. I have felt that way too.
Often when I think of grace, I think of poise. I am not musically inclined (yes, do not ask me to sing for you), and I have two left feet, and I am incredibly uncoordinated. Thus, I have never felt very graceful. Over time when I went from keeping my voice inside to spewing my mind and thoughts, to being incredibly direct, at times means that I struggle with how graceful I am. It means that sometimes I am still learning how to stay direct, speak my mind, and share my voice while also trying to be gracious or graceful in my delivery. Not at all an easy task.
I was reminded of my continued interest in grace while recently reading a Daily Om newsletter on the topic of grace titled: “Living a Life of Grace.” This line specifically stood out to me:
“Grace is the state we are in when we are doing nothing but just being who we are.”
At its core grace means we are being true to ourselves, no filters. So maybe that means I should just be me and think less about my grace. What do you think?
There have been a few situations in the past few weeks that have irked me. Like being put in an uncomfortable situation where I had to take a stand for myself, where the other individuals were only thinking about themselves (or so it feels). Ever happen to you? I am sure it happens to all of us from time to time.
How we handle it is what matters most.
Do we react, get mad, get frustrated? Maybe. And that is okay. Do we show our true colors to the individuals that tick us off? Well, maybe. It depends. Can we do it with grace or do we add to the mix, stir the pot, and make the situation even worse? To me, making the situation worse shows our weakness. Instead, we should clearly and succinctly share where we are coming from and be transparent, open and honest. What gets me the most though is when others involved watch as by-standers never do anything. In some ways they could be accomplices to the situation and, by not taking a stand for us, they are no better than those that have wronged us. They shake their head and say, “Oh, it is just the way they are. There is no changing them.” What if (go with me for a second on this) they took a stand for us and said, “You are putting him in an awkward situation. This is not the way to treat them.”
I think of it often at work. I think of those on my team as part of my fold. I stick up for them and always keep their best interests in mind. I would not throw them to the wolves and hope they can fend for themselves. Yes, they must have strong skin and resilience, but I will not stand by and watch if they are put in awkward situations. I will see what I can do to help. The same is true for family and friends. Maybe others are not thinking of the situation they are putting others in and maybe I over think the situation I put others in. Either way, we could all be more conscious of how we treat others. Are we asking too much of them? Are we thinking about their situation? Are we asking of their time in ways that are not fair? Other people’s time is precious… do you care about it?
At work last week, a few of us were discussing books, and I mentioned that at this moment my favorite book of 2014 is: “Mile Markers” by Kristin Armstrong. A colleague said oh, yes that is Lance Armstrong’s ex-wife. Of course I thought, duh. How did I not put two and two together? You would think her few mentions of her husband, Lance, in Mile Markers and her mention of Austin would have clued me in, but I was so enamored with her book that the connection never crossed my mind. By the end of our conversation one of my colleagues offered to bring in her copy of another Kristin Armstrong book: “Work in Progress: An Unfinished Woman’s Guide to Grace.”
Two nights ago I decided to crack it open, after some much-needed inspiration, and holy shit was I blown away. This is the first paragraph of the Introduction:
“You may have met, or know, a woman like this: She brightens a room, can literally alter the energy before she opens her mouth. Her presence alone is uplifting, her warmth is genuine radiance, and her eye contact feels like a gift. Her compassion and confidence are unshakable. She knows herself well enough to be able to get to know you. She has not pretense about herself, has no need to hide because she lives in truth. She has no need to exalt or deprecate others or herself, and this allows others the freedom to be authentic in her company.
She is the kind of woman who makes you check your posture, inside and out. She makes you want to think before you speak, not because you feel judged or compelled to impress her, but simply because she makes you want to be better. Her integrity draws others into the light. Her laughter is contagious. Her hugs feel so good you wonder how you can get another one without appearing needy. When she is happy, you want to celebrate with her. When she is struggling, you want to stand by her side. Come to think of it, anything with her would be fine.
Who is this woman? To me, she is a woman of grace.” page 1-2
Wow. If I could ever live up to that. I read that, and immediately had a woman in mind. Someone in my life that has always been an inspiration to me. While we have not been in touch as often these past few years, she has always been a role model to me. I can remember one time in college when I was struggling particularly with feeling like an orphan (my dad was around but not really existent in my life, my mom had passed on 5 years before). I remember I had hung out with her and her family (husband and precious little baby girl), and as I left she put her hand under my chin and looked into my eyes and said: “We love you.” Then she looked at me more intensely and said it again. I froze, and then started to cry. It was just what I needed to hear, but so hard to accept. She made me want to be better. She brightened the room, was so authentic and real, and exuded confidence, radiance, and her eye contact brought me to tears (in such a good way). She was the grace that grounded me.
I know most blogs probably look back at their year, so I am just another cliché. Yet I have to do it. I need to take a moment to ponder all that poured forth out of my mouth and my fingertips. It was fun to look back on some of my favorite posts of the year. A few of my favorites were of course about my better half, who inspires me, keeps me afloat, and well probably the most important, keeps the cranky me away because he feeds me. Other posts were about finishing my first 1/2 marathon, food, farts, and you know those days when your pants are on backwards. These were my top ten favorite posts of 2013 (in no particular order), okay so I could not stop at ten so you get a top thirteen:
I know I already gush about my husband, but many times my blogs just come right out of my fingertips without my knowing what I am going to say. This blog is a tribute to my husband.
I follow David Kanigan’s blog. This one on Grace really resonated with me. While it is a letter to a colleague of David’s that was retiring, the ideas he shared can apply to anyone. See my husband is a very patient man. It takes a lot, and I mean a lot to press his buttons. He is not going to yell and cuss at the guy that rudely drives past when he is already backing out of his parking space, he just shakes his head, waits, and then finishes backing up the car. He is not going to give someone the middle finger for cutting him off in traffic, or for being the one that takes the only parking space left, even when he is the one pulling into it first.
my better half
My husband is gentle, patient, and he keeps his cool. I am in awe. I am not always one to keep my cool. I am the one to yell when someone cuts me off in traffic, I am the backseat driver, and often a trash talker. (I know the other car cannot hear me, but it still feels good to let it out.) Chris always asks me, “do you feel better now?” or “did it help to go crazy telling them off when they cannot hear you?” Yes and yes. Chris on the other hand has grace. He might not like that I am stating that he is graceful, as I think many men might think that word has more connotations of something feminine, but sorry Chris, it is the truth. I love this quote from William Hazlett:
“Gracefulness has been defined to be the outward expression of the inward harmony of the soul.”
Chris, thank you for being an example to me for what is possible, and for being my conscience and my reminder that we can be better each day. As I said earlier, I am in awe of your strong example of grace.