“She went out on a limb, had it break off behind her, and discovered she could fly.”
~ Kobi Yamada, She
What’s something YOU have done imperfectly?
That picture above this post is a candid shot of me crying after falling over again and again when I tried a difficult yoga pose in Costa Rica.
But, “Look, she lives!” as Lisa would say 😉
So what is something you were TERRIFIED to do, swore up and down it would turn out awful, convinced yourself you’d be judged irrevocably for, and have to spend the rest of your life hiding under a rock because you did it, said it, shared it, whatever’d it “wrong?”
A reply-all email that didn’t damage your career but opened up a dialogue to something everyone else was thinking.
A vulnerable sharing of your emotions with your partner that left them saying, “I’m sorry. I had no idea you felt that way” with a subsequent relief of tension afterwards.
A paper you thought “this is so stupid” and you turned in for school that ended up getting high praise from your teacher.
A yoga class taught from a place of excitement and joy, but then feeling like “Wow, I’m pretty sure everyone thinks I’m an idiot goof,” only to hear after class, “That was exactly what I needed. Thank you.”
Anything like that? Ever?
Ok, you go first before I tell you mine! 😉
So, in all seriousness, I’m battling with some major internal tension, fear, anxiety, an insecurity myself right now and I’ve decided I’m going to start an IMPERFECTION EXPERIMENT. I’m going to give myself permission to be imperfect.
I needed that! 😉
Alright aright, so it’s not always THAT easy, but surprisingly, sometimes it is. Often we’re the ones who need to give ourselves the permission and cut ourselves a little slack, right?!
So, here’s what I want to share with you first, from my place of very very imperfect:
I am re-writing my book, Just Roll With It, and it is scheduled to be re-released by a traditional publishing house later this year (hopefully in time for the Marine Corps Birthday and Veterans Day in November!) And it is TOUGH work! 🙁
It goes like this…
“It was the summer of 2001. I was in Texas, at Lackland AFB, running up the barracks stairwell with a huge duffle bag on my back, when my left hamstring basically gave way. And a moment in time that I’d been training for for years, suddenly stood still. Before knowing the exact details of the culprit of the pain, I knew something had majorly shifted.
I pulled my hamstring on the first day of Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) field training, then spent five days limping around and muscling through all the events, popping 800mg Motrins like they were pez, and going through the motions. The pain never subsided, though. And I found myself at a crossroads: whether or not I was going to stay at Field Training, and finish with an injury, which I would’ve been allowed to do, or ask to return the next year when I was fully healthy.
So less than a week into Field Training, when the pain became too much to bear, I had to call my parents (one of whom is a retired Air Force Colonel) with the bad news. I was lectured, and told if I came home early, I would be failing to keep a commitment I had made. After much debate, to include strong consideration of “sucking it up,” given how directly it negatively impacted my training, I was told that I probably did need to come home. So I did.
I was devastated because when I hurt my leg at Air Force Field Training, it was kind of a shock to my main existence and source of identity in life, which was to succeed at my military training. I felt like I was letting everyone down. But once I got home and had time to process what had happened, I realized I could see this obstacle as something that was going to stop me or I could see it as an opportunity.
Because honestly the injury was actually a wake up call. It made me pause, reassess, and reflect. And I didn’t want to be a victim to my injured leg. I saw it as an opening because deep down, intuitively, I knew the Air Force was not for me.
This was my first memorable experience with the “mind body connection” – not that I would have framed it that way at the time! 😉 – but that my body was trying to get my attention in a way that my mind couldn’t reach me because I’d out reasoned myself into staying in the Air Force. My hamstring snap was a wake up call, one I believe I received both from God and that I received a cue from my internal self saying, “This is not where you’re supposed to be.”
A few weeks later, I returned to college and I met with both the Marine Corps commanding officer and the Air Force commanding officer of the respective ROTC units. And I declared my intent to switch services.
It was not an easy thing to do, emotionally or logistically, but it was possible because I hadn’t completed Air Force Field Training, there was a loophole in the contract that allowed me to switch my commitments. However, this intent to switch set off a string of cautionary lectures from my Air Force leadership as well as letters and phone calls from my father saying he would never approve of this decision and I was ruining my life.
This is part of one of his letters to me, his then 20 year old daughter, one week before 9/11. He said:
“The USMC is about ground attack, you will never lead troops in a ground attack (thank God) and that will limit you whether you believe it or not..I’ve been around all the services. I take the Air Force hands down, and I want only the best for you. I will never say I agree with you becoming a Marine. I KNOW the Air Force is a better, more rewarding life. You can believe all you want that you can make it in the macho world of the Marines, that you can make them accept you…You will never be a man, you will never be as mean, nasty, tough, strong, etc. The Marines are built on that concept for a reason. It does not matter what they say to be politically correct. They have to believe they are meaner, nastier, and tougher than the enemy bastard whose throat they have to slit on a dark night. We need people like that. Maybe you can do that, maybe you want to do that, but no high school dropout, weighing 210 pounds with an IQ of 90 is ever going to believe that. I’m sorry if this sounds cruel or perhaps wrong to you, but I know it is true. Should you have the right to prove yourself? Yes. Will you? I doubt it. PFTs are not Iwo Jima’s beach where you have a 60lb pack on your back, the water is chest high, the surf is pounding in your face, bullets are whistling around you head, mortars are blowing your unit into hamburger, and you have to turn and say “follow me.” I know you want to fly and all this death and destruction is far less personal, unless of course you are shot down and taken prisoner (if you survive the crash). Hopefully you will never have to fight a war, but you are joining (either AF or USMC) to do that if called upon. It’s about believing you are right so much that you are willing to do whatever is necessary to win. To kill someone else face-to-face or with a bomb. Decide you can do it. Decide you convince others to do it. 7. About flying. I know from first-hand experience that just wanting to be a pilot isn’t enough. I was smart, I was tough, I had more desire than most, but I didn’t have enough of whatever to make it. I wasn’t a bad person or a failure because of it, but I had to find a different job. So don’t ignore this. I’m not trying to jinx you, but you are not being fair to yourself if you don’t think about the options. … Yes, you will always be my daughter and I will always love you. I will accept your decision, but I will never tell you that the Marines are better for you than the Air Force. It’s more than the fact that I was in the Air Force, too. I have no doubt the Air Force will be everything you are seeking in the military, and more. …You will have something of an uphill fight in any service because you are a woman. Don’t kid yourself. It isn’t right but it is true. You will be a minority. People will respect you for your intelligence more in the Air Force…I hope this isn’t too late. I want you to stay in the Air Force. I love you. Dad”
But deep down, in my gut, in my heart, I knew the Marines was where I was supposed to be. I felt called to be a Marine.
Explaining that to your Air Force father who you love and admire is a difficult task.
I didn’t just rely on myself during that transition from Air Force to Marine Corps ROTC, though, as strong as I thought I was at 20 years old. I chose to also rely on the support of my closest friends, who heard me belabor the details of the switch over and over again and gave me good advice, who helped me train and prepare to become a Marine, and helped me keep things light when the whole situation felt quite heavy at times. Also, my mentors at school were incredibly helpful, to include the Marine Officer Instructor, a Major in the Marines, and the Assistant MOI, a Gunnery Sergeant, who believed in me, encouraged me, and trained me to succeed during the transition and beyond. I was never left to do the work alone.
Here’s the Universal Point: We’ve all been in a situation where we thought we might disappoint someone we love because of the choices we make about our particular path. Yet, to continue to live in a way that is out of alignment with who we are at our very core, can destroy us.
Connection, camaraderie, and community are vital, and every success story includes support from other people. All of my healthy transitions certainly involve the love and support of countless others.
Yet, I believe we must also pay attention to our support from within, from our bodies. Not a visual of a youthful, fit, svelte body, but a supportive body that is an ally for action and balance, that is a resource of wisdom for us.
Although the power of intuition is something that’s hard to describe with words, it’s easy to feel within ourselves. We all know this when we say things like “I just felt it in my gut.” Or “I knew it in my heart.” Intuition requires awareness, that sometimes painful awareness, and we can choose to ignore our intuitions or we can choose to act on them.
How do we cultivate the habit of listening to our intuitive selves, though? That intuition that lives in our hearts, and our guts? We practice tuning in (in a variety of ways I’ll share later), or you can try this, When you are about to make a decision, or potentially mistreat yourself or your body, pause, and ask yourself, “Is this how I would treat a good friend?” Your answer will come. And this is one basic way to begin practicing awareness.
Our bodies are not machines. “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own” (1Corinthians 6:19). Celebrate that you have a trusted friend (your body) to accompany you on your journey. Even when it supposedly “breaks,” celebrate the wisdom within your body, injuries and all, the messages that you are receiving from it, and its ability to be your greatest ally, because it is the house of your intuition. Our bodies want to faithfully support us. Our bodies help us find power within ourselves, not over ourselves.
Our bodies empower us to choose.”
In addition to your imperfect perfect moments, I’d love to know how you feel your body has empowered YOU to choose.
In love and hoping to add a little light to the journey 🙂