Monday, July 3, 2017

Top Five Things I AM ABOUT

Y'all know me.

This girl is reflective and just gots to reflect. I go in and out of these waves of reflection (your oughta see my hand-written journal), but for the last couple of years July 3rd has been a good enough time as any to document my reflection.

I'm 38 today.

Last year on July 3, I spent my quiet time deciding that I wanted not only to someday meet the female thought leaders of our time (Brene Brown, Glennon Doyle Melton, etc) but also perhaps even TO BECOME one myself (move over Oprah!).

Aren't I adorable?

And ridiculous?

This year my reflection is far less ambitiously unrealistic. My simple aim is to jot down WHAT I AM ABOUT

Do you ever lose (or forget) what YOU ARE ABOUT?

I do.


I am about God.

This one popped up first in my mind and then instantly made me tear up. Why? I don't freakin know.  I cannot tell you if the intensity in my experience of spirituality is nurture, nature, or some combination of both. All I can tell you is that I have a hunger in my heart for that which is bigger than all of us. And it has and continues to be a foundational piece of who I am and what guides and orients me.

Sometimes, I'll be honest, I don't even know WHAT THAT MEANS. A foundational piece of who I am and what guides and orients me?

WHAT do I even mean by that?

Like I said, sometimes I don't even cerebrally know. Often my "relationship" with God is so dang mysterious and not-pin-down-able that I cannot even speak to my closest of friends or husband with any degree of clarity (NOTE: I use parentheses not to condescend the notion of my relationship with God, but to further convey that it is just as confusing to me as people who might roll their eyes at the phrase "relationship with God").

But, in thinking about this entry, I decided I can strain one thing from it. This, clearly, is just the thing Tricia Arthur strains from Tricia Arthur's personal faith. That's all I claim here.


Here I go welling up again. In the basement of this public library typing on a computer on my birthday quietly (it's a LIBRARY!!!) weeping like a baby.


It has made all the difference to me in my life. This notion that I might not be the only one in charge of me... of intentionally leaving room for the influence of God. It may possibly be the most difficult endeavor... the task of living this way. I suck at it over and over again. And yet when I am "in the flow" of successfully surrendering, I know I am the best me. When I remember to reach into the rich channels of God's wisdom as I'm making decisions or as I am fretting or as I am connecting with the world, I feel more peaceful than when I do not. And... hardest of all... when I suspend my stupid attempts at control and LEAVE ROOM, I know that God has the chance to work God's magic more fully.

All in all, I think my friend Surrender is about the most demanding of me and the most worthwhile. And, contrary to many folks' belief, in my opinion it is a determinant of the strength of a person, not her weakness.

Whoowee, now that we've gotten that big momma out of the way, I can stop making a scene at the library and move on to lighter ones. :)

I am about being curious.

Curious means lots of stuff to me, but mostly I think of it as an honest and pure desire to look under rocks. And when I say rocks, I mean as specific as individual people and as broad as conceptual issues of the human condition and as in-the-weeds as government policy making and as personal as my own inner life and its workings.

All of it.

But I suppose the reason "curious" ranks in the top 5 is that my curiosity, as I've observed it in these 38 years, has always toppled its less attractive step sister "judgmentalism" time and time again. For when I Observe The World, both the reaction to be curious and the temptation to be judgmental are real options... one is pure and without personal agenda. One is self-serving.

You wanna hear a stupid story?

I'll continue.

When I was in middle school I remember a rather uneventful trip to Walmart with my aunt. Uneventful, I say, except for a very small event that I so clearly remember altering the way I decided To Do Business with my thoughts and observations. After we checked out at Walmart, I slipped into the women's restroom as a woman was exiting. As soon as I passed her and entered into the empty room, a very thick wave of poo-poo smell powered through me. YUCK, I thought. That woman sure did drop some seriously smelly kids off at the pool, I thought. So, I did my simple little pee-pee and got the heck out of there. Except, when I was exiting the empty women's restroom, at about the same place in the hallway there came another woman innocently entering. It was a repeat of what I'd encountered only minutes before (bathroom still smelled rank, unsuspecting victim about to be hit with it)... except for I was on the flipside... I was likely to be quietly accused.

I told you it was a stupid story. I kid you not, however, when I say that I remember deciding that day that I would never, ever, assume I knew anything about anyone, least of all internally play the game "Clue" about who dropped a dump.

And that, along with a lot of other anecdotal life lessons through the years, is how "curious" has always trumped any other assumptional or accusational undertones to my observations of the world around me.

I am about gratefulness.

I am too lazy to look up the statistics, but once I read about a study involving college professors who required, as part of the grade of the course they were offering, their students to write daily in a gratefulness journal. The outcomes were noteworthy. The students, when at the beginning found it to be unnatural and forced, ended the course saying that they noticed an overall attitude and mood lift when they committed to the practice, one that made a difference in their happiness in general.

Gratefulness is a discipline for my mind. I find that when I make a point to notice and be thankful for the things that are unarguably GOOD and POSITIVE in my life, then I can more easily choose thankfulness during times when shittiness comes about. If I've really trained well, I can even choose gratefulness FOR the shit. Not just later when hindsight is more easily 20-20, but WHILE IN the shit.

I am about mindfulness.

If you've hung out with me in the past 5 years, you undoubtedly will have heard at one time or the other a variation of a soapbox speech about how much the practice of mindfulness has influenced my life. (NOTE: One of the books that first introduced mindfulness to me said to never talk about one's own mindfulness practice as that "evangelism" style of showmanship runs contrary to the very foundational pieces of the practice. But I'm me. And so I'll post it ON MY BLOG FOR ALL TO SEE!!! :)

Mindfulness practice (both formal meditations and the informal philosophy of Doing Life) has taught me how to exist BEHIND the chatter of my thoughts and the sensations of my feelings. It has reminded me to be present to the moments the unfolding of my days/years. It has required of me to more thoughtfully observe my reactions to circumstances. It has resulted in deeper self-knowledge. It has challenged me to downplay striving for "being." It calms and centers me. And it is an incredible supplement to my spirituality, since I've found mindfulness beautifully compliments my faith life.

And if NONE of the above paragraph makes sense... let me say that it has been the single most influential tool in my toolbox as I've gone through the various mental health dips along my journey.

That's the damn truth.

One last point on my mindfulness practice: I still suck at it. Which in and of itself is a such a non-mindfulness thing to say, because there's no such thing as "success" at mindfulness. At the root of it is the understanding that you're not trying to get anywhere. For the record, though, I am way a novice and just as often fall prey to the temptations of experiencing life in an unaware trance-like state as the next person. So don't go watching me. I will undoubtedly disappoint.

I am about fun.

You thought I was gonna leave you on a super-juicy, though-provoking note, didn't you? You were expecting to have the list topped off with a final clap of thunder... one that strikes your deepest chords inside...

Nope. Nope. Nope.

Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope.

I am about fun. I am so much about fun, that I have listed it as one of our family priorities, too.

I value work. I value getting shit done. But I sure as hell will not work to the exclusion of fun. I believe that everyone lives on a spectrum for how important playfulness is to their overall wellbeing... some folks can be very well without a whole lot of play in their days. I am on the HIGH END of playfulness-need.

I need to be silly. I need to joke with my kids and my husband. I like to be playful. I like to make fun of myself. I like to do stuff just for the sheer enjoyment of it.

Usually, if I'm weighted down by life... that's when my fun factor goes down. I have found a distinct correlations between pushing pause (even when it seems irresponsible and that I shouldn't) in order to rest in fun and my success at going at it (it being life) again with increased vigor.

I must not forget fun! Fun! Fun! Fun!

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So I've decided to print this reminder out of WHAT I AM ABOUT and read it most everyday. So I don't fall into the distracted state of amnesia that often becomes my baseline. I'm smart. I've learned a lot. I've grown a ton. Why not actually REMEMBER TO USE and BE GUIDED BY all that freakin self-knowledge?

Now... if I can only get my printer working and, once printed, remember where I put the copy... :)


Christine said...

I sure do love you Trisha Arthur and your "Top Five Things" reminds me why! Have a wonderful year and the happiest of birthdays.

AuraFury Agario said...

Tricia: I have so much in common with you about the five things - let's talk when we get together

Shanti Argue said...

I love you, Tricia!!! Happy Birthday, and even though you're perfect just the way you are, I know you will continue to get better with age... because one thing I love about you, that kind of sums up your list... is that you're also about "growth"... taking the good and the bad and learning from it all... you're my hero, and I love everything crazy thing about you, friend!

Love and Laughter said...

Love your blogs. Love your voice b/c I can SO hear you (and don't get to see you enough). It's been a while since I've written my blog and I need to get back to it! Might even copy your "idea." But please know I love you and miss you. Keep being awesome.

Sunshine Shaha said...

need me to print and send :)?