4 Ways to Cultivate Acceptance

by Rebecca A. Watson on August 21, 2014

in change, life, Values, worry

So awhile back I started writing down what values are important to me. I came up with a list of like 50. I decided to go in alphabetical order, which led to to write about abundance first, a loaded topic for many of us.

Next up on my giant list (you can see the whole thing here) is acceptance. I’d like to think that I know something about this. I’ve moved through some pretty big ground in my short life and thought I would share how I try to get into acceptance.

1. Get into nature. There are so many beautiful things nature can teach us and one of the best ones is that seasons change. There is no denying that summer turns to fall and the light starts to fade a bit more each night. It’s hard to insist that everything will stay just like you want it when even the most beautiful and perfect flowers wither, die and return to the ground.

It’s hard to ignore my feelings or find a distraction when I’m out hiking. So often what I like to deny is what’s going on inside of me, so getting quiet next to the river gives me a moment to not only listen to myself but also realize it just is. And that’s OK.

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Nature inspires awe and acceptance.

2. Embrace the dorky sentiments. “It is what it is” isn’t popular because it’s so innane. Although maybe not everyone who uses it understands, it’s a way of saying that you can’t change what is.

You must accept it and change yourself. Or live in denial, refuse to evolve and evaporate.

So while you might get a little annoyed by “Whatever happens, happens,” or “Take it as it comes,” and the like, they’re more than just phrases uttered by folks who aren’t paying attention. In fact, sometimes they are the ones who are paying attention.

3. Stop taking things personally. So much of what we get upset about — the things we want to change and avoid and deny — is more about us taking things personally. I’ve been finding this more and more as I practice this. (I picked it up from The Four Agreements, an excellent read.)

So many things I wish would be different or that I’ve really refused to accept are things I take personally. And I’ve learned that as much as my ego wants me to believe it, nothing is really about me.

Not the careless comment I take to mean I’m lame for not drinking, not the rude Facebook message I’m still struggling to understand and not even the abuse I suffered as a child. None of that was about me. And it makes all of it so much easier to stomach when I look at it from that perspective.

4. Understand you’re not always meant to understand. As most parents know, curiousity can be something of an annoyance after awhile. To better illustrate that point, I bring you this gem from Louis C.K.

Although I’m no longer a child, I often ask why. Or I want to know why not. Or I’d like you to explain to me a contradiction.

I know that I do this because one day in German class my teacher finally had it.

“Nicht ‘Ja aber,’ Rebecca! Nicht ‘Ja aber’!”

This roughly translates to, “No more ‘yes, but …’ from you Rebecca. Just accept that this language makes no sense to you and speak it.”

When you try and understand something, you’re trying to find a box in your head that it will slide into. Or a chest of drawers. And when it doesn’t fit you’re left hip checking it like I do Sante’s overflowing sock drawer.

So just let it be. It doesn’t have to fit somewhere. It can sit there and exist and you don’t have to do a damn thing about it.

Acceptance is like exercise and, actually, language skills. You’ve got to practice it. You’re never done learning it. You just keep trying new things and different techniques, keeping the ones you like and letting other folks use the ones you don’t.

What acceptance tactics do you use? I’m curious as I keep cultivating this habit.

P.S. The second part of my writing class is next week. You can still sign up and listen to part one as a replay!

This is an ongoing series about values. You can read the archives here or check out my entire list of  those that are important to me.

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MMP: Mountain Climbing

by Rebecca A. Watson on August 18, 2014

in goals, life, Monday Morning Pages

A  few weekends ago, I went bouldering with some friends. For those of you who are like me and have never heard of this, it’s basically rock climbing in a gym but at heights that allow you to fall onto mats without much worry.

It was delightfully fun, even though I wasn’t particularly good at it to begin. Sante and I have decided that would be a nice rainy day activity for us, so I’ll definitely be getting some more practice in.

Recently I’ve been writing about struggling with uncertainty around the future and a change in my career. Awhile back I saw a commencement speech given by Neil Gaiman; what he said really inspired me.

He talked about our goal — our future — being like a mountain. And if you want to reach it, every step or action you take should push you toward that mountain. If you’re interested, here’s the speech. It’s definitely worth 20 minutes of your time.

It’s not easy to make every step you take go toward your mountain. There are detours. There are temptations. There are times when you’re confused about what to do next.

That was definitely the case this time in 2012:

There is an Ebay gig that might fit me well. The thing is, that commute seems, well, ugly. But there is a part of me that misses interaction at work as well as not worrying about paychecks and the like.

I see your point but does it really gets you closer to your mountain? Well, I dunno. I mean, no, it doesn’t get any closer to being a best-selling author, but I spent most of my time writing my last book while I was working a full-time gig.

And think of the knitting I can get done on my commute! That’s kinda hilarious.

I guess the thing to remember is that business takes several years to get on its feet. But I don’t want to run a social media business. I want to be a writer. Well, you’re getting closer with Think Simple Now and your blog and applying for writing gigs. Could I still do that and work for Ebay?

As much as the stress relief might be, I think there will be a trade-off of stress and no increase in quality of life. My quality of life will decrease. I will have bargained away all my freedom for a bit of security, which is just ridiculous.

And then in 2013:

I have just gotten back from picking up our work permits at immigration, and it appears I am going to have to start working on getting a freelance visa. Or get a 9 to 5 job, which I’m not excited about…

[A few days later after hearing from the immigration attorney] I guess that I am not able to work for a while. I was so stressed about how Sante would deal with it that he was actually the one who was looking at the positive.

“Write a book.”

A few days ago I found a list of qualities for my ideal career. I’d made this list about a year ago. On it were things like flexible, writing about self-improvement, helping others, travelling occasionally, some life coaching, working with smart, like-minded people, well paying, and involves reading and writing about my life.

It would appear, my friends, that I’m standing at the base of my mountain. Wow! That came out of nowhere. Well not really, but it’s like those hotels in Las Vegas. You walk for miles with them always in the distance, and suddenly they’re right in front of you.

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The Venetian was always my favorite.

I’m realizing this all just now. It’s a marvel to me. It’s also a bit scary, to be honest.

Now my journey is all about more technical changes, deciding which climb, which path, suits my abilities. I’ll be making smaller adjustments that either stay the course with slight changes in my gait or choices lead me to less traveled but equally exciting places.

Whatever I choose, I’m on my mountain now. And I’m thrilled that the climb is more clear, even if it sometimes appears a bit precarious. Thank goodness I’ve got that bouldering practice gym so close. I’m gonna need it.

Wondering what this Monday Morning Pages thing is all about? Read how it started. Or check out all the archives.

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WC Sitzen, Bauhaus Installation

by Rebecca A. Watson on August 14, 2014

in Art, Germany

This will be a more visual post as I have hurt my thumb and am using voice recognition software to type my blog post. It’s new software and proving more difficult to use so I’d rather post pictures.

So imagine my delight when I went to buy a toilet seat yesterday and found a virtual art gallery in the hardware store.

Now I’ve never purchased a toilet seat before, so maybe this is not that odd. But a quick glance at Home Depot’s selection tells me this is more of a German thing. Or at least not an American thing.

Regardless there’s something amusing in imagining a hologram of the Statue of Liberty in someone’s bathroom. All I know is next time I head to OBI (the other big DIY shop in town), I’m bringing my digital SLR.

And so ladies and gentlemen, I present you with WC Sitzen, Bauhaus Installation.

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Not blurry mind you. It’s a hologram.

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Notice the price? 85 Euro? That’s more than $100. For a toilet seat. And that wasn’t the most expensive one, either.

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Can you imagine if you posed for this? “Yes, it will be on all the finest toilet seats in Germany!”

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After seeing all these, it makes the previous tenant’s choice of pink seem restrained. In case you’re wondering, here’s our selection:

There are some things I just can't assimilate to.

There are some things I just can’t assimilate to.

I hope you enjoyed my art installation coverage ;) If you’re looking for a post of my writing, I did have two publish this week on other sites. You can read 5 Reasons to Embrace Jealousy or if you’re into something lighter, how about decorating with houseplants?

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MMP: Moving or Standing Still, You’re Still You

August 11, 2014

Several years ago, Sante and I took a trip to Italy. We told everyone it was our honeymoon, but really he was interviewing for a job. A job he ended up not getting. You can probably imagine how bummed I was at first. I mean, after all, being an expat has been a dream of […]

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A Letter to My Non-Expat Self

August 7, 2014

Partially inspired by an old post and partially inspired by a comment on this post, I’ve decided to write a letter to the self I was before I lived overseas. Not the one who knew just one year ago she was moving, mind you. Nope, the one circa 2012 perhaps. The one who was blissfully […]

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MMP: You Can Learn Your Karmic Lessons

August 4, 2014

I’m a firm believer in the fact that life is going to send you the same lesson over and over until you learn it. I can’t remember where I heard it, but essentially they’re your karmic lessons. I mean, how else do you explain the string of abusive relationships I’d chosen, each one more twisted […]

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Happy Anniversary to Us: One Year in Germany!

July 29, 2014

I’m taking a break from the Monday Morning Pages this week because we’re celebrating our one year anniversary of living in Germany! Normally I’d pull some quotes out of my journal about what I experienced this week last year, but I thought it’d be nice to hear from my other half, Sante! I’m delighted to […]

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Sober is Not A Uniform

July 27, 2014

There’s this fashion blog I used to read a lot.  I liked it because Alison, the woman who writes it, is realistic about what kind of money one might really spend on things. She encourages readers to do things that actually matter, like get a real bra fitting and use proper hangers for different articles […]

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MMP: To Win At Life You Have to Risk Loss

July 21, 2014

I remember years ago, maybe in junior high, learning the definition of an entrepreneur. There was the traditional definition — one that starts his/her own business — but my teacher would always insist the real definition was this: A Risk Taker. I never considered myself one of these risk takers. My dad owned his own business and […]

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5 Secrets for Connecting to Your Soul Thru Writing

July 16, 2014

In the summer of 2009, something very special happened to me. As I was lying in bed journaling at the end of the day, I was struck by a strange feeling. I’d been writing a particularly emotional passage, but this felt like something more. I set down my computer (I journaled on my computer at […]

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