Don Miguel Ruiz wrote, “The most important agreements are the ones you make with yourself. In these agreements you tell yourself who you are, what you feel, what you believe, and how to behave.” As I have been exploring this in my own life and working to become aware of my own agreements, I have been thinking about the qualities I was taught I should embody, those I think I embody, what others think I have and those I wish I had.
Growing up, I was taught to be compassionate and caring. That came more from my mother then anyone else. She was a very loving and compassionate woman and they are qualities I continue to embody and embrace today. I think, or at least would like to believe that this is how others see me as well.
I was also taught to be obedient and to live by the rules. There was the clear message that “as long as you are living under our house, you will live by our rules.” While I lived there, I did conform to the rules, however, now I live by my own rules, which do not necessarily agree with the rules of society or even of institutions. My overarching rule for myself in life is that all that I say and do be of love – if it does not come from an intent of love, then I do not participate in it.
I was also taught that I was to be uber thin and find that medium between being physically active, but not so much that I sweated, as girls did not do that. I think I have revolted against that rule all my life. I have never worried about my weight, even though others would tell me that I am morbidly obese. Do I wish I were thinner? At times, but I love myself and my body for what it is now. I miss being able to drive and to be more socially active and independent. At the same time, I realize that having this “cloistered” time enables me to grow deeper in my understanding of self and of the Infinite who guides my life.
I was also taught that I should embrace femininity. I should smile, curtsy, wear dresses, hose, shiny patent leather shoes, love cooking, serving, and work to be a good wife. My wife, as of December 17 2011, would say I am a good wife and I believe we are good to and for each other. I smile when I want to, but do not feel that I must always have a smile plastered on my face. I no longer curtsy. I am more of a skirt then a dress person, primarily because they are easier for me to maneuver in then pants and easier to get on and off. I cannot remember the last time I wore pantyhose or heels; it has been close to 20 years if not more then that. I do love to cook and serve. There is something about that experience which is spiritual and provides me with moments of enlightenment.
I was also taught not to be angry. Because of my father’s alcoholic outbursts, I have always had a fear of anger. It is not that I do not feel anger at times, I do. However, I do not see the value in violent anger. Rather, I think I feel more of a sense of compassionate anger. Even when I am angry, most people would never know it. A friend of mine, who knows me well, says I have this way of making people feel good about themselves while letting them know why I am angry. I am not sure how I do that, however, I do believe you can express anger in a way that is constructive and not destructive.
I was also taught to be focused and this is something I think I still am today. I have a clear sense of what I want to accomplish each day, focus on those goals one at a time, and always end the day with an awesome sense of accomplishment. At the same time, what is not done just is not done and I am not going to lose any sleep over it. I get done what I am supposed to get done.
It is strange to think about what others think of me and what qualities they think I possess. Based on things they have said to me, at least those who have known me the longest. I would say I have an aura of approachability. People seem to feel comfortable coming and sitting down and talking to me. I also think they would say that I am accepting. Even when I do not agree with what someone believes, I recognize that what they believe is about them and what I believe is about me. As one friend who I do not always agree with says, “you never make me feel stupid and you always make me feel respected.” I also think people would say I am loving, compassionate, and courageous. I have never been one to walk away from a situation, which requires me to address it. Courage is not the absence of fear. Rather, it is recognizing your fear, but moving through it and doing what needs to be done anyway.
One of my students this past semester told me I was unprofessional. I was not sure what she meant by that. However, for her the professional professor did not see students as human beings, showed no compassion or understanding and just saw students as numbers and grades. She said I made her feel like a human being and recognized the struggles she was going through. It meant a lot to her that I treated her with dignity and respect. If this is what unprofessional looks like, then I am all about being unprofessional.
This is not so much about me, but I have been told that there is a feeling of peace and love in our home. One friend said it reminded her of how she feels in the retreat house she goes to occasionally. This is the feeling we try to infuse into our daily lives and in to our home. I experience this peace and wonder when people share that with me. There is also a feeling of humility because I know others are sensing the presence of the Infinite in our home.
Are there qualities I wish I had? Hmm. at this time, not really. I love who I am at this time. as I come to know myself better, which I always am, then there may be some qualities which I wished I had and when I am, then I will do something about that. For now, I am content with being me, just as I am.