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Choosing pride over prejudice
Q: What do you feel proud of today?
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This past week has been all about Diwali. I hosted Diwali for my cousins and their families at our house on Sunday. I visited Little A's preschool on Monday and did some festival inspired activities with her new friends. I also threw an impromptu potluck on Monday night to share Diwali stories and fireworks with friends and their little ones. All this activity meant I had to put in a week of planning, shopping, organizing, cooking and cleaning. This is not something that comes easily to me. And yet, despite the work, it felt really good to celebrate our traditions together with family and friends in our house.
Diwali is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains in India and across the world. While there are many interesting stories behind the festival, it largely symbolizes the victory of good over evil. We light oil lamps to banish the darkness and welcome gods into our homes. This festival gave me the occasion to reflect on how I can bring light into my life and my community. Perhaps it can start with something as simple doing good for the people in my life. Giving my time and my resources to bring people in my community together.
One thing I know for sure is that whatever I want to share with others I must first give to myself. I tend to judge myself a lot. My inner work over the last few weeks has been about noticing the harsh inner critic, and then offering myself compassion and kind words instead. “I’m not good at estimating the right amount of food” changed to “Everyone really enjoyed my cooking and felt satiated.” On Monday night after everyone left, I took a few minutes to feel proud of all the effort I put in to bring people together to celebrate Diwali. I have a long held limiting belief that I’m not great at hosting. Or that I need a lot of help to do it. But this weekend I proved to myself that I could do it. Of course there will often be times when I need help and there’s nothing wrong with that. We all get by with a little help from our friends.
I have been drawn to connecting with new people over the last few weeks. Either people I don't know or folks that I haven't talked to in several years. My recent efforts to slow down have allowed me to create time for these new experiences and conversations.
“The face of receptivity welcomes everyone and every living being, without judgment - never granting the power of interaction to some and withholding it from others…it means to me that all of nature is waiting to be called into action. We only need to be willing to recognize and receive….You must not only be receptive to having guidance available to you to manifest your human intentions but you must be receptive to giving this energy back to the world.”
- Dr Wayne Dyer, The Power of Intention
I believe that these people are showing up in my life right now to help me on my journey. I went into these conversations with a curious mind - wanting to learn about their lives and the choices they have made over the years. One person had moved from the Bay Area to Berlin with her husband and three teenagers and done a complete career change, switching from being a doctor to becoming a health and wellness coach for adolescents. Another person had followed her heart and her love to travel around the country during the pandemic and then settled in a new city with her partner. An ex-colleague visiting from Asia had embarked on an entrepreneurial journey and felt completely re-energized.
These stories have inspired me to take some risks of my own. This past weekend I was invited by a friend to join some women in doing an early morning dip in the bay. I put aside my fears of the cold and jumped at the invitation. This was a chance to do something new for myself - to be vulnerable in a group of strangers. That morning I walked away from the experience feeling invigorated - a sense of pride in confronting my fears and freedom from my inhibitions. I highly recommend the experience - here are some tips and benefits of cold water dipping if anyone is interested.