It’s snowing in Vancouver. Thick, wet flakes have blanketed my patio garden, leaving purple crocuses spiritedly poking through.
This doesn’t happen a lot here, so I relish each time I catch a glimpse of the snow. Having grown up in Southern Ontario, I am used to a lot of snow in the winter. It just doesn’t feel like winter without it.
Snow is pretty polarizing though. Many people move here to get away from it and can’t stand to see it on the ground. Others, like me, miss the snow and wish we had more of it.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to live life with more nuance. Understanding that there are always multiple perspectives to consider, nothing is black and white. That my experience of something is not the only experience, but that doesn’t mean that my experience is wrong.
How often have I told myself what I should be feeling or how I should be acting or adjusting my expectations (usually based on what someone else wants), rather than just allowing whatever comes up? When I have spent a lot of my life trying to be the “best” version of myself, it can be hard to see that this myopic view of success doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room.
So here’s how I offer that wiggle room: saying “Yes, AND”. Acknowledging that there can be many truths at once, even if they are contradictory. There is no “best” way to experience the world.
Here’s how it works: A snowy day is an annoyance AND an invitation to play. It is disappointment over cancelled plans AND a cozy day at home filled with hot chocolate, blankets and a book. I’m excited to go for a walk outside AND worried about the wet and cold.
The AND holds an invitation for nuance and complexity and compassion.
I needed this wiggle room earlier this month. I was really excited to host a new session of Self-Love Club, my 6-week art therapy group focused on self-love and compassion. This is my favourite group to run and I have learned a lot about myself from hosting it. This time around, I didn’t get enough sign ups to run the group. I was so excited for it, so I am understandably disappointed that it is not running.
It’s a little embarrassing to be honest. I told everyone about this group and now everytime someone asks how it’s going, I have to tell them that it didn’t work out.
I’m sharing this with you because I don’t think we see enough stories in the media of failure or disappointment, unless it is attached to perceived success. It is the thing that happens before you “make it big”. It’s the thing that “makes you stronger”. We’re told that we have to just pick ourselves up, keep going, keep working, never show weakness. Be grateful for what you have and shut up about the rest.
In our achievement-focused culture, there is shame in failure.
My first instinct when the group was cancelled was to disregard any hard feelings, look towards the next thing, telling myself “at least I have 6 Tuesday evenings free now”. Or, I should just be grateful that my promotions for the group lead to subscribers and followers online. I wanted to hide the fact that I didn’t achieve what I wanted to achieve.
This kind of thinking doesn’t leave a lot of room for the whole human experience.
The reality is that I invested in something, it didn’t work out, and that SUCKS. Telling myself I should just be happy to have a few nights off doesn’t take into account the whole reality of the situation.
I don’t want to just live my life in the “yes”, in the impossible standards and toxic positivity and never showing weakness or mistakes or failures. I want to live my life in the Yes, AND.
Yes, I have a few nights off, AND I am disappointed and worried and sad that it didn’t work out.
And that’s ok.
Tonight’s one of those free Tuesday nights, and I don’t know what I’m going to do yet. But I do know that I will still be practicing self-love, leaving room for that whole human experience.
On this cold winter day, I want to offer you warmth and abundance and room for whatever comes up.