Hands in the air — Reach for the sky

When I first moved into my Oakland apartment 5 years
ago, I pasted up onto my refrigerator a piece of black-board contact
paper.  On it, I’ve written a chalk list of tasks with check boxes that I mark with a colorful chalk X when they’re
complete, and eventually erase with an old cloth.
At this moment, included on my multicolored check list
are:  Thank you cards, Laugh, CSET #3,
audition pieces, Fall teaching, and Own my Power.
“Own my power” has been on there for some time and this
morning, I was thinking about what that might actually look like.  Because perhaps it’s not something you can
check off on a box.  Perhaps it’s not something that you actually complete
I’ve been thinking about the difference between struggling
and striving.  I have tended to be
someone who struggles, mostly against myself, mostly in some twisted effort to
move forward that I thwart with habitual fears and paralyzation.  But I think these two ways of being may be one and the same, simply subject to a shift in perspective or focus.
There are so many check-list items that I’ve put on my
chalkboard, thinking them hard, impossible, and out of reach, but the fact for me has been
that each time I have reached for something I didn’t think possible, I had to
stretch beyond my normal scope, try a little harder, work a little deeper – and
in the end I have “miraculously” accomplished these goals.
Before I had written “audition pieces,” my task was “next
audition.”  Ages before that, it was “real
Each of these seemed like Herculean effort, stretching my
own belief in what was possible and in what I could attain.  So what is the difference between striving
and struggling, if both are reaching in an uncomfortable way toward something
new?  A truckload of serenity, I imagine!
Striving seems to me to be born of a positive self-image,
whereas struggling does not.  You may disagree,
but for the purposes of this blog, let’s consider it so.
And in all of my strivings, as I’ve reached just that little
bit taller, higher, almost tipping over with the effort, not quite in view
of my goal, I’ve had to stretch, work, believe, try — and grow.  And here’s where the whole “Own my power”
thing comes in:
If I have gotten “bigger,” taller, stronger,
more breadth and depth with each of my strivings, then there is never going to
be a complete “owning” of my power (whatever I consider that to be: my truth, my voice, my wholeness).  Every time I grow a bit in my self-esteem, in
my confidence and competence, I outgrow a shell.  And the power that I am hoping to own grows with it.
There is
no end to it – you simply need to become bigger to fill the new proportions you’re
now striving to embody. 
Instead of lamenting that this striving is some endless Sisyphean
task of perpetually pushing a builder up a hill, this newer understanding feels
emboldening.  Widening.  It feels instead like a
miraculous series of open doors, from one room to the next to the next, each
holding that new space for the new bits of Molly that I acquire, uncover, and come to believe in along the way.
So maybe I need to modify my chalkboard task from “own”
to “embody” my power, and allow that body to grow with each ticked off challenge.

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