Thursday, September 26, 2013

Letter to the Nice Girls

Dear Nice Girl:

You know who you are. 

You’re the one who doesn’t raise your voice in argument. You raise your hopes that understanding will prevail. 

You’re the one who helps the elderly couple struggling to carry their luggage.

You’re the one who tidies the dishes on your table at the restaurant to make it easier for the server.

You know who you are, Nice Girl. 

You pick up the fallen peanut package off the airplane floor so the other passenger – a sleeping soldier – can eat them when she wakes. 

You’re the girl who calls after a truck full of strangers, waving them down to give them the book that flew out the back. Your boyfriend will look at you and shake his head saying, “Nobody does that.” You, Nice Girl, will think he’s weird because you do stuff like that all the time.


  • Smile at the person frowning with sad eyes in the grocery store … just to help them feel a little less lonely.  
  • In fact, make yourself a bet that one day, by the end of the year, the grumpy, foul butcher will smile back at you. You make it your mission and smile bigger, brighter each time you see him.
  • Didn’t conform at school. You didn’t have one clique. You fluttered between all groups, getting along with everyone: the cool kids; the smart kids; the nerds; the gangsters; the jocks…everyone.
  • Giggle and laugh without abandon until you snort and juice spurts out your nose after you’ve succumbed to the floor, tears rolling down your cheeks.
  • Pull forward in the drive-through to put your cash back in your wallet so the car behind you doesn’t have to wait a fraction of a second longer.
  • Always check behind you and around you to see how you can move out of another person’s way. You’d never dream of making someone get out of your way. (Maybe you should.)

Dear Nice Girl, you have a unique capacity for love and compassion.  This is uncommon. See, it’s not usual for a person to:

  • Consider at one point, a taxi driver and a young, poor boy who shines shoes, your closest friends.
  • Feel gutfuls of sorrow watching people beg. You will want to give everything you have to help them while finding a way that truly helps rather than makes the situation worse. It will hurt your tender, aching heart.
  • Give up (without question) your job, your home, your possessions, and your family/friends for the man you love because you stand, always, bravely, in love.
  • Keep others’ secrets. Nice Girls are professional secret keepers.
  • See the truth behind fa├žade, see the person behind the mistake and continue to root for them – even if you got hurt.

You attract those with war and conflict on the soles of their feet. You recognize complex Achilles-aches and provide calm. You lay down a peaceful salve and they’re grateful; but their feet are too tired and too wounded to carry you. Their war too bloody.

After helping conflicted men, hurt men, men in crisis, they’ll ask you to let them go; so, with love, you do – even with your heart full of confusion and cracks – you bless them, holding them in your hands, and blow them away to freedom.

But … dear, kind, Nice Girl:

You have to, you must, learn that not all people are nice. 

You must learn there are others who genuinely admire your niceness. They may even care about you. Perhaps love you. But they also know that because of your unique ability to forgive, to understand them, to see the big picture, they can make choices that may bring you a level of discomfort and pain … then not work hard to rectify that or perhaps even acknowledge it. Maybe they’ll push the boundaries of hurt … because they can. Because they know you’re nice.

They might betray you. They may not keep their promises. They may not show up for you. They may not be your friend, be there for you because they’re too deep in their own hurt (all while you, Nice Girl, are empathetic about their pain and try to help them through it … even if they were the cause of your subsequent pain, too).

What about you? Really, you just want someone to heal your hurt, to reciprocate and show you the same kind of love. Often … mostly … you won’t get that from romantic relationships until you learn some lessons.

Maybe you will get a thank you, though. And sometimes, the Nice Girl will carry that gratitude around in a pearl box knowing it’s precious, that words and thankfulness matter. That will be enough. For awhile. 

Your pearl box overflows with the kindness you have given others. You put your pearl boxes in a meadow of gold filled with abundant light.

Learn, please … soon … that not everyone earns the honor of going to your golden meadow. Don’t you know this?

It’s a hard lesson. You think everyone should see a beautiful meadow warm with wildflowers.

But not everyone can appreciate wildflowers, gold, and pearl. They may “Ooh” and “Ahh” over those flowers so colorful and rare. They might pick some – possibly without asking – and make an arrangement for their kitchen table, then forget to invite you for tea, to sit with them. You smile despite the lack of invitation with the hope your flowers bring some beauty; but you deserve to be invited for tea. To be asked how you are. You deserve that. 

See, you learn that “You’re one of the nicest people I’ve ever known,” comes with a slap-down and “But…” You’ll disappear from their lives. Nice can mean lurgy.

Look, some people click their words and snap their tongues at Nice Ones. 

You must begin to see that there are even some, who at worst, will instantly see your gentleness and know how to turn your compassion inside out – just to squeeze something for themselves. Why? Because they know they won’t have to try hard to do it. 

They know you will graciously, openly, without pause, simply and beautifully hand over whatever may help them. You’ll do that without considering the possibility that it might burn you.

They may even set fire to your meadow and rub ashes on you; but you know those ashes will fertilize the soil and gold will grow again. 

Those that prefer arson will try and burn your soul. You’ll burn, yes; but you’ll burn brightly and the moon will smile at you from afar and know you are the fire. 

You know ashes are story kindling. Stories that will alight, stories you will share because … you’re nice.

Not everyone wants a meadow, peace. They might like the steel cut of a knife or the desert sting in the wind. They might like sparse, edgy, storms.

You know how to do storms, too. Nice Girls are storm experts. You see the front coming in and unlike most – who retreat – go straight out. You see how far you can go and swim in the middle of it. The waters change from warm to cold. The rains come and smooth across your sweet face. You smile and brace for those winds and let it rip through your hair. You want to spread your arms out and scream, “BRING IT!” It’s in those storms that you can feel alive and feel the energy, the hot, raw, visceral energy of storms piercing through you. They give you compassion, calm, patience, understanding, love, gratitude. Perspective. They always brew deep in your soul – but most people don’t know that. I do, though. 

You have to learn how far to go out and when to come back in. You know – always know – the sun will break through the gray, heavy clouds. Once again, you’ll tilt your head back and let the sun spill on your face, dry the rain and salt. 

You know the ache is worth it … that you’re imperfectly lovely. The salty film can be washed, even if you are left feeling a little scratched up.

See, Nice Girl, you will get scratched up. The storm has its beauty, but driftwood has left splinters under your nails. It pokes you and reminds you that you went deep and hard. You’re a survivor and know the splinters will come out when they’re ready. 

You’ll put them in a special box – not pearl – but with wood from pine, eucalyptus, breadfruit, palm, evergreen, oak, and acacia trees. You know you can grow something beautiful from driftwood splinters … and you know you’ll get a lot of them. 

You’ll build a unique, salt washed, wind-torn door. 

You’ll build that strong, glorious door in front of your golden meadow. Only you can open it. 

You will learn to decipher the deserving. 

See, you’ve been so busy watching out for those to take care of, you don’t know how to let others care for you. Let them.

At some point, you’ll feel restless and want to yell (but you’re too nice to yell) “I just wish people could stand in their truth and be HONEST and communicate!” A friend will tell you most people don’t. You’ll decide from then on only to let the minority come close enough to touch. 

You will watch for those who seek you (not those you have to go after). You’ll watch them climb over dunes, swim, go down a path unknown. They’ll be the brave ones – the ones that go out into the storms. 

You’ll watch on the horizon for the storm chasers, for those who feel alive through love. The ones that show up. The ones whose hearts are filled and open. 

They won’t have hearts with something else etched into it: another name, a job, a dream, freedom.

Their hearts will be etched with only one word: Courage. 

Nice Girl, you’ll begin to recognize the courageous heart because it is you.

Look for the few who go it the way you do. The ones who will drive hours to just have coffee and see your face. 

The ones who would move for you. 

The ones who notice things: the tiny mole above the knuckle on your index finger and the one under your toe; that you curl your toes and move your mouth to the side when you’re nervous. They’ll love this and kiss your crooked mouth still until they know, you know, that you are loved. Just the way you are.
The ones that not only love you, but accept you. 

You’ll see the ones that open your door, smile, hold you, tell you you’re beautiful, that you matter. The ones that kiss your face, your forehead, hold your hand and walk in stride.

The ones who connect and recognize your heart … then stick around and don’t get scared. 

The ones who know how to love in quantities the galaxies hold – the ones who go so high, they grab handfuls of stars to put in your golden meadow for when you have nights that go dark (because they know you get them). 

Their soul clicks and their arms spark when they see you. 

They’ll fly to you. 

They’ll watch your children and hold your hand. 

They return your calls. 

They tell you the truth. 

They know who they are. 

And if they hurt you, they apologize.

They always try to understand themselves, others … you.

They’ll show up when you’re on your knees.

They’ll stay. 

And when – if – the time comes they leave – they’ll say, bravely: they love you; they see you; and they are better for your meadow. 

They won’t pick your wildflowers … and you’ll have stars.

There are times you’ll want to quit the Nice Girl gig. Maybe you’ll even try; but don’t. It’s not who you are and that kind of pain – the type where you pretend to be something else – destroys your soul. 

So, be nice … but be smart. 

You’re a treasure, Nice Girl. 

Go on being her. 

Go on keeping your palms open to the sky. 

Build your door. Carve beauty all over it. Place a crystal knob with glitter there. It will let others know it’s a happy place. 

Stay in your meadow. Don’t venture out to another’s place. 

Let them come to you. 

And then, decide, Nice Girl, if they have enough Courage for you to open the door.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

All the Possibilities - Blog Circle Post

It’s easy to limit ourselves. We do it often, usually without even thinking. For many, it’s our default setting. Our auto-pilot. Anytime we think of taking a risk, of doing something that might scare us, or stretch us, or possibly cause discomfort (and perhaps great happiness!), we balk, cower and think, “Oh, hell no!”

I get it. Anti-risk is usually is my default and I have to take moments of quiet and reflection to get past fears and push through what could be waiting on the other side of that line – the line you cross when you open yourself up to possibilities. 

The thing about possibilities is that they seem to come at a risk. We could get hurt. We could find our destiny (and that might be scary). It might mean doing something that makes us face a phobia. We might fail. We might succeed … and why is it just as scary to succeed as it is to fail? 

A year ago, I joined a group of over 600 phenomenal women who took a creative business e-course by renowned artist, Kelly Rae Roberts. Kelly Rae calls herself a possibilitarian: A person who looks for possibilities, not limitations. This is brave; she inspires and encourages others to be brave, too.
As part of this month’s blog circle (because of moving back to the United States and The Divorce, I’ve slunk out of the last few months’ circles), the group decided to celebrate how we are seeing possibilities, how we’re pushing ourselves. 

Since September of last year, I’ve jumped. High. Far. Long. I have flown. I finally accepted that I’m a writer; I wrote a book and published it; I’ve made this blog successful and turned it into a resource for people moving to Myanmar; I’ve become a professional writer (earning my income writing) – magic happens when you declare who you are; I’ve interviewed several inspiring, incredible people. I lived in a mysterious, beautiful country. 

But what I think I’m most proud of is being brave enough to pack up and move home to the United States with my daughter after her dad said he no longer wanted to be married. In that sorrow – and that sorrow continues – I choose to see the possibility for good, for strength, for growth, for renewal. I see the possibility of finding a home in my own skin that I feel good about. I see the possibility of remaining a familial unit in a very untraditional way: a family in the sense that my daughter has parents who love her and who respect/care about each other, too … just not parents who are married to eachother. 

Don’t get me wrong: I get super scared sometimes and I’m still not exactly sure how all these pieces are going to fit together. I live in my home, I work from home, and I’m writing. My daughter has just found a new school that I think will suit her. I’ll figure out how to fit in my community, make my own mark. Over a year ago, I don’t think I would’ve had the faith and the conviction that things would work out. But they do. 

You might not know how it will turn out: Well, the truth is, you never – ever – know how something will turn out. You have to see the potential for beauty, though. Even in a failure. Even in a mistake. (Though I try not to believe in the word “mistake” much.) 

Occasionally we make choices that bring us pain. What I’ve learned, though, is that even in pain, there is possibility. There is a beautiful, messy lesson in there that will cut through the pain and bring you to face the sun. That makes it worth it. 

You learn about yourselves and others. You learn who you really are and you begin to stand firmly on your own two feet. And when you know you’ve got soft ground beneath you, you start to jump. Dive. Swim. Leap. Whatever. But you move. You get out. You try. You make an effort. 

And you believe that no matter what – no matter the success or the flat-on-your-face smashed-up hurt –  you’ll be OK. You’ll wipe the dirt off your knees and go for it again and again and again. Soon, you will look for possibilities and this view of the world will become your auto-pilot. Your new default.

Worst case scenario? You’ll have lots of material for writing good stories. 

I believe this with my whole heart and wish for you all the possibilities you can see. 

What are ways that you’re brave and seek out possibilities?

Next, please go check-out my flying sister, Lisa Ullrich, and her post about how she’s becoming a possibilitarian over here

P.S. If you want to know how things are shaping up over in the Pacific Northwest (USA) for my daughter and I, check-out my professional writing blog, Becky Cavender.