June 18, 2014

Misplaced Self-Worth

While in Europe, my experiences were vivid--I was fully present. I stayed true to my intention of just show up, no expectations. My eyes opened in wonder; my thoughts stayed in the moment; my heart expanded. (Oh, how I love my dad. I not only love him, but I really, really like him.) 

Back home, I noticed the beauty in my own backyard. I savored time with Mark and my friends. And I watched my ego quickly, sharply place itself on my lap. What are you doing with your life? What value do you add? Why are you so imperfect?

Our first glimpse of Prague's magnificence. A morning spent in the woods, listening to bird songs. Then we walked the cobblestone streets, letting our curiosity guide us.

It was striking to me how quickly my judging, doing mind returned. I threw myself into gardening. It was the grounding I needed. Yet it also became my self-worth. What have I done today in the yard? Is it enough? When it wasn't my garden, it was my photographs. I spent hours on the computer processing pictures. And taking new photos, hoping for something spectacular. Am I my yard? Am I my images? Clearly not. But what am I?

While in Vienna, the weather was cold and rainy, yet the city hummed. We explored gardens, watched a live-streamed aria, and savored glasses of Gruner Veltliner while people-watching.

In everyday life, it's easy to misplace our self-worth. Our culture values achievement, busyness, and money. An attachment to our identities is natural. I am a teacher, wife, friend, gardener, aunt, photographer, athlete, writer. But when I cling tightly to these identities--when I believe they define my essence--I work from a place of fear. I work to not lose these identities; I seek external approval. And I feel disconnected from myself.

In Maribor, we stood atop a hill with a breathtaking 360-view. We sampled wines in the company of passionate wine maker, Mihaela. We took in the good, talked about big life questions, and laughed about silly things. 

The Five Remembrances are Buddhist teachings on impermanence and the fragile nature of life. The conclusion of these teachings resonates for me: "My actions are my only true belongings. I cannot escape the consequences of my actions. My actions are the ground upon which I stand." My identities are not my true belongings. My material goods are not my true belongings. The people I love are not my true belongings. My actions are my only true belongings.

We had a lovely day in Rovinj, where we walked the streets, took breaks by the sea, and enjoyed a leisurely meal.

When I lose myself in doing and judging, I'm not mindful of my actions. In that space, my behaviors often spring from fear. I do my best to remember: my actions are my only true belongings. I want to act from a place of love. And that's where I find my real self-worth: actions based on love, kindness, and wisdom. Intentional actions. Open-hearted actions. Indeed, I am not my garden, my job, my blog, or my body shape. I am my actions. May they be helpful, truthful, and kind.

As we walked the maze of Venice, we imagined the 1400s--what happened in these very alleyways? We emerged at the Piazza San Marco and my eyes opened wide. The meeting of current-day people and old-world history was stunning.


  1. We had a camper van a while ago, and no matter how secure you thought you had put everything, as you drove away at least one thing would go flying - we called it the settling in period - as everything found it's rightful place for that bit of the journey! Sending you love and hugs Debs x

  2. thank you, debs! it's always lovely to hear from you.

  3. What a beautiful reprise of our trip. Love it! :-) :-)

    1. thanks, dad. it was a glorious trip, wasn't it? hugs to you!