I stood there trembling. Tears welled up in my eyes. A sheer panic sensation spread across my torso, causing me to wrap my arms around myself for safety.
WTF was going on? What an insanely disproportionate reaction I was having to the task at hand.
What task you say? Well, when a new female mentor of mine asked me what do I do when I want to treat myself, and I answered with an, “Uhhh. Go to the gym?”
I was immediately issued a challenge: go buy myself some flowers. “Better yet,” she said, “Do it every week. The message this sends to your subconsciousness is very powerful.”
Blaughhh. My inner child was having a fit. This decision felt SO unsafe. What a strange reaction, and yet, being that flower bouquets reminded of a young memory I was doing my best to shove down for the past 2 decades, the warfare that was starting to rage in my body kinda made sense. Side note: most memories of my childhood I cannot recall, but this one always seems to stand at the ready, taunting me with feelings of unworthiness and disposability.
But I also realized I had never had a female mentor before. How can I expect to be a Queen leading Queens in my own work, if I did not know what it was like to be led by one as well? I had to tap into this further.
It was like I had to use a different part of my brain just to understand and execute her direction. I huge part of my brain at that. Like a dusty, sleepy, exhaustively expensive section of my brain.
I am lucky enough to say I have been mentored by some worthy Kings. Still today, when my business coach, spiritual coach/healer, or my other unofficial mentor (all men) talk to me, here’s what happens:
1. They speak.
2. I listen.
3. The words land / I understand.
4. I integrate into practice.
Easy living, right?! I never thought much about it. But now with this new Queen mentor in my life, my goodness. I really have to mentally focus or it goes over my head. Isn’t that nutty?
Anyway, I fulfilled the order. Or so I thought. The woman with only male mentors and a foreign feminine side (me) marched up to the flower section in the grocery store, picked up the saddest, most wilted flowers that were there, (because I felt bad for them and wanted to give them a loving home. Face palm.) and tucked them into my cart.
That was a few weeks ago. That decision to choose the saddest looking flowers was representative of a corner of my self-worth I had yet to address and bring to light.
It also showcased my inability to prioritize my own needs, and to be so others-focused (to my own detriment) that I would prefer to give flowers – that are already cut and dead mind you – a home, (?!?!) whereby it will actually make me sad to look at them day after day, instead of choosing flowers that are big and beautiful and radiant. Insanity.
But patterns run deep. Our old patterns are what turn us insane.
I couldn’t count that purchase. The real test was me buying myself the MOST beautiful flowers I saw at the grocery store. ESPECIALLY if they are roses. I find roses especially triggering. Oyy.
Well, I checked them all out, me looking all wary for no reason, all winced eyes and folded arms. I identified the most intimidating bouquet. 12 light pink and white, big, unapologetically beautiful, boldly blooming roses.
They looked raw. Feminine. Soft. Luscious. Courageously vulnerable. Unafraid of their own head-turning, look-back-twice beauty. Too pretty for me. Who am I kidding, I can’t hang with that.
OMG, I could not believe it. These freaking roses were crushing it. It’s like, I felt in that moment that they were energetically vibrating at a higher frequency than I was. My God, how could roses outdo me? How could they know more intuitively than I did how to just, well, shine? How to just “be” in all their fiercely feminine glory? Not afraid to bask in the very light they were creating.
Fawk!!! These pink and white roses didn’t care about performance. They weren’t here to beat out the competition. This plane does not exist for them. They weren’t trying to get somewhere, or check something off their to-do list. They just “were.” They just “be.”
Against everything screaming inside me, I picked them up. God, I felt so unworthy. These were the epitomic symbol of grace, delicacy, and stunning beauty, and I felt like a clumsy gorilla next to them. What a fraud I was, tucking them into my cart. Embarrassment flushed my cheeks as I walked up and down the aisles, finishing out the rest of my weekly shopping.
People are going to looking at these roses in my cart and think, “What a mis-match,” I thought miserably. “They are going to figure me out. They all know I don’t deserve these, and will laugh at me.”
I could barely look the nice man at the checkout counter in the eye when he asked which bag I wanted him to place the roses in.
“I’ve gone crazy,” I thought to myself.
And yet, there was no denying it, this stunning bouquet had become my biggest teacher. Up until this moment in my life, I’m not sure if I’ve ever had such an exaggerated response to such seemingly small stimuli. Yet here I was, thoroughly beaten down by whatever was in my head saying I didn’t deserve something beautiful for $12.99.
I had uncovered a massive piece of myself, one that has been holding back since I was little. I stared into the face of it, er, her, for 30-40 minutes of shopping time.
So what to do now? I believe this experience is telling me: it’s time to level up. Whatever tools I was or was not given, about happiness, about self-worth, about self-care, or anything else, I CAN change them. We ALL have the power to do this. Yes, it’s hard work, but it’s IMPORTANT work. Changing the behaviors without changing the core beliefs, thoughts and emotions behind them is ultimately useless and is what keeps us on the rollercoaster.
Leaning into an uncomfortable situation, even one as weird (!!!) and unusual as standing in front of a grocery store hugging yourself because you’re too scared to pick up the pretty flowers, is so worth it if it helps you confront an area of your being that is not serving you any longer. We thank this part of ourselves, this protector that slaps one hand and finger wags with the other: “No, those flowers aren’t meant for you.”
Wait, why would we do that? Because that part of us deserves honor and acknowledgement for keeping us safe, or even alive for some, when we were really young and we did not have access to our other faculties yet.
Because of this protector, I am here today. I am truly grateful for strong, brave, no frills Lian. But I want me, and all of us collectively, to stop surviving. I want us to start thriving. So with love and care, I tell this part of me that she can take a rest now. She still gets to be here, but she can relax while a softer, more feminine Lian takes on a bigger role. We got this now.
I want a thriving state for everyone, because then everyone benefits. But I will say specifically to the super strong, independent, hard-working women reading this, I want us to re-balance our energies. Working this hard does not bring us peace. We MUST stop to rest, we MUST stop to enjoy, to find some inner peace. We can’t keep running forever. And if any woman reading this already buys herself flowers every week, I want to hear about your experience. I want to know why you do it, and how it makes you feel. I am your humble student. Thank you.