The art of acceptance


I’m not very good at acceptance. I’m one who has made a practice of swimming against the tide.

The good news is that my unwillingness to accept (or “settle” as I often think of it) stems from my firm belief that I’m in the driver’s seat of my life, that if I don’t like the circumstances I find myself in, I can change them. Consequently, I rarely feel like a victim, I hardly ever feel helpless, and while I can rail against the Universe as well as the next (wronged) person, I don’t tend to stay in that railing space. I’m really good at plotting courses and executing plans and getting the hell out of Dodge when Dodge is making me unhappy.

The bad news is that that strategy doesn’t always work. Sometimes Dodge isn’t a place you can exit, and you are forced to accept a new reality, and in those situations, I just plain suck. Instead of acceptance, I lose myself in an endless parade of “if only things weren’t this way” thoughts. I ache for a different reality, and I waste incredible amounts of energy imagining it, longing for it, pining for a thing that simply does not exist. If only Chad’s start-up were further along. If only money weren’t such a constant issue. If only I’d been brave enough to build a career around my art 10 (20, 30) years ago. If only The Boy weren’t two thousand miles away. If only my sister-in-law (who is not the problem) didn’t need to live with us right now. If only my parents weren’t getting older (and for that matter, me too). If only things were not the way they are.

I’m reminded of another diving story. Funny how many lessons I learned from my scuba certification training, especially since, in the end, I was the only one in the class who didn’t get certified. Before we’d ever moved out of the pool and into the ocean, my ear started painfully plugging. No amount of careful descent or ear-unplugging techniques seemed to help. Halfway through the course, I went to the doctor and he diagnosed me with a “malfunctioning eustachian tube.” He said it would be dangerous to dive if I couldn’t get my ear unplugged, and he assured me I would not be able to get my ear unplugged.

“There must be something we can do,” I said, “something we can try.”

He said, “I don’t know any voodoo magic.”

On the night before the big dive, I brought all my equipment to the hotel, and all through the night, I kept getting up and checking on my ear. It wasn’t cleared, but in the morning I dragged all my equipment down to the beach. I put on my wet suit. I couldn’t accept that I wasn’t going to do the thing I’d set out to do, or, more accurately, conquer the fear I’d set out to conquer. (In fact, some part of me believed that I’d conjured the ear trouble out of thin air because I was deathly afraid to dive in the ocean. Doctor’s diagnosis be damned.) The instructor (rightfully) turned me away at the shoreline, and I watched all my classmates (including Chad and The Boy) get certified without me.

I was furious. I found it hard to celebrate with everyone afterward. I felt cheated, and for weeks, I couldn’t let it go. The class was over and done, but I could not stop thinking about it. I’d failed spectacularly, and all I could think of was “if only I hadn’t.” If only my ear had been okay. If only I’d done a better job of clearing it in the pool. If only I weren’t panicky every time I got underwater. Ultimately, it was THAT reality I had to accept. Even with a perfect eustachian tube, I’d be terrified and prone to panicky mistakes. Thirty feet underwater is not a smart place for someone like me to be. When (about a year after the fact) I finally accepted that, things got better. The reality of my not being a diver was something I could live with, and I found other fears to conquer.

Obviously, a lot of what we have to accept in life isn’t that easy – medical realities, the absences of people we love, financial hardship, relationships that drain us. Not all of it is fixable and when it’s not, acceptance is the key to moving on. I think that’s the part I’ve always missed before – that, in the words of Michael J.  Fox, acceptance is not resignation. I’m learning (slowly, and with the pain that comes from stupidly knocking my head against the same damn wall) that acceptance is often the first step of evolution. Things are what they are; now how do I thrive when things are like this?

That’s my question these days, because swimming against the tide is exhausting, and I don’t want to waste any more energy doing it.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about the fine line between accepting what can’t be changed, and becoming complacent with less than you deserve. Recognizing the difference, I think, is the key to my getting better at the art of acceptance.



  1. Christie on September 26, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    Oh my dear friend, I am at a loss on this one because I struggle with it as well, especially this year. I have always felt acceptance was sort of like giving up and I never give up, even when it is clear that I should. There are so many things happening this year that are out of my control and as much as I throw my little temper tantrums, nothing I can do will change things. Aside from ending up being emotionally exhausted, I end up with puffy swollen eyes and if I am not careful, a twisted ankle (happened last week) from all that stomping my feet (actually didn’t cause my twisted ankle but it sure could have). I want to curl up in a ball, in my bed and have someone bring me hot tea and soup and read me a bedtime story…oh and tell me everything is going to be okay. I want them to brush aside my tears and the hair from my forehead and keep telling me that everything is going to be alright because right now, it really doesn’t feel that way.

    So, I am in surrender mode, which to me is like acceptance, which is like giving up, which I have to change my beliefs about and stop throwing temper tantrums. I don’t know which path to take so I think I will sit on this rock for awhile until something or someone gives me a clue as to the direction I need to go.

    Maybe that clue will come from one of your beautiful love warriors. Looking forward to hearing their thoughts.

    Until then, sending you lots of love.


    • j on September 26, 2013 at 2:48 pm

      If I were there, I’d totally bring you soup and wipe your brow and tell you everything will be okay. I do think we have to change our mindset around acceptance. It isn’t giving up (and Michael J. Fox should certainly know). In fact, maybe it’s absolutely essential to evolution that we acknowledge truthfully our starting place, then we figure out how to thrive in spite of all the raging imperfection of our lives. xo

  2. Leah on September 26, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    J, I feel for you girl. It is tough accepting what is when every fiber of your being is fighting against it. For me it comes in waves. I get hit with the suffering the latest “loss” is causing me. This becomes very very painful the more I resist what is. Finally I let go out of exhaustion and fear that I am losing myself in the struggle. I let go of the sad story I’m telling myself, “things will never be the same.” I listen to the now…the fullness of now and the wisdom of now. I accept the provision of now. And this makes me feel better. I tend to bounce back and forth for a while but eventually I get it. And then an even bigger test comes along and I go through the process all over again. Will it ever end? Probably not. But it is good to know that we are in this together.

    • j on September 26, 2013 at 2:54 pm

      I have definitely been singing the “Things Will Never Be The Same” song lately! My friend (Christie, from above, actually) said that things aren’t worse now, they’re just different. At the time we were talking about our children taking flight, but I think it would be good to try to approach everything with that mindset – the Zen idea that things aren’t right or wrong, they just are. (Although some things are just wrong. I’m looking at you, President of Barilla Pasta.)

      I’m very, very happy (and fortunate) to be in this crazy soup of a life with you, my friend.

  3. Rita Chand (@LolaSpeaking) on September 26, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    Oh goodness Judy. YOu always know just the right thing to write at just the right time. Acceptance. Shit. It sounds like such a cliche doesn’t it? Is that the same as letting go? Cause either of those things, suck. most times. I am sorry that you couldn’t get certified. Stupid ear. What’s that about anyway? Today, although on vacation in a beautiful place like The Algarve, I was torn up inside about this stupid heartache that i seem to have brought with me. Acceptance is all that’s left..and yet…I’d rather suck up my fear of diving than just do what needs to be done. why? why? resistance is futile isn’t it? shit. thank you for writing this. i’m going to go and read it again maybe the magic is right here waiting for me. xo

    • j on September 26, 2013 at 3:19 pm

      I know. Who even heard of a eustachian tube, right?

      I think one of the hardest things in the world to accept is when someone breaks your heart. The “if only” thoughts are all-consuming then, the ache for what might have been unbearable. And yet, and yet, and yet… acceptance is the beginning of not only healing, but evolving. That wasn’t the right relationship, no matter how right it felt, and you (especially you, beautiful, strong, amazing woman) should not settle for half a love or a life alone. So even though it hurts to breathe, and every day in the new reality is a reminder of what might have been if only, you have to look around and say, “Okay, this is it. He’s not here, but I am… and I’m open to the surprise of finding someone new. Even better.”

      That’s what I’ll be hoping for you. <3

  4. Kim on September 26, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    It’s hard not to play the “victim”. We all play that card and acceptance is always the outcome because, really, we have no other choice. It’s never easy and usually whatever the feeling is, it will revisit. Each time it gets a little easier. Someone once told me (a very wise friend who’s problems in life were so much more difficult than mine at the time) “There is always someone out there with problems bigger than your own” If anyone else had said this to me I would have probably been hurt but, coming from her made me see that life is about adversities and we have a choice. Accept them and deal with your reality or lay down and have a pity party. Acceptance is only for the present moment. I’ve learned in the last few years that nothing is constant or forever so, acceptance is the only way to go.

    • j on September 26, 2013 at 3:26 pm

      That is almost always true, that there are people with problems bigger than your own. Perspective is helpful… though it doesn’t make one’s own problems any easier to handle. I like “acceptance is only for the present moment.” I think that’s right, and I think it’s the starting point for moving to the next moment and the one after that.

  5. Marcie on September 26, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    Your words – somehow – resonate so deeply with me today. Maybe acceptance is a universal struggle of ‘being’…of finding that comfort of that extreme discomfort of wishing for things to be other than what they are. It’s definitely a life’s practice…and one that I struggle with daily. You’ve expressed it so beautifully here. As always – I thank you for your gifts!

    • j on September 26, 2013 at 3:29 pm

      Thank you, Marcie. Yes, I do think acceptance is a universal struggle of “being,” after all, you can’t be truly present as long as you’re resisting what is. Which gets back to Kim’s “acceptance is only for the present moment.”

      I have wise commenters.

  6. Robyn on September 26, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    Short version is I’m part Horse – all my life I’ve been in love with the world through horses. I got hurt and could no longer ride. Could not do it at the risk of smashing some delicate repair work and not ever walking again. I got through it, but there were many many times the reality of No More Riding made me wish I had just died. Acceptance is the hardest thing ever. I still dream-ride almost every night and dread waking up to a dismounted present. But yeah, I have accepted this reality and learned how to be happy in it. It’s taken years.

  7. j on September 26, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    “I still dream-ride almost every night and dread waking up to a dismounted present.” Wow. That is beautiful and heartbreaking.

    That’s a perfect example of a reality that must be accepted, a reality in which you must learn to be happy. It’s not resignation. You’re finding other ways to be happy, to thrive. You just first had to stop being stuck in the place of loss. I think you can miss a thing (or person, or pet, or relationship) without obsessing over it, or refusing to acknowledge the reality of its absence.

    Big hugs to you, Robyn. Thank you for sharing that.

  8. hippiechick on September 26, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    Having had my own battle with acceptance and letting go in the past few months, Cheryl Strayed’s words have become my mantra:

    “Most things will be okay eventually, but not everything will be. Sometimes you’ll put up a good fight and lose. Sometimes you’ll hold on really hard and realize there is no choice but to let go. Acceptance is a small, quiet room.”

    (Oh, how I miss Sugar)

    Wishing found peace for both of us, in things great and small. xo

    • KjM on September 26, 2013 at 8:28 pm

      “Most things will be okay eventually, but not everything will be. Sometimes you’ll put up a good fight and lose.”

      There is such beautiful painful truth in this. There is a gift (buried really deep, I know) in not expecting. Not expecting to fail. Not expecting to succeed. And holding both those “not expecting”s at the same time with the same weight.

      It frees you to go forward and do. Come what may.

      • j on September 27, 2013 at 8:45 am

        Beautifully put, Kevin. I do think acceptance and expectation are connected. And where resignation is its own kind of prison, more acceptance and less expectation is, as you say, freeing – the beginning steps to forward motion.

    • j on September 27, 2013 at 8:39 am

      A perfect quote, Hip. I think I need to hang it somewhere conspicuous, like the bathroom mirror. xoxo

  9. Lance on September 26, 2013 at 6:38 pm

    I’m so sorry. I remember when I got certified, my then other, first wife couldn’t because she had just gotten pregnant with my now 10-year-old daughter. I’m sure she felt the same.


    • j on September 27, 2013 at 8:47 am

      Yeah, it was hard to watch Chad and The Boy get certified, hard to feel happy for them, which is terrible I know. Thank you for the hug, diver-guy. 😉

  10. Pam on September 26, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    I’m thinking about something Michael J. Fox said in a recent interview in Rolling Stone about how if you had a circle of people pooling all their problems in the middle of that circle, and asked them to pick out which problems to take back home with them, everyone would choose their own problems again.

    For me, I find sometimes I just can’t go with the flow. Those times are never fun. Maybe it’s that I have to learn (repeatedly) just how crummy it feels to have that kicking and screaming on the floor temper tantrum response to whatever is happening so that I can muster my inner resources to find a way to be ok with the circumstance, or to find a way to work around it (or through it.)

    Wishing you a nice yellow brick road on through. xo

    • j on September 27, 2013 at 8:51 am

      Our problems are the devils we know, I guess. I will remind myself of that though, when I’m feeling particularly put upon (which, thankfully, doesn’t happen all that often). And you’re right, resisting reality is exhausting, and it feels worse than reality does, honestly. Certainly it leaves me feeling stuck in a painful, unfixable way. Crazy how acceptance is the thing that frees us.

      That and a nice yellow brick road when you can find one. 😉 xo

  11. KjM on September 26, 2013 at 8:17 pm

    I don’t know if I’m any good at acceptance. Reality and I aren’t really as well connected as for other people. I’ve been told…and believe it…that in cases where I paint myself into a corner (and it’s happened ‘way more than once) I simply turn around and paint a door/doorway/arch/tunnel(?) on the wall and step through.

    A form of running away? Certainly not swimming against the tide. Of that I’m certain. I have neither the energy nor, I suspect, the focus.

    Now, there have been occasions when it took me a long time to realize I was in a corner and, in truth, had very much got myself into it. And sometimes even longer to turn around and paint the exit. I’d hesitate to call that period of time as characterized by ‘unacceptance’ – rather more ‘unawareness’.

    But, so far, I eventually wake up.

    And that’s what I try to do now. Live awake.

    But one shouldn’t mistake that ‘awake-ness’ for being “grounded in reality.” That…really…isn’t me.

    • j on September 27, 2013 at 8:57 am

      I think I do get to the same place you do – the turn around and paint my exit place… or, if an exit isn’t possible, the “how do I make this new room more habitable” place. It’s just that what precedes that for me is all this unnecessary gnashing of teeth and crying and pining and wishing to change what can’t be changed. It’s good that you skip that part, whether because you’re unaware or because your relationship to reality is only casual. (I smiled when I wrote that. I love that description of you.)

      I could probably use a little less grounding now that you mention it. A little more Mulder and a little less Scully in my approach to life. 🙂

  12. Nancy on September 26, 2013 at 8:27 pm

    As usual, I’m in awe of synchronicity. I had a horrible, horrible day after several horrible, horrible weeks, and i’m sitting in the dark, quite tipsy, dreading something I either have to fight with all my heart tomorrow….or gracefully accept that it is what it is in the present moment, and that each moment i do get to choose how I react even if I can’t choose the ugliness of the circumstance (I had to censor myself just now, and I still want to write what I erased, but I’m going to sit with it instead). I can choose to be in that small quiet room, and believe that someone else’s issue with me does not define me or even describe me, and I can choose to be accepting of the moment, without accepting the condemnation. As usual, your community is a loving place where I can gain perspective, and love each and every person and their pain, their grace, their beauty and their struggle.

    I’m going to bet this doesn’t make a lot of sense after four cosmo’s made with an exquisite vodka. I accept that. My heart and soul feel better anyway. And, when I awaken in the morning, I’ll accept my hangover and the fact I still have to sit in the presence of ugliness, but can choose my own beauty instead.

    PS. I love the non-certified scuba Judy because her heart and soul dive places so much richer….and they carry me along with them. And I’d say this even without the booze. Love you.

    • j on September 27, 2013 at 9:07 am

      Actually, you made perfect sense, and this comment made me tear up, especially your “ps.” For the one millionth time, I wish we lived closer. I’d pour your cosmos for you, girlfriend, and listen to your uncensored thoughts.

      Of course, you’re right. No one else’s opinion defines (or even describes) you. In fact, I’ve come to believe that we should listen to people’s attacky criticisms of us only to see what’s going on with them, because that’s what they are – expressions of someone else’s issues. Most often, it’s not even about us. (I think there’s a whole post here; I feel so strongly about this.)

      Good luck today. Sending you all manner of zen vibes and also a protective “this is your shit, not mine” shield. You are loved, my sweet friend. Remember that.


  13. June O'Reilly on September 26, 2013 at 9:16 pm

    I don’t beat myself up over anything. It could be growing up knowing there were a lot of things I could not have, would not have, could not change, so anything I could change I would, anything I couldn’t I pretty much I walked away from, except boys LOL

    • j on September 27, 2013 at 9:08 am

      Well boys can be the most disappointing, heartbreaking, pine-inducing things of all! 🙂

  14. fictional100 on September 27, 2013 at 6:27 am

    Judy, maybe I’m saying this because I just went to see the Wizard of Oz, in 3D, but I believe you are fully certified in a very different kind of diving: into the heart of things with love. Thanks for suiting up each week and plunging into what matters most.

    I see others are saying the same thing! cheers! ~lucy

    • j on September 27, 2013 at 9:11 am

      This comment just made my day. Thank you, Wizard! (I’m picturing you giving me some sort of heart-shaped diving tank right now!)

      HUGE smile.

  15. Annie Neugebauer (@AnnieNeugebauer) on September 27, 2013 at 7:43 am

    I’m not the person to give you advice, because I struggle with this too. Very much so. I don’t know if you remember my old post about letting go of all that trouble with my dad’s insurance and rehab place, but I titled it “Love, Closure, and What it Feels Like to Give up.” In the comments, so many people argued (lovingly) about my use of “giving up.” The very true point they were making was that I wasn’t resigning, but accepting. Like you, I’m not good at releasing my power over outcomes. But in that situation I had no other choice. That was a very hard lesson to learn, but an important one.

    • j on September 27, 2013 at 9:17 am

      I do remember that post, because I felt how hard that would be – both the fight and the surrender, which is another word that sounds weak, but I think, in this context, isn’t. I think we get stuck in the fight (or the resistance, or the ache), and we can’t move forward without first acknowledging our starting place, however sucky.

      I suspect this, like all the really worthy things in life, is a practice. We get better all the time.

  16. terrepruitt on September 27, 2013 at 8:44 am

    Oh, such a challenge. One of my friends and I often talk about knowing the difference. We are challenged with knowing when to “accept” and when to continue with the effort to change. Sometimes it is difficult to tell when to just say, “Ok, this is how it is and I need to learn to live with it.” So in addition to what you are saying (accepting when you KNOW), I also need to figure out how to “KNOW”. Ya know? Sometimes I would be ok with the change, not happy, but ok, but is that me just “giving up”? That is often my quandary.

    • j on September 27, 2013 at 9:30 am

      Mine too, Terre, and I’m so nervous about complacency that I think I tend to overestimate my ability to change things, which causes its own kind of angst.

      But lately, there’ve been a lot of circumstances in my life that I can see, objectively, are not changeable or fixable by me. They’re just the new reality, and my wishing things were different is doing nothing but making me feel sad, stuck, and frustrated. I figure if I stop fighting on the obvious unchangeable things, I’ll have more energy for the ones I feel compelled to take a shot at.

      • terrepruitt on September 27, 2013 at 9:32 pm

        Good idea, save your energy for things you can change.


        • j on September 28, 2013 at 6:58 am

          Hugs to you too, my fellow quandary crosser!

  17. Cynthia Fassett on September 27, 2013 at 9:00 am

    “Accept the unacceptable.” Years ago, my mother suggested that to me, and it hit me right between the eyes. Perhaps it was a timing thing, like I was ripe and ready to really hear those words, I don’t know, but it became a kind of mantra for a time, until I felt it imbed itself within my soul. Every time I came across a situation, or condition I didn’t particularly care for, I used it, (when I remembered to use it), and as uncomfortable as it was, it had the effect of slamming me into the present moment, and either accepting what is, and was, or carry on with my ass twitching, and my teeth gnashing. Surrender…was not something I felt was in the cards for me. But that’s before I understood the wisdom held within surrender. We don’t know until we go there and do it, unfortunately.

    In recent years, it took on a more profound depth of testing experiences. I had shock after shock, with NO recovery time to be had before the next hit came, and I found myself seriously reeling, caught up in a mighty Wind and feeling like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, with my house being carried to strange and scary places. People who’d hear about it would tell me, “I don’t know how you are doing it. I don’t know how you are sane.” I’d tell them I didn’t know either, I simply kept walking, kept going. Then, in walks a friend whose calm in the storm helped me find my own “eye” again and again. But he put it a different way, every time I’d share, again, a new hit. He’d say, “Sit in it.” There were times I got tired of hearing it, and times when, while sharing yet another hit, I’d add, “And if you tell me to “sit in it” one more time, I’ll clock you. I don’t want to sit in it!”

    But here’s the thing…while I hated him for being right, I also began to understand why he was giving me that advice. There I’d sit, stewing, boiling, on fire, “in it,” and it finally came to me that what we also need to accept is what we think, but more especially what we FEEL about it all. To LET myself FEEL it. My heart was breaking, so sit in it. It is what it is. My soul was on fire in a Grief I thought would be my undoing, so sit in it. FEEL it. And I must say here, now, that there is Life with a capital L in allowing ourselves to do this. We learn to embrace ALL things – good, bad, or indifferent within us, and do away with the difference. And in doing so, we become way more tolerant and accepting of others’ states of being as well. I found…the Spirit of Compassion is born within the practice.

    • j on September 27, 2013 at 9:43 am

      Recently, I was walking and talking (read ranting) with Chad, and he said, “I don’t think going on and on about this is helping. I think we’re letting it consume us.” (And by “us,” he meant “me,” because Chad is rarely consumed by things that don’t involve science.) Anyway, I told him that if he didn’t let me have my time of being angry and frustrated and sad and indignant with him, I’d hold it all inside and just become this bitter, unhappy person. “Permanently,” I said when he laughed because he thought he’d been listening to a pretty bitter and unhappy person already.

      Reading your comment, I think I was trying to tell him I needed to “sit” with it, but in my case, I was still wishing for a different reality. I think you’re right that the key to truly sitting with it is acceptance. Be angry, or sad, or wounded, or whatever you need to be, but accept the situation as it is and your reaction as it is. Feel what you feel, freely.

      Then, move on. I think the “move on” part is critical for me. Not necessarily moving on to a solution, but, in the words of a friend on Facebook, moving on to a Plan B, a way to move through what I cannot change.

      As always, your comment is beautiful, Cindy. You should write a book. 😉

      • Cynthia Fassett on September 27, 2013 at 10:07 pm

        “I’d hold it all inside and just become this bitter, unhappy person. “Permanently,” I said” LoL. You’re so cute!

        I agree, the whole imploding thing is not for me either. Ha!

        Strangely, and paradoxically, it’s kind of like treating the flu with, well, the flu vaccine, or a snake bite with it’s own venom. The only real way to “move on” is to move through. And that’s the part we try to avoid, because, let’s face it, it isn’t comfortable. But when we bottle it up inside us, or try to deny, or avoid what we are feeling, (non – acceptance), it has the tendency to do the opposite of what we want, which is to let go of it. Nipping it all in the bud as we go, through journaling, art, any form of expression, is ideal, and keeps us healthy. Emotions are fluid, and allowing them to move through us, up and out is key.

        Anyhoot, this cracked me up –> “You should write a book. ;)” Yes! And perhaps in the process it will cure me of leaving long ass comments on friend’s blog posts!

        • j on September 28, 2013 at 6:56 am

          Well then don’t write a book. I LOVE your long ass comments! <3

          • Cynthia Fassett on September 28, 2013 at 7:30 am

            Hahaha! That made me laugh, and you just made my day!

  18. Nina Badzin on September 27, 2013 at 11:18 am

    I love these kinds of posts you write that seem to speak to directly to me. I relate very much to what you said. I too think I’m very good at NOT playing the victim. I make charts, lists, and plans to get myself out of ruts. It’s always worked. But Michael J. Fox’s quote hit me–first and foremost because like him, my dad has advanced Parkinson’s. It’s truly a constant reminder that life cannot always go according to plan and that certain ruts can be perhaps softened through a positive attitude, but they can’t be changed as they are so far out of our control.

    On a much lighter kind of note, I’ve found that allowing myself to change goals or feel happy with what IS rather than constantly striving more has a certain power. I’m happy with my blog and my freelance writing as opposed to always feeling I should be writing a novel. I’m happy with my “pretty good” but not perfect eating habits. I’ve made good changes in my life, but none of them are about paving the way for perfection. For me, I guess, that’s the fine line–an acceptable of “good enough.”

    • j on September 27, 2013 at 3:14 pm

      I’m so sorry about your dad. Big hugs to you both.

      I’m with you on the no-more-striving (or if not “no more” at least “less). I’m pretty happy right now too, without a novel as yet unpublished, and my freelance work, and my fledgling, hopeful art-making heart-centered business. In fact, thank you for reminding that I am mostly happy with all that, Nina. In the chaos of work and concerns and dreams and not-enough-time… I sometimes forget the parts that feel good.

  19. Cynthia Patton on October 3, 2013 at 10:30 am

    Yes, yes, yes! Acceptance is NOT resignation, it’s about facing the reality of a situation. I am constantly telling myself: I don’t have to like this situation in order to accept it. But I do have to accept it. Sigh. Acceptance is a tough one.

  20. j on October 3, 2013 at 10:42 am

    I think that’s the key, truly believing that acceptance doesn’t mean resignation… but it sure feels like that sometimes, like if I accept the current situation, I’ll never be happy. In reality, I think the opposite is true. If I don’t accept the things I can’t change, I’ll just be angry (or sad, or indignant, or frustrated) forever.

  21. Alarna Rose Gray on October 5, 2013 at 3:19 am

    I love what you said here – “Not all of it is fixable and when it’s not, acceptance is the key to moving on”. Right on! I need to pin that on my forehead 🙂

    • j on October 6, 2013 at 7:38 am

      Me too! I sometimes think I should paste all these things I have to keep learning over and over again on my mirror. Just leave a little blank space in the shape of me. (Maybe it’s an art project…

  22. Estrella Azul on October 6, 2013 at 2:46 am

    Oh, j, I’m at a loss for words this time, because more often than not I struggle with this myself. I fixate on things for a long time after they’ve passed and I’m not sure I can ever fully let go and accept something I feel is/was wrong.
    I really wish there was something I could say to actually help!

    The thing is, just this week we went to a concert here in the city, Edvin Marton, one of my favorite violinisits. The concert was amazing even though we couldn’t afford the pricey tickets yet what I’m obsessing over ever since is that we didn’t stay to get autographs. The fact that everyone says it’s not like me to pass on such an opportunity doesn’t help of course. I’m trying (really hard!) to keep things in perspective and focus on how great the show was, on how good the lighting and sound were (phoned a couple of friends and they heard the songs perfectly as well) and I try to remember that I was really tired, it was super cold outside and I’d have gotten the head cold I currently have much sooner if I’d stayed. But… you’ve guessed it: I can’t let it go.

    I also really like the thought Alarna pointed out, and might just copy her in pinning it to my forehead 😉

    • j on October 6, 2013 at 7:43 am

      And the really infuriating part here is that the part you can’t accept is really just a tiny bit of the whole, but it’s sullying your ability to feel good about the entire experience. I so know what you’re feeling. I have found that over time, the shitty part does get smaller and the awesome part does get bigger in your memory. Not that that helps now, I know.

      I find that in the short term, often the only thing that moves me to acceptance is that I get tired of listening to my own inner whining, tired of the knots inside, tired of being stuck in the unhappy, frustrating, maddening “if only” pace.

      Big hugs to you. Sometimes we don’t have answers, but we can say, “I understand,” and that’s its own kind of salve.

  23. Valerie on November 4, 2013 at 7:45 am

    I teach a class about how to be successful in college and in life. I am working on final grades (notebooks, creative projects, and essays). I showed my students your blog and shared this blog post with them. Your line, “Acceptance is often the first step to evolution. Things are what they are; now how do I thrive when things are like this,” is quoted in many of my students notebooks. I love how you use the word ‘thrive’ and I have started using it on myself when I feel that yuck coming on.

    Thank you, you are making a huge and positive impact on the greater consciousness of the world. I am glad to know you.


    • j on November 4, 2013 at 8:17 am

      Wow, thank you so much for writing this, Valerie. This post was especially close to my heart, and because it’s such a public show of my deepest, thorny grappling, I felt a little vulnerable. Your comment reminds me that sometimes it’s the posts that you hesitate to push “Publish” on that are the most universal of all.

      I’m really happy to know you too. xo

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