By Tiffany A. Potter
Confession: There are times when my column is birthed out of one word. A seemingly simple, yet wildly profound, word that forces me inward while simultaneously bringing up something in me that has been lying dormant. This word speaks to me for some reason. It, or perhaps more accurately the feelings associated with it, calls my name and requires me to dig a little deeper. This month’s word is, you guessed it, effortless.
I woke up this morning with not a hint as to what this month’s column was going to be about. I was slightly panicked for sure, but this isn’t the first time that this has happened (and, assuredly, it won’t be the last), so I defaulted to my writing process and did what I normally do when I’m feeling creatively starved. I reached for the journal that houses all of my notes from the years that I have been on my spiritual journey (more than 10 years, now). It’s my bible, if you will, full of lessons, thoughts, parables, and ideas from those spiritual beings that operate on a higher spiritual plane than most of us.
They are the gurus, the sages, the wisdom keepers, the clergy, the ethical CEOs of nonprofits and large corporations, and I have devoured their teachings like a baby bird needing a worm from its mother in order to survive. I have taken the things from them that I need for my own journey, the things that have resonated with me, and left the rest. And though I don’t open my journal every single day, to know that it’s there when I need some life guidance or a reminder to be a good person, is invaluable; it’s my safety blanket.
Today, I opened the journal. I have a standing contract with myself that I will open the book at random, and whatever jumps out at me does so for a reason. I then sit with the word, quote, idea, the principle or the story and process what comes up and why in order to make some sense out of it all.
I have to admit, most months I consider my columns to be co-authored by something that divinely guides me. My hope is always that you learn something more about yourself, and some months, I am also doing the exact same thing. This column is as much a meditative practice in reflection for me, as I hope it to be for you.
So, effortless, here we are. Nice to get to know you better.
- requiring no physical or mental exertion.
My first thought was, “Is there such a thing?! Is there any part of my life that is effortless? Any fraction of my being that comes so easy that I don’t even realize it? Does everyone have at least something that comes so effortlessly to them?” And my second thought was, “Huh, so if something is effortless for someone, is that their very own version of a superpower?”
So I began to make a list in hopes of finding something that consistently comes easily to me. From birth to today, is there any part of me, or my life, that I don’t have to constantly and consistently work at through dogged determination? Anything? Anything at all? Seriously. If I could find even one thing, I would feel much better about myself. Just one would be fine, Mother Universe, I’m not a greedy person by nature. Surely, over 40 years there must be something. Right? Uh. Don’t mind me, I’m just racking my brain in desperation, hoping to find something that I can feel at least kinda good about.
Here’s some of my short list:
Loving? Is loving myself, loving others, loving my journey, loving enough to hold on or to let go, loving despite fear, effortless for me? The answer: Sometimes yes, sometimes it absolutely is not (and therefore most certainly is not effortless by its very definition). Love, to love, to be loving, is typically not a given with me. Compassion usually comes easy; loving, on the other hand, takes a conscious, concerted, effort. The very thing that should come naturally to all of us I struggle with on a grand scale (based on my history with the concept, no doubt).
Is public speaking/teaching effortless for me? Sometimes yes, sometimes no (which means, no it’s not). There are days that I find my groove standing in front of hundreds of people when I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am in my heart space-fulfilling my ultimate purpose. And then there are days that I’m consumed by doubts in myself, in the material I’m presenting and my worth in taking on such a task.
Education? Sometimes it’s effortless, and sometimes it’s miserably hard. Two college degrees and other higher learning, and I still wouldn’t say that I’m “good” at it. I feel like I have fought for every grade I have ever received. Sometimes it was an “A” in my best subjects (English/History/Government), and other times I had to take the course over again (Statistics and Chemistry). Blessed are the scientists, as far as I am concerned.
Forgiveness? Most definitely not effortless for me.
Creative? Nope. Not effortless for me, either.
Standing in my true self? Living authentically? Trust? Nope to those, too.
Crocheting? Follow me on this one. I have decided that I want to learn to crochet. Seems fairly easy. After all, I know how to knit and that takes two needles when crocheting only takes one. After spending the last week and a half watching hours of YouTube tutorials I have come to believe that this form of needle crafting is nothing short of sorcery and those who do it effortlessly are partaking in some ancient form of witchcraft.
And if I’m honest, every hobby or sport (or foreign language, for that matter) that I have ever dipped my toe into has required hours upon hours of practice just to reach the level of “kinda good” or, “Well…bless her heart…it’s good enough.” So, either I’m attracted to the wrong hobbies, or I have no natural ability of any kind whatsoever—in anything!
The truth is this, I feel as though I have been swimming upstream since the moment I took my first breath. Nothing (and I truly mean nothing) has ever felt as though it’s come easy for me. Living with a physical disability since my Day 1, growing up in an inflexible and rigid world and figuring out how to exist in this place, starting behind the proverbial 8-ball, has made me a fighter. I was raised in a family where everything that looked so effortless to my older brother, as though he had won the ability lottery, was a trial and tribulation for me. I didn’t know where I fit in, or even if I fit in somewhere, someplace. What was my super power? I’m still not sure that I know.
So this begs the question, does fighting for what I want ever serve me (or you)? Or has it only caused me grief and stress (even if I’ve accomplished the goal), only continuing to do so because that’s all I’ve ever known? Do I need to surrender more, to be the river and allow it to take me where my natural instincts lead? Is that where peace and contentment live? And, is life meant to be lived in a state of effortlessness, and this dog-eat-dog world of “going after what you really want” is just the scripture that this capitalistic society we live in preaches to us?
I don’t think I’m going to find the answer today. In fact, I’m pretty sure that I’ve opened Pandora’s box and that I need to spend some serious quality time with my journal on this topic. But, loves, may you spend some time thinking about this as well. May you come to really appreciate those parts of you that are effortlessly amazing and not take them for granted. And while you do that, I’ll just be over here continuing to work on my list.
Tiffany is a disability consultant, entrepreneur, inspirational speaker and change agent. Find her at www.TiffanysTake.com, Instagram: Tiffanys_Take.columnist or Twitter: T_Tcolumnist.