Embracing your quirky self in essence means loving yourself. Today I’m continuing to share with you practices that I have found to be the most transformative for this elusive thing called self-love. In the first blog post in the series How to Start Actually Loving Yourself, I shared with you how to write a love letter to yourself. And now I am sharing with you one of my favorite practices: Milagrows.
Milagrows is a practice that I teach in my GetQuirky class. I’ve adapted this practice from a wonderful little book called Make Miracles in Forty Days: Turning What You Have Into What You Want by Melodie Beattie. I have found this practice to be enormously helpful in cultivating a quirky shine. This practice is not for the faint-hearted. It will require some courage from you, but trust me, this is a journey worth taking. There is a lot of light in our darkness if we are willing to go into the muck.
Here is what I share in the class. Try this on for size in your life, and let me know how it goes in the comments. . .
Today I want to share with you a daily practice that has helped me to accept myself and the quirkyness of my life. Slowly. Gradually.
This is a deceptively simple practice. It’s not an overnight quick fix. It’s something that can become part of the fabric of your life and help you to become intimate with yourself and accept yourself, every last nook and cranny of you.
Going forward in the course, I invite you to try taking ten to fifteen minutes to do this practice every day as a foundational practice of self-acceptance. Our daily quirky prompts will add the pizazz and creativity we’re exploring through getting quirky together.
If this practice works for you, it’s something you may want to do for a long, long time. You’ll try it out yourself and see how it works for you.
This practice comes from Melodie Beattie’s book Make Miracles in Forty Days: Turning What You Have into What You Want.
Melodie Beattie calls it the Miracles Project. I call it Milagrows. (The Spanish translation of “miracle” is “milagro” and I find doing this practice to really help people grow–milaGROW.) A friend of mine stumbled on doing something similar and she called it writing her list of blessings in brown shit wrappers.
Here it is. Very simple.
Every day, you write a list of all the things you are grateful for.
What’s special: in this list you are encouraged to write a list of the things you are NOT grateful for most of all.
Of course you can also write about things you are genuinely grateful. But the point is not to try to cheer yourself up, the point is to become an intimate witness of yourself and your life and to welcome everything in.
When I share this exercise with people, often they do not understand. They ask, How can you say you are grateful for something that you are not grateful for? Isn’t that lying or denial? Why don’t you just say that you “acknowledge” these things you are not grateful for?
Why say you are grateful for things that you are not grateful for? There is a weird power in welcoming everything and saying you are grateful even when you don’t feel you are. An alchemy takes place when you start to welcome everything in. Saying you are grateful for these things that you hate or do not want to acknowledge helps you to stop resisting those feelings and when you stop resisting you soften. You accept yourself. Everything.
Let me make this very real for you. When you write your list, you write the date at the top and then let loose. Melodie suggests taking ten minutes to write the list first thing in the morning. That may work best for you, or another time, or inconsistent times. Whatever would help you get in a rhythm. You want to let it be as messy as you want (not perfect) and as you go day after day, week after week, you will reach down into deeper and more true places within yourself that you have never quite articulated—to yourself even.
Here are just a few items from one of my recent lists:
I’m grateful the corners of my lips feels dry and that’s odd
I’m grateful I let myself get dehydrated yesterday
I’m grateful self-care is still a struggle for me and something I do not do all the time and consistently
The aim is to be very real. I also write about plain old shit:
I’m grateful that mosquito buzzed in my ear last night all night and I could sleep only an hour
I write that I’m for grateful for things that I’m really grateful for like:
I’m grateful for the surprise of dancing with that guy who had just started tango and how good he was and how nice it was to tell him he had talent and really mean it
Writing this list daily is a way to get in touch with everything in your life.
Why are milagrows so powerful?
Writing this list is a way to get in touch with all of you. Often we are so encouraged to focus on the positive that we resist what is real or difficult or shameful. And when we resist what is real it grows even larger and more difficult to deal with. This simple act of acknowledgment and welcoming all of it in in your life is a way to embrace the whole quirky bandwidth that is you and your life.
At the end of your grateful list, you can add on a list of “Wants” — things you want in your life. Then you can write a list of “Magic Wands,” things that you would like to have happen just by waving a magic wand. Let loose with your imagination. Writing your desires daily helps you to get in touch with your desires, the muscles of wanting.
Sometimes my magic wands are being with my partner by my birthday and we are on vacation in Bali, or I ask for a gluten-free personal chef, or $50,000 comes in three months. I’m an advocate for being wild in your magic wands. And this is a great starting place for you to start flexing your muscles of desire and imagination. We will be talking about desire later in the course.
One way that you can make this exercise even more powerful is to do it with a partner. You exchange lists. It’s very important to choose someone as your partner whom you can trust and who is more or less at the same level of maturity and development as you are.
As partners, it’s important to agree that you will NOT comment on, give advice, or try to fix your partner’s problems. Your role is simply to read the list and witness it.
My Milagrows partner L. and I started out doing this exercise alone. I told L. about the exercise and she asked me to be her partner. L. and I simply write back to each other, “Read and received. Love you.” We decided to do this because we felt is was important to acknowledge the list had been read. We ask each other permission if we can ask about something on the list.
Here is what L. says about our partnership: “Part of the reason it’s so powerful is because of the partners. When I forget to do it, I have a reminder in my inbox—a human real reminder. And when I feel shame, I read yours and realize that I’m not alone and when you say you received it, I feel shame go away. So that’s a big part of this exercise for me. I am sure it’s still good without that though, but not as good.”
You may want to seek out a partner in our class. I am going to let you decide whether you want a partner and who that would be as I believe this is a very important relationship and you need to define it for yourself.
You can also start out doing this on your own like I did and then see if a partner comes into your life. It was a big deal when L. asked me, and I knew it was a big deal, because I had already been doing this practice for a while and I knew it would mean witnessing each other at our most vulnerable level and not commenting. The not commenting aspect is hugely important for feeling safe and trust.
Melodie’s book is wonderful and very real. I suggest you read it especially to understand more about her concept of miracles and how doing this will help you create miracles in your life. I am not getting into that here because for the purposes of our class I am mostly focused on the aspects of self-acceptance.
The main point of this exercise is learn how to slow down and witness and accept yourself everyday as a practice. Which in itself is a miracle.
I call it Milagrows because I see myself—and L.—growing so much by doing this practice every day.
A first step
Today I suggest you take 10-15 minutes and try making a list like this. Write your “I’m grateful fors. . . ” first, then your “wants” then your “magic wands.” Try it out and share how it goes in the comments.