Paint your cracks with gold

I’m a little cracked and broken in places; wrinkled, and scarred. Most people are.

Life has a way of bumping us around pretty quickly after we emerge from the womb.

Within a culture where perfection and beauty are greatly valued, it’s easy to fall into the trap of trying to hide and cover our imperfections and blemishes, both real and imagined.

I wasn’t surprised to learn the global demand for plastic surgery, Botox, and facial fillers has risen dramatically, so we can all be Zoom Ready, prepared for our close-up.

I’m curious if we spend as much time scrutinizing and judging the faces of other people on these calls as we do our own. As you look at the faces around the virtual table, are you as critical of others as you are of yourself?

I’ll bet not.

While it may be easy to accept and overlook imperfection in others, learning to accept them in ourselves doesn’t seem quite so easy. This doesn’t stop with our physical appearance.

There’s a common human tendency to place ourselves under a microscope, reviewing all we’ve done and said, our failures, and even our successes, with an unkind, critical eye.

Holding ourselves to an impossible standard of perfection is costly. I know, because of my own internal dialogue, I refer to as my Committee of A***oles.

It was brutal, harsh, and unforgiving. I suffered as I reviewed every perceived flaw, mistake, and weakness I perceived about myself.

For many years, it was natural for me to dissect and criticize myself under this harsh light until I realized how it caused me to feel paralyzed and frozen. I grew afraid to show what was beneath the veneer of perfection I slathered on the surface. It was Botox for my spirit.

I felt unsafe and vulnerable, not wanting to show the many cracks and blemishes of my humanity beneath the surface. I didn’t want anyone to see my wounds. It was like a prison of my own making.

Freedom came when I realized I was both the jailed and the jailor, and I alone held the key to my freedom.

I began my healing journey by firing My Committee, and by recognizing not everything I think is true. I stood back and observed my thoughts. I’d never speak to another the way I spoke to myself.

Many of my thoughts were voices from the past, just old neuro-pathways I’d practised for many years. With mindfulness, I learned I could change my thoughts and my inner dialogue, and it grew much friendlier. I had to befriend myself.

Instead of trying to hide my quirks, imperfections, and mistakes, I’m learning to embrace them with compassion, and find enjoyment, appreciation, and even humour in who I’ve become.

I’m reclaiming those pieces of myself I’d thrown away because I thought they were broken or wrong, and I’m bringing them into the light.

I admit, I’m a quirky gal, and I’m learning to celebrate my uniqueness.

I used to believe if I accepted myself as I was that I wouldn’t change and grow. I thought I needed the harsh self-critic to change and become better. I was wrong. I’m learning to accept myself, warts, bumps, and all.

Acceptance is key to change. In accepting myself, with all of my quirks and foibles, I’ve found it easier to make positive change.

I’m less defended and am learning that great strength lies in my vulnerability. The Committee has grown quieter. Striving for perfection was paralyzing; I’ve grown happier as I’ve learned my strength lies in my imperfection.

I love the ancient Japanese art of kintsugi, or golden repair. In kintsugi, broken pottery is not thrown away, but repaired with golden paint, highlighting the life and history of a piece.

These repairs become like waterfalls or landscapes on a once broken piece, as what was broken is transformed into something new and beautiful, while still retaining its history.

Much like kintsugi, I’m learning to highlight in gold paint those pieces of myself I thought were broken or lost. I now view the cracks and scars with appreciation, as they’ve made me who I am today.

Some of my very best qualities come from the storms I’ve weathered, the failures I’ve had, and even the mistakes I’ve made. I’ll bet this is true for you, too.

It’s not what life does to us but what we do with what happens that matters the most.

Until we die, we’re each works in progress.

What’s perfection, anyway?

Happy birthday to our daughter Amanda. Baby, we celebrate you!


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About the Author

Corinne is first a wife, mother, and grandmother, whose eclectic background has created a rich alchemy that serves to inform her perspectives on life.

Corinne, a registered nurse with a master’s degree in Health Science, is a staff minister with the Centre for Spiritual Living Kelowna, and a hospice volunteer. She is an adjunct professor with the school of nursing  at UBC Okanagan, and is currently teaching smartUBC, a unique Mindfulness program offered at UBC, to the public. She is an invited speaker and presenter.

From diverse experience and knowledge, personally and professionally, Corinne has developed an extraordinary passion for helping people to gain a new perspective, awaken, and to recognize that we do not have to be a slave to our thoughts or to life; we are always at a point of change.

Through this column, Corinne blends her insights and research to provide food for the mind and the heart, to encourage an awakening of the power and potential within everyone.

Corinne lives in Kelowna with her husband of 41 years, and can be reached at [email protected].

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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