Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
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Okay With Not Okay

After we finish sitting (meditating) and then have the Dharma talk during Sunday services at the Zendo I go to we have tea, snacks and discussion.

People are invited to say what they want to say whether it's about their week, their dying grandma, a really killer meal they ate or something they took away from the Dharma talk. Last Sunday one of the popular themes was people being hard on themselves for whatever reason. A lot of I shoulds were used. I should be more this, I should be doing more of that...

The Doshi brought our habit of saying this to our attention. He advised us to eliminate the word should from our vocabulary and, more importantly, our internal dialogue - or at least be aware of it. Stop instructing yourself about what you should or shouldn't be doing and just accept what you are. I mean, I guess unless you have a bad habit of killing people or whatever, and then maybe you should tell yourself you shouldn't be doing that. But if you're just being hard on yourself for the usual stuff of life then knock it off.

And then he said something that really struck me. Be okay with not being okay.

Okay with not okay.

Just stop a second and really think about that. Be okay with not being okay. If you're anything like me your whole life - or at least your internal dialogue - is a running commentary of what you should be doing instead of what you are doing. Or a commentary on who you should be instead of who you are. Even this whole Buddhism road I'm awkwardly dancing down is potholed with my constant thoughts of where I should be instead of where I am.

Cut it out, man!

Think of the relief being okay with not being okay brings. There is no more unwarranted pressure, no more guilt, there is just peaceful acceptance of the way things are. There is no should, there just is. That's not to say I'm advocating for complacency, I'm just saying that you need to accept where you are as an important part of where you're going, wherever that may be.

I don't know about you but it's been a whole mind shift for me. Yeah, I'm a nutbag and sometimes I eat too much and drink too much and don't exercise enough and sometimes I'm a shitty friend and a crappy daughter and a bitchy wife and an impatient mother and I should be skinnier and my tits are so saggy now and I should be nicer and I should wear make-up more and too much! That's too much make-up and I should bake cookies for my neighbors... But I'm okay with it or trying to be, anyway. I'm aware of it all and I'm okay with not being okay. It's where I am right now. And, quite frankly, who among us will ever be okay? Okay, well, yeah - Ryan Gosling is perfect. Besides him, who among us will ever be 100% okay? Not a one. So you better get okay with not being okay.

You are right where you are supposed to be. If you aren't where you thought you'd be, that's okay. You are where you are... And where you are is where you are supposed to be.

Reader Comments (14)

Someone said something during a group discussion at a recent Weight Watchers meeting, and the leader interrupted to tell us to stop “shoulding” all over ourselves.
Same concept, different spiritual environment, all reaching for goals.

August 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStarsky

Thank you. Having a really shitty day and needed to read this.

August 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNathalie

I'm quite enjoying the fact that you're studying Buddhism, Monica. I've grown to really care for the imaginary version I have of you and your family after reading your blog (you are exclusively the only mommy blog I read!) for almost 3 years, and I am so very happy that you found this source for gaining peace and clarity.

And goddamn, it's uncanny how time and time again your posts relate to my own life! I've just finished reading the new book Where the Heart Is by Kay Larson which is all about the avant-garde composer John Cage and how Zen Buddhism affected his life and his art. A beautiful book, and it definitely gave me a lot to think about. If that's your kind of thing I highly recommend it.

Keep on keepin' on.

August 14, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterashley

A very wise person once said: "What you resist persists." It's really true. Allowing the feelings & thoughts whatever they are without judging them is the key to peace of mind and heart, I think. And it turns out practicing this also really helps, almost by osmosis, you to stop judging everyone else too. Or that's what I've found. Buddhism rules. But it takes a while and all spiritual development/recovery is a non-linear process so remember to take it easy on yourself as you go. The epiphanies are powerful but, in my experience, the true grace comes in very small increments though practice over time...

August 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterE.

I so love the direction your blog is taking. The introspection is fabulous. Keep it up.

August 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlex

Yes, yes, yes. Love, love, LOVE this.

August 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSonja

I actually really, really needed to hear/read this. At this exact point tonight. It's helped. Thank you Monica.

August 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRose

I am so proud of you for searching for some healing and happiness. As a kid with a messed up parent who never did anything about it, I think you are an amazing person for working on things. Giving your kids a happy, healthy Mom is the best gift ever...

August 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMeg W.

I've been toying with the idea of Buddhism for a while, and I love reading your take on it. Thanks for sharing.

August 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStacey

Yes. I need to figure out how to be okay with not okay. If I can manage this, my life will improve. But, how?

August 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterErika

Love. it.
Thank you.

August 14, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterstella

i wanted to post a comment... then i decided not to... then i decided that i would post it... and then, once again, i decided not to... this went on and on for about 47 times in my head (which really took less than 2 minutes)... then the 48th time i started writing this...
and then i just realized that this makes the comment about me and not about you...
and ironically, it is about you...
anywayz... i've obviously decided to stop here...

August 15, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterfahrenheit

Great post. I love the mix of mommy reflection and kiddie photos/posts on your blog

August 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterThe Toymaker

What freedom, no? I have just started going to a group meditation at a Zen center for people who tend toward anxiety and depression... not a support group for our issues, but a place to sit. We're guided at times through a meditation and other times simply sit... and I'll tell you Monica, I feel like it's saved my life.

August 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

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