This post originally appeared on The Serendipitous Soul where it was written by Jennifer Raybaud, the SheHive's mindfulness coach. Learn more about Jennifer's upcoming series, My Mindful Life, here.
I have been blessed to learn SO much on such a wide variety of subjects over the past 3 years that when I think about all the classes I've taken or taught, all the books I've read and teachings I've watched or listened to...it blows my mind.
Some of the things I've learned, I've implemented right away and continue to use on a regular basis, other things (like a good tool should be) I "pick-up" and use "as needed."
Other things served me for a period of time and are no longer necessary, so I've put them "in storage" holding them with a sort of "Break in Case of Emergency" mentality.
One thing I've learned and even wrote about once or twice before, is coming up stronger than ever and that's our use of labels, our defense of them and our need to place them on others.
If I asked you who you are, chances are you would begin to share with me a list of things you believe or subscribe to, you might say I'm a wife, mother, female, white, middle-aged, reside in the suburbs of a major city, your political affiliation, likes, dislikes, the list could go on and on and with every label you proclaim there are a set of standards or things you feel you must do or you are expected by society to do, to hold that "title."
One problem with this is not only do you have thoughts around what being each of those things means to you, others have their interpretation of what each of those labels means to them and it might look very different from what you hold as the definition of that space. This is where problems can arise, from what a President of our country "should" look or be like to how our neighbor should behave, labels can cause a lot of issues, anguish and angst.
So what's my point? Consider this a sort of experiment, because I am. I'm currently working to live my life as "label-free" as possible. Not only when it comes to who I am but I'm holding others in that label-free space as well and can I tell you, it's been quite refreshing!
You might be concerned that anarchy could be right around the corner with my wicked, flagrant ways but au contraire mon frère...not so quick.
Just because I don't look to subscribe to (in some cases) some seriously contrived ways of being doesn't mean I don't have standards by which to live my life. I would say I'm a good person, that doesn't change because the way I choose to say live out my faith, isn't in the traditional way many who came before me, did, or that those today, do.
I find the older I get my "true North" seems to reside in a "gray space" between the black and white many labels represent and I'm totally OK with that. It's the people around me that may take issue and since I don't live for them and their definitions attached to labels, my experiment in living label-free and giving others that open space, continues.
I hope you take a moment to "throw open the windows" of your mind, allow some fresh air in, think of those things you label yourself as and see how attached you are to them. Do they still provide a fair representation of you? Is there room for expansion under that definition? Is it time to redefine some? "Chuck" one or all and maybe decide to live just being the best you, you can be sans labels?
Oh! And one more thing. While the summer breezes are blowing in through that open window, consider how hung up you might be on what you "pin" on others and your definitions of those "pieces." How much do they limit you in experiencing the true glory that is...someone else?
To living life out loud, to having nothing to defend, nothing to protect and everything, my friends,everything to gain.