“There’s some sense of being wide awake and free. At the same time, there’s some tenderness that arises without any cause or condition. There is a deep-felt sense of being tender. Not sad in a depressed way, but tender, and somewhat delighted at the same time. There’s a mixture. There’s no sadness for oneself. Nor is there sadness for anyone in particular, either. It’s like being saturated with juice, just like an apple is full of juice.”

— Thoughts on compassion from Tsoknyi Rinpoche, a Tibetan meditation teacher.


Welling up with emotion, I discipline myself to ground in the moment, not letting all the tears come forth until I make it to my car.  Then, after plopping into the driver’s seat, and blasting the radio, I sob.

In that moment, I realize all the compassion I have so generously given to others, I now must provide to myself.   I am in new territory, learning new skills, and not quite sure I belong yet or can do this new job well.  Self-love is needed to carry me through the doubt and stay the course.  “I may not be perfect, but parts of me are excellent,” is the mantra I roll around in my mind.

Whether you are learning to craft bread as I am, or selling real estate for the first time, or shifting the focus of your work, risking new expressions of ourselves often requires we move through some awkward moments. 

Standing in the discomfort of being a novice, and feeling like an outsider among more experienced bakers, I received a new “ah-ah” which continues to free me:  IT IS OKAY NOT TO KNOW.

I had always prided myself and been loved (or so I thought) for my competence. I was the take-charge, go-to person when something needed to be done or carried out. 

This time, I am standing right in the middle of my discomfort, and learning something much bigger than how to create nourishing breads from scratch.  I am learning to value myself “as is” –whether I perform well or not.

I share this insight for I believe many in our nation have been learning the same lesson through our transitory times.  It is not what we do—or how well we do it– that determines our worth.  Rather, it is who we are that is valuable.  To find our best and unique expressions of ourselves sometimes requires letting go of all we thought we knew and to softly, without judgment, stay in a mental state of not knowing.

Many have commented on my courage to take on seasonal work in a bakery, which I accepted as a purposeful and creative distraction from my current circumstances of waiting for anticipated dreams to materialize.

In fact, I received more feedback on my most recent e-newsletter, “Breathing in New Life” than anything I have ever written. 

While I greatly appreciate all the loving, generous and supportive words, I am most in awe of my readers for baring their desires to live a more authentic life. 

Sometimes, one of the steps to claiming that life is to lighten up on ourselves for not knowing yet what the best expression of our uniqueness is or how it will unfold. 

It is in those spaces of “not knowing” where we can instill healthy, loving internal beliefs that help us expand, hear wisdom that guides us forth and create new dreams that nurture us.

BELIEF TIP OF THE WEEK for Dealing with Unknowns:

Write out the statement below long-hand a few times each day.  Then, repeat out loud as frequently as you desire, but especially in the morning and at night when in restful states:

 I allow myself to accept it is okay “not to know.”


A special thanks to Beth Shedd, who through her photography, helps me continue to “soften” and embrace all of who I am and to guide my readers to do the same.


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  • aLICE GREENE says:

    Softening is a beautiful way to see what you are experiencing, and I particularly appreciate your ending paragraph Gail. It is in those spaces of not knowing, yet trusting in the inner wisdom to instill those new beliefs and give us the wisdom. I hold on to this for myself.

    • Gail says:

      Alice: Thank you for your kind words, and for understanding how beautiful “softening” can be when we allow ourselves to be at peace with “not knowing.” I think it is especially important for those who have been validated much of their life for their achievements to know they are valuable without any external accolades. You have been a wise model for many.

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