Can I Be Authentic Here?

I just passed a chiropractic office message board that read, “Listen to your body whisper to avoid a scream.”  I want to add two more sentences to that seemingly casual yet profound wisdom…

“Listen to your HEART whisper to avoid a scream.  

Listen to your SOUL whisper to avoid a scream.”

As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, I’ve gone through periods of intense growing pains, as I’m sure you can relate to.  We’ve all been there… some of us more than once!  And we’ll go through even more as we grow in wisdom, strength, and self-awareness.  We are able to recognize our authentic selves and step more fully into the life we are meant to lead.

Label Me 1

                           We are so many things to so many people. Who is the Authentic Self?

The first thing that happened to me is exactly what the chiropractor’s sign said, the whisper became a scream or as I put it in my blog post titled Intuition: Trusting the Voice Within (9/13/2015), the breeze became a hurricane.  Suddenly, I realized that while every situation in life contains positive and negative aspects, the negative in my job outweighed any positive benefits, including money.  I wrote in What is My Tipping Point? (7/10/2015) “When the negative outweighs the positive in our relationships, careers, or other aspects of life, it’s time to ask, ‘What’s my tipping point?  How much will I tolerate before I say ENOUGH?'”

I heightened my awareness of the whispers in my body, heart, and soul.  I more fully honored my intuition.  “To successfully experience life’s constant changes, I must heed the still, small voice within so I can wisely decide what must be done for my greatest and highest good.  In other words, I must TRUST MYSELF.”  That’s what intuition is really… trust in one’s self.  I was at my tipping point and I said “ENOUGH”.

Label Me 2

                      By listening to intuition, we can hear our soul beckoning.

So now what?  At 47, I was asking “What do I want to be when I grow up?”  I felt ridiculous and a failure.  I should be planning my approaching retirement not a new career, right?  Wrong.  The best thing to do when my life feels like a size 8 foot trying to cram into a size 6 shoe is make a change.  And sooner is better than later or not at all.

I knew I wanted to have meaning in my life, find greater joy in what I was doing, and do something that spoke to who I am creatively and spiritually.  I had to be authentic and let my talents and skills shine.  As I considered what to do next, I asked myself what has become the most important question of my life.  “Can I be authentic here?”  If the answer is “Yes”, I am right where I should be on my journey.  If the answer is “No”, it’s not time to panic… it’s time to TRANSFORM.

Label Me 3

                             Peel away anything that gets in the way of discovering who you really are.

We want to be where we belong, where we find meaning, where we experience joy, and where we can be ourselves.  I’m not talking about modifying behavior to appropriately suit a social situation.  I’m talking about having the courage to be who we are.  Instead of playing the role of “the chameleon” to fit in with others, having the self-love and self-acceptance to be authentic and see how life blooms in a richer, deeper way.  Doors will open and opportunities will come your way.

Authentic living is empowered living.  

Authentic living is the life you are meant to lead.  

To be authentic takes great courage and strength.  There is a vulnerability in letting people see that we are who we are.  Once I let my authentic self come out to play, I found a career where my experience as a world traveler, artist, teacher, writer, and spiritual being have a place.

I’m still growing, learning, and trying new things.  I’m making richer, more meaningful connections with those who matter.  And every step of the way, I continue to ask, “Can I be authentic here?”.

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Change- The Painting

Last summer, I had a reading from a very gifted Tarot reader named Marcy at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY.  She explained that if one wants positive change in one’s life, one must break the old patterns and do something new.  Anything new.  To paraphrase– If you always eat a ham sandwich for lunch, eat something different.  It doesn’t matter if it’s tuna fish or pastrami on rye.  Just try something different.

I’ve used the analogy before of sledding down a snow-covered mountain.  We are so used to doing things one way, seeing the world one way, and responding in one way.  Like a sled going down the same well-worn path, we go down the same path with friends, co-workers, & our significant others.  Even though this path no longer suits us, it’s hard to break free.  But consider this, by lifting the sled out of the rut, even slightly, a new path will automatically be taken.  All it takes is a slight adjustment.

Change: a mixed media piece on canvas.

I’m making a real effort to do that in all aspects of my life, including my art.  Change, a mixed media piece on canvas, exemplifies that for me.  My previous work is known for bold blocks of color or pattern and solid outlines, usually black. With Change, I’m loosening up and allowing greater energy and movement in the piece.  Who knows, this energy and movement could translate into something wonderful in my life.  It’s worth a try!

Going With My Flow

I rested.  I reflected.  I reevaluated what mattered most to me.  I released what no longer served me (as much as I could, knowing I’m ready and willing to release even more).

These last several months have been a time of great introspection for me because I feel the familiar pull of a place further down the river of my life and know the best thing to do is to stop, listen, and wait to find out what is beckoning to me.  Am I being called to action or am I being called to prepare in other ways first?  Do something or just “be”?

I check in with my Self- signals from my body, mind, spirit, and soul.  I listen to my intuition– my inner wisdom.  What am I supposed to be doing right now?  When I’m unsure, the best thing to do is be still.  So, I’ve been still for a while.  No blog posts.  No committee meetings.  No activities that I’m not completely passionate about.  Doing my best to have inner quiet and stillness while I outwardly continue the hurried pace of living, finding peace amidst the chaos to some extent.

I’ve bobbed in the Dead Sea and know how serene it feels to let go.  It’s a profoundly simply yet powerful way to fully experience the concept of “surrender”, feeling completely supported and safe, warmly embraced by the water.

The cliche, “Go with the flow”, springs to mind, bringing a bit of anxiety to this woman who likes to know where she’s going at all times.  What flow?  To where?  With whom?  So I coined the phrase, “Go with My Flow”, recognizing that we are at different stages of our journeys and that “one size does not fit all”.  Your flow is different from mine.  I might choose a chubby inner tube bobbing lazily down the river of life while you strap on your helmet and buckle your lifejacket, ready to brave the whitewater of your life. Or maybe it’s the other way around, I’m plunging down a foaming waterfall while you are wading knee-deep in the safety of the shoreline.  It doesn’t matter.

We each have to go with our own flow.

Winged Spirit- Soar to New Heights

Winged Spirit emerged from the canvas to remind us that we should release our burdens and soar to new heights.

Winged Spirit emerged from the canvas to remind us that we should release our burdens and soar to new heights.

Winged Spirit speaks to me, gently saying “Release what no longer serves so you can soar to new heights.”  Her wings are strong yet nurturing. “Fear not,” she continues, “when you have the courage to take a leap, Spirit will carry you safely on the wind. You will not fall.”  What wonderful advice as we head into 2015, a new year & an opportunity for a new beginning!

By letting go of my preconceived idea of what this canvas could be, Winged Spirit continued to reveal herself.

By letting go of my preconceived idea of what this canvas could be, Winged Spirit continued to reveal herself.

Winged Spirit emerged from layers of acrylic paint playfully applied with a variety of tools- brushes, a spray bottle, sponges, a fork, stencils, stamps, and my fingertips.  I was able to connect with this piece far more deeply than I had with some of my earlier work because I allowed myself to enjoy the process and let whatever was going to happen happen.  Surrender… a new concept for me.

After freely applying several layers of paint without any thought to the outcome, I saw Winged Spirit peeking through the drips, splashes, and strokes.

After freely applying several layers of paint without any thought to the outcome, I saw Winged Spirit peeking through the drips, splashes, and strokes.

 

Early in the fall, I strolled into my local fabric store and happened upon a display of art-related books.  As soon as I read the title “Brave Intuitive Painting”, I knew I had to have Flora Bowley’s book for that’s exactly what I would love to call my painting process.  But I can’t.  Not yet.  I stayed up late into the night soaking up her advice, techniques, and colorful examples, enthusiastically telling my boyfriend, “If I could write a book, this is exactly what I’d want to say!!”  She encourages artists to release preconceived ideas of a finished product and immerse ourselves in the process of discovery… and self-discovery.  The book led me to her website which led me to her e-course called Bloom True.  I highly recommend it for anyone to wants to break free of expectations and allowing the experience of creating art to be a more intuitive process.

The point of taking Flora Bowley’s workshop is not to copy her style.  Rather, the point is to honor the authentic creator in my Self, silence the critical mind for a while, and just BE.

Visit my shop on Etsy to view the art I currently have for sale.  www.etsy.com/shop/PureSusan

Listening to Intuition

I’ve been craving space, knowing that life, like the earth, has seasons.  Autumn is ending and the last of the crops have been gathered before a period of rest.  It’s getting dark earlier.  Snow will most likely fall tomorrow and there is little else to do outside.  So I eagerly anticipate winter for it symbolizes the winter in the cycle of my life – a time when I can go more deeply within, rest, wait, emerge transformed.  I honor these cycles and learn from them.

I was overdoing it.  The perfectionist in me loved the committees, obligations, and productivity that I had over the last couple of years.  The authentic me, buried beneath the to-do lists, longed to step into the light and just BE.  As my commitments came to an end, I refused to “fill the void” with yet more committees and obligations.  Instead, I chose to sit in the growing space and settle in.  A little space felt good and more space felt even better.  I respected what I was feeling and stretched out my arms, embracing the mystery.  I don’t need to “be” anything other that me.

I have to warn you.  If you are brave enough to try this, some people won’t understand.  They have expectations for you.  They remember the old you and want you to stay that way, for if you reveal your authentic self and come from a place of inner knowing, they have to take closer looks at themselves, too.  Not every one is comfortable with change.  Be okay with that.  And be okay with the fact that some relationships will fall away to make way for relationships that align with who you are, NOT with who you were.

I also have to warn you that like-minded people will suddenly surround you.  Kindred spirits will respond favorably to the change and affirm your decision to be YOU, for they have traveled similar paths.  You’ll be amazed at who appears in your life and the new opportunities that come with your growing authenticity.

This has been my experience over the last few months.  I love the way it feels yet acknowledge a part of me that is uncomfortable with the growing space… that perfectionist who adamantly says, “I should be doing more.”  “I should say yes to all the things people want me to do.”  “It’s selfish to self-nurture.”  Right?  Wrong!!  That’s just fear and insecurity calling out in desperation to be recognized.  That’s the voice I listened to in the past.  But I want something more for myself so I ignore that desire to please and produce and continue to sit in the space I’m creating and nurture myself.

So I’ve stopped saying yes to every request for my time & energy.  I’m only saying yes to things that stir my soul and energize me.  To get back to my nature analogy, the earth goes through periods of birth, death, and rebirth.  So do we.  Some call them “chapters” of their lives.  Some say they are “entering a new phase”.  Whatever you call it, honor it.  Surrender and see where it leads.

My period of rest has given me the time to get to know my true self- Pure Susan.  I like where I am going and I like who I am traveling the road with.

I’ll be exploring this & other related topics in my next several blogs.  How do we create space?  How do we say no to energy-suckers?  When opportunities to fill the space come along, how do we know which will nourish and which will drain?  How profoundly can life change when we say “Yes!” to what stirs our souls?

I can’t shed everything that no longer serves (yet) but by shedding what I can, I create a sacred space for my authentic self to grow and reach for the sunlight of all possibilities.

 

 

Authentic Selves

Can we be our authentic Selves all the time?  This question came up with a friend as we discussed our spiritual journeys & how we try to live our truth in a world where religious intolerance leads to family rifts on a personal level & war on a global level.  (Yes, we get into heavy discussions sometimes.)  She said she’s at a point in her life where she is comfortable being who she is & will not compromise that for anyone else.  I, ashamedly, have to admit that I’m not there yet.  I was raised with the belief that you never talk about religion, politics, or money in social situations.  If people agree, there’s no point to the discussion & if they disagree, there’s still no point.  These conversations rarely lead to a change of heart.  They more often lead to arguments, judgement, misunderstanding, & hostility.

Call me a chicken but I play it safe.  I sense the climate in the room & make the decision whether or not to voice an opinion.  Is that compromising my authentic Self?  This can be a real struggle for someone in the minority– be it race, religion, politics, sexual orientation, or social status.  Too often the majority squelches the individuality of those in the minority.  We give up our authentic Selves so we can belong.  But there’s the dilemma.  We’re being accepted for who we aren’t.

So when do we take the chance?  When do we say, “This is who I truly am?”  Sometimes we make that decision & other times, someone forces our hand, making the decision for us.  My boyfriend did that to me this weekend at a friend’s cookout.  He told some of the guests about my spiritual practice before I felt comfortable doing so.  I’m relieved to say they were very accepting & curious.  As we talked, they saw the similarities between my beliefs & their own.  What began as a tense moment for me, waiting for the hammer of criticism & judgement, became a great opportunity to be my Self & share my spiritual philosophy with them.

Another dear friend uses the term “universalism” to describe the commonalities that many religions & spiritual practices share, such as loving one another, honoring nature, & believing in something greater than ourselves.  At the cookout, we celebrated those similarities & connected at a much deeper level than we had before.

So many interesting topics came up during those conversations that I want to share them with you over the next few weeks.  In addition to my artwork, I’ll be writing about dream imagery, a need for community, soul loss, ritual, honoring life & death, energy work, & love.  I hope that you’ll reflect on the questions below & share your thoughts with me.

1.  Who is your authentic Self?

2.  Have you been authentic in your interactions with others?  Why or why not?