The Artist in You

Image copyright: 123rf/Natallia Khlapushyna

Monday night I was invited to an event that showcased eight artists, each sharing not only the work they created, but why they created it. I was truly inspired and only teared up twice!

Though each person’s story was unique, they all explained that their art grew from their life experiences and family histories. They wanted their art to have value and connect people to their own hearts and to each other. They wanted their art to make people wonder and question and explore what it means to be human.

Even though you and I may not paint, dance, sing or write plays, we are still artists. We are the artists of our own lives. We do our best to learn from our personal experiences and our family history and create a life that has value. It is an art to be connected to our heart and to others. It is an art to wonder, to question and to explore what it means to be human.

One young woman explained that the way she begins every project is similar to how Indiana Jones crosses a deep chasm towards the end of the movie, The Last Crusade. He is standing on a ledge high above a miles-deep chasm and needs to reach the other side of this divide. But there’s no bridge. Crossing seems impossible until he steps out in faith and when he does, the bridge appears.

As the artists of our own lives, we will often be challenged to step forward in faith, trusting there is a path that will support us and lead us to what we are searching for. Sometimes the path is very clear. Sometimes we only sense it is there. It offers support when we stumble, reassurance when we doubt and comfort when we feel lost, guiding us always on our unique and beautiful journey in this world.

It’s Not Failure!

Image copyright: 123rf/Pop Nukoonrat

Failure is not a word that fits for much of life thanks to the judgment that oozes from it.

Have you ever heard someone say they felt like a failure because they were in the process of divorcing? Have you ever felt like that yourself?

Maybe you are, or were, in a marriage that didn’t work and couldn’t last.  Maybe you tried desperately to keep it together or felt for a long time that something wasn’t right. Or maybe you were blindsided and shocked when your partner announced they were leaving and it was over.  However your divorce began, you may have found yourself overwhelmed by pain, fear, grief and confusion.

Why would anyone judge this as if it were a grade on a report card? This is a situation where human beings are struggling to find their way. It is not a failure. It’s life and life is filled with choices and change, with loss and grace.

Often people say things happen for a reason. I would encourage you to take this one step further and create a reason for what happened. When you have sufficiently recovered from your divorce (or any life trauma), you can choose to grow, to learn, to make a difference in some way. You can make the choice to be more compassionate with yourself and with others and strive to heal and look to the future.

We are always falling down and getting up. We are always bumping into old thoughts and certainties that no longer fit us. The more we experience life, the more we reevaluate and change our perspectives.

It’s not failure. It’s growth, it’s change, it’s a gift.

Do We Have Self Esteem Backwards?

I believed I had good self esteem. If not good, it was adequate. It got me by and I believed making it through my divorce proved I could handle anything.

But it turns out that when there is a new challenge and life expects me to be something more than who I think I am, I freeze. I hope that if I ignore the situation, it will go away. I remind myself of my cats, who think if they don’t look at something, it’s not there.

When I finally look at this new “challenge,” I begin to rationalize. “I don’t have enough self esteem to handle this, so I have to stay right where I am. I’ll sit with a cup of tea, get stressed, get acid reflux and watch Judge Judy so I can feel superior to a few random people.” Eventually, I get angry (thank goodness)!

When I rode horses, I didn’t have the self esteem to compete, but I did have the love of riding and the passion and drive to do it. So, I did. At first, I competed embarrassingly badly. But there were people who picked me up and dusted me off, often literally. My self confidence grew as I became a better rider, but more importantly, so did my self esteem. I learned I would survive mistakes and embarrassment. I learned that those things don’t define me any more than winning a blue ribbon defined me.

I believe self esteem doesn’t come from reading self-help books, though they can help.
I believe self esteem doesn’t come from meditating, though it helps.
I believe self esteem comes from walking out the door and living your life.

Each step and each misstep will feed your self esteem and it will grow. You will learn more about who you are and be amazed. You will be more compassionate to others, understanding that, like each us, they are doing the best they can. Your life will be filled with confusion and joy, messes and celebrations, mistakes and miracles. What could be better?

You’re Confused? Hooray!

Lately I’ve been quite confused. It’s not the usual confusion of wondering why I walked into a room, or where I put my car keys when I’m holding them, or which direction to go when my GPS has recalculated one too many times.

What’s confusing is that I’ve not been myself lately. I’ve been feeling out of sorts. It’s like I’m not able to get traction in my life.

When I shared my feelings with a friend, she clapped her hands together and said, “Hooray!  That’s wonderful!” I responded, “What? Why would you say that?”

“It’s simple!” she said. “You’ve been working hard to discard your limiting beliefs. Now you no longer fit the image you’ve had of yourself and that can be tremendously confusing. But as a result, you’re growing into something new and expanded. That’s wonderful—and truly a reason to celebrate.”

The more I thought about her words, the more comforted I became. Aren’t we all doing our best to learn and grow? Wouldn’t it make sense that the more we discover, the more we will reevaluate our beliefs and discard those that no longer serve us? Wouldn’t it make sense that our insights and understanding expand?

As we embrace more and more of who we truly are, our sense of self and of the possibilities life offers broadens and deepens. And as we begin to redefine ourselves in a more compassionate way, we clarify our purpose and how we choose to journey through life.

May we each continue to learn and grow, and when we experience times of confusion, let’s celebrate!

What is Eclipsing Your Life?

On August 21, 2017, the Earth, the moon and the sun will all line up in this swirling universe of ours in such a way that the moon will block the light of the sun from reaching Earth.

Many of us may barely notice this powerful event because we are distracted with the stuff of life; deadlines at work, grocery shopping, dentist appointments, caring for our children, aging parents or both…the list goes on and can be overwhelming.

Yet, whether we pay attention or not, this extraordinary event is happening. And whether we pay attention or not, we all experience personal eclipses in our own lives.

Some eclipses are dramatic: a divorce, an illness, a death. Others are so subtle we barely notice them. They simply accumulate, one on top of the other, until we wake one morning feeling lost, as if in a heavy, gray fog.

When our light disappears, it’s time to work on ourselves once again. Yep, more personal growth! It’s time to find what needs to be released, what is ready to heal, and what new awareness we can discover. Buddhists believe that the effects of both positive and negative actions during the time of an eclipse are multiplied by 10,000.

When you move from darkness back into the light of your essence, the healing, growth and blessings that come from your efforts will resonate with you and move through you into the universe.