I’m an adventurous person. I’m thrilled by pushing outside my boundaries, feeling the fear and the thrill of stepping beyond it. Leaping, as I did with my skydiving jump last November. As our family did on vacation this past week in Aspen, white water rafting, rock climbing, hiking mountains, and paragliding. Scuba diving with my husband. On an emotional level, people often tell me how brave I am in my ability to be open with who I am, my feelings, and the struggles I’ve faced. As a child, my motto was, “Why not?!” For years after, I carried the quote in my wallet: “ Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, “WOW! What a ride!” This flimsy, well creased piece of paper has met its own grave, but its not travelled far from my heart.
So why is it I have such trepidation with a new path in my life? Despite the knowing feeling in my gut that I’ve long grown to trust telling me, “This is IT.” My gut reminds me that all of my crazy adventures were not without fear. Yet I still stepped through the ring of fire. But that nasty critic, the protective soldier, whispers unhelpful quips in my ear: “ Who do you think you are? You’re not good enough. You need more training. You won’t do this awesome field justice. You are not organized – how can you run a business?”
I have two separate lives: my spiritual life and friends, and my West County life as mom to my now grown kids, and wife of a doctor. I rarely share my inner self with them, and ironically, who I feel can most benefit from the gifts of Expressive Arts. It is here with this group of women, who I resonate with. Though I know it’s rampant in our culture, I see how they scrape to fit into some plastic mold, fear being totally seen. Being vulnerable. Even with my family, who I know only want the best for me – a new path is stepping outside the box of which I’ve been accepted and loved, though safe, boring, and unfulfilling to my soul. If this is my thrill- to be brave and live adventurously, to feel the fear and do it anyway, as well as seeing such a need in the community around me – why not leap and be a model for what I preach? To live authentically. Opening our eyes to the fullness of who we’re meant to be. Even if it’s dramatically different from our comfort zone. ESPECIALLY if it is!
Expressive Arts is about reclaiming that childlike playfulness in exploration and creativity. Around age 10-12, we gain social awareness; a desire to fit in, be accepted and not appear “uncool”. In so doing, we lose that carefree spirit of experimentation and creativeness, losing ourselves in the sameness of the cultural mode. Brene Brown, a research professor studying vulnerability and shame, says that “coolness” is a straightjacket to our creativity. And a slippery slope towards a life limited by shame, of fearing the truth of who we are. I love the quote by Theodore Roosevelt that initiated her new book, “Daring Greatly”: “It’s not the critic who counts….the credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly… who at the best knows in the end the triumph of great achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”
Anthropologist, Angeles Arrien, says that ancient indigenous cultures would ask the questions of depressed, unhappy members of their tribe: “When in your life did you stop singing, dancing, making art, being enchanted with stories, or uncomfortable with the sweet territory of silence?” They knew in these ancient cultures that a spiritual connection was made through singing, dancing, art, ritual and meditation. Linguist, Theodore Misner, did a cross cultural study on languages finding that all cultures use three words synonymously, intuition, spirituality and creativity. To live our lives without creativity is separating us more and more from our wise, intuitive center. From the Divine. Creative doesn’t necessarily mean living our lives painting pictures and singing – it’s living our lives into the unique, wonderful beings we were created to be, and doing so with daring braveness despite the internal and external critic! To do otherwise, listening in to the seeming wisdom of others, or the protective soldier inside, is living in shadow…and as Brene Bown would say, in shame of who you truly are.
Fear. Fear is what blocks us from our own creativity. Our daring greatly. Fear of judgement, of the unknown, of failure, of not being accepted or loved. We can be halted in that fear and sit in our unfulfilled, safeness or we can acknowledge the fear and leap. Move forward into the knowing.
In answer to my question, “Who the hell are you anyway? Who says you have what it takes to do this” I hear a growing voice down deep that answers, “Who are you NOT to be?” I have the bravery, the adventurous spirit, the passion , the experience and the vision. How can I NOT do this? I may stumble, breathe heavy in my efforts, but it’s new! I shouldn’t allow that to hinder my progression.
I’m reminded of this analogy while climbing a mountain last week on belle: I’d fall from the tiny footholds and cracks, swinging away from the mountain edge in frustration. Angry with “failing” and tired with my slow progression. But I was reminded by my mountain guide, dear HOT soul that he was – “Rest into your ropes and harness. You’re not going anywhere. We’ve got you. You can do this.” I’d sit in silence for awhile and gain new strength, find new spots to wedge my hands and feet. I just needed to have faith in my ability, rest and regroup when I needed, trust and USE my support system. Despite my fear of falling or backtracking, it was there all along, holding me. Keeping me safe til I was ready once again.
A good analogy for new life paths. And for moving beyond the fears and questions.