When I discover my true self revealed naked without a mask without culturally accepted clothing that clings to my curves extenuates my breasts and exposes my arms or legs, I am free from what binds me. Although society will try to make me feel foolish embarrassed to even look upon my naked body in the mirror. The glass is never a true reflection but a juxtaposition. Whoever sees their true reflection except those reflected back in the eyes of another? My lover’s desire My culture’s shame How do I let it go to accept me as he does naked and true to himself? Why do I have all these layers to shed before my true self has seen the light of day? Do I even recognize her? What’s in my mind’s eye and reflected back to me in the mirror are two very different things. Can I love the ideal me and the real me? Can I drop the story to be a certain image at all times regardless of what stage of life I happen to be in? The man does not let outside influences interrupt his burning desire to meld into one. His lust and eyes tell me I’m something more than I see. Do I exist as he sees me naked and swaying to incite his excitement? Is that the true me? Or is it the one who breathes deep sighs as the clean sheets spread out neatly tucked around my body and mind relaxes and succumbs to the much-needed rest? To recharge and feel comfort in one’s bed without interruption or distraction. To feel my bones and breath no one to interpret or criticize. It is mine and only mine to claim. In beauty, in rest, in wholeness fully alive. I can be here for just a moment. A night under the moon. She and I are one and dancing with the stars not ashamed of who we are but embodying our true nature. When the black birds take flight in that early twilight, their beating wings do not make a mark across the darkened sky. Their beating hearts in unison as they soar across the moon only then illuminated before being swallowed back into the darkness.
The blackberries the quintessential fruit of summer. On the brink of harvest in the heat of morning sun. They sit patiently an offering. Do I accept the invitation? There is nothing like fresh fruit the burst of flavor on my tongue. The dark stained hands from the fleshy bells. On my chin and darkened my tongue. The fruit is not forbidden or only for the chosen few. Only to those who happen to look up at the sky and notice that there’s more than meets the ordinary eye. There is some effort. I must confess. Before you can savor the reward of your labors. It takes the body to the edge just beyond reach. With added vigor and strength, I can reach what I desire. It is now in my grasp and my body relaxes and breathes. Sighing as I place the dark bell into my mouth. Yes, I’ll save some for later and share the bounty. But right now this is just for me. This moment. This effort. This delicious reverie is mine to savor. So I do. Not caught up in agendas, past stories or future thinking. Just the blackberries The offering and Me the willing recipient. And I am filled with awe and gratitude for the fresh delectable flesh. Just mine. All mine. I touch the tree’s bark and look up in the branches. There is more than enough for everyone. For the birds, the insects, the squirrels and me. All sharing a Thanksgiving feast. The tree accepts all and turns away none. Is generous and sharing to all who visit her and enjoying her gift in her presence is the true gift.
The shadow is my constant companion. We are connected at the “sole.” We are together on this journey called life. My shadow warps and changes shape in response to the light. She may grow as long as a tree or seem to disappear beneath my feet. But nonetheless we are tethered whether I like it or not.
We all have a shadow side. So why do we collectively try to snuff out the darker parts of ourselves? My shadow is forever patient and steady. I may ignore her and go about my day or pretend she’s not there and distract myself from her message. She is ready even when I am not.
What is the light? It’s who I project myself to be. It’s my high points, my bright genius side. I can wrap the light around me like a blanket or hold it close like a soothing cup of tea. I am held in its warm embrace.
But sometimes the light is too much. Blinding even and I fear I will lose my footing on the path. My shadow will always guide me back, shield my eyes, and give me that necessary reprieve to regroup. The shadow is my retreat from the spotlight.
We need both the light and the shadow. We can’t have a shadow side without a lighter one. And we need not fear one and idealize the other. They can both peacefully coexist with equanimity. And we can collectively accept both sides of the same coin, us.
Doubt is where the real inner work resides. We can take a breather, examine what’s worked, what lies underneath the surface, and uncover old fears and wounds. This is where Doubt lives. It makes us feel small and inconsequential. It belittles our triumphs as not a big deal or just a coincidence, chance or dumb luck. Not true.
What do we do when Doubt creeps in? Do we run and hide and choose not face what’s blocking our path?
Playing safe = playing small.
It’s our duty to share our gifts with the world: Our talents, our skillset, our voice, our words, our stories are desperately needed.
How can we overcome Doubt?
We can journal the uncomfortable feelings. Process our thoughts into words on the page. Or stop and simply get outside and take a walk in nature or do some other movement.
How do we get still and ready to confront Doubt?
My favorite is to sit still and do a visualization with Doubt. Ask Doubt what is she trying to protect us from? Imagine Doubt is an unexpected guest that needs tending and attention. Make a cup of tea. Help Doubt take off her wet raincoat and dry by the fire. Hand Doubt the warm mug. Start gently, where you are. Try not to get caught up in a shouting and pushing match. Accept Doubt. Listen calmly and openly to all the concerns and potential threats. See them as outside yourself. They are not your truth or your story or what will happen. There are no guarantees.
Assure Doubt that you are okay. You are strong. You are capable. You are ready to take the next bold step. That with uncertainty can come greatness, joy, and a life beyond imagination. Sit in silence together, sipping the warm tea that never seems to cool until the last drop is gone. Thank Doubt for her words and say goodbye.
What’s the payoff for playing small? It provides a safety net in a world that seems wrought with violence and fear. Doubt is natural and almost like reflexive, protective posturing. However, please remember that your dream, your talents, skills, story, words, and energy are not threatening.
When I sit with Doubt I uncover some more: FEAR. Fear of being vulnerable, being open to criticism or possible judgment. Or possibly overcoming Doubt will spark a movement, create momentum for inner growth and shared experience, and provide an accepting environment and community where we can all thrive and not only merely survive.
I was introduced to BRU by a friend in high school. I was into The Cure, Depeche Mode, and Nine Inch Nails. Here was a radio station that played my music: alternative rock. From then on, I tuned into BRU to listen to my favorites and be introduced to new artists that would become my faves: Stone Temple Pilots, Poe, Cake, the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Blur, Sound Garden, The Cranberries, Weezer, Tori Amos, and Beck; and new artists today like Portugal the Man, The Killers, Paramore, Lorde, and K. Flay.
I am flooded with memories of my youth and young adulthood. I attended BRU’s Birthday Bash as a senior when Belly headlined the show at The Met when it was next to Lupo’s. Twelve Cuts Above the Rest would blast out of the radio on Fridays when I worked at Bess Eaton. As I got older, I looked forward the The Retro Lunch, where BRU played retro music from the 80s and 90s. In December around the holidays, there would be a whole week devoted only to 90s music. And I took advantage of their Big F’in’ Deal where you got $50 gift cards for only $25 from local restaurants, which included my favorite Julian’s.
I’m regretting that I wasn’t able to attend all their summer concert series, birthday bashes, or even their Nothing But 90s Party this past December. I always assumed they would be around like Del’s lemonade or Providence Water Fire.
I am filled with sadness that another RI institution is about to close its doors for good, especially because future generations like my kids won’t have BRU around to listen to. It serves as another reminder that nothing is permanent, ever. Everything does and will change whether we want them to or not. I wish I could start a petition to save BRU or get BRU connected to another alternative rock radio station that shares their philosophy of community, provides a supportive venue to play new artists’ music, and teaches future radio broadcasters. I wish I could do something more. I don’t want a feeling of depression to set in, a sense of helplessness, or anger to seep in. And I’m terrified that I’ll turn on my radio dial to 95.5 FM, and there will be static or worse.
I’m going to listen to BRU today and as long as I receive its broadcast signal. Tomorrow it could be gone. I’m forever grateful that BRU served as the soundtrack and background music of my life.
I have naturally curly hair. When I get my hair cut every couple of months, my hairdresser will straighten my hair. She uses a straightening iron and tames my locks into a sleek, smooth style.
Coworkers or someone usually comments on my hair.
“New hair style?”
“I like your hair.”
Or even, “I didn’t recognize you with that straight hair.”
Instead of acknowledging, Yes, I just had it done. I usually say, Well, I have to get my hair straightened every time I get my hair done or else my husband will say – and I deepen my voice – ‘Why did you spend money to get your hair done when it looks the same?’
He may have said that comment to me once a couple of years back. Ever since, it’s been my go-to-response when someone comments on my hair. I had the revelation that his comment is now my story, my truth. Even though it was said years ago, I’m keeping it alive and present by repeating the speil.
Today I’m going to change my story. That inner dialogue from a comment way back when will no longer have such a prominent place when I respond to a compliment.
I can think of other examples of compliments that tend to get brushed off.
“Oh, it was on clearance.”
“Thank you” is not always the first response.
Next time someone compliments me, I’m going to accept their compliment with grace and gratitude.
I’ve never been one to wear heels, except for the rare occasion when I was a bridesmaid. I have memories of my poor feet wobbling as I tried to walk down the aisle, all eyes on me, and trying to act the most natural as I could while my feet were in excruciating pain.
I prefer flats: mary janes or Ahnu yoga shoes. Before I started my full-time job, I went shoe shopping and found Life Stride. Think Stride Rite for women. These heels felt comfortable. Heck, I could work in these. I take my purchase home feeling satisfied. Flash forward to my first day at work. I put on my beloved new heels and start to walk around my building. Providence is a colonial city, which means uneven brick sidewalks and old stone layered into some of the roads. A challenge for heel wearers to say the least. So I start to walk and within a matter of minutes, my toes feel squeezed and pushed forward. These heels are not as comfortable as they were in the store.
I have observed coworkers stowing their heels under their desks or inside drawers, only donning them on when they’re called into court. Now that it’s summer, I tend to wear flipflops when I’m seated at my desk. And when I’m called into court during a jury trial, I would strap on my heels and walk that walk, acting like my feet are fine; I’m fine. And this act seemed to work for a while, or so I thought. Until yesterday. A coworker with concern asked me, “Do you have a limp?” Nope. It’s the heels.
I’m going to retire them in favor of my Skechers mary janes with memory foam and just accept the fact that heels are not for me.
We do not live in a one-size-fits-all world. What works for others is not always going to feel like the right fit. Some women wear high stilettos with ease. I’m just not one of them and I never will be. I’ll proudly be wearing my Skechers to court from now on.
We all have our own paths to walk and strides to make. Let’s listen to what our bodies tell us and fearlessly proclaim what no longer works for us. Let’s accept this truth with pride in our hearts.