Category: Arts & Life
Did You Know You Are A Constellation?
For much of my life, I have struggled with the feeling of being “too much” … too many things. I have felt as if there were too many facets to my personality, too many conflicting interests and preferences. My empathy often extends to both sides of an argument, and my opinions constantly change based on my research and discussions. I know no person is static, but I have always fought hard against the gut instinct that I just didn’t “fit” anywhere.
This week as I was reading something written by therapist and Co-Founder of Motherlift, Morgan Myers, LPC, of East Dallas Psychotherapy, something struck a chord with me. Myers believes that each person is a constellation. She says that we “aren’t strictly one thing. We can be any one of the stars in the constellation, depending on the day, the mood, the fact that we’re hungry or tired. It can vary depending on the life stage. All of it is you. If we can view ourselves as constellations, we can loosen the grip on who we think we should be, and just be.”
When I step outside my insecurities, I can see how the stars in my personal constellation work together to create me. I need each star — even if they may be in direct contrast with one another — to create my whole person. So why do I keep fighting to extinguish all but one star?
I believe it’s because we live in a branded world. Identity — a perfectly defined identity — is sold as the key to success. From theme songs and logos to endorsements and catch phrases, we are taught from an early age that people are characters, not complex beings. People in business become the brand, and it is integral to the sell. In that way, I find myself adapting to the various roles in my life by showing each group of people only the most appropriate “star.”
Myers says we do this because we’re all looking for belonging. “We, as a culture, have an unwritten list of what we think is appropriate in our life stages, in our social circles, etc. We’re all trying to measure up, when all we really want is to be acceptable.”
We are accustomed to pigeonholing each other, says Myers, and we do the same disservice to ourselves. “You may say, ‘I’m not the kind of person who’ or ‘I don’t know why I did that; that wasn’t me!’ Well, it’s all you. When you finally accept these parts of yourself, you can free yourself. You can make unconventional choices, be spontaneous and still be fully authentic. It is SO FREEING!”
Myers likes to look at it like this: She says our identities are comprised of our ideal selves (our potential) and our shadow selves (our limitations). These are two equal parts of each person’s identity, but we choose to showcase and highlight the ideal self. “The ideal self is the ‘most appropriate star’ you talked about,” says Myers. “It’s how we want to be perceived; we like this part. We applaud our ideal self on Instagram, and it is something to be celebrated. But it’s not alone.”
The other part, the shadow self, tells us about our limits and is an essential part of our existence. “Parker J. Palmer talks about how we walk a path, and sometimes the way closes or the way opens. Often we blame ourselves when the door closes. Sometimes we think we just need to try harder. This can become shame,” says Myers.
In her own life, Myers has overcome fighting her shadow self and has landed in a place of rest. “I always wanted four kids,” says Myers. “I loved the idea of a big, full house. But when I had my two girls, I was hit with deep postpartum depression. I have slowly come to terms with this ‘way closing,’ and after many years of processing my shame about my limitations, I have begun to own it. Once I owned that ‘star in my constellation,’ I felt freer. I can now embrace what I do have in my family. I can be honest about my limitations. I can even join others who have the same limitation. There’s grief in recognizing my limitations, but there’s also a deeper rest in myself.”
If we’re looking for a deeper rest and acceptance of our own selves, Myers insists that we stop the all-or-nothing thinking. “This kind of thinking boxes us in, telling us we’re only one thing … and, dammit, we’d better live up to that one thing,” she says. Instead, she suggests we combat this thinking with “and” statements:
I can love my family and not want more babies.
I can be an advocate for racial discrimination and enjoy the blessings I do have.
I can be a good friend and make a mistake in the way I communicate with them.
I can love my husband and feel dissatisfied with how I’m treated.
I can have a strong faith and have doubts sometimes.
I can meet my children’s needs and meet my own needs.
I can, I may, I can be …. and, and, and.
Another variation of that is “I may” statements. “Instead of ‘I should’ or ‘I shouldn’t,’ try ‘I may,’ says Myers. “Give yourself at least 2–3 options. ‘I may decide to go out with friends even when I haven’t seen my kids all day, or I may decide to stay home.’ ‘I may go back to school, or I may decide to wait, or I may decide not to go at all.’ It sounds simple, but when you feel limited by your circumstances, your past experiences or your ‘shoulds,’ then ‘I may’ really opens up the world for you.”
Myers reminds us that we can be more than one star, and we can make mistakes. “Your constellation will have some contradictions,” she says. “If you have time, draw a constellation. Now put at least 20 stars on your constellation, each one labeled with a quality you possess, good and not-so-good. Allow for contradictions. You might begin to notice some themes about who you are.”
Through exercises like these we can begin doing the challenging work of discovering our true identities, so that we may bring their light to the world. If we are gentle and honest with ourselves, we unlock — and, better yet, accept — who we are.
Want to read more about how to become a better person? How to give your children a better future? Try our “What I Wish You Knew” series:
“What I Wish You Knew: I’m Raising A Black Son in America”
“What I Wish You Knew: Life For Refugee Mothers”
What I Wish You Knew: I’m Raising A Black Son in America
In my suburban community, the white mothers I know are overwhelmed and disgusted by what they’ve seen on the news this week. We’ve seen grown black men and women being murdered in front of our eyes, and we feel helpless. But what we don’t see is that each one of these victims was loved and cherished by a mother whose worst fear has been realized.
In this new series, “What I Wish You Knew,” I’m asking various mothers to tell their stories, and I’m hoping to become a better person and a more active participant in change. I recently interviewed Torsha Tomlinson, wife of Pro Football Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson and a mother of two, about what it’s like raising a black son in America.
Tell me what it feels like when you hear on the news that another innocent black man has been killed or threatened? What goes through your mind?
It feels like betrayal over and over again. There is a flurry of emotions: anger mixed with anxiety, sadness, fear, hopelessness, and an overwhelming desire to do something about it. Every time I hear about yet another unarmed black man being killed and the smear campaign begins along with the despicable explaining away of the unnecessary loss of another black soul, I’m reminded that the lives of people who look like my son are not valued. I’m reminded that to some people, my son’s skin color makes him a target and there’s nothing I can do about it. I cannot change his skin color.
When I see the mothers of these men and hear their cries, I find myself drowning in feelings of inadequacy and anxiety due to my inability as a mother to protect my son from this. Prayers for his continued protection go through my mind. Unrealistic thoughts of keeping my son safe at home with me forever and ever run through my mind. Then I prepare to sit my children down and explain it all to them so that I can ensure they hear the truth from me before hearing lies elsewhere.
What have you seen to be the reaction from your white friends? What do you wish they understood?
First let me say that people who I previously thought to be my “friends,” who had no reaction to the repeated injustices of people who look like me and my children, are no longer my friends. The white friends I do still have in my life are very supportive and genuinely want to help facilitate change. They are honest with themselves about their own privileges and what they see happening to people of color. My white friends are disgusted by all of this and afraid for their own white children to be growing up in a world full of such hate.
They are struggling, just as I am, to try and explain all of this to such young, innocent minds. They have a strong understanding that an injustice against one of us is an injustice against all of us. But they do still feel helpless and lost at times … clueless as to what they can do to make it better … afraid to speak out for fear of being attacked, ridiculed or judged by their white friends and family.
I understand that fear and I respect them for knowing and believing that doing nothing makes them at the very least an accomplice to racism even if they aren’t racist themselves. My white friends have a desire to take some responsibility for ensuring that we don’t inevitably leave these same problems behind for our children‘s children to continue to have to deal with. I wish everyone understood that.
How old is your son, and how do you explain all of this to him?
My son is nine years old and for his own safety and the desire to want to keep him safe, we don’t sugar coat any of this with him. Although we never show him any of the graphic images in the media, we do make sure that he is very much aware of what is happening to women, children and men all over America who look like us. We have been honest with him about America’s history and its lingering effects. Knowing the history allows him to understand the why. This is something I think is missing in schools and in people’s homes.
I get it! Parts of America’s history are rough, unpleasant, brutal and even heartless at times. But when you know better, you do better! Tolerance and understanding of another group’s plight only comes from learning the deep-rooted truths about their history. We are doing everybody a disservice by always sweeping the ugly parts of our history under the rug. Not discussing and teaching how we really got to this point is part of the problem.
We teach our son that there are good and bad people in the world from all walks of life, and that a person’s skin color alone does not make him or her good or bad. We spend a lot of time building him up. Developing a healthy self-esteem for our son is very important to us knowing that he has to go out into a world that wants to bombard him with negative images, narratives and portrayals of people who look like him.
We also believe that representation matters, so we go out of our way to ensure he sees, meets, reads about and encounters black men of color in a positive light. We want him to know that his life matters, has worth and value, regardless of how the world around him perceives those who look like him.
Tell me about the conversations you and your husband have had about keeping your son safe.
My husband and I had to start having these very scary and difficult conversations with our son when he was eight years old. Honestly, at first, it was a source of contention between us because although I felt like it was time, my husband was completely against it. Rightly so, he wanted my son to have the privilege of remaining an innocent, naive child for as long as he could without having to comprehend such grown-up issues.
However, the more we kept seeing incident after incident occurring in the media, we knew that even though he was so young, educating him and preparing him to have to walk through life as a black man was vital to his safety. As black parents the longer we waited, the more at risk our son would be. My husband and I realize that it is inevitable that our son will one day face discrimination, so we agreed to never stop talking and teaching him how to handle it in ways that will ensure he will always return back home to us safely.
When he’s out riding his bike or playing with friends, are you worried?
Due to the current environment and, frankly, the shift I’ve seen roughly over the last three-and-a-half years, my son has not been outside riding his bike without my husband or myself with him. This is simply due to fear that the police could be called on him by people who think he looks suspicious or doesn’t belong here. It’s simply not safe, not worth the worry, or the chance of a terrible irreversible accident occurring like what has happened to too many other brown boys.
What has your son said to you?
This is all very scary and confusing for him. Grasping the concept that someone who doesn’t even know you and who you’ve never done a single ounce of harm towards could dislike you, wish ill will toward you and want to cause you harm is very difficult for him to understand. We honestly weren’t aware of the effects the lack of justice served in all of these cases was truly having on him until an incident occurred a few months ago.
He was having issues at school with another student for months and never once said anything to anyone about it. When things finally came to light we asked him why he let it go on for so long without coming to us, and he said that “it was because the other student’s father was a police officer and that he was afraid he’d do bad things to our family since cops can do anything they want.”
I cried a million tears in that moment. I hated how these awful killings being allowed to occur with no justice being served were shaping my child negatively and instilling fear in him. I was not okay with that. We have had to put a lot of energy into teaching him that not all cops are bad and that no human is perfect! We remind him that most cops are the real heroes that dedicate their lives to keeping us safe. Most importantly, we remind our son of how unfair it would be for him to be judged by the bad actions of others, so we will not take part in unfairly judging all officers by the bad actions of a few.
What is said when you discuss these tragedies and our culture with your black mom friends?
The overwhelming topic of almost all of our discussions is fear … fear for our husbands and children. There’s also an overwhelming feeling of exhaustion. We are tired of this! We are tired of talking about it, fighting it and having to prepare our children for it. We watched our moms and grandmothers go through this same exact fear for their sons and husbands. They watched our great-grandmothers deal with the same fears, and so on and so forth back too many generations to count.
We fear that our children and grandchildren will still be dealing with the same thing. We also discuss the hurt and disappointment some black mothers feel toward their white friends who choose to bury their heads in the sand and pretend like nothing is happening. We share our struggles with the idea of a “friend” who breaks bread with your family, sleeps over, attends birthdays, whose children participate in extracurricular activities and play with your children, and claim to care about your child and family, yet he/she displays such indifference for what is happening around the country to people who look like your family. The appearance of desensitization and blatant disregard to death, murder, injustice and unnecessary loss of black lives displayed by some of those white “friends” is flat out shocking.
What do we take for granted as white moms?
There are many things I could touch on pertaining to the things white moms take for granted but I’d like to focus on the number one thing that I am currently struggling with. I would imagine that just like all moms you love your children and want the best for them. You want them to live out a full and happy life like the rest of us. Most moms struggle with the idea of our children growing up and getting older. We’d keep them babies forever if we could. But I’m not sure if white moms fear their white sons simply getting older could lead to them being killed. I doubt white moms ever worry that simply growing up could come with a negative perception toward their sons and could cause them harm.
I am the mother of a sweet, caring, shy, baby-faced, nine-year-old brown boy … a boy who is quickly growing every day into someone who will be viewed as just a threatening and intimidating black man by people who have zero regard for the real content of his character. I would imagine that white moms are proud when their sons grow tall and start to fill out into handsome young men. Black moms know that same height and size on our sons paired with their blackness can cause fear and intimidation that could lead to their deaths behind the hands of fearful and bias officers.
There are studies and statistics that show that, in general, black boys over the age of 10 are judged to be less innocent than white boys. A 2014 study found that black boys are seen as more culpable for their actions within a criminal justice context than white boys. Research also found that black boys as young as 10 years old were significantly less likely to be viewed as children than their white peers. My son is weeks away from turning 10, and the thought of anyone considering him to be, punishing him as, treating him like, or expecting him to behave as an adult is scary and absurd.
What do black moms wish white moms would tell our children when these tragedies occur?
Tell them that wrong is wrong regardless of whom is at fault. No one is perfect, not even police officers. Ensure that they know a person’s skin color doesn’t automatically make them guilty or at fault. Make sure they understand that in America we have a judicial system for a reason, and that no one’s life should be taken over a pack of cigarettes, an evening jog, a counterfeit $20 bill, failing to signal, a pack of Skittles or a toy pellet gun.
Human life has to be viewed as more valuable than that. Realize that you ignoring these acts of injustice and not addressing them in your own home reads as disregard for human life and is teaching your children to do the same, which keeps us in this perpetual cycle generation after generation. So even if you choose not to tell your children anything when yet another unarmed black man has been killed by law enforcement, your reaction or lack there of will inadvertently be a lesson to them anyway.
What can we do to help fix the problem? Posting on social media is one thing, but how do we ignite actual change and save lives?
This systemic problem was rooted into the very foundation that America was built on over centuries and centuries. Unrooting it and getting rid of it will not be an easy task. Stand with us! Speak up & speak out! We need allies who understand that this problem is everyone’s problem.
Honestly, black people are not responsible for centuries of unwarranted violence against them, so I truly feel that the onus should not solely be on us to fix it. I believe you can help by first acknowledging there is a problem. You all live in the same world we live in. You witness the same things we witness. You have heard our cries and complaints forever. So a good place to start is to stop denying the facts of racism in this country. Then begin addressing the views and teachings in your own homes with your families, children and within your circles.
Educating your children is most vital. Stopping the spread of hate and division to other generations is key. Expose your children to positive images, books and representation of people of color. Encourage your family to get to know people outside of their own race if they don’t already. That is the most organic way to cultivate understanding and tolerance for those that are different than us. Educate your friends who you hear spewing evil and hate towards people of color. Stop being afraid of losing your white friends for speaking truth to power. If they are down with hate, ask yourself why you are friends with them in the first place. Understand that simply not being racist isn’t enough. We need you all to be anti-racist and instill the same into your children.
Pretty Things: Rylie Caldwell Art
Artist Rylie Caldwell has never met a color she didn’t like.
Inspired by the purity, flow and energy of water, Houston-based Caldwell uses acrylic as her medium to create vast movements of color. From cheerful rainbows to moody greens and blues, Caldwell experiments with color combinations and an understanding of color psychology to breathe life into rooms through her art.
Each year Caldwell, a Cattle Baron’s Ball “Featured Artist,” donates a portion of her earnings to organizations like Charity Water and Living Water International that help build wells all over the world. “Water is such a source of life, redemption and renewal throughout history and all over the world. I find it endlessly inspiring,” says Caldwell.
First learning how to paint at her grandmother’s kitchen table, Caldwell has been a lifelong artist. “I painted a gloriously embarrassing ‘Bambi’ mural on my bedroom walls as a kid,” Caldwell recalls. She received a Bachelor’s of Architecture and a Minor in Art History from Texas A&M University and credits her architectural training with sharpening her eye and developing her aesthetic.
Today, this mom of three works out of her Houston studio to create inspired paintings for individuals, designers and businesses alike. Visit ryliecaldwell.com to learn more and to purchase.
See another super-talented, artistic mom here!
What I Wish You Knew: Life for Refugee Mothers
We each have a unique story, though our stories often go untold. We’re intelligent enough to know we can learn from one another, but we stay in our bubbles because it is comfortable. I’m guiltier than most, with my busyness as my shield. If we took the time to just ask the questions we really want to ask and truly listen to the answers, our empathy would not only change us, but change our children as well.
In this new series, “What I Wish You Knew,” I am asking various mothers to tell their stories, and I’m hoping to become a better, more empathetic person and a more active participant in change. I recently interviewed Stephanie Giddens, founder of Vickery Trading Company, about her experience getting to know and working alongside many refugees in the Dallas area. What she has discovered may surprise you.
Giddens founded Vickery Trading Company as a way to help refugees in her community by “equipping them for long-term success.” She hires refugee women and pays them fair wages to sew clothing for the Vickery Trading Company brand. Employees receive training as professional seamstresses and instruction in American workplace behaviors and expectations. They are guided through the resumé-building, application and interview process and, as VTC graduates, given job placement assistance. The women are also trained in ESL, reading, handwriting, and typing before they leave. In other words, they are given a chance to succeed.
Stephanie, what do you think the majority of people would be surprised to learn about refugees?
Refugees are not illegal immigrants, migrants or asylum seekers. While there are millions of refugees that claim the Islamic faith, the majority of refugees in the world are Christian. Also, to date, no terror-related activities in the U.S. have been performed by refugees. ZERO.
What is the challenge like for these women, many of them mothers?
It’s different in all countries, but for the Rohingya community, for instance, their government comes to their villages to kill or capture many of the men and boys before sending the women and girls to refugee camps. Only 1–2% of all people in the refugee camps get resettled, and they are completely reliant on relief efforts.
Their first step is to be named official refugees by the U.N. After that, a lottery system determines whether or not they will be resettled. On average, refugees — the lucky ones who get resettled — spend 8–15 years in a refugee camp.
If they are chosen to resettle in the U.S., they undergo multiple health checks and security screenings with eight different government agencies. Once here, the refugees must find a way to repay the airfare and are given 90 days to learn English and get a job. Many of these women come from cultures where the women don’t work, so we try to give them sewing skills they can use to work from home with their children.
One of the most challenging parts for us is that these women were never taught how to learn. Many of them have spent the majority of their young lives in camps and have little-to-no education. The Rohingya women don’t even have a written language, so there is no way for them to translate words to English.
They struggle through all of this so that their children may receive an education and have hope for a different life.
What do they think of us?
It’s funny because when I was first beginning this business and interviewing women — of all cultures — they would always ask me if my three children had the same father. I finally got up the courage to ask why they would ask such a question. It turns out that the only impression they get of American culture in their homelands is from what they see on TV and in movies, which are not the greatest examples of morals and family values.
What have you learned from them?
They love so well. If I even have a headache, they bring meals to my door. The Muslim people groups really know how to slow down and celebrate life and the people in it. They are a communal people, and there is always a feast, a festival and a reason to celebrate.
If we don’t have the time to volunteer or the money to donate, what can we do to help these mothers?
We can model an attitude of inclusion in front of our children. Our children will see us if we smile and say hi to the women in the hijabs. It will register with them.
We can choose to go to a playground in a refugee neighborhood instead of the ones in our community. We can let our children play alongside the refugee children and show them that Americans are kind.
We can stop the cycle of fear that affects both their community and ours. The American mind has been trained to see a hijab as equaling terrorism, and the Muslim refugees from Taliban-laden communities have been taught that Westerners are the enemy. Oftentimes, they are afraid to engage with us, and surprised when we turn out to be friendly.
What do you want people to take away from this piece?
Be willing to look at someone differently. Be willing to see someone as a human and not as a political case or a statistic. You would be so surprised, and your life would be so much richer.
Pretty Things: Becky Haas Watercolors
Personal gifts are always best, and there’s nothing more precious or personal than your home and your children. Dallas interior designer, artist and proud boy mom, Becky Haas, recently rediscovered her love of rendering, and we are all the lucky recipients of her creative gift.
After spending nine years working as a healthcare interior designer, Becky chose to stay at home when her oldest son was one-year-old. Raising her sons and watching them grow has been the greatest joy of her life.
When Covid-19 changed our “normal” this March, Becky found herself searching for ways to alleviate the stress and have some fun. She decided to take a moment to watercolor with her boys, and Becky Haas Watercolors was born.
It began as a hobby, morphed into a kind of therapy and then grew into much more. She began creating watercolor portraits of homes and children for friends and family. The response was huge.
Custom watercolor portraits are available with a two-to-three-week lead time. Home renderings range in price based on size (i.e. $200 for a 9×12). Family and children portraits cost $150 for an 8×10 and $200 for a 9×12. Order by emailing Becky at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is a “Beauty-Filled” Life?
Lately I’ve had a few people ask, “Meghan, why is your blog named ‘The Beauty-Filled Life’ when you write mainly about boys and dirt and chaos?”
Allow me to explain. Sure, I could have named my blog “Snips and Snails” or “Bless This Mess,” perhaps “Fart Frat” would have been well received … but, see, that doesn’t tell the whole story. “The Beauty-Filled Life” does.
Years ago I read something by one of my favorite authors and thought leaders, Glennon Doyle, and it stuck with me. She said:
Beautiful means ‘full of beauty.’ Beautiful is not about the appearance of your outsides — beautiful is about what you’re made of. Beautiful women are women who spend time discovering what they love — what sings to them — what their idea of beauty on this Earth is. Then they make time each day to fill themselves up with that beauty. They know themselves well enough to know what they love, and they love themselves enough to fill up with a little of their particular kind of beauty each day.
My sons and their antics fill me up. They are my well from which I draw beauty. I don’t want a beautiful life; I want a beauty-filled life. A beauty-filled life has absolutely nothing to do with pretty, organized, controlled, orderly perfection. It’s the guts, the real soil of the human experience. Beautiful things fade, but beauty-filled moments last forever.
A floor covered in laundry, changing wet sheets, potty training, tantrums, messy buns and baggy eyes are not “beautiful” as we have come to know beauty, but these experiences and the love driving them are filled with beauty. A beauty-filled life is one that is rich with authentic beauty, the kind that is a finely woven tapestry of pain and triumph, anger and redemption, dirt and cleansing, growth and forgiveness and unconditional love.
No one except advertising agencies ever said our lives are supposed to beautiful in the sense of pleasing to the eye. They sell that our homes are supposed to be sparkling clean, our bodies fit, tan, and toned, and our little ones well behaved. Between magazines and our newsfeeds, our minds are inundated with images of perfectly styled homes with clean, bright kitchens and minimalist playrooms donning only wooden toys. It’s what we love seeing, otherwise it wouldn’t be everywhere, but it also makes us feel bad.
I used to work for those magazines. During photo shoots, we would enter gorgeous —albeit lived in — homes and spend hours cleaning up, moving furniture and styling shots. We worked hard to remove all the true life from the shots only to turn around and perfectly style an “ideal” life. A glass of orange juice on a veranda next to a vase of flowers and a sun-dappled croissant, a perfect half-moon of wooden trains laying next to a “Curious George” anthology in an otherwise untouched playroom, families enjoying a backyard picnic though they’ve never done that before.
I was fooled by these images for a long time. I still have to remind myself that they are not the truth. I look at my messy home with chipped paint on the walls, and I’m embarrassed that we’re not perfect. How could we possibly have company over when we don’t have an open concept home, our laundry baskets have actual clothes in them, our toys are plastic, and our couch is from Ikea! (These thoughts are even more ridiculous when typed). But then the little voice inside of me that has sprouted thanks to maturity and experience reminds me that perfection is not the end game. What if we saw real homes filled with the beauty of real life? Would we then focus less on curating Insta-worthy shots and more on filling our own rooms with joy and laughter?
I’m tired of “bettering myself” and my life. I’m weary from filling out mindfulness journals, reading self-help books and trying new diets. I’m nostalgic for the levity of childhood. My boys bring me back to that place. They make me roar with laughter, and I love watching them really enjoy their lives with wild abandon. They look at me with love in their eyes, and it has nothing to do with whether or not the laundry is done, where we bought our furniture, or the size of my pants. They just love me. They make me feel beauty-filled.
One day someone is going to tear down the houses we’ve so proudly built, paint over our furniture and laugh at our clothing choices. It just doesn’t matter. “Pretty” doesn’t last … I’m living for a beauty-filled life. And, even if I one day get to travel the whole stunning world, I hope the view from inside this humble home is the one I remember well into my old age. It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.
Why I Write
This all began out of fear. I didn’t realize fear was the issue at the time, and I’d many times attributed my discontent to other things, but it was fear that led me here. You’ve oftentimes heard musicians and composers say that they chose a life of music because they couldn’t not write music. That same sentiment is what finally stung my core and caused me to start this page. I can’t not write anymore. However terrifying exposing my inner thoughts to the world may be, expressing them in written form is who I am. So here we are.
I was working my way through Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way” when I stumbled upon this clarity. I started writing my morning page with no intention of it holding any meaning at all. To me it was nothing more meaningful than the writing in an adolescent’s diary … until it was transformed. Somewhere along the way, my writing became inspired, and its words held within them the answer to my most pressing question:
Am I supposed to create? Was it my Creator’s intention for me to write?
Here’s what poured out of me and into that journal on this day:
“For the love of God, I can’t get a minute’s rest. Someone has always left the water running, needs to be fed, or is mid-fight. It’s a miracle I’m still sane. What was God thinking giving me three sons? I must have been some kind of brat to require this much humbling. Or is this supposed to be my artistic material?
My hand hurts. How did I used to do hours upon hours of cursive writing in school? I often think about what I would do differently if I could go back. Would I read more and socialize less? Would I choose a different university? Travel? Move? Would I now be a writer living in Brooklyn … or, perhaps, a book editor?
It’s funny how when I think what I want out of this life, it never involves wanting money. However, I find myself often consumed by wanting more and feeling like I need more. Maybe my choice to not live a creative life has made me feel like I need the bigger house or nicer things as the consolation prize for the sacrifice of my true self. This is, of course, ridiculous but also shows me that I’m searching for a richness of life, a creative life. If I had the bigger house and nicer things, I would still be searching.
It’s creativity, expression, and depth that I crave. It’s the desire to feel awake and alive! I want to live creatively, nurture meaningful friendships, develop an intimate relationship with God’s creation, and experience a deeper faith. I want to be fully engaged in this life from the tips of my toes to the top of my crown.
I first have to disengage from this manufactured world and disconnect the disingenuous channels of my mind telling me what will make me happy. Should I continue down their chosen path for me, I will do nothing but tire my soul and squander my days. But should I diverge, I will once again recognize my reflection and walk along a path shrouded in glorious mystery that connects me to my Creator.
What could keep me from taking this path? Fear? Staying the course is far more frightening. Comfort? Even in the most familiar, the hollow core remains. I’ve filled it with food. I’ve chased money. I’ve tried to ignore its festering. But in the end, it is left unchanged, still waiting patiently to be filled by a leap of faith.”