January 21, 2012


In my living room, I have a "nest." It's a big, comfy chair with a fleece quilt. Next to my nest is a table that holds my current stack of reading. And under the table is my craft box and another box that contains my journals and assorted comforts. Right now my stack of reading is a book of lovely photographs (A Year of Mornings), and two other books that currently speak to my heart: Ordinary Sparkling Moments by Christine Mason Miller and A Hidden Wholeness by Parker Palmer. These latter two books focus on authenticity, wholeness, creativity, and listening to your true inner voice (not the habituated, judgmental ego voice). 

From Parker Palmer: "The strongest evidence for true self comes from seeing what happens when we try to live as if we did not have one." I hear you, buddy! For many years a denied my true self. Of course, parts of it peaked out now and then, but I didn't live my life intentionally. I lived my life completely focused on externals: Do people like me? Have I achieved enough? Am I good enough in other people's eyes? Am I thin enough? Do I work out enough? Will I get tenure? Do my students and colleagues respect me? Shouldn't I do more, achieve more, help more, entertain more, in order to be lovable?

That was a very difficult place to inhabit. Although I still struggle to live each moment authentically, I do live more moments authentically, and it's much easier for me access my centered, whole, true self. And to trust I can always get back there, no matter what happens. This all takes great mindfulness. In the beautiful words of Mary Oliver ("Low Tide"): "This is the first, wildest, and wisest thing I know, that the soul exists, and that it is built entirely out of attentiveness" [emphasis mine].

To access my true self, I must allow for many things: space, solitude, creativity, awareness, connection, and reflection. And trust. Trust in myself, my wholeness, my goodness. This all takes great (HUGE) attentiveness. Some days it's there, and other days are a whirlwind of busyness. But every day is a blessing--a new experience from which I can learn and become more whole. 

A close friend of mine gave me a beautiful angel with lovely reminder phrases on it (e.g., "Unleash your joy" "Be yourself" "Embrace vulnerability"). I keep it in my office, and whenever I look at it, I smile:

PS I previously blogged a funny story about my Real Self.

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