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Archive for October, 2014

In a recent conversation about a child’s education, I briefly stated how important it is to encourage creative expression in children rather than competition. It was not a well-thought-out statement at the time, but it brought a flood of thoughts afterwards. What became clear was that creativity is not only about the arts, but also the way we think and how we live. Creativity allows us to be more adept at problem solving, building a business, articulating emotions and even sports. While competition tends to foster comparing ourselves to others and separating those who win from those who lose, true expression focuses on our personal experience and authentically sharing that with the world. I do not believe competition is inherently bad, but that it is best approached as a journey of self rather than proof of how good or bad we are. It seems if we emphasized expression to the young, they would more likely approach competition this way in the long run.

Throughout my life there have been times when my heart hurts so much it is overwhelming. The pain has hit at times of great loss; a breakup, the death of a dog, not getting the part I wanted in a play, and so on…. Other times the sadness was brought on by no outward circumstance at all. This morning I was flooded with this latter kind of deep feeling. I have done enough self-development to know that ignoring these spells—and I use that word purposely—is futile for the following four reasons.

  1. There is nothing wrong with feeling deeply regardless of our society’s distaste for it.
  2. Outrunning an internal experience rarely works for the long run. 
  3. Intellectualizing emotions actually pushes them deeper and they can come out inappropriately.
  4. Discomfort of this kind is usually the first sign of a major wake-up, and in this day and age we need to wake up regardless if it’s painful. 

So, I walked into the woods along with my dog Z and my sadness. Deep in, I sat down among the hemlocks in the arms of my beloved sun. At first I just sat and allowed the sensation of silence to wash over and through me. Then, not knowing what else to do, I spoke out loud saying “Greetings Mother Earth and Sibling Trees. I have come to you in sorrow, its source I cannot discern. I ask for help in healing this wound regardless of its origin. If instead of needing healing it has a message, please then help me to hear.“

Now I hope not to lose anyone with this, but I received the following response; “Katrina, thank you for honoring us with your truth and asking for our help. We are always hoping to be heard and used for our wisdom not only our bodies. What you are feeling is an excess of emotions. You are labeling it as sadness because it has overwhelmed you, but it is not exclusively that. In addition, not all of what you are feeling is yours, some of it is ancestral and some universal. Avoid the temptation to run for cover, and allow these emotions to take place just as you would a thunderstorm. You don’t try to stop a storm, instead you watch it move through knowing it will end, the sun will shine and all that remains will thrive because of the rain. Neither is this about banishing these emotions forever, for just as storms will come again so too will feelings. However, by healing and releasing them now they will not become stagnant and interrupt your life flow unknowingly. Allow what will happen to happen as it will. That is the way of nature; and you, my dear, are nature. Sometimes the strongest tree falls, yet the forest remains. Any death will be shocking at first but frankly what grows lives what doesn’t dies. It’s very simple, yet humans tend to crowd it with preferences and judgments, while clinging to never-ending goals that they believe will satisfy their true longing for peace and love. Emotions are a blessing of the human experience, yet they are not necessarily connected to truth and will often muddle your perception. Be mindful of that as you move with your flow, accepting all that it brings. Don’t get fooled in to believing that you will feel only joy and bliss if you are on your path. Being vulnerable to pain is an indication you are open, free and natural—which is true strength. We thank you for being courageous, authentic and honest. Continue your balanced dance with paradox, knowing that you are the only person in charge of your story. You have been given the gift of life, use it wisely.”

With that there was silence again. Deep within there was a true sense of belonging to this world. After sitting in the quiet for a spell, I remembered again the thoughts about personal expression and saw that at its core there has to be this sense of belonging. Hence, I add the importance of being with nature or whatever makes you feel the strongest connection to the world. From there it is possible to fearlessly express yourself creatively in whatever way most fulfilling—writing, caring for animals, making films, teaching or whatever. As Howard Thurman put it “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” There is no need to prove that we belong by creating outer success or receiving the approval of others, although both may come naturally. The simple fact that we have life coursing through our hearts has already proven our inclusion and value. From that place of worthiness, everything we choose to do with our life is simply a way of honoring the gift. Perhaps in the end, that is all I mean by creative expression—articulating the life that animates what would otherwise be just a pile of bones. So I end with a question in the words of Mary Oliver, ‘…what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?’ No matter your answer, may it be sourced by the song that is yours alone. 

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