Last week I received this delightful image from one of my Squammie cabin mates:
The arrival of this message touched me in a way I could not quite initially figure out. The wonderful flower head monster was made by one of my creative cabin mates, Liz, and is the traveling companion and subject of a photo journal-log by the equally talented and playful Sharyn. I immediately smiled and the grumpiness that had hovered around me lifted. I emailed my gratitude back to Sharyn and then found myself thinking about Theo - as he is called - for days now.
Finally, it struck me why this little fellow had gotten under my skin and had lodged in my heart: his childlike innocence allowed me to graciously accept the sentiments he was offering to me. I realized that receiving is not something I allow myself to do on any regular basis.
Offer me a compliment and I will shrug it off and say it is no big deal, nothing worth noting, anything to deflect attention away from myself. While I do crave acknowledgment of my work, I also fear the notice as if by looking too deeply at me, the flaws and mistakes will become apparent. I've recognized this tendency in other women - to downplay achievements - but now I am finding this habit within myself to be no longer tolerable. Because by denying myself the kind words, the acknowledgment of my efforts, and the recognition of my Light, I deny others the chance to shine their own. If I am busy hiding myself, I cannot be genuinely engaged in seeing you.
I am also grappling with disappointment in myself for missing an opportunity to grow. For not only have I shunned compliments, I have also avoided criticism and feedback. Yet I tell Cowgirl that we cannot grow if we do not seek ways to improve our skills and our work. Recently, I failed to heed my own advice and now I regret missing a chance to learn how I might improve upon my craft.
I am someone who talks out of nervousness. I have to fill the space. Likewise, my tendency is to be busy doing and not allowing there to be space for emptiness. But what I am realizing is it isn't the emptiness I fear, it is the act of allowing myself to be filled that unnerves me. Yes, I am a bit of a control freak. And I am weary of it.
a work in progress; unfortunately the metallic gold and silver and pale yellow pigments i used do not show up in this photograph. i am thinking it needs a splash of deep red?
In an exercise for 21 Secrets, I did a guided meditation by Effy Wild on Art Journal as Soul Mirror. The intention of the exercise was to uncover my life's purpose, my passion. Doing the meditation the word Attentive emerged for me. I was thinking about attentiveness in terms of mindfulness. And while that thought filled my head, I looked through magazines to find images or words for my journal page. I had almost given up when this text jumped out at me: "Learning to Trust Myself." Working on the spread, a message emerged: I need to cultivate being attentive to myself and to my life in order to hear the whisperings of my heart, and to trust that voice. But first I have to allow space to receive myself and my truths. If I do that, then I am better able to create space for others to uncover their gifts. And when that happens, we all benefit as a circuit of inspiration and empowerment flows through us all.
So thank you Theo for reminding me to open space to receive kindness in words, sentiments or gestures as it is offered to me. Thank you for teaching me I need to allow myself to receive. Thank you for touching my heart and showing me my actions do make a difference to another be it a Flower Head Monster, a child, a stranger or a new friend.
Do you allow yourself to receive? How can we make this a regular practice?
From this day forward, I set an intention to practice Receiving; trusting myself to know when it is appropriate for me to take in another's words, compliments or feedback and when I am to listen to my own heart and follow my own counsel. I welcome compliments and constructive criticism as ways to grow and learn. I may squirm and cringe a bit, but I will keep quiet and allow space for the words to sink in.