How I practice authenticity

I had no clue how to be authentic. As a child, I remember feeling like when I was myself, I was shamed out of it to behave differently. Before I knew it, I believed that any question I would want to ask was dumb and that I should already know things. I was not good enough as myself, so I’d become someone else, which then prevented me from getting too close for fear of being found out. Intimacy was a decades long work-in-progress.

When that is the experience, it takes a lot of courage to come from the heart, to be straight forward, and to put yourself out there, risking rejection and judgment. It gets easier with practice, and while it feels like one teeny tiny painful step at a time, the rewards accelerate the process quickly. It doesn’t mean authenticity becomes easy. Fear of rejection or judgment can be strong, and we don’t usually feel like being vulnerable. But it’s the key to relief. It’s the key back home to Self.

I began by practicing being fully present. It was difficult to do at first when I was overly subconscious about myself. I had to genuinely turn my attention away from me to the other person. Who knew it was so much more nourishing, bonding, and enjoyable…

I decided to trust others to be kind. This takes some discernment, because not everyone is. Before I knew it, everyone around me was kind.

I went in to things open and with a whole lot of gratitude. It helps to see the gift in every person, in every moment, and in your own process.

I got in touch with my own values and needs and developed healthier boundaries. Letting go of the need to fit in isn’t easy. This takes practice and thoughtfulness to learn to articulate on my own behalf, to say “no,” to find common ground, to work things out, and sometimes to walk away compassionately.

I put myself out there, “unfinished.” People are incredibly helpful and compassionate. And I figured out that those that are not had nothing to do with me and more to do with them.

Find a way

Find a way to drop what you need to drop,
to say what’s so difficult to say,
to reach for what your soul needs to reach,
to get yourself back.

Do it like it’s a matter of life and death.
Because it is.
It can’t be defined simply by the existence of a heartbeat.
Our bar must be set much, much higher than that.
Define it by the existence of your elevation,
of advocation, and
by the emergence of your heart’s yearnings.
Find your way.

Hearing myself first to be seen by others

I recently realized that while I don’t think I hold a lot of expectations, I have one big one: that I expect those close to me to accept me without judgment. As I looked deeper however, I realized I didn’t accept (aka respect) parts of myself enough to advocate on my own behalf in some critical areas, to some key people, in my life.
I subdue parts of me to be more of how I believed myself to be in doing so: kind, flexible, and loving.
I turns out not to be so kind, flexible, and loving, because in order to “keep the peace,” I didn’t honor (listen to) myself, which created tension within, which created tension in relationship. No one knows what’s going on when this happens. Only one thing is clear: no one feels heard or understood.
The moment I dropped the act – it wasn’t easy, and it definitely rocked the boat – I felt the release of self-oppression, and a wave of Self coming back to me, and I almost immediately got heard again. My communications became more succinct because I stopped feeling defensive. While it feels a lot like tough love, it’s really a more tender love, and I know that my own release released others around me to find their ownership.

Imposter syndrome

I have a very vibrant imposter syndrome that goes on throughout most of my life, but nothing more than when someone has to put a hat on me or some kind of sash and go, ‘We’re giving you this certificate.’ -Robin Ince

I, too, have a very vibrant imposter syndrome that goes on throughout most of my life, but nothing more than when I mute myself to be a good girl to please those I care about.
The commonality between me and Ince is that, in order to get that certificate, or be a good girl, we had to follow their rules without consideration for our own terms.

I realize that when I choose to act – compassionately and passionately – on behalf of myself, especially when it seems the most inconvenient, this syndrome melts away. So until they catch up to accepting me as I am, they don’t get to be in my life.

I’m making waves. I’m taking up space. Else the cost is too high.

Focusing on that which nourishes to keep my days flowing

My days flow around what truly nourishes the soul: substantive meals, taking loving care of my physical and emotional space, and tending to my physical, emotional, and spiritual hygiene. Everything else fits around the self-care. Doing this cuts out the b.s. activities and sharpens my ability to discern. While connecting with others is essential, it’s not without connecting with myself first.

My days begin with a meditation practice, feeding and taking care of my dog Louie, and my cat Prema, and then writing. Then I move my body. I feed myself and my children. The kitchen gets cleaned. I have a couple of hours to teach or do creative aspects of my work before I make lunch, eat, then clean up. I have a few hours to do more creative work or take meetings before I make dinner, eat, then clean up. There is a walk. There are my kids to enjoy time with while they are home, some administrative, organizational, mail, and financial work to tend to, possibly an essential errand, laundry, cleaning, changing the sheets, or connecting with friends or family. Whatever is the most important for the next couple of hours; or it will wait for another day. I make sure my furry family members are set for the evening, and then it’s cleansing and mental clearing time for the evening.

My antenna for identifying work that others are trying to transfer onto me that is their own is extra high right now. While it can feel painful to act on healthy boundaries with those who are struggling with them, it helps to know that my decision will make the difference between feeling nourished and healthy and feeling depleted and defeated. I know that I can’t serve myself or others in a depleted, defeated state. Standing on the side of self-care is what keeps me healthy and able, productive and compassionate, patient and attentive. It’s what helps me grow into, rather than lose, my truest Self.