“What a desire!…To live in peace with that word: Myself” (Sylvia Ashton-Warner)
This week I’ve decided to bring you The Word of the Week in written form again. I’m wrestling with a cold, so my voice is a little sensitive. Because I am heading off to Hamburg for a meeting tomorrow, then on to Berlin to conduct a workshop on Friday and Saturday, I need to protect my it as much as I possibly can, so…
My inspiration for this week’s WoW is two-fold. The original idea came from some thoughts I had about last week’s WoW (which was “Play“, by the way). I was meditating on the (rare?) opportunities we, as adults, get to flex the muscles of our own fantasy.
- When do we give ourselves permission to dispel disbelief?
- Under what conditions do we allow ourselves to dream?
I also couldn’t help reflect on just how the “play” we engage in – both as adults and as children – often serves a Higher Purpose we don’t recognize right away…
This original thought was later impacted by an article I read about a white father in the States forbidding African-American hospital staff from caring for his newborn, as well as a searing commentary on the subject written by an online friend. Part of my friend’s commentary went off on a tangent that added to my thoughts on the purpose of vision. Namely, the seemingly overwhelming negativity associated with the image of black women in the American media.
- How (much) does this negativity thwart the development of a positive self-image in black women and girls?
- Was this negativity as pervasive in other parts of the world as it is in the States?
At some point, though, I realized I was allowing my thoughts to take me down an extremely reactive path. I was permitting myself the illusion that someone else has ultimate power of my self-image, when – in fact – they simply don’t.
It’s therefore no coincidence that something right in front of me would take me back to a place of centered self-reflection.
Several weeks ago I was looking for some references I wanted to use in a presentation I was preparing, so I went into the basement to dig through a few boxes of unpacked books. During my excavations, I “rediscovered” a few treasures and brought them back up into my home-office. One of my finds was my copy of Sarah Ban Breathnach‘s epic “The Illustrated Discovery Journal“. I remember posting in the Facebook group that I had found it. Although I had a deadline looming, I swept things away from the center of my desk in order to spread out my own personalized version of the journal in front of me.
Not only did it contain the collages I had spent several thoughtful afternoons creating in a cottage on the Dutch North Sea coast, I had also used the pockets in the back to store hefty stacks of other visual material, as well as articles, quotes and recipes that had caught my attention.
Going over this material – running my fingers over pictures flush with color; taking feathery pieces of news print into my hands as long-forgotten words and phrases leapt off the pages at me – allowed me to sink back into the memory of contemplating the assignments in the book, for example:
- What do I consider to be my authentic style?
- How do I define success?
- Where is my “house of belonging”, and what does it look and feel like?
- What connections in life do I hold sacred?
Rediscovering this book helped me remember how important it is to have my own vision of myself. To have a vision of who I am, what I stand for and what I believe. This vision of myself is an authentic reflection of my essence and my purpose. It’s what nurtures my soul and helps it grow straight and true. It’s also what shields me from the malice of someone else’s false representation of who I am; their dark image of who they need me to be in order to fulfill their own riddled agenda.
Of course, collages or vision boards are only one way to allow our visions of ourselves to unfold. Journalling is another, as (for me, at least) is digging into your family’s genealogy. But – to quote Oprah Winfrey – there’s one thing I know for sure: If I have a vision of myself – a vision that evolves and expands and grows as I do – I feel less impacted by the false images others attempt to disseminate about me and use to control me.