self-expression for the self-strong

being you

We Can Have Wings

Have you ever felt wings on you?

Have you ever felt like you could ride the wind if you but opened yourself to it?

Have you ever felt like your heartfelt ability to fly was a barometer and an insight into your headspace?

When we are aware of ourselves – our psyches, emotions, and physical bodies – we know not only how we feel right now, but how we’d like to feel, as well. We know what hurts and what rejoices. We know what needs healing and rest and strengthening at its deepest levels.

When we are energized, we have the power to act and change our state of being. We can move forward and make progress. We can change. We can grow.

When we are both mindful and powerful, we can direct ourselves down a path of our own choosing. We can sculpt our very paradigms and selves. We evolve.

Is that direction and momentum not the same as flying high with your own power?

So, tell me – have you ever felt wings on you?

Learning From Mirrors

One of the benefits of all things being connected – you to me, humanity to the earth – is that we have mirrors set up all around us. These mirrors help us see ourselves more clearly, and in studying what we see in the mirror, we discover new facets of our own selves.

Take an animal as your mirror – a pet, a farm animal, or a wild animal. Notice how your instincts and reactions are similar. Do you greet your friends with a dog’s exuberance? Do you have the same skittishness around large, noisy crowds as a leopard would around a milling herd of wildebeest? Do you dive into new situations with the relentless adaptability of a coyote?

Or take an element of nature – fire, water, wood, shadow. Are you a firecracker that spends all your energy in one dazzling burst, then fizzles away? Do you flow like water, absorbing events like ink in a clear bowl, or do you wash the sediment out of your body and onto the banks? Are you a tree, steady and slow, digging towards richness and stretching towards sunlight?

How about a mythical archetype – Hero, Weaver, Magician? Do you strive to sweep in and save the day for those around you, whether or not they want or need the interference? Do you walk the web of possible realities and choose your path with the same care that you would choose the colors of a tapestry? Do you perform alchemy with your life and yourself, purifying gold from the dross?

You can even consider the weather as a mirror. Does the wind lash the trees like the force of your will whips against the circumstances of your life? Does the roiling storm overhead reflect your ire – or soothe it? Can you rest when the snow is falling in near-silence?

Find your mirrors; study them. Some of them will be parallels, reflecting your face back to you at a new angle, but others may be opposites, revealing truths about you via contrasts. Some of what you discover will be positive; some may not be, and that will help you see what you don’t want to embody.

Pay attention and learn. There is wisdom everywhere.

Opening Doors

Preface: I heard something so astoundingly wise and brilliant that the words burned into my brain and begged to be explored. Yet I cannot remember where I saw this, or who said it, so if you are the catalyst for this post, please let me know so I can thank you a thousand times.

When others are suffering, especially those close to us, it is so easy to absorb their pain, share it, and make it our own. We want to help them; we want to make them feel better or fix their problems in one fell swoop. And when we can’t, when all we can do is offer our heartfelt sympathies, support, and love…

But sometimes, it just doesn’t feel like enough. Sometimes we ache to carry their burdens, just so our loved ones can walk easy. Sometimes, even when we can’t help them at all, we take on those burdens anyway.

Burdening ourselves in vain does not help those we love. In fact, it may push them away, as they feel we are too busy, too weighted down, to talk to about their burdens.

Instead of trying to take another person’s burden, why not open a door for them instead? If this metaphorical, emotional burden were a lumpy physical thing draped across someone’s shoulders, you’d get the door for them if your own hands were empty, right?

Then do so. Don’t absorb someone else’s problem; clear the way for them to walk their path to a solution. Support them and encourage them, help them however you can, but don’t weigh yourself down if you can do nothing else constructive. Sometimes, a problem must be solved by the person alone – it is a deep learning experience.

If all you can do is live your own life by your values and seek your own happiness, you are still opening a door; you are providing yourself as a role model of what can be possible for others, too. This is valuable. You can help others by simply being you.

When you can’t improve someone else’s life, work with your own as a shining example. When you can’t help carry a burden, open a door instead.

Chiaroscuro – Light and Shadow

Chiaroscuro is a term used to describe a painting or a vocal performance that has a stark contrast between light and shadow, brightness and darkness, depth and height.

In music, this results in an electric thrill, a slash of lightning against a stormy sky. In art, this yields warm and rich colors set against a deeply shadowed background, making the centerpiece of the painting pop out from its frame.

Chiaroscuro is not just applicable to fine arts. It can also describe us.

Against the dark background of your mistakes, your successes shine brightly.

Against the potential for human cruelty, human kindnesses glow like stars.

Let chiaroscuro flow. Let the natural errors that you’ve made along the way serve only to deepen the brilliance of your wisdom. Let the negative circumstances in your life give you perspective on and appreciation of your wonderful fortune.

Every person and every life has positive and negative aspects. Don’t deny your shadows; let them help your light shine by contrast.

Remember: nothing is useless. Your mistakes and your flaws have helped move you along your path and shape you into who you are today – just as much as your successes and your strengths. Be grateful for the journey.

Don’t shun the darkness: without it, how do you know there is light?

We, Too, Are Trees

I climbed a tree today. It is one of the most malformed, gargantuan trees I know, and it’s the only one in my life I’ve ever climbed. My partner introduced me to this tree, and now I go to it as a sanctuary.

This tree, like all trees, started out as a seed. It grew into a sapling. With time, with the seasons, it has grown into the friendly behemoth it is today.

The turning of the world has shaped it. Droughts and floods, early springs and early winters, false ends to both snow and heat have all changed this tree. The wind has bent it until its branches grew in line with the gusts.

Yet, after the sun shone long enough, it bloomed again. After the nights stayed cold enough, it hibernated. Its roots found purchase between rocks and other roots, digging deep until it found the desert’s precious water table.

Every tragedy and every blessing of the weather has helped make this tree what it is today.

When seen among all the trees, this tree – the only tree I have ever climbed – stands out. It is fascinating and full of character. It is a friend.

We, too, are trees. The events of our lives, the tremendous and the terrible, shape us. We are twisted and sculpted by the things we live through. When the good times last long enough, we lift up our faces and smile. When lean times descend, we cease to grow and instead focus on protecting and nourishing ourselves. When seen in a crowd of our peers, those of us who are the most “misshapen” are the ones who stand out as extraordinary.

Be you. Your life is your own, and you are the result of it. Be proud of that. You are unique.

Remember: If you are alive to read these words, you are not one of the seeds that failed to survive. You are still growing. You still have time. You are not done.

It’s Not Personal

Conflict isn’t personal. It’s not about you.

In any given scenario, any person in the world could fill your shoes and do or say what you did or said. And if the other people involved had the same opinion of and emotional investment in that person as they do you, the event would replay itself exactly.

What happened may be your responsibility, in full or in part. You may have made a legitimate mistake.

But conflict is not about who you are. It is about what happened.

You as a person are not being attacked. Only your actions or words are being called into question.

The reverse is also true. How you react to other people in conflict is not about who they are. You are responding to the silhouette shaped by their actions or words and filled with the emotional import you place in that person.

Don’t take it personally – it’s not about you.

Being You

I could write a thousand posts on this subject. In time, I probably will.

I have tried writing an introduction to this concept in a concise, brief, rich way. I haven’t yet gotten a post that satisfies me, so this will do for the moment. Trust me, much more will follow.

Right now, I want to tell you that you have the right to be you and no one can take that away from you, even though some people will try to shape you according to their own ideals.

I want to tell you ten thousand times that you are okay as who you are. You are dynamically perfect. You will change and evolve and still be the only perfect you in existence.

I want to tell you that you are magnificent, beautiful, strong, brilliant.

I want to tell you that acknowledging your imperfections, your weaknesses, your flaws, and your hurts is only reclaiming the power of being you.

Let me say that again: embracing your weakness makes you a stronger you.

Denying any of yourself, whether that be by refusing compliments or by shunning your shadows, shatters your wholeness. When you kick away pieces of you that you can’t believe are that good or you can’t accept are that bad, you are less you.

Be you. Fuck the world and what they think, baby, be you and rock it. There is no other you. Only you can live your life and walk your path.

Live it. Walk it. Go.

Ungender Yourself

Don’t like pink because you’re female. Like pink because you like pink.

Don’t watch sports because you’re male. Watch sports because you want to watch sports.

Don’t be tough because you’re male. Don’t be compassionate because you’re female. Be strong and understanding because you’re strong and understanding.

And, as pointed out by Anthea in the comments, don’t avoid things you genuinely enjoy just to rebel against the gender norms. By doing so, you support the very stereotypes you dislike.

Don’t pretend to hate flowers because you don’t want to be girly. Don’t pretend to love fruity drinks because you don’t want to be manly.

Be you. Forget stereotypes. Like what you like. Dislike what you dislike.

We don’t need to assign genders to personality traits, hobbies, likes, and dislikes. We don’t need to assign genders to colors, moods, decorations, and professions.

Be you. Like what you like; do what you love. Don’t let your gender dictate or restrict your life. Don’t judge others’ genders based on what they love and what they do.

Just be. And let others be.

You’re Already Perfect

Nothing is perfect. Static, unchanging, finalized perfection cannot exist in a dynamic universe.

Yet, all people are perfect versions of themselves in each moment. This is a continually moving, shifting, evolving perfection, worlds different than the marble sculpture of still-frame ideals that we so often pedestalize.

Know that it’s simply not possible to be a flawed you – there is only one you in all the universe, and in your uniqueness, you are the perfect you.

You are the perfect you. Right now. Right here. In this body, with this face, with this heart and mind and spirit. Everything about you is perfect for you.

Your perfection will change. Your perfection will develop and grow and reshape and evolve. You are not static. But you are always perfect as you are in this moment, no more or less perfect than you were yesterday or than you will be tomorrow.

Granted, just because you’re perfect doesn’t mean you are the person you want to be. Most of us will always have something, large or small, that we want to change about ourselves.

Sometimes it’s good – it helps motivate us to learn, to grow, to strengthen, to expand. It encourages us to try, to improve, to work towards greater awesomeness, to be sweeter and wilder and deeper. It makes us more us.

Sometimes it means we start hating on ourselves. We ask why we aren’t smarter or prettier or more athletic or better with numbers. We demand to know why the hell we aren’t the person we want to be yet. What’s taking us so long? Why aren’t we already flawless?

Stop that noise right there.

You’re perfect.

You will continue to be perfect as you change.

The very act of change is an expression of perfection. You can’t skip it. You won’t magically fast-forward to be a miraculous version of your idealized you.

If you want to change, work for it.

But stop with the negative self-talk. Quit believing that these shitty opinions of yourself are indelible truths. They are opinions, which are subjective by their very nature. Opinions that we imprinted upon our brains and believe to be truths. I guarantee you there is someone in this world who will have a different opinion for every single opinion you have.

If you say, “The best color in the world is yellow,” that’s an opinion, not a fact. Someone else thinks it’s red. Or blue. Or taupe. Or puce.

If you tell yourself, “I’m a terrible person,” that’s an opinion, not a fact. The people who love you think you’re wonderful – why else would they love you? It’s sure as hell not out of obligation or martyrdom.

It’s okay to want to change. It’s okay to think hot damn, I want to get so much better at guitar than I am right now. It’s okay to pour your hours and your heart into changing the way you want to.

It is not okay to hate yourself as you do it. You’re not going from bad to good. You’re not even going from good to great.

You are moving from a dynamic point of perfection to another dynamic point of perfection. Do not forget this.