She said, “ I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision. I’ve learned that even when I have a pain, I don’t have to be one. I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back. I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn. I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget the way you made them feel.”
This Maya Angelou quote, in a beautifully rugged wooden frame, was the first thing I bought when I started decorating for myself. It hangs at the top of my stairs and I read it every day. There are few writers whose words have a greater impact on me than hers…Ann Lamott might tie for influence in linking the universe with our beautifully imperfect lives with quotes like:
“The most profound thing we have to offer our children is our own healing.”
Maya’s words inspire me to consider every day the impact I have on other people, Ann’s challenge me to stand squarely and believe in the the hard fought wisdom I have gained in my 44 years. We all have different gifts, different ways of being and connecting, and one thing for certain is that the only truth we have a full understanding of is our own. We only get small pieces of the life stories going on around us, and they only get small pieces of ours, so learning to stand strong in our own truth and have confidence in ourselves without outside validation is an integral part of learning to live freely. I wrote my book, a series of quotes than strengthened my resolve to love myself more, and become more courageous and confident.
As a writer, quotes are a roadmap of consciousness for how to leave the path that I travel better off because I walked it.
Being a writer is something that I am just beginning to consider myself. I’m proud to say that I don’t hesitate or qualify my response anymore if someone asks me what I do.
“I’m a writer.”
It’s a vulnerable statement. It feels much more vocation than profession most of the time. Can I support myself with my talent? Do I have an area of expertise? I used to think all of these questions needed to be answered before I could claim the title. My book, 365 Days of Optimism, CLICK LINK was published almost two weeks ago and so many people have commented to me, “now for the fun part!”. But one of the ways that I know I am sinking a little deeper into a writers shoes is because those words for me can’t be farther from the truth. The writing and creating is what frees me, the promoting… well, lets just say I already want to write another book.
But as I climb my stairs every day and read Maya’s words, I know that my words can affect how I make people feel. Hopeful, inspired, loved, accepted, optimistic. This is my aspiration. If I can affect the emotions, awareness, or positively influence the journey of even one reader with my words, the effort is well worth it, and a lot of the time, that reader is me. Sorting through my thoughts and emotions through my words has been the best kind of healing. If you are (and I find we almost all are) going through something, I highly recommend pulling out a journal or opening a new file, even if its just for you. Clarity flows through both the pen and the keyboard.
Writing is how I communicate best. The calm in being able to think things through and pour them out into words and the ability to connect the greater universal truth with the specific experiences of life is blissful. Creativity is a two sided coin, one side freedom, one side discipline. It seems to me that the best writers master both. Sometimes the various thoughts swirl and the connections between them don’t come as easily, but writers write anyway, and eventually we discover them again. Exercising the freedom to express your truth takes bravery, but the next step, the part that makes my writing come alive, is the courage to back up my writing with the actions in my life. Even when other people don’t see the whole picture, or operate from a different mindset than me, I have learned that the way I sleep best at night is when I am standing on my own two feet and being uniquely and unapologetically me, believing in my own mission and purpose. That’s when people feel my calm, a gift I know that I have to give when I’m in the right heart space. I’ve spent a lot of years having my judgment questioned and my confidence has finally risen to a level that I don’t sway with the wind of other peoples desires and opinions. I’m willing to listen and learn, but I am content these days having my feet squarely on my own path. My faith assures me that I am but a small piece in a huge picture, and this further helps the self doubt to move into a smaller corner of my brain. When I am operating in this space, the sky is the limit, it’s where flow is born.
I’ve spent the last few years learning to hear my intuition clearly again. It’s been a daily slug fest with self doubt and worthiness that has been intense. If you are in this place too, keep fighting through. There is nothing more rewarding than discovering the deeper layers of ourselves. It can be a gut wrenching process, but there is room for each of our perspectives in this bright and complicated world, don’t be afraid to add yours.
One of the greatest insights I’ve gained through this transformational experience, is to better understand the difference between sympathy and empathy.
Sympathy was there to greet me when I was at my lowest, but empathy is what stuck around, cheered me on, pushed me and wanted to see me grow.
I’ve found that sympathy often wants to swoop in and save me, but on terms or conditions that are not authentic for me. That looks different to many who were around before I found my way closer to my real self. There is always room for more growth, that is what keeps this one journey we’ve been given fresh, interesting and always moving forward, even through the messiness and missteps. But there is no freedom making choices to solely please others and losing yourself in the process. Even if my circle is smaller and path less populated with fans, I will take true understanding of myself and my experience any day of the week. if you find yourself in the position of having to start over again, believe me, the desire, and hard fought ability, to do it on your own terms is a silver lining…and I am always looking for those.