When we’re working towards a wellness goal sometimes we don’t always notice our progress.
Transformation can take time. It can be a slow drip that painstakingly fills the proverbial bucket. And honestly we’re usually so busy being in our daily lives, that sometimes we forget to take notice of the bucket we’re trying to fill. But still, all of those tiny efforts quietly add up, until one day you notice your feet getting wet.
I had a moment the other day when I noticed the volume of my efforts. My tiny drops had filled my bucket, overflowed, and spilled around my feet, causing me to stop and take notice of my progress (damn, I hope you’re following my metaphor…).
Anyway, several years ago I made it my literal and figurative job to practice self-care and self-love.
Some of my efforts have obvious results. For instance my dedication to (almost) daily exercise has increased my lung capacity and stamina. Totally obvious when I trek loads of laundry up and down the basement stairs.
But other efforts were a bit more subtle.
A couple of years ago I got a session with a friend who was becoming a shamanic spiritual healer. Side note: it was CRAZY amazing, and she was on point about all the things.
Anyway, she totally called me out on my bullshit (by reading an egg I brought into the session. Yeah, dude, totally weird and awesome.
Eventually we journeyed to find my power animal.
Mine was a mountain goat.
My first reaction was, “Really? A mountain goat? I can’t get something cool like a raven or an elephant?” But then she explained why this goat came to me.
It was here to remind me to be brave and playful. She said I was strong and sturdy like the goat, my agile mind equating to its agile body, I’m able to scale proverbial challenging terrain, she said I was not, however, being playful or brave like the goat. …she wasn’t wrong.
Somewhere along the way I’d forgotten how to give less fucks about my fragile ego. I was worried about my image as a “professional”. I thought that since I was working as a facilitator in the healing biz, I needed to change my persona into one that’s more serious. I buttoned myself up which meant stifling my creativity, my sexuality, my voice. I was afraid to show who I truly was, or rather, am.
I believed that my true self was something to be ashamed of…or, at least, bad for business.
So, she gave me some homework.
I had to go home, and get acquainted with my mountain goat. I had to play with it. I had to get back to the things that make me, me.
The parts of my SELF I was suppressing, in their round-about ways, all link back to creativity for me. So I came home, cranked the tunes, and pulled out a giant canvas I’d had for years, but had been too afraid to “spoil”.
I painted layer upon layer upon layer of deeply personal and wildly metaphorical imagery, until finally my mountain goat savior appeared in bright golden light.
I hung this painting above my art table where every so often I’d either “allow” or force myself to go to “play”.
Eventually I bought really nice art journals, and high quality tools; things I’d never invest in before. The “good stuff” always seemed too good for me.
But little by little I’d return to the table, being a bit more liberal with the amount of product I’d use. Feeling a little more open with each brush stroke.
Unconsciously I was letting go of the reigns, forgetting the “rules”, and setting myself free again.
But my transformation was subtle, and certainly didn’t happen over night. And I didn’t notice how much I’d changed until just the other day.
I picked up one of my art journals (one I use for more public viewing) and thumbed through the pages…and I seriously wept one of those movie-perfect tears.
There, before me were pages and pages of self-liberation. Oddly enough, this seemingly simple act of creativity has changed the way I look at myself in the mirror. I feel the difference in the way I move my body. I hear it in my unapologetic voice.
This isn’t the first time I’ve been liberated through creativity. It's kinda been my go-to when I need to find my authentic self.
Art, when I'm creating it just for myself and letting go of the critic, it sets my fucking soul on fire. ...yeah, I just said that. It connects all the other parts of my self and brings balance back to my life.
Over the course of nearly 20 years I’d undone a liberation I’d waited my whole young life to attain. And for what? Image? Respect? What utter bullshit.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter why or how I locked myself up again. What matters is that I recognized it.
I changed my mindset, and faced the truth: I am, was, and always will be perfect as my authentic self. I needn’t change who I am for the approval of others. ...and nor should you.
So, if you’re reading this right now, and you feel like you’ve lost who you are, I’m telling you this: It’s possible to find yourself again. And if you’ve never really known who you are, or know there’s a better version of yourself waiting for you out there, you get to go be that person.
Manifesting this healthier version of yourself won’t happen over night, and the changes might be subtle, but if you start finding the things that feel authentic, and make them a part of your life, drop by drop your bucket will fill.
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