Visible: The Courage To Show Up and Be Seen

 

NIK_6143Alternative title: “Vulnerable: The Courage To Show Up and Be Seen.”

Because when we put our true selves on the line, show up and open up to let the world experience who we really are, we are “susceptible or capable of being wounded or hurt.”

Vulnerable, big time.

We all know this.  Why else spend so much energy on dressing ourselves up in roles and camouflage, erecting impenetrable walls, so folks can’t see who we really are?  A losing game…and not a fun one, for us or the universe.

I was reminded of this the other day in dance class.  Most of the very conscientious, talented dancers focused on doing things correctly, or perfectly, however they defined that. What got lost was their selves.  When they danced the long phrase it became an exercise: dry, soulless.

In the midst of a large group, one dancer immediately stood out as she imbued the movement with her.  The well-intentioned exactitude surrounding her was no match for her expressiveness, displayed through musicality, focus, and a few small gestures she added.  She made the dance phrase her own, a piece of art reflecting her inimitable self.

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Today, the wise teacher admonished us to try doing the phrase again as if we had never been shy about anything.  She reminded us, brilliantly, that what we danced would go out into the universe in that form, with that intention, and that we needed to create something that reflected who we are, not some watered-down or highly edited version of what we thought we should look like.

What a difference that made!  The dancing was vibrant, exciting, compelling to watch.  You could feel the energy in the studio sizzle.

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Why wait for that invitation to show ourselves?  Sure, there are times when it is just too dangerous–emotionally or even physically–to reveal ourselves.  But all too often we stay in that familiar place of non-disclosure, dishonesty and even stinginess.  As Brené Brown so sagely observes, “Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”

Yes, it’s risky to share our authenticity.  But with the alternative, we rob ourselves of the experience of being and expanding who we are in the world.  We miss out on vibrancy and true connection.  We rob the universe of our one-of-a-kind magic.  And we know that staying cloaked offers illusory benefits, at best.

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Here’s to rocking out our selves whenever we can.  Like everything else, it gets easier with practice. And the treasures that await are priceless.  As Brené Brown’s notes, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.”

See you out there!

The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.”~Joseph Campbell

Photo credit: Top–Nikki Carrara; 2nd–Arthur Fink; 3rd–Rich Davis

 

 

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invisible

Making ourselves visible. Vulnerable. The ongoing quest…not for the faint of heart🙂. “Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.”~Brene Brown. Thank you for reminding me of this, lovely Angie….http://amagicd.blogspot.com

Sirena Tales

she was unsure

when her outline had faded

as if the inks defining her

…silhouette…

had parched from neglect

draining the life from their hues, her;

the many faces expecting, of course,

that you slink

sink?

into the passionless invisible

night of your days

a faint smudge at the vanishing point

so accommodating! so compliant!

infinitesimal yet lethal

losses mount

yielding this unobjectionable

transparency

seeping

contours into the nameless

others and their enervated colors

tumbleweeds, frozen in stasis

then drifted over your platitudinous landscape

by that most sere and airless wind:

self-betrayal

Note: this is a character study and not intended to be (wholly) autobiographical–although I am familiar enough with the territory🙂.

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Visibility Unlimited: Musings from the Marshlands

 

IMG_2151Yesterday, during the weather report on the radio, the visibility was rated “unlimited.” Wow!  I’ve never heard that before.

Usually, we hear visibility assessed in terms of quantifiable distances, e.g.miles.  But yesterday, Mother Nature blew the aperture wide open on our vista.

It got me to thinking about visibility, the “state of being able to see or be seen.” So often what we see is circumscribed by our own limitations, conscious or not.  Whether due to projections or omissions, or the lack of applying our resources, like time and awareness, to the act of seeing. So often we see what we want/need/expect to see.  Failing or refusing to see what’s really out there.

What if our vision were unhampered by these restrictions: What would our worlds look like then?

While I was sitting in the backyard, savoring a few moments of quietude overlooking the marsh,  I noticed something small moving in the grass, assuming from its size that it was a bee.  When I looked closer, I saw it was a teeny tiny, wayward crab, unexpectedly traveling around the lawn, and burrowing every time I neared it.

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Georgia O’Keeffe’s famous observation came back to me: “Nobody sees a flower; it is so small.   We haven’t time and to see takes time….”  Had I been rushing around, I wouldn’t have noticed the wee creature’s subtle movement. Being present allowed me to.

When my son and I drove by the sea, we were floored by how much we could see in the distance on that incredibly clear day.  How odd and entrancing to view the faraway islands we see nearly every day detailed so finely, rather than in primitive chunks of dark and light. Never having discerned buildings before, my eyes had registered the land as a huge, undifferentiated mass rather than as the populous place I know it to be.

Making me wonder: What else am I missing?

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I think one of the biggest areas of opacity and distortion we experience involves other people.  The projections we employ, including those based on visible characteristics, can be compounded by the flip side of visibility: of being seen.  Many times we don’t want to be seen for who or what we are.  The walls and camouflage we fashion result in our being invisible.  Visibility range: poor.  Or zero.

Merci beaucoup to Mother Nature for shining her light on visibility.  Note to self: open up and aspire to that state so beautifully expressed by e. e. cummings: “…the eyes of my eyes are opened….”

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The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”~Marcel Proust

Photo credit: 2nd from bottom–Nikki Carrara

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Share Your Brilliance: Musings from the Marshlands

 

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This lovely turkey family showed up for breakfast at dawn yesterday.  And for lunchtime today.

As they’ve been visiting a lot for the past couple of months, I went back to remind myself of the messages brought by turkey spirit animal.  Of course, there are the reminders about gratitude for our blessings, sacrifice for the greater good, about symbols of abundance, harvest, pride.

What I hadn’t recalled is that when the turkey visits us “it is a message to express our strength and brilliance-it’s time to show our own plumage and reveal” our true selves. http://whats-your-sign.com.

Yup.

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Or,  in the eloquent words of Marianne Williamson:

“… ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’  Actually, who are you not to be? ….Your playing small does not serve the world.  There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you…. We are all meant to shine, as children do.  It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.  And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.  As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

In case anyone else needed a plumage-boost–this one’s for you🙂.  Shine on….

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So, You Used To Be A Dancer? Life Lessons From Dancing (Reprise)

 

NIK_5824Ask [yourself] what makes you come alive and go do it.  Because what the world needs are people who have come alive.”~~Howard Thurman

Folks keep coming across my path, voicing their passions along with their regret in not pursuing those passions.  So, I am running this post from the archives again, with some new photos. The original post, with many generous, thoughtful comments, is here . 

Sure, I’ve already reblogged it, but since the yearning for a more vitalized life continues to come up so relentlessly, I am repeating this reminder: DO WHAT MAKES YOU COME ALIVE.

Not solely for dancers at all, this is for anyone who seeks a spur to vitalize.  This piece does also go out to the medical technician the other day who danced for 10 years and sorely misses it and the dance studio owner who confided that ceasing to dance for herself was the biggest mistake she ever made.  As well as for the fellow audience member who asked just the other day, at a dance event, if I used to be a dancer. Ahem….

“I can tell you used to be a dancer,” the well-meaning, sixtyish woman confided to me as we left the dance fitness class.  “I could see by the way you moved in class that you used to dance.”  Say, WHAT?!#?  Whaddya mean, “used to,” was all I could think as I sputtered back to the dressing room.

Since I knew she had good intentions, I patiently (and I hope kindly) replied that I am still a dancer. I am a dancer.  That I am dancing now in my 50s more than ever before.

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Although her ageist assumption irked me, her comment got me back to thinking about that deeper question: what it means to be a dancer. Or a writer or an artist.  Or anything.

It reminded me of a casual conversation I had at a social gathering recently when the person I had just met was explaining that her 20-something friend “always loved to write and writes whenever she can and would like to be a writer.”  My response was, “Oh, you mean she’s a writer.”   Yes.

And how many times has someone told me, upon learning that I am a dancer,  that she or he loves dance and used to be a dancer?  And “loves to dance for fun” or “loved taking dance classes for years” or “dances every chance I get” or “always dreamed of being a professional dancer?”  And even, “danced professionally for years” but had to move on? My response: “Oh, you mean, you are a dancer?” (I think it is particularly difficult for artists, starting with moi, who feel as if they are only as legitimate as their last painting sold/story published/performance produced/critical acclaim/ability to support themselves financially….)

You see, in my “book,” what brings you alive is what defines you.  Your job title and your resumé and the car you drive?  To me, unless they are evidence of your passion and soul, those ephemera are mere bric-a-brac.

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What my passion for dancing has taught me is that we need to keep re-focusing on the source of our aliveness.  Including how we think about ourselves.  So, even when I was working as an attorney, the truth, my truth, is that I was a dancer.  Thank God, my amazing husband kept directing my attention to that until I finally let go of what I thought I was supposed to be and started following my heart.

That’s why when I go to parties, I generally ask what people do for joy.  (Yep.  That’s often good for many seconds of stunned silence or fabricated excuses for leaving my side:)).  Although a number of people flounder, and even reply sadly that they don’t do much for fun or they don’t know what joy would look like, many folks seem relieved and yes, enlivened by talking about what is meaningful to them.

No surprise there.

I know, I know, there is always the laundry and the to do list and the job that need to be dealt with.  But at the end of the day, at the end of our days, what really matters is… what really matters, to us.  And so, while I am many things, one thing I do know is this: I am a dancer.

 And what about you?

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Photo credits: Nikki Carrara

 

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Dancing On Water

A floating stage

An ever-shifting floor

An  offering of public art

A prayer

Such a spectacular day!  Venturing forth on Cape Cod Bay on our Stand Up Paddle Board (SUP), I was inspired by the gorgeousness to take my pop-up dance project to another level.  I mean, the day just begged to be danced, decked out as she was in aquamarine skies, bright sunshine and crystalline sea.

So, yes!  Dancing on the water was just the ticket to express joy and gratitude for Mother Nature’s resplendence.

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As someone who has done her fair share of performing outdoors, I was floored by the special experience of dancing right on top of the ocean.  Inexpressibly freeing, it felt both primal and transcendent.  Rapturous. Dancing to the sun and wind and sea, out on the vast watery expanse, with only a few inches of board between me and the sea.

Or, zero inches between us….when I fell in🙂.  There was just enough wind and wave to make things interesting.   Challenging me to be supersensitive to the countless shifts and extra aware of my own physicality, especially my core. As adaptable and mindful as I tried to be, I was thrown a few times by my amazing and mercurial dance partner: the ocean.

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Doing the kind of movement I love, which uses momentum and focuses on the breath, the swooping, dropping and suspending felt like a lovely match for the gentle, and not so gentle, rise and fall of wind and wave.

While a main intention was reverential, another aim was to share my passion for dancing with folks nearby on the water and the beach.  Part of my ongoing practice to thread the magic and power of dance into daily life.  Spreading the word with more people that dance and art can ideally, and should, be everywhere.

#danceiseverywhere

“…I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on a purely physical plane will have resonances with our innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive….”~Joseph Campbell

“Dance is the hidden language of the soul.”~Martha Graham

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Thinking In Magic

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On a whim, I stopped in briefly at a favorite shop while we were on vacation. This change purse* immediately caught my eye.  And stopped me in my tracks.

What would that mean?  To think more often, even regularly, in terms of penchantment, mystery, wonder?  Rather than, say, in terms of logic, i.e. reason and strict principles of validity.

Sure, I think and talk about magic at times, especially when I am creating.  But I appreciate the reminder to cultivate this practice, of weaving magic’s radiant threads more lavishly into the fabric of daily life.

The gifts of logic and science and technology are undeniably enormous.  Yet, the  treasures of fascination, charm, entrancement make our existence shimmer in inexpressible ways.  Unforgettable and soaring ways.

And the magic that produces them needs to be cultivated and cherished.  Whether that sense of magic flows from an astounding sunrise or a blockbuster film or making art or hearing a piece of music that won’t let go or a heartfelt hug or…..

Even when moments can be and often are explained in terms of logic, they can be experienced in terms of magic, and miracle.  Take the very fact of reading this post.  What an incredibly wondrous confluence of feats your body, mind and soul are achieving at this very moment!

Sheer magic.

So, yep, I bought that little purse, which I will be carrying with me every day.  To remind me that magic, like love, is all around us.  And in us.  Just waiting to be discovered…and nurtured.

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.  Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”~Roald Dahl

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*Change purse: http://www.papayaart.com

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