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You Can’t Do It Alone

I only ask to be free. The butterflies are free. ~Charles Dickens

by: Donna R. Wood

Like the butterfly, we create our own prisons; and like the butterfly it is only through our own fortitude, will, and desire will we free ourselves. The butterfly has an advantage; it breaks through the walls through instinct. It just knows at the right time that it must emerge and fly, or it will die. Contrary to popular belief, butterflies are not social insects. They live each day flitting to and fro, alone. (The great Monarch migration is not a social activity.)

People, however, are social creatures. We do not just desire the company of others, we need others. We seek out those who think, look, and feel the same way we do. This can serve in one of two ways: freedom or continued imprisonment.

There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who you want with you, and those who you don’t. Who do you want on your team? Those who would rather see you miserable like they are? Or, those who are willing to lift you up and carry you with them? My mother has told me, since the time I was young, “Surround yourself with useful people.

A few years ago, I got my wings clipped on both sides by people whom I had grown to trust. This threw me into a deep chasm of self-doubt, fear, second-guessing, and mistrust. I found myself spiraling out of control, until I heard the bars of my self-made prison clang shut behind me.

In a brief moment of survival instinct, I sought out the key to unlock the door. I made my cry out into the world, and the key was thrown to me by an unlikely benefactor. Sometimes, although another possesses the key, it is not their responsibility to unlock the door. In fact, they can’t. Especially if we are clutching the door shut with all our might, covering the key hole. He threw me the word, betrayal. I knew the second I received it that my whole world was about to crash down around me. I knew that the walls were about to implode and I was going to be crushed under the rubble.

Knowledge is power. That one simple word was the power that I needed to take action, or be lost to the ruins of my chrysalis. Asking for help is not in my nature. I was brought up a boot-strapper much like the rest of the people my age in North Dakota.

At this point I was so broken and comfortable in the midst of my chrysalis; I had to make a decision. I took the key and sought out another who could help me learn to use it. It turned out the key that was thrown to me was the master key to my life. It unlocked a lot of doors that had been closed years ago, although the toxicity from those events had been seeping through the cracks into my life the whole time.

If you do not take another thing away from this posting, please take this: You can never be free until you clean up the toxic waste from your past – and even from your present.

Metamorphosis

“Ordinary is painful when you were born to be great!” ~ T. D. Jakes

by: Donna R. Wood

When the Butterfly sheds the chrysalis, there will be loss. There will be collateral damage. It will be uncomfortable and even painful at times. But, when those wings unfurl for the first time, life takes a new path. It is no longer crawling along the branches and leaves, but floating above it all in victory.

I was born in the late 1960s with a congenital heart defect that could have ended my life before it ever began. It didn’t. I spent a good number of years wondering what I had been saved from; surely death at birth would have been a far better alternative than the life I had been born into.

This constant search for the meaning and purpose of my life led me down some very dark and treacherous roads. I found myself in the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Everywhere I looked there was death and destruction. I was surrounded by living ghosts – people who only existed, until their bodies wore out, and the reaper came to claim them, one by one.

I was terrified, because I knew with each passing day I was becoming one of them. I found myself very much alone on a road with hundreds of people. We trudged along, bearing the weight of all our shame and guilt for decisions made or not made; for love given or withheld. We trudged along, dragging our baggage with us, hoping to find an oasis in the desert; a place to rest. The oasis never came.

In the end, I was a living ghost, the same as all the rest. However, in the depths of the wells of despair and demoralization, pain and humiliation, there was the glow of a soft flame of strength and courage. With each breath that sustained my life, the flame sputtered, clinging to the hope for redemption.

I struggled with my own perception of myself, placed there by each new label as it had been firmly attached to my soul – single mother [shameful,] Godless [damning,] damaged goods [demoralizing,] and poverty stricken [unworthy.] These are only a few of the labels that had been placed on me by the world; the world, not me.

In the realization that my life was a living testimony to those labels, I began to tear them off one by one.

I couldn’t change the fact that I was a single mother, but I chose to tear the label in half. Now, I am just a mother. How liberating that is.

I couldn’t change the fact that I am damaged goods, I was born that way. I removed the word damaged from the label, and the ‘s’ from the last word. Now I am just good. I am kind and considerate of others. I am not perfect, but I try every day to live in a state of soul over ego.

I could change my socio-economic status. I went to college and graduated – twice – and have recently returned to challenging myself through courses offered on-line. I took the only gift I was given at birth, the gift of writing, and capitalized on it. This is not what makes me simply worthy, but I will talk about this in a future post. Godless – how does one conquer the label of Godless in a world where being damned by your labels prevails? Just be Godly like all the rest? Being like all the rest didn’t seem to work out very well the first time, so it required a bit more work. I found that I could not expect or receive compassion from all the rest – I had too many labels to overcome. I could not expect or receive forgiveness from all the rest – I was a living ghost encroaching on the land of the truly living. I had nothing to offer, nothing to give. I was damned to the wilderness, where I had to find it on my own or not at all.

Your labels and my labels may not be the same; however, what we choose to do with our labels is what really matters in the end.

Breaking the Chrysalis

The butterfly is a flying flower…  ~Ponce Denis Écouchard Lebrun

by: Donna R. Wood

Most people at the age of five dream of being something extraordinary like a firefighter, doctor, lawyer or some other high level profession, but not me. I wanted to be a flower. Flowers were soft, delicate, and beautiful. My grandma and I would pick wildflowers in the fields and ditches along the highway, bring them home, and put them in a vase on the table. I would marvel at the menagerie of colors and design. Oh, how I wanted to be one of them. They were perfect in every way.

That’s the trouble with people; none of us are perfect. We go through life collecting imperfections born out of bad decisions, mistakes, or even through circumstance. We hold on to these imperfections, packing them neatly inside and drag them with us wherever we go. We become so weighed down by all this unnecessary self-perception of imperfection, we cannot begin to imagine the idea of taking flight in life.

I dragged around bag after bag of guilt, worry, bitterness, and regret. The weight of these bags became more than I could carry, but I insisted on taking them with me wherever I went. I would try to fly, only to find myself confined in the chrysalis of the life I had made for myself. I had constructed walls around me so high and thick that no one could get in, and in the process trapped myself inside.

It was dark in that chrysalis. Yet over time, the darkness became a source of comfort. It was familiar. I knew each pain and suffering by name and date. I knew all the characters that had played a role in their creation. I would reminisce in their moments of completion. I began to live in the memory of all that had been, and my world became very small, ending where the chrysalis began.

One day, I stopped struggling to get out. I just stopped. It was a pointless effort. I couldn’t do it. I thought I wasn’t strong enough. I thought I wasn’t perfect enough. In reality, I wasn’t brave enough. I was scared of all the new pains and sufferings that might be out there. It was painful inside the chrysalis, but the risk to emerge was too great. All the what-ifs came into play. What if I get hurt again? What if I’m not good enough? What if…what if…what if… If a butterfly stays too long in the chrysalis it will die. It will suffocate in its own skin, never having felt the soft summer breeze that lifts it to flight.

Every chrysalis has a weak point, a place in the wall that can and should be broken. But how? I learned, inside the chrysalis, where the source of true strength lies – inside us. We have to take that deep breath and expand until the walls break, and we are free. When a butterfly is inside the chrysalis, at the moment before it emerges, it swallows air from the outside world to expand its thorax and break the chrysalis open at the weakest point.

When the butterfly emerges it is no longer a caterpillar. It cannot carry the extra baggage from its previous state with it. The butterfly must leave behind the days of being a caterpillar. It must leave behind the days of struggling to survive – to find food, hide from predators, and live each day until the next. It must leave all the pains and suffering of its caterpillar days in the ruins of the chrysalis. Only then will it truly be free to fly.

Although a butterfly spends but two weeks in the darkness of the chrysalis, shedding its past self, I spent almost three years. Transformation does not happen overnight – for the butterfly or for people. The most frightening moment of the process is in the moment before emergence. Break the chrysalis anyway.

forgiveness

Forgiveness

forgiveness

“You shouldn’t hold a grudge. Just let it go!”

Forgiveness means you have another chance to start again. Often, that means evaluating the person who behaved hurtfully to determine whether the harm was intentional or accidental.

Well-meaning people frequently admonish those who have been seriously hurt by another person to forgive the one who hurt them. If the person did not normally behave that way, it makes sense to forgive. Everyone has reactions they regret and bad judgment once in a while.

But when the person possesses no empathy or compassion, when they not only refuse to take responsibility for their long-term pattern of damaging behavior, but they blame someone else (often the victim!) and play the victim themselves, victims of this kind of person find it hard to forgive. Because the perpetrator does not feel sorry or regretful, and often feel fully justified in their actions, the injured person cannot even begin to consider forgiveness.

They blame you when they’re the perpetrator.

So this situation will bind you to the hurtful person with the strongest of cords. You hold these cords in your hands yet you pull them taut every time you immerse yourself in the past. By holding onto your feelings of pain, anger, and betrayal, you give that person free access to your mind and your soul, your entire inward person. You give away your power to someone who wants to control you. As long as you go back into those memories, you live in the past and give up your sovereignty to someone who does not deserve it.

Separate yourself …

By seeking to forgive the person, you cut the cords that bind you. Acknowledge that the person who hurt you does not or will not understand how they have hurt you. You also acknowledge that they don’t care. You are not saying that it’s okay that they hurt you, or that it wasn’t that bad, or that it doesn’t matter.

Quite the contrary.

… and release.

By forgiving them, you release their hold over you. By forgiving, you show that you do not intend to keep diving into the bad emotional experiences that you have had with them. You won’t think about them at all. For anything! You sever emotional ties and remove their hold on you. You will no longer accept their valuation of you, nor will negativity from them be tolerated by you any longer.

Forgiveness in this sense means simply letting go: letting go of the pain, the memories, your history with this person, sometimes letting go of the person. It is not condoning, letting it slide, and saying it was okay to hurt you.

You are not to blame.

Forgive yourself for those times when you might have responded in a less-than-ideal way. Who wouldn’t have? You were not the problem; you never were the problem.

Ultimately, forgiveness removes obstacles to perceiving your relationship with this person clearly. Once you remove the obstacles, you will be free – free to choose to walk away from the person and your relationship with them, and to have a new beginning (but not with them). Forgiveness gives you a chance to separate yourself from the painful situation, and from the person who caused it – and if it takes separation to bring you peace and wholeness, then do it.

Goals Vs. Tasks

Goals create big changes; tasks keep things the same.

We need to have a balance; we need both.

The mindset of achieving goals at any cost creates chaos because those people and things you already have are neglected or damaged.

The mindset of maintaining and avoiding change creates stagnation and leaves you nothing to replace those things that wear out or break, or the people who move out of our lives for their own reasons.

A balance of creation and maintenance allows both change and preservation. Trees spend the spring madly creating new tissue, and they spend the rest of the year solidifying and integrating the tissue they created in the spring.

A goal and a task are not the same thing. If you can just take the correct action and get the result you want, that is not a goal; it’s a task. And lots of us could use some support and encouragement to get our tasks done.

Routine work like home maintenance, yard maintenance, car maintenance, parts of your job at work are tasks. No special techniques are needed, just the necessary tools and supplies, and enough time to do the work. And maybe a little motivation is in order, too, like a self-directed kick in the behind.

A goal is a large change in ourselves or our lives. This could be a career change, a move, a relationship change (in any kind of relationship, not necessarily just in an intimate relationship), or anything that could be considered disruptive if it weren’t our choice to change.

Goals require many steps to accomplish them, oftentimes specialized techniques or tools, and a huge amount of work. They do not maintain what we have but rather change what we have in a fundamental way. Goals often require more than one person working together to accomplish, and they impact both people and things. The hope is that the impact is positive for all concerned.

So seek balance, and work on both your tasks and your goals.

The Key to Change

“And now let us believe in a long year that is given to us, new, untouched, full of things that have never been … and let us see that we learn to take it without letting fall too much of what it has to bestow upon those who demand of it … great things.”
~ Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters of Rainer Maria Rilke, 1892-1910

The new year holds such promise, with its clean slate and its fresh beginning. We can almost feel the field of infinite possibilities unfolding before us as we look ahead unencumbered by our past that we left behind in the old year.

We feel passionate, hopeful, eager for transformation, seeing the world with new eyes so that the world looks new again, filled with the promise of “things that have never been”.

We believe that this time, things will be different, we will be different, and our lives will become what we want them to be. We even understand the magnitude of the effort and time involved in the transformations we ask of the new year, and are willing to put in that effort and time to accomplish them.

So how do we find ourselves in the same situation we left behind, year after year? How do we lose sight of the bright shining future we envisioned for the new year yet again?

The key lies hidden in plain sight, as it so often does: at the new year, we choose to see the possibilities, we stoke the fires of desire for transformation, for evolution, for growth and change, and perhaps most importantly, we let go of the past, releasing it to stay in the past, in the old year that’s ending.

You see, as long as we’re holding onto the past, we can’t create a new future. As long as we feel emotions like anger, regret, sorrow, grief, frustration, annoyance, vengeance, we are tied to the past by the strongest of cords.

The key to lasting, effective change is simply to allow the past to stay in the past instead of holding onto it by reliving our emotions.

During the holidays, we have a break from our routines, along with a festive spirit and (hopefully) time away from work to relax with family or friends. Because we have broken our routines, our minds have become more open to new possibilities, and our focus is on the future.

We often feel emotional about what the future could hold as well, and we’re ready to open our hands and our hearts and let the past fall out and lie amongst the ashes, where it belongs, while we turn our eyes and minds toward the horizon and the shining new year rising before us, replete with promise and possibility.

This year, keep your eyes on the future. It will be bright, because it will be what you create. Allow the past to remain behind you, unseen and unfelt. You have lived through it once; carrying the past with you will not mitigate its effects; rather, you will strengthen it by pouring emotional energy into it.

Pour your emotional energy into your future instead, into the infinite field of possibilities lying before you. You have the ability to choose the future you want to walk into; you can create the life you want to live. Study the possibilities with an open mind and an open heart, thrill with the possibilities, infuse them with positive emotions, and start working to manifest your dreams.

It’s time to set down your baggage and leave it in the past. Turn your eyes to the horizon and embrace the promise of the new year.

Carpe Annum

Carpe Annum

Seize the year! The Chinese New Year, the Year of the Earth Pig, has begun, offering the promise of new possibilities, new opportunities, new chances to make changes.

The new year is as good a time as any for a fresh start.

Make your fresh start last all year by having specific goals along with specific plans to see them through.

Know what you want, know who you want to be, know where you want to go, and know what you want your destination to be like.

  • Do you know what you want? I don’t mean a million dollars and a 90-foot yacht. What do you want to accomplish in the next 12 months? Toward which outcomes do you most want to work? Are they really your outcomes, or is someone else trying to push you to do or be something pleasing to them at your expense? Are you limiting your choices of outcomes because of limiting thinking? For example, if you are looking for a job, are you seeking one that offers the same low pay, the same lack of benefits, the same lack of advancement opportunities as the one you’re leaving? Have you trapped yourself in a salary expectation or a type of job? Sure, you probably can’t successfully get a job as a neurosurgeon if you haven’t got the degrees and experience, but you can probably step outside your comfort zone and move into an exciting and better-paid career if that’s an area you’d like to change.
  • Do you know who you want to be? Do you want to be a non-smoker? Do you want to be a highly paid executive? Do you want to be a professional speaker? Do you want to be a fit and healthy person? You could be any of those things if you chose to be them, and were willing to put the work in to achieve them. Do you want to be someone who watches television and talks around the water cooler at work about what other people get paid to do? Or would you rather do something interesting and talk around the water cooler about what you did instead of what you watched?
  • Do you know where you want to go? The answers to this may be geographical: “I’d like to work in California or buy a vacation home in Florida”; but they may also be metaphorical: “I’d like to be closer to my master’s degree”, or “I’d like to be closer to my ideal weight and BMI”. Do you want to have a better job, or to start a business, or to learn a new skill, or to be a better person in a specific area? Where exactly do you want to be? What is the route on the roadmap to get to where you want to be?
  • Do you know what your destination looks like? How would you know if you have arrived? Is your ultimate outcome for this year to be healthier, wealthier, happier, luckier, more spiritual, fitter, or more educated than you are today? How do you know when you are happier enough? How will you feel when you reach your destination? What will it look like to you? What will it sound like? Does it have a taste or a scent? Does it have surfaces with texture? Immerse yourself in the complete sensory experience of having successfully arrived at your destination.

When you can answer all these questions, vividly, using all your senses, experiencing what achieving your goals feels like, then it’s time to plot out your road map to get there. Break the big goal into steps, so you can make measurable forward progress while still feeling like each step is completely doable. Now schedule each of these steps into your calendar every day until the day the goal is reached.

That is how you seize the year. You start by identifying what you want to seize, then every day you seize the day by accomplishing its tasks, and you move a little closer to your goal, until you hold it in your hands.

Remember, a goal without a target date is just a daydream.

The Birth of Butterfly Phoenix

by Donna R. Wood

Emerge into your best self!

We live in a time when personal brand seems to be everything. Personal brand sounds so salesy and … well, fake; but is it? The world’s perception of our personal brand really depends on us. The authenticity of the brand is what matters the most. Are you being authentic, or are you blending in with everyone else out of the fear of being different?

For years, people would ask me what exactly Butterfly Phoenix is. For the longest time I didn’t have a satisfactory answer, because even I didn’t know. The title of my blog was Butterfly Phoenix. I published my books under Butterfly Phoenix Publishing. Everything I did online was somehow directly connected to Butterfly Phoenix.

One day, it came to me. The reason I didn’t have an outward answer was because Butterfly Phoenix is me. It is the culmination of a life that had an uncertain and rocky beginning, and would end as something beautifully transformed; not perfect, but transformed.

As I pushed forward to discover more about Butterfly Phoenix, I found more people who had discovered the authenticity of who they were inside, like my business partner, Adele. Although Butterfly Phoenix was born from my life experiences, I recognized that I am not the only butterfly in the kaleidoscope of humankind; nor am I the only phoenix that has risen from the ashes as something new and beautiful.

After years of chasing the almighty dollar, struggling to get ahead, I found my authenticity through living a lifestyle based on existential well-being, where I focus on living from the inside out. Every day, I try to balance my four dimensions of being, resulting in a life of wholeness and a sense of purposeful meaning.

Gratitude: A Thanksgiving Post

Thanksgiving Day marks the beginning of the holiday season here in the US. As lovely as the holidays are, sometimes the whirlwind of activities can get the better of us, and we can lose the focus of the season, especially that of Thanksgiving Day, tucked in at the beginning just before we hold our breaths and dive into the Christmas rush. It seems that the entire point of the day gets lost in participating in the season’s activities.

So this year, do something different. You can create joy and thankfulness this season; it only takes a slight change of perspective. Take a moment, whether it’s on Thanksgiving Day or during time that you set aside for yourself, and reflect on the people and things you appreciate. Remember what went well for you in the past year, what things bring you joy, and especially which people are your biggest fans and have been there for you through thick and thin: really feel your sense of appreciation and gratitude for their presence in your life, and for the changes you’ve experienced because of them.

Hold your appreciation in your awareness whenever you can, especially when you feel the rush of the season pressing in on you. Appreciation for the good people and things in your life can change your entire perspective, and give the holidays meaning  and a deep satisfaction that perhaps may have been lacking in the past.

True gratitude is appreciation.

True gratitude is appreciation for the good people and things in our lives, for the joys and challenges that create our day-to-day experiences. Appreciation defines us; it informs our outlook and influences how we move about in our world; it colors how we interact with others, how we value the people in our circles and care for the things under our stewardship.

True gratitude is a way of being, a chosen perspective. Gratitude, true gratitude, is cultivated by choosing to think on our blessings, those people, events, and things that give us joy, rather than focusing on the negative people and things that pepper our existence. It’s cultivated by choosing.

Rain falls on everyone; gratitude is choosing to see that it’s raining on one’s garden and not that it’s raining on one’s parade. Gratitude is choosing to see the glass is half-full and the wine bottle is too. Gratitude is being happy for puppy kisses instead of fretting about the fur on one’s pants.

Gratitude is transformative.

This kind of gratitude transforms our experience of life. It gives each day meaning, because it opens our eyes to the beauty and love and happiness that always surround us. We notice beauty and love and happiness in our world when we have them in our mind. Not only do we see more of these on days we intentionally choose gratitude, we start to see more of them every day no matter how we feel. Our senses and our mind are selective: our mind processes so much sensory data every moment that we can’t consciously handle it all, so the mind sends us data consistent with our habitual thoughts in a kind of sensory confirmation bias. We see what we expect to see because the mind thinks that’s what we want to see.

Fortunately, we can consciously filter the data we receive by managing our thoughts. When we do, we start noticing different things than we used to notice. As we notice different things, our experience begins to change, then our beliefs change, and then our circumstances begin to change to conform to our new patterns of habitual thought and our beliefs. This can work both ways; our experiences can change for the better or for the worse based on our thoughts and beliefs.

Like ripples in a pond, gratitude spreads out until everything is changed by its presence.

As our circumstances change, our opportunities change as well. New possibilities present themselves, new people appear in our lives, new talents and skills emerge that we may not even have known that we had. Suddenly, everything seems to change in a very short time. Our circle of acquaintances changes drastically, we no longer like to gossip around the water cooler, we spend our time planning a new business or volunteering in a new way or learning a new skill or making some kind of positive change in our lives. Often, our finances change, sometimes drastically; the future transforms into something challenging and exciting and encouraging and filled with hope and promise.

Pie in the sky? Not at all. By choosing to think in terms of gratitude, to be gratitude, to live gratitude, we begin to resonate with other things related to the positive frequencies of gratitude: success, money, happiness, opportunity, optimism, inspiration, change, forward motion – and similar people experiencing similar things in their lives.

Changing our minds changes our attitudes change our experiences change our beliefs change our circumstances change our future. During this holiday season, take some time simply to be gratitude. Meditate on it. Make it part of who you are. And expect to see changes in your life.

Being Before Doing

You must become that which you want to be first and let the world follow in your tracks…. Your world faithfully and accurately reflects, not what you have put in an order for, not what you have correctly and clearly asked for, but the person you are! *  ~Genevieve Davis

Every great work is just that: work, that someone did. Someone took an action which produced a result. In our scientifically oriented, mechanistic culture, nothing happens without an introduction of work into a system. Without work, a system by nature moves toward entropy –  disorder and chaos.

Even in the art world, masterpieces and not-so-masterful pieces are called “works of art”. Like everything else, art is something we do.

Nothing happens until someone moves something.

This scientific view, this cause-and-effect perspective, is the perceptual framework that defines western civilization. It’s a good and a valid perceptual framework, but like any framework, it can only show us part of the entire reality.

Our mistake arises when we see part of the picture but believe we’re seeing the whole.

The disconnect between “western” and “eastern” medicine, science, and philosophy stems partially from this clash of perceptual frameworks. In the western viewpoint, the whole is the sum of its discrete parts and is defined by their specific functions; the eastern perception is that everything is a reflection of the whole and contains the whole within itself.

Even in the west, we acknowledge the idea that the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts.

Stepping beyond our perceptual frameworks….

Take your eyes off the obvious to see the possible.

Perhaps we should step back and look at our ideas of working, of doing, because maybe we’re putting the cart before the horse; maybe we’re looking at the end result of a process but thinking that the result sprang fully formed from an isolated action or set of actions.

So let’s look at producing a work of art so we can see the process behind the result; that will equip us to apply it in useful ways to the other areas of our lives.

How to create a masterpiece in three easy steps….

If we’re going to paint a picture of a vase of flowers, we first have to get a vase of flowers, whether that’s an actual vase with flowers in it, or a picture of a vase with flowers, or a memory of one, or even an imagined picture of one. Then we just pick up a paintbrush and transfer that image onto a canvas or a building or watercolor paper.

If we sit down with a musical instrument, we need a piece of music to play on it. We get the sheet music, or a recording of a piece of music, or our memory of a piece of music, or an imagined piece of music. Then we just play that piece of music.

“But,” you object, “I don’t know how to paint a picture or play a musical instrument!”

The how is the process: not the mechanistic, step-by-step, painstaking instruction to replicate the object in a new medium. Not at all. That’s part of the work that produces the end result, the end of the process.

The process begins not with working in a medium to produce a result, but with becoming a person who can and will create that artwork.

Art isn’t created in a vacuum.

It’s created in the soul, the heart, the imagination of the artist.

You must be what you want to create first. If you want to create something beautiful, you must have a beautiful soul, one that loves and is attracted to beauty – not shallow judging of physical good looks, but the deep appreciation of beauty within the object of your vision.

If you want to create art that promotes social justice, it must first live in your soul.

If you want to create art that demonstrates the beauty or the power or the majesty of nature, you must first love, appreciate, and understand it in the deep places of your heart.

Notice there’s no mention of talent.

Talent usually means that someone can be good at something more easily than others can. The rest of us have to work harder to be just as good. But there’s almost nothing that can’t be taught to someone who wants to learn, and once she masters the techniques, she immerses herself into the expression of passion and emotion and gratitude, and that person can produce art that moves people, art that means something.

The person expresses the soul, and what emerges from that expression is art.

The same holds true in every area of our lives. When we express who we are, what emerges from that expression is our life. Our experiences reflect – at least to an extent – the person we are, and the beliefs we hold. Of course, the people around us and our circumstances affect the kind of life we live, too:  if we can barely feed our families, then we likely won’t be making scientific breakthroughs or writing classic literature.

Nevertheless, despite bad circumstances that may be beyond our control, some manage to have homes filled with happiness, children who feel understood and appreciated, and friends who seek them out.

Yet others, perhaps even those in fairly good circumstances, have rather average lives. These people have chosen, for whatever reason, not to be extraordinary, not to seek beauty, not to understand themselves. They have chosen to live by default, responding to every situation but never creating, living their lives on autopilot. Maybe this even describes you.

What would your life look like if you chose to be extraordinary?

What makes your soul sing? Who could you become to give voice to that song? How could you give expression to the beauty and depth and passion in your soul? Where is the inspiration?

Life is not doing. Life is becoming. Being is enough, and yet being isn’t static. It’s changing, flowing, charging, calming.

Being is becoming is being.

Be the voice for the voiceless, if that sets your heart on fire. Express beauty – or pain or anger or social injustice or any other important message through a medium that appeals to you. Change the world, or change your world: it can only happen through being.

Be the kind of person people want to be with, the kind of person who lives a message, the kind of person whose life deeply touches other people.

Be your passion.

Being gives life meaning and purpose . . . makes a life well lived . . . makes a difference.

* Davis, Genevieve. Becoming Magic: A Course in Manifesting an Exceptional Life (Book 1) (pp. 62-64). Kindle Edition.