"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

Tag: authenticity

“my life belongs to me” . . .

sunshower 1

Charlize Theron (in June, 2015 issue of ELLE, UK magazine):

“For me, the greatest success of my life, and something that I am really proud of, is that through my career, or through love, or through friendships, or through relationships – I have lived my life authentically to me, . . . Meaning, I take full ownership in all of my decision-making. And some of it was really bad, and some of it was really good. But I’m most proud of that – that my life belongs to me.”

Isn’t it comforting when we can individually take responsibility for our lives?

Me in garden 1

“identity” . . .

DSC_1037In Denise Linn’s book, “Soul Coaching,” she writes:

“Our identities are shaped by the emotional environment of our childhood years, which we tend to re-create in adult years. We are programmed by the thoughts and belief systems of our parents, who were shaped by the beliefs of their parents. Sometimes we will even treat ourselves the way our parents treated us.” . . . “You are not your identity. To begin to lose your attachment to your identity, it is important to first become aware of it.”


The ideas in the paragraph I just quoted above are heavy duty and complex according to how our childhoods played out. For me, I was left on my own at a young age to fend for myself and to prove myself over and over again on my own. Boy, does that sound familiar. I can’t believe that I’m still re-creating that kind of environment for myself. But guess what? I think I actually am. For example, I know that I’m really a loner and set up projects for myself that are challenging. And that I am intense about moving through those challenges.

Like today, I moved the eight foot money plant back to where it was before out of the direct sunlight that came from a higher skylight. A plant expert had told me last week that too much sun wasn’t necessarily the best thing for the plant. To create a space for it, I moved the canary over so that it wouldn’t get a direct draft from the window if cool air were to enter. The plant window needed attention so I grouped all the amaryllis bulbs that had gone by and relocated the huge flowering orchids so that they would be visible from the street. By that time, I discovered that the vacuum cleaner bag was so stuffed full that it wasn’t drawing anything up. After changing the filter and putting in a new bag, I was ready for a break.

This little example illustrates that I do things alone that need to be done, but are way more than probably could be done in the space of a mid-morning, resulting in my feeling overtaxed, impatient and dreading what else that still needs to be done but which I’m too pooped out to do anything about until later today or tomorrow.

Having too much to do and feeling like I have to do everything myself is a familiar feeling from my childhood. Especially when it goes along with feeling invisible to others or not being noticed (enough.) Maybe I should stop now that I realize it’s a part of my so-called “identity” that I don’t need to enact anymore.

In her book, Linn says that being able to see one’s created “identity” is the first step to removing it and discovering one’s true authenticity. What an interesting idea!

win-win . . .

Stephen Covey just died at the age of 79 from bike accident injuries suffered three months ago. If you’re my age, you remember well the groundswell of publicity about his bestseller, “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” In today’s NY Times obituary, these seven habits were listed again:

1. Be proactive
2. Begin with the end in mind
3. Put first things first
4. Think “win-win”
5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood
6. Synergize
7. Sharpen the saw; that is, undergo frequent self-renewal

The wording of these seven tenets illustrates Covey’s special gift for language. That is, he simplified the message by using words easier for people to grasp. For example, instead of saying “prioritize,” he said: “Put first things first” for those who don’t know how to prioritize. He said “Seek first to understand, then to be understood” rather than using words like “empathize” or “show compassion.” His gift was to make common sense behavior appealing and put it into a business relationship context. That he was also Mormon (married with nine children and fifty grandchildren) may be parenthetical or not.

He was also driven, it seems, by his own habits: “Fortune reported that he was once seen at a gym lying on the floor of the shower room being sprayed by three shower heads while he brushed his teeth and shaved.” Finally, though–and this is why I’m writing a post about him, is that he spoke about “Begin with the end in mind.” Covey spoke about how we want to be remembered: and that if “we carefully consider what we want to hear about ourselves at our funeral, (and that is indeed how we want to be known,) then we will discover our own definition of success.”

So it seems that at the same time that this individual helped millions of people to strive for success in the external world, he also influenced how we can be successful simply by being authentic within our interior lives.

Now that’s what I call a “win-win.”

what’s real. . .

I was thinking about how well we think we might know someone. Especially someone close to us, like our spouse or someone in our family, like a sister or a daughter. I’ve come to the conclusion lately that it’s hard to know what’s real and what’s an impression of what we think about them, tinged with feeling. How much room is there for honesty with all that thinking and feeling going on?

Some people are pessimistic and others look toward the best of everything. I’m one of the latter, often idealizing someone’s character or abilities just because I love them. I think we all do that. Then, something happens and we are rudely awakened to what’s real. Ego and arrogance coupled with a sense of self-satisfaction or smugness spurts out.

No matter. Because what is truly most important, it seems to me, is to be real to ourselves. To authenticate who we really are within. That takes some honesty, a slice of humble pie and removing the rose-colored glasses to take a good look at what’s real. Actually, you know, it doesn’t look bad at all.