Tag Archive | Personal Growth

The Bird, Self Doubt and the Crossroads

Many thanks to Jeffrey Scott Villafane for his talented eye and for inspiring me, through his work, to consider the possibilities.

Look at this picture. What do you see?

Some may see what appears to be obvious…2 birds on a limb, in the fall, facing opposite directions. Some may delve slightly deeper and see 2 quarreling lovers, unable to compromise, challenged by the uncertainty of the future of their relationship.

While those interpretations seem quite possible, they’re not at all what I see.

What if I agitated your intelligence by disputing the one thing that appears to be factual in this photograph? What if I told you there is, in fact, only one bird and that the one farthest away is, simply, an illusion?

Humor me for a moment, as I encourage you to explore the possibilities…

The bird closest to the lens is real. The camera is focused on her and her beauty. WE are focused on her and her beauty. Her full, plush feathers in delicate hues of brown capture the gazes of all who come her way. Her head and neck, dipped in a vivacious shade of red, speak volumes of her fiery personality. And when she speaks, she sings a song that dazzles and inspires even the hardest of hearts.

However, despite her unparalleled beauty and unique gifts, her confidence has become clouded by fear. As she peers into the blurry beyond, she hears the voices of self doubt. The voices become so loud they materialize. They are given breath, and they take shape. This negative energy, that has taken on a life of its own, happily escorts her to a crossroads. And, it nudges her, again and again, toward the path of despair.

You see, the second bird–the illusion that sits quietly, yet ever present in the background–is the manifestation of her fear and self-doubt. It resembles her, slightly. But, only because it’s a parasite that feeds off of a small part of her…an undesirable part of her. Its plumes are no where near as plush. And that vibrant, crimson headdress, that could only be worn by one who exudes boldness…nonexistent. It is no match for her. It just seems stronger right now.

Void of pleasant melodies, this bird in the background only utters, “Who do you think you are? You are not good enough. You will never succeed. You cannot achieve greatness. Everything you touch fails. Stop dreaming and get real! You have no confidence. You will fall on your face. No one will ever take you seriously!”

Though she dwells atop the highest tree, on the highest bough, overlooking the grandest view, this beautiful creature is caged. She is caged by her own fears, afraid to grant herself permission to fly.

~

I have invested a large amount of time in my personal journey of discovery, a decade, in fact. So, I KNOW who I am. I KNOW what my passions are…what I dream to be…how I view the world…and, most importantly, how I view myself. But even after 10 years of truly getting to know myself…accepting myself, flaws and all…exploring the dark spaces of my soul…even after emerging more confident, sassy and courageous than ever, I am currently experiencing a profound moment of uncertainty.

Initially, this uncertainty threw me for a loop.

If you’ve been keeping up with me, then you know that turning 40 was a monumental occasion for me. It was symbolic of my successful completion of my Decade of Discovery and marked the beginning of my Decade of Enlightenment. This uncertainty caused me to doubt the success of my journey to personal discovery. Fortunately, I quickly abandoned that destructive thought. You see, this is NOT uncertainty of WHO I AM, WHAT I STAND FOR or WHAT MY HOPES and DREAMS ARE. It is uncertainty of HOW I will USE who I am, my gifts and my passions to ACHIEVE these hopes and dreams.

After banishing that thought, I have found myself exactly where I need to be. This uncertainty is necessary on my new road to ENLIGHTENMENT. It is not a set back, as I originally deemed it to be. It is a sign of progress. This uncertainty is challenging me to connect the dots. It is challenging me to take a spiritual journey. After all, my Decade of Enlightenment is all about attaining spiritual knowledge. Without it, I cannot fulfill my purpose of inspiring others.

One vital lesson that I have learned is when I am in the midst of uncertainty, doubt and fear, I must allow myself to dwell there for a period of time. Not because I am giving in to those voices of self-doubt. Not because I am allowing the fear to take control. But because I allow myself time to sit in that uncomfortable place in order to come face-to-face with its cause, I conquer it and emerge stronger.

That is where I have been. I’ve been in a place of darkness and stillness. I have had to RETREAT, regroup, RETHINK, refresh, RENEW, reaffirm, REFORM, rekindle, REASSEMBLE, replenish, REALIZE, reassess, RESTRUCTURE, re-dream, RE-DRAW, recondition, REORGANIZE, reawaken, RESUSCITATE, revive, REJUVENATE, restore, REPAIR…and, most importantly, prepare to RE-ATTACK!

I have said it before…Sometimes We Must Dwell In Darkness In Order To Appreciate The Light!! Likewise, we must exist within that same uncertainty before we can be Enlightened.

~

My current state has been marked by much meditation and reflection, and a significant truth has been revealed to me. I have often accused others of caging me, hoarding my beauty and talents. They were my scapegoats…my excuse for not setting myself free…my excuse for not granting myself permission to fly. Truth be told, I am the only one guilty of hiding my beauty from the world.

Fear and self-doubt are powerful forces…

Look at the picture again…Do you see me? Yes, I am the bird…filled with self-doubt…at a crossroads.

Can I ever believebelieve in myself? Can I ever find freedom in the fall, knowing I will spread my wings and take flight? Can you? Can you believe…believe in yourself?

Yes, I think we can…

In fact, I know we can.

~

Thank you for sharing in my first lesson of my Decade of Enlightenment. Join me on my journey…SUBSCRIBE.

Still giving strength to my roots…

Early morning, this past Mother’s Day, May 13, 2012, my husband dragged me from my bed.

“Close your eyes, I’ll lead you,” he said. He walked me down the hall, through the family room and out the front door.

It was cool out that morning. I felt the tiny whispers of rain faintly brushing against my skin, as if they were quietly trying to escape my attention.

Aastan, my husband, uncovered my eyes, and, standing before me, all eight of my children shouted, “Happy Mother’s Day!” They all moved aside to reveal a baby Magnolia tree…in my eyes, the perfect Mother’s Day gift!

It was quite significant on many levels.

Here’s the surface level…Since Louisiana and South Carolina share a common bond with the magnolia tree, it seems only fitting that a Louisiana French Creole girl living in beautiful Charleston, SC should have one in her yard. Secondly…I have a Magnolia doorbell and a Magnolia door wreath–A Magnolia tree completes the set. Thirdly…How is it that The Creole Magnolia, who happens to be a floral designer, doesn’t have a Magnolia tree? It seems now I’ve added touch of credibility to my name. (Oh yeah, I’m legit now!)

Delving a little deeper…I was touched by the fact that my husband thought of such a moving gift, filled with sentiment and symbolism. It is my passion to inspire others to reach for and attain personal growth. For the past 18 years, I have been charged with, not 1 or 2 lives, but EIGHT, precious lives to nurture and grow. I have also invested and continue to invest much time, thought, prayer and energy toward growing, transforming and developing into the woman I know I am destined to become. Being a source of inspirational nourishment for my children and others, as well as for myself, has been at the forefront of my mind. It has been carefully crafted and intertwined within everything that I do. One can only hope that a fraction of their efforts is recognized and appreciated. By giving me this tree, for me, my husband was recognizing my skills as a nurturer. For me, he was saying, “Here you go, baby. Here’s one more thing for you to nourish and grow. You can do it. I trust you.”

On Sunday, May 20, 2012, exactly one week later, my husband and I planted that tree…together. It was as important for him as it was for me. It was one more memory brought to life, one more layer added, one more moment cherished. It was another creation together–a creation in which he is fully vested, yet confident enough to allow me the freedom to cultivate and sustan it. And again, I heard him say, “Take it from here, honey. Do what only you do. You got this!”

When we dug up the earth and prepared the spot that would become my tree’s permanent home, the layers of meaning, again, settled deeper.

10 months ago, my Parrain (godfather) lost his battle against cancer. He played a large role in helping me grow into the woman I am today and in guiding me toward the woman I hope to become in the future. He is one of The Men That I Come From…

Through his love and encouragement, he gave strength to my roots. He watched me grow, and he watched me share my growth with my children so that they, too, could fluorish.

I miss him, but the memories we shared remain…the love we shared remains…the lessons he taught remain…the wisdom he imparted remains…And, although he is gone, I am able to share all of those priceless treasures with my own children. I am able to reflect on those gifts and replenish the strength of my own roots.

When Aastan placed the tree in the ground, I reached for the red velvet, heart-shaped box, with the brown bow on top. I carefully opened it. Inside…a newspaper obituary clipping and a bag of ashes. I sprinkled the gray dust all around my tree, praying that the remains of this man, who had contributed so greatly to my growth, would continue his legacy…

the legacy of Giving Strength to My Roots

Looking for that which I cannot see

Affectionately christened my Decade of Discovery, my 30s have been spent uncovering, learning, revealing, and exploring all that is ME!

Now, at age 39, my last year of discovery, not only do I find myself continuing to develop, but also becoming a bit perplexed…

Now that I have this treasure trove of information, knowledge, wisdom, and advice, what am I supposed to do with it all? I have all of these pieces strewn about in front of me, but no idea how to put them together. I have been on and am coming upon the completion of this Journey of Great Transformation, but have no clue of what lies in my very near future. Where will I end up? What will I become? What’s next for me?

After many days and much thought, an important truth–and what most assuredly was yet another of this Decade’s lessons–occurred to me. People are always looking for Clarity. And that’s what I was doing…Looking for that which I cannot see.

You see, sometimes we must dwell in darkness in order to appreciate the light! Are you feeling me?

Sometimes We Must Dwell In Darkness In Order To Appreciate The Light!!

By darkness, I do not mean despair or gloom. What I mean is the unknown, the uncertain, the unchartered, the absence.

Finding Clarity is not like finding a lost hairbrush or your favorite lip gloss. You don’t just happen upon it.

Clarity is a presence, a knowledge, a breath of fresh air that is Attained! It is not tangible. And it is immeasurable!

Photo Credit: Jeffrey Scott Photography

When the caterpillar is born, it nourishes itself until it is a full-grown, adult caterpillar. It then wraps itself in its chrysalis, its dark place, where a beautiful metamorphosis transpires. When its transformation is complete, it emerges as a gorgeous Butterfly, ready to spread its wings and FLY!

While in its Chrysalis, the caterpillar does not question what it shall do or where it shall go once its development is complete. The caterpillar does not wonder, “Once I become a butterfly, then what?”

It just becomes…as I must Just Become.

I must not waste another moment wondering what will become of me once I have transformed. Like the Butterfly, I must be ready to spread my wings, and fly to wherever the universe takes me. I must become comfortable in my dark place knowing that the Clarity will, undoubtedly, come!