Life from Essence

It’s so funny… a year ago when I engaged the services of a Life Coach I didn’t see this coming.  Who would know that I could become a Life Coach?

In this new space I work with individuals who are looking to make a shift in their lives (friendships, romance, work, money, family, dreams). What I do is partner with them to make it happen by providing them with tools, reflection and accountability to have them get out of their own way. This has them get past their obstacles and step into an authentic and empowered reality of their own design.

The beautiful thing about this is, I get to practice what I preach.  In order to walk with others as they get their lives together, I need to be getting my life together.  I too have a coach.  In order to work with others to get real, I too must get real.

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In the beginning of the coaching relationship we have the Essence Conversation.  It is a place where we examine our automatic ways of being, our fears, our survival mechanisms and our comfort zone – all instruments of a fear-driven life.  The foundation of coaching is partnering to design and to live an authentic life.  But in order for you to be authentic, you have to first know who you are, right?  This is part of the purpose of the conversation – to mine our essence from the hills of our lives.

Today, in celebration of who I am, I introduce to you my Essence:

JOY : a source or cause of keen pleasure or delight; something or someone greatly valued or appreciated.

PRESENCE: the state or fact of being present, as with others… Stately or distinguished bearing… The impressive manner or appearance of a person.

PURPOSE: a person’s sense of resolve or determination.

MAGNET: a person or thing that has a powerful attraction.

GODDESS: a woman whose great charm and beauty arouses adoration.

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When I began this journey I was given two warnings.

1. You will struggle in essence.  Living from essence strips you naked of your armor and puts you in a place of great vulnerability.  It will make you very sensitive to rejection because what is being rejected is the authentic you.  It’s OK when our survival mechanism is rejected!  It was never really us to begin with!

2. There are people in your life who will reject you from essence.  They have been friends with your ego.  They are attached to the image they have of you.  They do not understand your journey or your struggle.  Not only will you struggle, but life around you will resist the change.

This can look like a major adjustment with struggles through emotions that get dredged up or it can be a gentle realization.  I’ve always been more of an epiphany-learner and so the consequences of this new consciousness has slammed into me like a train. I never understood either of these things until this month.  I am raw and naked and there are a few (thankfully very few) people in my life who are in resistance to the changes.

By the grace of God as I grow into someone who works with others to get their lives together, my life will be working itself together too.

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The Calling to the Poet

There is a group that meets monthly at the largest local bookstore on island.  The people who assemble come from all sorts of places with all sorts of accents and all sorts of ideas.  We share our writings and speak our truths in poetry.

In the last session there was talk around A Gathering of Old Men.  Quite the conversation starter, this little book of stories.  I had a friend recite the poem of Theophilus Brown and the power of this timbre married to the spirit of that poem brought to life the warrior of the old Obi man sent back to Africa on the ninth night.  From the performance came the discussion of ideas –  the purpose of our gifts, the power of words, the feelings of victims, the obedience to the powers that be, the pointlessness of rebellion, and revolutions of history.  The story of Salomé Ureña, the Dominican poet, was savoured.  An Ecuadorian shared her story of three poets from her hometown who were responsible for the removal of a brutal despot.  She quoted one of them saying “There is nothing harder than the softness of indifference.”   (Juan Montalvo) A Jamaican spoke of the stigma attached to the black cat and the themes of racism in societies of the Caribbean today.  A Barbadian distinguished the Jamaican story from the histories of the other islands.  A young man asked “How do you see revolution?” and an answer was given “Authenticity – each of us is responsible for our own story, to be it truthfully and boldly”.  Another answer was “Be the change you wish to see in your world.”

And it was decided.  For the month of July, to remember the American 4th and the purpose of the poet, the Floetry theme will be Revolution.

As my fellow floets turn to the task of writing, there is some inspiration to be found in what has already been written.  This is one of my new favourites.

Singular Truth

This blog began as an experiment, to record a story as it unfolded.  It began with a heartbreak and a haircut and was intended to track the journey to healing and a full flowing mane.  I have discovered many things along the way – bits and pieces of myself, my struggles, my beauty and my strength have to come to my conscious understanding.  A lot of lessons and experiences have made writing an interesting passtime.  But recent days have brought to the forefront a purpose.  A purpose to be TRUTH.

Truth is a difficult thing to face.  Particularly if facing it and speaking it could bring repurcussions and judgement from those around us.  It is a particularly difficult when the effects of it could land unsolicited on the lives of loved ones like husbands and children.  This is where I have found a major purpose and the advantage of singleness.  And what a discovery this has been!

I’M WIDE AWAKE!  I have a new understanding of what Paul had to say about singleness:

An unmarried woman is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband.

1 Corinthians 7:34

What is the work of God?  Truth.  Truth is God’s business.  If I am unconcerned with the needs of a husband, I am free to speak and be truth.  If I am free of fear of what my husband will think or of any harm that might come to him from what I do or say or challenge in truth, I am able to make change happen.

It is our responsibility to live authentic lives.  Fear is what gives birth to falsehood.  Survival mechanisms and alter egos are designed to protect us from the side effects of being true.  But once we get to the place of fearlessness the sky is the limit and change is clay in our hands.

For the single this is a much easier journey.  Fear for ourselves is all we have to surpass.  And each of us has a calling to get past that fear and break out with some truth.

What is your purpose?  What is the truth that you are called to be?

I AM NOT ASHAMED

You know… there have been times on this blog that I’ve choked on something I’ve written out of rum-soaked pain. I’ve regretted saying and writing the things that were destroying me inside.

Today I went back and un-protected the passworded bits of poison. The coin has two sides and I am not ashamed. There have been battles and bruises and bludgeoning in this war toward my authentic self and the opposition has been surprising – internal and external.  To disguise the wrong would be to hide who I really am and be just as much a hypocrite as I have fought hard not to be.

Welcome to the Singlestream. Home to a woman called Bushlings who accepts that she is flawed and is no longer ashamed to feel.

Have a wonderful day with yourself! I’ll be doing me right alongside you doing you. LOVE IT.

Self-Esteem Meets Identity

Now we have covered some ground and formed some conclusions on Self-Esteem that take away from the value it is given in society as a theory that explains good and evil human behaviour.  And here comes a spanner that changes the course of our discussion – Identity.  What is it?  And what does it have to do with Self-Esteem?

You have gone to pay with a credit card and been asked for your ID.  You have travelled and had to present the picture page of your passport.  Before you can vote in many countries a card with your picture on it must identify to the authorities WHO YOU ARE.  But that picture only provides so much information – a snap shot of your facial features.  The concept of identity is about the whole of you – what is seen, what cannot be seen, what you see and what you cannot see.

Once upon about two years ago I came across a new perspective on the concept of identity in a most unlikely place.  I was helping a friend in the writing of his dissertation for a master’s degree in International Relations.  The central concept was national identity – the identity of one nation in particular.  By the end of the exercise I felt myself worthy of a master’s degree myself – one in Identity, so long did I analyze and so deeply did the concept of identity resonate within my mind.  I had come across Identity before in a different and seemingly unrelated place – my spiritual search – and had been chewing on the word and savouring the flavour for some time.  But for the purposes of a discussion in International Relations the concept was split into two main parts:

  1. How a nation sees itself; and
  2. How a nation is seen by other nations.

I have determined that both these elements are authentic pieces of identity – they are both real and true, even if one or both of them are outside of the control of the identified nation or person.

How You See Yourself

The internal element of identity is determined by the cultural mores, the rituals, the relationships that a nation has and values.  Think of the holidays you have where you live and how your own nation identifies with them.  Transferring that to our own human experience, internal identity is the thoughts and actions and – yup, Self-Esteem – of a person, their sense of self, their boundaries and their own image as it displays itself in their head.  It is determined by their own actions and their own judgment of those actions based on their belief system – always measuring up to the ruler they create for themselves.  This ruler set will be determined by their religion, their jealousies, their comparing themselves to people they admire or despise, and informed by their culture.  But in the end this is also part of their internal identity.  So they see their intelligence and measure it – 8 inches of intelligence makes me above average and I feel good about that.  Or they see their beauty – 3 inches of beauty doesn’t compare to Kim Kardashian and therefore I’m not good enough.  You can see the path here from Identity to Self-Esteem.  You can also see here that the internal identity is also informed in some ways by the opinions of others.

How You are Seen by Others

The external identity is the way that the rest of the world sees a nation, not with the vested interest of ownership or the fears of facing ones self but with objectivity – or at least a different subjectivity – of an outsider looking on.  And so, in our own lives, it is what our friends and enemies see, who they see us to be.  How they become sorted into friends and enemies will depend on their set of rulers, their values, their belief systems, and how closely they match up with yours.

CASE STUDY

Let’s take the USA as a case study.  Their internal identity has traditionally been informed by the values of their founding fathers – several freedoms enshrined in a constitution.  It is also informed in the outcome of the conflicts they have entered into like Vietnam and the Gulf War and World War II.  Their achievements in sports, their economic successes, all of these things inform their identity.  One would simply need to drive out of the airport in any US city to see bumper stickers screaming national pride and national identity and the love with which this nation sees itself.  Not to mention national holidays where the things that they value are celebrated like Thanksgiving and the 4th of July and even Martin Luther King’s holiday.

On the flip side there are other parts of their identity held deeper and less proudly that they choose not to make a part of national identity internally but inform they way they are seen by other nations.  The racism of their history, the brutal corruption of their politics, the stain of assassinations, espionage, and the hypocrisy of their international policies all inform their international identity.  The USA is not revered in France as it is in Wyoming, it isn’t seen as a nation that stands for freedom in Iran or in Cuba in the way it is seen in Virginia.

LESSONS

Two things can be learned from the identity of the United States.  Firstly, the vision one has of ones self can be completely at odds with, or at least very different from, ones external identity.  Secondly, identity is a fluid thing evolving as time changes and people grow.

Of course, how you esteem yourself will be heavily affected by who you see yourself to be.  You will measure that vision up against your value rulers and determine how much value you give to yourself and, voila, out comes your Self-Esteem!

But is how you see yourself the problem?  Or is it how you are BEING that makes you value yourself more or less?  And perhaps, most importantly of all, is who you are being something within your control?

Stay tuned for the answers in the next installment of the common-sense study of Self-Esteem.

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