the colored leaves fall
leaving the trees alone now
to sleep quietly
© Nichole Donjé
So, I am embarking on a new journey and I’m asking you to come with me. I will be reaching out via Facebook and Twitter asking for your input to help me with a new interdisciplinary art project entitled, Who Am I?
I wrote a poem I have yet to share, I will at some point but not yet. It is one I wrote while researching Langston Hughes, one that reached down into the depths of me and my past to share my history, my journey and who I am becoming.
Oddly as an artist, I started this way. My foundation was visual art then I discovered theatre and fell in love. I became passionate about stories and in doing so loved disassembling them and re-envisioning them while mixing disciplines. I always wanted live music, dance, startling visuals, powerful words and voices. I wanted to make a physically emotional impact with my art.
I am here again, starting again but in a whole new way. I am a producer, I underlined that because over the past couple of years I constantly wanted to avoid the term. So many were looking to me as a producer and somehow it made me feel as though it subtracted the “art” from what I was doing. Now I am seeing it differently. I am embracing this talent and understanding its strength. I have the ability to bring together a vision and people to make something noteworthy and extraordinary. For the first time in a long time I am incredibly exhilarated and inspired.
Funny enough, it is the subject of this project that has made me look back and look deep. To ask, why I have made certain choices? Why do I question what I do? Sadly I have a deeply personal admission: my body image keeps me from my success. There I said it! What seems to be such a simple issue, one I have been ashamed of because it feels so trivial, but in actuality is so commanding that it holds me back from everything I know I am capable of. I have to reach inward and ask sincerely, why?
I have spent a lifetime working to be the “image” of myself I have created in my head. My personal expectations of myself have only continued to become less attainable. The tedious phrase, “If I…then…” has played on repeat in brain for more years than I’d like to admit. The reality I am facing now is that by not accepting myself as I am today imperfections and all, I am disrespecting everything I have worked so hard for and negating everything I have achieved in my life. Sadly this only perpetuates my perceived personal failure that I have seemed somehow determined to achieve.
Its time to change and my change must start with me.
Who am I? How many women ask themselves this question not because they are in a transition, but because they looked in a mirror and made a judgment of themselves that they carry with them throughout the day, each day. Today I am fat, yesterday I was my hair or my skin, the day before my shoes and so on. This mirror we seek our reflection in is not real, but the reflection promoted to us by the media and the brainwashing we have done to ourselves in our denial; too dark, too light, too fat, too thin, too old, too young. When are WE enough?
It doesn’t seem to matter how many forms of proof they show us that airbrushing is rampant and inexcusable, that celebrities wear hair extensions, that “natural” is a color we paint on and no longer what we actually are? We need to stop seeing our reflections on the television and in magazines; comparing ourselves only to the “idealistic” forms sold to us. Its time to start looking around at the beautiful, real people who live among us every day.
Today I choose to step up, look in the mirror and not see only what I look like but who I am; a talented leader, artist, performer and activist. This is not easy to do I wish I could say it is, but I am saying for the first time with true conviction that I will fight each day for myself. To look in the mirror and silence the voice of irrationality and say out loud that I am ready to accept the awesomeness of simply being me!
The Who Am I? project is about women; how we are seen in society and by ourselves. It is about how we affect men and how they affect us. It is about communication. It is about embracing our personal, individual power while opening our minds and sharing ourselves, our truth with the world. Beauty has so much less to do with what we look like and so much more to do with the light we shine, the light we can only ignite if we are willing to release falsehoods and accept the magic of who we are. This takes time and dedication BUT this will change our lives and every life we touch.
Please take this journey with me and look in the mirror and ask each day, Who am I? Then remember who you really are.
Please watch this inspiring video of Lupita Nyong’os‘ speech from the Essence Magazine Awards. It is both heartbreaking and rejuvenating. I watched this and couldn’t help but cry because I remember asking god to give me the strength to change and be something different from what I was not because I was bad, but simply because I believed I wasn’t good enough. I know so many young girls have done this over and over and the older I get the more devastating it is. Society needs to start teaching our children, girls and boys this definition of beauty Lupita talks about and stop perpetuation the deception that breeds self-hatred. We as human beings deserve more.
There is something about sitting in the grass or an Adirondack chair on a sunny day with the mountains or a lake in site. I go there in my mind when I can. It’s a memory, but also a vision. A vision I use when my mind gets lost in some messed up version of my day.
It would be amazing to wake up each morning and sit on that grass, do yoga and meditate as the birds serenade and the wind blows seductively against my skin; a kiss of cool in the warmth of the sun. Or to sit in the night looking at the stars, the soft music of the trees whistling. Laughing with friends and loved ones.
It is possible.
They say that balance is a myth. Is calm a myth as well? Perhaps constant calm would be boring, perhaps it doesn’t exist? I have found it here and there and it is wondrous! To feel my own breath, for my brain to be quiet and my body accepting in its groundedness.
It is possible.
Why do we fight what is in our own hearts? Why do we not just dance with joy at the challenges? Why is suffering in our nature…or should say, my nature. Who am I to speak for others, though I know so many in lust with chaos. Those are them that I’d love to dance with, to engage and share a calmness with.
Imagine a shared moment; quiet and without expectation or limits. What a dance that is.
It is possible.
Calm is not just the grass. It’s a state of being; an acceptance of the moment. It is a willingness to release the struggle, the chaos – to hand over the reins and say…”okay…” and for that moment to truly know; I’m okay right now. I’m okay as I am. I am enough.
It is possible.
© Nichole Donjé
At my age now I have recently discovered that what I really am in this moment is a teenage girl searching for who she wants to be in this world. I see this in the books that excite me like HUNGER GAMES and DIVERGENT series where young women are strong both physically and morally; girls who change the world for having the courage to trust and be themselves. The grown up side is reading LEAN IN and THE POWER OF 2; leadership books that help me find the power within myself to both inspire and be inspired. I find myself seeking inspiration and motivation to be a better person making choices that empower me and those around me.
I want to grow beyond myself.
I don’t necessarily think this is an odd search at my age, but it is oddly unfamiliar. I think in the past, I thought I knew what this meant; now I KNOW what it means and that knowledge somehow makes it scarier and more inspiring all at once.
When we’re young we are daring in a ways we lose as adults. Everything is a discovery because its the first time. As an adult WE KNOW. We know the consequences and the possibilities. We’ve made so many of these mistakes already.
I find at times its harder when you KNOW or at least think you do. Your inhibitions are lassoed. But here is the real recent discovery, or should I say rediscovery. Its ALWAYS the first time ANYTIME because no matter what each time is new, and different things can happen. I think we spend so much time telling ourselves I KNOW that we forget that there is opportunity for change and reinvention in every action.
I’m not saying that the concept of perfecting an act isn’t true. But think about it, in every practice session there is the opportunity for new insight, for new and more efficient skills and yes for something to go wrong, something unpredictable.
Perhaps your practicing your sword juggling act for the theatre festival next week. You’ve taken the time to build your skills and perfect your act. You haven’t dropped a sword in 3 years.
Now your outside in a crowd, the stakes are high…you drop a sword! The skills you’ve built through hours and hours of practice ensure you react quickly, instinctively. No one gets hurt. BUT, you dropped the sword. Here’s the question: Is that the end or is it an opportunity?
Yes consequences will be had; worst case, the loss of the job, best case you work it into the act and all believe it was on purpose.
Where is the opportunity?
Its in learning what went wrong. It is in figuring out not just how you reacted physically, but mentally. It is in facing the fear of doing it again even when you failed to be perfect.
It is in our growth and courage that we become better people. Stronger people. People who’s example WE want to emulate.
© Nichole Donje
I am sad today. There is sadness in the air. I have friends who have lost loved ones and pets, there is illness all around and there are people I love so dearly that are lost. I’ve worked so hard for so many years to not be sad, yet today I must admit I am. I am lucky that it doesn’t go to my core, that I can lift myself up and ask for hugs and supportive words and they are there. But what for those who cannot hear them?
Life is such an adventure, but it does need skills to navigate. There are storms and death, loss and fear; but there is also hope and peace. I remember times when I thought peace was not to be a part of my adventure that it was for those who seemed perky and fun, those who learned to laugh and play. But that changed. I remember they day I said to myself why not me? At that moment an opportunity posed itself. The simple opportunity to find the good in what was happening in my life. Once I saw that, all of a sudden opportunities were everywhere, it was frightening.
I started to ask myself…were these opportunities here before? I realized that, yes…they were but my eyes were closed, my heart was shut off and my body shut down. All of a sudden in my life opportunity was everywhere, almost overwhelming me. What do I do, which do I choose, do I take them all…wait…I Am Afraid. WHY?
Fear: an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.
Amazing “an unpleasant emotion”. This is what keeps us from living our lives, our truth and often from being happy. The scary part of this is that what we fear is ourselves. We are so afraid of being uncomfortable we don’t allow ourselves to live, to be free. We fear what we would be if we could and yet, that’s all most people say they want. Life can be uncomfortable, yes. I will wholeheartedly admit that. But it is working through the discomfort that helps us get through the next. Each time things get a little easier and sometimes....sometimes we grow to find joy in the challenges. We learn the difference between discomfort and danger. We begin to trust our instinct and avoid “fight or flight” and instead stand tall and observe, deciding to make a choice to stay or go, to stop or run, to laugh or cry and most importantly to be okay with that.
I have learned to stop, to take a moment and breathe. To ask myself “are you okay?” What is really happening, am I simply afraid because I do not know? I am not always successful, but what I am is alive. I am living and breathing and taking chances simply because they are there for me to take; because that is what it means to be alive.
I am sad today for those going through loss. I am sad today for those with no hope. I am sad today for people I love. I am sad today for not being able to fix it for you all.
Look up. Breathe. Stand tall. Take the time to laugh…or cry. See the opportunities floating by. Hold tight to the love and not the pain. Remember that you are a gift to everyone around you and those those you lost were a gift to you that will always hold space in your heart.
May laughter and love embed itself in you today, tomorrow and whenever you choose to embrace it.
Namaste : “I bow to the divine in you.”
That something that keeps us moving forward toward our destination our goals our fantasies our lives our dreams. We keep moving forward always stepping toward something bigger than ourselves, than where we are now. It is a force. It is a moment. Each step a significant happening, pushing us, driving us, making us more than we ever thought we could be.
© Nichole Donjé
To have partnership in your life is ensuring that the foundation you are building is being properly erected.
It is always better to have an extra set of eyes, skills, ideas, understandings. When we work alone, we can accomplish incredible things, but when we open ourselves to a partner willing to listen and share with the same in return, we grow. We bring more to the project, the community, the world. I can learn any tool or fact or exercise from a book, but I may never see it from the angle someone else may bring.
Individuals are beautiful and should be shared. Our lives are not meant to live alone and without connections.
Foundations are built to withstand pressure, and sometimes there is an issue that can’t be solved without help. We must remember, we all need help some times.
I believe when two or more people come together with a common goal, the power grows. Fear no longer has the means to take over. What stood alone now has support, accountability and connection. A connection that can reach beyond itself and become more.
My partnerships have helped me repair the cracks in my foundation. They have helped me to build higher and more soundly than I ever thought possible.
The reality is, I may be have been able to do it alone, I may have learned what I needed to survive and I may have continued to build my walls alone…but why would I?
We were not put on this earth to do it alone. We would not have been created with such a powerful need to connect to others living beings if we were.
I will always reach out to others. To build relationships in my life. This to me is life. It’s essential and purposeful. My heart would break without it. Why would I ever choose a broken heart.
© Nichole Donje’
Today I looked to the abyss and it filled me with its emptiness
I was cradled within its depths
So empty I felt the fullness of all the souls it contains.
Like white bending all color to show us what seems to be nothing
In nothing I find all, my view a prism of connection,
My soul sitting within one small part of the whole and finally grasping its truth.
Dedicated to the Creative Dynamic crew
I have never been one to celebrate Valentine’s Day. My husband and I have always found the marketing aspect of it unnecessary and pushy. Not to mention I’m not the biggest fan of the color pink. It’s just always seemed to me about making people feel obligated by celebrating with things and spending money, rather than actually with love.
Time and companionship, respect and appreciation; that is true celebration.
I find it to be a lonely holiday as well, and it shouldn’t be. The “idea” of it makes those who do not have partners or lovers feel ALONE. It leaves people out.
Today, I say we take over Valentine’s Day with true love, open love. Love for our partners, our family, our friends, and most importantly OURSELVES.
I challenge you today to show the greatest love there is. Today appreciate yourself. Do something you love even if its as simple as taking a walk or a nap. Write a letter, not an email. Make a phone call instead of sending a text. Let someone or many someone’s know you care, because that is the greatest gift there is.
Love starts within, know you are appreciated and special. Acknowledge you.
You are loved.