Being alone with one’s self is a holy act.
Being alone with one’s self is a holy act.
What’s next? Breathe deep, reach within, find the truth, move forward – ever forward.
Today I am vulnerable, so that tomorrow I will be strong.
I have always loved words and in that of course, quotes. When people can put into words a concept, philosophy, idea that feeds my soul or makes me take a step back and think it arouses me in such creative and intellectual ways.
I heard this quote years ago that made me take pause and begin to look at my life in a new way. These words literally became a personal philosophy I have striven to integrate into my life, and when I have it has always led me in ways that are unexplainable.
“At the moment of commitment the entire universe conspires to assist you.”
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Each and every time I have made a decision and committed to a path, new doors open. Opportunities are laid before me like a kings buffet and all I have to do is acknowledge the gift and step into the life I want.
This week has been just that. When I committed to write daily, I also made other commitments to myself. Two of these commitments were to meditate every day and to nourish and care for myself. In making these commitments (which terrify me by the way) there has been a distinct freedom. Whenever I have to make a decision I simply ask myself, “Is this nourishing me?”. If it is not, I don’t do it.
In turn, this has been an incredibly busy week and instead of feeling depleted I feel energized. I feel like I want to accomplish more, but that more must have purpose and intention, it must fuel my soul. I have had doors open. I started taking a wonderful class to both refresh and deepen my knowledge and skills, and for the first time in too long I am excited to learn. Not only that, but two days after I started I received an offer for another class I had wanted to take free. Then I got another offer to take part in an initiative with an incredible group that I love working with and that has given me so much in the way of getting to where I am.
The concept within Goethe’s quote is no less than miraculous, yet it is telling us that it is all in our own control. I have realized so much of getting the most out of life is all perspective. How we perceive and choose to live in our worlds so often creates our worlds and sadly often we choose to either see only the negative or to not see at all.
I admit sometimes I have been blind; I’m human. However this is a time my vision is simple and it is clear.
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.”