You Have to Show Up to Be Seen

photo credit | flickr: orangeacid

You ever freeze when Life gives you exactly what you ask for? It's curious how we ache with longing to be our authentic self—to be seen and accepted as we truly are, then shrink at the invitation to actually live it.

In October of 2012, I was asked to present at a Pecha Kucha event (20 slides x 20 seconds) hosted by Seattle Art Museum, in celebration of a museum-wide exhibit of women artists.

The title of the event: Women Who Rock: Agents Provocateurs & the Ideas That Inspire Them. Basically, it was an invitation to join a line-up of creative powerhouses and entertain people with a story about what lights me up.

I was honored. And paralyzed. What did I fear? Hubris and comparison.

I feared sharing myself with an auditorium of strangers, as if I mattered. As if I was worthy of people's time and attention. I feared not measuring up to the wildly-creative women who would also take the stage that night.

Can you relate?

Three weeks ago, on the Friday before Christmas, I was walking into my morning dance class on Capitol Hill and my friend Anne slipped me a little paperback book titled Art & Fear, saying she felt compelled to give it to me. It packs some great insights. Here's a juicy one:

"The important point here is not that you have—or don't have—what other artists have, but rather that it doesn't matter. Whatever they have is something needed to do their work—it wouldn't help you in your own work even if you had it. Their magic is theirs. You don't lack it. You don't need it. It has nothing to do with you. Period."

What other people have or don't have has nothing to do with me. A liberating reality.

So, back in 2012, Life was delivering an invitation to stop worrying whether what I have is good enough. To step outside my perceived smallness and claim myself. Exactly as I am. Was I going to accept? Yes.

I breathed a lot. I was patient with myself. I risked feeling all the uncomfortable feelings I might feel and, ultimately, I was able to OWN my authentic self, trusting that I am enough, just as I am.

This blog is a continuation of the movement I followed by taking the stage to an autumn evening in 2012. Thank you for being part of my journey and thank you for letting me be part of yours.

The following are the 20 slides of my presentation...


SLIDE 01: 14th century Persian poet, Hafiz, was a passionate mystic whose writing I have long adored. But this past June, one of his poems was unveiled for me. One I thought I had already understood...

"God is trying to sell you something, but you don't want to buy. That is what your suffering is: Your fantastic haggling, your manic screaming over the price!"

SLIDE 02: If you take issue with the concept of God, you can replace it with the divine or Life.

Close up of layers inside onion

SLIDE 03: The layers of this poem peeled back for me during seven transcendent hours in June that profoundly altered my perception of myself, of Life.

flickr: firexbrat