A few years ago, I started on a journey to practice shining more. Shining my talents, abilities, and forms of creative expression. For me, shining means stepping into something and not letting fear run the show. I came to see how often I shirked back from shining – out of fear. Fear of ego and fear of out-shining others.
In a little under 3-weeks, the culmination of my journey thus far will manifest in a solo spoken word performance and CD release party here in town. To say that I am nervous would be a remarkable understatement. But, as I’ve been sharing with folks lately, I’m proud of myself because despite having feelings of doubt and fear and uncertainty, I’m still doing it. I’m still moving forward, one scary moment at a time. My tracks are recorded and mastered; my CD’s are ordered; the gig is set; my booklet of lyrics is at the print shop. It’s happening!
If you’re interested in checking out my event page for this upcoming gig: https://spark.adobe.com/page/hC5Y8cQ32xv1e/
Something I’ve realized over the years is that fear isn’t rational, which is a big part of what makes it challenging to work with. If fear were a rational process, it would be fairly easy to talk our way out of it. But we all know that engaging in an intellectual dialog when it comes to a certain fear we have is futile. For example, let’s say we’re afraid of flying. Would it reduce your fear, even an iota, if someone were to give you the facts and statistics about how flying is safer than driving? No, probably not. Fear cannot be addressed in the head, it has to be addressed in the heart of our experience. In order to work with fear, we have to get out of our head and into our heart.
So that’s what I’ve been working on. Since fear lives in the head, I’ve been breathing in and practicing to exhale and delve deeper into the fragrant and calming waters of the heart. I’ve been practicing to use gentle and loving speech with myself: I see you fear. You are present and part of my experience AND I’m choosing not to let you run the show. You can hang out and all – but I’m choosing to shine.
I love that the following poem is so well-known. I’ve encountered it in a variety of places over the years – my most favorite spot being the middle school my stepson went to a few years ago, where an excerpt hung in large lettering on a banner in the hallway.
Our Greatest Fear
it is our light not our darkness that most frightens us
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,
talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people
permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.
Gosh I love this poem. It cuts right to the heart of the matter.
I’ve experienced directly what she’s talking about. I went from thinking: Who am I to _____ (write a book, do spoken word, step into spiritual leadership, record an album…) to: Who am I NOT to?
What helps me, too, in moving forward with this ongoing process of shining and sharing, is in staying in close connection with how much nourishment, inspiration, and appreciation I have when I encounter other people shining and sharing. Every time I see a spoken word poet get up on a stage and perform a piece they’ve written adds fuel to my own creative momentum. Every time.
I don’t need the CD I’ve recorded to sell. I don’t even need people to show up to the gig coming up – although, don’t get me wrong, both would be nice. But really I’ve already done what I set out to do. I recorded an album. I’ve put myself out there. I’ve discovered a new layer of myself through the avenue of spoken word. I’ve already succeeded.
It used to be that I thrived on external validation – that I would crave getting the rubber stamp of approval from others. But not anymore. I don’t need anyone to tell me that what I’m doing is good or great. What matters is the relationship I have with myself, internally. What matters is whether or not I accept myself – whether I’m comfortable in my own skin. And when those conditions are fostered, freedom and liberation are possible. And, in fact, are inevitable.
Fear is still a companion of mine. It has diminished but it’s still very much a part of my ongoing experience. And last night it swelled. I shared a few things last night during the open mic night that we host at our local mindfulness center once a month through the winter season. We had a fantastic evening with a variety of different types of sharings and a full crowd of lovely people. We go in rounds, verses sets like most other open mic’s, which keeps people more engaged throughout the evening. Given the late hour, I decided not to do the spoken word piece I intended on doing. But my dear husband, in an act of support and promotion, got up and announced my upcoming gig and ushered me forward to do the piece he had talked me into doing earlier in the day. I was energetically not prepared – and it was also getting late, which is not my time to shine in general, given how early of a riser I am. I got up and did a piece, which was good for me to do, but afterwards I felt a rise of fear swell up within me. One more person shared after I did and then we ended the evening. I helped clean up and then exited the building to spend time outside with the cold and snow, taking reprieve in the practices of deep breathing and slow walking.
I needed to move a bit of that fearful energy around and not let it sit and grow heavy. Time to myself amid winter’s embrace was just what I needed. Socializing and engaging with people at that time was just too much. I’m grateful that my husband and I had driven there together – which we often don’t do, given that we tend to operate on different time tables. Had I arrived solo, I simply would’ve left and went home. But given that I needed to wait for him, and given that he was conversing with a few friends inside the building, I wound up waiting for him outside for well over an hour, before he was ready to leave. How wonderful that he and I now have the dynamic in our relationship to allow each other to take responsibility for our own actions. I knew I could go inside and request that we take off – and he knew that if I were wanting to leave, I would’ve come in and told him. But I was pleasantly enjoying myself outside. And he was pleasantly enjoying himself inside. So there was no conflict of interest.
This morning, I’m still feeling the soft ripples from that rising of fear. But I continue to take solace in the simple truth that I’ll keep moving forward, in the ongoing journey of choosing to shine.