“The heroic quest is about saying yes to yourself and, in so doing, become more fully alive and more effective in the world.
For the hero’s journey is first about taking a journey to find the treasure of your true self, and then about returning home to give your gift to help transform the kingdom – and in the process your own life.”
–Carol S. Pearson, Awakening the Heroes Within
I have been sick for over two weeks. My life has been on bare minimum mode, thus no new articles.
Whenever I get sick, not only is my body miserable, but it feels like some part of my essential self has exited. Recovery for me signals not just the return of health, but the return of my true essence.
And what exactly is our true essence?
When we consider who we are we may think of the qualities and values we possess; our likes and dislikes; our gifts and liabilities; our odd little idiosyncrasies; all creating the specific fingerprint of our personality. The list is pregnant with possibility and worth consideration.
But what about who we are not?
Years ago, while raising our daughters, I had numerous opportunities to see the uniqueness of each of their essences find expression. I remember one spring break when I was so looking forward to a week’s worth of freedom from the morning routine. I relished the idea of being able to be the first one up and having quiet time to myself. But on their first morning off, within minutes of my awakening, Sarah Jean, age seven, padded into the kitchen.
“Sarah,” I asked, “What are you doing up so early honey? You don’t have school today, don’t you want to sleep in?”
She promptly and firmly replied, “I’m not that kind of girl mom!”
She was also a daughter who from about age four on wouldn’t let me touch her hair. She insisted on doing it herself. (We often have a laugh at some of our early pictures of Sarah before she got the hang of doing hair!) She still is reticent to even let a hairdresser give her a cut, and usually isn’t satisfied with the outcome, going home to fine tune it herself.
Whether dealing with her hair or trusting her own circadian rhythms she had a sure sense of herself early on.
Even when we have claimed who we are and who we are not, we may still find ourselves traveling the troubled terrain of life with behavior that betrays our sense of selfhood. All of us, as we struggle to find our place in the world, at one time or another get caught in the tangle of inauthenticity.
I believe that there is part of us that has always existed and always will. Sometimes I catch an ‘other-worldly’ glance at that part of myself. It is accompanied by the feeling that ‘she’ knows things I don’t know about myself. I am offered a certain comfort by an inner compass of sorts, believing that eventually, despite my wanderings, she will lead me home to my true essence.
Having a sense of who we truly are isn’t always accompanied by ease. It can require courage to live authentically. A deep part of my identity is my writing self. More than being just a role, it feels like an inherent part of myself that has always been.
And yet, it often takes enormous effort to engage that part of myself, as I face the boulders of perfectionism I climb to find my voice again.
As the famous poet Sylvia Plath once commented, “There is nothing like the horror of a blank piece of paper.”
This website has been important for me personally because it keeps me writing. It helps keep me true to an important part of myself. And it gives me a pathway for ongoing exploration of my own essential self.
Today as I am writing, I am sitting on a bench in the woods overlooking Salmon Creek. I am soothed into stillness by the soft gurgling of the water on its journey. Above me I hear the cooing of Mourning Doves in the trees.
Questions arise in my own inquiry. Questions I offer you.
- What do you know about who you are and just as importantly, who you are not?
- What is needed to create safe haven and sacred space for all the parts of yourself?
- How could you bring the parts of yourself that are in the shadows of your life, into the light?
- How could you shed behaviors, ways of being, that don’t feel authentic to your true nature?
The quest to claim our true essence, to live authentically, requires courage and discipline. I have found I need some alone time daily for that quest. I have a set of practices that have been important tools to assist me. I call them the Divine Daily Disciplines. In offering them for your assistance I want to emphasize the importance of knowing even a small effort with these disciplines yields results.
Honor the needs of your true self in a way that these practices can be a blessing and not a burden. These can also be viewed on The Divine Daily Disciplines link on the menu of this sight.
Prayer is not about Christmas list of requests, but of creating relationship with our creator. This doorway to the Divine offers inspiration, comfort, and wisdom.
As we become still, we come home to ourselves. Silent pausing helps us hear our true voice.
Reading from a sacred text which speaks to our inner divinity
provides spiritual sustenance as we sup at the table of the Divine.
The quest of the life-long learner offers growth, expansion, and a continual sense of aliveness as we read a page or two a day from a book on any topic that inspires us or perks our curiosity.
A few moments with pen to paper, keeps us connected to our experience of life
helping us sort out feelings, and clearing our mind.
A brisk walk, run, bike ride, or swim floods our body with life giving oxygen; rejuvenates every life-sustaining system in our body; and releases our brain’s chemical mood enhancers. It is also a way to receive inspiration
We offer our wondrous body true nourishment when we partake of real, natural food – fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish, and range-fed poultry. Our health flourishes, and energy increases. Wisdom eating is also a practice that nurtures our soul.
The concept of adornment moves us away from the dictates of fashion to a personal affirmation and celebration of our bodies. A simple ritual of cleansing, grooming, and adorning, honors ourselves as a precious and beautiful creation