At the time I’m writing this, it’s estimated that there are over 570 million blogs on the planet. As I considered starting yet another one, I wondered, “What could I possibly have to say that would interest anyone?” without pause I answered, “Crap tons!” (And yes, I talk to myself all the time!)
My mind began to whirl with topics…
~ Helping us be kinder to ourselves by noticing and reducing negative self talk
~ Empowering us all to step into our “meant to be-ness”…less holding back and playing small
~ How our worth is not tied to how much our family needs us or how often we place their needs before ours
~ Why taking time for ourselves has us feeling so guilty
~ How once we start aging, social media and marketing make some of us feel invisible in plain sight
~ Spotlighting amazing women of all ages, body sizes and life experiences
There are soooo many issues women and girls are facing today and wouldn’t it be great to lean in to them together?
So this is my inaugural post. If we haven’t met yet, I’m Michele…introvert, daughter, sister, wife, mama, granny, recovering people pleaser and portrait photographer. I came kind of late to the party. I’d been taking pictures for 9 years and decided last year in the midst of a pandemic and right before my 55th birthday to open my first photography studio. Crazy? Optimistic? Insane? Daring? Maybe some of each.
Have you ever had that little niggling feeling at the back of your mind whispering, “there’s something more”? That’s all it ever said, but it was enough. I could never pin down what the “more” actually was, but I had been hearing this voice for years and the whisper was getting louder until it finally became a physical feeling in my gut and chest. I knew the pain of ignoring it would be much worse than my very real and visceral fear of exploring my “moreness”, my unanswered calling. I didn’t know what this restlessness in me was. I just knew it was there and I HAD to explore it, possibly go full recon on it.
You see, I come from two of the most creatively talented humans to ever walk this Earth. Sewing, painting, basketmaking, almost any craft, you name it, my Mama mastered to absolute perfection. Daddy excelled at drawing, painting, guitar playing, carpentry…soooo many things. It was like being the love child of Martha Stewart and Bob Ross, except I came out barely able to draw a stick figure or color by number. I’ve spent decades accepting the fact that all my parents’ creativity passed like a bolt of lightning right through me and down to my two daughters, who are also insanely creative. I had accepted it.
But now, in spite of my lack of skills, I knew there was something stirring in my soul. When our girls were teenagers, I picked up my husband’s digital camera and started taking pictures of them and it all clicked! I’d found something I genuinely loved doing! I didn’t know the first thing about shutter speed, f-stops or composition, but thanks to the esteemed Universities of Google and YouTube, I gradually learned more and more and found my tribe online. Could I make a go of this? Anytime I thought about it, I got so excited but also very anxious.
Three of the greatest fears we have as human beings are social evaluation, judgment and rejection. All three of those were living rent free in my head…who was I to think I could even do this?? I didn’t have a business degree or even a photography degree. Just who did I think I was???? What if I tried and failed? What if I took the big, ginormous leap, really put myself out there and then crashed and burned?? What if…? What if…? What if…?
I was terrified! At the time, I was emotionally spiraling in what is known as “analysis paralysis” which in my case meant I felt like I had to be 100% proficient in all areas before I could open a studio. Understanding how my camera worked, posing, lighting, props, gear, backdrops, editing in Photoshop, filing quarterly, yearly and sales taxes, tax deductions, marketing, bookkeeping, which products to sell, the cost of doing business, the cost of goods…my mind was spinning and I didn’t feel truly proficient at anything. Not taking action and not opening a studio on one level was comforting because it meant I would never be rejected, or judged or told I’m a fraud, that I don’t belong here, or I’m not good enough. Not in, but not out was a cozy place to be. Studying and watching hundreds of videos while playing it safe in limbo, I told myself, “One day, I’ll be ready!” I soon found striving for perfection mentally exhausting and more importantly, impossible to achieve.
As I was weighing all this out and having quite the conversations with myself, I found a quote by Marianne Williamson that said, “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, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. 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.”
How beautifully profound is that? Who are we NOT to be brilliant…gorgeous…talented…fabulous? This doesn’t have to be a major life shift or a career change I’m talking about. It might be living more purposefully, with intention, exploring your creativity or your communication skills, making something with your hands, baking something exquisitely beautiful, volunteering, writing that short story, delivering a moving speech, finishing that art project in the back of your closet, inspiring your students…there are so many ways to do what makes us feel alive! In other words, how dare we not use our full potential? Playing small does not serve us and it does not serve the world!
I knew then if I didn’t take the next hard step and play for keeps, I’d spend the rest of my life trying to drown out that persistent inner voice that kept getting louder and louder. I would always wonder what could’ve been. I envisioned the end of my life and all the regrets I would have. And I didn’t think I could live with that.
I also knew, if I DID try and I failed, for the rest of my life, I would know that I had dared greatly…that I had tried my ding-dangest to make my dreams a reality. And that’s something I COULD live with.
So my question for you is…do you have those soul stirrings? If you don’t, then you’re already living your soul purpose! Awesome! Huzzah!!! You seriously rock!
But if you do hear those exasperating whispers and believe me, you know if you do because they’re unmistakable and unrelenting…just stop. Take a deep breath, Dear One. Take the time to actually listen to what they might be trying to guide you towards or away from. If you’re too busy right now and you keep shoving them back down, they’re not going anywhere. They’ll wait…and wait…and get louder and louder until you find the time to address them.
Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living”. So maybe take some time out, find a way to listen, examine and answer your “moreness”, your unanswered calling, your soul stirrings. It’s pretty wonderful when you realize that whisper, that restlessness is there for a reason.
A wonderfully, beautiful, soul satisfying reason.