How will you show up?
Ever since I attended the Women Leading Change seminar in May, I have been waking with the same question in my mind – every day. It comes to me as I wake, pulling at me out of my dreams and back into the conscious world. It feels like an incredibly important question. One that I need to understand and answer carefully. To do so I am learning that I need to be silent and mindful. Which isn’t always easy. I’m not a morning person, but once I am awake my brain is off and running, a million miles an hour into the day head, while simultaneously sorting through all the dream images still lingering at the periphery of my vision. And so I have to deliberately bring myself back to the moment. I have to #BePresent.
Even before I swing my legs over the edge of my bed though, my feet diving for the warmth of my ugg boots, an answer is forming. As I sip my hot lemon water and roll out my yoga mat, a word is already taking shape in my head. Sometimes I’ll ignore it, searching for something else, caught in the old belief system that it can’t be this easy. I drop into downward dog, start stretching out the kinks from the night, and exhale.
And so the answer comes. Always the same. I am going to show up with Love.
It might sound corny. It might even sound impossible. As a human-being we are a complex bag of emotions and experiences, constantly being swept along by a sensory tsunami. Over time we have become conditioned to react based on all of our previous experiences and current external stimuli. So it takes a deliberate decision to instead slow down and act. The truth is, we don’t always feel happy, we don’t always feel goodwill to all. There are days when all we feel is tired, or sorrowful, or angry. I wrote not long ago about the well of grief I feel after losing my dad. Deciding how you will show up on those days is not easy, but the key is to decide and then commit to action.
In answering the question I have been finding it useful to think about how I don’t want to show up. I don’t want to show up angry, or sad, or needy, or regretful, or tired. All those emotions and feelings cost me more than they are worth – and take a toll on those around me. It doesn’t mean I can’t be real around the people in my life. There are days when I need to be quiet, when I need to peer into that well of grief, sometimes just as a reminder that this too shall pass. I am as three dimensional as the next person.
What I also know though is that from love everything else follows. When I decide to show up with love, I am deciding on a path that can only lead to feeling good… or to getting me through the rough bits. I don’t walk around the whole day beaming at people, doing great acts of kindness or telling everyone I love them. Showing up with love isn’t even necessarily about loving others. Sometimes it is, dare I say, just about loving myself.
The beauty in loving myself is that it helps me get clear on what I will and won’t accept from others – including myself. I know how I will and won’t treat others – even if that means I excuse myself from a situation to avoid putting my massive size nine clodhoppers into my mouth. Love becomes my code. My threshold. My barometer.
I’m fortunate in as much as happiness is my natural state – for the most part. I rock though life on an almost entirely even keel. My adult tantrums last only a few seconds, the temper itself less than 30 minutes and both are mostly amusing to anyone bearing witness. Melt downs and venting sessions are usually forgotten within the hour and I don’t hold grudges. Partly because I have a terrible memory, but mostly its because I believe that the tax incurred on the soul in order to hold onto the negative just isn’t worth it.
I know it’s not that easy for everyone. I had a conversation many years ago with a loved one in which she described how she had to make a conscious decision every day just to be happy. That was the first time it had occurred to me that for some people happiness is not a natural state. But I understand now that her decision to be happy was her own answer to the question ‘How Will I Show Up?’ By setting out on the path of happiness she began making both conscious and unconscious decision to seek out the things that made her happy – whether it was a good cup of coffee, making a quilt, calling her friend, reading a book, working in the garden, eating cake, or walking the dog. She acted. And in doing so, she became a positive stimulus in the lives of those around her. She became a point of calm in the tsunami I spoke of earlier. She showed up.
There were a lot of other messages I took away from the seminar that day. Some were clearer than others – as though amplified at a frequency meant for solely me – it was no doubt the same for other attendees. I was intending to break it down for you in this post – share more of those messages. But I’d rather encourage you to sign up for the next opportunity to hear people with brave souls speak for yourself – whether it’s a seminar like this one (check out the WakeUpProject or Marie Claire’s Success Summit ) or a poetry slam competition… seriously – here’s why.
In the meantime, here are a few messages that spoke truth for me…
We often excuse something as second nature… in which case, what is your first nature? (Petrea King)
Ignore the story, remember the soul, remember to love, you’ll never regret it. (Seane Corn)
Be aware of external narratives that overcome your internal voice. (Tara Moss)
There is a ‘before’ and an ‘after’ – we are in the during. (Clare Bowditch)
No one else has your experience – therefore you are here to do something unprecedented. (Tami Simon)
There are lots of ways you can show up today. You can show up with anger, bitterness, an old story, despair, wishful thinking or a grievance. Or… you could show up with hope, laughter, joy, a smile, an act of kindness and love.
So let me ask you again. How will you show up?