Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Quest for Authenticity

I've been a little out of touch with my authentic self the past few days, probably because I haven't been taking the time to do a little writing... I was a bit behind on my gratitude journal, I haven't blogged in a few days, and I haven't even jotted any lines of poetry. Personal writing is a way to make a daily connection with that true inner voice that helps to keep me centered. That voice always speaks words of who I hope to be, and only when I connect with that part of myself do I feel truly whole. When I don't write, I feel more tired, more disconnected with my energy source. I need to feel the fire of my deepest words---even if I don't share all of them in this space---that fire that burns up fear and consumes uncertainty.

The writing I had done most recently was for my 5th Toastmasters speech. My first drafts could hardly be counted as real writing: I had so much doubt about the 5th assignment (body movement) that I did not throw my heart totally into the project and held part of myself in reserve when doing the initial drafting. I should know better than to write half-heartedly, but I also knew it was due today... The only thing worse than not writing is writing something that is fake: not only was I not renewing my energy, but also I was draining it by trying to torture words into something contived and perfunctory. It is a really personal thing to me when my writing isn't ringing true or when words aren't working for me; in fact, it makes me feel downtrodden and out of sorts, like part of my life-force is gone.
I thought I was going to be doomed to deliver a disappointing (to myself) speech today, that the words just wouldn't come in time. It's been sitting heavy on my heart all weekend. I wasn't proud of it at all. There is no victory, personal or otherwise, in representing yourself or your words as something without soul, without passion. It was breaking my heart this weekend to think I would have to present something devoid of my voice, and I wasn't sure if my voice would come back.
Last night, a fortunate event happened. When I sat down to revise my speech, I realized that I can only be me. I thought about my philosophical truths, and I thought about how I would explain my topic without pretense. I could feel my authentic voice returning, and it returned in full when I decided not to be in fear of the assignment, but to meet the challenge with honesty and vulnerability.
I think that happy turn of events, and Bill suggesting without any form of irony or sarcasm that I have a handful of chocolate chips, has revitalized me. I felt reinvigorated last night, like a weight had been lifted. One of the greatest burdens in life is trying to achieve something without an authentic passion. Nothing is worth doing if it isn't authentic. I may not always be certain about everything I think on every subject, but I know what rings true for me and what doesn't.

Anyway, I was able to deliver a speech of which I was proud, although I was also nervous today. I love to make gestures when I speak, but trying to make exaggerated gestures choreographed for a speech is difficult for me. I am demonstrative in many ways, I suppose: I love to dance in public, sing, be silly, show affection, etc., but when I speak I like to use body movements that feel very sincere and organic. So this was new for me. I did it, but I am relieved to be going to the next assignment. One of the critiques for my speech today was that some of my gestures weren't exaggerated and dramatic enough, and I agree...but that's okay. I long ago decided that I have a quieter but very sincere kind of intensity and life-power, and despite all evidence of my 1st grade slumber party to the contrary, it is difficult for me to be overt and very over-the-top loud (in either tone or body).

My evaluator did notice this, though, when he said that some of my movements of opening my arms in the beginning felt like more naturally me, and that he could tell that I am an open and welcoming person, who wanted to welcome all of them into my "miraculous world" as he called it. I loved that description... Our time is wasted if we don't create little magical worlds for ourselves and others, so I was pleased that he recognized that a) I do live in my own world; and b) that it is a very happy one most of the time; and c) that I love to bring others into my world in order to nurture them.

What people may forget so often, though, is that I am very lucky to have married a husband who protects the world in my head. He vowed to do so, and he has not let me down. He keeps me from cynacism as much as I keep myself from it. He likes to come with me into my little happy world. He never minds when I make up holidays or take an abundance of joy out of the smallest thing.

We're kind of like the wolf and her doggy-friend we encountered at the San Diego Zoo's sea lion show on Sunday. The trainer explained that the wolf is by nature inward and likes to keep to itself, extremely clever and discerning, but hasn't too much use for company. So the trainers decided to get the wolf a little social doggy friend when both animals were three months old. The dog, Nahla, tends to be more carefree and, well, you all know how dogs are. Together, both the wolf and the dog are happier and are best friends. I think Bill is the wolf, and I am Nahla.
Katie loved the zoo. We had a bit of rain, but we got to see gorillas and our new favorite, hippos!!!! They were swimming under water. We also saw the pandas, but not the newborn. I love family outings so much.

I've also been studying for my real estate license exam. The practice tests are going well but could be better. It is rare to get quiet time to study, and some of my studying is done with about half my brain if I try to sneak some in when Katie is doing something else. I need a better and more efficient system for studying, and it is weighing on me. If I really want to know the material, I don't believe that multi-tasking and paying half-attention is the way to do it. I've come far (finished three courses) with this method, but the test is a bigger deal. I want to make sure I put in the right kind of time really to know it. Doing things half-way is not my style.
I have been used to staying up late and cutting sleep to get things done since Katie's birth, but I have needed more sleep now that I am pregnant. I need to figure out another plan, other than not getting enough rest.

Anyway, we have some pictures from the past few days:
Bill and Katie watching the sea lions...
Katie, in her helmet, is ready for some tricycling.

My big girl, or as she has dubbed herself, my "Big Girl Baby."