I’ve been MIA from my blog for a while, but this post has been churning around inside of me for the longest time.
So here I am.
I’ve Been Having a Bit of an Identity Crisis
It’s not that I haven’t been writing. Quite the contrary. A few weeks ago I took the plunge and signed up for a course called “30 Questions to Bring You Closer to Your Wild Heart”.
30 days. 30 questions. $30.00.
It sounded perfect, and if I fell into my usual pattern of not following through, well, I’d only be out thirty bucks.
30 days? It’s summer. I’m home. I can do this.
Holy moly. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
It was serendipity that led me to the course. I’d happened upon an article by Jeanette LeBlanc months ago, checked out her website, and was immediately drawn to her writing, her spirit, her authenticity.
She’s been called the writer’s muse. Indeed, she is.
These questions Jeanette’s been asking and I’ve been answering (there is NO WAY I’m not following through this time) are so deep and so juicy and so important that most of them have moved me to tears.
In my ever-crowded Gmail account, the 30 Questions get top priority. When these questions land in my Inbox each morning (Question #16 came today) I have goosebumps before I even open them.
Questions that are bringing me closer to my own Wild Heart. My truth. What makes me tick. Why I’m here.
The questions go on and on. Paragraphs filled with deep thoughts and gentle nudging and what ifs that seem shot from an arrow straight to my heart, which is Jeanette’s plan.
She’s a perfect markswoman.
She knows how to ask the questions that get my fingers writing/typing.
The writer’s muse.
Which leads me to my identity crisis.
I wake up and all I want to do is write.
But, I’m not a writer.
Or so I say.
I’m not alone in this group of people answering the 30 Questions that have been saying “I’m not a writer” or “I have a hard time calling myself a writer”.
Jeanette’s answer – “If you’re in this class, you’re a writer.”
Her directive to us: “Put Post-It notes all over your home that say ‘Yes! I’m a writer!’”
Forever, I’ve called myself an artist. The one label I could comfortably attach to myself. Hey, if anyone needs proof, I have a BFA.
In my truth, though, I know that means squat.
Doing the work is what makes me an artist. Whether the making of that art is just in my head while I’m washing the dishes, or there’s a finished product, I still consider myself an artist.
But a writer? Why is that identity so difficult for me to own.
I’ve never published a book, but I’ve been writing a blog for seven years.
That’s a lot of writing for a non-writer.
Even so, my identity-crisis-self wants to put it in the folder with
“I’m not a photographer”.
I don’t have the proper credentials.
I hate f-stops and aperture settings.
And depth of field, and all those settings that hurt my brain.
I always say “I’m just an artist who likes taking photos”. That covers any confusion I might have about my identity. Not that anyone else cares.
But taking photos and writing is what touches my Wild Heart these days more than anything else.
Well, okay, being in Nature is right up there, too.
When a health crisis in my life sent me down an unexpected path of studying holistic health, it only confused my “Who am I? What do I do?” brain even more.
It took years of studying before I finally felt qualified to call myself a holistic health practitioner.
Now, truth be told, I just want to write about it, rather than practice it.
Some days I grow weary of writing about health. I want to have the courage to write about the deep stuff. The answers I’ve written to the hard questions this course is asking.
But wait, that is about health, right?
Body mind and spirit. Just try to ignore one of them and it will seek you out.
I didn’t think I’d ever be ready to put my naked truth out there for the whole world to read. I’m already surprised at what (and why) I do share here on this blog.
And then the other day I posted something I’d written for the course on my private Facebook page.
But, guess what? The ground beneath my feet didn’t crumble. Instead, oh, my. What beautiful comments and encouragement I received. Of course, I have the most loving group of Facebook friends around. 🙂
No, I didn’t post the one I wrote about Desire or some of the most painful ones. I’m not that brave – yet.
Everything about my birth chart – my astrological signs, life path number, etc. etc. say that I’m a seeker. I love to learn. But the Vata part of my constitution makes me a flitterer. I flitter from one thing to the next, often without completing what I started.
A friend who’s about my age told me the other day that she shares these traits. But, I loved how she put it.
She said we’re explorers.
I’m going to embrace that.
And take heed of the gentle scolding I got from another friend who said I need to stop being so hard on myself. “You’re a writer. You’re a teacher. You’re a healer.” she said.
And an artist, I’d add.
Multiple identities all rolled into one.
The more the better.
Identity crisis over.
P.S. In the spirit of being brave and sharing, here’s my answer to a question from “30 Questions to Bring You Closer to Your Wild Heart“.
“Where (and how, and why, and when) does your restless heart find stillness and peace?”
As if unconsciously
in preparation for answering this question
I found myself stopping midway
on my bike ride this morning
to lean against a tree
It didn’t look like anything spectacular
It was small but sturdy
One of a row of trees planted by the Hudson River
to provide a little bit of Nature
in this bleak landscape
where I find myself living
It beckoned me and so I stopped
It might as well have said
“Barbara, come here.
Let me banish all of those thoughts
about your life
that are swimming around
in your head.
I know you.
Just for a moment.
Let me bring you some Peace.”
The minute I rested my back against the tree
and closed my eyes
I felt my breath slow down
and my heart relax
I found my Peace
Just for a moment
I was back in An Gleann Mor
a forest in Ireland
resting my back
against a mighty Spruce tree
surrounded by her loving family
I left a little piece of my soul there
so I can connect when I need to
I have a deep aching love for trees
that they move me to tears
I remember the first time I cried
for the love of a tree
I was a young girl living on a tree-lined street in Detroit
One morning in the heat of the summer
I went outside to find “my” beloved Elm tree
naked and sad
This two-hundred-and-something-year-old beauty
had fallen ill from Dutch Elm disease
and every leaf from her majestic branches
had shriveled up and fallen to the ground
I wept for her loss
I will never forget that moment
When need be
I can find peace
even walking the crowded streets of NYC
Meditation taught me how to do that
But I’ve grown weary of that skill
and the pink bubble that I created
to surround me
started getting dirty
from the energy scratching to get in
I love to be home
Surprising for a Sagittarian
Must be the Taurus part of me
I should probably live in a tree house somewhere
Wherever I’ve lived
I do not feel at peace
until I’ve turned my house
into a home
I need color
and deep dusty pink
Rooms that cradle me
More and more I’ve come to realize
that my heart feels most at peace
when I’m alone
Sometimes this truth
makes me sad
and I wonder if I’m becoming too reclusive
I realize that
even when I was surrounded by my loving family
so many years ago
I always felt most at peace when
I could slip away
Circling back to my bike
where this story began
I find a joyful kind of peace
every time I hop on her
She’s an old pink beauty
that I’ve had forever
She left Michigan
and traveled with me
and my tattered heart to NYC
many years ago
Sturdy and reliable
she’s peppered with stickers
to help me spread the word
A green turtle bell
And a picture of my love, Ralph
who was my biking buddy
taped to the bar
so he can still fly along with me
It is magical
how my heart can be
crazy and confused
and sad and longing
but I hop on my bike
hit the pavement
let out a sigh