Examining Our Lives
Ever since my chaplaincy training, reflecting on the journey has been a big part of my life. It is something that comes natural to me. One of my favourite quotes is that of Socrates that “an unexamined life is not worth living.” There were points that worrying was my modus operandi but the knot in my stomach is too unpleasant. For a week or so now, one of those painful knots was forming. While out with my daughter shopping today for last-minute gifts, I took the opportunity to launch into my annual Christmas Reflection.
This is a tradition that started over a decade ago. Every year around this time, the process would begin as we approach year-end. As I have shared, New Year’s Eve has not caught me out partying in ages. Instead, the eve of a new year always find me setting my intentions for the one that is about to unfold.
Pouring my heart out to my best friend who so happens to be my daughter, my thoughts went to my Christmas reflection of years gone by. One in particular stood out. It was from a series of blog post just before Christmas 2005. With all that has happened in our world and indeed in my personal life, that reflection remains poignant. It is one about women and for women as we move into a new year (2017) and indeed a new world that holds many uncertainties for women all over.
Christmas Reflection To Inspire Others
In that Christmas Reflection post in 2005, I shared quotes from women who inspire. These were words that I took with me into 2006; ones that I wanted to guide my living in that year. What I learned that year about womanhood – my womanhood – was well summarized in the quotes:
“If you have knowledge, let others light their candles in it.” — Margaret Fuller
“Don’t compromise yourself. You are all you’ve got.” —Janis Joplin
“Remember no one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” —Eleanor Roosevelt
“I am also very proud to be a liberal. Why is that so terrible these days? The liberals were liberators—they fought slavery, fought for women to have the right to vote, fought against Hitler, Stalin, fought to end segregation, fought to end apartheid. Liberals put an end to child labor and they gave us the five day work week! What’s to be ashamed of?”—Barbra Streisand
“As a woman I have no country. As a woman my country is the whole world.” —Virginia Woolf
Speaking Your Truth
At the core of these inspiring words, at least to me, is the message of ‘speaking one’s truth’. This, speaking my truth, has been an important lesson then and now. Another ‘strong woman’, Iyanla Vanzant, taught me this lesson through her writings. It is a lesson that was reinforced for me during 2005 and in fact again this year that is ending. It is a way of living that I have tried to keep in step with for over a decade now.
In my professional and my private lives, I have come to learn that the failure to tell the truth or to give voice to one’s own truth is to murder your spirit. For many years I have done that – killed my soul – just to make sure that I was accepted by society and by people who I so dearly wanted to like.
What I have learnt is that when I fail to speak my truth, I also fail to acknowledge my reality. The result is that I am less liked, first by myself and then others. Make no mistake, there are those who will intensely dislike you for speaking your truth. There are some in your and indeed in my life who are uncomfortable with your truth. Telling the story of pain and struggles that we have lived and endured; even basking in your achievements, however major or minor they might be, challenge them. To these people I have said, hopefully not in a crude way, “to bad, to sad.”
Truth Is Such A Rare Thing
You must speak the truth to live and become all that you can be – this I know is true.
Emily Dickinson it was who said, “Truth is such a rare thing, it is [delightful] to tell it.” That is what I am experiencing and continue to experience since I have started telling the truth – delight and moments of sheer joy – as I see the freedom speaking my truth gives to the person hearing it. Today, as I shared my truth with my daughter it was a most freeing moment for me!
Will you speak your truth in 2017? Will you step up to life’s microphone and give voice to the real you this New Year?
I dare you!
Have a Merry Christmas and do enjoy the season!