Friday, September 7, 2007

Queen of the masks

This is a Choices weekend. My daughters and I are back at the hotel coaching for the last weekend with our group. The focus of this Givers 2 weekend (the name of this part of the process) is Purpose -- what is your purpose? What drives you, motivates you, inspires you to do your best, be all you are meant to be?

When trainees go through the initial five days of Choices, they create a Contract -- the statement that says, this is what I want more of in my life, this is what is true for me. To complete that statement, to connect it to our hearts with love, we create a purpose to give direction, meaning, significance to why, how, what we do.

My contract/purpose statement is: I am a fearless woman touching hearts and opening minds to set spirits free.

My purpose for writing this blog every morning reflects both my contract and my purpose. It is scary to reveal myself on the page every morning -- yet, to live my purpose I must be fearless. I must step outside my comfort zone and create more of what works in my life and less of what doesn't. In writing every morning my purpose is to touch hearts and open minds with my belief we all want to be magnificent human beings. As I fly free, my purpose is to inspire you to stretch your wings, test the limits of the air around you and soar higher than you ever imagined.

When I went through the Choices program in April of 2006, one of the coaches gave me feedback that has profoundly shifted my thinking. She said during an exercise designed to give me information to help me grow into the person I said I wanted to be, "I experience you as queen of the masks." At the time, I was really ticked. How dare she! Who does she think she is. She barely knows me. My response to her had to be the prescribed, "Thank you for caring enough to share."

Later, I had the opportunity to give her a 'withhold'. You know, those thoughts we harbour when someone does or says something that ticks us off but we never speak up about. In the withhold, I got to tell her that I disagreed. She was wrong. She yada yada yada. Her response was, "Thank you for caring enough to share."

When I left the Choices training room on the Sunday evening, I carried with me enormous amounts of learning, and unlimited possibilities for growth.

My greatest growth comes from allowing the truth of that coach's statement, 'I experience you as queen of the masks', to sink into me, to live within me and to push me out of my comfort zone into the reality of accepting the possibility that -- she's right. When I look at her statement against the context of its purpose -- to give me information that would help me grow -- I see the gift in what she told me.

The fact that she caught me at my own game doesn't make me 'bad'. Doesn't even make me wrong, it simply means -- I get to decide whether or not I want to remain queen of the masks, or to get real, open and honest about who I am.

When I was a child I learned very quickly that expressing my feelings was not safe. So, I hid them behind my perfect smile, my big brown eyes and pretty face. Throughout my life I have hidden my feelings behind my smile so that no one could see when I was hurt, angry, sad. The only acceptable emotion in my family of origin was -- happiness. Anything else felt like a betrayal of some secret family code I didn't understand, but knew I had to abide by.

When I was released from that relationship from hell on May 21, 2003, there was no denying that I was broken. For the first time in my life, I had no defence to my own pain. I had to walk through it, feel it, let it exist on the outside of my body because I did not have the energy, nor the emotional stamina to hold it in.

Gradually, as I began to heal, I built up my stamina. As I healed, I became more aware of my outer world and where it was out of alignment with my inner peace of mind. I became more adept at bringing the two back into alignment -- but I still carried my masks. They had been around a long time and were rather comfortable for me. Lightweight, easily put in place, my masks kept me 'safe' -- when in reality, they kept me 'sick'.

Life continually provides us a reflection of what we're doing in the words and/or actions of those around us. For me, being told I was queen of the masks has been an invaluable gift in helping me remove the very masks that were keeping me from having more of what I want in my life -- love.

I didn't like what she said that day. It stung. Truth often does. Lies on the other hand, are insidious. They slide into place. Slither into our psyches covering up their tracks lest we catch them in their nefarious game of holding us back from being all that we are meant to be.

Once upon a time, I was queen of the masks. Today, I gently and lovingly remove my masks to reveal myself in all my perfect imperfections. I am a miracle of life, shining brightly on the journey of my life time. I am me.

The question is: Where do you use your masks to hide your pain or fear or confusion or any other emotion that keeps you stuck? What kind of mask do you carry to keep others from seeing the fear in your heart that beats with every drop of self-denigration you whisper into your mind? Are you willing to look in the mirror and love the one you see in all her/his beauty, warts and all? Are you willing to embrace the flawless imperfection of the loveliness of you?

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