Sunday, December 2, 2007

Your unique voice

I took a workshop yesterday on mixed media. We used acrylic paints and pressed leaves to create wonderful images that were to become Christmas cards. The instructor had several examples of cards she'd created with detailed instructions on the back as to what to do when, and how to do it to create a card like it.

The woman across from me painstakingly began re-creating one of the instructors pieces. After a few minutes she stopped and asked the instructor, "Am I doing it right?"

The instructor inevitably replied, "There is no right nor wrong way. It's all in what you choose to do."

A furrow of fear appeared upon the woman's face. "But it isn't looking like yours."

"Of course not," replied the instructor. "It's your work. Your creation. It will always look like yours."

The woman was stymied. "You mean I don't have to do it exactly like you?" she asked, consternation clouding her words. Could she believe her?

"Absolutely not. I gave you my examples as a reference point. It's up to you to give the card your own..." She hesitated, searching for the right word, "unique voice," she finally said.

Unique voice.

We all have one. In The Eighth Habit, Stephen Covey implores all of us to find our own unique voice -- and then inspire others to find theirs.

Everyday I have an opportunity to live on purpose. To express my unique voice. To live with significance in each moment. To make each moment a reflection of the significance I create in my life when I purposefully claim my right to be all that I am meant to be.

It is no easy task to live on purpose. It's also not very hard. Living on purpose is simply the decision and the choice to find the gift in each moment I am alive. To see the beauty in the world around me. And then -- to celebrate the joy of everyday living.

When I move through my day with a joyful heart, greeting every circumstance with 'holy indifference' I experience the pure bliss of living in the moment without being attached to the outcome.

I used to have a sign above my computer that read: It is my responsibilty to

Turn Up. Pay Attention. Speak my Truth. Stay Unattached to the Outcome.

The first three are easy. The fourth.... not so simple.

I always want to control what happens to events once I've become involved.

Like painting. I want to control the paint to make it go where I want it to go. Working on my cards yesterday, I let the paint flow. I pushed it around, scraped it, moved it -- and then found the images within the images to create the impressions I desired. I worked in sync with my medium. I turned up. Paid attention to what was happening on the water colour paper before me. I searched for the truth in what I saw and expressed it in my own unique way -- and I stayed unattached to the outcome. I didn't anticipate a beautiful result. I let it happen.

The woman across from me yesterday struggled for awhile trying to make her cards look like the instructors. Finally, she let go. She gave into her frustration and loosened her grip on her brush. As she relaxed into the process a smile began to appear on her face. She let colours blend. Paint flow. Images move of their own volition. She stopped trying to control the outcome and let it happen.
"This is fun!" she cried as she let her brush move paint across the surface of the water colour paper.

From across the table I laughed and agreed. "Yup. It is. I love the free form of the process."

"I've taken hundreds of hours of oil painting classes because I told myself I should know how to paint. And I've never enjoyed it," she told me. "I hated having to do it exactly within the lines. To always follow step by step what the instructor said." With a flourish she affixed a red leaf to her painting. "This is really fun. I'm enjoying myself!"

She had found her unique voice.

The question is: What about you? What's your unique voice? Do you give yourself the grace of letting life happen without controlling the outcome? Are you willing to splash paint outside the lines and let it run with abandon? Are you willing to create a world of difference by celebrating the magnificence of YOU?

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