Friday, February 10, 2012

When the world says shrink... EXPAND!

As I wrote in my journal last night, a thought went spiraling through my mind...

When the world says shrink... EXPAND!

Expand your breathing. Expand your lungs. Expand your thinking. Expand your horizons and your inner knowing.

Do not let what other people say give you cause to hesitate, to vacillate, or stop what you're doing. Do not make yourself into a victim.


Yesterday, while talking with someone very dear to me, they unintentionally offered up criticism. Now, I appreciate that from their perspective, this is what they 'see'. But it is their truth. Not mine.

And in their words, I am given an opportunity to... Shrink or EXPAND.

Which one I choose will determine how another's words affect my actions and my thoughts.

It isn't about sloughing off what another says with a shrug of your shoulders and an under-the-breath, "I don't care what you think, blah blah blah."

It's about honouring their truth with a loving heart and embracing both theirs and yours with Love.

This point was really brought home to me yesterday when a girlfriend from high school wrote to comment on the TEDxCalgary video I shared the other day.

She wrote:  "Wow… very impressive indeed.  You whole outlook is so upbeat and refreshing… those of us stuck in the hum-drum and mundane could take a lesson.

...You have always been good with words… I remember the car blowing up and something about all that was left was a wisp of smoke as he walked away (or something like that….the short story we had to write in grade 11!).  You have a great talent and I hope people recognise it."

So... here's what's inspiring and enlightening about her comment. I too remember that story in Grade 11 -- but I don't remember it as being 'good with words'.  I remember the teacher telling me that I couldn't end a story with a death -- which is what happened in that particular story. The car blowing up was the end of my heroine who was actually the villain.

What's interesting is I let that teacher's comment inhibit my writing for years. And I mean years. Sometime ago, when I wrote a screenplay about street youth, one of the criticism's from the producer who wanted to option it was -- your ending is too clean. too predictable. Too pretty.

See -- that teacher's comment had convinced me that I needed to insure my stories were all tied up with pretty bows, neatly digestible -- and, as the producer commented -- predictable.

It took a lot of practice and hard work to allow myself to 'write dirty'. To let the gritty appear without fearing the criticism of a 'teacher's voice' in my head.

And all my friend remembers is.... I was always good with words.

The other aspect of this story that is so enlightening for me is... maybe that's not what the teacher said. Maybe I just took what the teacher said and converted it into something that was neatly digestible for me. Maybe, because I was scared about claiming my writer's voice, I simply packaged it up so that I could hold onto it and Shrink rather than EXPAND into my writer's spirit. Maybe what I wanted was a predictable ending... and living life in careful is predictable.

No one can make me a victim unless I choose to carry the label, and the role.

No one can make me shrink, unless I choose to not EXPAND.

Here's to expansion. Here's to expanding into every corner of my life living it up for all I'm worth, embracing every breath with life-giving force and celebrating all my being who I am when I choose to let go of my fear of expansion. Here's to no longer shrinking into my fear of never being right, wrong, enough, good, bad or indifferent.

Who cares if I am not playing by someone else's rules?  What I care about most is that I live my life on full, reveling in every moment, sharing the best of me that I can and inspiring others to do the same.

Here's to the gifts we receive when we EXPAND into all that life has to offer.



Maureen said...

I'm glad you expanded and bloomed into your writing career!

Sometimes a person's words shut us down; sometimes they spur us to an "I'll show you" response. In either case we have to explore what we hold inside that gives another's words power that is ours to use. It can take a lot of energy but look what happens when the energy is restored!

Have a great weekend!

S. Etole said...

Sometimes the realization of how frequently I have done this "shrinking" thing is overwhelming. What a great encouragement your words are.

Diane Walker said...

OMG -- we are blogging about the same thing this morning! Except you take it to another level; thank you for sharing your vision of possibility!

Louise Gallagher said...

Wise words Maureen. Thank you for adding their brilliance here.

Louise Gallagher said...

Susan -- your words immediately brought to mind a photo of a 'shrinking violet' and that immediately leapt to the beauty and wisdom held in your photography.

No more shrinking violets for me and you my friend! Let's expand into whole fields of wildflowers dancing in the sun!

Louise Gallagher said...

I just went and read what you wrote Diane -- lol -- we definitely are exploring the same theme! Very cool. Love the photo you shared -- I commented on your blog on its significance for me -- very cool!

Come At Me Bro said...

This is great!

Fi said...

I'm just catching up on others posts and I find I'm writing about exactly the same thing. Expanding

Only I need more of your kind of expanding and less of mine LOL

Love your idea of shrinking and expanding and how others words can affect us, even when they may be wrong

sharmishtha said...

beautiful post louise. i agree when the world demands that we should shrink we should expand.

lots of love.

Jennifer Richardson said...

oh how I needed this tonight;
grateful that you're so good
with words:)
they've painted me some clarity
and I'm bathing in it.
much grace and thanks,