Becoming Whole

I recently was told that the reason I needed to hang a blanket over a large mirror facing my bed in a hotel room was because I wasn’t willing to see things about myself and that I was avoiding parts of myself. Even when I shared that my experience of large mirrors in bedrooms kept me awake and disoriented, this person insisted that she could be in a war zone and be at peace. I noted internally that I had not asked for this feedback, yet she felt compelled to share it. I also observed how she later interacted with her ex-husband in a phone call and wondered about her claims of holding a peaceful countenance no matter where she was.

This reminded me of how we are all walking paradoxes.

We say one thing that we truly believe is true about ourselves and then behave in exactly the opposite, maybe even moments later.

Over the years I’ve noticed a softening in my harsh judgments towards myself and others and an opening to the unfolding, a deepening awakening to wholeness, that I am clearly human and still capable of extraordinary acts of love and creative expression. And life experiences keep me humble quite regularly.

Years ago I was in a discussion with two friends about tattoos and piercings. I listened as they shared their discomfort with both and their awareness of the judgments they held about those who chose to be tattooed and pierced. What I immediately saw about myself is that I often don’t really notice the packaging, the outward appearance of someone.

Well, I do notice, but fairly quickly I begin tracking their behavior, how they treat others in different settings, and how they treat themselves. I find myself observing behaviors and who they are being (tone of voice, gestures, posture, body language) because this often reveals a great deal of information about people and about me as I continue to cultivate my “inner fly on the wall” that watches me be and do Laura. The gap often shows itself in the appearance and the being, the behavior and the being, the words people speak, and their actions.

You’ve probably met impeccably dressed people who are chronically angry and others who smell bad, dress badly, and are the salt of the earth– kind and funny.

I learned from my childhood training that people are not always who they appear to be in their clothes, words, and shape-shifting ways of showing up in the world.

Inconsistencies can show up on a dime, like the girls in high school who could be so kind to me one-on-one in the bathroom, but walk into the hallway, meet their friends, and suddenly spit out mean comments about my hair, blouse, or out of date knee socks. Alternatively, there were those who could be syrupy kind in public and heinously cruel in private when no one else bore witness.

I learned quickly to look beyond how people dressed, how many tattoos they had, or how many cars they bragged about owning. What became important to me was to discover, hold curiosity for the people they revealed themselves to be in all different types of situations. It became important to me to live with some semblance of consistency in my words, tone, gestures, and behaviors both publically and privately.

Integrity, wholeness, owning the paradoxes in myself, seeing these with less shame and more light-heartedness continues to be the path that excites me. Evolving to embrace my humanity-the badass, dumbass, smartass, tenderass, cuteass, angryass, creativeass, comicalass, scaredass,  “do I even have an ass?” and just plain ass from the inside frees me to choose to fuel the very essence of who I am as a Soul Self, a Higher Self with dignity, humility, and grace.

I probably won’t get a tattoo, yet both my adult children have beautiful artwork permanently inked on their bodies. They also show up in the world as decent human beings with a great deal of love and compassion for others. After a brief rumination, I’m likely to still cover a mirror in a hotel bedroom and yet, I will continue to be curious about my own reflection through the eyes of compassion and how others experience me and how each of us reveals who we are standing– exposed in front of a mirror– willing to look at and embrace our vulnerable and brave, perfectly imperfect, beautiful selves.


Laura Staley
Laura Staley
The founder of Cherish Your World, Laura Staley passionately helps people thrive by guiding them to a holistic transformation of space, heart, mind, body, and soul. Laura knows that there’s a relationship between the conditions of our homes or workplaces and the quality of our lives. Trained and certified with the Western School of Feng Shui and seasoned by almost two decades of working with a variety of clients, Laura uses her intuition and expertise to empower her clients to produce remarkable results in their lives. Her trifecta of serving people includes speaking, writing, and compassionate listening. As a columnist, Laura writes personal essays focused on self-discovery, feng shui, emotional health, and transformations from the inside out. Laura is the published author of three books: Live Inspired, Let Go Courageously and Live with Love: Transform Your Life with Feng Shui, and the Cherish Your World Gift Book of 100 Tips to Enhance Your Home and Life. Prior to creating her company, Laura worked as a fulltime parent and an assistant professor at Ohio Wesleyan University. She earned a Ph.D. in political science from The Ohio State University. Her joys in life include laughing with loved ones, dancing, reading, meditating, running, being in nature, and listening to music she loves. She resides in Black Mountain, NC with lovable dog, Layla. Laura is a contributing author to the inspiring book Crappy to Happy: Sacred Stories of Transformational Joy

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  1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts in this piece, Laura. It’s a lovely reminder that there are layers to each of us, and who we are is a recipe rich with ingredients that sustain, nourish, and fulfill those layers. There is more than meets the eye, and when we are willing to lift the veil to see what is hidden underneath, what happens next can be a most interesting and often enlightening experience – sometimes positively and sometimes not. it goes without saying that our whole is the sum of many parts, that is for sure.

    • Laura, Yes, what an adventure to discover all the layers of who we are-which are often attached to experiences we’ve had in the past, the ways we’ve reacted or responded, the circumstances, and the other characters in the “movie” of our lives. I appreciate what you’ve shared about lifting the veil because sometimes that act takes a heck of a lot of courage because we’ll likely discover a whole gamut of pieces/parts. What continues to be invaluable is that part of me that can watch all of it-the experiencer of the experiences, the inner fly on the wall-she can notice, observe, bear witness without judgment or fear. The quiet one who can hold space for all those expressions. Thank you so much for the meaningful contribution you’ve added. I appreciate your insights, your kind words.

  2. Oh Laura, this was just WONDERFUL. Your ability to show your inner self, both vulnerable and courageous, is just awesome. I always feel an opening in myself when I read your work – as if you’ve unlocked parts of me that hunger to be set free. When you wrote, “I continue to cultivate my “inner fly on the wall” that watches me be and do Laura” – it so resonated, as that’s where I am in my journey as well. Observing myself. Curious. Observing others. Curious and full of wonder. Your work makes that part of me feel free. Seen.

    • Oh, Kimberly, I am so grateful to know you enjoyed this essay-that the adventure with the “inner fly on the wall” is one you’re exploring also! Yes, there’s something hilarious, sometimes WOH!, sometimes ACK!, often fascinating about watching, listening, observing ourselves and other people (and life circumstances) with much curiosity (and even a sense of humor!!) —just noticing, witnessing, quietly observing maybe even underneath an invisibility cloak at times. Thank you for all your kind words and to know that part of you feels free and seen. I appreciate you so very much.

  3. Laura, this is beautiful. You have described personal and sensitive manifestations and indeed prompted much thought.
    This a truly wonderfully, revealing act of kindness that you are sharing.
    Thank you from my heart, Laura.

    • Simon, thank you so much for your kind words. I’m grateful to know this has prompted “much thought.” Your words stream straight from your heart to my own. And you are so very welcome. My joy and privilege.

    • Thank you so much, Darlene. Yes, there’s something important about delving into substance that goes beyond style. Your thought reminds me how an outer style that allows a person’s inner beauty/character to shine through can be simply stunning. We know this when we see and experience a person. I so appreciate your kind comments and value added. You are a treasure, my friend and colleague!