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Blooming Lotus Flower

Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small does not serve the world. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

—Marianne Williamson

A few years ago after I became single, I dated a man, who I met business networking. I learned a great deal about myself during this short period of time as I brought an end to my pattern of being connected to people who struggled to bring their best selves to the table with me. During this entire time, I kept growing my witness consciousness, that part of me that watched me do me and others say and do what they said and did.

I remember many moments during our dating time together of internally throwing a “flag on the play” as I witnessed behaviors that occurred unkind. I realize now that people put voice to insecurities in all different ways. The insecure voices in my own head had become much quieter.  The work to make peace internally remained mine to do.

On one occasion at a morning open networking event, I walked up to a woman to introduce myself and learn what she did. At the point in the conversation in which she asked me about Cherish Your World, I began to share about how I help people and why I’m passionate about the principles and practices of feng shui. The man I had begun dating approached us, looked at the woman, and said, laughing, “Don’t listen to her. She doesn’t know what she’s talking about!” The woman looked at him, said something to him that I don’t remember, and returned to our conversation. I remember thinking that he wasn’t funny nor was his comment kind or supportive. Some part of me felt foolish, small, and diminished. I had felt that way many times in my life.

As his birthday approached, I became inspired. A fun idea bubbled up. Instead of purchasing a gift, I chose to create a collage of many things this gentleman loved from both his childhood and life as my birthday present to him. When I joined him and his friends at a really nice restaurant to celebrate, I handed him the collage. He looked at me and said, laughing, “Wow. You have too much time on your hands!” I remained silent. His close friend, who witnessed his response, approached me and said, “That was a really kind, thoughtful gift you created for him.”

Again, I watched as most of me bore witness to his demeanor, words, and deeds. A part of me shrank into small, foolish embarrassment. Another part of me, a stronger, more confident me, knew he had revealed himself, once again, and that I no longer needed to collect evidence of the not good fit we were as a couple. In many ways, we remain very different people. I chose to stay at the restaurant and quietly observe him with his close friends as they drank and ate. Like an anthropologist, I silently ate my meal in quiet discomfort mixed with gratitude.

A few weeks later I ended our dating experience together. The small, foolish, embarrassed part of me had shrunk. The courageous, confident, worthy part of me had expanded. And I grieved as I noticed a whole other part of me had fallen in love with this gentleman, for he is a really good man, just not the right fit for me. I had experienced a full array of his expressions without any agenda to alter who he was. I had observed my responses and what had come alive inside of me during our time together. These realizations live to this day as my breakthroughs.

I’m grateful for every single moment because this experience became a place in which to leap forward with greater clarity about who I wanted to become, the ways I am fortunate to love and honor myself and other people.

This year I have decided to create a collage of all the things I love about my life. I have created collages for several other people I love and have not ever created one for me. I have spent a lifetime bearing witness to other people in their humanity and their greatness, their flaws, and fabulousness. I believe the time to take ownership of my voice, multifaceted expressions, and passions is now.

As a gift of integration to a world of people who’ve held up mirrors to my goodness that I have, at times, deflected, I no longer have to shrink from the truths of who I am, what I came here to share, why I’m on the planet. I can fully bloom like a lotus flower growing from the mud.

When you observe other people from that silent, non-judgmental space inside, you learn a wealth of information that leads to greater understanding from an expansive, compassionate place. People show you who they are with their words and deeds. You reveal yourself through your words, deeds, or silence.

When you pay attention from your heart, you can notice a great deal about friends, strangers, colleagues, acquaintances, companions, clients, children, and family. Listening beyond your ears or busy mind, while dropping into your loving quiet witness, you can see through eyes of awareness and discernment. You make better choices when you dispassionately collect information about yourself and other people through the lens of your dignity, vulnerability, and value. The people we walk towards and choose to be with for a reason, a season or a lifetime often reveals what we most need to learn about ourselves, about being a patient, loving, self-aware adult person.

May you grow in self-awareness as you integrate all the pieces and parts of yourself. May you come to know your true, beautiful self. May you see yourself through the eyes and hearts of those who truly cherish you because they have learned to love themselves.

Laura Staley
Laura Staleyhttp://www.cherishyourworld.com
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

19 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you, Laura. My ‘word’ for this year is ‘TREASURE’ and it reminds me of your passion for cherishing. I know that some of the best moments are when we can treasure & cherish even in the face of negativity and unconscious behaviors. Sometimes that is the shift someone needs to begin to cherish themselves, too.

    • Ah, Beautiful, Sora! What a great word of the year for you! Yes, indeed. Learning to cherish ourselves, hold compassion for others, and move towards our dreams makes for a fulfilling life indeed. Thank you so much for your uplifting comments. I wish you a treasure-filled year ahead!!

  2. Laura, it sounds as though the gentleman you speak of did not fully appreciate the person he had in you. You are so right about our words or silence and actions revealing our heart. I used to be a man who did not appreciate the weight of my words, and all too often my words were hurtful. It took a woman who I believe God brought into my life to model what true love and compassion looked like for me to eventually change. We’ll celebrate our 44th anniversary next month. Like it or not, you’re on my prayer list! I appreciate your courage and honesty in sharing.

    • Mike, I completely celebrate your awakening to ways of communicating that leave others feeling loved, honored, uplifted. How wonderful that your wife modeled love and compassion in ways that you could fully embrace these qualities of being and communicate them in conversations. What a beautiful gift and a healing/transformation for you in how you experience yourself, your wife, and many other people. There’s nothing quite like aligning in love, in faith, in one’s own expanded heart. We are always learning something about love, people, and life. Thank you so much for including me on your prayer list. I’m humbled by that inclusion. I appreciate your courage and honesty too for many people could learn from you that spoken words surrounded by sarcasm or belittling energy can have a hurtful, long-lasting impact on ourselves and others. How important to take a moment to pause and then remain silent or speak from the heart with grace.

  3. Oh Laura, this was absolutely beautiful! It was interesting to observe myself in the reading of this piece as I was far more reactionary than you, when he was hurtful. What a powerful lesson you modeled for us in this piece – certainly one I need to practice! Grateful for you shining the way!

    • Thank you so much for your kind words and the honest, thoughtful insights about yourself, Kimberly. Trust me I had close friends who felt fiercely that I should have “told him off” “stuck up for myself” “stormed out of the restaurant” but none of those reactions felt aligned with my heart. And I have done versions of those reactions a handful of times in the past (mostly privately) and felt great shame. I admire people who have wise, grounded words to say in these situations that leave them feeling empowered and whole, that make other people laugh-that cut the tension in the room. The movies when women (or men) stick up for themselves with snappy comebacks usually make me cheer because I haven’t figured out how to do that. I usually think of 20 things I might have said hours after the interaction.

      For me silence seems golden in certain situations. Silence feels more aligned with the introvert I recently and with great relief, see that I am. And know this is just one way as there are many ways a person can respond in these situations/interactions.

  4. Dear Laura, you are such an incredible spirit and inspiration. Your awareness of your patterns and sharing in you smashing through them; and your consequential transformations as a result – I just adore.

    I have much that I am feeling and thinking as I read this – too much to share here. I just want to say that you are loved and lovable and I know you know that, but I am just fine saying that to you in an honest to goodness way!🥰

    • Thank you for all your kind, loving, and thoughtful reflections, Maureen. I’m grateful that you see the goodness in me as I see this in you. We really do expand in compassion for other people as we come to terms with ourselves-and really celebrate the multi-faceted beings that we actually are. You are a treasure in my life, Maureen.

  5. I wonder if this ever really goes away, especially when it comes periodically from people we love and admire: “Some part of me felt foolish, small, and diminished.” Many years ago someone I love said something cruel like that, in an angry, dismissive tone, and I felt myself blush furiously and walk away, wiping tears. The witness to that behavior was a woman not much older than I was, a stranger who came to talk to me a few minutes later and said: “You should not be embarrassed by that outburst, HE should be embarrassed. You did nothing wrong.”

    Her kindness, compassion, and wisdom have stayed with me for 25 years and continue to help me shift that small voice when it comes to the surface.

    I love that you continue to grow and blossom, Laura, that you are beginning to truly understand, share, and value the beauty that is your mind and spirit, the beauty many of us have seen for years.

    • Thank you so much for all your thoughtful reflections about this essay. When unkind words come from someone you love and admire, the recovery time can be quite a process. Know that I’ve had a lifetime of practice with both challenging loved ones, acquaintances, complete strangers, respected authority figures speaking unkind words about me, to me, sometimes in front of others that I deeply respected. These experiences taught me a great deal about people, the power of words, emotional unawareness and awareness, myself-who I wanted to be-how I wanted to interact with other individuals, deep listening, pausing, the power of silence, the long term impact words and their energy can have on another person.

      As you’ve described-you still remember the woman’s kindness, compassion, and wisdom-how her supportive, loving comment still flows to the surface 25 years later.

      I appreciate your kind support, thoughtful, and supportive reflections, Sarah. Thank you for seeing me (even as I struggled to see myself-gifts). Grateful for you.

  6. Wow… this is so moving, Laura! It’s often so easy to give others so much more power than they deserve. The way you put it here is so clear. “I have spent a lifetime bearing witness to other people in their humanity and their greatness, their flaws, and fabulousness. I believe the time to take ownership of my voice, multifaceted expressions, and passions is now.” Amen to that! We can all be inspired by taking ownership of our the intricate tapestry of experiences that make us who we are today. Thank you for sharing this one!

    • Thank you so much, Melissa. Our life experiences definitely shape us, but they don’t have to define us. Thank goodness. Much rich learning in becoming our bright lights! I appreciate your thoughtful reflections and to know what especially resonated with you. “taking ownership of our intricate tapestry of experiences that make us who we are today.” Beautiful and eloquently stated. Yes!!

  7. I really appreciate you and what you have shared in this article. You do wear your heart on your sleeve – “When you pay attention from your heart, you can notice a great deal.” Thank you for sharing your words my friend – Laura Staley

  8. Laura, I will reiterate that your beautiful prose is so very heart-felt as well as courageous. You invite us into your world and bring us on a journey of self-reflection. I agree. When people belittle or are dismissive of others, their insecurities speak for themselves. Thank you for this.💖

    • Thank you so much, Darlene. “When people belittle or are dismissive of others, their insecurities speak for themselves.” Yes, indeed. These types of experiences continue to remind me to be acutely aware of what comes out of my mouth in front of another-to have that internal editor put me on a strong Pause before something flies out that I can never stuff back inside my mouth, something that then lingers far too long in the air around me and most likely, in another person’s heart hurts memory bank. Becoming a more awake and aware silent witness continues to be incredibly empowering. Since I’ve been reading a book about Mr. Fred Rogers, of Mister Rogers Neighborhood fame, he comes to mind as one of my role models-his ability to really listen and then speak words that healed, that uplifted, comforted. An inspiration. Thank you, again for all your kind words of insight, supportive reflection. I’m really grateful for you.

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