Animals and Nature, Authenticity, Awakening, Women's Work

How To Be Beautiful…And It’s Not What You Think.

The swan has been haunting me. Coming to me in images, conversations, paintings, cards and books, in synchronicities.

While an actual swan has not flown out of the sky and landed on my lawn, her energy has come forth in other ways no less powerful, to teach me about the true nature of beauty.

How To Be Beautiful

One of the best-known stories about a swan is Hans Christian Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling, the story of a signet born into a family of ducks, who is cast out because the other animals believe such an “ugly duckling” doesn’t belong with them.

Wherever he goes, he encounters others who question his appearance and shun him for being different.

After encountering a group of elegant white birds, the ugly duckling longs to one day be as beautiful as they are. At the end of a long cold winter, he sees his reflection in the water and realizes that he never was a duck, but that he is in fact a swan.

As Leta Greene reminds us: “The story about becoming beautiful isn’t about the ugly duckling becoming a swan; it is about the ugly duckling realizing it was a swan all along.”

This is an integral part of the energy of the swan.  In essence, she calls us to acknowledge our own inner beauty that was always, already ours.

But more than that, it is in this realization and re-claiming of our inner-beauty where the swan’s transformative healing power awaits.

The Power of Witnessing Our Real Beauty

To be clear, I am not talking about the beauty that comes from plucking, peeling, painting and pushing our bodies into an external ideal of beauty, but about the white-gold beauty that lies within.

In order to access or remember this inner beauty and light, we have to trust and accept what is. That is, we have to accept the body we have been given AND accept the light that lives inside us as our true selves.

Our culture teaches us, especially teaches women, to view our bodies as imperfect, and many of us have in fact been led to hate our bodies as though a body is all we are.

We become transfixed in front of the mirror by what is “wrong”, and we are so busy trying to improve and change our physical appearance that we have not time or energy left to improve or change the world with the power of our own true light.

In their Medicine Cards, Jamie Sams and David Carson tell the story of Swan’s journey into the dreamtime through a black hole where “I learned to surrender my body to the power of Spirit…because of my faith and my acceptance I have been changed. I have learned to accept a state of grace.”

Only when we witness and acknowledge this innate internal beauty in ourselves can its power transform us and come forth for all the world to see.

And I promise you it’s not just in some of us, it’s in all of us.

Once we know this, once we look beyond the surface and into the deep waters of our soul and see reflected there an image of our own true beauty, only then can we claim the power and the gift that Swan offers.

How We Come to Know Our Inner Beauty

What if, instead of attending to the outer, you attended to the inner you?

Entire industries have been built on the backs of our insecurities, on our belief that we are not beautiful just as we are.

We have spent fortunes on gym memberships, control-top panties, creams and lipsticks and all the while ignored the sweet internal call of the swan – drawing us to look at the beauty within.

Recently I have been experimenting with hearing and answering this call.

I worked in the cosmetics industry for many years, and during that time I wore lots of makeup everyday, I used a lot of creams and toners, I worked out, a lot. I groomed, all the time.

Now I sometimes dream about what I would do if I could get back all the hours I spent in front of a mirror.

There is nothing wrong with a healthy, fit body or taking care of your skin and hair. But for too long we have believed ourselves to be imperfect, that what makes us unique makes us ugly, that in our natural state we are not enough.

When We Let Our Light Shine We Give Others Permission to do the Same

And so with the swan’s help I am slowly remembering who I really am. I am returning to a more “natural” state and it feels like coming home.

I no longer insist on perfectly lined lips or perfect hair or a perfectly flat tummy because I am remembering that true beauty comes from a source inside.

And the more I know this and feel it in my core, the more it shows.

It shows in the light shining out from our eyes, our faces, and our words and even from the rhythm of our walk, from our easy smile, from our very being.

And with this light, you can transform the world, for “as we let our own light shine we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same” (Marianne Williamson).

Do not be obedient to the world that tells you that a thin body and flawless skin are all that matters, and do not believe the self-help industry that tempts you to believe you are broken beyond repair.

Answer the swan song in your heart that asks you to give up your life as a performer and be your true eternally beautiful self springing from a light that cannot be dimmed.

You may feel that I am romanticizing or over-stating the medicine of the swan, but Ted Andrews reminds us that “many tales involving swans end tragically, hinting at the primal life-changing power of beauty when released freely.”

Such is the case in Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake and in the term “swan song”.  As you may know, a “swan song” is the metaphorical phrase for a final gesture or performance given just before death or the end of a career. The term is based on the legend that a swan sings as it dies, this beautiful sweet song her final creative gift.

Swan asks us to die to who we think we are in order to become our true selves.

We Are So Much More than Our Physical Bodies

Regardless of how we may judge our physical bodies, we posses an inner radiance that attests that we are so much more than we appear to be.

Let Swan remind you of how beautiful you are, of how all else will fall away in the presence of your true, authentic, internal beauty.

She will show you how to be beautiful – how to transform into what you always, already are.

I would love to hear of your own encounters with swans and your own experiences of beauty. And, if you feel called to explore and express you inner radiance, I am here to witness and hold space for your transformation into your own beautiful, authentic self.

xo Shona

Animals and Nature, Authenticity, Awakening, Women's Work

Quiet the Voice of Fear

“Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear” George Addair

This week I have been a true student of procrastination.

I recently embraced minimalism and decided that before I can possibly be expected to sit down and write something meaningful the kitchen drawers must be de-cluttered.  The linen closet pared down (how many hand towels do we really need?!).  I asserted that a clear and uncluttered work space opens the door to clear and uncluttered thinking…yet I knew I was just avoiding the hard work of putting my butt in the chair and writing.

You could argue, as I did for all the hours I spent cleaning out my walk-in closet, that “this is good – I am making space for creative energy, I am letting things go so that new ideas and opportunities can enter into my life, my mind, my soul….so it must be ok then, right?”

What I was doing this week was in fact a mini version of what I have been doing for most of my life.

Working at jobs that seemed “good”, productive, especially when I worked for a not for profit, I told myself “I am doing good things, how can this be bad?”.  And yet all the while there was this nagging feeling, growing more and more powerful in me, that I was avoiding the real work that needed to be done.  Work that only I could do and yet it seemed so hard to turn myself to it.

If you listen to the voice of fear you’ll hide from the real work of your life and miss out on the challenges and the joy awaiting you, just on the other side of fear.

The work I’m talking about is this work, the work of embracing my true calling and helping other women to awaken to their own true life purposes.

The reason I clean and de-clutter is out of fear.  The fear of using my gifts, however humble.  The fear that no one will understand.  The fear of failing in my work AND the fear of succeeding.

Thanks to this week, my fear is now crystal clear, with a honed edge, it has become a weapon in my hands.  In the face of this fear, I have in fact been incredibly hard on myself, heaping criticism on myself, berating myself for a lack of commitment, lack of discipline, lack of work ethic and vision.

I am lazy.

I am a coward.

As I scoured and scrubbed the surfaces of my home, I left myself not one measly scrap of compassion.

Then, in a moment of quiet clarity, I was reminded of what Byron Katie says in her book Loving What Is: “No one can hurt me, that’s my job”.  I seem to be very good at this part of the job.

I suspect you are too.

No one has ever said to me out loud the hurtful things that I have told myself in my head. We are our own worst enemies – and so the house is clean, and I feel like a turd.

All around me though, if I remember to look, is the calm, grounding support of the natural world.  All week, in my yard (more de-cluttering) or on walks, I was joined by one or more raucous blue jays.  The blue jay is noisy and hard to ignore.

So finally, I listened.

Blue Jay presents the challenge of not showing up as your authentic self, or in fact of not showing up at all.  So the Blue Jay, with his blue crown of feathers, asks if we want to be a pretender to the throne, or to develop the innate royalty that was always, already ours.

Our “royalty” lies in the unique, divinely given gifts we each have and are asked to take up and gift back to the world.  That’s where our true power lies, in authenticity, and he reminds us of the proper use of our power.

He shows you that the choice is always yours to make.

For years I was a pretender and the sight of a Blue Jay would create a kind of anxiety in me…as if I could hear him loudly telling the world that I was an impostor in my own life.  This lasted only so long as I denied the true expression of who I was and stifled the desire to do the healing work I yearned to do.

There is always another closet to clean out, another pot to wash, another task that needs doing.

In stillness, and especially in nature, you can quiet the voice of fear and hear the call to awaken.

Hear the voice of love speaking to you in birdsong…asking you to bring forth your authentic power for all to see.

If you’d like to explore how self-criticism, doubt and compulsive de-cluttering may be keeping you from answering the deepest yearnings of your soul, I am here to help.  We can walk this path together, I’ve been there, and I’m ready when you are.

 

Blue Jay

Lend me your fearless flight, your confident power, your startling blue

Lend me wisdom to take on the responsibility that comes with walking a path with heart

The path that calls from a higher self, a divine wisdom

Lend me your laughing heart, your bounding joy as you soar from branch to branch with your brothers

Lend me your voice in blue to tell of the way

To tell of the one who will be crowned in all her glory at the end of the day

When the choice is made to take up the gifts we have been given and gift them back to the world

Our power made manifest in service to our souls

 

It’s time to quiet the voice of fear,

Shona