April 9, 2016

Caught Red-Handed, Half-Baked & Shining.

Flickr/Lucy Maude Ellis

“There is no need to be perfect to inspire others. Let people get inspired how you deal with your imperfections.” ~ Ziad Abdelnou


I was chopping carrots in the kitchen, while Tyrannosaurus Rex and slot cars were at war.

Bang! The metal police car crashed into T-Rex’s massive paw and swished across the room. Absorbed in his own whimsical world, my four­-year-­old son sat on the granite floor, engaged in an animated spontaneous play of free-­flowing dialogue. Fully embodied and so engrossed in his space, he was oblivious to everything else and certainly never questioned whether he was too loud, too silly or too big.

I listened in adoration as I chopped. I knew this place well, because I’ve been there many times before. For as long as I can remember, this place is where I’m at my biggest, and where I experience the infinite creative freedom to be me. It’s where I wholeheartedly let go and know nothing else but self­-confidence, self­-expression and self­-love.

It’s the place where I’m my own barometer, and I don’t hold back or play small, but shine for no apparent reason. In fact, this is the place where we all should reside.

Chills ran up my spine and melted my heart. I glanced over my shoulder to bear witness. I wanted to capture just a glimpse of his splendor—him being himself. I knew I shouldn’t invade his space, but I couldn’t help it. It was just a second or maybe two, but it was too late. His eyes crossed mine—yanked from his imaginative universe, he landed hard.

He blushed in embarrassment for not taking notice of his surroundings. I felt his vulnerability—he was raw and exposed, up for possible judgment. He cautiously returned to his dinosaur and slot car collisions in a now staccato play. I secretly wished I could erase that moment forever…

For me, being caught red-­handed with two hands in the cookie jar or playing ”grown-­up” in my mother’s makeup drawer was embarrassing. But ironically enough, the hardest part to digest wasn’t the actual act of being caught with a mouthful of cookies or crimson red lipstick smeared across my tiny lips, but it was the humility of being so passionately and proudly absorbed in my me-­ness and never questioning it.

In fact, that little girl never doubted her own beauty, intelligence and imagination. She believed she was nothing less than perfectly imperfect. Being uncovered for the first time was a pivotal moment in my life—when things shifted inside me and went from knowing without questioning to questioning without knowing.

Last week, I found myself writing about relearning self­-love. As I lay my pen down and softened my eyes onto the black ink which had forever imprinted the pages of my notebook, I felt an immense sense of self-­satisfaction. I was proud. I’d embodied the fullness of me.

I submitted the piece I wrote for publication. Hours faded into days, and days into a full week, before I finally heard back. The piece would not be published. This triggered something deep in my psyche. The trigger wasn’t the obvious—the disappointment of not being published—but rather, my complacency of genuinely believing that my article had value and could inspire others.

I was drowning in feelings of resignation and self­-consciousness. Doubt filled my mind and clouded my ultimate vision of aspiring to inspire others through my writing:

Who was I to be so proud and believe that I could inspire?

Did I have it in me?

Were my words enough?

My questioning dug deeper and revealed a painful childhood memory of being humiliated in second grade, for painting my favorite tree lilac and fuchsia, because that was how I passionately saw it. With bright red cheeks, my sky suddenly filled with darkness, and then the outside world became my mirror.

Who was I to shine so brightly? Get off that high horse and play small!

Debbie Ford wisely said that “life doesn’t happen to us, but for us.” I’ve now noticed how life generously offers us a gazillion opportunities to relearn self-­love and to return to that place where we naturally expand into our greatness—whoever we are, and wherever we are on our path.

Whether we know it or not (or even accept it), life is on our side, giving us exactly what we need when we need it for our personal growth. We might not like what life has gifted us, but if we look closely, we might stumble upon the gold.

Regardless of our opinions, life keeps on playing out, until we see it and finally get it.

With a shrug of resignation, I sat in the trawl of self-­reflection, waiting for something to shift within me, so I could move quickly on. I knew that moving through—not skirting around this opportunity for growth—was the only way out.

Waiting and trusting the natural process of life to unfold was hard. I resisted—and therefore, I suffered even more—severing myself from accepting what is and what could be.

Ultimately I knew that I had no choice but to let go—into the hands of life—and let her show me, in her wondrous ways, the unfolding of what needed to be to serve my soul’s evolution.

Within a matter of days, life did show up, and things took a mysterious turn toward places I could never have imagined. What appeared to be a handful of isolated happenings, transmuted into an intriguing stream of cause and effect. The events occurred so quickly that I had no time to reflect and no time to back out.

Like a flip book of continuous cartoon images fading into one another, the momentum of change was well on its way. It all began with one call from a friend in search of a dance company to perform at the halftime of a boxing match, which lead me to contact my dance teacher, who agreed.

Within hours, the terrorist attacks in Belgium hit the news, resulting in the closing of the airport and the cancellation of my previously planned trip to Brussels. My dance teacher had heard the unfortunate international news via text, and just hours before the performance there was a shoulder injury, so my dance teacher urged me to take part in the performance (which was coming up in less than three hours).

The moment was ripe. Do I seize the opportunity and consciously step into empowerment—or not?

The choice was ultimately mine, but I knew I had to do it.  Fearful or not, I had to step up to the plate.

And there I was—vulnerably exposed, dressed in skimpy boy shorts and a halter top, dancing a solo before 300 spectators. Four acclaimed dancers graced the floor following suit of my unassuming performance. The contrast was a parody for the senses, because what you don’t know is that I am a beginner—a total beginner. But I knew that, and that was acceptable.

Off stage, almost in a drunken state, I was unable to claim the moment. Reality hadn’t set in. Once in the comfort of my home, I replayed the video of my performance. I cringed as I watched how I fumbled on a forgotten piece of the choreography and missed more than a beat or two. That was acceptable too.

Not only does life send us opportunities to learn and grow, but it also sends random encounters and messengers who help us make sense of the unseen. That surreal evening, dazed as I was, I had evidently given my number to a total stranger—a thing that I don’t often do. There was a text awaiting me that morning, as I lay in bed hungover from fear.

In the middle of a few mundane questions, were these exact words: “It means nothing to create only for oneself. The purpose of art is to show and be seen. That is how we inspire.”

I missed a beat. My heart pounded as butterflies danced in my belly—I felt almost nauseous. How did the universe so accurately orchestrate this random encounter and know what I needed to hear?

There it was—the unknown truth had transcended my experience, bringing me humbly to my knees. The golden gift is that we don’t have to wait to be perfect to shine and inspire.

At any given moment—no matter where we are in our process, from birth to death—and without exhausted effort, we can passionately show up and embody our greatness.

I once heard the importance of never sharing something that is “half­-baked”—but what if half-­baked is where we’re at right now?

Do we have to wait until something is “perfectly baked,” before being proud enough to passionately share it? Or can half­-baked be inspiring too? Here is my half-­baked manifesto:

Show up passionately.

Let go of the outcome.

Shine brightly regardless.

Be imperfectly you.

Own it with pride, for half-baked is “inspirationally-baked” for more than you can imagine. 

You—perfectly imperfect—are an inspiration.


Author: Jessica Magnin

Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

Photo: Flickr/Lucy Maude Ellis

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