This post is part of a brave blogging link-up that’s part of Liv Lane’s How To Build a Blog You Truly Love ecourse. Participants were challenged to step outside their comfort zone and share something with you that felt especially brave (other posts can be found here). Since this blogger does not yet have her own blog set up, her brave post is being shared here on Liv’s site. Please feel free to comment and support her courage!
I had been sitting on that bench for a while, just inside the Musee Marmottan Monet, in downtown Paris… gazing at stunning displays of impressionistic Water Lilies… when it dawned on me: I had been here before.
It was more than two decades ago, I was here, in this very gallery, perhaps I even sat on this very bench…
I was 22 years old back then and fresh out of college. My pal Andrea and I were on a European tour, before we would move to Washington D.C., to find jobs and launch our careers. We were energized, enthusiastic and eager to take on the world! We were modern women of the 80’s!
I cringed, at this memory. That younger me was so confident and self-assured, but there was also so much she did not know. Her perspective was naïve and self-centered. But it was also optimistic and unburdened.
What a strange coincidence: to bump into this memory of my youthful self, here at the world’s largest collection of Claude Monet paintings.
This time, I was 44, and traveling with my sister Marit, who had bought me the plane ticket, insisting that I crash her vacation – an indulgent week soaking up French life, food and culture.
It was a welcome relief. You see, in recent years, my life had fallen apart.
Stress, divorce, anxiety problems, overwhelm and job loss… I felt swamped by emotional pain, failure and misery.
When Marit reached out with her generous invitation, I was knee-deep in sorting through the wreckage, trying to figure out how to put things back together. A counselor had told me I had ptsd. A doctor (who knew me for twenty seconds) had scribbled a prescription for anti-anxiety medication.
It was a strange time. I felt like a sewer had backed up, and every hurt, every pain, that I thought I had left behind, came rising back to the surface, flooding my senses.
I felt alone, adrift, and out in the abyss, desperately searching for light.
I was trying. Dutifully trying to figure out what was wrong, trying to find the solution, figure out what I needed to do, so I could heal, and get on with it.
Counseling, meditation, and books on spirituality… they all helped, but progress was slow and incremental. I felt the root of the problem still eluded me.
So to be here… at this wonderful gallery, in the presence of this incredible art, was wonderful. I love the Impressionists – and Monet was the father of a movement that turned the art world on its head.
At first, this new style of painting, which focused on luminous colors, and landscapes, and the immediacy of light, was met with harsh criticism. Paintings were refused into the Salon, the institutional arbitrator of what is great art. However, eventually, these captivating scenes, born of new techniques and brushwork, and which focused on very different, everyday subjects, ushered in a whole new way of seeing.
How strange, that this backdrop was to be the space where my former self, collided with my current self. It made me uncomfortable.
And while a part of me wanted to slam the door shut on this memory bank, another part of me was curious. What was this all about? The Universe doesn’t orchestrate this kind of synchronicity for nothing. There had to be something here for me.
I sat back, in an open posture, ready to receive whatever message this situation had to offer me. I took a breathe, let it out, and waited.
Slowly, a knowing began to emerge. Sure, the “young me” meant well. She was well-intentioned. But she went out into the world, trying to understand it and accommodate to it. She studied how things worked, and then tried to fit herself into what was already there.
She was obedient, compliant and a team player. She thought this would bring reward. But instead she found herself in situations and relationships that did not honor her feelings or her heart. This was extremely painful and confusing.
This insight brought a fundamental error into focus.
She had not honored her feelings and her heart first, yet she somehow hoped others would. It was ludicrous and sadly kind of obvious. In my rush to “do well” by the world’s standards, I had trampled over my inner self.
I was not broken. Rather, my being was staging a full-blown rebellion!
This new clarity was startling, yet hopeful.
At age 22, I had left home, striking out into the world, trying to find myself, somewhere out there. But now at age 44, I found that my truth existed in the exploration of my own inner experience. It was a radical shift of perspective.
I vowed that the next phase of life would be all about honoring my own heart. When it’s joyful, I will celebrate. When it’s troubled, I will tend to it. I will happily go out into the world, but only with full knowledge of and respect for my heart space.
And if I find myself in situations where it is not being honored, I will depart. It’s simple, but vastly different than how I had been conducting myself previously.
I left the bench and joined my sister exploring the rest of the gallery.
Claude Monet’s legacy was a radical shift in perspective. While at first his paintings were met with resistance, they were eventually appreciated and embraced. The Impressionists threw out the old rules and forged new techniques and approaches. In the process they changed the world of art, but also the very definition of art.
We are all artists of our own lives, and what we put on the canvas, is up to us.
If we are willing to see things differently, we can find a new perspective, a new vision.
We have the freedom to choose what we put the frame around. And in so doing, we can reconnect with our truth, reclaim our hearts, and reframe our very lives.
That experience happened to me five years ago, and since then, I have worked hard to consciously unlearn old habits and to be true to my new vision of heart-centered living.
It has been a rich and rewarding, joy-filled journey … which I happily share with others on the path.
Note from Author:
Blog Mission: To inspire people to use “re-framing” as a powerful and simple tool for creating change, healing and embracing the joy of life!