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Resurrection and New Life

Last week I posted a bit of a rant about my recent mural painting experience. I needed to let ‘r rip and purge the stuff that was making my insides roil. Good thing it had to do with a toilet .

But things changed. Violated Ellen stood up, wiped the vile entrails from her mouth, and said, “I refuse to be taken for granted”.

All of my life I’ve had a confusing sense of humility. Growing up in a minister’s family, a “Preacher’s Kid” (PK) was a very public role with high expectations of chastity, good humor, and overall exceptional behavior. We were encouraged not to fight back, to always try to reason with an aggressor, to rise above and lick our own wounds without making them known to others. After all, people looked to us for spiritual guidance, not for evidence of human failing. Of course, with all such expectations there is often a backlash.

For me, the backlash has usually been internalized anger. Inspiration is often met by a dull gray wall of resentment at not feeling able to share what drives me. I want so much for people to understand my humanness but I struggle to share it in ways that are productive and humble. Many of us do, PKs or not, lest we be considered arrogant or proud.

My neighbor said to me yesterday that she now understands why she was asked to experience the dynamic that seemed to produce constant strife with her father. It was to provide her with the tools she needed to deal with the difficult situations that present themselves today.

Her insight sparked a revelation about what happened to me last week.

After informing my client that I was unwilling to compromise the compensation we had agreed on previously, I was willing to give up the job in order to maintain my integrity. In the past, I would have said, “Of course he’s right. What was I thinking, expecting him to pay me that much? I don’t deserve it.” I would have grumbled through the job, tried to paint something life-enhancing on a dead wall and would have failed miserably.

The next day, I received a phone message. “You’re right, I’m sorry. I want you to do the job. Let’s talk.”

The gray wall that clouded the vision of my mind suddenly began to fill with color and substance. It had less to do with the client acknowledging my value than it did with ME respecting my own. I could hardly wait to get started!

I packed everything in my car again, this time including Nancy, my life-enhancing painting partner, and with agreement from the client, set out with new creative control to create a scene that we had envisioned together.

With the project complete, humility has taken on a whole new meaning for me. I realize now that it is not about hiding what makes me exceptional — I do no one any favors by feeling shame about what makes me different and special because in doing so, I only discourage them from partaking in and sharing what feeds their souls. Rather, it is about being grateful for the gifts that are offered to us, the difficult dynamics of our upbringings, the strange abilities that seem to come from nowhere, and sharing the recipes that become the feast of spirit that feeds the world.

Today I am grateful for the humiliation that brought me to this place of humility and for the upbringing that taught me how to handle it….

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  1. Mel
    November 18, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    Thanks Ellen… you’re absolutely right you know. You have to do for you-and know what makes you exceptional. Not be afraid/ashamed to share that with everyone.

  2. November 18, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    Wow Ellen, very well said. I’m wondering if there is a domino effect going on. The insight that your friend shared with you yesterday which then sparked you own aha moment is not unlike what I experienced today. I say down to journal this morning and did not stop till 27 pages later. I dove very deep in my writing and went back to the beginning. Sperm and egg of my parents and even before to their life stories and experience.

    Then I looked at my ‘story’ and what I experienced from birth to now. In that process I saw it, I saw what I had never been able to see, had in fact been skirting around all of my life.

    New Englanders my family line. Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Upper New York state, people of Yankee values and morals, strong, stoic. God fearing, God finger shaking.

    Hard work, no play, speak when spoken to, children seen and not heard, no exploration of inner knowing, that was the devil.

    Just as you shared that you understood your hiding about what makes you different and gifted, I got a very similar powerful message about hiding from my gift. Fearing judgment, always seeking externally and looking for approval. Looking for my answers out there.

    To my surprise and amazement what I found this morning was what I had been seeking all my life. Me. Going inward is my way to all that I love. All that I have desired.

    I’ve been getting that message all of my life. Go inward and skirt that place, walk its (my) edges, fearing it, fear me, and I now realize that the very place I was avoiding is the place of my heart. My creative work, my voice, my passion is through my writing. Just as yours is in part the beauty that you paint and are able to see so well. You are an excellent writer too. You have a gift with words.

    You in fact were one of my inspirations as I made a list this morning of people I know honoring their creativity and then I read your blog post just now. Wow.

    My childhood and all that came before it and what has come since has been ALL about preparing me for this time when I would look up, look within and know that I could not be here where I am, had I not had the perfect set of circumstances to bring me here.

    I have a great deal to be grateful for. I have a great deal to share with the world and it’s a good thing.

    Thanks for sharing your journey and bravo for finding out that what really matters (You) is you respecting your own value.

    Fan Freaking Tastic!

  3. November 26, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    Ellen, what a lesson for us tread lightly people – and affirmation too, told with such humility…and a lesson for your client too…how professionally you handled that situation…fair and reasonably…it’s a great way to establish your business and reputation…over the long-run (which I know is how you view things) you’ll succeed on your terms…best to you and yours this day, Darren

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