I’m working on the second book in my children’s book series. It’s about our mouth: our sense of taste and our teeth – the material world aspect of our mouths. It’s also about the power of words – the spiritual world aspect of our mouths. I write about how to use our 5 senses in a deeper way in daily life. So, it’s no coincidence that I’m writing about words. I started my books in early 2017, and because I illustrate them myself, and I’m a SAH mom, the process can take longer than I would prefer. I started working on the second book late in the summer, and soon after, I began to see the deeper lessons in our speech reflected back to me, practically at every turn.
We’re in a moment with words. Our collective experience of #metoo and #timesup have offered a safe harbor for people to share their stories of abuse and harassment. Personally, I am glad it’s happening. Whether it is Hollywood, sports, religion, or business organizations, it’s time to let it all out. It isn’t easy. I see myself as a compassionate and supportive purpose, yet I see my prejudices and judgements pop up. I must examine where they originated. I read testimonials that trigger my own victimization and must ask myself why I haven’t spoken up. We’re all being forced to look at the ugly side of some intense issues, and my hope is that by doing so, we can truly begin to heal.
But speaking up and speaking out is a lingering challenge. I don’t think we’ve been trained to use our words. Our society doesn’t accept a survivor’s tale at face value. We’re not surrounded by encouragement.
I have an entire folder on Pinterest that’s nothing but pretty words against pretty backgrounds. Sometimes when I need a pep talk, I’ll go there and read and read until the heavy feelings lift. I have images that remind me not to compare myself to others, quotes about honoring your truth, poem excerpts I find lovely, and many other examples. I consume a substantial volume of positive words because I want the words I say and write to be beautiful. I keep thinking that if I hear and read elegant artistry as much as I can, I’ll quiet the societal brand. It takes a tremendous effort to undo the negative things we see and hear. Think about it in your own life for a moment: how many years has it taken you to let go of the negative things you heard as a child?
I was never trained how to use my words. I became a people pleaser. It’s easier to tell myself that I’ll just let it go instead of speaking up because I don’t want to rock the boat. But if it’s a big enough issue, it will turn into resentment. Then, there are the times I’ll muster up the courage to say difficult things out loud, but my delivery is harsh because I feel insecure. Or I spend so much time apologizing for what I’m about to say that all the energy behind what I had hoped to express gets deflated. Sometimes I feel nervous, and that insecurity turns into lack, so I’ll try to fill the space with chatter. My messages get lost in my tone or delivery. I can see a lot of personal growth in this area, but it takes work on my part and there are times I still fall back to the old pattern of thinking I, and therefore my experiences, don’t matter.
Honoring my own truth as a writer has primarily been about changing negative thought patterns. It’s an ongoing process of letting go. I’ve let go of the fear of feeling exposed, or the need for every person who reads my work to fall in love with it. All I can do is write in my truest voice about things that are valuable to me and hope that it helps those who read it. Sometimes I think it’s all been said before. Why bother? Get a real job. Then, I’ll remember that I haven’t said it yet, and therefore it’s inherintely valuable. Speaking as honestly as I can becomes paramount.
A line from my little book keeps running in my head as I write this: When you use your words, think of all the love you feel…
This is my dream for the future of words. That whether we have to say something painful, or we’re offering a sincere compliment, our words will remain heart-opening. That our words will continue to be a catalyst for positive transformation. And I know it begins with me.