A girlhood friend called me several years ago to share a beautiful compliment bestowed on her by a stranger as she walked down the street one spring day in a simple sundress. As she strode close to a man, he beamed at her with genuine admiration and said, “Girrrl, you are wearing that dress.”
She smiled her thanks at him for this was not in any way the type of unwelcome comment that is sometimes offered as one passes by say, a construction site.
What the stranger saw clearly reflected in my friend that day, was not just an attractive woman in a nice dress. He saw a confident person, who knew who she was and owned it – through her walk, her demeanor and yes, the choice of a nice dress that suited her and she felt comfortable wearing. All of this was silently, yet very effectively, communicated to the stranger as she approached.
Over time, I have borrowed this phrase and shared it with my clients and students. It has become a metaphor used to acknowledge when someone’s work, both women and men, has reached a high level. (Even though a dress is a feminine garment, most men will understand the unilateral implications of the metaphor.) When they have successfully navigated past creative fbreakdown into breakthrough and hit their stride – come into their writer’s voice, reclaimed their sense of essence through story or owned their personal power via creative expression.
It has occurred to me that all we really need for the journey through 2012 and beyond is our sense of True North and a really great dress.
Life on a Banana Peel
As we navigate our life path during this time of immense transition we may sometimes feel as if we don’t know which way is up. Our lives and the world around us continue to speed up and shift, requiring us to diligently re-calibrate our old selves and bring our best selves into alignment with the truth that is emerging within and around us in this new frontier. As a fellow Oneness Blessing Giver reminded me the other day, “Only truth can live in the light.”
Recently, when asked by my spiritual teacher how I was doing, I replied, “Oh, I’m on a banana peel.” Luckily, I knew enough to know I was on a banana peel and like they say, that awareness is often the first step in turning things around.
I used the banana peel to surf the uncertain waters around me. It allowed me to see where I was, in relation to where I wanted to be. It became clearer and clearer what needed to be adjusted to get to my destination. I also knew a banana peel should not be my vehicle of choice.
And that’s when I thought about my dad. I could hear his voice when he was teaching me how to drive. “Are you driving the car or is the car driving you?” he would ask when he sensed a tentativeness in my handling of the vehicle.
He recanted the time he was transporting a backhoe from his construction company on a tractor-trailer along Philadelphia’s Schuylkill Expressway. Just outside of the city limits, he realized the brakes on his truck were failing. He opted to exit at Gladwyne and then had to bring the whole rig to a safe halt after negotiating some hairy curves. He explained the actions he had to take to maneuver to a safe stop, without hitting any other vehicles or tipping the whole load over.
Aside from the mechanics of it all, there was, he explained, the more important sense of absolute conviction that he could do what needed to be done to bring the situation to a safe resolution.
A similar scenario repeated in his life when he needed to make an emergency landing of his plane. The gods were smiling on him, as he was piloting a float plane. But he still needed to find a suitable body of water to put it down in and fast. And he did, he told me, by focusing and being totally in the moment - confident in his ability to do what needed to be done. He knew he could be in charge of putting the plane down, not the plane putting itself down.
All of his skills, beliefs, talents and life experiences coalesced for him in those moments, giving him the capability to make good decisions and take appropriate action. He held to his True North and as a result, arrived safely at his unplanned destinations.
Finding your True North
True North varies from person to person. For me, I must bow to emotional clarity.
Chetan Parkyn, author of Human Design, helped me to understand what he refers to as authority, or my personal decision-making process.
I have learned I must wait for emotional seas to lay down and I have absolute clarity before I make a decision. I must feel my way in this world because that is how I am designed. The seas around me may be heavy in turmoil but I must reach the still point within my being – to be the calm within the storm – when I take action.
Too often, I try to think my way and that only leads to frustration and premature decisions and reversals, because ultimately, my feelings rule. Years ago a friend and very talented palm reader, looked at my hand and saw it there plain as day and admonished me, “Teresa, you can’t think your emotions.”
So I have come to embrace my feelings as the gold mine they are for me, both personally and as a writer.
In Human Design, Parkyn writes:
"How you behave, especially under pressure is dependent on a sliding scale of self-worth… Individual expression, aligned with what you know to be right and true, brings integrity."
Testing Your GPS System
Any equipment must be tested from time to time to ensure that it is working properly. Sometimes these tests are expected and other times, they blind-side us. As my deadline for this column approached the Universe presented me with an excruciating and spectacular trio of scenarios that tested my mettle, all within a half hours time.
An entrepreneur for whom I had done a great job, appeared blind to the positive impact I had on his business. I will never know the exact details of what or who clouded his vision, but he did not have the clarity to see beyond petty issues to the truth. A rude service person loudly confronted me over a tip she forgot she had already collected. And finally, a new friend whose harshness and penchant for creating drama played out one too many times.
It was a tour de force that literally, at moments, left me breathless. Yet in those thirty trying minutes I stayed present in the moment. I was witness to the drama and provocation clamoring before me. Somehow, I remained in my center and was able to take care of myself. In the first and most emotionally challenging instance, I faltered and got caught up in the turmoil myself at moments, but my sense of True North rose up and showed me the way through and out.
When it was all over, I mourned the losses and the havoc that was wrought. However, I was grateful for an immediate sense of knowing that all my spiritual practice and tools had brought me through these trials. The Universe had given me three strong wake up calls and I responded. I looked down and realized I was not standing on a banana peel at all but on terra firma. It was not the prettiest of landings but I was able to walk away.
And then, I remembered something. How many times when I was growing up had I asked my father for his opinion about a clothing choice and heard him reply, “Who’s going to wear it?” That’s right, who is going to wear the blouse, the pants – who is going to wear the dress? Me!
So as 2012 unfurls and glistens before you, remember to travel lightly with your own True North as your compass, tucked discretely into the pocket of your best dress ever – a one-of-a-kind piece of haute couture co-created just for you.
© 2012 Teresa Piccari