WE ARE ALL MADE OF STARS

Do you realize how amazing you are?

Why are we so willing to believe the worst about ourselves?

I had a conversation with a friend recently. She tends to believe she presents herself worse than she does. She accentuates her perceived weaknesses and berates herself for being “stuck”.

When I commented on her strengths and her perceived weaknesses (more on that), she smiled. “Yeah”, she said, “A friend once told me what my real problem is. My friend said, ‘Your problem is, you don’t realize how amazing you are.”

I agree with her friend.

I told her about a presentation I made last year, to an auditorium full of people. I’d goofed pretty badly–thought I was doing a presentation on one topic, only to realize the night before I was committed to a different one.

I was still more than adequately prepared. I’ve taught this workshop before, and have plenty of material on hand. But throughout the presentation, I kept apologizing. “I’m handing out a resource list–I’m so sorry, it would have been longer….” “Blah blah blah, sorry!, blah blah.”

When I read the evaluations later, everyone raved about me.

Except for one astute soul who commented, “The presentation was excellent, good information. Just one negative. She apologized too much. I found it distracting.”

Oy.

It’s time to quit apologizing for ourselves.

It’s so easy to see this in other people. So hard to see it in ourselves: Not trusting our instincts. Focusing on our weaknesses and flaws. Taking our strengths for granted.

Taking ourselves for granted.

So in the interest of full disclosure, here’s the back story behind my blog:

I merrily make my art/write my column/prepare a seminar. Things are humming along. Life is good!

Then I hit roadblocks. An envious peer. A missed deadline. A new injury (usually acquired doing something absolutely stupid.) A rejection from a show. Oh, and a very low checking account balance.

Some people thrive in adversity. Yay for them! (And we all can do that sometimes.) But often we are struck in vulnerable places. The roadblock looks similar to a struggle in our past. And there are some people in this world, in a kind of pain themselves, who know exactly where to aim their blows.

If I’m in my powerful place, I shrug these off as annoying but manageable, tiny little bumps in my path. I will not be deterred from my journey.

But if I’m in a fragile period, I get knocked off-center. “Why do I bother making this work? Nobody likes it!” “How can I make her like me and stop being so mean?” “I’m so disorganized!”

Soon I feel like there’s no place for me in the world. No gifts I can offer. No way I can contribute. I’m just a whirling bundle of fret and anxiety and unkindness and ineptitude. (I thought I was making that last word up, but spell check says no, I’m good to go. Until I spelled “spellcheck” wrong….)

I eventually sit down to write. I dump it all out onto paper. I whine, I cry, I resent, I blame.

And then something wonderful happens.

I realize how amazing I am.

Not in the swelled-head, I’m-okay-you’re-not, aren’t-I-grand kinda way.

Just…amazing…in the ordinary way. A person, here in this world, in this time, trying to love and be loved. Trying to be kind. Trying to shine. Trying to do the work I was put here to do. Trying to do the best I can. (Another friend, years ago, said to me, “I like to believe people are doing the best they can.” It brought tears to my eyes.) (Although it’s hard to remember that when someone cuts me off in traffic.)

For a few wonderful, incredible minutes, maybe a few hours, maybe even an entire day, I see how powerful I am, how brightly I shine. Just enough for me to get back in the saddle and try again. (OH! A riding metaphor!)

At some point, this struggle, this journey, turns into a blog article, or a keynote speech, or a new wall hanging. If it’s funny, it goes to my column at The Crafts Report.

I write about the struggle. I write about how I end up in the hard place, and how I find my way back from there.

And how I still end up there again.

And find my way back home, to my own heart–again.

I write about how our weaknesses are not something to be cried over, but something to be celebrated. Because our weaknesses are the true source of our strength, if we let this awareness happen.

If we are the victim of cruelty, we can still choose to be kind.

If we are gripped by sadness, we can simply embrace that, for now. Or we can choose to act as if we are happy. Or we can help someone else who is sad.

If we grieve, it is because we loved. Or because we wanted to love, or to be loved.

These things are not imperfections. Or rather, they are imperfections. They are what make us beautiful, just as as stress, flaw, disease and even death make something beautiful in wood.

If we don’t think we are amazing, it is simply because we are afraid of what that might mean. We think we don’t know what that looks like. We don’t know what might change or what we might lose, or that we are setting ourselves up for even bigger failure. We are afraid we will have to work harder, and we are afraid we won’t be able to.

We are afraid we are not enough.

And yet, in each of us, is the potential to simply be ourselves. To be present. To respect our gifts, and USE them.

What inspires me, what makes me cry, is that this very place that’s so hard for us–“I am not enough”–comes from a very powerful, very beautiful place–“I want to be somebody</em, somebody worthy of love, respect, kindness, joy, achievement. I want to be seen and cherished. I want to do good work. I want to be remembered after I'm gone."

Don't you think it's amazing that we all want these things?

Isn't it astonishing that this desire drives everything we do, every choice we make, whether we act on this consciously ("I'm going to hold the door open for that person behind me.") to unconsciously ("Huh! That person cut in front of me! He acted as if I were totally not worth his kindness!" or choice words to that effect….)? (I am praying you did not get lost in the punctuation of that last sentence.)

And that's why, when people say I'M amazing, or do such beautiful work, or write something good, I do a little foot shuffle and blush, and say, "Aw, tweren't nuthin'…"

Because I DON'T have this all figured out, or rather, it doesn't STAY worked out. I'll have to do the same thing tomorrow, and next month, and probably for the rest of my life–fall down, cry, take hope and get back up.

I know I just have to do this. And I don't have to do it perfectly, either.

Because when I look at my work, at my art, at the artifacts, the fiber work, the little bears and otters, the grumpy fish, the horses….oh, the horses!

When I remember my story I tell about myself and this work, what it's done for me spiritually, and what others say it does for them….

When I remember how far I've come from that lonely, sad place, where I was so sure there was no place in this world, I actually tried to leave it….

When I look at the wonderful guy who is my life partner, and our children, our friends and family, even the stranger on the street who chooses to be kind… When I realize all the opportunities there are in life to BE that partner, that child, that friend, that stranger…

I realize we truly are all made of stars.

I am. And so are you.

p.s. Thank you, Moby, for the title of this post.

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26 Comments

Filed under art, craft, creativity, fear of failing, inspiration, life, mental attitude, world peace, writing

26 responses to “WE ARE ALL MADE OF STARS

  1. Dear Luann, thank you so much for these wonderful words, you are right, it’s exactly what I feel sometimes, it’s so difficult to recognize the own strength, potential, and so easy to debase oneself…

  2. Thank you so much for this today! I came out from under the covers and read this, it was the soup for my soul today; so I’m back up doing what I do every day with a little more pep than I had an hour ago. Have I told you, that what you do for others is so ABSOLUTELY AMAZING?! It is…thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you!

  3. Searing my heart with your perception today, Luann. That is what you are doing. I am going to re-read this and chew on it some more. But it is so true. Especially this line that has grabbed me and won’t let go…”our weaknesses are the true source of our strength, if we let this awareness happen.” There is a big IF in the middle of that sentence. Back when I used to study the Medicine Wheel way of personalities and problem-solving. Helped teach workshops in it. The line that has always stayed with me is this, “That which is your greatest strength is also your greatest weakness.” It is in utilizing that strength and turning the weakest part of it around that you find true balance. I think the same is true here. But you also have to be open to the darker side. Becuase that is where the learning comes from to move you more fully into the light of your own sunshine. I tell people that all the time. We are each carrying a flame. Mine might burn bright sometimes and attracts others who want to bask in that glow, but then I turn to them and ask them to take the bushel basket off their light so that I might be dazzled by it and they might lead me into uncharted territory.
    Thank you so much, Luann, for your gift of story and your way with words. You never fail to help me shine my light a bit brighter for reflecting yours.
    Enjoy the day!
    Erin

  4. Thank you Luann, I think we all need to hear this…you certainly are a special light…

  5. Wow, this is really great! Thanks. I’m so glad to find your voice in the forest of the internet.

  6. This is so frustratingly true in so many different ways. I’d elaborate further, but your blog post really says it all.

  7. This is a marvelously inspiring post! Thanks Luanne :)

    I was really grabbed by your friend’s observation: “I like to believe people are doing the best they can.” I think about this a lot. There’s no good or evil. There’s really just all of us trying to do what we think is best. It’s just that sometimes the ways we think of trying to get to “best” clash with each other, and even our ideas of what “best” is can be at complete odds.

    In the movie “The Ballad of Jack and Rose”, there’s a lightning bolt moment where the living off the grid, alternative lifestyle father is confronting the guy who’s trying to build a housing development right in his perfect view, ruining his perfect world. All of a sudden the awesome off the grid guy stops dead and apologizes to the housing development guy and says that he just realized that what he had been wrong this whole time, and that what was really going on was a simple difference in aesthetics. Each man was trying to fulfill their vision of a perfect world, and the off the grid guy was actually in the wrong, because he was attacking the other guy. It’s a really moving scene, my rambling doesn’t do it justice, I think. A little bit of a difficult/uncomfortable movie overall, but well worth seeing!

  8. Thank you for your post Luann

  9. Thank you for this article! Beautiful!

  10. Wonderfully written, and timely over and over again =-)
    Thanks LuAnn

  11. Jen

    This is a terrific post! I can totally relate (I’m an artist too–even working in fiber!). I always feel like I alternate between good days and bad days, sometimes with a string of bad. I’ll just want to come home from my “paying” job and space out in front of the TV, but that kind of indulgence usually doesn’t last too long! I have so much to do. I get so busy, I sometimes forget to see how special it is to be dedicated to something like art making. But when I remember (like, after reading articles like yours), it transforms my day and everything I accomplish in it!

    Thanks so much for sharing!

  12. Oh! Thank you so much for that!! This hit home and a soft spot in my heart. Of course, I’m not going to apologize for sometimes making some of the same mistakes, but instead reminding myself that it’s okay… I’m a star anyway! AND for today…I vow not to apologize for myself or make excuses for any of my star-like qualities! Very nice of you to post this~ Thank you!
    Blessings,
    Jessica

  13. Thank you for a wonderful article. I agree whole heartedly in your comments about how we treat ourselves and others. We do choose our actions, kind or otherwise.

    Last night I was in downtown Los Angeles. A homeless person was on the sidewalk smiling at people and saying “Happy New Year, have a good evening.” to those passing by. Everyone was ignoring him, looking the other way. I chose to look him in the eye, smile back and thank him. He gave me the broadest smile he could, thanked me for my smile and said, ” Thank you, I thought somehow I had become invisible. You made me feel warm!” I don’t think I’ll forget that moment soon. He was so genuine.

    God Bless you,
    Deborah

  14. This is a great post, thank you!

  15. S. Brooks

    Thank you for such a powerful post. Im printing it out, highlighting and taping to my wall!

  16. Wow, you hit the nail on the head! This is so true with many women. We think we aren’t good enough and WE ARE!

    Thank you.

  17. Reading this could not have come at a better time, thank you, for all your kind and encouraging words and thought provoking imagery. Sometimes we stars flicker because of atmospheric disruptions, and it takes a minute to realize a bounce back, but even in our flickering someone looks at us and thinks “wow, that star is so amazing.”
    I am so thankful for these few minutes of perspective, and all the wonder comments! We are all beautiful bright stars, I think I will go stargazing for a bit and remember why it is I do the things I do, instead of apologizing for not doing them well enough.

  18. MokiAndMe

    And now you’ve made me cry. So thankyou! Seriously – today a stranger (you) made someone else (me) feel less alone in life. And infinitely more worthy.

    Thankyou from the bottom of my heart.

  19. I found this just when I needed it today. It’s always comforting to know you aren’t the only one who faces the struggles of doubt and fear. I especially loved the end where you talk about the chance to be the partner, the child, the stranger, etc. Something about that just clicked for me. Thank you so much for your thoughts! xO

  20. Thank you for this beautiful post! I know I’m coming late to the conversation–I save your posts to read on breaks. Your blog is a real treat!

    I identified very strongly with this. I get down on myself often about my art, and then something small–like a positive comment from a shopper or encouragement from a fellow artisan–helps me remember this very thing.

    Sometimes, it just comes when I finish a project and am happy with it.

    Thanks! :)

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