When is a time in your life when you felt most fully alive?
Consider those times and spaces when that was true for you. Don’t edit anything out. Grab onto those first thoughts and dare to hold them in your hands for a bit. Then answer this second question:
When you feel most fully alive, what words or phrases come to mind that describe that experience for you?
These questions from the wonderful book that I am currently enjoying are helping me to dig a little deeper into myself – to uncover those things that may have become hidden under stress, life, busyness, doubt, fear, and being practical. The author is trying to get the reader to see that those specific memories – the ones where we felt most alive – often point to something deeper. Possibly something that we are meant to further pursue in life.
We are art. Dwell on that for a second. You are a masterpiece. But not only are we art, we are meant to be artists with our lives. There is something deep inside each of us – those desires, interests, talents, and skills – that no matter how hard we try, we just can’t shake their pull on our hearts. It’s part of who we are. What if those deep-down secrets of the heart, maybe those things which have made us feel most alive, are the things that point us to the art that we are meant to create?
As I started to ponder those questions, I realized that a whole world of experiences and feelings were coming to mind. Memories began to flood my heart with a few of the times where I have felt most alive…
~ At the age of 3, riding in my first airplane, with my stepdad as the pilot. The exhilarating feeling of watching the acres of farmland fall away below us, the flutter in my little tummy, and the freedom that came from soaring through the blue Kansas sky.
~ I was a quiet teenager, and I found myself standing in Red Square for the first time. I was seeing my dream come to life of visiting Russia, and breathing in the history that Red Square holds within its walls. I shivered with excitement as I gazed at St. Basil’s Cathedral and the Kremlin. I thought over and over again, “I’m here. I’m really here.”
~ Becoming a mother to Camden, Aiden, and Quinn. Cradling each of my baby boys, disbelieving of how I could be deserving of such beautiful gifts, and knowing that I would do anything for those precious little ones entrusted into my care.
~ Marrying my Beloved…
~ Piloting my first plane. All of those feelings from when I was a little girl came rushing back, only now the weight of the yoke and the throttle were under my hands. This time I could see the Pacific Ocean as I flew, and it was positively breathtaking.
~ And writing. Writing transports me to a place where my entire world stops as the words flow out of my fingertips, and my heart doesn’t resume its normal pace until the very last word of my story has been written. Then nervously, sometimes trembling, I send it out into the world. I share it with you…
~ Peace and exhilaration
~ Fear and freedom
~ Responsibility and hand-trembling nervousness
~ Courage and doubt
~ Contentment and the urge for more
What I am finding as I begin to uncover these deeply buried emotions, is that even though some of those feelings were not always pleasant – the desire must outweigh the fear.
Fear is the root of why I declined the offers to travel to Belarus and South Africa alone as a young lady. Fear of failure is why I never pursued my dream of becoming a pilot on my own. Afraid of losing him, I stayed home to marry my ex-husband rather than go off to college. The fear of not being the perfect mother has crept into parenting my little ones. Fear of more heartache slithers its way into my relationship with my Beloved. Fear is what has held me back all of these years from sharing my writing with others, and even from writing at all.
What were the times in your life where you felt most alive? And have you embraced those experiences, or has fear caused you to run away from them?
I am slowly and intentionally digging away at the ground that has buried my art, my dreams, and my desires. With each swing of the shovel, I am looking fear and perfectionism in the face as I toss it behind me. It is time for me to excavate the art that I am meant to live, and the art that I am meant to create. It’s scary and it’s heavy, but my prayer is that with each stride that I take, I will be a little closer to being the artist and the art that I was created to be.
* Photos 4 and 5 were taken by Joanne Funk.
*Linking up to Women Living Well Wednesdays
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