I first met Chris Zydel a number of years ago (9? 10?) in Taos at my annual writing retreat. This tall, silver-maned goddess walks into the circle, bedecked in glorious turquoise, and I’m like, “Hello, who the heck are you???”
Come to find out she is the “Wild Heart Queen” and an incredibly loving teacher of the expressive arts – I’ve since taken an art retreat with her. Chris has an unshakeable faith in the power of sacred art to change lives.
The Art Of Choosing A Life
I love this question of what it means to choose my life because I think it’s the only question that really matters. When my husband and I married, one of the lines in our wedding vows was: “I choose you today. And I look forward to a lifetime of choosing you EVERY day.” Choosing is just SO sexy. It puts me in the drivers seat of my life. Makes me feel so darn centered. Choice is another word for coming home to me.
So how do I do it? How do I REMEMBER to do it, which is probably an even more important question. Because choice requires being awake and like anyone else I fall asleep to myself on a regular basis.
A big part of that choosing is staying in touch with what I value. And the first step in that process is KNOWING what I value. Which means making the list. Defining those values clearly. Taking the time to articulate them.
The top values on my list are things like love, honesty, integrity, kindness, adventure, connection, respect, freedom, courage and creative expression. So if I have to make a choice about something I hold it up to the light of that list.
The other day I was on Facebook and I saw a post from someone that got me pissed. I immediately felt righteously indignant and wanted to tell them off.
And then I remembered that I don’t so much value being right. I like the FEELING of being right. For about five seconds. But what I value even more is honesty and connection.
So if I’m in a situation where I can either show how right I am or I can choose to communicate honestly while still maintaining connection, I’ll take the time to calm down the pissed off, hair trigger reactive part of me and think about how I can express what I TRULY value. Sometimes that means taking a big breath in the moment. More often it looks like stepping away for awhile and making space for all my cranky emotions without repressing them. It helps to go to my husband or a close friend where I feel safe enough to rant and rave and fully express myself.
By doing this, I maintain my value of respecting my process which includes being honest with all of my feelings. The ranting about a situation to a third party doesn’t HURT anyone and enables me to hold to my value of kindness. And not repressing what I feel keeps me aligned with my value of the freedom to be authentically myself.
This choice to be real and stay connected aligns me with a bunch of different values all at the same time. Which actually ends up feeling really good.
And that’s another way that I stay current with what I most value. It simply FEELS right. I have an inner compass in my belly and deep in my body that lets me know when I’m on the right track. In the above FB story, I will take a moment to imagine myself in the future AFTER I have expressed the anger. And in my future fantasy I also imagine how I will feel. I ask my belly for her opinion on the matter. And if I experience a sinking feeling in my stomach I know whatever I’m imagining is probably the wrong thing to do.
Choosing also requires being present and in the moment. Which means that I can’t make a rule about anything. Sometimes being angry is the exact RIGHT thing to do. When I’m on the right track, my belly opens up and feels full and expanded. I feel a deep connection to my core and a sense of groundedness. So I can’t unilaterally decide that I will NEVER speak or write in anger. There are times when expressing anger allows me to feel that full belly and to maintain my values of integrity, honesty and even love.
This doesn’t mean that I always choose to align with my values. Often, I just don’t have the courage or energy to confront someone or engage in conflict. Or to not eat that next chocolate chip cookie. And my belly is decidedly not happy. But at least I know I’m the one making that choice.
Knowing my values, staying connected to my body and having loads of validation for all of who I am are all things that support me in remembering that I have choice in most situations in my life.
This choice thing is a big deal and I take it pretty seriously. Mainly because at the center of my being I am an artist and making choices is the most reliable tool I have for creating an authentic life. One that feels like a pretty amazing work of art. And one that tastes deliciously like mine.
I feel like waving my arms over my head and saying, “Can I get a witness?” This is so juicy and truthful. Yes, yes, yes! And please do check out Chris’s first ever on-line intuitive painting course. For the first time ever, you can study with Chris from home. Learn more here: www.creativejuicesarts.com.
To the power of choice,