The more hearts I listen to the more convinced I become that we not only come into this world living, doing, playing, creating, dreaming, loving (and needing to be loved) in ways that are unique to us – that define us – we are meant to leave it having stayed true to them. They are the personality and preference traits that form the DNA of our Authentic Self. Some of us are the quiet, contemplative type, while others are restless and boisterous. Some love being in a crowd, while others of us seek solitude. Some love to be held, while others manifest their desire for independence almost from birth. Some of us intuitively color in the lines, others never will! Some love the outdoors, while others prefer the peace and quiet of their room. Some are writers, some are readers – others are both. Some are patient, others not so much. Some are sharers – of things and affection – while others are not.

As children, we explore, discover and playfully embrace these many facets of our self. We sense their power and our frailty, but neither keeps us from greeting each day with a renewed sense of wonder, adventure and anticipation. We feel our feelings openly and we love the same way – fully and unabashedly. Regrettably, however, as we grow older, many of us begin to question whether that self (our self) is good enough, strong enough, aesthetically pleasing enough, well-rounded enough and you-fill-in-the ______ enough to be part of the group we want, get the job we want, find the mate we want, have the lifestyle we want, earn the degree we want, have the friends we want, be the child we perceive our parents to want – and, invariably, we begin to tinker with it – with us. Some even go so far as to box pieces of themselves up like leftovers from a gourmet meal and stick them in the deep freeze, forgetting they’re even there.

We begin to think, dress, speak, feel and act in a different way – ways that others, who we wrongfully perceive to have this Life thing figured out (or who profess to have the right to dictate our view of self) dress, speak, feel and act. We change our hairstyle, make-up, accessories, behaviors, friends, beliefs, belongings, jobs, faith, the music and books we like, our hobbies, etc. We want to belong, to be accepted, to fit in. We want it desperately, mostly because we fear the alternative. More often than not, however, the farther we move away from our truth, the more impenetrable the accompanying darkness seems to get. The sense of joy we knew as children is replaced with what, at times, are overwhelming feelings of discouragement, sadness, loneliness, frustration – a loss of control. Where do those feelings come from? My sense is that they (and the behaviors sometimes used to numb them) are an inevitable by-product of becoming disconnected from our self.

If I’m right, the journey out of the darkness is less about change than it is about re-discovery and re-connection – a two-step process that first requires identifying the “you” that came into this world followed by a passionate commitment to welcoming that person and all they have to offer back into your life! Simply put, the pre-worldly-adorned “you” is precisely, uniquely – beautifully – the person you were intended to be all along and you and the world need to be re-introduced to her sooner, rather than later. The good news is: Because she is integral to who you are, you can be assured that, regardless of where you may be on your life journey or how many layers of others you may have piled on top of her, when you make the choice and commit to the work necessary to find your way back home, your Authentic Self will be eagerly waiting in the doorway for your arrival with warm, welcoming and open arms.

Homework Assignment: It’s easy to lose sight of “her” in the darkness. So do her a favor: Reach out to 5 people you trust, who knew you as a child, and ask them for the three character traits about you that first come to mind when they think about the childhood you. Maybe it’s a teacher, a pastor, a friend, a sports or arts coach, a sibling or parent. Then write them down. The ones that make you smile are the bread crumbs that will lead you home.

*Photo Credit: http://www.allquotepictures.com

On Dangling Participles


I have a friend who writes beautiful.

I didn’t say “beautifully” because I’m not at all sure if the commas, semi-colons, hyphens, and ellipses in every piece she writes are precisely where Messrs. Strunk & White would prefer them to be, if they should be there at all or if there should be more or less of them.

I’m also not entirely sure if every singular subject of hers is married to a singular verb or every plural subject to a plural verb, nor am I certain whether every sentence expresses a complete thought or if, God forbid, some qualify as a dreaded sentence fragment or, worse yet, a run-on.

I’m even less certain whether any of her prepositions, modifiers or participles are dangling or misplaced (in part, because I have no idea what some of those words mean!?!), whether her tenses always match up precisely or whether, from time to time, her parallelism is faulty and/or her infinitives split.

I’m also not qualified to say whether her pronouns or tenses shift on occasion (they likely do!), whether her verb endings are as precise as they might be or, more generally, whether, here or there, she could have conveyed a thought a little more succinctly, less “passively” or using a different word or phrase.

It certainly wouldn’t surprise me (and I doubt it would her) if some or all of these grammatical peculiarities found their way into her work, in part, because like musicians who play by ear, writers who write by heart seldom concern themselves with whether the finished product neatly conforms to the traditional stylistic rules of their craft.

They’re far more interested in its intangibles and, where those are concerned, I know these things about my friend’s writing with absolute certainty: Her words touch hearts – profoundly. They are a source of encouragement and strength to the weary and a warm blanket of reassurance to those questioning their adequacy.

They inspire hope and are soul-building.  They let others know they’re not alone in their feelings of guilt and shame – however misplaced – and that they are worthy and valued for who they are . . . where they are.  They are an outstretched hand to those who have stumbled and a desperately needed embrace for those who feel very much alone.

They also help others see and react to the world at large and, as importantly, to the person who greets them in the morning mirror with greater awareness, sensitivity, love, compassion, and grace.  They have a way of calming the crazy, bringing comfort to those in despair, and serving as a beacon of light to those battling the darkness.

I know because, at one time or another, they have been all of these things to me and so much more.  I know because of all the tears (of joy, of recognition, of being revealed, etc.) I’ve unabashedly shed in reading them and all the spontaneous heart smiles they have generated. Very few things have that impact on me, but beautiful does and I know beauty when I read it.

And I know I’m not alone.  In fact, don’t ask me how I know this, but of the tens of thousands of “comments” my friend’s writings generated in 2015, 2,168 readers said simply: “Beautiful”!  Imagine that – “beauty” in spite of a few misplaced modifiers, a dollop of dangling participles and a stray comma here or there.

That’s what happens when your heart takes pen in hand and pours itself onto the page. And for that (and you), my friend, I and countless others are eternally grateful.