Kanta Bosniak "Becoming Who You Really Are"
Thoughts about "The Becoming Process," a transformational model for full-tilt life developed by Kanta Bosniak, author of Surviving Cancer and Other Tough Stuff: An Illustrated Journal for Healthy and Abundant Life and Becoming Who You Really Are
The Tender Tyrant and Other Muses
This morning I awakened hearing words: an aural tapestry of interweaving conversation with old and new friends...reverberating and opening up pathways of thought that joined together. Such a juicy time, waking up.
As I sat in the dentist's chair yesterday, the dental assistant was jokingly telling Dr. Y that she thought a particular patient didn't like him. "How can anyone not like you?" I said, playfully and sincerely at the same time.
"I know," he grinned at me, "That's just crazy talk!"
As the dark roast bubbled and brewed I recalled the words of my son's former drama teacher, commenting on the dramas of life, with empathy and wisdom.
"There are many things to recover from" she wrote.
"I don't feel comfortable with the marketing part of writing," said another dear old friend, a beloved Wisewoman who happens to be talented up the wazoo in multiple forms of artistic and healing expression.
So many things to recover from, I thought. I heard the voice of my father, who when he got ready to fly, became the good friend that he always really was.
As a young man tortured by shame, he was shouting "Who do you think you are?" to the seven year old me who had, in an an unusually off-guard moment, expressed a thought out loud. The same "shut up" message came through words and random violence from my mentally ill (and also shame-filled) mother, whose own creativity could be stifled and distorted but never silenced.
We are all muses to each other.
Why do we silence ourselves and our children? Why would we be afraid to engage with life "out there"? Why do we fear asking for what we want? Why do we create sad and angry victim stories in which we're so afraid of what we think we're "up against", that we hold back, withdraw, and become mute dreamers, in a state of chronic longing?
Follow all of the streams of all the sad and angry victim stories back to their origination point and you find the toxic shame, self-judgment and fear of the ego...and its fundamental, mistaken belief that we're in big trouble...that our Creator is capricious, jealous, and disapproving.
We fear the judgement that we have already made. It is we who are judge-MENTAL. We are all suffering from this mental illness to some extent or another. The malady that constricts our self-expression, lest we be judged some more. Fear.
But help shows up for us, sometimes in surprising forms....bullies to help us find our courage. Imaginary monsters to test our readiness to clear the vocal pathway.
One of my major muses in public self-expression was the terrifying Mary Brewer, the music teacher and director of both the chorus and the Little Choir at Germantown Friends School. Short of stature and ferociously committed, she would do anything, whatever it took, to cajole and bully us into producing sonic beauty. She scared me silly.
At home, I privately sang all the time...in my room, on solitary walks in the woods, and (of course) in the shower. I collected copies of the folk music magazine "Sing Out!" And every day, I'd haul out my well-worn "Joan Baez Songbook" and accompany myself on guitar, singing sad Scottish ballads and songs of hope for "this land...made for you and me."
In choir, when I could blend with others, my voice flowed out, a pretty, reasonably strong second soprano. But when singled out, fear and shame constricted my vocal apparatus. When we began rehearsals on a piece called "The Street Cries of London," I panicked. I would have to do a solo. I was to be the voice of a fruit vendor.
Miss Brewer's stern gaze fell on me as I sqeaked out my part. "Louder!" she demanded. "Again!" All eyes were on me.
"Fine Seville oranges, fine lemons!" a little louder, still tentative and wishing I could run.
"Again, louder! Come on, open up!" She kept at me, not letting up. It wasn't going to end. She was going to turn My Fair Lady into Eliza Dolittle if it took all day.
Finally I got mad, and let it fly. This sound came out that shocked me, Miss Brewer and the everyone present. It was beautiful, just like she knew it would be.
"That's it! You did it!" She beamed a triumphant smile. Triumph not over me but with me. Like a midwife ...or a mother. In that instant, my hate for her morphed to love and gratitude. She opened up my life to all that I most love!
My voice became activated in that choir room in that awe-ful moment. I began to speak in Quaker meetings for workship and later. Teaching, ministry, coaching, recording, uncensored, happy painting. All of it!
"Who do you think you are?" is now an empowering question to me. It invites me to bigger, wider self-expression, and more fun. I offer it to you for consideration. I hope you think you're wonderful! Anything less you tell yourself is just "crazy talk."
Wishing you self-acceptance and the trust to ask for what you want, speak your truth and share your beauty. And may your waking up experience be as juicy and sweet as a fine, seville orange.