Where I'm coming from
We're more than half-way through the maiden voyage of my Life is the First Art course and I have to tell you, it has been life changing for me. We're covering more ground than I anticipated and I must applaud each and every one of this first group for their full participation, willingness to do the work and for allowing their true radiant selves to shine through. Each week, I am stunned by their unfurling growth. It's truly an honor to witness, and I'm prompted to give credit where credit is due.
If you've worked with me, you know that I am all about foundation. Without a solid foundation, anything we build, including that most fundamental creation of all—our lives, may not withstand the pressure of adversity. In so many, many ways, I had the great fortune of an awesome foundation.
I hear my mother's voice in my mind, "Remember, Suzanne, Life is the First Art!" That phrase, like many things my mother said, has run through my mind ever since. I always thought she was quoting someone but when I looked high and low for the source of that quote, I came up with nothing. It's hers.
The bookshelves in my family's house were lined with Shakespeare, biographies of composers, volumes of poetry and histories along with Gayelord Hauser (Look Younger, Live Longer), Napoleon Hill (Think and Grow Rich), Dale Carnegie (How To Win Friends and Influence People), Dr. Herman Taller (Calories Don't Count), Thomas Merton (The Seven Story Mountain), James Allen (As A Man Thinketh), William James (The Will To Believe), Carl Rogers (On Becoming A Person), The Wisdom of Confucius, and other gems on health, spirituality, Art and human potential.
My mother was a poet, artist and musician who did not fully realized her talents. I am not sure today if that really matters but it mattered to me once so much so that I have spent most of my life working to realize my own and I have, to the best of my ability.
My father was, amongst other things, an avid health nut. He jogged before it became a craze and swam a mile a day. Our kitchen was stocked with black strap molasses, honey comb, protein bread and grapefruit. He went to six o'clock mass every weekday morning and never said a word about it.
Both of my parents would often break into cheery song. it was a rich experience and laid a solid foundation for me in spirit, health, culture, and human potential. I'm grateful that I've been able to share what I built upon this foundation.
For the sake of Facebook (!) I found what may be the only remaining photo of my mother and me.
The most important lesson
The books on my parents' shelves were not just titles and authors' words on bindings and paper, they were ideas, prescriptions for living, expansions of consciousness.
Perhaps the most important thing to learn in life is to love and accept yourself. Because we're human, it's a challenge, and a practice. It's the precursor to "Do unto others..."
Here's a quote from one of the books on my parents' shelves.
"One way of putting this is that I feel I have become more adequate in letting myself be what I am. It becomes easier for me to accept myself as a decidedly imperfect person, who by no means functions at all times in the way in which I would like to function.How to get unconditional love? Love and accept yourself truly, madly, deeply.
"This must seem to some like a very strange direction in which to move. It seems to me to have value because the curious paradox is that when I accept myself as I am, then I change. I believe that I have learned this from my clients as well as within my own experience - that we cannot change, we cannot move away from what we are, until we thoroughly accept what we are. Then change seems to come about almost unnoticed."
—Carl Rogers, On Becoming A Person
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