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  • Writer's pictureJessica McQuistin

Self-Awareness: Seeing the Signs, Words of Wisdom & (More) Song-spiration

Do you believe in signs from the universe? I'm not sure what to think about all that but I do find it helpful to keep my mind open to mysterious possibilities, especially those that stimulate my imagination and inner-knowings that lurk beneath the everyday noise in my head.

Lately - by lately I mean for the past several weeks - Jann Arden's words have been cycling through my mind, fading into the background and then floating up into my mind's eye at all kinds of random moments. The other day they surfaced during a meditation practice. (Just when I was doing so well at clearing my mind of thoughts and words!) My first instinct was to shoo them away but instead I slowed them down, like a mantra, matching the phrases to my inhales and exhales. This felt like a peaceful resolution between the words I needed to hold onto and the meditative state I was after.

The lyrics that have been speaking to me are:

Feet on ground

Heart in hand

Facing forward

Be yourself

I love the whole song (Good Mother, 1994) but it's just these lines in particular that keep circulating in and out of my awareness.

I love the very simplicity of them. My interpretation of each line is roughly:

Feet on ground: Stay grounded.

Heart in hand: Keep in touch with your feelings and intuition. Lead with your heart.

Facing forward: Face the present - what's in front of you in this moment - head-on.

Be yourself: Be true to yourself. Embrace your whole, weird, wonderful, imperfect, creative, contradictory, complex self.

Somehow, all of that is conveyed in four straightforward utterances. (I want to call them commandments but that sounds too Biblical...Can I call them that anyway? Maybe just privately...)

Often, these words bring me comfort, as if an older, wiser, female relative is sharing her life's lessons with me. At times they are received with openness and gratitude. Other times, I want to snap back at her, something along the lines of, "Easy for you to say!" or "Easier said than done, lady!" The last line especially - Be yourself - conjures that occasional defensive response from within me. For some reason, to me, that simple commandment - there I go using that word again - to "be yourself" sometimes feels like the hardest thing in the world to actually do. (I could probably write a whole other post on this but there are other points I want to get to today...)

Not only has Jann been singing this refrain in my mind for weeks, but as I walked up to a display shelf at the library a few days ago, her memoir If I Knew Then caught my eye. I grabbed it and read the whole thing in a couple of days. I could fill pages and pages with quotable paragraphs from her book but the four words I most needed to read were,

"It takes a lifetime."

She was referring to the journey of knowing and being yourself. Jann, thanks for clarifying! No wonder the task of being oneself feels so immense...It takes a lifetime. (Phew!)

I will share one other quote from the book that inspired me to pick it up in the first place. It's the one on the back cover:

Yes, it is possible to bloom extremely late in life. I am blooming as I sit here. I can feel myself blooming. You can never stop blooming, people. That's the best part of being a human being.
- Jann Arden

Perhaps that's one of the reasons it takes a lifetime to truly know and be yourself. Even as you're getting to know yourself, you're constantly changing and growing, so it's not a one-and-done deal.

This past weekend, my son and I went for a bike/jog (him on the bike, me on my feet). We took a different turn down a familiar path and look what we came across:

Graffiti hearts and the words "Be yourself"

So here I am writing this post. The universe has guided me to do so. Or my imagination has allowed me to piece all of these coincidences together in a way that pleases me. Either way, I hope you find some inspiration throughout your day today, whether it's through song lyrics that speak to you, or literal "writing on the wall".


For more song-spiration, check out this earlier post:

Self-Awareness, Song-spiration & Building Structure for Self-Care

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