Knowing the authentic heart of you, the centrepiece, helps you to focus, prioritise and combine your unique threads so you can shine.
There are some central components of you that come together that are pivotal to how you want to work and shine. And there’s often that one piece that lights up the others from within and makes sense of them all.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the authentic heart lately, this unique core that coalesces all the others. It seems the energy is right for getting clear on what really matters: the piece that spins and drives all the others. The one that makes you shine and polishes everything else into a shiny constellation of stars and planets.
Sometimes it takes a little searching and reflecting.
The journey back
About a year ago, I began a journey of transition back to a life that more fully reflects me. Work had taken over and important pieces of me were missing in action. I’m reading David Whyte’s Crossing the Unknown Sea right now. These words I read last night described how I felt when that time hit:
When you get to the bottom, you’ll find everything you’ve disowned and thrown away from yourself lying around on the ground. (P126)
I’ve talked about wholehearted and how this means so much to me. It’s about being whole and finding our meaning, whether it be in work or other contexts. For me, this time was the opposite. You could call it stress or burnout, but I reached a point where the person I was, day in, day out, was not what I wanted to be.
So I began the search to gather back the pieces that were missing.
Beacons of light and stepping stones
In the solitude spaces of my busy days, I searched for the authentic parts that were missing in action. My long commute became the kernel of the way back.
I listened to podcasts that kept my writing ambitions alive especially The Creative Penn. I’ve enjoyed this podcast for years as a beacon for the life I want. Its host, Joanna Penn is the role model who shows me it’s possible. I know I can achieve this – living a writing life, having a self-sustaining creative lifestyle. So when unable to do this immediately, I learned about this way of being and writing as much as I could, every day on my way to work. It was a practical way of keeping the dream alive.
Elizabeth Gilbert, her Big Magic book and Magic Lessons podcast were also lighthouses that helped me find my way. Driving through the national park where I live, heading to the train, I had moments of realisation that kept the trail bright. In one episode, there was a conversation about being on the runway for a long time which hit straight to my heart. I felt like I’ve been preparing forever. The reminder that ‘the action is here’ was poignant. I realised that the time for creativity is now.
My friend, Victoria Smith kept me going through this period via her course Softly Wild. It helped me connect pieces I had lost and discover new ones. I also reached out to Victoria for help with life coaching through a coaching series. It was time to identify the transition path back to my wholehearted self. Victoria had been through similar experiences. With her experience and skill, she could help light the way and hold my hand on the journey.
The authentic heart of me
I identified a path back about nine months ago. It involved transitioning to a self-sustaining creative lifestyle. It had as its core tenets: writing, life coaching, personality/Myers-Briggs Type Indicator certification and intuition skills via tarot.
I identified the key elements of learning as:
- Beautiful You Life Coaching Academy course
- Certification in personality type assessment (MBTI) via the Majors Personality Type Inventory based on Jung/Myers-Briggs theory
- A deep dive into the intuitive art of tarot (via daily practice, study and Susannah Conway’s 78 Mirrors e-course)
And the central element and authentic heart of it all was writing. Quiet writing: my practice, my discipline and the sharing of this; the ability to produce books, blog posts and other pieces that reflected my heart. Writing as quiet influence, as voice, creating my story and sharing it.
In recent weeks, I’ve been circling back to writing as the authentic heart as I finish my Beautiful You Life Coaching course and refine my business focus. And coaching has helped me to define this. As part of completing our Beautiful You certification requirements, I chose to work with writing coach Caroline Donahue to make sure this authentic heart of Quiet Writing was not lost in transition.
Writing daily as my creative practice and working on larger creative non-fiction pieces and writing a novel is central to my business. If I’m not authentically and creatively me – writing day in and day out, showing up, making time for the longer pieces I have outlined or the ones there in my heart, it’s not genuine. I am only able to help others with their creative lives and careers through my own writing and coaching practice of living this every day.
Writing as creative practice
So as I further craft my coaching and writing business, its brand and focus, I know that writing is the authentic heart. It’s why my business name and website is Quiet Writing. The twin hemispheres of writing and coaching, joined by the thread of creativity, are at the centre. But writing is the heartbeat and leader. It’s about the process of becoming, of artistry, of being more wholehearted in the every day, crafting and creating ourselves and our lives. And if I am not doing that myself through my own creative practice, it’s a hollow story.
I’m always writing in my life in some way but recently, I’ve started showing up to writing more. I start the day with journaling via Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages now. It’s been calling to me for a while and I knew it was what I had to do. It’s a kind of first principle – the first lesson in Susan M. Tiberghien’s One Year to a Writing Life.
The first step towards a writing life – and its foundation – is journal writing. To write well takes practice….Your daily life calls you in a thousand directions; journal writing centers you.
It seems so obvious and so simple. And as Julia Cameron explains, it is:
Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page…and then do three more pages tomorrow.
The power of writing these three pages before doing anything else is immense. I’m connecting deeply, I’m resolving things, I’m writing poetry which I haven’t done for a while and I’m freeing myself up for other writing.
I’ve committed to Tarot Narratives each day on Instagram. This is writing centred around tarot and oracle and crafting a creative, intuitive message linked to a book or other influence. It’s a practice I was doing anyway each day so it made sense to share it to inspire others’ creativity. The synchronicity and creative connection have been amazing. It’s now a deep part of my creative practice, linking intuition and writing.
I’m writing two blog posts a week here and I’m working on guest blog posts as well. This practice of showing up here at Quiet Writing in a committed, deep way is helping creative flow. I feel I am hitting my writing stride more comfortably now. I’ve struggled with this: is it better to wait till inspiration strikes or commit to two days a week? Well, I’m doing both and seems to be working well for me right now. I am a writer so I need to be writing!
Working on guest blog posts is another way of honing my voice in areas close to my heart: personality, leadership, introvert strengths, intuition, self-leadership, creativity and being wholehearted. Writing for different audiences and contexts is stretching my writing muscles. I’m studying my readability, the headlines I choose and watching my tendency to overuse the passive voice so I can get my message across more clearly.
And in a big shift last week, I’ve realised I have to make my longer creative projects a higher priority. For example, there’s the book I’ve nearly finished for Quiet Writing subscribers on the books that have influenced me; the novel that I want to write that was actually the genesis of all this; and the signature pieces for Quiet Writing that I have outlined, ready to be written and created. Through listening to this podcast and working with my writing coach, Caroline, I’ve committed to making the longer pieces a priority, like an appointment in my calendar.
So writing is my creative practice and I’m finally finding a place for it in my days as a priority.
Discovering our authentic centrepiece
There’s a lot of messages around right now about finding your authentic centrepiece. This week’s post from Nicole Cody is about reclaiming your dreams:
Inside, our dreams continue to burn. Ideas flicker, waiting for a breeze to fan the flame. Our long-neglected interests and hobbies need only a ray of sunshine and a little fresh air to spring back into being.
This week those dreams and longings begin to come back into focus. A little more of ourselves is restored. Our courage grows.
That’s exactly what it feels like for me as I refocus on writing as my centrepiece.
No matter what it is, keeping that light of you burning brightly as your authentic heart will help make sense of so much.
There are so many ways we can discover – or rediscover – our compass or centre around which everything else pivots.
Practical strategies for finding your authentic heart
Here are some practical strategies for finding that centrepiece and authentic heart:
1 Journaling, morning pages, dialoguing with the self
Make time for journaling, morning pages, dialoguing with yourself or any other form of writing to tap into your inner voice. That ability to hear your voice on the page and settle yourself is the source of so much wisdom. The solitude afforded is in itself is a valuable teacher.
2 Working with a Life Coach
As you can see from my story above, working with a Life Coach is such a valuable way to be supported in hearing your inner voice. A coach holds space for you, asks questions to enable reflection and suggests resources and options to explore to help make change. This is a gift of personal investment to enable powerful discovery and behaviour change in line with your goals.
3 Reflecting on the threads that reoccur in your body of work
Identifying the threads that reappear in your life’s work across its manifestations is a valuable way to reflect on your journey and story. As Pamela Slim defines in Body of Work:
Your body of work is everything you create, contribute, affect, and impact.
Taking this broader view of all your contributions and creations enable you to step back and see the passions that drive you. You can identify the common connections and from this, gain a new perspective on life, career and creativity options.
4 Thinking about your shadow career
As Steven Pressfield explains in Turning Pro, sometimes when we’re afraid of our real calling, we’ll follow a shadow career instead. This might mean living the writer’s lifestyle without actually writing or writing in a corporate context when you really want to be writing a novel. My work life in recent years has featured strategic policy writing, speech writing and writing for the media. I enjoyed this writing but it wasn’t the work I really wanted to be doing or the writing of my heart.
As Pressfield says:
If you’re dissatisfied with your current life, ask yourself what your current life is a metaphor for. That metaphor will point you to your true calling. (P13)
5 Thinking about the books you love as clues and evidence
Think about the books you love as a form of evidence. Look at your bookshelves. What’s the predominant story and style? What’s the genre? Has it been lost along the way? What ignites your heart?
6 Brainstorming and visual maps to find the common threads
Mind-mapping, journaling, vision boards, Pinterest, brainstorming and writing lists are all valuable tools to get to the common threads of your work. Some are more right-brained and some are more left-brained. So mix it up so you can access different angles and see your work from a number of views to uncover the golden threads that connect.
7 Intuitive work such as tarot or oracle to tap into your inner voice
Tarot and oracle are great intuitive tools to tap into your wisdom and listen to your inner voice. Intuitive writing or any other stream of consciousness approach is another way to access your intuition. Regularly making time for the practice of intuition in whatever works for you helps tune into the heart of your creative energies.
8 Writing down what your ideal day looks and feels like
Writing what your ideal day looks like is excellent for insight into what you really want. I’ve done this a few times over the years and the core threads are pretty similar over time. Find out how you really want to spend your time. This helps you recognise it when you start to get glimpses or finally achieve a measure of success. You might have already achieved your ideal day in some respects that you can build on.
9 Tuning into what others are saying about you and your gifts
We get a lot of clues from what people say about us but often we are not fully listening or keeping track. What are others saying they appreciate about you? Your calmness, your ability to listen, your creativity, how they relate to your writing, your use of colour? Pay attention to feedback, keep a record and notice what is being reflected back as insight into your gifts and purpose.
What’s your authentic heart?
So what’s your authentic heart? The practice, the creative work, the combining principle, the thread that ties it all together?
That sense of cut-through to the new idea or recurring touchstone that will help shape everything. It may have already arrived or might be in the process of evolving. It might be an awareness, a piece around self-belief, maybe a forgotten love, that’s become buried in the busy layers of your day.
It’s about finding our passion, our fire and being open to it. It’s true all this integration can be a little tiring, so take a rest when you need to. Just stepping away and resting or exercising, can be clarifying and help the central narrative or missing piece fall into place in a practical way.
So I’d love to hear:
Where are you keeping a light in your heart?
What are the beacons in your day showing the way back to?
What are the shadows showing up and highlighting?
What’s the authentic heart and centrepiece for you?
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