The Spectre of Self

Spec*tre

a ghost.

  • something widely feared as a possible unpleasant or dangerous occurance

e.g. “the spectre of war”

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“We all have a social mask, right? We put it on, we go out, put our best foot forward, our best image. But behind that social mask is a personal truth, what we really, really believe about who we are and what we’re capable of.” – Phil McGraw

“The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask.” – Jim Morrison

It can be the most difficult thing in the world to honestly be yourself.  Being who we truly are begins to be socialized out of us in early childhood.  We learn how to please others because we are taught that pleasing others is more important than pleasing ourselves.  We are taught that we are better people if we put ourselves aside and present to the world what the world wants us to be.  We learn how to wear masks to suite the people, places and situations in our lives.  We learn that being ourselves can be excruciatingly painful, because being ourselves makes us vulnerable.  If they see our true colours, they can criticize us, laugh at us, or reject us.  We are social creatures, so we begin to believe that fitting in and being the same is safer and more comfortable. The truth is, it causes more damage to us and those around us than being ourselves ever will.  When we are our truest selves we have so much more to offer the world that only we can give.  Wearing masks to protect our vulnerability dims the powerful light that is within each of us and weakens our ability to let it out and benefit the world.

So we suppress our truest spirit.  We put on a brave face when we are scared, a happy face when we are sad, an agreeable face when we are angry.  We pretend that we like things that we don’t, we compromise when we are fundamentally opposed to something that’s important to us, and we tell ourselves that we are being nice, and keeping the peace.  We wouldn’t want to rock the boat now would we?  But is it actually being nice and keeping the peace, or are we just trading the potential conflict with others with a very real and very immediate conflict within ourselves?  We are so afraid of what others might think of us, that we have given them all the power and have placed more significance on what they think than what we think of ourselves, and it slowly eats at our spirit.  In reality, we end up more lonely, isolated and insignificant by letting that fear rule us, than we would be if we just allowed ourselves to be authentic.

I am not saying that we should all air our dirty laundry, or go around telling everyone the details of our exceptionally crappy day when they ask how we are.  You can be real without being negative, complaining or wallowing in self pity. You can look your unhappiness or discomfort in the face, admit to it, talk to a friend or loved-one about it and then, put your energy into a solution. I do believe in the power of positivity.  I do believe in looking for the good in all situations, and I do believe in compromise for the greater good.  I don’t however, believe that these things should be done when they are in direct conflict with your truest self.  If the foot you put forward for the world to see requires you to lie to yourself about who you are and how you really feel, you do the world a great dis-service.

It’s time to throw off the veil.  Time to come out of the shadows and let the world see you.  Time to take off all the different masks we wear and be brave enough to look criticism and conflict in the eye and realize that avoiding it is not more important and less painful than being honest with yourself and finding your true place in the world.  The world needs you.  The authentic you.  The most beautiful part of this is that all we really want is love and belonging and the more of us that throw off the veil, the more authentic people there will be in the world to have real and meaningful relationships with.  The more we allow ourselves to be known, the more we allow others to be known.  Freedom and authenticity are contagious.

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Michael Sanders, Electric Monk Media

MODELS, HAIR & MAKEUP: Leanne Sanders and Tara Cole-McCaffrey

STYLING: Patron of Dreams

VINTAGE: White dresses, shawls and scarves from The Goodwill Store in Winnipeg

CRYSTALS and STONES: Shakti in Winnipeg

Kaleidoscope Heart & Soul

Oh! joy for he who has escaped from this world of perfumes and color! For beyond these colors and these perfumes, these are other colors in the heart and the soul.
-Rumi

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Today is April 5th and it snowed. Giant floating fluffy white snowflakes. A thick white blanket covered the entire city within a couple of hours.  Where I’m from this is not an uncommon occurrence this time of year.  In fact, it’s quite common. Yet it still elicits an intense reaction from even those of us who have lived here our entire lives. You can actually feel the tension in the city.  It’s tangible.  The reactions range from mild irritation, to overwhelming frustration, to absolute disgust and anger.

Why do we do this to ourselves?!  It is a choice after all.  Not the snow, although you can move if you hate it, but how we choose to feel about it.  How we choose to see things and react to them is one of our most valuable abilities. I would go as far as to say that how we choose to react to our current reality is possibly the most important factor in how happy our life will be!  Yet, we are so trained as a society to be reactionary to our current situation or surroundings like everything is happening to us and we are victims of some unknown force that is trying to keep us down and make us miserable.  Are we crazy?  What an insane way to go through life?  As much as our 5 senses are a gift, which allow us different ways to experience our current reality, they can also be our downfall!  2 days ago, I was on vacation in Phoenix, Arizona.  It was hot and sunny, the air was filled with the smell of newly blooming desert flowers and I spent most of my time listening to my kids laughing and splashing in the pool. Everything I ate tasted better there.  It was heaven.  Today, it’s cold and wet, there is no smell because everything is frozen, and I heard so many people complaining about the weather it was baffling. I don’t even remember what I ate today. But, today is only today.  A drop in the bucket of a lifetime, and tomorrow will have something new to offer. What if I don’t particularly like what tomorrow has to offer, am I going to complain tomorrow too?!  How long will this go on?  Maybe it will continue until I lighten up enough that something I do particularly like happens.  Then will I be happy?  Do you see where I’m going  with this?  If we are so dependent on the circumstances of our life to decide how we are going to feel about our life, we are essentially choosing to be victims of life.  How sad is that? Shouldn’t we be deciding for ourselves how our life is going to be?  I don’t mean choosing each experience and circumstance.  I mean how we choose to feel about each experience and circumstance that comes our way.  I do believe we have much more ability to choose our reality than we are currently tapped into…but that’s another blog post!

Why not look at your life as a gift.  Possibly the greatest gift you have ever been given!  Look at each moment with wonder, like a child.  Have you ever seen a group of kids sitting around and bitching about the weather?  No!  It snowed in April, so they built a snowman and told everyone they saw about it with complete joy and exuberance!  When did we start using our senses to decide if we like things or not, instead of just experiencing things? It’s just black or white.  Good or bad.  Right or wrong. And we feel the need to share each harsh opinion with every single person we encounter!  Why can’t we just observe, and if we don’t like it, move on without reaction. Why must we waste so much energy on what we don’t like, when we can turn our attention to the things that make our hearts sing.

So, you don’t like snow in April, me neither, but I’m not about to waste my whole day focusing on it.  Sometimes, if you don’t like what you are looking at, you should look at it differently and suddenly it becomes something different.  In the absence of colour and smell and warmth, you can create your own.  When was the last time you looked at the world through a kaleidoscope?  Snow and ice as far as the eye can see, until you look through a different lens and suddenly everything is magic!  The beautiful thing is, you don’t need a kaleidoscope to do this, you just need your heart, your soul and your imagination which you carry with you at all times.  It works the same, but the effects are even more magical because there are no limits!

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“You can get to where you want to be from wherever you are—but you must stop spending so much time noticing and talking about what you do not like about where you are.”
― Esther Hicks

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”                                           – Wayne Dyer

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY: Gregory Chomichuk 

HAIR, MAKEUP, MODELLING & STYLING BY: Tara Cole-McCaffrey, Patron of Dreams

CURRENT FASHION: Velvet bellbottoms from Lenni the Label

THRIFTED: Boots, dress, coat, scarf, vest, arm warmers and hat.  Special thanks to my son’s pre-school teacher Mrs. May for snagging this amazing wrap-skirt for me before it was donated.  It will be worn with love!

*Thank you to my sons for lending me your kaleidoscope and reminding me daily that I have one of my own with me at all times.* 

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