Last night’s joy circle was graced by Margot Robinson, a sculptor, artist, author, public speaking coach, and ecstatic dancer who came to share the wisdom she’s learned along the way. We opened with a round of brags: one of us bragged that she had finally finished her grueling separation paperwork, another that she had managed a heartbreakingly difficult week without running away or collapsing. One of us had an incredible business opportunity land in her lap after following the lead of her heart, and one had designed an academic major that brought her personal passions into line with her academic work.
It is wonderful to sit in that circle and be reminded of the daily bravery this life takes, to take a moment and appreciate how sincerely we take this business of living, even when it gets painfully hard. One woman shared gratitude for her cloud of witnesses, remarking that many in her support system are women who had “been made stronger than they should have to be” and how well that strength, born of struggle, had served her in her own difficult times.
After rose petal chai and sprouted-flour banana muffins we congregated again by candlelight to hear what Margot had to say. She first asked: “if you had one question to ask someone wise in the ways of life, what would it be?” The circle responded:
“How do you care for yourself in the face of the press of daily obligations?”
“How do you get past the fear?”
“When some of your beliefs step on the toes of other beliefs, how do you know which way to follow?”
“How do I find my message, know what I’m supposed to do in this world?”
“How do I support the work I know I’m meant to do, take care of the money and food and housing part?”
And Margot shared her wisdom. Paraphrased:
- There is only love and fear. Everything in your life can be broken down into fear-based and love-based causation. As much as possible, stay with love, act from love, move toward love. Fear messes you up. When you are feeling and acting from love, fear cannot exist.
- Your mind is not your friend. Don’t listen to it. It chatters on and on, and if you take the time to write down what it is saying, you will be horrified at how critical and negative its message is. Listen to your heart instead. If something feels good in your heart, let that lead you. Act in its service, follow up on its leadings bravely, and you will find your way.
- Acting from the mind serves the ego, but acting from the heart opens us up to higher, larger, more profound purpose—serving all instead of one.
- Your life is nobody else’s business. Others’ lives are not your business. You are not here to rescue others, or judge them, or solve their problems. You can reach out, you can bless them, but their problems and triumphs and ways of being are their own. So are yours. Others’ thoughts about your life do not concern you. Live from your own center.
- Take time every day to meditate. This can be as simple as a single breath: breathing in, draw the power from the earth through your feet. Breathing out, pull down the energy of the sky. Or sit with your palms upward on your knees, and listen to the heart. Respectfully tell the mind to shut up.
- Joy cannot be experienced anywhere but in the present moment. That buoyancy, that exuberance, is the quality of being fully present, nothing more. It is not reliant upon circumstance. It is not dependent upon the fulfillment of specific desires. It requires only our attention and willingness.
When we closed the circle, there was a palpable change from the place we’d begun. We were charged, relaxed, enchanted. Margot had shared the way she became a sculptor: someone remarked upon a piece she’d made years ago. Margot replied that she hadn’t worked with clay in years and hadn’t thought she’d sculpt again. But she felt a twinge, and she followed through on it. She took a few technique courses and threw herself into working with clay. She lets the clay shape itself as she is led, and the response to her work has been profound, emotional, visceral.
Why is this so hard for us to believe? When we live from the center of ourselves, unconcerned with the judgments or beliefs of others, we are not being selfish. We are blessing the world around us.
See more of Margot’s work at margotsrobinson.com.
- Women’s Joy Circle: Celebrating Beauty (truebeautyalways.com)
- Women’s Joy Circle: on receiving (truebeautyalways.com)
- You can learn a lot from circles (lifeinzuri.wordpress.com)
- Authentic Living (creative-guru.com)
- How to Ditch Shame and Speak Up (women2.com)
- The Myth of Balance (pathwaysofwisdom.wordpress.com)