How to Harness the Power of Authenticity in Your Writing and Your Life

Style Statement coverAuthenticity is not for the faint of heart. To fly in the face of history, circumstance and uncertainty, with your truth fully unfurled, takes some serious moxy. When you want to love and be loved (and what else is there really?) your truth becomes a very tender thing, and sharing it is a mighty gift. So perhaps being genuine is an every day act of heroism. ~ Danielle Laporte  and Carrie McCarthy (from Style Statement: Live by Your Own Design)

This is a long post; it wasn’t meant to be. It blossomed. I could have chopped it up, spread it out, but I chose not to. I feel it’s important.

It dawned on me that I can just leave this post  up for a while, let you sit with it, give you time to maybe come back and share some of your responses and creations with us. I had a dream of this being a soulfood café-bistro, so this is a long, leisurely Greek meal of a read, with a variety of mezedhes, salads, main dishes, bread, fruit and wine. I hope you find something you like. Why don’t you grab a glass of something fresh or put the kettle on…

This is a taste of what I hope to be exploring in the coming weeks. This is my heart, who I am. It’s my way of saying thank you for visiting. There are many wonderful blogs out there. I’m glad you came here.

If you want to know how to harness the power of authenticity, to improve your writing  – and your life – here are the answers;  it’s up to you to live the questions. You have time. You have a lifetime.

Enjoy being as much as doing.

Try writing a To be/Do/Have list and not just a To Do list. Maybe just try a To Be list for the day and stick to it. Today, I want to be a devoted mum, a serene friend, an inspiring writer. What about you?

Be you.

Don’t just skim this one. Are you trying to be the next ………? How about being the first YOU. In this blog, you’ll always find questions to discover who you are. It’s like drinking water. One glass may be good for you, but it doesn’t end there.

Strive to be your best self…

Overdeliver, in everything you do. Build reserves of trust, respect, energy, goodwill, wellbeing. Edit like you were going for a Pullitzer, even if you’re the boss of your own blog. Write endless drafts, but cherish the best. Write like you’re writing to repay the gift of life itself.

…but love your whole self.

Strive to be your best self, but love yourself with the unconditional love you’d give a baby, or a toddler who’s just learning. All of our drafts are necessary. In the big scheme of things, we’re all children of the universe, learning from our mistakes every day of our lives, overwhelmed and striving to keep up; our memes are exploding exponentially while our genes  – a relic of earlier millenia – can just about handle love, fear, anger and the need to belong.

Be comfortable with silence.

Inspiration slips in through the silences between the thoughts.

Be present.

Give what you’re doing this very second your undivided attention. This is the only moment of life you will ever have. The past is gone; the future does not exist. This is it. Make it good. Thank you for reading this. To gift our community  with your presence is awesome.

Listen to others with your whole being.

It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give anyone, listening with empathy, love, respect, kindness – not chomping at the bit, preparing your own response, desperate to give advice or talk about yourself, even if it’s to prove your credentials for being able to empathise. If you give people this attention while you listen, when you read, it will be returned  – by the people you need it from and by the universe itself.

Taking notes, immortalising quotes as you read a book or a blog is sending a message to the universe that you’re really listening, that you’re open to the wisdom of others, to signposts sent straight to your soul.

Listen to the sound of your inner voice.

Listen to its wisdom, its colours, its rhythm. That’s your unique voice, right there. Transcribe it!

You have the answers already; all you need are the right questions to unlock them. Check in with your gut. How does your body feel about your choices? Is there discomfort? Learn to trust your instincts, really trust them.

And listen to the voice that speaks, that reads aloud in your head. Write it down: listen to which words it stresses, to the increased peaks and dips where your natural intonation goes up and down, when you’re excited, gushing and happy; listen to how it slows down when you’re stressed, sad…weary. Capture those rhythms, inflections, silences.

I’ll be doing further posts on this. It’s an obsession, a passion of mine.

Love details  – live details with all of your senses.

Another obsession. How can you be happy if you’re not grateful? How can you be grateful if you don’t notice? How can you attract abundance if you’re not grateful for what you already have?

We all need to have a big picture, a framework for our lives, the border of our jigsaw, the fabric of our tapestry – but it’s the details that make us feel rich, make us feel alive, make us unique. Use all of your senses. Listen more, smell more, relish every morsel of life, make every day a feast for the senses.

Discover your essence.

What would be left if your body evaporated and your mind, heart and soul were transplanted? The clues are in everything and everyone you love.

Discover what you adore.

Your choices, your preferences, your passions, what you choose to filter through you are all windows to who you are. So choose with your heart and soul, not just your head. But choose! If you’re lucky enough to be able to eat an apple, drink clean, clear water, why would you want to choose to drink  litres of brown sweeteners, carbon dioxide and chemicals?

Express that essence.

Why skim, scrape, swipe, emulate and live on the surface, in the shadows when you could be telling the only story that hasn’t been told yet – yours!

Express your essence in what you wear, what you read, what you eat, who you keep company with, what you contribute, how you celebrate your rituals, how you adorn your home, how you listen, how you converse, how you bring flavour and fragrance and music and movement to your life. Express your essence in every semi colon, font, plugin, widget, button, colour and photo on your website, in every word, syllable and silence of your writing.

Strunk and White have this advice for all writers: ” Your whole duty as a writer is to please and satisfy yourself, and the true writer always plays to an audience of one.”

The same applies to being yourself, to loving yourself. How can we love others as ourselves – as we are told to do by every religion – if we do not first love ourselves, and love ourselves well.

Long to connect.

If you treat people like traffic passing through your life, someday you’ll be run over, or left behind to smother in the smog.

There are hearts out there to capture, real people to reach and inspire and support with your gifts. Money’s good – it buys food, clothes and education, medicine and shelter, entertainment and art. The more you have, the more good you can do. But it’s not the only form of currency. Don’t buy financial abundance with your soul.

Long to leave a legacy.

The love and memories you leave behind, the people you touch, your words and gestures scattered across the internet, around the world, they’re your legacy. What’s your message, your authentic message, the voice that makes you unique?

Be brave, be vulnerable.

Be brave enough to explore the depths, to find a way out and shine a light for others to find theirs. Don’t be scared to live, to hold out your heart in both hands like a trembling bird and say “Here I am, love me as I am or leave me.” Be more afraid to die with your song still in you, to cheat your loved ones, your readers and the world of the greatest gift you have to give. You.

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…”Writing is an act of faith, not a trick of grammar.”  This moral observation would have no place in a rule book were it not that style is the writer, and therefore what you are, rather than what you know, will at last determine your style. ~ Strunk and White, (from The Elements of Style)

It’s a lot to take in. Here are a few questions to help you discover your real self. There will be more in the months to come. Sit with them a while…roll them around in your soul. Add a “Why?” to any of them and you have a personal safari to discover fuel for your writing. I promise, your writing will improve. So will your life.

What scares you?

What thrills you?

What do you want more of?

What do you want less of?

What do you say YES! to?

What do you say no to?

What expands you?

What contracts you?

If your writing was a drink, what would it be? What would you like it to be?

What do you find yourself longing for?

That voice that whispers in the depths of night, what does it say?

If you were a fragrance, what would you be?

Who do you long to reach? What do you want them to feel?

If you could carry one object in your pocket that represents you, what would it be?

If you were an animal, what would you be?

If you were a colour what would you be?

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Has it been a while since you wrote poetry? Try writing and randomly rearranging your answers to some of the questions above. You may surprise yourself. This is off the top of my head…

a sea green pebble

worn smooth by the restless tides

a gift from the sea

20 thoughts on “How to Harness the Power of Authenticity in Your Writing and Your Life

  1. LOVE this post!! I think the questions you’ve asked are great (and I’m going to get to work on them right now!) and I love the advice you’ve given. I think being present and loving yourself are two of the most important things you can do. I love the quote at the top. Did you know Graceful Creative is giving away a copy of “Style Statement”? You probably already have it, but maybe other readers would like to check out her site and see if they can win a copy ’cause it’s a great book. And this is a GREAT post!

    Positively Present´s last blog post..living my happily ever after now

  2. I adore the book and the quote’s one of dozens I have from it! I actually have permission from Danielle at White Hot truth to do a feature on it, so if you enjoyed this, you’ll enjoy other posts I have cooking. 😉 I’m glad you liked it, I really am. I worry when these simple ideas I have grow tails and whiskers and feathers and wings and legs and take on a life of their own but if I hesitate or split things up, sometmes I just completely lose the impetus. I’ll be leaving this one up for a few days to give folk the chance to try a few of the ideas out and get back to me with anything interesting or creative they’d like to share. Thank you!

  3. That’s a really thought-provoking post Janice. That authenticity is something so many of us are working to have come through in our writing (and life) and we work so hard at it rather than let it simply shine through from our ‘being’.

    Very well said.

    Melinda´s last blog post..The Clean Shower Guide to Marketing

  4. Janice

    You are such a . . . WRITER! I especially loved the haiku at the end. May I use it on my blog? I’ll need to find a picture of a green pebble first.

    I tried to write a haiku about white clouds of hope in a blue sky (from Nadia’s post today) but couldn’t. Then I realized that haikus don’t use abstract nouns. I think that’s why they feel so comforting.

    Thanks too for sharing the Strunk and White quote about the true writer playing to an audience of one. That’s really the key to authenticity, isn’t it?

    Brenda´s last blog post..The Girl Who Silenced the World for Five Minutes

  5. Janice,

    Your posts are always like songs and this post was absolutely amazing. The one line that really resonated with me was the “live details with all of your senses”. What a rich line! 🙂

    We live in a world where everyone is in a rush so many times people overlook details. So to bring awareness to the importance of living the details with your senses is so powerful because when a person does that, the world then becomes this amazing place full of so many wonders.

    I will share with you my experience. Today (May 27th) is the 4 year of anniversary of when my mother was diagnosed with cancer. That night as my husband and I were planning to move to my parents who lived 8 hours away, we went out to dinner and as we drove there was this HUGE rainbow that stretched for what looked like miles.

    As I looked at it, I knew in my heart that it held some meaning. Before my mother was diagnosed, I never really noticed the details. From the day she was diagnosed, from the moment I saw the rainbow, I have been living in the details and it has been a fantastic ride. May more people realize those details without needing a tragic event to wake them up.

    Bravo, my friend! You are truly an artist. The world needs more people like you. 🙂

    Nadia – Happy Lotus´s last blog post..Got Optimism?

  6. @Melinda,
    Thanks! One thing that I love about blogging is that when I piece together my blog route, the people I enjoy visiting, one thing that stands out for me is the uniqueness of everyone I visit; everyone has their own authentic voice – in their posts and also in their comments. Sometimes it’s probably harder to appreciate just how much other people see our shine when we don’t see our own. Because I first met you in a friend’s comment boxes where we were just being relaxed and kicking back, I’ve been able to spot and enjoy that same humour and twinkle in your professional posts.

    You’re right, though; authenticity’s about peeling away layers and letting what’s always been there shine through.

    @Brenda,
    I definitely think being true to yourself is the key. If we get all our happiness from other people’s praise or from stats, we give away all our power and can never feel centred in our own sense of self worth.

    Feel free to use the poem – but I’d love you to keep playing till you get one of your own about those clouds, too. I could take and send you a picture of the original pebble if you like. Or you could make a list of your answers to those questions and see what happens! I’ve seen your blog; haiku would fit well. And thank you for acknowledging that there’s a writer in there alongside a blogger and a coach. I miss writing poetry and should do more. It shuts me up a bit! 😉

    @Nadia,
    Thank you. I’m blessed to have people like you in these boxes and in my life. I’m a detail lover through and through. As you pointed out so well, the simple act of really noticing them is transformative and deceptively powerful. Nothing is ever the same afterwards. That’s why I love haiku. It helpes me capture and relive those moments when details contain all of life.

    I did have a cancer scare of my own and a few scares with the kids which have ensured that I never take life for granted. My own mum died when I was pregnant and in some ways it reaffirmed that the one thing our dead loved ones would want us to do is appreciate every detail they no longer can.

    Rainbows are symbolic for me too. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but when the kids were wee, I told them that their Grandma in heaven had taken rainbow making lessons to be able to send us messages when we needed her support. They thought this was awesome, better than her learning how to haunt or do ghost stuff. They still refer to her as Grandma Rainbow. Those details make a childhood and my mum passed on the gift to me of being able to appreciate them.

  7. Absolutely wonder full post and I have read it several times attempting to take it all in and see the details. I have to leave the computer right now, so will make this short, but I wanted you to know I was here, enjoyed and have been inspired. Thank you

    Patricia´s last blog post..Blogger Dad – Blame Tara Meme

    • @Patricia and Daisy,
      Thank you both! I was worried I’d really blown this one by rambling, but then I trusted that it was all meant and just let go. One of my coaching mentors once described my early coaching as “an embarassment of riches” because although each individual question I asked had its own power, I got so giddy with enjoying the process that I tended to keep adding on. I’ve discovered, though, that the beauty of blogging for spiritual, creative people is that they take time to sit with life’s questions and enjoy them as much as the responses. I’ve enjoyed both of you in other people’s boxes for a while now and I really appreciate you taking the time to let me know what you liked; it’ll help me do more. Now that I’ve started blogging, I’m really understanding what a gift it is when people not only visit but comment. There often isn’t enough time in the day to visit all the blogs out there I want to. I’m struggling to keep balanced.

  8. Lovely post. I enjoyed the questions at the end and it got the creative juices flowing and I found myself scribbling ideas on the first scrap of paper I could find. Even though I can keyboard faster than I can pen and paper, the pen and paper makes me feel more connected to what I am writing and some of my best ideas come from the scraps of paper. This post requires several rereads and thank you.

    Cindy´s last blog post..Mothers Who…

    • Hi, Cindy,
      I’m so glad I decided to just let this one tumble out how it wanted to. I love that creative people are finding ideas in it and I’m delighted that you think it’s worth a reread. It dawned on me one day that I can just leave this one up for a while, let people sit with it, maybe come back and share some of their creations. I had a dream of this being a soulfood café and realised that if I’m not careful, regular posting could lead to me serving up not just tasty mezedhes, but fast food. So this is a long, leisurely Greek meal, with a variety of starters, salads, main dishes, fruit and wine. I may even cut and paste this whole paragraph into the post itself. Thanks Cindy! Let us know if you do a poem!

    • You’re very welcome. ‘Twinkle’ is an underestimated quality, but it’s one that I value. I also like (((hugs))) and humour! We can all be professional, creative and authentic, but being authentic embraces everything from confessing that we have the hots for Hugh Jackman as Wolverine 😉 to sharing our professional passions and spiritual beliefs in a way that supports other people.

  9. Hi Janice,
    “If you treat people like traffic passing through your life, someday you’ll be run over, or left behind to smother in the smog”.
    This struck me a chord in my heart. I think this is a malady of the busy modern world. We need to slow down and give attention to all the people around.
    Importantly, our dear ones, our friends much more and all those whom we meet and know.
    This is the legacy I wanted to leave in this world: to treat every one equal – no rich, no poor, and treasure every relationship as a special one.
    Btw, I didn’t update my blog post since so long. I’m bit busy with some things.
    I wish you all the best, and to all who commented above!
    Solomon

    Solomon´s last blog post..Ride the crest of the writer’s learning curve!

  10. Life came pouring in too full today….I just had to come back and read this wonder full post and relish it’s energy and truth.

    Thank you for writing this – I think it was just for me?

    Patricia´s last blog post..Fairy Foot Prints

  11. O Janice, I loved this post so much! I loved the part where you said Express your essence! When I do this, I feel so much more connected, genuine, and alive!
    When I am expressing my true gifts I feel so good about what I am doing, I have noticed that people cannot help but think it is ‘interesting and intriguing’ as apposed to ‘weird’ (the response I used to get when I felt more self conscious about my choices)
    The more I use my imagination and trust it as opposed to my knowledge or left brain thinking, the more I break past the imaginary limits I used to put on myself.
    I also loved “love the details’ I was just out in my yard today, digging away in the dirt. I marveled at the ‘weeds’ (well others consider them weeds, to me they are beautiful and useful food and medicinals) I was flooded with gratitude that I had these wonderful plants volunteer to grow there, and further that I had such a wonderful space to grow them. I was filled with inspiration of ideas of how I will improve my yard space even further. I was out for 2 hours ‘working’ in the yard, it was not ‘work’ unless you want to call it ‘work’ as an artist does of their beloved pieces.

    Angie´s last blog post..0711ddebe7fd2b92.jpg

  12. @Solomon,
    It’s always a pleasure to have you visit. You have such a kind and positive presence which shines through your words. You’re right about slowing down enough to be present; it’s one of the ways to invite more spirit into our lives.

  13. @Patricia,
    Your recuperation means that you’re vulnerable at the moment; things you would have sailed through before now seem to have the power to topple you. I’m not saying this in one of those annoying “Look on the bright side!” cheery voices, but for some reason the universe has deliberately slowed you down to get you thinking differently, just as it made sure you noticed this post when you needed it. So in some ways, this post was meant for you. It’s a hug that says be yourself and everything will be fine.

  14. @Angie,
    I’m in my garden as I write this (the laptop’s co-operating for a change!) and I empathise so much with what you said about details that I could hug you and dance around saying “That’s it exactly!” There’s nothing quite like that feeling you experience when someone gets you and understands and resonates with what you value.

    It’s on days like this that I wish this was a real café, with patio tables outside interwoven with wooden tubs and half barrels of pink and blue hydrangeas and jasmine climbing up trellis walls. I’d bake chocolate chip cookies, a carrot cake and scones and we could all meet and enjoy each other and drink sparkling mineral water and fruit juice, tea and coffee and lemonade and chilled wine.

    I love my comments boxes!

  15. Lovely Janice! Your writing inspires me. This post just opens my heart to really be me. To make the best out of me and love myself for who I am. And be grateful to God for the beautiful gift; a pure, clean soul given to us since our birth. It is up to us to maintain its purity through out our life.

    Thanks Janice for such an inspiring and lovely post.

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