I’m six feet tall and have been since high school. It hasn’t been easy on many levels. Try buying clothes and shoes in a culture that doesn’t think women grow this tall. Once in an elevator, a little girl about 4 years old put it into actual words. She looked up at me and then looked back to her mother and said, “Mommy, I didn’t know they made girls that tall.” I guaranteed her that they do, while her mother cast an embarrassed and apologetic eye in my direction. Of course, it was miserable towering over the boys in high school and in fact I still tower over most men, though it bothers me less today. It all bothers me less now, but I still sometimes struggle.
It might have been easier if I’d come into the world with an extroverted personality but, instead, I was a shy and very quiet child. I’ve spent my life learning to honor my introversion, and even learned to showcase that gift. But making myself really visible in the world in a way that matches my physical size has always been a challenge.
In a world where, if we listen, something guides us where we need to go, it is perfect that my heart lead me into the world of expressive art therapy. It is a profession that focuses on using the arts to express what is inside, putting it out there in painting, drawing, writing, movement and music. In other words, a profession aimed at making ourselves visible, first to our selves, and then finding ways to express who we are, in our larger world. As a practice it is definitely an exercise in becoming visible, not in a way that stokes the ego, but in a way that allows our deeper selves to surface into the light of day. That energy can become action in the world.
I recently had a dream that spoke directly to this issue of visibility and let me see that perhaps I’ve made some progress.
In my dream, I am visiting another town with a group of people from the coast. This town is more inland, like maybe Nevada City. We are staying at the house of the woman who is in charge. The sheriff has been called because I have made sounds in my sleep in the night that must have bothered the neighbors. I am mortified, but at this point, there is nothing to do but laugh. We have explained it all and the trouble is taken care of.
Now in the aftermath, I’m sitting in a room with a friend who is an artist, telling her about what happened. We are laughing together. The room has a solid wall of glass in front of us. There is a beautiful peach tree out there. It is a very large tree, more like the size of an oak and it has tons of peaches on it. They are not ripe yet but rather look like little green orbs with very fuzzy skin. I point this out to my friend and we both marvel, as we need more heat to grow such a tree on the coast.
It is time to go into town with the group and I can’t find my shoes. I find a bunch of different shoes, none fit, all are black, and all a mismatch. Frustrating. I feel like a really old person who doesn’t have it together and is putting others out. The group goes to town without me.
Now, I am magically in town in a shoe store, still trying on different shoes. Somehow I end up with a pair of cowboy boots. They have fringe and all, are brownish and have a three-inch heel. I think, “Oh no! I can’t walk around in these.” But they look and feel great. I love the style. It makes a completely different statement about who I am. Wow! Impressive and very extroverted! It is temporary as these boots belong to the woman in charge. It is true that the colors aren’t quite right. One is kind of whitish, like all the dye has not gone in.
The owner of the store is going to give us a pair of shoes and write it off. The shoes will be for the women in charge, and they will be free. This will solve our problem some how in the dream though I am the one who needs the shoes.
Maybe I will wear these boots after all. It is puzzling as I think they belong to the woman in charge and she is so much shorter and smaller than I. It is amazing that they fit me. But I look spectacular with them on. They make a real statement showing my power and uniqueness. I look really, really tall and I don’t even care that I’ll tower over everyone! No problem. Absolutely no problem!
I loved this dream from beginning to end. I am now 67 years old. As I lean more towards my seventies a burning question is arising in me and it won’t let go. “What is left not lived that still wants to be manifested?” This dream encourages me to speak out, let myself be larger than life, like a peach tree, so big, it is the size of an oak tree. I look at all the fruit on that tree that just needs some heat and those luscious peaches will be ready to be harvested and sent out into the world as sweet nourishment. Those boots, made for the woman in charge? Maybe I am the woman in charge. I fit in her shoes. She must be bigger than I ever imagined.
After guaranteeing my friends I would never find real boots like that in my size, I was surprised to find the boots pictured above, on the internet. In the description, I found this, “Caution when wearing this boot because everyone will stop you and say, ”Where on earth did you find those boots?” Stay tuned to see if I order them!”
Expressive Art Experience
What are your dreams and visions about a self that is bigger than you think you are? Take a moment to reflect. Let your wildest imagination dream up the unthinkable, something you might like to do if only.......Don't be afraid to dream. Make a painting or a collage that gives you an external picture, a self portrait of this person (your future self?). Take one tiny baby step in that direction. I guarantee it will be life giving.
This blog is dedicated to the healing power of nature and the arts. It encourages a different way of looking at the purpose of the arts in our lives. While we can all appreciate well known artists, musicians and writers, it is good to remember that expressing ourselves through the arts belongs to all of us. It is part of being human. The arts and time in nature take us out of our small selves into something so much bigger. We need this larger perspective to guide our daily lives. I have a Masters Degree in Psychology, am a Registered Expressive Arts Therapist and am owner and founder of For The Joy Of It! Creative Retreat in Mendocino CA.