I recently had the pleasure and honor of spending 48 hours with some of the most incredible women I know. As our weekend theme, we chose “BE”. Be still, be present, be authentic, be real, be you, be.
I facilitated an exercise tailored around Being Real. As a springboard for the activity, I referenced the children’s classic, The Velveteen Rabbit, written by Margery Williams in 1922.
Summary of the Classic:
The Velveteen Rabbit tells the story of a stuffed child’s toy who finds himself looked down on and snubbed by the other toys – brighter, shinier, mechanical toys with bells and whistles the Rabbit felt he could not compete with. Along with all of the fancy toys, there is also a wise Skin Horse in the playroom, loved so much that his fur has been rubbed off over time. He befriends the Rabbit, and with his help, the Rabbit learns that Real is not about the ‘material’ you’re made of, but rather, your relationships with others, and with yourself. He teaches the Rabbit many lessons through their time together. The sense of self that is ‘taught’ by the Skin Horse, and ‘learned’ by the Rabbit is what makes this a truly inspirational story.
Favorite Excerpt From The Velveteen Rabbit
“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”
“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?”
“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”
“Does it happen all at once,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But those things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real, you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
And with that, our tone is set. Wise and honest Skin Horse, acting as sage to young, unsure and insecure Rabbit, who is eager to learn how to become Real.
The recent activity I experienced with these wonderful women was accompanied by a second book, entitled The Velveteen Principles, A Guide to Becoming Real, written by professor and psychotherapist Toni Raiten-D’Antonio. In this book, the author identifies 12 principles in becoming Real related to our values, goals, loves, and lives.
In discussing each of the 12 principles, sharing our understanding of their meanings and personal examples with each other, something dawned on me. Nowhere do I show up more Real than when I’m with this group of extraordinary women. They see the real me, because I allow them to see the real me. So, why don’t I allow everyone I come in contact with to see the real me? Why do I feel the need to morph and alter a facet(s) of my personality, even if just the teeniest bit, with others? Why, when it feels so good to be me, to be wholly me, do I not do that with everyone?
Show Up, Allow Others to SEE You
While wearing my Queen of Introspection crown, I realized that I have been in the process of becoming Real for years now. And that rather than beating myself up for not being Real 100% of the time, perhaps acknowledging and celebrating that I’m drawing nearer to becoming Real in all circumstances is more appropriate. This blog, for example, is undoubtedly the Real Leslie. And what an ideal venue for me to present to the readers what I want them to see and think about me… yet I don’t. I purposely show up as me. And the biggest Ah-ha in that realization is that the first time I did it, I thought it would be scary, but what actually happened is I felt more energy and more alive than I had before. So I did it again. And with each real post and with each exposure of my vulnerabilities, I have continued to feel more energy and more alive.
I think all this talk of being Real comes back to Trust. As I trust the feelings inside my body, like when I feel more alive after exposing the Real me, I believe that is God’s way of whispering to me. And the more I listen, the more He whispers. By honing my inner listening skills, what I’m essentially doing is honing my intuition, thus, drawing me closer to the Divine, closer to Source. And the feeling inside feels like Pure Love.
So, I stop and ask myself: all this by merely showing up as me? By simply being Real? Yes. If you’re thinking, that sounds too simple, or perhaps even condescending, this is what I’d like you to think about: We all come into this world being fully Real. Then, over time, we grow away from our true selves and into something we think we ought to be. With the understanding that we entered this world fully whole, I’m reminded of just how powerful each one of us is. I believe it’s how we were created.
Come back to you. Trust. Listen. Allow God to whisper inside you. Allow that whisper to turn into a voice that speaks to you. Allow it to guide you on the road back to Real.
“To paraphrase the horse, Real is what happens when you become your true self – – not a contrived, shiny, pretend thing – – and are loved despite, and maybe even because of, your imperfections.” ~Toni Raiten-D’Antonio
If you enjoyed reading this, please Share. You never know, this could be *just* the thing someone is in need of today. Love, Leslie