An unseasonal snowy afternoon last Spring found me tucked up on the sofa in my favourite bookshop, Bluebell, and lured into pages of a book called The Sound of Paper. It’s about reclaiming your creativity as an artist (regardless of how you express that art), and how important it is to have people around you who support you in your creativity: people who want to see you thrive, who encourage you to step out of your comfort zone, and want you to do well. In short, these are the people in your life ~ personally or professionally ~ who support and challenge you to be the best you can be.
I thought about various people in my life, and how the vast majority of friends and family do exactly that. But there is one friend who simply can not be happy, supportive or encouraging of anything I do. I realise, of course, that it has nothing to do with me at all ~ though it’s taken me nearly a decade to work that out ~ but everything to do with her own low self-esteem and creative blocks. The calling to follow my heart somehow makes it feel even more impossible for her to trust her own. She can’t act as a Believing Mirror for me because she’s never had anyone do that for her throughout her life. She simply doesn’t know how to be one, any more than she’s aware of the impact her lack of support has on people in her life. My friend doesn’t trust the image she sees in the Believing Mirrors of her adult life.
And what about our parenting? How do we support our children’s hobbies, wishes, dreams, pursuits? Do we, as parents, provide a Believing Mirror for their journey through life? Do we act as an encouraging witness to our children’s days?
There’s a wide and deep valley between being a Believing Mirror and a Praise-a-holic Parent. We have all heard the parent who makes a performance out of their child’s every brush stroke ~ not leaving any room for the child’s growth, reflection or self-defined evolution.
Recently, my ten year old daughter psychically booted me out of the kitchen, to make it strictly her domain for at least half of every week. Given that expressing my creativity in the kitchen and garden is integral to my day-to-day well-being and contentment, this was a huge sacrifice for me.
The price I paid for losing some of my days of creativity in the kitchen is that I have a daughter who can feed my family with meals which exceed the culinary skills of many adults I know. In acting as her Believing Mirror, her father and I have endeavoured to support her love and passion not by giving her marks out of ten, as her brief stint in school told her to expect, but by enjoying her food and letting her know that we savoured every mouthful…that her ‘art’ nourished us on many levels. I mirror to her the way our garden supports her creativity by yielding an abundance of organic fruit, vegetables and herbs. We reflect back that we value her passion by providing tools and treasures to help the journey, be they recipe books, special ingredients, aprons or chopping board. Mirroring works both ways. The mirror and the subject give and receive, and learn from each other. I do believe we can become more whole when we offer genuine reflection for other people’s talents.
Bethany began music lessons a few years ago. Her piano and violin are forms of discipline and pleasure, the counterbalance between the artistic twins of torture and triumph. She has a talent for ear-music (learning by sound) and has started composing, as well. My mirroring hasn’t held up any expectations other than that she enjoys her music. She turns up most days at the keyboard, or with her bow, and puts in the work. Anyone who’s heard a newbie on a violin will know they are not the easiest times on the human ear. In fact, you have many days when you wonder if progress will ever be made. The mirroring paid off, and now it is indeed a real pleasure to listen to her practising ~ daily entertainment which has each member of the family humming along.
As I write, it is the eve of her music exams, and this summer she’ll attend a week-long non-residential summer school for strings. She’s discovered a deep passion for making and creating music, and is now carving a pathway where she has her sights set on starting a music and performing arts degree about five years from now. It took me until my thirties to find a sense of direction and life purpose.
As a mother, I have no aspirations for my children to grow up and ‘become’ someone, career-wise ~ all I want is for them to follow their hearts and do what makes their souls sing: to live a life free from societal expectations.
Our children are constant witnesses to the marital relationship and learn first hand the mirroring between parents. They witness the body language as strongly as they do the words which come from our mouths. They see if we offer each other spiritual succour, as equally as they notice if we brew up a pot of tea for our beloved.
As living examples of what it means to nurture and nourish another’s well-being, it is not only a pleasure to mirror for our partner, but it is a responsibility, not just to our relationship, but to those witnessing our sacred marital journey.
In my own life, there’s no question that the cleanest, brightest, sparkliest mirror to my daily choices and actions is that which is held up by my husband. It’s apparently no chore for him to lug this monstrous piece of equipment around on his back, day in and day out; but one thing is for sure ~ my life’s work is made demonstrably easier by people such as Paul, and my publishers at The Art of Change. Having someone who believes in you, and wants you to succeed and do your best, is life-affirming in ways that almost can’t be put into words.
I’m the fourth child in a family of eight children, the second of three daughters. It’s a low-profile position not known among ‘family placement’ experts for its visibility. Large families can be great, but they don’t always allow for every child to get an adequate amount of space in front of a Believing Mirror. It takes very conscious parents to realise the importance of bringing out the light in a young soul. The parental role is much easier when the parent is fully supported. In many ways, the best Believing Mirrors are those who act like dominoes ~ gently tapping another, and another, and another, till they all light up and fill people’s lives with the awareness that they can truly do and be anything.
Every thought, action and deed shapes our inner fabric, and just as importantly, shapes our children. The lives which inspire me the most are those where the person brings out the very best of who they are, blesses the world with their presence, and mirrors the best of other people. When we pull out the Believing Mirror for other people ~ partner, child, colleague or friend ~ we automatically allow ourselves to stand in front of a mirror.
Often it takes seeing our reflection through another’s eyes to give us a fuller sense of our beauty, radiance and talents.
Holistic parents are more likely to use vinegar to clean their household mirrors than toxic commercial products. Don’t let the power of vinegar or chemicals confuse you with human mirroring. When someone believes in you, their critique, comments or advice never come with acidity, sarcasm or other toxins. Belief is sweet and luscious, always tastes great, and is comfort food for the soul. It has been my pleasure to be at the helm of this blog for six and half years, as she rides through the oceans of the collective change in human consciousness. I pray this magazine long lives as a Believing Mirror to those who choose a conscious, deliberate and holistic lifestyle.
~ Veronika ~