A lot of times art conversations end up on the container level — which is to say they get very focused on technical things, like medium or style or technique. But they don’t always access the level of essence.
Really answering the core questions about life.
What is art? What is that mysterious force that bewitches inanimate objects to life?
The thing that makes paintings dance. And words jump off a page. The thing that sparks cultural revolutions and political movements.
And can uniting all of the parts of yourself be art, too?
I’ve been telling all kinds of old stories lately.
Garrett’s mom came to visit this past weekend—for the first time since December—and we told old stories.
A few weeks ago, I had another photoshoot to capture all of my traumas and triumphs—and I told the photographer old stories I’ve never told anyone but Garrett before.
Lately, I’ve been sharing myself on Instagram—telling old stories.
Stories of celebration and happiness. Stories of disappointment and despair.
Horror stories. Magic stories. Adventure stories. Love stories.
In the end, maybe all stories really are love stories.
And I’ve been thinking a lot about the power of stories. How they have this ability to encapsulate the energy of a moment. Locked in their treasure chest. To forever be reopened and re-explored any time we re-tell them.
Like all great art, stories can transport us to another time and place. They can forever hold a moment in time, offering us a signpost to reflect our current growth against.
Stories can be excavational, inviting us to re-discover parts of ourselves we’ve left behind. They can be inspirational, calling us forward into the next evolution of ourselves.
There’s a kind of magic in telling old stories. Somehow, in retrospect, the dots connect just a little bit easier.
It’s why we start with stories in Sacred Branding®–especially those we’re most sensitive to. Our own traumas and triumphs. Our happiest and saddest days.
Where there’s strong emotion, there’s strong power. And, if we want to know who we are, we have to look to where we’ve been most emotional first.
It’s how we discover our sensitivities or Brand Energies in the first place. We simply connect the dots between the emotions—or sensitivities—in our stories. And then we condense all of those feelings down into their overarching themes.
The irony of the process is that most people think we’re done when we’ve completed Sacred Branding®. But, really, we’re just beginning.
After we pack all of those sensitivities down, we have to unpack them again. See what they actually look like in a real life. Look back to how they showed up in our lives in the past to understand how to use them in the future.
I often say that Sacred Branding® provides us with a reliable, predictable formula for success and fulfillment that works in every situation without fail. I say it because I know it. I’ve seen it in myself and others hundreds of times.
But, still, there’s something profound that happens when you tell an old story with those sensitivities in mind.
Even if I know that they’re the very reasons, the markers, for success and fulfillment—because I scoured my stories to find them—it’s still incredibly surprising to re-tell stories and see them weaving throughout.
To re-tell the story of how Garrett and I got together. To re-live the moment when I vulnerably told him I had feelings for him for the first time. To remember the love and fear and shame and debilitating sickness that brought me to that moment. To retrace those steps. Feeling what I felt all over again.
And knowing that Vulnerability is always my gateway to success and fulfillment. There’s not a moment of my life that’s been successful without it. No matter how hard I try to fight it.
Or to re-tell the story of my proposal to Garrett. Frantically trying to fight the weather and time so we could catch our train. How badly I had to pee. Lost in Rome. Bickering. Swearing the whole day off and deciding to propose another day. And then looking up and seeing the one sign that could re-Align me with why I’m doing this.
There hasn’t been a moment of my life that’s been successful without Alignment, either. Not a single moment that worked out when that pit in my stomach said otherwise. No matter how hard I’ve try to fight that, too.
I’m always in my stories. Every one of my sensitivities is always in my stories.
And I know that sounds painstakingly obvious—or it should—to a person who does this work every day. Because our stories are how we discover those sensitivities in the first place.
But I can’t quite describe to you the feeling that occurs when I look at my stories, even—and especially—the hard ones, and realize that they make sense. They click. And every story in my life gives me a greater understanding of myself.
Reclaiming the past. Re-aligning the future. And not really afraid of whatever could come next.
Stories are how we freeze time. How I can dance with my grandmother in Aruba again on a rainy day. Or how I can laugh alongside my best friend long before her tragic passing. Or how I can find strength in some of the hardest, scariest moments of my life—and borrow it for whatever I’m currently facing.
Stories are containers for our power. But the real magic of stories isn’t the container. It’s the power inside of them. Our power. Our sensitivities. The things that we brought to those stories to make them so great.
The Zaniness in dancing with my grandmother. The Freedom in laughing with my best friend. The Unmistakability in even those hard moments.
And that power is something we can map and access at any time. The thing that we most want to feel. The thing that we most want to create. The magic that only we can offer.
“It asks us to trust. And have faith. And not be afraid to be vulnerable and intimate. And, most of all, to live in the invisible spaces. The spaces where we can’t control everything. The spaces where we can’t always see the magic, but we can trust it’s there.”
“It’s kind of like a fish trying to climb a tree all day, getting exhausted, and then wondering why it’s always hungry. It’s not that the fish isn’t capable of hard, important things. It’s just that it’s focusing on areas where it doesn’t shine.”
“The thing no one tells you about being a visionary, about having access to so many ideas and visions and opportunities, is that you will be grieving a lot. Even if you don’t realize it. Because you’re inevitably saying no all the time. You’re inevitably struggling or failing sometimes. You’re inevitably letting go of old visions.”