The following blog post is a collaborative effort by the group of women pictured left (Hannah, Sophie, Shelley, Carlisle, Jennifer, Maggie, and Arrington), as well as Anna, whose submission came from afar. The qualities described below are inspired by, and modeled after, Ruth Gendler's The Book of Qualities. In a spring equinox gathering in the NC mountains, we each wrote the quality we wanted to invite into our lives going forward. The results, we feel, are descriptive of wholehearted living.
Authenticity by Hannah Barry
Authenticity called out to me in the most inconvenient of times. Her voice was quiet at first, so finding her wasn't easy. I traversed mountaintops, scouring their peaks with the belief that she waited above. But each summit I crossed paths with Suffering, Loneliness, and Unhappiness. Finally, it was Intuition's purple candle that guided me through the wilderness, beyond Fear's shadow. I found Authenticity in the deepest crease of the valley, washing her face in the moonlight of a pond. She beckoned me to her, and as I reached the water's edge it was my own reflection smiling at me sweetly.
Clarity by Shelley Heath
Clarity likes to meet up for coffee in the mornings. She sometimes wears the most beautiful sundresses, but most days she wears her favorite pair of jeans, the ones that fit so well she'll wear them 'til they fall apart. She's one of those people who carries the most interesting things in her purse, always that one bizarre thing that you need at the time. She seems to remember everything; not because she has an eidetic memory, but because she turns everything into a song. If you've ever heard her sing, her voice is unmistakable. You can hear it for miles even when she sings at a whisper. Her melodies are so catchy you'll find yourself humming them for weeks, unable to get them out of your head.
Compassion by Anna Kavalauskas
Compassion was born in the cold, bright water of the fountain of youth. Her cries were soon soothed by the rippling, chirping, and hushing of the world around her. She grew up holding hands with her cousin, Intuition, and at night they danced in circles around a crackling fire, the deep, starry sky singing above.
When Compassion encounters Jealousy, Fear, and Self-Consciousness, she brushes their hair out of their eyes and sings them lullabies from her childhood, and they melt into the ground, humble Black-Eyed Susans blooming where they once stood.
Compassion skips and jumps rope, and the rays of the sun beam from her chest. She loves you.
Enough by Maggie Howe
Enough is a soft spoken but powerful women who is the childhood best friend of Wisdom. She can be hard to pin down at times, but whenever she speaks you know her words are full of truth. Enough used to be the CEO of a fortune 500 company, which was pretty unheard of at that time. When she retired she turned her focus to improving the lives of inner city kids living in impoverished neighborhoods. She is always trying to make the world a better place, but seems to know how to leave time for herself too. Enough is a complicated women. She's a total feminist, but she still likes to get dressed up and wear make up sometimes. She tries to live simply, but she definitely splurges on unnecessary kitchen gadgets and luxury vacations. She takes pleasure in life's little indulgences, but she doesn't let them them rule her or ruin her strong work ethic.
Sometimes in the morning I hear Enough's voice whispering in my ear when the alarm goes off, asking me what I will accomplish that day and how it will serve the make the world a better place. Sometimes her words in the morning give me a little anxiety... but in a good way. These are the words that remind me to use my body and my brain to reach new heights and achieve my goals. I like it better when Enough calls me in the afternoon and invites me to go for a walk outside and enjoy a cocktail on her screened in porch while we watch the sun set together.
Enough is the kind of friend who can weave in and out of your life. It's easy to lose touch when you or she gets busy with a project at work or a volunteer commitment or marathon training. She's around though, and if you can take the time to pick up the phone and call her she will always answer.
Expansiveness by Arrington McCoy
Expansiveness wears fur coats and red lipstick in the winter. She can identify snowflake patterns by taste. On cold nights, she leaves her spare mittens in the woods for the mice, and other small creatures, to find. In summer, she carries a basket full of ripe berries and wildflowers. She always goes barefoot in the rain. One time she walked from the forest to the seashore pressing her ear up against the trunks of trees and then against conch shells. Expansiveness sailed around the world when she was a girl. Now, she does open heart surgery.
Simplicity by Jennifer Vickery
I once thought simplicity was so boring. I always tried to give her necklaces with beads and jewels-bright flashy jewels--but she insisted she was perfectly content with her little gold strand necklace. She never made a scene or spoke loudly but her presence was astounding. In her home the colors on the wall were calming and tranquil.
She lived very small- everything she owned fit into the bed of her truck but she never seemed to be lacking in anything she did or wore or gave away as gifts.
The children and birds would flock to her. They spoke her language and were best at appreciating her gifts. The older I get the more I envy her beauty and strive to be more like her- in every way possible.
Stillness by Carlisle Rankin
...is picky. She requires certain factors in order to truly come out of her dark corner. Stillness has been stifled for so long that she feels naked and confused. She has to start all over a lot of the time. Structure is surprisingly important to Stillness. Too much free time can swallow her whole. She knows her role is important--crucial in fact, but she fears that the feelings she may bring forth may sour her existence.
Value by Sophie Ehlinger
Value has no discerning tastes. Value begins her day hobnobbing with the best of them, and ends it, with simple gratitude, in the mud with the pigs. Value happily resides here- she gleefully resides there. Value both blows kisses and steals them.
Value stores tsunamis, firecrackers, confetti, and salt and pepper all on the same shelf.
Value reeks of lilacs and spritzes a perfume of musk and mold.
While blindly sitting in the front row of life, Value takes everything for granted. When she blinks, she's sharing the balcony with death- a little higher, and infinitely more humbled.
Value is an open, engaging, and gracious hostess-
She takes Greed's coat
She serves tea to Yearning
She tucks Generosity in
Value keeps her head on straight-while she flies off the handle
Value solves the puzzle with the right and curses the unlucky draw with the left.
She hitches the ride, takes the leap, and stays put, heels in the ground, head like an ostrich
Value's heart shrinks for peaks and expands for valleys, peaks and valleys, peaks and valleys- thump, thump, thump.
Value needs not a yes or a no. Value is a goddess.
Whimsy by Shelley Heath
Whimsy is this sweet little sprite that loves to dance in the rain and giggle at silly words like "world". World, world, world; such a weird word. She's spontaneous and fun and loves to play pranks. She's petite. People always underestimate her power until they realize how memorable she is.
This story is part of the Human Becomings Story Series. Please consider sharing your own story of becoming with the wider world. Submissions to this series will be posted on the first of every month. Visit "Your Story" for instructions and details.