Birthday Musings: What 2022 Taught Me
It rained today; on my birthday. It usually does.
This morning, I watched the sun rise while lounging on a fluffy, throw pillow next to the glass doors leading into my garden. One door was slightly ajar, and the weather was chilly, but I was quite warm sipping hot, chai tea in my thick, white robe.
I’ve always loved how the world smells when it rains, and time seemed to slow down as I watched water droplets dance atop my herbs and pink, white and red roses. The water oscillated from a soft drizzle to a downpour, and then back again while I stared into the obscure serenity illuminated by receding moonlight.
As I gazed, the sky transformed from a dusty gray to lavender, peach, golden yellow and then blue. Listening to the water’s impact on the ground, I thought about all the epiphanies and revelations I’ve received over the past 12 months. I decided to write them down in my journal, and to also create a new tradition: sharing them here, on Muse by Midnight.
On This Birthday, I Have Learned:
1) To Embrace Reinvention:
In my book, The Muse’s Guide to Reinvention, I wrote:
“Soon after I celebrated my 30th birthday, I snapped back into my body like a woman who had been astral projecting for three decades. I settled into my skin, and truly saw myself for the first time. Like the mythological phoenix bird, I’d been consumed by flames and rose from the ashes of my own destruction. I wanted to exist in an elevated way as a brand-new person, and so I regenerated and reinvented myself.
I believe that we all have this staggering realization at some point in our lives, regardless of whether it's shepherded by trauma or natural life progressions - and sometimes more than once. We realize that who we HAVE BEEN is vastly out of alignment with who we ARE, and who we want TO BE.”
This past year, I’ve had to continuously reflect over both conflicting and new information, and intentionally decide how I want to integrate that knowledge into my life. As we get older, I think we become more prone to cognitive dissonance, or the uncomfortable mental toll that emerges from receiving information that contradicts our pre-existing beliefs or self-image.
As a response, some people change their behavior to acclimate to the new information (i.e., accept that they were wrong and move differently), while others justify it, switch their values, or simply ignore or deny it.
Depending on the circumstance, I’ve had to consistently change my behaviors or adapt my values, and instead of conflict, it’s brought harmony and re-unification with myself. I am a constantly evolving human being, as we all are – and I’ve found beauty and majesty in my transformations.
Every “self-edit” ultimately brings me closer to the woman that I want to be, and it gives me deep pleasure and an immense sense of pride to be able to say: “I have walked through fire, become singed, and emerged with soot, but still whole.”
Though some consequences have been disheartening, such as outgrowing friendships – and realizing that certain individuals may want to keep you “chained to old versions of yourself” (another concept I wrote about in my book), ultimately, I feel free, alive, massively grateful and inspired.
2) Elevating Your Image is a Form of Self-Care:
Since launching Muse by Midnight, I’ve been hosting monthly “Content Creator Days” where I rent beautiful, production studios and invite women (or “muses” as I call them) to network with each other – and capture content for whatever means they desire.
Some of the women are creators seeking to curate stunning visuals for their social media channels, others are businesswomen who need pictures to update their websites, and some women simply want to feel like the glamorous muses that they are and leave with beautiful content.
Naturally, through this process, I’ve been able to creative direct my own self-portraits and content for branding purposes, but it’s also been surprisingly therapeutic to sink deep into my creativity and let my imagination run wild on a recurring basis.
I put so much care and consideration into each shoot, such as bringing fresh roses for the women to take home as mementos (and to use as props), and it reminds me of the self-care that I should be pouring into myself daily. Looking back on the content I’ve created makes me feel confident, sensuous, adored, luxurious, and like a muse primed to enchant or inspire an unsuspecting mortal. It’s a truly magical process.
Furthermore, I’ve always been a believer in having a reputation that precedes you, and in today’s digitally connected world, our social media profiles and websites are our calling cards.
In fact, cultivating your image can be a first step in your reinvention process. To reference my first point, who you have BEEN, does not have to be who you ARE. If you aspire for others to see you in a certain light, you can become an artist and paint your own canvas. How the world perceives you is directly related to their first impression, and you hold the power to change that.
You hold the power when it comes to your self-image, and you should indulge yourself as you fancy. Creation of self is self-care.
3) Privacy is Power
I suppose I’ve known this for a very long time, but over-exposure builds familiarity, and familiarity can be detrimental to your well-being.
In The Muse’s Guide to Reinvention, I wrote, “Privacy is our last real currency, and even though it’s a commodity that can never be recouped once expended, we continue to give so much of it (and ourselves) away freely. Whether it’s sharing our darkest secrets or our baby’s first breaths on social media, there is little that is sacred in today’s digital-fueled world and economy.”
One of humanity’s gravest mistakes, in my opinion, is taking the theme of online “vulnerability” too far. While it’s true that sharing deeply of yourself can resonate with others and build an empathic sense of connection, it can also backfire. As you ascend, you will find that not everyone is thrilled by your success, whether it’s in love, career, or some other aspiration. There will be those, both friend and stranger, who are enraged by your upleveling from outdated versions of yourself – and those who are also envious and resentful.
At times, through no direct act of your own, you will become “mirrors” for others. A mirror, as I write in The Muse’s Guide to Reinvention, at times, does not reflect what others WANT to see, but what they do NOT. Through you, others will see “with glaring, crystal-clarity where [they have settled – and given up on their] own dreams.” Thus, each time they witness you thriving in your cultivated reality, resentment may appear.
In Robert Greene’s book, The 48 Laws of Power, “law one” is to “never outshine the master.” Essentially, this means that one must never take their position for granted and “never let any favors go to your head.”
Move in silence and do not overshare with the mistaken impression that it will win you friends.
4) Travel is a Finishing School:
As someone who has embarked on journeys through both a graduate-level program, and throughout the world (+21 countries), I can honestly say that there is no education that compensates for travel. Culture, languages, art, spiritual awareness and attunement… The best way to learn about each of them (and yourself) is to venture out into the world and explore it.
Through the countries I have visited (including Italy, England, Thailand, The Netherlands, and dozens of others) – and the wonderful people I’ve met – I’ve encountered experiences that I never would have otherwise, and it’s created a richness of character, independence and of spirt within me.
Additionally, there’s a certain energy that you cultivate as a well-traveled person, and other humans are keenly sensitive to it. Your aura becomes vibrant and magnetic, and you meet so many interesting people in passing. Most of my romantic relationships were launched by chance encounters in foreign countries, or by crossing paths in an airport. Similarly, I’ve met some of my best friends during solo travel expeditions (read about how I make friends while solo-traveling here), and now I’m fortunate enough to have chosen family members all over the world.
Travel works in “deposit energetics.” Whatever you put in, is what you can pull out. Have an open mind and believe that you’ll attract magical experiences, and you will.
Did any of these four lessons resonate with you? I’d love to learn what you connected with the most. Leave a comment with your thoughts.