A few months ago I got really clear about what I wanted in my professional life. Integration was my goal. I no longer wanted to compartmentalize my personal and professional lives. My mantra evolved into “My personal and professional selves are integrated.”
As I look back now, this desire has been percolating for a long time and has been in evolution. About 5 years ago I really let go of the need for approval at work. I began the extremely difficult process of pushing back, speaking up and setting boundaries with work. It was really hard work but, thankfully, God put some pretty amazing people in my life who supported my efforts to be authentic at work. My move into higher education was part of that evolution. I wanted to be in an environment where people were learning and creativity was an expected trait.
Something inside me knew that I was trying to become more authentic at work, but I really wasn’t consciously aware of it. I was just dealing with things as I felt they were important. But I’m really clear about it now. As I’ve begun to write and understand how creative and colorful I really am, it’s becoming harder and harder to sit in a gray cubicle and work. In fact, it’s become excruciating.
I went to a meditation at the Indigo Spiritual Center this week. Lexlee led us through a meditation where we chatted with a power animal that is walking with us right now. Animals have specific energies that we need. If you’ve ever read any of my Medicine Cards blogs, you’ll understand what I’m talking about. The essence of an animal’s energy is considered to be “medicine” in many cultures. And they help us with whatever we need as we move through challenging life events. We were instructed to ask the animal that appeared to us what we needed from them right now.
A scarlet macaw appeared to me. He was beautiful with his colorful feathers. I was a birdkeeper at one time, so I know macaws. They are intense, powerful and really comical. They can speak our language if we work with them. They are amazing and powerful birds. One’s powerful beak bit right through a huge falconer’s glove when I was working with him at the zoo. My macaw lighted on my left forearm and allowed me to pet him.His name is Caw. He strutted around and showed me how beautiful his feathers were. “You think you are heavy like an elephant,” he told me. “But you are light and colorful. And…. you can fly.” He lifted into flight. Caw soared around and showed me how fun flying can be. “You are not alone either,” he added. He flew over a forest and I could see the trees full of colorful birds. They lifted into flight, and the sky was filled with thousands of birds. “There are many just like you,” he concluded before flying away.
I woke up the next morning, and I was compelled to do something with my gray cubicle at the office. Just Thursday I asked my manager to have someone move the big 4-drawer filing cabinet out of my cubicle. It’s been sitting there for two years empty, but all of a sudden I couldn’t stand having it in there. Now I have space. Caw’s words rang in my ears, and I knew that I had to bring color into my workspace. I searched on Pinterest for cubicle decor, and, to my surprise, there are thousands of ways to decorate your cubicle.
I got busy looking for things at home and went shopping at lunch after my coworkers Jennifer and Tiffany weighed in with some decorating ideas. It didn’t take long, and it didn’t take much money, but my workspace is much more like me now. A purple sarong hangs in the corner behind my computer. Seeing the purple surrounding my monitor gave me a jolt of energy when I returned to work. I couldn’t believe how much it changed the way I felt. I plan to do more. I’d like to get a little tray with a french press to set up a coffee station the way I like it, and I bought some colorful tassels to drape across doors on my bookshelves to break up the gray. I’d love to get a little stuffed cat to keep me company during the day. I can dress her up whimsically with sunglasses or scarves.
A long time ago my sister came to work to see my office at Whirlpool in Michigan. She walked in and looked at me quizzically. “Sharon, there’s nothing in here that says you at all,” she said. I was confused. At the time I had no idea what I even liked or how I would decorate at work to reflect my own energy. It’s taken a long time to get there, but I took a big step yesterday to bring myself to work. Oddly enough, I’m sort of looking forward to going to work on Monday! Maybe … just maybe … I need to get a beautiful macaw to remind me that I’m not only light and colorful, but I can FLY!!!
Oh yeah, and I even discovered a website (calmsound.com) where I can stream nature sounds all day long … some complete with video!