Dear ones ~ I realize I don’t often share much of my personal story here, but I wrote this little piece over on facebook last week, and it seemed to touch such a nerve, so I thought I’d bring it home here…  A little story, from my heart to yours… ♥

. . .
So I’ve been thinking a lot about self-esteem lately, and specifically, how little of it we authentically have in our culture. Rather, we’re taught we’re never enough, that there’s always something we’re missing, that we should be ashamed of even, and that perhaps we’ll never be enough unless we’re even better than someone(everyone?) else. We’ve created this tier system, but it seems no matter where we stand on it, up or down, no one is authentically happy, and it’s a rare person who earnestly loves and accepts themselves.

I’ve certainly experienced that. I’ve been climbing out of the pit of shame, self-doubt, and fear that I was thrust into as a young child for many, many years now (for those of you who don’t know, which is probably most of you, I was a total outcast all the way from preschool through most of high school. Not kidding, and not exaggerating). But through deep grace and a lot of hard work, I’ve incrementally worked my way out of it. Still, I can tell you honestly that up until a year and a half ago, I hadn’t truly gotten to the roots of my own lack of self acceptance ~ I was doing pretty darn good, but there was always something pulling me back down, something whispering doubting thoughts in my ear, and something always looking to become “better” ~ not because I was striving for excellence, but because I was never sure if I was good enough.

I can’t tell you exactly how it finally changed, except perhaps that I pushed myself so hard that I arrived at the end of my frayed rope and had to simply Fall… I’d been touring and performing all through the west, putting my tender, unsure (yet seemingly self-sure!) self up on stage in front of hundreds of people over and over again. But I was moving so fast that I didn’t realize until I broke down, hit a wall, and had to STOP for awhile, that some part of me had been doing all that simply because I was still Looking for Acceptance!

So in the fall of 2013 I simply stopped. I remembered that my mama had a little getaway shack hidden in the woods of Oregon, and I came here to rest, to heal my world-broken heart and my exhausted body from 3+ years of relentless touring (and homelessness!). Though I kept working on my album (editing, editing…), I stopped playing music for a full 4 months. I wasn’t even sure I would take it back up again as a profession. I wasn’t sure what I was doing, but I knew I couldn’t keep doing it for reasons of attention and acceptance. I had to let it completely go, and see if there was anything left…

And amidst all this, what amazed me more than anything was this feeling that started arising. It didn’t seem to matter What I was doing ~ suddenly here in the middle of the woods, with only a few folks and lots of animals and trees to keep me company, everything was ok. It didn’t matter what I did, because at the root of it, I was ok. Me, my little half-broken, imperfect human self – I was not only ok, I was JUST FINE exactly as I am. To this day I still can’t tell you wherefrom that feeling-thought arose ~ was it the land speaking to me? Was it seeing my reflection in the perfect little baby lamb just born? Was it the cleansing river running by? Was it just the act of finally reaching the end of my rope, realizing I’d fashioned it from self-protective ego? I still can’t say, but I thank my every grace that I could land in this place and return to this sense of I AM OK.

But now that I’ve seen the other side of it, I notice this discontent and self-doubt so poignantly alive in the world, even amidst the most beautiful and talented and gracious people (so often our insecurity can even be disguised as unshakable self-confidence), and I wish there were something I could do to help turn it around. I feel an ache in my heart when I witness us either playing small, or playing too-large. I want to say, “you are a perfect child of the universe! You don’t have to hide in shame, nor do you need to prove yourself.  Believe in the perfection of your essential nature, the power of your heart, your wild dreams as well as your simple yearnings!” I want to dance wildly with you, hear your voice unleash, help you rediscover your natural animal body and the strong rhythm of your own beating heart.  And I want to accept the silence with you, to know that even those moments we’re not “doing” anything, we are enough.  We are simply enough.

These are the prayers that live inside of me this year, that inspire me to come back into the world ~ Fully for the first time since I retreated and let it all go a year and a half ago.

And wherever you are on this spectrum of self-acceptance, it rocks my world to see your awesome humanity, so I look forward to our paths crossing!  Believe me, I’m not entirely out of the woods yet ~ so let us be lighthouses, beacons for each other.  And perhaps you will join me ~ whether at a “listening party,” where you’ll get to help me welcome my first, naked, vulnerable musical baby into the world, or at a workshop, where we will dance together wild and deep, or simply at a concert, at the farmer’s market, on a trail, or on the street…

Oh my human tribe, I do so dearly love you. I have been most wounded by you, but I know it’s not your fault. In human history there has just been too much pain. It is time for the healing…

All my love, Ariana
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