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Now I Become My Self: A new facilitator shares her many selves

by Hannah Miller

During the spring semester of 2014, I became a volunteer facilitator in training for Truth Be Told. I joined Carol Waid’s Talk to Me Circle class at Hilltop Prison in Gatesville, Texas. In one of our classes, we explored the reality that each of us has many different identifies, roles, and faces we wear. Some of these faces have hurt ourselves and others. Some of these faces are healing faces of wholeness.

Through creative writing and storytelling, we shared with one another the faces that we hide and the faces we celebrate. In speaking our truth, we began to let go of our shame and embrace the wisdom that comes from knowing all of our many selves. The following piece was my entry in The Book of Wisdom, which includes writing from each of the women in the class. At graduation, each woman receives two copies of the publication.

Now I Become My Self

by Facilitator in Training Hannah Miller

HannahMillerI am a woman of many faces—a woman of many selves. You may try to call these faces my masks, but I know them each to be equally as true, each an essential part of me. Just because these selves at times contradict one another doesn’t make me a hypocrite. It makes me a tapestry. These selves, sometimes harmoniously and sometimes acrimoniously, coexist and intermingle inside of me.

If you know me, you may only know one of these selves. If so, you have only seen a sliver of the real me.

  • Maybe you first met me as the Adventurer—paddling among glaciers in Alaska, sleeping in a hammock on the border of Guatemala, or climbing the steps of a Hindu temple in Indonesia.
  • Or perhaps you know me as the Achiever. The disciplined one, always in competition with myself, whether running a cross-country race, studying for a biology exam, or learning to play the piano.
  • At a certain time, you would have encountered me as the Warrior. Fighting for the lives of the invisible and the powerless, those awaiting the gurney or the death chamber.
  • If I am your daughter, you see me as stubborn, outspoken, capable, responsible, sensitive, and loyal.
  • If you are my child, you know me as strong but affectionate, grounded yet playful, loving and present.
  • As a friend, you call me Truth-Teller, Justice-Seeker, Spirit-Keeper, Old Soul. You know I am openhearted, quick to cry, and ever eager for intimacy.
  • At work, I am the Peacemaker, Reconciler, Calm One. An attorney paid to argue and advocate but at core made to mediate, to see the gray, to find a middle way.
  • And then there are the faces of me I hope you never see. The selves I would prefer to keep hidden. The Critic. The Challenger. The Ferocious One. Explosive, sharp-tongued, demanding, relentless, unforgiving.

But if I had my way, I would rather tell this story. It is a story about the parts of me that remain unseen. Not because they do not exist but because they have not yet been fully realized. Some of these unborn faces have been present from my very beginning but were forgotten and must be recovered. Others do not come to me naturally and must be learned. All of them, however, are present, latent, and waiting to be born. These are the parts of me I claim today. It is only through them that I begin to fully become my self.

Courageous, free, trusting, fearless, slow to anger. Risk-Taker, Woman of Gentleness, Woman of Compassion, Kind and Merciful One. If you meet her along the way, tell her I believe in her. I can already see glimpses of her beauty and wisdom.

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A Graduation Gift from the Amazing Flying Kūpuna

 By Emily Harris, Facilitator for Talk to Me Speaking and Discovery Classes

I Am the Amazing Flying Kūpuna!  Okay, then. What’s a kūpuna and how did I become one? Kūpuna is the Hawaiian term for a respected elder. The Hawaiian culture is based on strong communities, and I lived in one on the Big Island this past summer. Being of a certain age and a certain hair color earned me the “elder” part. Conquering several lifelong fears and serving my community with appreciation, participation, enthusiasm, great love, and joy earned me the respected part.

But I got to be amazing from the gifts that I received from each of the valiant women of Truth Be Told whom I have served for the past two years. Those gifts include acceptance, acknowledgement, wisdom, love, support, encouragement, generosity of spirit, and a joy in each moment of life I only dreamed of experiencing.

I flew to Hawaii on an airplane. I flew back on wings of my own. And here I am, amazing, and loving every minute of it. With my newfound wings I dance and laugh and play and recognize miracles large and small each day.

I'm flying!

Because of you, I can fly to the farthest reaches of my imagination where I find you waiting for me.

Time for take-off.

Let’s fly!

The part below was written for the women at the Hilltop Unit and is going to be in The Book of Wisdom along with all of the women’s writing to commemorate their graduation from Truth Be Told classes.

 

A Graduation Gift from the Amazing Flying Kapūna!

Congratulations! Another feather in your cap! By now you have enough feathers to build a set of wings and fly! And not just fly — SOAR!

There is a belief in some cultures that every living thing on earth — down to the most delicate blade of grass — has an angel by its side whispering “Grow, grow.”

You are each an angel to me, repeating that message over and over. For the past two years, I’ve watched and listened as you have grown into, around, and through your personal stories. You have graciously included me on those journeys of discovery and liberation.

In return, I took you on mine. And this past summer your whispers became the wind beneath emerging wings that made it possible for me to fly! In that moment I conquered a lifelong fear of being lifted off the ground.

I don’t know why I had such a fear in the first place, why I held on to it for such a long time, and why it was so transformational for me to conquer it, but it was and I flew and I am proud of myself for doing it. And it was really fun!

I offer this gift of inspiration to you in recognition of your courage, determination, and wisdom in seeking your truth and speaking it loud and clear! Rachel Naomi Remen has inspired me for many years. She is a medical doctor who uses healing storytelling and respectful listening in her practice. May her words whisper to each of you as you continue on your journey of recognizing and sharing your many gifts:

A single act of kindness may have a long trajectory and touch those we will never meet or see. Something that we casually offer may move through a web of connection far beyond ourselves to have effects that we may have never imagined.

~ From the book My Grandfather’s Blessings by Rachel Naomi Remen

Flying may have its limits, but my thanks to each of you is without limits.  To that I add heaps of love and light.

Emily

November 14, 2013