Normally I would use the time after a big event to scour through all of my pictures and I would often use those pictures as my memory cues. However, on the day of the wedding, even though my ‘good’ camera was charged up, with a blank memory card, I chose to leave it in its case. I also chose to leave my cell phone in my purse. As we waited for Kaitlyn to come down the stairs with her attendants, I unzipped the camera case with the intention of getting out the camera so as not to miss this moment. And then I realized that if I placed a camera between myself and our daughter, I would be doing exactly that; missing the moment. It was in that instant that I chose to leave the camera alone. I stood in the moment, allowing all of my feelings to simply wash over me. Although I was overwhelmed, I was very, very content.
Many times in my life I have used the space behind my camera as a hiding place. It provides a handy and legitimate barrier between me and whatever is happening in the room. When I am behind a camera, I am easily able to escape. It provides me with a task to do so that I can concentrate on doing rather than being. It also provides an easy topic of conversation, eliminating the chance of talking about anything too important.
Behind my camera has not been my only hiding place. I recognize now that I have had many very creative hiding places in my life. I have hidden behind my children, using their busy schedules and lives to justify not making more room in my life for my other interests. I have used a busy career to hide behind. Who could expect me to be out socializing when I had lessons to plan and papers to mark? I’ve hidden behind beliefs given to me as a child to avoid considering new possibilities. I’ve hidden behind an extroverted husband. I can sometimes even be found hiding behind my kitchen counter as I cook. Stacks of dishes and laundry let me hide in plain sight.
Each of us has places we hide. What is noteworthy is that none of the hiding places and none of the activities I have used as hiding places are bad. It is not bad to be a responsible parent, nor to take pictures, nor to let someone else have centre stage, nor to cook or clean or have a busy and fulfilling career. It is simply important to recognize the difference between being involved in an activity and using that activity as avoidance – often the avoidance of a feeling that we would rather not have.
One of the things I have learned through my coaching practice is that I don’t need to hide. I do have feelings and they are simply a part of who I am. They do not own me nor do they control me. I recognize that when I acknowledge my feelings, I diminish their power over me. They are part of me just as surely as are my green eyes. They make me who I am. I recognize that when I allow myself to feel my feelings, I also give permission for others to do the same. I have been lucky to have been a guest at the buffet of feelings that others have shared with me.
When I was a little girl, all of the children in our neighbourhood would gather on summer evenings to play hide and go seek. As is the tradition with this game, if someone could not be ‘found’, or if the ‘seeker’ got tired of looking, then he or she could send out the call, “Ollie, Ollie Umphrey”. We all knew that this meant that we were safe to leave our hiding places and allow ourselves to be seen. We could not be tagged, and so we were spared the dreaded task of becoming ‘it’. To the followers of this blog I call out “Ollie, Ollie Umphrey” this week. I grant you permission to take the risk to step out from behind the things you are used to using to shield yourself. I trust that you will find some new treasures, some new feelings and maybe even make some new memories.
Meanwhile, I can’t wait for the official photographs of the wedding to arrive!
Don’t wait for a great moment to make change; take this moment and make great change.
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