Kind Kindred : Stephey Baker : Marked by the Muse

Happy Monday Lovelies! I hope everyone is keeping warm today, it is 18° & snowing (still!) here in Pennsylvania! I have just the thing to warm you up though! Stephey Baker of Marked by the Muse is joining our Kind Kindred fam today sharing her story of how she found the sun! Timely! She sheds some light on how she allowed the rays of kindness to fill & illuminate her life. She also calls out to you to shed a little light of your own! Thank you so much for this warm & much-needed post, Stephey! Big Love & Peace to all of you, xox, Amanda

stephey abker, marked by themuse, creative living, self discovery

Radiating Kindness: Illuminating the Dark Garden Within

I once had a garden filled with flowers that grew only on dark thoughts but they needed constant attention and one day I decided I had better things to do. – Dark Garden by storypeople

Once upon a time, I wasn’t on Mr. Sandman’s route. Each night I’d go to bed hoping this would be the night he’d visit with his sparkling sand and sugar gum dreams. I’d wish his blessings of rest would usher out the incited shoulds that harassed me each night – should have made more time for that drawing, should have at least written down that idea? Shouldn’t have taken so long running errands or writing that person back, Shouldn’t you spend more time doing art – isn’t this what you want?

The Shoulds kept me in an endless cycle of toss and turn as they bullied me with this and that. 

Three o’clock in the morning typically brought the epiphany that Mr. Sandman was standing me up – again! To be frank – it pissed me off. Each day exhausted, I’d grumpily push myself out of bed thinking, “Today WILL be different. Today I’ll be more creative. I’ll do this and that.”

Though some days I did accomplish everything on the proverbial to-do-list most days it didn’t matter because each night, you guessed it, The Shoulds would have their way, working me over with this and that in an endless recap of what didn’t happen and what shoulda, woulda, coulda happened if only…. (psst. Sidebar. Beware – If Only can be a bully too but that’s another post).

Mr. Sandman eventually showed up with an overdose of sparkly sand which put me into a mini coma. I managed to catch up on a month of lost sleep in two days. I went out. NO dreams and NO harassment from the shoulds or their pals shoulda, woulda, and coulda (If Only was nowhere to be found).

Upon rising, I went into the bathroom to wash my face, refreshed but a little groggy. It was then I noticed a Story People print hanging on the wall. It had been hanging so long I rarely noticed it – it had disappeared into my everyday backdrop and yet today it was biding for my attention. It reads the following:

I once had a garden filled with flowers that grew only on dark thoughts but they needed constant attention and one day I decided I had better things to do. – Dark Garden by storypeople

I read it three times before noticing the title inscribed at the bottom in pencil – Dark Garden. I thought, crap. I have a garden of dark thoughts and it’s growing into my everyday, my business and my life. Mama! Slowly the illuminated realization expanded within, it’s not my to-do-list’s or time management or dreams or new business that were causing sleepless nights + exhausted days, it were my thoughts that thought I wasn’t doing enough or giving enough. I realized all the exhausted doing was distracting me from this truth.

I was scared. I feared I couldn’t support myself and if I couldn’t support myself what the heck was I to do?

A few months earlier, I decided to leave my job as a digital manager for a foo-foo lab in Atlanta to become a full time commercial photographer. I created conceptual portraits and still life images that captured various moods and emotions visually. Despite doing what I loved and the excitement + opportunities to serve new projects  – I was freaking out! I wasn’t creating my dreams come true; I was tending to a garden of dark thoughts that were keeping me stuck from enjoying life.

I was creating for myself an everyday that meant living my dreams required exhaustion and badgering to-do-lists. I was so freaked out I wouldn’t allow myself to realize how freaked I was! I wasn’t waking up everyday with soft and gentle ideas waiting to be brought into fruition, a spring in my step or the echoes of hi-ho in the distance, there weren’t any stars or little birds flying circles around my head like a snow-white crown.

LIFE became to-do-lists and mayhem. 

Though things were being done and the business expanding, it was not fun nor was it inspiring. It was nothing I imagined or dreamt. It was long days and sleepless nights. It was eating later and only when this or that got finished. It was canceling plans with family and friends to work longer. It sucked. Those thoughts of fear were keeping me from creating the very thing I had set out to do – which was to live a life of creative freedom.

I needed to find sun and that’s exactly what I did.

stephey abker, marked by themuse, creative living, self discovery

The mere act of acknowledging those fears allowed rays of kindness to illuminate that dark garden. It was the warmth of kindness that softened the fear, encouraged acceptance of where I was in each moment and showed that life is joyful when I wasn’t shoulding all over myself.

The need for sun became a lesson of kindness.

Kindness is a simple lesson, extend goodness, pleasantness and tenderness + compassion towards others. It is a known virtue in many cultures. I believe we often neglect extending kindness to ourselves – perhaps underestimating its value and power. I know I have. Kindness is often over looked as a form of self-care. Yet, it is the vary state required to birth our dreams come true. In the ten years I’ve been a creative consultant, I’ve never had anyone confess to me that living their dream required exhaustion, anxiety, self-nagging, self-bullying and buckets of grumpiness. I’ve never heard anyone, including Oprah, confess that these were the states necessary to engage and ultimately become, in order to live those dreams come true.

Slowly, as the rays of illumination radiated within, I realized I had been creating my dreams come true backwards. I was tackling life from the outside, with to-do-list and self-critiques, seeking to get the good stuff in and to grab the good life while I could! Instead of seeking to bring the good stuff out from within, there by allowing the good life to shine through.

“Everything can be taken away from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedom — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” – Frankl, Viktor E.

Once I truly began focusing, my attention inside is when the joy returned and all the light of inspiration; confidence, knowledge, fun, insight, determination, courage and moxie came bursting through.

Though everyday isn’t filled with sun on the outside – it’s always shining on the inside.

Do you have a dark garden? Are you in the need of some sun? How can/do you cultivate your inner radiance? Please leave your comment below and shed some light of your own.

Stephey Baker is a licensed spiritual counselor, creative consultant and artist. She supports the whole you instead of compartmentalizing you into various boxes – boxes labeled business or personal – it’s all LIFE! Stephey believes, ”We are all artists practicing the art of living. We are all creating our masterpieces called life. We create the experiences we want and we create the responses to the experiences we don’t want.” Stephey’s Marked by the Muse creative living blog and one-on-one sessions teach other creatives how to get the “stuck-out” of their creative blocks and create the life they desire – By employing the creative process in navigating the highs and lows in life – anything is possible! Join her on twitter @stepheybaker


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