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Dear friends, I hope this little message finds each of you well and enjoying these first days of spring. I once saw a therapist who in the first fifteen minutes of our initial session asked me to draw a picture of myself. Although hesitant to display my artistic inabilities and a little surprised by the task at hand, I was paying a pretty penny for her time and wanted to get everything out of our session. So, I dove in. I took a sheet of white paper, grabbed the colored pencils on the table before me, and drew the most honest image of myself at that moment - a chameleon. I was lost. I didn’t know who I was and thought I knew who the people around me wanted me to be. I was confused. I tangled up my self-worth and misunderstood the love I was given by believing a made-up story about how it would all go away if people really knew me. And so, I did the only thing that made sense. I walled myself in and became a brilliant chameleon: beautiful at blending into the background, deft at embodying the expectations of others. And, I did this to myself. I chose this because being lost and being confused was easier than being honest and being seen. When I showed the therapist my self-portrait, I remember taking the deepest breath. I felt like I had tapped into a place within that had been suffocating and suddenly offered myself space to breathe. Holding that life-draining reality into the light (literally on paper) was the first step in letting go of who and how I thought I was supposed to be in order to begin becoming me. Right around that same time, I found my way to these wise words of Mary Oliver’s: You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. Meanwhile the world goes on. Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers. Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again. Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting - over and over announcing your place in the family of things. Let’s leave the chameleons in the trees and grasslands where they will thrive and let’s live our lives fully, AS IS, exactly as we are because the

world needs me to be me, and you to be you, and together we bring our perfectly imperfect, vulnerable selves to this moment, this day. No one is served by pretending our way through life. We deserve to be seen. Everyone does. Authenticity begets authenticity. Choosing Wholeness is recognizing that how we see ourselves, how we see each other, and how we see the world is always ours to choose. I see you. Thank you for seeing me. Always, Dawn

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