I honestly cannot thank enough those who cross my path in a myriad of ways for allowing, encouraging and inviting me to share my truest self with the world. If you are reading this blog, then I mean YOU.
On my awakening journey, the courage to share deep soul truth, publicly, has been one of my greatest hurdles.
Over the past several months, I have slowly gotten back in touch with an inner fervor, a place deep inside of me. It’s a place that I have been connected to since I was a very young girl growing up in Norfolk, Virginia, exposed to racial and economic diversity on a daily basis through both my local public school and via a mother who discussed openly the invisible divisions and subsequent disparities in our world.
My mom is an humanitarian at heart.
I can remember as clear as a bell being in my first grade classroom and intuiting, as I observed others around me, what it meant to be underprivileged in a world that valued its opposite.
I could sense other people’s suffering quite acutely within myself.
While I remember doing well in school academically, those early years were actually much more about deepening an empathetic view that, for me, became the most natural way to view the world.
In fact, over the past several years, as I delved into my own inner journey to heal old wounds, I was at first shocked that extreme empathy – viewing and feeling the world first and foremost as to how others might feel – was not also how everyone else perceived the world AND that it would turn out to be my largest internal wound that needed healing.
I have since learned that forsaking the true yearnings of my own soul in the name of empathy, generosity, kindness and compassion – generally being a “good” girl – is not really virtuous at all. And eventually, after years of work that led to an expanded self-love I had not known was possible, I recognized the deep self-betrayal that can come with extreme empathy. And yet…
Even in my early years as a professional soul nurturer, I learned the hard way, that while my self-love was indeed growing, I did not yet have the capacity for the truest and highest kind of service due to my own extreme empathy lens. And yet…
As my boundaries grew, surprisingly my compassion did not wane, but became enhanced. And over the past few years, I have felt the wide humanitarian lens of my past returning, but in a totally new light. This time, it is coupled with a self-worth – an emotional wholeness and a soul connection to the Oneness – that is the result of twenty-five years journeying through my own interior on a spiritual path.
This spiritual development has led me down many roads. It has been the foundation of my work, my marriage, and my parenting. And now, I realize with the kind of certainty that is felt rising in the body like a twirling corkscrew of JOY, the next step on my journey.
I am finally ready.
Over the past spring, summer and fall, through intermittent phases of total contentment and mild confusion, I came to know that I was ready.
As my identities as a spiritual seeker and a parent of younger children, as well as the desire to become a well-known speaker/author on the “new age” spirituality circuit began to fade, I came to know that I was ready.
As I began to understand more clearly how to rest within the paradoxes of duality and non-duality – relative truth and absolute truth – I came to know that I was ready.
I noticed myself yearning to serve in new ways. I began clipping ideas from my beloved Chicago Tribune as it, too, is exploring radical ways that we can uplift the underprivileged in our city.
My passion began to move in a “new” direction, and yet one that felt all too familiar to the compassionate young girl who still lives deep inside of me.
I began sharing my passion more regularly with my family. Always a family with the capacity to discuss multiple perspectives and gratitude, the energy behind the shares began to feel more concentrated and electric.
An intense love for humanity seemed uncontainable to me on certain days. I call those kinds of days “Big LOVE days” where the love is directed toward ALL rather than remaining primarily a personal love toward “mine.”
Also, during this time, my two oldest children – my beautiful daughters, Aidenn and Piper – began answering an inner call to participate in service/exploration trips that will continue to take them around the globe in the years to come. As their perspective expanded, so did mine, leading to a collaborative sharing of our similar hopes for the future.
These discussions have led to a palpable excitement of potent possibility.
In short, I have recognized that I am strong enough now – empowered from the inside – to be of true service to the world on the outside.
And interestingly, as I observe my children, due to their high level of self-awareness, I know in my heart that they will be up and running and able to offer their unique gifts to the world much sooner than I.
Why? How so? Simply put, there’s not quite as much psychic debris to wade through as an adult when we are truly seen and heard by our parents and allowed to be fully and safely ourselves within the familial nest.
If my husband and I have offered our children one thing, my hope is that it’s the above.
There is so much more that I could write in this space right now as the ideas, the direction, the enthusiasm, and most important of all, THE LOVE, often pour out of my heart.
I am not concerned about HOW at this point, but instead I am allowing all of the above to incubate until I feel the actual doing that will unfold as I continue to embrace the first stage of awakening as a time of self-realization, service, conscious soul-embodiment and the courage to offer our highest potential to the world.
While I will continue to do many of the things in my professional life that I have been doing over the past several years, the shift is that some of them will become secondary to a larger mission of global humanitarianism that will begin in my own backyard – a city that I have come to love – Chicago.
In the end, I have recognized that I am blessed beyond measure in all of the ways that I feel are most important. I also recognize that through my own desire for wholeness, I have gratefully been able to share that journey with my entire family, and therefore, had a hand in raising relatively whole children.
And, as the “intense” phase of mothering my own children begins to end over the next few years, I recognize that I deeply desire to help mother other children who have not had the solid base from which to soar that mine have had.
I foresee in my future total and complete fulfillment beyond my wildest imagination as I take my Soul to Soul contributions to a new level – a ground-floor level that will involve actually looking into the eyes of others who may appear quite different from myself and offering the Big LOVE in tangible ways yet unknown to me.
Soul nurturing knows no bounds…
That’s all for now:)
Warmth and LOVE,
A modern bridge between the mainstream and the mystical, Annie Burnside, M.Ed. is a soul nurturer, award-winning author, and teacher specializing in parenting, conscious relationships, authentic living and spiritual development. Her book Soul to Soul Parenting won the 2011 Nautilus Silver Book Award. Connect with Annie on Facebook and engage with her on Twitter @annieburnside.