There’s a satisfying feeling we get when we snap the perfect photo. It’s a feeling of accomplishment and pride. Yes, the reason for the photo may be a memory we want to hold onto, but the art of making the photo what we deem as perfect reveals our creative mind at work.
We share it on social media; sometimes we frame it. An imprint of a specific moment with perfect angles and perfect lighting that somehow proves that we were worthy—or so we think.
We may be guilty of the perfect “crop”, to cut out dead limbs or debris. We blur out backgrounds so spectators don’t see the “mess” behind the subject. Adjust the brightness to enhance what we want to bring attention to.
Just as a photographer sets a scene in a photo, we set the scene in our lives.
We choose what we focus on.
And when the background isn’t blurry enough to hide the mess? We fall apart, we place blame, we hide.
I was once in the throes of some thick anxiety, realizing that this mental illness will very much be with me for the rest of my life, when the frustration got the best of me.
A very wise woman asked me to breathe. She then handed me a plain white piece of paper. She asked me to hold this paper up in front of me with both of my hands.
She asked me to push that paper away as hard as I could. I listened, and pushed so hard we both giggled. As her giggle began to fade into sweet transition, she asked me to imagine that on the other side of that piece of paper was everyone I loved: my family, my friends, my son.
I closed my eyes to take in the recommended vision, and she then said to me, “Now open your eyes, can you see them? Through that piece of paper that you just worked so hard on pushing away from you, can you see your loved ones?”
Tears fell from my eyes as I realized that the paper represented my anxiety.
“No.” I replied
She allowed me to process this for a few moments before softly saying “Now place the paper on your lap. Can you see them now?”
With the paper resting on my legs, no longer obstructing my view, I exhaled “Yes.”
The “anxiety” was still present, it was just no longer my focus.
Magic can be found in the background—in the mess.
That’s where all of the lessons are and where the dirty laundry resides. It’s what makes us strong and also sometimes weak. It’s what gave us passion and also humility.
Our mistakes are in the mess and if we learn from those mistakes, then our phoenix rises from that mess.
Should the focus be on the mess? No. But it remains, even if you blur it out.
When we’re focused on one perspective, we lose sight of the whole picture. It’s the whole picture that gives us definitions and depth.
Honing in on problems seems to be what comes easiest for a lot of us. We stumble into a dreadful moment and immediately forget all the good that came before or may come after. We sink into the mud of the problem, isolating us from experiencing anything other than dread.
In relationships, we tend to hold onto those moments, almost as ammo to fire back when our partner or friend hurts us again. Rehashing old zings becomes a comfort that is really just a delusional lie dangling over the relationship.
A cycle that needs broken.
Can you see beyond the focused incident?
Is there beauty around it? Is that friend a good friend to you overall? Can you feel your partner’s love? Do you have a general trust for the person?
If you’re not focused on a particular unpleasant time in your relationship, is there laughter and love? If yes, then it’s worth healing. Can you shift the focus to the good and heal the bad?
If you can’t, that’s ok too. Sometimes we zoom out so much and see it all so clearly, we come to find that it was all an illusion anyways. A refocus, if you will—some relationships need to be let go.
In regret, we tend to lean into beating ourselves up for whatever mistake we made. We replay the scenario over and over again in our minds. Torturing ourselves by wasting wishes on time machines, so that we could have a do-over.
Can you see beyond the focused mistake?
Was there a lesson that you learned? Did that lesson encourage you to grow your heart? Did you apologize—to yourself and to whomever else may have been involved?
We all make mistakes–not forgiving yourself only hinders growth. Are you open to release the guilt and regret so that you can grow? Can you see beyond the mistake and focus on the lesson? Can you focus on the good in you that learned from the mistake?
In the struggle, we often tell our story. Whether it’s mental health issues, money issues, family issues, health issues–if we’ve struggled most of our lives, the story is a large part of who we think we are. We allow ourselves to excuse repeated heartaches, because we’ve told ourselves that it is to be expected: an “It’s always been this way, it’ll always be this way” mentality.
Zoom out. Can you see beyond the focused struggles? In the vision of what you want from this life, can you see the light through the darkness? When you zoom out can you see beyond the pain you’ve experienced? What’s in the background of your struggle? Is it the desire to want more? Is it love? Can you make a new story of triumph?
Art of Focus
In the end, what is it that you want to create?
A life full of love? Compassion? Kindness? Forgiveness?
If you look at life as though it were an art piece, what is it that you want your subject to be?
Let that be your focus.
Make the background blurry if you need to–like a blanket of boundaries.
And remember to zoom out, even if it’s messy.
Born and raised in West Virginia, you'll find Heather's heart outlined in the Appalachian mountains. She has strong passions for writing, healing, and music. She has spent much of her life spreading the message of ‘loving without conditions', all the while kicking up dirt - barefoot and dancing. While she has been an Energy Worker for over 15 years, a self-published author, and a business owner - Heather's truest love lies in being a mother...her continuous reminder of unconditional love and heartfelt laughter.