A Life Without Integrity Cannot Be Wholly Owned.
It’s a trying time. We’re in a state of radical expansion now, from an esoteric perspective, and boy, is it ever painful!
Here’s what I’m seeing now: I’m seeing that we are all so desperately craving the same thing, and we cannot see how to get it. We can’t see how to get it because we don’t know what it is.
What we are looking for is a chance to stretch out. To expand. We’re craving transcendence of the old ways. We desire to free ourselves from the shackles of the false paradigms that have been shoved down our throats all our lives.
We hold the knowledge that something is desperately wrong, but that the amount of energy required to repair whatever it is is more than what is currently available to us, because all the energy is going to our basic survival. This feels seriously yucky, doesn’t it?
Life feels like a battlefield all the time. Life as we know it is the symptom of chronic illness. And when you’re living in any kind of chronic state, it requires some serious strength of conviction and a superhuman drive to get to the point where you can reverse your symptoms. You need to know that there’s going to be a payoff, that there’s something at the end of it that isn’t death.
But the beauty of the Life as chronic illness analogy is that it often doesn’t take something huge to start us on the track to healing. We don’t need to cut whole food groups from our diets, or start waking at the crack of dawn to go for a run when we’re so sleep-deprived we can barely sit up straight.
It sometimes takes something tiny, something incidental, a little shift in perspective, and all of a sudden we can see the root of the inflammation, target, and obliterate it. Zap. Just like that.
Permission is what it takes to free your soul and release yourself from your self-imposed limitations. Permission to feel your feelings, to connect with the yearnings of your heart, to quit living in servitude, to quit martyring yourself to everyone else’s cause but your own, permission to throw off the shackles and the chains and permission to live with your entire heart — this is what it takes.
And more often than not, in my case, seeing myself reflected back at me through someone else’s words or experience is enough to motivate me to say, “Fuck that. I’m done with this story.” Today, this article came across my feed, and Bam! Done. Permission to expand.
I want to talk about integrity. It has come to my attention, over and over again, through my own story and through bearing witness to those of others, that a life not lived with integrity is a life that cannot be wholly owned and fully realized.
A life without integrity is a fear-based life. It is a life of constant defense and ongoing sense of impending doom. It’s a life of knowing that all the walls that you erected around you to keep you safe are actually paper-thin and can be torn down to expose you at any point in your vulnerable nakedness. It’s a life of self-deception, of false pretense, of lies and of untruths.
It’s a selfish and self-serving life. It’s a life of a prey animal. You were not born to be prey. And you’re not born to be a predator. You are born to fully inhabit the experience of being you.
It’s a funny time now. Social media has been simultaneously condemned for the power it has to connect and empower, and condemned for its ability to separate and restrict. We’re faced with a thousand mirrors we’ve never had access to before — snapshots of lives misrepresented and well-represented, and it’s virtually impossible to distinguish between the two.
And the simple fact of the matter is that this is no different from the way things were before.
We haven’t changed how we relate to each other because how we related was defined with the advent of agriculture, when we moved from a mindset of abundance and connection to the Earth to the scarcity mindset of ownership and possession, when we became owned and controlled by the need to have and to be more than our neighbors.
All the age of the internet has done is amplified these experiences and made it that much more challenging to hide from our pain. It takes much more effort to pull the blinders over our eyes about what we’ve done to ourselves, and how, by not questioning the stories we’ve been told, we’ve limited ourselves to them.
These are not our stories, these lives we’re living. These are the stories of those who came before us, and we can choose to close the chapter on those books and write new ones.
Friends, it will require enormous amounts of courage. It will require leaps of unimaginable faith. It will require that you simply trust, and when the fear and warning voices kick in, that you sit and listen to them but not allow them to throw you back behind your walls.
But first, you need to learn what it means to live with integrity.
- adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.
- the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished.
The first definition is how, I offer you, the majority of the masses would define the term. It relates to external loci of control — the church, the state, the morality of the culture to which you subscribe. I reject this definition for the purposes of my message, as we are no longer interested in public opinion, correct?
The state of being whole, entire, or undiminished is all that actually matters. For within the state of wholeness is you, and the expressions of your true humanity and your heart. The former is denial of self. The latter is ownership of the self and all that being human allows.
And trust me when I say that it allows so much that you have never ever even allowed yourself to dream about. But now I am encouraging you to dream. Please, please, please dream.
I get a lot of feedback about my social media feed. I have shared plenty about my personal health journey, which was easy for me, and risk-free, because I have always questioned the way North Americans eat. A lot of the suggestions I propose challenge people in all kinds of ways, and trigger both expansion and contraction.
Either direction is movement, and neither is a permanent commitment, and so I consider that I am doing my job through the sharing of my own experiences, so that others can witness, learn, and make choices for themselves.
And I have shared plenty about my fitness journey, which generally receives much applause, except when I show that I am capable of physical feats that most would never consider themselves capable of (hint: neither did I) and then the response is often contractive, as people scurry to blame me for their feelings of inadequacy and insecurity. That’s A-OK with me.
I chose a long time ago not to assume the emotional burdens of others in this regard. It makes no difference to how I enjoy my ability to stand on my hands or invert on the pole that others choose to resent me for what I show them about themselves. A challenge is a challenge is a challenge. Accept it or don’t. And then move along.
And now I’m on a journey to liberate my femininity, and in the age of the patriarchy, this will be my biggest challenge to date: to push the limits of what is acceptable for a mother, a business owner, a married woman, and a semi-public figure, to show to the public, either on my feeds, or on the stage.
But you know what I know to be true? It doesn’t matter what people think of me anymore. Or what they think of you. Or what they think of any of us, so long as we are living true to ourselves.
Because at the end of the day, if you are living a life of deception and a life of lies, people will know. And they will be waiting for you to step into the traps they set for you, because this is a society that gets hard from scapegoating and the witch-hunt.
And the only thing that can change this story for us is us deciding to move beyond the fear and put it all out there, regardless of the risk involved. Because it’s time, isn’t it? Can’t you feel that? Can’t you feel the pull to be seen for who you are, and not for who you’ve been told you’re supposed to be?
Public opinion is not useful to any of us unless we are running for political or public office, because public opinion about what is right or what is wrong is simply that: opinion. It is not truth. It is not gospel, neither religious nor secular. Public opinion is based on the subjugation of the masses, and I don’t know about you, but I no longer seek to be subjugated. I no longer perform for approval.
I am here to influence a shift, and shifts do not happen when no one swims against the stream. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, and boy, do I see how much I have to gain when I commit to the expressions of my truth!
My overwhelming mandate, now and always, has been to be unabashedly unapologetic about who I am, and where I’m going, and how I’m getting there. To recognize that I, like life, am fluid and adaptable, and that the way past something is through it. That I may need to move backwards before I can move forward again.
That I need to remain humble, always, about my accomplishments, because the second I become to sure about something, the Universe will remind me that I know nothing. To be open, receptive, and to trust in my resilience. To recognize that I may need to be smashed to smithereens so that I can reassemble in new configurations.
And to be secure in the knowing that all this is bigger than me, and that no matter what, my needs will be met, so long as I choose to allow them.
Your moral compass is not mine to navigate. It is yours. If you don’t like what you see, please avert your gaze. For I am here neither for your consumption, nor for your pleasure. I am here for mine, as you are for yours.
I live with integrity, and I am striving constantly for wholeness. And the moment I stop striving is the moment I invite in my death. I’m not yet ready to die, and if you’re here, reading this with me and witnessing my journey, you are not either.
Ilana Grostern is the co-owner of AppleCheeks™ Cloth Diapers, a Certified Whole30® Coach, environmental warrior, mother to three burgeoning women, and the creator of the Three Change Challenge. She is a proponent for anti-ageism and better aging, and is deeply involved in supporting women through their mid-life transformations, as she navigates her own. Read more at Disambiguation.