We shall overcome

tiffany_co.jpg
Union Square, San Francisco, tweeked slightly in photoshop for that vintage postcard look, Canon Digital Rebel

Back in 1993, a few months before I was to move to New Orleans, I went to see a psychic at a Spiritualist Church in Santa Barbara. It was called the Spiritualist Church of the Comforter and when my friend told me about it, I imagined a cozy place, with pews made of down, walls like egg crate mattresses and a floor made of sheepskin.

The first thing I noticed when we arrived were that the walls were covered in sunflowers. Murals, painstakingly rendered in jubilant yellows and greens and oranges. It was a joyous little space and I felt at ease there. I wondered what they preached.

But Wednesday nights, the night we were there, was reserved for readings, {channelings actually} by a woman who charged only five dollars a question. We went for kicks really, a fun little diversion, a little adventure in our evening. What’s five bucks? She instructed us to write a question down on a piece of paper, place it in a small envelope and wait until our number was called.

When I sat down with the channeler she immediately closed her eyes, “The song, We Shall Overcome is ringing in my ears right now.” And then she opened her eyes and looked straight into mine, “But we shall overcome ourselves and not others.” At that, I felt a lump form in my throat. It was like she saw a secret part of me and I was a little embarrassed. At that time in my life, I had been taking self-empowerment courses and was very enthusiastic about them. I imagined how wonderful it would be if my friends and family did them too and probably asked them one too many times if they were interested in joining me.

“You are very excited about something right now,” she said, “even zealous about something. Just remember, we shall overcome ourselves and not others.” {My friends, who were in earshot began to giggle and smile}
I heard that song again yesterday as I sat at Glide and that lesson welled up in my heart again. It reminded me that in any fight for civil rights or justice, we also have to look at what lives in our own hearts. We have to remember our own greed, our own meanness, our own prejudice. We have to acknowledge how far we have to go in our own lives and know that it is about overcoming that as well.

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Hi, I’m Andrea

On this blog you’ll be learning with me how to use our voices, share our creative superpowers and live life in full color.

As an artist, photographer, life coach + mentor, I’m redefining what it means to be a SUPERHERO — ‘cause in my world, it’s got nothing to do with capes, spandex or sidekicks and everything to do with tenderness, intuition & baby steps of bravery.

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12 Comments

  1. Kate

    Andrea, that is an awesome idea: we shall overcome ourselves. I am digging these simple, ohsosimple sentences. One-one-one. They are the PUSH I need and they’ve kind of become my mantras. Because, gee, I sit here at this desk (I’m an administrative assistant at an oil and gas company in Texas) and just feel UNCOMFORTABLE because this isn’t exactly what I want to do with my time. It pays the bills (barely) and that’s always good. But I love to write and take pictures and make jewelry and make collages and sing and play with my tiny dog and kitten and go to yoga and bellydance. And I daydream about being in a band, running my own cd store, fostering homeless chihuahuas, writing a book, writing songs…so many things! But I just feel awfully brain-dead while at work and that feeling sometimes spills over into my precious evenings and weekends. And it isn’t ANYONE’S fault, of course not. Lots of times I just need that simplesosimple statement of “c’mon, you have to get up and BE what you want to be.” And that’s where you come in…just as I’m feeling my most ordinary and slightly miserable, there you are, ready with an sentence that gets me closer to being what I want to be. Thank you! Sorry for the gushing and lifestory, but I am getting to the point that when something hits me, I just GOTTA tell that person.

  2. stef

    What a beautiful story! I agree, we have to acknowledge in ourselves before trying to get everyone around us to change.
    thank you for sharing …as always.

  3. Donavan

    That’s what it’s all about kid.
    When I was studying to be a shrink (one of my many 51% completed endeavors), a favorite teacher repeated over and over…”you can only take your clients as far as you, yourself, have gone”.
    It’s all about seeing, not fixing.
    We shall overcome.
    And speaking of coming over…
    If you ever come to LA again and don’t let me take you for high tea and sugar cookies, I’ll kill you.
    😉

  4. jenn

    I’ve had a week of being frustrated and my fortune cookie says “Pride invites calamity, but humility reaps its harvest.”

  5. mati

    ahmen!
    thanks for the walk:) raquetball next time?

  6. Julia

    So true!!! I suppose it’s about getting out of our own way, and looking first at what troubles us most about ourselves. I often see that things that bother me most about others are most often those same traits, fears and bad habits that I find most annoying in myself. What a better place the world would be if we could all clean up our collective messes at “home” before casting judgements on others. Oh….I hope the next time you come down to L.A., I can finally invite you to my art therapy studio. We can sit on the floor and paint with our fingers,(and toes) and eat lemon drops, just like my students do….seems like some of the best and purest artwork happens under those condtions. 🙂

  7. Marilyn

    Well put, Andrea. If only we could always remember that the best mirrors have nothing to do with vanity… (I miss Glide. I miss those ‘back in the day’ moments when my girl J. and I would sit in the only-a-third-full 9 am service to listen and sing and laugh and cry. We’d walk down the stairs, and there would be Cecil ready to give you a big-ass hug. Then we’d walk up to the corner to have breakfast, where the band could usually be found at the counter, chowing down between services. Afterwards we’d hop into J’s car and zoom homeward, feeling cleansed and renewed and like we could face another week, no matter what.)

  8. mik

    HI Andrea,
    LOVED this post! I am currently doing something that I believe EVERYONE should be doing and WOW is it hard to sit on it and realize I am doing it because I WANT to and the rest of the world is doing what they want to …. and it is ALL good. I just feel so blessed that there are so many ways to come home to ourselves. Reading your words is a very good way for me. I wrote down a question as I read through your entry and when I got to the end… I had MY answer! It is up to me!!! Yay! Now who else would I expect could give me what I need better than me??? I feel grateful to be part of your web family – even if we never really ever meet. ALL is good.
    love,
    Mik

  9. french toast girl

    Powerful stuff.
    Remember also, the other verses: “We will live in peace” and “We’ll walk hand in hand”. My two-year-old actually has me sing those verses to her at bedtime.

  10. Jen in Ohio

    Hey Andrea, et al,
    Just thought this was an interesting story that fit in well with your theme of overcoming prejudices and preconceived notions:
    http://www.livejournal.com/users/catelin/179683.html
    Enjoy! Hope all is well.
    Missing the fog of Northern California, having traded it in for the fog of Cleveland,
    Jen

  11. jenn

    andrea,
    very powerful.
    i love this… we shall overcome ourselves and not others.
    i’ve been reading this book by the chicken soup for the soul guy and in it he gives the idea that we are completely responsible for 100 % of our lives. So, things don’t happen to us, we happen to them. It’s like if you are waiting for a bus and it’s late, you have to say to yourself, how can I show up differently, when am I showing up late, or not at all in my life. it’s hard work having to not only admit this, but also practice this but I love it. It really get you thinking about how you show up in each situation, not just physically, but your thoughts, your emotions, everything.
    I too believe with the fight for equality, civil rights and justice we have to look at what we bring to the table. I can’t ask for others to accept me and my choice for a life if I am not accepting who they are and what they choose.
    How do we get to that place of not seeing different, and only seeing the same….
    great post, you’ve really got me thinking.
    jenn

  12. jenn

    andrea,
    very powerful.
    i love this… we shall overcome ourselves and not others.
    i’ve been reading this book by the chicken soup for the soul guy and in it he gives the idea that we are completely responsible for 100 % of our lives. So, things don’t happen to us, we happen to them. It’s like if you are waiting for a bus and it’s late, you have to say to yourself, how can I show up differently, when am I showing up late, or not at all in my life. it’s hard work having to not only admit this, but also practice this but I love it. It really get you thinking about how you show up in each situation, not just physically, but your thoughts, your emotions, everything.
    I too believe with the fight for equality, civil rights and justice we have to look at what we bring to the table. I can’t ask for others to accept me and my choice for a life if I am not accepting who they are and what they choose.
    How do we get to that place of not seeing different, and only seeing the same….
    great post, you’ve really got me thinking.
    jenn

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