On Friday, to bookmark this chapter in our lives, my twin brother and I got little tattoos together for our birthday. We didn't get the same thing because that felt a little too cliche but we each got something meaningful that represents this last year for us.
I chose to get the Italian term, "chiaroscuro", on my right arm - the side I write and create with. Chiaroscuro stems from the Italian words chiaro (“clear” or “bright”) and oscuro (“obscure” or “dark”) and refers to the arrangement of light and dark in a work of art. Leonardo da Vinci is said to have invented chiaroscuro, discovering that he could portray depth through slow gradations of light and shadow.
As the needle dipped into my skin I was brought back to a birthday we celebrated together years ago. My Dad threw us a little party at the house and had a cake made in the form of a yin-yang sign that read 'Happy Birthday Twins' on it. As he carried it out, I remember looking around the room at all the smiling faces while they serenaded the tune of Happy Birthday and cringing a little. All I could think is I secretly knew which half of the yin and yang I was, and it wasn't the light one.
Jonathan was always the good one. The easy one. I was difficult, angry, and a little unruly. So I spent most of my life presenting my good side to the world, positioning it in the light to show I wasn't so angry and resentful, until someone got too close, or overstepped my tight boundaries, and I had a hard time taming it.
This last year taught me that neither of us is either side of that cake. We all have light and dark inside of us. The beauty is to honor both and recognize that it's what gives us depth. It's what makes us whole and human. And without question, it’s what makes for the best art.
Life by Design was born out of a need for my own self-healing after decades of unresolved illness. It wasn’t until finding the courage to look within that I discovered it was my own belief system holding me back from experiencing a truly thriving life. We all have access to that thriving life. We just need to rediscover our power and ignite the healing-self. Only then can we unapologetically live a life by our own design.