How do you show up?
At my recent new branding photoshoot, the experience with the photographer (Louise Williams) was nothing at all what I expected. Of course, we discussed what it was that I wanted to achieve, the direction of my brand, my audience, and what type of images might support that. Then when we had an idea of the direction, I took up my spot in front of the camera. That’s when it changed.
Instead of suggesting how I should stand, hold my arms, turn my head, pose this way, look like this… she left it to me.
To show up.
And for over six hours (with a stop to refuel), that’s what I did.
I allowed myself to feel vulnerable, to play, to laugh, to sing (yes, I did), to be a Diva, a Leader, and to channel my wisdom through the spoken word as a Seasoned Voice.
Not only did my photographer trust me to show up, I trusted me to show up.
Now you might think – well, that’s okay for you. You’re an actress, you’ve been on the stage, heck you’ve even directed people on camera – so of course, you know how to behave in front of the camera.
And yes, you’d be right in thinking that. I DO know how to behave in front of a camera.
But I didn’t behave.
I did the opposite. The unexpected. I channelled my knowledge, wisdom, experience and the essence of who I am, and then let it loose.
What I did was BE. Such a simple word, with the weight of my entire psyche wrapped up in it.
Let the depths of your experience and your light shine so there is absolutely
Giving yourself the gift of your presence, allowing yourself to simply BE, letting the depths of your experience and your light shine so that there is absolutely NO DOUBT about who you are, or what you represent. Sounds simple, doesn’t it?
Yet time and again, I’m asked – how do you create presence? How do you bring forth such light, life and power?
Presence is an inside job.
In my book “Every.Day.Presence” (2015) I write about presence as “the art of being visible”.
“Presence is a deep relaxation into self, so that one’s essence becomes visible. Presence, however, is not a skill you develop. It is not a layer you add. Rather it is a taking away of what no longer serves you, of what is holding you back from your life and your ability to engage authentically.
Presence comes from within, a deep knowledge of who you are.
It is a certainty, an embracing of all that you are and can be. It is about Being all that you can BE, your gifts, your talents and abilities and your unique voice.
Presence is the art of being visible.”
And that’s the key – being visible. Or should I say, being WILLING to be visible.
As an older woman in business, who is not planning on retiring any time soon, it is essential that I not only embrace but actively advocate for my visibility. That I own my power, my potency and my unique presence.
And that means showing up. Whether it's for a coffee meeting, a keynote or a photoshoot, it is vital that I bring my full self - my presence - to everything I do.
In her seminal book "Presence", Patsy Rodenburg OBE, Director of Voice at London's Royal National Theatre and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and recognised as one of the world's leading voice and acting coaches, says "Presence is the energy that comes from you and connects you to the outside world...It is when you are fully present that you do your best work and make your deepest impression."
This is the magnitude of the invitation I extend to you now. When you are fully present, you create the energy of invitation - an invitation to connect and engage with you. "The deepest impression."
It takes courage to show up, regardless of age and experience. It takes courage and vulnerability to allow yourself to be seen. That courage and vulnerability comes from a deep well-spring of self-belief and authenticity. THAT is presence.
Are you ready to embrace the power of your authentic presence?
Last week, on LinkedIn, I shared a post and a photo from the photoshoot mentioned above (you can find it here.)
It is the photo at the head of this article. Untouched. No photoshop. No erasing of a single wrinkle. This post has generated 12,000 views to date (and climbing) and numerous comments... of support, encouragement and an acknowledgement of the power and potency of my authentic presence.
This commentary gives me hope. It tells me that there is a paradigm shift in the way older women are perceived. No longer side-lined or invisible, but as women of wisdom, experience, strength, courage, resilience, power and potency.
Women of presence.
©Simone de Haas | 17 March 2022
In the musical 42nd Street, lyricist Al Dubin writes “Until you learn how to sing a new song, go into your dance…”.
I think it’s great advice as we all wait to see what will next unfold.
While I have been finding new songs to sing this year, I have realised that I have not ‘pivoted’ with any particular grace. Instead, I feel as if I have pirouetted — and then some. *Pirouette: to whirl about on one’s toes
2020 has definitely kept me on my toes, so I decided to take time out to reflect on my many pirouettes and what I’ve learned along the way.
I didn’t create 2,000 followers on social media; instead, in the first three months of lockdown I created a series of Facebook lives called “Coffee & Conversation with Simone: Your cup of calm”. During these lives, I told stories, channelled wisdom and extemporised on a wide range of topics for 30–45 minutes, five days a week for 90 days. And I realised it was never about the following, rather it was about being able to hold space and evoke calm for those seeking it.
I watched from the wings, with no little degree of envy, friends and colleagues create fabulous home studios and garner virtual audiences and wondered why I didn’t try harder to do the same. Until I realised that my personal and professional stage was transforming into something greater than I could comprehend and that the essence of this transformation required deep reflection and…pausing.
And that, as a conduit and catalyst for transformation, my message was also changing and it was time to honour what needed to be voiced, or not.
Not a pivot, but a pirouette.
I didn’t speak on any of the stages that were planned this year, but I did create and launch my first in-depth online course to great success and wonderful testimonials. And as an unexpected and delightful bonus, embraced the opportunity to share my creativity with those who needed my expertise — with the creation of upwards of forty short courses to date — and which have helped me focus and distill my creative talents in a very different arena.
Not a pivot, but a pirouette.
I haven’t been on social media much since my Facebook live extravaganza, not because I had nothing to say, but rather that there was too much. Too much that wanted to be said. Too much grief to be expressed and ultimately transmuted into wisdom and love. Too much rawness and reality.
So much that was asking to be voiced, and which required a hibernation of sorts, a willingness to be present with all that was, the shedding of the old and embracing the new. Embracing the panoply of talents discovered, uncovered and owned.
Not a pivot, but a pirouette.
A pirouette requires your full commitment to the whirl. To the lift, flow and grace of what is.
At first you will wobble — and that’s okay.
And then, you:
Ground your energy
Shift your stance
Activate your body
Focus your vision
Lift your spirit
Release your intention
I admit it – I’m struggling to find my new ‘normal’… you see, I’ve never really understood or embraced the concept of 'the norm', so now that no one else is feeling like their old self, I guess I’m in good company.
And the new 'normal'…seriously, how short-sighted is that, to expect that we will be anything like we once were.
There have been so many changes, shifts, reinventions and pirouettes.
Deep dives, leaps of faith and oh! so much pivoting!
We’ve been dancing on quicksand. Trying to find our footing – or at least something - anything - stable. To what end?
So that we can do more of the same that we’ve done for millennia? Busy work for the sake of being busy? The stuff of mindless occupation.
Today a colleague spoke of a deep dissatisfaction with the way things were. Of having little motivation, in spite of creative projects, possibilities and easing of restrictions. An almost overwhelming sense of ‘what’s the point’.
The point is that we are being invited to be the change. Humanity is changing, at a deep heart and soul level. Our world-view, our priorities, our inter-connectedness with all living things, our deeper connection with mother earth and our sense of belonging is changing. WE are changing. And that is uncomfortable. And unfamiliar. And laced with fear.
So I shared with my colleague some words that came to me in that moment, words that spoke to a deeper truth, a more profound wisdom for these times. And the words that came said:
“Hold space for yourself – first and foremost – to rediscover all the pieces of yourself that are coming to light. That are lining up to unfold their brilliance and their wisdom. Allow them the air and the nourishment that they desire. Recognise that more is coming into play for you, not just in this moment, but in all future moments. You are unfurling your joy, your capacity for love and your innate and most profound potential. You are changing. Hold space for who you are now, and for who you are becoming.”
And I thought to myself - That’s great advice. I’m going to do that.
What about you?