January 20, 2016 Blog No Comments

step up2The new year has had auspicious beginnings. Extremes are being played out all around us. The unprecedented number of deaths of famous people have given us reviews of their extraordinary lives. David Bowie, being the one who has my attention.  The presidential debates have pitted fear mongering, aimed at the lowest common denominator, on one side vs. experience, policy reform and serious issues, on the other. Along with this, the continued crisis of polarities in the Middle East adds more fuel to the fire. And now we have extreme cold weather after unseasonable warmth.

When the pendulum swings to such extremes it galvanizes all of us. We’re given an opportunity to pause and check in with ourselves to take stock. What do we think and where do we stand on things? Being neutral has not been one of the options we typically choose.

In fact, the extremes seem to challenge us. They invite us to consider how we will respond and what we’re going to do? These rapid fire events are stirring us up.  Saying to us…

Folks… “we’re being called to step up” and consider how we want things to go in our life.

What does this mean to you? Seeing David Bowie’s life in review has given me much to consider in context of this question. Allow me to explore it with you


Looking through the lens of David Bowie’s accomplishments has highlighted the impact one person with creative genius has on culture.  He was deeply interested in all forms of music, theater, film, fashion and art, producing 25 albums, acting and producing theater and film, as well as being a pioneer in music video. He was on the leading edge of change in many areas of our culture. There are lessons here for us.


His impact on his fans came from his personal sensitivity and boldness to fearlessly highlight social issues. Through his personas, he exposed feelings of alienation, the cultural estrangement of ethnicity and different gender identifications, influencing many generations of people to claim themselves. Never clinging to one image, he confidently moved through his own life transitions and forced us to look at our own.

You are fine; boldly claim who you are.


Bowie’s ability to transcend himself in an array of assumed personas had great impact on musicians that followed him from Madonna to Lady Gaga to costumed rockers like Kiss. But he didn’t cling to one image, they changed as he did from the space alien Ziggy Stardust, to Aladdin Sane, Thin White Duke and more, ending with Lazarus. His ability to show his inner conflicts with outward clarity spawned new generations of people more willing to authentically show themselves.

The invitation for us is to examine how we do this.  How authentic are you in how you show up in your life? The time is right to shed what no longer fits.  How do you want to live right now?

It is never too late to step into your authentic self.


Bowie also grappled with the bigger questions of where are we from and where are we going.  His new album, Blackstar, released on his birthday two days before his death, is a chilling and profound last statement. He looks at the end of life questions through his last personae – Lazarus. His song, Lazarus, sums it up: This way or no way – you know how to be free – just like the bluebird”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-JqH1M4Ya8

You only have one chance at this life. Stake a claim to it – go your way. The alternatives don’t even count.

How bold are you willing to be to claim your freedom? 


In looking at David Bowie’s life, he launched himself in many directions following his own creative muse. We know him most as a famous musician, but he had other endeavors that weren’t as well known. He had records that didn’t have traction, he starred and acted in many films and theater projects that were not box office successes. He even took a ten-year hiatus from music. None of this affected his legacy. If anything, it makes him more human. His singular success was always being true to his talents and vision.

What’s your vision for yourself – what legacy do you want to leave? The clearer you have intention and have it be consistent with you and your true gifts, the more you are able to step into it. Once we have vision for our future, the path of action is more defined. It’s impossible to build a business, a relationship, a positive reputation or any legacy without that clarity of intent.

The way we think about ourselves and use our gifts becomes the blueprint for our legacy.

These are some of the lessons I have discovered from examining David Bowie’s life. In a time when extremes seem to be forcing us into polarized positions, it’s essential to be true to yourself. The invitation he gives us to claim ourselves, and explore it boldly is the foundation for the legacy we create.

If you are interested in exploring this for yourself, the course I am starting on January 26th will examine the principles that are the foundation for creating life on your own terms. “Spread Your Wings – Give Your Dreams Flight in 2016” has just a few more openings. For more information, see my previous posts about the workshop. Let me know if you are interested. I’d love to have you join.  I can be reached here or at connie@conniemilligan.com

Written by Connie Milligan, LCSW
If there is anything I’ve expressed that speaks to you, I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me at my email, connie [at] conniemilligan [dot] com