To live your soul signature means having the courage and clarity to live a life that is uniquely yours and reflects your greatest potential. This series of posts focuses on people who inspire me in the way they live their lives and have found their most authentic expression.
Emilie Benes Brzezinski is living her soul signature.
“Forests are places of solace and silence. Europeans, especially Central Europeans, are drawn to them. They are, I think, places that have a special meaning – where you dream and think. They inspire and haunt.”
– Emilie Benes Brzezinski
Many women and men may put aside the pursuit of their own soul signature in order to care for their families. Their authentic expression can wait, they feel, until they’re free of obstacles and commitments. The truth of the matter, though is that this is the precise time to listen to your soul’s clarion call.
Eighty-two year-old artist and wood sculptor, Emilie Benes Brzezinski, was born with a deep connection to nature. She hails from a region known for its reverence of forests, so unsurprisingly her soul signature took shape as a beautiful mix of her artistic spirit and ancestral roots. She began her love affair with trees as a child, romping through the woods of Switzerland, sculpting and carving wooden objects in her father’s tool shop, breathing new life into old wood. Along with her Czech parents, she abandoned the Alps and immigrated to the US during World War II. At Wellesley College she studied art history. She went on to marry Polish-born Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security adviser in the Carter administration. Together they started a family.
Emilie’s artistic career took a back seat to her duties as a mother and political wife, but her soul’s expression still kindled inside her. Washington galas and visiting dignitaries took precedence over rustic pursuits. Even as her duty to her family and country took priority, she was always on the lookout for fallen tree trunks, always seeking the perfect limb to transform into a masterpiece. When her children were grown, she was able to heed the call of the forest, pick up her axe and chainsaw, and create monumental wood sculptures. She had her first exhibition in Washington, D.C. in 1981.
Emilie’s numerous gallery and museum installations across the globe have earned her great acclaim, but it is the process of the work itself that ignites her creativity, purpose and joy. Using found felled trees, she carves sculptural forms that stay true to the tree's vertical shape – respecting the wood and letting the tree itself inform her work.
“Nature has a grand design,” she says, “but its manifestations unfold in imperfection and specificity. As I carve the trunk, I retain the essential outline and gesture of the tree, uncovering within its form a symbol of its history.”
When asked what drives her to spend so much time in her studio, she replied, “A dream, an idea. I love to be in my studio. I love the sawdust and the smell of the wood. “It’s an instinctive process. I get exhilarated.”
So I ask you: Are you ignoring the dreams and instincts that might lead you to greatness? Are you waiting for the right time to unleash your monumental offering to the world?
Emilie Brzezinski shows us that unleashing our true passion and purpose is a matter of choice. Your own soul signature is always patiently waiting – longing for you to rev up the chainsaw, begin carving majestic forms, and set your exhilarated heart free.