I am not one to make resolutions, but I am one to reflect and ponder, especially over the course of months when the same dreams, strange coincidences and themes keep showing up in my daily life. In the last several months, I have found myself bumping into, dancing around and looking back at the same several words and trains of thought. Conversations and reflections that seemed to circle around a theme of belief and worthiness and inevitably individuality and connectedness.
I do believe.
I believe in optimism, good over bad, the importance of eating around a table with other people and driving in a car, taking routes that prolong the trip, just waiting for the conversation to happen. I have faith. Faith in the overall goodness dwelling in others, that magical and mysterious powers exist around me and that each of us has a role to play, big or small.
I believe in circles. The circle of life. The circle of love. The circle of protection. And if the same coincidences keep circling around you, it is important to pay attention.
Stepmother, my memoir, was published almost four months ago, to the day. It has been a ride. And it was, without a doubt, a highlight for me in 2016. There have been euphoric highs and some nail peeling nervousness. There has been the need to boldly put myself out there, where I didn’t want to go and some stepping back to deal with some sadness that percolated from the deep depths of history.
Looking back, deep in the history before this publication, was a circle. Years ago, a small breeze gathered, slipping between the trees and under the cracks of the door, circling with quiet efficiency, finally catching all the right elements, developing into a twister. A circle that wanted me to keep quiet, combusted with a circle to talk out loud. Puff. It declared. But a simple breeze can change the direction of the route and so it has. I am out. Stepmom. Mom. Wife.
As some of you may know, I like to cook. This passion ignited a real joy of reading cook books and diving into luscious stories about food and eating. It was through this process that I came upon some of the best instructions for my role as a stepmom. In a recipe for yogurt pancakes the author instructed the cook to mix the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients. The recipe was proceeded with this caution: blend, but don’t over mix or it will be tough. And, just like that, an epiphany. This was the direction that I was silently being asked follow as a stepmom. “…If you could just blend in…don’t over mix. Don’t stand out in the group. Don’t make yourself seen too much. Blur with the colors of the crowd…”
Believe it or not, I am a private person. So, blending without over mixing came easily for me at times.
But, while it is nice to blend in sometimes, over time it can feel restrictive. Pushing yourself away from even yourself. And there must come a day when you do not simply blend in. Or you lose you. You will not be able to find yourself in the crowd.
Last Fall, I attended a retreat with She Writes Press in Scottsdale, Arizona. On the first day of the retreat we all participated in an exercise driven by the following questions. What is your nature advocate? What descriptive words describe this natural phenomenon? Who is your real-life advocate? A person dead or alive who is your personal and genuine cheerleader? What words would this advocate choose to describe you? Nouns? Adjectives? Verbs? The culmination of this exercise? Your personal vision statement.
Always the diligent participant, I followed each direction with quiet seriousness. What came out surprised me and stuck with me. It was the beginning of the coincidences and themes to follow over the next few months.
My nature advocate was a tree. A tree is resilient and persevering. It can stand alone or be at peace in the mix of many. A tree changes with the season. Adjusts to the temperatures.
My real-life advocate was me.
My words to describe myself were unorthodox, sensitive, shy, and a good friend. Worth the effort.
In the months to follow, when words like belief and worthiness kept surfacing to confront me, a realization that I have always held, but had let slip away, surfaced once again. It is up to me. To find happiness, to be loved, to be worthy. It comes from within. It is my “gut” feeling. If I can’t bring my own happiness, love myself and believe in my own worthiness, no one else is going to either.
I am alone. And that is okay. It does not mean that I don’t have great companions and people upon whom I rely. I do. They make the days better and my life fuller.
I rely on me but I am connected. Some months ago, I was posed the question that perhaps my “knight in shining armor” had not lived up to my expectations. But what that accuser does not understand is that I ride my own horse. I am my own knight in beautiful multi-colored armor. I ride side by side with many along the way. I am also comfortable riding in the back watching the others take the lead. Then, every once in awhile, I say “giddy up” and gallop ahead, knowing it is my time to see the horizon first and in my own unique way.
“Yippee kai yay!”
Standing up straight. Looking you in the eye. This is me.
I am the tree that can persevere and can stand alone and is worth the effort.