Rock On Little Fish
This is my entry for Christine’s Simply 6 Minutes photo challenge. Image credit: Romolo Tavani.
What’s a girl to do when she feels small in her world? She puts on a big scary fin to go about her daily business.
Although it seemed like a good idea on that day many moons ago, when protecting herself was necessary, over time, the world had expectations, and she became a fraud.
It seemed so easy to wake up, put on a fin, and face the world. She didn’t realize that every time she wore that fin, a little piece of her true self was being taken from her.
She is left confused as she teeters on entering the final chapter of her life. How could she not be?
That big scary fin seems small now. She is outgrowing the facade and being forced to attend a meet and greet with someone she no longer recognizes.
This monumental shift in the view of herself has created a knowing that she is enough.
I’m starting to get the impression that WordPress is honing in on my innermost thoughts, like Instagram and Facebook. It’s no accident that this question was presented to me today.
Freedom has three different meanings. The first kind of freedom is “freedom from,” freedom from the constraints of society. Second is “freedom to,” freedom to do what we want. Thirdly, there is “freedom to be,” not just to do what we want but to be who we were meant to be.
As I teeter on the edge of entering the third chapter of my life, the “freedom to be” resonates with me the most. Probably because it is truly the only one I can change myself, yet it seems complicated. Why?
Well, I’m learning that when you’ve been conditioned for decades that specific belief systems are etched in stone for the rest of eternity, it takes some time to believe that; well, that’s bullshit. Practice makes perfect, as they say.
For me, it all started with the labels. Oh, yes. Not that they were necessarily wrong labels. Who wouldn’t want to be crowned “the good one” or “the one with the big heart?” They seemed like compliments then, but it has been a heavy load and, frankly, a lot of responsibility. A ton of unspoken no’s on my back.
That seemingly small, good intention has created a woman who has given her power to everyone and everything for so long that she has forgotten she has the freedom to just be. A fraud!
This is not the first time an epiphany has presented itself. I’ve recognized this at other times in my life, in other situations, but this was different. Peeling the layers over time.
Things were quietly being revealed over the last two years. Bit by bit, I recognized the chains that were holding me back from the life I was meant to live. Not realizing I had the keys the whole time.
I know I must be getting very close to healing the core because suddenly, all the pieces of my complicated makeup came together, and I wept and wept. Cleansing the soul.
Someone asked, “Why are you crying?” and I didn’t have an answer. It was as if all the words I was trying to say hit a roadblock in my mouth. I was crying because I recognized the freedom.
Over the past few days, I’ve thought about my tears and those of everyone else who experienced freedom in one way or another. The only way to describe it is an enormous relief, followed by the question … Now what?
Enjoy the Ride!
Ten years ago, I came across this little parable. It arrived in an unlikely fashion. It brought me to tears, and I only recognized a portion of its power then. I was only operating on a low frequency at that moment.
Now I see that my consciousness was operating at a lower frequency. A level that prevented me from the enormity of the content. Growth is slow and steady. 10 years to be exact.
An old man and his son lived in an abandoned fortress on the side of a hill. The son was the sole support of his father, and their only possession of value was a horse. One day, the horse ran away. The neighbors came by to offer sympathy. “This is a terrible thing,” they said. “How do you know?” asked the old man.
Several days later, the horse returned, bringing several wild horses. The old man and the son shut them all inside the gate. The neighbors hurried over. “This is fabulous,” they said. “How do you know?” asked the old man.
The following day the son tried riding one of the wild horses. Alas, he fell and broke his leg. Sure enough, the neighbors came around as soon as they heard the news. “What a tragedy!” they said. “How do you know?” asked the old man.
The following week, the emperor’s army entered the village, forcing every young man into service to fight faraway battles. Many of them would never return. But the son couldn’t go. He had a broken leg.
Now for the good part. I re-read it this morning as if I had read it for the first time. Whoa!
This time around, I recognized the certainty. When things happen in our life, good or bad, they are happening for us, not to us. This trust isn’t easy, especially for me. I’ve never felt safe enough not to doubt what I was thinking, let alone being told. Even when all of the evidence proved otherwise.
Another vital message missed, primarily because I’m a people pleaser in recovery, was the power of opinions, both our own and those of others. I feel like I was hit by a lightning bolt.
This time, the “How do you know?” jumped right off the page. Suddenly, every bit of advice/opinion ever given or taken flashed before my eyes, whether it was solicited or not. Whew, that was quite a show!
I am so proud of myself for seeing these messages this time around. I’ve been working hard to heal, and it felt like my progress was being revealed.
Hey, listen up. We’re all human, so don’t think re-reading a parable and getting hit with an imaginary lightning bolt fixed decades of damage. I wish!
I’ll still have doubts, but now I’m more aware of their negative power, and you better believe I’ll be giving my two cents, but not before pausing to consider what I know as opposed to spewing off words based on my own scarcity. A work in process.
It’s never too late to resurrect your life. So, get to it.
Enjoy the Ride!
Ok, I believe another word is being thrown around too freely. The term is Vintage. According to my friends over at Merriam-Webster, the definition is: of old, recognized, and enduring interest, importance, or quality. Classic. Which is precisely what I thought.
When I hear Vintage, I think of a Channel suit resting in the back of the closet for decades and re-entering the world as if it never paused. That, ladies and gents, is Vintage.
Now, back to my shock and awe regarding the over usage. There is a unique/totally overpriced but super cool store in my area that carries an array of antique, slightly used, but very high-end merchandise or local artist creations. I love to browse through every once in a while to see what might catch my eye. My eyes definitely have a separate bank account from mine.
On one of my looks, but keep my wallet in the car visits, a small bouquet of the most vibrant plumb-colored silk hydrangeas seduced me. I’m so easy.
I prepared myself for the sticker shock and went in for a closer look. I lifted the beautiful rustic tag and read Vintage Silk Hydrangeas for $14.00. Um, vintage?
Ok, points for the tag and maybe even a few for the perfect penmanship, but I had to draw the line at trying to pass off used silk flowers as Vintage. They didn’t need the extra marketing. It was love at first sight.
According to Google, something has to be at least 40 to bear the vintage title, and these beauties were toddlers at best, and for that reason alone, I put them back on the shelf. I’m not going to lie; it was a long goodbye.
Two weeks later, I was still thinking about the purple beauties. Were they still available, or would they go home with someone else? Ugh …
Feeling like a needy first date, I went back for answers.
It wasn’t easy because the entire store was rearranged to accommodate new temptations. After what seemed like an eternity, we were reunited. It was like a scene from a movie.
Once our eyes locked, it was over. They were in my hand, at the register, and out the door in a flash. Not because they were Vintage but because they were beautiful.
This was a lesson to be mindful when I choose my words. Labels, whether placed on objects or people, can be harmful. It’s just an easy way to market people, places, and things we don’t understand.
Enjoy the Ride!
Let me get something out of the way right from the start. I have never had a teacher in a traditional school setting who I consider influential. Sorry, not sorry.
The first person to teach, influence or guide me through a learning process was Lawrence T., a partner in one of the largest law firms in Philadelphia. He was a man who perspired wealth with a reputation for being complex yet brilliant at his craft. For whatever reason, we clicked.
I was 24 years old and in the process of divorcing my high school sweetheart, who left me in a financial disaster. The mortgage company seizing my wages was only one of my many hurdles.
This time in my life was challenging, to say the least. I was trying to navigate selling a house, negotiating payments to creditors, and accepting that everything I believed to be true about love and marriage was a lie. I’m sure I was still doing laundry for my kids when they were 24.
Somehow, by the grace of God, that slate was cleared off in a little over a year when Lawrence T. approached me with an employment opportunity that would change my life, not because of the job, but the chance to replenish that emptiness with positive challenges. I was scared to take this plunge but had nothing to lose.
On my first day, Lawrence introduced me to the department in a way that had me looking over my shoulder, swearing he couldn’t possibly be talking about me. He handed me a title with all the perks without the formal education required. He convinced me that my experience outweighed any certification from an institution. He clearly saw something I never saw.
He gave me free rein to make decisions, which I was not accustomed to. I was drafting legal motions without any direction aside from the order. My face was undoubtedly asking, “are you insane?” because I was quickly told, “you know what to do; give it a shot.” I felt like a first-grader asked to do calculus.
Lawrence always used a Montblanc fountain pen, which was something foreign to me. I didn’t know anyone who used a fountain pen daily. I didn’t know they existed outside of signing the declaration of independence.
Over the next several months, I drafted many documents, and they were returned to me with so many revisions I was left thinking, “why not just write it yourself.” FYI: Those revisions stand out when someone uses a Mont Blanc pen.
This process continued until he walked into my office one day with a clean document, a big smile, and the words, “I knew you could do it.” I hadn’t felt that good since, well, forever.
While sitting here today, thirty-five years later, I was forced to remember what his influence taught me to do and recognize things within myself that had been beaten down by the world around me.
This daily prompt came at the perfect time. I haven’t thought about Lawrence or this blip of time in my life for quite some time, yet it was the first thing that popped into my head when I read the question.
There are no accidents. Thank you, Creator, for showing me the lesson I needed to see today.
Enjoy the Ride!
Happiness Is The Truth
Drum roll, please… Happiness. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen; happiness makes me most anxious. I bet you didn’t see that coming.
Whenever things are going well, I’m not talking about perfection but about having a good day. There is a spot in my mind that doesn’t trust it.
My life now has been the easiest it’s been in a very long time. I’m living with the man I love in a beautiful home in an area surrounded by the best nature has to offer. My children are settled, I have the cutest, most intelligent, happiest granddaughter on the planet, my job is fascinating, and my co-workers are now friends, and yet I find myself waiting for the shoe to drop.
I’ve researched and know that this thought process comes from my childhood. Doesn’t everything? I don’t blame my parents. Lord knows they did the best they could with the knowledge they had at the time. Neither one had an example of parenting, so we were experiments. They were much better at grandparenting.
When you know better, you do better, and hopefully, I did that with my children, and so on, until the cycle is broken.
Now, back to that old shoe about to drop. I learned that this feeling results from a confusion between approval and love and worth, which sounds right. Literally the story of my life.
Recently, actually yesterday, I was discussing my sudden sense of fear with a friend. We concluded that I have spent most of my adult life being superhuman in one way or another. Whether it was in my role at work or in my family. Always the dependable helper who would lay across a railroad track to shine for 2 seconds. Exhausting, right?
Having someone in your life who just gets it is so refreshing.
Fast forward to the present, where none of those needs exist. Oh, yea, it can rock your world. For the first time, probably since I left the womb, I don’t have the need to prove anything to anyone except myself. It’s the equivalent of landing in a foreign country without a translator.
I aim to accept that I am worthy of good things and that happiness should never make me feel like I’m about to lose my shit. Happiness is the truth!
Enjoy the Ride!
The Pain of a Pleasantry
How are you? It seems easy enough, but it’s a farce. I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t answer honestly. My automatic response is, “good, how about you?” Lies, all lies.
Over the years, I’ve learned that this can be a loaded question, especially sitting at the front desk at a doctor’s office. The elder community can be real comedians when they’re hit with this question; responding with “well, I’m vertical” or “how much time do you have?” without missing a beat always made me laugh, so I guess it has some good qualities. Take your show on the road, folks.
It comes down to the fact that this question is nothing more than a pleasantry. If we all answered it honestly, nothing would ever get done. The world would be one extensive therapy session after another. There aren’t enough sofas to handle that.
I take this question to another level, especially from someone I genuinely care about. The world’s weight could be on my shoulders, but I’ll never burden them with the truth. “I’m fine” is my go-to response because it’s easier than reality. Child trauma in the house.
I’ve learned that this is a conditioned reaction, and I’ve been trying to unlearn it over the years, but some situations arise where clamming up is more comforting than spilling my guts. Ironically, those closest to me know when I’m a clam, so I’m not even good at it; I just think I am. I’m such a Pisces.
Breaking these dysfunctional habits is a process and a long, complicated one at that. As always, recognizing the problem is the first step. Next is the unlearning process.
One of my favorite quotes on this subject comes from the book “The Boy, The Mole, The Fox, and The Horse” by Charles Mackesy.
I wonder if there is a school of unlearning?
Recently, I took an accelerated course in unlearning. Have you heard of it? Oh, it’s crazy, and the class comes to you at the most inappropriate time. I was driving on a busy highway to see my granddaughter. My sister called, and I suddenly thought I was dying while we talked via Bluetooth. Oh, yeah, it’s called accelerated for a reason.
I pulled over and listened to my sister recite breathing instructions, prayers, and pearls of wisdom for almost 2 hours before my son arrived.
So, back to our original programming. The reason I hate to be asked, “How are you?” It’s a trigger. Yep, three little words sure know how to pack a punch. While I get back to doing my best to openly communicate my emotions without the fear of judgment or criticism, please, take the time to Enjoy the Ride!
I’m not sure this will be the “biggest,” but it’s something I find challenging.
Remember the movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray living each day in a time loop? Well, that’s my challenge for the next six months and forever. Breaking free from the loop.
Every day I wake up grateful for my day. I pray and ask for protection, peace of mind, and mercy to get me through. I ask that this day be a better day than the one before it, and then it begins.
Challenges approach like Ninja’s to assist in my growth. Let’s just say some days are much better than others. But isn’t that what it’s all about? Learning, changing, and growing into the best versions of ourselves.
Relearning. Restricting. Pausing. These three know how to keep a girl on her toes. Sometimes I’m successful; other days, I feel like I’ve fought a war.
So, I will continue this journey to elevate my consciousness over the next six months. The challenge will be recognizing that the challenges I face along the way are coming from a place of lack, fear, and doubt, and I will need to pause before reacting with my comfortable reactive responses.
Enjoy the Ride!
Growth ans Fireflies
My sister is in the process of moving, most likely a plane ride away. Over the past two years, we’ve endlessly talked about her plans while I was processing my own.
A lot of significant changes were on the table. Relationship status, home sales, employment, and aging into a new decade.
Along the way, there were ups and downs, and all around with it, but in the end, everything fell into place as intended.
Now that we’re in the final stretch, the reality of getting on a plane to visit is sinking in on my end.
At 15 months apart, we were raised like twins dressing alike and doing everything together until our teenage years when we had different circles. As we grew into ourselves, we were back together again, having our children together and, most recently, becoming grandmothers.
We’ve been so busy cheering each other on that I haven’t thought about the enormity of this potential distance apart. Yes, I’m happy, proud, and excited about her future ventures, but suddenly I feel nostalgic about what was.
These feelings showed up in my dream last night. I dreamt I was approached by someone requesting I write a passage for their book. It was based on a missing woman, and I was to write it as if I knew the character when we were children. This is how it went.
We were two little girls with big imaginations playing in the basement of our rowhome. We always had each other, never needing outside playmates. As the younger of the duo, I would pretend to be a mother of 4 at the tender age of 9, providing our dolls with the nurturing they deserved. At the same time, my sister, who loved school, bypassed the teacher and went directly to playing a principal, making policy changes, and firing the Barbie and Dawn doll staff members.
On hot Summer nights, fresh from the bath and dressed in matching babydoll pajamas, we would grab our Maxwell House coffee cans with holes punched in the lids to catch fireflies in our yard. We went as far as adding grass to eat while they were being held captive, then, after counting our inventory, we let them go before heading to bed.
I woke up with mixed emotions as I wrote everything down not to forget a signal detail. It shook me on some level. The passages were vivid, and the memories were something I hadn’t thought about in decades. Why now?
Laying in bed, eyes wide open, I thought about those two little girls in the basement. Those roles now look more like survivor skills. Me providing the nurturing, I hungered while my sister did her best to gain control that was nowhere to be found in our house, both happening as we were still playful little girls catching fireflies.
Like us, our parents did the best they could with the knowledge they had at the time. I’m grateful for the consciousness to recognize this for what it is without casting blame on myself or my parents.
Now, off to work where things won’t be so deep ❤
Enjoy the Ride!
Share Your World 2023
Considering I only have one day under my belt in 2023, I will do my best to share.
1. Did you stay up to see the New Year?
I did not see 2023 roll in here in the United States. However, a friend in Italy posted the entire shebang 6 hours before via FaceBook. I watched the fireworks and enjoyed an incredible outdoor concert. So, technically I did stay up. This would hold up in a court of law with the right lawyer.
2. Are there any special occasions or events coming up in 2023 for you or your family?
I have four milestone birthday celebrations this year. Three occur in the year’s first half, and the last is at the end of 2023. Last year broke the bank with three weddings and a baby.
3. Do you keep a diary?
No, but I keep a gratitude journal that I hope to become more consistent with this year.
4. How did yesterday differ from January 1st, 2022, or was there n difference?
It was dramatically different. Last year we were in an apartment in Pennsylvania. It was raining, and I took down all of my decorations. This year I am in a new home in another state. The weather was unusually warm and sunny. I went on a 4-mile hike exploring an area of the state park that’s beauty left me stunned, followed by a stroll on the beach where I put my toes in the water.
Gratitude: Be Kind
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