I started this challenge yesterday but neglected to post my ‘thing.’ So, here it is:
Mixed media; Acrylic, Pen, Paper
I love a hydrangea. (Notice I didn’t say ‘an hydrangea’ which would have been silly.) It’s so lusty and ripe, so abundant. I love that the blossoms turn color, depending on the acidity of the soil. (Or some do, in any case.)
I love the name–it sounds like an island or a neurological condition, an exotic ingredient in a love potion.
I saw this one on the Bridge of Flowers, an old trolly bridge connecting the towns of Shelburne Falls and Buckland that was converted into a pedestrian walkway by the local Women’s Club in 1929. Money was raised, truckloads of loam brought in, and then filled with flowers, shrubs, vines and small trees that now bloom from spring to fall.
It’s a spectacular sight, this bridge, peaceful and colorful and inspiring. It makes me want to be a better gardener. (Well, that’s not hard, but still.)
Flowers are spectacular, aren’t they?
You know the expression, Let Your Freak Flag Fly? It’s not a freak flag. It’s also not necessary the thing that makes you you, me me, her her, him him. It’s actually whatever thing (or group of things) we mistakenly think we need hide or get over or improve upon before we can be seen or taken seriously or try the thing we long to do.
This is the message I’m getting over and over: I am enough. You are enough. We are enough. Exactly as we are, RIGHT NOW. We don’t need to fix it or clean anything up. All we need is the courage to embrace the beautiful messes we are right this moment.
Growing, learning, grieving, healing, self-discovery, new tools, all that is wonderful. But none of it is about self-improvement in order to, i.e., in order to be okay, be accepted, be seen, be approved of, be out in the world, be deserving of trying something, or having something, or wanting something.
The beauty part is—we’re all the same. When we see this in others, this laying bare the freak flag, the view into one’s vulnerabilities, we know it immediately. We’re drawn to it, even if the ‘it’ is not quite right for us, not quite our style. Still, there’s recognition and sometimes even giddy relief and immediately, a place opens up (or at least a crack) where we feel the permission to imagine, speak, and reach for what we truly want, the way we want it. Because what we truly want is never anything to judge or be suspicious of.
(Yes. I ended my sentence, my paragraph, and my post with a preposition!)
“What you have to do in this world, you cannot do alone,” Barbara Sher from WishCraft: How to Get What You Really Want.
I don’t remember ever feeling isolated growing up, or in school, or in the early years of being out in the world. Even when my first husband left suddenly when I was nearly 35. I felt shocked and broken-hearted, but not isolated. I was child-free at the time and maybe that helped. I could stay in bed all day and eat soggy cereal out of a saucepan, crying all over my covers or staring flatly at the wall for hours. What did it matter? Nobody needed me to make them a sandwich or change their diaper, help them with homework or with settling down at the end of the day. It was painful but luxurious in its freedom and self-absorption. I could share in round-the-clock 12-step meetings or take hours selecting individual pieces of fruit at a bodega or wander in and out of a movie theatre at virtually any time of the day (I was living in Manhattan at the time).
But isolation has been a large part of my experience as a mom.
And compounding that isolation is the judgment and shame I’ve had about the isolation.
Since the fall, I’ve been moving out of that and into something new. It’s not picking up the thread from my pre-mothering years and knitting it to where I am now, fourteen years later. It’s entirely new. And as I stare out into the world from my perch on the sidelines, swatches of loose fabric and thread in my lap, I’m focused on what it is I am here to do and it’s clear to me that I’m here to learn how to get what I want. And what I want can only be gotten by being part of a group, a tribe, a community, a team.
That’s how we all get what we want–helping each other, sharing skills and resources. Once upon a time, work and love were intertwined, as was tending to the needs of others and the needs of the self. It’s hard-wired in us for our survival. We’ve lost much of that ‘community of purpose’ now in the wake of our mind-boggling technological advances.
“Most of us remember and treasure every part we’ve ever played in someone else’s survival, satisfaction, or success,” writes Sher. ” And that’s not because we’re a bunch of altruistic saints. It’s because helping each other is creative and it’s the most practical and satisfying way of getting things done. The proof is that so much of our potential stays stubbornly locked inside us as long as we try to tap it alone.”
Sing it, sister Sher. Sing it.
I love what Martha Beck says about embracing our Hero’s Saga, or the Heroine’s Saga, which puts us in an empowered mindset and perspective rather than that of a victim.
Nobody want to read an epic adventure about someone who went after something they wanted and needed and then got it–boom-without enduring trials and hardships, obstacles and defeats, intense sorrows and loneliness. Where’s the fun in that? Where’s the adventure?
We want to read about effort, about terror and exhaustion, great loneliness and self-doubt, about someone attempting a seemingly impossible task, about someone flinging themselves to the ground and giving up in a flood of rage and tears only to drag themselves back up to try and fail and try again and again and again until they eventually arrive, older, wiser, stronger, and satisfied.
That’s what grabs us by the throat and heart. That’s what inspires us.
I am Kyra, some years from now.
I am solid, grounded, sturdy. I am clear about what I want, about what I have to offer.
I protect my time.
I take my time when answering questions. I listen to my body. I tune in to what my intuition is telling me.
When I say yes, I mean it. When I say no, I mean it. I am firm without being mean or angry. When I don’t know, I say, I’m not sure. I need to think about that. Let me get back to you. I can say, I’m no longer sure about my answer. I notice that things are shifting for me. Or simply, I’ve changed my mind.
I don’t need to know everything at once.
I am a pipe, messages are sent up and the source is live and so it changes as time goes by. It is not static. I don’t need to be static either.
I trust my brain. I trust in my ability to learn.
It’s okay if not everyone agrees with me.
It’s okay if no one agrees.
I have aspects that sometimes make things harder for me and that’s okay. I accept myself even though I have issues, hurts, sorrow, disappointments, vulnerabilities.
I truly believe that gems can be born from darkness and pain. And so I would not trade in my imperfections, for how then would I shine?
“A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.” –William G.T. Shedd
What are you longing to do, to see, to make? Where do you want to go? What thing would you think back on at the end of your life and feel the most sorrow for having not tried?
Listen to the small still voice inside of you. It’s there right now, whispering under the chatter of every day life. No amount of time or noise can drown it out.
I’m talking to every single one of you, especially those who believe it’s too late.
I’m talking to myself.
We all need safe harbor. But we also need the wide open sea. Too much time in either place makes us weary, scared, and sad.
I’m at the tip of New Jersey celebrating my mom’s 80th birthday with the whole gang: my family, my sister and hers, my brother and his and, of course, the main feature: our mother. I will post pictures of her this week because you have to see her, this gal who at 79 went to Mexico to do a yoga teacher training. 79! Yoga! Teacher training! And who, at 80, teaches yoga, walks the beach, and battles the stormy surf with her grandkids.
In the meantime, I’m here to tell you about a site I just discovered called 750 Words. Go sign up. It’s free and private and easy and simple. And it may be the thing that finally gets me to create and keep a daily writing practice.