At the center of your being you have the answer. You know who you are and you know what you want...Lao Tzu
did you ever have a theme of the week? this keeps popping up everywhere i go since sunday. i'm sure i've been learning this my whole life...now, it seems that it's shouting out to me! "SHOUTING"!
i remember when i was 4 years old, at our awesome beach club in the hamptons, on the east end of long island.....
life was like a good movie....our family at that time was living the dream, with all of the luxuries of life....family, friends, home,vacations, beach, country clubs, schools....even a station wagon both plentiful and abundant a part of our everyday life.
life changes. people change. friendships change. addresses change. lifestyle changes.....and then we look back.
who i am today has all come to be because of the many pieces of the puzzle that make up my true life story.
my coffee mug i randomly chose today had these words,"whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should..." max ehrmann.
back to those memories...i vividly remember a day, at the quogue bath and tennis club, when i was 4 years old...mrs. callendar gave me a itsy bitsy teeny weeny bikini....i think i've mentioned this bikini before...my mom had me put it on in one of the seaspray white washed cabanas located amidst the glorious dunes with the narrow wooden and creaky boardwalk with the wobbly planks....at the top of the warped wooden staircase to the outstanding beach with the crashing waves....that's the memory. it's still like that today only the "club" is a private home...as it originated in the 1920's....in days of grandeur and splendor for those with riches and fine taste.
i apparently didn't care for being the model i was being prodded to be at that time....i like my one piece dunkin donut pink suit with the sweet white trim! this bikini, a thoughtful gift for this little august birthday girl, was NOT going on the runway...or boardwalk....even with bribery or the clenched teeth of my mother. i knew what i liked and what i did not like. i always have.
there were some times in my life when i seemed to conform. never all the way. even in catholic school with a uniform, it gave me great joy to wear the wrong color socks or my sunday shoes or a different style shirt. it was a risk that only a wild child would dare to take! most of my rebellious moments seemed to be with clothing. i didn't like to be told what to wear or go with what the fashions dictated....even as a four year old!
how frustrating that must have been for a mom with all of the finest clothing and dreams of the perfect little girl! i came to understand that feeling! and no one laughed harder than my mother. it seemed the years had mellowed her and she treasured the style and spirit of my grace!
i had many moments in my life where i absolutely knew, better than anyone in the world, who i was.....deep, deep down to the core of myself.
when i was 11, my mother's fabulous friend ellen,who lived in new york city and worked in the fashion industry, gave me a gift of an hippie looking mustard suede shoulder bag with beaded leather fringe.....it was my fashion statement of the year. i felt that nobody was cooler or hipper than me! i was with it!
one thing for sure, i always had a mind of my own. one to enjoy colors and classic clothing, i've remained loyal to my basics. when i was 16 years old, i got a strawberry pink lacoste shirt and nobody could have been happier! for some of the more formal, winter social events in my life, my greatest delight has always been to wear a classic velvet skirt, pants or even shorts with a festive shirt that may be a bit more trend conscious. sounds boring...not really...i love an outrageous belt, rockin' wild colored shoes, boots and jewelry or scarf. i'm no plain jane....i just know what i like and what makes me feel dressed with some style and my biggest requirement is to also feel comfortable....nothing can wipe away confidence more than the feel of ill fitted or uncomfortable clothes, shoes or accessories.
that's just the clothing bit of me being me. there have been times in my life where volunteering was the greatest joy because the work was so moving. like when i was expecting grace, i worked on a women's committee to throw a christmas party for kids with cancer at a local hospital. i enjoyed the whole process...i was a bit bored by some of the social climbers on the committee...but, when the afternoon at the hospital came and i was there to set up the party, help with the food and entertainment set ups be with the families....spending time with the kids and their siblings, drawing and doodling cartoonish pictures with and for the kids. it seemed to be over in a flash!
being with those children with cancer and their families may have given me more joy than anything i had ever done in my life, up to that point. i cried because doing something that really mattered exaggerated the fact that although i was making very good money at my job, it was not enough.
ever the doting husband, biff arrived to pick me up because i was 8 months pregnant and parking was so limited. i walked out to the car sobbing...he assumed it had been heart wrenching for me...the sobbing was from the joy i felt down to my soul...i had done something that came so easy to me and it had mattered and made a miniscule difference in the day of the lives of families dealing with the burden of cancer. they were families, doctors, nurses and caretakers that had great strength, grateful hearts, appreciation of the moments and thankful for each day! i was in awe of their humble and joyful spirit...as though i had been in a room full of angels!
times like that scream out to me that i'm in the place i belong, doing something outside myself, giving of myself and feeling that my time spent there had mattered.
if i had listened to myself throughout my life, i may have avoided some of the lesser friendships, relationships and job choices i lived through....i had to learn the hard way. those not so good and poor choices made me learn to really listen to my heart and sometimes my head!
earlier in life, some volunteer choices i made were more about my need for praise, being "seen", receiving accolades from my peers and filling myself from the outside...i loved the attention...it felt great for my ego but not true to myself!
some of the most difficult life events have helped to shape some of the best parts of who i am...i learned some true values and real lessons that made a difference in everything and everyone i encountered along the way.
it seems that the poor choices catch up with us faster...just waiting to remind us....haunting us with a funny feeling. when i've listened to that or felt that feeling, life was good. when i tried to push through and force that feeling....i ended up like humpty dumpty....and the only one that could put me back together was me. darn it!
as one of my birthday cards once said, "happy birthday!" when open, it read,"now pick up the shattered pieces of yourself and move on!" i've done that alot! hopefully, i've been catching on a little more everyday...i guess i won't know til next time i have that humpty dumpty feeling...the more i have shut down that voice or that pang of no good, the harder i fall. it does pay to live consciously.
all week i've been reminded to live life being true to myself...lots of little reminders...hopefully, i'm hearing them or putting myself to work trying to listen. if i busy myself and keep moving, i might not have to listen...but later, my true voice catches up with me.
it used to seem like more work....trying to do the right thing with no motive...just knowing the right thing to do...for me...and my family.
sometimes we try too hard...with friendships, with work, with eating, with drinking, with good habits and bad habits.....we know. when we do what we know is right without the need to justify it to ourselves or anyone else, it's usually what's good for us. when we're fighting the flow, working to hard to explain ourselves, getting defensive.....that seems when our choices catch up with us....maybe not today....but later....sooner or later!
now i don't think that bikini would have had a great effect on my life whether i wore it or not....at least i felt strong in my belief...i knew what i liked and what i didn't! today, i might be thrilled to have that bikini on...especially if i looked great in it!
when i was 11 and sporting that groovy suede fringe bag with the beads...nobody could dare tell me that i was anything but cool. i knew it was me! i had that artist in me! that's really who i am today...i've relaxed...i've grown into this me...i make lots of mistakes...that's me too...i feel better if i share my "mixups"....that helps me to get over those mistakes...big and small!
for a few years, when the kids were about 6 and 7, i volunteered at hospice connecticut...i did art therapy with the patients. it was another one of those experiences that made every bit of my being know i was doing something that i loved...there were moments i had a lump in my throat, but i was living and loving every experience. those patients, some who biff, grace and t.j. met too, gave me so much more than i gave them. to this day, each person that i worked with has a special place in my heart and in my memory! that was real. that was true.
i was born to be some sort of classic, tailored prep because that's how i'm comfortable....but i don't like to be wrapped too tightly anymore....the artist in me has had to relax....the artist in me still wants to wear my clogs, in preppy pink! the artist in me wants every bit of my life to have some creativity and flair....i'm not meant to be a cookie cutter....i need to be myself!
i know what matters to me. thankfully, biff and i share those passions...i hope our kids will always have the safety of knowing real, like the velveteen rabbit! real. this is a sweet story link with merrill streep telling the story. i still treasure that story. i didn't appreciate it until i read it to grace and t.j.!
when grace and t.j. were little, the house would get very quiet...i would enjoy that quiet for about a minute...then, i'd realize the potential for one of those moments.....like the quiet morning that biff and i were lying in bed marveling that we were getting a little extra semi-sleep....just a little...oh what a treat! until we got up and got the scent of something fresh and familiar.....their was a haze in the hallway....i turned the corner to t.j.'s room and found grace and t.j. covered in baby powder! t.j.'s "wed wug"(red rug) was white and had little powder footprints all over! at that time, we were reading a lot of the adventures of"curious george"...that's when, if the house was too quiet, i began asking,"is there any curious george going on?"
i tried to explain,"sometimes it feels like the good angel is on your shoulder....and you get that good feeling! if you listen, you can tell that the bad angel makes you feel like the choice might not be so good! just stop and think...you'll know the best answer. real.
i hope they still remember that! i hope they learn to listen to that voice...to do the right thing....to be true to themselves. i'm still learning. hopefully, i'm listening a little better these days. really.