For as long as I can remember I have been someone who has done my own thing. I am not exactly a rebel, but I like to chart my own course, find my own answers, and do not love to just follow someone else’s lead. That does not mean I cannot follow directions or stay the course as needed, I am just less interested in following others. I am not usually one to read a book that everyone is reading. Instead, if the right person shares a nugget that resonates with me — that is when I decide to read the book. Not because everyone else is doing it. I like jewelry that is a piece of art and potentially very few individuals have that piece.
Having been a fan of “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed I was eager to read her next book: “Brave Enough.” Until I learned that it was basically a book of quotes. I am not usually one to sit down and read a book of quotes, and then I thought, it is a small book, it will be a quick read — and it was. She also shared some great ideas. One particularly resonated with me, it is not hers but a proverb of sorts that she shared, and it was the first time I had heard of it. It made me realize that I have always been one to “paddle my own canoe.”
“Love many, trust few, and always paddle your own canoe.” page vii
Later on the same page she says:
“Maybe you have to know the darkness before you can appreciate the light.” Page vii
Right on sister. I know I think about that often. Yesterday Chris and I were chilling on the couch while the turkey was cooking away in the oven, and I came across an email between my sister and me from 2010 about my mom, and whether I was mothered. As I read it to Chris I was getting choked up. My sister and I were remembering the good, bad, and ugly from our childhood on the anniversary of my mom’s passing. The beginning of the email my sister says: “Thinking about you tonight – and about mom and how she has been gone for half your life.” That was five years ago, and my mom has now been gone for 21 years, and yet all that I have been through over the years only serves to allow me to see the light.
I have definitely seen darkness, but I have also seen years of light and love. Thank you, Cheryl Strayed, for the reminder that I paddle my own canoe, and that I live in the light.
During brunch on Sunday, the bathroom had a smell that brought me back to the bathroom in my church growing up. Strange as that might be. It reminded me of the decor, the darkness of that dank basement where we had Sunday School and other such memories. It was not an uplifting place so the memory of the bathroom did not bring me to have a smile on my face. More a reminder of memories from childhood.
It amazes me how easily a smell can bring you back to a moment in time. You can run the play-by-play of events through your thoughts, reviewing what happened when that smell is brought to your senses. I have had it when smelling a specific food, an item of clothing in my closet, linens on a bed. At times the smell brings back wonderful memories, and other times it is a reminder of a past that might better be forgotten. Sometimes a smell of certain foods is nostalgia of childhood, and then when we are able to recreate those recipes, the taste is nothing like the smell to us. We have grown up, changed, and honed our taste buds.
At times a lotion or hair product might make me think of my grandma, a type of make-up my mom, and an aftershave my dad. Even if I have not seen them for 15-25 years the smells are ingrained in my thoughts and memories and nothing can take that away. Smells trigger memories, and we are quickly jettisoned back to a moment in time as we try to recollect why the smell reminds us of something. When we do remember, it is as though we were 10 or 12 or 20 again. A smile might cross our face, or a tear fall towards the ground.
Are there smells that trigger specific memories for you?
Goodness. Somedays it is hard to see it. Somedays are a struggle and it is harder to see the goodness in our lives. I ebb and flow with reminding myself that I need to focus on the good that is all around me. Usually when I have a moment of struggle and frustration I go down on my knees and am reminded of all that I have, all the goodness that surrounds me each and every day. Those moments of gratitude helps me to see what I am forgetting. Those moments remind us of the bigger picture.
Recently, I came across this excerpt from Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love)’s Facebook page:
“The other day, the great author and sociologist Brené Brown (my sweet friend!) was asked, “What do you know for sure?”
She replied: “Fear is dangerous. But people are good.”
The evidence that people are good can be found all around us.
The evidence that fear is dangerous can also be found all around us — particularly because of the terrible things that fear makes people do (both to themselves and to each other.)
We all live amidst fear and goodness — and their consequences.
We are all composed of both fear and goodness.
You have a choice. Every moment of the day, you have choices.
You can follow your goodness, not your fear.
You can feed your goodness, not your fear.
You can support and encourage the goodness of others, rather than preying upon their fears or adding to their fears.
To choose goodness over fear is the single most life-affirming path a human being can ever possibly take.”
It was a good reminder for me. There is goodness in watching my niece do things for the first time. There is goodness in my day-to-day world. My marriage, my job, my family, friends, and home. Lots of good is happening around me. We all have a choice to decide to see the goodness or not. I choose to see the goodness. I choose to be happy. I choose goodness, not fear. That does not mean that I do not have fear. I do fear, but if I can focus on the good, it means I am seeing the light, not the darkness.