I paddle my own canoe

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.

Those drawers full of jewelry

I remember her two bedroom, one bathroom apartment. Looking back I am horrified that she lived there. Old linoleum and cabinets, even older carpeting, and I will not even start on the yellow bathtub and red carpeting in the bathroom — who puts carpeting in a bathroom, let alone a rental apartment? She lived there for at least ten years if not longer. All of her furniture was given to her by family over the years, and she cherished every piece she owned. Right down to the costume jewelry she owned.

I can remember sitting at her dressing table (that was used as a desk and was never used as a dressing table). There were three drawers on each side, and a narrow, long drawer in the middle. She kept each necklace and bracelet and pair of earrings in their own separate box. You know, the kind that you purchased the jewelry in. She kept the cotton filler intact, and stored each piece in that box, which often told you where the purchase was made. I would often adventure to the table and want to try each piece on and play with alternating the fake pearls with the gaudy earrings. She did not have her ears pierced, they were all clip on earrings (and I thought they hurt horribly) but put them on anyways.

It was not that she hated my trying it all on, I think she just wanted to keep everything in its proper place and well I was a fast little one and she could not keep up. I sensed her hesitation and I also always felt like I should not even ask to try it on. It was all fake costume jewelry so what was her hesitation? Today, I am not a fan of costume jewelry. I prefer the one-of-a-kind version, where almost no one has that piece that I do. Maybe the few times I played with her costume jewelry got the desire for it out of my system.

Over the weekend, I finished reading: “What Comes Next and How to Like It: A Memoir” by Abigail Thomas. A memoir where the author is aging and she talks about her husbands, growing old, her kids, and grandkids. This portion made me think of my grandma, her apartment, costume jewelry, and how different she lived than I do today.

“Somehow it is more interesting to find something beat-up and handled than to get it new. My bureau drawers are stuffed with god knows what, and my daughters always go through them when they are here. It is a compulsion. My theory is that they are looking for the secret, the answer, the explanation for everything.” Page 72

Did those drawers hold any secrets or answers? Did I wonder if I would ever have such drawers and if I would allow my grandkids to unearth the treasures to see what they might hold in their eyes of wonder? Maybe.