I often feel like my belly is the inside of a bouncy castle, or a trampoline. This ‘lil man inside me is one active guy. There are days when I love it and think about what he must be doing inside there, and there are other days when it drives me nuts and all I want is a bit of peace, quiet, and less jostling happening inside. This past week has felt like an incredibly active week!
So when I saw this I thought, maybe I should have mini Conk make his first painting later this week when we have a bit of downtime over the holiday and when he has a particularly active span of time. I am a fan of abstract painting and there is something slightly surreal about having the movement of your unborn baby paint their first painting. I am curious!
There is a lot of my childhood I do not remember. Since my parents are no longer around it is hard to know what I was truly like as a baby, toddler, or even as I got older. Was I quiet, or sassy? Did I talk a lot? What was I like with my parents? Did I like to cuddle? I think about all of these things as I begin to think about the little boy who is going to join our family in around 10 weeks.
I have no idea if I got excited to see my parents when they came home from being away. I do remember we had three large picture windows in our front room (filled with plants) but still giving me access to look out the window at the trash truck, or my dad’s pickup truck arriving home. This video I found recently brought a huge smile to my face. While my house is not designed for a visible window/door to the driveway/garage, I hope regardless my son gets just as excited to see me.
Just like a great movie, there are books that suck you in because the story line is so intriguing you are curious how it is going to end. It might be a novel, and it might be a memoir that showcases all the shit that happened to someone throughout their life. I am a fan of memoirs. While I read about the author, I learn about myself in the process.
I recently finished reading: “Pieces of My Mother” by Melissa Cistaro. A story about an adult woman who takes you through her childhood years while staying at her mother’s bedside as she dies. A mother who was not present in her life, and yet Cistaro has hope that in her mother’s final hours she will finally grab a glimpse of what she was missing all those years.
“A sitter, who is not our mom, comes to live at our house so our dad can go back to work. And when that sitter gets tired of us, a new one arrives. Everyone says that I am too young to remember what’s happened and that children my age simply don’t remember the details. I can’t blame them for saying that. But I am as quiet as a cat, watching everyone and everything.” Page 5-6
That last line was the kicker for me. I am nowhere near quiet now, but as a kid I would hide and listen. I was quiet when I needed to be. Invisible even. In my house you did not even have to be quiet, there was already a lot of noise. I could sit in my bedroom and through the heat vents hear the fighting and yelling coming from my parents room. They thought by having their door shut, we were not privy to their arguments. While I have never had the best hearing it was not hard to find out what words were passed between them. I knew at those moments when to hide and nestle up with a book. No good was ever going to come from being around after those fights.
My mom would often leave the house and get in the car angry. I was always scared that she would never come home. There was some sort of intuition that grew in me in a young age that her anger made her reckless, not enough to hurt someone else, but just enough to maybe not make the best choice. That never happened, but it did not make me feel any less scared. We knew to just leave my dad alone, or else be the next one that got yelled at that day.
I have at times been teased for being a “starer” but I think that happened because I spent so much of my time watching the world. I watched anything and everything. Trying to make sense of a world that often my parents did not know how to explain to me, either because they were just trying to survive and keep food in the house and the lights and heat on, or because they themselves did not have the answers for me. As with Cistaro, writing was my way of processing the world, and I am still doing it today.
“Like my mom, I write to understand myself and lure the voice inside me out of hiding…I want to set the words free, unearth what has been buried for so long…I had to get the memories and stories down on paper, and if I didn’t this history would be lost or—an even worse thought—repeated. Sometimes all I have is instinctual, obsessive need to put pen to paper—to set fire to something inside me that may or may not save me.” Page 285-286
I too feel that fire. To lure my voice, to find it when it feels lost, to document the memories I sometimes do not know were inside me. I am my history. Without my parents around, my writing is what helps me retrace it.
Your voice. How do you use it? You have to know your own voice, what you believe it, what you stand for, and what matters to you. Once you know your voice, you have to find out how to make it heard. It took me until I was in my early twenties to know what my voice looked and sounded like. Even now a decade and a half later, there are times when it might be strong, but still quivers. Mostly the last ten years have been a time to hone my voice, decide when I am going to open my mouth, and when I will work harder to make it heard.
“Knowing your voice—what you believe and why you believe it—and effectively incorporating that into your work can help set you apart from everyone else. There’s very little else that can do that for you.”
What I love about this quote is that it says “effectively incorporating that into your work” – it does not say conversation or meeting, it says work. That could mean how you incorporate your voice into your project, your new product design, your app. It could mean in your artwork, your presentation, or in closing a deal. It could even mean in how you deliver bad news or how you interact with your co-workers. Your voice is a part of you and not something that you can take on or off. It lives in all you do.
At times you might be in situations where you feel like your voice is a quiet flutter and your authentic voice is not strong, loud, and bold. You might not feel comfortable to speak up and put your career on the line, or take a stand with a friend. Over time that quiet flutter will get stronger and louder and our true voice will stand strong. Be ready for it. It will happen.
I am not a follower. I was not always that way. As a kid I was a follower. Quiet, introverted, and not as bold about who I was or who I wanted to be in the world. Over time that changed. It was never about trying to be someone else, but more about being present for who I am, using my voice, and being direct about what I wanted. It did not come easily to me. Our world does not always reward someone for standing out, often we are rewarded for following the lead, marching in a single file, and following the rules.
That does not mean that I do not follow principle or what is right. I still find it important for following certain paths. Take driving for example. If I decide that I get to obey my own laws, then others could be hurt, killed, or I could be hurt or killed. There are many, many things in life that following the rules make our life work together cohesively. Yet, there are many things in our world that following others mean that we are not thinking for ourselves, we are just following the leader.
“The man who follows the crowd, will usually get no further than the crowd. The man who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever been before…You have two choices in life: you can dissolve into the mainstream, or you can be distinct. To be distinct you must be different. To be different, you must strive to be what no one else but you can be.” page 197
How often do you just go with the status quo, and how often do you make choices that mean you step out of your normal day-to-day and think differently? The harder road is to veer off course, to the bumpy road, the road less traveled, and find your niche. You can pave your own way to be bold, beautiful, and of course if I were involved a little bit sassy. I mean why not?