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.
I was a Barbie girl. Yes, I hounded my sister daily to play Barbies with me. She hated it. I of course still persisted. I probably had 10 different Barbies and one Ken doll to go along with them. I am not sure what ever made me want to play with Barbie. It is hard to see in hindsight as I am so far from a Barbie girl these days. I, of course, did not see that their feet were set in a previous high heel position, or that getting their high heels on was nearly impossible. Is that why I hate high heels today?
One of mine had a fake tan (I think she was called Bikini Barbie), another was Exercise Barbie with her own workout outfits, one had a fancy dress, another was Bride Barbie, but other than their differing outfits they all looked the same — not much to differentiate them from the other. I know I made up different scenarios and enjoyed trying to create different clothing options — so maybe I was interested in design and had no idea. Other than that I do not remember why I was so enamored with Barbie.
Fast forward to 2015 and Barbie launches this new ad that is not about fashion and looks, but rather teaching, sports, and taking care of animals. It goes deeper. While maybe it feels like the adults looking on are laughing at them, I wonder if the laughing is fascination with what is coming out of each girls mouth. I am not sure what a young girl would think if they watched this ad, but I hope that the message at the end: “When a Girl Plays with Barbie She Imagines Everything She Can Become.” My hope is that a girl does not have to just play with Barbie, but that when a girl plays at all her imagination lets her create the world around her so she sees all she can be.
I believe I was in the third grade. Somehow I think it was a surprise birthday party. (My sister might remember). It was during a time when I was into “My Little Pony.” I can barely remember who was at my party, except for a few photos I still have of the day. The problem is I cannot remember who most of the people are around the table in the photo.
The strongest memory I have is also one that paints me as a brat of a kid. While I know that survival was most likely the reason I never had another birthday party (food on the table at each meal was more important than having the best birthday bash) the memory I have was one of ingratitude. Before I tell you I have one further side note. I was in third grade during a time of “name envy.” The butt of your jeans had to have the right name brand or you did not fit in. Goodwill, hand-me-downs, and non-name brands did not work. As a kid growing up in a poor household, having “Guess” on my jeans was definitely not an option.
For that sole birthday party my mom made a cake and shaped it like a pony. It was to be a “My Little Pony” cake. The problem was that my mom spent so much time trying to shape the cake (I rather doubt they had a pony cake form back then), she forgot one of the key elements to the cake. The decoration/icing. My favorite (and probably only) My Little Pony was light blue with a lavender tail and mane. All My Little Ponies had a symbol on their hind that signified which Pony they were. Mine had lavender bows on the hind. My mom however decorated the cake so there were literally bows on the entire surface of the horse.
I was MORTIFIED. No one made fun of me, but I assumed all my friends thought this is what I thought a My Little Pony looked like. My friends never mentioned it, and I never brought it up, but I do think after it was all over I said something to my mom in tears. I am sure she wanted to slap me across the face (not that she ever would have) but wow did I sound ungrateful. When really I was afraid for what I would be thought of in a world that teased so heavily, where I would never have the “Guess” triangle on my butt.
Was it too much to ask for at the time to not stand out and to just fit in? Now that is the last thing I want – to fit in. Bring on the bows!
My sister just shared this video on Facebook and I immediately was sucked in. It reminded me of fast poetry and the likes of something I would watch and be interested in – in college, especially during my feminist stage. Regardless it is the message that is so important. “Take Up Space.” Yes, do it. I finally did.
After so many years (and something I have often blogged about) where my dad was so keen on reminding us that children were to be seen and not heard, it took me to my junior and senior years of college to realize I was NOT taking up any space. Being seen and not heard was so ingrained in who I was, that I did not know what it was like to say what I thought. I was on the quieter side. Eventually through my women’s study classes, and learning more about “voice” I realized how much I really had to say.
In order to truly speak up and talk I needed to take up space. A novel idea to someone who for so many years was basically told to be invisible. I know I was/am like so many women that struggle with taking up space. Instead of hiding or being quiet — instead say what you need to say. Say it again. Take up some space.
How often in life are you surprised? Once a month? Once a day? Do people easily shock you? There is a little part of each of us that loves to be shocked and in awe. Whether it is our husband that is capable of keeping a secret, our closest friend, or sister — not having a clue something is going to happen can sometimes be an amazing thing.
I have the hardest time keeping a secret from Chris (that should be a good thing). We talk about everything, and sometimes it is hard to keep my excitement inside or hidden from him. I am crazy transparent so he can probably pick up on the fact that I am hiding something. Take for example his 30th birthday. I wanted to surprise him and take him to San Francisco for a week. I could not keep it inside and I wanted to plan the trip with him and let him research a bit of what he might want to do. A week before we were to leave I decided to tell him — I could not resist! I wrapped a box of Rice-a-Roni (you know “A San Francisco treat.”) and my secret was finally out.
Somehow though Chris loves giving me the element of surprise and he enjoys the shock value it leaves. He can easily plan things and not tell me because he knows timing can be the perfect way to surprise someone, especially me. He is good. What if the many companies we are patrons of shocked and surprised us? Many companies do not even come close, so the smallest detail could result in a surprised and happy customer. How often are you surprised by a company? It is nice when it happens. It makes the experience more memorable.
I am going to hone my surprise tactics. Just you wait, Chris. Just you wait.