This month marks my 3-year anniversary of blogging. Merriam Webster recognizes this event as a blogiversary, just not officially. Yet.
I wanted to take a look back three years ago to the beginning of my blogging journey. But, I have to admit, this was not truly the beginning of blogging for me. I had been blogging for YEARS!! On a site set to PRIVATE. Only I could read my words. Why? Lots of reasons, probably. The biggest one? FEAR. I didn’t think my writing was good enough. I didn’t think my thoughts and insights were important. I didn’t think I had anything at all to contribute to the world’s conversation. I was afraid that everyone else believed this about me, too. So, I wrote and wrote and wrote–for myself and for no one. In late 2014, I resigned from an unhealthy career situation. It was shocking at the time–to me and others who knew me. Difficult days followed, but I gained an inner strength that I never knew I had. Wait! That’s not true. I had this inner strength until I gave it up along with other important pieces of me during the previous 25-plus years. I was a strong-willed adolescent girl and a determined teenager. I was voted Senior Class Rebel and wore the label proudly. I spoke up when I needed to. Stood up for what I felt was right. I was not afraid to speak truth to power, sometimes to my detriment. I was born with a fierce desire to correct wrongdoings by speaking out against them. I had my parents’ blessing, as long as I was respectful. (I usually was.)
What happened? I don’t need to tell you this. You know how our culture, the higher-ups, and society keep us in our place. But, if we can be brave enough to break free, that’s when the real living begins. For women, it tends to happen when we finally get a minute to think about ourselves, usually when the kids are grown or on their way to being grown. That’s when it happened for me. I started noticing things around me that weren’t quite right or fair. Things I had gotten comfy with. I had fallen asleep on my life!
I finally have that youthful rebel streak back, but now I know how to use it for good without incorporating self-defeating teenage behaviors.
So to celebrate all of that, here’s my very first PUBLIC blog post from February 2016. Thank you to everyone who has been with me from the beginning, joined me along the way, and the future blog friends I have yet to meet. Hey, we’re all in this together! Speak up: I want to hear what you have to say!
Me! Senior Class Rebel 1986 (on top of a school bus, no less!)
February 8, 2016
“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.”
This quote by Thich Nhat Hanh is one of my favorites. It always reminds me of the fairy tale, “The Ugly Duckling.” The duckling claims his true power and beauty only when he realizes that he is, in fact, not a duck, but a swan. This realization occurs one day when he comes upon his real tribe, a group of swans on the pond where he is gliding alone. He thinks they, too, will reject and ridicule him as his duckling “friends” have. But, it was the opposite: they gather around him, welcome him into their fold, and naturally take him in as part of their swan family. He did not have to improve or transform himself. He just had to become who he truly was all along. He was always a beautiful, graceful swan. He only needed to change the way he perceived himself and accept who he was. And so it is with each of us. When we can find the grace and beauty that dwells in our hearts, we change the way we see ourselves. And this first step then leads to the obvious next: we change the way we see others. If we look within and find that vulnerable, astonishing, authentic self, we can then look without and see the same in others. In this way, we grow and become what we already are–beautiful and gracious souls. And holding that understanding of beauty in our hearts is how we change our lives without changing our essence.
The last lines from Mary Oliver’s poem, “The Swan,” seems to sum this up, at least to me:
And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything?
And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for?
And have you changed your life?
Once we feel beauty in our hearts, we can see the connection with everything around us. It will, and it most certainly does, change our lives.
Author photo: Winter 2015