Growth: A Look Back

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!IMG_0874
         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

48 thoughts on “Growth: A Look Back

  1. This is such a beautiful post within a post! I’m so glad you chose to go public with your writing. That pesky fear thing is so real, yet when we step over it (or plow through it) other worlds are opened. Keep it up. 🙏🏽👏🏽💖

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a lovely post. And may I say, although you have undoubtedly grown in many ways since you wrote this, I’m sure this is absolutely still and truly you. It’s funny — it made me remember back when I was a child, my parents playing “The Ugly Duckling” on the record player, sung by Danny Kaye. I loved this story even then, and it’s no less true today. Jeanne

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a wonderful share – and such wise words, Cheryl. I can empathise with this coming back into ourselves after realising we have shut down somehow through social conditioning and have lost our essence. You can count me into the sisterhood too – I have no regrets on my having stood up for what I believe in through life, though it was tough going at times. Happier times now!

    A nice quote for you:
    ‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty,’ – that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know’. John Keats

    Wasn’t sure what this meant when i first read it, but the meaning is becoming clearer now and I do search for it in others…

    Cheers, for now :>)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Lynne. I love the Keats quote and am very familiar with it. But, as I read it in your comment, a deeper meaning surfaced for me. I think something clicked with your words: I do search for it in others.
      Yes, I do, too! Beauty is truth, truth beauty–that’s it. Thanks so much for the quote and for giving me a different way to think about it.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. So beautifully said, Cheryl. Hard to believe you didn’t think your writing had value at one time. But, I identify with so much of what you share — perhaps we’re Soul Sisters. I, too, have always stood up for what I believe in, often to my detriment but not to my conscience. I could live no other way. Congratulations on your anniversary and rekindled life.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Happy Blog Anniversary, Cheryl! I loved your first not-secret post. I’m in a writing group with several women who have not published much, some not at all. Yet they write beautiful heartbreaking fabulous stories and little essays full of light. I keep saying “You guys need to put this stuff out there! Start a blog!” But like you, they are afraid. Last week after I read my piece, I said “Don’t you see how I am no better at this than you are?” and I saw them realize the truth of it. Just as you must know your posts shine brighter in the light.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Cynthia. I have received so much from my blogging experience. It really helped me work up to writing for publication. Blogging gave me confidence to put my work out there. The more I wrote, the more confidence I found. I still have my days when I question everything about my writing, but I keep going and it passes!


  6. A day worth celebrating, to be sure–not just the blogiversary, but the day you’ve found that ember buried deep in the ashes, still burning, just a little, and you give fuel. You set it burning. Now you light the way to others’ inner strength. 🙂 Thank you for all you do! xxxxxxxxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Derrick! This was my first post on WordPress. My private posts were on another platform, Blogger. I printed out those posts then deleted my Blogger account. So, everything on WordPress has been publicly published since February 2016. I might go back and reblog some of the older WP posts. I think in the beginning, only my daughter and one or two friends liked my posts! Hahaha! We all had to start out at the bottom rung:) Thanks for always reading and joining in the conversation.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Congratulations on your blogging anniversary! I am glad you clicked over to “public” that day three years ago. I felt a similar fear as I unleashed my thoughts into the ether for the first time, but I’ve found that making connections through my posts has been almost as fun as the writing itself!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh the stories you could tell 🙂 Of your life, of your journey of your awakening…… I think we are all that duckling and those of us lucky enough to wake up one day and see who we really are always find we were the only ones who didn’t know and didn’t see the truth….. Life has a way of offering to deliver us to where we need to be. I’m glad we stumbled upon each other in this over populated blogging sphere. Well done you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Pauline! You are so right. Every good or bad or happy or sad thing that has ever happened to me helped me to get here, where I am today. And I am who I am because of what I went through. I’m so happy we met, too. And the people I’ve met through you. Hurray for words and blogging and stories!!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I feel this post more than anything else. I wish I had done what you did: blog in private mode. I created and deleted several blogs before the one I am now happy with (part of me will always want to start anew; I even tried to do so a few months ago). You graduated from high school a year after I did. A youthful rebel streak in the right hands is always a good thing! I always look forward to your posts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much! I enjoy your blog, especially the way it’s set up in continuing vignettes. It wouldn’t be too hard to create a book from all of your posts. Of course, that’s not up to me to decide:) I am embracing this child-of-the-70s-and-80s rebel streak! Haha!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I am finally creating a book of some of my most recent vignettes, and it might consist of around 120. Right now I have 38 or so, And I plan to title the book Spiritual Fishing, which was the title of a vignette that you commented on. If I do finally self-publish something, you will for sure get a signed copy!

        Liked by 1 person

  10. “And have you changed your life?” That’s the real kicker, isn’t it? Hopefully we do this every day. Thanks for the inspiration and congratulations on your blogiversary. My journey to blogging followed a very similar path and I certainly appreciate your kind support. I also just really enjoy your blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Thanks for sharing your story and your first blog post–for those of us who didn’t know you then. I really enjoy your blog . . . and I have it on good authority that the celebratory token for a three year anniversary is chocolate–the good chocolate, not the cheap stuff. You’ve earned it!

    Liked by 1 person

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