My friend Kristin has this at the bottom of her email, and I think about this often. It is a little seed that was planted in my brain and gets watered each time I read it, each time something else in my life waters it. And lately - everything has been watering this thought, and it has grown into some sort of wandering ivy all through my brain.
Perhaps it was turning 30 that hit me harder than expected. Perhaps it has been having a baby and feeling the pressure to be this tremendous mother - to truly "train up a child in the way he should go." Probably it's both those things together with life circumstances and time that has been turning around this pearl inside me.
I've noticed that great people often site a milestone time in their lives when they made a great change. It seems that 29 and 30 seem to be those years for many people. Dr. Weil, in his book, Eight Weeks to Optimum Health, says that 29 was a watershed year for him. That's when he began making major changes to his diet, exercise, and lifestyle. I just read that Eckhart Tolle, Oprah's new Book Club author, had, "At the age of twenty-nine a profound inner transformation" that "radically changed the course of his life."
Over the past couple years I have had an unexpected grounding in my life. This past year was especially challenging - being pregnant and post-partum, dealing with chronic pain, the loss of my job, Marco being in school, renovating our house and having Marco's sister move in with us. I used to have time to worry. I used to be much more focused on myself, on my body, on what other people thought of me. But this past year, during this insane turbulence, I found myself clinging to the truth, clinging with my fingernails to my own innder strength and stability. It's like in an earthquake - you suddenly find yourself having a new appreciation for the earth when you see it can shake and move and ripple beneath you. You sense of reality completely shifts. I'm not trying to boast or anything. Far from it. I've just noticed that I don't lie awake at night worried about things as much anymore. I'm much too tired.
When I was younger, I think back as far as seventh grade, I wanted to be a woman. I mean that I didn't just want to be an older girl - I wanted to be a woman. I wanted to have a solidity to my body, to my character. I wanted to comfort others in the way I longed to be comforted. I wanted to be rich with confidence and abundant with strength. I wanted to be Maya Angelou. I didn't know who she was, and I had really few examples of womanhood that I identified with at that time, but I recognized what I didn't want and knew there was an earth mother in me somewhere.
I tried various methods for acheiving that quality, that character I was wanting in my life. I became a leader, I studied the Bible and led others in group study. I tried to quit worrying about my weight and eat whatever I wanted. After I lost my faith, I tried in vain to find something to replace it. I tried to be political and read all about anarchy. I tried reading different religious books. I indulged in long baths and large glasses of wine. I smoked pot and read and wrote and painted. I took art classes and painted our apartment in the nude. I tried being controversial. I tried being the life of the party. I experimented sexually. I was constantly battling to shake loose the feelings of insecurity. I got into yoga and wanted that to be my defining thing. I considered running a marathon and discounted that idea immediately. I hate running. That I do know for sure. I tried to relax. I tried to be diligent.
Finally, realizing I couldn't do it alone, I went to therapy - twice a week. Then I brought Marco. I spent a year and a half seriously focused on ridding myself of this cancerous self-doubt and insecurity. And the work paid off. I think it gave me the tools to deal with what was coming.
The Universe said, okay, you're ready. If you truly want to be a woman, here is what it is going to take.
To be strong - you have to face hardship and fatigue and pain.
To be wise - you have to make difficult decisions and figure out what to do when things turn upside down.
To have character - you have to have others treat you badly.
To be loving - you have to face difficult times in your relationship.
So, now I'm in the fires. I'm burning off all that is not necessary. I don't have enough time in my day or enough words to say to waste any on being mean.
I want this to be a watershed year. Life has brought me pretty far - now it's up to me what I do with it. Now I have to decide - what do I want my life to look like in 30 years? Who do I want to be? How do I want to spend my life?
I still find that by nature I choose the easy path. And when I'm alone I waste a lot of time when I should be much more proactive. I lie about how I spend my time, how many cookies I ate, and why I didn't get something done. I watch far too much TV. I procrastinate. I am innately lazy. I am deceitful about why I do things for others - often just trying to be the martyr or to get the recognition - rather than being selfless. I don't exercise. I lie to myself about why I don't exercise. I try and get out of doing things and make other people do them.
And it's liberating to admit those things. But they won't change unless I actively work on changing them. I won't be exercising if I don't exercise today. I won't be disciplined if I don't do the dishes now. I just need to turn off the damn TV or never turn it on.
How am I spending my day?