Thursday, October 21, 2010

Who is that Fat Lady in the Photo?

We have all a better guide in ourselves, if we would attend to it, than any other person can be.
Jane Austen

This past weekend, the Bunco Bitches got together for one of our famous weekends. Hadn't had one since last November. I was ready.

Our original plan had us spending Friday night at JoD's new bungalow in a little town in the Hill Country. (Another Midlife Jobhunter, she is setting up a whole new life for herself.)

Well, you know how it goes. One night stretched to a long, lazy morning and then a walk about town, which led to the local watering hole. Next thing you know, everybody is headed down the road to my cabin for another night of decadent behavior. Home? What is home?

Languid ladies sipping luscious wine while the sun's light slides beneath the landscape.

Of course, we had a photographer in the group. Here I am driving my VW bug on our way to the lake. When my friend posted this photo on Facebook, I looked and looked. Who was that smiling lady with the double chin?

In my last post, I mentioned an excerpt from Simple Abundance - A Daybook of Comfort and Joy (Warner Books, 1995.) I actually found the entry Sarah Ban Breathnach writes in her selection for February 12.

Today, try to find a photograph of yourself when you were about ten. Make sure you're smiling. Put it in a pretty frame and place it on your dressing table, desk... and look at it every day. Send love to that young girl. Try to travel back in time and imagination.

...because age ten was probably the last time you trusted your instincts. You didn't listen to the opinions of your mother, your sister, your friends because you had your own.

...I remind myself that once upon a time, I trusted my instincts. You did, too. Once upon a time there weren't second or third guesses. It can be that way again.

...Try to contact the girl you once were. She's all grown up now. She's your authentic self and she's waiting to remind you how beautiful, accomplished, and extraordinary you really are.

Here is my ten year old self.

Fourth grade. I more often than not saw things differently than those around me. I didn't understand why, nor the loneliness it sometimes wrought, but I kind of liked the independence it created. My mother and I had opposite opinions on what I should wear. My bedroom was a mess; my dresser and night table covered with pictures, artifacts I liked to look at, dust, paperwork that needed tending or filing, and probably something I'd worn and not hung up. My favorite color was blue. I rarely had my attire completely together. I loved spaghetti. I played teacher. My favorite subject was reading.

Hmmm, nothing's changed there. Except for that double chin. Probably should work on that.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Puzzle Pieces

Did you ever stop to think, and forget to start again?
Winnie the Pooh

When you were a kid, lying under a tree or while cuddled under a warm blanket, did you envision yourself as a grownup? In my Midlife Jobhunter quest to discover what I'd like to be, I've returned often to what my thoughts may have been when I was ten. I mention 10 as somewhere I read - I think in Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach - that we are the closest to our authentic self when we are 10 years old.

Ten. Oh, to summon back the youthful vision of ten.

When I completed Breathnach's year long study many years ago, I discovered a long forgotten photo of myself -- at 10. Sure luck as I don't have many photos of my youth. But, alas, from a book my oldest brother had gathered for me, I discovered a picture in front of a birthday cake -- a smile on my face and 10 candles ready to blow. I studied the face of that child, excited about life, unaware of what might lie ahead, and tried to recall her dreams, desires, and hopes.

I'm sure at the time I journeyed through Simple Abundance, I also journaled my recollections. But life, once again, segued me off in another direction.That journal is now buried in a box in the attic and I have no desire to dig around up there. I must begin anew.

Sitting on my porch this morning, accompanied by the morning glories that burst open today,

I recall I liked to explore, albeit with trepidation. I was neither the one with the most guts, nor the most fear. I would climb the trees and ride the neighbor's horse, but always with a tug of angst in my chest. I wasn't fond of getting hurt. But I never minded following a new trail in the forest. I had a good sense of direction and the ability to remember where I came from. I could always find my way back.

I know I wanted to see the world. In middle school, we had assemblies in the auditorium. We saw movies of far away places, different cultures, adventures. My family didn't venture far - a week at the lake in summer and a four day trip to Chicago in the fall. Sunday car rides offered a view of life surrounding our small corner of southern Minnesota - the cornfields flying by, interrupted by the cows walking home or a railroad track with a train due. As my older brother was drilled on his math facts or the parts of speech, I sat in silence, watching the heart and soul in the countryside glide by outside the window. I dreamed.

My mother always talked of visiting Paris so from an early age I knew another world existed. Her father left her a $1000 life insurance policy when he died. She planned to take that money and go to Paris someday. Then more kids were born and life took over and many years passed, the $1000 depleted. But in my head, a world beyond the gridded sections of Minnesota countryside existed. Paris, New York City, the Pacific Ocean.

What does this have to do with my authentic self and what I want to be when I grow up? Hell if I know. Trying to piece it together, I guess. And today, you are my listeners as I sort things out.

Sorting. Always seem to be sorting. Laundry, thoughts, me.


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