I mentioned a little bit ago that I’ve been spending more time in the music world. Having been around music in various forms all of my life, I’ve recently been a little shocked to discover how many songs I’ve missed hearing until now that I wish I’d have heard before. As always, lyrics that speak to ME always become powerful, whether they are happy or sad. This song relates to an article I wrote and gave to my parents on my 40th birthday, as well as a ‘birthday card’ to them to announce that, that year, I was, in a sense, being born again and was going to start living my life as it was meant to be lived. Once you read the lyrics, you’ll get the point I was hoping to make. The song is called “Reflection” and it’s from the Disney animated movie Mulan.

Look at me
I will never pass for a perfect bride, or a perfect daughter
Can it be
I’m not meant to play this part
Now I see, that if I were truly to be myself
I would break my family’s heart

Who is that girl I see
Staring straight back at me
Why is my reflection someone I don’t know
Somehow I cannot hide
Who I am, though I’ve tried
When will my reflection show, who I am, inside

How I pray, that a time will come
I can free myself and meet their expectations
On that day, I’ll discover someway to be myself
And to make my family proud

They want a docile lamb
No-one knows who I am
Must there be a secret me
I’m forced to hide
Must I pretend that I am someone else for all time
When will my reflection show, who I am inside
When will my reflection show, who I am inside

Lost and Found

Remember that “future blog ideas” folder I’d recently talked about? I went back into it again today, thinking I needed to make some decisions about if what I’d stored there belonged in the “It’s All Trash” category. This was there, and while it’s story is largely from my past, I thought it might be one worth sharing, especially since I’d had a real-life conversation just touching on this recently.

I was telling the person with whom I was conversing (side note: some people say ‘conversating’) that I didn’t start the journey of finding myself until I turned 40 – and I may have mentioned that here before as well.

This may have been one of the toughest tasks in life I ever undertook. I remember, clearly, that on my 40th birthday, I gave my parents a greeting card congratulating them on the birth of their daughter. I had to explain to them that, on that day, I was being re-born and would be growing towards the person I was meant to be, though I had no idea who that person really was. My parents, of course, didn’t really get it and, as with many things, played ‘ostrich’ by burying their heads in the sand until it was ‘over’. Again, I didn’t know what my destiny was to be, only that trying so hard and for so long to fit into the boxes of who others thought I should be was slowly killing me from the inside out.

Of course, what had taken 40 years to build wasn’t disassembled in a day. Not a week. Not even a year. It was an ongoing process, and sometimes just as seemingly difficult as it had been to squeeze myself into those boxes that didn’t fit me. In the beginning, I simply refused to automatically agree with what they thought and believed if I didn’t feel or think the same. I worked on not automatically acquiescing into agreement and stayed silent. I know that didn’t make a bit of difference, since they were the type of people who believed that you agreed simply because they were right! My silence meant nothing to them, but each time I put down a stone in my foundation by not offering my agreement, I became a little bit stronger. Though I’d made the decision some years before to move away from their political party, it was done privately and was never discussed. And then, one day it came up and for the first time I spoke out about my beliefs which were in sharp contrast to theirs. There was a moment of silence, and then they continued on as if I hadn’t spoken. As pale as its light was, I took that as a good sign, simply because I wasn’t immediately chastised and told how wrong I was. To me, it meant that I was heard, even if I wasn’t listened to.

There were countless little instances and situations in which I spoke up over the next years – from politics to abortion rights to gay relationships and a bunch of other things. Often times, I didn’t have a lot of “facts” to back me up, but I had a conviction in my beliefs that allowed me not to back down from them. I spoke often enough and clearly enough that, while they may have been disappointed that I thought and felt certain ways, they began to respect that I had clearly made up my mind and could not be swayed. They began, at last, to recognize that I was no longer a child under their thumb of control and capable of forming my own opinions. That respect meant the world to me!

And life carried on. I was contented with that, but largely ignored how none of my other relationships had changed much. It was a long, long time before I truly began to see how other friendships were very much like that parental one, in that I didn’t speak up about my different opinions, and remained silent in order to not disturb the friendship. Truly, only in the past few years, have I felt the urge to make some changes in my other relationships as well. And those changes also had to begin with me and within me. I decided to pick and choose my battles, but I also decided that any friendships in which those people were so adamantly opposed to anything but their way were not necessarily friendships which I wanted to foster and grow. I still struggle with it, but I know it’s okay to love people from afar, and so I’ve either ended or taken large steps back from relationships that take more from me than they give. I struggle with missing the good parts of the friendship. But I’ve changed and continued to grow to places where who they are isn’t a significant part of my life – in fact, remaining in those close ties was prohibiting me from my own growth. So, once again, I had to build up the confidence and diligence in believing that I deserved good and true friendships, and let go of the ones that were no longer good.

I’ve come to accept that, as I continue to grow, I will move away from people I love because they are holding me back. And I will grieve the good I am leaving behind, but it’s time (it’s past due time) I put myself first. And it will continue to be a process to discover if the relationships I have are with people who will allow me – and even encourage me – to keep growing.

So yes, this will be an ongoing journey for the rest of my life. I will, I suspect, hurt some people along the way as I shift my friendship away from being as close as it was before. I will continue to think of those people on whom I’ve closed the door and remember the good that came with the relationship in my memories. And I will continue to strive to put my own needs higher on my list of priorities so that I don’t revert to being the person who caters to and acquiesces to others when my own instinct wants to speak. I’ll definitely feel guilt along the way as well, but I’ve learned how to deal with feeling guilty (I’ve had a lot of experience!).

If you’re struggling to make your own authentic voice heard and known, understand that it is a process, ongoing, and not a simple jump from one place to the other. Like riding a bike, you start with training wheels, learning how to steer and navigate to your destination. You’ll pedal – HARD – but you will get there! Eventually, once you’ve mastered everything else, the training wheels will come off and you’ll learn the intricate art of balance which comes from within you! Just don’t ever stop pedaling – no matter how many times you fall and get a bruise or two. Want it badly enough to get back on and try again! I promise it’s worth the effort – I promise YOU are worth the effort!

Once Upon a Time…

…there was a gal who had always enjoyed writing. She had written articles for the humane society, articles that were published into pamphlets for a psychological practice, and multiple poems (which were never published). Many of her bosses liked her ability because they could give her two or three sentences and she could make them into two or three paragraphs, at least enough to make a letter an adequate length to send.

In her life, this gal had a man enter who was able to be an earthly muse, encouraging her to write, encouraging her to ignore syntax, grammar and punctuation and just let words flow. With him in her life, words poured – sometimes only a sentence or two, sometimes paragraphs that seemed to go on for an eternity.

When he left her life, she stopped writing except for what was necessary. It seemed obvious to her that it was his energy and presence which allowed her to turn words into glorious visualizations. Without his energy, she couldn’t draw two words together in a meaningful way, much less into a sentence or paragraph that spoke from her heart.

Several (many) years later, she stumbled across a printed version of those many words – and they moved her so much that she decided she wanted to share them. They were, indeed, glimpses into not only her mind, but her heart and spirit as well. She tucked those pages away, not quit knowing if she was willing to be vulnerable enough to share them.

When her beloved brother started blogging, she thought that a blog might be a way she could share these words, share the thoughts and create the same visuals she got whenever she read them. Still, she put it off…

One day, a content creator who does wonderful vlogs made a comment to his audience to “quit saying it and start doing it.” That phrase struck her, and she realized that the time was right now or never. She knew she could easily share the pages of words she had written in a way to make for several posts.

And this blog began. She named it “Ramblings and Ruminations” because it felt to her that what she had on hand fit that description. The first entry was on April 3, 2019. She thought she’d only have these pre-written words to share, but suddenly saw that she had a lot to say. Some of it was opinion, some of it was helpful hints, some of it was advice.

I wanted to share this story with you as a way of honoring 50 posts now available on my blog. The “ramblings and ruminations” portion is only 4 of those 50. I guess she was right – she does have a lot to say! In fact, I believe I can say with authority that “once upon a time” doesn’t only exist in fairy tales!

This journey, while still in its infant stage, has changed my life in so many ways. By blogging and reading others’ blogs, I’ve re-energized my personal growth journey, which hadn’t seen much activity since I retired. It has brought – and continues to bring – many ways in which I’ve become much truer to my authentic self. I’m learning to love myself for who I am and I’ve quit trying to be who I think others want me to be. This part of my blogging journey has been the greater gift.

Still, as I continue to share in my blog, I hope I’ve brought insight and help to those who read it. Being vulnerable continues to make me a little anxious, but it helps me to focus my attention on those who accept the “real” me and stop spending energy trying to hide the real me.

To my readers and followers, thank you for following me as I ramble through a lot of subjects, writing whatever is on my mind that I think is worthy of sharing. I am honored by your presence. And here’s to another 50 blog posts!