“There’s power in allowing yourself to be known and heard, in owning your unique story, in using your authentic voice. And there’s grace in being willing to know and hear others.This, for me, is how we become.” Michelle Obama
I thought about this post for a while before writing it. Since I write about ways and ideas to achieve peace and tranquility to be who we uniquely are, I thought why not share my passage to authenticity.
When One Door Closes, Another Opens
I was unknowingly frustrated all of my adult life, I was unhappy with either myself or my life; my behavior always seemed to be off and I couldn’t figure out why. My frustration came out in a variety of ways, defensiveness, wanting to be alone, trusting too much and too much focus on what everyone else needed.
Every choice we make takes us on a journey that helps us to discover who we really are. In July of 2014 just a little over a year after my mother died, I decided to join a spiritual/consciousness group that a friend recommended. The members appeared to be kind and friendly just what I thought I needed. After several months with the group, I chose to volunteer to help the spiritual leader. I didn’t realize I was in emotional limbo and I was neglecting my needs, so that decision took me down a path of some pretty tough lessons. The woman I was helping took advantage of my need to help others, but rather than just quit, I pushed through. After nearly a year of constantly being surrounded by members of the group and over-working I was exhausted and my latent frustration started to surface. I began to treat the volunteer position like a paid job, I became too invested by becoming very business-like. The members of the group didn’t like or understand my behavior; they all complained about me to the spiritual leader. So in September of 2016 after the woman got wind of how the members felt, she was angry when she told me that I was no longer welcome to be in the group, I was actually quite relieved.
I know everything happens for me not to me, so afterward I decided to isolate myself and take my life into my hands. I put all of my energy into healing and becoming more aligned with my needs. Even though the situation I’d been through was difficult I had gained a lot over the time I was involved. But the way things transpired made me realize that It was time I practice what I’d been advising others to do, live authentically and be true to the life I was meant to live.
In 1974 at the age of 22 I was rather naive about men and thoughtless of the consequences of intimacy. I met a guy at a bar (that sure does sound like a cliché) I went to with a friend. The guy bought me a drink, we chatted briefly and I went home. I’m fuzzy on the details of our relationship but I do remember our first encounter because it was my first time and it was very un-romantic. Several weeks later after I’d developed flu-like symptoms, I went to the doctor and found out that my big night of intimacy resulted in pregnancy. I was scared but kind of excited at the same time, not once did I consider terminating my chance at motherhood. Being pregnant meant that I would have to leave single life behind, not that I had much of one, to live with my parents. The baby’s father disappeared for a time, then resurfaced and asked me to marry him. I was gullible and said yes, we got married and divorced within one year. I knew I would be okay as a single mom, things were’nt going to be easy but I was determined to have my baby. I really had no idea how being a single mom would effect my life and my future, but I knew that I felt joy and contentment.
Becoming a mom was as natural for me as breathing when in December of 1974 my son, Scott, was born. He was a beautiful and joyous little boy who ignited a love I’d never known. I knew immediately that I wanted to devote my time to him for as long as I could but I just didn’t know how. We did some research and found a state run program to help single moms receive childcare financial aid. I didn’t know how long the aid would be available to me, but I chose to accept the unknown and just enjoy our time together.
We enjoyed a good, quiet life through Scott’s first year, it was soul satisfying to care for him as I began our adventure into family life. Then in 1975 my life changed abruptly when my 14 year old sister Carol was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a life-threatening cancer of the blood. I didn’t know anything about leukemia and I had no idea what we were going to be faced with. Sadly, family friends disappeared but my family was pretty close so we stood together beyond the circumstances. My mom went through all of the medical processes with Carol throughout her ordeal. My life changed as I took on my mom’s responsibilities along with mine and caring for Scott. Thank goodness Scott was just a baby, he kept me laughing and cheerful. When my sister came home after a long stay at the hospital, still very ill, my life was a constant state of uncertainty. Scott was very social and loved to be the center of attention, making him a light in Carol’s life giving her a break from her illness. Not much was known about Leukemia then; after a year long battle Carol lost remission and passed away on August 4th 1976. I was devastated but I had to maintain my focus on my son who was just about two. This is where I believe the Universe works its magic, because of Scott being just a toddler, he was a blessing for my grieving family. After that significant loss, along with gratitude and appreciation, I gained a different sense of the life going on around me, my heart opened up. As time passed and my son grew into a self-sufficient young man, I grew as a person becoming more resilient yet unsettled. I was blossoming into someone who wanted a more diverse life for myself and my son.
I’ve always looked forward to the changes that were necessary to improve my life. In 1987 the next opportunity for growth came when the state notified me that they were terminating the financial support for my son. Life was pushing me in a new direction, I was anxious but excited. Included with the letter was an outline of a state run back to work program schedule with the date and time of the introductory meeting I was expected to attend. My quiet life became hectic, I created ideals for myself and I knew that I didn’t want a job for someone with just a high school education anymore. I had a strong interest in the state-of-the-art technology, personal computers, I wanted to learn all about them. I had no money or knew what I could do to get the financial support I needed, but through my fear I believed that beyond the circumstances I was faced with that I was capable of achieving more.
I didn’t know it at the time, but an extraordinary event was about to happen. As I left the state mandated meeting for a job, a person walked toward me with a clipboard, stopped me and asked if I had any interest in learning how to use a computer. I got a little excited and added my name and contact information to the list without any idea of what was to come. Within days I got a call and a meeting was arranged to pursue the financial support I would need to attend their business college. My biggest fear was returning to school, but I didn’t let that stop me. By February, financing was secured to cover the first two quarters and I was now a student. I was completely out of my comfort zone, but I was determined to push past my fear and go. In the spring of 1988 I graduated as a certified Wordprocessor with a 3.9 GPA and within a couple of months of graduation I landed my first job, not as a Wordprocessor, as a receptionist for a small software development company. That first job redirected my career from a data entry specialist to an administrative professional for the next 28 years.
My career was never a passion for me, I chose what I did for a better life and a steady income. Over the nearly two and a quarter decades my positions increased in responsibility with higher skill requirements, the jobs were demanding with hundreds of challenges to work through. It was exhausting and strenuous; after 22 years I felt disconnected and dissatisfied with my career. I felt a strong urge to go in a new direction. In fact in December of 2008 I told my mom how I felt and that I had no idea how to change things. Then, In February of 2009 once again the Universe stepped in and my position was eliminated. Within two weeks I walked away from a career in Corporate America that had improved my life but wasn’t what I wanted or who I was anymore. This was going to be more then just a job change, it felt like a personal revolution.
From that point forward I was on a bumpy path of awakening and learning how to better follow my gut instincts. I was uncharacteristically uncertain, I stopped wearing a watch, looking for a job because of the income and I began thinking beyond the obvious. I wanted to make a difference, I was for all intense purposes lifting myself out of the fog of an unintentional life. When my first few attempts to do something different failed, I was unhappy, my son advised me to hold my head up, be strong, decisive and to keep pushing on. In the next six years, I created an online assistant business with a self-created website that lasted for two years. Then in 2011 I chose to volunteer then work for Public Broadcasting Service for a year, followed by working for a nonprofit medical clinic for a year. During that time I started to write and I began taking photos seriously.
The milestones in my life have always been big changes that turned my life around in ways that I never saw coming. In early 2013 my new daughter-in-law suddenly passed away and just a few days later my mom passed away after a year of harrowing medical problems. Along with the grief of two family losses, without any life insurance from my mom, I dealt with eviction. Over the next three and half years I moved into eight different places with people I didn’t know anything about. In 2014 after a contract job with a large business I chose to retire from corporate life to pursue a life of consciousness. That was when my life became more tumultuous and I became more determined to live my life my way. After the eighth move and complete exhaustion in late 2017 an opportunity arose to leave the east coast to move out west where I chose to live rather than moving somewhere to adapt to the circumstances of my life. Even though the people I knew warned me away from moving knowing I was fearful of driving a moving truck across country alone, I forced myself to say yes and grabbed the opportunity.
All of the heart-felt choices I’ve made, even though some seemed like the wrong thing to do, led me to where I am today. I am genuinely happy, surrounded by nature and connected to authentic, loving, kind people. For me, every choice has led me to a situation that instilled life lessons that helped develop my character. I now am more aware of the transitions and how I am effected, they’re not quite as dramatic as it has been in years gone by, none-the-less impactful, exquisite and meaningful.
Words fall short to accurately summarize how I feel about my journey to authenticity. The tough times I experienced will never be forgotten but the magical outcomes have left me speechless.
Update from the Homefront
As spring tries to make its way in, things have changed here at home. My son, Scott, left his long distance truck driving job for a job where he’ll be home every weekend. My 17 year old grandson Wyatt has moved to Mesa, just a couple of hours south of here to live with his aunt until he graduates. He came to spend last weekend and plans to come visit on as many weekends as he can, giving me the chance to cook for my family, what a joy and a way to introduce my grandson to international and varietal cooking, Once I chose my happiness and living authentically, the opportunities to grow into who I am have been many.