My exercise this week for my Cosmic Smash Book gave me some pause. The subject was self love, a sticky subject for me. I started out life as an only child — the only child, in fact, in my generation. Of course, my parents weren’t perfect, but I was poured into and over and I didn’t have to share and I didn’t have to work at anything but my own stuff — as in, I really didn’t have chores beyond responsibility for my own room. I got to do my own thing ad infinitum. I was also raised in a military family, and attended thirteen schools in twelve years, which means that although I made friends to play with, hang out with, in all these different schools, none of the relationships developed that depth of give and take, certainly not a real level of maturity.
Then I grew up, and I had kids. Five of them. And there really was not much room in my life anymore for “me” stuff. It didn’t really bother me, because I honestly enjoyed caring for my kids so much, it was my “me stuff.” Every few years or so, something would rise up in me, however, a feeling that there must be something else to life. I’ve mentioned before that when I was in college I wrote a paper on Nietzsche, and always after these feeling started coming up, that paper would pop out of a stray box somewhere and say, “Read me.” And I would read about my college girl belief that we all have a destiny, as in a destination, that we are meant to reach in this life. But it’s a voluntary thing, I noted in the paper. You don’t have to reach the destination. You don’t have to fulfill your destiny. You might get little pushes to urge you on, but nobody is going to drag you by the hair to the finish line. In fact, I posited that most people didn’t get very far on their life’s journey. They stopped at the first comfortable place on the road, where they sat and grew fat in the warmth of their fireplace. God forbid, my college self thought, that this should happen to me. I was sure I had something to accomplish in this life. Now these little episodes didn’t happen often, only a few times over the course of my life, but they were hard, and did sometimes bring about changes in my life, my world, which were difficult, but probably still for the best.
I actually started to feel this rising up again last year. I mean, it makes perfect sense. I had just beat a deadly disease. I’d had to think about the fact that my life is not going to last forever, and a scroll unrolled in my mind and heart, full of lists of things I had not accomplished. That book I knew I was destined to write, which I had been fooling around with for years? Still not written. I’d traveled quite enough as a child that I didn’t really regret the fact that I didn’t do it anymore. Home is by far my favorite place. But there was a part of me that wanted to walk out that door, to run, to dance. It was a confusing and painful time.
Funny enough, that paper on Nietzsche even popped out of a box. I kid you not. But you know what? I didn’t read it this time.
This time, it all turned out differently. Call it maturity perhaps, but by this time I had actually started to come to a real realization, and that is that this may be my life, but it is not all about me. Obviously, I had experienced this reality every day of my life as the mother of five children. They were all grown up by then, however. Some are near and some are far, some need more from me than others. I have grandchildren now, including a three year old who lives with me, along with his mother, and who likes to occupy a lot of my time. Was this okay? What about that destiny?
But there was something I realized just looking into my grandson’s face. This is my destiny. To love, to nurture others. This is who I am. Yes, I do still long for that freedom to do my own stuff that I learned to love as a child, but it is part of my life. It doesn’t have to be my whole life. My real heart is in giving and caring. I had suffered infertility problems in the beginning, and had to take fertility pills to get pregnant the first time. What if I’d just said, oh well, perhaps I’m just not mean to have kids? I have wondered this often. What if I’d concentrated on a career rather than being a stay at home mom? Well, I’d have a lot more money. And it is a fact that 99.9 percent of the breaks in my heart came from my children. I have a huge head start in this because of Michaela, but even when your kids don’t get kidnapped or die, you feel every one of their hurts, heartaches, and disappointments as though they were your very own. But there is one thing I have been able to assure myself about, and that is that if I had it to do all over again, I would do the exact same thing, because that is me. That is who I am. Even now.
So what about that destiny? Well, who is to say my destiny is not to nurture the gifts in others? Maybe I won’t accomplish something outstanding, but perhaps my children or grandchildren will. Perhaps it will make a difference to the world if I put my heart into helping to build a safe launching pad for someone else.
And who is to say I haven’t fulfilled my destiny, in one way or another. No, I haven’t written a book that got rave reviews, became a best seller, bestowing on me fame and fortune. But I do have a blog, and while it may not reach the world, it might reach just a handful of people, and it might make a difference to them. I started a Patreon last year, and just discovered the other day that I have a little handful of patrons. I cannot tell you how excited I was. I remain silent a lot these days because I am not convinced that anybody wants to hear what I have to say, but here were these few people who actually appreciated it enough to make small monthly donations to help me keep doing it. I wrote to all these people and said, I found you on Patreon, and I am so grateful, and what can I do for you? I was really happy to receive several emails in response, and I was especially happy to hear people say that things I have written have made a difference to them, that I had helped them through a difficult time in their lives. Sooooo happy. Fame, fortune, making a difference in the world? Maybe my destiny isn’t so much a firework display in the middle of summer as it is a warm fire on a cold winter’s day, and my fortune is just big enough to pay my PG&E bill.
That is enough. This life of mine is a small moment in eternity.
So while sorting through all these ideas on self love that were part of this week’s assignment, I honestly kind of said no to it. Should I set boundaries? Should I say nope, I am giving more and getting less, so I am drawing a line in the sand because I have to take care of me? Oh yes, I know you need to put on the oxygen mask in the plane before you can help your neighbor, even if your neighbor is your child. You have to survive. You have to grow. But you can do that by giving.
So this is the page I created for my own self love meditation, and it is based on what is my honest to God guiding principal in life.
We should be people who GIVE.
If we all give to each other, then we will all always have enough. We can give generously and happily, because we will not be plagued by the fear that we will run out, that we will not have enough for ourselves, because we know that as we pour into others, others will pour into us. This idea is a fire in my heart.
I’ve even been talking to God lately, and I have to tell you, I think God has been talking back to me. Just this morning, as I was getting ready to put together my Self Love pages in my Cosmic Smash Book, I came across this verse: “I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness your abundance at the present time should supply their need so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness. As it is written, ‘Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.'” (2 Corinthians 8:13-15)
I know it doesn’t always work this way. The world and the people in it are kind of broken. I know that just because I give doesn’t mean I will receive. I’ve learned that lesson. But we need to be the change we want to see in the world, right? It’s like the pay it forward thing. (Which makes me kind of curious about who is the person who breaks the chain of people paying for the next person in line at Starbucks…) I do also know that I am a little broken in the “receiving” department. It’s hard for me to take. It’s hard for me to let others pay for my coffee, or pick up the tab for lunch. But God has ever so kindly put me in a position these days of being forced to practice receiving. We need to learn to receive also, to take what is offered, to ask for what we need, because that is part of the model, that we pour into others and are poured into as well. You cannot allow yourself to get empty, whatever your source is, and there are sources also that are not of this world. But you cannot hoard your mental, spiritual, or worldly wealth.
So perhaps I failed this week’s assignment. I’m not really sure. But I am grateful, nonetheless, for realizing that for me, this is who I am. I can find my destiny in the face of a child, and there is not a thing in the world more fulfilling than seeing tears transformed into a smile, despair turned into relief.
Before I go, I just want to throw in a page from my Smashbook from last week. I found this quote on Facebook, credited to Bianca Sparacino, and it spoke so deeply to me. If you can’t read my writing, it says, “Happiness turned to me and said, ‘It is time to forgive yourself for all of the things you did not become. It is time to exonerate yourself for all the people you couldn’t save, for all the fragile hearts you fumbled with in the dark of you’re confusion. It is time, child, to accept that you don’t have to be who you were a year ago, that you don’t have to want the same things. Above all, it is time to believe, with reckless abandon, that you are worthy of me, for I have been waiting for years.'”
By the way, in the pages at the top of this entry, you will see gold lines running through the pictures. Those are the broken places, mended with gold, making the original even more valuable.
Thank you for being here, for your support, for reading my words, for caring. I appreciate, as always, your prayers, and at this time particularly I would appreciate your prayers for Michaela, for a light to shine on her so that we can find her. We are looking.
And remember, you are loved.