This “blue carrot” flower was always one of my mom’s favorites, and I never really understood why. I mean, it’s pretty, but… Every time I see one, I think of her. This summer, as I was walking, I spotted one and decided to stop take a picture of it. As I was thinking of my mom today, on the anniversary of her passing, I was compelled to look at that picture. It was as if she was here with me…I get it now. Although all of the little white flowers within the flower are equally beautiful, there is the one tiny blue/purple flower in the middle that dares to stand out and be different from all the rest, and that’s the one we see first. It doesn’t try to be like the others and “blend in”, and by being individual, displaying its own color proudly, it makes the entire flower more beautiful. My mom was like that.
As I sat looking at the picture, I recalled an “event” that occurred when I was in elementary school. I was in a play and the audience was filled with the parents and family members of my classmates. Moments before the show was ending, I noticed my mom running in one of the side doors. When she saw me notice her she seemed to stand taller, smile, and wave with excitement; as if she didn’t realize that she was still in her surgical scrubs, looking disheveled and arriving late…again.
After the show, as I was approaching my mom, I remember noticing another mom talking to her. This mom was tall, thin, looked picture perfect as always, and had been sitting in the front row when the curtains opened. I remember seeing her with her arm on my mom’s shoulder as if consoling her, it made me slow down and listen with trepidation. I heard her say something to the effect of, “oh poor Betty, you must feel so badly about arriving so late and missing the whole show. It must be so hard on you and your kids with you working so much and missing out…they’re growing so fast…etc…” I remember not knowing whether to jump on her band wagon or kick her in the shins. Before I could do either, my mom was already responding; again with one of her whole face smiles and twinkling eyes shining up from her petite 5’2” frame. She looked the other mom directly in the eyes, took her hand from her shoulder, held it in her own and said something that I remember as, “Yes, it is hard not being able to be everywhere for everyone all the time, but I continue to do the best I can every day and then try again tomorrow.” She went on to add something like, “I am so fortunate that my husband was able to video the program tonight so that we can all go home and watch it together, and the baby I was operating on, she is recovering with her parents now too, but thank you for your concern, I do appreciate it.” (She definitely had a little spice with her sugar.)
Without another breath my mom turned, saw me, and came in for the hug. Wow! I distinctly remember that feeling of not knowing what to think or say. Now, when I think back, I realize that my mom was the perfect example of someone who got her self-worth from within. She knew her purpose was to discover her own unique gifts and do her best to share them with as many as possible to the best of her ability every day, and that’s what she did. Of course she wished she could do more, but she didn’t get down on herself for not being able to, she simply used it as her motivation to get up and try again the next day.
As a teenager, I recall times when this same quality of my mom’s drove me nuts. I couldn’t stand that she seemed to not care how mad or upset I or anyone else was at her. How she would show up with cat hair all over her, in surgical scrubs, or smell of the horse barn, and not seem the least bit embarrassed. It wasn’t that she didn’t ever take the time to get dressed up and go out etc… it was just never about trying to impress anyone else (except maybe my dad from time to time). As I have gotten older and had the opportunity meet more individuals that seem to possess this same “something”, a quality that makes all shape and sizes so attractive that they seem to almost glow, it occurred to me that “it” is their self-confidence; the unshakeable appreciation of their own self-worth. The common denominator is their awareness, total acceptance and love of who they are and all that they can be/do.
My mom always told me that, for as long as she could remember, she knew she was going to be a surgeon, even though there were no women surgeons when she was growing up in the 1930’s. My mom never seemed to believe that anyone outside of her had the ability to know what she could or couldn’t do, only opinions that she could choose to take into consideration or not. She was the only one who lived in her body with her mind and her soul, she seemed to know that her job was to try her best at whatever she was doing and that, as long as she did, the rest was not in her control. I would ask her how she wasn’t afraid of this or that and she would respond, “It’s not that I’m not afraid, I just don’t let that stop me.” It was as if the fear made it exciting for her. I would ask how she could not be bothered by things other people said or did, and she would respond with something like, “Honey, you can’t let what others say and do dictate how you feel or act. You never know where they are coming from, what kind of day they are having, who they may be mad at, etc…” She helped me understand: that people do and say different things for a million different reasons and our job is simply to listen to what we feel, inside, and do what is right for us. And even though we can’t control others, and we have no idea what’s motivating their words or actions, we can control how we react, and that’s all we have to do. Such an amazing, and yet such a simple, concept.
My mom played hard, worked hard, loved hard, and had a smile that lit up a room. She was constantly squeezing all that she could out of life. I don’t remember ever hearing about anyone that ever met her that didn’t love her, or at least respect her. Days before her funeral I heard a story that still makes me smile and really sums up her essence. The gist of it was, when she was told that a patient was referred to her and told that she was “the best pediatric surgeon on the East coast”, her immediate response was, “I wonder who my competition is on the West Coast?” That’s pure confidence.
I miss my mom, but I feel as though I continue to learn from her every day. I like to think that a part of her lives on in me as I pursue my passion as a life coach. She is my role model as I strive to help others achieve a greater sense of self-worth and/or confidence; to realize their innate abilities to generate happiness by knowing who they are, doing their best to be their best, and not letting that fulfillment be dependent on or swayed by the opinions or judgement of others. Each time I am able to do this I feel as though I have fulfilled my purpose and honored my mom at the same time. Through me, she can continue to help others live a fuller life.
Lately it seems so acceptable, even normal, to talk or joke about “needing” our daily glass of wine to take the “edge off”, or just to relax, yet so “strange” or almost “taboo” when someone says, “I am having a rough time keeping my shit together these days and could really use some support?” Isn’t it really the same thing? Or is sticking with the wine more like saying, “I’m struggling to keep my shit together but I’m going to numb that with my wine so that I can wake up and do all the same things tomorrow and hope it ends different.”?
I don’t drink, not because I think there’s anything wrong with it, or because I “have my shit together” but, in a nutshell, my Dr. told me not to. I now have almost no tolerance for any alcohol. Does that mean I never enjoy a glass of wine, no, but it is rare, and I’m still surprised at how uncomfortable I seem to make people by not drinking. Why is that? Is it that people think I’m judging them negatively for drinking? Do they think it’s bad that their drinking? If not, why would I? Do they think I’m saying, “I don’t need it”? Would that mean I think they do? Why would I think that?
I actually used to wish I could have that wine, sometimes to “take the edge off”, but more often just to blend in. But what would that mean, that making others feel comfortable is more important than my health? Actually, if I didn’t have three sons counting on me to be their mom, I probably would have chosen to blend in more often, but not anymore. And that makes me wonder…how many others are in a similar situation? How many of us are just trying to blend in, and Why?
I see Facebook posts, hear jokes in exercise classes, and even see diets that make sure to include that glass of wine. Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t help wondering why so many women, many moms, caretakers and professionals, find it more acceptable to talk about their wine habits then about why they “need” it? I fully understand and appreciate that, for some, it’s truly the enjoyment of the beverage, and for others it serves as a sort of meditation because they make a point to sit, relax, and breathe while enjoying their wine. But what about those of us who drink our wine, or take our anti-depressants/anxiety/etc. pills, because we need them? Do we really “need” them…or is it just a habit?
Recently I was at a cocktail party and I felt as though I was witnessing a competition over who has that first glass sooner after getting home; it was received as normal, even admirable. As if the more we needed the glass the more overworked and underappreciated we were and, somehow, that was being worn like a badge..? What is up with that? I get it, it’s what our society has become…blah blah blah, but really? Are we REALLY ok with that? Are we happy? Who cares how much you work, how many things you have, etc. if it doesn’t make you happy? Who are you doing it for? Do you think that anyone who loves you wants to see you NOT happy?
What if we, as women, just decided to be honest with each other instead of trying to impress each other? What if we just started talking to each other? What if we just started being true to ourselves? What if we worried less about what our social medial followers thought of us and more about what the people who truly loved us thought? Would it change anything?
I decided to be “brave” at the cocktail party and I asked some of these questions… Let’s just say it’s a good thing I’ve learned not to value myself based on others opinions…it pretty much went over like a lead balloon. Maybe it’s just me, but I wish I had spent more of my life cultivating mutual, supporting relationships than I did numbing, blending and pretending not to need anyone, that everything was “fine”, or even “great”.
How many of you judge others the way you perceive them to be judging you? I’m guessing not many, and that’s why I’ve decided to give others the benefit of the doubt that their not judging me either. What’s the point, it’s not like we are going to change anyone’s mind anyway. What people think about you has much more to do with what’s going on with them then anything that’s actually going on with you. Think about it, if you’re having a great hair day, do you even notice anyone elses hair? But what happens when you go out feeling self conscious about your hair?
After a while, you’re bound to reap what you sew, so be careful; this is your one life, spend it being YOU, not who you think others want you to be. You are unique and special, you were not born to Blend In, you were born to Stand Out, to be the one and only YOU!
Your entire life is made up of tiny little moments, starting now. Who do you want to be and what are you willing to do, be, or not do or be, to achieve that?
Love is the party, pain is the hangover… so do you never celebrate again to avoid the hangover…or do you decide the party is worth it and just learn to recover from/treat the hangover?
The hangover may or may not even happen, what if you choose to deal with the magnitude of it only if/when you need to? But don’t let it prevent you from going to the party…this is your one best life.
What if all of life is just figuring out what you need/want/like/etc…through trial and error, nursing yourself back to health, repeat and become stronger in the process.
Not stronger as in “more prepared for a fight” or “better able to handle more without getting hurt”, but stronger as in increased knowledge of yourself and realizing that you will survive, life will go on. Stronger in the knowledge that you allowed yourself to experience something wonderful and it was worth it. Stronger knowing that you can choose to stay stuck dwelling on your past “mistakes”, or you can acknowledge the strength you received from overcoming them and use it to empower your future.
Life is all about the learning; experimenting, enjoying, failing, succeeding, etc.… But none of those things are possible without leaving our comfort zone and refusing to let fear hold us back.
What are we so afraid of anyway?? You are so much stronger than you know! Let go of your self-limiting beliefs, have faith in who you are and allow yourself to truly LOVE YOUR LIFE!
It’s wonderful if others believe in you, but it’s only necessary that you believe in yourself.
There is only one YOU, be the U in Unique- the most successful people in the world got that way by being completely themselves…think about it 😉