September’s prompt for One Little Word was to think about the battles I’m engaged in and to consider whether I want to continue my crusades or surrender. I’ve been thinking about this prompt for the whole month; it has certainly been worthy mettle.
What I noticed in thinking about battles – since NOTICE is my one-little-word – are the types of battles in my life. There are challenges I’ve taken on or that have come my way that have been transformational in making me who I am. They have become the very fiber of my life, to surrender would be like separating muscle from bone.
But it would be interesting to rediscover the essential skeleton beneath.
Other battles I choose to take on, and gird myself appropriately – the way I don a down coat in winter, madras shorts in summer, flip flops at the beach.
These battles require pockets in my life to hold extra necessities, belts to keep things secure, neosporin for the blisters.
I want to get my battle thinking down on paper before the coming of October and a brand new prompt.
But maybe I’ll pull a white flag from my closet and wave it around for awhile.
Who are you?
My first response was: “I am many things and I am a secret” because the things that popped into my head in response to the question were all the labels I have for myself as far as the roles I play in others lives. But I also feel like I am a secret because if you took away all of those labels and pared me down to the core of who I am – an entity in the world, I think most of me is still unknown, especially to myself.
Sometimes when I’m out and about I feel like the head of the Cheshire Cat – eyes and ears and a great big grin – but the body of who I am is hidden. Sometimes I put myself out in the world that way too, just the tips of me and just beyond reach, because I’m afraid for all of me to be known. Sometimes I can barely find the tips of me myself, let alone anything solid with fur and bone.
But that is why I enrolled in the class that began with that question – because I want to find out more about myself. It’s an online photography class so I guess I’ll learn about myself one exposure at a time. (couldn’t resist….)
In the Victorian language of flowers, dahlias symbolize dignity, elegance, and a bond that lasts forever.
My daughter took me on her favorite route last Saturday, past many gardens full of dahlias. Usually she jogs, but I have to walk. It was hot, I should have brought water. I listened to her chat about work, her friends, the life she’s made for herself in Seattle, her current challenges and hopes for the future. She wisely characterized this period of her life as one in which she is forming herself as an adult in the world and establishing a new way of relating to us, her parents.
I remember thinking the same thing when I was in my twenties. I spent a lot of time figuring out how to be true to myself, acknowledge the support my parents had given me growing up and yet separate myself from them. I was trying to relate to my parents as an adult, be a sibling without being a child, and create a community of my own.
I huffed and puffed and paused a lot on the stairway she took me up, wishing again for a bottle of water, chugging on because I knew there would be a view at the top.
There was a view, but instead of the bay and city before me, I snapped a picture of my daughter, a strong and vibrant woman living her twenties soundly.
Though the dahlias are fading now in September, they are a colorful reminder of us, two women who have dignity, elegance and a bond that will last forever.
My parents have a world map in their hallway with little pins showing all the places they’ve been. New visitors to their house are always captivated by the tiny trails that dot almost every continent; they have traveled a lot in the past 25 years.
A friend leaned into my shoulder at church yesterday and told me she is traveling to Paris in November. She is very excited. “I’ve never been anywhere,” she said. “I look at that map in your parent’s house and think WOW!” I suggested she put up a map and put “dream pins” in it and then change them to “been pins” as she expands her travels.
I’ve never really traveled but it hasn’t been my dream to. My suggestion to my friend got me thinking though – if I could post a map of my dreams in the hallway, what would it look like? And how many of my “dream pins” have been exchanged for “done pins?”