The Life I Imagined

After mulling it over for a couple of weeks, I’ve decided to make a change to the Sunday blog posts. I write two blogs, this daily one and Journey With Healthy Me that I post in three times a week. That means that Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays are double blog post days. I like what that consistency has done for the health blog. Since I implemented that schedule in January, I’ve grown the audience for Journey by 417%, and it continues to increase.

What I didn’t think through was having Sunday as a double post day. I put in four or more hours of work on the blogs when I do two of them. Sundays are my self care days. I do other writing, commune with the Divine, read, garden, walk and occasionally watch a movie. I’m protective of my Sundays. And my time. Rather than switch around the health blog schedule, I am choosing to write a shorter post each Sunday, on this blog…something inspirational, a brief story, or thoughts centered around a favorite quote.

So beyond today’s post with this long notice of change, watch for slightly different posts on Sundays!

The Life I Imagined

This quote, author unknown, snagged my attention a couple of days ago. And so she decided to start living the life she had imagined. I wrote thoughts about it during my free writing this morning.

As a young adult, I had only an inkling about who I was and the person I was growing into. A long time people pleaser who avoided speaking up if it might cause confrontation, I couldn’t imagine being bold or doing anything on my own. Going to a family get together or a movie alone was a big deal then, much less traveling or trying new experiences on my own.

I remember well the night I had an epiphany about my life. My children were in their late teens and early twenties and beginning their own independent journeys on their life paths. And Greg had his own interests that didn’t always include me, which was fine. I had dreams and ideas and truths I was learning…and no one to share it all with, it seemed. That night I sat in a dark room, feeling very alone. I realized I felt that way because I was very disconnected from myself. Focusing on others and not being present with myself is what created the sense of loneliness. I also realized that looking to anyone else to fill that void was too great a burden to place on someone, too high an expectation for him or her to live up to.

That night, my life shifted. I vowed to share my heart and my dreams and the lessons I was learning with God, and to get to know myself in a much deeper way. What freedom began to flow into my life. I didn’t suddenly become a different person, but I began to grow into a different person, day by day, year by year. I started living the life I had been imagining, rather than waiting for others to invite me to join their adventures or agree to accompany me on mine. And once I opened up, the Divine met me where I was and called me onward. All kinds of delights and opportunities began showing up in my life.

It has been an amazing journey. I don’t mind sharing my life…I do so by writing my blogs. However, I don’t expect another to share in my life. By freeing myself, I’ve freed others to live their own magnificent lives. My creativity has been reborn, manifesting in writing, sketching, gardening, decorating, cooking and myriad other ways. My health has totally changed. There are topics I am exploring and interests I am developing simply because I want to.

And travel is becoming a big part of my life. The young woman who couldn’t go anywhere on her own has become the bohemian spirit who is eagerly anticipating her first solo overseas trip next year. All that I have dreamed, all that I have imagined, is becoming reality. I love my beautiful life.

The Life I Imagined

For We Are Glorious

I woke up this morning, thinking about the word “glorious”. The last few days, I have used my Morning Pages time, my free writing, to explore my thoughts about the song This is Me, from the film The Greatest Showman, line by line.

Since my thoughts seemed focused there, I wondered if I would be writing about being glorious today. In answer to my unspoken question, I saw, within a span of three minutes, the word “glorious” and the word “glory”. I took that as a resounding yes!

In the movie Keala Settle wonderfully portrays Lettie, the bearded lady at PT Barnum’s circus. This film tells Barnum’s story, however, we witness Lettie’s transformation as well. Her beard, the thing that makes her different, doesn’t go away. But Lettie’s fear and shame do. We see her beauty shine forth as she embraces who she is and accepts herself wholeheartedly. She becomes the voice for the group, in many ways.

And speaking of voice, she can sing! Lettie has a rich, beautiful voice and with Barnum, she becomes a star. The crowds don’t laugh at her. They cheer and applaud, wildly.

At the heart of The Greatest Showman is the message that we all have differences. That’s what makes us unique. Lettie’s song, This is Me, is so powerful because it is not only her anthem, it’s the heart cry of all of us.

The lyrics that caught my own heart over the past three days are these:

I won’t let them break me down to dust, I know that there’s a place for us. For we are glorious.

Lettie is referring to the words and actions of others, and not letting those people break her down to dust. Dust makes me think of dirt…as in nothing. We have sad expressions about feeling like dirt or being dumb as dirt. We equate dirt with nothingness, something we wipe off our shoes and forget. The words, actions, and opinions of others can make us feel that worthless. I think symbolically dust represents death as well, as in “to dust you shall return”. Death can come to our spirits, through the taunts and jeers of others, long before it claims our bodies.

Lettie continues singing that she knows there’s a place for us, including here her new family group, called oddities by some. There is room for everyone, a place for each of us with our unique gifts and perspectives. We need our differences. The world needs them, needs us all, with our brilliant quirks and our creative talents.

For we are glorious.

I love that choice of words. Glorious. Glory. From the Latin word gloria. High renown or honor, magnificence or great beauty, sacredness. As a verb, to take pride or pleasure in.

For we are glorious, Lettie sings. She knows. We are glorious. We are magnificent. We are full of beauty. We are sacred. See our glory. Take pride and pleasure in who we are, because we do.

This is us…this is me. And we are glorious.

This is the shining truth in Lettie’s song. It’s why this song is affecting people at such a deep level. It’s why This is Me is nominated for an Oscar and why it became my song for 2018.

Shortly after those words, Lettie sings, I am brave, I am bruised, I am who I’m meant to be.

I thought about what it means to be brave. Courage is another word for brave. And that word comes from the Latin word cor, meaning heart. Courage is a heart thing, not strong actions or being completely fearless. It is a surety, born in our core.

BrenĂ© Brown says that the original definition of courage was “to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart”.

That’s what Lettie has learned. She knows, in her heart, at her core, who she is. She is telling her story, from that place of courage, even though she has been bruised, marked, by life. She isn’t willing to hide herself away any more. She can sing, with breathtaking beauty and honesty, This is me…and I am glorious.

I want to take this truth in. I want to incubate it for a while. And then let it be born fully in me. There are so many ways to hide who we are. So many ways to feel shame over who we are. So many ways to be bruised. Courage is being bruised and afraid and allowing who you are to shine, differences and all.

My courage, your courage, telling our stories from whole hearts, allows others to do the same. What an amazing ripple of change such courage sends out into the world. We can do it. For we are glorious.

This is Me…and Me…and Me

The song This is Me has not only totally captivated me, its message of acceptance and courage and living as the authentic self is inspiring me in many ways. All kinds of ideas have surfaced. I have used the phrase on several selfies and included them in blog posts.

This weekend I am visiting family in Oklahoma. I wanted a simple story to tell, so as not to take time away from my sister, niece, nephew in law and two great nephews. We are having fun playing games and chatting and eating Indian fare!

Watching six year Kaleb as he played his pint sized violin that he received for Christmas, I decided to capture each of my family members in a This is Me pose. The kids entered whole heartedly into this adventure, and even came up with great ideas for the adults.

Here are my family members…this is them!

I am enjoying this whole this is me experience. It is helping me to see myself in fresh, accepting and loving ways. And, it is helping me to see others in the same way. How can I look at someone now and not recognize their beauty, their gifts, their uniqueness?

As I take these pics, capturing people in that moment, I recognize that that is who they are, right then, at that point in their journey. Tomorrow, next week, two months from now, a this is me photo might look very different, as we all continue to shift and grow.

That is the wonder of our individual journeys…and the incredible power of declaring, “This is Me!”

This is Me

I love movie soundtracks. They are one of my favorite music genres. If a film captures my heart, then the musical score accompanying that movie has the power to instantly transport me back into the story. For that reason, I have a tendency to play a soundtrack over…and over…and over, just as I watch a compelling movie multiple times.

Often there is a song within that soundtrack that arrests me for reasons of its own. Beyond taking me back into the film, it usually has a powerful message that resonates with me or cracks open my heart. That song, within the amazing The Greatest Showman soundtrack, is This is Me.

Written by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, this song is performed by Keala Settle, who portrays Lettie Lutz in the movie. Lettie is considered an oddity by her family and work colleagues. She has a full, luxurious beard. The term “bearded lady” doesn’t cut it at all in describing this amazing woman. She has an incredible voice, and she uses it for more than singing. Lettie becomes the spokesperson for P.T. Barnum’s group of unique performers. She is nurturing. She is brave. She is beautiful. In the course of this film, she comes into her power and glory, fully.

The lyrics to This is Me reflect Lettie’s journey.

This is Me

[Verse 1]

I am not a stranger to the dark

Hide away, they say

‘Cause we don’t want your broken parts.

I’ve learned to be ashamed of all my scars.

Run away, they say

No one’ll love you as you are.

[Pre-Chorus]

But I won’t let them break me down to dust.

I know that there’s a place for us.

For we are glorious.

[Chorus]

When the sharpest words wanna cut me down. I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out.

I am brave, I am bruised

I am who I’m meant to be, this is me.

Look out ’cause here I come.

And I’m marching on to the beat I drum.

I’m not scared to be seen

I make no apologies, this is me.

[Verse 2]

Another round of bullets hits my skin.

Well, fire away ’cause today, I won’t let the shame sink in.

We are bursting through the barricades.

And reaching for the sun (we are warriors)

Yeah, that’s what we’ve become.

[Pre-Chorus]

Won’t let them break me down to dust.

I know that there’s a place for us.

For we are glorious.

[Chorus]

When the sharpest words wanna cut me down. Gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out.

I am brave, I am bruised

I am who I’m meant to be, this is me.

Look out ’cause here I come.

And I’m marching on to the beat I drum.

I’m not scared to be seen

I make no apologies, this is me.

[Bridge]

And I know that I deserve your love.

There’s nothing I’m not worthy of.

When the sharpest words wanna cut me down. I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out.

This is brave, this is proof

This is who I’m meant to be, this is me.

[Chorus]

Look out ’cause here I come (look out ’cause here I come).

And I’m marching on to the beat I drum. (marching on, marching, marching on)

I’m not scared to be seen

I make no apologies, this is me.

Lettie’s song is the song we all long to sing. None of us are strangers to the dark. We’ve all hidden who we really are, because we fear ridicule or misunderstanding or not being accepted and loved. Even the most perfect, seemingly, among us has something about themselves that they dislike, some flaw that is glaring to them.

And some of us are so unique, so different, in appearance or thought or ability, that those differences are all that are seen. We feel shame. We feel outcast. We feel bruised.

How beautiful is this song’s reminder that differences are to be appreciated and celebrated. We can be exactly who we are and be seen, be glorious, be loved. Lettie’s journey is the journey we are all on, becoming real, becoming who we are, allowing others to do the same.

I have already listened to this song many times. It is currently my heart’s cry. Please take a moment, and listen to This is Me HERE.

What if we all celebrated our own uniqueness and each other’s too? What if we refused to hide, to be afraid, to fear others? What if this song began in our hearts and became our voice and our battle cry and our anthem, uniting us in our glorious differences?

Sing it with me…

“And I’m marching on to the beat I drum.

I’m not scared to be seen

I make no apologies, this is me.”