If you're anything like me, you get excited when the UPS man or the FedEx guy delivers a package to your address. More often than not, you know what's in the box because you placed the order yourself. Once opened, the revealed contents bring fulfillment and pleasure but rarely a surprise.
But what do you do if the item delivered is not what you requested? What if it was an inappropriate gift ordered by someone other than yourself? Chances are you would not accept the offending item or keep it among your prized possessions.
Why then do we readily accept burdens placed upon us by others? We entertain views and opinions about ourselves that are counterproductive to our mission. We wrestle with demeaning criticism that is contrary to our own belief system and have nothing to do with our story.
Why do we harbour self-imposed ill will based on mistakes of the past?
My dear W.I.T.s, my gift to you this year is the gift of self-acceptance. Please unwrap the packaging and reveal the truth of who you are. Remember you are fearfully and wonderfully made.
Open quickly your gift of purpose. Celebrate the fact that though in transition, you are on course, at the right place at the right time.
Your process is YOURS alone. "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you've imagined." *
In this new season, refuse the self-effacing packages of second-guessing, false humility and playing small. Return unopened any invitation to discord or vain disputings. Return to sender all notions of doubt or disbelief in your dreams.
This year, vow to "own the space you walk in" ** and settle for nothing less than the best.
My wish for you this year is everything you wish for yourself.
You are a Woman In Transition, a woman well on her way. I'll meet you In The Spotlight.
Happy New Year to you all.
* Henry David Thoreau
** Bill Walsh
As a little girl growing up on a small island in the Caribbean, I, at once, hewed to and despised some of the more stringent traditions. At the time, the word sexist was not in vogue but somewhere deep within me I knew that my soul was being robbed of its fullest expression.
Out with the old, in with the young, the young at heart, that is.
We are women of a certain age who are comfortable knowing that we have to grow older but we don't have to get old. We have lived and loved, loved and lost and loved again.
We are Women In Transition__W.I.Ts. Over the years we have gained wisdom, intuition and timing.
We bear the battle scars of our childbearing years. Once women in travail, we have emerged as women in triumph as we wave our stretch-marked banners with pride. Our weathered faces and slightly slowed paces hardly dampen the fires of our youthful exuberance.
We have harnessed our rampaging hormones and now wisely channel them into tamer pursuits. Buoyed by our newly found liberation, we are free to become motorcycle mamas, racetrack drivers (or spectators) or charitable fun(d)raisers,
F-U-N, that is.
No longer obliged to perform at the crack of Pavlov's corporate whip, we are carving out meaningful vocations while intuitively eschewing conspicuous but meaningless vacations, craving instead to live harmoniously and authentically according to our unique personalities.
We are reinventing our careers and reinvesting our talents. Whether we call it retooling, revamping, reorganizing, repackaging, restructuring, re-purposing or rebranding, we are in a season of renewal. This time, our obligation is to ourselves. We are resurrecting purpose and metamorphosing with passion.
We are Women Introducing To Themselves Youthfulness, W.I.T.T.Y., that is.
My totally unscripted life is filled with music. The music of my soul is unlike anything I've ever heard. I've tried to capture my journey in the words of popular and not so popular songs whose lyrics seemed to be ripped from the pages of my personal songbook. I could just as easily bop along to Alicia Keys' "Girl on Fire," as well as grow alternately reflective, then defiant with Whitney's (no last name necessary) "I Didn't Know My Own Strength" and Kelly Clarkson's "Stronger."
When things are going along swimmingly, it's easy to resort to a Hakuna Matata-like chant party. When they're not, I remind myself that "A Change Is Gonna Come" (choose your favorite cover version). And, it usually does. But when those frustrating, stubborn, overwhelming obstacles persist I put @TheRealMaryMary in rotation, turn up the volume on my faith and hunker down with "Yesterday," "God in Me" and "Go Get It." Yes, 'tis true, I've had my share of ups and downs but nothing that sheer dogged determination, a series of fist pumps and a lyrically reciting of the 70's anthem "I Will Survive" didn't, over time, get me through. Gloria Gaynor? Gloria Steinem? Doesn't matter.
What's important is that I have survived, thanks, in no small part to the staccato strains of Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus" consistently, persistently, imperceptibly keeping pace with my heartbeat.
. . . and the beat goes on.
My life continues to unfold as does everyone else's, along with the Universe, as it should. "Desiderata" anyone? There are trials and triumphs but you won't hear me singing the "WhatthehelldidIdotodeservethisonthissideofheaven" Blues. Not anymore. Instead, I will focus on living, writing, fulfilling my purpose. Like Ol' Blue Eyes before me, now that I've overcome the minority opinion of others, this dark-"brown-eyed girl" is doing it "My Way." No "Moondance" or rain dance necessary, it's just that the rhythm finally got me. Gracias Gloria (Gloria Estefan.) The rhythm of my own walk is throbbing.
As I write the next chapter and verse of my life, I vow to dance to the beat of my own drum. I will percolate, luxuriate, even infuriate to the music that motivates me. I will remain "Optimistic" in season and out of season, even when, especially when faced with challenges. I will pen my own script and dance my own dance, with a partner or without. Life is meant to be lived and to be lived abundantly. Now that I have figured that out not just intellectually but experientially, I choose to write my own songs and dance like no one's watching.
Just the thought of my hard won freedom makes me "Happy." Cue Pharrell.
. . . "At Last."
After a particularly burdensome week, I woke up to the social media news flash that Thursday 20, March was International Day of Happiness.
Apparently everyone on Twitter did because there were gobs and gobs of posts from the Twitterati detailing what made them happy.
Although I declined to join the party, I pared back the mental drapes and peered in for a few minutes to take a look at my happy gauge.
I was more than a little surprised to find that in spite of the events of the week, my meter's reading was quite healthy.
I was happy to hear that a five-minute telephone conversation was appreciated by the person I had called. That that simple act made someone happy, made me happy.
As it turns out it does not take much to make me happy. It takes little--- the little things.
I am happy when the warmth of the sun caresses my face on a chilly day or when a peppy tune makes its way to my music rotation. I am happy when regardless of what's going on around me I have peace inside. I am happy when my innermost thoughts cause me to smile and no one could guess the reason why. I am happy when I look in the mirror and accept what I see. Most of all I am happy being me---- perfectly fabulous, fine, quirky, flawed me.
Open Letter to Tyler Perry
Jennifer Lavern is a keen observer of the issues that affect how women view themselves and how they interact with their world.