Just Who Do You Think You Are?
That was then, March 2020-April 2021.
This is now, July 2021 and onward. What’s the same, what’s different? What am I choosing to discard from my life? What am I taking with me at this ending of the pandemic time? I did start being aware of this earlier than now. See https://etheleemiller.com/what-a-year-aka-things-are-opening-up/
Being at home during the pandemic offered many choices. Daily revisions of the To Do list. Binge on Brit Box TV. Make birthday and hello cards. Walk, bike, hike. Spend way too much time following online links about writing, which led to searching for college alumni and old boyfriends (Come on, haven’t you done that?) Practice yoga. Read. Experiment with cooking. Think.
What do I love? What blocks me from doing what I love? What triggers impatience, and envy in me? I am impatient with what I call empty time. I never thought I was impatient. I just thought I was really busy with lots of important things to do. Many of which were really time fillers. The pandemic gave me time to experience “empty” time as relaxing. Idle hands are not you-know-who’s workshop. Idle hands mean I am breathing softly, soothing my body, brain, and spirit.
Who am I?
What do I value most? What do I love? What is love? What dreams do I have? What’s next in my life? Right now I feel so confident that I can do just about anything! And yet I am also a person who has that little voice that counters, “Do anything? Really? Come on. Just who do you think you are, Ethel?” That question verbalized in a certain way can be a trigger: You really have no right to think you can …. This might sound familiar to some of you.
So Just Who Do You think You Are?
To do or be something or someone different takes courage. I battled with this a lot in my life. I think I’ve been victorious because it called for self-honesty to dig down and look at me. Sometimes fun. Sometimes squirmy. Yet possible to get through.
I learned I can write a book. I wrote and revised and revised…and revised yet again. I was motivated to do what it took to get my books written, edited, polished and published and marketed. I believed I had stories that would interest other people. I am a writer.
Take the Leap
I can take that leap into a new hobby, friendship, adventure. I love this courage builder by Joseph Campbell:
“A bit of advice given to a young Native American at the time of his initiation: ‘As you go the way of life, you will see a great chasm. Jump. It is not as wide as you think.’”
I can be by myself and not be lonely. In early June I took a solitary retreat. Ironic in a way. Just as things were opening up, I found I needed to get away by myself and get ready to reenter this new almost-post-pandemic world.
I sojourned at the Redemptorist Renewal Center in Tucson Arizona where I could write, read, swim, walk the labyrinth, sit and stare, and think.
There were only a few retreatants. I had a stimulating dinner conversation with one of them. The next morning I saw one other who turned and gave a small bow in response to my hello. A third as we passed each other on the pathway. And a sweet reacquaintance with the lovely woman who works in the kitchen. Other than that, not a soul. It was delicious. I had thoughts that entertained me, made me laugh, that challenged me to glimpse who I think I am. I am a solitary sojourner. If you have not done this, I encourage you to entertain the idea.
Envy Can Be a Scavenger Hunt
One of my daily readings from 365 Day of Richer Living talked of envy as “recognizing that which is hidden so far in me.” I’m envious of a colleague who is very calm even as loud hard words swirl around us. Okay, now where is that quality in me?
I watched in wonder as another friend gave a slight shake of her head as the chocolate brownies got passed around. Now where did I put that quality? I had it on Saturday, but a week later I found myself reaching for the plate.
Knowing who I am has called for me to think, then take actions that might be different from my usual response or different from what others expect of me. Sometimes this is tough. It calls for courage, a sense of adventure, hope, confidence, and love. Totally worth it.
A Success Story
Years ago, two identical twins realized they could be other than what people thought about them. They could be individuals, not The Twins. “I can be funny too,” said the thoughtful twin. “I can be curious and thoughtful too,” said the entertaining twin. And they were.
Three caterpillars saw a delicate yellow butterfly that happened by.
The first caterpillar said, “Just looks at her, giving herself airs.”
The second caterpillar said, “How I’d love to fly like that.”
(Wish I could acknowledge the author of this piece. Have used it since 2004, the author now lost to me.)
A Writing Suggestion
Just who do you think you are? Ask yourself with genuine curiosity. And respond with genuine kindness. Write from a positive point of view. Just write.
Ethel Lee-Miller blogs regularly about people, the power of words, and the writing life. She’s retired from professional writing gigs after 30 years of teaching, coaching, editing, and gathering writers to publicly share their work. She is the author of Thinking of Miller Place, and Seedlings, Stories of Relationships. In retirement she writes to inspire, to connect with folks, and for the pure enjoyment of it. Ethel enjoys sharing stories at Odyssey Storytelling, Zoom gatherings, and anywhere there’s a Zoom mic.