Monthly Archives: January 2013

Baby steps


One of the activities I’ve begun as part of this year-long journey of creating a more “authentic” life is keeping a gratitude journal. The practice of jotting down five things I’m grateful for each evening has quickly become a looked-forward-to part of my bedtime routine. It’s making me much more mindful of the small joys that fill each day, even when I feel like the only thing in my life that doesn’t suck is the vacuum cleaner.

A few years ago, I read a column about being grateful for what’s NOT wrong in one’s life. Having lunch recently with a friend who’s going through treatment for breast cancer brought that to mind. That kind of reality check puts my challenges into perspective, and reminds me that even on the suckiest days, I still have much to be grateful for.


First steps


OK, so some other women have started this type of blog before. None completed a full year. I’m not sure I will either, but that’s the plan.

Henry David Thoreau wrote, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” (I’ll overlook Hank’s sexism for now.) Well, my desperation is growing louder almost by the second, and has very nearly surpassed my ability to contain it.

I cry a lot. Most of the time, really. And when I’m not crying, I feel like I need to but the tears won’t come. I say horrible things to my husband, a passive-aggressive way of expressing my hurt, anger and disappointment with him, our marriage, my life.

I can blame him, my job, hormones or other things for my pain and frustration, but the truth is I’ve been slowly dying inside for years. I get through my daily commitments out of habit and willpower, and the fear of what would happen if I stopped. I know where I am now is largely the result of choices I’ve made along the way, but I don’t know how to get back on track.

I’ve had the book called “Something More: Excavating Your Authentic Self,” by Sarah Ban Breathnach, for several years. I don’t remember just when I bought it. It’s been sitting on my bookshelves all this time, but for several weeks now I’ve felt prompted to finally open it up.

I did so on a recent vacation, and felt from the first few words I read that she knew exactly what I’m going through. It’s not just menopause or a mid-life crisis, and I’m not losing my mind. In fact, I think my hopelessness and despair may be the first steps toward sanity and — dare I say it — even joy.

One of the things I wanted to be “when I grew up” was an archaeologist, so I like Ban Breathnach’s use of that analogy for this process of re-discovering our authentic selves. I want to blog about this process as I go through it mainly as a way to chart my own progress, but also in hopes that someone in similar straits may stumble across it one day and experience the same feeling of grabbing onto a life preserver that I felt when I opened Ban Breathnach’s book.

I want to give this process a year, though I may get what I need from it much sooner than that. Or, as usually happens when I start some creative endeavor, “life” may intervene and put an early end to it. That’s probably a large part of how I ended up where I am now.

Ban Breathnach’s coming from a New Agey perspective — referencing karma and reincarnation, for instance — but having been there, done that and moved on, that doesn’t bother me. The results of our actions needn’t take lifetimes to come back to bite us; often it’s nearly instantaneous, I’ve found. And as she points out, we each go through many states of being and experiencing in just a single lifetime.

I don’t know that SBB (as I’ll call her for short) will be my only guide on this journey, but this particular book seems like an excellent place to start. I also don’t know how often I’ll write. It’s probably not going to be every day, but I’ll try not to let much more than a week go by without posting an update.

Instead of calling this process self-discovery, I’m dubbing it re-discovery, because I really believe, based on not much more than my own experience and intuition, that we know probably from birth exactly who we are.

Little kids don’t need workshops or retreats, vision quests or around-the-world treks to “find themselves.” They instinctively know their preferences and dislikes, what excites them and what bores them, and are far more spiritually aware than most adults would ever imagine. They have an innate sense of what’s real and true, and easily see behind the disguises adults so often wear.

So what happened? How did we get from being those wise little people to conflicted, self-doubting, middle-aged messes? And more to the point, how do we reclaim that “lost” part of ourselves and incorporate it into the lives we’ve created?

I guess that’s what this journey will be all about.