Becoming a Beginner

Upon returning home from a delightful evening with friends and after a quiet respite on the porch with kitties, I turned on TV for a bit a distraction. I didn’t want any drama so landed on Oprah’s Master’s Class. Justin Timberlake was speaking. I watched thinking it would give me some insight to the whole 90’s thing that I had mostly missed because of my age and work. I was tired. He was profound. So, despite of my desire to sleep, I watched.

In the very last segment, he talked about the joy and importance of always being a beginner. He shared that he loved being at that point where he said, “I have no idea of what I’m doing and let’s do it!” My heart stopped. My brain fogged up. I struggled to listen to his words while old barriers exploded inside me and around me. This concept of consciously and intentionally owning and speaking the words of not knowing were and are life changing.

What was so wonderfully shocking was Timberlake’s saying it out loud. I was raised to believe that we were never allowed to show fear or acknowledge that we didn’t know something. If we didn’t know a word or have an understanding of something, we were expected to nod in agreement and go look it up or figure it out later. Those conditions did help me fine tune my intuitive abilities. Because of those rules, I read maps early, cooked standing on a stool, learned fast and retained a lot of information. They also made for a very uncomfortable upbringing and a perception that I was not very smart. Everyone else knew more than I did, so something was obviously wrong with me.

In reaction to that I have sought out change, new experiences and an expansive life. I love Google and am a walking, talking encyclopedia of trivia on a remarkable variety of subjects. I am always observing everything around me. I used to have an eidetic memory – until illness blew that away. But I still love understanding how everything works and interrelates.

Breathing in the permission to be a beginner each and every day of my life is incredibly freeing. This is a whole new way to participate in life. It takes away all the constraints and allows me to ask questions when I don’t understand something with ease. I get to learn things with ease. The potential is filled with fun. I have permission to make mistakes without huge embarrassment and humiliation.

The old paradigm was, “If you can’t do it well or right, don’t do it.” I didn’t realize until last night how much that old belief was holding me back. It was holding me back from learning new things and really enjoying them. It was holding me back from exploring new cities on my own with comfort. It was holding me back from completing projects because they may have not been perfect. It was holding me back from speaking because my words may have not been brilliant. My holding onto those old restrictions was holding me back from LIFE.

It was incredible to wake up this morning and have permission to boldly and honestly be a beginner. As I walked down to make coffee, I asked myself, “What I would like to learn today? What would I like to begin? What would I like to experience?” So many possibilities. It is a whole new life in a much friendlier world.

Thank you Spirit for keeping me in front of the TV. Thank you Justin Timberlake for being a wise soul. Thank you to myself for paying attention. Thank you readers for reading. I hope you give  permission to yourself to be a beginner today and every day. Gotta go… so many things to learn.



Mother’s Day

Very early this morning, I sat perfectly still staring into the darkness. Everyone knows you can’t make noise before dawn. It is rude and is sure to disturb Mother Nature. I was gently comforted by the sound of the coffee maker as tears streamed down my cheeks. My mind was reviewing all the women in my family. I am next to the oldest woman in my direct line now. That may sound like a weird statement but I grew up with a mom and stepmom, grandmothers and step grandmothers, and great grandmothers and step great grandmothers. There were aunts and aunties (best friends of moms.) There were great aunts and great-great aunts and many cousins who were more like sisters. We were many – and there was a huge security in that.

It was also a culturally rich upbringing that included German, English, Dutch and Cherokee traditions. We were good, mid-western small town folk. Many had either a small farm right outside of town or used to, and still talked about rain and the prices of corn and cattle.

There was pickle brining, pie baking, beef roasting (way over cooked for my taste) and lemonade making. There was every flavor of homemade ice cream and cobbler. Each summer we could count on gardening with mandatory weeding, always before treats. We were told that the work made the treats taste sweeter and I can tell you it did. The little ones collected eggs, a certain right of passage. There was canning and freezing and butchering. We snapped beans and peas, cleaned corn and told stories.

There was embroidery, quilting and lace making. And there were hands, always hands. Those hands stirred, cleaned, wrung the necks of chickens and bandaged wounds. Rings spun around slim fingers with swollen knuckles that had lost their strength but not their love. My closets and cedar chests are filled with my inheritance from those hands. I see their hands in my dreams. If I’m lucky, I get a glimpse of their faces always with smiles and sparkling eyes.

I am glad I have my mom in all her 82 years. My heart is filled with the love of all the women of my family. Today I miss them – terribly. I feel them around me and know that I am loved. I also know that my inheritance is greater than their work. I am beginning to have their hands with wrinkles and liver spots. I notice that my rings are a little looser these days. I feel like I have been accepted into their circle of wisdom – a little.

My mind questions, “Did I honor you enough?” “Did I show you how special you were to me – enough?” Did I make you laugh enough?” “Did I love you enough when you were here?”

Please know now and in that pre-dawn moment that I love you and miss you, and wish we were snapping beans on the back porch. I would be watching your hands and laughing with your heartfelt stories.