Identity and creativity are heavy on my mind these days. This post easily builds off last week’s post.
Over the last six years I’ve done a lot of dismantling and rebuilding. For those of you new to reading along, my son Ethan died at age 7, six years ago. He was born with congenital heart disease. He spent the last 13 months of his life in the hospital. Ultimately, he needed a new heart that he was not a candidate for. Two years after his death, I gave birth to my fourth son, Bodey. He arrived on Earth with a rare muscular dystrophy. Life has been, well life.
I knew rather instinctively, that either I’d wrestle though all of this or I’d be buried by it. Something in me had the energy to claw and scrape.
But in that process, I was desperate to find myself. Aren’t we all?
Who am I? What was I created for?
Your identity easily gets cloudy when you spend years knee deep in any one thing that seems to own your life. Those seasons are displacing, exhilarating, exhausting, and defining. It can be motherhood, a career that is on autopilot, a business you build, illness, moving to a new place. You know, life. It takes a long time to widdle our way thru to some open space.
I’ve spent pretty much the last 13 years deep in congenital heart disease and special needs parenting and grief. During Ethan’s time on earth, mine, in the traditional sense, stopped. I gave up all of me, or so it felt. I gave up a career I loved, grad school I worked so hard to get in to. I couldn’t find my rhythm riding the rollercoaster of illness, worry and anxiety. There are days I reflect that I spent the decade of my 30’s and some of my 40’s in no man’s land. While everyone else was building a career, growing their this or that, I was living in the wilderness.
Do you feel like you are living there now, deep in the thick, dense forest? Do you long to see a path forward or out of this space?
Can I make a recommendation? Don’t despise this time. Lean into it. Learn to appreciate the solace, the cool crisp air, the new vistas. Think about embracing this space you never wanted to stay. When you do, I promise you will find others there too. In your space, in your wilderness. Some choose it now because they see the value and the freedom it offers. Some just arrived and they feel so far from home.
I now find the wilderness to be home. To be a place from which I learn and create in a way I never would otherwise. We are called to embrace the life we have and to create from that space. Yes, I said CREATE. Not just sit or wallow or throw up our hands, but to dig in, figure through and CREATE.
As I’ve looked for clues of who I am or what I am to create, I often go back to what I have always loved.
I recently listened to this podcast by Jessica Honegger. She interviewed a woman named Megan Tamte who started the brand called Evereve. (I had not heard of the brand before this podcast, and recently visited one of her store
Megan shared how she poured over starting Evereve for nearly seven years. She wondered if she had what it took to start a brand that today does millions of dollars in sales each year. While she was doing her soul searching she read a book on business that suggested the readers write down what they loved to do in the 5th grade. Before life tainted them, before too much self- doubt had crept in. What did they love?
As I listened, I thought back to myself in the 5thgrade. What did I love? What did I hope to do, what were my natural abilities? I took some time to write them down, and wow, they are many of the things I’m still interested in now and are what I’d consider my natural talents.
As a little girl I loved to play dress up, pretended I had a clothing store, a travel agency and other businesses. I had chalkboard and I put on an outfit to be a teacher and I legit taught a class (to an empty room LOL). I was interested in and passionate about social justice and advocated for those views. I loved my dolls and the idea of being a mom. In college my senior capstone was Entrepreneurship and my team won first place.
All of these interests and talents are manifesting in my life now, in my work, in my interests, in my passions. It’s actually so cool to take time to inventory these innate gifts and see that they are in play in my life right now.
Here’s the thing, the painful parts of my life have harnessed my natural skills and funneled them into who I am today. Nothing is wasted. The jobs I had, the dreams I’ve had, the decade of my 30’s where I felt trapped in the wilderness? That was all preparing me to be who I am today.
Think about you, what did you love at 10? What did you want to be or do before life beat you down, before the doubt crept in, before tragedy hit, before someone told you that you couldn’t do or be what you dreamed of?
We are called to create. Let us use go back to the core of us, of who we are called to be. I believe on some deep level we all know why we are here, what we are to do, it’s just a matter of listening and bravely taking so steps. Fear creeps in, the doubt screams in our ears. Let us keep going still.
Life experience may change the wind and ask you to adjust the sails. But you don’t have to give up your dreams, or loose sight of who you are. You may be on a detour that feels like the wilderness. But I promise you, there in that wilderness you will accumulate talents, find your trip, and develop ideas, passions and purpose that will help you be all of you.
Sunday Love to each of you.
P.S. At my Restoring a Mother’s Heart Retreat we spend time talking identity. We give each woman the opportunity to take the Strengths Finder Assessment. I’ve taken lots of personality assessments, but this one gave me insights to myself that were new. You might want to check it out.