Love Myself Entry 40 – It Truly Took A Village

When I say this, I mean there were so many people to mold me and to have made me the woman I am today.  And I am grateful for each and every one of them.  Not all were proponents in my life, some were opponents, adversaries if you will; but equally important.  All molded me into the woman I am today and the woman I love unconditionally.

Through our life, we can all be our worst critics; but with the help of these particular individuals in my life, I was able to grow into love with myself.  I was able to see my gifts and to accept my own beauty (my own individual beauty – as individual as everyone’s ‘beauty’ is).  Of these individuals, my brother and my aunt Louise had a very large part in helping to mold that awkward tween through her teens and into adulthood.

My brother was one that always told me  of the ‘ugly duckling’ who turned into the Swan and that my day, too, would be coming.  To many of you, you might think it cruel, but it actually was kind of sweet.  Trust me when I say, I went through quite the awkward stage and was quite the ugly ‘duck’ (if you will).  I was short, fat, had pimples and braces.  I had to have been in really bad shape; I mean Santa gave my deodorant in my stocking!

My Aunt Louise was a woman of stature and grace who could carry on a conversation and do it with such ease; God how I looked up to her and wanted so much to be like her.  She was a beautiful woman.  I can remember as a child, being the youngest and five years from my next sibling, none of the other kids wanted me around.  But it was my aunt who would have me sit with her and my mother as they sat and chatted about their lives and gossiped about the family.  Then she would bring me into the conversation, always asking me about my life and complimenting my talents, how lovely I was.

I do remember feeling extremely awkward (I was about fourteen at the time) and made a comment about my nose – trust me when I say it was so large you could barely see my face – anyway, I made the comment about wanting a nose job.  Aunt Louise would have nothing to do with it!  She just went on and on about all the beautiful women with full figures and profiles like mine; that I shouldn’t change a thing.  She pulled me up, brought me to a mirror and made me look.  She told me that I was a gorgeous and talented girl and was going to be that much more beautiful and talented as a woman.  And what was ever more important, something that I had over all the other girls, was that I had the beauty both on the inside as well as the out.  Yep, she was a pip.

As much as I loved hearing these things from my aunt, it wasn’t like I could record her and carry her around with me everywhere (wouldn’t that have been a wonderful invention – often wish I had her in my ear today) for it seemed (or was) that all the other girls got the glances and the looks of the boys in our school and church; where I simply got over looked.  But, my brother David used to tell me, “Ann, one day you are going to grow into your own and watch out!  The boys aren’t going to know what hit them.  You are already a gorgeous girl (more ways than you know), and you are going to be a beautiful woman.  It is just a matter of time.  It will all happen in a matter of time; you must trust that.  You have the sense of humor, talent and a voice that could melt anyone’s heart.  Ann, time is your ally.”

And he was right!  By the time I was eighteen, everything moved to its proper place and the boys weren’t exactly chasing me like bees to honey, but they weren’t exactly ‘over looking’ me either.  Between him and my aunt, I felt I could conquer the world.  If only I could bottle them up and take them with me everywhere I went for the rest of my life!

However, boys/men would not be the only thing to conquer as I grew into womanhood.  There were a great many other things that would tick away at my self-esteem such as: co-workers that would bad-mouth me, supervisors who were unduly harsh, and friends who would betray my trust.  So much more would chip away, cracking through the surface layers and delving into the depths of my self-esteem (if only it were as simple as ‘boys’…).  Looking pretty is far easier than taking a blow of someone’s harsh gossip, while holding your head high.

But, one thing I’ve learned through the years by all those that raised me (be it my immediate family, my cousins, friends), is that truth always wins, no matter what.  It might take a while to surface, and those that are flinging the trash will revel in the stench of gossip (that may smell rosy at the time).  But eventually, their ‘glory days’ will end and your truth will shine.  So, you hold your head high in that fact, because it is fact.  It may not happen in your timeframe, or when you want it to (isn’t that always the case?); but you can rest in the solace that it WILL happen.

There was a time where I could swear that I had a sign on my forehead that said, “If you are going to treat anyone badly, by all means let it be me…”  Well I can safely say that I have taken that sign and since thrown it away.  I’ve found that we teach people how to treat us and I’m also finding that I deserve every bit of happiness I can find for myself.  We all do.

As of now, I’ve found a wonderful man who is a friend, a lover; someone with whom I’ve had the pleasure of knowing for three years.  It just took us this long to realize just how much we meant to each other.  He is everything I ever wanted and a ‘bag of chips’.  And I’ve come to realize that while I’ve had these wonderful people in my life for the first half, I have now come to a new chapter.  With it, I hope to meet and add some new characters in the mix to help guide me through the remaining years of my time here on this wonderful planet; making it the most joyous, the most wonderful of experiences.

My mission for this blog was to find me, the woman in the reflection.  She is still a wee bit blurry; however, I do believe she is coming in clearer each and every day as I listen ever increasingly more to what it is that she wants and less to what I think everyone else thinks she wants.

Losing a father at such an early age and with my mother emotionally absent for much of that time, it truly took a village to raise me and to give me the strength and character of overcoming the obstacles I’ve come across in my lifetime.  I owe a great deal of gratitude to all of those people.  Even to those who were my adversaries, for it was they who gave me the greatest of gifts; my courage and strength.

They say that when a bone is broken, it heals oh so much stronger than before the break.  I would venture to say that the same goes for the broken heart and the broken ego; when it heals, it only gets stronger with each break.

Love Myself Entry 40 wow!  I wanted to attribute this to all who have contributed to the ‘finished product’ known as Ann MacGregor.  So much has happened to me these last ten years (and especially these last three), and I truly don’t think I would have made it through without the foundation that was laid by those in my early years.  People like: my mother who showed me grace, creativity, strength and the ability to stand on your own, independently.

My sister Elizabeth who showed me the art of theatre, which in turn, taught me how to speak in front of people (albeit in front of 500 or simply 1 for an interview perhaps).  And who, in her own right, is one of the strongest women I know.  In her dealings with the aftermath of our sister’s death, I am learning composure, diplomacy and that there is a time and a place for your emotion and that, yes, the sun will rise again tomorrow.

My brother David who was much like a father figure in my later tween and teen years, but was a big brother none the less; and showed me the beauty of ‘me’ and the importance of building my character.  He showed me that by appreciating and building on my talent and my personality, that the rest would grow and the inside would ‘glow’ outwardly.  Through David I too learned humor, the appreciation of my music and my talent.

My dear, dear sister Kimball who, for all intense and purposes, raised me, nurtured me, kissed my boo boo’s and gave me the encouraging talks that I was unable to get from our mother initially.  That continued to the time of her death.  She believed that it was never too late to improve or to better yourself.  It was never too late to make a change in your life and it was never too late to follow your heart.  She believed in me when I couldn’t.

My dear Aunt Louise who showed me the beauty I had within and out.  Who saw what I couldn’t and who enjoyed my company; she too taught me to always strive, and to rise with each fall.  And with that I would like to end with my favorite poem for this is truly what I love about myself.  I do rise with each fall and have the endurance to finish the race.  I might not be the first (might be that I’m last), but I will finish.

It took a village to make me the person I am today.  And it will take a village more to make me the person I will be tomorrow, and in my tomorrows after that.  I believe that is the case with us all and that we are to be grateful for each and everyone along our path.  For it is in that gratitude that more of the great stuff will keep coming; but sometimes the ‘great stuff’ might ‘appear’ as bad until we see it in ‘hind-sight’ (which is always 20/20… don’t you just hate that?)

The Race

By Dr. D.H. “Dee” Groberg

Whenever I start to hang my head in front of failure’s face,
my downward fall is broken by the memory of a race.
A children’s race, young boys, young men; how I remember well,
excitement sure, but also fear, it wasn’t hard to tell.
They all lined up so full of hope, each thought to win that race
or tie for first, or if not that, at least take second place.
Their parents watched from off the side, each cheering for their son,
and each boy hoped to show his folks that he would be the one.

The whistle blew and off they flew, like chariots of fire,
to win, to be the hero there, was each young boy’s desire.
One boy in particular, whose dad was in the crowd,
was running in the lead and thought “My dad will be so proud.”
But as he speeded down the field and crossed a shallow dip,
the little boy who thought he’d win, lost his step and slipped.
Trying hard to catch himself, his arms flew everyplace,
and midst the laughter of the crowd he fell flat on his face.
As he fell, his hope fell too; he couldn’t win it now.
Humiliated, he just wished to disappear somehow.

But as he fell his dad stood up and showed his anxious face,
which to the boy so clearly said, “Get up and win that race!”
He quickly rose, no damage done, behind a bit that’s all,
and ran with all his mind and might to make up for his fall.
So anxious to restore himself, to catch up and to win,
his mind went faster than his legs. He slipped and fell again.
He wished that he had quit before with only one disgrace.
“I’m hopeless as a runner now, I shouldn’t try to race.”

But through the laughing crowd he searched and found his father’s face
with a steady look that said again, “Get up and win that race!”
So he jumped up to try again, ten yards behind the last.
“If I’m to gain those yards,” he thought, “I’ve got to run real fast!”
Exceeding everything he had, he regained eight, then ten…
but trying hard to catch the lead, he slipped and fell again.
Defeat! He lay there silently. A tear dropped from his eye.
“There’s no sense running anymore! Three strikes I’m out! Why try?
I’ve lost, so what’s the use?” he thought. “I’ll live with my disgrace.”
But then he thought about his dad, who soon he’d have to face.

“Get up,” an echo sounded low, “you haven’t lost at all,
for all you have to do to win is rise each time you fall.
Get up!” the echo urged him on, “Get up and take your place!
You were not meant for failure here! Get up and win that race!”
So, up he rose to run once more, refusing to forfeit,
and he resolved that win or lose, at least he wouldn’t quit.
So far behind the others now, the most he’d ever been,
still he gave it all he had and ran like he could win.
Three times he’d fallen stumbling, three times he rose again.
Too far behind to hope to win, he still ran to the end.

They cheered another boy who crossed the line and won first place,
head high and proud and happy — no falling, no disgrace.
But, when the fallen youngster crossed the line, in last place,
the crowd gave him a greater cheer for finishing the race.
And even though he came in last with head bowed low, unproud,
you would have thought he’d won the race, to listen to the crowd.
And to his dad he sadly said, “I didn’t do so well.”
“To me, you won,” his father said. “You rose each time you fell.”

And now when things seem dark and bleak and difficult to face,
the memory of that little boy helps me in my own race.
For all of life is like that race, with ups and downs and all.
And all you have to do to win is rise each time you fall.
And when depression and despair shout loudly in my face,
another voice within me says, “Get up and win that race!”

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