The Gift of Reinvention
Since my inaugural post*, several people have asked me “What is your blog going to be about, exactly?”
Good question. I’m working on the answer—my elevator pitch—so bear with me. It’s basically my version—my narrative in my voice, full of Dickinsonsian dashes—of stories that I know are not just mine. Not to get all political (but it’s there always these days, just hovering, like grey rainless clouds…), but in this era of great unrest, injustice, and division, I try to remember two things:
1) We are more similar than we are different.
2) Giving voice to our shared experience is the best antidote to loneliness and indifference I know.
I know, in my soul, that this is true; almost every day—good or bad—reveals it. For example, not long ago, my hair stylist, Tyson Daniel, listened to my day of existential woe with empathy and patience and presence and belonging. He held space and silence for me. He nodded in solidarity. And when I was done, he did me one better: he offered me this thought, like a benediction: “This too shall pass….and then it shall return.”
Isn’t that the truth?
The struggles of our lives are transferable, and evolving, but in my experience, they’re set quite early. My own themes—neediness, sensitivity, emptiness, frazzle—are as familiar to me as my own hands. And like my hands, which look more and more to me like my beloved mama’s hands, they are calloused and world weary, prone to throbbing.
It takes a long time to figure out who you are. It might take even longer to remember who you are, who you don’t want to be anymore, who you know you could be if you just tried. If you were brave enough. So that’s what this blog is for me. It’s my space to be brave—to say what only I can say.
This has been a troubling time. I took a job for the title, the comp, and the challenge. Part of me just wanted to see if I could hack it in the private sector, and part of me was taking off down that well-worn path into the haunted woods called External Validation that I’ve long called home. Time and time again, I chase that glimmer of acknowledgement, but it’s always a false fork in the road, leading me stumbling to dead-end with no overlook—breathless, impatient, and depleted once again. Do I even want this life? If I get the recognition I seek, what then?
Well, let me tell you: My soul is tired. My body aches from swimming upstream. I am holding on—just barely sometimes, and white-knuckling it the whole way. But I am growing, and the growing pains are no longer a surprise. Take an ibuprofen, check your privilege, and your ego, grab a coffee and move along. That’s what I’m doing. For now.
My husband took a risk too. He left a nationally-known bank for a startup hedge fund. That’s now in the rearview. He’ll be alright. He’s a smart cookie, which reminds me of an amazing poem I recently read.
When things are shitty—and sometimes they just are—it’s easy to grab a hammer and let loose, seeing each tree instead of the forest as a nail just waiting to be whacked before it pierces your soft underbelly. Every slight and inconvenience joins the laundry list of personal slights; government failings; places you’ve gone wrong as a parent; mind-blowing sex you may not be having; the constant aching quest for greatness in all or even just any of its forms. Does it even exist?
I’m learning—often through writing—that greatness is in the details; it comes in moments. And you have to quit feeling sorry for yourself long enough to realize ‘Aw man. There it is. That’s greatness, right there.’ And put that stone in your pocket.
It was time for a reinvention—a rebrand. I’m trying one on that my therapist offered me, bless the sweet man. Because I’m a woman, and a bit of an insecure neurotic extravagant hedonist playing the part of an upbeat does-it-all successful working mother, I am often TOO MUCH for some people. It’s like they buy it, but they don’t. I get it; I don’t often want anything to do with what I’m selling. I am emotional and aggressive and too fast and too brash and just not listening enough or looking people in the eye enough or moving at a pace that makes other people comfortable. Well, I am kind of ready to say F*CK THAT. My rebrand is this: I am not emotional and aggressive. I am loving and powerful. And I’m ready to own it.
Readers: A word of caution, or a promise, depending on where you sit. I respect and acknowledge whatever opinions and attitudes you’re bringing. However, those are yours, and I will not be sharing the stage with them. It’s taken me a long time to step into the spotlight, and I plan to fill it up. So haters beware. I have walked through enough fires to know that I’m fireproof, as they say, and I’m done setting myself on fire.
Also, and finally, I like lists. I like structure. I like bite-sized pieces and well-written bulleted work memos, and the Proust questionnaire at the end of Vanity Fair.
So I’ll be ending every post with the week’s Beth’s List.
This week’s answers the initial question: What will be featured on Beth’s Laid Plans?
1) Profanity, irreverence, subversion, spendthriftiness.
2) References to Oprah and my other heroin(es).
3) Liberal politics & agnosticism bordering on atheism.
4) Poetry, my latest crush.
5) Radical candor around family, self-care, addiction, fitness, parenting, friendship, and life.
And to paraphrase SNL 2.0, which I couldn’t live without these days: I’ve got a great show for you.
Life—in all of its excruciating beauty—is here. So stick around, I’ll be right back.