Peering over the letter-sized piece of paper, my eldest, Michelle, fixated her stare on her waiting mother with lifted eyebrows. Taking her time to give her review on my latest story, I sat nervously. The year was 2013, and in this case, no news wasn’t good news.
Then putting the article down, she asked concerned, “Mom, were you on drugs when you wrote this?”
“What?” Horrified, I grabbed it back. “What’s wrong with it?”
But as I re-read, I remembered how my recent fall down a mountain while hiking in Los Angeles, ending with a fractured pelvis, required a certain amount of pain medication to get through the day. Bursting into laughter, I confirmed, “I guess I was.”
“Ok, no more writing for you until you’re off that stuff!”
Over the years, I’ve found the one thing every writer needs is a good editor. After all, why fret over minutia when they can clean it up for you. So, I hired the best, my children. They know me intimately and would never be as cruel as a professional editor. And, if they spit out a stinging comment, it came from a place of love, not disapproval.
A while back, daughter number three, Lauren, took on the editing duties as she helped with a recent piece. Her job was to pour over my words and highlight in yellow areas of question. Before long, it was emailed back with a sweet note, “Just a few ideas.”
Opening the document, I gasped. Nearly the entire page screamed with sunny neon suggestions.
“Oh, my,” I said, alarmed. “How could I spend so much time on this only see it makes no sense?”
But, reading over her comments, I discovered she was correct. While trying to be creative to impress my readers, I’d somehow segued off course onto tangents totally unrelatable to the story.
Several hours later, I returned the revision and was met with, “So much better, Mom! Sometimes you get a little wordy. Just be your authentic self and then they’re great.”
Ah, to be my authentic self. Something that’s not always easy when I know I’m leaving myself open to criticism and judgment; wanting people to like not just my work, but me. Occasionally I find myself traveling down the easy road of conformity and the politically correct because I’m fearful of snarky reviews.
As I sat with my child’s words, I saw she knew something I tend to forget; being authentic makes you real.
When I honor the core of my being; those thoughts, abilities, and especially, dreams I hold dear, I’m always left with the feeling “this is how life is supposed to be.” I become brave beyond all measure because I’m coming from a place of truth, my truth. Things flow with ease, and I find I do them because I love them, not for recognition and certainly not for a paycheck.
It’s not always easy to live an authentic life. Believe me, I know. Childhood conditioning, plus the need to please and not appear different, often wiggles its way to the front of the line like some nasty kid wanting to be first, pushing the real me aside. But no more! Time to reclaim my rightful spot.
Going forward, I’ll strive to be mindful of honoring my light within and not let the desire to be accepted overshadow that special place of self. My child was right. When I’m authentic with how I want to live, I connect with my divine spirit deep within my soul, and nothing is more rewarding than that.