I think it all started unintentionally when I bought an audacious skirt for my 40th birthday. Truth be told, I wouldn’t have bought it if my good friend who managed the farmer’s market where I bought the skirt didn’t soft sell me a little. But my comrade in sewing, she wooed me with the yardage. Oh the yardage on this skirt. And I certainly wouldn’t have bought it before I turned 40.
We will get back to that skirt in a minute.
On New Year’s Eve, a few nights ago, we sat on our deck looking out at the pitch black jungle and wrote letters to ourselves.
We addressed them:
“Dear Me on Dec 31, 2019…”
We have done this every year even when the kids couldn’t write the letters themselves. Chris and I would interview them asking what they liked to do right now and what they want to learn to do in the next year. We put this all in the letter and our future self gets to read what we were like a year ago and also remember the intentions, dreams, and wishes for this year.
We added a twist this year.
On a separate piece of paper, we wrote down all the feelings and moments that we need to let go and the beliefs that no longer serve us.
One of the kids wrote, “Being a drama queen.” (She tried several times to burn this and it wouldn’t catch, leading to many sighs and outbursts. Cue eyeroll from rest of the family.)
Other kids kept it private and one asked me to spell “believing.”
I took a peek and it said, “Not believing in myself.”
Cue heart melt.
This child forcefully threw this old pattern with a deep exhale into the fire to burn.
I thought about the stories that I wanted to finally let go and my inner little girl tugged at the hem of my shirt and whispered that I should also write, “Not believing in myself.”
This year my oldest turns 21. We are celebrating almost 9 years of homeschooling. We have managed to craft a life that is both crazy and beautiful. But I am still shy about talking about it. I am still hesitant to share any of it because of the many stories I have made up in my head:
No one cares. It’s no big deal.
I don’t want to share our private experiences with the world. It’s no one’s business.
I don’t want to be a show-off when I talk about how we live.
I am afraid of the haters that will pick apart how we live, the choices we have made, and our painful failures.
I don’t believe that I have anything valuable to share with the world.
Crazy stories that have prevented me from blogging or teaching or posting on Instagram or writing the book I really want to write.
After I wrote all of these stories down, I threw them into the fire and my intention for this year flashed before my eyes as I added to my letter to myself.
BIG. Live BIG.
When I look at those old stories, I see how I wrote them to keep me small and worthless. So small that I never had to be courageous or powerful.
If I didn’t matter, then I didn’t have to live a life that mattered.
My choices could blow up in my face without a peanut gallery heckling me and I could turn back at any moment.
I have made BIG choices in my life but for the most part, I kept the how’s and why’s to my inner circle – my safety net of those who love me unconditionally and trust my intentions.
I not only burned those old stories. I re-wrote them based on reality and not a myth I created.
People care and my story matters.
On several occasions, I have been asked about our story – by strangers in the airport; by people who have “heard” of us through some friends of friends of friends; by people who read my blog; by family and friends who want to know more.
I can still be private and share personal moments.
When people reach out about snippets I share, it’s normally because I have shared something vulnerable that does not betray a confidence nor an intimate moment with someone I care about.
When we share our stories, especially as women, and also especially women of colour, we add to the conversation.
There still aren’t enough of our stories that I can search and read and for my girls and my son to hear about all the different experiences written by different types of people.
I have a greater responsibility to share my story…
How does a first generation Canadian woman, born of immigrant parents, end up in the jungle of Costa Rica?
How does the daughter of a teenage mom earn a full scholarship to university and completes her degree while raising her own child?
How does she decide to homeschool her children when her upbringing has told her that the only road to success is through the school system?
How did she dream this life for herself when no one else dreamt this big for her?
My story is a story about a girl with a BIG imagination that couldn’t dream any smaller and I am proud of the trails I have blazed and the life I have created.
I am done with haters and I choose not to focus my attention on them.
I too was once a hater. A hater of the people that lived BIG because I was afraid of living that big myself. A hater of those that lived a different life than I chose for myself. This hater-mentality is fueled by jealousy, comparison-itis, and a lack of imagination.
I am done with that. I tell my story because it is mine. You can hate it and judge it all you want to make yourself feel better but that’s your deal. I will just keep living it and owning my mistakes, saying sorry, forgiving, and keep on creating. But if we all stop hating and criticizing for a moment, we just might all lean a little into compassion and kindness which I believe takes more strength and courage than posting an insulting comment.
I have something valuable to share with the world.
Every time I share what I have learned, there is the potential that I help at least one person.
That one person could be that young mom that doesn’t know if she has what it takes to be a mom. (Yes you do!)
That one person could be the mom of teens that doesn’t know if they should still hold on a little longer. (Yes you can!)
That one person could be that parent wondering if there is a different way outside the school system. (Yes there is!)
That one person may want to tell her story but is unsure if she matters. (Yes you do! Please tell it! We need more of your stories.)
So here it is. The beginning of BIG.
Actually let’s go back to that skirt at the beginning of this story. THAT was the beginning of BIG. I just didn’t know it then. All I knew is that skirt and its 4 yards of material and bold colour palette and fancy glimmer spit in the face of all things small and shy. I bought it not being fully certain that I would wear it or would just aspire to. But I knew that I wanted to begin my forties with a dash of grandeur and a pinch of flash.
And on my 40th birthday, I did just that: with this skirt, a rainbow, and an endless sky.
2019 will be the year of big dreams, big shares, big risks, and big projects that stretch me and scare the crap out of me. This all begins with sharing my story (and getting used to posting pictures of myself).
What are your BIG dreams this year? What intentions have you set? Can you go bigger??