April 17, 2016
My life story has a beautiful beginning. I had two loving parents and two sisters I adored. We were part of a devoted, close, vibrant extended family. There was a wide circle of other adults that doted on and cared about me. Everything a child needs. I was happy, vibrant, lively, curious. I loved to sing and play and learn. I remember being carefree and engaged in life. And then my parents divorced when I was 9. My mother, with whom my sisters and I were living, left us behind to start a new life when I was 12 and when I was 17 my mother died of cancer. In those 8 years my sense of stability, safety, security, confidence and self-worth all came crashing down. I withdrew and the happy child I had been was hidden beneath the scars of loss, disappointment, grief and abandonment. My approach to life was deeply impacted by the deep hurt, anger, and disappointment I experienced. I was convinced that I was unloved and unlovable. I was deeply wounded by my mother’s double abandonment and as I grew into adulthood keenly aware of the lack of a mother’s presence and guidance.
When I turned 40 I began a journey to reclaim the me I remember from the years before everything fell apart. Sometime around the age of 42 I remembered the joyful little girl I had been. I remembered the joy, contentment and wonder of my early childhood years and I knew that this is who I am at my core. Since then I have been working to free myself from the pain and sorrow I carried for so very long so that I can live and love from the best part of who I truly am.
Last night, I had a profoundly wonderful experience. I was sitting in the audience feeling incredibly proud of two young female singers I worked with a few times over the winter. Emily and LeRacha are the vocalists for the Madison College Jazz Combo. I helped them workon their songs and coached them in the style and practice of singing jazz with a band. And then I got to see them walk out on stage with their heads held high, claim their space, and sing their beautiful hearts out with confidence and skill. And that’s when the most wonderful realization hit me.
Ever since my mother died there have been many amazing women have crossed my path. The names I can remember are Meli, Sylvia, Jeanette, Betty, Janice, Jackie, Lizann, Carolyn, Jan, Donna, Mrs. Farris, Rebecca, LoAnn, Maggie, Therese, Ann and I know there are more. I think of these women as Angels who came along always at the exact right moment and who loved, encouraged, guided, mothered and sang me back to myself. These women saw me fully as a beloved daughter and showed me what I could not see – that I was and am deeply loved and that I am worthy of that love.
I have been aware of the many gifts I’ve received from my angels for a long time and I have often hoped that one day I would be the kind of woman who would watch out for girls and younger women so that I could mirror for them the love, giftedness and beauty I see in them just like my own cloud of mothers have done for me. And last night, sitting in that audience listening to Emily and LeRacha sing it hit me. I AM that kind of woman and I have been that kind of woman for a while now. Sitting there with my face aching from smiling and being so proud I began to think of the young women whose lives I know I have touched in some way in the past few years – Rose, Aralee, Rachel, Esther, Taylor, Hana, Emily, LeRacha, Caitlin and I’m sure there are more I may not even be aware of or am not remembering right now. All of these young women have amazing spirits. They are beautiful, gifted, wise and intelligent. Some of them may not know or believe fully yet how worthy of love they are but they are all on a journey of waking up to their true and beautiful selves and I am committed to doing what I can to reveal to them how amazing they are.
Today, I sit with this incredible feeling of completeness, with this vision of how the circle of my own life is coming together. I look at my life and know that in so many ways – through my singing, in my work at the Wisconsin Conference, in my church community, with my family and friends, I am loving better and more fully than ever before and this fills me with so much joy and gratitude that I feel that my heart might burst open from trying to contain it. So, I guess I won’t try to contain it. I think I’ll choose to share it as often and as exuberantly and in as many places as I can because I can see that what God calls me to and indeed what God calls all of us to is to be our true, complete, awesome selves in whatever unique way we can be and out of our awesomeness to bless the world with love.