By Maria Corse
I was reminded today that each of our lives is made up from the collective of stories that we create (live) throughout our lifetime (thanks, Trish). The most amazing part is that these individual tales are completely unique to each of us. I have three siblings, but the family recollections we share about particular events, when we are together, are completely different. In fact, I think I have fewer memories of our childhood than my brothers and sister, and I am the eldest.
I can, however, reminisce about the insane amount of time I spent with my grandparents – I recall it being every weekend and weeks on-end during the summer – but it probably wasn’t that often. It is where I learned to cook and appreciate garden fresh fruits and veggies, while standing on a stool at my beloved Nama’s elbow. And, where I could pick raspberries, eating more than ever went in the pail to make the most delicious pies and tarts. It is where I learned that perfection was not always required, when my grandma proclaimed, “it won’t show from the road,” after I had ripped out, and resewed a crooked hem three times in the skirt I was making. I recall the smell of my “Poppy’s” cigar and pipe smoke surrounding his massive recliner, crawling into bed with my Gram after he left for the early shift at Alcoa, donuts - oozing with raspberry jelly - from the Norwood bakery, and sweet and gooey, Sugar Daddy lollipops from Perry’s market.
Grandma and Poppy’s was my happy place. It was where I was accepted and loved for myself without having to share any of that attention with my sibs, where the bed-sheets were cool and crisp with the smell of summer sunshine, where I could read all day if so desired, and, where ice cream sundaes, with hard crack chocolate syrup, were a nightly ritual.
I think we forget that our personal identities are often tied directly to the narratives that our loved ones recite about us, as well as personal lore we tell ourselves. Some of those tales are positive and allow us to see ourselves as proficient and successful, while others have the opposite effect. Those negative anecdotes we tell (and believe) about ourselves are, I suspect, the most damaging of all.
I recognize that my childhood stories have played a major role in creating the person I am today. I can say, that cooking is an innate skill that I love, because I had the opportunity to do so as a very young child. My crazy tendency to do the opposite of everyone else – to walk my own path based on my unique ideas, and to stubbornly persist until the very obvious end - was born right there on those five acres of pure and unadulterated childhood paradise. It is also where I recognized that I am extremely shy, and, if given the opportunity, I will hide out with a book instead of interacting with people.
To this day, over ten years after her death, I feel my grandmother’s loving energy surrounding me. I know without a doubt that she is my guardian angel and she is so proud of all I have accomplished.
I encourage you to take time to examine your personal narrative – are you telling it with a favorable and affirmative spin, or are you weaving your tale with negative vibes? If it is the latter – consider a revision that includes writing yourself in as the hero - honor your idiosyncrasies, skills, and talents – take ownership of all that is you – and – celebrate.
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