Embrace Your Unconventional Self

That’s me as a toddler with my mom and dad!

Today is my birthday! It’s a time when I tend to reflect on the past year and my life as a whole. I would like to share one of the many lessons I learned from my mother.

I owe my mom a great deal.  In my opinion, she did many things right.  You know, children don’t come with instruction manuals and the last time I checked, there wasn’t a return policy on them either.  I know there were times I tested her to the limits….as I guess any child does, yet she was there for me and loved me (so did my dad).  As a side note to this tale, I must add that I always knew that I was wanted and loved very dearly by my parents.

One of the many things mom taught me was to enjoy and embrace my individuality.  That can sometimes be a hard thing to do as a teenager growing into adulthood.  The peer pressure in high school can be quite daunting for those, like me, who weren’t in the ‘cool crowd’.  While I wasn’t the prettiest girl during those teen years, you know, the awkwardness of growing into an adult body and face can make one the target for bullies or sharp, hurtful remarks.  However, in spite of some of that,  I knew I had a good head on my shoulders and I was smart.

As a result of the encouragement my mom gave me about being unique, sometimes I think I have tended toward the unconventional.  One thing that helped me along that path of individuality was learning how to sew.  One day, after I completed the eighth grade mom said to me “No daughter of mine will not know how to sew.  I am taking you to a seamstress to learn”.

Well, it took me by surprise, but I was really excited about the prospect of learning how to sew.  After all, I had watched my mother sew all my life (all of 13 years at that point in time).  I was fascinated by the process and loved her trusty, reliable Singer sewing machine.

The seamstress was someone in her 70’s.  She had sewn all her life.  We went over the basics and I started my first sewing project, a pair of cotton pajamas with French seams.  What a disaster.  The lessons with this Sage of the needle and thread lasted all of three weeks.  I never finished those pjs, BUT I did learn enough of the basics to venture out on my own, with my mother’s guidance.

That summer I got my first sewing machine.  It was a sleek new Singer model.  The sad thing was the machine didn’t have the quality of my mom’s machine, which was probably a good 20 or 30 years older.  I struggled with it, the snarled bobbin thread balling up under my attempts at straight seems.   Making button holes with an attachment that did more eating of fabric than actual sewing.

In spite of all the machine frustrations, what started to happen was something magical.  I will never forget it.  In addition to a wonderful bond that started to grow with mom, I began to experience the understanding about expressing my individuality through the clothes that I made.  I could choose a pattern, find fabric that appealed to me and I had an outfit that no one else had.  I was unique.  I was becoming my true self.  And I was embracing my unconventional self who really didn’t want to be like everyone else.  It was great.

One of the foundations of my life was put into place that summer.  Discovering who I am, what I love, what makes me me.

Three years ago a friend introduced me to Sarah Ban Breathnach’s book, Simple Abundance.  Her goal is to help people find their authentic self.  At the start of this year, I am venturing into the world of simple abundance once again and I am well on my way to being even more of my authentic self.

Whatever terminology one uses to describe it, the common thread in all of this is understanding, finding and embracing the person you are meant to be.

Mom & Me on the top of Pikes Peak. She loved adventures.

Thank you mom and dad for everything.  I miss you both, love you and keep you in my heart.