I am about to do a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? -Isaiah 43:19
Have you ever decided to re-write your narrative to include stories that were left out or to welcome and invite into your life the joyful work that has been left out? That’s exactly what I am doing now; claiming what brings me joy. I am on an adventure to “compose my life.” I am finally at the point in my life where I am able (feel brave enough) to tell myself: I am a writer. I have been a sales/marketing rep for AT&T, an editor, a human resource manager (“personnel” manager is what we were called), a public health administrator, and—I can’t forget what I went to school to become—a counselor. While doing all these things, I wrote—sometimes without compensations, but always with joy. Finally, I am giving voice to my identity as a writer.
It is time now to explore the creative potential of interrupted and conflicted lives, where energies are not narrowly focused or permanently pointed toward a single ambition. These are not lives without commitment, but rather lives in which commitments are continually refocused and redefined. –Mary Catherine Bateson, Composing A Life
This book, Composing A Life, by Bateson recently recaptured my attention. I had enjoyed it over twenty years ago. It was important even then, but I was busy in graduate school, rearing my daughter, working and traveling for business, and trying to hold all the pieces together. But, as my life has slowed and what was dormant has begun to resurface, I have remembered this book. Bateson writes how we must value all the pieces of our lives because they create the composition of our lives—the whole. She explores the lives of five women. These are lives that might appear fragmented, but when examined through an appreciative gaze, we can see how beautifully the pieces fit together.
Think about what it would take to begin a narrative that includes all of who you are. Let’s begin to shake loose some of the imagined limitations and beliefs that might keep us from the adventure of taking a road less traveled. (This is not the book, The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values, and Spiritual Growth by M. Scott Peck, but an empowering video by Lauren Alaina. Take a moment to view and feel the joy.)
Something has shaken loose in me in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, which we have survived intact and our prayers are with those who did not. I feel a responsibility as a counselor to offer my services to those without homes and who are uncertain about what will happen each day. I also feel a new responsibility to myself to do more of what keeps me alive. I am re-writing my own narrative to include parts that have been left out. One of the stories I am now including is the one about my writing a play when I was in elementary school for my sisters and me to perform to an audience of one—my appreciative mother. My new narrative will also embrace the soul-bearing thoughts I’ve written in the journals that hide in the boxes that have trailed with me from move to move. I now realize that they are at the heart of my story.
To paraphrase the Capital One commercial: What’s in your heart? What is it you are longing to do? What patterns can you see as you look at what you have done in your life—whether it’s been two decades or six. What do you do that may be invisible to anyone else, but make you smile when you think about making time to do that one thing. It’s never too early or too late to compose your life or to re-frame your narrative to include all of who you are—your authentic self. As for me, I plan to write my new story and live the adventure of my redefined life.
- The Houston community pulling together to help those impacted by Hurricane Harvey.
- Being safe through the storm and aftermath.
- Friends and family reaching out to support us.