Layers and Layers and Layers

In the past few weeks it’s been made very apparent to me that I’ve created a bit of a nightmare. It started by cracking the door open just a tad and suddenly I realized it was taking all my strength to keep this monster contained.

The monster is made up of all the extra responsibilities I’ve taken on over my lifetime. It’s all that STUFF we do that we don’t really want to do, or things we do because no one else will, or because we feel guilty. Perhaps it’s because we can do it way better and faster than anyone else. Those things.

Now, I find myself not wanting to do most of them anymore! But it’s not that easy to stop. I know people are expecting me to simply continue to do those things. Yo!

All this STUFF feels like a zillion layers of clothing that I’ve put on and now it’s just heavy and hot under the weight of it all.

I had thought that maybe I needed to stand up, throw off all the layers of clothing  and proclaim that “I’m done!” But that could create a few ripple effects and possibly even a tidal wave or two. I also considered packing my bags and leaving, except I like where I live and for the most part, I like my life. I don’t want to start over.

I was contemplating how could I possible be free from this mess I had so willingly created over my lifetime when the image of a naked toddler popped into my head. You know, 18 months old, totally naked and making his escape from bath time. Running through the house as fast as his chubby little legs could take him, butt cheeks flapping, arms waving in the air and a giggle of freedom that makes you laugh just thinking about it.

“Oh, God, how do I get from here to there? How do I get out from under all these layers?”

One layer at a time…

Yep, just one layer at a time. One situation at a time. One new discovery at a time until I’ve removed all the extra layers and find myself to just me, doing the things I enjoy.

I don’t have plans to run around naked but I would be delighted to sashay through the remainder of my life in a sundress, wide brimmed hat and a shawl – just in case it gets cool. I’d like a refreshing beverage in my hand and every time an opportunity presents itself, I’ll straighten my dress, adjust my hat, take a long cool sip and respond, “I don’t want to do that… but thanks for thinking of me.”

All My Friends…

She claims she doesn’t remember saying it. But she did. I remember the moment. We were sitting in her unfurnished new home and every word we spoke echoed through the open space bouncing off the walls back to us. It was like sitting inside a really bad stereo.

She was making something to drink and the words rolled off her tongue and changed me forever.

“All my friends are strong women…”

I can’t tell you what she had said prior, I may not have been really listening. I have no idea what followed because those six words clogged my ears and brain.

What does that mean? I asked myself.

We finished our time together, said good-bye, and I crawled up in my jeep.

“All my friends are strong women,” I said as I turned the key in the ignition. “I have no idea what that means – but I think I should!”

I repeated this bold statement to family members at dinner. They seemed unaffected by it and all agreed with it.

“What do you mean it makes sense!” I shouted in my head. “You can choose your friends?” Now my words hit me just as hard as her had a few hours earlier. “I can choose my friends! Why didn’t anyone ever tell me?!?!”

A few days later we were at dinner with friends and I was still contemplating this idea.  I repeated the story; “…and she said, ‘All my friends are strong women.’ I don’t know what that means.” I confessed. “But I sure want to!”

I sensed I had comrades across the table. Our friends looked at each other and I recognized their expression. I had the same the moment I heard it said.

“Did you know that?” I asked. “You can choose your friends! Go figure? You don’t have to have a relationship with everyone you meet!”

I now repeated this proclamation every day (and several times though out.) The idea that I have the power to choose who I let into my life, who I invest my time and energy in, and who I intend to build strong relationships with has rocked my world to a new level. It seems silly, even childish, but it’s not.

It’s giving me a measuring stick and a way to evaluate my relationships. It’s given me a new standard to live from. It’s given me a new appreciation for those I call friend.

What’s also just a little weird…(I’m lowering my voice in case someone else is listening)…since I’ve been making this proclamation…I’ve met several strong, interesting, intelligent people and it feels as if we are already old friends.