When I think about the person I want to be, two words keep circling back to my mind: fearlessly authentic. You know, like the person I was at age 10 who wore rainbow shirts with a tutu, striped tights and white snow boots, and walked four houses down to see if my friend could come out and play with me. I never thought twice about my friend critiquing my flamboyant attire nor rejecting my desire to have companionship in play. I just strutted down the street, side-pony swaying in the wind, and knocked on her door.
That authenticity is something that I’ve buried over the years; I’ve steered away from the inner knowing of what felt true for me without a second thought about what anyone else might think. I started to become concerned about other people’s opinions of me, or their desires for me, and as their estimation increased in my life, my confidence in myself shrank. Gradually, my inner self-knowing grew dim, and then something miraculous happened: my life fell apart and I had a second chance to rebuild from the ground up.
On Friday afternoon, my oldest son graduated from therapeutic boarding school with his certificate of completion for the program along with his high school diploma. He gave a speech at his graduation ceremony in which he talked about his gratitude for his second chance in life. This week, he will transition back to family life with his second chance in hand. The second chance that he mentioned isn’t just for him, it’s for our entire family. Throughout the challenging last two years, we have all been given a chance to do a life’s review and figure out what’s working, what’s broken, and what we could be doing better.
For me, I realized that I want to be authentically me better. I want to stand my ground and voice my opinion for what feels right, and keep an open heart for discussion and conversation when another feels differently. For inspiration, I have a picture of me at age 10 that I look at often. Back then, I knew what brought me joy, and I owned it. This week I turned 49 and I’m happy to report that I’m figuring out what brings me joy again and I’m intentionally seeking it out: fresh cut flowers on my table; coffee in bed, even mid-week; rainbows and the stars and the moon; live concerts; fearlessly fabulous coworkers; loving friends and family members; reading while curled up in a blanket when it’s raining outside; home-cooked meals; grilled cheese; rivers, lakes and trees; yoga in the quiet hours of the morning; writing; learning to do macrame again; the art of purposeful gatherings; Marco Polo video messages with friends; stretchy pants; butterflies; coloring; not dying my hair anymore; bare feet in the grass; dancing; beautifully scented candles; the color turquoise; fair trade jewelry; succulents and other hearty plants that let me know when they need a drink of water; my pup Jasper; coffee mugs and t-shirts with funny quotes; karaoke; singing in the car with the windows rolled down; laughing; meals with my kids; campfires; hula hoops and roller skating (both of which I’ve done recently). The list could go on and on. And that’s how I know that I’m coming back to myself.
One Night Only with Lady Gaga
The road back to authenticity has been a long one. On my way home from Ozzie’s graduation, custody mandated me to be a single woman for the week, so I decided to indulge in one big birthday splurge: tickets to see Lady Gaga! I mean, the Universe practically handed me this concert on a silver platter when I decided to see who would be playing in Vegas for my one night layover on my return home. Um, Lady Gaga! Yes please. My friend and fearlessly fabulous coworker and author of 3 Tickets Please (a travel blog for family vacations on a budget) agreed to meet me in Vegas for this special one night only occassion. It turns out, at age 49 that’s about as much Vegas as I can take anyways.
Having done ZERO research about Lady Gaga’s Vegas tour, Faith and I went fully prepared to be dancing our asses off in the most ridiculous shoes and outfits that we could find at our local thrift store a few days prior to the big night. As it turns out, and much to our feet’s joy, Gaga was reinventing herself in the most glorious, fearlessly authentic way: it was her piano and jazz tour. And can I just say, that woman can SING! When it was all stripped down with just her vocals, her piano, and her most beloved songs slowed way down, it was simply magical. She read letters from the audience and told stories and made us laugh and she also made Jazz so damn sexy. She was going back to her roots of her musical upbringing and honoring the music that fills her soul and brings her joy, and then she was sharing that gift with all of us. I don’t care what she’s singing, where she’s playing, or what she’s wearing—I am an official Little Monster Lady Gaga big time fan after this one night only in Vegas. And Gaga is just further reaffirming how beautiful a soul can glow when they are following their quest for authenticity.
Eyebrow wands and blocks of cheese
In 3 Tickets Please fashion, Faith and I chose to make the show our big splurge and save at every other portion of our trip. From our thrifted outfits, to the free pool loungers at Planet Hollywood, to the free botanical garden tour at the Bellagio, to a walk “gratuit” through Paris followed by a fun dinner in our hotel room (reserved through points), we enjoyed all that Vegas has to offer for less than $50. We dined on cheese and crackers with salami, wasabi almonds, fruit and a bottle of wine (all the best that the Rite Aid on the strip had to offer!). When we realized that we didn’t have a knife for our cheese block, Faith pulled out her band new eyebrow trimmer and I didn’t believe her when she thought it would cut through the block of cheese, but it sure did! We laughed hysterically at our resourcefulness and enjoyed the, fun, creative, and authentic of having a Vegas dinner on a teacher’s budget. That’s what I love about Faith–she doesn’t let money come in between her and a good time. At every break, she and her husband (also a teacher) and their son (hence the 3) find where flights are going for cheap and head that way seeking out adventure. I am in awe of how her family travels and it has opened my mind even further into an abundance mindset: where there’s a will, there’s a way. I had never done Las Vegas like the way we did; we searched out beauty and we found it. We had one hell of a great time. and the best part is we were in bed before midnight. Because that’s fearlessly authentic at age 49.
On this road of self rediscovery, I am learning to enjoy and give thanks to the many obstacles along the way. It turns out, they’re just hurdles which are making me stronger each time I leap over one. I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel when I wouldn’t have custody of my kids on the week of Ozzie’s graduation and return home. The picture that is the featured image for this post and for the “about me” section of Let Love Rise says it all. After hugging him and the kiddos goodbye, I took myself out to my favorite red rocks in the area called Pioneer Park which are attached to the Saint George botanical garden. I put my “One Night Only Lady Gaga” playlist in my ears and walked through the gorgeous rocks with a heart that was full love and gratitude. The Lady Gaga song that I want to share is called a Million Reasons because I have about a million reasons to be grateful for my second chance in life. It has been a journey, my friends. And I’m grateful for every single step along the way that brought me closer to being fearlessly, authentically me.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the Moms, Moms-to-be, Moms in Spirit and to the Great Cosmic Mother. May your have a day filled with beauty and love.