I would acknowledge that I am what you might call a “late bloomer”. It has taken me many years to come into my own. That is part of why the new forty is so appealing. It is an opportunity to catch up with others who bloomed at the precisely right time.
Still, even having finally “bloomed” I recognize that I am at best a perfectly imperfect person. I still retain the remnants of the painfully shy person I was. It has caused me to lean toward the oppressed and those with a less prominent voice. I have retained a high level of introspection that causes me to examine and reflect upon the things I say and do – I find this to be both a blessing and a curse – but there is no doubt this has shaped me, for better or worse, as a person.
And so I have bloomed – this perfectly imperfect person – and I attempt to contribute to the world that which I believe I can. Sometimes that means keeping my mouth shut (and those who know me will ask – when exactly did that occur – in 1959?). Sometimes that means just doing the little things from day-to-day with the hope that every drop in the larger ocean counts. Sometimes that means jumping into the fray despite the angst it may cause me.
I am reflective in the new forty of what it means to live a “purpose-driven life”. I have not always been sure of what my purpose was. It came to me a few years back during a particularly trying time that my purpose was to be the best version of me that I could be. But wait, I am perfectly imperfect – this sounds like a lot of work…and indeed it has been; but the value I have discovered is not in the perfection but in the earnest and ongoing efforts toward improvement all the while knowing that imperfection will always exist.
Now all that sounds really deep, but I am here to tell you most days it isn’t. Most days it is as simple as choosing my words more carefully or making the effort to be kind and thoughtful of others. My mother instilled in me the notion that small kindnesses really do matter and I try and to do whatever little things I can as the opportunity arises.
Now, don’t get me wrong…not every day is a day with forward movement. I am so predictably human and fallible. Some days my personality is so patently displeasing I honestly can hardly stand myself. Lately I have become much less patient with those who seem to lack integrity in their actions and fail to exhibit concern for others, but then upon reflection I realize that every one is in a different place on their journey. This almost seems an appropriate time to burn some incense and light some candles – so very zen.
A couple of years ago I read that a good thing to do to calm one’s self was to say “Yummmmm”. My former grad assistant and dear friend Jeanine (often referred to as “J”) and I began using this to deal with stressful situations and it works (although that is when I started to gain weight – hmmm – a linkage or not?). Something about the breathing and vibration involved is actually effective – who knew?
Some days I “Yummmmm” an awful lot. Yesterday I was frustrated having heard about a bad environment involving children that is not being addressed by the agencies that should be addressing it. I had to “Yummmmm…” to fight the tendency to go give some one a piece of my mind (but thank goodness I realized that I don’t really have any gray matter to spare).
I have to sometimes “Yummmmm” when I am dealing with a bully. I hate bullies. Now I know hate is a strong word and I should say “dislike”, but I really do hate bullies. Little is more satisfying than seeing bullies cut down to size. I think most folks have at one time or another dealt with a bully and would have loved to take them down, but were afraid.
That certainly was the case with me in my younger years – and by younger I mean through about age thirty – age is realtive (but beware bullies those days are long gone). While I intellectually understand the reason why bullies act the way they do, I still want to smack them and say “SNAP OUT OF IT!” “Yummmmm” – no hitting the bullies, not with a hand or a snappy retort or a lawsuit – “Yummmmm”.
My husband causes me to “Yummmmm…” with some of the things he says and does. And those are some long “Yummmmms”…after awhile I can barely feel my lips anymore…not sure if that means I have “Yummmmm-ed” too long or have entered a transcendental state. Don’t ever try and tell me that women are not the intellectually superior sex – my experience with my husbands tells me that women’s brains are far superior – but wait…I “chose” them all – oh my… “Yummmmm”.
There are days when things just seem to go wrong from the get go and I find myself on almost a continual “Yummmmm” throughout the day. I imagine folks who have witnessed me in public “Yummmmm – ing” assume I have a mental health problem, but quite the opposite – it is the therapy that keeps me from having an eye twitch or pulling out my hair. It gives me just enough time to remember not to sweat the small stuff and it has the added benefit of making others think I’m a little kooky and dissuades them from stressing out the “Yummmmm” lady any further.
Well, it works for me…a perfectly imperfect person. Perhaps as I evolve a bit more in the new forty my “Yummmmm-ing” moments will become fewer and farther apart. Oh wait…Cheyenne will be a teenager in the new forty…maybe I’ll back off the “Yummmmm-ing” in the new fifty. Until then…”Yummmmm”.
Day thirty-five of the new forty – obla di obla da