Saturday, February 10, 2007

My Favorite Dress

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"When I'm trusting and being myself as fully as possible, everything in my life reflects this by falling into place easily, often miraculously."
Shakti Gawain

“Homer, I was born for this. It shouldn’t surprise you that you were born for it too.” Rising up quickly, I ran to the TV and yelled at Homer’s Dad, “Have you lost your mind? Are you crazy?”

As the scene unfolded, Homer returned to the coal mines. Dejected. Sad. With his face covered in black soot, the son joined the other lifers on the elevator and descended into hell. Shaking my head, I sat back down to continue watching a rerun of the movie October Sky.

The story made me think about my own life. No, I never ended up shoveling coal, but I listened to what all the adults in my life said. Even sadder, I believed them—so much so that I ignored my own desires and intuition. Turning away from myself, I grew into an unsure adolescent taking my clues about how I should behave from others. Without a clear direction of my own, I lost myself.

In October Sky, Homer lost his way too. The analytical, scientific-minded son was different from his family. Homer didn’t quite fit. Turns out, I didn’t fit either. I changed myself to suit the pre-cut pattern—the one bought at the fabric store before I was born. The pattern was perfect. The pieces were carefully sewn and I was asked to wear it. The dress was pastel with pink flowers and a lace collar. But I yearned for a different dress, one made out of velvet and covered in dark, vibrant purples, gold and black hues. I ended up wearing the pastel dress for most of my life. By the time I allowed myself to wear the dress I desired, it didn’t fit anymore.

My five-year-old self recognized a problem. At least my subconscious mind did and tried to warn me in my dreams. Nightly, my reoccurring nightmare frightened me. Walking down a narrow shrinking hallway, I found myself trapped. At the end of the hall I discovered a locked door. Banging frantically on the door, I screamed: “Let me out! Please, let me out.”

The dream told the story. With each passing day I would shrink, becoming less of the person I was destined to be. Locked out, I would remain small, contained and not myself. With each step, I hid the shadow parts and became someone that I was not. For survival purposes, those parts had to disappear. It was more important to be a good little girl than to be myself. And, who I was, by my very nature and the place I found myself, wasn’t quite right. My parents, family and friends were victims too. They all bought into the cultural belief that I had to be trained in order to fit, just as they themselves had been trained.

Not too long ago, I watched the 2006 American Idol winner sing on the Ellen DeGeneris Show. From the first time I saw Fantasia Barrino perform, I recognized the talent she possessed. During her appearance on Ellen’s show, Fantasia shared, “I’m happy that people like me being me!” And, that’s when I finally got it. The most important thing for us to do is to be ourselves while having the courage to live an authentic life. That’s the key that unravels everything—peace, joy, abundance, health.

Sappy movies always have a happy ending and the one featuring Homer was no different. The young man held on to his beliefs and took a stand. Homer eventually said to his Dad, “The coal mine is your life. It’s not mine.” And so now I, too, know the truth. My favorite dress is made of velvet and it’s time to make one that fits and start wearing it.

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