Having spent the last day and a half at home plagued with a gastrointestinal flu that has mercilessly raged through my household, I have had a significant amount of time to just lay in bed and think. This can be a dangerous situation, as there is nothing like a fever and dehydration to dust off the welcome mat for one’s neuroses. I’d like to think however that my thoughts flowed in a more productive direction.
Prior to being kicked in the gut by this stomach bug, I happened upon a quote from Alan Alda that I could not get out of my head: “You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you will discover will be wonderful. What you will discover is yourself.”
Maybe it was the fortuitous timing of reading that quote, along with being asked about “life on The Ranch,” with a rather sarcastic and skeptical tone, that really got me thinking. What would life be like if all you ever did was live according to the confines of whatever pigeon hole others put you in? This question isn’t new or particularly clever, but it is important. There is no doubt in my mind that most people, myself included, would like to think they are leading a life guided entirely by their own unique compass, but getting to the truth requires stepping a bit closer to the edge and asking, “am I really?”
That 3 word question, if answered with painful honesty, is a foolproof bullshit detector. You will feel the truth in your gut. Ignoring that truth is a recipe for the kind of soul scorching disaster that can only come from betraying yourself. You feel the burn every time someone tells you your ideas are stupid–and you listen. You feel it when someone tells you that “you can’t, “you’ll never,” or the bitterly dismissive, “good luck with that.” Not to mention the thousands of images we see everyday through print, TV, or the internet, preying upon our insecurities in order to make a profit. Throwing your hands up (literally or figuratively) and asking, with the kind of authoritative tone that only comes from believing that you are a person worthy of respect, “Seriously?” is the first step toward calibrating your compass to your own true North.
The Ranch has been the perfect backdrop for refining the vision that I have for myself and shedding the dead weight of expectations not authentically mine. Anyone who has followed this blog will know that this is a very different world for me. I have learned a lot. Here, convention is more likely to get “the finger,” than compliance. In many ways the freedom and inspiration I feel on The Ranch reminds me a lot of Paris. Clearly, they are not the same, but both have a long history of fostering individualism in wildly varying ways.
Have I perfected the art of living with 100% authenticity? Hardly, but then again, perfection isn’t the point. Being the exact dog mom, writer, chef, knitting enthusiast, Francophile, organic gardener wannabe, good friend, daughter, sister, all black wearing, other half of My Beloved that I define IS. No more sleepwalking through the day, guided by someone else’s ill conceived expectations. Being a follower was never really my thing, but everyone can benefit from a fever induced slap in the face every now and then. No one dimensional category or pigeon hole can contain me. Now when someone asks me quizzically about my life on The Ranch, I just smile.
Make people uncomfortable. Labels and categories are only for the convenience of others. Be your most authentic self. It doesn’t matter if you have failed in the past. Start small. It’s never too late. I dare you! Let others say what they like–trust me, they’re probably jealous. The people who really matter will love you for it.
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