By now, a lot of women know about the work I do. Some see me as a poignant, thoughtful writer while others who have spent time with me have a hard time describing what I do in less than a paragraph short-answer. Some have called me The Truthfairy, but I call myself a storyteller among Truthfairies whose gift of words serve as untangling sermons to myself as much as anyone else.
“Dearly Beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life . . .”
I don’t usually say much about the fascinating (and, at times, overwhelming) intuitive gift I have . . . and, I can’t explain where my sensitivity and deep compassion grew from because I didn’t grow up witnessing or receiving much of either one. I also have an infectious laugh that rides along with my unrelenting sense of humor about things. I have this freaky ability to absorb and synthesize complex theories and spit them back out, simplified and as easy to take as a spoonful of sugar, or as straight a proverbial shot of whiskey. I guess these are all just part of my “design.” I can’t explain any of it nor can I take credit for my gifts. I only discovered them and decided to put them to good use where I can, and work hard to be a good steward of them. The Truth is, we’re all gifted in some ways, and we’re all on a journey, so let me just say this out-loud:
Life on Earth gets hard and really tangled up sometimes. And sometimes it seems like mind numbing, pointless, and monotonous drudgery for not much reward. Sometimes, it seems like nightmare, and then, it can turn on a dime and seem like an unbelievable dream come true.
Now, I’m going to tell you a little story about something I was really ashamed of for a long time.
Neither of my parents ever walked a single graduation stage though they both possessed wildly intelligent minds, and I’m the only one of my mother’s children who hasn’t finished college. My two half-sisters, both documented college graduates, came along after my mother remarried to a man who held a respectable degree.
Now, it isn’t that I didn’t try. The first college credits I earned came when I was twenty-one, soon after my first child was born. I continued to peck away at my dream degree like a prisoner determined to carve his way to freedom with an aluminum spoon. The years of my whirling adult life were dotted with the pursuit of that degree which included a few false starts folded in with earnestly-earned, and regretfully dropped classes. In my thirties, I finally faced a class I had been quietly avoiding.
I failed my very first writing class weeks after witnessing my professor hugging my first short story to his chest in front of the entire class while reluctantly, for the sake of fairness, comparing it to Hemingway. My chest seized and I swallowed hard, damming back tears like a seasoned soldier. He couldn’t have known what it meant to me. Two weeks later, I stopped showing up to his class–and it didn’t have as much to do with being pregnant with my fourth child as I convinced myself at the time. The truth is, I was overwhelmed and embarrassed. I had never read a word of Hemingway, and I wasn’t sure I could write anything else worth his reading. I didn’t know how to reconcile what my professor recognized in me with what I believed about myself.
Two years later, I came back to avenge myself in that course with a different professor at a different college. I earned more points than were possible, and my final essay was waived. Even so, I still struggled with the shame of an unfinished degree . . . until it hit me like a rubber mallet to the forehead.
All this time I’d been performing this whole Cowardly Lion-Tin Man-Scarecrow-Dorothy scene for myself while pining over some great and powerful wizard to award me with documented brains, that would validate my heart, my nerve, and somehow grant me the permission to show up and do the work I felt I was meant to do in the world. So, one day, after much kicking, fussing, and gnashing of teeth, I tried to quit worrying about it, and start taking my own inventory. I looked around and found myself connected with and surrounded by those whose ranks I had desperately wanted to join. Some of my favorite people are M.D.’s, software engineers and PhD’s, throw in an author that O Magazine seems to love, an internationally acclaimed opera singer, activists, change-makers, research professionals, healers, actors, directors, a celebrity dancer, and even my husband, an astrophysicist-engineer hybrid who designs Internet highways. Each of them has always recognize me for exactly who I am and what I am.
And, each of them can say they graduated college, at least once.
Why, oh, why can’t I?
I can remember hanging my head over it many times, and once, during a particularly faith-challenging, Eeyore moment I was having, my best good friend reminded me that Oprah never finished her degree, and neither did Steve Jobs. Those same times, my husband would argue that I’ve read, absorbed and written more than any suffering PhD he knows, and that it makes his head hurt to hear me go on about emotional equations (but he likes it), and it makes his heart hurt to see me stopping myself for any reason at all. When I’ve felt like my tail has just fallen off for the 100th time, he lets me know he believes in what I’m doing, picks up my silly tail and hands it back to me so I can pin it back on. He does his best to show me what he sees when I can’t seem to see my own reflection. And, there are the times when, as much as I wanted to, I couldn’t hear him the way I could hear my women people.
Oh, my women people.
So often, it has been my women friends who have helped carry me the rest of the way back to myself, singing the same soft song that brings easy tears to my eyes just thinking about. Women even beyond my inner circle that hear me, see me, and reach out to me in ways I never seem to expect, and always at just the right time. They have kept me going when the going seemed lost. Their stories of resilience, healing, release, connection and empowerment take my breath away and they remind me.
You wanna know what my big, crazy dream is? It’s for every woman to know women who love them deeply, who inspire them, who see them, and challenge them to level-up. I want each of us to have women in our lives who show up like a choir angels, or even just one at a time, when we find ourselves in the dark trying to wake up, trying to remember and discover who we really are and why.
With love, I invite you to reach in, and reach out with me. Let’s show up for one another for the highest good we can create in the world . . . just being ourselves.
For each time the Truth seemed to hurt
For each time compassion met you at the depth of your pain.
For every sacred moment you recognize in real time.
My story might be your medicine, and your story might be mine.
There’s more for you, Truthfairy.