In Sweet Company

“If we want to change things for women … we’’ve got to recognize and acknowledge the bravery it’s taken to live the lives we’ve lived, to get up every day and take care of our children and our homes, to keep our churches and schools going, to plant trees in our parks — all these things. It makes me want to cry when I think about what women do!” — Olympia Dukakis, IN SWEET COMPANY: CONVERSATIONS WITH EXTRAORDINARY WOMEN ABOUT LIVING A SPIRITUAL LIFE

Like many of us, I am, once again, reinventing myself. I am creating the new me, the next me, based on heart’s desire as well as sheer necessity. Now that I think of it, maybe my heart’s desire is my necessity.

We most often reinvent ourselves to keep pace with what we are called to do. I have gone from being the Good Little Girl I was bred to be, to becoming a young woman in search of her own voice; to bride, wife, mother; to working mother juggling multiple roles, a marital realignment, a glass ceiling, and prolonged experiences of care-taking, including my own care-taking. Each new me seems to mirror the new us — women dedicated, tuckered, then rededicated to the evolving process of discovering how to navigate our lives with greater ease, with deeper grace.

Some women ask “What really floats my boat? Some seek ways to contribute to the world at large. Some entertain what psychoanalyst Erik Erikson called “generativity” and focus on creating a legacy. Many of us are looking for greater financial security. Our motivation falls somewhere between a desire to play our unique note in the symphony of life and a desire to “give back.” Any way you cut it, as Saint Theresa of Avila said, ”The demand of the splendid favors of awakening granted us is that they be embodied.”

My sense of the process includes the belief that the very act of embodiment — the conscious creation of our lives, the sheer joy of choosing and doing and being what’s meaningful to us — contributes to the Greater Good in public and private ways. The better we are, the better everyone around us becomes. And, where we end up often turns out to be far less significant than who we become through the process.

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