For a while now I’ve felt out of shape – and I’m not referring to the 50 extra pounds that I picked up in the course of having two babies! What I’m talking about are the ways that my life and sense of self have expanded and contracted in response to my experiences. In the last 10 years, I met and married the love of my life and had two wonderful children who have taught me the meaning of real love and sacrifice. Caring for my family has opened wide my heart, humbled my ego, challenged my commitments, tested my patience, and stretched both my wallet and good sense – sometimes to the breaking point!
In this same period of time, I launched my own business and was forced to confront my relatively low perception of my worth if I wanted to eat and help feed my family. Going out on my own gave me an opportunity to not only affirm my value, but also to build a body of meaningful work that reminds me of what I’m capable. Taken together, all of these experiences have grown me up in my power and purpose and greatly expanded the territory of my life.
Yet the nature of life is that it does not only move in one direction. There is no growing up without also going down, in my case on my knees. Early in life I lived through the devastation of addiction and the heartache it visited upon my family. Later, cancer and car accidents snatched from me two best friends and a host of loved ones with whom I’d hoped to share a long life. As I moved into adulthood, pregnancy and miscarriage changed not only my physical form, but also altered some of my body’s basic functions. And as my life’s responsibilities intensified, more challenges arose, including family bouts with unemployment and financial loss that caused me to petition the Divine for relief.
Life has both stretched me and pruned me – lifted me up high and given me cause to despair. Its dynamics are not personal for it does this to us all. The question isn’t how do we control or get rid of the parts we don’t like, but how do we embrace all of the pieces of ourselves so that we experience wholeness. Wholeness is, after all, life’s truest shape.