Freedom on my 50th Birthday: a definition

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Thomas Jefferson

Let us find a way to make this true for all people – regardless of ability, color, education, religion, gender, marital status, language, country of origin, financial status, social standing (or sitting), political preferences, family history, and any other word or phrase we as a society use to separate ourselves from each other.

I am the epitome of the great American mutt – the result of the once great concept of the Melting Pot. This is me on my 50th birthday – it is not me of yesterday and won’t be me of tomorrow. This is me of today.

Ability: I am able-bodied but make choices that may one day rob me of that. I am not better or worse than others – just different (sorta like everyone else.) I do have to stop standing on things that are not meant to be ladders, or this may change sooner than I think.

Color:  I am technically white but appear mostly pink and blotchy red. What color are you? I think under our skin we may be the same -indistinguishable from each other. I keep this in mind (but occasionally picturing everyone without skin makes me a little queasy.)

Education: I am highly educated but occasionally (maybe frequently) stupid.  Some of our leaders are highly stupid and occasionally educated.  I am working to help change that.

Religion: I was, but now I’m not – we must each be free to believe in what brings us peace and let others do the same. I suggest we try to be good people.  I think that might work.

Gender: Is unique to the individual and should remain that way. I am a woman who likes the manly type of things.  I can plumb, use power-tools, bar-b-que, swing a hammer, and MacGyver the hell out of most things.  I don’t wear make-up. I am not you, and you are not me.  Let us admire each other’s definition.

Marital Status: Yes – for all.  I believe you fall in love with a soul.  The soul I love is male – just kinda worked out that way. Who you love won’t ever change that for me.  What I want is for you to have this same deep bond – if you want it. Makes no difference to me who it is.

Language: My language is filled with curse words from all over the world – now including ASL. I am open to learning the curse words from your mother tongue – will you share?  Speak what lets you convey the important things in your life. Work to communicate with everyone. Understand that language and communication are not the same things.

Country of Origin: America. Did you think I meant my ancestors?  What does that have to do with me? They gave me the pink with red blotchy skin that burns at the thought of the sun. They gave me stories.  But I am an American.

Financial Status: Sometimes I have money – more times I don’t.  I give away when I can. I have no status.  I’m okay with that.

Social Standing (or Sitting): I am a total social misfit that really doesn’t give a flying f*ck. (At least I pretend that’s true.) Underneath I am scared and shy and afraid and clumsy – and I’m hoping you’ll like me and I try not to care.

Political Preferences: I prefer politicians that do not exude ignorance, bigotry, self-centered idolatry, sexism, sadism, racism, intolerance, narrow-mindedness, hatred,  misogyny….. I didn’t say democrat or republican.  Right not my preferences are not being met – wanna help me change that?

Family History: I am not born into my family but was lucky enough to be picked by them. I am celebrated, cared-for, tolerated, teased, rebuked, praised, scolded, and welcomed.  You know, the good stuff about family.

Right now, I am this.  Tomorrow I will be something else.  We each carry with us the sum of our experiences – good and bad – that blend to make us who we are.  Each adventure changes the picture and redraws the landscape where we live.  It’s kinda exciting.  I wonder who I will be next? I just hope I like her.

Me at 50

I am a Rube Goldberg device.

Quote from A. A. Milne (Christopher Robin to Winnie the Pooh) Part of my book Just Be.

In my search for a new way to pay the bills, I have found myself applying for some very interesting positions and in some very interesting ways.  The most recent application asked “In 150 characters or fewer, tell us what makes you unique. Try to be creative and say something that will catch our eye!”  Here is what I wrote:

“Info enters my brain in the usual way. I then I twist, knot, bend, cut, spindle, fold, & even mutilate it to create art, education, magic, & beauty.”

Boom! 149 characters.

But this got me to thinking about all the things I am and even some that I am not.  In society, all of us are so often defined by aspects of our life that are really meaningless in the grander scheme, yet we think are so incredibly important to our individual identity.  For example, think about being a new kid at school.  One of the first questions I was always asked was “What’s your nationality?” Maybe this was a function of the time or maybe where I lived, but this particular question was a real kicker for me as I was adopted as an infant.  Back in 1967, most adoptions were closed, meaning there was little to no information given about the birth parents.  However, the one piece of information that my folks were given was my nationality.  So when asked, I had an answer. Interestingly, I would blend this information with that of my family so it would come out something like, “I am Pennsylvania Dutch and Swedish, but my family is Swedish and Norwegian.”  Now I just say, “I am lily-white northern European.”  Adds a real touch of class, don’t you think?

I have to admit to being out of touch with what kids ask now, but if nationality is not the question, then I’m sure  another has taken its place.  Why?  Because when I was asked about my nationality, I was really being asked, “Who are you?”  In some ways it’s the equivalent of asking another adult, “So, what do you do?”   But what are we really? Who are we at heart?  I am not from Sweden, I am not Pennsylvania Dutch.   I am not really lily-white northern European.  I am a great American mutt.

But I am more than that. We are more than that. We are so many things that when you put them all in a blender and hit the frappe button, you create something amazing, something truly delicious.  Here is my recipe for me:

  • I am a woman. One that loves to work on the plumbing, doesn’t wear make-up, has really short hair, thinks high heels are not for me, could exist if I never wear a dress again, sweats easily, blushes even easier, and cries when passionate, but not when really angry.
  • I am a daughter, friend, wife, sister, sister-in-law, aunt, niece, granddaughter, cousin, former co-worker, and casual acquaintance.
  • I am a writer, artist, crafter, designer, do-it-yourselfer, seamstress, teacher, blogger, creator of weird things, collector or weirder things, and admitted fan-girl. (Although, I have to say that the fan-girl status is a new one.  Is 47 too old to start? Let’s talk Supernatural another day.)
  • I am a narcoleptic – although this might be more of something I have than who I am. But when you can fall asleep in front of a drum line during full practice, it might be who you are.
  • I am weird, eccentric, bizarre, unique, unusual, strange, odd, quirky, one-of-a-kind, and peculiar – and proud to be each one.
  • I am a risk -taker, a devisor of cunning plans and harebrained schemes. (I am also a frequent visitor to the emergency room – that often being the outcome of a harebrained scheme.)
  • I am not quite right in the head.  But someone needs to be that for others – why not me.
  • I am afraid, anxious, fearful, panicky, slightly depressed, and strong enough to overcome each – with a little help from my friends.
  • I am usually late (but very rarely for dinner – ba dum bum.)
  • I am a care-taker of furry animals.  One of them is currently curled up asleep in the sleeve of my sweatshirt, and I happen to be wearing it at the same time (the sweatshirt, not the animal – shame on you for thinking that.)  I am also a keeper of plants and fish.
  • I am occasionally stupid, too talkative, insensitive, self-centered, egocentric, short-sighted, and idiotic. But come on, who among us isn’t at some time or another?
  • I am organized and disorganized, clean and messy, cluttered and… hmm… well… extremely cluttered – all at the same time.
  • I am beautiful, happy, smiley, genuine, friendly, caring, kind, thoughtful, loving, remarkable, amazing, and incredibly imperfect.

Just a quick side note here, I have multiple tattoos, each one with great meaning to me.  However, the most important, (and by far the most painful to get) are the ones on my feet.  On the inside of my left foot, below the ankle bone, is the word “Beautiful”. This is to remind me that yes, I am, in fact, beautiful. On the right foot is “Imperfect”.  This is to remind me that it is okay to be imperfect and to stop beating myself up over my total inability to be perfect.  I’ll let you know when that one works.

  • I am a dreamer of big and small dreams alike.
  • I am me.

I has taken me a long time to find the “me” in all of the chaos that resides in one person.  I certainly don’t think I have found the final me.  I don’t think you can ever find the true “me” because it is always a work in progress.  But I am slowly beginning to accept that the current me is an unique person. But then we all are unique.  Each and every one of us is a single original work of art –  not to be repeated – not to be underestimated.  You are as unique as I.   And while we all need to feel that we belong – that we fit, match, blend, mesh, or meld – we also need to know that there is something about us that makes each stand out, that we are different, and that our characteristics are those others will admire.

I thank my birth parents all those years ago, for having the foresight to tell me my parents about my biological heritage.  Once, it might have been what defined me, maybe not.  But on the path to finding our own unique “me”, we have to start somewhere.  Just so long as you remember that the search never ends.

Tomorrow, I will find a new me.  Right now I feel like a Rube Goldberg device – an extremely complicated machine with many moving parts, a lot of them goofy and probably silly, and over-designed to do one simple thing  – take the next step – whatever it may be.

“Info enters my brain in the usual way. I then I twist, knot, bend, cut, spindle, fold, & even mutilate it to create art, education, magic, & beauty.”

I think I captured what makes me unique pretty well in 150 characters or less.  It’s kind of a cool exercise.  I recommend you try it and can’t wait to see what you come up with.  Post your unique description in the comments.  Celebrate what makes you… well, you.

Ready, set, go!