I grew up in Montana in a single-parent household, my body in Billings and my heart in the eloquent, eastern part of the state. My mother, the only person in her family to leave the ranch, was a unique combination of kind-and-loving, gold-and-steel, and she raised three children better than a champion calf-roper. Darlene parented from the gut, and we were frequently but discreetly told to trust our instincts.
My mom was successful, personally and professionally, in spite of her difficult upbringing. In spite of the physical and emotional scars. The lack of available resources. Her overwhelming responsibilities. In spite of so many things others would call curses, but she saw as blessings. She would say, “because of.” She created a beautiful life for herself “because of” these experiences. Because the lessons they delivered were important. Because she knew how to apply them. Because these difficulties taught her to listen to herself, and discover that deep inside is where her power lies.
I am 40 and a mother of two amazing boys. I cherish and enjoy the relationship I have with myself as I embrace discoveries associated with the steady metamorphosis of my person from student to wife to professional to mother. My current self-reflection is mature, deliberate and kind, even when I consider the parts I would like to improve, for only through kindness do I beckon that improvement.
The realizations that burst out of introspective scrutiny over how my family and experiences shape my life are invaluable. I seek them with a desire to grow in ways that will make me the very best parent, wife and world-citizen I can be. Along the way, I discovered a powerful tool—my inner voice, or what some might simply and crudely label “gut.” When I listen to myself in the place where no one else speaks, seek what truly resonates and wait to act until I feel the impulse, I always make the right choices.
Through this process, I have learned to create happiness instead of waiting for it to happen. I elect optimism, ignoring the label of naiveté and harnessing the energy that comes out of positivity. I choose to be grateful instead of worrisome because it feels better. I appreciate the unavoidable negative moments for the release they give, knowing I can focus on the positive more clearly, later. I see confusion as a temporary state that allows me to recognize and acknowledge clarity. I am grateful for the hard knocks, mindful that they allow me to profoundly savor the good times.
My boys are now 6 and 9, and ”because of” their tender ages, they are naturally adept at hearing and responding to their inner voices. Over time, many of us begin to listen less to ourselves and more to others, until our internal navigation fades and we feel lost without others’ input. I hope to nurture my children’s confidence in their instincts, as my mother did for me. I believe the egotistical act of self-care and advocation makes us happier, and when we are happier we are better parents, friends, lovers and selves. I offer so much more to the world when I stop torturing myself with “should” and wait until I feel intrinsically motivated and inspired. I constantly seek an awareness of the perfection and promise in each moment, for the wonder of that moment is happiness. And it is much easier to get there if I only listen.