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To thine own self be true


This blog post has taken an unexpected turn. I sat down yesterday to write on the importance of prioritizing our own needs and desires, of putting ourselves first. Although I have a lot to say on the subject, including how hard it can be, how selfish it can feel initially, and how it’s really the only way to effectively serve others, I realized part way through the process that my thoughts just weren’t going to jell into anything cohesive by the time I want to post this. So I’m shifting gears.


This is actually noteworthy because as recently as a couple of years ago, I would have stayed up as late as it took to whip the original post into shape, forcing things to happen the way I wanted and in my time frame no matter what. The phrase “come hell or high water” rolled off my tongue. The brute-force method was my friend.


I do my best to operate differently now. I try to balance the need to actively move things forward with the importance of creating space to allows things to unfold naturally, without grasping or striving. This not only feels much saner to me (and more enjoyable and effective), it also feels like a way of listening to and respecting my inner guidance—a way of putting myself first.


In the past week, two different people have shared the same quote with me: “The way we do anything is the way we do everything.” (I’ve seen this attributed to Martha Beck and to Cheri Huber with slightly different wording, and I suspect that others have said it as well.) I take it to mean that the habits and patterns we establish in one context often carry over into other contexts, ultimately impacting all aspects of our lives. This reminds me of words of wisdom that my magnificent dissertation advisor shared with me over 20 years ago as I was simultaneously beginning my academic career and life as a mom. She said (and I paraphrase): You have to decide how you want people to describe you. You can’t ask to be viewed in different ways by different people in different contexts. There’s only one you. You have to choose who you’re going to be.


So I’m choosing to be someone who does her best to practice what she preaches. I’m choosing to listen and adapt. I’m choosing to allow things to unfold in unexpected ways and to embrace the outcome, however imperfect, knowing that this doesn’t come naturally to me. Paradoxically, pausing can take more effort than forging ahead. (It seems that old habits really do die hard.)


I'll end with a few short poems I’ve written over the past couple of years on growth and transformation. I hope that something in these words resonates and sparks something positive in you.


Until next time, take good care. Thanks so much for reading.

Origami spirits


We fold our souls like

paper boxes. Hidden, till

rain-soaked, they unfurl.


The Comb of Transformation


Stiff and unyielding,

Through tangles and snarls.

A rat’s nest, Mom would say.


If she only knew.

No More Tangles or Tears?

Nah, brute-forced growth. Oy vey.


Want just a bit more? Check out this piece called One Day or other writing on my website.


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© 2017 by Elizabeth Odders-White

© Elizabeth Odders-White 2020

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