“There are certain life lessons that you can only learn in the struggle.”
― Idowu Koyenikan, Wealth for All: Living a Life of Success at the Edge of Your Ability
I have been asked more than once since writing these blog posts how I decide what to write? The truth is that I don’t always know. Sometimes it can be a topic that has embedded itself in my gut. It can be a topic that I continually search for answers and/or the meaning in my life. But, I often times will begin writing without any type of direction. Maybe it’s even some type of struggle where writing is my way of asking the universe for a lesson to be taught. And my thoughts have always been to sit back and wait for my answers to be revealed. Whatever the “reason” or “lesson” my intent is to be open and receptive no matter how difficult.
I have always been one that has taken the hard road out of necessity. Mel will be one of the first to tell anyone who asks that “Dana has to see something for herself before she will make a decision. You can tell her all day long the easiest way to go but until she sees things for herself she won’t budge.” This is not a fact that I deny. Maybe the hard truth is the only way I learn. If you wait for me to read between the lines, I will most assuredly leave you frustrated. Being incredibly hard headed and coming in 2nd place only to my Nannie, has never really made the “easy way” a workable option either. I must have questions answered and the questions about the questions answered. I might still reach the same conclusion but it will have taken me twice as long.
As a young child and then a mouthy teenager if I was told not to do something you can write it down that within hours or minutes I would be doing the very thing I was told not to do. This is where playing sports and having coaches who had the ultimate authority taught me discipline. As an adult and without their sometimes harsh discipline I seemed to go through life hungering for direction. Also, through this same discipline I was taught how to pick myself up and keep going. Because it wasn’t all about me, it was about our TEAM. This team concept is one lesson that I have never lost.
At 43 years-old and a difficult adult life, I’ve had to take some hard looks in the mirror and some much needed soul searching that would’ve had the ability to piss off Gandhi. Go a step further and do this in solitude with the daily worries of a mother and a wife and it doesn’t take long for someone to start questioning whether or not the chip on my shoulder is actually worth carrying. It also has the incredible ability to lessen the teenage arrogance in my walk and anger written on my face all seemingly hidden by a smile and a few jokes. Because when you don’t have the daily distractions of life there’s nothing that can bring forth an argumentative yet very sobering day like the one staring back at you.
There have been many times that I have stared in the mirror only to see the one looking back almost as if to say, “Really? Smiles and laughter are all fun and games until you get a really good look at yourself when the clown isn’t on stage, isn’t it?” I continue to look in the mirror at the stern arrogance of the one who, in recent years, has been able to provide intimidation whenever needed. I look down at my hands remembering how much damage can be done to a room in a fit of rage. I then look at my forearms and hear the familiar taunts from 30 years prior and the feeling of words spoken as though they were being said for the first time. The adult that was to educate her never raised her hand in anger because the muscles she used as a weapon could also cause damage. I look up as tears begin to stream down my face wishing, for that moment, that someone would make the pain in my chest cease. I search for a laugh or a smile to be instantaneous medicine as it has been for the majority of my life. Instead, however, were a set of eyes belonging to a very hurt teenage child who is fixated on the guilty memory of the unknown mother who said, “She hurt my son too.” Through the tears she tried but couldn’t convey the language of her pain. Pain, as she would discover, wasn’t always spoken. And on this day, the lessons were learned.