Monday, December 16, 2013

Self Portrait in Bloom

I have just returned from visiting family in Toronto. I feel content as if I have been sipping on a cocktail two parts love and one part stability. For years I valued the adventure and spontaneity of free spirited interaction over this combo of kindness and solidity. This year I cherish the sense of having no doubt that as different as we are individually I am valued by this mixed tribe of people.

As a kid I used to say I was adopted. I made up stories about who my father was. His accent and gruff demeanor embarrassed me. While I did not have to embellish my mother’s exotic background and her raven haired elegance made her a head turner, on some level I yearned for the type of parents I saw reflected around me. My parents immigrated after the war and the area they chose for a part of my formative years was quite affluent. I always felt like an alien surrounded by all those pearls and plaid. They had manicured lawns and corgis. I had a German Sheppard and a chick I got for Easter that grew into a rooster called Dr Kildare. 
I had no qualms waving a postcard at a peer and insisting that I had painted this work of art myself. At six years old I was comparing myself to my environment trying to elevate my status in order to belong and feel better about myself. I was creative and expressive and bold. That did not go down well in that conservative polite environment. I did not look like everyone else and deciding I would never fit in I embraced being the rebel. I designed flamboyant outfits wearing my grandmother’s vintage furs, dragging them on the ground. I lived in my imagination and performed ballet in a tutu for show and tell.  I was weird. Back then it caused me pain, today I embrace my weirdness and cannot even imagine trying to be like anyone else. I am happy I now know that the  task of defining oneself according to one’s own criteria is what leads to pure freedom.

Being with family resurrected memories and made me realize how comfortable I am in my own skin and also how highly overrated any kind of comparison is. It was an interesting revelation to feel so grown up, not old, just mature. When I consider what that means I always come around to evolution. I have evolved and can appreciate differences in others while at the same time remaining true to myself. I have stopped taking things so personally and know deep in my bones that whatever choices another person makes, whatever their opinion of me, it means nothing about me.

I enjoyed Toronto in a new way this trip. During a weekend hotel sleepover with my ex sister in laws (who hate when I describe them as ex) we picked up as if never having been apart. Our sisterhood goes back almost 30 years and as we explored the downtown core we rekindled the playful synergy that has remained between us. I chanced upon a unique Russian Vodka House called Pravda. Red fabric dangled from the ceiling as a bejeweled acrobat climbed its heights in the middle of the bar to impress us with her cirque du soleil routine.
The DJ was spinning old school rap while musicians were scattered on the steps and layered live riffs to create a unique atmosphere. At midnight glasses are raised to sing the Russian national anthem. I had a drink with a 30 something that left me shaking my head. Here I am toasting abstract concepts like honor, pride or the motherland and he raises his glass “To us.”
 Flattered? Yes.  Reality? Are you kidding me?
This Toronto trip had it’s share of slap stick as well as poignant encounters. I feel as if it was a stretch in preparing my heart to open in an even deeper way, one filled with acceptance and humor for the richness of being human, being fallible and being alive.
I am already missing it all.
Branded by connection:
Authentically Yours,


1 comment:

  1. Marty! I'm so glad you had such a nourishing time with your family! Please stay weird. I love that about you!