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Be Yourself
July 15, 2009

It’s raining and the windows are open. I can hear and smell the rain. It’s damp and slightly dark. I have no commitments until 1:30 this afternoon. I’m home alone and the morning belongs to me. Zero pressure. I made a second pot of coffee, pulled a soft sweatshirt on over my jammies and lifted the lid on my computer. Bliss. Utter bliss.

Today is Michael’s birthday. My kids’ birthdays are three years and three days apart. July has always been like a second Christmas at our house. I left Jessica in New York yesterday, commencing her celebration, flew home and immediately picked up the celebration with a family dinner for Michael last evening.

The real mystery lies in the fact that these two people share an astrological sign. Do they share characteristics? Personality traits? Hopes and dreams? Nada. Nothing. Sometimes it’s difficult to imagine they share DNA. And then there’s the nature/nurture question. They were both raised in the same environment; how are they so different? It’s a mystery.

As the parent of two quite different, but equally lovable young adults, my new parental mantra is “Be yourself.” I recently read a bio written about an uncharacteristically well-adjusted actress who credited her parents’ consistent “be yourself” message for her happiness. I wanted to claim a Mulligan, a do-over on that one. I wanted to go back and start over, making sure I communicated a similar message to both of my children from day one. I desperately wanted to encourage them to be true to their own wants, likes, and desires, searching inside rather than outside for happiness. If that differed from the wishes of the crowd, so be it. I wanted them to know it was okay to play piano instead of tennis, to enjoy solitude and reading and writing, to shun what may have been “in.” Individuality.

Now, here’s the difficult part. Encouraging individuality for a “child” who happens to be in his/her twenties includes Independence from the parent. I don’t think I have totally sucked at this, my kids are fairly independent, but I must admit that things have gone more smoothly, over the years, when the kids “understood” my vision of what would truly make them successful and happy. It does make sense, does it not, that I, by default, should be the expert on the inner-most workings of the two people who spent the first nine months of life inside my belly? We shared air, blood, and nutrition. I should know!

At some point, Parent must make the shift, realizing that Child may have created his/her own slightly different vision and that’s okay. This requires some major growing up of Parent (that would be me).

So, I have one final birthday gift for my offspring. I’ll start with the caveat . . . don’t be confused by thinking that I’m going to keep my lips sealed or lose my own opinions somewhere, but here goes. To each of you I say:

Be yourself. Even when it means bucking me, have courage and be yourself. I like who you are.

P.S. I’m still not totally opposed to parent-arranged marriages. Just let me know when you are ready and I’ll do the arranging! I mean, or course, if that’s what you want.

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Debi Dixon

Debi Dixon

The Universe is guiding me on an incredible adventure: my Plan B. I write here to share bits of my Odyssey, hopefully to inspire, encourage, or extend the virtual hand of friendship.

When I quit teaching in 2014, I could never have imagined the growth I would experience through travel, writing, reading, therapy, and introspection.

I believe human connection and compassion will go a long way toward our healing, and the best way to connect and feel compassion for one another is through the sharing of our stories.

Thank you for joining me here. I appreciate you and may we grow together.

Inspirational Quote

“You must give up the life you planned in order to have the life that is waiting for you.”
~Joseph Campbell

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