Getting there

Getting there

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Here Be Dragons

A long, long time ago, when vast portions of our world were as yet uncharted, maps would show what was known to exist, and, in areas where little was known, the phrase "here be dragons" was often used. Why "here be dragons"? Not necessarily because they truly believed there were dragons there, but rather that this was unknown territory. There could be dragons. There could be monsters. There could be all sorts of things, but no one really knew as they hadn't travelled there yet.

I've always loved the phrase "here be dragons", and in recent months it has come to be one I think about a great deal, dear friends. Why? Because I embarked on a personal journey, and discovered my map was a little sketchy. Large stretches of the ocean were uncharted. Large areas could only be described with the marker "here be dragons".  I didn't know what I would encounter in those portions of my journey. And if I didn't know then certainly no one else could tell me, either.

As I've travelled I've been mapping. Now there are new friends, new places, and new experiences on my life map. What I keep finding, though, is that just when I think I've reached the edges of the map it unrolls just a tiny bit more, exposing another stretch of uncharted territory - and the phrase "here be dragons". At times I am daunted - do I continue this journey when I may yet encounter dragons, more dragons than I have already slain on the trip thus far? Do I turn back to the territory already mapped and be content with only it? Or, do I chose another option, and instead embrace those dragons?

You see, I have found dragons on occasion. I have found self-doubt, and fear, and a crisis of confidence. I have, at times, found sadness. But I have also found joy, and fulfillment, and exhilaration. I have found that I can conquer self-doubt, and fear, and those moments when my confidence falters. I have found that the sketchy map I had at the beginning has been a good thing because I have been able to chart my own course, even if it led me into waters filled with dragons. I have learned to not only slay dragons, but to embrace them. And so I forge on ahead, heading deeper still into waters unknown. All I know about them is that "here be dragons" - and I'm ready for them.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Not Beautiful

It seems, dear friends, that every once in awhile someone takes a photo of me that I actually like. You see, I don't like photos of myself - and I never have. I suppose it's for many reasons, but one of the biggest is that I've never particularly liked my face. Perhaps that seems odd - how can anyone not like their face? And yet, I don't. I suppose it's because I don't think I'm particularly beautiful or striking - my face betrays a strong Germanic heritage, and in it I see traces of both my mother and my father. My parents were wonderful people, dear friends, strong and compassionate and loving, but they were not, in the classical sense, beautiful.

So perhaps it is for this reason that I am always startled when I see a photo of myself that I like, that sings to me about who I am, and that makes me believe for a fraction of a second that I might be beautiful. The photo above was taken this past weekend at a local gala I attended with my husband and dear friends. The friend who took the photo thought it would be a funny picture, a photo of me taking a photo - I don't think he realized how much I would like the end result.

You see in this photo you can't see my face, and yet I think it says many things about me. When I look at it I see a woman who is so engrossed in what she is doing that she doesn't even realize that someone is taking a photo of her. I see a woman who is comfortable in her own skin, one who isn't posing awkwardly or trying to fake a smile. It is one of the very, very rare photos where I see me. I suppose I see in this photo the person I have become in the last year - a person who embraces every chance, immortalizes every moment, seizes every opportunity, and marvels at all the beauty in the world. 

I will never be beautiful, dear friends. I may be confident, and I may be strong (and some of that may well all be a tremendous act, but I'll never let on about that, either), but I will never be a great beauty. I think, though, that over the last year I have come to not only accept that but embrace it, too. Being beautiful is likely quite wonderful - but being able to see the beauty around you is far more wonderful, I think. I have grown to appreciate all the beauty in the world, from the smallest flower bud to the most gorgeous sunset. I suppose that's why this photo sings to me, dear friends. It shows me admiring some of that beauty, instead of pretending to be it. It is, quite simply, just me.