It snowed today. It rarely snows here in the greater Seattle area, maybe once or twice a year and it sticks even less often than that–maybe every couple years. But it snowed today, big fluffy flakes that slowly fell down to the earth, where they melted and continued their journey down, down, down, into the grass and dirt and asphalt.
I have been pining away for snow. Growing up in eastern Washington we had snow every winter, tons of snow. So much snow that by the time I left my hometown at 18 I truly was done with snow and never wanted to live in it again. Now here I am at 44 aching for the snow, it’s brightness, it’s sparkle, it’s still crispness. I got a taste when we went over the mountains for Christmas, and now here I am, back on the west side of the state, looking at these big fluffy flakes falling down and disappearing and longing even more to the quietness that envelopes a city with a fresh fallen snow.
Looking back at those early years of my life I believe I spent the whole time plotting how I would leave that town of my birth. I felt trapped there, a wild animal caged, and the day I left for college couldn’t come fast enough. When I was five, yes five, I told my mother that I would live in Seattle when I grew up and once I arrived here I assumed that this is where I would spend the end of the my days. This town has fit me like a second skin for over twenty years. I grew up here in so many ways, spending my 20s and 30s here. My entire courtship with my husband was here. The births of our two children were here. I have met most of my best-adult friends here (and many of them have already moved away). I have drunk too much and danced so hard and pushed my life to its fullest in this town. I have lived, and learned to live fully, here.
And sometimes the things we think will be our second skins our entire lives become uncomfortable. Ill fitting. Scratchy. What was once exactly as it should be suddenly feels out of place and all wrong.
This is true for many of us. We live in our stories and they fit so well, for so long, and then suddenly they don’t. This can sometimes leave us feeling lost and discombobulated. We feel the discomfort of ill-fitting skin and yet we aren’t quite sure we are ready to shed it, to allow the next layer to come forward. Yet, eventually, sometimes with a little or a lot of work, it does.
Every year I look back and see how far I have come. How my friends and family have grown. How life shifts and sifts. I am not the person today I was a year ago and that person is different from the one the year before that. I can see my own unfolding, as we all can, looking back and find comfort in the knowing that we won’t always be where we are in this moment.
Sometimes we grow weary of the snow and the cold. And then, at other points in our lives, it is all we want. This is more than the wanting of what we do not have, it is speaking of how we grow and change as do our tastes and priorities. As we do the work of shedding our skins, our layers, of getting to the core of who we truly are and truly want to be, we find we are able to go back to our roots, whole.
And maybe that is the point. Going home, for so many, is about going where we need to wear masks, where we can’t allow our Self to be seen, where we feel unacceptable and unlovable. But that’s not what home is supposed to be, is it? Home is supposed to be safe, where we are loved unconditionally, where we feel cozy and good and whole in our own skin.
Maybe I haven’t been able to feel at home in the town I was born in because I didn’t feel at home with my Self. And as that has shifted and sifted, the calling to go back to my roots is strong and necessary and wanted.
What does it feel like for you to go back to your roots? To visit the place or the people you grew up with? Do you feel uncomfortable, unable to be you? And if so, how is this true when you aren’t “back home”? How can you find ways to be comfortable in your own skin, even when you go back to your roots?
My own journey has been long and windy, as most life journeys are. And part of coming home to me, to getting cozy and comfortable in my own skin, has been in exploring all the stories that are floating in my blood and muscles and mind. The stories about worth and value and lovable-ness. The stories of who I should be and how I should act and how “young ladies” are to be in the world and who I can be when I grow up. The stories of powerlessness and victimhood and smiling and nodding and grinning and bearing it. All those shoulds and have-tos, floating around in each of us, passed down to from our mothers and grandmothers and great-grandmothers and on up the line. The same shoulds and have-tos that we pass down to our daughters and granddaughters and nieces if we don’t bring them into our awareness and consciously and mindfully expose them and change them.
This work started before the conception of my daughter, and yet her existence, while even still in my womb, brought this work to the forefront. I wanted different for her. And I still do. And now, I want different for me too. And for the young boy I am raising. And for my friends. And for all of us.
I want us each to shed all these “shoulds” and “have-tos” and get into the truth of who we are and how we want to be in this world. I want all of us to feel comfortable in our own skin. To be able to enjoy the snow again. To feel safe and lovable and at home when we visit our roots.
This is my New Years wish for the world, for my family, for me. What is yours?