This post is part of the ‘inspirational stories for women’ and ‘stories that heal’ series. When I reviewed final proofs for my new book, Follow the Yarn, my heart was pounding. Even so, it was thrilling to see my work in such polished form.
Writing the book meant committing to my story in ways I never had before. I had been content to fly under the radar. Now, I had to shake off that timid self and let my radiance shine. Today’s post is an example of the everyday courage it takes to dare to shine.
Lately I had been wanting to teach my young son about following his own heart and not hearkening too much to others’ opinions. Really, I think I needed to teach my own heart that lesson.
Working on a new book I have been putting myself ‘out there’ in ways I have never done before. I needed a reminder not to crave approval too much, and not to fear criticism too much either. Today that lesson came, illustrated with the simplest of strokes.
A month or so earlier I had gone to a charity hat sale. After trying on hat after hat after hat, in sheer desperation my hand reached for the gaudiest hat on the table. I mean, it was just ridiculous: gold, wide brim, big satin bow, and don’t forget the gold sequins!
Wouldn’t you know? Darn if that hat didn’t look fabulous on me!
I might wish I was a pale sophisticate in natural linen, but deep inside I am still the little girl who reaches for sparkles and bright colors. My intellect did not love the hat, but my soul surely did; I glowed the minute I put it on.
Should I, or shouldn’t I? Would I wear it, or wouldn’t I? Could I carry it off, or couldn’t I? Back and forth I struggled. Finally, remembering that the sale was for a good cause, I surrendered the battle to my inner little girl, and bought the hat.
I took the hat home and gingerly put it up on a shelf in my hall closet. And there it sat. I tried it with one or two outfits, but nothing worked. So it just sat on its shelf in the hall closet. I looked at it, it looked back at me, détente.
This morning, I was ready to go out when on a whim – or perhaps, on command – I put on the hat. Astonishingly, the hat worked with what I was wearing. This might be my only chance. So, hat perched firmly on head, my son’s hand in mine, we marched out the door.
My neighbor did a double take. I held my breath. “Nice hat!” she said, sounding somewhat incredulous. Further along the way, a man called out to me from across the street, tapping his head with his finger. “What?” I asked with a smile. “Crazy hat!” he said, quite seriously.
There it was, a haiku of a life lesson, courtesy of Miss Universe. Two swift strokes – one up, one down.
Up, down – I had to laugh. You can’t please all the people all the time, so you’ve got to please yourself! My only real option is to be myself, express myself, take a risk. Not everyone will like it; not everyone will hate it. Whatever they think will have more to do with them than with me.
If I don’t express myself, I won’t get to share myself with others, in fact, I won’t get to live my life. The nay-sayers will have won, and nothing good – for them or for me – will come of that victory. If I express myself, I will satisfy my own soul, I will add my unique contribution to this world, and maybe even inspire others to express themselves as well.
Who knows what fabulous hats are hiding in people’s closets!? Wouldn’t it be great to let them come out to play?
When I got to where I was going, I bumped into a friend who remarked that she had originally purchased the hat at an earlier charity sale; a friend of hers had urged her to buy it, but when she got home she realized it just wasn’t for her, so she had contributed it to the hat sale where I found it. You could say that she picked it out for me, though she didn’t know it at the time. For the rest of the morning, the hat sparked compliments, laughter and stories. It was the life of the party.
The hat has quite a resume: it has been sold twice, both times for charitable causes, and this morning it gave my son and me an important lesson in self-acceptance. Thankfully, this was not one of those painful lessons; this was a lesson sweetly told, full of charm and laughter.
Thank you, dear hat! May we all shine our bright golden light into the world!
About the author: Reba Linker is an author and coach specializing in inspirational books for women. Her book, Follow the Yarn, leads by example, daring and encouraging others to ‘follow their own yarn,’ tell their own stories, and discover their own true voice.