A Mentor’s Words

Posted on Thursday 8 January 2009

Annie was my aunt by marriage, a step-aunt in fact, but she and I were often as close as a mother and daughter, although we might go a year without seeing each other. We talked every week, however, sometimes for hours. She died almost four years ago, which seems impossible because it feels like a week ago.

I miss her for many reasons, not the least of which is that she would have much wisdom to share with me about the upside down life I have led these past 18 months. Many decades ago, she was divorced with two children when she met and married the love of her life, only to find out he had terminal cancer a month after they exchanged their vows. A few years later he was gone, her children went away to school, and she was alone and devastated. How she woke herself up from her sadness and how she wrote about her life is a testament to her drive and courage.

Why I have not turned to her words before now, I can’t say. Maybe I wasn’t able to hear them until now. Maybe I didn’t want to hear them until now. Maybe now she’s with me, holding my hand, saying “Darling girl, you’re going to be just fine.”

Her book was a great success in its day. She was on all the talk shows, did a few movies, and even years later when she was out of the spotlight, strangers would approach us at a restaurant, wanting to know, “Are you…?” She was always gracious and appreciative when this happened. I was always amazed at how she touched those who knew her story, so many years after it had been told.

As I unpacked from this latest move, I found her book, one I had left packed with so many other items I had hauled from D.C. to my first horrible apartment in Victoria Park, then to my luxury place on the Intracoastal. In this new house, in this peaceful and quiet locale, however, I decided to unpack everything. Now, when I look at the gleaming antique cranberry glassware that belonged to my great grandmother and grandmother, I feel them here with me.

When I pulled my aunt’s book from the bottom of a box, her beautiful face smiled up at me, and she was with me, too. Which was when I stopped unpacking and started re-reading her book, not putting it down until I had read it all.

“In time I accepted the truth that my life would not change until I changed it,” she wrote in the introduction.

Now, she was speaking directly to me.

How a woman thinks inwardly and secretly about herself will reflect outwardly and openly. There is no hiding….But negative thoughts cannot nourish, and our hunger for approval and acceptance keeps us constantly restless, as we search for ways to reaffirm and reinforce our starved identities. We crave approval, affirmation of our worth, and we seek it out, sometimes indiscriminately….Our choices in life are made according to our sense of our own worth.

I so desperately needed to feel attractive and liked by anyone–everyone–when I left D.C. In Fort Lauderdale, I surrounded myself with boys who used me, who lied to me, who no longer care whether I am here or there–if they even think of me at all–in my misguided attempt to feel wanted and loved. No wonder I landed with such incomplete, unavailable men. No wonder I always felt lonely, even when I was with them. Never again.

Like yourself enough to enjoy being alone. That is the beginning to the end of loneliness.

I can only tell you, Annie, that I am trying.

Instinct often dictates the time we chose to risk ourselves. We sense we are no longer able to ignore some inner prompting, a whisper, that tells us we have to make the effort to begin to learn again, to change our lives, to change ourselves. Sometimes it can mean leaving for strange or distant places for what seem to be strange or foreign reasons. Sometimes we may not even be sure we understand why we are doing or what we are doing. We only know that we have to do it.

Okay, then.

Any risk, large or small, is intensely personal. It means decision and self-challenge. Only we alone know, in the privacy of our hearts, what personal challenges we’ve conquered, or failed to, how big was our mountain, and how long was our reach for the unknown….The results of risk are commonly evaluated in terms of success or failure. But the true and valuable measure of risk is in what we have learned and how we have grown.

Time to grow. Maybe now, I will have time to grow up. And Annie, I am keeping you with me every step of this next way.

19 Comments for 'A Mentor’s Words'

  1.  
    Echo
    January 8, 2009 | 9:37 pm
     

    Would you be so kind to share the name of your aunt’s book ? It sounds like she was a wise woman. At this point in my life, I’m willing to listen to any advice, because I’m never sure what’s going to speak to soul and ring true for me.

    Glad to know you’re surrounding yourself with things you love – making this your home.

  2.  
    January 9, 2009 | 1:01 am
     

    […] bookmarks tagged quiet A Mentor’s Words saved by 3 others     HatakeAyumi bookmarked on 01/08/09 | […]

  3.  
    Angie
    January 9, 2009 | 12:20 pm
     

    Is her book still in print? She must have been an amazing woman.

  4.  
    January 9, 2009 | 12:24 pm
     

    Hope you continue to grow up well.

  5.  
    Restaurant Gal
    January 9, 2009 | 12:36 pm
     

    Echo–I am waiting to hear back from my step cousins on this. Also, it does compromise my anonymity in a way. So, be patient, and I will figure out a way to share the information.

    Angie–I think it is on Amazon. Again, trying to figure out how to best handle giving her book title and name.

    JoeinVegas–Giving it my best shot, you know?

  6.  
    okcmermaid
    January 9, 2009 | 1:32 pm
     

    I will look to receiving more information about the book as well. The sentence “Our choices in life are made according to our sense of our own worth” brought tears to my eyes. Your response of ” No wonder I landed with such incomplete, unavailable men. No wonder I always felt lonely, even when I was with them. ” made my tears flow. I was finally on my way to learning to be alone but not lonely when life twisted once again. Won’t go into details, but suffice it to say that I dream of your solitude.

  7.  
    mur
    January 9, 2009 | 1:34 pm
     

    I swear I read something like that, but can’t remember exactly – the words seem familiar. It was at a time when I wasn’t quite ready for the message.

    It would be great to read it now, since a lot of water has flowed under this bridge and my perspective is deeper, broader. Life does that.

    It is great that you discovered your aunt’s book again, just when it makes the most sense.

    And I hope that you can work out a way to share the title and author’s name.

  8.  
    Restaurant Gal
    January 9, 2009 | 3:43 pm
     

    okcmermaid–I don’t think you ever go backward, even when life “twists” again. Whatever you learned won’t leave you. I guess sometimes we just have to work harder to apply what we learned. Always just when you think…. Hang in there.

    mur–Thank you. She would love to know her words are being read and heard again.

  9.  
    Jennifer
    January 9, 2009 | 9:02 pm
     

    She sounds like an absolutely amazing lady. I do hope you can figure out a way to tell us the name of her book; I would love to read it, and could definitely use more of those words of wisdom in my life at the moment.

  10.  
    Liz
    January 9, 2009 | 9:15 pm
     

    Adding my voice to the clamor for title. The line that spoke to me – “The results of risk are commonly evaluated in terms of success or failure. But the true and valuable measure of risk is in what we have learned and how we have grown.

    I’d really like to read more of this. perhaps you could email it to those who inquire? I’m sure I don’t really care who you are (no offense) regarding the “outing” of your anonymity :). In other words, if I could figure it out (not likely, I don’t pay much attention to the “big” world) I promise I won’t tell.

    Hopefully,
    liz

    ps. long time lurker, as the saying goes. It’s amazing how this blog has changed in the last 2 years. But it is always enjoyable, and evidence of it’s quality is how it speaks to such a broad spectrum. I too have been through the “making friends with loneliness” periods. Funny thing was, it seems the moment I finally did was when the one I’d been so desperate for appeared in my life. Gamblers paradox, I know. Now sometimes, despite being happily in love, I miss my old “friend”. Sometimes I wish we could live alternate realities concurrently. Ha!

  11.  
    Liz
    January 9, 2009 | 9:17 pm
     

    ps. I forgot to say “hang in there” It’s all just life after all, we gotta live it one way or another. 🙂

  12.  
    Restaurant Gal
    January 9, 2009 | 9:35 pm
     

    Jennifer–She was amazing. Did you get my email?

    Liz–Thanks for de-lurking. Yep, lots of changes over the past two years. And yes, hanging in just fine. Adjusting to the quiet, solo lifestyle, but all good because it just is. Hope you got my email.

  13.  
    L.
    January 10, 2009 | 1:47 am
     

    Hello R.G.:

    I enjoyed the quotes and your post on how it related to you. Hey, was this aunt the owner of that box/trunk that you once wrote about? It seemed that box had some stories for you to unravel.

    L.

  14.  
    iowagirl
    January 10, 2009 | 8:05 pm
     

    Tears rolling, heart aching. This was an amazing post, and maybe just the one that I needed to start making those changes that I know I need to make, but am so scared to set in motion. You are an inspiration – not because everything goes right, but because it doesn’t – and you show strength, humor, and openness anyway. Was just in KW, and was “looking” for you and the princessa place. (Rouletta, too)

  15.  
    January 10, 2009 | 8:27 pm
     

    I love that you unpacked Annie’s book now- at a time in your life when you need her words so much- I also love that you have unpacked- a true sign that you are open to the healing you need.

    I think Annie would be glad her words and her presence still brings you comfort- and what bonus that YOU, and your words, RG, are such a source of comfort & growth to many as well!

    Huggin you,
    J

  16.  
    Restaurant Gal
    January 11, 2009 | 7:57 am
     

    L–Thank you. No,not the same person.

    iowagirl–No tears, okay? And you are right–not everything does go according to my vision of a grand plan, but in the end, lessons learned all around. Hope you had fun in the Keys. My palace is a little off the beaten path!

    Jenni–Yeah, the timing was just right. A friend down visiting noticed the book as well, since I displayed it on a shelf in the living room. It has been so cool remembering her and talking about her and sharing her book with so many folks in the past few days. Hugs back attcha!

  17.  
    January 11, 2009 | 1:28 pm
     

    I don’t know where my comment went, I will get the hang of this blogging thing one day!!

    Anyway, I just wanted to say that I wish you luck in your new place, and that the view from your door was worth the move!! xx

  18.  
    Lorraine
    January 16, 2009 | 12:54 pm
     

    RG the quote that spoke the most to me was “Like yourself enough to enjoy being alone. That is the beginning to the end of loneliness.” So many times I’ve wanted to say those exact words to friends of mine. Because really most of the time when you stop searching so hard, that is when “IT” finds you and you can recognize “IT”. Many hugs to you – L

  19.  
    Patty
    January 16, 2009 | 11:15 pm
     

    Have you figured out a way to give us the name of Annie’s book? If so, may I have it? Take care of yourself~P

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