BIRDS OF A FEATHER

I have three amazing nieces. One of them is a free-spirit. At the age of three, she had her own mind and was firm in her beliefs. That’s not to say she doesn’t listen to others because she also has wisdom. She may not agree with you or act on your advice but she will patiently absorb your perspective. A change from when she was three.

Her Mom, my sister Dawn and I were sitting in her kitchen, chatting about our favourite musicians and fave songs, sipping on tea. In strolls Jess (who I called Muffy then) in her onesie and declares that  she likes Marilyn Manson. Perplexed I look at Dawn and ask, “Who is Marilyn Manson?” She ignores me and a battle ensues between Mother and child, “No, you don’t. Yes, I do. No, you don’t. Yes, I do”. After a few minutes of the same argument, my sister  exasperated raises her hand, points down the hall and in a firm voice says, “Room, now.” My three year old niece sauntered down the hall, turns and softly said, “Yes, I do” before she shut her door to us.

Now, in her early twenties she works as a Dental Assistant, still as sassy and spunky as ever. She recently experimented in some bold hair colouring. First a full head of neon pink before graduating to rainbow colours. As her aunt and artist I though she looked beautiful and I applauded her bravery. It’s not easy standing out from the crowd in our die-hard conformist society.

Beautiful, brave Jess with her hair now faded to Easter colours.

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A couple of weeks ago she relayed a story about how one of her patients asked her boss why he would allow her to work in the office with her vivid hair. To his credit he said, “I like it, many patients like it and she is not hurting anyone.” Bravo.

Bravo, bravo, bravo. With the caveat that personal choices cause no harm, why do people get so worked up about what others choose to do, with and to themselves? Some folks get so angry with others who paint outside the lines or think and actually live outside the confines of those boxes they’ve chosen for themselves. I’m not fond of young men who wear their pants around their hips. I don’t want a view of their manties but that is THEIR choice. While our sensitivities may be offended, our life is not in danger.

On my last trip to Las Vegas I saw a man who wore a crochet bag around his family jewels which was held in place by various crochet strings weaved around his body. He did not have any body issues whatsoever and while I did find myself staring, I was not offended, nor did I need medical attention. And if you choose to use your body as a canvas, that is your right. I’m not fond of a full body of tattoo art yet find much of the art beautiful. Neither of these choices would suffice for me as personal expressions but I respect they are for others. I respect their freedom to make choices. It is admirable and I applaud anyone who has the courage to do what they want to do with their life. In fact, I encourage others to see themselves, be outside the “norm” and discover what it is they truly like, who they truly are and free themselves of any restrictions society has attempted to place on them. If you want to live in Indonesia and help save the hundreds of orphaned orangutan, please, do it, they need you. Anytime I see someone somewhere expressing themselves I have more faith in humankind. When I am lucky enough to witness the celebration of uniqueness in each individual, my heart swells. When people free themselves of these false societal bonds of normalcy, it someone provides others, myself included with the impetus and power to do the same.We need more freedom fighters. We need more inspiration. We need more awe.

We are individuals and it’s time we appreciate and respect our own great uniqueness in whatever manner you chose to express it. I paint, I write. I explore and right now, I’m off to the hair salon.

Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You. ~ Dr. Seuss

 

WHY BE SECOND RATE?

Judy Garland said it and lived it well. She was an original and her type of thinking made her quotable but living her words, made her a legend.

Forty-three years after her death, the Hollywood icon remains a symbol of unique personality. There was no one like Judy Garland and there never will be. She was exceptionally talented and highly vulnerable, emotionally open, beautiful and brave, plucky, innocent and forever youthful. These traits, in harmonious balance belong only to the life of Judy Garland. Few of us can imagine anyone else as Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. Why? Because she made the role hers and no one can copy her version. Judy was and still is the definitive, “Dorothy.”

You and I should strive to sing and play in our own voice as Judy did. Be “You” so authentically you can’t be imitated. When you look in the mirror, the formidable, beautiful face you see looking back at you, flaws and all should be someone you recognize, respect and adore.

I, like Judy suffered from trying to be accepted and loved by others who wished to change me into their brand of me. They loved me in their way but wanted a shinier, more palatable version of me, someone easier to digest, in short, a second-rate version of myself. The things we do for love and acceptance will break your heart. It did mine. I broke my heart after morphing into something less for someone else. Not only did the people I love and care about not recognize me, I hardly recognized myself. Let me tell you a secret, you only have to spin around once in this life to get lost and returning home to Kansas takes more than a click of your heels. I call it the price you pay for selling yourself on the cheap. Those of us who returned from Oz need never take the trip again.

Celebrate that you are the sperm which caught the egg and claimed it. You alone took your first breath filling your precious lungs with life. When you cried out, you did so in a rare voice. Every second from conception to the breath you just took is uniquely yours. Your exclusive start into your life and every step, breath, look, book, turn of your head, moment of dread, the coffee you drank, the person you’ve thanked, all yours. Every nanosecond from that moment to this is your particular experience and yours alone, all adding to the oneness of your already perfectly unique human form. Why or rather how could you sell out to second-rate?

Should you feel the pressure to change, for love, for acceptance or perhaps you’re simply bored with yourself, remember what the adjective unique means.

u·nique /

1.  existing as the only one or as the sole example; single; solitary in type or characteristics.

2.  having no like or equal; unparalleled; incomparable: Bach was unique in his handling of counterpoint.

3.  limited in occurrence to a given class, situation, or area.

4.  limited to a single outcome or result; without alternative possibilities.

5.  not typical; unusual: She has a very unique smile.

These sound like exceptional qualities to me worthy of holding onto. Let the world see you as you and let your exclusive light shine as a beacon for all to see and bask in.

One finds one’s own style by finding one’s own self.

~ Lin Yutang