I saw a post on Facebook yesterday. It was another one of those quizzes I love to take. I mean, who doesn’t want to know what Hollywood Icon they are or what car is most like them, right? AND…for the love of all things holy, how did I ever get by without the knowledge that I was most like King Lear than Lady MacBeth? Today there was a question in the quiz du jour that asked to define myself in one word. One of the words was “real”. It set be back a bit. Am I really real? I like to think I am. People tell me I am. I think it is important to be real. However, my hair color is not real. My eyelashes are not real. The color of my lips and eyelids and cheeks are all enhanced to promote their positive and eliminate their negative. So, I wondered if those things made me inauthentic. I thought about it for a good little bit. I even came back to it and thought about it some more on the drive home. What does it mean to be authentic? What does it mean to be real?
I decided that my outside enhancements were really a part of my authenticity. I love being a girl and I really love a little glamour. It’s a part of who I am. It gives me joy. It’s part of my realness. I don’t hide that I do it. I laugh about it, I am real about it. It is my truth. My fabulous indulgence is authentic.
Then I went a little deeper. I decided that authenticity really has nothing to do with the outside. It starts on the inside. Living in truth and living in peace with the truth. That sounded more like realness to me.
Then I got a little deeper. If being real means being in peace with your truth, then must you be at peace with ALL of your truth? Because I am certainly not peaceful with all of my truth. I struggle with some of my truth, and some of that truth fights like a Russian wrestling bear, let me tell ya.
Then I thought about that. The fact that I am honest about the struggle and work to gain peace means that I am being real and authentic. I am owning it and not ignoring it. Finding peace in all of my truth will never come until I can fully love and forgive myself. That love is what brings peace.
When I got up this morning I started looking at articles about authenticity. I honestly don’t love the word. I mean I used to, until it got Oprahsized and is used way more than it is felt or achieved. So, I decided to call it realness. So, while I was looking I came upon a quote from my favorite little kid book : The Velveteen Rabbit.
I got this book from the library when I was seven or eight. I loved it. In fact, I loved it so much that I renewed it several times. If you know this book, you know that it’s a slender book. It doesn’t take long to read it. One week, when I returned the book, the librarian told me that I needed to return it and I couldn’t keep it indefinitely. It made me tear up, mostly because I was embarrassed. My step dad, who always took me to the library on Friday thought it was because I loved the book so much. My parents drove an hour to Columbus, the next day, so they could purchase a copy of the book for me and have it on my bed when I got home from visiting my Dad that night.
That is what my copy looked like. I still have it. I still love it. Now I love it even more.
It is crazy to me that forty years later I find a quote from that very book that has left me with an epiphany that not only validates but gives me new insight into the ability to love myself and where it must begin. I believe that it begins with that young girl who was a serial renewer of that book. As I get older, the search for self love seems to become more important. Mostly because the surface isn’t holding up the way it used to, and I am getting slower and creakier with each passing year. I find myself loving others with more compassion and in deeper and more tolerant ways. I search for that same love to self. I understand from my work in mediumship, self love and forgiveness makes our transition easier to the other side. But I also believe that it makes life on this side a lot more tolerable.
Here is the quote that has opened a new window in my mind:
“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’
‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.
‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’
‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’
‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
― Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit
That is a big idea for a little kid. I am grateful that it was written. I am grateful that I found it. I am grateful that the importance of it is surrounded in love. It’s almost as if God put a big parenthesis around this event, or bookmarked it for me to get back to. So, I say a gratitude for it.
So, I am off to read this book again and try to reconnect with that skinny dark haired girl that ran wild through fields and neighborhoods and laughed with wild abandon and shouted to the sky without restriction. She was often times met with ridicule and she didn’t fit in certain circles. She made herself welcome and made people laugh to gain admission. She sang and danced and laughed for acceptance until she became me, who does the same. I hope she will recognize me. I hope she will talk to me. I hope she will forgive me. I hope I she will love me, because like the skin horse says……when a child REALLY loves you, then you become real.