S2Episode25 Words Can Make Or Break Us

February 26, 2024

Good morning from Milano. I opened my computer this morning to the blog of one of my favorite people in the world, Nancy Aronie. Nancy, whom I’ve mentioned many times,. is the woman who leads the legendary Chilmark Writer’s Workshop. It’s called Writing from the Heart. She’s 82 at this point and her blog comes rather sporadically, but I always read it and the first paragraph reads I hope you all get to age 82. For those of you who have passed this ancient number, you might know what I’m about to say. It’s that if you live long enough, it’s possible that your dreams may actually come true. They’re not dreams deferred. They’re just delayed a bit and they don’t always look like the original dream.

That caught my eye. I read on and Nancy recounts that when she was around 12 years old she said to her sister I’m going to be an artist, to which her sister Betsy promptly replied you can’t be an artist. I’m going to be an artist. You have to be a writer. and then she says being the dutiful baby sister, I complied. She became the artist, and I did as I was told and became a writer. It was great to read this because I was actually in Nancy’s home this past summer one day at the end of the writer’s workshop and I saw her sharing and talking about her art with someone. I didn’t want to interrupt, but I surmised that she had submitted her artwork to an exhibition and actually won a prize.

It’s interesting for so many different reasons to me. The first thing that came to me was a memory of when I was around 12, the age when Nancy’s sister told her what she wanted to do. I was at summer camp. I was very proud that I knew all the words to Crosby, Stills, Nash Young.  It was a way that I tried to flirt with camp counselors, because I was just coming into that age when I liked boys. I remember my favorite counselor was out on this platform in the middle of the water, and I remember I was excited to see him. He must have been the lifeguard on duty. Anyway, I swam out to the platform and I had some difficulty pulling myself up and I’ll never forget what he said to me. It marked me for my whole life. Oh, come on, you’re not that fat. Until that moment, I had really no self-awareness of my body whatsoever. And honest to God, from that moment on, I have always seen myself and experienced myself as a chubby person.

Nancy’s story struck me. As she said she dutifully complied and allowed her sister to become the artist and she became the writer. But she spent her whole life going to art stores, crafting things out of leftover material from her father’s shirts, making creative cards at the holidays. I simply love the story that she found her way back and she started to take her art seriously. Take herself seriously.

In fact, I talked about this on last week’s episode called self-doubt is universal.  On the episode I made the distinction between doubting ourselves and doubting our work. I also told the story about my therapist one time saying to me, Constance, you’re not valuing and respecting your own creative process. At the time she said that it was true, and I did an about face by starting to take this seedling of idea that is now Dear Constance much more seriously.

 Anyway, I know that the words of my camp counselor actually are a negative example but I can think of many examples in my own life when people said something positive to me or made an observation about something that I never considered. And their very words redirected me. This is making me think of that Mother Teresa quote...kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless. Another one that I love is, Words can inspire, and words can destroy. Choose yours well.

Another thing I want to say about this is I see so many people around me who have always been intrigued by something or had an interest or done something in their free time which they didn’t value enough, or perhaps attribute the deserving time. It’s interesting because I know now that the years and years that I read inspirational books, captured quotes, and had a love of the spoken word – now I get it – came full circle in my life. I realized that it was up to me to value it and to attribute importance and take myself more seriously.

I see a lot of examples around me, some are friends who have retired and started painting. I mean you don’t have to retire to start painting. Look at Sharon Stone, for example. She’s not only painting, but she’s also selling her works. And of course, you can say she’s a big public figure but you can also see that she started valuing and attributing importance to her work as well.

Anyway, I don’t want to go on and on about this but I really loved that story because I think we need to be vigilant with our words. Again, I don’t think I’m unique that someone said something to me that landed in a vulnerable moment that I completely internalized. Mine was around being chubby , but oh my gosh, when it’s around something that’s important to you like singing, writing, sharing recipes wanting to do or share whatever it is that might turn you on, it’s so important to not write it off because it may just be that very thing that flips a switch in your life.

Let me just end by saying this don’t be Nancy Aronie and bury that seedling so deep that the water can’t reach it even if it’s just for you. It may be that very thing that sparks joy in your life.

I’ll leave you with that thought this Monday morning. That’s all for now until next time from my heart to yours.

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dear Listeners,

Friends say I live my life out loud. That’s because I’m a curious, adventurous person and, as an appreciator, I simply love to share what lights me up. Consider this is your invitation into my fun, multi-faceted world.

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