Just Who Will You Be?

When I came home today, the package was waiting for me. My mother always has perfect advice for me, and she said that after hearing Maria talk about this book, she was convinced that she sounded just like me. Sentiments about redefining who I am, now that this chapter seems to be coming to an end. She said that I must read this book. So I listened.

One year ago I set out to redesign my new life before empty nest hit my nest. I have loved being a stay-at-home mother and have been blessed to do it living in exciting places. I am a city girl at heart, and being able to live in New York, Hong Kong and Toronto made the job of being at home easier and certainly very exciting. I had opportunities to continue working at my art and computer skills. Having had a lovely career in Manhattan before I got married and had children made it easier for me to embrace motherhood, but did challenge my identity. Now twenty years later and my identity was being challenged once again. I asked myself If I am not a career woman, ex-pat, or stay-at-home mother who am I?

My creation
The Thinker Baby, Yuppy, Dreamer, and Mother

So, I set out to create a list of goals that I wanted to achieve aside from being a mother, wife, daughter, friend or sister. I wanted to create something for myself that was strong enough to stand the test of criticism from my husband, family or children. I say criticism because the people around us many times don't want us to change, they want us to be the same. Even though they are out discovering the world, they want us there just in case they need us. I was not satisfied with this role, so I set out to find a new one. I found in return that when I stopped looking for their approval I was happier and in the end I got their approval anyway. I remember having two close friends in Hong Kong who always made me feel wonderful. They would look at me with such approval that I would often wonder what it was that they were seeing. At fifty I vowed to myself that I would discover who that was that they saw and to love myself without needing anyone's reflection.

I have been revisiting things that I had abandoned and finding new joy in creating art again. Letting go of people pleasing, standing up for my boundaries, and being happy in just being me. It was very lonely this year because I had to let go of some old things that weren't working in my life in order to make room for the new. I had to stop feeling comfortable in old groups, and step out and try new things and meet new people. I had to accept that my girls didn't need me in the same capacity anymore and reinvent our relationships.

After I opened up the package from my mother, I decided to have a browse through the book. I poured myself a cup of coffee, sat down and found myself reading the book from cover to cover. It's a small book, but it is filled with a very deep and soul searching message. A message that made me cry to know that someone else felt similarly and coming from someone who I admired made it even better. This book is so wonderful and I love how she touched on so many important issues about who we want to be. All the things that allow you to just be you. This book so made me cry, but that good kind of cry that says "me too" and seems to validate all the reasons that you are reinventing yourself once again at the beginning of a new chapter. Maria asks the question "Just Who Will You Be" a question that I have thought of this year a great deal. Instead of looking backward and missing my girlish figure, my girls when they were little, living an ex-pat life abroad, or being able to climb mountains in Tai Tam, I wanted to look forward, I wanted to still be able to dream. I wanted to give myself permission to dust off the old parts of myself and rediscover who I am and who I want to be next.

This book should be on every woman's nightstand because it speaks to that very special place that we sometimes suppress, when we are just too busy nurturing everyone around us. It is a reminder and offers such insight and words of encouragement to still know that we are unfinished, not done yet, and no matter what age we are, we are able to dream of what we want to be when we grow up. The message that encouraged me to still dream about tomorrow beyond the horizon of my loved one's definition of who I am to them. I have found I can still be that and take time to dream my dream as well.

My mother was right once again, she knows me so well. Perhaps because she too took the time to reinvent herself so many times I lost count, when chapters were coming to an end for her too. It takes wisdom to let go of a chapter, especially when you loved it so much. It takes courage to sit down and write a new script which explores the question, "Just Who Will You Be?" As Maria Shriver says so well in her book:

"What matters most to me now is what I expect of myself.
What matters most to me now is that I know myself, what my heart feels, what my inner voice is telling me."

It seems my wonderful Sonific music will be going off-line as of May 1st, which means I will be using a different format, but there will always be a song to compliment my post. Like today and Over The Rainbow. Perhaps my new chapter needs a new soundtrack.

My creation
Kathy at Shocking Pink Thread said...

Dear Karen, I stopped by for a sweet recipe for tea and received a bigger gift. I relate so much to your post about "reinventing yourself". I've been struggling with the same as I watch my daughters make their final flight from the nest. You have so much to give and you have made a difference in my life with your thoughtful ways. I'm going to Amazon right now to buy Maria's book. Thanks, yet again! Kathy

Dana Jones said...

You even look a little like Maria Shriver. It must be confidence shining through. You have a lovely blog. Thank you for letting me visit.

Alison Gibbs said...

Karen that is definitely going on my weekend shopping list.
Certainly sounds like something I need to read

Melissa @ The Inspired Room said...

I'm with ya as my daughters are now 16 1/2 and 20. Of course, I still have a seven year old son so I am not done yet (darn??? or hooray???!!!)

Anyways, this has been the year and a half of ME and it has been an interesting journey to see what I am made of outside of mom-world!

Thanks for the book suggestion, she is very inspirational so I am sure I'd love this book.

Happy journey!


Donna O'Brien said...

Hi Karen- I guess you and I are in the baring it all moment. This was a beautifully written post and I think you are right...so many of us feel this way. Thank you for saying it so honestly.
PS- I replied to your post about tagging me but it bounced back and into my spam folder so I didn't realize it had come back. I'll try to forward it now!

M.KATE said...

Dear Karen, this is a nice reading, enjoyed it very much. For being such a great mom and an inspiration to me, here's my 2 awards for you, an E for this excellent blog and a nice teddy that was given to me all the way from argentina, you definitely deserve it, and tks for sharing this lovely story :)

Natasha Burns said...

What an inspiring post Karen! It's great that you are working it all out, and what a question to ask yourself!


Hello Karen,

Finally back in Toronto after my vacation and trip to NY.
I really love your posts, there is always a sweet surprise and wonderful things to read about, to get inspired...Thank you!


Beverly said...

I was so pleased to come here this morning and find your post.

I, too, was deeply moved by this book. Did you happen to see Maria's interview with Oprah? I don't generally record Oprah, but when I saw she was having Maria on her show, I did record it.

I have been planning a blog post about something that particularly moved me about this, too.

Thank you for sharing your feelings.

Kathleen Grace said...

Karen, you speak for somany of us who are seeing our carreer as mother's come to an end. I will be 50 next month and for the past 2 years have felt the same need to reinvent myself and live my dreams. Apparently, men buy sportcars and women reinvent themselves for a midlife crisis! I am having a great time redefining myself and, as you said, I have my family's love and approval doing it! Great post:>)

Alice W. said...

What an exciting journey!!! I wish you abundant blessings as you enter a new chapter!

And on a side note...I have always lived in Western NY...but my heart longs for the city...I hope to make it there one day and live my dreams out in Manhattan. When I know other people have done it...it gives me hope ;) ...being "stuck" in the suburbs out here makes it seem impossible most days...but reading your blog has inspired me to remember my dreams. Thank you!

celestina marie said...

Karen, you have no idea how this post has touched my heart and the blessing I received from it. I too thought I was the only one thinking this way. I too have reinvented by balance for life and the way I approach my days. Oh what a difference! Thank you for sharing this book (I am running out to get) and your heartfelt thoughts.
Big Hugs, Celestina~
p.s love your pictures cutey!!

Rue said...

Hi Karen :)

This was a beautiful post and it speaks to me because in 5 years my youngest will go off to college and I'll be an empty nester myself.

You are so beautiful and always have been. I loved those pictures!

Thank you for all the sweet complements :) Are you going to buy the Cape Cod house? ;)


Teresa @ PlumWater Cottage said...


What a lovely, thought-provoking post. I find that in physically moving, it makes it more possible to recreate yourself. My last move 10 years ago was a real transformation. After many years of dreading the empty nest (any mine is really empty due to divorce), I find such a sense of peace when I'm 'home alone.' Working on projects at odd hours, and doing what makes me happy has been such a blessing.

Your posts are so wonderful--as is your art. Thank you.