Monday, May 25, 2009

The Words That Define

On Friday, my massage therapist and I discussed my career situation and she suggested maybe I just needed to take time.

"You've been always doing doing doing for as long as I've known you," Karen said. "Maybe now it's time for you to start being."

Just "being" has always been a difficult task for me. I was raised to work. I've been cleaning house since I was able to walk. My mother had me dusting and washing dishes before I was four years old. I grew up on a farm and that meant feeding chickens, fostering calves by bottle-feeding, helping my parents get up hay, watching my younger brother. It meant getting off the bus at 4:15 p.m. when I was 10 years old and entering an empty house with my 7-year-old brother in tow, then gathering firewood, starting a fire, fixing a prepackaged dinner so it would be ready when my parents came home, and doing my homework without being told because if I didn't there were consequences.

It meant getting a job when I was 14 and working every summer except the year I was 17, when I did not work though I can't remember why. Maybe I couldn't find a job.

And then I married and I worked at jobs and tried to put myself through school. I quit the 9-5 life in 1994 to try freelancing and I was successful at that until a month ago. And that's my own fault for allowing myself to slip into the comfort of having all my eggs in one basket and not diversifying, really.

So I have always worked.

I have defined myself as writer, reporter, news person, secretary, student.

We are all daughters, sons, friends, lovers, husbands, wives. They are the labels that immediately give someone else an anchor, a way to to grab onto another's identity without having to give it much thought. After all, if a grown woman of 45 identifies herself to a stranger as "Anita, Glenda's daughter" doesn't that say as much as saying, "Anita, I'm a writer"?

Since I am redefining myself I wonder if I need new words.

I know I will always be a wife, daughter, friend. But I am more than those things.

I am a writer, with all the baggage that comes with that. A writer is a thinker, contemplative, artistic, imaginative, reader, word lover, inquisitive, etc.

Those words also define me.

Since it is Memorial Day I was thinking this morning that I would rather memorialize and remember words like peacemaker and pacifist than soldier and warmonger. After all, Christ says "Blessed are the peacemakers" in Matthew. But we don't have any days off for peacemakers. I would rather our society be defined as one of peace instead of one of war and anger, but I fear we are very much the latter.

Peacemaker and pacifist are also words that define me. I don't like loud angry voices or blood or gruesome murder. Some might call me a bleeding heart liberal because I don't believe in killing and war. I am okay with that.

I am probably not called a cook in any circle because I don't do that very well. I am a cook with an adjective like "adequate" though I would like to be a chef. It will never happen though because I haven't the patience to learn.

I will never be a mother but I suppose I am a childless woman in some circles. I don't think of myself in those terms very often, probably because it hurts.

My husband calls me his sweetie, and that's a nice thing to be.

I am not a novelist though I would like to be one. I suppose I could call myself one based on the unfinished scripts in the drawer but that seems not to fit - yet.

Nor do I call myself an author, because I have not published a book.

But I do call myself a writer. That one seems to fit.

The Wii Fit calls me "obese" every time I use it and I find that irritating if correct. I know I am overweight.

So now I am redefining myself. I am a first of all a human being.

Maybe that is it. That's all I need, something so basic and so simple.

A human being, full of love and warmth, kindness and compassion, someone who wishes only good for all of the world. A human being who understands that other souls ache and hurt and that the differences of the world are temporary in a lifetime, because eventually we all die.

"Hi, I'm Anita. I'm a human being."

I wonder what the stranger would say if I greeted her with that.


  1. Interesting post this morning Anita. I enjoyed it :)

  2. Some of we human beings struggle our entire lives to define ourselves with a title. I'm not sure we need one.

    I was always 'Harold's daughter', or Kelly's Mom, and in some circles I will always hold those titles. But titles are bestowed on us by others... they seem to have a problem just calling us by our name. For me, my name is enough.

  3. I say you have one up on most people in the world, just because you are wise enough to keep an open mind and see it all honestly.

  4. I love this post, Miss Anita. You're so authentic and your writing reflects that. We women are lots of things, aren't we? And that is what humanity is all about.

  5. Human being. I like that! I think I want to try to BE today.


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