Years ago I offered profound wisdom to my eldest niece, Court, when she was having difficulties.
She was trying to understand some circumstances in her life in which she wasn't sure if it was "her" or "them" and how to determine the difference.
My words of wisdom were simple;
"A pound of shit with a pound of sugar on it is still shit." "Your job is not to taste it,no matter how tempting it looks and to not step in it."
A few nights ago she called looking for some Aunty advice and support which needed a bit more thought than my usual quick thinking, Super Aunty Gemini, glib bumper-sticker statement.
This time she needed Aunt Jennifer and damn did that scare me.
This kid is my Superstar.
She has a strong will, a kind heart, a go for it attitude, just enough sass and ego, and the stature of a fairy complete with pink hair.
Or is it orange this week...or yellow.
I can never keep up with her hairstyles or her tattoos which only serve to define her magical nature.She is an exemplary example of the phrase "when life gives you lemons you make lemonade."
She not only made lemonade, but she also sweetened it with two gorgeous children, (with the help of her husband), a career as a highly in-demand stylist/colorist on a rock we all know as Hawaii.
Yes, she made very delicious lemonade from some horrifically tart lemons.
This is why when she asks me for support and advice, she gets 1000 percent of me.
This phone call centered around her beginning to understand that sometimes, no matter how much we try, we will inevitably step in the shit of our own making and it will prove to be the most perfect soil to grow from.
See, many times we make a choice or do an action that causes a crack in our well-constructed foundation that will require more than a plop of cement on the masonry.
It requires a complete teardown and rebuild.
This is when we take that shit, mix it with some of that soil we had built our foundation on and grow a brand new lemon tree!
Yes, damn it, a lemon tree, because you know what?
You can add sugar to lemons and make a sweet tea, or you can be bitter, resentful and stagnant with puckered lips because your tea is sour.
Aunty advice at its finest right there...
My niece, like so many of us right now, is starting to understand how to blend her past and her present to create her future.
She understands that mistakes are not costly when you choose to grow from them and bad choices are only bad when you don't take the time to understand why they were made.
In the same way that history is destined to repeat itself, so will our past in the decisions we make until we learn from it.
We have triggers from our past that have the power to destroy our carefully built foundations.
They can rip at our hearts, our minds, our souls, churning up our inner demons that have outgrown the small garden space we allow them to grow in our beings.
It is at this moment, we feel the shift of wisdom gently weed out that demon and replace it with a new seed of ourselves.
Rich in shit, watered with our tears, fed with our desires and out of that seed, a new way of thinking, seeing, living, being, emerges and with this wisdom we are able to make better choices that feed us, nourish us and heal us and help us decide who and what we will allow to trigger us in the future.
We need to have fertile soil to grow steadily, but we can decide who and where we get that soil from.
We can let those who trigger us go.
We can work with our inner child to heal much of our scars.
We can choose to love ourselves far more than we need others to like us.
We can let go to let in.
We can walk new paths and dream new dreams and every now and then, get a new pair of shoes because we stepped in some do-do again.
My niece is my Superstar, and her soil is suddenly very well manured for her growth.
I am sad for her pain, concerned for the depth of potholes on her path, hoping her map becomes clear, praying the sun and moon offer bright lights for her to follow, but most importantly grateful I have a front row seat to watch her bloom.
Have you ever watched a child take its first steps?
More so, participated in the coaxing of that child's first steps?
Remember back to the cheering, the praise, the excitement, and anticipation of those first 3 or 4 steps.
"You can do it"!
"I've got you"!
"Get back up, come to me"!
Each time the child stops, falls, pauses, cries, there you are, lending support, cheering, loving, being there, celebrating.
Inevitably after a short time of practice, that little rascal begins on a path of curiosity, mischief, wonder, destruction, (child proof locks, anyone), scrapes and bruises and a lifelong of peaks and valleys, planes, trains, and automobiles.
In that monumental moment, a toddler was born. A significant life change, pivotal in the entire trajectory of that child's life, but all we see is a baby taking his or her first steps, captured in our memory, stored on marshmallow.
At that moment we are happy, the baby, now blooming toddler, awestruck at its achievement.
Exhausted by the effort.
In awe of its feet, which by now has chosen to chew on.
Yes, the very beginning of self-exploration.
Freedom from the protective baby front-pack, the jolly jumper, stroller, arms.
Freedom to GO!
That baby didn't make a chart, write the pros and cons, ask for help, permission, speak to its therapist if now is the right time to attempt walking, check tarot or meditate on the issue.
That baby gave it a shot after observing others and when the time felt right, showed up.
Yeah, the kid showed up.
The kid took a breath, stood up, waited, held on, pushed off, and went for it. The kid showed up when the time was right.
Bravo little person! Bravo!
Baby steps don't end when you learn to walk.
Nope, that is when they begin.
Each journey, each dream, each day begins with a step, and when the time is right, we need to take them.
It is so easy to forget the baby inside of each of us.
We may age, we may not dribble out of a sippy cup anymore, and thankfully we can stop eating creamed spinach out of a jar, but we are still taking baby steps every day.
We are still figuring out how to be toddlers without childproof locks.
We are scared, we are afraid to fall, we are in need of encouragement, we are curious, and we are always free to choose our journey, and those who are really, really good at yoga can most likely still chew on their feet.
The difference is, are we showing up?
Are we taking that breath and showing up for ourselves or are we pausing?
Are we not paying attention to the timing and letting time fly past us?
There will be times we need to pause, to seek help, to find strength outside of ourselves, but more often than not, we just need to show up.
Show up for the journey.
What steps do you need to take?
What are you going to show up for?
When are you going to take that first step?
How about today. The Universe has your back..take a step.