Over 40 years ago, when I was 22 years old, I bought a piece of art for $10. It was an instant reaction to a painting that “spoke” to me.
I saw its subject, a woman, as my alter ego—traveling her life path. She is listening to her heart, she has learned her lesson, and she realizes it is time to leave her lackluster existence for a new life of harmony, the calming blend of peace and comfort.
At the time, eyeing her powerful, erect posture, I was reminded of the woman I wanted to be. She aroused in me the need to make decisions with clarity and strength. Almost a half-century later, not a day passes when I don’t smile as I glance her way.
I was 22 years old, married and already a mother. I can recollect every emotion I felt the day I gazed at a long table overflowing with “stuff” of all sorts, scattered here, there and everywhere. I rummaged through the items hoping to find “my find”—something special that would move me and offer a bit of emotional relief.
You guessed it. I was at a garage sale.
Every day during that period in my life, a small cloud hung over my shoulder. It had nothing to do with my husband or child. I had moved, under pressure, to the wrong community. It was a provincial place, and my neighbors didn’t embrace a broad world view.
Finally, I capitulated under pressure knowing I was making a mistake. I knew—even at my young age—that no matter how hard I tried, and I did try very hard, I would never feel harmony with the location because it lacked the “spirit for growth” I needed to feed my soul.
Why did I cave in? Why do any of us cave in? Why do we make wrong choices?
In retrospect, I realize I caved in and settled because of my youth. I listened to the so-called wisdom of older and wiser family members. My decision proved very detrimental to my happiness. I felt like a foreigner in my own “back yard.” There was no harmony in my day, or balance in my life.
So I fell in love with the painting on that long-ago day because I felt a kinship with the lady in brown. I saw her leaving behind an unfulfilled lifestyle with strength and courage. She was walking out of the desert to a new and fertile life. Her determined and straight footprints, left behind in the sand, spoke to me. She knew she had made a mistake. And she was determined to rectify it by seeking a new life.
The lush green mountain in the distance, an oasis of life in a desolate landscape, was blooming with life. It was her path to harmony. The lady in brown represented the woman I knew I wanted to become.
As the years have passed, like all of you, I know the importance of living a life with harmony. Do I always have it? Of course not! But I definitely know how to grasp it—and more importantly, pull it back into my daily diet.
As women, we all wear so many hats, yet we must remember to say to ourselves a 1,001 times:
I think of the spokes on the wheels of my bike. I see those spokes, on my purple bike, as the spokes of every woman’s life; a life that is ever-so-hectic with family, partners, jobs, hobbies, problems with health, troubled children, aging parents, blended families… and the list goes on.
But we must all strive for balance and the harmony it brings. How? Here are my four most basic, and effective, ground rules to achieve balance, and find harmony in your daily lives:
- Try doing more of what you want and less of what you don’t want. Determine what is not serving you well, and delete it from your daily “diet.”
- Spend time with women who empower you and whose company you enjoy and who stimulate your senses. Eliminate the rest of the women.
- Focus on your family. Heal wounds.
- Be proactive with your your health needs.
- Add a touch of excitement or adventure to your life regularly. It may be as simple as a hobby that excites you, a great books class that opens your mind to all sorts of new thoughts or a fabulous trip as your time and budget allows.
So, dear readers, if you are lacking harmony, dive into change. At every age, if you are willing, you can find your center, and it will impact every aspect of your life.
And of course, like many stories, this one has a little surprise at the end. Like the lady in brown, I moved to greener pastures—in the paradise of Honolulu, Hawaii. And knowledgeable friends who have visited my home over the years have told me my painting may be an original Salvador Dali. But I have never checked with an art appraiser because I already know it is invaluable, because the lesson I learned from the lady in brown is priceless.