“We are the hero of our own story.” (Mary McCarthy)
Speaking of birthdays, my husband and I spent part of ours (yes, we have the same birthday, six years apart) floating down the Provo River on inner tubes with my children. And with Elizabeth Smart.
In her defense, Elizabeth didn’t know it was our birthday, she didn’t even know we were tubing with her, but we noticed her and entered the water behind her. We floated for several hours and as I finished my ride and the river guides helped me out of the water with my tube, I heard two of them talking.
“Dude, did you see who that was?” asked #1.
“No, who was it?” replied #2.
“Dude, that was Elizabeth Smart!” said #1.
“Elizabeth Smart, DUDE, seriously?” asked #2.
“Yes, dude. Elizabeth Smart.” #1 exclaimed. And then followed something I didn’t expect: “She’s my hero!”
If you’ve ever participated in guided adventures, such as river rafting, you’ll know what I’m talking about and trying to describe when I say I never expected to see two scruffy, scraggly, unshaven, barely clothed, rough, weathered, outdoor enthusiasts resembling mountain hippies more than anything else, absolutely in awe of and express their admiration for a twenty-something, smiling, pretty young woman minding her own business, tubing down a river. But they did. And they were touched to have been in her presence for a even brief moment.
She, the way she handled her unexpected life experience with grace and dignity, and the life she has gone on to create and live, was absolutely inspiring to many, including River Guide #1. I wish Elizabeth could have heard him gush about her. He truly loved and appreciated her and for all she has overcome and is inspired by her. What a great example she has been to many. A hero.
It reminded me that we can each be that in our own lives, through the triumphs over our challenges. We each have a story. We each have the opportunity to be the hero of it. And we never know who’s watching us overcome our challenges and who will be inspired, and be better themselves, because of our good example.
Be a hero.
I’ve admired a few women in my life.
Every once in awhile, you come across someone who exemplifies everything you admire. You look at her with awe and hope that someday… you can become like her. That someday you’ll be as beautiful on the inside, and out, as she is.
The bummer comes in getting there.
In becoming like her.
In developing the beauty that comes from meeting life and conquering its challenges with grace, dignity and class. (At least, that’s my goal.)
Someday, I want to be a woman like that.
“Class has nothing to do with money. Class never runs scared. It is self-discipline and self-knowledge. It’s the sure footedness that comes with having proved you can meet life.” (Ann Landers)
And if I ever become such a woman, I’m going to have to thank my unexpected life for that, too.
There was a time in my life when the following board breaker would have been, possibly, the ultimate humiliation.
But it’s funny how your perspective changes when you discover the man you have loved, trusted and been married to for 20 years has been running a Ponzi scheme, stealing millions of dollars, is heading to prison, and shatters your world very publicly ending in a divorce publicized in local and national media. (Just what every young girl dreams of. Not!)
Given the fact I’ve lived through what I believe is one of the more tragic yet embarrassing experiences, at least in my world, I’m not sure I have it in me to be mortified any more. Thankfully I’m unable to be embarrassed, because I’m still single and the following board breaker illustrates what single women are up against.
Possible humiliation. (If you haven’t already lived through an ultimate humiliation, that is.)
One night, I went to a single’s dance alone. I danced, met some new friends, and then headed out for a break. When I returned, a song from the 80s that I loved was playing. So I decided to take matters into my own hands.
I decided to ask someone to dance. I looked around, found a man near me, asked, “Would you like to dance?”
And he said, “No.”
I was shocked! I never expected THAT. My parents taught me to never say no, regardless of who the boy was or what I thought of him. And there I was, rejected! Just like that. I know I’m not the biggest catch, but clearly, that man was not raised by parents. Lol.
I’m sure the shock showed in my face because he tried to explain that he’d had his eye on someone all night and wanted to catch her as she came off the dance floor. But it didn’t really help me. I couldn’t prevent the following thoughts: “What bad manners! How rude! What a loser!” And finally, “Well, you can’t expect to appeal to every one… especially VERY ordinary single men!”
I decided those dances didn’t work for me. And then, like Mr. Board Breaker who wouldn’t give up although his audience is cringing at his failure, he’s swaying on his feet from beating himself over the head with a board time and time again to no avail, I tried another dance the following month! (I know–slow learner.)
I danced, met some new friends, took a break, and then an 80s song I loved came on as I returned to the room. I didn’t want to miss the song, so I decided to ask a man to dance. What are the odds of a man saying no when you ask him to dance? I’d already experienced my “once in a lifetime” rejection at the last dance, so what did I have to lose by asking a man to dance a second time?
Apparently, what little dignity I had left because I asked a much less ordinary man to dance and HE said no!
He had an excuse, too. He said he had injured his leg and couldn’t dance. (Then WHY had he gone to a dance?) But at least he was nice, friendly, talkative and shared some singles information with me for the next few songs we didn’t dance. He told me to friend him on Facebook and he’d introduce me to lots of single people and singles activities. I tried to believe his excuse was real, and I didn’t see him dance once the entire night, so maybe it was the truth. But it was still a rejection!
At a subsequent dance I saw the same man (Reject #2, lets call him), this time dancing, and thought, “Hmm! His leg must be better.” I didn’t give him the evil eye or anything, I didn’t even stare at him, but before I knew it, the song had ended and he made his way over to me and asked me to dance–three songs in a row. So maybe he rejected me for a legitimate reason? Or maybe he was just trying to make up for his initial bad manners! Lol.
Too bad I’m not a gambler. Sometimes I have incredible luck. I mean, what are the odds of asking a man to dance and getting rejected? And getting rejected two dances in a row? For that matter, what are the odds of marrying a man who does what my former spouse did?
However, a bright spot in the single life, a bit of glue that helps me hold it all together and keeps me going in the social “game” of dating and the unexpected life that is now mine, are singles lunches. (And I owe them to the second man who rejected me. He told me he’d introduce me to some great single people and singles activities and he did.)
Singles lunches are the best thing I’ve done as a single woman. They’re the most fun I’ve had, too. It’s just a group of singles under 45 years old who get together once a week for lunch. A different restaurant every week. You pay for yourself. And right up front the group informs you: don’t come to fall in love; just come, eat lunch and make friends.
The lunches are no pressure. They don’t cut into my evenings or my time with my children. I’ve only met friends there. Kind friends who text or call me to check on me occasionally or to let me know of a great activity I shouldn’t miss. Those lunches are my oasis in the desert of my single life! (A little dramatic, I’m just trying to emphasize how great I think they are. Thanks, Adam, for inventing them and coordinating them. I have loved participating in them!)
A bright spot amid my share of board breakers!
And yet, the dating continues despite the board breakers.
I just can’t give up searching for that happy ending.