When I was younger I always did exactly what was expected of me, but my laters years show that I’ve traveled a very unorthodox path.
In the beginning, I was Mama’s perfect little girl in ruffled dresses with matching shoes and bags; daddy’s little princess; and teacher’s pet. I colored inside the lines. I did what was expected of me.
Then I turned twelve and had an experience that found me (at not yet 5 feet tall) standing toe to toe with my 6’4″ pastor saying to him, bold as brass, “Pastor Mulvihill, I believe that’s called hypocrisy.”
And with that one sentence my world split in two. I still played the games I needed to to survive, but I began to question everything I knew or thought I knew to be true.
I began to read philosophy, to study world religions, to listen intently to conversations that prior to this I would have coward from. Coming from a very conservative Christian background, this was absolute heresy.
I began to write about what I was learning, experiencing, questioning, and where I might want to explore next. I did this in secret because no one I knew thought outside of the prescribed Christian norm. I had no allies on my quest, save my small town librarian.
Consequently, in little ways I began to rebel. I began to stand up for my beliefs, as unpopular or unorthodox in my community as they were. And I stood out like a sore thumb.
But I had gained access to my true north. Tenacious as I was and am, nothing was going to dissuade me from traveling the unorthodox path. Crookedy and unsure as it might have been, it was mine and not one deigned for me. It was a path that I was discovering for myself. One that fit the misfit I felt myself to be.
After I put myself through college, graduating with two degrees, I had my heart set on pursing higher education and Montessori certification.
But I had no visible means of paying for grad school. Daunted? Doubting? Never! I packed up my little blue Volkswagen Rabbit with everything I owned and hopped into the drivers seat to hit the road. I’d figure out a way to make it work.
I kissed my friends I’d been staying with goodbye and started my car’s engine. Then my extra dad, Dennis, said hang on a minute. He promptly returned and handed me a folded piece of paper. I opened it. My mouth dropped.
It was a check for $1000. It would get me in the door. I could, and did, do the rest.
Allowing, as Frank Sinatra sang, for me to do it my way. And I have.
I have taught Montessori toddlers, pre-schoolers, kindergarteners, and been a school administrator. I have worked every station at a 4-star restaurant in the San Francisco Bay. I have had the joy of knowing Julia Child and Jaques Pepin, two of my greatest kitchen heroes. I was the solopreneur of Haute Plate, a fine dining and full service event planning company for over 20 years.
I am a jeweler. I have shipped my pastries and jams all over the world and have a loyal following of marmheads (people addicted to my marmalades). I have traveled with and worked for famous people. I have cleaned houses to pay the rent.
I paint the interior of homes. I sew for others. I make up words for fun. I fall in love constantly. I’m never afraid to take a chance, or to give a second chance. I look for the good and beauty in everything. My resume looks like stone soup.
I have lived with challenges that could have destroyed me, but I have never lost my hold on my passions and my dreams. I have lived my life with the utmost gusto, my way. My unorthodox path has taken me to extraordinary places and I don’t regret anything.
Should I leave this world today, I leave no regrets. I have pursued every dream, every desire, and every passion of my heart to its happy, and in my estimation, successful completion. All this and a heart overflowing with love. What more could I ask for?
(To understand my life’s theme song more fully here are the lyrics to My Way.)