The other day, I listened to my Calm App and one of the meditation coaches suggested that we look at pictures of ourselves as a toddler, a young adult and a current one. He asked, “What would you say to your younger self? As he talked about self-care, he reminded us to be gentle, patient and kind to ourselves when things appear to be less than perfect and to take deep breaths as we calm ourselves during trying times.
I studied a picture of myself while seated on a couch with my sisters when I was three and living in Detroit. As I took a closer look, I looked petrified, stymied and my older sister had her arm around me for comfort. I wondered what was going on here. The youngest in families, my position, is often corrected and criticized every step of the way. I thought, “Hmm.” I would walk over to mini me, bend down and whisper in her ear, “It’s going to be okay.”
I then looked at a picture of myself when I was about eight years old. I was posing at a tea which I had attended with Mrs. Anderson and her niece. She was the hairdresser that lived across the street when we lived in Memphis. She had pressed by hair and had to carefully go around an injury from being hit in the head with a brick by the notorious Hunter boys. On another occasion, they had shot me in the eye with a slingshot as I walked down Florida Street. But to my astonishment, my picture exuded confidence. I was the only one who knew the full story behind that picture so I would give her a thumb up and would emphatically say to her, “Good job!”
I viewed a picture of me when I was sixteen and as a bridesmaid in one of my sister’s weddings. I exhibited a sweetness but also an immense naivety in thinking that if I was kind to others, they would also be kind to me. Wrong! On that November day in Chicago, I had no idea of what was in store. Crude and unwarranted rude behaviors were forthcoming like a steamroller. I would worry for her, say a prayer and I would give her a pat and say, “Careful, there. Careful.“
I took the meditation coach’s advice a tad further and looked at mini me at the age of thirty-eight, living back in Memphis. By that time, harsh realities had set in, and her pained look is so apparent to me. Disappointments in love, career and financial struggles had clouded her once highly optimistic outlook. I would walk over to her and take her poised hand and softly say, “Take a deep breath. Breathe out and release all of the toxicity.”
Then I looked at my latest selfie now displaying an evolved me who has become an educator, librarian, published writer and blogger. I smiled back at the latest snapshot and thought, “This woman has secrets. She knows things. She has weathered a few storms and has indeed seen fire and rain. But she is continually coming through quite nicely.” I would applaud her and raise my voice a little and say, “You’ve come a long way, baby!
January 28, 2023