“Climbing the branches of my family’s history was easy, clambering down and telling the story is the hard part”
Whether it be sitting in a tree stand or picking berries in my backyard, I have always felt an overwhelming connection to the closest branches of my family tree. When I was sitting in a climber tree stand on opening day of deer season last fall, inspiration for this type of blogging struck. I was waiting on the big buck when my mind began to drift to a story about my grandpa’s old hunting dogs. Not the best time to be distracted in thought, you know, while half way up an middle-aged hickory tree while holding a gun. Nevertheless, I was then flooded with stories from my grandfather’s childhood, just like when a beaver dam blows loose and the water rushes in all directions. These were stories I had heard hundreds of times, but each time the stories were so sacred that I dare not say “Papaw, I have already heard this story.” So as the wind blew, shotguns rang in the nearby holler (AKA a valley), and the yearling bucks ran beside me, I had a crazy idea to start a blog about some family stories mixed with my own adventures. I decided would see it through, come hell or high water. As the day came to a close, I did not get a buck, not because I lacked the opportunity, but because I couldn’t pull the trigger. Which was exactly what happened with my “hell or high water” idea.
I procrastinated with this blog idea because I just could not pull that metaphorical trigger. I entertained the idea of writing a book, a ‘zine, or maybe write the stories and keep them to myself. I was afraid to put my writing and those personal, cherished stories out to the world. The constant nagging “no one will read this” tore away at my motivation and the “your writing style is horrid” dug deep into my confidence. Between these two forces, I shelved my idea and lied to myself that I would be happiest if I never began the project. This is a happy little lie I frequently entertain myself with, which is always a short term fix but a long-term soul-crusher. Thus, the fall melded into winter which emerged from the forge as spring. Spring is defined as when black locust trees bloom their amazingly sweet popcorn-sized blossoms. So the black locust made their grand display and the blog idea entered into my heart again. I, again, repeated the lie that has become encapsulated into my subconscious mantra: “You will be happiest if you do not even begin.” So with those blossoms, my idea wilted once more.
Three weeks later of making jelly out of blossoms and berries, I felt the urge again to write. I shoo-ed it away and turned to the Mother’s Day festivities that surrounded me. My Grandma is an amazing person, as you will soon find out in my writings. She is in her 70s and has more energy than I will ever be capable of mustering. She and I walked around my small garden as we talked about my next adventure. I told her about the u-pick strawberry patch the boyfriend and I were visiting soon. She lit up as she told me about her summer job of picking strawberries. She would get about $0.20/bucket of strawberries and she could pick about 18 buckets each morning. She would make $3 dollars after a bus fair and lunch. She then said, “You know, some of those guys could pick 30 buckets, but I did as best as I could. I didn’t pay any attention to them, because I only worried about giving it my best. I tried and that is all that mattered.”
In that moment, that subconscious mantra, the lie of lies, was silent. I noticed immediately, so I began to poke around in my mind to find that lie I so desperately clung to. It was almost as if I was calling a lost puppy. I kept thinking “I am not good enough” over and over, with increasing intensity to the point of mental yelling. I was trying to call back feeling of inadequacy that resided somewhere between my diaphragm and stomach. I felt nothing. I changed my thoughts to “you will fail” in the same manner as before. Surely that would work, as I have this terrible fear of failure. Still nothing. Time to pull out the big guns, “you are not smart enough” I mentally spat. This was the most painful statement I could ever hear. I call it the Hermione Granger syndrome. I waited for the mental pain to wash over me, as it rightfully should! Nothing. The feeling, the inner critic, and the lie of lies were all non-existent.
My grandma, my hero, gave me permission to be myself, despite all those flaws that froze me. She said the words to thaw my writer’s block and motivate me to share the stories most dear to me. In the same breath of sweet release from the negative mantra, I mourned the loss of these lies. Silly, isn’t it? Something that can hold you back for so long becomes that comfort zone we desperately cling to. Between the tears generated from freedom of fear came tears of grief as if I was in an abusive relationship. This connection to my grandma, no matter how small helped me discover some of my personal beliefs. It helped me understand what has been holding me back, so I wondered what else was weighing on my heart. I was finally “living in my truth”, as hard as it is. So I ask you to do the same brutal task. Dearie, what is the lie you cling to?
So, join me for my journey to understand the wisdom within the history in my family tree. I believe through weaving the sacred family stories with my own adventures, I can forage within my soul for the negative shards that prevent me from blooming as beautifully as those black locust flowers.
Our next adventure, friends, is literally foraging for black locust flowers and jelly making.