Stringing Beads

I see my life’s journey measured in a strand of beads, 19 chunky one-inch beads, Flintstone style! Right now, my strand holds 18 beads. I am about to add the nineteenth bead after which I plan to add a firm and sturdy clasp.

Each bead represents a home. The strand began in Toronto, moved to Sudbury, Oakville, back to Sudbury, on to Edmonton, and returned yet again to Sudbury after which it landed in Kitchener-Waterloo. In Kitchener alone six beads were strung, followed by another two: One in Mount Forest and one in Nanaimo.

Mount Forest, place of no mount and no forest, was both a disaster and a blessing. I learned that I do not belong in a remote Ontario farming community of 5,000. Depressed and not thinking clearly, I almost left my husband in my rush to leave Mount Forest.

This revelation accelerated deep introspection and self-discovery, which were sorely lacking in my life.

Mary Ann Moore, my Nanaimo-based writing circle facilitator and now good friend, marveled in one circle on how detailed some memoirs are. I have to admit that my memories are not at all detailed, a fact that becomes clear in the writing I produce in the circle (which has opened up thought patterns and forced me to examine the ‘yucky stuff’ of life that too many choose to ignore, often to our health’s detriment. But that’s for a topic for another article.).

For too long I wasn’t really present and didn’t notice details. I preferred to drift into fantasy, to live in my head. To prohibit any real thought, I occupied brain space with busy-work. I have had exceptionally clean and tidy homes.

Today my house in Nanaimo is less clean. I even go to sleep with dirty dishes on the counter—a small but significant symbol of my letting go of ‘busy-ness.’

Why did I move so much? I think that I found the answer in this issue’s writing prompt. ‘What is important to you?’ we were asked. The question stopped me dead in my tracks, deer-in-the-headlights. I couldn’t readily articulate an answer. My mind scrambled through the typical answers (family, work, lifestyle), but did not feel that profound knowing. Surely being aware of what is important to me, critically important, would impact moving or staying? I have to say with honesty that I am still pondering my full answer and have to wonder: Do I not know or did I allow myself to forget?

It is foolish to live without giving purposeful thought to the profound questions that should steer our decisions, living more like dandelion seeds riding the breeze to be deposited where the winds subside. What amazes me is that it took me so long to see this gap in my life. Truly I lived with a film over my eyes, or a wall between conscious thought and heart-felt knowing. I am grateful to have discovered this, even if it is rather late in the game.

You may be wondering about the nineteenth bead. My husband and I have decided to return to Ontario. I know one thing without a doubt: my adult daughters, and extended and adopted family members are critical to my happiness, and back in their corner of Canada I will add the nineteenth bead and secure the strand with a firm and sturdy clasp.

Contributed by Stephanie Clark, who at 58 continues to learn about herself, grateful that it’s not too late to change.