We are sitting in circular formation, teaching colleagues, acquaintances and friends. The atmosphere is warm and inviting. Soft lights sparkle on a tree over against the wall. And we wait. In anticipation.
Our facilitator directs everyone’s attention to the meeting at hand and then asks us to introduce ourselves. A discussion begins as to what we might say by way of introduction. Should we share a book we are reading? Seems too formal. We are then given allowance to introduce ourselves and then share a part of our story, as we feel led. Each woman before me introduces herself as a mother, sharing about her children, her connection to them and some kind of predicament attached to being a mother. One describes herself as ‘living vicariously’ through her children.
I have no idea what I’m going to say.
It is my turn, and I have to think fast. What few words can I give that will encapsulate the essence of what it means to be me? What can one say in so few words? After all, first impressions mean a lot. It is hard to dissolve a wall built on a quickly formed judgment. I decide to stop thinking and talk.
“My name is Lori Gard and I have four children.”
I do have four children whom I love dearly. They have been the heart and soul of my existence for as long as I have known of their presence. I have placed my own interests on the altar of self-sacrifice for them many times over. But still. Is this how I want to define myself? Am I a mother first? Or am I Lori?
“For many years, I lived vicariously through my children. So much so, I began to lose parts of myself. After some time, I fell into a dark place. It was then that I discovered writing. Writing helped me find myself again.”
Ah, now I remember. I remember who, I remember why. And for this moment, I will speak. And then later on, after four tired children are tucked into bed and the lights go dim, I will write. Therefore I am. A writer. And if not for writing, I jokingly told someone recently, I would have been driven to strong drink. Instead, I am driven to write. I write about everything. About my faith, my day, my children, my relationships, my job, my feelings, my frustrations, my fears and my joys. Writing has delivered me from being swallowed up by the many varied hats I wear. Of course, I am child, mother, wife, sister, friend, colleague. All these in service to others. And at one time in my life, I did not feel capable of identifying as anything other than that of my relationship to others.
But today. I can proudly say I am free of that bondage. I am Lori.
I am partial to blog style writing. I enjoy playing piano. I have a weakness for reading book club recommendations, whether they be Heather’s picks from Chapters, Oprah’s book club picks or those touted by bloggers I follow. I love to go on long walks down scenic pathways. I am fond of chocolate covered pretzels. I crave Kettle cooked potato chips at bedtime. I need to get a fill of Facebook before hitting the hay. I love candles, scented cream, fuzzy socks, photographs, coffee, newspapers, fleece sheets, board games and Clark’s shoes, all in no particular order.
I feel deeply about many issues. Faith. Family. Education. Healthy living. Exercise. The importance of communication. Personal development. Professional development. Prejudice. Bullying. Empathy. Inclusion. Gratitude. Giving to those less fortunate than myself. Giving to those more fortunate than myself. Because all of giving is about grace and compassion. I feel deeply about all these. And more.
Because of course I know that I cannot be narrowly defined by a single feature of my persona, confining my identity to being only a lover of chocolate covered pretzels or reader of blogs. For I am more. So much more than these.
“I am Lori. I write for a hobby. And it’s really nice to be here.”