.

THE BEAT of MY OWN DRUM

I turned off the heater earlier because the house got too hot. But, now I think I was just having a hot flash. Is this my authentic self? Our house thermostat read 72F/22C but my frozen hands and aching joints were whispering that that stinkin’ thing was lying to me.  Oh, Spring. You can not arrive too quickly.

NANA

I stood in front of the now whistling air vent in my kitchen. Sipped on a hot cup of tea and felt my mortal shell begin to thaw.  

Mmmmm, that’s better. My Nana, a native of Essex County in the south of England, always told me that a well-made cup of tea could cure just about anything. The longer I live, the more I’m convinced that she was right. 

My Authentic Self

Credit: Maria Tyutina

I cherish the memories of time with her and my mom. Three generations of English ladies all sharing the name of Elizabeth, in one way or another.

My Nana’s accent alone kept my young attention span engaged in our every conversation. She taught me to be proud of the British piece of my genetic puzzle and I embraced it. One of my earliest memories of being given an authentic sense of self. Even my father’s second oldest brother, my Uncle, used to call me Lady Jennifer. Much to the annoyance of my Grandma who secretly campaigned for me to become a flamenco dancer, like herself.

Oddly enough, this same uncle constantly reminded me that my young, liberal-leaning views on things were severely misguided. That he couldn’t wait until I ‘grew out of them’. Much to his disappointment, four decades on haven’t altered my perspective much. Perhaps a little wiser and a little less hormonal, but still much the same.

GRANDMA

A lonely existence it can be sometimes when an entire wing of your family (five uncles and a father, in my case) goes out of its way to make you feel like an outcast simply because you tend to think of others before yourself.

But there was my Grandma, my closest and dearest ally, peering up at me from her 4’11” stance with those sparkling, dark eyes telling me, “Mijita, remember. You dance to the beat of your own drum for a reason. No matter what anyone ever tells you, never stop listening to it.”

My Authentic Self - The Beat of My Own Drum 1

Credit: Brent Ninaber

My Authentic Self - The Beat of My Own Drum 1

Credit: Brent Ninaber

I took another healing sip of my piping hot tea, so grateful for having such wonderful sages willing to teach me to be true to my authentic self as a female, at a time when that still wasn’t a popular thing. 

“The best ally you can have in breaking up a street fight is a grandmother.” – Joe Bob Briggs

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