Enduring the Living Reincarnations
Life Asks of Us
This piece is currently on its third life this life.
Thus, the name Survivor, which it chose itself.
In its first life, it was named Beauty Queen to reflect what I learned participating in pageants as a teenager combined with the experience of having a serious breast cancer scare in my early twenties.
At 23, all the imaging results showed I had about a month to live. But, after a large tumor was surgically removed from my breast, it was found to be completely benign. The doctors tested and retested the sample several times.
I don’t know why I got so lucky. But, the experience left a mark on me.
I initially made Beauty Queen to represent the authentic beauty of the women who endure breast cancer with an additional nod to the kind of women who should be wearing crowns.
As a teenager, I participated in pageants like a gifted high school quarterback trying to get a scholarship. I also believed at that time my body and what I looked like were the best things I had going for me and banked on where that could take me.
Growing through this misunderstanding of myself was vital.
Because it taught me I don’t need rhinestones or other people’s authorization to make a difference in this world.
It also taught me that “the judges” were not the be-all-end-all verdict on whether or not I was a winner.
They were just a few people. And this was their opinion.
Today, they liked blue. Awesome. Blue is a great color, but orange and purple are pretty great, too. Tomorrow, it could have been pink.
After I grew through this era of me, I stopped trying to prepare answers that sounded good to “the judges” and actually went into myself and brought out what I really had to say.
And then I finally won one. And behind the curtain, these knowings only deepened and solidified within me.
When I went to college, I cut my long locks and took off my make-up most days.
Again, pageants were good for me in ways you’d not expect.
Beauty Queen first emerged in my consciousness when we were visiting a summer camp for children who had cancer.
And I remember this little boy asking if he could wear my crown. So, of course, I let him wear it for the whole visit and he was just delighted.
And then before we were about to leave, he asked if he could keep it.
And of course, I wanted to say yes, as I knew he deserved it way more than me.
And then I regrettably didn’t give it to him because I remembered I wasn’t allowed to do that.
It was that mixed with the feeling like I kind of wanted to keep it for nostalgia or to give to my daughter someday.
Currently, it’s broken in a bin in my basement and based on what it represents, it’s nothing I want to give my daughter.
At the time, the little boy and his mother were gracious and understood.
But, as we pulled away, I wanted to scream,
“Turn around...We have to go back!
I’ve changed my mind!”
But, at eighteen years old, I did not have the self-esteem and backbone to say this and stand up to the pageant director.
So, I sat there disgusted with myself and said nothing.
I am not this woman today.
Who I am today knows how to yell ‘Turn around!’ and do what needs to be done to make things right.
This experience haunted and shaped me and I knew someday I’d use it for good. Creating Beauty Queen was a way I saw to do that.
In it’s second life, it had become Crown of Courage when I reinvented it after it took a nose dive off a gallery wall in 2009.
It was too important to me to just leave there on the floor in pieces. And I hadn’t yet found the woman or foundation it belonged to, yet. I had to preserve it until I met her or them.
In the midst of my creative winter in 2012, it was one of the pieces I still had and I decided to give it to a wonderful woman who sent me her story. She had survived breast cancer, not once, but twice.
Yep, Crown of Courage was for her. She loved it and hung it proudly in her home.
And then, in the fall of 2017, I got an email from her telling me she needed to downsize her life considerably and unfortunately no longer had the wall space. She had to sell almost all of her other art and knew this piece was not to be sold, but given back to me. She understood what it was and believed there was a next chapter for it.
I surely gave it to the right woman.
So, now, it’s called Survivor…to represent all the survivors of everything.
It's for everybody who survives.
It is the 20th unexpected piece of The Soul Success Medals for Humanity.
You see, there were originally 19 pieces in this new collection. I thought this was kind of a weird number to open with, but I refused to force anything just for a round number, so I let it be.
And then #20 came to my house in the final months of finishing all that would be the opening launch of Soul Food Gallery.
And it came to my door wearing an actual medal.
I kid you not, I unwrapped the piece to find an actual medal of hers hanging on it.
It was on a bright pink ribbon and had the words SURVIVOR written in all caps.
She had no idea what work I was creating next. She said it had always been hanging on the piece and she just forgot to take it off when she wrapped it.
You can imagine the chills that went through my being as I saw and heard this.
It was the ultimate confirmation from The Universe that I had done my job and it graciously sent this tangible token my way as I was about to cross the finish line.
I knew instantly that this piece was going to have yet another life and it told me its name on arrival.
I also knew this medal didn’t belong to me and I would give it back to her along with a small scale recreation of the original to fit nicely in her new life.
This Soul Success Medal for Humanity is for the all woman who allow life to rearrange and rebuild them as appropriate for the next chapter.
It is also for the men who embrace the Divine Feminine energy within them and use it in harmony with their Divine Masculine energy to navigate life and reinvent.
We are about different things at different times and this is fine.
We discern what makes sense in our present life circumstances and move forward.
The catalysts for the rebirth may be glorious or devastating, but they are always an invitation.
And the rebirth is always on time.
Retrospect teaches us that all is unfolding as it needs to birth our next.
As inconvenient as this might be to our plans, our schedules and our fixed ideas about who we are and what we can do, we keep walking.
And when life begins to rearrange and redirect you so often, you no longer rely so much on retrospect.
You hold your head high and walk directly through the fire and into the next unknown chapter of yourself.
SOUL SUPPORT RECIPE
Find a recipe for BBQ chicken where you brine it first. Drowning in all that salt is time well spent. It's okay if you're scared.
You go into the fire one way and you come out another. You come out delicious.
Suggested Celebration Music:
1. “No One Said It Would Be Easy”-Cloud Cult
2. “Pageant Material”-Kacey Musgraves
3. “I’m Still Standing”-Elton John
4. “Safe & Sound”-Capital Cities
See Spotify Playlist: The Soul Success Medals for Humanity