I told my ex-husband that I didn’t want him to pretzel into something he wasn’t, just so I’d stay. After years of pretzeling myself, I knew it wasn’t worth it. Pretzeling doesn’t work. It leads to stress. Pretzels don’t bend. They break. I did.
Have you ever found yourself living your life according to another’s to-do and to-be list?
When I returned to college while married, I took an English Lit class. In it, we read Shakespeare’s Othello. I adored Emilia and have found myself meditating on these lines of hers many times:
….What is it that they do
When they change us for others? Is it sport?
I think it is. And doth affection breed it?
I think it doth. Is ’t frailty that thus errs?
It is so too. – Othello (Act IV, Scene III)
Sounds like pretzeling’s been going on for more than a few years, doesn’t it?
Being Changed By vs. Serving Others
It’s one thing to be changed into the mold of what another person wants, it’s another to dedicate time to serving loved ones. In this era of everyone being entitled to pursue what pleases them, I think the distinction between the two is clear as mud. Can the latter be done without losing one’s identity? I think so.
Ambition, pursuit, and accomplishment seeking yielded burnt grilled cheese sandwiches for my daughter and me. I didn’t think I could attend to kitchen duties and become a world-renown novelist. Turns out, writers like Nora Ephron love to cook.
I believe a person can lose herself when following a should-paved path. The more I know and trust who I am without being hindered by the shoulds of others, the more I want to serve those I love.
Serving with love and truth sustains me in a way that nothing else has. When it comes to this blog, what keeps me going is being told that its audience is often entertained and inspired by the words I take the time to write.
A year ago, I wouldn’t have known that service to others fires me up. It took pursuing my goals to find out. Now, I am equipped (as is so often said in the REFINE community) with what I need. Thank goodness for that, because life is about to change.
From Pretzels to Sticks
Last Mother’s Day, a friend shared a piece of wisdom with me, “It’s better to be a stick that bends, than one that breaks.” Bending is better than pretzeling. After all, serving loved ones is an unpredictable endeavor that requires some give (and take).
I keep thinking of his words, because chances are that by this Mother’s Day, my life will be much different than it is today. I’m literally sitting shotgun on what is sure to be a transformational journey as I write this.
This post is part of a series inspired by Eat Pray Love.