Online dictionary definition for the word ECCENTRIC-
from the medieval Latin eccentricus, not having the same center
1. adj., departing from a recognized, conventional, or established norm or pattern
2. adj., deviating from a circular form or path, as in an elliptical orbit
3. noun, one that deviates markedly from an established norm, especially a person of odd or unconventional behavior
synonyms given for eccentric: strange, bizarre
Many years ago, a friend, mentor, and psychologist with decades in the trenches of the mental health field told me that she felt women who followed the culture and lived within the cultural values were destined for lives of depression and that only those who were eccentric in their own authentic way escaped this fate.
She told me this at a moment in my life where I was getting a lot of negative attention for my eccentric choices.
I took her words to heart. Depression, something that I had experienced in my teens and early twenties, was not something I wanted to revisit nor did I want to go back to trying to stuff myself into that tiny box of familial and cultural expectations as I did during those early years.
Galvanized by her words, I kept on with my unusual choices springing from my heartfelt guidance. And I practiced ignoring the judgments of others. After all, what were a few critical people compared with the agony of folding myself back into the status quo?
And anyways, I hadn’t exactly found myself swimming in compliments when I tried to fit in. My first job after college swept me into a community where even when I tried to dress the part and fit into the place, something about me gave me away as someone in the wrong place. And the community noted this by calling me, “Granola” even as I smothered myself in fair isle sweaters, grosgrain headbands, monogrammed accessories, and wide wale corduroy pants like a model for the Talbot’s catalog. All this Preppie Handbook gear and I fooled no one! But the deeper problem was that this was a community authentically right for some people, but not for me.
A number of years into this struggle to conform, I gave up. The crisis of Elizabeth’s birth with her cleft palate and hearing difficulties swept away most concerns including this desire to fit in.
What an unexpected and joyful benefit to a scary time. I stopped trying to be someone I wasn’t.
However, my work was not done when I gave up my preppy wardrobe. I still had to find a way to live beyond either opposition to the culture or in alignment to it. Eccentricity is a different orbit for each of us and I had to figure out how to find my own true course.
What I discovered was that the process to be our eccentric and authentic selves is a work that can’t be done in RELATIONSHIP to the culture. It must be done out of a place of heartfelt and regular self examination, removed from the culture. This meant going within as opposed to responding to external stimuli.
A small example of the need to go deep inside order to figure out what was right for me was my evolving relationship with the Thanksgiving holiday. In my early twenties, I was restless with this holiday, but I didn’t know myself well enough to understand what it was about the holiday that made me bored and fatigued. I assumed it was the food and decided to go rogue on the menu. I hosted a number of Thanksgivings for Jim’s family or for mine in which I radically altered the menu with the rather forceful attitude of TO HECK WITH ANYONE WHO MISSES THE PUMPKIN PIE . One year we had paella. One year we had lamb. I think that was the year everyone had the stomach flu so we all saw the lamb coming and going. So delightful. So special.
These changes made no difference to my sense of exhaustion about the holiday because mine were knee jerk reactions, not actions arrived at from my own heartfelt sense of the occasion.
As the years unfolded and I kept on trying to find balance, I discovered a real love for Thanksgiving as well as a way for me to articulate my appreciation for the day in an authentically Molly way. From my life outside the cultural norms (in fact, WAY outside them!), I came to a deeper appreciation for a holiday that is for EVERY American, not just those from the prevailing religious or cultural traditions. I also realized that I liked the way the familiarity of the traditional meal gave even the most diverse crowd a feeling of comfort and common ground.
Out of this understanding came a way to celebrate Thanksgiving that fills me up and feels true to me. This involves a big crowd. I pretty much invite anyone I run into to come for dinner, but the invitations don’t come from any sense of social obligation which is very freeing for a recovering WASP. I often don’t know some of the people I have invited. They are friends of friends or family of friends and I like this. I like the feeling of adventure in having an enormous unknown group. This strangers in a strange land has gone so far that recently a man at the post office introduced himself to Jim and Jim remarked, “Yes we’ve met, you came to Thanksgiving at our house last year.”
This year, the count for dinner is 26, but this number is fluid as who knows what the next three days will bring. I like that I don’t really know who or what to expect. When the meal begins we will learn everyone’s names thanks to Will’s place cards. And no matter the crowd, the dinner will be a chance for me to welcome whomever the universe wants to send and be thankful for this gathering.
I love the mystery and expansiveness of this.
I also have stopped trying to say something new via the menu. My defiant choices were always wildly unpopular with my children and who can blame them? They like pie and gravy and mashed potatoes (and really, who doesn’t?).
I also realized that what I really wanted all along was to have our guests feel at home and the traditional Thanksgiving menu is one way to do that. To satisfy the rebel within me, I try to find out what dishes outside my usual menu are part of the traditional meal for those who are coming. Then I throw these dishes into the mix.
I also have given up my martyr routine which involved me cooking everything for everyone and then acting aggrieved. This routine was part of my family of origin DNA but not part of my heart’s true self. I now make a big chart on the kitchen wall and assign pretty much everything to someone else. In fact, this year, Ben is cooking the turkey. Letting go of this job is a first for me, though Ben has kindly agreed to allow me to be his official back seat chef, a role which lends itself to much drama.
In general, I have learned that being eccentric doesn’t mean I have to have blue hair and serve tofurkey. It’s all a lot more fluid. Why, even the fair isle sweaters are looking inviting these days, and truth be told, I am wearing wide wale corduroys today because the office is freezing cold.
Being eccentric is finding the center of my own orbit and moving from there, wherever it takes me, even if it is a loopy circle back to a place I visited a long time ago. It’s a changing dynamic, one requiring a constant re-examination of choices that worked at one point but may no longer work anymore or may suddenly work again after a respite. It’s simply living with a lot of unknowns and getting comfortable with that.
Not surprisingly, when I started to make Green Hope Farm Flower Essences I looked to make Flower Essences that would support me to know what was authentically me, align with an ever unfolding sense of myself, and help me to live in this flow (plus accept that for many people including my relatives, my eccentric path is a major problem).
All Ego Contracts Null & Void, To Hear the Angels Sing, Carry Less, the family river trio of Black Currant, Bloodroot, and Borage, The Alignment Garden, and Wild Rose are only a few of the Flower Essences created in response to my desire to live from my own center, not from another imposed on me.
Why even the first Essence made here, Cosmos, is all about expressing one’s own heart felt truth, not another’s. Then, of course, there is the oft mentioned Flow Free to help me keep letting go of who I think I am in favor of a new deeper layer of understanding. Who knows? Maybe next year it will feel right to have that tofurkey served in a monogrammed purse. I will keep you posted.
Yesterday, I heard of a young woman friend who is feeling a sort of, “grass is always greener” feeling about her life. I had a conversation with the Angels about her situation and was both surprised and not surprised by their suggestions. They steered me to the Venus Garden Essences and also the Camino Essences explaining that she is in the throws of a major paradigm shift in her life and that these Flower Essences will support her to alignment with a new unfolding purpose as well as let go of situations and ideas that no longer support her life path or are part of her authentic self.
One of the tricky things for this young woman is that she is living a life of glamorous travel, money, high profile career success, and other things which the culture defines as the gold standard for the woman of today. No doubt every bit of cultural feedback this woman is receiving tells her that she is living the ultimate life, the right life, and that any nagging feeling that something is off is HER PROBLEM.
It is all a bit twisted because the culture not only sets the standards, but insists on telling us that WE MADE THESE STANDARDS ALL BY OURSELVES when really this is not true. The standards of the culture were not set by the individual for the individual. They are simply a different more gilded cage than the standards which contained women of different eras.
Yes in some ways, much is better than earlier eras. People can tell me that they think I work for the devil, but they can’t actually burn me at the stake for it. But in many ways, women of today have just been given new strait jackets to replace the old.
So when I see this young friend, perhaps over the Thanksgiving holiday, I am going to suggest she look at the Angels suggestions of Essences that will take her into herself more deeply and into a deeper dialog with her heart. I am going to suggest to her that her feelings of restlessness are not a reflection she is ungrateful, but a reflection of the fact that her own elliptical orbit is calling to her. I am going to suggest she embrace her inner eccentric and never let go!
As sufi poet Hafiz said, “The place where you are right now, God circled on the map for you.” And this young friend is in a good place if a painful one, the beginning of a more authentic life, outside the confines of cultural ideals. What a blessing disillusionment always is. The fact that this young friend has had so much worldly success and found it wanting is her ticket to freedom. And the fact that she could take on the outer journey with such aplomb tells me she will take to this vastly more interesting and true inner journey with great courage and determination.
And I plan to be there with a box or two of Essences!