I love being bossy. I’m a firstborn, so it comes naturally. But when I think about the things I want to chat about to you, my first criteria is that I do not sound as if I am bossing you around by telling you how to live. I don’t like being bossed. And I’ve lived enough life to know that the only one qualified to boss you is you. My journey is not yours. My hope is that in sharing my stories with you, they spark something in you that gets you excited to do something intentional for your stories. And if I do sound bossy (it’s bound to happen), consider it a suggestion. Take it or leave it. Try it on and return it if need be. Change it and make it yours. Call it hogwash. It’s all good.

I like to tell stories and I like to write. I’m just happy you let me do that.

The reason why I am telling you this is because I just started reading a book that I think may have some things that make me go, “hmmmm”, but the author is bossy about it. That bugs me. I’ve become cranky about being told who I should be and the best way that I should live my life.

When people share what works for them to get to their happy place, I like that. I like hearing people’s stories, even if I do not know them. I appreciate their adventures and struggles, and sometimes, there is something they share that does work for me. But I don’t even know these people. They have not walked a mile in my Heat Holder socks with holes and garden boots.

They’re not the boss of me.

Let me tell you a story…

I am living in a crazy flipped upside down world. The rug has been pulled out from underneath me in many aspects of how I was used to living and that has required me to get a grip on who I truly am. Or at least to start the journey. You can’t do that kind of digging overnight.

This is not a COVID story. Honestly, for me, COVID has given me some space and some quiet time to absorb my crazy mixed up world.

Getting to truly know yourself is exciting. Becoming brave enough to share your discovery is a whole ‘nother ball game.

I came face to face with the reality that I had become a lot of layers that were not really meant for Me. I just picked them up along the way in life and threw them around me like a shawl when I felt like a message I heard was telling me a better way to be Me. When I recently felt a calling to go back to the Me I was created to be, I felt all of those layers I had acquired over my up-to-now lifetime loosen up and fall off all around me. It was crazy y’all. I found parts of Me that I had not spent time with in a while (like the Me that enjoys saying “y’all”) and parts of Me that I truly forgot even existed. And I was reunited with some parts of Me that I banished because they were found guilty of being unworthy.

The reason why I became wrapped up in my many layers from life, that were not truly who I was created to be, is because I allowed the messages of the world to shape me through the years. I don’t think that is uncommon. I have always been on a personal mission to be better and do better. So, who better to help me accomplish that than the messages of the world! They are loud and they are bossy. They sound like they know everything. I attached myself to those messages that seemed like they would create the best version of me and I became a bulletin board for the world’s beliefs and values.

Guess what? That doesn’t work.

It’s not possible to wear all of those messages. And in reality, they are opinions, even if well-meaning. Over the last few years, one circumstance after another has taken me out of the life that I had wrapped myself in. As a result, I am totally raw and exposed, to my own eyes. Oh, the things I have had to see and own.

That can be an amazing gift, if you can see it.

Fortunately, I have always looked at challenging moments with eyes that search for the silver lining. I like adventure and you don’t get to go on wild ones without getting scraped up and learning along the way. I’m far from Zen in how I participate with each challenging adventure, it’s still messy, but each time I go through one, my curiosity to see what’s in it for me gets bigger and leads me to go deeper.

During this adventure to cleanse myself of the messages I attached myself to that were not who I was created to be, I’ve noticed that some of those layers that fell off me are like sticky notes. As I climb out to move past them, a few are still finding a way to cling to me. This time though, I’m determined to do it differently. It might be a well-meaning message but if it’s not written in the words that make me the owner, it’s not mine. I have my own language.

(I speak fluent food.)

Guess where the most accurate information comes from for who I should be? That’s right…inside me. Of course my head already knew that if you were to ask me, but those worldly messages are so sneaky. We internalize them without even realizing it. In my quest to be better and do better I let go of my “less desirable traits” by worldly standards, you know, the ones that start with “too”- too strong, too direct, too bossy, too old to eat pizza for breakfast. And the ones that imply you are not enough. Because someone said they were bad qualities enough times, I figured they were right. It can be confusing, because there certainly are bad behaviors, or inappropriate, to choose a softer kinder word, that would benefit us to grow out of. We can’t use the excuse that “It’s just the way I was made” for everything y’all or to resist a chance to be better, especially when it’s easier than moving on from a behavior that is not truly doing us any good. For me, I love personal growth so I was willing to ditch Me without taking the time to consider it. Thus, I became holey. I confused it for holy and felt I was accomplishing my mission to be better and do better.

When you are holey, you now have vacant space available to fill with all of the good things you can cram in. You have cleared more room for those fabulous and all-knowing messages of the world about who you should be. The really bad messages are easy to spot and avoid. So when you hear messages that sound like good deeds that you should take on, it can be tricky to see through them to know if they are right about who you should be. I collected them like I was on an Easter egg hunt, filling my basket with every message that sounded like it would make me a better person.

I’ve collected for a very long time. But, I’m not totally unaware about these messages, so I have purged some along the way that snuck in but truly did not fit me and my awkward bird status. I am bossy, stubborn and strong-willed after all. Even though the world may have told me those are not “keeper” qualities, if they are really a part of your make up, they don’t go anywhere. They still come along on your adventures because there are times when the world says you should have them. They just have rules imposed upon them.

Opening the “garage door” recently to take inventory of the messages that I have collected about who I should be was the easy part. Sifting through it, message by message, is not, and would take me the rest of my life. I’m not willing to spend my precious moments wondering if each message I picked up is meant for me or not. I’ve lost interest in the messages of the world and who they think I should be. Going back through it all to say “yay” or “nay”? The appeal to that has left the building.

There’s a better way.

I have always loved house design and arranging rooms and making a home. Years ago, I learned a trick for redoing a room. Take everything out. All the furniture, the doodads, the lamps. Even the penny and stale french fry you find under the couch. Grab that family of dust bunnies too. Everything must go. Everything. Then, start fresh, only bringing in the things that you know you want in that space. Just because a chair had always been in there doesn’t mean it is the right chair for the room at this point. As you add to the layers, take time to see how you feel about what you have brought in so far. And, as you sit with the finished room, allow yourself the space to make adjustments. Maybe a lamp isn’t cutting it and you need to make a change. How does it feel now?

The hardest part is the first part; clearing the room of everything. It’s a lot of work, especially if you have accumulated a bunch of stuff, and usually by the time you want to redo a room, you have accumulated a lot of stuff. It’s physical and it’s sweaty and it’s tiring. And you should clean it too since it’s is all cleared out. It doesn’t get any easier to clean than in an empty room. But there is nothing mental about it. You just need to roll up your sleeves, crank the 80’s and do it. The mental and heartfelt work begins once the room is clear. Now that you can breathe in all of that clear and clean space, the excitement builds and the possibilities seem endless! You’re also more apt to be intentional about what you bring in based on how you want to feel about the room. It was a lot of work that you do not plan on having to repeat any time soon.

That’s the way I found to be the best way to accomplish sorting through all of the messages that I had collected that I thought made me Me. Start fresh. And good Heavens, close the garage door. Trap all those messages for now. It will be easier to dump them all later when I know I am strong enough to not question if a sticky message that now stubbornly found its way onto me again like a wad of burdocks is meant for me. If it’s meant for me, I’ll find it myself. I’m no dummy. I’ve been hired to be the boss of me, so I got this. I found out that I am the most qualified candidate for the position. I was born for it.

Clearing all of the layers out of the way gave me space to ponder being Me. Who am I? Where to start? I ran across this exact topic, over and over, from various sources. They all pointed to the same path. To clear the room of everything, go all the way back to my youth, before the world found my ear, and start fresh from that spot. I had a fabulous childhood, but I love being a grown-up more, so I’m happy to have moved past those beginning years of youthdom.  But starting there gave me a way to get in touch with my essence before I started putting things in my room again.

Last year I discovered the process of sitting with your moments instead of hurrying past them or trying to go around them. Of feeling everything in the moment and letting it serve you. I am grateful and thankful and blessed for this space I am in. It’s part of my story. It’s not always pleasant but the brochure for living a full and all-in life never mentioned that easy and pleasant were part of the itinerary.

Now that I’m the boss of me again, when a message comes, I usually run it by the boss to see if it fits what I’m building. I give it the stink eye. But if I’m in a meeting or taking a personal day, I send it away automatically. No longer are the messages of the world going to be the boss of me. And I’ve discovered that the Me I was created to be is quite colorful, a bit unconventional and overly excited by all-in deep living. And I am supposed to be that way. I am not a surprise to my Creator and He does not need me to change the crazy things about me that make me Me. There are plenty of people already filling the positions I thought I was supposed to fill. I am glad that the other positions have already been filled because it’s a lot of work when you aren’t being You.

I like my boss too. She’s super cool and fun to work for, even if she is a task master. And a bit bossy.

The End.

Of my story, any way. Keeping the bossy boo well-meaning messages away doesn’t end because there is always one showing up at the door, but I got this. Eventually, word will get around town to not even bother stopping at my door. “It’s a waste of time and she won’t buy anything.”, is what those messages will say.

That’s right.