My husband, only half jokingly, tells me he thinks I am a “little weird”…then, “unique in all the world” as he searches for softer words. Someone that I used to work for told me I reminded him of Lisa Kudrow’s character Phoebe, on the Friends series. Hmmm, ditzy and slightly off kilter, Phoebe saw the world from a slightly different angle than the rest of the world. Insulted? No, because while I think we are all “unique”, for me it boils down to this; I am a lover of uninhibited authenticity. It is something that excites me when I see it and angers me when I am witness to it being stifled. To muffle the true nature of a person is a crime as it robs the rest of us from experiencing that person fully and to me, anything less than the real thing is a bore. I don’t want to hang out with the sanitized version of who a person thinks they should be or who they were taught to be.The most memorable times in my life were experiences shared with people who were a little out there. Individuals who spoke their minds and expressed themselves fully without regard to whose feathers they may have ruffled; they lived and shared their truth. Now I’m not talking about boorish people who have no compassion for others feelings or opinions, these individuals are gentle people who simply must be who they are and won’t pretend to be anyone more or less. Actually, because they are so innocently real, they almost have no choice but to be authentic…they couldn’t live with themselves otherwise.

One breezy blue-skied day on the side of a road overlooking the Central California coastline, too cold to be outside, I was sitting in my car eating some lunch and reading. I had stopped by a burger joint, picked up a veggie burger and fries and then parked my car so it was facing the ocean. I was reading a book when out of nowhere a horse reared up right in front of my car. It was waiving its legs in front of me, calling me out of my car. I dropped everything, jumping out of my car, running out onto the sand. The horse was galloping towards the water and was soon splashing wildly in the ocean. It was the most incredible thing I had ever seen. I was breathless and consumed by the vision in front of me. So much so that I didn’t realize that I was crying. Tears were streaming down my cheeks and I had a huge smile of my face. This was a defining moment for me. A few minutes in time when my world stood still and I shared a unspoken word with this gorgeous creature who was showing me who I could be, reminding me of who I was in my fully authentic form, wild, unashamed, uninhibited, adventurous, beautiful, and perfect, as we all are.

As I stood at the point where the sand met the sea, with the water stopping at my toes, the horse came out of the water walking up to me with nostrils flared and her mane flailing wildly in the wind.  I didn’t touch her, I only looked in her eyes and knew everything I needed to know, she was my messenger this day, delivering what I needed to see at that time in my life when I was feeling closed up, fearful and in pain. It was a time when I knew my mother’s life was coming to an end, my son had left home to attend university and I was single. It was a lonely time when fear ruled.

What this experience was asking me was, “Where is the girl who was fearless, who used to ride her horse bareback, jumping fences in the back hills of Los Angeles, or hopping on a plane to Europe at the drop of a hat?”.  Where was that girl? Had she been beaten down by life, watching her mother living on the edge of death for nineteen years, being a single mother wondering if she had what it took to raise her son? No, she was still there, only it took this horse who came screaming in with the wind to wake me up, to show me what I once was, still am. It took that single moment to rediscover the nature of my core…wild, beautiful, fun, goofy…someone to love…someone for me to love.

The horse ran off down the shore and I got back into my car, continuing my drive back to Los Angeles via route one. I was changed and focused. This is why I am so moved when I am in the presence of a person who has discovered him or herself by following the road less travelled and is living out loud.

In my fifty-first year, I am more at peace with myself and my life than at any other time. I have cleared the decks of toxic people more than a few times and set boundaries that work for me.  I respect how others choose to live, knowing that we all have our own journey. With the ever increasing lines and the changing landscape of my face reminding me that life is truly short, I am at home wherever I am and open to the world as it is. Bring it on…

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