Thursday, June 20, 2013


The other day my daughter’s legs flared up with eczema. Circles of red, scaly skin stretched down her legs. She scratched the inflamed areas, leaving them more irritated and raw.

Consistency is not my strong suit, but I got out her eczema medication and lotion and began applying them frequently. Within a few days, the rough skin on her legs became cream-colored and smooth, with just a few hints of the eczema.

Every so often I get a little sick of myself and make a bunch of changes. Some are external: I’ll get my hair cut, try a new eye shadow or buy a funky pair of shoes. Other changes are less visible: I make space and time for prayer. I come home from the library with a stack of new books. Some changes are about community: I join a writing group. I venture out of my routine and go to a party I am terrified of, because even though I’m an introvert and I hate small talk, it’s good to challenge myself.

I don't make these changes in order to be different than who I am. One of the definitions of "regeneration" on is "The restoration or new growth by an organism of organs, tissues, etc., that have been lost, removed, or injured."

When I step back and really see with clear eyes, I remember that my job in this life is to be the person I was born to be. I believe that we are each born with certain gifts, and many of us encounter obstacles to making room to express these gifts. We pick up wounds from our families or peers and we use them to tell ourselves we aren’t really good enough. We encounter financial struggles or illness. We decide we are stuck in jobs or relationships that aren’t really working for us. We simply get distracted by the demands of our children and the items on our never-ending to-do list.

It is not about a caterpillar you trying to burst into a butterfly. It's more like a starfish. When starfish lose a limb to prey or accident, they can often regenerate. Their body heals the exposed, raw wound where the limb was lost, and then sets about sprouting a new one. It's like a writer revising a story: it's not necessarily about chopping up the story because it's a bad story. It's about creating space so that the words that were meant to be there all along can shine.

Life is change. If you’ve had a baby, or closely observed one, you know that they change so fast. Most babies triple their birth weight in the first year of life. When my daughter was born, she had dark purple stains on her eyelids. They have faded into a light lilac. She is exactly who she was, but different.  

Even death, which seems so permanent and scary, involves evolution. We sprinkle the ashes of our dead on beaches and they become part of the earth. We write about them, and the essence of who they were lifts up and reaches people they never knew. I like to think that the spark of who we are, that spark that I strive to get closer to, swirls around in the ethers, free of the pain and worry that comes with being human.  That we stay the same, but different. Regenerated.
This was a hard winter for me. Some family issues that came up illuminated the fact that I was stuck and stale. So I took up running. I’m doing EMDR to reprocess some of those old wounds from childhood. I wear shorts on hot days instead of hiding in my jeans, scorching and uncomfortable. I sit down to write often. The other day, I gave my notice for a job that wasn’t serving me. I’m regenerating, sidling a bit closer to that spark, that person I was born to be.

How do you regenerate? How do you know when it's time to correct your course?

photo credit by Alex Bruda

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