I’ve been waiting my whole life for 42!! Why such an arbitrary number you ask? Well, this number just happens to be my LUCKY number and thus, this year will be my luckiest year – you heard it here first, folks! Allow me to explain a bit about this luck:
On a morning just like any other, in the midst of the school-day hustle, I suddenly remembered that it was the day of Easter Bonnet Parade. I was supposed to don a bonnet of original design in a parade down the hallway of my elementary school. Everyone was bringing a bonnet and I may or may not have had conversations about how amazing mine was going to be. There was a contest and prizes and I forgot about the whole darn thing!!! I frantically told my mother and we put our collective anxiety to the creative test. Always the artist, Mum quickly found a hat and glued a bunch of artificial flowers on top. There may have even been a bird or a marshmallow peep? Mum, can you weigh in on this one?
To say I was embarrassed about the final product would be an understatement. I was early in my career as a perfectionist, however, I still knew the difference between a last minute bonnet and the bonnet that had been planning. One of my classmates had made a bonnet that had been fashioned with tooth brushes all around the brim, hiding his face completely. I silently strategized viable ways of trading hats with him. My efforts were futile.
Numbers were handed out, pinned on our dresses and shirts and the parade began. “I could write a sonnet, about your Easter bonnet” emerged in various tones from my classmates. My head hung so low that one of the flowers fell off. I quickly snatched it off the floor and tucked it into the eyelet of my easter frock.
At the end of the parade we were to form a long line to see who would win the awards. Most original went to the toothbrush kid. Biggest Bonnet went to a child who may still suffer from neck problems from holding up a bonnet full of Easter eggs. “And now, for most Beautiful!” My Teacher was especially excited about this one and giggled with anticipation. I shrunk down lower and waited for the whole excruciating experience to be over. “The winner is……NUMBER 42!!”
There must be a mistake. Number 42 was MY NUMBER. I waited for a bit to make sure and then the teacher said “C’mon Jenna, that’s you!”
Many of you know me as a super confident Pilates professional, but the truth is, until I was about 20, I couldn’t look anyone in the eyes without blushing crimson and this day was no exception. I slowly walked up to receive my ribbon and heard a child say “Why is her face so red?” I couldn’t believe I had won a prize.
I don’t remember what I won but I do remember going home and laughing hysterically with my Mum, both of us incredulous at the ribbon I had received. From that moment on, my lucky number would be 42. The more important aspect of the experience I received that day was the realization that the failure you see in yourself can be seen as pure beauty by others. Though the message was clear that day, I’m certain that I didn’t learn how to embody it until just recently – and what a powerful lesson it is!!!
You’ll notice that there’s no mention of Pilates this week. I could think of this as a failure in consistency, but instead, choose to see the beauty in sharing a lesson that’s been so powerful in shaping who I am. I want you to know that because of adopting this truth, I am able to see the beauty in others with so much clarity. There are many times when I work with teachers who will apologize to me for what they can’t do, don’t know or haven’t accomplished. They say sorry for their feelings, or for the work they haven’t finished or for what they are distracted with. Sometimes, they feel a sense of failure. But when I look and listen and allow myself to see the big picture of their process, I see nothing but ribbon-worthy beauty because they are in it. Uncertainty, mistakes, trip-ups and distractions are what comes with it. I want you to know this because I want you to see what I see. It’s all laid out exactly as it should be. And though it might take 42 years to figure out what it’s trying to teach you, the process to getting there will be so rich in lessons that build you strong enough to accept the truth of who you are – and celebrate it.
I’m writing this on my birthday and I want you to know that I’m sending us both a ribbon today. This one is simply to say “Hey! I showed up to write this and you showed up to read this! Yay US!!!!” So let’s keep showing up, because if there’s one thing I know for sure it’s that when we show up for each other it’s truly beautiful.