For the most part, I live happily in a large life, with my energies and joys in so many areas of my personal and professional lives, yet I have worked for decades, non-stop, both through my own inner exploration and my formal academic education, to create my current inner and outer worlds.
When I was younger, I often stood in front of closed doors and felt the towering walls envelop me; I was engulfed by my limitations—low self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-worth. I twisted and turned myself into the child my mother needed and expected me to be, resulting in my arduous, long struggle to own my unique inner strength as a wife, mother, daughter, friend.
A gift of my passage enables me to actually view these doors, now open, as doors of growth, which might have existed all along if only I had been prepared to walk through them. Today these open doors reflect my lessons learned and self-acceptance, all hard-earned joys.
Besides (and it is a big ‘besides) the amazing people and dog in my life, there is much I enjoy (in no special order):
* Dark roast coffee, especially the first sip in the morning. I close my eyes and sip, always with a smile of contentment.
* My early morning walks with Emma, my furry daughter, who looks forward to these jaunts like a child going to Disneyland.
* A good book—no, a great book, which forces me to stop reading before the end so I don’t finish it. Of course, I ultimately complete the book, but always with the same dilemma. Do I put it down and savor the fact that it’s not over or do I appreciate having completed such a valuable piece of writing?
* Watching a great series on television: Downton Abbey, The Crown, Breaking Bad, Boardwalk Empire, Mad Men, Game of Thrones. There are others, but I always feel amazing while watching and slightly forlorn when having completed the series.
* Chocolate Malt Balls from one specific candy store in the San Fernando Valley. Heaven on earth.
* Lying under a soft blanket with Emma on top of me during the ‘cold’ (60 degrees) Los Angeles nights
* Swimming my laps every day during the warm weather.
* The hugs from my 3-year old grandson with his unsolicited words, “I am so happy to see you, Nana!”
* The large smile of acknowledgment from my seven-month old granddaughter when she looks into my eyes.
* A comfortable pair of shoes. They aren’t sexy or attractive, but comfort far outweighs vanity when it comes to my feet.
* Having a granddaughter to dress in pink after three sons and a grandson.
* My office ceiling fan that blows cooler air around the room.
* My legs that allow me to walk every day.
* A bright red or pink lipstick, especially on days where a dark cloud surrounds me.
* Rereading a piece of my writing and with humility accepting that it is good.
* Finally having strong fingernails after five decades of split and broken nails.
* Hearing from a past student who conveyed to me how I positively affected his/her life.
* Having the dinner table set in the morning (carry over from watching my mother prepare for our dinner).
* Drinking ice cold water and sparkling water.
* Writing early in the morning (before my walks with Emma), when my mind is the clearest and most creative.
* Acknowledging the elements of my life such as those I have listed that provide me joy…such a simple yet important act but essential to my being.
Copyright 2017 by Barbara Jaffe. All Rights Reserved.
When Will I Be Good Enough?: A Replacement Child’s Journey to Healing
by Barbara Jaffe Ed.D.
Barbara was born to fill the vacancy left by her little brother, who died at the age of two. This book tells the multitude of readers who have been “replacement children” for many reasons, that they, too, can find hope and healing, as did Barbara.
Barbara Jaffe, Ed.D. is an award-winning English professor at El Camino College, California and is a Fellow in UCLA’s Department of Education. She has offered countless workshops to students to help them find their writers’ voices through writing non-fiction. Her college has honored her by naming her Outstanding Woman of the Year and Distinguished Teacher of the Year. Visit her website at BarbaraAnnJaffe.com