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We Are Who We’ve Always Been

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I recently went through a bunch of boxes of stuff from my childhood that my mom had been saving in her basement (and requested that I remove given that I’m now an adult with my own basement).

Though I’d delayed diving in because the task seemed overwhelming, it was actually really nourishing.

Why?

Because sitting in those boxes was my little girl self, evident in the stories I’d written, the school projects I’d composed, and the collateral left over from elaborate games of make believe I used to play with my sister.

One artifact of play was particularly interesting to me. It was an entire stack of welcome materials that we’d created for our imaginary boarding school, The Brookside School for Girls.

It included rules and regulations, clubs and organizations, a directory, the schedule, and a very sweet welcome letter (all complete with inventive spelling).

academy-documents

Beyond the delight of remembering The Brookside Academy for Girls after it having been long tucked away in the recesses of my memory, I was struck by one thing:

The focus of all of this paperwork supporting the make-believe school was on making people feel at home and part of the community. I wanted to make the girls feel safe so that they could learn and grow.

As I read through the pieces of yellowed computer paper with the Brookside Academy documents, I also remembered how I’d created a schedule for all of my stuffed animals and rotated through who got to sleep in my bed each night because I didn’t want anyone to feel left out.

I realized I haven’t changed much.

Whenever Mike and I have moved to a new home, the first room I set up is the guest room. (This is not conscious. It’s just always what I do.)

At our live events I always want people to feel welcomed and that they belong there. In The Freedom Family I want our team members to know that they belong.

I’m no longer the welcome wagon for an imaginary school for girls, but I still pretty much do the same thing decades later. Creating a safe community for women to learn and grow, where they feel like they belong, is still pretty much what I do.

I’m not so special. The truth is, we’re all pretty much who we’ve always been.

Yes, we change and grow. But the core of who we are is the core of who we are.

If you’ve been feeling lost when it comes to what you’re meant to be doing in your life, reflect on the following:

~What did you absolutely love doing as a kid? Was it building stuff? Being in nature? Making art? Organizing the kids in your neighborhood to do plays?

~What did you used to pretend to be when you were a kid?

I think there’s a sweet spot around the ages of 7-9 before we started to meld our play based on what others thought, or before our play started to melt away all together.

So, next time you’re feeling lost, remember: we are who we’ve always been. {Tweet it.}

next-time-youre-feeling-lost-remember-we-are-who-weve-always-been-tweet

Your truest essence has been there all along, so just ask that sweet, innocent part of yourself that’s never forgotten who you are, and she’ll lead you right on home.

 

OVER TO YOU:

What were you really into when you were a kid? What elements of that are still active in your life today? How could what you remember about your passions as a child help guide you in your life today? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

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  • Pam Geldenhuys says:

    Always loved libraries since being introduced to them as a 2.5 year old accompanying my Dad while my mom looked after my new sister at home.
    Always meant to be one but my path got diverted for a while but finally back in 2005 I started on my dream road and graduated in 2010. Now an e-resources librarian working in a health library for the NHS in SW UK. Also 2/3 of the way through my Masters.
    So my dream somehow sustained me and as a 61 year old, I can truly say that we never stop learning. This took me a while to realise being of the generation that thought all formal learning stopped the moment you left high school…

    So I would say to never give up and always move forwards.

    Thanks for your inspiring blogs. I love them as well as your Mom’s ones too! You are really a very inspirational family!!

    Kind regards

    Pam
    :))

  • Regina says:

    When I was little, I was all about making plays and dance shows for my family to watch. I would dress up, have some of my cousins pretend to be the musicians and I would be the main star singing and dancing around!

    Later in my life I discovered my passion for dancing ballet and became a certified teacher =).

  • Jen says:

    As a current student at Brookside, I can attest to the veracity of these claims.
    I used to host tea parties for the girls at the bus stop after everyone at my house left for the day. I also recall sneaking my dad’s Man of La Mancha soundtrack in to my 4th grade class and being shocked that my classmates were unmoved by the story or the score.

    • Kate Northrup says:

      Thank you for that Jen – much appreciated. Love that you were hosting rogue tea parties – very apropos!

  • Ooo a trip down memory lane. I remember trying to start newspapers, magazines and ways to tell stories or get the stories from others. That has carried over into adulthood for me as a writer.

    I do have another memory of running an office which I think was the seed for wanting to create and run my own business :)

    Loved this post, Kate.

    Thanks,
    Elisabeth

  • Paula Hill says:

    Kate:
    As you may recall, I help people downsize and the goods go to people in transition in Portland area. So many of my clients grieve while processing thru their stuff. I, on the other hand, help them re-ignite themselves (as you have in your sorting) so they can celebrate who they ARE, not WERE. It’s so grand to see them smile, blasting into the past of their lives through their stuff. If they were innovative, sassy, charming, and loving, their things tend to express it all. When they in turn, give their things to others, they spread that sentiment.
    Thanks for being willing to unfold, while you promote good will, with uber self-expression!
    Paula

  • Wow! What a fabulous academy you created! Filled my heart. I homeschooled my daughters (with other likeminded unschooling families) so that I could create a safe, welcoming, and free environment for them. Our last name is Freeman so FreeFam has personal meaning for me too Kate ?. Personally I spent a lot of my childhood loving up my dolls and playing store. Besides natural schooling I became a La Leche League Leader to inspire heart centered parenting, and now I run an inspirational studio and boutique where we offer amazing books by beautiful authors including a very special book called ‘Money, A Love Story’! ??????
    As well as many Hay House authors including, of course, your beautiful Mama’s books.
    I am also writing a deck of Parenting with the Angels oracle cards to guide parents and guardians with faith, freedom, and compassion. And they are full of guidance and reassurance just as I expected from the Angels!
    You are so correct with your message that we are who we have always been Kate. Thank you so much for this opportunity to see that I must be in my path of purpose!
    Much love to you and your beautiful family! Your little girl is so so so blessed to have you! ❤️
    Blessings of light,
    Colette Freeman

  • Gail says:

    “We are who we have always been” has special meaning to me today as my siblings and I are just admitting that Dad is showing signs of dementia. My quote to my brother tonight was let’s not think of what Dad can’t do anymore but let’s remind him of all the awesome things he did do. Proud father of 5, successful business owner and developer and world class gamesman having travelled for weeks on end every year through Alaska, Canada, Utah, Maine and NH. I love you Dad for teaching me so much!! Especially to be the best tree fort builder in the neighborhood ?

  • Judy says:

    I loved playing spy around 8-9 yrs old. I’d have a hideout like a big appliance box (which made me invisible) and I (we – Cindy and myself or just me) would watch people through a cut out. I would take notes. I bought a secret code book and tried writing in invisible ink. I loved Nancy Drew books too. Then a little later I bought the book Harriet the Spy.

  • Judy says:

    I was 10 when I bought Harriet the Spy to take on a family vacation to Montreal from Pontiac MI. I was lonely and imaginative and recall sitting on a bench on the Chateau Frontenac promenade wishing we could stay in the ‘castle’

  • Oh I love this post Kate!
    What a great way to your self again — perhaps a purpose. I don’t think it ironic that as a child I wanted to teach — and organize every one’s space — given that now I am a health coach and a professional organizer. My roommates thought I was nuts making their beds (and often fixing up their closets) all in an effort to lend more order to our shared spaces.

    Now, as an adult with a child we adopted at the age of 4, I am so curious as to who she will become! I am reminded (as your post did) about how we create ourselves and how who we are – is just who you are (regardless of who birthed you) and that never does go away. If we are allowed to continue to create and are encouraged to do so, there is no telling who we can become.

    But you’ve definitely piqued an interest for me. I am going to go through some of the things I picked up from *my* parent’s attic for some inspiration. I am sure there is more of me to learn about (or remember!) that I had forgotten.

    Thanks, as always, for your most inspiring and always helpful posts!
    Francesca

  • Meredith says:

    I have never been able to figure out what to do with my strongest childhood fascinations/games. Besides loving to make/build things with my hands, I had a near obsession with all things Germanic, Jewish, or relating to the time period of WWII, including the Holocaust. And no, we’re not Jewish! I would somehow convince my sister to play “WWII Survivor” or “survivor in the bombed out ruins of Berlin” or, on more mellow days, re-enact Heidi and leave my mom scratching her head when I’d ask for melted goat cheese on baguette in the pre-chevre days of America in the 1970’s. I begged to be able to take after-school German classes when I was ten, and managed to visit/live in Germany several times as an exchange student and again when my father got work over there. But it never turned into anything to do with a career, and I’ve always wondered about it.

  • Susan says:

    Thank you for what I’ve learned from MONEY A LOVE STORY. I just finished the book and just joined your blog.

    I remember in about 3rd or 4th grade I wanted to have my own desk with my own phone. I needed my own bank account for all my money. (Have no idea how I made money!) I wanted a really fast car because gas was only 25 cents a gallon and I could go anywhere. I dreampt about living in my one thousand dollar home! What Fun!

  • Marnita says:

    Wow this brought up a long forgotten memory. We had subscriptions to some of the popular national household magazines in South Africa as a child. I devoured every word when the magazines were delivered. I followed the Miss South Africa pageant between the ages of 7 and 9 and I would make an entire scrapbook of the reigning queen cutting and pasting every picture from the magazines I could find.
    Earlier this year I sent a mail to a magazine who regularly feautures a 2 page makeover section. I had lost 92 lbs the prior year and hoped to be treated to a hair make up and clothing make over plus photoshoot and they chose me! The shoot was super fun and I can’t wait for the issue to come out next month. Hehe a childhood fascination come true. I’ll feel like Miss South Africa for a moment ?

  • TJA says:

    Around the ages of 7-9 I enjoyed creating little clubs where I’d gather my friends to do something together: exercise, make a play, put on a dance, act out some imaginary activity. I really coming up with ideas and getting my friends on board with me.
    I recall deciding I was going to make designer barbie clothes and I told my friends and took their orders. When I got home, I realized I had no clue how to sew or make clothing – so it never happened, but I sure had a great time coming up with it.
    I loved drawing and dancing and showing it to others. I really loved getting praise and feedback for what I could do.
    I also remember searching for hidden treasures around my home, in hopes of discovering something very valuable, unique, or precious. Old videos, games, clothes, pictures were what I’d love for.

    Now I’m an acupuncturist and opened a community clinic because I wanted to feel connected others around me. I also didn’t want to work in isolation, as most acupuncturists do, so I designed the clinic so two of us can work together in one big room – side by side.

    My bigger goal now is to help people transform from their current pain into a better, happier, healthier place.

    However, if I look back at my childhood, I can see that I always loved to be creating something with a group of peers. I liked to come up with ideas and have them join in with me and I can see how my clinic is very much like that.

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