Most readers have watched the movie The Wizard of Oz, a childhood favourite of mine, where so much happens that is metaphorical even though we mostly watch it for entertainment. It is scary in places, scary like real life can be scary. I am a movie buff and enjoy watching movies from a “what lesson can I learn” perspective.
The Wizard of Oz is particularly special in my life as I look back on more years than I expect to have going forward. I am bearing down on my 60th birthday in 2019 and over the past year have been contemplating my life’s work and my journey so far.
Most recently I started a small bucket list that reflects a year or two out. I am not sure why I am not looking beyond 2019, I just am not, I have chosen to list the things I want to do this year and in the actual year I turn 60. I believe this is because I have never looked forward before. It seems my life has been a watch my toes kind of life. I have watched, head down, each step taken, and it has proven to be a bleak way to live. As I have created this small short-term bucket list it feels like it is the key to the longer story, the next thirty years as Tim McGraw sings about in his popular country song.
The longest goal I have set is to visit Ireland, the home of my ancestors in 2019. Visit the place where the original six children, who migrated with their parents in the 1800’s, were conceived and connect with the deep roots of my DNA. A shorter goal I set was to sing at the music festival this spring, which I did on April 4 in Barrie, Ontario. I received first place and a medal to show for my efforts. I suppose I should tell you I was the only one in my category so first place was inevitable however that did not make the victory any less sweet.
How does this relate to The Wizard of Oz? In the movie Dorothy and her collection of misfit friends make their way to Oz, together in community, each seeking their own. Their own deep yearning for something to tell them they are worthy, successful and give them a reason for living. The Scarecrow seeking a brain, the Tin Man a heart, and of course, the Cowardly Lion seeking courage and of course, Dorothy who simply wants to go home. All these treasured characters are a part of me, and a part of you, and are the fodder for a life’s journey. Singing in the festival and gaining the first-place certificate, the inexpensive medal hanging on a ribbon and the words of the adjudicator satisfied my seeking for courage. In the sweet words of the adjudicator, she told me I was “brave” as not many people my age grace her with their presence in a music festival. I performed a song that, I have told many, chose me. When I decided in January to register and sing in the spring festival, my teacher said, “what do you want to sing?” I had no idea! So, I went to her home and she had pulled out some books. They were laying on the floor. I reached for one book in particular. It was the musical score from the Broadway production “Jekyll and Hyde”. As I flipped lightly through it, the book paused on the song “Someone Like You” and I read the words. I said, “this is it!” -- “… if someone like you, found someone like me, my heart would take wing, I’d feel so alive …”
From 2007 – 2013 I was in university, at 47 years old I decided to get post-secondary education. I had finished grade 12 in 1977 and never pursued anything further. During the BAHons. program, from May 2007 – August 2009, I was most often the oldest in the class, with the exception of some of the professors. From that straight into a theological master’s degree. From August 2009 – December 2012 I watched my toes as I put one foot in front of the other to achieve this massive mission. I achieved in six years a Bachelor of Arts degree (with honours) and a master’s degree receiving the diplomas to prove, like the Scarecrow, I have a brain. It was bittersweet success that was clouded with personal trauma, self-doubt and mental depression. Although the respected institutions of knowledge awarded me with the necessary credentials I still was, like Dorothy, seeking home. The credentials were lost in the muck and the mire.
Both singing in the festival and beginning to reflect on the anniversary of my 60th year has created in me a need to seek a heart. Like the Tin Man my chest has felt empty for years. I have felt paralyzed with rusty joints and immobilized by an emptiness I could not explain. I cannot explain where I lost my oil can or when I put JOY on the dusty top shelf of my daily quest for health and happiness, but I know I did. Somewhere along my life I lost the oil of life, I lost JOY. JOY is the oil that keeps a person pliable and free moving.
Deep within myself, singing that song on April 5 at 3:55 pm my heart awakened. I was somehow given permission to have heart, take pride in my accomplishments, and know I have great courage and I found home! I found my Wizard deep within and the Wizard told me “Someone like you” loves me. Powerful words that I had practiced for weeks to prepare for the staging of my coming out party. In all my personal glory, I came out of hiding that day and I now know someone like you loves me.
Who is this “you” I am talking about? This “you” is the deepest part of myself that has been hidden and overcome with messages from my past that had my ego in the driver’s seat. This “you” is my desire to be whole, loving and steadfast in my own journey toward fulfillment of pleasure in life. I was asked recently if I was often told “don’t get too big for your britches”? A light went on. I was told exactly that many, many times as a child and a young adult and I believed until now I needed to fit the britches that were made for me by well-meaning family members. On the stage of that music festival I took off those britches and am now fitting well into a new pair! Through all my theological education where seeking the divine becomes book work education, on that stage I found the sacred is deep within and divinely beautiful. It all came together.
I recognize I have a brain, I am smart and have much to offer the world.
I recognize I have courage to be the best I can be, and trust it is received with the passion intended.
I know I have a heart and JOY has begun to make its way back into my life.
Best of all I know there is no place like home! HOME is deep in my own soul where my brilliance, my courage, and my heart joyfully play together within my essence and like sunshine on a dreary day pours out for others to see!
There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.
Cynthia Breadner is a self-made entrepreneur, who for the last 15 years, has been motivating and inspiring people from a stage and is the host of momondays in Barrie. She is an accomplished speaker sharing time with groups, large and small, who listen for encouragement and support. Cynthia is a certified group fitness coach and personal trainer and she is trained as a healthy eating and weight loss coach. In 2017 she completed six cross country races, three triathlons and a half marathon. CynthiaBreadner.com