Step Back Saturday

This week I focused a lot on the past and finding who I am in order to live a better life now. I also wrote about knowing where I come from and how I came into this world. Of course we KNOW how we came into the world, but what was our birth like, what kind of childhood did we have? What experiences shaped up to be the person we are today?

So the other day, my mom gave me some photos, because I told her I wanted to start writing about my childhood. This is some of what I have learned so far.

Perseverance

I was born on October 19, 1966. I was three weeks early. As the story goes, the doctors were told to get a priest as it didn’t look like I would survive. I was 3 lbs 14 oz., which isn’t bad in today’s standards, but not having all the equipment back then was why they were doubtful. I literally fit in my dad’s hand. I’ll have to find that photo if there is one. My father refused to let the priest come in and bless me. He knew, even if I didn’t know it then, that I was a fighter and would make it.

janinebaby
Here I am as a one year old!

I have always been a klutzy child. I’ve sprained my ankles more times than I could count, broke my leg at 5 years old, then fractured same one in my teens, then severed my ACL (again, same leg) at age 31. I’ve had multiple concussions, which would explain quite a bit. You see? Going back to my childhood explains why my body is hurting so badly today!

I also have had severe allergies since I was a teen. Food, environment, fragrances, you name it. The worst was poison ivy. I would walk our dog along the road, and I would get it. I even got it in the middle of winter, when I was chopping wood and a piece of wood hit my cheek. I think the reason why I can take my mind off pain so well is because when I literally had poison ivy all over my body and internally, I couldn’t do anything but lay on the floor and try not to scratch the hell out of my skin. Perseverance: I learned it from birth and so far it has served me well.

janine8
8 years old

Fortitude and Speed

We moved up to Greenville by the Catskill Mountains when I was 7. As you can see I was a cute, but goofy looking kid. Not sure what my mom was thinking with the ruffles, but I had to go with it. A main reason for why we moved to Greenville was because my brother and I were constantly bullied. I’m sure for me it had a lot to do with my glasses. I say I gained fortitude, because I had to be brave to go to school every day. My glasses would get broken, and those who I thought were friends went out of their way to tease me.

I say speed, because I remember racing home from school to my house as I was chased by kids who for some reason wanted to hurt me. This made me very intolerant to seeing other kids bullied, and it wasn’t until I was in 7th grade that I finally stood up to someone. I won’t mention his name, but from that day forward I stood a little taller. It’s a good thing, because I wasn’t all that fast in my teen years!

Janine9
9 years old. I think I get points for color coordination between my Mickey necklace and my sweater!

I still have that necklace. It’s one of my most treasured momentos from my childhood.

janine12
12 years old

Ok you would never know that I had curly hair! I think I was in my don’t show your teeth stage. I had very long hair before I turned 7. It was wild, curly, and always in knots. That may be why my mother cut it!

Confidence

I was extremely shy as a kid. I cried on the first day of school (wait I did that in college too!) and wouldn’t let go of my sister’s leg. I had a very hard time speaking to others and often had my head in a book. I had dreams of going to college to become a lawyer, so I forced myself to take public speaking classes. I also worked hard on getting rid of my Long Island accent and a family trait of mumbling. How was I going to defend the world if no one could understand me!?

As I grew older, I learned to speak up and not only express myself fairly well, but voice my opinion and stand up for what I believed in. I joined student council, wrote for our college paper, and went to some rallies.

Janine22
In Maine, 22 years old

I changed my major to my true love, English literature, and found my calling as a writer and editor. I spent most of my adult life raising my children, which I would never have changed for the world. The memories I have of my two boys are beyond priceless. What I learned as a child has only grown as the unpredictability of adult life has not only given me joy in the most precious gifts of my husband and children, nieces and nephews, but the strength to pick myself up after losing both my dad and son to cancer.

If I look close enough, I can see how so many different experiences and events in my life have prepared me for what was to come. Taking the time to absorb them and learn from them is part of what stepping back is all about.

Write about your birth. What are some major events in your life that have made you who you are today? What can you learn from them? How did they impact who you are now and what you do? What would you whisper to your infant self?

I would say, “Hang on to what and who truly matters and let all the other stuff go.”

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