Independence Day

Our country celebrated its independence this week. It is exciting and humbling to remember the people and events that created a new nation founded on freedom.

I am celebrating a bit of an Independence Day myself.

Most of you know by now that I have been seeing a life coach to help me with the anxiety and other issues that rob me of joy and keep me from being the person God created me to be.

I have reported that the coaching has proven to be effective in dealing with my anxiety. It is difficult for me to really explain how significant the impact has been for me. Last week, I talked about the pervasive fear with which I have grappled most of my life. I have always been afraid of pretty much everything. Being a reasonably courageous person and being a person who puts a high value on having a rich life, I spend a lot of energy trying to overcome fear in order to do the things I want to do… or feel that God has called me to do.

With the help of my life coach Todd Payne, I have been able to fundamentally change the way I manage my fear. I am not going to say that I am no longer afraid. I am, certainly, much LESS afraid that I was. I am also learning not to dread fear so much. Fear is like a rumor. It is information, but it may not be totally true. Sometimes, fear tells me something that is completely false, and I am learning to think critically about that. Sometimes, fear tells me that there is something important underneath the fear that I should explore. I am just trying things out now. I feel a little like a newborn colt. I know how to walk in this new way with fear, but my legs are still pretty wobbly. Most colts do learn to steady their legs and run at some point.

The other huge issue that has haunted me all my life and seriously impeded my life is my image of myself. I have shared some of this with you all before- my certainty that I am unattractive, unsexy, and unlovable because of my appearance. Part of that is body image, but it is more pervasive than that. It is really about virtually every aspect of my appearance, although the weight is the most obvious. I did not think I was ever going to be able to slay this particular dragon. It felt way too entrenched and vicious to ever evict from my spirit.

Todd uses the enneagram model as a basis for his coaching. I am a type six. I had a tough time figuring out that I am a type six. This is hardly surprising because the hallmark of unhealthy type sixes is self-doubt. The way to health for type sixes is to develop the quality of self-determination. In other words, my goal has been to see and assess my worth based on my own sense of self… and then to decide what I want and take steps to make it happen. In the past few weeks, I have started to experience a true shift in my mind and heart. I am saying this very quietly, as I don’t want the feeling to get scared and go away.

It started with a couple of very rough sessions where I came face-to-face with some fairly mind-blowing truths about the way I think about myself. For instance, based on the enneagram, only about 33% of all people even acknowledge any external standard of beauty. In other words, 66% of people do not even think about the vision of acceptable appearance that I grew up with in my head- the beautiful people in the magazines and on tv. About half those people do not expect to be attracted or not attracted to any particular type or standard- they just get attracted based on what appeals to them specifically. The other half are more likely to be attracted to someone based on how that person reflects an appealing place in the grand scheme of things. Theoretically, about 67% of people could be attracted to me, even though I look nothing like the industry standard of beauty by which I have condemned myself my whole life.

In another revelation, I found out that nearly 70% of American women wear a size 16 or above. What size do I wear? A size 16.

The hardest session had to do with my compulsion of looking for external validation for my wants. I never thought I could ask for what I wanted because I did not deserve to want anything. I was barely entitled to my needs, much less any wants. I wanted so badly for my coach to comfort me by telling me I was beautiful and lovable and valuable-  in general, but also in his opinion. The compulsion was so strong that I was in physical pain. I knew he was not going to give me the assurance I wanted in that moment  because it would not help me to develop what I really needed to develop… a sense of self-determination. He has always been supportive, and it is not like he has never gives me any positive feedback. He does. I think we both knew we had reached the point in the coaching process where I had to find that support within myself if I was ever going to crack the ceiling of our progress. I would like to explain how Todd led me through the process that day, but it just feels too private and too complicated and too unique to me. I still do not really understand how a conversation could make me feel so rejected and also so supported. I certainly was not able to explain it that day. I could not even articulate what I felt that day. My brain knew he was doing his job. My brain knew it was the right thing. What my heart felt was an ugly, disoriented, knotty mess of uck.

It was a pretty horrendous fifty minutes that day. We were able to mop up a little before we ended. I was not out on a ledge or anything. I did not feel hopeless. Todd did not leave me distraught, but he did leave me emotionally addled and in deep thought. A few hours later, I began to feel so much better… actually, better than I have in years. My mind opened up and thoughts came trickling merrily through my brain. The fruit of my thoughts seemed so much clearer than they had. I felt such a sense of relief. I decided to live in that relief and rest a bit- not try to motivate myself to do anything I did not want to do, not try to push the revelations any further. I just let my head, heart, and body rest from the workout they received during the session. A surge of excitement flowed through me, getting bigger and bigger with each moment.

A couple of days later, I was sitting in church, and it struck me. I am as appealing and cute as anyone else there. While part of me thought this idea was madness, most of me was actually embracing it. For some people, this may seem like a relatively minor realization. For me, it was HUGE. I have NEVER thought I was as attractive as anyone else. In fact, I  always think I am distractingly unattractive. That I can sit there and believe, at any level, that I am attractive is a miracle. I wondered if it was sacrilegious or disrespectful to be thinking such things at church. But what better place than church to suddenly become aware of a miracle?

A few days later, I attended a meeting that did not go the way I expected it to go. It was challenging. There were a lot of people there who clearly did not agree with my perspective. They were people whom I have been trying very hard to please. I felt their displeasure viscerally at the meeting. A few months ago, I would have shrunk from the encounter and gone into hiding. Now, I could simply say what I wanted to say, understanding that I am entitled to my perspective and there is no catastrophe if others disagree. Just because someone disagrees with me does not make me wrong. I was able to sit in the moment, listen, be curious, and respond productively. It  honestly did not bother me that people were annoyed with me.

Today, I was thinking about what I might want to pursue in my life. The thought came to my head that I am appealing, attractive, and desirable. I have not completely integrated that notion into my sense of self, but I am no longer dismissing it. For now, the notion is blanketing  the top of my psyche. I am hoping it will start to sink in.

So, this is the story of my own personal Independence Day. I am declaring myself independent from the fears and insecurities and pain that have had tyranny over the best parts of me all these years. Just like with our nation’s independence, I know that I can declare it on a specific day but that it will take a lot more than just saying it to make it so. I know it will be a life’s work. And I am okay with that. I honestly cannot think of a better way to spend the rest of my life.

Have any of you come to an important realization later in life that you wish you had known much earlier? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at

Have a miraculous day!

Terri/Dorry 😊

Dear Mrs. Rice

When I was a little girl, Mrs. Rice was the director of the children’s choir at my church. I joined the choir when I was eight or nine, during the late 1960s.

I have not thought about Mrs. Rice in many years. The other day, though, I put on a dress that touched a Mrs. Rice memory. Mrs. Rice always wore these wonderful long bohemian/peasanty kind of dresses. They were fitted through the bodice and flowed from her natural waist. The dress I put on reminded me of her dress and her body and her beauty. Vivid memories of that time and of Mrs. Rice scuttled into my brain. Mrs. Rice always fascinated me.

Her body was lush and soft and solid, all at the same time. Mrs. Rice was an artist and a performing musician. She made wonderful art in oils. She played the guitar. She had a voice as sweet and clear as a mountain spring, with an exuberant undertone that reminded me of a brook running merrily into that spring. Her personality was warm and enveloping and comforting. She had dark, exotic hair. Her complexion was pale, and she always wore makeup, including very red lipstick. Her eyes sparkled. She reminded me of Snow White if Snow White had been a gypsy. As a child, I always had the sense that there was something about Mrs. Rice that did not quite fit in with the rest of the suburban mommies in my parish. I do not know what her backstory was. I did not care then, and I do not care now. All I remember is that Mrs. Rice was wonderful, and I loved her.

I went googling to see if I could locate Mrs. Rice. I am guessing she would be somewhere between 80 and 90 now. I did find a photo from the Orange County Register, our local newspaper in the town where I grew up. The photo was dated in 2013 and Mrs. Rice was leading a group of school children singing at a celebration to dedicate the parish school’s new playground. She was wearing the same kind of dress, the same bright lipstick, and had the same dark hair. I checked in with a friend of mine who has connections in that parish to see what he knew. It turns out that Mrs. Rice is still alive but is ending her journey in this world even as I write this. My friend did get me an address, however.

I decided to write to Mrs. Rice to tell her what kind of impact she had on me, even fifty plus years later. From what I understand, she is at the point of her journey where she probably will not be able to comprehend or process a letter from me. I still want to try. Some part of her may delight in hearing the impact she had on me and, I am sure, lots of children like me.

Dear Mrs. Rice,

I do not think you would remember me, but you were someone very special to me when I was a little girl. I sang in one of your children’s choirs when I was 9 or 10 years old, back in the late 1960s. We sang during Mass and, also, I remember one year singing as entertainment at the St. Joseph’s table celebration. This was so meaningful to me because the grade school glee club rejected me and I was devastated, as I had been waiting a long time to be old enough to sing in the choir. You embraced me, both physically and metaphorically, into the church children’s choir.

Your kindness meant so much to me then, filling me with confidence and a feeling of worth. It was not just the acceptance into the choir, though. There was something about you that just radiated joy, love, and peace. You fascinated me. Your energy was warm and creative. You had the ability to make me (and I am sure, others) feel like I was the only thing that mattered when you talked to me. There was something slightly exotic and different about you that intrigued me, as well. I had the sense, even as a child, that you did not quite fit into the “mommy mold” that most of the women in the parish crafted. I do not know what it was, but I always felt you were a bit outside the traditional clique community. Instead of seeming bothered by that difference or trying to reform yourself into the image of life that the “church ladies” held, you seemed to celebrate your difference. You were an example to me of living in a world, but not of it. I felt that you accepted yourself and loved the life God called you to live. You had that sense of acceptance and celebration not “in spite” of your uniqueness but because of it.

I have thought of you many times over the years. I am now 62 years old, retired, and living in Florida. The other day, I had an experience that brought back my memories of you so vividly, that I had to reach out to let you know of your continued impact.

I purchased a dress and I put it on for the first time a week or so ago. It reminded me so much of the dresses you wore when I was a little girl- long, fitted through the bodice, maybe a tiny bit low-cut, and flowing from the waist. The dress is made of yellow and white gingham. I feel faintly ethereal in it. I applied makeup carefully and spent some effort on my hair.

All my life, I have believed that I look ugly. I do not think there is anything about my looks that is remotely beautiful. I certainly do not look like I belong in a fashion magazine. Even in my younger days, I was not the kind of girl that attracted positive attention or inspired men to cross the street, much less cross the sea, to be with me. I worked extremely hard to be “good enough” or “sweet enough” or “smart enough” or something enough to compensate for my looks.

When I tried on that dress, I realized something. We are not shaped the same. You are more pear-shaped and voluptuous, and I am more apple-shaped and round. You are tall and I am short. Still, in that dress, I saw some similarities. VOGUE would not be interested in featuring us on its cover. Our bodies do not mirror the image of beauty and health that most people accept as fact. We both have extra weight. We both use makeup to create more luminous faces. We both color our hair to feel more energetic and vital.

When I looked at myself in the “Mrs. Rice” dress, I remembered how much I loved you and how exceptionally beautiful I thought you were when I was a little girl. You are beautiful, outside as well as inside. From the way you presented yourself to the world, I believe you knew you were beautiful. That made you even more beautiful and more magnetic. Mrs. Rice, when I realized all this, I realized something important. If I believe you are beautiful, perhaps I need to believe I am beautiful, as well. And perhaps I can.

Thank you so much for all you did for me as a little girl and for the lessons you taught me, almost subliminally, that are still teaching me today.

With love, prayers, and thanks for all you gave me,

Dorothea Goodness Curran

Have you ever contacted someone who impacted your life positively after many years had passed? What was the result? Please leave a comment to share your perspective. In the alternative, you can email me at

Have a beautiful day!

Terri/Dorry 😊