When hundreds of red dragonflies literally flew into my life,I realized they had a story to tell.
Little did I know, my very own 81-year old mother would be part of that story.
But first things first.
Did you know that dragonflies spend much of their lives (up to four years) crawling around the bottom of a pond?
Just when it looks like nothing is happening, they climb out of the muck and into the sunlight. Their wings, miraculously unfurl. And the dragonfly soars. (Here’s my magical dragonfly story.)
If you think that’s inspiring, listen to this:
For the last several years, my mother has been stuck in the muck of some pretty murky waters.
Besides struggling with her own depression and daunting health issues, she supported my Dad through his long, sad battle with kidney disease.
Her pond these days is a skilled nursing facility.
It’s dreary on the outside but filled with the most vibrant, and loving staff on the inside.
Six months ago, some of that staff actually got my mother to do something that I’ve been trying to talk her into since I was a little girl:
“Take an art class.”
My Mom’s always been so-o-o creative. It’s evident in everything she does, from doodling to decorating.
But like many of us, she’s been stuck in the muck of self-doubt and judgment, lacking the confidence to “put herself out there.”
Fortunately, Lisa Kokin, the very talented art teacher at the nursing home didn’t take “no” for an answer. She kept inviting my Mom to come and simply observe the class. (No pressure whatsoever.)
After a couple of weeks of just watching, Mom started doing.
Twenty paintings later, she had her first one-woman art show.
And I had the pleasure of seeing my octogenarian mother, Marilyn Berger, hold court in front of an entire exhibit of her colorful, whimsical and deliciously-detailed masterpieces.
Family, friends and residents were in awe. No one (including Mom) could believe she created all these pieces in less than six months.
That dynamo of a dragonfly spread her wings further and read a speech to the gathered throng as if she’d been doing it her whole life. (I get happy tears just thinking about it.)
One of my favorite parts was “If I become depressed, I take out my art supplies and color my demons away—even if it’s 3AM.”
And, her Big Finish: “I hope you enjoy the new world of this old lady.”
Then, “The Artist,” as Mom’s now called, answered questions from the adoring crowd:
Her medium? Brush-tipped markers on paper.
Her inspiration? Coloring books. As a kid, Mom loved lying on the living room floor coloring while her family gathered around the radio
Her favorite artist? Her daughter. (It seems my brother put her up to that one. But I was touched nonetheless.)
Ironically, I’ve been speaking to groups of women about “The Dragonfly Movement,” with the message that “it’s never too late to soar.”
Little did I know that the Queen of All Dragonflies was fluttering around my own family tree.
Here are some flying lessons I’ve picked up lately:
Shit happens. But magic happens too.
Who could imagined that in the midst of so much loss my mother would find the joy of her own creativity?
If her wings could emerge at 81 in a nursing home, who knows what gifts are hidden in the muck and mire of your pond?
Everyone flies in their own sweet time.
I‘d been trying to get my mother to “do something with her creativity” for eons. Butjust like the dragonfly, we each have our own timing.
It takes practice and faith to respect another’s process. And our own.
Grow your own wings first.
I’ve noticed that when I focus on myself and move toward those things that spark a “yes” in my own heart, it gives others permission to do the same.
When I found the courage to get my paintings out of the garage and into the world, it seemed to give my Mom a little psychic nudge.
It’s never too late.
Lately, I’ve been meeting dragonflies at all ages and stages of their lives.
The next time you start clipping your own wings, just remember my Mom.
And happy flying.
Are you or someone you love a dragonfly? Do tell…..(Please share your comments below.)