“Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am.“Parker Palmer- Letting Your Life Speak
I finished this delightful little love story about 1:20 AM and then at breakfast I read my latest blog from Katie Gustafson addressing the process of finding your own voice. Ironically this is the overarching plot of More Than Words by Jill Santopolo. The poignancy of Nina’s process of becoming her own person takes this story from just a simple beach read to a good reminder for us to live the life we are meant to live instead of the life someone else means for us to live. It’s a dilemma we all have to face at some point in our lives in order to live with integrity, right? Nina Gregory is the only daughter of a wealthy hotelier in NYC, and good ole dad has planned Nina’s life to the “nth” degree, her career path- eventually becoming the CEO of the hotel, her husband- which will be Tim of course, etc etc. And good ole Nina doesn’t ever want to disappoint dad so she never questions if she wants to plan her own life. I can’t decide if she is a nine on the Enneagram with her peacemaking and invisibility or a six with her over the top loyalty!
Nina’s mother is tragically killed in a car wreck on Christmas Day when Nina is six years old. Dad devotes his life to his career and Nina giving her all he can. There always seems to be some mysterious guilt coming from dad about her mother’s death. She discovers the reasons a few days after his death from cancer. Nina also discovers some white-collar shenanigans her father committed. Dad tumbles from his pedestal which frees Nina from his emotional grip on her. She begins, as Parker Palmer says, to listen to her life telling her who she really is and finding her voice to express her identity. On her blog, therapist Katie Gustafson writes, “We all fall somewhere on this spectrum of finding our voice. Maybe you have recently unlocked this stunning, shiny voice of yours and you really like using it. The test drive is intoxicating. Or, perhaps you’re completely shut down, confusing everyone else’s demands and desires with your own. You’re exhausted and maybe even a bit resentful. Either way, the next best step is to slow down, take several very deep breaths, and simply listen. Feel your feet on the floor and your spine growing up from your seat. Notice the sensations inside your body; they’re talking alright. Give the tension a little time-out; you can pick her up in just a minute. This is your true self. This is the space free of ego. This is where, with some practice, your life will speak to you in profound and sweet ways. This is the power of presence inside of you. It’s the magnificent Motherload. Let’s give it a listen.”
Nina chooses to “give it a listen” and discovers herself along with the sweet, yet passionate love of Rafael. She also puts together a new family for herself, “a family of choice.” A family who loves just who she is and supports her as she begins using this newly found voice. Lots of us in real life put together for ourselves families of choice, and we have sisters by blood and sisters by choice. You will cheer for Nina because Santopolo fleshes out her character in believable ways. We’ve all either been on the same journey as Nina or walked beside someone who has. It’s a great book for a trip to the beach, but it will give you lots of ponder afterwards.
PONDERINGS: https://katiegustafson.co/ to follow her blog and see the incredible work she does with her online community.