The Madonna of Southside 

As a goody-two-shoes child of the Eighties, I was fascinated by Madonna. Not so much from her penchant for shocking us with her wild outfits and behavior or her music, but rather her ability to recreate herself, time and time again. New looks, new style, new career paths- all while maintaining the core of who she was and is.

I think Modonna’s example stuck a chord in me, and in my own small way I have recreated myself, too, over the years. I have reclaimed my body and fitness level several times over the years after letting weight slip back on (sigh) or after surgery. I have rebuilt my life after the dissolution of a long marriage and relocation to a new job and new home. I have transitioned from student to professional, from caregiver to ‘regular’ life. Those times of re-creation were not easy, and they made me pull from some well of strength deep inside of me that I can’t always reach.

I’ve come to the realization that it is time for me to access that well of strength, to recreate myself yet again. The knowlege of it has been tapping on my shoulder for a while now. Perhaps it is the recent health issues I’m facing, perhaps it is being fifty-four and thinking about how I want to spend whatever years I have left.  Perhaps it is seeing a beloved pet fading away. Perhaps I am sick and tired of feeling stuck in a rut of behaviors that are holding me back from who and what I know that I can be. Whatever the reason, it’s time, and I am ready.

I woke up this morning knowing how I wanted to begin- I wrote a love letter to myself and shared it with Dan. It is deeply personal, so I won’t share the paraticulars of it here, but in the letter I made a vow to myself to change, to work on showing my love of self in my daily actions and behaviors. I cried as I watched Dan read it, as opening up with true honesty, sharing your innermost doubts and fears, is difficult and scary. I needn’t have worried- my husband pledged his love and support, holding me as I sobbed. I will make these changes for myself, but also for my love of my husband and our relationship. When I feel weak in my resolve, when I falter, having that support will steady me and help me to continue on the path to change. I think that path to change is a neverending one for me, and I have come to peace with it. I included these two quotes on my love letter, both of which really spoke to my heart:

“It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work. And when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey.” ~ Wendell Berry

“and I said to my body. softly. ‘i want to be your friend.’ it took a long breath. and replied ‘i have been waiting my whole life for this.’ ~Nayyirah Waheed

And so it begins today, another opportunity to reach inside of myself and find the best parts of myself. To reach a hand down and lift myself back up to a better quality of life, mentally, physically, and spiritually. It won’t be easy, as I have let myself get comfortable and set, and it will take a lot of work and a ton of resolve to break through barriers and  accomplish my goals. I know that I can do it, though- I’ve done it before, and I love the notion of transformation, redefining what we want to be and what we can be. I will once again be the Madonna of Southside Birmingham- but without the pointy bras and controversial MTV videos- at least this time. More to come…


5 thoughts on “The Madonna of Southside 

  1. Very appropriately introspective. I always enjoy your quotes, those others may have written, and those that you pen yourself. As I continue to learn from so many others around me…the desk clerk or housekeeping staff at a hotel, a person at the drive-thru window, a student, a parent, a family member, an old friend, or a new friend, I can see parts of myself there…with them…through them. Your brave words continue to inspire.

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