To Be or What (Not) To Be
“Love is life is love” is a phrase oft repeated by the great Diane von Furstenberg. I’m not sure if this was actually coined by her, but I’m giving her the credit.
A few years back I received a gift in the mail that contained a book she wrote entitled, “The WOMAN I WANTED to be”. The book contained a personalized inscription (see photo above) with these words written just for me, though I’ve never had the privilege of meeting her.
This gift was unexpected and came without warning. The best kind of gift. Truth be told, I received it because at the time I was a frequent flyer in her clothing store. The giver called me a “great Ambassador of the DVF brand” – reason enough to spend my vacation getting to know the woman behind the iconic wrap dress.
It seems that those people who are traditionally the most successful seem to share a commonality – qualities that breed creativity, bravery and an enormous hunger for change.
Maybe they come from humble, fractured or broken beginnings and yearn for a better way.
Maybe nothing was broken but they felt trapped by a culture that stifled them either creatively, academically, physically or emotionally. They just weren’t getting challenged, stimulated or cultivated by their seemingly average existence.
Or perhaps it was the lives or lessons lived and learned by their parents. The driving force being not as much a question what to BE when they grew up but rather – of what NOT TO BE.
This book is full of wise words borne from a strong woman who has seen and done a lot, but the one mantra that stayed with me is, “Fear is not an option” – the driving lesson Diane learned from her mother’s experiences as a Holocaust survivor.
Let’s face facts, fear is always an option – it’s just a paralyzing one. Fear doesn’t really spur us on to move forward; it makes us stay in place or choose the easiest path; because we cannot predict what the unknown change will bring, we can get stuck. So, even worse than staying in place, it can feel very acutely like a step backward.
In my own life, I’ve made pretty traditional choices that have brought me great joy and fulfillment. Marriage, raising my family and making a home was never, ever a difficult decision. It was the other choices that came along the way that challenged the play book I assumed would bring me all the way through life’s journey.
We’ve all had these moments – decision time.
Do we veer off the road or do we stay the course?
When is it time to make a change and ask for the proverbial check that moves us out of an unbearable or untenable situation?
They say that the opposite of fear is love and so I like to say that to myself when making choices…where is this decision based – in love or in fear? It’s an interesting way to frame your decisions.
We all have defining moments; the trick is recognizing them as they happen – regret is what is feel when we realize we missed it or when we let it slip through our fingers. Or when we opt for the fear-based decision – there’s probably regret on the other side of that every time.
Anyway, this autobiography is worth a read and is inspiring ☀️
Anything that makes you reflect is a gift that keeps on giving.