Driving Force

I actually sat down to write a post on my grandma’s birthday, but that little voice that I’ve been listening to said it wasn’t the right time (which is OK, because it’s more true to Brittany form that I write a post after the traditionally celebrated day). Just like with drawing, writing is something that I can’t view as an obligation or something that has to be done, the timing is essential because this is the gift that I have: my thoughts and words (which my mom tearfully reminded me after the post on my father, is the best thing I can give to them). It has been on my mind, but I think I needed a day with my family yesterday for it to all fall together. Part of my life’s journey has been looking at my past chapters to see what has brought me to my current state, I’ve frequently wrote about my parents and mentioned my friend, but  my extended family play a key role(remember everyone has a lesson to teach us) in this and holds some of my most treasured memories. I’ve always felt so fortunate to have such a tremendous family, I’ve had friends that don’t even know all their cousin’s first names and like I’ve mentioned before I’ve had a client tell me her mother didn’t like her (Granted we’re not mushy ‘I love you’ and hugs and kisses types, but we are loving in our own unique way). Growing up my mother’s family was always there, Durkees Ferry is a haven for Drehers, but the Paulin’s are spread across the country, so holiday’s and celebrations are our blessed meeting times. Admittedly I tend to be quieter in this arena, but there are so many dominating personalities on this side (which I love), that I find myself entranced to just listening (again one of those times where at the time I’m not necessarily aware that I’m being quiet, my brain is going and I feel like I’m actively participating even though I don’t actually say anything). I think it is the distance that separates us, that makes this bond so diverse from the one I have with my moms family (but you also have a completely different cast of characters). Like I wrote on the card I gave my grandparents for Christmas, some of my most treasured childhood memories come from traveling with my large, fun, loud, outgoing family. Trips to Florida, Texas, Alaska, our Christmas present of a trip in the RV when me, Cliff and Melinda got a week with Grandma and Grandpa in Washington DC. They have definitely fueled my adventurous spirit. I always take such pride anytime anyone starts talking travel, to chime in about my grandparents who: retired, bought an RV, traveled to all 50 states, have been on countless cruises, have gone oversees to Ireland, Italy and Egypt, and who you never know where they’ll turn up next. So my passion for travel and to see the world (just look at all my Pinterest travel boards)and its beauty is definitely something I’ve taken from them. My grandma: is almost like writing about my dad or my grandpa Dreher, she is a dynamic character and I feel like the Rumi poem:

You don’t resemble anyone. You’re not the

bride of the groom. You

don’t fit in a house with a family.

You’ve left the closed-in corner

where you lived. You

are as you are, and indescribable

message coming on the air.

is fitting of her. One of the main adjectives that I would helplessly try to use to capture my grandma (because we are always changing and cannot be placed in a box of definitions, but as a general acknowledgement)  is strong. I feel like I have a great strength too and this comes from the aggressive women influences I’ve had growing up. As my grandma Dreher has been reminding me lately (hence my saying the timing was off, I needed to have these conversations before I could fully appreciate what my grandma stands for), I have a lot of women to thank for the freedom I have today (and which I admit I probably take for granted sometimes. That I am a free spirit and can do whatever I want, that I have no rules, I sometimes forget that it hasn’t always been this way for women). The Tribune Star printed an article on Title IX and when I asked my grandma Dreher what sports her sister played in school: we didn’t have sports. That slammed me with a: sometimes you’re a brat, look how much you have, don’t take it for granted, fist in the stomach. So humbly back on the trail, I can look at the women in my life and their influence on me. I don’t just mean just physical when I say strength, just like the Rumi poem, there is strength in being yourself and in being honest. I often describe my dad as bold, this is something I would also associate with my grandma (yes they are more similar than either would probably likely admit). She doesn’t sugar coat or bullshit, she tells it how she sees it, loud and proud. A straight-shooter, I adore this about her, and when I look at the relationships that I seek outside of my family and the types of people I’m drawn to, they are very reminiscent of grandma and Dad. What I find beautiful about mine and Tab’s friendship, why it is such a strong bond, is because we are so honest with each other (and we accept each other). Boldness, doesn’t have to equal harshness (because let’s face it not all people like the truth, so they often displace their feelings on the truth sayer), either, all life is balance, and grandma has a wonderful balance with boldness and light. She is effervescent and has a great spirit, she has this laugh, not one that I can really describe (because it is unique like her), but one that you remember. Just like when my brother little Cliff laughs and I have to laugh along with him, when grandma laughs I have to smile.My favorite picture by far, is this one that I took of Gavin and her on our cruise to Alaska to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. It is a perfect representation of her spirit and I love the look on both their faces (not to mention that it takes me back to that celebration full of light-heartedness surrounded by my family that I don’t get to see all the time- even Ali missing it because she was faking a sprained ankle adds to the memory, what is a family vacation without good stories to tell?). Joy and spirit show themselves in different ways in each person, with their own shining lights. Yesterday when I looked around from my grandma, to my aunts, to my cousins I see this progression of time, of change. Change in conditioning, a change in time and circumstances and environment, each taking from the prior generation, while also bringing their own will and self  to the present. A great painting of strong-willed, individual, intelligent, creative (emphasis on this one), funny and adventurous women. How proud and fortunate am I to come from this? To have such great influences, such power and fire. My grandma is a catalyst that helped sparked this breathtaking group of individuals. She is a part of me (past, present and future), of my story, that I have only just begun to be aware of the side-effects (positive ones). So thank-you to Grandma Paulin for the wanderlust, strength, honesty and the will to always be true to myself. You’re a powerful force, not for me but all that encounter your driving personality. Continue to be you because we love you incandescently that way!

BE, Love, Illuminate,



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