Labels & Life

Jun 29, 2023

Life blooms on the other side of freeing ourselves from the labels we’ve been given and the false beliefs we’ve held to be true

Guess where I’m reflecting, daydreaming, and composing these July musings from?

If you know’ve probably guessed correctly — from my beautiful white cloud of a bed, illuminated by a classic Woodstock window looking out at the mountains, surrounded by two cuddly kitties. The birds are singing, the sun is shining, gentle breezes blowing and the large bush outside my window is delighting my senses with the most delicious, sweet scent.

Perfection. I am grateful for this glorious day — and on my day off no less!

Today as I write it is the Solstice, the longest day of the year and the official start of summer and a new moon in Gemini. I’m soaking it all in to have the time to be quiet and sink into it all. I love connecting to the cycles and stages of the natural world and enfolding it within my inner world — and bringing it to my outer world.

Mulling this all over, I came across this message that popped into my inbox:

Gemini helps us change the frame that we see reality and our resulting mindset, illuminating different energies or emotions in our world.

~ Spirit Daughter

I sat with that for a moment and started to consider this notion of framing and how I wanted to ‘frame’ my life. It also made me think of a few ‘random’ conversations I recently had (of course I never really believe anything is random or coincidence...wink).

Have you ever considered how easily we accept labels about ourselves that are typically given to us by other people and their opinions? Or how we impose them upon ourselves as we compare ourselves? Most of the time we do this without even realizing it.

On a morning walk this week, a friend called me out on one of my own. I had judged myself based upon the comments of another — because that is what we do, right? I just assumed the label as if it were gospel. It didn’t feel good.

But as only a true friend could do, she said, “Hell no, you don’t have to assume the label just because you don’t fit in someone else’s narrative. There is nothing wrong with you because you see, feel, and relate differently.”

Suddenly, I felt lighter on my feet. Truth resonates...and this is really where it can set you free. When someone calls you out on something and it feels accurate it, you can’t really escape it. But when you actually sit with something and ask yourself if it is true — and it isn’t — you can simply put it down and walk away.

A few days later, carrying this fresh energy and perspective with me, I had the most delightful conversation with a young man working as a teller at the bank. Think about how many people are a part of the fabric of your daily life that you don’t really know or have conversations with aside from quick pleasantries and transactions.

But on this day, this curious young man behind the counter asked me a question about my dear Mayra. I don’t speak publicly about her very much in deference to her privacy, but for those who don’t know, I assumed guardianship of this precious young woman 18 months ago.

The teller asked me what our relationship was and when I told him, his eyes lit up and he then shared a part of himself with me. He asked me how many foster homes she had lived in because he had lived in 4 until a family finally kept him. He had been shuffled around since he was 8 (my heart ached hearing this).

Then he said, “I was a bad kid.”

Hold on a minute...a bad kid? What does it even mean to be a ‘bad’ kid — was this something you were told, so you just assumed the role like a self-fulfilling prophesy? He nodded. Yes, he had been labeled and had just gone with it. 

We continued to talk about defining himself as ‘bad’. The reality is that he had been taken from his home as a small child and tossed about in the system. He likely had some big feelings about it all that had gone unaddressed, unhealed and unheard — trauma, confusion, fear, anger, sadness. The list was endless.

And on the tail end of the conversation, I had had with my friend when she pulled off the self-imposed label I had assumed, I leaned into him and said, “knowing you throughout transactions and conversations all this time, I know you are not a ‘bad’ person. Don’t let labels define you.”

I could see the wheels turning within and his face light up — as if to say, you know what...maybe I’m not bad after all. WOW! Imagine just changing your mind, making a new choice, witnessing an experience through a new lens, and telling a new story. 

Words are powerful, more powerful than we ever give credit. And they can be used to uplift or deflate.

We can make regrettable choices, say things we wish we hadn’t, walk down paths we are sorry that we had — but the greatest regret is getting stuck there and slapping a label on it to keep us there...forever...believing it to be truth.

I’m really turning a page on this one and dedicated to being more mindful of labels and words — doling them out, assuming them, believing them. We are free to change our minds — to grow further, reach higher, show up better, shift and do things differently.

Each and every day we are given opportunities big and small to do exactly that — plant a garden, share a kind word, do a good deed, take care of ourselves, consider how we could do the same for another.

We do a lot of rushing around in this life, but I believe that the real slice of grace is right before us in our daily encounters. They are each little miracles awaiting us.

Imagine how sweet life would feel without the labels...less labels more connection. How about we leave the labels for the shipping boxes!

This isn’t about revisionist history. Don’t run from your pain or try to hide it — celebrate where you’ve been, what you’ve survived, learned, and built upon. This is how we can step back and glean a new perspective of this masterpiece of our lives. Then keep adding more color to the textured lessons, love, sorrow, hopes, dreams...and recognize that you are a glorious work in progress — ever shifting, ever becoming.

Yes, this is how I’m going to frame and reframe life, inspired by the new energies of our Gemini moon and the start of a new season — and all the beautiful people who make up the tapestry of my life...which includes you.

What about you...where could you ditch the labels?

—Lea Haas, Owner, The Garden Cafe Woodstock


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