Reflections of Me

By Linda O'Connell

Through my teen years, I had no idea who that plain girl was looking back at me in my hand-held mirror. She had occasional blemishes, straight hair so thick a clamp couldn’t hold it and about an ounce and a half of self-confidence.

Throughout my twenties, the gal in my oval dresser mirror wore sensible clothes, an artificial smile and a stern mommy look when necessary. My sense of self was completely defined by my roles as wife, mother and preschool teacher. I needed to be needed.

During my thirties, every time I glanced in my car’s rearview mirror I saw a woman merging into her own. I no longer wanted to be needed; I wanted to be wanted. I became more daring in my manner of dress. My self-esteem over-flowed like my hormones, and I was driven on a quest of self-discovery.

At forty, my self-esteem was as on fire as the flaming birthday candles that lapped at my youth. I gazed into my full-length mirror. I tilted it this way and that and examined myself from all angles. I liked what I saw. My confidence was emerging. I knew for certain what I did not want, but I was unsure of what I really wanted. It was a time of introspection, of self-discovery. I travelled to the ocean in my fortieth year. On the rippled waters and pleated sand I saw a reflection of the woman I had become. I learned how to say no and yes and to trust. I learned to ride the waves of everyday trials and tribulations and wait for the waters to calm.

At fifty, I hung a decorative mirror with etched oval frames in my living room and displayed photos of my grandchildren. As I passed that mirror, I saw my own features reflected in their faces, my joy and enthusiasm reflected in their souls. Every once in a while I glanced directly at myself, still a work in progress.

Sixty years of living, and as many brands of face cream purchased over the years, have made me realize that the wrinkles on my face are proof positive that I have lived a full life. I have come to love the skin I’m in. There’s a woman who knows me very well these days. When I greet her in my bathroom mirror, I see a twinkle in her heavy-lidded eyes. I wink at my reflection and remember how my life began at forty. I remarried. I became a grandma. During that decade I released my children’s hands, clung to their newborn babies’ hands and grasped my soul mate’s hand. I evolved. I took ownership of my feelings and vigorously declared my intentions. As I reflect on my life, I realize that the phases I went through helped me to evolve into the woman I have become, the woman I can look in the eye, whom I respect and admire. I have learned a lot about myself and life in general. As much as I need and want my husband and family to be forever in my life, I know that letting go is as important as hanging on. We must let go of the negative self-speak, the pains of the past and eventually the loves of our lives. I resolve from this day forward to make every day count, for it is not the future or the past that matters, but the moment.

About this writer

  • Linda O’ConnellLinda O’Connell is a seasoned preschool teacher and award-winning freelance writer from St. Louis, Missouri. Her prose and poetry have appeared in books, magazines and anthologies. As Linda waltzed through the decades, she discovered her age of elegance was in her forties, but she isn’t complaining. Life has been an adventure. Linda resides in the Midwest but her heart and soul hang out at the beach.

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