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The first time I was reborn, I was almost four-years-old.

I’ll never really know, which are pieces of me from birth – from being born and loved. And which are pieces of me scattered into the air and reassembled, after witnessing the sudden cardiac arrest take my young father. I wasn’t even four-years-old.

Who was I before that? Who was I after that?

When was I reborn next? I’ll never really know, which are pieces of me from right after my father’s death, and which are pieces of me scattered into the air and reassembled. Going through the happy motions and the blocked emotions, of a kid whose default setting is pure joy and magic, even through the tumultuous times. They didn’t come out right away. They maybe didn’t come out yet. Who can really say? Life is sometimes a balancing act – of walking on, dismantling, or choosing to let the landmines explode all around you, so that you can pick up your pieces. Life is about rising up to meet what’s coming.

Before each rebirth or metamorphosis. Each evolution or revolution. Even during, I start to shiver and shake.

I adapt to each new change slowly and barely, rather than being the one to change so boldly. So obviously.

Life is the gradual development of yourself, from a simple form to a more complex form. Life is evolution.

Whenever it happens, both before, during, and sometimes after, I wonder if I am, in fact, dying instead of living. Doesn’t it seem like a caterpillar might wonder that in transition, when all it had previously known was light and air, where there was now dark and tight? If I could tell you exactly what it was, with these rebirths, well, I’d probably have a degree in Psychology, or have spent way too many hours on couches in overheated offices. I decided myself what it was long ago. I self-diagnosed.

It’s change and growth, trauma and joy. It’s growing pains. It’s empathy and sympathy, anger and acceptance. Repression, regression, and aggression. It’s a little bit of magic, and a hearty dose of fear. It’s an inability to let go, holding your cocoon tightly around you, and it’s an inability to not let go. It’s the fear that this time around, your wings won’t fly, can’t fly..

..or just won’t go very high.

The next time I was reborn, I was newly sweet sixteen. It will be 20 years this summer, and I’m still coming up with the words. That was my most poignant rebirth, of the first 27 years, because it was my first painful emotional growth spurt and comeback. I haven’t been the same since, happily. Little did I know, there was much to learn. There IS much to learn.

The next time I was reborn, I was 28. I wrote this six years ago: My most painful time/emotional growth spurt to date happened just last year when I was 28 and pregnant, jobless, somewhat newly married and without a home of our own. I thought my “secret to life” was gone for good. Heck, I thought I was the one who was gone for good. And yet, since we’ve made our home here in Northampton, I’ve slowly being easing back to life and even sometimes hurtling fast back to life. It occurred to me that my secret was never really gone and was instead whispering in my ear. “Hey now, I’m still here.”

Well hey now. I’m still here.

I’ve been reborn a hundred times since. It starts as hints and anxiety and growing pains. Maybe you think it will happen more when you’re younger, but I think it just speeds up. The joy, the pain, the creamy middles. I was reborn when I got married, and probably eight times since then – once for every year. I was reborn when Scarlet was born, and then again when she turned one, and then two. I was reborn when Des was born, and then again after navigating a short stint in the NICU.

The last rebirth was the hardest and the longest. Or was the first one, at nearly four-years-old, was the hardest and the longest? They’re connected by years and tears, and strands of love and coping mechanisms – some helpful and some harmful. The last rebirth was breathless nights and anxiety attacks. It was learning the tools, and growing the brain. It was reaching out instead of reaching in. A simple formula, by theory. It will keep happening, as it should. No secrets and no real answers.

Every day you can get closer to yourself, and every day the ground beneath you can literally shake your life into something you don’t even recognize. You evolve and revolve, and the world evolves and revolves. A little bit of magic, and maybe even a lot. A little bit of stability, and maybe even a lot. The next time those growing pains start, maybe I’ll be more ready. Maybe I’ll be more excited to see what’s on the other side of this evolution and revolution. Within myself. With and without you.

Who will I be reborn into next?

Linking up, as one of my favorite things to do, with Finish The Sentence Friday. This week’s heady topic is “”The day I was born (re-born) was….”” And there’s still time to write yours. Come link up with your spin on the matter: HERE.

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  1. Love this and I agree that each new stage we definitely go through some sort of rebirth in essence. I honestly have lost count though how many times I have been reborn and pretty sure as the years go by will adding to that number still.

    1. Same! And 35 years for me too. Sometimes it almost seems unrecognizable, but I can remember it so clearly, and every sensation about it all.

  2. Oh this. Tamara, this is so beautiful. We are reborn so many times. We still hold on to who we were but we continue to evolve in each phase in our lives – but knowing that we can be reborn — isn’t it refreshing? That we can renew?
    Love this.

  3. Wow. I have no words for how heavy that was. I’ll bet you feel much lighter now. And I understand the rebirth feeling – like each time you become a more colorful butterfly.

  4. That first gorilla picture got me. I was trying to figure out when you had visited the Congo and why I missed that?! I always call those periods of intense change revolutions, because they feel like that. I am kind of amazed at what comes out of those revolutionary periods. There is truth to the whole adage of being born by fire. It hurts, but the person who comes out on the other end is pretty astounding.

    1. ha! Just Animal Kingdom a few months ago. It looks wild, right? He was just sitting in the light like that – totally posing. Made me sad, though, because he’s clearly smarter than most of us! Present company excluded.
      Being born by fire – SO TRUE.

  5. Ah… such a beautiful read, Tamara. Yes, you have been reborn over and over again- both with incredible passion and magic- yes magic is the perfect word for your gifts. They exude the wonder of that very word.

    “Every day you can get closer to yourself, and every day the ground beneath you can literally shake your life into something you don’t even recognize. You evolve and revolve, and the world evolves and revolves.” <— I LOVE THIS SO MUCH.

    1. It’s an amazing prompt, because it makes us all think. And mostly, we think pretty good thoughts about rebirth, I should think!
      Thanks for loving my work!!! It keeps me rolling along.

  6. This was emotionally beautiful.
    I’m continually a work in progress. 😉 I cannot even begin to guess how many rebirths I’ve had in my life. I’m thankful for them though, they’ve all made me stronger even when I felt weaker for them.
    All the best always-

    1. Maybe they happen every second.. sometimes it’s hard to wrap my head around!!
      I feel that – stronger on the other end, but feeling weaker during. Weakest, really.
      And then strongest!

    1. It’s so green there! Which is funny, because I live in a REALLY green part of the world, and Orlando is NOT like that, but they did an amazing job with the enclosure.

  7. God. I love this. SO so much. Never really thought about all the rebirths and transformations and evolutions we go through in life. But your youngest rebirth–at only 4–well, my heart aches for you at that period. You were too young to see and experience so much pain. <3 I can only imagine that it's something you would return to again and again.

    I'm fascinated by these photos and the different shapes and figures lurking in the windows peering in. I guess that's the point, eh?

    <3 you, momma.

    1. I never really thought about it before this, and now I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s like.. are things happening all the time now?? Yes. Rebirth. Right now!
      There’s a lot of deep reflections in these photos – in my mind, with the animals – and also with the people. Also animals.
      And also, cool lighting. Animal Kingdom. You know how it is.

      <3 you, too!

  8. “Every day you can get closer to yourself, and every day the ground beneath you can literally shake your life into something you don’t even recognize.” Oh my, Tamara – so beautiful and so true!

    1. Thanks! It shocks me how it can happen. I think sometimes I’m peering around the corner at life, wondering what kind of tragedies and joys are next.

  9. The idea that we are reborn after certain events in life is beautiful and very true! I feel like I’ve been so many people, and that there are so many more people I will become.

    1. Oh yes. It’s sort of amazing to think back to all the stories we all have, and to think – wait, there’s probably still decades of them!

  10. Well said Tamara. I can definitely point to several “rebirths” in my life. Sometimes I can’t imagine I was ever the same person I was several years ago.

  11. I’d read that men were more likely to live their lives in chunks. My life has been that way, though each chunk seems to last longer than the prior one, perhaps that is progress.

    I see why you relate to Dr. Who.

    “What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.”

    1. That is interesting. They do last longer! And it’s funny to something struggle to recognize the people we were SO strongly only years ago.
      I totally relate to Doctor Who. I figure maybe I’m on my 12th or 13th life by now, as well.

  12. When I saw this prompt, I really had no idea how I would even go with it, but after reading your post, I see how so many points in my life we periods of rebirth, from summers away growing up to college to moving to Boston to marriage to starting a blog and business (and learning to identify as a entrepreneur / blogger / writer) to being a mom, and so many moments in between. And I’m sure there will be many more moments of rebirth in the years to come.
    Beautiful post, as always.

    1. I think we go through even more than I realized after reading all these amazing comments!
      I can’t imagine how many more there will be.

  13. Where is this place of magic and gorillas??!! Is this Disney? Because I’ve never been more in love with Disney if this is Disney!!!
    Well, I turned 45 this weekend, and though I am more exhausted and actually feeling slightly sick than I have in a long time; it still was a lot of goodness. Maybe not enough to be re-born because …. you know… Personalities were there in full A + force. But I took it all in stride and was constantly reminding myself “you are not here for this alpha she dogs sh*t – you’re here to have fun and make some great memories with these girls, so just cut the damn watermelon how she wants.” I think that is growth. Because a week ago I am sure I would have daydreamed about stabbing her in the eye. But now, no – Memories and Joy instead!! LOL

    1. Disney’s Animal Kingdom! It was our first time.
      I really need to hear more about this watermelon story! You are certainly channeling something Zen-like and awesome. Progress, indeed.

      1. Well I am a triangle wedges kinda gal because that leaves you something to hold onto, and the easy tip to bite. (that sounded rude, very sorry) But SOME people want you to use a melon baller and make perfect watermelon spheres… when you already have a billion hot dogs to boil, 3 lbs of carrots to peel and cut (like french fries mind you!!!) and there are several troops of hungry girl guides waiting to eat.

        or you know, I’m just disgustingly lazy. ha.

            1. Have you seen the new trailer for the movie Bad Moms? What you’re describing makes me picture Christina Applegate’s character.

  14. I’m a big believer in lifelong learning and growth. This is what keeps life exciting, and keeps us from hardening off and becoming inflexible. Our bodies continue to change (not always for the better, but still…), so might as well take my mind along for the journey!

  15. Such a beautiful read, Tamara. My favorite line: ” Every day you can get closer to yourself, and every day the ground beneath you can literally shake your life into something you don’t even recognize.”

  16. Great post, Tamara. I agree that we are re-born every so often in our life. We’re never done until the end. A woman is re-born when she becomes a mother. It is true! This is beautifully written. Thank you for the reminder that we must go through pain to grow.

  17. Love this! And would totally say the day I was reborn was December 1st, 2015–my little man’s birthday! Not only by becoming a mom, but just by seeing the world from a fresh and innocent pair of eyes–it’s so much fun to experience all these firsts with him!

  18. I can really relate to this, Tamara – not all the specifics of rebirth (although becoming a mother was certainly one), but with the feelings, the growing pains. I’m feeling them now – just the beginnings of those bones stretching.

  19. Excellent post! My eyes flashed with tears recalling what I think is my biggest growth (in my adult life). It was a time that the “me prior to motherhood” would have completely fallen apart. But I was reborn with a strength for holding it together. Christopher didn’t have to go into the NICU but we were checked back into the hospital just days after we brought him home. I was still very much “heavy” and dragging swollen legs and walking with a throbbing crotch when we waited in the ER for our turn and he had to go through so much blood drawing and tests before we were ever officially checked in. I look at myself on that day with awe because the woman that night was not the same woman who just days earlier walked in the house with a newborn without a clue of what to do next.

    Love every rebirth you touched on.

    1. That happened to my sister! Different, of course, as she was three weeks postpartum, but Parker had only been home for a few days, and they had to go back. It was the NICU, but still. Blood drawing and testing on newborns. Awful.
      Just awful.
      My eyes filled with tears too!

  20. As always, beautifully written. I had no idea that you actually witnessed your father’s death. How horrific for such a young child. So many moments in life change us…definitely childbirth, and changes in jobs, and deaths of loved ones, and finding new loved ones.

    1. It was pretty horrific and I remember it well, but so many happy rebirths since then. A lifetime of them, and hopefully many more.

  21. There is so much to learn in life. I’m happy that we get a chance to learn and change throughout our lives. I know I’ve learned and changed so much over my 34 years. I love it when I learn something that helps me to lead a better life. So I’m thankful for all the moments that I get to change in pursuit of being a better person.

  22. I feel like I’m having my biggest rebirth yet, right now. And I wake up every morning completely terrified and anxious, but as the day goes on I realize I have the strength. Each day it takes less time to let go of the anxiety and reach the strength. Beautiful post, and photos, Tamara!

  23. “I wonder if I am, in fact, dying instead of living. Doesn’t it seem like a caterpillar might wonder that in transition, when all it had previously known was light and air, where there was now dark and tight?” I love it. To wonder what a caterpillar might think, I think you might be right.

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