In 2015, I bought the domain “oxbows.co.”
During a plane ride flying over beautiful, undulating rivers in middle America, I began to ponder river terminology. That’s what a normal person does, right?
When I came across the word “oxbow,” or U-shaped bends in the river, something about it struck a chord with me. And there and then, I scooped it up (in the plural form, bien sûr).
Having left a desk job that left me feeling unfulfilled, I now mulled over the business possibilities with my new website. A river-centric style and travel blog? Sporting gear business? Yoga business for folks in co-dependent relationships?
Nothing particularly stuck with me.
And then, as buyer’s remorse creeped in, I learned about oxbow lakes (also known as billabongs, by the way). These are bodies of water that were originally part of a river, but were cut off for the sake of efficiency. This new word association really depressed me; that, and the thought that I had bought a domain that could invoke the idea of stagnation and loneliness.
Interestingly, stagnant and lonely was exactly how I felt during this period. Afloat in a bayou of solitude. I worked hours that were different than the peers whom I had met during my 9-5 slog. I painted, which hardly anyone else does for a living…and unless I met someone in the arts, sales or tourism, it was really difficult for others living conventional lives to relate to me.
Then I had my baby girl, and even my “normal” life was completely upended.
When she was two years old, I started to feel like myself again. I began to pay attention to things that mattered to me before her–things on the mystical side as well as the practical side.
On a sunny afternoon, I began to think about my Chinese zodiac. I was born in the Year of the Ox: the slow, steady, stubborn, steadfast, hardworking animal.
To be honest, I didn’t believe I was an ox when I read the description. I painfully remembered work experiences where I was told I wasn’t working hard enough or that I wasn’t a team player. Even after I left to work for myself, I felt haunted by those people who had no problem telling me who I was from their perspective. I had internalized so much of the negative stories that when I felt down about myself, I readily and happily eased into the comfy armchair of pessimism and nihilism.
It’s crazy how our personal mythology influences our daily lives. And when I realized that I was writing the book of my life from a grim perspective, I knew I had to take the filter off and reexamine myself.
When I took a step back, I saw a young woman who had lived many lives in her short life.
I saw a person who experienced love, loss, pain, suffering, and joy.
I saw a person who loved making delicious food.
I saw someone who was an interesting being (even if she didn’t like to admit it), and was also truly interested in the lives and livelihoods of others.
I saw someone deserving of good things.
That was the hardest hurdle to jump: I deserve good things.
So often, we feel undeserving of love, affection, notice…and I’m convinced it’s because of our personal mythologies. We have told ourselves that for a, b, or c reason, we don’t deserve x, y, or z.
We deserve good things.
I deserve good things.
Another definition of the word is the tool that signals to an ox that it’s time to get to work.
Bends in the river. A tool necessary to get things done. Ebb and flow. Patience. Carving the path ahead of you, little by little. A rush of creativity. Steadfast dedication. Change.