Whenever we discuss our "why" for being so passionate about consistently practicing the Four Seeds of Self-Care, we also talk about how much better we will feel. When we cultivate inner health through proper diet, exercise, sleep patterns, and meditation, we also transform our outer character in positive ways that motivate us to accomplish our goals, foster more meaningful relationships, and better connect with our community. Two manifested characteristics of being more "Self-Centered" are resilience and hope. We find ourselves being more resilient, better able to cope with inevitable hardships because of the hope we have cultivated- hope that good things will happen, that we deserve every good thing that comes to us, and that even when times are tough, they won't stay that way. And every now and then we get to witness what happens when hope and resilience bind together to create a little magic. Such was the case with the hunt for the cassette tape player.
My oldest daughter turns 18 on Thanksgiving. So as not to overshadow this milestone birthday, I wanted to carve out some time during the day to make it special for her. I have a gourmet cake coming, ridiculously blinged out to make her feel like Queen for a day. She is also planning to get a tattoo once she is of age and asked me to come up with a quote that she will proudly display on God knows what body part. As much as I don't care for the plans to ink up her body, I was honored to have been given the request. This cake will also unveil the long anticipated quote.But I also wanted to add some sentimental value to the day with a slideshow honoring her growth from birth to "adulthood". When she was born, I didn't want any video of her birth, but I did want the moments of her birth recorded on cassette tape so I could listen every now and then and remember the exact moment I met my firstborn, when I heard her first cries, and when the midwife announced that "she" was here. My plan was to use this recording at the beginning of the slideshow. But first I needed to figure out how to get the audio from cassette tape to digital format. I needed to track down a cassette player.
I figured my best bet to quickly track down a tape recorder was social media. I put a call out to my neighborhood Facebook group and someone quickly responded. "Perfect", I thought. I picked up the portable radio with cassette player, popped the tape in, and immediately heard the sound of her cries moments after birth. And then...everything stopped. I tried to play it again. Stopped again. Tried to rewind, fast forward, anything. Nothing. I took the tape out and saw that whatever was happening was causing the tape to unravel so I immediately removed it and didn't try to play it again. I was able to wind the tape back up into the cassette, but now I needed to find a new device to play the tape. I couldn't risk it being ruined. I put another post out. This time to my business Facebook group and got another immediate response. Certain this one would work, I excitedly drove over to my client's house, and put the tape in the player. Nothing. She thought it probably just needed batteries. Surely that's it, I thought. But after brand new batteries, I still couldn't get the tape to play. I was running out of time and was starting to worry.
My third attempt was to my city's Online Garage Sale. A kind young lady said she had a tape player I could borrow and she was willing to meet me within 20 minutes of contacting her. She assured me it worked perfectly, had batteries, and she had even thrown in a blank tape in case I needed it. She didn't really understand what my goal was with it, but it all sounded very promising. I met her in the RaceTrac parking lot, put my tape in and immediately heard the moaning and groaning sounds of my labor pains 18 years earlier! Success! I was so excited until...what should have been next, the part where the midwife tells me to reach down and grab my baby... is GONE! How could this be? I sat in my car thinking I must have missed the part. I fast forwarded and played periodically so as not to miss it, but there was nothing. Then I remembered how the first device had tried to eat the tape, and I realized with gut punching grief what must have happened. The tape must have been damaged from trying to play it on the devices that weren't working properly, and the recording was ruined. Gone forever the audio I had been holding so dear for nearly two decades.
I drove home, continuing to let the tape play in the hopes that what I had lost would magically appear, but slowly coming to terms with what had happened. I was in the middle of disappointment, and it did not feel good at all, but I do believe that my self-care practices helped me to cope in as healthy a way as possible. Screaming and yelling and blaming either faulty devices or myself for not using a different tape as a test run would do no good. It was done. And though the feelings came, I was able to let them wash over me rather than consume me. I observed myself practicing resilience and I was proud of myself for how far I had come. There was a time when I would not have accepted reality so gracefully. I let the whole side of the tape play, but to no avail. I informed the lady I would return her device the following day and thanked her for being so accommodating. I assured myself that the birthday as well as the slideshow would be beautiful, even if it wasn't the perfect orchestration I had planned.
The following day was busy, and I was going out of town soon so I needed some space in my day to sit still and do some work that was pressing. As I gathered all the necessary materials, my eye caught the tape recorder still sitting on my dresser. I planned to return it that evening. I decided to flip the tape over and let the other side play, just to make sure I hadn't made some mistake. But when I pressed play, there was only silence. I wasn't surprised but I figured I'd just let it play while I worked. After some time, I got up to take a break and noticed the tape had played well over halfway through that side. More confirmation that it just wasn't there anymore. I sighed, and returned to what I was doing. Part of my work that evening was trying to figure out what the heck I was going to write about in my next blog. As I was racking my brain, a loud grunting noised interrupted my thoughts. Then another. Then a voice said, "Give a push." I gasped! Could it be!? I couldn't believe what I was hearing. "Ok, one more. Now reach down and grab your baby.(Baby cries) It's a girl. 3:41. What?! It's a girl!! (Happy cries) Oh, my God!!! Oh, my God!!"
And as I quickly got the recording onto my phone, lest it all be a quickly fading dream, I thought to myself those exact words. Oh, my God! Oh, my God! It was there all along. What if I hadn't tried again? What if I had given up any hope of finding what I was looking for? I never would have found it and I never would have experience the joy and awe of the moment. It makes me wonder how much magic we miss out on when we don't dare to hope- hope for a better self, better relationships, better life. What joys await if we are only willing to ride the storms of disappointment with resilience in the hopes of a better tomorrow?
With love and gratitude,
Kinda and Rachel