Have you ever read the book Eat, Pray, Love? I have. You’re probably not surprised, and you’ve probably read it too. It was given to me as a gift by my dear friend and boss back in 2008, and she told me that I should read it because the main character was going through so many things that were similar to my life. Since I was newly separated from my husband at the time and found myself with a lot of time alone to read, I dove in and immediately fell in love with Liz.
There were so many things in the book that resonated with me, but one part that still sticks with me to this day is the bit about the pencil box. I know. You probably have no idea what I’m talking about and I think it’s likely an insignificant part of the book for so many. But it wasn’t for me. At one point following her divorce, Liz writes about how she starts to ask herself what she wants. Before making big decisions, she came up with things that she called “baby steps”. She wanted to go to a Yoga class. To leave a party early so she could read. To buy herself a box of pencils. At the point in my life where I read that book, that idea of struggling to remember what I liked and what I might want was all too familiar to me, but I ventured in and started with baby steps too. I wanted pizza for dinner. To cut my hair short. Some chocolate lip balm. My life has taken lots of twists and turns since that time almost 10 years ago now, but I will always remember how during my 20’s, I almost forgot who I was as I tried so hard to fit in and find my way in this crazy world that I nearly lost myself. Asking “Sylvie, what do you want?” has now become a regular habit. Sometimes, my answers are the typical baby steps. Sometimes, they are big and life changing. But in the midst of it all, I find that it can be the tiniest of things that act as anchors to remind me of who I am. The turquoise earrings. My favorite coffee mug. The chocolate lip balm tucked away in a secret spot in the kitchen. When I’m overwhelmed and worried I’m sinking into all of the responsibilities and the to-dos and I can’t remember the last time I’ve truly had a minute to myself, all of these things remind me that at least I haven’t forgotten about who that girl inside of me is. One day, with a toddler to chase and a baby in my arms, I again asked myself what I wanted. The same answer that had come so many times before came again, and I don’t know why I chose that moment to let it breathe and come to life as Eclair Lips. Maybe it’s because there would be no perfect time and I might as well jump in now before I lost my nerve. Maybe it’s because I hope that when my daughters go searching for answers, watching their mama’s bold steps might have taught them to listen to their own whispers. Maybe it’s because this time instead of wondering “what if”, I decided to find out. But what I do know is that with each lip balm I make and send off, I secretly hope that it will become a magical anchor for its future owner, and that whether she pulls it out of her nightstand drawer, the bottom of her purse or from between the couch cushion where her youngest has hidden it, that for even just a few seconds, it will remind her of who she is and of a moment where she paused to ask herself and to listen to what she might want.