After a few days of quiet contemplation, I have come to several realizations:1. I am viewed by many – including members of my family – as a flake. A hippie. A bohemian pagan who refuses to put down roots. And they are absolutely right. I am a full-fledged, wandering free spirit. I have no problem with change, and do not fear the future. I trust the Universe, and in doing so, have manifested a pretty amazing life for myself and my family. I was surprised to realize that I don’t mind the quiet nods, snickers and eye rolls at my seemingly eccentric ways when they think I’m not looking ~ I am actually proud to be known as the ‘family gypsy’. And that’s not going to change.2. I’m all about peace and love, but I have one hell of a fire in my belly, ready to be awakened when someone I love is wronged. Some of you have seen this side of me ~ and should rest assured that I would jump to your defense just as quickly. I used to feel ashamed of this warrior goddess within me – after all, she’s not very lady-like, and she’s not always well-liked. But, I’ve learned that she’s an important and beautiful part of my essence. She is, among other things, the voice of my loyalty, and for that in itself, I honor her.3. I am a hermit. Don’t get me wrong ~ I love being a social butterfly sometimes, but I need my quiet. And by quiet, I truly mean a disconnection from the outside world. I also despise talking on the phone. My cycles of retreat can last anywhere from a few days to many months. I used to force myself to be at the beck and call of the world, regardless of how drained I felt. But slowly, I have learned that I am not obligated to give my time or energy to anyone. The even better realization was this: I do not owe an explanation to anyone, either. My silence does not signify a lack of love for those I care about; solitude is simply food for my soul. I’m okay with that, and no longer crave the permission of others to practice this self-care.4. I’m a good mom. I make mistakes, of course. But my kids know that they are loved unconditionally. They are healthy, happy young women, with amazing morals and great character. And they love me back. I may not be supermom, and God knows I’m not perfect. I may not even be a great mom. But I’m a good mom. And I’m okay with that.5. Finally, I realized that I was not put on this Earth to fulfil the expectations of others. Outside opinions and assumptions are not my business. There is no need for me to hide any part of who I am, in order to appease another person. Of course, there will always be chatter and gossip, and I have come to understand that this will occur between one of two types of people: those who do not respect or accept me as I am, and those who do not have the courage to live their own lives authentically. Neither of them belong in my circle, and therefore they have no effect upon my life or the way I choose to live it.It is my intention that these words will inspire anyone who feels repressed, frustrated, ashamed or outright frightened of being who they were born to be.The world is a dark place right now. Please shine your light. We’re all counting on you.