Sunday Stories #5

Corey – The Reviver

When we are children, we are asked all the time “what do you want to be when you grow up?” We have the world at our fingertips and anything is possible. However, when we approach our 20s and 3os, people stop asking; “what do you want to be?” and instead “ask who are you?” As if we should know. Well, what if what we thought we wanted to be turned out to be wrong? Does our age define what we are allowed to do about it? Corey found herself whilst sitting in the middle of her biggest storm, and this is her story.

Corey’s quotes and words come from her bracelets. There are four that she wears most days that always help. They are two Mantra Bands that say,

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and

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And two Storypeople wrist wraps  that say,

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and

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Although all of these are powerful and stir up your motivation to succeed without a requirement for further explanation, I soon learned the deeper context to those.

Corey started with her website, ‘The Nostalgia Diaries’, and explained that she started this about two months ago. She shed light on the state of affairs within her own reality far away from the virtual world that we share.

“The past year has been one of immense change for me. My divorce was finalized, and I moved out and had to start completely over. The ending of my marriage had left me not knowing who I was anymore.”

Her druxy situation was laid out to me further and I started to understand the ripples and reverberations of her impossible dilemma.

“The more I struggled in my marriage, the more it started affecting me. My unhappiness manifested itself in many different ways. My mom called me one day and told me that Zoey needed me healthy and happy. It was like a light switch for me; I realized I needed to start taking steps to make some much-needed changes.”

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The only word I can use to describe, for what I can only imagine she may have been feeling at this time, is ‘peripeteia’. The dictionary definition stated that this is a sudden or unexpected reversal of circumstances; the point of no return. Corey found herself face-to-face with her demons and she needed to take action. Throughout our conversation, I feel Corey’s hiraeth for a time where the possibilities were endless. She looked at her daughter and I can only assume wanted to see the world as naively as her daughter did. She wanted to take away the “shoulds” and “have tos” in life and restore the “wants” and “can bes”. Corey consistently used the word “us” and her life choices are reflective of this.

“Though I knew the direction our marriage was headed, I was very concerned for what a divorce would do to her. Because Zoey and I – since day one – have had this connection that is probably palpable to anyone who sees us together. We are each other’s people; she never wanted to be apart from me, and the thought of not being with her all the time in the event of a divorce killed me.”

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As I reread her longer emails, I realize that this is a journey for two. Her numinous journey is greater than herself. I remembered feeling incredibly overwhelmed and wishing she had filmed this voyage as documentation. The film would be fearful but fascinating; it would attract the deeper souls who would be awed by her courage and strength. I sat back, took a breath and said “This is powerful. She is inspiring.” A deeper love for her daughter is manifested within the spaces of her beautifully unfortunate events written on my screen. She only wanted the best for her daughter, as any mother would, but the consequences of her subsequent actions and the invisible ripples felt by Zoey were only too real to take any decision for further action lightly. However, there was a leap that was needed and their hands were held tightly with a gentle reminder that mother knows best.

“And of course, my mom was right. Since Zoey and I moved out, she has been thriving. I didn’t think it was possible for her to be a happier child than she was already (I swear she was born smiling), but now, she is just a ray of light. I want to be like her when I grow up, but in the meantime, I’m so happy that we are both in such a better place.”

 Her strength is something worth admiring. She did want she had to do to survive and created a new life.

“I find it incredible what we have the capacity to do in times of struggle. People really are amazing 🙂 You do what you have to do. I could have very easily let everything get the better of me, but it just wasn’t an option. So I carried on, trying to take the right steps forward. And what forward meant for me was probably different than what forward might mean for someone else. All I knew was that none of us were happy, and we needed to be.”

But her story does not end there. She wrote about her job, the benefits of this but it left a gap for her. Her passion was on hold. She informed me that she had a full-time job as a marketing director, but that the role, unfortunately, does not allow her the space to be very creative. I knew she was creative before she said anything. Her blog is beautifully crafted and there is a hint of “je ne sais quoi” about it. I urge you to go look at it. Then I read that she has a BFA in Graphic Design and also a freelance design company on the side that just isn’t taking off. I sat and thought ‘what can I get her to design for me?’ She is so talented. Before I could even ask what it is about design she likes, the answer was there, looking at me.

“I always wanted to have my own design company (my degree is in graphic design and that – along with writing – is what I’ve always been passionate about.) I have this deep need to be creative in my life. I love the process of creating and crafting something and being able to see the end product and say, “Look, I made that.””

 There is one line that grips me:

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And then, as if like magic, I get it. I understand her vibe. It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it. You can see Corey’s passion for her life, her daughter, her journey so far, her faults, her future and her possibilities beaming out of her. She is not about knowing it all or having it all figured out. It’s about the direct correlation that the effort she puts into something, along with her level of engagement, that makes something beautiful. The Nostalgia Effect.

“But I remembered who I had once wanted to be: a writer and an artist. So I began the blog as a creative outlet and as a way to maybe start becoming those things. For inspiration, I started looking back to my past to help remember who I wanted to be. I’m using nostalgia and my memories to help create a better life for myself, and hopefully, through this blog, help other people do the same (the benefits of nostalgia are quite incredible! Which also explains the name!)”

 I feel I share the same love as she does. I understand that this virtual world gives me my chance to answer, “What do you want to be?” instead of, “Who are you?”

“The blog has been my saving grace. It fills me up. It makes me happy. I feel joyful again because of it. I’d love for it to turn into something more that would enable me to have more flexibility and provide for us the things that we need to live happy, fulfilling lives. Until then, I’m just happy I’m finally moving in the right direction, happy, hopeful and finally free to be working toward the me I always wanted to be. Anything that happens from this point on will just be an added bonus.”

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 I smile at the screen because I feel connected. I feel like Corey has carved her own path and is working towards “the Corey” she can see smiling back at her in her mind’s eye. Her direction is uncomplicated because of herself. She was able to recognize her inner strength, felt alive amongst the rubble and realized she was breathing and that’s enough for now.

When I asked her what her hopes are for Zoey she replied:

“As a parent, it also reminds me of the kind of life I want for my amazing daughter, Zoey. She’s my world, and I want to teach her every day how wonderful life can be when it is filled with love, happiness, and positivity toward the past, the present, and the future. But truthfully, I don’t think I really need to teach her that because every day she shows me she CAN do these hard things. I’m glad we have each other to remind ourselves in the event we forget.”

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Corey and her story have taught me two things; 1) never grow up and 2) Je ne sais quoi is a creation. Our age does not have to define our existence and limit our possibilities. When you find yourself questioning your life, take it back to ‘what did you want to be?’ If you don’t like something, change it. They say ‘growing up is opportunity’ and it is. Yes, we have certain responsibilities but we should not forget that life is ever-changing. The ‘you’ today sitting here reading this, does not and WILL not be the ‘you’ in a few hours, or tomorrow. Do not put a roof over your head for it will only obstruct your view.

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The second lesson, ‘je ne sais quoi is a creation’, is a realization that it is one of those qualities you read about but rarely experience. Corey has taught me that this quality is real. But you have to create it. You have to reset your mind and change your circumstances, starting with the definition of ‘what is possible’ in your head. There are certain certainties in life that you can predict. You can predict that you will meet someone and fall in love. You may or may not have a child for it is a choice you can prepare for (or not). Life does throw you curveballs and when these come along, you may or may not be ready for them. The way you deal with those times is when someone’s ‘je ne sais quoi’ develops and is exposed. You are the master of your world; you create the outcome and your story. Corey drinks out of a mug that says, “we can do hard things”, and I believe it. The only thing that stands in the way of those hard things is our self. When Corey moved out of her own way, she created an indescribable attribute that makes her unique and someone authors write as their lead character.

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In relation to her ikigai, I believe that Corey has found her reason for being within her ‘metanoia’. It’s a Greek word representing the journey of changing one’s mind, heart, self, or way of life. When she did not know what to do, she took it back to what she wanted to be. Her nostalgic metanoia meant that she allowed herself to embrace your inner child and begin a new journey. Her beautiful daughter reminded her that anything is possible if you just believe. Believe enough to reset your life despite the expectations that society places on us; that we should know all the answers as adults. She started her journey for two with the memoirs of one’s former self who was not fazed by the possibility of failure. I do not know what is ahead for Corey but I can only foresee a beautifully everlasting epoch of success with a mindset like that, and a heart as gracious as hers. She revived herself and became the conqueror of her castle with Zoey. I can imagine Zoey proudly looking at her mother and feeling ready to take on the world.

So that’s it, my first Sunday Story of the New Year done. Thank you to Corey for her bravery and for sharing her story with me, it has been incredibly serendipitous. I hope you have enjoyed reading it and please leave your comments, questions, and thoughts below. Corey’s blog can be found here: The Nostalgia Diaries. It is thoroughly worth a visit (and follow as you get these snazzy update emails).

If you want to get in touch privately, you can contact me here or my email is ivy.iris.stevens@gmail.com. Likewise, if you want to be a Sunday story, please write to me.

Until next month,

Ivy xx

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Author: Ivy iris

This is my story of finding my ikigai. Ikigai (生き甲斐, pronounced [ee-ki-ɡU]) is a Japanese concept meaning "a reason for being". According to the Japanese, everyone has a hidden ikigai. Finding it requires a deep and often lengthy search of self. Such a search is regarded as very important, since it is believed that discovery of one’s ikigai brings satisfaction and meaning to life.

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