Looking for kismet? It’s in my filing cabinet.

It is amazing how long it can take to clear out the remnants of a former life.

It is more remarkable that you find you are clearing out remnants of your former self. As you clear out physical items you no longer need, you realize you have also cleared out pieces of yourself that are no longer useful.

I do believe you must make room for the new if you want to welcome it. New lives don’t just saunter into cluttered spaces where the old remains.

You have to put out the welcome mat.

A file cabinet and lots of shredded paper.I was clearing some old paperwork and files last weekend. From my own filing cabinet.

But I began to see that the woman who began that filing system is now a bit of a stranger to me.

As I pulled out old files labeled “Travel” and “Kids”, I felt a million miles away from that woman, God bless her heart.

That woman was so very sure that she was going to go to all of the exotic places she collected clippings and photos of; it was just a matter of time. We had a five- and 10-year plan, after all. We were on an upward trajectory, my spouse and I.

That former self had enough spare time to contemplate, without breaking out in hives, making a birthday cake from scratch—a feat that ate up an entire afternoon. Or volunteering in the library at school for a few hours. Making it to book club more often than not.

She was able to leave the car repair records and investment files to someone else. She had a partner to help her; they divided and conquered.

Life made me leave that woman behind, at least for the time being. I could see her cringe when I recycled the travel ideas; could hear her gasp as I gave up on ever making the fancy lemon cake that put Julia Child to shame. Once was enough, I guess.

As a divorced mother of two, who supports my family financially, book club is a luxury I can no longer afford. I read, but it may take me months to finish a book. I still love to cook but I have said sayonara to the complicated recipes I used to collect. Those are for chefs with far more time on their hands.

I felt a bit sorry for myself as I thought these things, truth be told.

And then . . .

. . . In the back of that filing cabinet, buried under old diploma covers, was a small book bound in blue cloth. It was imprinted with white flowers. It is not my style. But it was my style as a teenager.Blue leather cover

I had found a book, long forgotten, that my teenaged self created. It was filled with a far more girlish, more legible script than my current hurried scrawl.

It was packed with poems and bits of inspiration that had struck my younger self. She may not have needed many of them at the time. I’m not sure she even knew why some of them resonated.

But I knew. My forty-something self knew and then some.

It was as if I was being offered encouragement from my much younger version. What was written on the pages of that book seemed to speak to me in my seventeen-year-old voice.

It was as if life had guided me, 30 years ago, to provide myself with the encouragement I would need three decades hence.

If you think about the full-circle effect, it is kismet at its best.

There I was, feeling sorry for myself, wishing for a wise voice of comfort. And who provided that voice to me but my very self, decades younger and far less wise.

But wise enough to provide me with the sage advice of well-known poets and ancient sages, whose words she offered me on page after page.

I wiped my tears of gratitude. I remembered writing those words in my bedroom years ago, as if it was yesterday. I could hear the neighbor’s poodle barking. The sound of my crush’s ten-speed bike as it flew by my house yet again. The smell of the chop suey my mother was making for dinner.

A bit like a wormhole, time seemed compressed. I felt I could reach out and touch that girl, stroke her hair—and remain silent on all of the adventures, good and bad, that were in store for her.

I was so grateful for her and her beautiful, quiet soul. In a way I’m not always grateful for my soul now.

Yet, they are one and the same.

In that reminder lies the kismet.




35 Comments Add yours

  1. Dalo 2013 says:

    Beautiful post ~ there is something in every culture that relates strongly to ‘kismet’ and you capture it well. Life will go forward and seldom following the careful plan that we tend to make…instead finding its own path and we best enjoy it 🙂

    1. candidkay says:

      We best enjoy it indeed:). Thanks for stopping by and for the kind words. Now, on to best enjoying it from oceans away . . .

  2. I have a book like this too – with a much plainer cover. Full of collected poems, quotes and other writing (not my own), hand-written into it in my teens. Like some of your other readers, tears sprang to my eyes as I read this…for what? That lost innocence, the forgotten dreams? I think part of why we do this in our formative years is our love of words, which never leaves us. Aren’t we lucky? Must dig my book out and have another read. Thanks for this lovely post.

    1. candidkay says:

      I am amazed at how many women have told me they kept a similar journal. And were brought to tears when reading about my rediscovery of mine. I think you’re right–the innocence and dreams are, at 15 or 16 years of age, at a level you never get back. Please do dig your book out! I bet it has something to tell you.

  3. What an amazing find, just when you needed it.

  4. KM Huber says:

    About five years ago, I, too, let go of life as I knew it. Like you, I found a great deal in the pages I carried with me for many miles and for more than a few decades. I was surprised at a lot of it but mostly, I was grateful. It made sense but mostly, it was a way to say goodbye. I agree, a new life needs some space and a welcome mat. Lovely, lovely essay, Kay.


    1. candidkay says:

      You always know the right thing to say, don’t you? 🙂 Space and a welcome mat can be great if you can accept the need, as you know. But sometimes you put them out while gritting your teeth. I’m glad I’m to the place where gritted teeth are gone. Glad you are too:).

  5. Amy says:

    What a beautiful writer you are! These words brought tears to my eyes. . .

    I was just like you at seventeen, filling my journal with dreams and favorite poems. My girlhood journal looks just like yours, except mine is forest green! Love that we share this.

    I am beyond grateful for you and your beautiful soul, my friend. Thank you for sharing this exquisite essay. xoxo

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you, Amy! I hope you still have that book and that connection to the girl who wrote it:).

      1. Amy says:

        I do, indeed. xox

  6. Love this. We think we grow wiser with age and in many ways we do. But there’s nothing like the innocence of youth to put things in perspective.

  7. So beautifully written, Kay.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you, Jennifer! Glad it resonated with you,

      1. It did, and it reminded me of a moment a few months back when I dug out my old journal from twenty years ago. It was like reading the words of a younger sister.

  8. I can SO relate to this… the laborious process of ridding the layers … and the discovery of self hidden underneath all the layers. I am so happy for you that you have found this hidden treasure. What a discovery!

    1. candidkay says:

      Thanks, Cynthia:).

  9. George says:

    Expressed beautifully and honestly. You have a way of touching the souls of others by exposing your own.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you! One of the nicest things you could have said:).

  10. It’s funny how universal time travel is. Love this one. I’ve been going back a bit. I could really relate. Thanks for sharing.

    Sent from my iPad


    1. candidkay says:

      A lot of us travel the same journey, don’t we? And now technology connects us. Beautiful:).

      1. 😀 my first post this week was actually that topic. I’m new to the site. This is more writing therapy …I’m always impressed with how personal many writers are…it’s inspired me to give it a try. It seems that may be the case with other writers as well.

  11. Wow what a find for you and your own sage advice.

    Take care.

  12. stemgir1 says:

    Beautiful post. I had a similar experience, also from 30 years ago. https://lessonsfromstemgirl.wordpress.com/2014/01/03/unfinished-poetry/
    Your book from all those years ago sounds lovely.

  13. This story is my life too. I often look to my inner child to help me move forward and balance. She was the confident one who knew how to love, be positive and care. It keeps me from being a full cynic. Great story. Thank you for sharing it.

    1. candidkay says:

      We all need that inner child intact, don’t we? Glad you’ve kept her around:).

      1. Sometimes she gets me in trouble, but she keeps me young. My two boys (16 & 3) are definitely a challenge.

  14. And the lovely butterfly is set free… 🙂

  15. Why is it that it takes so long and so much “stuff” to get back to who we really are?

  16. What a beautiful article. It is interesting how much we know ourselves before we even think we know ourselves. Full circle.

  17. Tom Schultz says:

    Beautifully written.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you, Tom! I appreciate the kind words and you stopping my candidkay.com.

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