For the last 3 years, my New Year’s resolution has been to buy a new bracelet that holds meaning. The past 5 years have been, hands down, the hardest years of my life. 20+ pounds have been lost, gained, lost again, and well, gained. It’s been fun. Or painful. These amulets have held so much of me, when I haven’t had the strength to say them aloud.

First came Fearless, when I had to look behind me every step of the year, making sure things weren’t being recorded, no joke, or pulled out of context. I became scared of my shadow. Next came the lotus, which in Buddhist symbolism, represents what floats to the top after negative energy sinks to the bottom. I became worried I’d, too, sink to the bottom. This was followed this year by a new bracelet with Alis Volat Propiis, “She who has wings must fly”. As a woman, this year, I found my voice. No matter how much a chauvinist male at school might mansplain things to me that I already knew, I could fly. I became strong, fearless, and refusing to sink to that bottom, rising up like a lotus. This Christmas was an infinity symbol from my goddaugher. Symbolism isn’t lost on this old fool. She thinks of me as a unicorn, or maybe as a female figure in her life, I hope she does. The final is from my 40th birthday celebration this summer with my 11 girls. I bought them all a bracelet stamped “Badass”.

This last bracelet was cheap, and fell off my arm most of this summer and fall. I’d find it a few days later, feeling like I’d gained some badassery along the way. I had the green patina war stains up my forearm from its poorly crafted copper casing as proof.

But after Thanksgiving, I lost one that was stalwart–Fearless. The original amulet that held my fears, hopes, all, from those 5 years. I figured it fell off, wrangling my huge purse in and out of my car, or sadly, slipped silently from my arm .

I moved on, and realized it had its own path. The past 2 months have been far from easy, but a cakewalk compared to the rest. I regained my department head position. I made tough work and life decisions. I lost people I cared for. All during this tiny window. And I remained fearless, floating on the surface like a badass unicorn with wings. I hope I’ve remained this way perhaps.

I tell my students that they don’t need their notes on a test–they’re a distraction, a deterrent. They should trust what they know. When they take this advice, they’re sometimes more successful than when books and notes are used–they over analyze and second guess themselves. They know all the information without a crutch.

I was looking for a pair of earrings this morning, in an organized spot on my vanity, And low and behold, Fearless was waiting patiently in a little dish, where I had purposely placed it. I hadn’t lost it–it was there all along, Had it been my crutch?

I put it on for work, secretly feeling it’s energy. But I’ve realized, these bracelets are not amulets. They’re baubles that make me feel good. Their power lives inside me. They repeat what I already know.

What should have happened last May, when I let go of the rope, happened in the past few weeks. I’m a unicorn badass, rising to the surface through the muck in my wings. And you can bet your ass I’m more fearless than ever. Thank you, she who shall not be named. You convinced me you stripped it all away, but it was always there. And it will always be. In a little dish, waiting for me to see.


You and I –Wilco

Calvary– Mandolin Orange

L.A. Freeway–Jerry Jeff Walker

I’ll Be Missing You–Diddy

River–Leon Bridges

Where the Streets Have No Name–U2