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Let’s Be Scandalous…Shall We?

11 Comments 24 May 2010

What does “beyond the pale” mean?  The phrase itself has a rich history, but for our use, let’s keep it simple.  A pale was used to mark a limit or a boundary.  To live beyond it was thought, well, sometimes…scandalous!  To quote Charles Dickens from his 1837 The Pickwick Papers , “I look upon you, sir, as a man who has placed himself beyond the pale of society, by his most audacious, disgraceful, and abominable public conduct.”  Now while I have no intention of encouraging such behavior, I do want to push us to think about our own personal pales.
I think these pales are rarely noted because we spend most of our days trying desperately to live up to some set of expectations, trying hopelessly to morph ourselves into the form of someone we thing we should be.  These limits or constraints bind us, keep us from learning who we are, what our passions are and how to use our gifts fully for our betterment and the betterment of the world around us.  I believe that by mid-life, somewhere between our mid-thirties and our mid-forties, we often find ourselves living within a “pale” of sorts, a boundary that is either self-imposed or imposed by any number of outer societal pressures that we allow.   We give these other voices and ear and live lives within their bounds, lives that do not reflect authenticity or a true reflection of our hearts.  It happens subtly and often times we mean well, but along the way, the entirety of who we are as individuals is swallowed up and absorbed into someone else or something else.  There are some women who have this happen in only minimal ways and they are fortunate indeed.
However, I know first-hand and have encountered a plethora of others along this, as Meredith (Grey’s Anatomy) would say, “dark and twisty path” of mine, who have known it to be true of their experience as well.  For some time I thought it was unique to our southern culture, but as I have traveled, lived in other parts of the country, I have come to believe that I was mistaken.  And so, it is the combined experiences of a great number of women that have birthed this little blog into reality.  I have a deep, deep desire to “LIVE BEYOND THE PALE” and to help other women do the same.
The basic premise here is to consider the pale or pales that you have taken on in the first half of your life.  I am a woman who has lived a good portion of her life inside the pale, inside the limits, the borders, that have been set for me.  Some of those borders have been set by societal norms, some by the religious establishment, some by a smaller sect within the religious establishment, some by my own personal demons, others by family traditions and on and on.  (side note-not all borders are bad…I’ll get to that in another blog!)  The problem with living within the pale, as termed above, is that in my twenties and a good portion of my thirties I morphed myself into something, quite often, that was not me at all.  My essence was absorbed into something or someone and I ceased being an individual.  There was little to no differentiation and my spirit disappeared, along with my ability to speak my mind, stand against the establishment and use my voice, especially in the name of justice for myself and other women.
My questioning thoughts about morphing did not seem to surface until my life began to unravel in the most sacred places.  I delivered my third child (2000) and discovered months later that she was mentally handicapped and her developmental delays were pervasive.  Shortly after this world rocker, I am handed the lovely news that my precious son (now 12) had Type 1 Diabetes.  Wasn’t it enough to have one child with life changing problems and struggles, didn’t we have enough to deal with with my daughter.  The blow that I felt when my son was diagnosed was tremendous.  And honestly, it has not been the last.
I laugh sometimes that I keep thinking that we are about to “round a corner” but I just can’t find that damn corner, where the hell is that corner!  All of that to say that when you are given such painful realities it is like being submerged in ice cold water and there are a great deal of things that become remarkably clear.  While that clarity did not come quickly, it has come and that is what has lead me here, to writing this blog.  Because when I finally came up for air, fought my way to the surface, felt that amazing freedom, I wanted to tell someone about it and I really did want to help other women find it.
There are not many things in this life that I am certain of, the mysteries are far more pervasive to me now than the certainties, however, I am certain that I can learn, laugh and love other women and in doing so, we can all be better for it.  And I believe that part of being better is moving beyond some of those boundaries, barriers, limitations that we have lived within for years…so, just call me scandalous…
I’m ready to live beyond the PALE!
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11 Comments so far

  1. Donna says:

    Love your blog!! Looking forward to many more “beyond the pale” posts!!

    • Jorja says:

      thanks donna! they are just trial posts right now, since i haven’t really launched yet, but i really want to launch soon! you are kind to read them and take the time to comment. i really love it and hope to get the ball rolling soon. my head is full of ideas and i really think there is a world of women out there who have things to say and wisdom to share with one another! love you

  2. Carrie says:

    Have you been in my head? I have spent the last year embracing the wife/mother role, loving it but also realizing that I am in there someplace. Over the last several months I have ended up on several journeys that have helped spark ME. It seems a step to integrating these pieces. I look forward to this blog!

    • Jorja says:

      hello my sweet friend! miss you so…wish i was near you and your dear family. this integration is indeed a challenge and one that i believe we will face for all of our days. love to you!

  3. angie says:

    woo hoo! jorja on the www! encouraged and inspired already.

    staying tuned!

    • Jorja says:

      thanks ang! i am exhausted, but it has been fun. hopefully i’ll be able to settle in an write a bit. thanks for reading!

  4. Cindy says:

    Jorja–here are my thoughts–authentic/real, but not wallowing/self-pitying…fresh and refreshing. Thought provoking….(not many promote real thought–I need to be provoked 😉 Forward looking and moving….
    honest…maybe a bit ‘edgy” (though I wouldn’t say rebellious ;)…although a non-English major had to read the 1st post to “get” the Psle thing…again, I need to be stretched!… Under-girded with the Truth–yet not “preachy” or “boxy”
    Heart-softening (video–cried like a baby) Heart-searching (will be considering my own pales in this season)…and possibly heart-soaring if God allows connection, community, consideration, and courage to change…My heart cheers for you–and for all of us–so, for now, I say Keep living outside those lines and writing these–Cindy Warhurst Holbrook

  5. Lelia Geiger says:

    Great post, Jorj. . .after knowing you for some time and just a bit of your story these past 10 years (even though we’ve only seen each other a handful of times), I can see why you are where you are. I love thinking deeply about all of this and talking about it too. I am in the middle of such thoughts w/myself a lot of the times. . .to many I am simply “the associate pastor’s wife” of our rural, med-sized church. . .and at school I am “Sam, Nate, Will and Hank’s mom”. . .but I know I’m more than that. I love all your ideas about empowerment. Looking forward to delving in and reading more, but the big yellow schoolbus just arrived at the end of my driveway so my free time has now officially ended!! Until next time. . .

  6. Ashley Johnson Wyatt says:

    jorja, i have wanted to connect with you for like a year now and havent been able to get you!! My fav post so far for many reasons: explanation of your title with greater detail as to why you are doing what youre doing, your transparency is refreshing and contagious; stating what so many of us feel and think but can’t express or won’t, wise and instructive without being arrogant and pushy. You evoke such confidence in being messy, i like that 🙂 Your place in this world, Jorja, is so desperately needed….thank you for embracing the person you are….and reaching out to other women….i would love to have your help. I have been through some difficult things too but unlike you, I havent been able to break out of being stuck. 🙁
    You are blazing a trail and offering something better than Facebook! Love you, Ashley Johnson Wyatt

    • Jorja says:

      hey ash, you are too kind. it seems impossible to connect in real life so i am glad we have found each other here. writing has been cathartic for me. hope you are finding your footing. love you


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things to make you wonder~

“I am a frayed and nibbled survivor in a fallen world, and I am getting along. I am aging and eaten and have done my share of eating too. I am not washed and beautiful, in control of a shining world in which everything fits, but instead am wondering awed about on a splintered wreck I've come to care for, whose gnawed trees breathe a delicate air, whose bloodied and scarred creatures are my dearest companions, and whose beauty bats and shines not in its imperfections but overwhelmingly in spite of them...” Annie Dillard

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