I never imagined blogging about the would-have-been Republican First Lady. But similar to an earlier encounter with the Democratic Party’s Maya Angelou, whose personal spirit also emanated beautifully, Ann Romney changed my mind.
BEA promoted Ann Romney as a keynote, but her Romney Family Table book hardly called me by name. My husband tells me I need a GPS to find my own kitchen, so I couldn’t imagine taking time for Ann Romney’s favorite meat loaf recipe when more substantive authors vied for my attention.
I ended up listening to Ann discuss a meat loaf recipe after all, but what she delivered was food of another, more essential sort.
I found a comfortable seat at BEA’s Midtown Stage and was listening intently to Michael Dougherty discuss his stranger than fiction experience as president of an Atlanta medical lab. Now author of The Devil Inside the Beltway, Dougherty shares his shocking tale of cyber security leaks, FTC inquiries and the strange matrix he’s witnessed in the nation’s capitol. I disengaged for a moment of personal reflection.
A few feet to my left, Ann Romney did the same. In the middle of conversation with the group preparing her as the stage’s next speaker, Ann also disconnected for a private moment.
The two of us accidentally locked eyes. Without a word, we smiled and laughed to one another in private acknowledgement. We’d both been private daydreamers in the midst of the Jacob Javitz Center’s clang.
Ann Romney’s response caught more than my casual attention. She exuded a natural grace and familiar warmth. She might have been a featured celebrity at BEA, but I sensed no self-absorption. Meat loaf or not, she became worthy of further inspection.
For a 64-year-old diagnosed with MS, Ann evoked no sense of infirmity. To the contrary, she exuded health and vitality, right down to her platform shoes. Attractively attired but not primped, her face showed no signs of professional enhancement and her long blond hair appeared naturally brushed.
Despite losing a place at the White House, I witnessed nothing of disappointment or drama. Neither did I detect a political wife whose identity was tied exclusively to her husband.
Instead, I was treated to a woman who genuinely enjoyed home and hearth. Her life force revolved around the family table and she welcomed others to it. She was familiar and hospitable, the type person with whom I’d strike up conversation at the local grocery.
There was no difference between the woman who smiled to me privately and the person who held a microphone. Ann exuded simplicity, ease and lack of self-consciousness before her audience.
In a candid moment onstage, she spilled out a bit of private disappointment. Among her brood of offspring, Ann hadn’t succeeded in bringing forth a daughter. Not to be daunted, her supposed lack gave rise to innovation – and her ultimate book.
To keep alive the sense of family she’d lovingly cultivated, Ann passed along favorite recipes to each new daughter-in-law in the form of a wedding gift. These treasures would serve as Ann’s essence and legacy, shared with the next generation.
Spawned by one son’s suggestion, Ann took what she’d privately compiled and fashioned it into a published book. She hopes not only to communicate her sense of family and tradition but inspire others to create something similar for themselves.
Ann Romney’s essence would have likely shown up with or without husband Mitt. Had life dealt her another turn, she would have still found a way to create love around her kitchen table. It’s her essence.
Ever wonder what people light upon when they encounter you? Do you consider what others see, feel and experience when in your company? If you’ve never considered your own essence, don’t underestimate the value of what’s within you.
Like an unseen signature, you possess an inward nature and true substance. Let it extend to your family, community, job. Like the unique scent of a finely crafted perfume, its aroma is meant to fill your life and carry into the space in which you live.
I earlier wrote about poet Maya Angelou for the same reason I write about Ann Romney today. Both women carry a life essence that eclipses divides and permeates beyond labels.
I hope you’ll consider exuding your essence, too!.
“Living Happily & Authentically – Inside Out”
Find her series of books, The Art of Happiness, on Amazon