My True Self: An Illustration

by Charise Rohm Nulsen

This post is in response to the following The Red Dress Club RemembeRED prompt: Imagine you are meeting someone for the first time. You want to tell them about yourself. Instead of reciting a laundry list of what you do or where you’re from, please give us a scene from your life that best illustrates your true self.

I felt Baby’s heart beating against my chest. Although he was attached to me in a carrier, I still kept one arm around him tightly as we ascended the mountain. I nuzzled the top of this head and softly narrated descriptions of the beauty of our surroundings.

“Look, Baby. There are tall trees all around us.”

“Do you like the way the cool air feels on your cheeks?”

“Mama and Dada love you so much. They want to show you this beautiful place.”

I matched my steps to to the cadence of my husband’s stride ahead. He spoke over his shoulder every few steps, telling Baby silly jokes that made me laugh.

Although Baby had been on hikes with us before, this was the first time we planned an overnight trip with the main goal of hiking in the Berkshire mountains. I felt proud that we were exposing Baby to things that we love from such an early age: travel, nature, hiking, the beauty of the outdoors.

I let my mind wander as we walked steadily uphill, reveling in the soft sounds of Baby’s breath against me, and marveling at the feelings of peace and contentment that seemed to undulate through me. I felt as if I had everything I needed. I never would have suspected that I could feel this way on a regular basis before Jeff and Baby came into my life.

As we neared the top of the mountain, I could see that we were approaching an incredible view, and a very precarious walk along the top ridge. Jeff held out his hand to me, and I grabbed it. Even with Baby’s weight causing me to be slightly off center, I still felt confident sliding along the edge of the rock. Jeff held his arm out protectively, yet I couldn’t help but lean forward to look down from the dizzying precipice.

I heard Sarah McLachlan lyrics echo in my head, and smiled at the appropriateness of my inner soundtrack: “It’s a long way down to the place where we started from.” Anxiety and uncertainty were no longer needed. “Serenity now,” I thought with satisfaction.

Standing together at the top of the mountain, my husband whipped out the digital camera to take our trademark picture. I look satisfyingly at the camera as Jeff kissed my face. The stunning backdrop may have not made it into the self-portrait, but the real beauty of the picture was the addition of the little face peeking out from the spot right next to my heart.

We gazed out into the distance; three sets of eyes, all looking in the same direction, taking in the beauty of our world, and I felt gratitude.

family on a hike

Please check out my other RembereRED memoir posts:
In This Moment: A Memoir of 5 Minutes
In Loving Memory

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{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Melissa @ The New Mommy Files March 7, 2011 at 8:57 pm

This made me smile. Beautifully written!
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2 MamaP March 7, 2011 at 10:37 pm

Me too. I smiled and took a second look at that picture of the 3 of you – a family!


3 Jessica @ Cloth diapering mama March 8, 2011 at 12:39 am

“We gazed out into the distance; three sets of eyes, all looking in the same direction, taking in the beauty of our world, and I felt gratitude.”

That is an awesome ending…I felt like I was right there with you…way to connect mama!!!!!!!!! <3
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4 JDaniel4's Mom March 8, 2011 at 7:29 am

What a beautiful portrait!


5 Lisa @ Two Bears Farm March 8, 2011 at 8:37 am

We’ve always enjoyed hiking with ours too. It’s good for them to get out early, I say! Nice piece! :-)
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6 Miranda March 8, 2011 at 10:18 am

Loved your last line! What a fitting ending to describe family!
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7 Crayon Wrangler March 8, 2011 at 10:21 am

I loved how you acknowledged how the true beauty was not the background behind you but what you held close to your heart.

Beautiful take on the prompt and a valuable lesson for what is truly important in this life.
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8 Annie @ Annie's Heart March 8, 2011 at 10:53 am

Beautiful!! Your baby will be so blessed to have parents like you to share the love of nature with. So much vibrance and love of life you all have!
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9 Elena @NaynaDub March 8, 2011 at 11:31 am

Great piece. Such a fantastic memory to capture to tell a little bit about yourself and your family.
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10 Amy March 8, 2011 at 12:50 pm

What a great post! The picture is so sweet and is a great addition!
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11 Miri@LifeAfterPush March 8, 2011 at 1:07 pm

I love how this paints a picture of you; the mother, the adventurer, the lover of all things beautiful.
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12 Denelle @CaitsConcepts March 8, 2011 at 1:12 pm

How lucky to be able to experience all of that at such a young age! It looks like Baby was tuckered out from all that fresh air, too! ;)
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13 andygirl March 8, 2011 at 1:48 pm

you made me want to be there. want that scene for myself. well done!


14 Maija @ Maija's Mommy Moments March 8, 2011 at 2:53 pm

I love this line:
“I felt as if I had everything I needed. I never would have suspected that I could feel this way on a regular basis before Jeff and Baby came into my life.”

It made me stop and think about how lucky I am to have my own family. Though we’ve never met and I’m just stopping by for the first time this moment clearly gives me an idea of who you are and I think we are very similar!


15 Renee March 8, 2011 at 4:03 pm

What a lovely picture!
The words as well as the photo. Beautiful descriptions.


16 Tonya March 8, 2011 at 6:12 pm

The last line says it all. Family. Love. Gratitude.

Lovely piece.


17 Cheryl @ Mommypants March 8, 2011 at 8:02 pm

That sleeping baby is so, so sweet.

I love how you truly appreciated the moment.

Also, i love that song!


18 Jessica March 8, 2011 at 8:08 pm

Great take on the prompt, what a beautiful moment, and I totally agree, the people with us can be so much more important than the backdrop. No matter how beautiful it is.
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19 MamaRobinJ March 9, 2011 at 12:00 am

That’s so beautiful. I had a very similar experience when my son was about 2 months old – strapped to my chest, walking. It was lovely.
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20 Frelle March 9, 2011 at 5:51 pm

how beautiful! i also loved your inner soundtrack, the way you so vividly described the peace and satisfaction, and I love that you have a trademark picture! :)
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21 Galit Breen March 10, 2011 at 5:21 pm

The spirit of mom, family, being in the moment- they’re all conveyed in this lovely post. And the photo? is picture perfect!


22 Selena March 10, 2011 at 9:35 pm

What a beautiful family!


23 Julie March 13, 2011 at 8:51 pm

I had the picture all set in my mind before I even scrolled down far enough to see it.

What a fantastic portrait of your family you have written here.



24 MamaTrack March 13, 2011 at 10:27 pm

You use imagery beautifully to describe the experience. I really enjoyed reading this. Thank you!


25 Barbara March 14, 2011 at 12:50 am

You painted a beautiful picture – and the photo just added to it. What a sweet memory to cherish!
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