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  • Mj Pettengill

All That Glitters Is Gold


Amulet, Fool's Gold
Amulet, Fool's Gold

The fool’s gold sat on my desk for about a month. I found myself looking at it, transported back to earlier days on the farm when the children were still home. The creative adventures were not limited or found only in the pages of books. The learning for us all was immeasurable and timeless.

It has been and continues to be helpful for me to maintain boundaries. These shifts and changes flow throughout time according to the facets of ever-changing relationships and circumstances. There are numerous developmental phases throughout all of our lives. I experienced my childhood, adolescence, and then into motherhood, adapting to each change as it unfolded. Some transitions were with ease, while others were rough. This is the human condition.

It has always been essential to remember to practice what you preach. I would emphasize the significance of following your own compass, trusting your instincts, and looking for the lesson in all that we do. The latter is vital when we think that we are facing a catastrophe. This is usually where the most important lessons lie in wait. Whether you are a child, teenager, or aging crone, the significance of this lesson never wanes. We always face challenges. It is not the challenge but how we handle it and the takeaway that matters.

I have personally gone in and out of the empty nest syndrome more than once. Whether to regroup or take shelter from the storm, my adult children know that they are always welcome home. Again, it’s about the learning.

Another critical aspect in these ever-changing circumstances is to always consider that we are all a work in progress. For example, as long as my inner child is not at the helm for too long, she is alive and well. Of course, we must never forget our roots—who we are. This illuminates the value of seeing changes not only in ourselves but also in others.

I often mention how we must renegotiate our relationships, especially in families. Most highly dysfunctional families remain stuck in old patterns and roles. For example, I am the eccentric, crazy artist type in my family. This was their way of relating to me because, in truth, they could not relate to me at all. Perhaps they are correct. I did not fall in step with the crowd.


My mother would often say, “You know Maryjane; she marches to the beat of a different drum.”

Everyone laughed, including me, in time.

I have had many reactions to that old statement. I have blushed, been annoyed, and when I reached a more mature emotional and spiritual state, I thanked her and let it go. I am so grateful that I did not ignore my intuition and follow the crowd.


As a child, I was quiet and observant, making people uncomfortable. Why? Because I was not like them. I used to carry the trauma of childhood bullying around with me, but I am not that same wounded child. I spent time unlocking the doors of the past and not only releasing and forgiving this behavior towards me, but I give thanks.


No, I don’t think that bullying is a good thing; on the contrary. I am grateful that I did not give up on myself, that I continued climbing trees, painting, writing, playing music, and wandering in the woods. I give thanks for not retaliating or becoming a bully myself. I am far from a pushover. When appropriate, I will tap into my inner-bitch, and I don’t linger. However, I appreciate letting all of that unhealthy, unchecked behavior go.

In time, I learned to face bullying with grace. I embraced the bullies. Sometimes I might cringe a little, but I remind myself that somewhere, at the root of those who act malicious, they are comprised of parts unloved.


Can I make up for it? Of course not. But I can love the learning and make a space for those wildly mean-spirited people, taking a moment or two to ask a higher being to shine a light of healing on that soul. It’s not easy; after all, I’m human. We tend to hold grudges or inhabit our wounds. It happens more often than not, and it’s the wrong thing to do.


The more I understand the art of letting go and the benefits of forgiveness, the more I will always try to do so. This is not limited to others. Self-loathing, guilt, or regrets can cause emotional instability and depression. I have an idea; let’s not do that.

What has happened in the past must remain there. It is helpful in learning, but infinite, self-inflicted wounds are unacceptable, and that is what you end up with if you cling to them.

“Turn your scars into stars” —Robert Schuller.

When families gather, it is common for all to slip back into their old, familiar roles. Even if this doesn’t happen with ourselves, we may view each other through an outdated lens. Not only does this breed resentment and frustration, but it also robs us of literally growing and blossoming with our loved ones. Acceptance is fertilizer for our family gardens. We essentially take away light, nutrients, and room to grow by trapping ourselves and others within a limited view. Our gardens become wilted and frail, eventually falling to the earth to decompose and take on another form. Although this is the life cycle, we can prevent the premature death of family bonds and other structures by allowing for and encouraging new growth.

Presently, in these times, we are witnessing and experiencing more division and crumbling away of relationships—families coming undone. This is not limited to the emotional response to each other’s varying viewpoints. Still, because of the urgent shift on every level, people have been forced to rethink their careers, living location, and general way of life.

I have gotten this far in all that I have accomplished by constantly reminding myself to remain on the observer’s perch. Yes, I am a doer and a thinker. However, there are many times when it is best to step back and acknowledge that we are all on our own individual paths. (This includes our offspring.)

I recently felt a familiar tugging at my heartstrings when one of my sons had come and gone. It had been a very long time since he stayed when it wasn’t a vacation or summer break. This is about getting up, dusting yourself off, and moving ahead. This is commonplace now.

It was the day that he left when I found the fool’s gold, a powerful yet bittersweet childhood memory that brought me back so many years. I will not gloss over the fact that I was sad. This melancholy was not limited to the situation at hand. It symbolized the radical changes we have all faced during this era—this great reset.


Very many have come and gone. So much has stayed back there on a timeline that is quickly fading. Striking out into a new world is only recognizable because of the comforting presence of my feathered and furry neighbors in the safety of the woods.

So, I placed the fool’s gold on my desk and sat with it. I didn’t want to lose it amongst the other rocks, shells, feathers, twigs, and bark that adorn my sacred spaces. It was time to step into the eye of the storm, to flow. In the wisdom of my years on this remarkable blue planet, I am aware that it is unwise and harmful to try to force anything on anyone. Allowance and patience to hold a space for what is meant to be is the gentle and powerful way to navigate this grand transformation.


Alchemy [ al-kuh-mee ]

Any magical power or process that transmutes a common substance, usually of little value, into a great deal of sense (1).


This is what I did.

I waited until I was ready—today—to craft the fool’s gold nugget into an amulet. After rummaging through my jewelry-making supplies, I found a sunny spot. Slowly and with intention, I turned the rock into an authentic charm, something I will enjoy wearing for years to come.

During this event, I learned that the fool’s gold was here all along. I simply didn’t know where to look for it. It was time to fashion it into an object that would carry a young boy’s love, light, and a story of hopes and dreams. He followed them and filled the world with music that Bach and the others would have embraced. He did it.

This boy, now turned man, has set out to find a new place in this ever-changing world. And yes, I will miss all of what was, but it will only crumble and fall if I fail to let go of what no longer remains. As long as love endures, there will be dreams for a promising future.

With each winding of the silver cord, I forged a deeper and more meaningful connection with all, most importantly myself. And as promised, when I created the amulet, I would share it with my friends.


It was a time to polish the stone, securing it in a lovely setting. It not only looks pleasing to the eye when it rests near my heart, but the stories of old will also be safe. What we experience today will be celebrated at the dawning of each new day.



(1) <https://www.dictionary.com/>