A Bundle of Sticks Can’t Be Broken

It’s my birthday week, and the simple act of adding another candle to my cake always stirs a reflective and celebratory cocktail of emotions for me.  While many people loathe adding another candle to the top of their cake, I say, “Bring it on!” After all, celebrating another year aways beats the alternative, as far as I’m concerned.

Last year I shared my favorite music with you on my birthday and reflected on the impact it has on one’s life (click here if you missed it and care to take a peek).

This year I thought I’d share one of my favorite gifts, which I think you might appreciate as much as I do. It’s one I received a couple years ago from my dear friend, Kimberly Reeder-Riechel.

Photo of a Bundle of Sticks Can't Be Broken

This seemingly delicate, yet nearly indestructible bird’s nest, sits in my office in a place of honor near my computer, and it knocks my socks off every time I look at it–especially when accompanied by Kimberly’s hand-written note: “A bundle of sticks can’t be broken.”

This gift reminds me not only of how much I appreciate Kimberly’s friendship and all the strong qualities that make up my fabulous friend, but it also reminds me that no matter how challenging life gets, I will always feel loved and supported by the many caring, talented and diverse “sticks” in my bundle of life.

This proverb, while simple, is a great reminder that as humans we are infinitely more powerful when we band together to support one another than when we try to navigate through life as individual “twigs.” After all, it’s a snap to break a single twig in half, but nearly impossible to break a sturdy bundle. Just try it and see what I mean.

Somehow this notion seems especially poignant this year as I delve into a particularly fiery social issue (click here to read more) and also push once again to finish my book in the midst of all life’s daily pulls. Knowing that my “sticks” are there to support me gives me a sense of calm and strength, and even patience.

This proverb also makes me think of others around me like my friends who are still trying to recover from Hurricane Sandy and those who are dealing with debilitating illnesses. It also makes me think of those who have lost parents recently or who are struggling to handle parenting issues of their own, all the while trying keep their humor and sanity. And of course, it makes me think of my writing and artist friends who continually try to keep the creative fires burning, who put themselves out there, who yearn to start or complete projects which have simultaneously inspired and tortured their creative souls.

I share my bundle of sticks with all of you to remind you that you are not alone, that we are all in this great big crazy world together; and to remind you that anything is possible with hard work and the support of those who care.

I also share my bundle of sticks to encourage you to be kind to yourself if you feel the need to ask for support. Asking for advice or help once in a while does not make you weak, but rather wise and strong. It shows that you are passionate about what you are doing and have the guts to reach out to make it happen.

The beauty of each of our bundles is that it continually grows and changes, getting stronger with each year and each new person who enters into our lives. I didn’t know my friend Kimberly when I was in third grade nor even college. In fact, I only met Kimberly a handful of years ago, when our daughters went to preschool together. I never could have imagined that such an important friendship could have develop in such a short time.

The same holds true with many of my writing and blogging friends. I may have only gotten to know some of you over the past year or so, but your words and personalities have added nothing but dazzling, colorful sticks to my ever-growing bundle.

On this day that I celebrate another candle, more importantly, I celebrate you, dear peeps, all the beautiful “sticks” in my life (you know who you are). Thank you for making my bundle impossibly strong and abundantly memorable and meaningful.

34 thoughts on “A Bundle of Sticks Can’t Be Broken

  1. Belated Happy Birth Day Becky!! I missed your birthday, as I have taken a break from blogging. I just loved this post. Your interpretation of “bundle of sticks” was wonderful!!
    I just saw yesterday in your Facebook page that, you had a small celebration on the success of your book “Steve and I”. Wishing you lots and lots of success with your book “An Improbable life”, when it will be out.

    • Thank you, Arindam. It’s nice to see you back. I hope you are enjoying your time off from blogging.

      We have much to celebrate with our “bundles” as well as all the tiny milestones in our lives–things that often only happen with the love and support of the sticks in our bundles.

  2. Ah, serendipity. I’ve been slogging away on a blog post about music inspired by Brenda Moguez, questioning our favorite song. The past week two other writers referenced the 80′s and all it’s musical glory, culminating in a massive nostalgia attack since this coincides with my birthday this coming Saturday. When I clicked on here and you said it was your birthday-I recalled you writing about music last year.

    I appreciate the reminder your bundle of sticks analogy so wonderfully conveys—we are stronger together.

    A very Happy Birthday to you Becky.

    • Happy Birthday to you as well! Here’s to another year of celebrating music, serendipity and all the fabulous “sticks’ in our lives!

  3. Happy birthday, Becky. And a very thoughtful post, optimistic and inspiring. We should all let our ‘bundle of sticks’ to feel our appreciation.

    • Thank you, Olga! I’m glad this resonated with you. And yes, showing our “bundles” gratitude not only helps remind us how lucky we are to have them in our lives, but also makes them fully understand how much they are appreciated.

  4. That’s beautiful, we are not alone, we have a collective (even when we’re alone) there is strength. I hope you had a good birthday. It took me a longer to get back up on feet, sorry for the belated bday. You’re words resonate and remind me how lucky the virtual community is.. friends we would never have had the pleasure of meeting.

    • Lucky, indeed, Brenda! Our virtual community of writers/bloggers has added boundless support to our bundles. I’m grateful for those, like you, who inspire me with their musings, insights and passion for the written word. Thanks for your good wishes. Glad to hear you are feeling better.

    • Thanks, Janet. You, my friend, are my Indelible Denim ‘stick,’ which has been there through thick and thin, anchoring my bundle in more ways than you will ever know.

      Here’s to sharing many more of life’s adventures together!

  5. Happy Birthday, Becky. How nice to be born at the beginning of the year! What a lovely, meaningful gift you received from your friend. How meaningful and precious. Great words of wisdom, too. Hope you have a wonderful year ahead!

    • Thank you, Monica! I appreciate your good wishes and I also appreciate your talent, your courage in the issues you stand for, and your irrepressible joie de vivre. I’m so happy you have become part of my fabulous writing bundle this year. Here’s to another wonderful year ahead for all of us!

  6. Happy New Year and Happy Birthday, Becky!

    I love your Bundle of Sticks! What a lovely missive to read on a Monday morning.

    All best to you and your family,

    • Ann, what a fun surprise to see you here again. Thanks for your good wishes. I’m glad A Bundle of Sticks resonated with you. Often it’s the simplest things in life that stop us in our tracks and make us think. That’s what happened to me when my friend Kimberly presented this to me.

      Here’s to the new year ahead, and to our writing bundles and all the joy they bring!

    • Jayne, you add a feisty sparkle to my bundle like no other. It’s a joy and a privilege to have you among my bundle of sticks. I’m looking forward to more fun gatherings in the future with all of us writing chiquitas.

  7. Best birthday wishes to you, Becky! But I feel like it’s the birthday girl giving gifts today, rather than receiving them. Thanks for this lovely post, full of metaphor and meaning. Hope you have a beautiful, celebratory, thoughtful week, friend.

    • Many thanks, Tele. I’m glad this post resonated with you. It made me happy to share it with you and celebrate all the extraordinary people in my life. I consider you a caring and talented stick in my bundle of blogging friends. Your words never cease to inspire me. BTW, I saw your post on She Writes about your new blog, but when I tried to go to it from my iPhone, the link was dead. I’ll try to navigate back to your original post, but if you can drop me your link here, I’d love to see what you are up to.

    • Tracey, you are such a fun, strong, sassy stick in my bundle. I’m so happy to be getting to know you! Your words always make me smile, think and try to become a better writer. Thanks for your good wishes.

  8. Happy Birthday cousin! What a great way to start each new year with a new year. I love the nest. So many times I have found the only way to make it through the tough times is with the strength of many woven together. Hope to see you soon.

    • Thanks, Carrie! I have to admit, I love the start of each new year. It always feels fresh and exciting and full of possibility. Today was no exception, especially since it was filled with a mongo piece of chocolate espresso mousse cake! And yes, our family bundle has always provided a strong source of support during many of life’s greatest challenges. We are lucky. But you already know that. Hope you girls can get down this way soon!

  9. Everything about this — the metaphor, the nest itself, the new ‘sticks’ that keep finding themselves in your bundle — is a beautiful reflection of you. Happy Birthday, from someone who continues to be awed by what it is that brings kindred souls together.

    • Deborah, I’m so happy you have melded into my bundle of sticks. Your spirit, talent, and generosity are constant sources of inspiration for me. And heck, you’re just plain fun. Happy writing to you, my friend! Here’s to another wonderful year ahead of creative magic.

    • Thanks, Jessica. I’m so happy you are part of my bundle. Your friendship means a lot to me. And YES, woot woot! I’d love to celebrate! When don’t I? :-) Name the time and place and I’ll be there with my party shoes on…

  10. Happy Birthday, Becky. You always give us so much to think about and this post was no exception. Why do we always try to strike out alone? Yes, it’s good to be self-reliant, but inviting others in doesn’t always mean you’re not able to stand on your own. Good luck with all your projects in the new year.

    • Thank you, Julie! So nice to hear from you. I read your most recent post about the Russian adoption fiasco and had fully planned to leave a comment on your blog, but got sideswiped by the flu (two times, no less) and couldn’t muster the strength to try to type a comment on my iPhone. The keypad makes me insane on a good day. :-) Needless to say, I appreciated your perspective, especially since you are living proof of all the good things that can happen with adoption. Let’s hope things reverse soon.

      And why do we always try to strike out alone? I think because our country values independence and self-reliance. I know I value those things tremendously, yet when I’m reminded about a bundle of sticks and all the extraordinary people in my life, I realize I don’t always have to go it alone. In fact, the journey is often more fun with my friends and loved ones along on the ride.

      Happy writing to you this year, Julie!

  11. Becky – Happy Birthday! I do remember your favorite music and also wish you success in finishing your book! Here is to the upcoming year and all it holds for us. I’ve been writing, but not blogging lately because the issues are so close to home and family (not kids thankfully). Just an emotional time. Your piece reminds me of Anna Quindlen’s book “Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake” I just love whatever she writes. Happy Birthday to you! I’m going to buy a nest….love this!

    • Thank you, Michele! I appreciate your good wishes. I’ll have to check out Anna Quindlen’s book. I love her writing, too.

      I’m so happy to hear that you are writing again!! Here’s to a productive year ahead and to our bundles of sticks.

  12. Happy birthday, Becky! May you have a wonderful year and many more!

    I love the analogies that you draw from your beautiful “bundle of sticks.” They are examples of strength and hope, and I for one needed to hear this today. Thank you.

    • Many thanks, Tina. I’m glad my bundle of sticks gave you what you needed today. Sharing this little gem couldn’t make me happier.

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