Cousin Marty

By: Rebecca Liston

Dear Reader,

We have this saying in our house that come October, it’s just really a slippery slope of holidays, one after the other, bouncing us all around between family gatherings with copious plates of mashed potatoes and too many cookies until we land with a rather ungraceful “thud” in January.

It’s a weird and wonderful ride. 

And it’s not without its challenges.

One of the challenges that so often faces those of us who run our own shows is the inevitable dinner conversation with That Relative – you know the one. So, I am sharing this post originally written in 2018 as a wee reminder in case you, yourself, should happen upon Cousin Marty this season. You’re not alone, friend. And you are certainly not lost.


Picture this:

Family reunion. Everyone talking, catching up, showing photos of their littles. Food being eaten. Drinks enjoyed. And Cousin Marty leans over and says to me, voice booming through the ambient chatter: “So, Bec, what exactly are you doing NOW?

Cousin Marty (a really nice guy, by the way), is an engineer. Born an engineer. Raised an engineer. Has engineering in his cells. It’s what he knows. He loves it. It’s his to do.

Cousin Marty cannot for the life of himself wrap his head around my choice to be self-employed.

And he certainly cannot wrap his head around the fact that my self-employment has evolved over 20-plus years, either, so that I am not a practicing homeopath any longer, but a coach/consultant/master-of-many-things-spiritual-and-intuitive.

Anyways, I digress…

As always in a family sitcom, the moment that the most glaring question is asked in a room full of people making noise, the noise in my Aunt’s kitchen stops abruptly as Cousin Marty bellows his question to me: What, exactly, AM I doing now?!?

I hear amusement in his tone. Is he being a little patronizing? I imagine him reaching over to pat my head and calling me “Little Girl” as he nods with that half-smile on his face while I explain my work to him, as best as I can, and, I am a little embarrassed to admit, I ramble a little…all eyes are on me…I feel somehow exposed…

He keeps nodding, long after I have stopped talking. I see him considering what he should say next, what would be the best response to give in this moment when he’s really not getting what I do, and really not understanding my choices, or my evolution. Should he feel bad for me that I cannot seem to find a “real” or “steady” job? Should he suggest politely that perhaps I would be better off going back to school or something to pursue a “stable” career? Should he slip me a twenty in case I “need a little extra” for groceries?

These are the things Cousin Marty grapples with as he stands beside me, nodding and half-smiling, and I don’t know if I should rescue him somehow but instead, I just eat another brownie and look awkwardly at my shoes.

What I realize, after the fact, is that what I wanted to say to him — perhaps what I even SHOULD have said to him — was: “You know, Marty, just because my life is different than yours, doesn’t mean I am lost.”

(Quote him a little Gerard Abrams…see what he makes of THAT!)

Not to be cheeky. Not to be disrespectful in any way. But to simply assure him, and point out the truth of it, that yes, our lives are different, but I am a-okay. Right where I oughtta be. Right where I want to be.

So here’s to our families and those whose lives are different than our own. May we love them. May we respect them. And may we know, always, that none of us are “lost.”


Happy Holiday Season, dear ones.

Big love,

Rebecca Liston is cofounder and business intuitive at Las Peregrinas, a creative and consulting agency. She specializes in anchoring folks in a clear-eyed understanding of which path is theirs for the taking. She’s got one foot in the land of the subtle and unseen, and the other foot firmly planted in the land of ruthless pragmatism. Oh, and she swears like a sailor, which makes us love her more.

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