In the past two and a half years, I lost everything that I thought was well, everything. I lost my daughter to California, 3,000 miles away. I lost my 23 year marriage. I lost my mother. I lost my home. I lost my job. Recently, I lost my beloved dog, Lola. And as hard as these past two and a half years have been, they have also been an incredible growing experience, unlike anything I have ever experienced. Perception, that is the key. Sometimes, I have felt that I couldn’t go on, that life was too difficult.
Most of the time, I am filled with gratitude for having had a spiritual awakening, a shift in perception of my circumstances, a re-evaluation of what is really important to me – my daughter, my friends, my writing, my job, my faith – that is what has kept me together. Being of service and showing up, being more empathetic and grateful for simple things in life.
I lost something else, about 15 pounds. “The Divorce Diet” – I wouldn’t recommend it as a way to lose weight, but it definitely was one of the perks.
I read an amazing chapter yesterday in Steve Chandler’s book “Time Warrior” and here is the last part of the chapter:
“…whenever something comes crashing down something else can start building up. And that’s where I want my mind to go. What’s good about this? What’s great about this? What strengthens me? What can make me better?
Here’s a fresh option of perception: These are good times because they are challenging, not in spite of the fact that they are challenging. These times are my wake-up call. This is where I get my true strength. This where where I find out what I am made of. Who would not want to find out what they are made of?”
I imagine there’s a way to look up how many times “fear” has appeared in the title of these blog posts. Many times, I am certain, would be the answer. It’s a constant, although not always acknowledged part of everyone’s lives, I believe. And the more you try to live a more conscious life, the more you are aware of it. This doesn’t mean it should stop you from taking risks and enjoying life, but it does mean you have to learn how to live with fear.
“Intimacy with Fear” is the title of the first chapter of “When Things Fall Apart.”
“If we want to go beneath the surface and practice without hesitation, it is inevitable that at some point we will experience fear.”
Yesterday we met with two general managers to talk about the play and where it should go next. It all sounded great – they are enthusiastic and interested and believe it has definite commercial potential. As our director says, “We have a lot of ducks to get in a row.” Fortunately, we only need to get one duck at a time.
In Steve Chandler’s book, “Time Warrior” he quotes Michael Jordan: “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost more than 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life…and that’s why I succeed.”
Last night, I found out from a dear friend that her husband has been in and out of the hospital much of the summer. I am thinking of her and praying for them both. I hope I can do more than that, but for right now, that’s all I can do.
I’ve been in touch with Steve Chandler, the business coach who wrote two books I love – “Reinventing Yourself” and “Fearless.” He sent me a couple of his books and CD’s. I decided to start reading “Time Warrior” which, I believe, is his latest book. The introduction talks about not putting things off for later, but simply doing them as they come along. So I sent off my latest pages of the play, which I have re-written, to my writing partner and I will try to take care of everything as it comes along today and see how it goes.
I did hear a great story about Pema Chodron yesterday. A friend of mine is up in Nova Scotia, where a thousand people have come together to meditate. Pema was speaking to them yesterday and someone’s cell phone went off right in the middle of her talk. The cell phone played a tune and she started dancing to it. Good lessons for life.
Some days I wake up and I feel less than great. Even though I went to a lovely surprise birthday party last night and enjoyed myself. Even though the weather is so perfect it’s just delightful. Even though several people last night reminded me of something that I needed to hear: my job is just what I do during the day – and I need to either take a class or do something during my week that gives me pleasure. I’ve realized that I’m slightly addicted to performing, so I think I need to find something that allows me to have that rush, scary as it is.
I’m also waiting to hear back from a couple of people who I sent some writing to and that’s always stressful. But I understand they have busy lives and it will take them awhile to get back to me.
So I sit with the feelings, the anxiety, the sadness and I know that the feelings will pass. And I took an action this morning about finding a class and I will write to a good friend, Sally Fisher, about getting together for dinner soon. She is an inspiration to me.
And I will trust that today will be a good day, just as they always are in the end.
I just did some readings, and one of the lines that jumped out at me from Steve Chandler’s book “Reinventing Yourself” was:
“The human system does not really want comfort, it wants challenge. It wants adventure.”
I was reading Steve Chandler’s book “Fearless” this morning and the message was about doing. Not dreaming about doing, not planning to do, not thinking about doing, but just doing. Whatever you can. One small thing, one big thing, a few small things – just do.
I’m still having days when I feel lost and sad, but they are fewer and farther between. Mostly I am doing and I’m enjoying it. Brene Brown’s book, “The Gifts of Imperfection” is also great – because knowing that you can take risks and put yourself out there (despite whatever feelings come up) is the only way to live a “whole-hearted life.”
I spent last night mostly feeling sorry for myself and watched a “Friday Night Lights” marathon, but the writing was so good it inspired me — and this morning I woke up, posted on Facebook that we are having a second reading of “Scrambled Eggs” on June 2nd – invited people to the reading, wrote to my co-writer, decided to sign up again for Match.com and this time actually go on some dates, and accepted how little control I have over the outcome of anything, all I can do is take actions. Small actions, big actions – any kind of action counts. And today, I’m going to see “Bridesmaids” because I could really use a good laugh!
Today is Thanksgiving and although I miss Zoe, and I never, in any of my fantasies, could have imagined my life looking the way it does now – I couldn’t be more grateful for all the blessings in my life. My little dog Lola is lying on a small throw rug at my feet. My loftmate Abigail is in the kitchen, making herself some breakfast, no doubt Lucy is sitting nearby. I’m about to go to the gym for a run on the treadmill. I am working again. I’ve moved through a year and a half of the most difficult time I’ve ever experienced. A staged reading of my play is scheduled for February, with a new and much more satisfying ending.
And I just read this in my latest, favorite book “Fearless” by Steve Chandler. “In my life, crawling out of the cave of despair, one book led to another. Where would I find courage? How would I make a living? How could I succeed at anything after having been such a failure at everything? Do I try to remember what my two alcoholic parents taught me. Books were the answer. Books taught me everything. You’re not going to find it in books? Maybe you aren’t, but I did.” That has been true for me, particularly over this past year and a half. It wasn’t entirely books – but all the spiritual work and research and my own writing was often stimulated by something I read, or by someone sharing something they’d learned from a book or a spiritual teacher.
So thanks for all the lessons learned – wherever they came from, no matter how painful, they all contributed to a transformational time.
The other day, my loftmate Abigail and I, and six other people (I won’t call us all dancers) performed a dance as part of a service at Judson Memorial Church, which is Abigail’s church. We danced to Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now.” It was ridiculously fun and Judson has a long history of dance performances by both famous dancers (Twyla Tharp) and not famous (us). I had exactly two rehearsals — and it was a bit scary, but so much fun!
And – I’m embarrassed to recommend yet another book, but I will. This one is called “Reinventing Yourself” – How to Become the Person You’ve Always Wanted to Be – by Steven Chandler. Steve Chandler coined the LSD phrase. I found the book because Mama Gena (Regena Thomashauer) the woman whose fantastic workshop I took, recommended it. She works with Steve as her career coach and she managed to turn her life around after a very challenging divorce. I picked up the book and it has so many great messages – the first one being about “victim” vs. “owner” of your life. A victim lives a comfortable life, safe job, doesn’t take risks. An owner takes many chances, tests himself, fails often, picks him/herself up and continues on, taking more chances. It’s definitely a scarier, but much more interesting way to live.