Archive for November, 2011
I cannot entirely wrap my brain around this to articulate it really beautifully – just yet – but I have gone from that place of terrible pain to one of peace and even joy. I know it sounds nuts, but I swear it’s true.
My sad situation has not gotten fixed or really changed at all – I am still on probation with no idea what the outcome will be – but I have changed. My God, I have changed.
I didn’t do it alone. I have had more people step forward to hug me while I cried or send me healing energy from afar or make me dinner or say the exact, right words at the exact, right time I needed to hear them. Some of you have even reached out, and I am always so humbled that this blog has reached anyone – let alone so many – and that you occasionally reach back. I cannot thank you enough for showing up and reading whatever the heck this is day after day.
As I warned you, time and life dictate that (at this point) I can’t do a really amazing, long post every day, so that is another way of saying I am wrapping this up now, as I’m exhausted and need to get some sleep.
However, I’ll leave you with this thought: I have a very special woman in my life since coming to this island- a rare and almost magical person who not only talks about and teaches unconditional love, but walks her talk and lives it every day. She’s been giving me some guidance during this crisis, as well, and I know it is part of why I am in such a happiness – real joy, even – even in the midst of the unknown and uncertainty and uncharted land.
But life is the unknown and uncertainty and uncharted land, so I think perhaps we have to just embrace that and love it, even. We have to accept that we don’t know and won’t know, and relish the mystery while cherishing what we do have and love. This same woman once told me that whenever she is in the midst of a painful or bad situation, she will stop and ask herself, “What is perfect in this moment?” I have adopted this myself, and it puts me right back into gratitude even in very dark hours.
So what is perfect in this moment?
Well, thanks to my own efforts and guts and chutzpah and moxie, I now live in Maui, and I can hear the ocean as I type this. That is perfect.
I also have this blog and all of you, and my writing, which brings me so much joy. Both my pets are here, and I have made friends here, and things are starting to go my way. I feel so incredibly validated in my decision to do this kind of crazy and bold thing and come so far away – where I didn’t know a single, solitary person or have anything to fall back on – and all by myself. I listened to my own voice and inner guidance and followed it, and I feel like I was right.What a marvelous thing: to gamble and win.
So goodnight, and as always, I send you much aloha wherever you are.
I am having a hard time. Possibly – emotionally, anyway – the hardest time of my life.
As a result, I’m anxiety-ridden, remembering to eat perhaps once every other day, and a total insomniac. I’m also shedding about six liters of water weight hourly in the form of tears.
Typical to this blog, I’m not going to get into details except to say that it is a matter of the heart, and I am in something of a purgatory…which in a way only makes the pain linger, and fills me with a fear that I may have to experience an all new pain in a few weeks. Only time will tell, and I will get through it regardless of the outcome. Of that I am certain.
In the meantime, however, I can all but guarantee you some of my more introspective and I guess you might say even spiritual posts. These low points – the loss of my beloved friend to a brain tumor probably being the most poignant among the life of this blog thus far – send me inward.
So I was walking the dog today and crying it up – I have a firm belief that you must go through your grief and your pain in the moment. If you bottle it up or silence it with drugs or drinking or other things, it just comes back at you later. It has to be processed to be released – and I noticed someone in a parking lot, watching and smiling kindly at me. I smiled back and wiped away the giant string of snot hanging from my nose down toward my mouth, and I realized I didn’t feel embarrassed. This is what’s going on with me, and this is what it is.
In fact, as I continued on and thought about it, I was rather awed at the outpouring of love from those who know the specifics of what is going on with me. Some of these are people I’ve known my entire life, and some I’ve barely known a month or two or in some cases, just met that night. It’s staggering the depth of human compassion, and probably one of the things that makes us redeemable as a species, if not so very special.
I got to thinking about how all this came to be – how I ended up with so many kind and generous souls in my path – and I had a memory I wanted to share. As those of you – God bless you – who have been around since the beginning or intrepid/sleep challenged enough to back up and read the entire blog from the beginning know, I once lived a very different life. And I was, even by my own estimation, a very different person.
About a year before I started the blog, I was in a software sales position at a multinational company. They selected sixteen people from the US and Canada out of thousands for a “Leadership Program.” This was intended to groom the future C-level and give lip service to one lady so they didn’t look like the boys’ club they truly were. And I am damn smart when I put my mind to it, and I’m sure that was factored into why that lady was me.
At any rate, at that point in my life, I tended to operate in a persona. Looking back, I didn’t feel particularly comfortable in my own skin, and I compensated for that in many ways. At work, I tended to be brusque and all-business. I was a woman in a man’s world, and there was no place for sensitivity or softness or, quite frankly, my rather fragile and oversized heart.
I remember when I would go to sales conferences or events where I didn’t know anyone, I would perform this mantra in my head about how busy I was. I didn’t make eye contact and hustled around very quickly, and would act preoccupied with papers or my phone or something or other seemingly work-related. Very few people would approach me, and yet – and I find this funny now – I was always shocked to learn I had an “ice princess” reputation. Here I was, so sweet and kind: why would anyone think that?
Well, as the enlightened among you know, all these things I was doing were defense mechanisms. I didn’t want to be exposed or have someone think I wasn’t good enough, so I didn’t open or show myself. The only part I let shine was my intellect.
Enter the Leadership Program.
We met over four weeks in four cities – Charlotte, Dallas, Portland, and Chicago, respectively – and I quickly realized I didn’t know anyone else there; so say hello to the token girl, the Ice Princess. The first week I didn’t say much, spoke if spoken to, contributed if I had to, and probably acted like a bit of a snob. I hate to admit it, but one of my worst defense mechanisms – and I still struggle with it from time to time today – is to judge. I do it because I judge myself, but I won’t turn this into a psychology lesson on you, unless you want me to.
So anywho, the first week was boring and dense with industry knowledge and a total blur. I honestly don’t remember a thing except a giant binder of financial documents and the like which I immediately knew I would never so much as open…and never did.I left it in the hotel room, insulted that they expected me to lug the thing home. As any good road warrior knows, you only fly with carry-on, and their is no room for binders the size of a Chinese telephone book.
Weeks pass, and then it’s time again. We all convene for the second – probably deadly boring – week in Portland.
Enter Dave, the outside consultant and facilitator of this program.
With all due respect, if the company I worked for had had better leadership or any kind of anything on the ball, they never would have hired this guy. A David Wilcox-playing, Appalachian Trail hiking, died-in-the-wool hippie psychologist, Dave was the last person you should bring around future corporate executives. And from the word go – there at the Kennedy School “hotel” near a house I once owned in Portland, he rolled out the therapy carpet.
He turned this thing into an encounter group straight out of 1973. He forced us way past our limits and our comfort zones and well beyond anything I’ve ever seen a company pay for, let alone endorse, in my life. He kept us up until midnight and got us up again at 6am. We were in rooms without TVs or any kind of escape mechanism. We had to do high ropes and bungee jump.
He had me bawling every single day of that week, and he changed the course of my life for the better. I have come to believe that this mishap that somehow put this wonderful man in charge of this “leadership group” concept – something that company has never repeated in the four years since and probably never will – was fate’s way of giving me a shove.
It’s a long story, and one I like to tell, but I will shorten it to my one thought I want to share today. Dave had a strict rule for us starting on day one: leave your agent at the door. By that, he meant the persona you use at work or in life to seem hip or protect yourself or keep your guard up. He meant the Overly Nice Fake or the Too Cool for School guy or the Ice Princess..or whatever you want to call the affectation I used to perform (and had performed at the first meeting in Charlotte.)
He wanted us to be real. He INSISTED that we were real, and I had never done that amongst strangers in my entire life.
Now don’t get me wrong, there were some healthy and wonderful well-adjusted guys in there that had been living authentically all along. They probably puzzled at this “agent” business, and they were seamless and inspiring in their natural ease with themselves and unexpected changes or boomerangs. I envied them that, because for me, it would have been easier to show up naked than to have to be me – vulnerable and thin-skinned and soft-hearted and all – in front of this group.
But I did it. I cried. I admitted to fears and shortcomings. I went along with the rules – that you had to tell a joke or sing a song if you were late returning after a break – with as much confidence and cheerful acceptance as I could muster. I endured the David Wilcox music playing during the breaks that made me tear up. I listened to the others with my whole heart. I was truly present and truly “me” and to my incredible shock, it was met with equal respect and openness and friendship. Some of you may be reading this and think, well, “duh!” but I can assure you, I was stunned. I thought to expose yourself was to be vulnerable, and only a fool did that.
I was in a sub-group with three other men, who came to mean as much to me as people I’ve known for years. And I was truly touched by them and their story, and still talk to two of them to this day. One of them mentioned that when he first met me, he didn’t like me (ouch!), but that he did now. They were an amazing mirror as to who I had been, and who I would become.
So flash foward four and a half years from the time of that meeting in Portland – a week that was so significant to my life in so many ways – and I started to think about all the people who have been so kind and very, very real with me these last days. Two strangers at a Thanksgiving dinner last night, who truly took on my pain and tried to help.
Why would they do this?
Well, because at this point in my life I am unabashedly authentic 100% of the time. It’s how I write this blog; it’s how I walk the dog and do the dishes; it’s how I love and how I live. I couldn’t not be the Ice Princess now if I tried, and when people are confronted with a real human being standing there emotionally naked in front of them, many of them get naked too. Or they walk away, and that’s their right, as it only makes room for someone who can handle my authenticity to step up.
And so I realize in this time of tremendous pain and sadness, that it is also a real blessing: I am getting to experience the best of human beings as they encounter me and open their own hearts. It’s amazing and beautiful and one of the reasons that – despite the terrible, crushing pain of this life sometimes – I am glad to be here.
So Happy “Black Friday” or regular old Friday or whatever you are up to and much aloha to you all.
Accidental self-immolation by deep-fried turkey: it’s been done to death. (yuk yuk)
That’s why I prefer that my Thanksgiving culinary disasters be surprises. You’re not *really* having a crisis unless you’re not entirely sure what’s even happening.
So I’m making popovers to take up to Thanksgiving dinner in Kula, and I turn the oven on for the first time and crank that baby up to 450…
(some like it hot, and popovers like it damn hot.)
Then I go and sit in the living room and play a little guitar. After a while, I smell what might be someone barbecuing. And the smell – and smoke – gets thicker and thicker. So I go into the kitchen and smoke is pouring out of the oven. I open the door, and it’s empty.
Mysterious ooooh ooooh ooooh music starts to play…
So I open the bottom tray thing and find this.
And, of course, I run to get my phone to take pictures. As any firefighter will tell you: stop and document first before attempting to put out a fire in a propane oven. The insurance company will want to fully understand how the house burned down and pictures are quite helpful.
It’s the oven paperwork, likely/hopefully suggesting that you should not put said paperwork in the drawer under the oven.
It’s been a day of discoveries, and I’ve also learned that oven instruction manuals are possibly made out of nuclear waste. I never smelled smoke so caustic in my life.
I also learned that none of the fire alarms in the house actually work.
But otherwise, everything is just fine. So Happy Thanksgiving and remember: don’t fear the reaper, fear your oven.