Looking further into the concept of “weathering the storms” of life, I want to share with you my own thrilling encounters with numerous tornadoes and hurricanes, and how, when I saw those storms coming, I would sprint away from them almost as fast as they were approaching. Anyone relate? Of course, that was back in the day (or at least I like to tell myself that). And though I still have my moments where I am not just falling but more like plummeting from grace, I have since realized that what was on the other side was far more spectacular and glorious than the mess I was keeping buried underneath. So here’s my story. See if you can count the number of growth opportunities… the ones that I resisted out of fear.
I was born in Upstate New York. For those of you who do not know me well, I love the snow, and that is why. At 7, I moved from Syracuse, NY to Sylvania, OH, a suburb of Toledo. I was petrified; I distinctly remember sitting in the bathtub in our house in New York asking my mom if they spoke the same language in Ohio. I did NOT want to learn a new language. Ironically, I majored in French in college and ultimately linguistics became my focus later on. Funny how that works. A few months after our move and my discovery that Ohioans do in fact speak English (thank God), my mother went into AA recovery and I was scared, mostly because my dad had to do my hair. Shortly thereafter, I began family counseling. I hated it; I thought it was stupid. I was given emotion charts and told I needed to state very clearly when I was upset, “I feel _(blank)_ when you do _(blank)_.” I used to make fun of the concept and felt totally awkward when I was asked to apply it in a group. Fact of the matter, I did not want anyone seeing the real me in the event that I might actually be exposed.
Then life progressed. I learned I was the “family hero.” I remember when I was first designated this label, I resisted. I actually got quietly resentful, defensive and angry. I remained “perfect” all through high school – until I met my first true love in college, broke up with him, went down a spiral fast, and journeyed to France for a year of utter rebellion. (It was amazing.)
And, I was “coasting along” until I came back home to the States for the second time – because I lived in Thailand as well (that’s another story). Coasting, mind you, with the help of a few gin and tonics at night and a major food addiction… and a divorce. I realized something had to give.
I realized that from almost every real emotionally-based growth opportunity I was presented, I ran. If I failed at something, more often than not, I ran. If I was angry, I over-ate (ran). If I felt socially awkward, I drank (ran). My quite literal solution to pain? RUN! Move to another country! Eat, drink, “act” merry! From that point on, I began to listen to my passions instead of reflect who I thought I was meant to be as a means of distraction from dysfunction and pain. I began to look within for my source of happiness and joy which I understand now is our natural, God-given birthright!
So, what is the message here?
There are many. Here are some:
1. Get REAL. Be who you are at your core without concern about what others will think.
2. When the storms get heavy, don’t run for cover. Get an umbrella – even feel the power of the wind and rain. It’ll pass.
3. Be present. How many of us are really here? Stop. Feel. Notice the beauty.
4. Piggybacking on the last one, put down the cell phone. I have come to the conclusion that cell phones are like technological extensions of our egos. How many of us wake up and first look at either our email or Facebook? And does it fulfill us? Not really. Instead designate morning, afternoon, night times to look at the phone. Wake up with a prayer or meditation before getting out of bed.
5. Allow. Doubt is another word for fear. Allow the change, allow the opening and the awakening. I must say “allow” at least 4-5 times a day if not more.
So now it’s YOUR turn. Look at the gunk. Get down there with a scrub brush (and perhaps a box of tissues). Look at the situations and people around you who drive you nutso for whatever reason. They (your best teachers, FYI) have a message for you. Only you can decode and discover the secrets to them. Yes, you will have guidance along the way, but ultimately you will have to close and seal the deal. And, as many of you already know, the results are invaluable, like a diamond in the rough.
With much raw, real love,