Turn the clock back 3 decades ago to January of 1981 and a young woman is sitting perched on a stool in 3/4 profile. Her waist length hair is flowing like a waterfall across her shoulders that are garbed in a tan corduroy shirt. Her friend Brian had just snapped a photo and captured her wistful gazing-off-into-the-distance expression. Although her body was in Westville, NJ at the time, her mind was on the frigid, snowy Appalachian trail, as she was recalling 10 days spent on an Outward Bound course out of Dartmouth. It was her senior year at Glassboro State College and she had considered moving to Vermont after graduation. She figured that if she could survive outside in the winter in New England, she could manage it inside and so she embarked on a remarkable journey that had her stretching herself in ways that she had not considered.
Ten days without showering, (we all smelled the same anyway and bacteria didn’t have much of a chance against 40 below temps at night:), returning home with a broken pinkie, frostbite on both hands, a sprained ankle, bronchitis and bruised hips from carrying a 50 pound pack, I never moved to New England, but came home with a lesson well worth the price of admission and all of the boo-boos.
I call it “Make A Positive Change” and it was offered by one of the instructors. He would tell us that rather than moaning and complaining about what wasn’t working for us, that we could make a shift in our actions and thus our attitude. “If you are hot, take off a layer of clothes. If you are cold, add a layer. If your socks are wet, change them. If you are hungry, eat. If you are tired, rest.” Simple as that.
When I found that photo and reclaimed that memory 10 or so years ago, I began an ongoing dialog with that woman who had not yet become the me who is reflected in the mirror today. Many more lines around these eyes, grey strands wisping through the pixie short shorn hair, and a treasure trove of wisdom that she now gifts back to that somewhat naive version of herself.
This I think of as “What I Wish I Knew When I Was You” a kind of ‘if I knew then, what I know now, I could have saved alot of grief.’
*Where you end and I begin/giving up savior behavior~
I had long been a co-dependent caregiver who spent 6 years going to CODA (Co-dependents Anonymous) meetings, because I somehow incorporated the idea that I was responsible for the wellbeing of people in my life. I had developed the persona of ‘everyone’s sweetheart’, not wanting to make waves and with the absurd belief that I could rescue, fix or save people. What I came to understand is that we are each responsible for our own healing and while I can be of support, I need not carry any one. When I live in my own skin and you live in yours, even while merging spiritually, we maintain our unique identity. We are each strengthened by the challenges we face and we empower each other to stretch.
Recovering from spiritual amnesia~
I forget all of the above from time to time and that God/dess has got my back. I can do things FOR myself, but need not do them BY myself. Things always work out for the highest good, even if I might not think so at the time. Some of my biggest so- called losses were really blessings in disguise. Jobs that I didn’t get that I wanted, made me available for something even better. Relationships that shifted left space for new people to enter my life that I might not have met had I been with someone else.
Sometimes you have to fall apart to see how together you can be~
That was a tough one for me, since I (like most people) want to present the appearance of having it all together. I have since learned that being vulnerable is a strength and not a weakness. It also allows the people in my life to do for me, which is a shared blessing. And ‘falling apart’ gives me the chance to put myself back together as I would like to be.
Everyone you now know and love was once a stranger~
When I think about every treasured person in my life, I marvel that there was actually a time when they weren’t even on my radar screen, living out their lives somewhere else in the world. When the door opened and they walked through, there was sometimes an instantaneous recognition; the Celtic concept of ‘anam cara’ or ‘soul friend’. I would count many thousands of people in my overlapping soul circles, from the various groups in which I am involved.
Love is never wasted~
In my nearly 53 years on the planet, I have been in many romantic/intimate relationships; some short term, some with greater longevity. With very few exceptions, I remain friends with each one. From those folks, I have accepted beauty and grace and love and now a piece of who they are remains with me. A friend of mine who is a relationship coach likes to encourage people to ‘leave the campground better than you found it.’ I would like to think I have done so.
Everyone is on loan to us~
When my husband Michael was in the end stages of his life, I would engage in what I would refer to as ‘God wrestling sessions’ during which I would say “He’s mine and you can’t have him.”, to which The Divine would lovingly, but succintly reply “He’s mine and he’s on loan to you like everyone else in your life.” Knowing that helps me appreciate everyone who enters my sphere.
Follow the Hansel and Gretel breadcrumb trail~
I entertain myself at times by remembering how I met the various sweet souls who grace my life. For example, I was listening to my friend Steven Groff’s CD that I reviewed for Monday’s Bliss Blog and grinned when I considered that I had met Steven, if memory serves, via an organization called Rubye’s Kids that sponsors an annual holiday party for inner city Philly Kids. He and his wife Rhoni and I were among the volunteer staff. I got involved with the group when a friend named Kathleen who was a clown and assistant to Patch Adams, told me about it and I donned my faerie clown costume as Feather and helped entertain the kids there. I had met Kathleen when I was co-publisher of Visions Magazne and she came to us to help with design of her brochure. SO, what it came down to was that I was enjoying Steven’s music because all those years ago, I met Kathleen.
Channeling my inner Annie~
When I have experienced the inevitable dark night of the soul, I find myself singing “The sun’ll come out tomorrow. Bet your bottom dollar, there’ll be sun…”
Worry is a waste of imagination~
Most of the things I have fretted over have never come to pass. I have so many better things to do than get myself in a tizzy over the unknown. I have also heard heard it said that worry is praying for what you don’t want.
The event will go as the event will go~
When I first started facilitating Cuddle Party workshops, I would call Reid Mihalko who created it and express feelings of anxiety and all manner of ‘what if…?” and he would say, “Darlin’, the event will go as the event will go.” I need only to prepare as best I can and then let it go. As true of life as Cuddle Party.
Put your heart and soul into all you do~
I am convinced that most people don’t do the best they CAN or are capable of. They do the best they are WILLING to do. Life is like the hokey pokey…it’s more fun if you put your whole self in.
Delays are not denials~
Just because events haven’t always turned out immediately as I wanted them to, doesn’t mean that they won’t. It took 20 years to manna-fest the interview I did with His Holiness The Dalai Lama….two decades after planting the seed with my expressed desire. A friend had commented after the July 2008 interview with the question “How do you know HE wasn’t waiting 20 years for YOU to interview HIM?”
BYOB-Be Your Own Bliss~
Joseph Campbell was known for the saying “Follow your bliss.” What if instead, you could BE your bliss; carrying it with you wherever you went? As Master or Mistress of your own bliss, you are quite simply limit-less.
The original photo of me was taken by my friend Bryan Effron 30 years ago and the photo of that photo now bearing wings, was taken by Cynthia Ericson of Ericson Strategic Marketing Solutions at Molly Leese Nece ‘s Sunshine Sister Idol event www.ericsonsms.com