Yesterday I received a call from a dear friend who has been in my life likely since the late 80’s-early 90’s. He is an insightful, intuitive man with a deep spiritual connection into which he taps daily. The call’s purpose was multi-fold: catching up on our sometimes crazy-busy lives, (he lives in a state many hours away and we often play phone tag), telling me that he had just finished reading my book The Bliss Mistress Guide To Transforming the Ordinary Into the Extraordinary and enjoyed it…..AND…..uh oh….I took a deep breath as I waited for the rest of the sentence. He said that he was waiting for “more of you and your wisdom (0r words to that effect) and not so much about all of the other people on whom you focused and acknowledged.” Whew! That wasn’t so bad. His take was that I need not rely on these people and their reputations; including some of the transformational teachers I have interviewed to vouch for my own validity as a writer and teacher myself. He seemed to be implying that perhaps I wasn’t as certain of my own abilities, so I was using this as a “See I am worthy.” ticket. Further, he went on to share that I am enough on my own. He added “You know I am saying this because I love you.” Yes, I do know that and I am grateful that he felt secure enough in our friendship to offer that gift. WOWZERS! His observations were a reflection of what I have been feeling but have not been able to give voice. Here’s a ‘come clean’: My M.O. has been to shower praise upon those I like, love, support, value, partly because I see their beauty, worth, talent and want the world to see it too and partly because I desire that for myself. I have received it in spades throughout my life from my family, friends, colleagues and strangers. I thrive on it and on some level, figure that it will come flowing back to me. And it does, but not always from the recipient of my support. That’s a tough one at times.
I am often called on by folks who want to tap into my well-connected, social work rolodex brain for resources to resolve someone’s issues from finding a good therapist, to finding a place to live or a job. Or my PR Goddess mind that helps promote events and people, that is described in Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point explains, I am a connector. From Wikipedia :
- Connectors are the people who “link us up with the world … people with a special gift for bringing the world together.” They are “a handful of people with a truly extraordinary knack [… for] making friends and acquaintances”. He characterizes these individuals as having social networks of over one hundred people. To illustrate, Gladwell cites the following examples: the midnight ride of Paul Revere, Milgram’s experiments in the small world problem, the “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” trivia game, Dallas businessman Roger Horchow, and Chicagoan Lois Weisberg, a person who understands the concept of the weak tie. Gladwell attributes the social success of Connectors to “their ability to span many different worlds is a function of something intrinsic to their personality, some combination of curiosity, self-confidence, sociability, and energy.”
Immediately I riffle through the files in my head and I come up with a series of ideas to offer. A few nights ago, my son called me en route from a friend’s house late at night, having missed a detour sign and his GPS was broken, so I became the MPS (Mom Positioning System) as my sleepy brain cells had to go on alert to guide him through unfamiliar streets. It was then that I called on the AGS (Angelic Guidance System) and surrender my own growing frustration. I asked for them to get him home safely. That they did a short while later. I have to admit that I have a paradoxical relationship with that dynamic; both liking to be the ‘go to’ person who helps because I CAN and have the skills, tools and ability to do so and then feeling helpless or unable to find answers as if it is somehow up to me alone to fix, save, heal or rescue. My old ‘friend’ co-dependency, comes to call at that point and exhibits what I refer to as ‘savior behavior’. I have had dialogs with it and asked of its origins and purpose. Having grown up in a loving, nurturing, addiction free family with parents who modeled a committed relationship for nearly 52 years when my dad died, I was puzzled. It has become clear that even in their desire to share values of service to the world, there were mixed messages. They both worked full time jobs and volunteered throughout their lives and yet my father would say “Charity begins at home.” They were proud of our accomplishments and said so often, to us and other people and yet would (in attempt to instill a sense of humility, I imagine, lest our budding egos gallop off into the sunset with us) add “Don’t toot your own horn.” Thus the dichotomy and challenge for me as the new ‘mother’ of a book that I desire to share with the world. Whenever someone praises it, as much as I want to embrace and accept it, I deflect, volleying back a comment about how it wasn’t a solo job and that many people are represented in the book. My friend commented that there are many talented writers with huge egos and many non-talented writers with huge egos and that I don’t fall into either category. On some level, my fear is that ‘she’ (my out of control look-at-me ego is lurking in the shadows to take over in a weak moment.) We then spoke about my next book and he agreed that the subject matter was ideal for me…not revealing yet:)
Another friend named Molly Nece, who I consider one of my cheerleaders sent me this email as if in direct answer to my thought process that I suppose she was picking up from the cosmic telegraph: “Keep reaping the rewards you deserve… Each and every one of them is a result of the seeds you had sown!” It was a potent reminder that although I didn’t plant the garden myself, I did clear the ground, dig the furrows, scatter the seeds, fertilize, water, weed and feed the plot and now I am enjoying the bountiful harvest.
Inch By Inch sung by John Denver