Once we get over ourselves and our story and all the stuff that life throws our way to distract us from our ‘chosen path’ we are left in a clearing: a great big open space full of everything and nothing at all. It’s easier than you’d think to get here… andthough you might not realize it in the present tense: we block our path with fear and hesitation and difficulty without even ever realizing it.
Worry gets in our way and we become consumed with ‘what if I fail’ or ‘what if it hurts.’
So what if you fail?
Relax: It’s just a feeling and it’s only temporary. (A gut reaction that rears its ugly head when life doesn’t go the way you intended it to go.) Superheroes have difficulties all the time… we just don’t notice it. Take Bruce Wayne, for example, the difficulties he had started when he was only a boy. Did that stop him from striving to be a better person in the face of tragedy? No. I never said it was going to be easy… It’s life. And life is only ever easy when it’s finished– You’re not finished yet!!
Come on, buck up: what’s got you feeling so confused or beaten or dejected? Is it bigger than you? Your dreams? You’d be surprised how amazing you can be when you just let it it shine. Without effort, you are a brilliant, radiant being who was born to make the world a better place. I am honoured to be having this rather one-sided conversation with you. Truly I am. (Pause) Look, I just gave you a space to react or reflect or do whatever it is you do when someone compliments you. Go ahead. Show me again…. There, now doesn’t that feel better?
We don’t have very much control of what happens to us out in this big bad world. I’m sure that most of us would like to think that we are in control… bust life has developed a nasty habit of reminding us that it will always have the last say. The only thing that we are in total control of? (I’m glad you asked.) We are only ever in total control of how we deal with whatever is happening or has just happened or is about to happen.
Take, for instance, a catastrophic event. For months now, online, there’s been a movement to prepare ourselves for the end of the world. Someone, somewhere or other said something about an asteroid impacting earth. Whoever her was, mentioned September 29th as being our final day and it snowballed into a bunch of press-conferences and news reports about nasa or some other scientific community being ready to us missiles to blow this supposed asteroid into a bizillion pieces before it ever comes into contact with earth proper.
(Click on the picture if you’re curious about this story a.k.a. the end that never happened.)
I’m not one to focus on the end of the world coming any time soon but last time I checked: I’m only human. I hoped that it wasn’t going to happen in spite of myself. I mean, if it were really happening I wouldn’t be able to do anything about it anyway so worrying about it was really just a waste of brain cells. Then September 30th happened and we were all still here… So what now? Can you imagine what it must feel like for someone who really truly believed in all that hype? Maybe you can. Maybe you can’t. The only thing that I can compare it to in my life was when I woke up from having a big piece of cancer taken out of me. I went into the operating room not knowing for sure if I was going to wake up again (mostly my fear talking) and then I opened my eyes again and I was still alive. Good news.
For the latest edition of ‘Good News’ a.k.a. September 30th, I was pretty much hanging around in the ‘thank goodness it didn’t happen to me’ camp. Come on, I know that you’ve visited the neighbourhood at least once in your life. It’s not bad: the state of being can even be interpreted as ‘I’m happy to be alive.’ It’s actually super easy to get here. If you plug ‘waking up to yourself’ into the worry and fear machine: it all amounts to nothing. Nothing really happened. So what was I so worried about?
Bad things happen to good people every day. Without warning, someone is shot or hit by a car and try as we might, we can never be fully prepared when it happens to us or someone we care of about. The badness belongs to an event. Plain and simple. Feelings and reactions and realization and upset can blow things way out of proportion is you let them. I’m not telling you that you can’t feel any of it… It’s a natural reaction and that’s a valid place to be in the short term. When all the dust clears, you are left with a better understanding of life and yourself and how you can and will react next time.
No… I’m not wishing anything bad on you. I am speaking from experience. I know things about dealing with the fact that we are mortal beings. Death doesn’t scare me like it used to. I’m at peace with this. When I was eighteen, I woke from what felt like a dream to a life that fit differently enough to notice. I had been recovering in the hospital for six weeks before I could remember anything at all. All I knew was that I almost died in a car crash and that was only because I had people explaining this to me repeatedly. I thought: “hey, I’m still alive for a reason… I wasn’t meant to die.” This kept me feeling accomplished and lucky for almost a decade.
Cancer is an ugly thing indeed. I got my diagnosis for Christmas just before my thirtieth birthday and that really did a number on everything I thought I knew and believed about life. How can somebody be this unlucky? This time, my conversation with death came in instalments. “I have Cancer,” walks hand in hand with the realization that “I can die” and that’s a pretty lonely place to be. Fear takes over and your survival skills turn everything you encounter into fighting for your life.
At least I had developed the skills to understand that I was not my cancer. It was just something that they were going to take out of me forever. I wanted it gone. I wanted it to go so far away from me that it would never touch me or my body every again. Even when we feel like our weakest meekest selves: we can still rise to the challenge. Recovering from something so huge takes time, energy, patience, and a willingness to explore parts of who you are that you probably never even knew about. Spending hours by myself, I never felt lonely… Because I had work to do. I knew that if I was going to make it through all this yucky treatment stuff: I needed to work on all the parts of healing my insides that I could manage.
Imagination and visualization are very powerful tools indeed. Ber Siegel and Deepak Chopra wrote about paths that I could take to guide me on my way to healing. Their books… my journal… drawings… poems came from feelings… Dreams meandered in and out of my rememberings. Like a child, my body was learning a whole new set of rules about repairing itself after every thirty minute treatment peppered my inside with radiation. My power of healing saved my life. Thyroid Cancer? It wasn’t so lucky.
Seven years have come and gone. Through thirty two seasons of change, I have wandered down streets I thought belonged to me but wound up lost. Being is believing. It is truer to you than all the ways you’ve been before. Be amazing, Be free if that feeds your desire. Being anything and everything you ever even wanted to be is a choice that you were born to make.
Now i don’t know if this happens to you… but it happens to me all the time.
I’m sitting skimming through a magazine and I stumble on part of an article or advert that makes me stop and think. What do I do? Simple. I grab a pair of scissors and transplant those words into my state of being.
Now I’m not trying to be all hokey or know it all or this is how I do it and there is not other way… but I do want to share this little taste of inspiration with you.
Take this little piece of text above (left) for instance. I read the words and they made me think: “Hey, wait a minute: that’s me!” So, for months now, I’ve held onto this little piece of paper and every time I look at it it excited me but I never did anything about it because I always had something better to do. The buck stops here!
I am curious about this thing called ‘LIFE.’
I am gutsy in the way that I approach a problem; dealing with the unknown.
I am purposeful in how I dare to dream and live life to make my own reality.
I am smart because I am.
I am inspired my the wind that kisses my face and my heart beat’s silent drumming.
I am real because that’s the only way to be.
It’s not always easy to find the right words to paint a picture… And sometimes, It almost feels like more of a chore. How soon we forget that language is indeed a gift cool and openly exchanged between ourselves and fellow man. We get so hung Up on the reaction we get from We share that is almost alienates I mean it from the act of sharing. As human beings, we get so caught up in scripting our lives. Yet we in fact forget: we are indeed the authors of it all. It feels so easy to blame difficulties and problems on everything outside ourselves.So, if words make you feel inspired or curious or maybe gutsy and real: Be purposeful and smart about how you use them. So many of us have a love-hate relationship with a vocabulary because it says more about us and our choices than anything else…. so why not fight for a greater cause and own those words because you are who you choose to be.
And that’s how I survived…
Being a kid is a great place to go on a snowy day. So…. The grown-up in me grunts and groans her way through clearing snow from the front path and porch. I even managed to clear the driveway– with major effort! Leaving me wet and achy and tired and cranky.
The afternoon, the warmth of the sun — under a blanket of grey– made it a bit easier. I cleared the gateway and the path leading to the back door/deck.
The very first day that I have to shovel the ‘wretched’ stuff and… it’s… Packing snow??? Hmmm…. Maybe I can build a snow fort?
All of a sudden, the deck became my art studio. Our deck has a railing and the particular railing in question has a bunch of posts…. Spaced evenly about three inches apart they were very persuasive. Every time I thought I’d cleared a whole bunch of snow off the edge of the deck: the railing just stood there and blocked me. (That’s when I figured out it was packing snow. :))
So… one thing led to another…. And pretty soon I was on my knees playing with the snow trying to build something. It didn’t matter how methodical my hands were… The shapes were always lumpy or malformed. Ironic. Seeing as I had no idea what I was building.
Initially? I thought snow fortress…. But that idea gave up on me after I ran out of piles of snow. I had thought about going down into the yard and bringing loads if snow back up onto my play space– quickly squashed by remembering that I’d just spent all this time clearing the deck and path and now this crazy kid (still me) was going to make me undo most of what I’d done? Nah ah.
After a chilly moment of reflection, I reconciled myself to the charming little wall of snow that the railing had just helped me build. Using my spade to carve it into some sort of wall, I thought “If I can make it flat with my spade, maybe I can mold snow into shapes and build something.” How exciting is that?? I remembered putting some empty plastic flower pots away. I rushed over to the shed and grabbed two different sizes to start my experiment.
Lesson 1: how to make snow shapes with containers.
Re-learning skills from my youth, I played with packing snow into these pots to see what I could do with what came out. The architect inside still had me thinking about turrets and those pointy things that run along the summit of castle walls.
After creating a series of snow cylinders and lining them up along the railing, I started smooshing them together. First, I built a woman. The gender was a bit of an after-thought…
Lesson 2: deciding if it’s a girl or a boy while building a snow person is a good idea. (Snow boobs don’t stay on for very long.)
I found some stray charcoal for her eyes– two of them– and now I had to figure out how I was going to build her face. I used a piece of icicle for her nose and the rest of it? Scraps of dead plants. I used bits of grapevine to make her arms.
Twigs be damned! They didn’t do a very convincing job of sculpting snow! In the midst of all this action, I ran back into the house to get a butter knife– nothing was going to stop me from creating a masterpiece!!
There was an enticing little mound of snow placed just to her right (my left.). When I started, I thought “Hey, it could be a dog.” I’d used a few stems of dead tomato vines to build my girl’s hair and then a funny thing happened: she grew a character…. In a moment of ‘I don’t know what to do about the boobs’ I figured it out: no one will notice if I put an S in her chest.
(Unless a superhero’s being played by Scarlet Johansson, who looks at her boobs?)
Oh my god. It’s me!?? I’m the superhero — of course I am. This realization made my job a whole lot easier. The hair? Needs to be shorter like my hair is. Hello eyebrows. I knew where I was going with this. Of course, it’s Super Sam ( the lead in my survival guide– but a whole bunch older). For the first time since theatre school, I was creating a character that I could play– in snow, no less!
My kitties were next in line. It was like the dog had it’s species changed in a flash. Dead plants are a great choice for whiskers and ears and everything in between. Yes… I know, I had to build two of them. If it’s really truly me, then I have to include both of my furry sidekicks. I couldn’t tell at first glance, but I think that Lucy is on our hero’s right and Julio is on the left.
SUPER ME (above) & My SNOW kitties! (right)
playing cool dude literally…. Cool music dude. — Ooh. And thanks snow Jason for reminding me that snow people need ears! Otherwise they’ll never listen to you!
So… I know that snow people come and go. Things melt and shift and get knocked over. This was NO waste of time, dear friend! For a couple hours I found my joy in childhood and made art that will melt. My first impulse was building a lone figure but I am very happy to report that this is no longer the case. I had company. Two cats that look similar and a weird musical snow guru that kept me thinking about what Elvis Presley would look like if ever he visited my snow banks and made a withdrawal.
Most of the fun happened when I was going inside my mind’s eye between shifts of warming my fingers up and then ripping my gloves off again so I could touch the snow. Sometimes art can be painful… but it’s an exciting journey nonetheless.
FYI: I peeped out in my backyard only a few hours ago to notice that something looked a little different?
Forgive yourself. It happens to everybody and at least you’ve caught yourself and you can get back on track and keep moving. Life has an annoying habit of distracting or obstructing or preventing.
Me? Of course it happens to me… As soon as I gain momentum on one part of my life: I realize that I’ve left something else behind or in mid sentence. Now I’m sure it’s not that bad, really, but I also have that annoying little tendency to get annoyed with myself whenever things aren’t going exactly the way I want them to. It’s always got to be my fault, right?
The sad truth of the matter is that it’s not always anyone’s fault: life just happens. I’ve been talking about writing a book for four years now and I’ve had kicks where I got stuff done but then I could always find something more important or more rewarding or more exciting to do. It’s convenient to choose comfort and safety… but that really never gets you anywhere in the end.
I know that this is a mass generalization but I don’t believe that I am all that different from everyone else. (I’m just trying to make a point here. )
Sometimes you just need to chill and refocus and move on with it. When someone is having a bad day… reach out and talk to them about a bad day that probably felt that way for you.
I am back on my path and I am going to make sure that I keep up with everything I’ve chosen to do until I am done what I was brought into being to do: smile folks, that’s all you’ve gotta do. Don’t forget that you’re amazing– even if you don’t feel amazing all the time! You are what you do! So do something about your amazingness and keep it real!
And that’s how I’m surviving… MDB
Riddled with recurrent episodes of self-discovery and life not fitting quite the way it used to, we are left with one great big mess of ‘I don’t know’; where the life we thought we knew has disappeared. It never really disappears, we just have trouble seeing the forest for the trees. For me, being diagnosed with cancer immediately made me feel alone; like I was the only person in the world who knew how bad it felt to be in my shoes at that particular moment on that particular day… but then I got over myself and my grief and I remembered all that was amazing about everything that I had done before… I dug out an old community mindmap that I created for a leadership course I had taken, a few years back.
So, although this might be a little out-dated, it did the trick… Just because I was sick: it didn’t mean that I didn’t have other things that I could relate to. Everything that I had done for myself and all of my life experience meant that I had a lot in common with the whole world! Let me invite you, for a moment,to grab a blank piece of paper and do some doodling about all the things that interest you, your past experiences (good and bad), and anything else that matters to you. This is a really cool way to take inventory of all that’s amazing about who you are today!