Be the change that you wish to see in the world ~Gandhi~
Gandhi said it best in this quote and it’s always spoken to me more on a global scale. By global, I mean that I’ve always sought to serve others, be respectful, be kind, be genuine, be honest, raise responsible, aware young boys and trust that the world would return those same qualities. A what we give or put out is what our world will aspire to be kind of thing.
Well the last six months I’ve sort of sat myself knee deep (okay waist deep) in a self pity that I didn’t even recognize. While my goodness and good intents have not changed, my energy has. I used to trust. I don’t trust many any more. I used to be open and vulnerable and I’ve become scared and closed-off. I had gotten a good grasp on acceptance, happiness, enjoyment of the now. I’ve backtracked and I let the past and the uncertain future cloud the current beauty that surrounds me. Before I smiled freely. Now the smile is hard earned. Before I cared for my body with healthy choices and long runs. Today my body is a representation of the stress I have allowed to take hold.
February marks the 6 month anniversary of the event that changed our lives. And how fitting it would be that I would pick up the February issue of O magazine (something I never do!) and sit down to read an article that would positively impact my life. It was as though the woman (Martha Beck, Life Coach) behind the article reached out of the pages, slapped me across the face (in a good intended, best friend kind-of-way) and said, Amy, now is the time. Now is the time to step away from your funk, pull up your big girl pants, kiss the past goodbye, change your course, accept a new destiny, stop fighting the universe, and take charge. Be the change. A positive change. Yes, she really did say all of those things! At least I heard all of those things 🙂
I can’t control the past. I can’t control people’s opinions of the past. But I CAN control me and my representation of the past. The one thing I have not done is let go of the shame and hurt. The shame has dragged me down.
The hurt has jaded me. They’ve aged me. Changed me. Converted me in to a burdened shell of who I am. After reading this article, shame had left. Gone. Pain felt strangely cleansing. They’ve had their time. Now is time for my true self to re-emerge. And I realized that what Gandhi says applies to my every day energy. I have to be the energy that I want to see in my own life. The energy I put out is the energy I will receive back. It’s not necessarily always applicable to a global change. By changing my energy I can change what I see in the world. And that is enlightening.
For six months, roughly 180 days, I have relived that first week of August. Every. Single. Day. When a few short minutes in the lifetime of minutes you’ve lived, change everything, it’s hard not to get swallowed by those minutes. To live in them over and over and over again. So much gone. So much vanished in to that everlasting black hole of time and space.
Reality is this, those were a really shitty 10,000 minutes (If I count that entire first week of August when things were literally changing by the minute). Reality is also this, I have lived roughly 18.5 million good minutes (give or take a few thousand)! 18 million!!!! Time to send those 10,000 minutes to the land of lessons learned. They’re nothing but a bit of chump change.
Because I would love all of us to appreciate the good minutes and learn how to ride out the not-so-good minutes I want to share a few key points from this article and how it so simply canceled my pity party and booked my Life-is-Pretty-Damn-Good-Party. No more looking back. Only forward.
If you’ve had a run of horrible luck, you can tell yourself you’re being tortured or punished. Or you can decide you’re being steered.
Mark and I have discussed this a number of times. We almost feel that we are fighting against what the universe wants from us or for us. We’ve always wanted and planned to do bigger and better things with our lives. Give back to our communities in substantial and meaningful ways but we’ve consistently allowed life and the pursuit of things get in our way. Now the universe almost won’t allow us the pursuit and we are deciding to be steered. Letting go is way easier than being tortured!
Suddenly, everything’s shaking, jolting, falling apart. We have no idea what’s happening or why, only that all hell has broken loose. It gets worse and worse – until we wake up, see through our false assumptions to the deeper truth of our situation, and revise our life maps. This isn’t punishment. It’s enlightenment dressed as chaos.
Best line ever! “It’s enlightenment dressed as chaos.”
So the three steps Martha Beck suggests for finding your true self when you’ve hit a “rumble strip” on life’s highway is to 1) Hit the Brakes, 2) Put your mind in reverse, and 3) Find and follow smooth terrain. All straightforward and fairly simple.
When you feel so beaten down that you can’t sustain normal activities, it’s time to stop trying.
Except what’s necessary to survive. Eat. Sleep. Go to the bathroom. Make sure your children, pets, and sick parents eat, sleep, and go to the bathroom. If that’s beyond you, ask for help. Not forever. Just for now.
We both have had stretches of time that looked a lot like this over the last few months. Luckily we make a pretty good tag team. When I’ve been up and cheery, Mark’s been in barely surviving mode. When Mark’s high on life, I’m sometimes too beaten down to sustain beyond eat, sleep, pee. Tag. You’re it. Our teamwork has helped us during those really dark moments when the only thing there is to do is survive that singular moment. Ride the wave of despair and nothing more. Fortunately, in the last few months we’ve had way more up days than down days. More sun than gloom.
Reversing off the rumble strip:
…key assumptions are clearly marked with intense negative emotions: fear, anger, sadness. Such feelings are big red WRONG WAY signs. Back away from them. Try throwing your mind into reverse right now. Think of the worst, most hurtful thing that’s happening in your life. Now, think of a way this horrible thing might be good.
Phew, that was a heavy step. But there is good. I’ve discovered who has my back, no matter what.
I’ve been able to move forward with really positive support around me. We moved to the PNW! We have wanted to do that for awhile but were too chicken to take such a big leap. We bought an RV and have been out enjoying grand adventures as a family. Our core unit (the 6 of us) has become super close and there is an abundance of love in this home. I’m getting paid to write! That never would’ve happened if I had the luxury of staying complacent. There’s a lot of really positive to be seen even with those few bad minutes as part of the equation. The good in those minutes is that they forced change.
Finding the Smooth Road:
At the point when someone sees through a false assumption, the road of life suddenly turns smooth. Instead of crazy bad luck, bits of strangely good luck start showing up. They’re small at first, inconspicuous. Never mind – slather them with attention.
I love this! There’s so much good. Some of it super small, but when you slap some gooey positive attention all over that teeny bit of goodness it starts to seem like some crazy golden universe nuggets.
If you stop everything you think you should be doing, surrender to what’s actually happening, reverse your assumptions, and steer toward the glimmers of light that appear as your old beliefs shatter, the small miracles will turn in to big ones. Eventually, your good luck will seem as incredible and mysterious as your bad. Once more you’ll be asking, Did I do something to deserve this? Only this time, the question will arise from a sense of overwhelming gratitude, not overwhelming pain.
After I read this article, I spent one more day fighting against the universe and then I surrendered it all. Not one more day like this. Not one more day. And you know what, since that release I feel whole again. I feel like Amy is here. She’s found her way back and I’m ready to shine on during the next 50 years of my life…or 26 million plus minutes. I’m enlightened and am the change. My change.