Ok, here I go…total transparency, complete vulnerability and my gift to you as always, MY TRUTH.
When I write, I imagine you and I are having a conversation, that I am not only speaking to you, I am also looking into your eyes and listening to you. I am not throwing my thoughts, observations, and realizations out there, hoping something will stick, I am simply sharing with love, detached from outcome. What do I mean by listening to you as I write? How can we really have a conversation while I sit where I am, writing, and you sit where you are, reading? I do this by taking time to be silent, to still my mind, and to send Love to you as I listen in appreciation for what comes back to me.
I won’t go into detail (because it’s not my story to tell), but the past three months have been a blur due to circumstances regarding my deep love for a family member and also a dear friend named Ron. Until I saw myself last weekend, uncharacteristically reacting to a situation instead of responding, I had no idea how emotionally and physically exhausted I must have been. And that’s not all.
Lesson One: A reminder to be aware of your body, mind, and soul, every day. Take care of yourself first. Otherwise you might find yourself in a situation where normally you would be thriving, but instead you are shuffling pages of a script you don’t even really need to take on stage with you (literally and metaphorically). This happened to me. I was the emcee for an event and we had simple last minute changes in the order of the closing ceremony. I usually love it when this happens because I get to improvise, be authentic, and it keeps me in the NOW. The only explanation for my obscure reaction to what happened next is that I received an untimely bit of devastating news while being emotionally exhausted, due to an overload of concern for those two loved ones in my life. It was as though suddenly my heart and brain had switched places and I couldn’t think. I could only feel. At that moment I realized I had let my longtime habit of practicing daily self-care fall behind. If I had taken care of myself first, I would have been ahead of any obstacles, changes or challenges and seen them as opportunities. Awareness, especially self-awareness, is not something you acquire or achieve like a scholastic degree, it is a delightful habit to be practiced once realized.
When I get on the road, I have certain boundaries I adhere to. They serve me well. They protect my well-being and keep me safe. Last weekend I softened one of those boundaries, changed my schedule, and it cost me dearly. This change pushed an important meeting with the organization who hired me from early afternoon to late the night before the event and I also skipped a morning stop to see my friend, Ron, who was very ill. I told myself it was okay because I was doing a favor for someone, and I’d see Ron on my way out of town the next day.
All of this was completely my decision, and I take full responsibility.
A few minutes before the closing ceremony began, I received a message that Ron had passed away the previous afternoon. Had I respected my boundary, listened to my intuition and stayed on schedule, it is possible I could have held his hand, told him a dirty joke, kissed him on the cheek and said goodbye that morning. This news broke my heart wide open, with no time to process before hearing about the changes in the program and hopping back on stage to gratefully do my job…see how this is all coming together to teach me something?
Lesson Two: Once you set a boundary, no one can cross it unless you let them. It’s your boundary. It’s up to you to respect your intuition, honor your decisions, and respect yourself. Relax and let your boundaries protect you like a loyal, dependable friend. No defending yourself. No explaining. No blaming yourself or others when things fall beneath certain expectations. Blame has no place here (or anywhere else for that matter). It’s useless. Blame is a wasted emotion and I’ve eliminated it from my life. I can’t tell you how good that feels. Something else that feels good is knowing I will from now on respectfully protect my boundaries as they protect me, even when a request comes from someone I love.
In the end, all went well and we had a successful and meaningful event. Goals were surpassed, beautiful moments were experienced, and I remain immensely grateful for the patience and understanding shown to me by two very special executives (and friends) with the organization. Those few moments where my brain was not cooperating felt like hours. It’s alarming when something that would normally excite you in a positive way causes you to react in an unfamiliar and unproductive manner. Are you kidding me? Being on stage and flying by the seat of my pants is my comfort zone! What was happening? And when I realized others were witnessing my behavior offstage, my pride took over and I started telling myself stories about what they must be thinking. These thoughts were a product of my perception and did not serve me. They were negative and totally made up! Once the closing ceremony was over, and I was reminded about missing an opportunity to see Ron before he died, I started to cry a little bit and I didn’t really try to hide it as I wiped my eyes. Wait…did they think I was crying about the changes thrown into the ceremony at the last minute? Did my friend just see me crying and turn away because he thinks I’m upset about losing it earlier? I don’t cry about stuff like that! Why wasn’t he coming over to me, holding me and asking if I was ok? I needed to tell him Ron died before I could see him. My heart was broken because of choices I’d made and I was sad.
Lesson Three: Don’t hold another person’s actions to your expectations. Release and dissolve all expectations of yourself and others, and just allow life to flow. Just BE. Live and let live. Pay attention to what is happening and know when it is time to move on. And remember…what others think of you or say about you is none of your business.
I took a deep breath and came to my senses. I felt the cold mountain air fill my lungs and felt the snow crunch beneath my boots as I walked away. It’s been years since I let false perceptions get the better of me, and as I drove away I allowed myself to feel any and all emotions that came up. No judgment. Total self-care. I believe everything happens the way it is supposed to, and life is always happening for me, always happening through me, and not happening to me. Sometimes “how” it all unfolds is painful. That’s ok, it’s only temporary. It’s how we grow and evolve into who we are supposed to be while we are here. We don’t know what we want until we know what we don’t want. Go with it.
Create healthy boundaries and protect them, coming from love, not fear.
Dissolve expectations of yourself and others. It’s all good.
Practice daily self-care. Get good rest. It’s imperative.
Don’t defend yourself. Stop explaining yourself to others. Let your essence be a mystery.
And as soon as you get to the point where you (respectfully) don’t give a rip about what anyone else thinks (“good” or “bad”) you will be free.
You be you, and I’ll be me.
Love always, Terri