I kept going. I’m still going.

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I guess if I were to put a start date to it, “GoTerriGo” came to be in January of 2014.

Recently someone I’d just met became interested in my story and he asked me, “Have you been in search of something all these years?” I grinned, shook my head and said, “No.” He looked doubtful, and replied, “Yeah, that’s what most people say when they’re searching for something.”

I immediately felt confident, appreciative, filled with excitement and a bit overwhelmed by all the experiences I’ve been blessed with along the way. I smiled so big I could feel the joy all the way from my toes and said, “That’s an interesting observation, I’ll take it into consideration.”

We finished our coffee, shook hands and went our separate ways.

As I pulled away from the coffee shop, into the parking lot and out onto the busy street, I noticed the cars around me and sent love to every driver, wondering what was on the agenda for their day. I was deeply affected by the beauty of the new grass growing in vibrant splashes of bright green on the mountains that were, just four months ago, charred to a blackened crisp by the fires in the area. I kept driving. I turned off the radio, quieted my phone and listened to the silence. 

And there it was. That familiar feeling of all the hours in the Jeep, driving more than 200,000 miles the past five years, remembering that whenever I embrace the silence and let myself “just be” that’s when the truth surfaces and the magic happens.

No, for the first time in my life I wasn’t searching for anything as I drove from place to place, volunteering, pitching in and saying yes to jobs I’d never done before, offering help to anyone who felt the need for assistance, studying human nature and truly seeing and hearing everyone I met, enjoying and learning from each holy encounter.

I was learning that I’m enough. I was practicing the love and appreciation I had for everyone I met and it quickly became my natural habit for daily living. I learned that I’ve always lived this way, but in secret. My belief that I couldn’t or “shouldn’t” live my truth was stronger than my desire to do it. I just hadn’t learned that yet. I decided to loosen the grip on my desires and expectations, and stopped being attached to the outcome. I kept going. I got up every day and started again, not over. I remembered my best feeling from the day before and that’s where I started each new day, staying as present and aware as I could. I made mistakes and eventually started seeing them as opportunities and guidance instead of something I’d done wrong. I was like a child, enjoying the present and eager for what’s next, not wanting to miss a thing, only this was a feeling I was experiencing for the first time, not remembering it from my past. My childhood wasn’t like that. I guess it’s never too late to shed the conditions, cultural beliefs and learned habits in order to uncover the inner child in all of us who never goes away, never stops yearning to play and laugh, never judges, only loves.

Soon my faith grew bigger than my fear and my beliefs rose up to match my desire to do my part and work toward the betterment of my community and make life more meaningful. My life became flooded with people, places and experiences that lifted me up higher than my limited, human brain could imagine alone. I wasn’t alone. I’ve never been alone. I kept going. I’m still going.

Love always, T

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How Changing Your Definition of “Soul Mate” Can Help You Forgive and Feel Gratitude Instead

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I found this picture and it made me laugh. It was taken many years ago during a photo shoot for new head shots in Austin, Texas and to get that “look” I was thinking of my husband. I could feel the love I had for him shooting through the camera lens as though he was standing right there.

We were together for 16 years, married for 14, and I thought we’d be together forever.

We had so much fun together. We worked well together, played well together, laughed often, hiked a lot, went camping whenever we could, enjoyed snowshoeing, and we traveled well together. I happily watched him play volleyball in Wash Park with his friends. I hung out with our friends and watched him play beach volleyball and other sports in Southern California. I made sure he always had tortillas in the house and he would slip me dollar bills to put in the tip jar at Starbucks or the red Salvation Army bucket. I married him in Colorado and followed him to Texas three weeks later when he got a promotion. When that job was complete and no longer needed, we moved to California. We worked on his resume together, and he would read lines with me for auditions. He gleefully supported my acting career and was my tried and true light and sound man during my one person show in North Hollywood. I’m not sure I could have done it without him. He could get us anywhere anytime and would drop me off backstage at The Comedy Store for my stand-up set, then park the car and walk back for the show. He always magically got us places on time, no matter what. He came to every performance of every show I ever performed. He would bring me flowers often, and would always add something specific to make the bouquet special. He loved my son and my son loved him. They were great friends, still are I suppose. They filled voids for each other and I loved watching them hang out together. His family became my family and I love them to this day.

That’s all I’m going to write about our marriage because I think those words paint a lovely picture and those are the parts worth remembering. I am grateful. I married a great man. We loved each other.

Obviously, something grew bigger in our marriage, so big in fact that it overshadowed our love for each other and we must have finally become so focused on the problem we couldn’t see the solution. Sounds so simple, doesn’t it?

Because our divorce was so shocking, so humiliating, confusing and incredibly painful for me (I can’t speak for him) I know that he is indeed my soul mate. How could I possibly feel that is my truth? Because one certain paragraph in the book Eat Pray Love, written by Elizabeth Gilbert, resonated with me so powerfully I started looking for and finding proof. Proof that neither of us did anything wrong. Proof that he didn’t mean to hurt me and I never wanted to divorce him. Proof that all of the times he asked something of me I couldn’t give and I asked something of him he didn’t have, were supposed to happen. Proof that no one is to blame in a marriage that will never end, but has instead taken a different form. It’s not over, it’s complete, and he is now married to someone else. I wish them joy and happiness whenever a memory of him pops up. We all deserve to be happy and it helps me to believe they have found it together.

In Eat Pray Love, Richard from Texas says to Liz: “People think a soul mate is your perfect fit and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that’s holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life. A true soul mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake.”

Like the book says, I do believe my ex-husband’s purpose in my life was to shake me up, drive me out of that marriage I needed to leave, tear apart my ego, show me my obstacles and addictions, break my heart open so new light could get in, bring me to such a deep feeling of despair that I had to transform my life, then he was to introduce me to my spiritual path and leave. “That was his job, and he did it great…” For all he did and all he is, I am grateful.

For all I am now and all I continue to become, I am grateful. So very grateful.

I’m sharing this realization with you, my dear reader, because it gave me so much relief and freedom, I began to see changes in all areas of my life. I know there is no room for blame in life, no judgment of others, only curiosity and appreciation. We’re not here to understand each other, we’re here instead to accept others, to love everyone we meet and to be excited about what we learn from each interaction…whether it lasts an hour, a day, or a lifetime.

Love always, T

Under the Influence

I couldn’t imagine living through what was happening.

Well, I knew I would live through it, I just couldn’t imagine what life was going to look like or how I was going to keep going. This wasn’t my plan! I thought I had it all figured out, then life took a turn and I wasn’t prepared. Deep in my heart I knew I was being watched over, protected and guided. So I surrendered and released it all. I knew I couldn’t do it alone. I handed it all over to God with one request.

Use me. Use this. Put me where you want me and guide me to be the very best example of love, strength, faith, and kindness I can be. Please let my light shine from within.

For the next 20 years, I told the best story I could about everyone involved and I practiced forgiveness. I forgave myself. I forgave them. I described a situation where, although it was devastating, those involved didn’t know what they didn’t know, and they did it all out of love. That was my story and I’m still sticking to it.

I grew up in a house where it was commonplace to live two lives. The one everyone sees and the one that goes on at home, behind closed doors, when you are all alone. When I was a child, my mother told me the question, “How are you?” is always rhetorical, no one cares, and no one ever wants to know the truth (I think this also is where I learned to use absolutes.) She said I should just smile and say, “Fine, thank you.” This didn’t make sense to me because when I asked how someone was doing, I meant it. Still do. In any case, the habit of saying, “Fine, thank you” while dying inside helped me to survive. Barely.

When it happened I felt completely blindsided, unloved, unwanted and unworthy. Childhood and teenage beliefs of my being in the way and useless were triggered. I left Texas on a wing and a prayer, fueled by ignorance peppered with courage, and I had a plan. What is important to say here is there is no room in a happy, meaningful life for blame or negative feelings. I know it was my perception of what was said and done that influenced my actions. It’s not what others say or do in life that matters, it’s how we feel about what others say or do.

I gave my washer/dryer to my mother. I donated all of my furniture, linens, dishes and cookware to the church. I loaded up my Chevy Blazer with what I had left. The important stuff. Family photos, books, 10 copies of my resume, a stereo and a microwave (it was the nineties.) I had no home, no job, and only $1,000 cash that my mother convinced me to tape to my stomach so it didn’t get stolen while I was on the road. She might not know me very well, but she does know I can’t stop myself from making eye contact with strangers at gas stations and soulfully asking, “How are you?” I’m pretty sure I’ve always seen the value in human connection, in truly seeing and hearing everyone I meet.

I drove to Denver and within two months I had a job at Janus Funds. Within a year I was promoted to assisting the Executive Vice President and began traveling across the United States with the Marketing Department as an Event Specialist. My boss always made it easy for me to fly through Texas (Hint: this will be important later in the story) to visit the person who matters most in my life. I spent every cent I made and every minute of vacation traveling through Texas. I couldn’t stand being alone during waking hours with nothing to do because my heart was broken and I had issues to ignore, so I began taking acting lessons at The Denver Center for Performing Arts. On the advice of my instructor, I got a headshot and started acting in Denver. I married someone and we got transferred to Austin where I pursued acting and teaching classes with incredibly talented actors at Alleywood Studios. There I was in Texas, scared, hurting and confused for three years before moving to Los Angeles. I lived in California for 13 years, acting and writing while again spending all my free time and money visiting Texas. I was also honored to work in the West Coast Office of The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees for many years with union professionals I respect and to whom I am grateful for trusting me with promotions and duties I had no idea I was capable of handling. One of these duties had me traveling the United States and Canada every six months and whenever I could, I flew through Texas. The entire time this was going on I was afraid something would happen, I would let my guard down, and someone would find me curled up in the corner of my office wearing a business suit and crying my eyes out.

I moved some more, got other jobs, became divorced and learned how to survive, all the time traveling forward. Always moving onward, growing, learning, making mistakes, making amends, finding the good, seeing the joy, being grateful and very often traveling through Texas. What I couldn’t understand for those 20 years was if I had forgiven, why was I still in so much pain every single minute of every day?

Two years ago I became overwhelmed with a “knowing” that it was time to overcome my worst wounds and move to Texas for a while. I’d tried this once in 2012, it fell through, I was devastated and told myself I’d dodged a bullet. This time my intuition was strongly telling me something was about to happen with my family and I trusted my faith to be bigger than my fear. Again.

Having that trust brought me an answer to the question I’d wondered for so long and that is what I’m sharing with you. As mentioned previously, I’d forgiven everyone, but I was obsessed all those years with wondering “how someone could do that to someone else.” Does that mean I hadn’t truly forgiven? Nope. It means I had forgiven all, but wondering how they could have done it in the first place means I hadn’t released judgment. There is a difference. Holding onto that judgment without even realizing it, was only hurting me all those years, not them. So when I saw it, I let it go. I let it all go, and it looks like I had to once again “go through Texas” to do it. To heal. Once and for all.

What happened years ago doesn’t matter, that’s why I’m not divulging the details. It was an incident then (according to Elizabeth Gilbert’s description) and now it’s a story. I no longer remember the pain, I only remember the wisdom.

We are always under the influence of something or someone. Next time you have a decision to make, ask yourself if you are under the influence of what your inner self knows to be true, or the influence of what others might think. Trust yourself even when it doesn’t make sense to anyone else.

Love always, T

 

My Thanks to Neal McCoy…and to the Guys in the Band (Becky too)

Sometimes, for the sake of delivering on a promise made, you might have to risk looking like a groupie, an awkward fan, and yes…even a stalker.

It’s a hot day. It’s my third year volunteering at William Shatner’s Hollywood Charity Horse Show in Burbank, California. I show up really early because I’m excited to be reunited with my fellow volunteers from the previous two years, and I know that Neal McCoy is performing tonight. I want to say hello before my shift begins, parking cars. Neal McCoy is an American country music singer who has released 10 studio albums, 34 singles, numerous platinum and gold albums, he’s been on USO tours, and currently tours the U.S. with the best band ever. He’s everywhere. And he’s a friend of mine.

I check in and get my t-shirt, walk into the restroom for a pit stop and to change clothes. In the stall next to me I can hear someone on the phone. I try to be quiet, and then without thinking…I flush. Oh no! I jump out of my stall and stand ready to apologize to my bathroom buddy while tucking in my shirt as she opens her stall door, still talking on the phone. I mouth to her, “I’m so sorry I flushed!” She laughs, quickly says goodbye to her son and tells me not to worry about it at all. She then tells me about another time she was in the restroom when her phone rang and it was an important celebrity she had been trying to reach for a charity request, so she had to answer. We laugh, hug (after washing our hands) and introduce ourselves.

My new friend’s name is Sue. Sue Quick. And she is about as big as a minute so her name fits. She stands just under 5 feet tall (I’m guessing) and I can tell she’s a horse lover, she just has that heart, ya know? She also has beautiful silver hair that appears to be in the same stage of growing back as my mother’s. My observation is confirmed when she tells me that like my mom, she too has undergone recent chemo treatments and will soon be traveling back to her home state for another round. She wants to “stick around” to have more time with her sons, so the chemo is worth it to her. She tells me with tears in her eyes and a childlike grin that tonight is important to her because it might be her last time to volunteer with this event. She is filled with joy and her inner light radiates like the sun.

Now back to that important restroom “stall call.”

Sue tells me she was talking to her son because he loves Neal McCoy and when she told him Neal was performing he said, “Awww! How cool, Mom! Wish I could get an autograph!” Hmmm…my wheels start turning. I tell Sue that Neal is one of the friendliest, most personable guys in the business, and if I can find a way to get her son an autograph I’d be happy to do that. Sue lights UP. She says that would mean the world to her son and she thanks me in advance, saying not to worry if it is too much trouble. Psssshhhh…trouble? I’ll just ask him! Now I’m on a mission…

Before heading out to the hot and dirty parking lot (my favorite assignment) and to check in with my friends who are on the same shift, I send a text to Neal. He answers right away and says to come by the stage to say hello at 6pm, he’ll be there for sound check. I tell him I’ll do that and I also mention the autograph I’d like to get for Sue’s son if he doesn’t mind signing something. He doesn’t hesitate, responds immediately with a text to say he’d be happy to sign an autograph. I knew it! Best guy EVER. I can hardly wait to see Sue’s face when I hand over this gift for her son, whose name is Ben.

Here’s where it gets screwy and my heart jumps way ahead of my brain having any thoughts of what others might think of me or how foolish and creepy I might appear. For the first time in my many years of volunteering, I feel the need to leave as soon as my shift ends because I’m hoping to get home as soon as possible. I’ve been staying with a dear friend and things haven’t been going well between us. I’m not sure why and it is very important to me to do whatever I can to mend our friendship before I leave California and drive to Texas in a couple of days.

At one point during my shift in the parking lot, I am asked to report to the volunteer tent to help with another assignment. While I’m there, I run into Neal and he mentions that Les might have a headshot in the bus that we can give to Sue with an autograph for her son. This is turning out to be so easy! Thank ya, Lord! So…where is Les? How do I get the photo without being too pushy? Neal asks if I’m staying for the dinner, I say no, he generously insists I sit at one of his tables with his son Swayde and other family members, Kirbie and Colleen. I start to sweat. I don’t want to say no, but I need to get home and more than that I need that photo for Sue because I know she’s got her hopes up. Dang. I’m honored and so happy to be invited, so I agree to stay. I can do this. Then my mind starts to wander…oh no, did he politely ask me to sit at their table because I am lurking around like a stalker, hoping Les will see me and get the autograph so I can make Sue Quick’s dream come true? Am I creeping him out like a stalker? I’m standing by the stage, totally out of place and it is so awkward, that Neal very kindly introduces me to the person he is talking to. Do I take the hint? Nope! Determined not to ask about the autograph, choosing instead to be awkwardly in the way. Great plan, Terri. Great plan.

Thinking fast, I grab a program from my seat at the table and run to the volunteer tent to grab a sharpie so I can just get Neal to sign it quickly instead of imposing on Les for the official photo from the bus. I go back to the dinner as everyone is being seated and the bar is hopping. I still have on my badge and must look very important with my program and sharpie in hand (from experience, I know to look for someone with a badge and a sharpie when you want something done at an event) because two gentlemen stop me to say it appears the table to which they’ve been assigned has no empty seats. Could I help them please? Yikes. My first rule of running a charity event: make sure the guests are happy and taken care of while you also mind the charity’s reputation with gratitude and appreciation. “Of course, I’d be happy to help, which table is yours?” They point to the one that is within earshot and the people sitting there look familiar but I can’t quite place them. Still, being between the old “rock and a hard place,” I now must figure out the situation in order to help these gentlemen. I walk up to the table and ask, “Excuse me, are all of you assigned to this table?” One of the guys looks up at me and says, “We’re the band and this plate of food is saved for Neal McCoy so he can eat before we go on.” Of course you are and of course it is and of course I want to crawl under the table, and I thank you for the information. Enjoy.

Holy crap. What’s a girl to do now? She goes into full force event mode, that’s what.

I see someone with a radio and ask him to call the person in charge and ask her to come to table 27. I go back over to the gentlemen who are still standing there and about to finish their drinks. I smile my biggest smile. I tell them it’s all being taken care of and as a matter of fact, they are sharing a table with Neal McCoy, and while we wait for him to arrive…”might I go and get you gentlemen another drink? On the house?” They accept and I dash off to the bar and politely break in line (remember I have a sharpie and paperwork in my hand so I look important) asking for “…two celebrity comp drinks, please. A Corona with lime and a gin and tonic.” When I get back to the gentlemen with their drinks, the person in charge is at the table asking what is going on. I tell her, she walks over to the gentlemen and all is well. The band is finished eating by that time and the wonderfully patient gentlemen are able to take their seats and enjoy the show. Whew!

It’s getting later and I am really thinking about my friend and how I can make things better when I get back to her house. I’m also realizing I haven’t seen Les. No photo. No Neal. No autograph for Sue Quick’s son…that can’t happen. Time to be a stalker again. I’m sitting at the table having a delightful conversation with Colleen and a gentleman I’ve just met who is sitting to my left. He introduces me to his partner of more than 20 years and their god-daughter who is just about to go to college. I am so enjoying their stories!

For a glorious half hour I forget to be in a hurry. I get right back into my comfort zone and remember that everything is always working out for the highest good of all involved. It’s all good.

The show is delayed for the best reason, as William Shatner graciously insists on working the room every year and consciously stopping at every table to intentionally meet and thank every guest for being there. Neal is walking around with him tonight and as they stop at our table, I look up and see Les standing behind them holding the autographed photo for Sue’s son, and Neal has personalized it “to Ben.” I whisper “Thank you” to Neal and give Les a big hug as they move on to the next table with sincere thanks to the fans sitting there. I rush to the volunteer tent to find Sue, but no one knows where she is. I search everywhere, finally find her sitting in a special chair, just for her, right next to the stage. She is giddy with excitement to be front and center for Neal’s show. By now guests are up and moving around, turning their seats away from the dinner table so they can watch the show. I scoot sideways, turning this way and that, taking the long way around the room and finally getting to Sue. I hand her the photo for Ben and give her a big, long, loving hug. I tell her what a pleasure it has been to volunteer with her and we exchange info so we can keep in touch.

I realize I’ve been so wound up the past few hours, parking cars, impersonating someone important, breaking into line at the bar, lying for free alcohol, stealing a sharpie out of someone’s backpack (I returned it), and stalking the band, I hadn’t had anything to eat or drink all day. As hard as I’ve been trying to get back to my friend’s house all evening, something tells me to sit down and rest a minute or two, drink some water, take a few bites of dinner before leaving. I always listen when God whispers to me like that. It’s that intuition we are all born with, and it’s never wrong.

It’s 9:30pm and I feel my phone vibrate. I look at it to see who is calling me that late, and it’s my mom calling from Texas, which means it’s 11:30pm for her. I know what this call means. I don’t catch it in time, so I get up from the table, tell Swayde I have to leave, there’s been a death in my family, it’s my step father. I step outside into the cool, breezy California air to return my mom’s call. I sit down on the steps outside, take a few deep breaths and look up at the stars. I call her back. “David died,” she says. I say, “OK. I can leave tonight.” She says there is no need to rush back, so I say I’ll leave the day after tomorrow as planned. I’m thinking that way I can get some sleep before hitting the road, and more importantly I can spend the next day with my friend, hoping we can get to a good place and I can let her know how much I care about our friendship. As life sometimes unfolds, that is another story for another time.

Sue friended me on Facebook the next morning.

Sue’s son, Ben, was very happy to get his autograph.

Most of the time, volunteering isn’t only about the assignment you are given for the event. It’s usually about being authentic and present while seeing, hearing, and appreciating the other people who are standing beside you in the dirt, sitting at your table, or talking on the phone in the bathroom stall next to you. It’s about listening to the “whisper” and doing what it tells you to do even if it doesn’t make sense. It’s about releasing all judgment and comparison, going for it, taking the risk, looking silly, being in the way, feeling awkward. It’s worth it.

There is a gift in every moment. Love always, T.

…and there she was

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THURSDAY: She sat in the doctor’s office listening as he told her mother she had an abdominal cavity filled with malignant tumors and her “cancer count” was over 4000. Holy crap.

Her mother’s options for treatment were chemo in Longview/Dallas or MD Anderson in Houston. Since her younger sister lives just outside of Houston, and has a large comfortable home with plenty of room, her mother chose MD Anderson, where she could be cared for by her daughter during treatment. OK, then. Let’s do this.

SUNDAY: She drove to her son’s house early that morning. She left her car there, and together she and her son drove in his car because it is more comfortable, to pick up her mother and the three of them drove four more hours to Houston. They unloaded her belongings and left her there to begin this next, very scary chapter of her life.

MONDAY: She drove to the small, beautiful patch of land out in the country where her mother had lived with her husband for 39 years. Someone needed to check on her mother’s husband, but did it really need to be her…? Yes, it needed to be her.

Ever since she was a teenager, she had referred to her mother’s husband by his last name because calling him anything else felt too familiar, too casual, too friendly. She just couldn’t call him anything “fatherly” or even refer to him as her step-father. It had been her perception from the start that he didn’t care for her, and she felt unwanted at his house. She felt she was in the way and was often told not to “rock the boat,” which she took as meaning she was already an unwelcomed guest in the house, and anything she did to call attention to that was awkward, even harmful,  at best.

When she was sixteen, her mother handed her fifty dollars cash and said, “Take care of your sister. I’ll be back on Monday.” She asked, “Are you going to marry him?” Her mother looked at her with all of the strength she could muster, hoping she was doing the right thing for her girls and said, “Yes, I am.” It felt like a business decision really, and soon she would come to realize she had not been included in the deal. He had agreed to focus on the woman he loved and her youngest daughter, but the oldest one would graduate from high school and be gone soon, so he would just wait that out. Again, this was her perception and it was brutal. It was painful. It was confusing. But she persevered.

She would come home from high school most Fridays to find a note saying, “Gone to Yellowdog” which meant they had gone camping, as a family, down to the river for the weekend without her. There were many other verbally abusive altercations over the years, but still her mother would insist on her sending father’s day cards and making birthday phone calls, only to have him ridicule her for either calling too late or sending a gift that didn’t measure up. But she kept trying throughout the 39 years, hoping to be loved and accepted as part of the family. It never happened.

When she arrived at his house on Monday after taking her mother to Houston, she found him sitting alone in the kitchen across from the pool table, which took up the entire living area upon entry. This pool table was another representation of hurtful memories between herself and this man she was supposed to call “Dad” but never could. She silently walked over to him and leaned against the pool table. He looked at her with tears streaming down his face. This strong, tough, “Texas proud” man sat on a barstool in front of the girl he’d been so mean to over the years, and cried. He asked how her mother was and she told him she was doing well. She gently and kindly explained what little she knew about the next steps, and promised to keep him informed. Her heart broke for him as she saw that the life had left his eyes. He was clearly scared to lose his wife. She knew he could not live without her, and together at that very moment, they silently acknowledged that.

And this girl looked at him with compassion. This girl didn’t mention the tears. This girl simply looked through the paperwork and bills that needed to be paid, and together they took care of business. She stood there, patiently handing him checks, one by one, to sign. His massive hands were curled and cramped into claws by arthritis and he could barely hold a pen, but she stood there and waited patiently as it took him at least 5-10 minutes to sign his name on each check. She would then write the information in the check register for him, seal the payment in the envelope, carefully put a stamp on the top right hand corner and put the correspondence in a stack to be mailed. Each step was important to him, and with a loving heart she did exactly as she was told.

…and there she was, on a cold December day, standing for hours in silence, the abused helping the abuser.

All was forgiven.

 

No One Ever Asked, “What happened?”

Wow.

I’m watching 60 Minutes right now and there is a story being reported about trauma, specifically childhood trauma. I am listening to these brave souls tell their stories and my compassion is overflowing.

The damage I’ve experienced myself didn’t happen until I was in my adult years, although some of those traumatic feelings were a result of my looking back at the child I was, and feeling compassion for her. The blessing is that while I was growing up, I had no idea what was going on, so I defined being “happy” by what I was feeling, which was constantly very scared and confused. Every day of my childhood. Therefore, it is no surprise that what I attracted in my early adult years was also labeled as happy, but was in fact a series of relationships in which I did not feel safe. Ever.

My definition of happy is much different now than it was then. What I thought was a happy life was good enough for that little girl, that teenager, that young woman, and for this I am grateful. There is no blame whatsoever in my world, and today I am still appreciative to have been raised the way I was, because I know it’s not what happened, not what I was told or how I was treated, but my perception of my childhood experiences that created my reality. Everyone in my life, my mother, my sister, my grandmother, and most importantly myself included, have done the best we could with what we’ve had.

There is a traumatic experience in my adulthood that came back to me so powerfully a few minutes ago as I heard this; “the moment of value in your life can come from anyone who looks at you and asks, ‘what happened to you?'” That phrase has haunted me, and at the same time escaped me,  for the past 27 years. It seemed so simple. I stayed open and looking for that one person who would never come. The one who would look at my life and say with love and trust, “What happened to you?”

Because of this, my love for others has been a source of strength, and I have always looked at anyone who is acting in a negative way and wondered, “What happened? What has happened to you, to make you act this way?” I don’t ask, “What is wrong with you,” because I know how that feels.

The incident I refer to was something that catapulted me into a life I could never have imagined growing up, and I now know was Divinely mastered. At the time, I needed help, but I was judged instead. And like the story tonight on 60 Minutes, my perception was more of hearing, “What’s wrong with you?’ instead of “What happened?”

In the wee hours of the night sometimes…wait, who am I kidding…for so many years, I was obsessed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and focused on wondering why not one person ever said to me, “Oh my darling, what could have happened to you for life to unfold for you the way it has? What happened to you that made you decide to take the actions you have taken?” Instead, I saw in others’ eyes, “What’s wrong with you?”

I got over that finally when the gift of forgiveness entered my life and it has been like a drug ever since that has kept me on the highest of highs I could ever imagine feeling. It truly doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, or asks, about how we live our life. I don’t blame anyone else for anything, I instead give credit to those who have challenged me and helped me grow. After all, he or she is doing just that…asking. What matters is how we perceive our experience and the power we have to find the good in everything that happens, the joy, the happiness, the love amidst the trauma, the hurt, the craziness. It’s all happening for me, not to me. I know that now, and it’s amazing. What gifts I’ve received just by staying in the open space to receive.

Again, I am grateful for the life I’ve lived, the way I was raised, the scary things that happened to me as a young person, the things I thought everyone was experiencing. I depended on my “whispers” and my gut to make decisions, and I know with all of my heart that beautiful whisper was (and still is) the Divine Being, God, the Universe, Source…whatever your Higher Power is called in your magnificent world, guiding me to be who I am today, and we’re not done yet.

Now I know I’m here to use all of it for the Greater Good for all. I am compassion. I’m still learning, still out there running the road, taking chances, being “GoTerriGo” because so far it’s working. I am vulnerable, I am real, I am still making mistakes and reaching out to every human who crosses my path, with pure and unconditional love.

I am eternally grateful and appreciative for EVERYTHING and EVERYONE.

I love you. With all my heart, I love you.

Thank you for visiting my blog and reading this entry. You are amazing and worthy. Don’t let anyone dim your light.

Love always, Terri

 

The Power of Self-Care, Protecting My Boundaries, Releasing Expectations, and Not Caring What Others Might Think…all came together for me when something profound happened last weekend.

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 OneA 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