When I started this GoTerriGo journey, all I knew to say when someone asked what I do for a living, was “I help people.” I didn’t say “I want to help people,” because I thought that would keep it in the future and I was declaring it as NOW. I had no idea what that meant exactly or what that kind of life looked like in reality. It was such a broad statement and it hasn’t always been met with positive reactions from people who have known me for a long time. I understand, and I haven’t let that stop me from believing my truth, mostly because when I meet someone new and open up to them, it’s an enlightening and amazing conversation! I see a light go on inside them and the conversation turns to something they’ve always wanted to do. It’s beautiful! When those moments come to me, I learn more about another human being and how much we are all alike. Up until now it hasn’t been easy, although I haven’t doubted for one moment this is what I’m supposed to be doing. For the past six years or more, I have been totally immersed in the Human Connection, finding kindness and inspiration everywhere I go, even in the perception of the most difficult conditions. I’ve seen what Love can do. I’ve felt what the absence of Love can do. I choose Love. Every time. ❤️ I love you.
“Blame is useless. Blaming others only gives away your power. Keep your power. Without power, we cannot make changes. The helpless victim cannot see a way out.” — Louise Hay
Maybe clumsy is a better word than messy for this part, like a toddler learning to walk or run for the first time…or like a young child driving a car. I’m excited and scared, filled with wonder and awe, behind the wheel of something huge and magnificent, not knowing whether to hit the gas or slam on the brakes. It’s January 2014, I’ve spent two years on this “road trip” and all I know without a doubt is that I want to help people. I decide to hit the gas (one more time) and see what happens next.
What does happen is a series of twists and turns I never saw coming. Everything that happens is big, and to summarize it all at this point would trivialize the impact these discoveries are having on my life. Each “life event” deserves its own blog entry, essay, or book chapter, and I’m happy to have more to share with you at a later date.
Let’s get to that clumsy part of all this, and be done with it. I’ve heard it said that if you don’t make a move when the time is right, Life will push you. One way or another, the stars will line up and that good ol’ Higher Power, the Universe, or in my case, God will make it impossible for you to stay where you are. That’s what happens to me in 2011, but I’m a little slow on the uptake. I spend two more years feeling a huge shift in myself as I observe changes in my life I can’t explain, but I keep trying too hard to stay on track, doing the same thing over and over expecting a different outcome. The one big adjustment I do focus on is changing my thoughts and watching my words, and I have a great friend and mentor who helps me do that. I start paying attention to all of the information that has been flooding into my life and onto my bookshelves over the past ten to fifteen years, the self-help courses I’ve taken and learned but never applied, and bringing to the forefront of my mind all of the life lessons I’ve filed away for safe keeping. One book in particular keeps following me, popping up in my belongings when I could have sworn I gave it away, or someone gives it to me as a gift. All of a sudden other people notice a change in me, the changes in my life, and they start asking questions.
One example of my disjointed growing pains happens on a rainy day in California. I’m at a small retreat with eight or so other attendees, and we are all sitting around the table talking after dinner. At one point, it’s my turn to tell a story and we are all laughing about my vulnerable way of “fumbling through the weeds on my path.” By now my habit of positive jargon is so firmly locked in, I am constantly mindful of my words. This practice is my lifeline. I’m convinced it’s my survival. I’m just not that good at it yet, and I haven’t distanced myself enough from the shock and pain of recent events to go into detail without fear of a downward spiral. I’m afraid to test it, afraid I’m not strong enough yet to pull myself back up, as I know the brain does not know the difference in a memory and what is happening in the present moment. Because of this, it leads to a disconnect in conversation, but I don’t recognize that, I just honestly answer every question the best way I know how. There is a gap between how bad things really got for me and how life now appears to be heading in a positive (sometimes Divine) direction. It feels like in order to connect to everyone listening at the table that day, one new friend wants me to go back to my darkest time and walk her through how I pulled myself out of it. I get that, but even as I try to accommodate her, I can’t bring back the feelings of despair and paralyzing fright I felt during the worst time that I now lovingly refer to as my “Ten Days at Dana’s.” All I can honestly remember now is discovering my self-worth for the first time in my life, and then the feeling of hope, a knowing, that I am safe and all is well. I was alone at Christmas, house sitting and taking care of Jenni the German Shepherd, and there was no visible sign of how I was going to make it past New Year’s. I had no home, no income, and my bank account was more than $1,000 overdrawn because my new employer paid me with two hot checks on a closed account, and then disappeared. I just didn’t get it. This time my situation was freakishly out of my control and not of my own doing. I dropped to my knees, crying so hard I was almost choking and yelled, “Ok, I give! What am I missing? You have to show me because I don’t see it!” God sat me down at the kitchen table in front of a book and said, “Read this.” And I did. For 14 hours straight, I didn’t move from the table except to feed Jenni and let her out when she needed. I read every word, sometimes going back and reading certain pages over and over, highlighting and underlining, and making notes in the margins of this book that had been following me for at least 10 years. It was Louise Hay’s Life Loves You.
As I consider my experiences over the past six years, I’m reminded that the only benefit the past has for us is to show how far we’ve come and how much we’ve learned. It’s not a resource for highlighting mistakes, regrets, painful moments. It’s where we keep the batteries to power the flashlight we can shine on our accomplishments, our growth, and the gift of the present moment to start again, to be our best, to live with love and laughter…and appreciation for what we have and who we are right here, right now. Whew! That’s a big thought and I bring it to you from experience, from MY experience, my perspective, my perception, and my heart. My intention in offering my honestly raw, vulnerable stories to you is that in them you might find a twinkle of joy, an answer to a question, a dose of rejuvenation, and the “on” switch for that super-duper flashlight of yours. Giving yourself permission to stand in the spotlight and shine from within, gives others permission to stand in their greatness and shine their own light too. Don’t ever dim your light or shrink yourself to fit into someone else’s box. You are meant to be unique, to be larger than life, to experience unlimited abundance and joy. Right here. Right now.
Love always, Terri
At a hotel in Las Cruces, New Mexico, I swam in a swimming pool today. It was the first time in seven years. For most people that realization might not be a defining moment, but it brought overwhelming joy and gratitude to my heart as I swam from one end of the pool to the other and back again, underwater, holding my breath the whole way. I did handstands and flips. I exhaled all of my breath and sunk to the bottom of the shallow end, and sat on the floor of the pool, legs crossed as though on dry land, like I did when I was a kid. I used to swim every day in the lake where I grew up. I love the water. It’s refreshing and cleansing. It’s holy. The last time I remember swimming was in the summer of 2010. It was midnight, the sky was brightly lit with the moon and stars, and the water was unusually warm at the Burbank townhome complex where I lived with my husband, as I floated on my back to peacefully take it all in. The light in the pool was not on that night, so I took off my swimsuit and felt the freedom of being naked. I laughed out loud with joy, like a child. If I’d known what was to happen next in my life, I might have exhaled all of my breath and sunk to the bottom in the deep end and stayed there. That is the honest part.
I didn’t exhale and I didn’t sink to the bottom. Not that night, anyway. As I floated underneath the vast universe, I had a faint feeling change was coming. Big change. Growth. Stretching. Adventure. The excitement of the unknown. Had I been given a glimpse of the entire big picture, I might have focused on what else was around the corner, potentially a perception of great loss. Fear. Lack. Humiliation. Loneliness. No self-worth whatsoever, and the awareness of uncertainty. I know now that focusing on all of those negative emotions would have only given them strength. Made them grow larger, like a plant being fed and watered. Suddenly, without even knowing what was happening, my faith was growing bigger than my fear and nothing had even happened yet, that I could see, to cause this stirring in me. So I remained still. And I waited. That was the first sign of the faithful part. The scary part, and the grateful part. Those three companions always appear together, The Three Amigos, buckled into the passenger seat on my journey.
Then Bam! My life started shifting with such momentum it made my head swim (see what I did there). Since my focus is to keep this essay positive, and for us to remain in “solution mode” instead of “problem mode,” I’ll zoom right to how I felt in the year 2012, after being catapulted into awakening like a circus clown being shot out of a cannon, too high to see the net below. I felt scared. I felt vulnerable. I felt excited. I felt betrayed. I felt confused. I felt responsible. I felt hopeful. I felt free. I was starting to feel happy.
Ready for what? I had no idea. For the first time in my life, I didn’t have a plan. I didn’t have a story to tell people that would fit, make sense, put them at ease, release myself from judgment and hurtful comments. All I had was the truth within myself, and two choices. I could continue to do what I’d always done, and walk through Door Number One. Fight the crazy-strong desire to be myself and follow my heart, busting my ass to replace all that had just fallen away, get that solid high-paying job with benefits and a new place to live, get back out there and mend the deep heart break I’d experienced from the dissolution of my marriage and the shocks of cruelty and humiliation that came with it. OR I could choose Door Number Two. I could embrace that crazy-strong desire and surrender to it. I could finally do what my heart was telling me to do, even though it made no sense to anyone else. I could choose love, not fear. I could trust that if it feels good, it’s the way to go. I could be open, honest, vulnerable and RAW. I could keep it simple. I could believe that life happens for me, not to me, and all of this craziness was God cleaning my house. I could believe all is well and I am safe. So that’s what I did. I chose Door Number Two. That was the joyful part.
Here is the messy part. It took a while for me to really “get it.” I had a lot to learn about dissolving limiting beliefs and the habits that felt safe but had really always held me back. I had chosen Door Number Two with my heart, but my head was still knocking on Door Number One because it was familiar. I was close, but still standing in the hallway between the two doors to my future. There were lots of funny parts too, and one of them was that my life choices were now being carried out on a January to December schedule. Once again, Life was making it easier for me to recall while telling my story later. The entire year of 2012 was crazy-making, with my 14-year marriage coming to a brutal halt, my secure dream job becoming a hurtful nightmare, and my longtime dentist pulling my four front teeth, which I found out later did not need to happen. It was the perfect storm…more on that funny part later. In 2013, I came oh-so-close to getting on the road to happiness, but instead of following my heart I listened to what was going on in my head and accepted, you guessed it, that good ole high-paying job with benefits. I do believe that everything happens the way it is supposed to, and that job taught me to stay present and observe what is going on instead of just going through the motions. What I noticed during that year was that my Executive Assistant and Manager skills were fading, like a soul being released from a Harry Potter photo. It was a year of mild disasters, and when it ended I felt grateful for having said “yes” to the lessons I’d learned and cannot unlearn, to my growing certainty that the corporate world was no longer serving me on my path. Two years into my new topsy-turvy life, I jumped. In January of 2014, I gave most of my possessions away, loaded the Jeep with what I thought I needed, determined to use the fact that I had no home address (let’s reframe “homeless”) as an opportunity to just keep driving. To go where I hoped I could be of use and to help others if needed. I became the alchemist of my own life, melting, mixing and welding together “what I do” and “who I am.” From there it got messier.
Stay tuned for Part 2.
Love always, GoTerriGo!