Darkest before dawn…

Earlier this week, I was listening to my iPod when a song I hadn’t heard in a long time began to play.  Suddenly, I was transported back to my basement room in Washington, D.C. in 2004.  I was heartsick over a man I thought I loved and I was listening to The Corrs sing “Runaway” over and over.  And over.

I was in that basement, listening to that song and thinking things really couldn’t get much worse.  I had been invited to quit my job and had no idea what to do next.  I had very little money.  I had a week to move, but nowhere to live because I’d been intending to move in with the man.  My beloved miniature schnauzer had succumbed to cancer the day before and I’d just spent all night on the phone listening to him explain 50 ways to leave me.

Elia: angel of unemployment

You can imagine I was feeling rather low the next morning as I got in my purple Geo metro and drove off to the unemployment office.  Little did I know my perspective on life was about to change radically.  Sitting in the waiting area near me was a beautiful blond, who introduced herself as Elizabeth, but goes by Elia.  She was 32, engaged and remarkably happy about life, considering where she was.

She shared her story and I shared mine.  When I finished, she looked at me, astounded.  “How old are you?” she asked.  “28,” I replied.  “Good lord,” she said, “You take life so seriously!  I never even thought about having a boyfriend, let alone getting married, when I was in my twenties!” (I didn’t tell her I’d already been married and divorced.)  “I just wanted to have fun!” she continued.  Fun, hmmm, there was a concept on which I’d not spent much time.  “I only met my finance after I was thirty and I’m really glad we had our own lives before we got together,” she said.   Shortly after, her name was called and off she went, completely unaware of the impact she’d had.

I’m not going to say that I was over the break-up, in fact, that took the next few years.  But, I gained perspective.  I knew someday I wouldn’t be sad anymore, which was enough to give me hope for a happy future.  And I started to live my own life.  Elia showed me how much still lay ahead of me… how much was still unknown… and how exciting that could be.

Good Morning

When I got dressed to go to the unemployment office after a long, dark night, I didn’t think my life could get any worse or would get any better.  But after one conversation with a bright, sunny woman, my perspective was changed and then, over the next few years, my life was changed.  Everything I truly wanted seemed to come my way – I’ve married the man of my dreams and together with our beautiful son, we live in a lovely part of England, where I get to work on my writing.  I’m sure there will be more challenges ahead, and the realization of more dreams… we’ll just see how the years unfold.

The amazing thing is to look back at what we’ve experienced and realize how much we have to learn from the hardest challenges we face – how much they can help us to grow and develop as people.  That night changed me completely.  Ever after, I knew I could handle anything life through at me.  I’d always say, “Well, I got through that night… this is nothing.”

My teacher, the cow…

I mentioned in my last post that I recently read an incredible book by Dr. Sean Kenniff, called Etre the Cow.  Etre is the only self-aware cow in the pasture, because of which, he feels isolated and alone.  The book follows Etre’s journey to free himself and the cows he loves.  It sounds a little bizarre, but because of Sean’s remarkable writing talent, one finds oneself understanding and empathizing with a cow’s longing to have a meaningful existence.

I bring it up because of Sean’s story.  He was on the first season of Survivor, which he parlayed into a career as a healthcare correspondent.  Then, when the recession hit, his job was discontinued.  Driving home, pink slip in hand, Sean saw a cow with its head between a pasture fence, staring out at him.  He felt how that cow looked: powerless over his life.

Inspired, Sean went to live with the cows and the result is a book that could easily take its place among literary classics, such as Animal Farm.  If it had not been for the embarrassment, frustration and despair he felt after losing his job, he may never have discovered his extraordinary writing talent.

Though it’s hard to remember when one is facing down the dark, I’ve found that the most difficult times of my life have been the catalyst for remarkable change and exciting, new opportunities.  We just have to be open to learning the lessons from wherever they come, whether it’s a beautiful blond or a big fat cow.

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Published in: on April 20, 2011 at 4:42 pm  Comments (11)  
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New beginnings: one’s true self

It can be frightening to start something new… even when it’s something you’ve always wanted to do.  Fear of the unknown is the one of the most difficult things we ever have to overcome.  But if we want to move forward in life, to become the person we are meant to be, we are required to make leaps of faith.

I’ve written in various other spaces, but nothing has fit, quite yet.  This is my new beginning.  I’m going to try, at last, to write honestly and openly.  And I’m offering my willing ear to anyone who also wants a new beginning, but isn’t quite sure where to start.  So, if anyone out there knows they are meant to do something, but hasn’t yet begun, or isn’t yet sure what it is they are meant to do, please email me and let’s talk it through, or comment on this page.

In Hermann Hesse’s Demian, he writes: “I wanted only to try to live in accord with the promptings which came from my true self.  Why was that so very difficult?”  Maybe it doesn’t have to be so very difficult if we don’t try to do it alone…

Published in: on March 27, 2011 at 12:27 pm  Comments (3)  
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