My new goal: Not striving
Here’s the thing: All of this striving, this effort, this working to develop an online presence, a brand identity, a platform, a coherent, relevant, marketable… sigh…
I’m so tired.
I have just returned from another workshop that was supposed to change my life – and of course it did. But they never change me in the way they are supposed to.
I am supposed to come away all empowered, I come away deeply troubled.
I am supposed to come away super-detoxed, I come away craving cheeseburgers.
We were supposed to come away from this event with a clarity, courage and cash flow… there was another “C” word in there but I can’t remember what it was.
Like I said, I’m tired. Just got home – off the plane, off the airport shuttle, out of the car with my luggage all heavy and full of laundry.
I spent the entire weekend with a raging head cold – which was actually, as it turns out, an allergic reaction to something in the hotel room. But I didn’t know that.
So I blew my nose and sneezed and coughed and missed some sentences that might have been important cuz my ears were all stuffed up.
And even with all that, I got so much out of it.
Just not the thing I was supposed to get.
I wanted to leave with a set of actionable projects from which I could 1) make money fast 2) build my brand 3) create an irresistible online presence so that I might become a workshop leader, guru, queen, fairy princess.
Like Doreen Virtue, my colleague and muse. Like Caroline Myss, my teacher. Like the leader of this weekend’s workshop, who was stepping for the first time onto that stage.
But as the program ended, and everyone around the room offered up their next steps:
– Get a web designer in three days
– Call twenty 20-year-olds by Thursday
– Sign up for 7 more months of coaching in the next level of Sarah’s program
I started to cry.
I don’t want to do any of this.
On the day before the workshop i drove my 22-year-old son to Kennedy Airport. He was going to England for the fall semester – a trip he’d worked all summer to pay for.
It all happened so fast. The unloading of luggage, the hugging, the goodbyes. And suddenly, I was watching my son walk away, dragging the enormous black suitcase that I’d bought with him – bought for him – four years ago when he was starting college.
I had no idea I was going to cry.
I was driving Max’s car – the car my dad had given him when he’d finally let go and decided to enter the nursing home, the car that, when I got it home, was going to be passed down to his sister, 19, who has finally passed her road test.
And as I rounded the curve of the airport exit ramp, my chest burst open and this huge sob crashed out of me.
It surprised me so much that I almost stopped crying. But another one came. And another.
And then this memory…
When Max was four, he invented a game. I’d be standing at the kitchen counter, stirring something – some macaroni meatball soup, perhaps; or the cheesy rice he used to love – when he’d come in dragging his little red suitcase behind him.
“Okay, bye Mommy,”
You know that sweet chirpy voice little boys have. And that face: bright open eyes, plumpy pink cheeks.
“Where are you going?”
“To Grandma’s house,” he’d say. “It’s pretty far away.”
And then he’d walk past me – through the kitchen to the living room dragging that red vinyl suitcase, packed with all of his favorite books. It was almost as big as he was.
And then, a moment later, he’d reappear at the opposite end of the kitchen. “I’m back!”
Each time, I’d greet him like a long lost love, which he always was. Somewhere, deep in the nether reaches of my mother’s heart, I knew that his little tour around the other side of the kitchen wall was a practice run for a separation that would, one day, arrive.
We repeated the game so many times. I’m sure I grew tired of it – easily exhausted then. I had another child now, too, and I was trying so hard to fit her into my heart, already so full with this little traveler.
Back then, I spent a lot of time standing at that kitchen counter wishing for things I did not have.
-that bigger heart
– a better house
Most often, though, I wished for time…. time…. time
If I just had the time, I would think, sighing, aching. The time to sit down, to regroup, to lay out my thoughts, one after the other in a straight line, maybe I could write something: A book. A poem. A short story. An essay.
Today, I have that time.
For the last year, every single day, I have risen at six a.m. and rushed, compelled and driven by this urge to write, through the rituals of morning so fast that sometimes, I arrive at the local cafe where I write wearing my shirt inside out.
I order the same breakfast – one egg with ham and a little organic cheddar on whole grain toast, an iced tea with no ice – and I sit at the same table, the booth in the corner where the outlet is but where, I have learned, the sun does not blast in through the window at 11 o’clock.
And I write.
For 6 straight hours.
Seven days a week.
In this time, I have written two books, built this blog and fed countless posts into the other one.
I have also maintained (freelance) a weekly column in the largest selling women’s magazine in the world.
I have found my sweet spot. That precious precious time.
And yet, here I was in Atlanta, in another workshop, driven there by the same empty longing for more that had found me standing at that kitchen counter all those years ago.
What in the world did I want? What was this more that I craved?
And today, on the last day of Sarah’s lovely workshop, I understood
I don’t wanna.
I have it in me. I could stand on the stage… i love the stage.
I could teach.
That kind of thing.
But not now.
Right now I am writing.
I remember that fourth ‘C’ word now: Confidence.
I am in a powerful transition from mothering two precious children to turning the huge beam of my mother love toward the world.
Widening that lens is widening me.
I am opening and opening and light is pouring into my life, cleansing me body and soul at the deep-tissue, cell level.
Some of that light is landing on the page. And if that helps other women and some of the men that we love, to turn and to open their own hearts, all the better.
But this is not the time for striving. This is the time for inner work, contemplation and writing. And for now, that is more than enough.