In the first few weeks and months after his arrest when anyone asked the simple question, "How are you?" without pausing I replied with a huge smile, "I'm alive."
It took people back. Hello. Of course you're alive, you're standing here. Those two simple words, however, had great meaning for me. Having just come out of that pit of despair and terror I'd fallen into, I was relieved, and surprised, to be alive.
What a wonderful way to live.
Last year when I went through Choices (www.choicesseminars.com) Thelma Box, the facilitator talked about how many of the people in the room were the walking breathing dead. I could at that time confidently say, I wasn't one of the people she was referring to. With his arrest four years before, I had given up my WBD status and claimed my right to be joyfully, passionately alive.
Now, many people tell me that they have too much pain, too many burdens to carry to give up their card-bearing membership in the WBD Club. I disagree. It isn't what we carry that makes the difference, it's the choice we make to either carry it for another day or to put it down.
When I came out of that relationship, I had a lot of garbage to carry, a lot of pain to delve through -- but I also knew I had received a miracle. I knew that in that moment of his arrest I was given a choice -- life or death. Which one do you choose? -- I chose life. If I was going to live, then I was going to do it with joy and wonder, not tears and sorrow. Which meant, I had to set aside the burden of the past so that I could move into the possibility of today. Sure, in those first weeks of freedom, I was pretty beaten down. But I knew, it didn't mean I had to stay down. Rather than cling to my despair, I chose to recognize I was in the healing process, a time of treating myself with tender loving care, a time to rejoice in what I had, not what had happened. I didn't have a lot -- I'd lost everything through that experience, including relationships that had meant the world to me. But, I had my life, so when people asked me how I was doing, my answer was clear and unequivocable, I am alive! Yippeee!
In my healing process, I nourished my spirit, fed myself with life-giving ideas, food, and love. I shunned any thoughts that would bring me down, and if they snuck in, I would lovingly embrace them and let them go. I imagined them to be clouds on a summer's day. They drifted in, they drifted out. I did not need to hold onto them to turn them into stormy thinking. There was no room in my life for negativity, I was too wounded, too battered to have a strong defense system against negativity, so, I chose to not give it fertile ground to grow within me. I stayed conscious to my thinking, to what I did, to what I said, to my feelings. In that process, I breathed deeply, chose to be grateful for my life and embraced the wonder and joy of being alive.
Three years later, I was living with my daughters again and had published a book about my experience, (The Dandelion Spirit). My life was golden! And there was still so much room for growth. Shortly after my book was published, I went through Choices. Those five days, and every susequent day since, have expanded the light and air in my life even further. What amazes me is how far I've come even in the year since going through Choices. When I went through that program -- and for those who haven't, Choices is a personal development seminar that challenges each person who goes through to explore the meaning of their life and to get busy living it with eyes wide open with a heart full of love, it was one of the most clarifying, enlivening courses I have ever taken. Both my daughters have since gone through as have several friends. We all agree -- Choices makes sense. In a world filled with opportunity, we tend to live in our safe little quadrants, doing the same things we've always done, getting the same things we've always got, wondering why nothing ever changes.
I am my agent of change. I am my very own catalyst.
Ray Bradbury once said. "Go the edge of the cliff and jump off. Build your wings on the way down."
I love that idea of living. Constantly stepping into the void of possibility, stretching myself and learning to fly as I soar from the edge of the cliff.
Bradbury also said, "Don't think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It's self-conscious and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can't try to do things. You simply must do things."
For me, that typifies my writing every morning. Don't think. Do. This blog began as a commitment to myself that I would write every morning. I don't generally think about what I'd going to write before I start. I trust in the process and start writing. A word or phrase comes to my mind as I turn on the computer, make my coffee and as soon as I hit the keyboard, the words start to form. I don't 'try' to make them appear, I let them flow.
Two months later, I'm still writing, still keeping my commitment -- and in the process teaching myself a valuable lesson. I am a woman of her word. When I make a commitment I keep it. Not that I didn't believe myself -- but there have been times in my life when I made commitments I didn't keep. Times I let myself off the hook of self-responsibility, self-accountability and took the easy way out -- and usually, when I did, it was my thinking that got me in trouble.
Ooops! Like losing weight -- still trying which means, I'm not doing.
Time to get back on that particular horse and step out of my comfort zone so that I make the choices that support me, not undermine my commitment to myself.
And that's the beauty of today. I fall down. I get up. I step off the edge of the cliff, two things are possible. I will either fly, or learn to build my wings in flight -- either way, eventually I will come to the ground again, wiser, more accomplished, more confident in my ability to fly. It isn't the fall that kills me, it's how I land -- confident in tomorrow, or convinced it will be the last step I ever take.
The choice is mine.
What's your choice? To step off the cliff and build wings as you go, or to step off the cliff and tumble to the ground because you never stretched your wings out?
Yup. We all have our reasons for staying stuck in fear. Ultimately, our reasons are simply the things we tell ourselves to keep us stuck on the ground. You can tell yourself you can't fly. Or, you can tell yourself, I've never flown and now's my chance to do it.
As Henry Ford said, whether you say you can or you can't, you're right. Give yourself the chance to be right about something you don't know about yourself today. Give yourself the opportunity to learn something new about you today. Just do it!
Have an awesome day filled with the knowing that you are a vessel filled with limitless possibilities capable of learning to fly into the unknown.