As some of you are aware, I have recently experienced some major life changes. Unlike other people who tend to pace their life changes such as divorce, death, terminal illness, and job loss over a lifetime, I prefer to tackle such things all within a few years, and sometimes a few months, rather like a high intensity workout. A brief twenty minutes of sheer hell that leaves one writhing on the floor, or throwing up in the bathroom, all to avoid the longer, gentler hour-long jog slog. I have found the effect of these life changes over a brief time is also similar to a HIIT workout in that, I am now approximately twenty pounds thinner and physically drained and weak. However, as I rejoin the land of the living I am aware of all the people and love that has supported me through this process, and as I gain strength, recommit to serving beyond myself and my family, but service for the broader good.
I found this quote above this morning when reading of all things, a book about patient centered service in the medical practice setting. It aptly describes a significant part of what has been a key element in my personal healing process, that I believe is relevant, not only on a personal level, but required on a global level.
In the first weeks after my completely unexpected job loss, I was so fortunate to have friends, family and community members I did not even know, step up and connect with me. Affirm my worth, and value and most of all keep me alive. Literally, alive. You see, I had attached my entire identity to my title, my work product, and my income. Not coming from privilege, I am very aware of the struggles of low paying work, the inequities in our education, healthcare, and employment systems, and I found myself swirling in despair of going through that trauma again. Additionally, I had mistakenly attached my identity to my accomplishments, rather than who I am and who we are as people. It was awful.
However, it wasn’t until I took a different approach that my own healing really started to take hold. One morning, I awoke and remembered twenty years ago, when as a single mother raising a son, I made a commitment that if I ever had means or a position of power, I would contribute and do my best to ensure others had an easier path. What I didn’t realize then is that we all are in a position of power regardless of station. So two weeks ago, jobless and title-less and status-less, I decided to help my aging neighbor with her garden. As I moved bags of mulch, pulled weeds and took up the hoe, she told me the story of her youth on the island of Guernsey off the coast of France. She was a wee thing when the Nazis invaded and evacuated the British from the island. She has the most beautiful wilting accent, that wavers as she describes the fear at our current situation. She must be well into her seventies and has had a life that should leave her broken, and bitter. Yet she is full of gratitude and after all these years in the United States, and at her advanced age, has decided that it is time for her to now become a US citizen so that she can vote. That is bravery, and grit and guts.
What if we all decided that now is the time to do what we can? What if we all decided to share our unique gifts without fear, and without holding back?
Athletes and artists, and dancers and musicians, all know that there comes a time in a performance, regardless of what it is that a sprint, or an outpouring without fear or inhibitions is required. Trusting all of our training and hard work and our faith will sustain us, we let loose for the final mile, or final refrain, and we lay down our inhibitions and fear and give it our all. We experience this personally as breath and sweat, and heart pumping, or sheer flow and the result can be a win, a standing ovation, or the most sublime and beautiful note ever played that falls only on the musician’s ears. But it doesn’t matter. The point is the sharing, and the letting go, the giving birth to something new without fear.
In sharing this, my first public writing, I share one of the things I have to give but have withheld until now. The turn of the word seems to be a gift I have been blessed with. I have kept hidden except from a few people, even when encouraged by mentors, writers, and even bosses throughout my lifetime, out of fear of not being good enough or writing something not content worthy. But today, I begin the exploration of what would happen if I put down my fear too. Time does not seem to be on my side, or our side, and as I read that Russia has bombed a maternity ward, it is arguable that it is absolutely required that we not only share our gifts but do so in service to others and ourselves.
Today, I am off to explore new employment opportunities. I am blessed to have several potentials lining up, all different and each with unique pros and cons. However, regardless of which one ends up being the right fit for me, or for the organization, I do not want to lose what I have gained through this process which is….
It is only through sharing our true nature, our true gifts, and opening our hearts and hands to each other that we heal as individuals and collectively.
We have become very adept at categorizing people, ideas, lifestyles, and cultures, and have lost completely the truth that we all enter this world naked and slimy without degrees, without a job, a title, a role. Helpless and dependent upon each other, and we all go out uniquely, but alone on the journey in the end.
Those who seek to control or dominate or repress, to them I say, “I am sorry.” I am sorry you are so afraid of looking clearly into the mirror and seeing the crone or the child or the single mother, or person of color in the reflection. I am sorry that you seek to destroy others, their lives, their reputation, their livelihood, but most of all I am sorry that you live with the deep-seated knowledge that you are a coward.
Today, I choose something different. I don’t’ know what my interviews will turn out to be, if they will like me, if I am qualified, if the pay will be right, if, if, if……
What I do know, is that I don’t have anything left to lose, but I have everything to give. So be it to patients, doctors, the community, my neighbor, or my own children and friends, I am going to give it my all.
What about you?